(Okay, so I know I technically skipped the last two days, but I am finishing up this challenge anyway. Better late than never, right? I’m quite proud of myself for having gotten this far, and hope you’ve enjoyed reading these short vignettes as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. For this last story, I’ve chosen to try and tie together two characters from different stories I wrote this past week: Rebecca from ‘Lazy Sunday’ and Trina from ‘The New Girl’.)
Don’t Stop (‘Til You Get Enough)
Copyright 2010 by Rona Fernandez, all rights reserved
Rebecca was in her living room, doing a runners’ stretch—her heel stuck out in front of her as she leaned over her left leg, stretching out her hamstring and calf. She was going to go for a jog for the first time in months. since before her best friend and exercise buddy, Trina, had died in a car accident on a rainy winter night, at the age of thirty-two.
“You can do it, you can do it,” she chanted to herself under her breath. She could already feel her heart beating a little bit faster—not because of the stretching, but just by the idea of jogging without Trina. She had avoided it for this long, and she was paying for it with her health. Eating donuts had replaced her morning jog—she craved the sugar rush and the mild sense of euphoria all the fat gave her—but overall, Rebecca had felt more sluggish than ever and she’d gained almost least ten pounds in less than two months.
“You can do it, you can do it,” she continued to mutter to herself. She decided she needed some extra motivation, so she turned on her stereo, put on some Michael Jackson, which never failed to make her feel better.
“Lovely is the feelin’ now…”
Rebecca swung her right leg in front of her now, leaned over and felt her muscles stretch.
A picture flashed in her mind, of her and Trina dancing to this exact same song during a junior high school dance. Trina had MJ’s hip-thrust down pat, but Rebecca could moonwalk better. Now, Rebecca giggled a little, but felt the familiar swell of heat in her face that signaled impending tears. She stood up, putting her hands in front of her face.
“Fever, temperatures rising now….”
Not again, she thought. It’s been almost two months. Why can’t I get over this? She squatted down low to the ground, trying to stifle the tears, trying to stuff down the wave-like feeling of grief that threatened to overwhelm her once again. She’d missed two weeks of work after the accident, and been a wreck when she went back. She couldn’t even bear to go see Trina’s parents in Daly City, despite the fact that they called her incessantly, asking how she was.
“Rebecca,” Trina’s mom would say on her voicemail messages, stretching out the ‘a’ in her name as if she were singing a song, “are you all right?” Mrs. Garcia rolled most of her ‘r’s, even when she was speaking English and not Tagalog. For some reason, it made Rebecca smile. “Come and visit us sometime, okay, hija? Okay, bye-bye.”
Keep on, with the Force don’t stop…
Thank God, Trina thought now as she squatted, for Mauricio. He’d fielded the calls when he was home, updating the Garcias on her status, letting her know that she was okay, that he was taking care of her. Rebecca felt a sudden pang of guilt now that she’d avoided her friend’s parents for so long, but she couldn’t bring herself to see them. Not yet.
Just then, as Rebecca stood up from her squat and walked slowly towards the front door of the apartment, Mauricio walked into the living room, freshly showered and changed and ready to leave for work.
“Gonna try again today, eh?” he said, looking at her with what she perceived as a sympathetic frown. Rebecca nodded.
“I figure it can’t hurt to lace up and warm-up at least,” she said, not sure if she was talking to Mauricio or to herself. “Once I get out there we’ll see what happens.”
Mauricio put a warm hand on her arm.
Touch me, and I feel on fire…
“Do you want me to stay home for awhile, make sure you’re okay?” His voice was comforting, deep. Rebecca resisted the urge to hurl herself into his arms and bury her body in the safety and security she could always find there.
I have to buck up and move on, she told herself. She thanked Mauricio and told him she’d be okay. He looked at her quizzically, as if trying to decipher her words and get to their real meaning, but he nodded and unlocked the front door instead.
“Okay,” he said, stepping into the hallway in front of their hallway. “You know you can always call—”
“Wait,” Rebecca said, feeling her heartbeat shoot up as she realized he was about to leave her alone—alone with her feelings, her grief, her memories of Trina, who died too soon, much too soon.
Mauricio paused, moved a few inches closer to her, waited for her to tell him what she needed.
Keep on, with the Force don’t stop…
“I love you,” she said, surprised by the words coming out of her mouth. She’d meant to say, Wait, let me walk with you down to the car, or Wait, give me a ride down to the Lake and I’ll jog back from there. Make some request to extend her time with him, to delay the inevitable—that she would sooner or later have to run without Trina, because Trina was dead.
Mauricio seemed as surprised by her words as she was, but he responded in kind.
“I love you, too.” He stepped forward and embraced her, enfolding her in the quiet, warm strength of his body. Rebecca exhaled loudly, felt the tension she’d been holding inside of her release.
“You can do it,” Mauricio said, and pulled away from her. He squeezed her shoulder and looked intently into her eyes. “I know you can.”
Rebecca nodded, smiling a little. She made a shoo-ing motion, telling him that he’d better get going or he’d be late for work. Mauricio kissed her briefly on the lips and left. Rebecca stood there for a long, lingering moment, a strange energy coursing up through the veins in her legs. It was that slightly uncomfortable, restless feeling—and there was only one way to get rid of it.
Don’t stop ’til you get enough…
She grabbed her keys and left the apartment, didn’t stop and turn back to turn the stereo off or grab a bottle of water, knowing that if she paused now, even for a moment, she would never go on. Instead she ran down the stairs, seeing the morning sunlight stream in through the glass doors on the floor below.
You can do it, she told herself silently. I know you can.