Sunday, July 12, 2009

don't look back

It was disconcerting, the way the bits and pieces of the past seemed to be mocking me and laughing at me as I entered the double storey house not too far away from my own house. The smell of something roasting in the kitchen wafted to me. Chicken. A hint of rosemary. Garlic. Maybe lemon. And butter. It smelled good. Homey, in fact. Just the way he would like it, of course.

"Lauren! You came!" the voice startled me a bit. I turned at the direction of the voice. She stood at the doorway of where I presumably thought was the kitchen. She had a pink and white apron on. And a really huge and genuine and pleased smile plastered on her beautiful oval face. Her strawberry blond hair was tied into a high ponytail, accentuating her high cheekbone.

"Hi, Kath," I said, trying my best to sound pleased. Kathleen bounced over to me in three graceful strides and pulled me into a hug. I was stunned, to be honest. I kept my hands by my side as she hugged me tightly. Then she realized that I was standing still, not returning her warm welcome. She let go of me and took one little step back. She eyed me from the top of my black head down to the black Louboutin on my feet.

"You look... different," she remarked quietly after two whole minutes of assessment.

"Well, try to get yourself ditched at the altar seconds before you're supposed to get married. Not to mention being ditched for your own little sister," of course I didn't say that out loud. I am Lauren Maria Keely. I don't do tantrums or bitchy. I am the kind, reliable, sensible, dependable and whatever-ble girl of the Keely clan. Too bad all that did not stop my groom from leaving me to elope with my little baby sister. My beautiful little sister whose character was a complete opposite of mine.

"You look... pregnant," I said matter-of-factly. She giggled that trademark girlish giggle of hers. Her green eyes shone as she put her slender finger on her protruding belly. I groaned inwardly as a wave of guilt hit me. I wasn't suppose to hold any grudge with my sister. It wasn't her fault, was it? She was naive, gullible even. She was helplessly in love with the ever charming Charlie Gunner. And Charlie loved her, too but Charlie was afraid to hurt me to tell me the truth. Right. Leaving me at the altar was such a good idea.

"It's little Bethany Lauren Gunner," Kathleen's revelation shocked me. I stood there, mouth agape. A girl? Named after me? I need to sit down for a while. Her coming back to town with Charlie was almost too much for me. The towns' people were giving me the poor-girl look after the news hit. It was 2002 all over again. The talking-behind-my-back, the poor-girl look, the endless speculations and gossips. Lauren Keely was again fast becoming the headline of every gossip there was in town. I felt a bit nauseous at the thought of becoming the center of the attention once again.

It was at the tip of my tongue to ask Kathleen just why did she come back, after 7 years? Why, of all the places in the world, did Charlie decided to settle down here? To torture me? To make fun of me? And the unborn little child growing inside Kathleen, named after me. It was like a really bad joke.

"Why..." suddenly my mouth went dry. The hanging question came out in a scratchy whisper. I realized that I was about to cry in a matter of a second. I gripped the bouquet of gardenia in my right hand tightly, trying to compose myself. The phone rang at that moment. Saved by the bell, I thought.

"Oh my. That must be Charlie. He's checking in on me every 10 minutes since the day I got pregnant," Kathleen crowed with a sense of pride and affection. She wasn't aware at all of my difficulties to even look at her face. I smiled weakly. "Go on, pick up the phone. I'll wait in the living room," I made an awkward attempt to walk. My leg had gone all rubbery on me. Such traitor.

"I'm going to answer it upstairs, if you don't mind." Translation: I'm going to answer it upstairs so that you won't be listening in to my conversation with your ex-boyfriend who is now my husband. Yeah, I got it. Crystal clear, little sis. I nodded meekly as she took off ever so gracefully to the stairs. I leaned against the wall, letting out the pent-up breath I had been holding. I must get over this, I must. I told myself over and over again. 7 years. I am suppose to move on with my own life. I have to let go. I was giving myself strength, prepping myself up.

And then, it happened.

The loud crash came first. Next was the most horrific scream I've ever heard in my entire life. It was Kathleen's.

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