Shannon holds my hand very tightly in the metro all the way to Gare Du Nord. We keep talking about things that seem never-ending. No matter how many hours we have been talking, it is never enough to catch up every single detail of her lives. About scrapbooking, about London, about diapers and about how Coldplay should never break up. I love being with Shannon and I love listening to her talking non sense. It just makes me feel alive and loved and healthy, as if the cancer would be cured by her magic blabbering words and her sparkling black eyes. And I hate that she has to leave to London again.
We finally arrive at Gare Du Nord Station and we hug goodbye when Shannon’s train was about to depart. “I’ll visit next weekend if anybody could babysit Alison,” Shannon promises.
“Or I’ll come by to London!” I say.
“You’ll do that? But you hate train trip!”
“I’ll figure it out, Shan.” I act wisely.
“Ok then. I’ll see you later, Ellie.” She hugs me for the last time and goes off to the gate. She shouts from a far though, “I love you Ellie!” which makes people glance at me and smile.
It is good to know people notice that you are loved.
Shannon let me have her facebook account’s password so I can stalk Ben whenever I want. I know it is very immature of me to do that but I do it anyway. Shannon kept asking why it is such a big deal for me to friend him and stalk him from my account instead but I didn’t know what to answer. I just don’t want to. Maybe I don’t want to add numbers for people who know me then there won’t be too many people who would be sad on my funeral. It is a stupid thinking, I know.
I just stare at Ben’s facebook profile during my trip back to Anvers station. There is no activity since the last time Shannon and I checked. He might be in Paris now or probably riding the same train with me, but who would’ve known.
I realize my palm is sweating a lot when I open my hostel’s room as the handle is covered by my sweats. I have been feeling weird lately, sometimes light headed and tired. Since I stopped my medication a week ago, now I wonder how long I can survive without treating this cancer.
Being with Shannon was so fun, it almost convinced me to live forever but then I realize she won’t be able to live with me though I lived forever because she was married to someone who was also hoping to live with her forever. Sometimes I really hope that Shannon was a guy so I could marry her.
Suddenly notification comes from my email, which is a reply from this guy I met online who was looking for a roommate. His name is Jeremy, an American born Korean who is studying here, in Paris. He’s looking for anyone who could tidy up the apartment and willing to give cheap rent price. So I emailed him promoting myself of how I would be so quiet and tidy.
“Hi there Eloise, can you come to my place tomorrow? Any time after 2 pm is fine.” He wrote. He also gave his number so I call him that I‘ll be there.
Meeting Jeremy was pleasant. He seemed nice and decent. He has a very messy hair which I thought he does on purpose and a very thin eyebrow, almost none. He isn’t really tall as a guy and a little too chatty but I don’t mind to hear him talking words I don’t understand about his on-line game as long as I could stay in his amazing apartment paying only 400 Euros a month plus tidying up the place. It is located in an aisle called Rue Malar and it’s only minutes away from Eiffel Tower. The apartment itself is so Paris-like with white paint and white railing and flower pots next to the main door. It’s beautiful and exactly like what I expected in mind. The opposite of the house is a restaurant called L’ami Jean which always smells delicious. My guess that Jeremy’s parents are rich and he’s a spoiled brat could probably true because he doesn’t even want to do dishes. But again, I don’t mind to wash his dishes since I don’t have many things to do anyway.
The next thing I know, I have shifted to Jeremy’s apartment, unpacking my clothes to a classy white wooden wardrobe.
“Your Laundry days are Tuesday and Friday. Wi-fi is free to use but don’t download anything after 10 at night because I need full speed for my online gaming. Friends are not allowed to stay for more than 3 days, unless she’s a really hot chick. I love free snacks once in a while, mostly American junks like chips and…” he pauses for a while, “nope. Only chips.”
“Got it. Will stock up for chips.” I say.
He chuckles, “I prefer natural taste with sea salt.”
“Okie dokie, will add sea salt on the grocery list.”
“You seem like a cool girl, Eloise.” Jeremy compliments me.
“Thanks. So do you, Jeremy.” I reply.
“Okay then. Enough for the chit-chat. I’m off to my game. Please never talk to me while I’m playing unless there’s fire or Victoria’s Secret model came by.”
Jeremy then is busy with his two gigantic monitor and screaming random things on his headset while I open Safari on my iPhone, googling ‘how long does a cancer patient survive without treatments.’
Apparently, collecting information from internet is not my strength at all. I get bored reading all the articles about breast cancer, what breast cancer is, survival stories, blah blah blah. I just glance through all of them and find out it would be 18 month maximum survival rate for a person with certain stage of breast cancer.
I fondle my left breast and realize that the size of the tumor is getting bigger. I get a goosebumps just by touching it. How did it get bigger so fast? Was eating too much soufflé considered as feeding it? Huh, my sense of humor is back. Just because some times with Shannon and Jeremy’s company, I feel like wanting my life back. My life without cancer.
Then I wonder to a conclusion that actually have been admitted by my conscious a long time ago, that I wanted to suicide not because I hated my life or my family, but simply because I felt lonely. What I, Eloise, the suicidal lady, actually need is a company. I hate being alone, it makes me think scary stuffs like suicidal. I realize I’m so self-destructive and weak, which probably a kind of mental problem. But hey, who doesn’t have mental problems nowadays?
A ding sound awakes me from my depressive daydream. It’s a message from Shannon, “Check Ben’s facebook. NOW!”
I don’t waste any seconds to open Shannon’s facebook account and stalk Ben. There is a new photo of him being tagged, uploaded by his friend. He was standing in front of Louvre wearing a grey sweater and dark blue jeans. He looked handsome with that gorgeous mysterious smile.
I open a message box and he’s online, all of sudden I feel my heart pounding. I click his name and stare on a blinking type cursor.
I inhale a long breath, swallow my pride and type “Hi Ben! How are you? I see you’re in Paris now. Any plan to London?”
Shit, what am I thinking?!
I feel like I have waited forever and he doesn’t reply my message. Well, technically it isn’t my message, it is Shannon’s but still I feel rejected. So after waiting for ten minutes, I decide to log out from Shannon’s account and let my stupid guts laughs at me. I feel embarrassed for no reason at all and start to cry. I don’t want Jeremy to see me crying so I go to my room and crying for the next five minutes. What the hell is wrong with me? I’m being too sensitive over that stupid non-replied chat but even though my brain knows it is nothing close to worth crying for, the tears won’t stop streaming down to my face. I’m being over emotional, so I just sleep on it that night and hope the next morning every thing will be fine.
I open my eyes as the sunshine peeks between the curtains. It creates such a great silhouette of the pretty railing from my balcony. I feel so much better just seeing the sunshine. I feel fine.
Last night was an emotional roller coaster for me and it was weird because there weren’t anything worth crying and being depressed for. That stupid non-replied chat? Was that worth my tears? What a stupid thing I felt last night.
I go out from my room and the living room is empty. There is a headset on the black couch and some empty Kronenbourg cans. I pick them up and toss them on the trash can while the headset is being put back near Jeremy’s PC. The door of Jeremy’s room is opened and I see him sleeping. He probably just started to sleep.
I hit the shower after having a glass of milk and toasted bread with strawberry jam. I examine my left breast again after finish with shower, this time in front of the bathroom mirror. The left breast looks saggy and weird. I fondle carefully and there again, the tumor as a size of marble, or even slightly bigger. I’m not sure because I stop touching it. Tears start streaming down on my face again, uncontrollably. I have no idea why I become so sensitive and emotional over everything. It is the fifth time I have been crying in one week. Last year, I didn’t even cry once!
I wrap my body with the towel and come back to my room, planning to call Shannon because I miss her already. I see my iPhone’s screen is on when I enter my room and find out there had been 4 missed-calls from Shannon. I call her back right away.
“Ellie! Where have you been? It’s ten thirty for God’s sake, you just woke up?” She nags like an old woman.
“Jeez, Shan. I was in the shower. And I am allowed to wake up as late as I want because I’m in holiday!”
“Yeah, go ahead rubbing your relaxed life on my nose! I’m wiping shits from a baby’s ass!”
I laugh, “Some said it reflects fortune, Shan. Breathe them in.”
Shannon laughs along with me, “Why don’t you try yours?”
“Ellie! I call you because Ben messaged me, apparently he’s replying my message!” Shannon cuts my next joke.
“What? What message?”
“Don’t act stupid, Ellie! You used my facebook to message him! What are you, thirteen?”
“Sorry about that, Shannon… I was following my guts. What did he say?”
“Your guts stopped growing up on thirteen?”
“Shannon! What did he say?”
A cry explodes in the background, “I’ve got to call you back later, ok?” Shannon says.
“Alright. Call me back soon, or I’ll do something stupid!”
“Huh? Like what?” asked Shannon and suddenly the line is cut off. She probably drops the phone or Alison grabs it and throws it to the sink.
I can’t wait for Shannon to call me back. I do the stupid thing right away, which is opening Shannon’s facebook, again.
Ben’s reply to Shannon is brief and decent. Wow, he’s a decent man now… And something about the reply from him sinks my heart to my stomach.
“Hi Shannon, sorry I missed your message yesterday night. I fell asleep without logging off the application. Anyway, I’m in Paris at the moment, only for a week, for this architecture conference my office is having with its corporate partner. So basically I just flew 20 hours to stay in the hotel and do meetings. Can you believe that I’ve been in Paris for 4 days and haven’t visited Eiffel Tower, which I was dying to see?! I only went to Louvre Museum out of convenience because it’s just outside of my hotel.
It’s a shame I won’t be able to extend my Europe trip even though I really want to visit London or Amsterdam where all my friends are staying because of a certain project’s deadline. Keep in touch, will ya, Shannon?”
My stomach feels funny when I read the message. It’s like this weird feeling as if my heart literally sinks to the stomach because I can really hear the beating sound from my stomach and it does feel like something is beating inside. I could meet him if I want to. He stays in some hotel near Louvre that has a meeting or conference room who holds a conference for some architecture firm.
The phone rings and it shocks me like hell as if I’m getting caught of planning some crime. I’m not planning anything bad, but I feel ashamed somehow, without no reason at all.
It’s Shannon again on the phone, “Ellie! I’m back.”
“He’s here, Shannon! Very near! And I know where he is!”
“Well, I guess you already read the message.”
“What would you do now?” Shannon asks.
There’s a long pause. I’m not sure if I should tell Shannon my plan because I’m so scared for judgment.
“You want to meet him, don’t you, Ellie?” She asks again, softly this time.
“Um… Kinda.” I reply, acting cool.
“I know you want to, not kinda want to. Just be straight with me here.”
I hesitate for a while, but then I reply, “Yes. I do want to meet him. Is that weird?”
“Well… I don’t know. Kinda.”
“Shannon!” I snap at her.
“I was kidding, Ellie. It’s not weird to have developed certain feeling to a certain man.”
“What certain feeling? What do you mean? It’s not like I’m in love or something, Shannon! Please, I haven’t met him for million years! I didn’t even—“
“Jeez, Ellie! Did I say you’re in love with him? Relax, Ellie, I thought you’re in a holiday.” Then she laughs as if she just won something.
“Listen, Ellie…” Shannon talks seriously, “I don’t know why suddenly Ben came into the picture and why you’re really interested with him. But I hope you don’t have high expectation because this is not the Ben who gave you chocolate medal anymore. Like you said, it’s been million years since that happened. He might have already forgotten about it and…” Ellie pauses for a while, “He might have forgotten about you too.”
On that moment, I realize Shannon is right. I have been delusional these past three days, thinking about Ben and how he still finds me special when actually he might have forgotten about me. He might have so many girlfriends after that 6th grade confession to me and his memory of me then replaced by so many other girls.
“Ellie, are you still there?” Shannon talks softly.
“Yeah.” I answer nonchalantly.
A knock on my door distracts my focus from the phone to the door. “Jeremy?” I shout. A blurry yes replied me. Then I realize I’m still naked.
I tell Shannon that I gotta go and will call her later, put my worn out pajamas and open the door, “Hey, why are you awake so early?”
“It’s almost noon, I’m hungry.” He replies. I can see his eyes are still red.
“You want something to eat?” I ask.
“Would that trouble you?” He tries to be polite.
“Not at all. I can only make a sandwich for you because I gotta go somewhere.” Then I walk to the kitchen while Jeremy has already gotten comfortable on the couch.
“Hey Jeremy?” I ask him from the kitchen counter.
“Any hotel near LouvreMuseum that has a good conference room?”
“Um… There are tons of hotel around that area, you know. It would be a hitch just to find one hotel.”
Well, that helps a lot, I think sarcastically.
“Why do you need a conference room?” asked Jeremy.
I don’t answer that because it will be too complicated to answer so I just finish up his sandwich with extra mustard and put it on a plate, “there you go!” and I give it to him.
He thanks me for the sandwich and comments, “Well, it’s a sunny day for going out, Eloise. Just don’t forget to change because right now, I can easily see through your shirt.”
“Ew, Jeremy!” I thump his arm with a TV remote and leave him laughing while chomping his sandwich.
I go to my room to change and put on a bra, of course. I smile when I realize it has been so long, too long, since I get confused dressing up to meet a boy. And the warmth feeling filled the hole in my heart, once again, just because of thinking about this man named Ben whom I never met since 6th grade.