I sat there with my mouth agape in surprise for a while.
Me… stay with Mr Morales…? Why? Did my attempt at charming him actually work? No, that’s highly unlikely.
“It is the right thing to do for your safety, correct? Judging by what you said, you currently have no trusting adults to look after you. You also do not seem to have a proper household. For someone of your age, that is truly dangerous.”
“I know that — you just told me! I just… um… n-no! You don’t have to provide a…um…”
I turned my head downwards. I was stumbling with my words as I quickly tried to think of an excuse. I tried lying, but I couldn’t do that properly, and because of that, he… he… why…? I… can’t… I’m… I’m… I’m…
“Or rather, you could-”.
“An alternative? What is it? Oh, I’m sorry.”
I interrupted him. Sorry, but I was so excited that there was another option.
“Or rather, you could stay at a homeless shelter. They are places run by organizations with goals to help the less fortunate. They will be able to care for you.”
“Oh, I see… Um… Well… Ah, never mind. You see, I… ”
I… didn’t know what to think. A homeless shelter, huh? Many conflicting thoughts flew into my head.
I… kinda thought that option was better. I mean, this man… I wouldn’t have to worry him anymore. I don’t know how capable he is, but between one man and a whole organization, one is definitely more qualified than the other.
But… there was something else. I didn’t know why, but the thought of staying at a homeless shelter bothered me — it bothered me so much that I avoided staying at a homeless shelter for the entirety of my journey. Why was that? Was it… my feelings? It might be. But, I can’t let them hinder my choice — after all, my feelings are paltry compared to my physical well-being.
But then again…
As I waited, I glared at Camryn. After giving the alternative of staying at a homeless shelter, she seemed to be put under pressure; she was looking at the floor, trying to think of a response while stuttering.
She was hesitant — I did not know for certain, but it was highly likely. A homeless shelter… I do not know why staying at one would be so bad for her, but I guess that is a personal opinion.
“Then you can choose the first option — stay with me.”
“You are obviously hesitant over my second option.”
I started scratching the back of my head. Also, my voice and face relaxed.
“My guess is that it is because of something personal — I won’t pry. You need somewhere to go, right? You can stay here.”
Since staying at a homeless shelter is an invalid option, she can stay with me. Also, her attempt to beguile me last night is evidence that she needs somewhere to stay.
But what she did next was get up from her seat and walk towards the door. She spoke at a faster rate than normal.
“No… Hey, Mr Morales. Really, I thank you for everything — a bed to sleep in and breakfast — but I think it’s enough. Really! You don’t need to provide me with a place to stay. Goodbye.”
I got up and followed her.
“Then I assume you are going with the second option? I will drive you to a homeless shelter; it is pretty far from here.”
This made Camryn stop walking. In the front corridor, she slowly turned towards me and smiled.
“Thanks, you’ve done a lot for me… but that won’t be necessary. Please, you don’t have to worry about me anymore. I’ll… just leave. I’m actually more resilient than I look!”
“Just leave? What do you mean by that?”
“I mean what I said — leave! You can go back to living your normal life.”
When she said that, she turned back and tilted her head all the way down.
I walked a bit closer to her.
“Do you mean you will go back to living like how you were last night? I am sorry, but I cannot allow you to do that.”
“And why the hell not!? Why the hell do you care!?”
She suddenly turned and yelled at me. Her teeth were gritted and her eyebrows were tilted in anger.
I responded in my usual demeanour.
“Camryn? As I said, I do not think it would be wise for someone as young as you to-”
“Shut up, shut up, shut up! I know that I’m young, and I know that it’s dangerous, but like I said, why the hell do you care!? We aren’t friends — we’re not family — we don’t know each other — we’re total strangers! So why the hell!? Just leave me the hell alone!
Her raised voice surprised me. What she was saying… It was true; she indeed was not an acquaintance of mine. That explains why she is heavily against staying with me; she does not trust me.
But why was I persistent in disallowing her to go back to her life on the streets? It confused me. I am sure that it is because I want to do the right thing. Yes, I am being a righteous member of society by housing this struggling girl for a while. Or, was it for another reason?
After a while of her angry heavy breathing, Camryn sighed and her face relaxed. Her voice was lower than it initially was.
“I’m… I’m sorry Mr Morales. I got a bit angry there and lashed out at you.”
She bowed in remorse.
“No, it is okay.”
Camryn nodded and turned towards the door.
“Anyways, what I said still stands — I’m leaving. Besides, I don’t really want to be a burden on you.”
Oh, is that the reason? She obviously still distrusts me a bit, but she also thinks she will be a burden.
“Burden? You will not be a burden on me by staying here. My unit might be small, but it is big enough to comfortably house two people. I also have a job that allows me to provide for multiple people. You will not be a burden.”
Camryn slowly turns back to me. I am not sure, but I think my words shocked Camryn a bit; she was speechless.
“Oh, I see…”
Seriously, why was I being so persistent?
“I will ask again — Camryn, won’t you stay with me? Another thing is that you probably do not trust me, and honestly, that is fine. You do not need to trust or even like me in order to live here.”
Camryn cast her eyes towards the floor.
“Y-you’re pretty persistent, you know that? Um…”
She paused for a bit.
“I-If you insist, okay…”
I do not know why, but it felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Was this the feeling of success? I mean, I did save a girl from a potentially dangerous situation.
... Y-yeah, I think this is a feeling of success... It is a feeling of success, right?
I kneeled to create eye contact between us.
“Then Camryn, I welcome you. If you need anything, just let me know.”