Ch 3 - Petals
We encounter Jana on the last climb towards the rooftop itself. "Cael," she calls me as she walks past us. "Let's go find Els."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Jake gives a disappointed expression. "We'll look for Els."
Jana turns red, but Jake doesn't notice. He clarifies it anyway. "Cael and I," he adds. "Els is our bro, so I don't think that--"
"Just go upstairs and help Cath with the data!" She bursts out loud and pushes him away.
"And you," she points to me. "Let's get moving!"
Jake passes through the doorway, and I am then prompted by an unknown force to make my way downwards even though my legs are starting to react due to climbing three floors with the sets of stairs on the opposite sides of the building.
"Ah, Cael can just help me with the data--" Jake's statement is ceased as one of the girls shuts the door.
I have no idea who among the two would do so.
Upon entering the main campus vicinity, the noise has gotten louder. Dozens of crowds littered the school grounds, and even the three main buildings near the entrance looked as if it was both tightly packed and under attack. A cloudy sky sits atop our surroundings, lessening the warmth of the sun.
There are students and people alike coming in and out, and most of them are in groups. There are also booths of all sorts, and there are even some on the fields. It's getting even livelier. I am even relieved that the festival wasn't about the Spectrum, but rather about the academy itself.
Though, it is weird. We didn't celebrate it this early back then.
But, this didn't matter. We just had to look for Els.
"Keith called earlier," Jana turns to get my attention as we walk past the festival's center. "He says he'll be going to the rooftop once he finishes his task."
I nod as a reply.
Our pace quickens as a reaction to the approaching army of celebrants. Even the teachers seem to be having so much fun as they check out the booths, one by one. I also notice Keith from afar, who's wearing a blue t-shirt with a white circle in the front and a black circle at the back. And jeans. The guy really likes that faint violet pair of jeans. Plus, he's got a jacket tied around his waist. He's definitely busy helping his class's booth.
I grow guilty about how we just ditched our own classes and chose to chill at the rooftop.
Jana doesn't seem to have noticed him, and it wasn't necessary to just point him out nor call out to him.
Concluding that we wouldn't find Els in a lively atmosphere, we trek over another massive crowd towards the other courtyard where the volume just dies down. It's just behind the main building to the left of the entrance, and it somehow connects the central building towards the former. We call it "The White Courtyard," and the name says it all.
"It's really quiet here," I comment. "Too quiet."
My vision was focused towards the empty gazebo in the middle. And the gazebo surrounded by a grand garden reflects a bright gleam as the sun's rays brighten for a bit.
Jana looks around, seemingly keeping an eye out for Els. "Do you also think he'd go here?"
"I guess? Even you had the feeling," I reply while also doing the same. But, a particular bunch of flowers catches my eye.
Red flowers. All sorts. Zinnias, roses-- you name it.
"Well, yeah..." she shifts her focus towards me, as I knelt and looked as if I was mesmerized by the blooms. "Cael?" She calls out to me.
It was no use. I was already trench-deep in thought.
These were the flowers that she really loved.
The flowers that we would often stare at, just to kill time.
These flowers brought back the memories most invaluable to my mind. Even the smallest moments.
Even the shortest of conversations.
I then notice Jana already looking into my eye, as if to take me back to reality. If that was her intent, she was successful.
"I-I'm sorry," I stutter as I try to get back up. "We should go look for--"
I am immediately taken aback at her dark green eyes locking on mine which were dark brown. Hers was filled with concern, filled with sympathy. Mine, filled with a repressed agony.
It was the same stare that I got from the other two.
They knew that deep inside, second to my lifestyle, she mattered the most. I then felt as if my eyes manifested a dark void within them.
"Erica," she says it in the same tone as Jake. "Of course-- the red flowers."
Yes, it was the red flowers. It had to be. Every fiber of it reminded me of her. Even everything that was red.
Although, that was two years ago, these red flowers will never lose their impact towards me.
Tears seemed to have made their way towards the edge, but I couldn't shed one. Not right now. She's not the only one who went away.
Jana just looks at me, but she frowns as she feels that she was powerless in trying to comfort me.
"I appreciate that," I say as I take deep breaths. "I think I'm fine now."
"Need I remind you that it isn't good for a Color User to be emotionally unstable?" She smiles. "Cheer up."
I then and finally notice the Shard in my pocket continuously vibrating. Maybe it's why it reacted earlier-- due to the imbalance within me.
But, I can't be too sure.
"Did you bring your Shard with you?" I ask. She shakes her head.
"Cath's got the hardware, remember? That means I don't need to bring my Shard."
My gut feeling was proven wrong as her reaction proved something else.
Her phone rings, and she tells us that we need to get back to the rooftop. She then puts it on speaker for me to be involved.
"Cael," Cath is on the phone, and her tone is dire. "You need to see this. Come back to the rooftop after you find Els."
She immediately hangs up before I even had a chance to say a word. I lost the power to become hectic about this. Maybe I was expecting this after all.
Jana spots Els, who's wearing a plain black t-shirt, approaching from afar, but the mood has become awry. No one said a word. I don't know what Jana is thinking, but I'm pretty sure that Els has just been from his own melancholic state, as I have. His eyes glimmer a very dark blue shade. His thick, black hair danced with the timing of the breeze; it was swept to his left, the opposite of how mine is, even though we have quite the similar hairstyle. This was odd, since it gave me a pleasant feeling. And his stare reflected a part of me.
Perhaps because I subconsciously noticed that I wasn't the only one suffering from what's happened.
But... what happened to Els before this started? We know close to nothing about each other, except for the fact that he bears high Essence readings.
And that he often gets lost.
Nonetheless, we've finally found him.