Chapter 13:

She's Hiding In The Kitchen She's Nowhere To Be Found

I Know It Might Be Wrong, But...

Monday. A new day, a new week.

Stacy, having fulfilled Steven’s requests, and after deciding to stop with the scheming, was looking forward to a new beginning where she will no longer concern herself with matters of romance. Not for her mom’s, not for Steven’s, and not even for herself. The past couple of weeks - and it was only two weeks! - had been mentally exhausting for her, so she thought she should take a break. At least, for the moment with regards to her own romance.

Regardless, now that she has told Steven about her mom’s relationship status and let the two meet, there was nothing else that he would be needing from her. Stacy was free! Not just from being bothered at school, but from the mental anguish those simple interactions with him have been causing.

It felt like a heavy burden had been lifted over her shoulders.

It felt like the sun had come out after a heavy storm.

It felt like being born again.

It was a Monday. While Stacy was not the type to dread that specific day had come, she was also not the kind to greet it with zeal as she goes about meeting the new week with indifference. This was a rare Monday where she is actually looking forward to the coming week.

Maybe she could spend that extra energy by picking up a new hobby. She was made aware how lacking she was as a person when the few she had did not interest a certain someone, so it was an opportunity for some self-improvement. Then, perhaps, the next time she’s crushing, she would be a more interesting individual.

However, she was also forgetting one thing. Or rather, she was willfully ignoring it.

After a relaxing weekend without contact with Steven, she made herself think everything was over. But, it was far from over, no, and school had not even started yet when she faced this reality.

A chime sounded from her smartphone telling her she had received a message. She did not see to it immediately as she was busy washing her face.

After she was done though, her phone sounded a second time, but she ignored it. She was hungry; it can wait until she’s seated at the table and eating breakfast, she thought.

Then, she heard a third chime. This time, it did not come from her smartphone, but from the doorbell so she had to answer that. It could be a neighbor or the landlord who needs to pass information or something. Only they have come to knock on their door at around seven in the morning.

She dreaded it might be a water interruption due to an ongoing construction nearby, but contrary to Stacy’s expectations, it was worse. Or, at least from her point of view it is. Even worse than a ding dong dash when the sun has been barely out for an hour.

“Good morning”, greeted the unexpected visitor cheerfully.

It was Steven.

The thing that she had been trying not to think about just made itself appear on her front door. She may have had made her mom think Steven is her boyfriend despite the failure of her original scheme, but she was unable to make it hard for him to continue his pursuit. In the back of her mind, she was expecting for something to happen at school, but she did not foresee that he would make a move first thing in the morning.

Stacy responded to Steven’s greeting by shutting the door on him. She even hurriedly secured the double lock and the chain as if she was in a horror movie trying to get the door between her and the serial killer.

Moments later, her phone began to ring. The screen shows it is Steven who is calling her.

Of course, they knew each other’s numbers. They exchanged it when they agreed to go on that date the other weekend. It is pretty much a requirement for people to be able to contact each other when they agree to meet in this age of mobile phones so they could pass on any message in case they were being delayed. But, apart from that time, they have not contacted each other through it. Or rather, Stacy had avoided it since the first topic that came to their very first chat was her mom.

This is the first time either of them was calling the other on their phones. If this had happened two weeks ago or earlier, Stacy would have considered this a momentous event. But, after everything that has happened, dread is the only feeling that came to her. She did not feel like taking the call, but as horror movie cliches go, she just had to answer it.

As soon as the call connected, the caller did not waste any time to talk. “That’s mean of you to shut the door upon seeing my face, Stacy.”

“W-what do you want?” Stacy nervously replied. She had a feeling of what it is though, but she asked regardless.

“I’m here for a visit.”

“This early in the morning? Are you crazy?” Despite just experiencing a shock, Stacy was still able to do a bit of scolding.

“Considering your mom’s schedule, it shouldn’t be too early, no?”

“Well, you’re too late, she’s already asleep.”

“But, the other day, she was still up at this time.”

“That was the other day.”

Steven only actually missed Stacy’s mom by around ten minutes, but Stacy was not going to give that information away. She wanted to imply that her mom goes to bed early in case he wanted to try again the next day ten or fifteen minutes earlier.

“Still, won’t you let me in?” Steven asked, still through the phone.

Stacy, unhesitatingly, answered “No”.

“But I’ve come to visit.” That was what Steven is saying, but his real intent was to see if Stacy was telling the truth about her mom already being asleep.

“Even still, the answer is no.”

“How come?”

“Because you came unannounced!”

“I sent you a message that I was coming though.”

“What?” Stacy then checked her phone for messages while the call was still ongoing. She saw a notification and, indeed, Steven had sent her a message. A couple, in fact. But then, she noticed the time stamp. “Sending a text five minutes before ringing the doorbell is not announcing yourself!”

“Well, what’s the problem?”

“The problem is you didn’t give me enough time to get ready!”

“It’s not you who I came for though?” Steven, without malice, said bluntly.

Stacy was under no illusions about Steven’s visit, but it still annoyed her hearing it.

Regardless, she was still not going to let him in. Not only was her heart not ready to meet Steven, she was also unprepared in body. Stacy is not the type to wear pajamas, but she was still in the clothes she slept with for the night - a loose shirt and short shorts. Even more, she had yet to brush her hair so it looks disheveled. She was thankful she had already washed her face, otherwise she would have met Steven at the door with dried drool on her mouth.

“That doesn’t matter, I’m still not going to let you in!” Stacy declared.

Steven paused for a moment to think then conceded. “Okay, then I’ll wait until you’re ready.”

Stacy was tempted to make him wait until he leaves by himself, but school will be starting soon so it was not an option. She realized she also had to concede. “Alright, just don’t bother the neighbors.”

Their call ended with a compromise.

Stacy, though, feeling she had to make Steven leave as quickly as possible, rushed her morning routine. She was able to get ready for school in record time.

Soon after, she again opened the front door, praying Steven was no longer there. No god answered it, however, as he was still there.

“Good morning”, he again greeted Stacy. But, without waiting for her to react this time, he continued “Is your mom home?”

“I already told you she’s already asleep”, she responded unamused.

Steven, seemingly not believing her, tried looking past Stacy as he looked to sneak a peek inside the apartment.

Stacy found it annoying, so she swung the door open to give him a good view of her home.

“As you can see, she’s not there”, she said, trying to suppress her anger.

“I see now”, he replied, not sounding apologetic for not believing her.

Stacy wanted to give him a piece of her mind for his rude behavior, but she held it in because a neighbor just happened to pass by. She did not want to make a scene where people could see, plus she might just disturb not just her mom who was sleeping, but those in the other rooms, too.

She did not forget to greet this passing neighbor though, who greeted back with a thumbs up. For what though, she was not sure.

Returning her attention to Steven, she then told him “Look, you can’t meet my mom right now, she’s had a busy night.”

“She works Sundays?” he asked, a bit surprised.

“I told you she works at a bar, right? The weekend is the busiest time for most bars, so of course she works Sundays.”

“I see”, Steven commented, sounding a bit deflated. He was looking forward to the visit, actually.

“I’m sorry you wasted your trip, but it’s time for school now”, Stacy said, hoping for Steven to finally leave. “Let’s go.”

“You’re right", he conceded. "I guess I’ll try again tomorrow.”

“Huh? Tomorrow?”

Before Stacy could fully register what Steven had said though, he pointed to the side of his mouth and told her “But before you go, you should check yourself in the mirror again.”

Stacy placed a couple of fingers onto her cheek to check what Steven was telling her about. Her face flushed when she realized there was rice on her face the whole time she was talking to him. She had rushed breakfast and did not notice how sloppy she was eating.

“Well, see you at school”, Steven said as he walked away.

“Wait, we’re not going together?!” Stacy cried as she shuffled her pockets for her handkerchief. She was not really looking forward to it, but she thought he would go to school with her since he was already there. She thought she should go with him to at least make sure he does not hide somewhere and return without her knowing.

Once she pulled out her handkerchief, she wiped her face with it on one hand and closed her apartment’s door with the other before chasing Steven, completely forgetting about the thing she was asking about before. Unsurprisingly, she was surprised to find Steven back again the next morning. This time, earlier. Except, as her mom had Monday nights off, she takes the opportunity to sleep during those nights and tends to wake early on Tuesday mornings so she was the one to greet him this time.