She had news for him from the South in this part 1 of “No One Else”.
I was getting ready for work that morning when I accidentally stepped on something, like a stick. I picked it up and it was a strawberry flavored lip gloss. It was Nicole’s. She had complained that she lost it weeks ago and had gone through her handbag a few times to search for it. She didn’t even look at the floor. And here it was, on the floor just near the bedpost when I stepped on it. I smiled to myself, briefly, at the thought of her saying, “Oh, there it is, and you stepped on it, Jimmy!”. At the thought of her, like how the thoughts of her had made me these few days, I bit my lip. For a few moments I stood silent looking down to the lip gloss in my hand.
Nicole was stationed at the South for two months, and she had been here last to say goodbye. I knew I would miss her, but she told me she would come and visit every two weeks. She left her house key to me, told me to not forget to feed her goldfish. I did as she asked me to, every day since the day she left. It had been three weeks to be exact, and the only visit she gave me was a few days ago; a visit with a news.
I put the lip gloss down to the dressing table, just next to Nicole’s perfume bottle. She had left the perfume bottle there intentionally, said she didn’t like to carry it back and forth from her house to mine. And then I went down to the kitchen to have my breakfast. As I was walking down the stairs, I thought about the milk that had started to taste funny since her visit a few days ago. In the kitchen, everything else had started to taste funny; the bread, the peanut butter, the milk.
“No wonder they tasted funny, Jimmy, you didn’t even check the expiration date, did you?” Nicole would say, and she would laugh and check the expiration date for each food for me, one by one. She would come the next day with breads, jars of peanut butter, a dozen cartons of milk for my kitchen. “There you go!” she would say with such satisfaction on her face. She was always concerned at things like that. Other than that, she was usually quiet. She never complained even if there was something bothering her. She kept things to herself. Things like if I didn’t return her calls or if I forgot her birthdays.
On my way to work, I had a long thought of her. I had shut all the thoughts of her when I started the engine and pulled the car out of the garage, but at the play of a sad song on the radio, it came again; her and her apologetic look, her and her pleading eyes (“James, please..”). She had suddenly called to meet a few days ago. She was at her house. She didn’t call to tell me that she was visiting before that. I was pleased, like a little boy, when I knew she was back. But there was something about her voice; dry and lifeless.
We went to our favorite restaurant that afternoon to eat. I had all the things in the world to tell her, like how I forgot to feed her goldfish for two days in a row (“Don’t get mad at me, it’s still alive though!”. “It’s okay, Jimmy”), and how I had accidentally left her key at the door knob and had to get back to get it (“It’s alright, Jimmy”), and how I had slept at her house for a few days because I so missed her. To this, she didn’t say anything. She had quickly looked down to her food and played with it.
We had strolled the park afterward until it was dark. I was used to her being quiet when we strolled the park like that, but I realized that she was just being too quiet that evening. I asked her how was everything at the South. “Okay. Everything’s okay,” she said. I asked if there was anything wrong. She shook her head. But after some time, she stopped walking. “Jimmy..” she said, calling my name softly. I stopped walking and turned to face her. “What is it?” I asked. That was the beginning of it all.
“I—” she started. “I met Jake.. in the South,” she said.
“Jacob,” I said, gathering it all at once. She nodded.
Jacob, or ‘Jake’, as she called him, was a guy I had never met but whom I had loathed since as long as I remembered.
Continued Here: PART 2
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