Foto bij Chapter 75



It’s been a few days since Harry has been home. I’m packing up my things in the bedroom. I’ve packed all my clothes… I think that’s it. I don’t have as much as I thought. Without thinking, I laugh bitterly at how little I actually have. I’m finally leaving this place. I thought Harry would at least come to see me today. But with that totally blasé text he sent, I doubt he will.
I texted to tell him I was leaving tomorrow and he wrote back just one word: Okay. Why is he so cold all of a sudden? Does it have anything to do with Dylan?
Tomorrow is Dylan’s company party. He told me he wants to introduce me there as his fiancée. I wasn’t sure at first, but I started to think that I should go. This was how things were going to be to begin with. This is how it should be. It’s better this way…
We’re not even husband and wife. Harry’s decisive words ring in my ears. We’ll go back to being total strangers… I can’t do this to myself… if I keep thinking of Harry, nothing will ever get done. I got myself into this mess, I have to get myself out. I shake off my feelings for Harry and finish packing up my things.

That evening, after my packing is finished, I go to Crux café. Harry should still be at school, so he won’t be there… but he might have taken the day off… I peek timidly inside and see that only the manager is in. Thank goodness.
“Hey.” The manager welcomes me with a friendly smile. I sit down at the bar, relieved.
"Sorry I haven’t been coming to work.”
“Don’t worry about it!”
“I… think I have to quit this job.” The manager is as quiet as he always is. I’m trying to figure out how to explain myself, when…
“Oh, hi Elisabeth!”
“Uncle Chris!” Chris comes in with shopping bags in his hands. He looks surprised to see me. “I’m sorry I haven’t been around to help.”
“I feel like I haven’t seen you in years! Oh, that doesn’t bother me… but did you get into a fight with Harry again? He’s been here a long time. I know I shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds me, here, but I think you should make up…”
“It wasn’t so much as a fight… We ended our fake marriage.”
“It was only going to last three months anyway. We just ended it a little early.”
“G-give me a glass of water!” Uncle Chris gulps down the glass of water, as if trying to drown his own feelings with it. Even the Manager, rarely enough, has a reaction to the state he seems to be in.
“I’m sorry to spring that on you.”
“No, I’m just surprised… did both of you agree to this arrangement?”
“Well, you see, the contract…”
“Yeah, yeah, the contract. I thought that didn’t matter to either of you. After all, it wasn’t a fake marriage anymore. You had started living together as a real couple, I thought.” His words stab me in the heart. I want it to be real too. But Harry doesn’t… “Did Harry call it off? Or did you?”
“Harry did… but I couldn’t keep it up either.”
“Why not?”
“Dylan came back to me.”
“Dylan? That Dylan?”
“My ex-fiancée. He broke up with me because of some family issues, but he seems to have sorted things out.” I decide to tell them what’s been racing around in my mind this whole time. “He said he can marry me like he’d always planned on doing. He came here to tell me. he has a company party tomorrow, and he says he wants to formally introduce me there as his fiancée. Of course, I was really hurt when he dumped me, but it wasn’t like me to get involved in a fake marriage in the first place. I don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, really, I must have been crazy.”
Uncle Chris and the manager just keep staring at me as the words come pouring out of my mouth. “This is how things should be. Everything’s going to work out for everyone this way. So…”
“Then why are you trying so hard to convince us?”
“You sound like you’re trying to convince yourself. Is this what you want? You won’t have any regrets?”
“I didn’t say that. It’s just…” The words get stuck in my throat, but I force myself to continue. “He said we were never husband and wife… that anyone could tell…”
“Who cares. Who cares what anyone thinks… If it feels real, then it is real.” I stare at the manager.
“Wow.” Uncle Chris looks at him as if seeing him in a new light.
“Excuse me!” If I go on, I know I’m going to pour my heart out all over the bar. So, without even thinking about it, I get up. “I didn’t hang around for that long, but thanks for everything anyway!”
“Hey, Elisabeth.”
“Thank you!” I wave at them, turn around and run. As if running away from Uncle Chris’s voice, I’m desperate to leave the bar behind.
If it feel real, then it is real. I believed it was real, too… from the bottom of my heart!

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