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Chapter 25

“Ding Dong,” rang the door bell of Mike and Joe’s apartment.

“Just a second!” screamed Joe from the kitchen.

It was late at night and Mike was working a late shift so Joe decided to cook for the two of them when he came back. It was already 9 O’clock. It couldn’t have been him. It was raining pretty heavily too so who would dare come at an hour like this? Who was at the door? Just as Joe opened the door he recognizes her face, but this time something was definitely wrong.

“Ariel?” Joe asked.

“…Joe?” she softly whimpered.

All he could see now was her face slowly crunching together with sorrow, about to burst into tears with any given moment. Her lips trembled uncontrollably and she didn’t quite catch her breathe that well. It looked like she was suffocating as she harshly gulped one sob at a time.

“J-Joe…” she managed to say again between each whimper.

“What happened?” he said putting his hands on her shoulders.

“He doesn’t love me…he doesn’t love me,” she cried as she shook her head fiercely.

Joe thought for a second before he asked softly, “Did you see Peter again?”

“He’s engaged…” she sputtered.

“Oh man,” he sighed. Awkwardly patting her back, he comforted her. “Go take a shower and then we’ll talk about it. You’re freezing.”

Taking her to the bathroom, Joe leaves Ariel in the tub and goes back to making the dinner. He couldn’t believe it; why did Peter show up again? Everything was going smoothly…

Staring indifferently at the tile walls in front of her, Ariel stands still in the tub. She twists the handle in front of her and the water came rushing from the faucet. Quickly she pulls on the tab to let the water fall from the shower head but she had forgotten how cold the water gets when it first turns on. The cold water stung her flesh, making her wince and quickly she rushes out of the way by ducking down, only to hit her nose on the faucet.

“OW!” she yelps in pain.

She holds her nose tightly, closing her eyes so tight. The freezing water continues to prick at her fragile body and the pain on her nose was making things worse. When she opened her eyes lightly, she could already see the blood coming out. That was it; that was everything that needed to happen before she screamed in pain. She screamed louder and louder and cried so badly that it hurt her throat so every bit of that pain was being washed away from her body and nothing stopped her.

“Ariel, are you ok…” Ariel heard Joe say in a muffled tone.

She continued crying and screaming even louder and she didn’t care how pathetic he thought she was.

“Ariel!” he screamed.

He saw her hunched over in a fetal position howling her brains out and it scared him; he had never before seen someone go through what she was going through. Carefully, he kneels down on the floor next to her. Ariel had one hand on the tub supporting her weight and the other hand over her bloodied face.

“What happened?” he asked. “Why are you suddenly bleeding?”

“It’s all over,” she cried. “No more…”

He sighed as he looked at her weary tears steaming her face. All she could do was cry and she didn’t stop even for a breath. He took her hand off her face and grabbed a towel to wipe the excess blood off her nose. As he wiped her face clean, she peered into him with lifeless eyes that had been watery for hours.

“Why’d he leave me this way,” she cried.

“C’mon,” he said lifting her out of the tub.

He carried her to his bedroom and sat her down on the bed as he rummaged for some dry clothes and a towel. When he found them, he grabbed a chair and placed it in front of Ariel so he could help her compose herself. He placed the clothes on top of her lap and sat on the chair as he dried her hair.

“You can stay here for the night,” he reassured her by tapping her cheeks with his fingers. “Don’t think too much of it. Just stop crying and I will make you something to eat.”

He got up from the chair and was about to head out to the kitchen but was caught from behind. Ariel wrapped her arms around him and refused to let go. She didn’t want to be alone tonight, not after what happened.

“Don’t leave me,” she whispered on his back as she smashed her cheek on him.

“I’m just making food,” he laughed. “C’mon, you need to rest.”

Joe released her grip from his torso and turned around to carry her back to bed. He leaned down to lift her legs up and carefully placed her on the bed. He placed the comforter over her and closed the door behind him. And within that second he let out a deep sigh. It was the second time she had cried in front of him but it was for the same reason; Peter. God how much did he hate him! It was one thing to piss Ariel off, but it was another to make her cry. Joe would never think of making her cry, and anyone who did wasn’t going to get away with it.

Suddenly the phone rang.

“Hello?” Joe asked the receiver.

“Hey! It’s Mike!” Mike answered. “Hey listen! I’m coming home a little later than expected so don’t wait up for me.”

“Oh, trust me you don’t wanna come back this early anyways,” he joked.

“Why? What happened?” Mike asked.

“We have a bit of guy trouble,” he answered.

“Oh Joe, are you having a homophobic episode?” Mike sighed. “I told you I like Rainie.”

“NOT ME, YOU IDIOT!” Joe screamed into the receiver. “It’s Ariel, she saw Peter again.”

“Who’s Peter?” Mike asked. “The ex-boyfriend?”

“Yeah,” Joe replied. “She’s really bummed about it.”

“Well, at least she’s with a friend,” Mike nodded. “Remember to play nice, Joe.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Joe rolled his eyes.

“She’s probably really sensitive right now, so take good care of her and don’t be a moron!” Mike scolded.

A moron, huh? Now isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black…

Shrugging his shoulders Joe heads to the kitchen only to have the phone ring again.

“Hello?” he asked.

Back in Joe’s room however, Ariel stared blankly at the mirror in front of her. Her eyes where swollen and red, her cheeks looked hollow and her overall disposition was deathlike. This was the aftermath of her break-up. Pathetic. She thought losing everything the first time was hard…this was harder. She remembered how her life was before; the way it should have been. She remembered how Peter would woo her day and night just to hear her speak. How he would kiss her delicate skin whenever he felt like kissing her. How he snuggled close to her on those rainy days…how he would protect her…

“Um I’m sorry I really don’t have time for this,” Joe answered the telemarketer at the end of the receiver. “I don’t need to upgrade my cable service…yes I am quite happy with what I have…”

Suddenly the kitchen burst into flames! Oh that’s right…he was cooking a little before Ariel had knocked on his door. Never leave your stove unattended.

“Holy CRAP!!” Joe yelled. “Oh no, not you ma’am.”

He had forgotten his dinner and soon the stove was in flames. As he fans the fire down and starts panning down the food into the sink, the telemarketer continues to nag at him.

“I’m really sorry, WHOA!” he started to say as another flame hits the air. “I…really…don’t need your new plan!” he strains to say as he fans the smoky air.

Ariel slowly enters the living room only to see chaos. This was her life now; filled with smoke, everything going down to hell. She once lived so happily in her luxurious house, filled with carelessness and freedom…not now. Her happiness and her love burned along with the kitchen. Again she began to feel newly wept tears painfully drip from her eyes.

“Joe?” she asked quietly

“I’m sorry ma’am…I-really-amm!!!” he said straining through the battlefield.

“Joe?” she asked a little louder.

“I…really…don’t…need…any…new…equipment!” he yelled back to the receiver.

“Joe?” she asked once more.

“WHAT!!” he screamed.

Soon enough she was about to cry again. She didn’t mean to upset him and because she wasn’t too concentrated, she didn’t realize he was angry. Joe looked at her for a second and realized that he had yelled at the wrong person.

“Ma’am?” he said calmly to the receiver. “Quick question. Can you stop a kitchen from burning down, talk to a VERY annoying woman about some CRAP you don’t give a damn about and comfort a girl who’s been crying nonstop for God knows how long…all at the same time!? No? WELL NEITHER CAN I!!!”

Slamming the phone onto the counter and taking all the pots and pans off the burner and dumping them into the sink, Joe runs towards Ariel and wraps his arms tightly around her as she cried in his arms, grabbing at his shirt and clinging with every amount of strength she had.

“He doesn’t deserve your tears,” Joe whispered softly before looking at her face and realizing she was bleeding again. “Oh, geez. You have to take better care of that nose of yours.”

“You smashed into me,” she whined.

“Ok, fine. My fault,” he pouted wiping her face. “I’ll go to store to get you something for the pain. Just remember to rest.”

Gently he placed her limp and fragile body on the couch and covered her with a blanket to let her fall asleep a bit. As he closed the door behind him, he banged his head back. Everything was happening so fast.

 

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