Sunday 25th January 2009by Tina
Tom’s last message about his dating status left Carla stunned, more than she had been for the past few months that she has known Tom. For the first time in the longest time, she did not know what to do. How should she react? Should she say she’s happy for him even if she’s clearly not?
Carla had been avoiding Tom ever since he told her his news. She often went on invisible mode in the messenger, ate her lunch with her teammates and went home either half an hour before or after she sees he’s offline. Lately he’s been going off early, and she guessed he was on his way to a date, or something like it, and frankly, she really doesn’t want to know.
Interestingly, though, Tom seemed to give her more attention this time than before. Even if she was invisible to him online, he’d send her “offline” messages asking how she is and all that. It was weird, and it felt kind of fake. Why the niceties now? Is it because she knew about his status and he wants to be on her good side?
However, with all those hiding, it was bound to catch up with Carla. And it happened on the most unfortunate time for her.
Carla had a bad day at work, with two of her teammates being on leave and the sudden downpour of issues from their clients. As if that weren’t enough, Carla also saw Tom with “the girl” during lunch out, which made her lose her appetite. She was grateful that he did not see her leave in a huff after getting her food wrapped. After a long and stressful afternoon, Carla was just about ready to go home when Tom dropped by her desk.
His tone was cheerful, which seemed to foul Carla’s mood even more.
Apparently, being in love made Tom dense, because he did not notice Carla’s glum tone, and instead asked, “So are you doing anything today? Come on, let’s get coffee. My treat. I’ve got something to tell you.” He wiggled his eyebrows at Carla.
She looked at him for the first time in how many days, and really looked at him. He still looked the same: that pale skin, short cropped hair and eyes that always seemed to twinkle whenever she looks at them. He looked preppy as usual, and Carla could just smell his cologne from where she sat. There was a tug in her heart. She missed him terribly.
Well this is a time for you to be with him, Carla told herself slowly. Don’t you want that?
But it hurts too much.
Doesn’t matter. You’re his friend, and that does not change regardless of what you feel.
Carla looked up at Tom, forced a smile and said yes.
* * *
It was just too good to be true. Carla told herself as she watched Tom pick up their drinks at the counter. She was really regretting her decision now.
The moment the two of them stepped out of the office and made their way to Starbucks, Tom started talking about Kat, the girl he was dating exclusively. She didn’t ask a question, he just started talking. Carla made the appropriate noises and actions but in her head she was mentally creating walls around her heart, trying to keep away everything Tom was saying to protect herself. But Tom’s words felt like cannon balls to the brick wall she was building — with every anecdote about Kat, a piece of the wall breaks and the ache gets to her.
Carla was more than thankful when they got to Starbucks and Tom ordered the drinks for them, feeling another tug as he went ahead and ordered her favorite drink. She tried to compose herself, reminding herself of their friendship and her manners, and how she really should be happy for him. She tried to think of questions to ask in preparation for Tom’s comeback, where she was sure he’d continue talking again.
“Here we go,” Tom said, putting a paper cup in front of her. “Caramel macchiato. Right?”
Carla’s face froze, but she took the cup from him and put it in front of her on the table. She hated that drink, how could Tom forget? They spent countless hours in Starbucks planning their activities and just plain hanging out and she told Tom about this so many times and now he orders this for her? Her heart started to sink.
Tom sat in front of her and did the same with his drink, humming softly to the music that played over Starbucks’ radio. It took a few minutes before he continued to talk about Kat again and Carla really tried to be interested. She watched him, leaving the drink untouched on the table, wondering if she could just leave because she think she won’t be able to handle any more of this any time soon.
Suddenly, Tom stopped speaking and looked at Carla and then the untouched drink. He asked, “Why aren’t you drinking that?”
Carla blinked. Wow, he actually took a break on talking about Kat, she thought. She looked at her drink and then back at Tom.
“I don’t like it.”
“Huh? Wasn’t that your favorite?”
Carla shook her head. “No.” She did not feel like explaining.
“Carla. Come on. What’s up? Do you have any problems? Tell me, maybe I can help.”
Suddenly, Carla felt irritated. How dare he ask that? After leading her on, after being so nice and sweet, after using her to do a favor he should have been doing himself, after disappearing without any explanation and ignoring her messages, and then popping up all of a sudden bearing this big of a news, he asks her if she has a problem?
A part of her knew she was thinking irrationally, but her emotions were on full swing and her heart felt raw from trying to block all the pain, so she blurted out, “I don’t think you can help with my problem, Tom.”
Tom looked confused. “Is it because of the drink? Are you mad? I’m sorry, I really thought that was your favorite…”
Carla actually laughed, but it was a hollow one. “God, Tom, I can’t believe you.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“You…are so inconsistent!” Carla exclaimed. “I can’t believe I’m putting up with this.”
“What did I do?” Tom looked really and truly confused that Carla almost pitied him.
“Everything, Tom. Everything and nothing all at the same time, and I’m just really so stupid to fall for everything,” Carla said the last words bitterly.
Tom actually reached for her hand across the table. “I don’t understand, Carla. Tell me what’s wrong, please, so I can help you.”
She just shook her head, sadly, this time. “You can’t Tom. Not now, at least.”
Carla pulled her hand away from Tom’s and blurted out, “All this time, Tom, I thought you cared. I thought…you thought I was special. But apparently I wasn’t. And I can’t believe I spent so much time thinking about this and wondering what happened and caring about you and what you think when clearly, you don’t feel the same way. I’m so stupid.”
Tom looked at Carla, his eyes wide. “I…don’t get it. Are you saying…”
“Damn it, Tom, I love you, okay?!” Carla heard herself say those words before they registered in her brain. And when she did, she felt aghast. Tom was looking at her with his mouth open but no words were coming out of his mouth. Carla felt tears fill her eyes so quickly that a few drops already escaped. Without another word, she got her things and walked out of Starbucks, wiping her tears away as she rushed as far as she can away from Tom and from her awful and untimely confession.
Author’s Note: And the drama continues. The series will end tomorrow, and I still don’t know if I can explain why it’s entitled Migraine. Let’s see tomorrow, shall we? 🙂