For the first time, Ashley doesn’t drink her tea while talking about a nice book she read in the library. This time she’s out of words, she doesn’t know what to say because what she saw troubled her mind. Ashley believes in magic, the one she reads about in books, the one she watches in movies, but she never thought it could be real.
How can a book make her feel that way?
“Ash?” her best friend interrupts her reverie. “What have you seen?”
The girl sighs and looks away for a moment to take a breath. She rubs her chin and shakes her head, “That’s insane, I swear.”
Nate looks at her with confusion, wondering what the book showed her.
“I saw a little girl... I mean me when I was younger. I was at a strange place I have no idea where it is, the room was so large and bright.” she raises an eyebrow, “A woman was holding me.”
Ashley frowns and thinks for a moment, “No.” she shakes her head slowly, “She’s not my mom, I’ve never seen this woman.”
“How was she like?”
“Long white hair, blue eyes... so beautiful.” whispers Ashley. “She didn’t look real, like she’s not even from this world.” she covers her face and starts laughing, “I swear this should be a joke.”
“I think I saw my parents.” Nate interrupts.
Ashley looks at him with surprise, “Are you sure? Because I don’t know the woman I saw.”
“I know.” Nate sighs, “But I have a feeling that they are my parents. I know that I don’t remember anything after the accident and I know that they didn’t even look for me, but I just felt it.”
“But what if they’re...”
“Dead?” Nate presses his lips, “I don’t know honestly. The police told me that there isn’t any family with the same last name. I don’t even know if they’re alive or dead, or if they ran away to another place.”
Ashley looks at her friend and her hearts breaks when she sees the sadness on his face. Nate is not one to show his feelings, but he’s vulnerable when it comes to his family and his past. She knew him only after his accident and she always wondered who he really is. When she found out that he lost his memories and that it wasn’t sure he could regain them all, she decided to create new memories for him. She was the one who pushed him to do what he always liked, making music. She helped him find a DJ spot and encouraged him to start a new life.
Later they head to Nate’s studio apartment because it’s the nearest to the university. Usually they go grocery shopping and cook their own dinner. That’s one thing they have in common, they love to cook. But tonight they don’t have the energy to do anything, they ordered a pizza and fainted on the sofa. The mysterious book is on the table, it’s just a pile of papers but it looks so powerful, so threatening. Its cover is the most gorgeous they’ve ever seen, it doesn’t look like most books of today, not even the oldest ones.
The two friends don’t even dare to open it again, Ashley doesn’t want more confusing images and Nate doesn’t want to think there’s hope that he knew his parents when in reality he didn’t.
“What do you think the title means?” Ashley interrupts the silence. ”The Four Gems & The Two Elements." she rubs her chin.
“There are many gems and elements.” Nate chuckles, “And what does that have to do with what happened to us? Only us?”
Ashley rests her back on the sofa and closes her eyes. She needs a rest, her head hurts too much from thinking. She tries to make herself forget for a moment, she escapes from her thoughts for a while. She thinks about what she’s done during the weekend, she read her favorite book, she finished her assignments and watched a movie like most of her Saturday nights. Then on Sunday she went for a walk and met with Nate later. They went to Bright Street before heading to the Big Burger and that was when she fell in love with a diamond ring.
Ashley opens her eyes wide when she remembers the strange brightness of the jewels behind the window. It was not a mere brilliance, the one known in diamonds. No, it was different. The jewels had a kind of mysterious attraction. It was as if they were calling to her.
“Nate.” she turns to her friend, “I think one of the gems must be a diamond.”
The young man raises an eyebrow, “Why?” he chuckles.
“Do you remember yesterday when I told you that the diamond ring was so strangely shiny? I think it wasn’t my eyes playing me, this has something to do with the book.”
Nate rubs his chin, “Or maybe just because it’s one of the most popular gems which are diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubys...”
“Ruby.” Ashley frowns. “When did she start calling herself this way instead of her real name?”
“Rebecca?” Nate chuckles, “I don’t recall, but I just remember her saying that she felt like it was the name that suits her the best or something like that. But she was drunk.”
Nate watches his friend unlock her phone and look for Ruby’s number. He chuckles and shakes his head. Ashley doesn’t waste time especially when something looks out of the ordinary. Once she made a fuss when he lost one of the books he had in his locker. She started making theories out of the novel’s story to explain the sudden disappearance. He knew he must have just left it somewhere and forgotten about it but he let her continue her dreamy investigation.
Ashley is a book lover and her imagination is unstoppable. She always lived in a parallel world and as he knew her more he learnt that it’s her only way to escape from the stressful reality.
Ruby arrives just in time for dinner. She screams when she spots the pizza boxes on the table, she hurries to open the fridge and get some soda cans. “I swear I have the best friends ever.”
“Tell us something we don’t know.” Ashley chuckles.
The red haired sits next to Nate and starts making weird noises when she smells the pepperoni pizza. “That’s the best thing ever.” she closes her eyes. She takes a slice and her body starts moving excitedly. That’s what they call the pizza effect.
When she was about to take a can, she spotted the large book hidden behind the boxes, “Whoa, you’re going to read all those pages?”
“If only we could open it.” Ashley chuckles.
“What do you mean?” Ruby opens the can and takes a sip of cola. “It looks heavy.” she takes it and widens her eyes. She looks at her friends like they’re some kind of weirdos, “Don’t tell me you’re going to read this. It’ll take you a lifetime to get to the end.”
Nate chuckles, “We’ve read larger books.”
The red haired shakes her head and places the book back on the table. Nate and Ashley share a look and stare at Ruby. She frowns at them while finishing her second slice, “Guys, you know I don’t like people watching me eat. That’s weird.”
Ashley clears her throat, “Can you open the book?”
Ruby looks at her confusingly, “Why? My birthday isn’t even approaching, you can’t be hiding a gift in there. Am I wrong?”
Her friends start laughing, “No, just open it. We want to confirm something.”
“That’s suspicious.” Ruby furrows, “What are you guys plotting?”
“I swear it’s nothing we’ve done.” Nate laughs, “We just want you to open it.”
“I will open it but I swear if I find some cockroach or one of your stupid jokes I’ll kill you both.”
Ruby cleans her hands and takes the heavy book, she places it on her knees and looks at her friends once again to make sure they’re not plotting something. She clears her throat and opens it.
Chills consume her body, her heart beats faster and her hands starts trembling. She sees a woman with large red hair, she has a silver crown around her head and she’s wearing a beautiful red and grey dress. She’s playing with her, she’s smiling and laughing as the little girl tries to walk to her without stumbling on something. Then she hears a manly voice, a familiar one and the man takes her from behind and lifts her up before running to the gorgeous woman.
Ruby comes back to reality with a gasp. She opens her eyes wide and takes long breaths.
“Oh my god.” she hears Ashley whisper. The black haired looks at Nate with surprise. The young man looks as shocked and confused. He places his hand on Ruby’s shoulder and asks, “What did you see?”
“M-my parents.” answers the red haired with a breathless voice. “They looked younger, my mom had long hair and she had a ruby necklace.” she raises an eyebrow, “I don’t recall my family being rich.”
Ashley gulps and runs her fingers in her dark hair. She opens the soda cans and drinks it all in one shot. Ruby watches her friends getting nervous, they look disturbed. Nate stands up to wipe his sweaty forehead and stops in front of the air conditioner to freshen up.
“What’s going on guys?” asks Ruby with a small voice. “What’s this thing?” she points to the purple book.
Ashley moves closer to her friend, she looks at the book and sighs, “I don’t think you naming yourself Ruby is just a coincidence.”