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I wake up the next day to the sound of someone running around all over the place downstairs. Noah is still asleep beside me, and I keep listening to what I believe is his mother or dad who already has started the preparations for the Thanksgiving dinner tonight. Eventually, I grow tired of the repetitive sounds and decide to slowly, and extremely carefully might I had, get out off the bed without waking Noah. In some miraculous way, I succeed, and I grab a few things from my bag before I slip out of the door in my pajamas and head towards the bathroom.
It feels weird to be in Noah’s house because this is where he grew up. This is his home, he’s probably spent a huge part of his life within those walls, and somehow, it feels like I’m intruding on private ground. I don’t belong here. Noah might’ve built a life here, but I don’t even have any intention of being a part of his life whatsoever. This is a part of him, not me.
Sighing, I walk back to his room once I’ve made myself presentable enough. He’s still asleep, however, and I decide to gulp down the nervous feeling in my throat and head downstairs alone. As I reach the last step on the stair, I immediately catch a glimpse of his mom’s brown hair in the kitchen. She hears me getting down as well because before I even have the chance to reveal my presence, she turns around and greets me with a “Good morning”.
“Good morning”, I reply and pass her a small smile.
“Are you hungry? I can make you something. Pancakes maybe?”
I nervously shake my head and mindlessly play with the tips of my hair. “Nah, it’s fine, thank you.”
She puts down the spoon in her hand and turn towards me with a stern, yet playful, expression.
“I won’t let a guest starve in my own home. What about some cereal then?”
Realizing that it’s rude to refuse her offer, I sigh and give her another small smile. “Fine.”
Her face light up like a Christmas light and I can’t help but feel slightly amused as I follow her with my gaze when she runs around the kitchen in order to bring me the cereal and milk. I would’ve helped, but I have no idea how to find anything in this kitchen. Instead, I thank her as she brings me everything I need, and then I take a seat by the table and watch as she continues with the dinner preparations.
By the time I’m taking my last spoonful of cereal, I hear someone walk down the stairs and seconds later, Noah appears in the doorframe. Immediately, I start to feel slightly uneasy, although I do my best to hide it. I don’t want his mother to notice.
“Morning”, Noah says to both of us. I just nod and swallow the cereal in my mouth as Noah’s mother greets him.
“Did you sleep well?” she asks as she chops up some vegetables and pours them into a boiling pot of water.
“Decent enough”, he shrugs as he makes his way towards the fridge to take out a package of orange juice which he downs within seconds. I scrunch my nose at the sight and follow him with my gaze as he throws the now empty package in the bin. He didn’t even bother to pour the juice into a glass. His mother doesn’t comment on his behavior and I wonder if she even noticed or cared about it at all.
“You woke up early”, Noah says as he closes the bin and turns towards me.
“Yeah”, I mumble awkwardly, “I guess I did.” He doesn’t say anything for a few, long seconds. He only stares at me with his steel blue eyes, as if he’s trying to figure something out before he snaps out of it and straightens his posture.
“I’m gonna take a quick shower”, he says and before either, his mother or I have time to answer, he’s out of the kitchen. Not that I mind, though.
As the faint sound of running water makes it into the kitchen, his mother turns to me with a smile, although it doesn’t seem to reach her eyes.
“So”, she says, “I just have to ask. How did you guys meet?”
I can’t decide whether it’s her motherly-curiosity or something else that is behind the question, but either way, it takes me a few seconds to figure out what to say.
“We’re in the same basketball team”, I finally say, “and we had a mutual friend.”
“Oh, that’s nice”, his mother replied, “for how long have you been together now, dear?”
I freeze at her question and almost have an internal panic attack as I realize that I have no idea what to answer.
“Oh… not for too long”, I eventually settle with as I study her reaction.
“You know”, she says with a smile, “he can’t stop talking about you. Whenever he calls, you’re all he’s talking about. You’re the best thing that has happened to him.”
Her word makes me far more uncomfortable than I want to admit, and all I can do is sit in my chair and stare at her with an unreadable expression on my face. A feeling of guilt washes over me, because if it’s true if I’m the best thing that has ever happened to him, then he must’ve had a sad childhood.
“I-I don’t know what to say”, I breathe out, but it seems as if she understands, although I know that there’s no chance in the world that she actually does because she just looks at me with a motherly glint in her eyes. If only she knew the truth.