Drenched with perspiration. Heated by vibration of a call. She ran as fast as she could, in a short black skirt and a tight white buttoned down t-shirt. It was quite an early morning for a college student to be running across a football field. Too early and too strange, especially for a girl in a well-dressed uniform.
Anna was glad no one was around at this time. She did not want to be seen. Not by anyone, especially when she had to be with the man—the reason for why she was up at 4 a.m. running with warm sweats washing down her red cheeks. “You’d..,” she panted in frustration. “better be..” she finally reached the other side of a majestic field, slowing down her pace as she looked at her phone to count the total missed calls.
“Twelve,” interfered by a cold voice, yet beautiful and raspy. The voice that she would do anything to unhear. The only sound she’d been wishing everyday she hadn’t fallen for.
“You’re getting better Anna, but still.. more than ten. You’ll have to wear this uniform again tomorrow,” he smiled with a small and clear dimple, playfully clapped both hands to congratulate and raised his eyebrow expecting for some interaction.
Anna stood still and tried to keep her face straight from running and feeling anxious to talk back. Talking is her strongest strength. Been called the smartest and funniest person to converse with in class. She is one of top students, but at this moment, standing in front of a big tanned skin man with a sexy voice she’s familiar with, she’s out of the rank. Talking with him was the last thing she wanted to do.
Anna decided to look right into his light grey eyes for a few seconds, signaling she did not want anything to do with him, then she turned around and walked back to where she started. She had no intention in spurring his anger, but it had been five days already since this routine had begun. And she wanted it badly to come to an end.
“You seriously are not going to say a word to me, are you?,” Jack shouted with annoyance.
“A smile at least?” As he expected, it made Anna walked faster than she already was. Quickly, Jack followed her and in only a few seconds, he was walking beside her. “Come on Anna. It’s only a day! And if you would do it for me. Just a day and then you wouldn’t have to come running every morning like this. Ever again!”
“Just a day? For you? Really Jack?” aggravated, she was pushed over her limits. Ever again? How can he be so certain? He wanted to give up, didn’t he? Anna turned to face him with no intention to hide how she felt. She wasn’t mad. She was disappointed.
“Yes, for me,” he insisted.
“It wasn’t a question Jack,” she sighed. And for a slight second, Anna thought she had caught a painful light in his eyes. Her hands trembled as she gathered her thoughts. No, it couldn’t be. A man who cares about nothing but himself wouldn’t let anyone hurt him. Besides, anyone who gets to know him would never wanted to hurt him. Jack is like a baby tiger. Adorable but you can’t be too careful. He is good at getting people to love and care for him, and Anna was one of them.
Anna wanted to go back to her apartment. She hated to be in this sort of situations, one that she knew it might be best for her to walk away, though deep down, she wanted to give what Jack had been asking for.
“I don’t know if I should.. I don’t know if I will be able to do it again Jack.” finally she had made up her mind. Preventing herself to take those words back, she looked away.
“You truly want to throw it all away?” feeling infuriated, Jack asked. He didn’t know what else to say. He had no idea why she left. All he remembered was he came back to their place and she was already gone.
Anna felt her throat tightening up. Feeling regretted for leaving with no explanation, but she was afraid she might forgive him if she sees his face. She didn’t walk away because she had lost count of how many time he’d forgotten their dates or even her birthdays, but because she couldn’t feel loved.
Silence started wrapping around them. Since the breakup, they both have been physically distanced, denying an urge to touch each other. But with a game they’ve been playing, they have gotten closer. Jack decided to reach for Anna’s hand. Maybe if he had her hand, he could stop her from running away. As his fingers nearly touched hers, she immediately took her hand away. Just like the last time he attempted. And for the second time, Anna noticed a flash of pain in his eyes.
“Why did you go?” Jack softly asked, walked over to where Anna had looked away, to see how she felt about all this, to assure himself of which direction he should take, to realize that maybe there was nothing left for him. Nothing at all.
“Please, help me understand. Why were you willing to play this game if you didn’t feel anything at all in the first place? You knew it’s impossible to beat ten missed calls.”
Indeed, she knew she couldn’t. A week ago, months after their breakup, Jack offered her a game. A morning run. If she could run from her apartment to a college football field within his ten missed calls, Jack will be out of her hair. If not, within two weeks time, she had to go on a date with him. She knew she would eventually lose, but she wanted to see him try. She wanted a chance. Not for him but for herself.
“Because I didn’t go Jack. I never left. Actually, I’m just… stuck,” Anna wiped a warm drop away from her cheeks. This probably was the only time she wished it were a part of her sweat, and not an expression of how she felt about she and Jack. She knew what her tears would make Jack do, so she stepped back from him to prevent two familiar arms wrapping around her body.
“You were so distanced Jack. You couldn’t see me when I was just right there, right in front of you. You were never with me.
It ended not because I stopped feeling for you. It ended because… I couldn’t have you. I felt like… I never did,” her whole body started trembling, and her darkened brown eyes are getting blurry by warm tears.
“I wanted to g…” she whispered into his chest. “Please, don’t say that Anna.” Jack interrupted. He could no longer resist his urge to hold her, and Anna was too tired to stop him. Maybe she needed it. They both did.
“Would you give me another chance? Give us another try?” Jack whispered and placed his chin on her head.
“You knew I couldn’t run faster..” Anna punched on his big chest with her face still buried into it and giggled.
“Ouch! This game was stupid,” he laughed.
“No, the game wasn’t stupid.
“We were.” Anna replied.
© Jidapa Chang-in