Forgotten Love

By: Cher Etan


He lifted his head and looked into her green eyes flecked with gold. They were wide and staring at him as if she’d never seen him before. He cleared his throat and straightened up.

“Umm,” he said.

“What was that?” she whispered hoarsely.

Allen shrugged and continued to stare into her eyes. He shouldn’t be thinking it, but all he wanted to do was kiss her again.

“Please tell me you didn’t just kiss me so I’d get rid of Kareem,” she hissed.

“What? No! It…it just happened,” he protested.

She bit her lower lip making Allen jealous of her teeth; he wanted to bite her lower lip. She was looking at him pretty skeptically and he should probably be paying attention to that.

“I’m not sorry though,” he said.

She lifted her eyebrows. “You’re not sorry for what?” she asked eyes still wide and staring.

“I’m not sorry I kissed you. Are you sorry I kissed you?”

“Oh God, I’m not having this conversation. Go to sleep Allen,” Frances said walking back to her room and slamming the door behind her. Allen stood in the hallway and just watched her door for a bit. After an interminable amount of time, he decided to just go and sleep. There was nothing more he could do right now. He opened the door to his room and flopped on his bed, watching the hallway hopefully. Surely she was going to get him to leave…she wouldn’t do this to him, would she?

Allen sat up until 2am waiting and finally the door to Frances’ room opened. Kareem padded down the hall, in nothing but his boxers and a wife beater. He did a double take as he passed Allen’s door and saw him sitting on the bed staring into the hallway.

“Whoa man, you scared me,” he said with a laugh. Allen just glared at him. Kareem saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere with him and went on his way, using Allen’s house; drinking his water, peeing in his toilet and sleeping on the bed he bought. Allen was ready to commit bloody murder. In the morning, he started awake and realized he’d fallen asleep sitting on the end of his bed. He got up, ignoring his complaining muscles and walked to his doorway, peering down the hall at Frances’ door. It was wide open, and the bed was made. It was also empty. Allen looked the other way, towards the kitchen, but there wasn’t anybody there either. The apartment was silent.

He went to the grocery store to restock the fridge and then decided to attend his afternoon classes. When he got home at six pm, it was to find Frances seated cross legged on his bed, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

“Well hello there,” he said coming into his room and shutting the door behind him. She stared back at him impassively.

“What? You won’t talk to me?” he asked coming to sit at the edge of his own bed.

“What was that yesterday Allen? What were you trying to do?” she demanded eyes narrowed, practically shooting sparks at him.

“I was trying…to show you how I feel,” he said looking down at his blue carpet.

“Really? Coz it felt like you were trying to manipulate me into doing what you wanted,” she accused. Allen looked up into her eyes, hurt in his own.

“How can you think that after everything we’ve been through together?” he asked.

“How could you do that after everything we’ve been through together?” she countered.

Allen’s face reddened though he hesitated to call it blushing. “What did I do that was so bad? I was just showing you how I feel.”

“Oh? You just discovered these feelings the minute I got a boyfriend?” she asked snarkily.

“Boyfriend? Really? Him?” Allen said completely distracted.

“Yes. Boyfriend. Kareem is my boyfriend and you will deal.”

Allen stared at her uncomprehendingly. “You can’t be serious,” he said at last.

“Why not?” Frances challenged.

“You kissed me back yesterday. I felt it,” he said.

“You took me by surprise,” Frances said.

“But..” Allen began.

“No buts Allen, this is how it is. You need to accept it.”

Allen said nothing further, just stood up and walked out. He also accepted nothing – he resolved to make it his life’s work to get rid of Kareem if it was the last thing he did.

*****

In spite of his best efforts, Kareem and Frances lasted a whole year. It was the most miserable year of Allen’s life and he made sure Frances knew it. She responded by spending less and less time with him; they were drifting away from each other slowly but surely. It made Frances really sad but there was only so much she could do without giving in to Allen’s manipulations. At the end of the year though, Kareem came out to her; he told her that he loved her, so he couldn’t continue to lie to her. He was a transgender individual and he felt like it was time he embraced it and accepted it about himself. He hoped that Frances could accept it too.

She could; but only as a friend. If Kareem’s ultimate goal was to be a female, that was fine, but Frances wasn’t a lesbian. She wanted a man who wanted to be a man. Their break up was amicable but Frances didn’t tell Allen about it. There was just too much poison in that well.

“How come Kareem doesn’t stay over anymore, and you guys aren’t joined at the hip?”

“How is that any of your business?”

“Hey, I’m just a concerned friend. If you don’t want to tell me, fine,” Allen said throwing his hands in the air.

Frances hesitated, watching him for a moment. “We broke up,” she said at last.

“What? Seriously? When? Why didn’t you tell me?” Allen asked all up in her face, the his face became thunderous. “What did he do?”

Frances pushed him away, “Allen relax, it was mutual; we want different things, we’re still friends though.”

Allen glared at her. “What do I look like? Oprah? This isn’t a talk show and you don’t get to speak in clichés with me.”

Frances sighed and closed her eyes and then opened them. “It's not my news to tell Allen. Just know that he didn’t do anything, I didn’t do anything. It was just…the situation.”

Allen leaned back on the chair staring at her. “So he’s gay huh?”

Frances rolled her eyes but didn’t reply.

Allen jumped up in glee. “I knew it! I knew there was something...” he began.

“He’s not gay!” Frances yelled. “Now could you please leave it alone?”

“Fine,” Allen said sitting back down and studying her closely. “You don’t look heart broken.”

Frances looked up at him, narrowing her eyes in annoyance. “What? Not enough gorging on ice cream and lounging about in my pajamas for you?”

Allen shrugged. “Well its kind of hard to comfort someone if they don’t look miserable,” he said making Frances laugh.

“You could always buy me a jeep to cheer me up; it's way more fun than whatever ‘comforting’ you had in mind.”

“You’re all heart Frances,” he said wryly.

“Aren’t I just? Now finish your breakfast and go to class,” she ordered standing up and lifting her heavy duty bag. She actually had a Honda that she’d insisted on buying herself from her savings. Over the years, she’d done various odd jobs, including presently working in the campus library. It was an old car, but reliable and it was all hers. Allen had offered to upgrade her many times but she’d always refused so she assumed he knew she was joking about the jeep.

When she got home that evening there was a brand new dark green jeep sitting in the driveway with a massive bow on the front. A small crowd of their neighbors was standing around, admiring it and a slight cheer went up when they saw her.

Frances stopped and stared at the car, hoping it was someone else’s who was maybe currently behind her and that was why everyone was staring in her direction. She walked slowly toward the group, looking for Allen but he wasn’t there.

“Hey Frances, Allen left this here for you. He asked us to watch out for it and give you this when you arrived,” Carlton, who lived a floor below them said holding out a key to her. She stared at it and then at the car and then back to the keys, and then up to Carlton’s face. He was grinning like a loon.

“Where is he?” she asked.

Carlton shrugged. “Dunno. He left,” he said not very helpfully. He was still holding out the keys so Frances took them with a fake smile and turned to the car.

“You gonna take it for a test drive?” Carlton asked excitedly.

“Nah, I think I’ll just…drive it into the garage for now,” she said to everyone’s disappointment. The apartment complex had a two car garage for every apartment. Frances parked the jeep in Allen’s spot and then drove her Honda into her spot. Allen could park his car in the driveway for all she cared. The crowd had thankfully dispersed by the time she emerged from the garage and she went up to their apartment and shut the door behind her, planning her words carefully. She made to step further into the apartment when she froze, noticing the petals on the floor for the first time. It was a carpet of red petals, leading to…she walked forward to see. They meandered down the hall to the dining area where the room was dimmed with closed blinds. The table was laid for two and soft music was playing from the speakers. There was a man in the kitchen, fiddling about with something on the cooker.

Top Books