Bury Them Deep

Written in response to: Set your story in a confectionery shop.... view prompt

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Romance Fiction

Someone shook me awake. I found Ezekiel, my best friend, and roommate, face inches away from mine. Strawberry blonde hair covered his emerald eyes, but it only made them pop out even more."Adrian, I love her." Murmured Ezekiel, looking at me with complete devotion and love. He was lovestruck.

"You've only seen her once, Kiel, that's impossible." He stared at me like I was insane. Shaking my head, I buried my head under my covers.

"No, Adrian. You don't get it." Pulling the bedsheets off, Ezekiel said once more, but more firmly, "I love her."

"If you're so in love, visit my shop for once." I teased. I ran a confectionery shop called, "Sinfully the Best." Days after I started, my shop brought in crowds of people. I had even started to hire workers, letting me have breaks from time to time.

This girl that Ezekiel was in love with was a regular customer, and yesterday, when he was passing by, he saw her, falling in love. Her name was Zera, and she was fiercely loyal to my shop. Once, before I started hiring, I had fallen ill and she personally called me to ask when it would be open. I suggested that she go to another, but she was persistent and relentlessly calling. 

He nodded. "I will." My eyes widened. I would never have expected him to visit, he always said that he had better things to do.

"Is that enough? Now, let me sleep." Ezekiel had woken me up at 2 am, and I had to open Sinfully the Best. 

No reply. I took that as a yes, and then fell into the open, warm, welcoming arms of sleep. The next day, as I tugged on my loose, blue collared shirt, I found him looking at himself in the mirror. Dressed in a formal black tuxedo, clad with a tie and slicked-back hair, he looked professional.

"What on Earth are you doing, Kiel? You won't win Zera's heart looking like-" I cut myself off, surveying him. "-this. " For someone who had been a football star and quite popular in high school, he had apparently forgotten how to dress for a “not-date.”

He sighed, but luckily, heeded my advice. Unbuttoning it slowly, he trudged into the bathroom. Coming out minutes later, he wore a white t-shirt, along with cargo jeans. Ezekiel had copied my former look, but I had long changed to loose collared shirts and jeans. Picking up my car keys, I walked out the door, prepared for the day. Never would I have imagined what would have happened.

While I was busy tending to an order, Zera passed by, Ezekiel's eyes following her into the shop. He dropped to the ground.

"Fair Zera, will you be my girlfriend?" She turned her gaze to me, confused. I couldn’t help but notice that she was dressed in a simple, flowy, light green shirt, matching her pale yellow ripped jeans. 

"Do you know this person? If not, please have him leave. I feel quite uncomfortable." Asked Zera, grimacing.

"This is my best friend, Ezekiel Cortland. Please forgive him. He's been acting a little weird." I apologized on behalf of him, embarrassed. I handed her a card. "One free donut, no deadline. Caleb is working here tomorrow, so just tell him it's Adrian Reyes' orders." 

"Okay." Replied Zera, taking the card. Then, she left, not even getting anything.

 I glared at Ezekiel, grabbing him by the collar and whispering, “Ezekiel Liam Cortland, we are going to have a talk.” Then, I dragged him towards the door, hissing, “Please leave.” 

Murmurs spread through the shop, but I gave a tight, polite, smile to the next customer. “Hello Mr. Rivers, how are you? Welcome to Sinfully the Best.” The day continued, but most of my customers had seen what Ezekiel had done. My perfect reputation had been tainted by my best friend. I closed the shop early. 

I entered the apartment. “Ezekiel, come here,” I shouted. “Honestly. Why did you ask her to be your girlfriend? Especially in my shop.” 

He had been staring at the floor the whole time. Now he looked up. “I’m sorry. But when I saw her, it was like-like I had received a standing ovation after doing Don Quixote.” I understood. Sometimes, people described love as doing the thing they loved best. For my friend, it was dancing on a stage. His profession was ballet, but recently he had been going through a slump. I nodded. “Thanks, Adrian. But I mean it, still. I would do anything for her. Anything.” Ezekiel stared at me earnestly. 

“Then I better find Zera and apologize.” He looked relieved and embraced me. I hugged him back, smiling. 

The next day, Caleb, my star worker, was running the shop, so I had a break. I found, “Caritas 9,” the cafe that Zera had told me she always went to. Sitting down at a window seat, I waited. The bell dinged, and she came through the door, wearing a loose jean jacket pulled over a simple white t-shirt. Though I would never tell her, I thought that her light brown hair went well with her outfit. I raised my hand, waving at her. 

“Oh! Hi, Adrian.” She spoke awkwardly, unsure of what else to say except greetings. “Er- What brings you here?” 

“I wanted to apologize, again, for my friend Ezekiel's behavior. Could I treat you to a coffee?” I asked, standing up and pulling a chair out for her. 

“Sure. A decaf americano, please. Thanks.” Zera smiled. I strode up to the counter and ordered two decaf americanos. Paying with a card, I brought them back. 

I crinkled my nose at the bitterness. She laughed. It was a clear, ringing laugh, one that, surprisingly, filled me with joy. 

“I’ve been meaning to ask you. I always see you around carrying a book. What’s your favorite book?” 

“Hmm… I’ve got a lot of favorites, but my favorite was one I read as a kid. The Bridge to Terabithia.” She replied, cocking her head thoughtfully. 

“Mine is The Sweep, the Tale of a Girl and her Monster.” I suggested. 

She nodded eagerly. “I’ll make sure to drop by the library later.” Then, with that, she stood up and left. 

For some reason, something ached in my heart. As I silently walked back to the shop to check on Caleb, I thought of Zera. But then, Ezekiel’s grin popped into my mind, shattering the picture of her smiling. How could I ruin his happiness? Scrolling through my phone, I searched up, “If you love someone.” Clicking the first paragraph, I read. 

IF YOU LOVE SOMEONE, 

Your thoughts return to them constantly

Value something that they own

Be protective of them

You feel safe and happy with them 

Sometimes jealous of others in their lives

I thought carefully. Your thoughts return to them constantly. Half-check. Value something they own. Nope. Be protective of them. Slightly. Feel safe and happy with them. Check. Sometimes jealous of others in their lives. Yes. I have two half-checks, one no-check, and two checks. Do I love her? 

As I murmured my thoughts, suddenly I bumped into someone. “Hey, Boss!” I heard Caleb’s enthusiastic voice, and when I was snapped out of my daze I saw a young man with striking, ebony black hair. “I just started a new batch of milk chocolates, and rush hour is done.” 

For some reason, when I saw him that second it brought back old memories. Most of my life, I had been jealous of Ezekiel for his popularity. I was merely his sidekick, someone who you had to be nice to get closer to the main guy. I longed for a companion, someone who I could tell my deepest secrets too. Now, even the person I had hired was outshining me with his personality. Even in a tight situation, Caleb could make everyone relax. I had never had that type of talent. 

I barked a bitter laugh. My worker cocked his head, confused. “Adrian?” 

“Sorry. I was just thinking of something.” I apologized, but Caleb still looked wary. I clapped him on the back. “It’s nothing to worry about.” 

That night, I stared through the misty window, looking at the stars. Ezekiel’s soft snoring filled the room, almost comforting my anxious nerves. Somehow, I fell asleep, but no sweet dream awaited me. I was stranded on an island, and I could see two faint silhouettes of boats. As the fog around them cleared, I saw Zera sitting in one, just waiting. I reached out my hand to her, but an invisible force blocked me. Then, it turned into Ezekiel, and he was just kneeling on the wet sand, looking at me. His eyes were filled with sorrow and angry regret. Then, the small ripples of the ocean tide stopped. Everything stopped. I tried to close my eyes, to stop looking at my friend’s painful expression. But I couldn’t. I was forced to see Ezekiel’s frozen face. As sudden as it happened, I could move again. He ran towards me, fists clenched. He grabbed me by the neck, veins bulging. 

“Why!? You knew I loved her, yet you did this to me! Tell me, why?!” He yelled, gripping my neck tightly and preventing me from escaping. 

“Ezekiel- what do you mean? What did I do to you?” I asked, my chest becoming tight as I slowly started to lose air. 

Ezekiel’s face turned an ugly, tomato red. He pulled a ring off my wedding finger. I hadn’t even noticed. He brought it up to my face. “Read it!” When I stayed silent, he did it for me. “Zera & Adrian.” I was on my last few breaths now. 

Right before my body crumpled to the ground, I woke up in a cold sweat on the floor. I sat on the edge of my bed, running my hands frantically through my hair. 

Would Ezekiel do that to me? If I took away Zera? Is this my terrible fate? To be at the side of my friend, to watch them while my heart is pained with every second they are together? Has the world decided what will happen to me, and I can only walk down that paved road? Must I bury my feelings down deep, in a locked box at the bottom of my heart, thick iron chains surrounding it? ___________________________________________________________________________

A middle-aged woman stood beside a hospital bed with her husband, and tears were streaming down her face. 

The man on the bed rasped. “Zera……. Read my will.” He motioned slowly at the table, but even that made him cough. 

Picking it up, she shakily read out loud. “This is the will of Adrian Lucas Reyes. I give my shop, Sinfully the Best, to Caleb Torres. My best friend, Ezekiel Cortland, will sell my house and keep a quarter of the money, while his wife, Zera Cortland, will keep three quarters.” Her mouth opened. Then, a small folded note fell to the ground. Bending down, she whispered the contents. “To Zera Torres, who will be Zera Cortland by the time she reads this. Zera, I love you. The first day you came to my shop, I fell in love. When I saw you at the cafe, I realized that I would do anything for you. But I couldn’t confess my love. Ezekiel loved you, and as his friend I couldn’t bear to ruin it. So you should know that while I’m in heaven, I’ll watch you. Goodbye, Zera.” Zera turned to Adrian. She was about to say something when she saw that his chest no longer rose and fell. It stayed still. She collapsed to the floor, sobbing. Leaning into her husband’s chest, she asked. “Ezekiel.. Why didn’t I know?” 

“I didn’t know either, Zera. If I did, I wouldn’t have told him I loved you. I always suspected, but-” He choked up. “We’ll make sure his ashes are sprinkled in Greece, where he always wanted to go.”

And they did, letting Adrian rest in peace, among the ruins of Ancient Greece.

February 18, 2022 05:05

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