21 Feb 2009

The moment Carol let herself in at her cousin’s apartment, she stopped and double-checked if she had entered the right unit. The unit number was right, but she wasn’t used to seeing what was inside.

It was spotless. Spic and span. Not a stray wrapper or clothes or leftover food in sight. Carol sniffed the air slightly and smelled the remains of apple-scented air-freshener.

No doubt about it. Mitchie’s living room was clean.

It wasn’t that Mitchie’s house was a pig sty before. It was just not as clean as this, and usually it only gets this clean when Mitchie’s mom — Carol’s aunt — would go for a visit and clean the unit for her.

Mitchie took that moment to go out of her bedroom with an armful of clothes. Carol saw her eyes brighten when her cousin spotted her.

“Hi Carol! Good, you’re here. I need your help.” Mitchie dumped the clothes she was carrying on the living room floor.

“Help? For what?” Carol resisted the urge to add, “Cleaning up?” She closed the door behind her instead.

“I’m getting some clothes out for a garage sale,” Mitchie explained, before disappearing into the back of her apartment. She returned a few seconds later a big cardboard box.

“A garage sale?” Carol repeated, still watching her cousin going around. “Why are you having a garage sale? You don’t even have a garage.”

“I do!” Mitchie retorted as she set up the box. “Well, it’s the apartment’s garage anyway. If not, I’ll go and do it at home. Now, please help me put these on the box while I get the other things from my room.”

Carol put her bag down and approached the pile of clothes on the floor. She picked a dark pink dress from the pile and put it at arm’s length to look at it. She could remember this dress — it was the one Mitchie wore during her first date with Noah. Mitchie had dragged her and Pia through the mall to look for this one.

She looked at the other clothes in the pile and she realized that the clothes there were mostly the things Mitchie bought to wear for her dates with Noah, or things Noah bought her. Carol had a feeling what other things Mitchie was looking for inside her room and true enough, she came out carrying a smaller box with the neon pink bear head peeking from the top.

“Mitchie, what is this?” Carol asked softly as Mitchie put the box on the table.

“I told you, it’s for a garage sale. I’m cleaning out old stuff.” Carol noticed that Mitchie was avoiding her eyes. She sighed.

“Old?” Carol said gently. “Or just things that Noah gave you?” Mitchie winced at the sound of her ex-boyfriend’s name.

“I don’t need them anymore,” Mitchie insisted, her voice hard and her eyes still not meeting Carol’s.

Carol watched her cousin silently. Noah broke up with Mitchie a few days ago, and it was not the best break-up ever. For one thing, Noah broke up with Mitchie through a text message — a total of sixteen words, in fact. Mitchie had called Carol a few hours after it happened and Carol had called their other friends, Ruth and Pia, and they all trooped to Mitchie’s to keep her company. When they got there, Mitchie was surprisingly calm. She didn’t even look like she had shed a tear at all. She said she’s okay and then dragged the three of them to watch a movie with her, without speaking of anything about the break-up or anything about Noah. She went on like this for the next few days, and everyone was wary about her reaction. The last time Mitchie’s relationship ended, she cried for days on end, and that was the guy who used to beat her up. Now for Noah, who was a far nicer guy than Leon was — albeit the breaking up over text thing — Mitchie would not even shed a tear.

And now this. Carol was sort of glad that Mitchie was finally acknowledging something related to the break-up, by her purging of all things related to her ex. But she worried still, as Mitchie still wore that haunted expression she had ever since she received the text message. She doubted that Mitchie has talked about the break-up with anyone already.

“Do you want to talk about this?” Carol asked softly. “You can talk to me.”

“I just don’t want them anymore, okay,” Mitchie said. “I…can’t stand to see them. I want them out of my house. There’s nothing else to talk about.” She lifted her eyes and Carol saw that they were hard, almost angry.

“And if you don’t want to help me, you can leave.” She said, glaring at her. Carol’s jaw dropped as she felt the impact of her cousin’s words and before she could say anything, Mitchie stomped back into her room and slammed the door loudly behind her.

[828 words]

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