Behind Her Smile
“Miriam!” Esther called, shaking Miriam who turned restlessly in bed. “Miriam, wake up.”
Miriam woke up with tears in her eyes. Raising herself to sit, she wiped her eyes. “So it’s just a dream. Thank God.”
“Miriam, who is Mikey?” Esther asked.
“It’s no one,” Miriam said. “And I’m sorry for waking you girls up again.”
“Don’t worry, we are already used to you and your village people not letting me eat my fried rice and chicken every night,” Ella teased, trying to ease the tension in the room.
“If you said everything is okay, then I guess we should go back to sleep,” Esther said, returning to bed.
“I must find out who or what this girl is and report her before it is too late for us,” Amara said to herself before going back to sleep.
Sleep had fled from Miriam’s eyes, and she knew it would be impossible falling asleep again. She studied her roommates, waiting for them to fall asleep so she’d go quench her thirst.
“Heavens, please don’t let anything happen to Mikey while he is here and under my watch,” she prayed. “And please don’t let me bring him bad luck.”
After a few moments, she looked back at her roommates and found them sleeping. On tiptoes, she rose from her bed and advanced to the kitchen to get water.
The light was on, startling her. Curiosity overshadowed her thirst, pulling her into the kitchen to see who it was.
“Mikey,” she called, relieved to see Michael.
“I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to make myself a cup of coffee,” he said. “I will be leaving now.”
“Mikey,” Miriam called again.
Michael turned around, his gaze settling on her. He had a feeling she wanted to speak to him about a seemingly important matter.
“What’s wrong, Miriam?” he asked. From the pale look on her face, he could tell she’d been crying.
Pensively, Miriam moved closer to him. She threw her arms around him, locking him in a tight embrace.
Her gesture robbed Michael off speech. Stunned, he returned the hug. They stayed in each other’s arms, hoping they could stay that way forever. Michael had always wanted to be close to her, but she’d always pushed him away. What had changed?
Miriam clung to him like her life depended on it. “Please don’t leave me.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Michael said, still confused about her action. “Miriam, what’s wrong?”
“I missed you so much, “Miriam said, releasing herself from the hug. “And I’m sorry for trying to push you away. Please don’t ever think of leaving me.”
“Miriam, I am here,” Michael said. “And I will always be here until the end. I came back because I missed you so much and I wanted to see your face for the last time.”
Once his last words left his lips, he immediately regretted it and wished he could take back his words.
Miriam shot him a look that screamed ‘are you okay?’ “What do you mean for the last time?”
“I…I…it’s nothing,” he lied, looking away from her. “I was just trying to tell you how much I missed you, that’s all.”
Miriam cupped his face in her palms and tilted it toward her, forcing his gaze to meet hers. “Mikey, promise me you will tell me the truth when I ask you this question.”
“I promise,” he replied.
Miriam stared into his eyes as though she could read through him. “What’s wrong with you? Is anything going on? And why do you look so pale like you’re sick? Please tell me the truth.”
Conflicted within himself, Michael clenched his teeth, but he knew he had to tell the truth.
He dropped the bomb. “I’m sick. I have a heart problem. I discovered it a while ago, but I didn’t want to tell you or make any of you worried, so I decided to leave for the United States where I would be getting my treatment until the surgery.
I also decided to do my university degree there and I used the school as an excuse as to why I was leaving, ‘cause I didn’t want you and my mother getting worried.
And since my friend is a doctor in the United States, he advised me to come over. But until now we have not found a donor yet and my heart is getting worse day by day.
When I decided to come back and stay with you two, my doctor said it was a bad idea but I had to take the risk. I’m tired of waiting for a donor all the days of my life.
I didn’t want to die without seeing you, spending the rest of my life with you, and so I took the risk and came back. So even if I die now I’m fulfilled.”
“Don’t ever talk like that again,” Miriam said, tears pouring from her eyes like an ocean. “What about the people you’re going to leave behind? Have you thought about how they will feel?”
Michel’s chest tightened as he watched her cry.
“Miriam, I don’t know what to do. I am tired of fighting this pain ‘cause it’s so painful.”
“Please keep fighting, at least for me,” she said amidst tears. “I love you. I can’t afford to lose you.”
Michael’s eyes widened at her confession. “You love me?”
Miriam realized she’d let her feelings slip in a brief moment of weakness. She wished the ground would open and swallow her. Smiling sheepishly, she lowered her gaze to the floor.
Michael smiled knowingly. “Acting shy are we?”
Miriam tried to hide her broadening smile, but it was no use. Michael was the only one who knew her in and out, and knowledge of this always made her nervous.
“Miriam you don’t need to be shy,” Michael said. “though I love the blush on your face each time you are shy.”
“Mikey, this is serious,” Miriam said, trying to change the topic. “Stop playing with your life. We are talking about your life here.”
Michael sighed. “This is why I never wanted to tell you. I knew you would feel pity for me and you would always remind me of it just like my mother, and I don’t like that.”
“I’m sorry,” Miriam said. “I promise I won’t try to remind you of it again.”
“I love you, princess.” His lips consumed hers in a passionate kiss.
Miriam responded to the kiss like her life depended on it. “I’m happy now that I’m with you.”
“Same here, princess,” Michael said. “And I’d do more if we were in my room right now.”
“Stop it, naughty boy,” she said, shoving him playfully.
“Come on, I was just joking, though I don’t mind if it happens.” Holding her by her waist, he lowered his lips to her shoulder, kissing it tenderly.
Miriam moaned. “Mikey, stop. It’s six in the morning, and the girls might come here anytime soon.”
She fought to free herself, but his hold on her tightened. His touch made her vulnerable with emotions, turning her legs to butter.
“You want this as much as I do, so why stop me?” he asked, nibbling her ear.
“This is not the right time, and I have to work.” She broke free from his hold.
Michael groaned. “Okay, fine. I get it, but promise you will come to the room later.”
“I promise, so please go.” She ushered him toward the door.
“Hey wait,” he said, halting in the threshold. “Not without a kiss.”
Miriam pulled him close and planted a quick kiss on his lips. She made to step away, but he wrapped his arms around her, deepening the kiss.
“I love you, Princess,” he said, breaking out of the kiss to catch his breath.
Miriam rested her forehead against his’. “I love you more, my Prince.”
She pulled away from him, her eyes consuming his. Winking at her, he walked away. She blushed as she watched him leave.
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Behind Her Smile