13 | himalia

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h i m a l i a

my heartbeat tripped and my breath stuttered as i followed the directions jupiter had texted me. after a short ten minute walk i find myself standing on the third floor of a quaint little apartment complex a few blocks away from the diner. i check the french braid i fixed my hair into, smooth the skirt of my dress, fix my jacket, and remind myself not to screw up before knocking on the wooden door.

i knew that the dress i wore complimented my figure but the way jupiter paused to stare after throwing was like prince charming seeing his cinderella for the first time. i let him look for a moment as i appreciate his fitted button-down and the the navy jeans he wore. they make his usual attire -- oversized sweatshirts, beanies and baggy shirts -- pale in comparison.

"eyes up here," i tell him and even though he startles and his cheeks flush crimson, he still grins and says, "i could say the same to you."

i follow him inside and the house is slightly messy and old  ("i may have managed to get my roommate out of the house," he explains, "but he certainly didn't clean up after himself.") but homey and lovely all the same.

after he gives me a quick tour, he excuses himself to check on the food. i walk around the living room and looking at the pictures atop the little table, jupiter's distant humming filling the silence in the room.

there are six pictures, one of him with a blonde woman, probably his mother, wearing matching santa hats, another with numerous people huddled around a sofa, trying to get into the picture. (jupiter was somewhere in the back, and the only visible part of him is his forehead and his hand).

there's one of him, behind the other ones, giving a dark-skinned boy a piggyback ride, a brilliant grin lighting up his features, both of them wearing swim trunks and shirtless. but despite his grin, there's a hollowness to his cheeks, to the ribs visible through his skin. and his lanky frame looks so frail, like even the softest of breezes could having him toppling over.

jupiter pokes his head out from the kitchen, smiling when he sees me looking through the picture frames.

"food's ready," he says, and i see red apron straps on his shoulders, "bathroom's first door through there if you want to wash your hands first."

i follow his instructions, washing my hands in the small bathroom, and leaning against the sink trying to blink away the image of his frail frame and hollow eyes away, trying to bury the realization slowly piecing itself together, the truth slowly unraveling.

i dry my hands on the hand towel by the sink, seeing that the bathroom mirror cabinet was cracked open and noticing the box visible through the crack. i don't even even have to open the cabinet all the way to see the words appetite suppressants written along the side of the box.

(and even as jupiter serves the food, and we clink glasses and i tease him about the baby pictures on the table, and laugh and talk with him, i try very hard not to think too much into it).

(it doesn't work.)

* * *

a/n: i know i hardly ever leave author's notes but i gotta prepare y'all cuz shit about to get real.

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