Chapter Five

Yeren’s words continued to echo in my head before they finally sank in. I stared at him for a moment as silence enveloped the room. No words followed. No more steps. Only we were there, standing side by side. His words were puzzling and I couldn’t grasp the real meaning behind them.

His lips parted into soft snickers. “I think you’re getting the wrong idea,” he said in between. “I told you that I’m searching for a roommate this coming sem so I’m asking if you could be my roommate.”

His words hung for a moment.

“Well, you made it sound like, you know, something. Something like… Ah…” I grunted and turned away. “This is embarrassing.”

He laughed louder, “Like a marriage proposal?”

I turned away even further, my cheeks and ears were hot.

Only allowed on

“Why are you so self-conscious? I’m the one who said it. Unless you’re starting to like… me?” he said playfully, making me more embarrassed than I already was.

I closed my eyes, clenching my fist with all my might. I wanted to deny it but the feelings were already there. “Perhaps, I am,” I whispered in a very low voice making sure he didn’t hear them.

His grip suddenly loosened so that I was forced to look back. His eyes were moving around, avoiding mine, his face and ears colored in deep red. “This is getting out of hand,” he muttered, shaking his head.

“Did you hear it?” I hesitantly asked.

Every part of me was hotter than any time of my life when he nodded. My heart drum pounded, carrying adrenaline to my body. I turned away as we stride to the bed. We didn’t say anything, we were too embarrassed. The moment I laid on the bed, I immediately pulled the sheets on my face. No one spoke after that, a deafening silence crept over like I was the only person existing in that room. My sense of time drifted away behind the sheets. Everything went in a flash as I wanted it to be. I didn’t know how many minutes or hours had passed when he heaved a sigh.

“I’m afraid that maybe… Maybe the feeling is mutual,” he said, his voice filled with tremors and uncertainty.

I removed the sheet, realizing that he was sitting on the floor, his head barely visible. “Don’t you think it’s creepy?”

“What do you mean?”

“We’re both guys. Doesn’t it bother you?”

“Ah…” He nodded though I couldn’t see any facial reaction. “How do I say it?” He sucked in a deep breath and stood as he pulled a chair underneath. He sat, his lower back leaned at the edge of the bed. His gaze staring somewhere, the door or the plain white wall? I didn’t know. “I’m not bothered. I mean, I see nothing wrong about it.”

He arched backward and turned his head to me, then went back to his original position. “Does it bother you?”

“It does.” A deep breath left my mouth as I searched for the right words. “I’ll admit that I am no religious person but… But something is not right. And…” I slowly closed my eyes, opened it again, then looked away in the opposite direction. “We just met, yet I feel this strong attraction towards you. I can’t understand how this is even possible.”

I had never been more honest in my life when I said those words. There was neither embarrassment nor hesitance in my voice. It was like a confession but we never minded. He never did. As if there was a string holding us together, making it easier for us to understand.

“Ian,” he called, his voice was velvety that I peeked without thinking, his face turned sideways.

A half-smile formed in his lips. “Why does religion matter when people feel strong attraction for another? I have never believed in a personal God…” His brows crumpled together, his left hand rubbing his nape. “But even if there is one out there, how do we know that he hates this kind of feeling?” He captured my eyes. “Many people are so engrossed with their lives after death that they’re forgetting to live their lives. Our lifespan is very short, we gotta make the most out of it. Follow your heart, follow where it leads you to happiness.”

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“Even if my happiness is at the expense of others?”

He stayed silent for a moment. “Do you remember Newton’s third law of motion?”

I nodded, “In every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction.”

“I used to think that whenever we do something to chase our happiness, there will always be other people who would be unhappy about it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Suppose there is a girl with two suitors,” he lifted his hand and made a peace sign with it. “If she chooses in one of them, it is at the expense of the other,” he said, closing his middle finger.

He lowered his hand and gave me a questioning look if I get it. I shook my head.

He heaved a sigh. “Now, suppose this girl has one suitor, if she chooses to be with him, others will be unhappy about it. Perhaps, the girl’s parents or the boy’s parents or maybe another girl who likes the boy. If she does not, the boy will be unhappy.”

“I get it.” I nodded a few times and looked at him with so much awe. “That’s very smart, I have never thought of it that way.”

He laughed at my sudden enthusiasm, then his expression changed with much sincerity in his eyes. He took a deep breath as he searched for my eyes. “Will you live with me?” he asked hesitantly.

The atmosphere changed yet again. It wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable but it was overwhelming. His choice of words made me think of other entirely different things. My answer was, of course, obvious but my mouth refused to say it. Words always seemed to leave me when they were most crucial.

I hissed under my breath, frustrated at myself. Yeren looked at me with a sad expression on his face. God, he’s getting the wrong idea. It annoyed me a lot more. ‘Just say it, Ian’ I keep telling myself. I clenched my right fist until my fingernails pierced through my skin and warm liquid dripped inside my palm.

Yeren noticed the tremor in my hands. His expression became a lot sadder. He gently caressed my fist, his fingers tapping the back of my hand. Annoyance slowly drifted away as my hand loosened on its own.

“You have been through a lot.” He smiled bitterly. “It must be hard for you to trust others. I can understand that.”

“No!” I said suddenly which surprised both of us. “It’s just that I can’t say some things that matter the most.” I looked away. “I want to say yes but I can’t say it properly. That frustrates the hell out of me.”

I heard him sigh. “Then, that must be it, huh?” Yeren stood and pulled something at the back of his jeans. “Open your hand,” he urged.

As soon as I did, he held my wrist and blew softly in my palm, “Does it hurt?”

I shook my head.

“Next time, you don’t have to hurt yourself when you’re annoyed, okay?” Yeren said as he gently wiped the blood with a brown hankie. He folded it in half forming a triangular shape and folded it again numerous times. “There are better ways to relieve yourself from frustrations like taking successive deep breaths or tickling the ceiling of the mouth with your tongue,” he explained as he wrapped it around my palm.

“Sorry, it’s an old habit of mine.”

“Don’t be, okay?” He grinned and I returned it.

“Great it’s settled then, you’ll be my roommate. When do you plan to move your belongings?”

“I don’t know. I don’t have many things to move anyway.” I lifted my head a bit and stared at the ceiling, trying to remember the date when the school year would begin. “Classes will start on June thirteenth, right?”

He nodded.

“Maybe next Saturday, on the eleventh.”

“I can help you out.”

“I don’t think that would be possible. I’m sure mom would ask dad to help me out.”

“Your dad?” There was a concern in his voice but he was hesitant. I was sure that he’s trying to be careful when talking about my family affairs. He sucked a breath, “Will you be alright?”

There was a trail of disinclination when I nodded. “I’m not really sure. But I guess I’ll have to deal with it.”

He stayed silent but he looked like there was something he wanted to say.

“Just s-” When I was about to encourage him to say it, my stomach suddenly growled loudly. It was then I realized how famished I was, my mouth was dry. I looked away as a surge of blood flow throughout my system. I heard him laugh but I refused to look back.

“I’ll get you some food in the canteen. Anything you want?”

“Can you get me some ice cream?”

He laughed again as he walked to the door.

“You’re weird,” he said before disappearing behind the door.

As soon as Yeren fled from the room, a nurse came in, holding a tray in her hands. She was young with a light cover of freckles on her cheeks, her hair neatly braided. She looked at me with a curious gaze. “Is that Yeren who just came out?” she asked.

I nodded, “You know him?”

“Of course, everybody here knows him. He’s the director’s son,” she replied, putting the tray on a small table beside my bed.

“Son of the head doctor?”

She nodded as she checked the dextrose bag hanging at the upper right corner of my bed. Her gaze traced the tube connected to it down to my hand.

“Your dextrose was detached.” She said, then looked at me. “Did you move suddenly?”

I didn’t answer.

She arched her lips into a half-smile. “I need to re-inject your dextrose but the back of your hand is no good.” She held my arm and lifted it. “We’ll have to insert it in your upper wrist, okay?”

I nodded and watched her as she rubbed a piece of paper on my upper wrist.

“You have to be careful next time. If you move too sudden, this can easily come off.” She said, her eyes looking for something in my arm. “And…” Her gaze flicked toward me back to my upper wrist. “You’re not in a good shape. From what I heard, your head was bleeding gravely yesterday. If-”

“Yesterday?” I interrupted.

She gave me a puzzled look when she finished inserting the dextrose with a needle. “You didn’t know? I thought he might have told you but you’ve been out for…” She looked around, her gaze paused in a clock beside a television in the southern wall. “…for more than twenty-eight hours.”

“Is my condition that bad?”

She handed me a mirror from her pocket, “Look.”

I picked it from her hand and placed it in front of my face. My eyes widen, surprised by how bad I look. There were a few bruises on my cheeks and left eye but more than that, I didn’t even realize that I had a bandage wrapped above my forehead.

“You may not know it but you had a mild concussion in your head. It’s good that you’ve been immediately admitted or something worse might have happened. I even heard that Yeren was frantically calling for help yesterday.” I stared at her, surprised, as she carefully studied my face. “Now that I have a careful look at you, I can say that you resembled her a lot.”

My expression changed from surprise to confusion. She stretched her hand toward the tray and picked up a piece of brown cardboard with some scraps of paper. She scanned the text in the papers and traced it with her fingertips.

“Your name is Ian Reyes… Birthday… June 3, 1994…” Her eyes widened, the cardboard almost slipped from her hand. “Oh my god!” she said with much astonishment in her voice. She looked at me and I gave her a ‘what?’ look.

“Your birthday is just the other day right?”

I nodded.

“Did Yeren know?”

I nodded again, pressured by the series of questions she’s throwing at me. She gently closed her eyes, opened them again, and covered her mouth with her right hand. Her reactions confused me all the more. I wanted to say something but I couldn’t.

“That must have reminded him of…” she murmured.

She put her hand down and looked at me, her face was really serious. “How should I say it?” A deep breath left her mouth open. “Can you stay away from him?”

I frowned and gave her a ‘what?’ look a second time.

“You see, there’s this certain girl who looked just like you. You even share the same birthday, birth year. If she was not my cousin, I would assume that you are her.” She gasped, her eyes widened. “No, that’s impossible.”

“What are you saying? That doesn’t explain anything,” I complained in frustration and confusion.

“Sorry, but this is hard to explain,” she said as she picked up the tray from the table. “Though I have one piece of advice for you, stay away from Yeren. It would be best for the both of you.” She added and hurried herself to leave.

“Wait! Who are you?”

She paused and opened the door before looking back. “It’s better if you don’t know,” she said and left me hanging, confused about what was going on.

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