Dancing Away with my Heart

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(A short story by Katastrophicity)

She glanced through the glass window to see if he’s already there. She called him up early this morning to meet her at the coffee shop that afternoon to tell him something. Something that she couldn’t keep anymore. Something that she’d been keeping all through the years. Was he nervous? Of course he was. She heard it in his voice when he told her ‘I love you’. She said it back, but she was not sure if he believed it.

            When she entered, she immediately saw him at the table outside by the garden. He picked the place she would have picked. She smiled to herself. She went to him. He hasn’t seen her yet. But when he looked up and met her gaze, her heartbeat jumped and started to quicken. She discreetly took a deep breath and almost forced herself to smile reassuringly; reassuring him that everything’s okay, that he has nothing to worry about. But she was not sure about all of it now. She wondered for a second if she could really tell him.

            She thought about their years together. She thought about how it could end in a snap after she tells him. Their friendship could be over.

            “Sel.” Said he, as he smiled when she sat in front of him.

            He already ordered a cup of coffee, black, his favorite. She smiled nervously. But she’s trying to not let him show it. She could see it in his eyes that he’s already thinking about something. He’s already thinking about what she could possibly tell him that she wanted to meet up right away. She could see his mind running. She could see it in his clear blue eyes.

            “How are you? I haven’t seen you in three months after our high school reunion.” He said.

            “I know. I…I was busy at the store. Summer’s coming up so I had to deal with the orders for summer wears and stuff…you shouldn’t hear about all of it. It’s a bore.” She chuckled.

            “Well, I’m just glad that your store is finally getting well known all over the city.” He said as he nodded.

            “Me too. So…uhm. What are you been up to?” She asked.

            “Same old stuff. Learning everything about our family business.”

            “So you’re really doing that? I thought…”

            “Yes. I can do nothing about it. I’m the only heir.”

            She can hear the bitterness in his voice. She’d known him long enough to know and notice everything about him without him telling her. They’d been best friends since they were six. And she also knows that it’s not taking over their family riches that he wants to do in his life.

            She remembered three months ago when they went together to their high school reunion. Seven years after high school, a lot has changed. Some got married and had kids already, some were with their fiancés and then there’s Selene and Sebastian who still seemed inseparable and even went to their high school reunion together as if nothing eve changed. Nothing, yet, but change will happen like a thunder hitting a person in the middle of nowhere. It will happen that night.

            Selene, with her slim figure, she wore a blue dress that flows carelessly and gracefully at the same time, down to her ankle. And a black velvet pumps that made her look so much taller than she already was. Sebastian beside her looked dashing in a midnight blue suit, black leather shoes and his elegant white slim tie. Others would have thought that they planned to have a matching outfit, but they didn’t. Sebastian, when he went over Selene’s apartment to get her, was surprised when he saw her in a blue dress. Selene looked at him and immediately knew what he was thinking. They just laughed about it and affirmed on how much of a best friend they really are to each other.

            They picked a table where Sebastian’s old football team sat with their dates. Mostly were their wives. Two were now professional football players and are famous in the country.

            “So you two finally got together eh?” Brian said as he put his arms around his wife carefully. His wife was leaning her head on his shoulder.

            “No. We’re not together.” Selene said as she and Sebastian looked at each other as they stifled as laugh. Everybody assumed that, they both thought. But they’re best friends.

            “WHAT. After all these years you’re still ‘bestfriends’? c’mon.” Luke, who was a few chairs away from them said as he let his hand fall on the table.

            “Why are you forcing this, guys? It’s not what you think it is.” Sebastian said after he took a sip of red wine.

            “What we have has been platonic and it will always be platonic, right Seb?” Selene said as she elbowed Sebastian lightly.

            Sebastian nodded.

            “So quit it. All of you.” Sebastian pointed at Brian and Luke playfully.

            Brian put his palms up like surrendering. “Alright. Whatever you say.”

 

The night went on fast. There were tribute videos played. Some cried. Sebastian and Selene laughed secretly at them. They loved it. Just like the good old days before they got in the real world when they went to college in the city. Selene went to a fashion design institute while Sebastian into another university where he studied Business.

            They managed to see each other once a week since their schools weren’t that far from each other. Just fifteen minutes away. Selene’s apartment that time was just near her school while Sebastian’s got, of course, his own condominium unit at one of the most expensive neighborhood in the city. Sebastian invited Selene to stay with him but Selene refused. She said that she must learn to stand on her own, which Sebastian respected. But he was always there when Selene needed help.

            They were also in each other’s lives when they had relationships. Selene was the one who always got her heart broken because as what Sebastian told her, she’s easily attached to people and that she trusts people so easily. But then he told her that that’s one thing he envies about her, that she always sees the good side of people. While Sebastian, raised in a family where his parents weren’t around much because of their business and traveling around the world, never learned to trust anyone but Selene. He saw how people took advantage of his father and of him just to get them on their good side to take advantage of them. Sebastian felt that it’s only Selene who never cared about how rich he is. She saw him as him and not as Sebastian the heir to Thorpe Corporation.

            At the end of the night, a song was played. The master of ceremonies said, “Alas, it is a great joy that the past and the present have come together tonight. This night may not last longer than we wish it to be, but may this night be one of the nights that we’ll never forget and would be looking forward to recreate as we journey on our own lives after high school. May this last song be of a reminder that we may not be eighteen anymore, but we will always be eighteen in our hearts. Have a good night everyone!”

            As he walked off the stage, a band came out and a spotlight was on them. Selene felt her heart jumped and stopped and then started beating so quickly that she felt blood rushing to her face. Her eyes widened as the guitar started to be played. She felt Sebastian’s hand beside her. And then the drums. She knew those faces. She had been their fan ever since and now they’re in front of her. She couldn’t believe if that was real. Maybe she was dreaming. Sebastian pulled her up and led her to the center where everybody else started to slow dance. She couldn’t take her eyes off the stage. Sebastian guided her hand on his shoulder and then slid his hand into hers and started to sway side to side as they started singing.

            Sebastian pulled her close and whispered into her ear. “I can see that you’re surprised. It makes all my efforts worth it.”

            Selene looked at him. “What do you mean? You made this possible?”

            Sebastian smiled, almost smugly. “It was hard to get the booking but you know I’ve got connections.”

            They chuckled.

            “I can’t believe this. Lady Antebellum in our high school reunion. This is bizarre.” Selene said almost breathless.

            “I remembered how much you wanted Lady Antebellum at our prom before. And now that I could do something about it, why not grant your wish.”

            “Wow. You remember that. Thank you, Seb. Thank you.”

            “No problem. I’d do anything for you Sel.” He said as he pulled her closer to him. The song’s chorus was coming.

            “You know, this is why they think we have something more than friendship. Normal friends don’t do this to each other.” She said a matter-of-factly.

            “But we’re not normal friends, Sel.” Sebastian answered.

            You have no idea how much you’ve done for me. And this is just a small way to repay for the some of it. Sebastian thought.

            They swayed slowly and in synced, like they were merged into one. Maybe they are. Maybe Selene and Sebastian are one soul, but haven’t just figured it out yet. Sebastian knew that this song was one of Selene’s favorite songs of Lady Antebellum and he requested personally that they’d play this song at their reunion. He also got Selene a collection of their albums with their signatures on it. He knew how Selene would be so psyched out when he would give it to her on her birthday five months from now. He felt her so close to him and he wished that the song wouldn’t end in three minutes. He wished it he could be with her longer.

            I haven’t seen you in ages. Sometimes I find myself wondering where you are. For me you’ll always be eighteen and beautiful and dancing away with my heart.

 

“I’ve ordered for you.” Sebastian said as the waiter arrived with an iced latte with whipped cream on top. Just what Selene would have wanted it.

            “Thanks.” She said and then she took a sip.

            “So,” Sebastian hesitated. “What was it you wanted to tell me?”

            “Oh, uhm.” Selene started to brace herself.

            What she’s about to say requires from her a lot of courage. This is a leap of faith. And whatever happens after this, she would accept it either way.

            “What is it? Is something wrong?” Sebastian reached for her hand. Selene let him.

            “No. Nothing’s wrong. I…I just…The last three months, I’ve been thinking…” She started and then paused as she looked at Sebastian as if waiting for his permission for her to continue.

            “I’ve been thinking about….you.”

            She felt adrenaline take over her and perhaps didn’t even hear what Sebastian said, who was somehow surprised.

            “Me?”

            “I am precariously in love with you, Sebastian. At first I thought that it’s nothing. But it’s not Nothing. I kept on denying it to myself. But you see, it’s everything from the beginning. I’ve always been in love with you. It’s not just a best friend thing kind of love what I feel for you. When you danced with me at prom, you were the only one I’ve only thought about dancing with. And when I had all those bad relationships, I kept on coming back to you. And I will keep on coming back to you, Sebastian. You must have not known how much you affect me. You do not know how much my life would suck if you’re not in it. And when you got Lady Antebellum to play at our high school reunion…that was…and when we danced, it felt like I’m with you and only you and not with everybody else who were dancing in the same room as we did. I am in love with you in the most innocent way. I crave for your presence. And even when we would just sit side by side, without any physical contact and would just talk and talk endlessly, that would be enough.” She paused and just looked into Sebastian’s eyes as if she was looking for something. “I have…said what’s purely in my heart. And I’m glad. Now, tell me. Do you not feel the same?” She said it in almost a whisper, like she was in pain.

            She was scared of his answer. She was scared that he would say no. She was scared that by what she did, everything between them would come to an end. But she drew courage from one thing that had been keeping her from running away. Hope.

            “Sel, I….” He straightened on his seat and leaned closer to Selene. “I wish things could be different…I wish…I wish you told me earlier. I…”

            “What do you mean?” Selene didn’t move. She just felt her stomach sinking, together with her heart, slowly making their way on to the ground as if getting ready to be stepped on. She knew it. She knew he’d never feel the same way. She shouldn’t have done this, she thought.

            “I love you, Sel. So much. And I’ve…been secretly in love with you for a long time.” Sebastian said carefully.

            Selene’s heart almost leaped but then she stopped herself. She knew there was something more. So much more that he wanted to say. So she waited.

            “But…” He started and he looked down.

            “But what…but what Sebastian?” She said almost in a whisper. She wasn’t even sure if Sebastian would have heard it if they weren’t this close to each other.

            Then Sebastian looked at her deep into her dark green eyes that he knew so well. He couldn’t believe that he could make those eyes be full of tears as he would say what he was about to say. And there’s no other way to say it but truthfully.

            “I’m engaged. To be married.”

 

*End*

When You’re the Single One

It has been a long time since I’ve spend a day with my girl friends. A fun day, full of bonding and just us girls. Without their boyfriends.

I am the only girl in our group who doesn’t have a boyfriend (never had). I’m not bitter about having none. I’m okay with it. I’m fine being alone. And I embrace my independence.

But I just miss those times when I get to bond with my girl friends. Talk about girl stuff and share secrets without their boyfriends lurking around or clinging beside the or the worst of all…taking their attention off me.

I think I’m jealous of their boyfriends. I can’t talk to them like I used to. When I get to share a secret, there’ll be a big possibility that their boyfriends would know about it too. It kind of messes more with my trust issues.

I’m friends with their boyfriends too. We go out together as a group and that’s okay too. And fun most of the time.

I just hope that I could still have my girl friends as a whole. Not just a part of a couple. Because that’s how I see it. Them and their boyfriends are one. And when I get to spend time with one of the pair, I get only a half of them.

I love them.
And they don’t realize that when I love, I give my whole self. My whole to each person that I love.

I just sometimes wish that they’re the same.

Because right now…I’m jealous.

And missing them…

Even though we see each other frequently.

I miss them.

From The Shire to Mordor

I was like 10 or 11 when I first watched Lord of the Rings. I remember enjoying it and imitating Gollum with my siblings but I haven’t fully understood it.

As I grow older, I’ve come across it once again in cable channels. I would watch at first but then I’d thought it was boring so I’d change. I still didn’t understand.

And then at 20, I had this craving, this constant thought in my mind that I want to watch Lord of the Rings again.

I asked my friends if they had a copy of it. One said he had but his hard drive was not functioning. So that postponed my craving.

Months later, the craving grew stronger again. And this time I’m more determined to find a copy. I don’t really know what triggered this craving. And I don’t care what it is. So lucky enough I have a friend that has a blue ray of the three movies.

I was so excited.

I allotted a day just to watch the three movies. And when I started I finally began to understand what I understood lightly years ago. And it hit me. It’s one of the most well-made movies of all time. I love it so much. And when I watched the thrid movie, as it nears to it’s end, I began to feel this separation anxiety. Like I don’t want it to end.

And the End surely hit me through to the bones, my heart and my soul. I was keeping myself together and not cry because my mother, who’s upstairs might come down and see me. (I’m not the usual type that would cry over movies) (Well actually I am. But with the right movie. And when I’m all alone). But the tears couldn’t be contained. So I let some of it stream out my eyes and held a pillow close to my face so I could cover it when someone walks in.

I admired deeply Frodo and Sam’s friendship and I felt a pain in my heart when Frodo left Sam. When the Fellowship’s friendship has ended. When things weren’t the same for them anymore. For me, it was like the end of all endings. I don’t know how to explain it.

It was like they continue to live their lives. And I’m not ready to let them go yet. But I couldn’t stop it because it has to end. Frodo had to go. Sam had to live his life with his family and the Middle Earth hails its King and continue on with their lives.

It was a rollercoaster of feelings. And I’m glad I watched it again. Because this time, I know. Because this time, I finally understand.

…And because this time, I will be one of those people who will never forget the

Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

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Goodbye my almost lover

And now you have inflicted a suffering that will haunt me for a long time. If it hadn’t started, even as a joke, I never would have grown these feelings. No matter how I try to stop them, no matter how I try to pretend they don’t exist, I get slapped by reality as I caught myself thinking about you (and smiling). That’s not right. That’s the time when I realized that it has somehow affected me. That even though I’m putting all my defenses up and putting up this front of having a cold heart, you have somehow got past through it. Almost, but not quite there yet.

So before everything will come to it’s worst (like being awkward with each other), I will stop this. I will do everything to take these, whatever this is in my heart, out.

Just like now. It has been a bit of a long time since we last saw each other. I admit that I miss you. But it’s obvious that you’re creatig this distance. And this ‘distance’ hurts me. And I don’t want it to hurt me. I don’t want aything you do or say hurt me or affect me in any way.

So I carry this struggle. And as long as I have this I will remain to have my walls up.

Xx katastrophicity

Not Real

This feeling. I’m confused. You do this. You do that. You say things. And I don’t know if it’s real or not. Sometimes I almost believe it. But then I tell myself, it’s not real, not real, not real. And then I go back to my senses again.

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I talk to you like all of those things never happened. I admit that I pretend everything’s okay, so clear, so trasparent. But please, you must admit there’s a fine gray line there. Or maybe it’s just one sided. Yeah, maybe it’s just one sided.

But can you blame to feel and think this way? Do you realize the things you’re doing and the effect it has on me?

Don’t worry. I expect nothing from you. I don’t expect this to be serious. And I tell myself once more and over and over again…NOT REAL.

xx katastrophicity

“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/

“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/