Almost StrangersMature

            Pale streaks of golden rays traveled through the cerulean sky, bathing the loam in rich brown and the leaves of the full grown maple trees in emerald hue. A girl with long, dark hair walked out of a two-story Victorian house. Quietly, she headed towards the black iron grills of the gate, pushing it forward and then stepped outside, her uniform of midnight blue blouse and skirt seemed to glow against the light.

A satisfied smile heightened her beautiful visage as she looked up at the clear blue sky, her eyes narrowed into tiny slits as she tried to filter the bright rays of the sun that tried to enter through her thick black eye lashes. Not long, she quickly turned down; her hand soon came into the pocket of her black leather bag as she fished out a metallic device that silently vibrated against her palm. She held the device out and opened it. It was a message. A slight frown creased upon her forehead as she read the message.

“Why do I always have to do this every morning?” she asked herself out loud, exhaling an immense amount of air as she returned the phone inside her bag’s pocket before twirling her eyes. She then continued on her walk, silently admiring the maple trees which lined the street side that looked lively in their coating of bright green leaves.

            She was quietly marveling at the beauty of mother nature when her eyes accidentally wandered at a certain spot. The previous serene expression had altered and her eyes were completely devoid of any sparkling emotions. The girl hesitantly stopped, turning around as if to look for any form of escape.

“Good morning, Luna.”

            The girl, upon hearing her name, slowly turned her head to face the person. Gripping her hands into hard fists, she thought of a reply despite the turmoil within her.

“Good morning, Elizabeth,” she finally spoke her name, oppressing the vile taste that would sprung up from the pits of her stomach. She had now faced another girl in the same age as her though the latter wore a different uniform of immaculate sailor blouse and a red checkered skirt.

With a wide smile splayed upon her lips, the girl quickly stepped towards her. “Finally, I am able to see you once more! I thought that I wouldn’t see you even though we go at different schools,” the girl with a long burgundy hair softly spoke and then reached her hand out towards her, almost touching her arm when Luna suddenly moved away.

“Ahm, it really seems so Elizabeth,” she answered, forcing a smile upon her lips of which the girl returned with an askance look.

“Luna? Then, shall we see each other –“

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth,” she swiftly cut her off. “I can’t. I am quite busy these days so I cannot promise anything to you,” she hurriedly spoke, not a trace of warmth in her eyes.

After hearing her words, a look of pained expression passed across the pretty countenance of the girl but quickly was able to recover herself before facing Luna.

“Well then, it cannot be helped.” Elizabeth’s gray eyes glimmered with a friendly smile as she turned to her, her hands stood relaxed either on her side.

“I hope the next time would be fortunate for me. I am hoping to see you again especially on stage,” she spoke with eagerness despite the passive expression  Luna was showing though the latter could not helped but to cringed at her words.

            “…And I am expecting to see Michaels as well,” she cheerfully said, her eyes seemed to sparkle at the mention of a person’s name. “Though I must say that he is fonder at you than I am,” this time, her voice sounded low, as if in a whisper, before she turned around in a hesitant manner, leaving the girl in a deeper turmoil. Without any further ado, Luna quickly walked, almost tripping herself as she tried to calm herself down. Her heartbeat was racing with the tempo of her own footstep though she couldn’t care as a voice echoed inside her mind. Quickly on her feet, she made her way towards school, forgetting whatever errand she should have done.

***

            ‘How did you feel? Tell me…’

            She quickly shook her head while quietly walked her way along the hall, passing by her fellow students who were going to their respective rooms. Hands involuntarily shivering, she clutched the black leather strap of her school bag and meekly walked into the cluster of students, her eyes were cast down as she tried to suppress the emotion wriggling inside her.

‘…Were you envious of her?’

            Biting her bottom lip and shaking her head at the inner voice that spoke to her, she sped her way up towards her room, completely ignoring the bright and cheerful weather outside through the wide glass window that bathed the school’s field in lush green. Soon, she reached her room, throwing a wary look around her surroundings before stepping inside.

She had almost reached her place, a brown desk and a chair by the last row near the window when a shadow loomed before her. Halting on her tracks, she slowly turned her head up, only to come face to face with a tall blonde girl, who sweetly grinned at her. A pair of deep blue eyes were transfixed upon her face whilst thin carnation lips were parted a bit, revealing a set of white teeth which almost caused her to smile in response however, her face remained passive, emerald eyes returned the gaze with cold intensity.

“What is it again, Cathy?” she asked, a tired look upon her face.

“Come on, Luna! Don’t be like that! Aren’t we supposed to be friends? You should at least smile at me! Don’t be such a cold-hearted person!” Cathy exclaimed as she held out her hands to holds her arms of which Luna quickly jerked away with an exasperated look upon her countenance.

“Enough. Just leave me alone,” she simply said in a tired voice before walking passed her, her shoulder brushing against hers. As she reached her desk, she laid down her bag on top of her desk whilst settling down, ignoring the sea of eyes that were fixed upon her.

At this, a girl with black, bob cut hair followed by a brunette stepped beside Cathy, openly showing their look of disapproval at the seated Luna.

“What the… Just who does she thinks she is?” asked the short haired girl, arms crossed over her chest as she sharply turned to Luna.

“God… Why are you even bothering yourself at her?” seconded the long haired girl whose face seemed to have swallowed a bitter pill as she sharply gazed at Luna who had been the target of their chaotic emotions.

Cathy could only grip her hands into a tight fist, a smile which hid the raging emotions within her. However, as she turned towards the door, the fire within her seemed to extinguish at the sight of the tall, dark brown haired boy who quickly made his way inside the room.

“Good morning, Anon,” she softly spoke as she beamed a sweet smile at him of which he only returned with a thrift smile, quickly passing her by and directly approaching the person that had caused her with intense anger.

“Luna, I thought I told you to wait for me. Why did you suddenly leave like that?” she heard him reproachfully asked Luna.

“Why? You’re not even my brother, Anon so stop acting like a spoilt child,” answered Luna in a cold manner that only made Cathy’s blood boiled hot. Not able to contain the anger that attempts to burn within her anymore, she immediately walked out of the room, leaving the two flabbergasted behind. Exchanging worried and questioning looks at each other, the two followed suit after Cathy and completely brushed off the funny looks that were thrown upon them by their classmates.

Luna took a sharp breath before turning away from the quizzical visage of her companion, quietly calming her nerves at the unexpected meeting that occurred earlier however, her pretensions were not easily kept hidden as Anon looked at her. Feeling uncomfortable, she quickly turned at him, throwing him daggers with a silent threat of I’ll kill you.

“You owe me this time, Luna,” Anon had spoken, a mild and a somewhat sarcastic grin spread like oil upon his lips before he turned to his seat, leaving the girl frowning and at the same time, more troubled as she knew what he meant. Opening her mouth for a word of protestation, she was about to stand up but remained glued on her seat at the sudden entrance of their class adviser.

            Anon Michaels, before facing the board, turned once more to her with a smirk, his deep mauve eyes seemed to bore deeply in her being.

            She shuddered at the meaning hidden behind his smile.

 

***

            “You’re clearly upset.”

               Those were the words that first came out of his lips.

            Luna could only sit down quietly on the white floor, sipping the lemonade through her straw; her gaze travelled towards the clumps of stratus clouds that hovered upon the blue sky. The sun was on its zenith, looming over the earth as it showered its rays upon the tall skyscrapers that rose above the sky, throwing cool and dark shade below. In the shadowed corner was where she had settled down, peacefully relaxing after a meal.

The dark brown haired boy took the spot beside her, following her gaze as he sipped the pineapple juice through his straw. On top of the school’s roof was where they had taken their lunch and after consuming their respective meals had decided to linger for a while before immersing themselves in the afternoon classes.

            “We’ve been friends since childhood. I know if you’re upset, frustrated, angry or happy, Luna. Remember, you can’t hide it from me,” he said after sipping from his drink.

            Hearing his words, the girl irritatingly turns to him with an exasperated expression while sipping juice through her straw. With this, the boy suddenly pinched her nose, causing the latter to choke and cough in shocked as her juice seemed to have stuck up in her throat.

            “What the – hey!” she immediately laid down her box of juice and slapped the boy’s arm who in turn, only relished the moment with a jovial chuckle.

            “It’s your fault because you’re too serious!” chortled Anon, unable to contain the laughter from escaping  his lips.

            “Why you - You almost choked me to death!” cried Luna, still coughing up as she pulled out her handkerchief from her pocket and covered her mouth.

            “I’ve warned you before that you owe me one this morning for suddenly leaving me like that,” he said whilst grinning like a monkey, his eyes almost in tears as he was laughing too hard at her.

            “You’ll pay for this,” she said, wiping away the juice that spilled around her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Damn you, Anon. You’re so childish even though we’re already freshmen. I won’t forgive you if I choke to death,” she said as she twirled her eyes on him of which he returned with a smile.

            “Come on, Luna! I can only be childish in front of you,” he said in a teasing voice and this time, with a soft smile painted across his face.

            “You’re weird you know,” she told him with a sharp look aimed at him.

            “And you’re too cold,” he said, suddenly ruffling her hair with his hand of which she responded with a spank on his arm.

            “I am not. I’m just being me,” she said at last, as he released her; his gaze seemed to travel to a distant land.

            “I know,” he told her in a dreamy voice. “I know you’re just being yourself however, you can tell me if something upsets you,” he said.

            “Ahm…” she hummed, seeing his face softened. “It’s really nothing. It’s just a waste of my time and effort,” she said, inhaling a lungful of air before turning her eyes towards the sky. “As what I have told you, we’re getting old. I might just be beginning to get tired of dealing with unimportant things.”

            “Elizabeth, you mean? Did she approach you?” he sharply asked, quickly turning to her with a serious countenance. “I told you before, just ignore her and if you really don’t like to talk to her then just simply turn away.”

            “Argh…” she snorted, unable to hide her disgust upon hearing his words. “You really do know me. How come you know it? Are you some kind of a fortune teller?”

            “Really? I was just actually fishing out,” he said, quite surprised at the proximity of his guess to her response. After hearing him, Luna could only turn around, holding out her brow at her own blunder.

            “Well, aren’t I amazing? I was able to guess it correctly but to be honest I actually stumbled upon her this morning when you left me,” he said with a hurt look on his face of which she only smiled. “…though she didn’t see me. I knew right away that you two had met.”

            “Wow. I’m impressed,” she drily said.

            “Luna, it seems she cares about you.”

            “I think you’ve read it wrong, Anon. She cares about you and not to me,” she said, attempting to stand up from the floor when he suddenly pulled her down, resulting for her to collide with him.

            “Where are you going?” he asked, quickly changing the topic of which she didn’t mind.

            “In the classroom,” she only said. “Now if you don’t mind, please release my arm,” turning her eyes to his hand of which he hesitantly released.

            “Thanks,” she muttered as she rose up however, she was forced once more to sit down, causing her to land down on his lap. “Anon, what are you doing -” however, her words were abruptly stopped as she sensed his silence and his arms coiled around her, causing her once more the sensations of anxiety and distress.

            “But I only cared about you…” he softly spoke those words that would melt her heart down though it only caused her pain. He leant his head on the hollow of her neck, breathing heavily against her skin of which caused her to gasped in surprise as she felt the touch of his lips, almost smelling her own scent.

In silence, she compressed her lips in a thin line, blinking her eyes at the sudden emergent of tears that would sprung out from her eyes anytime and with summoned will power, she held his arms and slowly released herself from him.    

“Anon… Remember our promise? Please don’t ever forget that,” she said, not turning around to him, and without any additional words, stood up and walked back inside the building, leaving him in silence.

***

            He turned towards the west and saw the sun had almost set, the sky turned purple, fully covered with the coat of the uprising twilight. A sigh escaped his lips as he slowly walked along the road, his mind wandered to the matters that greatly disturbed him. Supposedly, he was not to get out but a certain circumstance had allowed him to sought relief by slipping passed through the tight security of the St. Andrew Academy. Throughout the vacant hours of his evening, he walked around the vicinity of the academy, not minding the distance that he would cover. Still wearing the distinguished school uniform of which caused him a great deal of attention for some unknown reasons, he carelessly walked further, passing along bustled streets crowded with students and workers who were probably going back home.

He was momentarily lost on his own thoughts that when he had finally felt his feet sore from walking, he stopped. He had found himself in a park and to his great relief, saw that no one was around him. Walking towards it, he listened to his surroundings, seeking a peaceful and quiet place. Feeling the exhaustion completely creeping through his system, he decided to sit down to a rust-colored swing, sighing deeply as he finally sought comfort after a long walk.

            The remote place was surrounded with Willow trees and clumps of hedges were planted in no particular places, of which seemed to be a sanctuary of silence that eased his nerves and mind. Finally alone and free from anyone, he clasped both of his hands and turned his head down as if in a silent prayer. Closing his eyes, he sat for a while, not thinking of anything and forgetting the world where he existed.

“Where wishes once came,

I remained quiet however, ignorant;

Silently with hands clasped,

I prayed for a new sunset.”

“From here I watched,

I saw the sky turned dark;

The birds have been freed,

But their eyes had lost its spark.”

            With a furrowed brow for he had not anticipated that there would be anyone in the park aside from himself and slowly raising his head up, he searched for the voice that sweetly sang the song. He was about to move from his seat when a silhouette emerged from the shrubbery, just two meters across from him. The form however, was not quite clear as the shadow of the evening had made it difficult for him to see through the darkness.

            Feeling rooted in such a cumbersome situation, he quickly rose up, was about to turn around, and had decided to forget what he had stumbled upon when the stranger spoke to him in a solemn voice.

            “Who are you? You’re not around from here, are you?” the voice asked in a sweet tone akin to a nightingale’s despite a trace of suspicion which stopped him on his tracks, and in hesitation, turned around. This time, the figure had finally moved from the shadows and under the light of the street lamp that stood between them, had revealed herself to him.

            A girl with long, straight, ebony hair wearing a uniform of dark blue blouse and a knee-length skirt stood under the bright rays of the lamp, showing her beautiful countenance that were creased with distrust upon the sight of him.

            “I just wandered here, sorry,” he said and without further explanations had turned round his heels.

            “Wait,” she said, causing him to stop. Slowly, he turned towards her and saw that she had already taken up the second swing, her head hung low as if in a silent reverie.

“You can stay whenever you like, it’s not like I own this place,” she said in a firm voice with a trace of exhaustion. For a while, he stood there, unable to decide right away, when the girl turned her head to him. In silence, he walked back to the swing he previously occupied and then took his seat, quite conscious of the person beside him and in a soft voice had spoke to her.

            “It’s almost night time, we should be back to our own places,” he said, seeing how late it was. Upon hearing him, the girl turned to him, a look of amusement had reflected in her eyes.

            “Ahm… I guess so,” she said, stifling down a chuckle upon his words. “Aren’t you a weird person for saying something like that to someone you just met?”

            This time, he was the one who turned to her in amazement at the frankness of her words. “You’re actually the first person to tell me that,” he said without any trace of feeling of being offended in his voice.

            “Well, sorry. I hope I did not offend you. I actually don’t mean it in a negative context,” she told him with an apologetic smile.

            “Don’t worry. I don’t mind it,” he said, returning her smile before turning up towards the sky that had slowly shown its cluster of blinking white hot stars from afar. “It’s actually refreshing,” he said before returning to her.

“Do you mind if I ask your name?”

            The girl, unable to suppress a chuckle, returned him a smile.

            “Luna Heartwood,” she said. “And you are?”

            “Dylan Ashton,” he answered her with such a light tone he had never felt before. He was engrossed at the moment that he had not anticipated the arrival of a copper automobile. It halted in front of the park and a dark haired man in gray suit stepped out of the front seat, his sharp countenance under the faint light of the street lamp which looked serious had immediately softened at the sight of him.

            “Thank God! Mr. Ashton! Finally!” the man swiftly walked across the space of land bathed in the checkered beams of light from the street lamps then stopped in front of Dylan, who in turn, was more astonished to see his class adviser.

            “Sir Clark? Why are you –“

            “Enough, young man! The class was worried because of your absence! If it weren’t for Carlos, we wouldn’t be alarmed that you were gone. Now, come – “ the adult finally declared, without turning around to see who his companion was as he swiftly gripped his arm, pulling him to follow after him.

            And without any words of protestation, he turned to her, a sheepish smile splayed across his visage as he allowed his teacher to drag him across the park towards the parked car.

            “Good-bye, Ms. Heartwood. Until we meet again,” he said in a soft voice hinted with a tinge of hope that suggested a prelude of their meeting. A knowing smile broke into her lips at the new prospect of friendship however short it had been, would perhaps happen in the near future.

            “Until we meet again, Mr. Ashton,” she bid him farewell, feeling her heart swelled with happiness an unknown reason.

            The night deepened; the wind growing colder than before had rustled the leaves of the sleepy willow trees that stood guard around the park. The girl, alone but with a smile painted across her face, watched the car drove away until it shrunk into a tiny speck of light as it gone farther from her.

            “Until we meet again, Mr. Ashton,” she softly spoke, her eyes slowly travelled up to the ebony sky, now dotted with the stellar that sparkled from the distance.

In her silent reverie of what the future might lay upon for her, she had missed to see a shadow lurking behind the bushes, quietly eyeing her.

To be continued…  

 

The End

2 comments about this story Feed