It was 5 am, my alarm had yet to go off and I was groggy but I managed to get out of bed to answer the knock on the door. I was tempted to ignore it, nobody should be knocking at my door at this hour, anyone who knows me knows that, I figured it might be something important, or someone I could just send away and go back to sleep. I opened the door, unaware of my tangled bedhead and morning breath. “Hello?” I asked as I opened the door. “I need your help.” The voice chuckled an all to memorable laugh. “Mateo?” I tried to flatten my messy hair and turned my face so my morning breath wouldn’t be in his face. “In the flesh,” he smiled, waving down at himself. “What- do you want to come in?” I stepped to the side giving him space to come in. “Do you want coffee or something?” he chuckled again. “That would be great Lil.” I showed him to my living room, ran to the kitchen, turned on the kettle, and ran to the bathroom to brush my teeth and do something with my hair. I slipped on a bra from my laundry basket, and tied up my overly long shirt to make it look more decent. I went back to the kitchen and finished making coffee. “Cream and sugar?” I called out. “Just a little.” Just like before I thought. I made both cups and took them over to my living room, placing Mateo’s on the coffee table in front of him. “Thanks.” Seeing him there looked so normal, even though this was the first time he had ever been inside my new place. I sat across from him, almost forgetting I didn’t know why he was here. Or how he knew where I was living. “You what can I help you with?” I asked, hoping this conversation could be straightforward as possible. “I really don’t know who else to go to, otherwise I swear I wouldn’t have bothered you.” I didn’t say anything. “Can I stay here for a while?” he raised his hand to massage his temples, then took another sip from the mug.
“What happened Mateo? Hoa place you used to shop at a ton. I pulled your address from the system.” I wanted to say I was surprised, but the Mateo I knew did this often. “So can I?” I wanted to throw my hands in the air and roll my eyes and tell him no, tell him I didn’t want to open my door at 5 am and let him in but all I could say was “Yes.” What was I going to tell him? No, You can’t stay here, leave. Please? He smiled at me gratefully. “Thanks. I'm so sorry for just showing up like this. I know it's been years since I've seen you and all of a sudden I just show up at your door.” No kidding. He drank a little more coffee. “Oh no it's no problem,” I spit out. It was getting awkward, I still had no idea why he was here. I heard a ring from my room and I immediately jumped up to see what it was, only to find it was my 6:45 alarm, so I could wake up to get ready for work. I walked back to the living room with my phone in hand. “So um.. I kind of have to leave for work but maybe we can talk later...” He got up nodding. Like me, I was guessing he was just about done with his coffee, he pointed to the cup and asked, “Where should I put this?” I pointed towards the kitchen. “Just leave it in the sink, help yourself to any breakfast if you want, cereal is on the long shelf beside the fridge. Bowls are above the sink.” I spoke quickly, and rushed to the bathroom to get showered then changed for work. I curled my hair and did a little more makeup then I would on a normal day. I grabbed my purse and went back to the kitchen to grab a granola bar. “I have to go but do you want me to drop you anywhere?” As much as I didn’t like it, he was in the driver’s seat. He was in my home, yet I felt like I couldn’t make any of the calls. “I was on the bus all night. Mind if I just rest?” I could still feel the tension, and I was sure he felt at least a little guilty springing a surprise stay on me. The amount of courage he had, I figured it would be okay, it wasn’t like he wasn’t someone I trusted. “I'll just show you the rest of the place and then I have to leave. This is the kitchen obviously, around the corner is the living room, across is the dining room and then in between down the hall, this is the bathroom, and the guest bedroom, you can stay here.” He pointed to the room right across from the guest bedroom. “Your room?” I nodded. “Yea, but please just leave it alone. Help yourself to anything outside the room. My number is on the top of the list on the fridge, my break is at 1. Call me I guess.” I walked back to the front door, grabbed a light jacket and keys. “Bye!” I called out, I heard him lock the door before I could. I walked down the street to the magazine company I work for, sat down at my desk, did a little organizing from the mess I had left the night before and went to go talk to my boss about updates and ideas. The day passed by awfully slowly, I couldn’t get much work done, just the idea of Mateo staying at my apartment. It was giving me goosebumps. I wasn’t afraid of him, but he still hadn’t told me why he showed up at my doorstep at five in the morning. Something was really wrong, and all I had been doing was nervously tapping my foot in odd patterns. Alexis and Jane definitely knew something was wrong when I spent my whole break staring at my phone. “Just text him.” I gave Jane a confused look. “You're waiting for Liam right? Just text him, guys love bold girls.” It took me a minute to register what she was saying. I had gone on a blind date a few days ago and never got a call back. “No, it’s not Liam, i’m not even sure if I liked him that much. It’s someone from my past.” Half of my break had passed by and my phone didn’t ring. Alexis seemed intrigued. “Who is this mystery person?” Jane and Alexis looked at me pointedly. I never told either of them about Mateo. “Old boyfriend… he kind of showed up at my doorstep this morning and I told him to call.” Jane looked shocked. “Why is he just showing up? What did he do?” I looked around “keep it down will you? I write articles I don’t get written about.” Alexis giggled. “So what is he doing at your place?” I shrugged. “I don’t know, I guess i’ll find out tonight.” Kira, our boss, showed up to remind us that it was time to go back to work. To the other girls dismay, they walked back to their desks and we began working. I took some research notes on the article I was supposed to be writing, watching the clock and time slowly pass by.
I rushed home to find Mateo cooking dinner. “Hey, I’m back from work,” I said as I entered. I walked over to the kitchen to find him cooking pasta. “I thought you might be hungry. It’s ready if you want to eat now.” I smiled gratefully and took out two bowls. He took a little out for both of us and we sat down at the dining table. “My brother died,” he started. “Oh no, what happened?” I never really knew his brother, he was just the older brother I never actually met, but I did see him around once or twice. “Hw was murdered, he was doing some wrong things, making deals with many people at once.” I drank some water and dug into my pasta. It was good. “He made many enemies I had no idea about until he died, he owed one person in particular a lot of money, but he died before he could return it.” I nodded along listening to whatever he would tell me. “This person wants me to pay the money owed but I have none.” I blinked. He wanted me to help him with the mess his brother put him in, he hardly knows me anymore, let alone the situation I live in. “So what exactly do you want me to do?” I was confused. “I need you to help me vanish. Or change my identity.” I looked at him questionably. “And how do you expect me to do that?”
“I’ve seen it happen before. You work at a magazine company, you have connections don’t you? You help me get a fake id and whatever else I need then write an article about how I died, letting me slip away as a totally new person.” I shook my head. He wanted me to do what? “What makes you think I would do it?” He shot me a silly smile, one of my favorite things about him, “You know you’ve always loved the idea of me being a Liam.” He was so confident, and nowhere near wrong. He used to joke about it all the time, running away and changing his identity. We finished off dinner with some off topic small talk and slept early. I laid in bed thinking about what he was asking me to do, and I figured his plan could work, I drifted off into a deep sleep deciding I would tell him I'd help him in the morning.
“I thought about it, and with a little bit of planning, I figure we can do it,” I told him while he watched me do my makeup. “How do you want to die?” he paused. “It has to be something where they won't find my body.” I nodded along. “We could say you drowned in the ocean, that way your body could have drifted off into the water and I think it'd be hard to find a body in such a large amount of water.” He smiled. “Great. I went for a midnight swim and drowned, when can I get my new Id?” He sounded so excited. “First you need a makeover, I say we dye your hair sandy brown and cut it short.” He paused, trying to imagine it, then agreed. “I can go get it cut and buy box dye while you're at work,” I grabbed my keys and handed him an extra one from on top of the shoe rack. “Lie low, put a hood up so nobody recognizes you.” I left for work and began to write the article. It took me some time to figure out how to make it realistic but I did it. When I went back home, I found a sandy brown hair boy cooking. He looked good. “What’s for dinner?” I asked. All of a sudden I didn’t mind him around as much as I did before. “Spicy Fajita chicken strips.” I smiled, it was my favorite dish. Like yesterday, I set the table and we ate, but instead of yesterday's tense talk, we were relaxed and had a lot of fun. I took a picture of him for his id and sent it to a friend who could make them. It would be here in a few days time, and he would be known as Liam Kane until the day he dies.
The next few days were amazing, we didn’t go anywhere but we had a lot of fun catching up, and played all the silliest games. Soon enough the id was here and it was time for him to go.
“Mateo Flynn, disappeared mysteriously, last seen taking a midnight swim by the ocean side.”
I read the byline sitting beside him. “What do you say? I’m officially Liam Kane, so would y ou like to go out with me?”