Allen tried without success to contact her. Between last night toward the time he came over her house the next day, he could not manage to speak to her: suddenly she was unavailable.
The store was closed. That alone told him he could be spending a fruitless morning seeking her presence.
“You must be Allen,” called out an old woman from the second floor window. Her mother, who he had not met so far, looked prepared to give him the runaround.
“Please, I need to see Stella.”
“I am sorry young man but she left early for the province. She did not tell us why but she said that under no circumstances her whereabouts should be told to anyone inquiring.”
“I know, she’s in there!” Allen sounded disrespectful, but then he reverted back to his earlier helpless tone. “Stella, please. Listen to me. I love you.”
“Young man, you’re disturbing the peace,” the old woman pleaded. “The neighbors are out. Don’t make a scene.”
“Stella! Stella!” he yelled repeatedly.
– o –
She sat behind the counter, cocooned in the corner, her eyes red because she could not stop crying. Deprived of sleep, she kept on blaming herself for being so naive to believe that her dream has been realized.
“I should have known,” she pounded her chest, angry why she let herself be led to a quick romance. Her immediate desire to find love blurred her sense of reality.
Stella could hear him screaming outside. Still, she would not meet him. She could not.
“What will the neighbors say? What will all the men I turned down say? They will laugh at me, no, they will ostracize me for being too choosy which became my undoing; falling for someone much worse in their eyes.”
She covered her face and cried some more.
“Why Allen?” she wailed. “Why did you make me love you? You should have been honest to me. I could have turned you down like the rest.”
Stella felt betrayed.
“It’s unfair. Fate is so unfair to me. Why?”
– o –
Kneeling down, his tired voice continuously repeated his plea. He wanted her love for him dictate what she was supposed to do: the right thing.
“I love you! Please listen to me!”
Allen was a damaged creature emotionally, his clothes soaked with sweat and dirt, the punishing heat of the noon sun merciless on his whole being. He was being forced to surrender whatever hopes he still managed to keep.
He took out the cellular phone she gave him, the gift he cherished. It was worthless now; her love made it precious. He had no use of it, but only as a reminder he was once loved, perhaps not as he was. More importantly though, he felt how to be loved.
Allen stood up, steadying himself not to fall back down. Whatever strength left on him was drained by feelings of emptiness. He was a wreck.
He left the phone at the store, his broken heart with it.
“I will always love you, Stella. I hope you find the man who will really make you happy.”
With bowed head, he turned around, walked away, never looking back.
– o –
It was only when evening came that she braved to go outside. Allen left hours ago but she could still feel his presence around. The phone he left on the store window bore witness to the long struggle he decided to give up in the end.
But, he still left her a message, something that would remind her of him.
She pressed a key.
“Forgive me, Allen.” She began crying. “We are not meant for each other. Society would be harsh on us. I am not prepared to suffer more than I already have.”
She turned off the phone and opened it up: she took the SIM out and threw it away.
“Goodbye, Allen!” Her mind ordered her broken heart to let go.
T H E E N D