It is said that the eye is the window to your soul because through it a lot can be revealed about you if only one cares to look long enough. And Michael could see through Lisa’s. Lisa wasn’t one to let her emotions show because she had to be strong for herself and for her mother. But that day, she could barely hold it together.
This was particularly heartbreaking for Michael because he knows what it means to be abused physically. Growing up in a home in which his dad abuses his mum with the slightest provocation traumatized Michael. Although he never talked about it, he knew that day he had to open up to Lisa if he was going to get Lisa to open up to him. Maybe if Lisa knew that he can relate to some of the things she goes through, maybe she would not have to bottle everything up inside her.
Lisa was shocked to get to know about Michael’s family. What seemed like a perfect family from afar was far from it. What amazed her the most was the way Michael carried himself. He carried himself as if all was perfect with him and his family. Coming home to see her mother physically abused was traumatizing to her, she could not imagine having to watch it happen on a regular basis and from someone she considers her father. It became clear to her that there is more to a happy home than what meets the eyes.
In a way, she felt sorry that Michael had to go through all he went through alone with nobody to talk to. With her, at least she talks to her mother about what happens to her and how her every day was. She even mentioned Michael’s family to her mother when it happened that she might be spending some time there to tutor Michael. She even painted the family as perfect and very accommodating when her mother asked about how they treated her. But now she is just beginning to find out that not all that glitters is gold and that every family has their secrets; hers were just obvious for all to see and judge her as a daughter of a whore.
The pity and extra attention Michael was receiving from Lisa were why he never opened up to anybody. He didn’t want to start feeling sorry for himself. It was easier for him to believe that all other families have it worse than his but they are just covering it up the same way his family was.
His plan to get Lisa to open up worked. Lisa told him how she walked in on a guy assaulting her mother and she tried to intervene and got a share too. She told him she doesn’t know how to react towards her mother. Being labeled daughter of a whore in school is not a title any girl child would love to associate with but her mother knows no better than this life and she doesn’t want to judge her or push her away. She told Michael that she knows her mother sacrificed a lot for her but she wished she had a normal family like all the other kids. She wished she had a father figure to look up to. And secretly, although she knows her mother might not approve, she still wishes to get to see and know her father in person.
For the first time, Lisa and Michael opened up to each other. They got to see how imperfect they were. And in their imperfections, they could really relate to each other struggles.
The more time they spent together, the more they grew fond of each other. And people in school began to notice the changes between them. Rumors flew around and as one may expect. Both of them became quite shy and uncomfortable with the stories spreading around school because they were both in a situation they have never been in before.
But with Lisa, Michael had the one true friend he never had and Lisa finally found someone that didn’t judge her by her mother’s occupation. Michael was easy to talk to and it seemed they genuinely cared about each other.
Weeks and months went by and emotions turned into infatuation. And infatuation was interpreted as love. They were like a ball rolling down a sloppy hill. They were falling hard and fast for each other. Everybody had an opinion towards their love life but the noise from the outside world towards them didn’t matter much anymore.
Michael finally manned up and decided to ask Lisa out on a proper date. Just a late-night drink without the disguise of tutoring. This is the first time a guy has genuinely attempted to take Lisa out on a date without the mindset of having his way on her the same way they would her mother. After all, to most guys, an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and they always want to position themselves to grab it whenever it decides to falls.
The date was enjoyable. They talked, laughed, and shared childhood memories. They got to realize that night that what others might say about them does not really matter as long as they are both happy. There and then, they promised to stick with each other as long as they were both happy.
Michael walked Lisa home. Before he said his goodbyes, he gave Lisa her first kiss. It was a passionate one Lisa would never forget.
Lisa’s mother Veronica seeing the kiss between her daughter and Michael came out to interrupt them and ushered Lisa inside. In embarrassment, Michael greeted her, turned around, and went on his way home.
Michael walked home the happiest man on earth.
In the morning, Veronica felt it was wise to talk to her daughter about her emotions for Michael. And she tried to explain to her that she should be careful about referring to her emotions as love because it might just be infatuation. She has been in this position before and would hate for history to repeat itself with Lisa. But Lisa was not ready to hear her mother’s self-pity story again. After all, she has heard it way too many times before. Besides for the first time in her life she feels loved and alive and she wasn’t about to let it go just to live her life to her mother’s approval. In her defense, her mother’s lifestyle wasn’t worthy of emulating.
Veronica realized that she can’t influence Lisa’s relationship with Michael only hopes and pray for the best for both of them, especially for her daughter.
On a Sunday afternoon, while Lisa was out running errands for her mother, Michael decided to stop by to surprise Lisa at home. Previously, they had talked about why Lisa doesn’t invite him home at least to say hello to her mother and get to know her better. But Lisa was ashamed of where she came from. Although she has told Michael what there is to know about her family, she was still scared that if Michael gets to see it for himself, he might treat her differently. Besides her, Michael was out of her league and she felt lucky to even have him feel anything for her at all. She was just scared of her mother embarrassing Michael. Besides she knew her mother didn’t approve of her relationship with Michael.
Unfortunately for Lisa, Michael stopped by unannounced and she wasn’t there to save him. And Veronica had the chance to pour out her mind to Michael. She told Michael how and why she didn’t approve of their relationship because of what she passed through in the name of love and it would send her to her early grave to watch her daughter pass through the same. After she narrated her story to Michael, Michael understood why she was protective about her daughter but deep down he felt the pressure. He knew that if truly he was to be with Lisa, he would have to constantly deal with the pressure of not disappointing her and her mother. What would happen if he was to break Lisa’s heart? It was the kind of pressure perhaps quite heavy for a young boy because Michael left Lisa’s place with doubts in his mind about being in a relationship. But it is hard to differentiate between love and infatuation especially when you have emotions flying everywhere the way Lisa and Michael did.
At home, things weren’t quite rosy with Michael’s parents. Michael’s mother has been dealing with a lot of pressure from his father ever since they heard the rumors about Michael dating a child of a known whore. Defending Michael’s decision, she told him that it was a youthful thing and she cannot begin to interfere with who her son decides to love or not. But Michael’s father was more concerned about his public image than his son’s love life. To him, his son dating a whore is bad for the family’s image and will dent their reputation. He encouraged his mother to make him understand that to a man, family reputation is almost everything.
Later that Sunday night, Michael’s mother decided to have a heart-to-heart discussion with her son concerning Lisa. She asked him how he felt about her. She also told him about his father’s fears about the reputation of the family. Michael defended his relationship with Lisa the best he could by telling his mother that reputation means nothing to him without happiness. And that he rather have a happy life than a reputable one. Although he was able to convince his mother that being around Lisa makes him happy, he was still struggling to convince himself that he is emotionally strong enough to handle the pressure of being with Lisa.