Early the next morning, David and I stood outside my mother's apartment. My fingers lingered on the door handle, remembering the catastrophic events of last night.
Was that really only last night? I shook my head. It seemed like a lifetime between then and now.
"Hurry up, babe," David pressed. "We should get this cleaned up before you mom gets back."
With shaky hands, I pushed the door open. Nothing had changed since last night. The glass and papers were still scattered around the apartment. I shuttered and leaned in David's chest.
"How did this happen?" I whispered.
"I don't know," he said. "But we'll make this okay. You sure you don't wanna call the cops though?"
Calling the police would only make it worse. I didn't know how, but I had a feeling, an urge to keep this as secret as possible. My mother wouldn't even find out. Whoever had been in the apartment was either looking for me or Tesla or both of us. I winced at the thought. Either way, we could both handle ourselves.
I bent over and started picking up the glass bits on the floor, and David stacked the papers into piles on the kitchen counter. I could see my reflection in the bits of broken glass. My eyes were bloodshot and tired. There was a bruise forming on my cheek where David had hit me last night. My lips were chapped and bleeding.
Squeezing my eyes tight, I ignored my reflection and concentrated on the cleaning. Somehow, my dream kept flashing in my head. Who was the other figure in my dream? I had been dreaming the same dream of my dad for years, but there was never another person there. I squirmed at the thought. Something about it didn't seem right.
I jump and gasped as the phone rang. David glanced at me but kept picking up papers on the floor.
"You gonna get that?" he said, not looking at me.
"Y-yeah, sure," I mumbled. I picked my way over to the phone.
"Hey," a familiar voice greeted me. "Is, um, Alisa there?"
"Speaking," I furrowed my brow trying to place a face and name with the voice.
"Alisa," the voice squealed. "It's Nora. How are you?"
My mouth popped open.
"Nora?" I couldn't believe it. "Oh my God. How long has it been? Like two years now, right? Oh, wow. I'm-I'm okay. How are you?"
"I'm great," I could almost see my old friend's big smile. "I heard you were back in town for a bit. We should go get coffee or something."
"Definitely," I said. "When is good for you?"
"How about now?"
I hesitated. I looked over to David who was giving me a curious glance.
Putting my hand over the phone, I took a deep breath.
"David, would you be okay finishing up here? My friend Nora wants to go get coffee."
"Nora? Isn't she your friend from kindergarten?" he touched his finger to his chin, trying to remember.
"Yeah, that's the one," I smiled for the first time all day. "We were practically sisters growing up. I haven't seen her in years."
David had a small smiled on his face as he walked over to me.
"Go ahead," he stroked my bruised cheek. "You've had a stressful few days. I'll finish up here."
"Thank you," I beamed. "Nora?"
"So can you make it?" she questioned.
"Absolutely. Where do you want to meet?"
"17th street. The usual place," I could here her eager voice. We hadn't gone to our usual coffee spot since high school.
"I'll be there in ten minutes," I said.
"Can't wait," Nora giggled.
I hung up and turned to David.
"Thank you so much," I threw my arms around his neck and laughed with relief.
"No problem, babe," he sounded amused. "What should I do if your mom comes home early?"
I crinkled my brow.
"Tell her that I had to go back to school and that I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye."
"Does this mean you're coming back with me?" David demanded.
"I don't know just yet," I looked at the ground. "But she would get suspicious if I hung around much longer."
"It's okay," he kissed my forehead. "You can stay at my place, and we can go back when you're ready."
I smiled feebly.
"Now, go," David pushed me towards the door. "You don't want to keep Nora waiting."
I pushed open the door to the small coffee shop. The overbearing smell of coffee beans and chocolate engulfed me. Inhaling deeply, I looked over to our usual table in the corner in the back. There I saw a tall woman with long blonde hair sitting cross-legged reading a magazine.
"Nora?" I called, approaching the table. The woman looked up with an elated expression.
"Alisa," she jumped up and hugged me. "Oh, my goodness. I've missed you so much."
I laughed as she sat back down.
"How's life been lately?" Nora leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table, very intent on catching up.
"It's been...interesting," I carefully phrased my answer.
"You and David still together?"
"Well, maybe?" I squeaked, not looking her in the eyes.
"Maybe? What kind of answer is that," she crinkled her nose delicately.
"He cheated on me," I said bluntly. "With some blonde slut."
"Oh, honey," Nora grabbed my hand. "Hope you don't hate me now for being blonde," She winked, trying to cheer me up.
I giggled despite myself. Nora was always so sunny and cheerful. I couldn't be sad around her.
"Ah, you can't help it," I chuckled.
"So," Nora leaned in further, smiling deviously. "Word on the street is that you've got another man. Dish. Now."
I cocked my head to the side.
"Nora, what are you talking about?"
"Well, my sources say that you've been hanging around with some guy called Tesla an awful lot. Ring any bells?"
She always had been one for gossip.
"Tesla? Where did you hear that?" I puckered my lips, confused.
"I never reveal my sources," she declared dramatically. I laughed at her antics and shook my head.
"Seriously, who told you about him?" I pressed.
"A friend," she winked. I wasn't going to get a word out of her. "But come on, tell me about the guy."
I rolled my eyes at her pleading.
"Fine, fine," Nora bounced in her seat with delight.
"Tesla's a, um, friend. I guess you would call him that," I started. "I met him at a bar my first night here and um, he took me to his place. And, well, we met a few other times. And then David showed up and Tesla was kinda pissed off about that coz, you know, I told him how David cheated on his and stuff. And well, I'm not sure if we're speaking now," I shrugged my shoulders. I didn't want to go into details about how I met Tesla or the shouting fights we had. Or the times he had carried me home. Actually, I just rather not talk about him at all.
"Come on," Nora begged. "There has to be more to it than that. Tell me everything you know about him."
"Nora," I complained as I fidgeted in my seat. "There isn't anything else to tell."
"So you're not dating the guy or anything?" Nora eyed me more seriously than necessary.
"Dating him?" I nearly fell off my chair I was laughing so hard. "Are you kidding me? No way in hell would I do that."
Nora seemed oddly relieved.
"That's probably a good thing. I've heard things about him," she shook her head gravely. "He's just another dirty alcoholic with no friends and a pathetic--"
"Don't say that," I interrupted, my hands locked into fists. "You don't know him."
Nora leaned back for once and blinked rapidly.
"Sorry, Alisa. I didn't mean to offend you or anything."
"No, no," I rubbed my eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm exhausted. Haven't slept well lately, you know?"
"I getcha," her sympathetic smile made me relax. "So, if you're not dating Tesla, then you are back with David."
I paused, thinking of Tesla's words last time we spoke
I honestly couldn't care less about you and your fucking boyfriend
I couldn't care less about you and your boyfriend
I couldn't care less about you
Wincing, I nodded.
"Yeah, I guess we are back together then."
"Oh, good," Nora clapped excitedly. "We need to go on a double date. You just have to meet my boyfriend, Nick. How about tonight?"
"Sounds great, Nora," I tried to smile, but I was suddenly feeling hollow once more.
"Great," Nora stood up. "I'll call you later with the details."
"Great," I murmured while she waved goodbye on her way out.