Here’s chapter 12 of the new book, Dr. Clay, I’ve been writing since NaNoWriMo 2022. Enjoy reading. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
They reached the nearby barbecue stalls, selling all sorts of local delicacies, from various grilled slices of meat and fish to soups and drinks. For a Friday night, there’s nowhere else they could find to hang out and get sober from the week-long arduous work. As they sat, all three looked at Elizabeth, who remained silent since she walked into the busy crowd. Elvira elbowed Tanya, and Larissa, in turn, did the same to Elvira, prompting her to speak and ask about what was bothering her.
“Are you alright?” Tanya asked.
“Yeah, I am,” Elizabeth said with a broad smile and grabbed a glass of Soju, downing it before sighing in deep exasperation as if it would help her ease herself. When her face almost reached there, she glanced at her phone with anticipation, expecting a call or text from Clay. But despite all the efforts she made—texted and called him a thousand times since he left her that night—only to no avail. She didn’t know where he was.
“It’s the weekend! What things do you have in mind for the rest of the weekend, girls? Have you planned a list of Christmas dates this year?” Larissa shouted, wrapping her arms around the three of them while sitting at the nearby restaurant.
“How about a party at my home? My family’s out until early next year. So, I’ll be spending my Christmas break alone,” Tanya said broadly.
Elvira clucked. “Nah. I’m returning to the province. I’ve got to see my kids.”
“By the way, when was the last time you visited your family in the south?” Larissa asked after downing a glass of beer and letting out a satisfied loud sigh.
“Last holidays,” Elvira said.
“It’s been a long time. I bet you miss your family so much. You really should go back and see your next work,” Tanya said, which made Elvira nod with a kind smile before she moved her attention to Liz, who remained unusually silent.
“I wish I could have a family, too,” Larissa said.
“You’ve got a boyfriend. He didn’t propose to you yet?” Elvira asked before chugging a shot of beer.
Larissa shook her head and pursed her lips. “Not yet. And I don’t think he would.”
“Why do you think he wouldn’t like to get married to you?” Tanya said in a tease, at which Larissa rolled her eyes.
“When I told him about not having kids, he was damn pissed,” Larissa said.
“I guess every Filipino guy is like bunnies in an Easter egg hunt. They will always want to be in a rush to find their eggs,” Elvira said, which made them laugh.
“Unlike us, Liz has Clay,” Tanya said.
“You’re right. Clay has everything. A quintessential smile. Loyalty. Unmatched beauty. He has what every woman would love to have their own,” Larissa said.
“By the way, Liz, how’s your wedding preparations going?” Tanya asked.
“It’s doing great,” Elizabeth said.
Elvira checked her wristwatch. “It’s already half seven, so are you going to go with Clay?” she said with a smile as if she was expecting something positive from Elizabeth’s mouth.
But Elizabeth shook her head. “No, he won’t be around this time.”
“Why? Isn’t that your yearly anniversary thing?” Tanya asked.
“Yeah, and still is,” Elizabeth said.
“How long have you been together with your hottie doctor?” Larissa asked.
“Around twelve years,” Elizabeth said.
The three women gasped as their eyes widened.
“So, he’s been doing the same thing every year, and wasn’t there a single Christmas Eve he came unprepared?” Elvira said.
Elizabeth flashed a sheepish smile, though, in hindsight, she knew this year would be different. “Yeah, we’ve spent twelve Christmas Eves together.”
“Oh, my God. That’s a long, long time, Liz. I can’t imagine you not being married to this man. You’re meant to be!” Larissa exclaimed.
“I bet he’s coming. Maybe, he’s just stuck somewhere in the traffic, right?” Tanya sputtered.
“I think so, too.” Elizabeth smiled and didn’t say anything more than she could handle, thinking it would be safer to shut her mouth and pretend everything was okay.
But that didn’t skip in Larissa’s eyes. That smile faded when she noticed a slight change in Elizabeth’s face. “For sure, Liz has it bad today,” she said.
“Why couldn’t she understand what we’re doing?” Tanya asked.
“I don’t know, too,” Elizabeth said as calmly as she could, though she wanted to clench her fists until her knuckles grew up, screaming repeated ‘fuck yous’ in the middle of the street and a busy crowd of employees rushing home. Then, she leaned against her chair and sipped the ice-cold liquid, facing three of her friends, and when she slammed the glass on the table, she surprised the three of them. “How could I be responsible for everything?” she said in a hushed tone and clucked.
“Yeah, you’re right, Liz,” Tanya said, almost screaming while downing a glass of Soju mixed beer.
“At least Sir Alain was there. Imagine if he wasn’t. What do you think would happen to Elizabeth? Roasted?” Elvira said, sighing and shaking her head in disbelief. “Why do you think Anais would do that to you?
“I’m not sure how to answer that,” Elizabeth said.
“But the question is why? Liz did everything she could for this to work. The three of us know how much effort she has made to reach where it is now. For what? It wasn’t to lose her job, was it?” Larissa said in a demanding tone, seeming frustrated by Elizabeth’s professional condition.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Elizabeth said in a strained voice before downing another glass of beer. Though she had more than a handful of drinks down, that night, she didn’t care about everything. While sitting in the middle of her colleagues, arguing and discussing in loud, screaming voices about the possible person responsible for her failure, she went blank.
“Are you saying that for convenience? You’re not a goddamn loser!” Larissa sputtered.
What if she was a loser?
At that moment, she remembered the events that happened that night, from when Clay began to kiss her lips and strip her clothes piece by piece. Then, her mind recalled when she saw Clay’s tattoos and raised her face, only to see the emptiness in his eyes. Since that night, every time she closed her eyes, all she could see was Clay looking at her the same way over and over again, as if she had been missing those gazes only he could fulfill. To her, it felt as if something was fading before her.
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth said, gulping as she tried to keep herself from tearing up. However, her bloodshot eyes couldn’t lie. In her mind, she did her best to be the woman Clay wanted. Beautiful. Financially capable. Independent. Loyal. Trustworthy. What else could he even ask for? When her friends saw her in that fashion, they couldn’t help but sigh, learning what their friend had been going through.
“They could have said yes. It wasn’t like we’re spending their money for nothing,” Larissa said as her face began to flush, increasing the tone of her voice, almost screaming at the top of her lungs, before Tanya hushed her, pulling her arm.
“Watch your mouth! This isn’t the right place to scream shit at them,” Elvira said and looked at Liz, frowning while facing down with her hands holding her bad.
Yeah, you’re right. My life has been pretty fucked lately. “What have I done wrong?” Elizabeth said, sighing as she leaned forward to the table to reach for the glass of her daily dose of a cocktail. “I’m pretty fucked, am I?
“It wasn’t your fault, Liz. You know that,” Elvira said.
“Why would you think it was your mistake? You’ve worked on this for a long time. You’ve been waiting for that moment. That bitch really needs a punch,” Larissa said.
“Hey, hey, hey! Careful with your mouth!” Elvira hushed her first, and when she saw something in Elizabeth’s face, she paused and inhaled, sucking the air of courage into her lungs. “This isn’t about your work, is it?”
Elizabeth gulped as she looked into Elvira’s eyes and sighed, looking away before she looked at her again with a cheerful smile. Even though she was in deep trouble, as she was feeling so uncomfortable in her seat at this point, she still kept trying to convince herself that everything was alright, that she was a successful woman—so successful that she couldn’t accept and dare to mark a stain on it.
Although she made more than a handful of attempts to save her face before her colleagues, she couldn’t stand it anymore and stood. “I’ve got to go.”
“Are you going home now?” Elvira said aloud with concern.
“Yeah, I forgot about Clay’s text today.”
“What did he say?” Larissa asked.
“Uh, he wanted to meet me at home for a change.”
Larissa chuckled and blushed. “Whoa, who’s got a steamy night tonight?”
They laughed, including Elizabeth, who amazingly kept up with her facade until she stood and turned, taking a few steps away from them. “How about we’ll go together?”
“Why? Are we done, too? It’s not even ten o’clock,” Tanya said.
“Come on, we won’t see each other until the end of the Christmas break, and Liz has had enough of today. So, why don’t you be considerate next time?” Elvira said.
“But we just got here, and now we’re going? We barely finished a case of beer,” Larissa said.
“Don’t worry about me. Just go on, and I’m fine going alone,” Elizabeth said.
“Are you sure?” Elvira said.
Elizabeth nodded. “Anyway, see you around.”
“I’ll take you to the car, and you, too, stay,” Tanya said, pointing her index finger at the two of them.
“No, Tanya. I want to go home alone,” Elizabeth said and then, as she began to walk away from the group, headed to where she parked her car.
Elizabeth interrupted. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. Clay and I are fine,” she said. But as they headed out, she bumped into a young woman who stood tall as her—with black, long, straight hair and looking athletic. She screamed and winced before her eyes widened in surprise when she saw her stained clothes. Wondering who it was, she looked at the woman, and she saw how horrified she was, holding a filming stick with a GoPro device.
“Oh my fucking Lord, I’m so sorry!” the woman said in a loud concerned voice while she kept glancing at her camera recording. She grabbed her sunglasses and put them on before she reached out to Elizabeth on the ground. “Are you okay?” she said with concern, but when she tilted her face and looked into Elizabeth’s eyes, realizing how beautiful she was, she was star-struck. Though frantic, she appreciated Elizabeth’s glowing skin that matched her face. “Oh my, you look beautiful,” she said in a hushed tone, which caught Elizabeth’s ears.
Then, she blinked for a moment when she saw Elizabeth arching an eyebrow and glowering at her. So, she pulled away from the gaze before noticing the stain she had caused. She muzzled, covering her face with her hands.
“Shit, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to—” she paused and gasped when she saw her device crushed after Elizabeth stood, wiping her buttocks with her hands.
“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” her colleagues said, checking her.
“What the f—Hey, I just bought this a week ago, and I spent a lot on it.” the woman sputtered, pressing her sunglasses and then running towards the device.
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. “Is that my problem?”
“Yeah, you better pay for the damage,” Agatha said, nodding.
Elizabeth scoffed. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I am serious. Goddamn serious.”
“Look. From how you look now, you’re just another pathetic content creator desperate for people’s attention.”
The woman scoffed and rolled her eyes, crossing her arms. “Pathetic? You’re rude.”
“I’m not. I’m just telling the truth, bitch.”
That made the woman arch her eyebrows. “What’s bad about being a content creator? Just because I accidentally bumped into you, you’re accusing me of something I didn’t mean to do.”
“If you were just looking your way instead of bluffing bullshit in front of your camera, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“I said, I’m sorry. Isn’t that enough? Fine. We’ll call the cops and settle at the police station.”
Elizabeth teared up, which surprised the woman after she grabbed her phone from the pocket of her tattered denim short pants. “Yeah, I’ve had enough of everything I have in my life right now!” Elizabeth said, walking out, leaving her colleagues screaming and running to catch up with her.
“Just because life is tough, it doesn’t give you the right to scream at people!” the woman said in a louder voice.
“Come on, can you stop it?” Elvira said, trying to hush the two of them.
“What’s your problem?” Elizabeth sputtered while gesturing to the woman as if she was provoking her.
“I don’t want to escalate things here. So, before it gets bad, hoosh hoosh. I’ve got a lot of things to do right now. I’m in a rush!”
“Why are you wearing eyeglasses when it’s nighttime?” Elizabeth said in an attempt to shut the woman up and feel great about herself.
“Liz, stop!” Tanya said, grunting while trying to grab Elizabeth.
“Who cares? Why would you care?” the woman said.
“How dare you speak like that! Take off your glasses!” Elizabeth screamed.
“I’m so sorry,” Larissa told the aggravated stranger on her behalf, wincing while helping the other colleagues to block Elizabeth from attacking her.
“Just go. We’ll take care of this,” Elvira said, gesturing for the woman to leave and moving her attention to Elizabeth. “Come on, Liz!”
While the three of her colleagues dragged Elizabeth out, she watched Elizabeth the whole time, raising her arms in defeat. “What the hell was that?” she said as she turned, facing the opposite direction and pressing her sunglasses. “I have to use my phone because of that bitch.” She clucked and hissed as she took her phone out of her bag and prepared herself to record. Before she pressed the button to record, she forced herself to smile, checking her face on cam, and when she saw the red light blinking, she stretched her lips wider and continued walking to where she was supposed to go.
“Hey! What’s up, guys? Agatha here, and welcome back to my channel! Please bear with the video quality because something interesting came up tonight.”
Thank you so much for spending time reading this chapter. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did when I wrote this part three months ago. This chapter, in particular, reminded me of those times when I sat before my desk, seemingly prepared to type in words, but I struggled to keep it up.
It took an external motivation to get it through, and, at that time, the NaNoWriMo event was upcoming. At that time, I thought, “This could be a great opportunity to try and give this a shot one more time. You’d done an excellent job with ‘The Rival,’ so you could do it, Mecyll.”
You know, it’s easier said than done because writing a chapter with a clear intent to finish it requires more than just a skill. Since I started writing fiction, I realized how much this work demands my ability to be naked and the guarantees to answer whether I was mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to face my fears, conscious or unconscious.
So, being able to write this down meant I managed despite the countless times dancing around with depression and enjoying the roller coaster rides my anxiety provided me.
This is why I don’t know how I could thank you for your support, regardless of the scale or contribution size, from sharing my work with others or buying my books. It doesn’t matter because, for me, every small act you show is appreciated.
Again, thank you, and have a great day!
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