Todd took her hands into his, softly caressing her pale skin. The professional building restorer noted the difference in their appearance: her ivory hands in contrast to his rough, leathery mitts tanned by days of working under the sun. He delighted in smelling the soft perfume of the lotion she adored, wafting up to him. Her gray eyes were accentuated by her flaxen hair, tumbling softly past her shoulders.
“I shall love you through thick and thin, young and old; and only when the angels come to take me away shall this love for you end.”
Alexis smiled. Todd delighted in seeing that as well. Alexis returned his hold with a squeeze that affirmed her love for him too. The rain had stopped; it was as if the sky was also pining for their love to last forever. The sun peeked through the gray clouds, casting beams of hopeful rays through the café window. Alexis’ gray eyes were further beautified by the gentle rays.
Every Sunday Todd brought Alexis to his favorite spot to unwind after a long day. It was a café that was in an old part of town; the design of the buildings dated from the 70’s. Orange was the main color of the color scheme, with plastic modular furniture and geometric prints on the feature wall, striped with block colors. Todd enjoyed the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the scent of buttery pancakes and also the old-school music that still played through the classic jukebox. Alexis came into his life precisely three weeks ago; they had met at a gallery opening; Todd was there as a special guest of the gallery owner, and Alexis was the daughter of an entrepreneur who came in her father’s place. They were standing in front of a mixed-media artwork, Todd absently speaking to the person beside him, who happens to be Alexis. Alexis was taken by his blunt yet in-depth observation of the artwork; Alexis was friends with the artist; she was impressed at how accurately Todd described the artist’s persona even without him knowing the artist. They struck up a conversation, which continued to the very café they were in right now.
“I love you too, Todd.” Alexis said. Alexis looked into Todd. The loving look she gave Todd seconded what she has said.
Todd released his hold on her hand and drank the last of his coffee. She ate the final crumb of pancake, primly placed the knife and fork side by side on the plate. Todd got the bill and then together they left for his apartment. They walked hand in hand, as if they were the only persons in the world, oblivious to the outside world.
Todd finished his work early the next day. He messaged Alexis, saying that he’d go home early. Usually Alexis would reply, but this time she didn’t. Todd dismissed this, saying that maybe she was a tad busy. Upon reaching home, he checked his Facebook, first looking through his homepage then going to Alexis’ profile page. Todd saw that she had changed her relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship”. They both didn’t like the idea of publicizing their relationship, at least not on Facebook. Besides, if Alexis wanted to do this, she should have talked about it with him first. Saying to himself that maybe this was a surprise, he messaged Alexis to ask her about this. Alexis replied.
“Oh Todd honey, it ws nothng…my frnd ws newly in a rlationship, so she dared me 2 chnge my rlationship status instd of chnging hers.”
What a peculiar request.
Todd ruffled his chestnut hair again. He tossed and turned on the unmade bed. He hadn’t gone to work for three days. Messages that blinked on his answering machine were either from the company, asking about his whereabouts, or from Jeff, his best friend. His handphone’s inbox was full of messages from everybody, and so was his missed calls’ list. But no messages or calls were from the person he wanted to hear from.
Feeling peckish, Todd got up from bed and proceeded to the kitchen. He opened the cabinet to get some instant noodles out of their packet. Placing the noodles in a bowl, he poured the seasoning into the bowl, not noticing that some of it fell onto the countertop. He hadn’t change in the three days; the white singlet that he wore from three days ago had started to smell musty; sweat stains are starting to show. He hadn’t shaved, so now he looked unkempt and disheveled. His hair was tousled and grimy from no wash. He wore his running shorts with the dirty singlet. He held the bowl up to the nozzle of the hot water dispenser. The hot water came out abruptly, splashing onto the bare skin of his hand. He cursed loudly, the bowl tumbled out of his grip, and it crashed onto the kitchen floor. Todd slumped towards the counter, propping himself on his hands. He no longer felt the pain of the scalding water. His eyes looked into nowhere, mind wandering towards Alexis’ sudden absence.
Todd thought hard of what went wrong, and where; he had not done anything that had betrayed Alexis’ trust. He didn’t cheat on her, instead was practically the epitome of sweetness to her. They had gone out to dinner two weeks ago; last week he went to work on restoring an old building dating from colonial times in another town. The first three days they kept in touch with calls and messages. But starting from the fourth day Todd received neither. None of his messages or calls were replied either. When he came back in town, Alexis was nowhere to be found. She wasn’t at her house, no matter at what time he went. He reduced the frequency of his visits, so as to not look like a stalker. Alexis was simply put, missing. Up till today Alexis was unreachable.
Todd sighed. He squatted to clean up the mess on the floor. Suddenly his handphone rang. It was Alexis’ personalized ringtone. He dropped all that he held and rushed to the bedroom. He grabbed his phone. It was a message from Alexis.
“I’m sory, Todd. Let’s just b frnds agn. I’m really sory…”