‘Because I realized that maybe this zoo will not be always here, maybe someday this would be gone, too.’ I say in a shaky voice but I keep myself composed.
‘Oh.’ Is all that he says. I know he could feel something is more to it but he doesn’t ask more. ‘Where are you planning to go next?’ He asks in a casual tone.
‘To the museum. I’ve been there once in a school trip last year for one of my majors but I haven’t really enjoyed the trip with my classmates ranting about how boring it was to be in an art museum. But I don’t find it boring though. I love art. I guess I just got offended on behalf of the museum.’ I chuckle.
‘Could Greg and I could go with you? I mean…’ he looks down uncomfortably ‘I’m asked to take Greg out today so…and he seems to really like you.’ He gestures his hand towards Gregory getting excited about the giraffes and calling us to come over. We’re walking now to Gregory and then I say, ‘Sure. It would be fun.’ I smile as I look at him. He smiles too but his smile was kind of the surprised smile. Like he wasn’t expecting me to say yes.
‘Look! Look! Their mouths are funny when they eat!’ Gregory says excitedly. I take a picture of the giraffes. And then I take a stolen picture of Seb and Gregory looking up at the giraffes. I like taking stolen shots because it’s where the Truth is.
We take another half an hour to go around the zoo and then we walk towards the museum just a few blocks away. The weather is just mildly cold so it wouldn’t be uncomfortable. Seb buys us a hotdog sandwich.
‘Gregory told me earlier that the reason you were asked to bring him today was that you have no class. You’re studying in SLU, right?’ I say almost flatly. He looks at me amused and surprised at the same time. ‘Yes, how did you know that?’ ‘I just figured it out. Cos…I go there too. And it’s only us who have no class today.’
‘Right. Wait…’ He stares at me. ‘Why did you stop?’ Gregory says but Seb ignores him. ‘Maybe that’s why you look so familiar.’ Seb says as he smiles widely. ‘I see you sometimes in one of the least crowded corridors sitting on the cold floor reading a book. Is that you? Am I right?’ He says excitedly as we start to walk again. He holds Gregory’s hand instinctively without taking his eyes off me.
I laugh softly. ‘Yes, that would be me.’ ‘What’s the library for?’ He asks teasingly. ‘I can’t sleep in the library, it’s too bright.’ ‘And what’s your room for?’ ‘Well, whenever you see me in that corridor, my roommate is currently with her boyfriend in our room so…’ He nods ‘Ah. Yes I get it.’ He chuckles with disbelief.
‘The odds of us seeing each other in the campus is like fifty percent. And another twenty five percent for the reason of your department building is next to my department building so…in total, there’s a seventy-five percent chance of us to meet each other in the campus and we beat the odds by meeting in the zoo.’ He says as we stop on a painting and look at it. Well, I don’t know if Seb’s looking at it but I’m sure I am.
‘Does it count? Because you saw me already.’ I say. ‘It still counts. I only saw you from afar and you didn’t see me.’ He insists. ‘Okay. We beat the odds.’ I say sort of amused.
Seb and Gregory are like my pill for today. My painkillers. I don’t know if this would end today, but today is all I needed for a break. So just today would do.
Gregory drags me to this other painting, leaving Seb to the previous one. I look at him and shrug. He follows behind. ‘This painting is like mom and dad’s picture in our house.’ Gregory says. ‘Really?’ I look at it. ‘It’s beautiful.’ I say. It really is. It’s a couple on a bench. The painter really showed how in love the couple in the painting is. And with Gregory comparing this picture with his parents’ picture, he must really have an awesome family.
‘The picture was years before they had Gregory. After having Gregory, everything changed.’ Seb whispers to my ear, careful not to let Gregory hear. He’s too engrossed staring at the painting. I look at him, surprised. Changed? Good change or bad change? I couldn’t ask him now. Gregory is looking at us. ‘I wish they could have another picture like that.’ He says. I smile to him sympathetically. ‘They would. You could ask them, you know.’ I say. I feel Seb’s hand on my shoulder as if signaling me to stop.
‘Who wants more hotdog sandwich?’ Seb says in a lively voice. But it’s obvious that he’s forcing it. At least for me it is. ‘I want ice cream.’ Gregory says. Good. He’s going with it. ‘Okay. Let’s go get ice cream.’ I say.
We get Gregory ice cream despite the mildly cold weather. We’re now at the central park. There are teenagers playing Frisbee at the open ground and some kids younger than Gregory are at the playground with their parents watching their every move. ‘Can I borrow your camera?’ Gregory says as he reaches his hands towards me. ‘Sure’ I take it off from my neck and give it to him. ‘Just be careful, it’s heavy.’ He grins as he walks towards the playground. This makes me worry, but only a little. But the worry slowly diminishes as he starts to take pictures. He looks so cute, so adorable. Like a miniature photographer.
Seb and I sit at a nearby bench where we can still see Gregory. We’re quiet for a moment. None of us seems to mind the silence. No one’s pressured to start a conversation. It’s a comfortable silence. Then Seb turns his head to look at me. ‘Thank you.’ He says. I’m not sure for what. So I ask him. ‘For today. For making Gregory happy.’ He says it genuinely. ‘I’m the one who should be thankful…’
‘Can I see you at lunch tomorrow?’ he interrupts. I turn my head sharply to him in surprise.
‘Careful now. I get weirder and weirder as you get to know me.’ I chuckle.
‘I like weird.’
‘You’re just saying that. But you don’t.’
‘I can be weird sometimes too.’
‘How weird?’ I ask as if challenging him into a who’s-weirder-than-who battle.
‘I can’t tell you, you have to get to know me first.’
Silence. I stare at him.
‘Well played.’ I smiled, satisfied by his answer.
Gregory gives me back the camera. ‘Thanks Dani. I think I could be photographer now. I take a lot of pictures.’ ‘You could take your parents’ picture now.’ I say as I smile wildly at him. He just flashes me with his smile and runs back to the play ground.
‘What’s with his mom and dad?’ I say. And then I regret it as soon as I say it because I don’t have the right to meddle in their personal lives. We just met today. ‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked that.’ I say right away.
‘Gregory’s mom, my sister-in-law had an affair before they had Greg. So when she got pregnant, my older brother didn’t fully believe that Gregory is his son. My sister-in-law assured that she ended the affair the year before. My brother decided to believe her anyway for Gregory. And Gregory looks like him when he was a child. But the relationship between him and his wife never went back to the way it was.’
‘Oh.’ Is all I could say.