Wednesday 9th December 2009by Tina
It shouldn’t matter to me, really. It doesn’t matter to me. I needed to remember that. And if it would somehow matter to me, it shouldn’t matter now, not when we all have a big event coming up and I can’t afford to lose focus.
But when Chiara brought it up, my mind went on overdrive. Why did I have to catch an allergy when we got to the hotel? Why did I have to miss dinner? I could not stop thinking about it…them. Ruth. Matt. Matt and Ruth. I can almost imagine them laughing together over dessert, with Matt buying Ruth her favorite cake. Does he know her favorite cake already? Does he know how Ruth likes her coffee with her cake?
I don’t really know why I’m reacting this way, especially since I was the one who pushed the two together. If it wasn’t for me, Matt and Ruth wouldn’t be this close, almost date-like close. It’s stupid, really, but I couldn’t deny Ruth when she asked me to help her get close to Matt. How I wish I said no to her, though.
“Ian, you okay?” Chiara asked again. This time, she scooted closer and put a hand on my shoulder, the way she used to do when we were younger. She eyed the beer bottle in my hand warily, as if I would do something bad with it.
And maybe, I might end up doing so. I found myself gripping the bottle tighter when I saw two people approach the bar at the corner of my eye. Chiara suppressed a gasp and cast one more concerned look at me before addressing the two newcomers.
“Chiara! Ian! What are you guys doing here?” I looked up, and there was Ruth, looking all fresh and awake and cheerful, slid into the seat beside me. Behind her was Matt, looking sharp and rested even if it was only four in the morning. He smiled at the two of us before calling the bartender to order some drinks.
“Hey guys,” Chiara said, giving my shoulder a comforting squeeze. I don’t know what she knows, but that gesture helped me. I loosened my grip on the beer bottle, and tried to relax a little. I shouldn’t be bothered. Shouldn’t, shouldn’t.
“Wait let me guess,” Ruth said, looking at Chiara then me and back at her again. “Chiara can’t sleep, and you…” she paused, and squinted, trying to remember where I was earlier. I watched as she looked up, like she always does when she couldn’t find the answer, as if the heavens would give her the answer. When it didn’t, she looked back at me again, curious. “Where have you been? You disappeared right before dinner.”
“Allergies,” I said, shrugging. I looked away from her gaze, feeling my face flush under it. “Knocked out by antihistamines.”
Ruth’s eyes clouded with concern. “Oh poor Ian. You should have called me, I have no-drowse antihistamines in my bag.” She reached for my shoulder and gave it a squeeze, and her touch made my heart flutter.
“Nah, it’s okay. I needed the sleep, anyway,” I said nonchalantly. I glanced at her briefly and asked, “Have you slept enough? What time did you guys go in?”
I saw Ruth glance at Chiara then at Matt and back at me. “I don’t know, around eleven? Mitchie didn’t make me sleep enough, though.” She added the last part softly.
“Still the same, huh?” Chiara’s tone was grim. I looked at her questioningly, but she nodded at Ruth, telling me that she didn’t have the right to say anything. So I looked at Ruth.
“Noah broke up with her a couple of days ago. Through text.” Ruth’s tone was even grimmer than Chiara’s, and I thought I saw a glint of anger in her eyes.
“Oh.” It was all I could say. Mitchie and I weren’t that close as Chiara and I were, but I know she was the one actively campaigning for Ruth’s love life. I know she was responsible for Ruth’s dating spree the past few months, and I don’t know if I should blame her for who Ruth is with right now. But then again, if there’s anyone to blame there, it would be me. Besides, I heard that Mitchie doesn’t like Matt for some reason, and that warms me up with her even more.
“Good thing I let Naomi stay at home,” Ruth added. “She doesn’t have to be stressed like the rest of us here.”
“How is she?” I asked.
Ruth chuckled. “I made her sleep at nine. I don’t know if she slept, but when I called at around eleven, she didn’t answer. So maybe she’s asleep.” She looked at me and smiled. “I told her to be here at eight. I hope it’s okay?”
I nodded. “Of course it is. The others will arrive at around seven, anyway.”
Ruth smiled at me again, and my heart jumped. She leaned towards me and put her head on my shoulder before saying thanks. I swear I stopped breathing when she did that.
But it was over too soon. Matt, who had left earlier to talk to someone — I didn’t notice, really — came back carrying two mugs with coffee. Ruth picked her head up and she smiled at him. I could see the difference of her smile for him and for me: her smile for me was more friendly, leaning towards the fond, thank you as a friend type of smile, while her smile for Matt was like the smiles of all the other girls I’ve dated one too many times. That smile had a little more special air to it, like they shared a secret, but also want other people to know about that secret.
And no matter how many times Ruth smiled the smile she has for me, I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied until she gives me the smile that she has for Matt.