Chapter 16

Wallace visited Tammy the next day. He hadn’t been there since their disagreement. She wasn’t there. Or more like she didn’t answer the door when he rang the bell. He let himself in anyway. It wasn’t like she would kill him. Though she was capable. Why were girls these days so strong? Before he could let his mind wander into the senseless zone any further, he heard Tammy’s voice calling out in reluctance. That was all it took. He never remembered the last time he had zoomed into a place as fast. Or did he do just that when he learned his software was stolen…again? No, that one did not match this.
“Wallace!” Tammy called out, grabbing a hold of his hand.
He had separated her and the other guy. In fact, he had to use a little force for the creep to let go of Tammy. She was standing safely behind him at that point, clutching onto his hand.
“Get lost, creep,” Wallace bellowed, pointing toward the door.
“Freak!” The other guy shot back, looking at Tammy.
“Scram! Now!”
That was all it took. Wallace made sure he heard the door being opened and closed before turning to Tammy.
“You all right?”
She nodded. “I thought I could trust him…”
“You’re always so trusting.” He reached up and tugged a piece of loose hair behind her ear.
She seemed to regain herself then. She brushed his hand off slightly and made her way into the kitchen. He knew she was back on guard.
“It wouldn’t hurt to ask how I’m doing, you know,” Wallace said, following her into the kitchen.
“You’re still standing there,” Tammy returned, preparing tea for them.
He tapped on the counter. “Aren’t you going to ask me what happened?”
She had her back to him. “You look fine to me.”
The doorbell rang then.
“It’s Yvonne,” Tammy said.
“I’ll let her in,” Wallace volunteered, getting up from his seat.
Tammy turned when she was sure he didn’t see her. Her eyes showing mixed emotions.

*****

Yvonne looked surprised when Wallace opened the door for her. They were matching again. He had been wearing his black coat again. He didn’t feel the need to hide his past – or his favorite coat. Even if it was what linked him to Yvonne.
“Hey,” Yvonne uttered, gesturing her hand casually. “Tammy said…”
“I haven’t been around?”
Yvonne nodded.
“You don’t need to come and go around my schedule.”
She was playing with her hair again, tugging it behind her ear. “Is Tammy in?”
Nice, changing the subject on him. “Yeah.” He stepped aside and closed the door behind her.
When they were in the kitchen, Tammy had set out two tea cups already. Wallace resumed his seat and Yvonne at his left – one chair over. They did not speak up until Tammy filled the cups with tea.
“Is this a reunion?” Yvonne asked.
They both knew she was joking. She was nervous. Like they were.
“Maybe,” Wallace said, trying to sound casual. “I just got dumped and I dragged Old Nic down with me.”
Both girls turned to him.
“What?” He asked innocently, continuing to drink his tea. Though it was somewhat burning his tongue. He understood their stare. “So I’m that good.” He meant dumb. He did not have to elaborate.
Tammy finally settled down to drink her tea while Yvonne let out a sigh.
“Sometimes I wonder if we’ll end up at the same retirement home,” Yvonne joked.
“Maybe,” Wallace said. “I’ll make sure Old Nic is with us.”
“Nic and Cyndi broke up for real?” Tammy asked.
Wallace was too busy blowing on his tea to answer so he nodded. The girls exchanged a look before turning to Wallace again.
“What was your reason for breaking up with Angela?” Tammy continued with her questions.
“She broke up with me,” Wallace reminded them.
“Seriously.”
“I’m serious.”
“But…”
“I think she’s right. It’s the best for all of us.”
“Is it?” Yvonne asked, sounding doubtful.
“Or you rather we keep operating like zombies? Or a machine? Everything’s so routine we no longer have any soul left in us.” He reached for the teapot and poured himself another cup of tea. “Sometimes I think that it’s better if we live in the ancient times.”
The girls exchanged another look.
He looked up at them again. “Know why?”
They both shook their heads.
“So I could get all three girls without having to make up my mind.”
Yvonne hit him first. Tammy wanted to but just gave him a disapproving look. Wallace smiled, not minding the attacks at all.
“You men are always so greedy,” Yvonne chided, reaching for the teapot Wallace just placed back in the original spot.
“Wouldn’t it solve everything though?” Wallace argued.
“Only lazy people would not want to make a decision. Or cowards.”
“I’m both.”
“You said it, not me.” She let out another sigh. “Actually, I want to tell you something today.” She was looking at Tammy.
“What happened?”
“I’m leaving soon.”
“Why?” Wallace and Tammy asked at the same time.
“I agreed to take on an assignment and be away for several months.”
Tammy turned to look at Wallace. He shrugged.
“Maybe we should wish you a successful trip,” Wallace said after a few minutes of silence.
Tammy gave Wallace a look – as if he had committed a crime. He ignored it.
“Thanks,” Yvonne said, pretending not to see the exchange. She raised her teacup to Wallace’s. “Let’s hope I could live up to the challenge.”
“You will succeed,” Wallace echoed his own words from earlier.
“How about you?” Yvonne asked, turning to Tammy.
Tammy smiled, a rare forced one. “You have to take care of yourself.”
Yvonne returned the smile. “I’m used to it. Haven’t I always been alone?”

*****

After Yvonne left, Tammy pulled Wallace back into the living room.
“What?” Wallace asked, sensing hostility.
“Why didn’t you stop her from going?”
Wallace settled down on the sofa. “What’s the point?”
She sat down also but still maintained a safe distance from him. “You can’t expect her to say it first, right?”
“I don’t want her to stay for me. It’s not like she’s not going to come back. And would you want me to be so selfish and put a stop to her career?”
“Offer to go with her. Or just tell her you still have feelings for her. That you’ll wait for her to come back. Whatever.”
Wallace had the urge to lean on Tammy’s shoulder like many times before. But he resisted it. He leaned back on the sofa instead. “I don’t even know what I feel right now. But I could tell you that I feel relief that I no longer have to lie to myself. It’s not just about me but I always feel like I’ve wronged Angela. It’s stupid of me to not end it but let her take the first step…but…”
“What?”
“It doesn’t mean it’s because of Yvonne.”
“Who are you kidding?”
“Guilt is different from wanting to take another shot at a relationship.”
“But…”
“No buts…” He rubbed his forehead and closed his eyes. “I just want to rest for a while.”
Tammy did not know how else to convince him. She left and let him be. Yet she was not feeling so at ease either. She ended up pacing in her room or raking her hair with her fingers while sitting at her desk. Why does Wallace always make others worry?
© Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
Posted: Friday, April 8th, 2011

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