Chapter 12: Pressure (8/8)

“Great, another hour on this subway with all these people remembering me,” Elle angrily said to herself as she angrily glanced at the half-filled subway car then back at her shoes.

“Who does he think he is predicting a thing like that?” she angrily asked herself rhetorically.  “If he wants a child so badly, I won’t give him one.  I’ll show him who’s the boss.”  “That’s right.”  “Of course I’m right! Tomorrow, I’ll tell him I no longer want him as a potential boyfriend and anything else that might have been.  He has proven that he’s someone I don’t want.”  “Whoa, whoa, whoa, I think you’re being a little rash.”

I’m being rash? So now you’re on his side?”  “I’m not on his side; I’m here to help you make informed decisions.”  “Really? You don’t sound like it.”  “Let’s isolate your relationship for just today.  He wants to re-introduce you to his parents and for them to get to know you better, and vice versa.”  “You mean the torture chamber? He only knows me for about a week and goes off introducing me to them.  He’s crazy is what he is.”  “Why would any guy introduce you of all people to their parents?”  “Now you’re on every guy’s side?”  “Ugh, no.  I know you’re waiting to use, ‘They were already there, so he thought he’d just introduce them to you like everyone else who hasn’t met them, because he’s super grateful for all their work to get him to where he is now.’  No.  You heard him last night, ‘Why would I introduce her to you if she was a bad child?’ was what he said.  Not only did he defend you, but he also only introduces who he judges are good people to his parents.”  “You’re straying into yesterday.”

“Fine.  He had a beautiful dress custom-made for you.”  “He most likely does it for all of his previous lovers, emphasis on ‘previous.’”  “I’m in your head; of course I know you said that with an ‘emphasis on ‘previous.’ ’  Did you see the way he looked at you when he saw that you were so happy with the dress?”  “He was only looking at me in the dress, and nothing more.  He’s so superficial.”  “All guys are superficial, but that’s not the point.  His eyes looked like his bedroom eyes but ‘the bedroom’ wasn’t what he immediately thought of when he saw you.”  “If you were in my stomach, you would’ve felt his downstairs poking you.” Besides, his first impulse when he sees panties worn on a human or mannequin is to slip it off like that and spin it around on his finger? No thanks.

“When he knew that what he did made you upset, he gave you more affection, not less, and in front of others, might I add.  He also did everything you told him to do.  Despite his impulsive actions, he honestly didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“He kept looking at me like I was a piece of meat when we’re around others.  That’s not appropriate when he’s so well-known.  Adding to that, very few people actually display affection in public.  Remember the photograph of the Prime Minister and his wife holding hands? It was like a new phenomenon.  All those ‘Whoa’s,’ ‘Oooo’s,’ and ‘Aaah’s.’”  “JZ is familiar with Westernized customs of affection and wants you to feel at-home in a place so far from home.  I must say, it’s strange that they willingly accept and put the West so high, despite all the bad history.”  “That weirdo.  He could’ve waited.”  “He’s impulsive, you know that.”  “Impulsiveness is a bad trait and can definitely be controlled.”  “Take your chance to fix his impulsiveness.”  “That could be some other girl’s project.”

She got off the subway and began walking home.

“Let’s go back to when you broke the news to him that you only saw him as a potential boyfriend.  He tried to be a better man for you because he asked ‘how much is enough?’  “He just wants to get in my pants then throw me away like all of his previous lovers.”  Sigh.  “Once he knew that you wanted to be happier than you were, didn’t he try everything in his power to make you happier and happier?”  “I’ll admit that he was making me happier after I told him, but it could be equally logical that he still wanted to get in my pants.”  “You know what, you’re talking about your pants a lot and you’re not even wearing pants; you’re wearing shorts, his shorts.”  “Ugh, you know it’s an expression.”

“Let’s go somewhere else.  He took you to an isolated restaurant where no one would bother you and ordered delicious food for you.  When you got drunk, he did everything he could to make you better.”  “He has enough experience to know what to do in situations like those.”  “That’s not the point.  You were vulnerable but he didn’t try anything, rather, he did the opposite, did he not?  Sexily nursing you back to health with water.”  Silence.  “Ooo, sweet! No counter!”

She entered her apartment, turned on the light, and sighed heavily.  “You haven’t been here for three days.  Go check if your stuff is still here. Don’t forget to search for bugs and hidden cameras the paparazzi may have put in here.”  “I know, I know.”  “I thought you might have forgotten because you lost so many arguments to me.”  “You know what, I’m going to turn you off for now.”  “Ha-ha, you can’t turn me off! La-la-la-la-la-la!”

Elle opened her closet and scanned.  “Nothing seems to be missing in here…what is this?” she said to herself and picked up a tiny, black, plastic cube from her suitcase.  “It’s a bug.  Why would anyone put a camera in an almost empty suitcase?” “Since it’s open, then they can film you or listen to you crazily talking to yourself, duh.  You better eat something soon to get some energy in you.”  “It doesn’t really matter what it is because I’m going to break it,” she tiredly said, the device holding her attention.  “Not yet! Put it on the counter and see how many others you have.”  “Fine.”

She searched behind her TV.  “Here’s one.  Here’s another one.  It’s like they’re not even trying to hide these things.”  “Don’t get cocky, they could be decoys.  Search in the harder-to-place places like under the TV.”  “Got it.  I’ll just cover the TV and hope nothing in it can hurt me.”  She took a pair of chopsticks and swept beneath the TV from the back to the front.  Click. Click. Click, click, click. Three tiny cameras fell to the floor.  “Better check the other side.”  With the other hand, another two cameras dropped to the floor.  “These sneaky, sneaky people,” she said to herself and placed them on the counter.

She stepped on the bed to search the window and curtain.  “I should clean the window more often.”  “You should start now so you can detect all the possible bugs.”  “Fine.”  She wet a dishrag from the sink and wiped the window first then the window’s frame.  “Look! Up there in the corners!” “A camera on either corner, and they’re pointing at the bed.  Wonder why they would want to capture my boring bed life of reading the dictionary and writing snappy-looking characters.”  “If you and him were more permanent, he would come here and they would tape…never mind.  You’re hopeless when you’re this hungry.”

“I’m so tired.”  “I know, but safety first.  Good thing this is a small place, right? Hee hee hee!”  “You are so funny,” she replied rhetorically.  Elle searched the bathroom.  “Better close the toilet before you stand on it.”  “Alright.”  She closed the toilet and stepped on it to reach the window.  Click. Click. Click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click.  “Yay, another handful.”  “Now look in the tank.  They might tape some to the side.”  Sure enough, there was one taped to the side.  “Why would anyone put one in here? Wouldn’t they only hear water flushing and refilling?” “Maybe they have technology that can isolate everything but those sounds.”

“Look in the medicine cabinet.”  “How considerate.  They put all their bugs in the hard-to-reach shelves.”  She hoisted herself on the sink and retrieved one bug after another.  “Sixteen, seventeen, ugh.  Did someone glue this in?” “Get the ones that are easy to take first, put them on the counter, then deal with this one.”  “Well that makes eighteen in my hand, and four more that are glued in.  How will you deal with these?” “The only thing I can think of is tell the landlord to get rid of them.  You can’t afford to damage anything.  I told you not to get the TV.”  “For the last time, it’s necessary.  What if there was a natural disaster? How will I know what reporters are saying over the radio?” She sighed.  “I guess so.”  Elle covered the bugs between her palm and stomach and carefully got off the sink to add to the pile on the counter.

“Better take out all of that toilet paper and examine them,” she said to herself opening the vanity.  She found some that were taped to the tube, and some were on the vanity floor, while some were taped or glued to the vanity itself.  “Just the shower left in the bathroom, then you can move on to the bed!” she said to herself as added to the pile.

“Why are they so mean to me?” she complained to herself as she returned to the bathroom.  “It’s how they make money.”  “I can’t unscrew the showerhead.”  “I guess you won’t be showering tonight.  Look up at the ceiling.  If there aren’t any unnoticeable places, then the best is to be out of your reach.”  “Great,” finding her ceiling littered with cameras like black mold.  “Don’t just stand there, check the ceiling in the remaining parts of the bathroom and the other room.”  There was a murder of crows in the bathroom ceiling and a cloud of bats in the other room.

She sighed again with an exhausted look on her face.  “All you can do now is check the bed and sleep with these clothes on.  You never know who might invest in cameras that can see you in the night, like some people who film owls and bats during the night,” she said to herself as she searched the mattress.  “What if I need to go to the bathroom?” “Be thankful that his shirt is long and wide enough to cover you.”  “Yay, only fourteen; it’s in the low teens,” she tiredly said to herself and added to the pile.

“Phew, all I have to do now is take this thing off my head.”  “Now that you brought it up, he came to your rescue when you were almost blinded by the salon’s restroom’s lights.  He rushed to shield your eyes with his strong chest and secured your head in his hand,” she argued with herself as she removed bobby pin after bobby pin.  “Don’t forget that he told the hair stylist to show both you a demo.  If he didn’t do that, you probably wouldn’t know how much pain to expect.”  “I didn’t know how much pain I to expect.  He kept stabbing my head like he had a vendetta,” she said and pulled out the last bobby pin with the Styrofoam  yamakah.

“What is this?” she said feeling the back of her head and it did not feel like a bobby pin.  “What the hell?” she said when she saw the sapphire hair clip with water dancing.  “So this is what he put that practically scraped the skin off my skull,” she added.  “Awww, look how pretty it is! He got it for you and you didn’t even know it.”  “Look how expensive it is.  What is he doing putting expensive stuff on a poor girl in this neighborhood? He must want me to get robbed,” she said and rolled her eyes.  “He didn’t plan on having you back here tonight.  Just when I think you recovered from your hopelessness, you are hopeless again.  Do you see how perfectly it matches the dress you were going to wear to dinner? He probably had shoes and a purse to match.”  “I don’t need all of those things.  If he doesn’t think that I’m as perfect as he says I am, by accessorizing me with all these things that don’t belong on me, then I definitely don’t want to be with him.  He doesn’t think the way I am is good enough for his parents.”  “You said you wanted to impress them.”  “I wanted to impress them, but I still wanted them to know what I really look like, not like a doll or supermodel he decided to create to present to them.”  “Ugh.  You know what, go brush your teeth and go to sleep.  You have a long day ahead of you.”  “Fine by me, loser.”

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