The Next Afternoon
Kennedy Hill Park | San Myshuno
In a city as big and busy as the one they lived in, something was always going on. If it wasn’t one tragedy or another it was political drama, celebrity drama, or any other drama that was loud enough to make headlines. Most of the time, Camilla ignored all of it. Opening the news app only to check the weather or traffic — especially on the days she was driving — but today, something she saw in the traffic report had her pulling up the Nearby City News section and reading a story that was reported on yesterday…
They made their way through the crowded park relieved to finally be getting out of there. Sunday at the park, aka, Operation: Tire the Twins Out, had successfully come to a close and they were free to leave — once they got this little pit stop out the way anyway. As they reached the top — so close to the exit — Salim veered off from the group with Maya, who desperately needed a diaper change, and eventually disappeared into the family restroom while Camilla took a seat at one of the picnic tables with Yasmin, who was already fast asleep.
She lifted her up and laid her against her other shoulder to get a better view of her phone and back to that article that caught her eye a few minutes ago.
It was about a huge fire that broke out at the Greenbox Restaurant in Del Sol Valley yesterday causing road closures to Starlight Boulevard along with the subsequent evacuation of every building in the area. One of these buildings was the San Myshuno Times’ satellite office, located just a few doors down — where Salim spent the entire day working.
It also went on to say that employees from various businesses were stuck outside for hours as firefighters fought to get the flames under control and that most were unable to leave until they until they deemed the area safe.
For most people, an event like this would’ve been the not-so-happy highlight of their day. Something they would’ve for sure mentioned, at least in passing, to their significant other, but Salim hadn’t said a word. Not even when he called during lunch or when he texted later that evening to say he was on his way home. Nothing at all.
Maybe it slipped his mind somehow? She thought, trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. She knew how busy things could get for him at work sometimes, especially whenever a big story broke. Or maybe he had plans to bring it up later? Since he didn’t really have a chance to talk about work seeing as he got in so late.
She looked up from her phone and spotted him on his way back over with Maya who seemed to be on her way to sleep too. Perfect timing — because intentional or not, she was about to find out why she was just hearing about this almost-kind-of-near-death-experience of his from a news article instead of him.
“What happened with the fire yesterday?” she asked.
“The fire in Del Sol Valley?” she raised an eyebrow, “The one that happened like right down the street from your office?”
“Oh…” he paused, presumably to come up with an excuse for his obvious unawareness of the event in question, “We weren’t at that office yesterday…”
“I don’t know— some kind of, uh…,” he looked around like the answer was in the park somewhere, “maintenance— plumbing issue.”
Plumbing issue, huh?
“So where were you then?” she tilted her body in the direction of his wandering gaze, forcing his attention back to her.
“At the other office… in San Myshuno…” his voice trailed off.
A few blocks from the house?
“So if you were still in town, why did it take you so long to get home after you said you were on the way?” she continued her questioning, surprising even herself with her Bridgette-style interrogation tactics.
“I stopped to get something to eat.”
“What’s with all the questions?” he chuckled, trying to lighten the mood and climb his way out of this hole he was digging for himself.
“It was one question,” she rolled her eyes.
“Well… I answered it so… are you ready to go?” he stuck his hand out, hoping she would take it.
“Yeah, I’m ready,” she stood up, pushing past it, making her way back to the car without him.
One Hour Later
Jesminder’s Apartment | San Myshuno
There was so much to do for this party in celebration of the baby who would be making his arrival soon. And while she should’ve been focused on things like party favors and shower games, especially since that was the main reason behind this meetup with her friends today — Camilla was too busy thinking about the fact that her boyfriend was lying to her.
That whole story he fed her about the maintenance thing and working at the other office was bullshit — the way he struggled to answer her questions told her that much — but the thing it didn’t tell her was why.
In situations like this, cheating would usually be her first guess — but it wasn’t that, at least she didn’t think it was. Not with how things were between them or how happy they were at home. And definitely not with how often they had sex — which was often enough to make her think he wouldn’t have anything left to give to anyone else. But there was something there, she just needed to—
“Heeeelllllooooo, Camilla?” Jesminder waved her hand back and forth in front of her face, dragging her out of her thoughts and back to the kitchen table with them.
“What?” she finally responded.
“We were over here talking to you but apparently you were off in la-la-land somewhere.”
“I wasn’t, I was just— What were we talking about?”
“Themes. What do you think we should go with?”
“I don’t know,” Camilla shrugged, “Whatever you want Cass, it’s your baby shower.”
“Yeah… but…” Cassandra glanced at Jesminder.
“We want to hear what you think,” Jesminder finished her sentence for her.
“Well… I think…” Camilla sighed as her thoughts about Salim reinvaded her mind, “that Salim’s up to something…”
“He’s not,” Jesminder dismissed her concerns while steering the subject back to party planning, “Now about the theme—”
“Wha— how do you know?” Camilla frowned, “You don’t even know why I said that.”
“You’re right. We don’t,” Cassandra responded before Jesminder could, shooting her some kind of look in the process, “So how about you tell us why you feel like he’s doing whatever it is you think he’s doing?”
“Okay, so… I saw on the news today that there was the big fire in Del Sol Valley yesterday, like right down the street from his office where he said he was going to be working all day…”
“Okay?” Jesminder shrugged, “fires happen all the time.”
“Yeah, but I thought it was weird that he never brought it up, so I asked him about it and when I did, he had no clue what I was talking about, like this was the first he had even heard about it. So right then, he knew I knew he wasn’t where he said he was so he made up some story about being in San Myshuno the whole time— he just…” she sighed, “I don’t know— he’s lying.”
“But what if he’s not?” Cassandra said, taking on the role of devil’s advocate, “He’s forgetful sometimes, right? You’ve told us that before. Maybe it just slipped his mind.”
“Well then why act so weird about it?” Camilla asked, “It doesn’t make any sense, like… the way he answered my questions was like he was literally making them up off the top of his head or something.”
“He’s a man Camilla, they do dumb shit all the time,” Jesminder rolled her eyes, “but I need to make a call real quick,” she grabbed her phone and got up from the table, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
As she disappeared down the hall, Cassandra resumed her role as devil’s advocate, working overtime to put Camilla’s suspicions to rest.
“So I really don’t think it’s anything to worry about girl,” she squeezed her hand, “You know we would tell you if it was.”
“I know…” Camilla nodded, “and I’m sorry for making this whole thing about me— let’s just forget it and get back to the shower.”
“Okay,” Cassandra smiled, “So what would you say are your three favorite colors?” she grabbed a pen and a little sheet of paper like she was taking notes for a test.
“For the… shower?” Camilla asked.
“Mhm hmm,” Cassandra nodded.
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