Another Bandage to Peel

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A/N: I feel more comfortable writing this in present tense. Sorry.

I run. I run, and run and run, and I don’t stop.

I’m not only physically running. I’m running away from what I saw, the pain my heart felt in that split second when I saw T with that girl. I can’t even think straight; I can’t ask myself who she is, or what made him do it.

I keep running.

The only thing that I can think about is the address to the hotel Travie gave me earlier. He said it’s about a ten minute drive. He didn’t say how long it would be on foot; he didn’t expect me to have to run there for anything. But I did, and it was taking a long, long time.

 I don’t even know if the address I have in my mind is correct, but as I stop in front of the building, a tall building with a brand-new looking sign that said: Miami Palms on it in big bold letters, I feel a pang of confidence.

I push through the doors with force to find an empty waiting room. There is a girl at the desk, and she isn’t looking at me. When I walk further in though, she looks at me with wide eyes.

“You’re leaving tracks.” She says to me. I look down and see that the underside of my shoes is wet; I didn't even notice it was raining. A loud boom of thunder, as if God dropped a rock above the clouds and it hit something hard coming down, vibrates the room, as if to confirm the rain.

“Sorry.” I say lowly, trying hard for my voice not to shake. I can barely even keep myself from bursting out into tears. I kick my feet on the carpet a bit until finally telling her I wanted to visit Travie (since I don't know his room number she has to call him and confirm that he knows me).

When I get up to the room, I knock once and hear footsteps, but I can't wait. I knocksome more, rapping on the door impatiently. Finally, Travie come to the door and lets me in, closing  the door behind us.

He begins to speak. “What are you doing here so late—”

Before he can finish, I’m throwing myself into his chest, bawling and crying like a baby. After a few awkward seconds he hugs me, and I feel more comfortable crying into his chest. He rocks me a bit, like a baby, and rubs my back. But I don’t mind—that’s what I felt like right now, like a baby.

When I get a hold of myself, he sits me down on the bed. I realize that this hotel room is much bigger than T’s—Travie is probably richer, or just less cheap.

“What’s up, Jay-Jay? I told you that you can talk to me. So talk.” He says, stroking the side of my face. Travie is comforting me so well, it actually makes the tears stop. There’s still a lump as big as a rock in my throat, though.

I tell him everything; about  T meeting me at the beach and taking me into the water, about my plans to surprise him, and about finding him with the girl. He nods, and he seems to understand. When I’m done, he shakes his head. Probably in disappointment of his cousin, or in pity for me.

“Let me tell you something.” He starts. “When Ty and I were little, we used to play outside. We used to throw water balloons in the summer, and offer car washes to cars passing by. They always ignored us, but it was fun. Anyway, one day our aunt came over and saw us playing with the fire hydrant. She called me and told me to buy a kite—she gave me the money and told me where to buy it.”

I didn’t understand why he was telling me this, but he continued.

“I took Ty with me and we went to the store and bought the kite. Ty was a little slow back then; he couldn’t figure out how to do it.” Travie laughed as he said this. Something flashed in his eyes, but I couldn’t identify what it was soon enough. “So I ended up being the one setting it up. I set it up, and I flew it, and we ran with it. We laughed and had fun. Even when it got caught in a tree, I went up and rescued it. Fortunately, the kite still worked. But then we decided to show our aunt how well we’d done with the kite. And you know what Ty did?” He asked.

I shook my head. The story was kind of interesting, but I still couldn’t figure out where it was going.

“He told our aunt that he did everything. The exact things that I did, he claimed to do. I stood and watched him tell her, and I was surprised. But you know what? That taught me a lesson—never to trust people too much. I trusted that Ty would tell the truth, and he didn’t.” Travie stopped talking after this. I guess he expected me to understand.

But I didn’t.

“I still don’t see how this relates to me.” I said. My voice sounded new and unnatural, like it was my first time speaking. I knew I sounded like this because I’d cried so much.

“The moral to the story is that you shouldn’t trust people too much. When you and Ty started out, you trusted him too much. And now you’re here, surprised out of your mind. Next time, be aware, and don’t trust.” Travie said. I stared at him, and he stared right back at me. I knew I had a blank expression on my face, but Travie didn’t. He looked thoughtful.

“Travie, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t help me right now at all. I mean, I understand what you’re saying and all. It’s just…that doesn’t change what he did.” I say this lowly, almost in a whisper. Travie chuckles.

“But see Jaydi, that’s the whole point—nothing can change what he did, neither you nor me. No one and nothing can change it. Some things can’t be erased.” He says. I see now that Travie seems to be wise. He’s definitely smarter than T.

There’s silence for a while. There’s no television on in the huge room. There are two beds, a flat screen, a floor to ceiling window, and the floor has white carpeting. I look at Travie’s kind face; he has soft skin and a well-kept beard. You could see that he’s an older guy, older than T. I think he’s about 27 or so. But I know for sure that I’ve never met anyone as kind as him.

As I’m looking at him, he gives me a genuine smile, and I have no choice but to smile back.

“Sorry about that.” I say, referring to my tear marks on the middle of his End Child Labor t-shirt. He waves his hand.

“That’s alright. It’s just some t-shirt.” He says. I adjust myself on the bed and feel it bounce under me, welcoming my body to lie down and sleep. The run here in the rain has made me tired.

“You can crash here if you want to.” Travie says. “I’m sure you don’t want to go back to Ty’s hotel.” I’m so grateful for his offer.

He directs me to the bathroom and I shower for a while. I let the water fall down on me persistently, exposing my face fully to the water with no refrain. I let the pale shower water mix with the tears that come onto my face as I think of what I saw when I walked into the bedroom at T’s hotel. I shake my head, trying to shake the thought away. But it won’t go away. All there is now is sadness and the feeling of betrayal.

I fall asleep in one of the comfortable beds in Travie’s room, alone and shocked.

I love you too much to stay away from you.

That is the text message that I get from T as soon as I wake up in the morning. I read those words over and over, and only one word comes into my head: liar. He lied to me. After that, I don’t think I can look him in the eye anymore.

It’d make it easier for both of us if you just stayed away from me—forever.

That’s what I text him back. He doesn’t respond, so I try to drift back off to sleep. It’s nine o’ clock in the morning; Travie has left to go run some errands, so it’s just me in the big room, engulfed in the huge bed by my sadness and the cushiness of the mattress.

My ringtone wakes me up after I’ve just nodded off. The caller ID shows T’s number. I click the Ignore button with such force that my thumb hurts after I release the button.

He calls over and over again. By the time I’m finished with breakfast, I have eighteen missed calls and five missed texts. But I do not care—T is not a part of my life anymore.

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