The leaves waltz under the rhythm of the sweet spring melodies of the trees. They fly majestically around the park, showing off their healthy green color. The chirping birds are reigning over the black cherries and the cicadas are already starting their morning anthem with their relentless whines.
Ashley is walking in the park, she greets the few people she meets every Sunday morning. The usual faces who, just like her, prefer to start their rest day around nature. Her favorite song finishes and she unlocks her phone to play it once again. She has a dozen songs on her playlist but there's this specific one that she can't stop listening to especially when she's out walking alone. Her long hair dances along with the gentle breeze, she puts the black locks behind her ears to stop them from getting on her face and make her look ridiculous.
Her phone vibrates, disturbing her peaceful moment. She rolls her eyes when she opens the conversation and sees the picture sent by her best friend. "This guy... seriously." she chuckles. Nate has a habit to send her a picture of his sleepy face every morning when he wakes up.
She reads his message, he's asking her if she'd like to go to a burger shop later. She stops walking to type your treat a long with a smirking emoticone.
She walks back home after a while, she cleans the mess she left during the week, takes a shower and lays on the couch to read her book while waiting for Nate's call. He takes a lot of time in the process of waking up and preparing himself to go out so, she feels relaxed and doesn't feel obliged to hurry.
After what she calls a century later, she leaves her studio and finds the tall black haired waiting for her in front of the building. He flashes her his best smile and she rolls her eyes at his messy hair. "I'm seriously thinking of getting you a brush for your birthday."
He laughs and runs his fingers in his black locks, "Everyone loves my messy hair, they say it's sexy."
"I'm surely not a part of everyone." says Ashley. The two friends leave her studio street and head downtown. Most people like to spend their Sundays shopping in the famous Bright Street where there are the most prestigious shops of Moon City. Ashley and Nate walk there only because it's their only way to their favorite fast food shops.
They can just look through the windows, they don't think that entering the shops is a good idea because not only they will be annoyed by the attendants following them at each step but also because they're too broke to afford anything from there. Sometimes they're even scared to look through the window because of the unbelievable prices.
Ashley can't help but stop in front of a jewelry. Her brown eyes don't pay attention to the gold bracelets or the silver chains, but they avert to the outstanding diamond ring exposed in the middle of the window. She doesn't say a word, she ignores what her best friend is telling her because she's been hypnotized by the beauty of the jewel. The strange thing is how bright the gem looks, it shines so much that she widens her eyes.
"Do you see this? It's too shiny!" she exclaims.
Nate, who certainly doesn't understand what she means, frowns and looks closely at the jewel. He shrugs and looks at her confusingly, "If you say so."
She doesn't even try to convince him because she's too focused on the mesmerizing ring. She doesn't exaggerate when she thinks that the gem is calling for her, asking her to own it.
"Ash?" Nate clears his throat, "Must I remind you that diamonds aren't things we can afford?" he chuckles, "This." he places his hands on her shoulders and turns her around, "This is something we can totally afford." he says, pointing at the Big Burger shop.
She rolls her eyes at him and walks far from the jewelry, "Can't you let me dream even if it's just for a moment?"
"I'm just worried because I know that some dreams may never become true." he laughs when he sees the deadly look on her face. "Are you hungry?" he asks. "No, don't tell me. You're always hungry." they look at each other and start laughing.
Later, their friend Ruby joins them in the Big Burger. She literally ran as fast as she could the second she received a text from them in their group chat. She was getting bored in her apartment and she was ready to jump on any opportunity to go out.
Ashley and Nate smile when they see the red haired girl enter the shop. They don't even get surprised when she orders her food before saying hello to them.
"You know I love you guys?" that's the first thing she says when she sits in their table.
Ashley laughs, "Of course you do, we're the best."
"You mean I am the best, don't forget that I am the one paying." Nate smirks and chuckles when the two girls share the same disappointed face. "How's Sara?" he asks.
"Always tired." Ruby sighs. "I haven't seen her much this week, she works during the whole day."
"Restaurants are getting busier now that it's warmer." Ashley adds.
"Clubs too." Ruby rolls her eyes. "I still can't believe that I'm working tonight."
"Me neither." says Nate.
Nate and Ruby work at the same night club. He's a DJ and she's a bartendress and that's where Ashley first met Ruby. Nate offered her and her ex boyfriend tickets for a Saturday night party he was hosting and she liked chatting with the cheerful red haired while she was preparing their drinks.
Later she knew that she studies at the same faculty and they became good friends especially after Ashley broke up with Alex when he cheated on her. Ruby was ready to murder him.
The next morning Ashley starts another episode of her hating her alarm clock and the whole world. She hits the snooze button for at least three times before she finally wakes up. It's 7:30 and she has to open the library at 8.
She takes a shower, eats her breakfast and gets dressed with her eyes still closed. She runs to catch the bus and heads to the back of the vehicle to sleep for another fifteen minutes.
She works at the library three days a week when she doesn't have classes. That's the most comfortable job for her because it's inside the faculty, it pays well enough for her meals and her rent and she's surrounded by what she loves the most; books.
She gets off the bus and runs to the psychology faculty. She rolls her eyes when she finds some students already waiting in front of the library. They're the same faces she sees every day, the ones she has to ask to leave when it's closing time. She doesn't get how they can spend their entire day studying or reading when there are a lot of things to do outside like breathe the fresh air of Moon City, eat some good food or have nice sleep.
She gives them that fake smile you usually give to people you don't stand seeing anymore for no particular reason. She opens the door, turns on the lights and invites them inside.
She spends her entire morning organizing the shelves, helping students find the books they need and studying a little for her upcoming exam.
At midday, Nate comes with her lunch. She sent him a text earlier begging him to buy her something because she didn't have time to prepare anything.
"I know, I know." he says proudly when he sees the large smile on her face. "I'm the best."
"Hell yes, you are." she smiles and opens the lunch box. "You finished classes?"
Nate nods, "How much time do you have left? We can grab some coffee later."
"Only an hour. You can stay here if you want."
"Yeah, I'll look for some book to read." Nate leaves his friend and disappears in the middle of the book shelves. He skips the psychology section and heads to the novels one. He hesitates between romance and fantasy, he leafs through some books and doesn't pay attention to others because their covers aren't very appealing.
He stops when he notices a large book hidden behind a dozen. He chuckles because he knows he'll tease Ashley for not organizing the shelves well. He widens his eyes when he realizes how heavy it is. He finds an empty chair and sits down to find out what's the book about. The cover is with an attractive purple leather and the title is written in shiny silver classic letters; The Four Gems & The Two Elements. Nate raises an eyebrow when he notices that the dry powder covering the book isn't dust but glitter. The shiny particles fly around him when he dusts the purple cover and the surprising thing is how they sparkle in the dark. He frowns and finds himself distracted by the flashy dots.
He clears his throat and finally decides to open the volume and what happens after wasn't expected at all. A strong and electrical feeling consumes his body, his head gets pulled back and his eyes widen. It's only a fraction of seconds but what he saw seemed like years. He saw a crying baby in the arms of his mother then he saw a teenager playing with swords, real ones. The last image was of a young man watching his parents die in front of him.
He opens his eyes and takes a breath hurryingly. His hands are shaking and a few tears are falling down his cheeks. He looks at the purple book in disbelief, he doesn't understand what just happened, he's confused. The boy of the images is him but he couldn't recognize the couple beside him.
Nate is used to have some flashbacks surge in his mind after the horrible bike accident he suffered from four years ago. It cost him a loss of memory, he couldn't remember anything from his past. He knows his parents are dead but the ones he sees every day on the photo frame by his bedside aren't the ones he just saw.
He looks at the book again and wonders if it's the cause of the sudden flashback. The doctor once told him that he might regain some pieces of his memory if he happens to be in possession of something that has been meaningful to him.
He closes the book and heads to the reception hall. He's planning to start reading it when he gets home. "Hey Ash." he places the volume on the counter. "I'm taking this book."
The librarian examines the strange book with her eyes and frowns, "I've never seen this one here."
"It doesn't surprise me that you don't do your job so well." Nate chuckles, "It was abandoned alone behind the other books."
Ashley sends him a death glare and prepares to scan it when she realizes there's no barcode. "That's strange." she raises an eyebrow, "All the books have barcodes."
"Look for its serial number then." Nate rests his chin on the palm of his hand and waits for his friend to finish, then he widens his eyes when he sees her experiencing the same thing when she opens the book. She hurried to close it and looked at her friend breathlessly, "What the hell was that?"
Nate can't even answer her, the words can't leave his mouth because he's more shocked than she is. He thought it was a simple medical thing but unlike him, his friend is healthy. "The same thing happened to me Ash." he whispers after a long moment of silence between them.
Ashley frowns and looks at the book she's still holding. She quickly places it on the counter and looks at it like it's some sort of threat. One of the students who help her at the library comes and starts organizing some files. She looks at him and asks him if he's ever seen the book before. The young man shakes his head, he reads the title then opens it, but nothing happens to him. Ashley and Nate share a quick look, their mouths widen and the confusion grows.
"You didn't feel anything?" Ashley asks the student.
He furrows, "What do you mean?"
She gulps and she feels her lips drying, "Nevermind." She looks at Nate and whispers what the hell.
Later they head to the nearest coffee shop and sit in their usual table in the corner. Ashley orders an iced tea and Nate chooses his favorite vanilla milkshake. They place the book on the table and keep looking at it like it's going to explode sooner or later.
"I think we really need a rest." starts Ashley, "We've been working hard lately, that's why our heads are going insane."
"I don't think that's the reason Ash, and you know it."
The two friends let out heavy sighs and look through the window. The street is full of students heading to their faculties or others running to catch the bus. They are used to observe other people and start talking about how each one handles the daily stress differently, but today their minds are too busy to even think about someone else. The book distracted them from everything, even from noticing the hooded woman watching them from afar.