The Next Day
Salim & Camilla’s Townhouse | San Myshuno
Hurt feelings and silent passings were all that was left in the aftermath of yesterday’s argument. No eye contact, no real conversations, speaking only about the girls when absolutely necessary. One upstairs, one downstairs with so much — too much — space in between them.
Solitary confinement is what she was sentenced to — she didn’t even try to fight it. He was still mad and she understood, but understanding didn’t make the frostbite from the coldness he exuded sting any less. She was only 18 hours in and her mind was already racing. Wondering if this was how things would be now — if this was what their future looked like. If the last real words she would ever hear him say to her, were spoken in a moment of anger. If they would carry on this way, under this roof together — but not really together — living like they were in completely different worlds. If she should learn to accept it, figure out a way to adapt because in reality, as much as she hated everything that was happening between them — it was only happening because of her past … and the situation she got herself in …
A few months before they met, when she was so new to this city, unsure if she even wanted to stay. When she was half-way convinced she made the biggest mistake of her life, and contemplating going back home, back to the very things she wanted to escape — she made a decision, one that she thought was best for her. One that just so happened to cost more than she could really afford. One that she had to figure out how to make work on her own because that fresh start she needed so badly was worth it even if it meant digging a-
The grip on her finger loosened, breaking her free of her thoughts. She looked down at Maya who’s little hand was now resting on her belly with her face turned in the opposite direction of the bottle that was full, what seemed like just a few seconds ago. Camilla placed it on the nightstand and kissed her cheek, whispering sweet dream wishes in her ear as she lifted her up and placed her against her chest. What if she lost this? She resumed her thoughts, alternating between soothing rubs and gentle pats on Maya’s back. All of this with the girls. If things deteriorated so badly between her and Salim, so bad to the point they weren’t … anything to each other anymore, what would happen to her relationship with them?
Her mom’s words rang in her ears — a conversation they had shortly after they were born.
Don’t go getting too attached to those babies, Cami, she warned. I’ve told you before, you fall in love too quickly. Don’t think this is any different.
But it was different, what she had with Salim, with the girls, it was all different — at least Camilla thought it was — before he couldn’t find any words to say to her, and their bed became divided like enemies at war, and her presence, being anywhere near him, seemed to do the opposite of brighten his day … like it used to.
Seeing the contrast between the present state of their relationship and the former version of itself, the version that existed only a day or so ago hurt so bad — so bad she couldn’t take it anymore. She had to find a way to fix it — get him to see that this was just a misunderstanding and listen to her side of things. And then, once he heard her story and understood how things got the way they are, he would forgive her — she knew he would.
She hopped up from the bed with Maya in tow ready to march downstairs and plead her case. She was almost there, right at the top of the stairs when she was sidetracked by the melody of her phone’s ringtone. She started to ignore it, seeing as whoever it was, couldn’t have been calling about anything more important than saving her relationship — but curiosity got the best of her. It would only take a few minutes anyway and Salim was busy with Yasmin so he wasn’t going anywhere.
She retreated to the bed, laying Maya down next to the row of pillows. As soon as her face touched the blanket that was nowhere near as warm as the comfortable space she had been occupying on Camilla’s chest, she let out a series of tiny little screams, kicking her arms and legs, gearing up for the seven-week-old equivalent of a tantrum.
Camilla intercepted her cries with a pacifier and rocked her back to sleep — the only thing that seemed to help with these little episodes — then answered the call in an almost whispering tone, hoping not to wake her again.
“Hi, Camilla,” the voice sang on the other end of the phone. “It’s Sofia from Webot?”
Sofia Martinez from Webot was calling her? How? Why? So many questions sprung to mind but none of them — or any other words for that matter — managed to find their way from her muddled brain to her lips.
“Sofia Martinez … we met earlier this week?” she reminded her, sensing the confusion in Camilla’s silence. “Am I really that forgettable?” she chuckled.
“No,” Camilla finally spoke, “of course not- I … I remember you.”
The woman who crushed her dreams. There was no way she could ever forget her.
“Is this a bad time?” Sofia asked, “You sound like you were in the middle of something.”
“No, it’s not!” Camilla blurted out. “I’m not- I wasn’t- I’m free.” She exhaled, trying to rid herself of the nerves that was so evident in that blabbering mess of a response.
“Great.” Sofia said, seemingly unbothered by her inability to put together actual sentences. “So, I’ve been thinking about you and what you said in your interview, specifically the part about moving here, to San Myshuno, your fresh start I think is what you called it.”
Camilla sat on the bed, giving Sofia, her full undivided attention.
“And it reminded me,” Sofia continued, “of this girl who moved away on her own too when she was about your age. She was from a small town and wanted to do so many things with her life but her family had other plans for her instead.”
“What kind of plans?” Camilla asked, curious about the direction this conversation was headed in.
“Plans to work in the family restaurant, carry on the legacy, yada, yada, yada,” she chuckled. “But, she didn’t want that so one day, she packed up and left. Never looked back.”
“Did she regret it?” Camilla asked, questioning her own life’s decisions.
“At times, when things were tough, she missed the comfort of always having family there. Of being surrounded by familiarity. It just feels safe, easy, you know?”
Camilla nodded, “I do.”
“So when you came into my office the other day, you reminded me so much of that girl I used to be — smart, talented, a little insecure, but above all brave. And that girl deserves an opportunity to accomplish her goals.” Sofia smiled. “So if you haven’t already been swept up by some up-and-coming tech company, I would love to have you join the Webot team.”
Camilla jumped up off the bed, her hand covering her mouth, trying to make sense of Sofia’s words. She bit down on her bottom lip as hard as she could stand it, trying her best to suppress the screams that were so desperate to escape. If it wasn’t for the way her heart was racing and her hands were shaking, she wouldn’t even believe this moment was real. That any of this was even happening. She was having a hard time gathering her words before, but now, it was practically impossible. Instead, she just stood there nodding as if Sofia could somehow see her through the phone.
She must’ve had some type of superpower though because she was able to decipher her rapid breathing as acceptance of her offer. “Well, it’s Saturday and I’m sure you have plans with your friends or something so I’ll have my assistant give you a call after the holidays, okay?”
“Okay! Thank you so much, Sofia!” Camilla squealed, finally regaining use of her vocabulary.
She tossed the phone on the dresser and raced to the door, stopping herself right at the top of the stairway again. The news she had just gotten was the best news she had ever received in her entire life … but the one person she couldn’t wait to share it with … wasn’t speaking to her …
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