Two weeks passed and Timothy waited for his friendship with Lucia to end. Rather, it grew stronger and stronger. He looked out for a sign of deceit but he only saw honesty. She was this happy, sunny, glowing girl.
Lucia had made other friends in school, girls who had been in school with Timothy but had never spoken to him before. Now, because of Lucia, they started to acknowledge him whenever they saw him. Maths, on the other hand had stopped bothering him entirely. It was as if she was making everything right in his life. With the friendship growing between him and Lucia, he couldn’t help but wonder why this girl kept drawing close to him. Why would she look closely at his face and say ‘You have a fever’. Why did she care enough to bring snacks to school for him? Or notice when he had to cut his hair. This girl was giving him more attention than he had ever gotten before.
After school, Lucia called Timothy on his cell phone. It was a windy evening and the sun had receded. The ring woke Timothy from a dream.
“Mystery-man. Come out of your house. I’m waiting for you.” She said immediately he picked. She had given Timothy another nickname.
“Lucia” Timothy said drowsily. “I was dreaming about you.”
“Humph! So you were even sleeping? Come out quickly.” She said then she ended the call.
They met outside and the sky was clear apart from a distant gathering of dark clouds. Lucia wore a sky blue gown with a white sash which matched the sky. She had painted her lips red as usual and had put a white flower in her hair. The wind tussled with her gown and she tried to hold it in place with a nervous look.
“You are pretty.” Timothy said.
“Thank you. We are going for a walk. I’m so bored.”
“A walk to where?”
“Anywhere. I just want to stroll around a bit with you. Mystery-man.” She nudged him.
They began walking without any destination in mind. The wind was fresh and smelled of rain. Everything combined to make the moment perfect.
“Lucia, why do you call me Mystery-man?” Timothy asked.
“Uhmm… it’s because I don’t know a thing about you. What’s your favourite movie? What subject do you like? What kind of songs do you listen to? What are you thinking? I can never tell. You are an enigma.”
Timothy felt disappointed. There was no difference between calling him an Enigma and ‘White-rice’. “If I’m an enigma, then why do you bother trying to know me? Why are you my friend?” he attempted to burst his own bubble.
Lucia stopped and looked at him. “Why shouldn’t I be your friend?”
“You are answering my question with a question.”
“Please stop being gloomy. I’m your friend because I want to be. I like hanging out with you. Is there something wrong with that?”
“There is something wrong with me.”
“What? You’re a vampire? I knew it.” she laughed at her own joke.
“I’m serious. For some reason, people don’t like me. It’s not like they hate me, they just don’t care. I get why it’s like that. I’m not exactly very interesting. I find it hard to express myself to people. I’m not fun; I don’t have any special talents. I’m not creative or intelligent. I don’t have any passion for anything. So that makes me wonder, why do you pay attention to me? It’s not like I have anything to offer.”
“Everybody has something that they are good at. You don’t have to think so much about it. You’ll figure it out along the way. You are just a kid. I don’t like you because of any particular reason. I just thought that you are a nice guy and that you’d make a good friend. Timmy, life is too short to over think some things.” She sounded motherly.
“But I think about it a lot. I really do. I’ve been-.” He didn’t want to say it. “I’ve been lonely all this while, Lucia. You have to understand why I’m thinking like this.”
Lucia exhaled. “Timmy, let’s keep walking. You might have been lonely before but I’m here now.” She grabbed his arm and they kept walking.
“I have somewhere to show you. No other person knows of this place.” Timothy said to her after walking in silence for a while.
Lucia smiled. “I love surprises!” She said as Timothy led her towards the direction of the resort.
When they arrived there, Timothy led her through the secret entrance. The hole in the chain-link fence was small but somehow, she managed to get through without ruining her dress. He got through too and led the way.
The wind had picked up and caused the surrounding trees to sway. The white flowers from the tree rained down on Timothy and Lucia and when he turned around to see Lucia, she looked like a portrait with her dress billowing and the flowers surrounding her like falling snow.
The place was massive; there were miles of untamed parks which still looked beautiful in its state of abandonment. They spotted something like a giant water slide from afar. It seemed that that was an amusement park in the resort too. Contraptions which looked like fun rides hid behind the water slide. A golf course, theatres and what looked like recreational halls were seen miles away from the amusement park. These massive buildings were swallowed up by the horizon. There were gardens with benches, swings and smaller slides on either side of the paved road where they walked. An abandoned spa and a small open air market were beyond the park on their left. They spotted a cluster of small cosy looking flats which were the guest’s apartments. There was a hut with bamboo benches surrounding a fountain with a mermaid statue just ahead of them. Lucia ran towards the statue.
“This is so life-like. This place is beautiful.” She looked at the garden and ran over there. She picked one of the flowers and smelled it. “Wow!” She ran back to Timothy and made him to smell it too. The girl’s awe made her eyes even wider which made her to look prettier in Timothy’s eyes. She discarded the flower on her hair and replaced it with the new one. Timothy thought briefly about her action but he then he let it slide. Lucia clutched his arm.
“What happened to this place?” Lucia said. “How come it’s abandoned?”
“It’s on lock-down. The government confiscated it because the owners used embezzled money or something like that.”
“This place is just wasting away. The government isn’t doing anything with it either?” she sighed “Just imagine a one week vacation here…”
“I think the case is in court.”
“So you’re the only one who knows about this place.”
“I’m the only one who knows the way in.” Timothy said with a hint of pride. Lucia looked excited. Timothy was glad that something he had could excite her. She loved seeing her this way.
“The best part of this place is yet to come.”
Lucia squealed and squeezed his hand even tighter. “Take me there.”
Timothy then led Lucia towards the direction of a green hill which was spotted east of the Mermaid statue. They walked the narrow paved road for a while and Lucia had started to complain about her hurting feet when they passed through a metal gate and stopped in front of a calm lake. Behind the lapping waters of the lake, the birds chirped, the greenness of the hill behind the lake reflected on the waters to make it look like a river of emeralds. The air was fresh, the atmosphere was cool, and everything was perfect.
Lucia looked at Timothy. “This place is paradise. And it’s all yours.”
“It’s ours now. I’ve never taken anyone here before…” He didn’t want to say it but his mouth moved. “But I decided to take you here because you are special to me.”
Lucia looked at Timothy. She didn’t say anything for a while and then Timothy’s heart began to pound. He knew he had let it out too suddenly. Lucia was the only friend he had and now, he managed to chase her away. Most people didn’t like clingy people.
Timothy wanted to apologise. He was preparing to take the words back when Lucia smiled faintly and put a hand on his shoulder. “That’s sweet. Thank you Timmy.”
Timothy lay on the stony shore of the lake using both palms as a pillow. Lucia sat beside him, cross-legged picking white pebbles out of the brown stones which made the bank. “So you just sit here? All day? Alone?” Lucia said as she felt the cool round stones roll around in her palms.
“You never swim?”
“That’s boring.” Lucia said. “So what do you do?”
Lucia chuckled. “Old papa in a young body. What are you thinking about? Taxes, your wife, the economy…”
Timothy paused. A bird squawked and he looked at the flying creature. “Well, I think about my life.”
To be continued…