Fina has always tried to get rid of her nickname, “The Icy Princess” since she was little. But now as an adult, when she is dumped by her fiancé for her more outgoing cousin, she finds herself reverting back into her icy demeanor.
And what’s worse, she finds herself entangled in a contract love affair with her boss who is as handsome as he is cruel! But she is certain of one thing: She will never fall in love again!
The start of summer was always busy for Fina. Other than her office job, Fina was very big into cleaning up her spacious apartment she shared with her fiancé David. People often said that cleaning was best done in the spring, but she liked to do it in the summer.
And besides, she had to make sure that the apartment was clean and tidy for when David came back from his business trip. He was gone a lot lately, and while it didn’t bother her too much, it was kind of lonely being by herself.
Their engagement was one of convenience. Neither of them had feelings for one another, and mostly stayed together as friends and roommates so they could leave their households. Fina had lived with an abusive aunt and uncle, while David’s parents neglected him.
As soon as they were sixteen, they told their families that they wanted to get married and got jobs to support themselves. And they’ve been free ever since. They’ve been “engaged” for nearly ten years. While Fina loved David very much, he wasn’t very expressive and kept to himself.
Fina started with the kitchen. She cleaned the countertop with a rag, and suddenly remembered how her aunt used to hit her for not cleaning up enough. Her aunt and uncle took care of her when her mother was sick in the hospital.
Elaine, her cousin, always left messes behind and her aunt never said a word. That girl wouldn’t even lift a finger, and instead blamed Fina for any mess she left behind.
Fina felt the muscles in her mouth relax. She stared at the rag in her hands for a very long time until it felt like she was looking at nothing. Even her thoughts were blank.
Fina shook her head and snapped her fingers several times to bring herself back into the present. She wasn’t an ice child anymore. She needed to act happy, even when no one was around to see her. No one would dare call her icy now!
“You’re here now,” she said looking down at the ring on her finger. “You have a wonderful fiancé. A pretty apartment. And next year, you’ll be in a wedding dress.”
She put the final book back on the shelf and smiled, patting her hands. “There! All done.”
Fina had finished her chores for the day, and decided to watch some TV since it was her day off. She thought about walking to the store to stock up on some groceries, but as she looked out her apartment window, she saw dark storm clouds coming in, fast. It looked like it was going to rain that day.
And there was nothing better than cozying up inside while it rained outside. David never liked this dull side of her, but he wasn’t there so he couldn’t chastise her for it. He’d be home by six, so she had an hour or two until he got home.
As it started raining, Fina turned on the TV and got comfortable on her favorite spot on the couch.
She began channel surfing and flew through a couple of channels. One of them had in interview with the CEO of the company she worked for, Ryan HeelRiven.
“Gosh,” she thought. “He’s only a year older than me but he’s accomplished so much.”
She changed the channel in the middle of the interview and searched some more until she came upon a program that looked like it was interesting. It was one of those zany soap operas that had gorgeous actors and constant twists and turns.
The show didn’t appear to be anything special. She didn’t even catch the name. The main character was a down on her luck star who wanted to become a better actor. In one scene she was talking to, who Fina assumed, was the male lead.
They were walking in the park when the male lead asked if she wanted to hear a story. The female lead, reluctant, nodded.
“You see,” he said, smirking. “René Descartes once said, ‘I think therefore I am!’ When you act, do you think?”
“Well, of course I do!” she said. “I think about what to eat for breakfast, what to eat for a snack, what time the grocery store opens—”
“Don’t you have anything other than food on your mind?” he said.
Then they got into a playful fight, and she chased him around the park.
Fina laughed at the slightly funny joke. But when her laughter died down and she watched the program, she felt strange.
She had never heard of René Descartes before. I think, therefore I am. After a few minutes of watching the show, she turned to her phone and looked up the name.
There were zero results. No one by that name existed. Nor were there any philosophical texts going by the quote. No matter how many times she changed the phrase, it pulled up absolutely nothing.
She put her phone down and shrugged it off as misspelling his name, or hearing some part of it wrong. But for some reason, she couldn’t get the words out of her head.
I think, therefore I am.
Fina sat back on the couch and stared at the TV, neither watching it nor turning it off. She let the small patter of rain keep her mind occupied.
Did she ever really think before doing things? Did she ever truly rationalize her actions, or were they just put into her head? Did people really think like that?
Events seemed to just come to her naturally. She knew when the store was open because she walked into it. She knew what to eat because it was always in stock in her kitchen. She cleaned her apartment because she was to clean it.
But did she want to? Did she want to clean her apartment? Did she enjoy cleaning? She had never asked herself what she wanted.
She never needed to.
Fina stayed staring at the TV until it became dark outside. She stared and stared and stared until it turned off automatically.
And then she was in the dark.
It was still raining when she came to. David walked into the apartment and turned on the light at about three o clock in the morning.
He walked into the apartment, taking off his jacket and putting his umbrella in the holder by the door. It took a few minutes of undressing and finding Fina wasn’t in the bed for him to realize that she was on the couch staring at a blank tv screen.
“Fina, get up,” he said. He shook her awake.
Fina blinked. Then, listlessly, she stared at him slowly. Her expression was neutral. Not happy go lucky like she used to pretend to be. Yet, she still managed a small smile.
“When did you get home?” She said, saying every word carefully. Her eyes had bags under them.
“My plane got in late,” he said. He looked away for a moment. It was a clue that he was lying. “I’m surprised you didn’t text me a hundred times like usual.”
Fina knew that his plane had gotten in at six that evening. She knew she should be angry and demanding answers, but she could bring herself to emote. It was late. She must be too tired.
Fina nodded, smiling lightly. She went to bed.
But something inside her that night changed. She couldn’t sleep well. The next morning, she woke up and stared out the window at the pouring rain.
At least, she assumed she woke up. She couldn’t remember getting up. When she became aware of what she was doing she found herself just standing at the window, watching the rain.
This continued on for a few days until David seemed to get used to it. He didn’t ask questions or seek out why she was acting this way.