“At the End of the Rainbow by Katastrophicity” (1)

I decided to spend the day touring around the city alone. I live here. I was born here. But I haven’t really taken the time to actually see it. In twenty years, this is the first time that I will roam around it. To go to the tourist spots that I’ve never been in to. Some of them I’ve been, once. But never returned.

I don’t know exactly what was it that doesn’t want me to come back. I don’t know why, despite what my friends told me, despite their and my parents’ invitation, I declined to go with them. And it’s only now that I have the interest and maybe the curiosity to actually go.

I’m not exactly the outgoing person as what you’d expect me to be when you see my family. My family is like fireworks. They have their individual shine, their own light and energy and when they all gather together, they’d be like a fireworks display, while I on the sidelines will just be laughing and reacting to whatever craziness they’re up to.

I’m into books and writing and being in solitude. I appreciate the silence while others don’t. I appreciate the walking around the campus alone because I can think to myself, while others feel awkward about it. I feel comfortable going to watch movies alone, while others don’t. I appreciate the grayness of the skies in some days, while others dread it because they don’t want to rain. And I love the rain and how it smells.

I bring my camera with me and instead of taking my car, I decide to take the bus instead. So that I could feel like a real tourist. I have no class today. My roommate decided to spend the day with her boyfriend who came to visit from another city. I’m sure they’d be using the room so, I’m induced to go without being asked.

I’m going to the zoo first.

I sit at the back of the bus and stare out the window. It could be a perfect movie moment if not for this middle aged man who sits beside me and smells like a dead rat. And alcohol. My nose cringe and I try to breathe slowly but I couldn’t help it. So I press my nose on my shoulder to not be so rude. I try to act cool. But this is nowhere near cool.

Thank goodness, the zoo!

I stand up right away and almost stumbled as I stomp my way toward the exit door. Good thing a guy caught me. ‘Careful.’ He says with a smile. ‘Thanks’ I reply and I turn towards the door waiting for the bus to stop for it to open. The bus finally stops and I get out immediately.

I buy my ticket and I enter the zoo. I feel like a five-year-old kid having her first trip to the zoo. Well, this is my first time. But I’m not five anymore. I take pictures. Of people. Of animals. I smile to myself as I see some kids grin as they see the elephant raises its trunk. It’s like it has given them an ultimate happiness. I take their pictures too. My wall would be so full of pictures of my today’s mini travel.

I go ahead to the aquarium. It’s an underground aquarium. I mean, it’s like a tunnel. You have to enter a tunnel like pathway and all around you will be the aquarium. You’d feel like you’re underwater. No flash while taking pictures so I put off my flash. I take pictures of the stingrays passing above me. And the smaller sharks. I call out Nemo right away, and excitedly, when I see a school of clown fish. I turn my head to the sides to see if anyone heard me and think I’m nuts. A twenty-year-old calling out Nemo. Ha-ha. Very immature.

The only one I see is this boy, giggling as he looks at me. He’s looking at the clown fishes too. And now he’s moved closer to me. ‘You like Nemo?’ he speaks funny because he’s missing a front tooth. I smile. ‘The movie? Yes. I loved it, even. How about you?’ ‘I don’t like Nemo. Nemo is a bad kid, my mom said.’ I lean down closer to him.  ‘Why is Nemo a bad kid?’ I ask sounding curious. ‘Well, he never listens to his dad, he’s so stubborn that’s why he’s taken away by the divers.’

I lean my back against the aquarium. ‘He’s a bad kid at first, but he learned from it, didn’t he?’ I speak very gently. Like the tone everybody uses when speaking to a child. ‘He did. I still don’t like him, though.’ I smile. ‘I can’t force you on that.’ I pat his head lightly. ‘What’s your name?’ he asks. ‘Dani’ I say. I’m about to ask him his name too but he says something first, ‘I like Dory’ He says as he flashes his smile with a missing tooth. ‘Really’ I say. Then he points to a direction where my eyes immediately follow. ‘Dory is right there if you want to check it out.’ He pulls my hand and brings me to wherever Dory is. And then we stop. He points again. There they are a school of “Dorys”.

‘They’re so cute.’ I say as I watch them. I take a picture. ‘Can you take a picture of me and my uncle? He had no class today so he was asked to take me here. And we don’t really have a picture together and he’s like my big brother so…’  he looks at me with this big brown begging eyes. How could I say no? ‘Of course. Where’s your uncle?’ I say.

The kid turns his head, stretching it up as if he could see over the small crowd. ‘There he is’ he says as he pulls my hand again, dragging me through the crowd. He’s small so he doesn’t have to need much space passing through. While I, a full grown woman have to apologize whenever I hit someone on the shoulder.

When there’s no more crowd. I see the uncle he’s talking about. Based on his back. He’s about my age. In college too most probably because he said that his uncle has no class today. Which means we go to the same university because it’s only us who’s got a holiday because it’s our school’s foundation day and we celebrated the last three days and today’s a kind of a rest day for everyone and it’s a Thursday so…it’s most likely we go the same university. Just saying.

He’s standing by the smaller aquariums with his hands on his hips. He has a clean cut hair and wide shoulders. His head keeps turning form side to side as if looking for something. ‘Sebastian!’ the kid calls. The guy turns right away and looks at the kid with relief. ‘Gregory’ he says as he exhales deeply. ‘Where have you been? I’ve been looking all over for you. I was beginning to consider going to security.’ He kneels down on one knee with his hands on Gregory’s shoulders. He looks really worried.

‘I’m sorry, Seb. I just saw this pretty lady looking at Nemo.’ Gregory says and I immediately feel my cheeks blush. Pretty lady looking at Nemo. Who wouldn’t laugh. I wouldn’t. But Seb did. I saw him chuckle for a second. And then he looks at me as he stands up. ‘I’m sorry. He’s just really interested in pretty girls. In this young age…’ he chuckles again as he shakes his head.

‘I asked her to take our picture.’ Gregory says as he grabs the hem of his shirt. ‘You did what?’ Seb asks in a loud whisper looking at me and then back to Gregory as if already scolding him through his eyes. ‘I said we never have our picture taken. And she was taking pictures of fishes and I saw her take pictures of other people, too, before I went to her. I thought it be okay.’ Gregory’s high pitched voice was like a violin being played by someone new at playing violin. But he’s very adorable.

‘You shouldn’t have done that.’ Seb explains. ‘No. It’s okay.’ I interrupt. Finally, I spoke. I turn on my camera and nod my head again to Seb, reassuring him that it’s okay. He smiles back sheepishly as he positions him with Gregory in front with his hands on Gregory’s shoulders. I take three pictures and show it to them. Seb tells me that it’s okay if I delete it after. I say that it’s fine and that I could add this to my collection of my today’s trip.

‘So you’re a tourist? Where you from?’ he asks as we continue to walk around the zoo. ‘I’m not a tourist exactly. I’ve been living here for twenty years but it’s only now that I decide to visit these kinds of places.’ ‘Why’s that?’ ‘I don’t know. Maybe I’ve always thought that they’re always here so what’s the rush in going to all of them.’ I could feel his eyes on me but I don’t look back. ‘So what changed your mind and finally made you go here?’

I’m silent for a moment.

 

part 2 https://katastrophicity.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/at-the-end-of-the-rainbow-2/

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“At the End of the Rainbow” (2)

‘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.

Silence.

‘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.

Silence.

Part 3 https://katastrophicity.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/at-the-end-of-the-rainbow-33/

“At the End of the Rainbow” (3/3)

‘Why today?’ he says. I’m not sure what he’s referring to or was he even saying it to me. ‘I’m sorry?’ I say. ‘Why did you choose today? There were many weekends. Many other holidays, why did you choose today to go to the zoo, to the museum…’ he leaves it hanging, looking at me hopeful for a truthful answer. I look away.

‘I told you. Because I just realized recently that things will not be always there, they’d be gone before you know it.’

I begin looking at the pictures Gregory took a while ago. There’s a picture where a kid eats sand. And then another picture where a mother’s face was somehow distorted when she sees her kid eating sand. And there’s another where a kid with pigtails flying all over when she goes down the slide. These are good shots for a five or six year old to take. Maybe Gregory could be a photographer someday.

‘Things…and people?’ Seb says in a low voice, still looking at me, still hoping for a truthful answer, still expecting me to tell him the truth. I look at him sharply. And then my glare slowly diminishes to a confused look. Trying to keep it cool. I look down again. To the pictures.

And then I stop at one picture that almost knocks my breath out of me. It’s almost identical to the one painting we saw earlier at the museum. It’s me and Seb on this bench, looking at each other with meaningful stares. And if I don’t know us, I would think that this girl and boy in the picture are deeply in love. But we’re not. Of course we’re not.

‘Who was it?’ he says. I don’t look at him. I still look at the picture. I think about the change that happened with Gregory’s parents after a similar picture had been taken. I wonder if a change would also happen to us. To me and Seb. Us. As if we’ve known each other since childhood. As if we’ve been in love for years. But we’re not. But in love or not, lovers or friends, I know inside me that after this, there’d be changes. I’m not sure if it will be a good a bad change. But everything will change.

‘Who was it that you thought would still be here for a long time but you realized wasn’t staying for long?’ His tone isn’t curious at all. It’s now obvious that he’s been thinking. I look at him. It’s as if he knows it already. He stares at me like there’s begging in his eyes, begging me that what he’s thinking is wrong, that he couldn’t be right. I don’t know, maybe he is right or maybe he’s wrong. Either way, I have to tell him. To confirm is answer or to correct it. This is the first time we actually see each other. We look at each other as if it’s our last seeing each other’s faces. As if this will be goodbye for two friends who spend the day together and have to separate at the end of it.

‘Who?’ he asks again.

I don’t take my eyes off him. I tell him the truth now.

‘Me.’

By: Katastrophicity

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