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Hate is Just the Beginning - Chapter 25

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Chapter 25 - Fairy Tale Night

"You look like hell…" Taylor said awkwardly as she sat beside Keith facing a very sick-looking Phoebe.

The air smelled just as she remembered from years ago, pungent with smell of morphine and antiseptic. Taylor oddly felt comfortable with it while she couldn't help smile at the cringe in Keith's face. From what she knew this was probably the third time he had ever stayed in a hospital ward. After seven long days, Phoebe had finally been moved from Intensive Care ward to a private room. The room was a simple one, painted in a faded green only two shade darker than being mistaken for a deadpan white wall. Beside Phoebe's booming red hair, the only other colors were the yellow roses beside the bed resting in the glass vase. Taylor didn't really want to face Phoebe yet but Keith somehow nudged her into it.

"Yeah, that's the side effect of gulping a few ounces of bleach," Phoebe joked.
"That's not funny," retorted Taylor so rudely that Phoebe turned a darker shade of red.
"Sorry."
"I'm not the one, whom you should be apologizing to," Taylor said all her intentions of being nice and kind to the redhead out of the window.
"I've already apologized to Keith," Phoebe said defensively.

Taylor's mouth had already opened with the rude remarks just about to slip when Keith pinched her hands asking her to stop quietly. Taylor breathed loudly and turned away from Phoebe. Just the sight of her was repulsive.

"Look I asked Keith to bring you here because I really wanted to apologize for what I did. I should've…" Phoebe said stopping mid-air.
"I should've…" she repeated once again and there was a plea in her tone as if asking the two of them to continue for her.
"Look it's okay. You don't have to worry about it and beside I like Lisa, she is easier to live with," Taylor replied as honestly and as politely as she could.
"So can we be friends again?" Phoebe said pulling out her hands.

Taylor normally would've agreed especially since Phoebe's huge brown eyes looked like they were about to leak havoc any moment. But as she eyed, the transparent tubes inserted in her hands, Taylor couldn't help but think about her sister, Jasmine had fought to survive. If only Jasmine had Phoebe's immunity power and her fate, her sister would be alive. She knew it was unfair to think so but Phoebe was reckless and stupid. Maybe she had loved Keith with all her might but still it was no reason to "gulp a few ounce of bleach". Taylor could never look at Phoebe the same way again.

"I'm sorry. I-I can't," Taylor muttered helplessly as she ran out the door.

Taylor missed it but Keith and Phoebe shared a look that denoted that no one had expected her to hug and kiss Phoebe for the suicide attempt. They hadn't actually discussed it but they both somehow saw the rude side of Taylor coming. Keith wished Phoebe good day and after making sure she had everything she needed, promised that he'd bring Taylor in again as soon as she was ready. Phoebe joked about not risking his life for it as Keith left. Phoebe had surely changed. Ironically the suicide attempt had somehow changed into a turning point. It didn't need a psycho-analyst to figure out that Phoebe had waved goodbye to her old ways. Keith was sure in his heart that she was finally going to be okay. So as he left the private room, he was more worried about Taylor than Phoebe.

He didn't need a GPS system to track Taylor down. He was sure he would find her at the huge window at the back of the hospital building where the nightmarish image of her kissing the fairy tale guy took place. Keith's palm balled into a hard fist as the now-all-too-familiar emotions took over him. It had been seven days since that kiss and the memory just seemed to deepen instead fade into the back of his eyes. Just as he predicted there, Taylor sat gazing into the space at the haunted spot.

"Hey!"
"I'm sorry. I was such a bitch…" Taylor started with her hands flying once again. Keith knew she had already prepared a long set of speech about how sorry she was. She had the flushed look as if she regretted her actions, but Keith couldn't help but notice her twitching nose he had seen too many times which awaited a long lecture. Keith flopped down and waved her off before he could get stuck in the whirlwind of what she thought she needed to justify. But she continues anyway.

Keith pulls out the pack of cigarettes just to avoid yelling at Taylor to stop blabbering. He doesn't feel the familiar tug to take in nicotine but he lights the stick anyway just to distract his mind. But Taylor doesn't continue her ramble; instead Keith finds her staring at the burning end of the cigarette with a frenzied concentration like she was sure something invisible would suddenly show up at the end of it at any moment.

"What?" Keith asks almost defensively.
"Is it really true? Does nicotine really relieve stress? At least temporarily..." Taylor asked with a weird Curious George tone to her voice.
"I guess…"
"I want to try it. Right now."

"You've never tried it?" Keith asked not really surprised. It was pretty hard to imagine Taylor, the self-righteous, smoking in the store room of high school! But weirder than Taylor's abrupt request to try the cigarette was the excitement that followed in Keith's mind. Keith tuned Taylor out trying to decipher the sudden rush of joy surging through him. What was happening to him? He had to literally bite his own tongue from a goofy grin to spread across his lips. Wasn't he supposed to protect this innocent girl from such deviancy?

Wasn't he supposed to tell her that it was nothing big but still really easy to get addicted to? Wasn't he supposed to downright refuse her adorable pleadings? Then why were his hands fumbling over the pack of cigarettes and handing one to her? Then why was he teaching her how to hold the stick between her index and middle finger?

Confusion was his company as he lit up the cigarette tightly locked in Taylor's thin pink lips, a smile almost at bay because she was so damn excited.

"This is the first time I'm ever going to smoke!" Taylor said through her lips, her voice almost a squeal. That's when it hits him. He is excited because he is about to share a memory with Taylor, a first time memory. A force makes Keith thankful that he is sitting in a concrete upholstered seat and not standing on his legs. He is squirmy with a mixture of delight and strangeness but he is surer than sure that he wants more of such memories to share with her. He wants to be Taylor's everything first. He wants to be Taylor's first smoking partner, her first kiss, her first love, her first lover… everything.

A grin finally reaches up to not only his lips but all his face as Taylor coughs up the little smoke that she somehow pulled in.

"That's disgusting! There isn't even a flavor!" Taylor complains between her coughs.
Her pale skin starts to turn a deep beetroot color as the residual effect of smoke leaves her body. Keith can't help but laugh as Taylor starts making weird faces.
"It tastes like wood with a dead bird and its shit burning in your lungs! How can you smoke that hideous thing?"
"It's better when you're stressed out of your mind. Besides it grows on you. And you're as happy as a person can be… of course you don't like it. Smoking and beers bitterness are sweet to you when life is bitterer than them."
"Is that so?" Taylor says eying the cigarette with new found respect for it.

Taylor took a few more drag of the cigarette before finally declaring that it would never grow on her, no matter how stressed she gets. But she does want to try out beer and alcohol, and what else was there to taste. Keith laughs at her curious sides but promises that the next time they met, he would take her out for a beer. As they walk away, Keith contents himself that if he couldn't be her first kiss or first love, he'd be the first guy to make her see what fun really was. He silently even promised to show her what a brilliant first date should really be like.

One and a half months later…

Keith pulled onto the tie around his collar as if it were neck shackles. He felt awkward. The last time he had ever wore anything as formal as the current suit was during his prom. Alexander's, caretaker had forced him to wear the suit and somehow almost kidnapped him to the venue. It was a bad day. He had humiliated his date by refusing to dance the king and queen dance. He was wasted and the night followed next day to his parents showing up only to see him in a state that he still didn't like to remember. He had never lived up to his parents' expectation but making them as mad as they had been that day was not first on his wish list. He should've never agreed to this.

Beside what was the point in tormenting himself? He was sure, it was going to be a night where the girl of his dreams would find her prince charming. Well since Taylor was already dating that Romeo guy, she would simply find him more charming what with a black tie party for the success of the play and all that. It was all Cinderella kind of situation except, well except for him of course. He can't even remember why he had agreed to go in the first place. It's all a blur between getting the invitation to Taylor asking him to be her date. Oh yeah, he got to be the princess' date to the ball… that's why. Keith smiled and kicked a pebble thinking he was being stupid. He was excited to drive her to the ball and eventually watch her dance with the prince charming and fall in love with him. He was in no position to feel the excitement he felt waiting for her. But it was out of his control.

The twilight sky was slowly turning a darker shade of blue. Stars had popped out here and there and the moon was making its slow appearance to complete the picturesque. He silently wishes he had brought the camera along. Taylor and Lisa have arrived. He hears them before he sees them. Their heels make the clink...clink sound against the concrete and they are laughing like little kids. Of course after all this night is going to be their fairy tale come true while Keith's going to live a horror of watching Taylor walk away. He is wondering if he would even get a chance to say goodbye to Taylor as he plans to leave the party as soon as Taylor leaves his side. He is wondering if he should even go when he turns around and sees the two black-tie-event-ready girls walking his way.

He forces his eyes away from Taylor, worried he might do something stupid. Lisa is dressed in a dress the color of the night. So he watches Lisa instead as if he were looking at an insect under a magnifying glass. He observes every detail she has put on her makeup, her dress, her accessories, her shoes but Keith can't help it when his eyes slightly turns toward the girl beside her. Taylor is no girl then, she is somehow transformed into a sunlight goddess. Lisa and Taylor are walking night and day together. Taylor is nothing like herself in the yellow dress. Keith's jaw is dropping lower the closer they get. It is weird, looking at them all dolled up after all not so long ago he had seen them in their messy pajamas eating peanut butter with Chinese deli.

"What are you looking at goof?" Lisa asks rhetorically with an undeniable tone of menace.
"So how do we look?" Asked Taylor wrapping her arms around him.

Keith's heart skipped a beat and he cursed silently for being such a girl about this whole charade. The holding his arm thing is only because the past month we have gotten close, I am her date, confirms Keith to himself. And the last confirmation makes him smile. Keith simply smiles not able to take his eyes off how beautiful she looked or even articulate enough words to describe just how like sunshine she looks right then. He really should've brought his camera tonight. When Lisa finally captures his attention, she orders him to drive the car and take them to their fairy tale right away. Keith with a sinking feeling obliges.

One hour later, they finally arrive at the Roosevelt Theater. Taylor was correct, it really is a different world here, thinks Keith as he eyes the interior of the place. He is in awe at the photographs, the moments captured, the emotions portrayed all over the wall. It is amazing and his head feels stiff as it cannot actually move 360 degrees to see everything all at once. They aren't put inside frames like ordinary interiors would; instead they are the walls as if those moments are what supporting the theater itself. Keith particularly loves the women crying in agony at the death of her son. The picture speaks volume and yet Keith has a detached liking to it because he will never be able to relate to such emotions, such love from his mother.

"Doesn't it just take your breath away?" Taylor whispers into his ears as she walks away to another corner.

Keith simply nods still unable to tear his eyes away from the wall. He might just stay long enough to actually memorize every picture, every ambiance tonight. He makes up his mind to borrow a camera from the manager or maybe even buy it from them. He really doesn't need his Rolex watch that much. He is fiddling with his watch when suddenly Taylor laughs. It's quite disconcerting the way he can so clearly hear her despite the noises all over the place. Lisa is whispering something in her ears while her hands are wrapped around her new boyfriend Peter. Whatever Lisa said is so hilarious that Taylor is lifting her head up and shaking with delightful laughter as if to stop the tears in their tracks. It is heavenly and he is sure his index finger is twitching to take a picture of her. Well, he also wants to take a picture of the wall pretty bad, he reminds himself. The people with the confirmed guest list have arrived from their break. Guests have formed into two neat lines waiting patiently for the officials to take their invitation and let them in. But instead Keith walks away to find the nearest camera store.

It's 45 minutes late, when Keith finally finds the old Nikon camera. He's always wanted one and is glad that finally he convinced the manager to exchange it for the watch. Glad with his new device, as Keith walks in the theater again, he finds it next to empty except for her. Taylor sits at the end of the long twin adjoining stairways with hands under her chin as if she were bored out of her mind. The photographer inside of Keith takes over and instead of running to her and apologizing, he rolls the camera, focuses the viewer to her and clicks a picture. It illuminates everything in its way to capture her into the roll. She is radiant in yellow.

"Where have you been?" Taylor demands a hint of anger and frustration in her tone.
"You didn't have to wait for me. You should've just gone inside…"
"You're my date. We aren't supposed to leave each other alone!" Taylor says childishly.
Keith laughs but apologizes sincerely.
"Where did you get the camera? And where's your million dollar watch?"
"It wasn't million dollar watch… expensive but not million dollar worth. I exchanged it for this…"
"That seems like a loss on your part."
"Are you kidding? I am going to click millions worth of pictures with this. I've already bagged my first million," Keith says as he offers her his arm.

"Whatever makes you happy…" Taylor sighs and walks straight toward the hall where the blessed party was held.

It smelled wonderful. Taylor hadn't realized just how famished she was until the scent of delicious chicken ravioli was registered. Taylor walked straight towards the food stall just as Keith had started with his camera. He kept a close eye on her. Somehow scared that if he left sight of her for even a second, Ian would swoop her away from him. Taylor was filling her plate with food while Keith examined the huge room. It was a foyer, one that held almost a thousand of guests. It looked like a piece of an old movie set or a royal palace. The huge stairway, the glistening chandelier, the ancient music - it felt like a time travel. Especially the people all dressed in dresses and trousers; each of them proud and poised was a part of time that didn't exist in current era. No wonder Keith had to wear tie tonight, people in such an early era didn't go for casuals.

They're not together; not Keith and Taylor, and not Ian and Taylor. The three of them stand at the different corner of the room, enjoying themselves in the stillness of the hour. People are moving and roaming around chatting up, talking business or simply enjoying the food but everything is done so graciously and the live music is so peaceful that it felt like what one could only imagine as silence.

There is both noises and distance between them but the three of them have a separate sort of chemistry. Just as Keith's camera lenses find Taylor after every few shots, Ian's eyes land on the girl he is so utterly in love with. Taylor isn't unaware of the silent attention she is being showered with. Her eyes seem to float around three points across the room - once at Ian, second at Keith and third at the person right in front of her. But she is unaware or at the very least she chooses to ignore the acceleration of her heartbeat every time she catches both of them either looking at her or taking a picture of her. She felt loved and admired like she'd never felt before. She could almost hear it in the peace and serenity of the foyer, Jasmine's voice saying, "I told you so…"

And just as the moment passed, everything good - the silence, the attention, the music turned upside down in the hall. Suddenly there was a wave of rumble among the people and everyone's head turned toward the great huge door that no one had noticed a few moments ago. The door creaked loudly and started moving gently as if it wasn't rusted in all the wrong places. The door opened smoothly as if a gentle breeze had pushed it open. And suddenly there she was, standing immaculately dressed and exotically beautiful - Blair Kiel, picture perfect.

And somewhere in the crowd Keith's camera flashed and Taylor could swear she heard Ian's breath go unexpectedly out of him, breaking her heart into million pieces, ashamed of herself for craving attention that she knew she didn't deserve.

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Replies to the comments

Kristy Sanders: Thanks for the comment! I know I'm too late to post this story but I'm glad you still keep tabs on it!

Gloria: Nope, not leaving you hanging honey. I just got a lot busy this time... And I am back. I am feeling inspired and the next chapter is already on the way to finish! Hope you're still reading and thanks for the comments!

Graceanna: Wow that was such a moving comment! I am grateful that you liked my story! I am sorry to have kept you waiting but I hope you did wait and hope this chapter was worth the wait! Thank you so much for the comment!

Alena763: I know I am so late... but I hope you're still there loving the story! Thank you for the comment and hope you like it!

Maya: I am glad you love them... But I still don't know who's gonna end up with whom. You'll just have to wait honey! Thank you for the comment!
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Published: 5/13/2013
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