I decided to spend some time alone with myself at the mall. Somehow, I made it a point to at least have a date with myself every week. I don't know why though, maybe because I'm an introvert or I just need a break from talking and talking and talking with my friends.
I bought a hot cup of Caffe Latte from Starbucks so I'd have something to hold on to while walking and window-shopping. The warm and soft texture of the coffee cup made me feel cozy inside a freezing mall which probably has air conditioning set to 10 degrees.
When I was at the front of the H&M store, my phone started vibrating. I thought it was mom, asking where I was since I didn't tell her that I would be going here, but as I glanced on the screen, John's name came up.
"Hello?" I greeted him, sounding a little curios and confused since he never really called me before, he only texts me.
"Look behind...", he said with a deep and creepy voice.
And so I looked behind. I didn't see him anywhere. "What? Where are you?!"
"Look farther behind!"
I squinched my eyes looking at the 3 nearest stores in front of me: Guess, Marks & Spencer, and Penshoppe. And still nothing. "Dude, come on just tell me where you are!"
"GUESS!" At first, I thought he literally said that I should guess where he is, but then my brain functioned again, and there he was, posing like a mannequin at the front of the store.
"HAAAAHAHAHAHA! HOLY CRAP! I did not notice you, AT ALL." I laughed like a fucking weirdo at the middle of the corridor while John was walking towards me, also laughing like a retard.
"You are AWESOME." We gave each other a high five. "So, what are you doing here?"
"Nothing, just strolling around. You?"
"GREAT! Let's eat together!"
"WHAT?! No way, this is my ME time."
"Me time sh-mee time! Come on." Before I could pull myself together, he was already dragging me to Starbucks, again. He bought me a blueberry cheesecake and he bought himself some danish and a cup of black coffee. Immediately as he sat down, he asked me a question that stopped me from taking a bite of the cake. "Hey, have you seen Jeff lately?"
"Uhm.... no. Why?"
"Well, I can't contact him. Doesn't reply to any of my messages in Facebook, and when I visit his house, they're not there. Don't you know? I mean, when the whole family is gone, most of the time they're with your family."
"What? Not always, geez. Let me give him a call." I grabbed my phone, searched for his name and pressed call. After a few rings, the call ended. "Oh. That's weird. Maybe they.... went somewhere with cheap reception?"
"Where? In the middle of the desert? No way!" John stopped eating for a moment, probably thinking of some other places Jeff could be besides the middle of the desert.
"Well, when was the last time you talked to him?" I was starting to feel nervous too. "I haven't talked to him since we headed to the gym, and that was 3 days ago."
"Same." And now, I was very nervous.
"Okay... uh, wait." My heart was beating fast. "So, we haven't seen him since Tuesday when we went to the gym. Then you've been calling him the following day, Wednesday, and he's not answering. You messaged him too, yet again he didn't answer until Thursday. Am I right?" John nodded his head. I could see in his eyes that he was very worried too, but I didn't want to panic, since that would make him panic even more. Instead, I tried to manage to keep my voice calm as possible, even though in the inside my heart was beating waaaay fast. "And then today, Friday, what.. you went to his house?"
"Yeah, I did. Before I went here and saw you."
"That is really odd. Something's wrong, I guess." I didn't know even a single clue where his family was. Mom and dad never told me anything, and Jeff didn't tell me anything. In fact if anything got even worse, he would tell me, even mom and dad would tell me. "I really don't know John. You were the last one to talk to him. He didn't really talk to me that much when we were at the gym. He kept talking to you. What were you guys talking about, anyway?"
John wasn't eating anymore, even if he still haven't finished his snack, and now he was just fiddling with his fork. "Ohhh.. uhm.. nothing. Just usual boy stuff." He glanced at me for a second and went back to staring at the fork he was playing with. That was odd.
"What did Aries and Zander say?"
"They didn't know too."
For a minute, we were both silent. Not moving, and not speaking a single word.
"Hey, why don't I ask my parents once I go home. Maybe they would know."
"Oh, yeah. Good idea! Wanna split a cab?" He stood up immediately, drank his coffee all the way to the last drop and grabbed my arm.
"Wait, now? We're leaving now?"
"YES NOW! Your boyfriend is missing and you just wanna sit here. Maybe just text him later and see if he replies then!?"
"......What did you say?" I saw his face soften, he looked furious when he shouted at me.
"Wait... what?" His face looked confused for a second, then after a while his eyes widened, now realizing what he have just said. "Oh, sorry. You know.... I meant your guy friend. A boy friend. Anyways, come on let's go!"
We were both standing on our driveway now, looking straight towards the door.
"Okay, as soon as you ask your parents, and they tell you whatever it is they need to tell you, TEXT or CALL ME, okay?!" John's face looked so furious right now, that I was really starting to be afraid. Though, I understand him. His best friend, the one he hangs out every day with, the one he'll possibly share a boarding room in college with, is missing. "I'm going home, mom's been calling me non-stop. Promise me, okay?"
I shook my head fast as I felt even more nervous right now. We hugged each other, he patted me at the back, and he walked towards the corner of Meadow St. and turned left towards to the street of their house. I walked slowly towards the door when I could no longer see John. My hand searched for the keys in my bag, while my other hand was holding the door knob, which turned out to be unlocked. Odd, mom always kept it locked. I opened the door slowly, being careful not to make a noise, I peered through the door to see if everything was alright. The house was still tidy and clean, no sign of theft or robbery. I walked inside and closed the door. No one was at the family room, but I hear my mom and dad's voice, faint voices, they were probably in dad's office. I stepped slowly and quietly, so that they won't suspect that I was there. As I passed through the kitchen, I heard another different voice. It was a soft man's voice, almost whispering, but not doing a very good job at it since I could hear his murmurs.
I leaned against the wall beside the door leading to the office, which was very James Bond-y, though I wasn't holding a gun or anything. I was sort of enjoying this though. I slowly peaked through the door, only with my head, and then as I exactly caught a vision of a small part of the room, my eyes met with mom's.
At first she just glanced and looked away, but immediately she looked backed again, shocked, probably realizing that I was there, and that her mind just wasn't playing with her eye sight.
"Leena...", she said with a sharp and louder-than-usual voice.
And as soon as she said my name, the murmurs stopped. I walked slowly towards the office and saw dad and my Uncle Joe sitting in front of one another at dad's desk. I didn't say a word, since I think I interrupted something VERY important. My hands were sweating way too much and I could feel my phone getting all wet since I was holding it the whole time. I looked at Uncle Joe and he looked very worried, and my dad's face was serious. And then, I heard something from the other side of dad's small home office, way behind Uncle Joe.
I slowly looked towards the other side, and my eyes met with Aunt Manna's eyes, which looked worried, almost ready to shed a tear, Cris' which was looking scared and worried sitting down on the couch holding Marion who just kept quiet, probably didn't understand what was going on. And right beside the door towards the other room was the guy who John and I kept worrying about earlier today, Jeff, who was leaning on the wall with his arms crossed, his one foot stepping on the bottom of the wall, and his serious, fierce, and sharp face looking straight at me.
Here he is, John. He's here. I wanted to text him right away, as I promised him that I would do so. But I think now is REALLY not the time to do it.
All of this was happening for only just about ten seconds, and to be honest, it was the most awkward 10 seconds of my entire life.
"How long have you been here, sweetie?" And finally, killing the silence that surrounded me, mom finally talked to me, but with a soft whispering voice only.
I struggled with my words, feeling nervous as ever. "....I... I just arrived, now." I said, but then I moved closer to mom, as close as our arms were side by side with each other so I could whisper in her ear. "What... What's going on?"
Mom whispered back, "Just sit down."