Royal Arcanum (The Royal Arcanum #1)

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Chapter 3. Mystified Reveries

Angels—she remembered the word, and yet, the vision of the princess herself was odd. Something looked so familiar whenever she envisioned the appearance of the princess.

A little finger snap had surprised her. It was Josh, waving his hand at her face.

“What?”

“Were you gone or was it the reverie?” His brown eyes searched for something doubtful, and he even noticed a slight dust on her brown jacket.

Soon, she realized that they were in the middle of Spanish class.

“You haven’t paid attention for the last hour.”

“Liliana answers all the quizzes, right?”

“Mrs. Fullerton only stares at her since she’s the best in this school for Spanish,” he murmured. “Lucky, she will not repress us with a bunch of tasks today.”

Once the bell rang, all the students left the classroom hurriedly.

The two of them walked through the corridor. For a second, her head felt dizzy as if she floated in the air. Josh stared cautiously at her, as if he knew what about to happen.

“Are you sure you don’t want to visit the nurse’s office?” He asked while holding her hand as if she might fall down. “Your face looks literally pale.”

“It’s not necessary,” she sighed.

“C’mon, you’ve been very quiet since this morning.”

“How about our previous plan—let’s visit Martha after school,” she said, feeling the sudden rush to meet her today.

“Just great,” he sighed in response.


After they had lunch quickly in the middle of the crowded canteen, their next class was Biology with Teacher Coppola. He was a tall man, had very thin body. The students entered his class as soon as the bell rang. This time, Josh picked up the seat next to the windowsill, which was the closest spot to the teacher’s desk.

“Wait, do you see that punk?” He beckoned his chin at one of the boys who sat in the back of the classroom.

She turned her head to realize that one of them was Scott. “Yeah, what’s wrong?”

“Did you feel anxious yesterday?” He narrowed his eyes while asking.

“Pretty much, I thought he would kill me,” she said boringly.

It was like a lightning bolt, Liliana suddenly landed on their table. Josh blinked astonishingly, followed by Cathy who looked bewildering against her goosebump approach.

“I’ve heard that Mr. Coppola will make a pair for us, how lovely!” She strangely giggled and widely stared at him. “I mean, Josh, you’ll never be disappointed in this class since Stella is amazingly smart in Biology, you can ask any glossary to her—” but then she turned her head and realized that the teacher had just arrived “—ups, got to go!”

Afterward, she ran away so fast to the back of the classroom to sit nicely beside Stella, who waved her hand and smiled shyly at the two of them.

“Why would she say that?” Josh felt the creeps.

Cathy shrugged her shoulders, ignoring him. “I hope there’s no frog and blood during class.”

Mr. Coppola was about forty and always wore a plain shirt every day. His appearance made him unsuitable to teach in Biology class. It was a matter of stereotype among the students. Mostly agreed, he should exchange part with Mr. Stalensky in English class. After all this time, it didn’t matter.

The teacher clapped his hands to stop the chattering students, and he started shaking a plastic bottle contained with folded papers. He took out one of the folded papers from the bottle, and said, “Starting from now on, all of you will do a task in pair. I’m going to pick anyone’s name in random order.”

Everyone’s heart pounded hardly and nervously to witness him making a decision upon their fate.

Cathy prayed that everything would go smooth and well this semester, and she hoped a good thing for Josh too since he was sweating so bad, and he looked worried.

She hoped he would be her partner since he was the only one in the universe that could understand her inner feeling, but eventually, the fate said otherwise.

“Josh Lyn Kingsley and Liliana Rocha, please take a seat together,” said Mr. Coppola.

Stella had her eyes on fire at her best friend. Liliana tried to calm her, as she didn’t want to ruin their friendship. On the other side, Josh peeved enormously.

Mr. Coppola continued, “Scott Elm Herron, and—”

The students bulged out their eyes nervously, while waiting who would be the unlucky one.

Subsequently, everyone breathed in relieve when he finally announced it, “Cathy Haile Charlotte.”

“What?” Josh muttered bewilderingly.

“Please be nice to each other, and take a seat together,” Mr. Coppola emphasized his words since he knew that Scott had been dealing with an ill manner. He said it as a precautionary measure.

Cathy felt breathless as if the sharpest knife stabbed her body. She would never have imagined the exact two semesters she spent face to face was with the blonde boy.

Liliana had waited for Josh at the table beside them, but he had not moved from his chair while looked excessively worried, and pissed off.

“Just be careful, okay?” He whispered to Cathy, who could nod weakly.

Cathy pretended as if she didn’t aware that the boy walked toward her table. Scott threw his bag harshly on the desk, making her startled. She felt like a total stranger as they sat along. She tried not to be trembled, but her heart kept pounded unstably.

While Mr. Coppola was still in the process of announcing the next pair, she heard the boy suddenly talked to her, “Why don’t you write more?”

Cathy squinted at him. She wasn’t sure if she heard him correctly. “Are you talking to me?”

He nodded, staring softly at her. It was so unlike him that she felt odd about this.

“Write about what?”

“The one you wrote in front of the school’s fountain, throwing those poems were such a waste.”

Cathy remembered the last time she wrote a poem was in sophomore year, while waiting for Josh to finish his baseball practice, but now, she only spent a lot of time with drawing and reading books. There would be million contingency behind his motive, which she wanted to understand.

“When did you exactly start stalking me?” Cathy confronted.

“Did I?”

She realized his instant crossing arms were a defensive act for what he wanted to say.

“It was just weird whenever I caught you sat alone in that place. You never seem close with anybody, except with your little friend over there—”

She followed his beckoning stare at her best friend. She realized that Josh had already paid a great attention at them since the very beginning.

“And what?” She asked.

His brown eyes didn’t blink, and he looked tensed. “I’ve read it.”

She shook her head and didn’t believe him. “Why would the poems interest you?”

He struggled to answer her. His hands were hurriedly looking for something inside his black bag, and surprisingly, it was her lost notebook.

Her face turned red, feeling an excessive astonishment. She took it immediately from him to check that all the pages of her messy drawing were still in good condition.

“I’m sorry that I forgot to return your notebook, just to make sure if there’s any poem.”

“Did you plan revenge with this, because I hit your head so badly in the gym yesterday?”

“Why would I?” He looked stressed out with her confrontation. She could see a slight of guilty feeling within his eyes. “I took it before you even accidentally attacked me.”

The stolen notebook had returned, although stealing was a bad idea, so she said to him, “You can always ask for the next time, and I’m sorry for the accident.”

He was giggling by himself, in which way he left her feeling baffling and uncomfortable.


They entered the terrace, and Josh started ringing the bell at the door. Soon, an old woman dressed in red blouse welcomed them with her wrinkled smile. She had a pale white skin and short curly gray hair. She seemed too fragile to move, so he hurriedly held her small body.

“Cathy, how have you been?”

They hugged each other compassionately. Cathy felt so happy to see her again.

“I was just about to ask the same question.”

Martha couldn’t yet wipe away her exaggerated feeling to welcome her. “Please, come in.”

The house landlord wanted to make a hot tea for the guest she loved so much, and the mango puddings was already served on the dining table.

Cathy sat down next to the windowsill when Josh ran upstairs to change clothes.

The house felt comfortable. The birds chanted outside the yard, as seen through behind the window of this small living room, and the view looked refreshing with the backyard full of sunflowers under the bright sky.

“I bought this tea from Krem Town in Austria,” Martha said as she put the tray on the table, Cathy helped her to take the cups. “The lovely jasmine scented.”

“This is great.”

The tranquility felt eternal in here. She imagined this little space as her second heavenly place to read a book after her bedroom.

Nevertheless, the previous topic had reminded Cathy of her mom’s plan of a sudden overseas trip. She still felt restless about it.

Martha was a sensitive person, she could sense immediately if someone gave a different vibe, and so she asked, “What’s wrong, my dear?”

Cathy sighed for a while, before admitting the problem, “My mom suddenly has a plan to visit her distant relative in Austria.”

She almost broke down the cup as her hand was trembling. “The Aloise?”

Cathy bewildered. “Yes, Mrs. Kingsley.”

“It’s such a long time. Does she really have courage to come back?” Martha looked worried.

“I’ve never seen any family from my mom’s side, except Aunt Sarah who lives in New York.”

Martha was looking at her cup of tea for a second, contemplating something on her mind, while Cathy didn’t know what to say further since she felt guilty to make this 86-year-old woman overwhelmingly worried.

“Do you believe in past lives, Miss Charlotte?”

She surely astonished at Martha’s simple question. It shocked her heart, mind, and soul. Her eyes blinked out a couple of times, and she thought it might be a tricky question. “No… I mean I don’t know.”

“It’s normal to confuse, you’re still so young. It takes time to understand, you’ll learn things someday,” Martha felt relieved to say it out. “Is there something you wanted to tell me?”

Cathy gazed at her deep blue eyes and hesitated to tell the thing she had never told anyone before. She was afraid if someone thought of her as a crazy little child for believing in superstition stuff. She had heard many cases in the television about people who got cursed for believing the impossible. Some said they should go to the mental hospital because their brain wasn’t working normally.

“I dreamt of sadness, it wasn’t a nightmare, but it haunted me for the last three months,” but then she wanted to take her words back, it was embarrassing for her. However, Martha had been listening so seriously. “The visions about a princess and her empire, and then there was the war. I don’t know about anything but everything feels familiar, I think it’s someone’s memories that accidentally buried in my head. It’s crazy—”

Cathy closed her eyes for a second, the moment felt quiet.

“No, go on, dear,” Martha held her hand gently, supporting her. “Everything that enchanted take a pride to say. Never mind others opinion, sure you can tell. There’s a phrase—”

“Everything you can imagine is real—Pablo Picasso,” Cathy knew what it was.

They smiled at each other. The comfortable feeling heightened during their conversation that felt more contented.

“I had recurring dreams where I saw a white hair girl. She said something about a strange folklore—”

“What is that?”

“I’m not sure, but it seems related with the princess.”

“Perhaps, you’re the reincarnation of the owner of those buried memories, the person who born again when she died in her own past lives. Some says they exist for the mission they had failed perceived in their previous life,” Martha said, while caressing her hand warmly.

“The odd thing is—” she struggled to say it, “the white hair girl looks exactly like my distant relative, who just arrived two days ago at our house. There’s something not click about her.”

“From your mother’s side?” She asked, doubtingly.

“Yes.”

“I want to see her some other time. But, perhaps she just dyed her hair?”

“She looks naturally white, although it’s more like vanilla color.”

“How could the Aloise family born white hair?” She narrowed her eyes in disbelief. “I met them a long time ago. Your family doesn’t physically look like that. They’ve always inherited Eurasian race in every generation.”

“You knew them?” Cathy bewildered.

“My dear, I don’t think I’m the right person to open the secrecy for you. Is that why your mom wanted to bring you to Austria?” Martha paused for a second before she murmured mysteriously, “Finally.”

Cathy wouldn’t want to let go of this conversation. She needed to know more. “Why I don’t know anything about my mom?” She sounded depressed. “I’m old enough to know.”

“When it’s time to know, you’ll know,” Martha said gently.

The conversation ended immediately when Josh walked downstairs to see them. Before Cathy returned home, they ate mango puddings together at the dining table. She surely enjoyed the time like this as she had them like her own family.

At five p.m., she waved a goodbye at the terrace, and whispered to Martha, “You’re the only person that understands about my dream, thanks for making me relieves.”

Josh didn’t know what they talked about since he busied washing the dishes in the kitchen that located three meters away from the entrance door.

Martha smiled, while holding her hands tightly. “You should tell your mother too.”

Cathy had not settled her mind about that yet. “My mother never understands, she never will.”

Martha looked so sad at this current situation. She remembered the old days when Haile was sharing all the things that happened within the Aloise family. The elders knew about the secrecy. She wanted so much to tell her the truth of pain in the family that was endured for all the years, but it was just undone as her heart got shattered, and she knew that sadness felt immortal somehow.


The sky had turned darkly red. Her dad’s car wasn’t seen in the garage yet when she went home. Eventually, Haile had been expecting her in the kitchen, which located next to the entrance door. She leaned down behind the sink where there was a window above it.

“Hi, mom.”

She smiled at her daughter. “Can you accompany me in the garden after you take a shower?”

Cathy nodded agreed. “Okay, I’ll be in a minute. Where’s Elle?”

“She goes somewhere,” whenever she mentioned the white hair girl, her mom wouldn’t want to stare back at her. It was getting odder by days.

Subsequently, she took a shower and changed into her plain t-shirt and polka-dot trouser. There was one habit she always did, which was ignoring to comb her wavy long hair that already resembled a puffy cake.

She went to the garden, looking for her mom.

Haile was watering the flowers. She loved the smell of flowers that they always felt like homesick.

Aunt Sarah’s house in New Rochelle, New York used to be her mom’s house too, where the yard planted with many of lavender, lily, and jasmine. The view looked exactly like in here, but her mom added white roses in this garden.

Cathy was lying down on the stone bench, while twirling the wind chimes above her. Every time her mind went blank, her reverie would appear vividly. She might want to consider Martha’s suggestion, but she hesitated to do it since she was afraid of rejection.

“Mom?” She wanted to ask. “Do you think past lives exist?”

Haile suddenly went frozen, and her hands stopped watering the flowers. She tried to reconcile her own senses before responding. Meanwhile, Cathy didn’t notice her mom’s shocked expression.

It took her mom three seconds before she answered her, as if nothing ever happened, “You like imagining things.”

Her mind was silent, like a river in the dark. It took her a deep breath to say, “Yeah, probably.”

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