Harry had been gone for the whole day. I hadn't spoken to him again after our awry conversation yesterday. He hadn't made an effort to talk to me either and it stung me at the chest everytime I was reminded of him. Could he be out with Kaylee? He probably was.
These fruitless, irrational thoughts had been so persistent in occupying my mind for the past few days that more important things slipped out. My conscience stirred up guilt in me, reprimanding me for forgetting about my mother. Darren had told me she wasn't in the healthiest state and here I was dwelling on a guy whilst she suffered at home in our cramped apartment.
Harry promised that he'd arrange for me to see her but he still hadn't mentioned anything related to it. He probably didn't mean it, like how he didn't mean the things he said yesterday about liking the way he was when he was with me. I felt pathetic for letting his words get to me. I had absolutely nothing to offer him, unlike Kaylee. Why would any guy choose me over her?
Alright Thalia, that's enough, my conscience scolded. And she was right. My top priorities were safely getting out of this place and, of course, taking care of my mother, as I didn't think I would be able to bear with another calamity. Harry was not on the list.
I snapped out of my thoughts when a shaky wail sounded in the laundry room. Recognising it as Mrs Briffen's, I rushed in to see a basket on the tiles of the floor with clothes scattered all about. The grey-haired woman had her back arched with an expression so distraught it pained me too.
"What happened?" I asked, placing my hands on her shoulder to offer comfort.
"I was just about to throw the clothes into the machine. I bent down... bent too much." She managed to explain in spite of the apparent pain that washed her features.
"You should sit down. I'll help with the clothes." I guided her to sit on a wooden chair by the washing machines.
"Thank you, dear." She said as she positioned herself on the chair. "One of the cons of being old."
"I'd choose to be in your place any day." I told her with a light sigh before picking up the clothes on the floor. Harry's clothes. I tried to ignore the fact and bundled the jeans and shirts in the laundry basket.
"Harry opened up to you, didn't he?" Mrs Briffen said quickly and then bit her lip. "Sorry, just ignore me."
"How did you know?" I squinted faintly.
"I didn't mean to eavesdrop, I was just sweeping along the corridor the other night and I heard." Eavesdropping was one of the things Mrs Briffen did with strong enthusiasm. "I only heard a few things, I swear."
She probably heard the whole conversation. "He did." I admitted, dropping the weight of the basket on the machine.
"Harry doesn't just open up to people like that." She claimed with a meaningful smile. There she goes with the match-making. Mrs Briffen, of all people, knew very well how complicated things were between Harry and I but she just wouldn't give up. She believed that I was the 'saviour' or something.
"Harry was a timid child. Afraid of the littlest things." She let out a chuckle. "A vast contrast to how he is today. His father made him this way, you know."
Harry? Timid? The two couldn't be in the same sentence. It didn't sound right.
"Too bad." I said, shrugging. "He's very controlling now."
"Damian brought home ladies often, even when Harry was around. He's seen his father beat them." Her eyes widened momentarily.
Chills shot up my spine. "Really?"
"Apparently, to him, it's what 'real men' do." There was a flash of disgust in her eyes. "Sometimes he would put Harry up to random fights to man him up. Poor child, I still remember that look on his face when he was made to confront a boy who supposedly stole his crayon. But as you can see, what Damian did worked. But Harry began to really go off the rails when he entered his teen years, when he found out that his mother didn't die of a mere cold, but... a disease." She flinched a little.
"You know that. Then he got with the wrong crowd and resorted to alcohol and a bit of drugs, too. He fought with his father a lot during this time which ultimately led him to move out at 18. Then there was this time-" She paused, chewing on her lower lip. "Here I go again. I've said too much."
"No, it's alright." I told her, only because I wanted to know more. My curiosity for certain things had grown a lot since I arrived in this place and I couldn't help but think Mrs Briffen played a role in it. She was quite influential.
"Actually, I've got to do the laundry." She replied, attempting to stand up.
"I'll take care of it, Mrs Briffen." I turned away from her and dug into the pile of clothes in the basket. It was a good thing Mrs Briffen didn't want to continue her story. I needed a break from Harry.
I was familiar with laundry work. It was my duty at home to have all our clothes spick and span. I also occasionally helped out at the laundromat in the lowest floor of our apartment building for some extra cash. It didn't pay much but my brother and I could enjoy a few late night snacks every now and then because of it. It was the only job I ever had, if you decided to dismiss living in Harry's mansion as a job.
I picked out the clothes piece by piece, sliding my hands into pockets to clear them. Money - coins and notes - were taken out. Wow, some people had the luxury to leave their money in pockets and forget about it afterwards because they didn't 'feel like taking it out'. I wonder what it felt like.
I dropped every cent into a tin can on one of the machines. I'd have Mrs Briffen hand it over to Harry later. Then I pulled something out of a pair of black jeans that didn't look like money. I had two square packets in my palm and I was curious to know what was inside.
The packets were sealed and would have to be torn to get a glimpse of what it contained. I decided against going through the hassle. It was probably gum or something like it. But before I could chuck the shiny packets into the tin can, Mrs Briffen slapped it out of my hands.
"Don't touch that!" She was a little too dramatic, in my opinion. "Not again." She said softly to herself and I noticed her head shake lightly.
"What are they?" I asked, inquisitive.
"Something you shouldn't be touching." She said firmly. "I'm feeling better. Thanks for your help, dear but I can continue this on my own."
I exited the laundry room, unclear of what had just happened. Why had Mrs Briffen been so frantic over such a small issue? I didn't know. I made my way through the kitchen to escape to the lobby. The air was fresher here, less compact. My mind needed to be clear to figure out what I was going to do next. I couldn't just sit in this place for two more months.
I decided that I'd ask Harry about his plan for me to meet my mother, eventhough I still wasn't on good terms with him. I flushed when I remembered breaking down infront of him. I had been so weak. I trusted him too much. Then I remembered how he had managed to uplift my mood right after, how he soothed me of my worries in an instant and I found myself smiling faintly.
He had also showed me a side of him that I hadn't seen before. He told me things, very personal things. Did Kaylee know of the things Harry told me? Did she know that his mother was a Baby Doll? That he hadn't always been the rich, popular kid? I couldn't help but wonder if Mrs Briffen was right. Was I the only person he opened up to about these things?
I needed to be stronger than this. Forget Harry. God, please help me forget Harry.
Just then, the ring of a bell shot through my ears. Not the bell of the front gate, but of the entrance door. I cautiously paced toward the door and peered through the peephole, only to be met with my worst nightmare.
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