1. Betty Go Belmonte
”So, what will you do?”
He smiles and gazes at her adoringly, then shakes his head playfully. ”You. You ask the most random questions.”
”Yeah, yeah”, she mumbles nonchalantly, now playing with a fork and cake crumbs. She falls quiet for a while.
He knows her falling silent is a rare event, and so proceeds to watch her, forgetting everything else in the world. Her, staying still. Her, with her eyes downcast, moving crumbs of chocolate cake around just because she wanted to. Her, with her messed-up hair and chapped lips, never really caring what she looked like but managing to have every man she meets under her spell, anyway. Her, all of her, which is his right now, in this moment. Out of all the images of her that will remain etched in memory, this particular one will be his favorite — one that will come up at the most unusual times, one that will always have him by the throat, daring him to leave behind reality for a while and relive her silence, her.
She looks up to him, waiting for a response. He does know what to say to her, really.He forces a nervous chuckle. Maybe stalling would help.
”Do I really have to answer that?”
”But it’s a trick question!”
She nods, beaming at him. ”Sure am!”’, she chirps, and then she gives out a short, childish laugh. Another memory, he says to himself.
He sits straight and places his arms in front of his chest, like commanding the attention of a board meeting. Knowing she won’t give this up, he goes on, even if he doesn’t want to. Damn women, he thinks, smiling to himself, but proceeds anyway.
”I won’t mind if you leave me without so much as an explanation.” He looks at her beautiful brown eyes, wary of the seriousness of his answer. ”Happy now?”
She sips on her iced coffee, staring outside, like she did not hear anything. He wonders if he has offended her. She looks hurt for a minute or two, then shifts back to her normal expression, of looking lost in thought. It was as if she rationalized things and then decided against taking offense — as if pain was something entirely up to us, a conscious choice of sorts, and feeling it is merely out of indulgence.
This is exactly what she thought of in a desperate attempt to console herself when months after, he left her, without so much as an explanation.