She was out running, trying to catch her breath. At the next bend, she cut across the street where the sub-urban houses lined up the dim-lit streets of Deep Amber. She held her windbreaker tighter to her body as the constraints of the wind lashed against her. She seemed lost, yet she knew where she was heading. She stopped short on her tracks as she found herself standing in front of an oak-craved door and after a moment’s hesitation, bashed on it. Her heart was pounding in resonance with the sound of her knocking. No one answered. She held her knuckles in mid-air for more knocks as the door went ajar bringing to light the appearance of Ulrich.
“Meiko?” He was holding the door with a dumbfounded look that etched upon his dog-tired face.
She heaved a long sigh.”Hi…um..well, I happen to pass by your house and..uh…I thought I’ll just drop by to…do you mind?” It was an excuse and she was stammering with it, abashed of her intrusion at this late hour.
“Well, since you’re already here…” He was holding the door for her. Gesturing her to come in.
He closed the door behind them and they slumped at the couch beside each other. Her hands were trembling as she fumbled with them. What would be her next move was still in the lap of the gods. She was quite uncertain how she should say it without appearing ridiculous. Well, coming to his house at this rate was already ridiculous to start with. She would not ever think of herself as a brave person. But she did have a style of courage built on willpower. And that’s what had brought her to him.
“So, to what do I owe this pleasant surprise?” He had his mauve ash eyes locked on her as she rested her gaze upon him. He still had that perplexed look plastered upon his face. All the more nerve-wrecking for her.
“Black Star told me once that I have to make a choice and it took me quite some time to have mustered up the courage to make this decision….. I decided to tell it to you right now before you leave.”
Black Star, the only person she always unburden her heart to. Though the only thing she’s at liberty to know is his codename. She couldn’t care less about his true identity let alone his whereabouts. He was the sole person who has a knack for bending her will towards a positive perspective. It may seem uncanny to rely on someone who is technically a total stranger…yet albeit his anonymity, he’s the only one that she got as her friend. And it was a secret to everyone else. Well, there was one exception…..Ulrich. He knew just about everything about her.
“Wait…who says anything about leaving?”
“I just overheard Alice and rest of the L talking about it this lunch. Talking about the reason why you’re absent today. You could’ve at least told me about it.” She stared at her. Eyes too tight like a hand in a solid grip. “But then again who am I for you to tell me about it. I’m just the ever-so foolish and good for nothing Meiko.” She’s being vulnerable now. The widow of her soul sparkled in soft shift. She knew she’s about to cry.
Ulrich Ashenbert always got girls trailing behind his tail like drooling puppies. He was the object of every girl’s fantasy even though he gained the notoriety of being a delinquent which had put him to the regular class. Despite that, he had remained as one of the academy’s Luminaries, or ‘L’ as what they call it. A group of good-looking, pleasing and intelligent students that serves as the academy’s faces for billboards, interviews, magazine features, TV appearances and social assemblies. And she’s nothing compared to them. Always the chronic trouble-maker and a major airhead. Unlike him, who was, to everyone, a cool, collected and an academic achiever. He was larger than life. If truth be told she was not immune to his charms too but she kept that as a secret plus the fact, albeit she try to dismiss it, that a deeper feeling was starting to flourish. A feeling she wouldn’t want him to be aware of. The very thing she dreaded to come about. But she already decided that she will take the risk of being ridiculed instead of risking losing her chance of doing what she should have done a long time ago.
“You were never that kind of person to me. I was more interested in your qualities—- your innocence, dawning awareness and vulnerability. You were unafraid to show your emotions and I’m really fond of seeing how your expressions vary from one after the other. Unlike others who try to put up a façade of a person they’re really not.” He was smiling. A rare commodity to his personality. “And what was this all about my leaving?”
“But they said….”
“Ah…so naïve indeed. You’ve heard it all wrong. It’s true that I was leaving but not from school. I decided to find myself a new apartment so that’s why I told my landlady I was moving out already. I already asked permission from my parents and they agreed.” She managed to make an abashed smile, aware of her stupidity.
“So all along you were worried about me leaving then?” A playful grin etched his lips with his eyes trying to hold her stare. It was no use denying it. She just sat there, petrified on the couch, unable to make any movements. She was trying her hardest to act cool about it but her fidgety knees betrayed her.
Then he asked, his mauve -ash eyes holding hers. “Well, you were saying something about making a choice. What was it then?”
She almost forgot about it. Her eyes drifted away from his skittish gaze on her. How was she able to respond to that? She then regretted why she came at his place and made a fool of herself. Now that the reason why she came was proven to be just a fuss, all the courage she had a while ago dwindled in an instant.
Her cheek was flushed in red, embarrassed at how she acted a while ago. There was no escaping it. She came decisive about confessing to him thinking that he was leaving. It turned out that it was all a misunderstanding. She and her dimwit brain!
Ulrich pulled her beside him which made her clashed to his side. He had his right hand tight on her arms cuddling her close to him as she felt his breath. Pushing herself to death not to tremble under his arms. No pun intended. “You don’t have to answer that. I already knew it.” He said.
Flabbergasted, she stared at him pulling out of his hug. It was the longest silence that had passed between them. Everything was in slow-mo as if time had dragged its hands in slow pace. All the words that she have yet to convey were left dangling in the air as he sealed her lips with his kiss.
Written by Prescilla Mae Genaldo. A connecting story for Crossing Fates.