Trace of Ink
By Zale_Valrez
Date: June 2, 2022
Ch. 2Drowning in Loneliness

Chapter 1: Drowning in Loneliness
She easily found her apartment since the bold number 9 was written above the door. She stuck her key and twisted the doorknob. Grunted in displeasure as the inside view came into her sight. And slammed her door; emphatically closed her eyes and harshly let some air go.
After a long tiring trip and greeted by multiple shirts on the floor, empty bottles of alcohol, and the center table covered with junk food wrappers. While dust had taken over the whole place, switching the lights on would be more disappointing.
"Uhm, I forgot something."
"I haven't cleaned the room."
Those words rang in her ears, which she hadn't paid attention to. Though, what other choice does she have? She softly massaged her neck and let out a heavy sigh. The former owner didn't bother packing his things, it was flooding with shirts and trousers, literally.
"Knock! Knock!"
Fera raised her eyebrow in confusion, who would knock on my door this late? She thought as she crack her door open.
"Honey, sorry to bother you. But here are some cleaning materials, I know you'll be needing them," the landlady cheerfully spoke. She handed out a duster, broom, and vacuum. With numbers of trash bags, of course.
"Thank you,"
"Always welcome, if you need anything. Feel free to ask me, you can call me, Mama Tes.” Fera moved her head up and down like a robot, her tired and dead eyes bore into the cleaning materials.
"I should go now, good night." When the landlady left, she finally shut the door and dropped them all somewhere. Took her jacket off and tossed it on the center table, then pulled out all the things inside her pockets such as her wallet, keys, and any small stuff.
She headed to the first room she saw, which was the bedroom, and went straight to the bathroom. It was messy too, but she didn't bother. She filled the bathtub with water and soap. Removed all her clothes then immediately hopped in. 
She laid her back and closed her eyes. And memories came rushing into her head. Her tears easily find their way out and run down her cheeks. She tried to push those memories away, but there was no way to avoid them.
'Go!' she heard her father whisper. His bloody hand held her cheek and tried to wipe her tears, 'Go now,' she continuously shook her head while trying to stop the blood from his chest.
' leave me here alone, Baldo will take care of my wake.'
'Don't say that, don't say that. You'll be okay, I'll...I'll call the ambulance.' she stood up but her father refused to let her go. Beads of tears fell from her eyes.
'Promise me, Fera,'
She aggressively shook her head in disagreement. 'Dad, listen, I'll go get some help. And you'll be alright.' She wiped all her tears and tried to calm herself down.
'Please, promise me,' his voice broke, and hardly gasped for air. Seeing him in that state broke her heart into pieces as fell to her knees again.
'Don't do this to me, dad!'
'I failed you, I failed you as a father. As a protector, forgive me, my lovely daughter. Promise me...promise,’ she gave in and slowly nodded.
'To where?' in the middle of her sobs. She had nowhere to go, her dad was her only family.
'Anywhere safe, always be safe my Fairly Raliya.'
That very tiny bathroom witnessed her silent sorrow. Faint sobs filled the whole room. She poured every tear while trying to avoid producing enough noise. She was gasping for air, asking for more, and drowned herself in the water.
As she ran out of breath, she sat up and pounded the wall as hard as she can. She had no clue how to mend her heavy feeling. It was drowning, suffocating. She clasped her palm on her lips and sobbed as hard as she can in silence. The water was cooler than ever, she felt the cold surface of the tub, and it went cold even more like happiness had left the whole place.
"Nowhere is safe, if I'm not with you." Words of a wounded heart sound fragile and meager, which would lash your heart out.
And a thunder resounded, not long enough the sound of water drops hitting the thin metal roof entered her ears. It seems like heaven heard her misery, and poured its condolences.
"KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!" Her eyelids were heavy and her head was pounding hard as she was woken up by a loud knock. Unwillingly climbed down from her bed with closed eyes but then immediately regretted it, cause she hit her foot on something. She furiously hissed and scratched her head.
"Good morning! Fera dear!" all her drowse had gone away, she even almost jumped by her landlady's lively greet. "How was your sleep? I'm sorry to wake you up. I have a breakfast for you as a peace offering since I couldn't help you clean. My dear, I have loads of errands to do for today, yes, today. And I can't be delayed," her vibe was full of life; on the contrary, Fera had exactly the opposite.
She slowly nodded and took the packed breakfast 'she said. "Thank you," her morning voice failed to sound grateful. Her blue duster paired with a blue flip flop adds her bright aura.
"Don't mention it! Anything for you. If you need anything, you can find me in my office doing my thing." She winked at her and smiled widely. Her tight bond and carefully tied hair don't suit her energy. She acts younger than she dresses and appears younger too.
"Duly noted, thank you again." her voice sounded meek and husky as she just got up from bed.
"I should head now, are you fine in here? Don't you have in concerns about your apartment?"
"I'm good," Fera felt guilty for her actions. The landlady was just checking her out if she was fine and doing well. "I'll just if I need anything."
The landlady gave her a warm smile, assuring her that she understood everything well. "Sure," and finally headed out.
After closing her door she checked the food and it smells really good. A weak genuine smile slipped from her lips. It looks delicious but her appetite betrayed her. She set the food down on the table and then dived again back onto her bed.
Every part of her body was awfully tired. Exhausted and she felt like doing nothing. She rolled over and laid her back then hugged her pillow. Something made her feel down, even more, the frame on the wall was full of dust, her window had spider webs and even her ceiling was not an exception.
She had a clean and well-organized apartment that didn’t fail to ruin her mood. Splendid.
"I should move."
She jumped off of the bed, good thing the landlady had prepared all the boxes and trash bags in the room. Placed all his stuff in a box. She didn't bother folding them up.
The apartment had two rooms one was quite bigger than the other. She put all the boxes in the smaller one and continued cleaning. After a few minutes or hours, her hair starts sticking to her body.
Gladly, she found a ribbon and tied her hair. She pulled her sleeves up and finish sweeping the floor. That was just the initial dust. And there were more. She started taking the curtains off and throwing them in the box until the whole apartment seems naked. Some furniture was placed on the floor as she dusted off the walls.
She zoned out and fixed her attention only on her business. She forgot that she hadn't taken a bath and breakfast. But that was all that she need, a distraction. She had no plans of getting away from her cleaning materials, but her stomach protested. After three growls from her traitor stomach, she gave up and find something to eat.
Perfect timing for the breakfast her landlady gave.
While enjoying her food, she suddenly stopped and oddly felt goosebumps. She hid her suspicious look and secretly glanced around. Only to find Mama Tes down pretending to sweep some fallen leaves. The landlady even pretended to do something, but when Fera wasn't looking in her direction, she would go keep her nose on what Fera was doing.
Nosy, all Fera could comment. Of all kinds of people in the world, nosy was her ultimate enemy. Lost her appetite again and stood. Her temper wasn’t quite good and easily got irritated with everything. She took a cold shower and decided to go out shopping. Especially her necessities. She locked all the windows and her door before leaving and went down. 
As she went down, she wore her hood on and slid her hands into the pocket of her jacket. She stood nearby the road and waited for a vehicle. Every living creature had turned its head on Fera as she walk passed. She was not comfortable with their stares and she felt like sinking inside her jacket.
"It's in few blocks away."
She turned around to find the voice, a low voice of a man. When she found it, it was walking straight toward her so she take some steps back. But he passed her and she felt his chill aura, he wasn't a ghost or something spiritual. His strong perfume adds to his chilling aura. He doesn’t look approachable and he sounds cold too.
After some few steps away from Fera, he stopped. "You're the new tenant, Am I right?" Fera stared at his broad back in a white T-shirt paired with grey shorts. "You're new, so they kept looking at you." I know. She answered mentally but didn’t bother to speak.
Fera wasn't some sort of celebrity nor a model. She was just new and everyone was being nosy.
"You're heading to the market, I presume. You better follow me, if you want of course." She eyed him confused as he started walking.
She followed him but maintain their distance, in no time they reach the waiting shed. The sun was still out and striking hot. She saw the man entering the waiting shed and sat there.
Fera wants to avoid him at all costs, but she can't let herself die of heatstroke so she entered the shed at sits next to him at enough distance. She hasn't spoken a word so it was awkward the whole waiting. A bus stopped and some went down and Fera got in. They find their seat separately as possible.
When Fera saw the busy people, and establishments all over. Endless running vehicles on the road and commodities everywhere. There are different kind of store and shop, which offers various type of service.
She familiarized everything and wander around the market, also bought her primary needs, and enjoyed shopping for simple things. 
She enjoyed making herself busy and had fun walking around the new place. The new small town brought a sweet smile to her lips. It was genuine this time.
Before the sun could leave, she made sure she’d get home in time. She was tired but refreshed when she got home. Feeling sticky, caused by the sweats of drained energy.
She excitedly unwrapped her new things. It wasn't special but it seems some sort of achievement. Never expected the unboxing of a dozen of glasses of water was fulfilling.
Her new plates and kitchen materials. Everything was new and that made her smile. She had gone into the shower and excitedly use her new body soap, it was an underrated brand but seems the best for her.
Something stopped her for a moment as she remembered the man, who helped her earlier. She wondered why would he help a stranger like her. She doubted that it was just pure kindness, he might have something on his sleeve.
Every action had a motive.

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