"Two steps far from you." (2)
As Nate cracks open the window a bit so it won’t be too warm in here, the thunder and the skies roar. I sit on a marble bench near the lilies and feel sorry for his ruined book; I carefully flip its pages. I sulk. Seeing this horrible tragedy makes my uplifted spirits fall; I take good care of my books a lot, I feel sorry for it. Nate sits beside me, making a face.
“Oh, stop mocking me,” I say, quite irritated.
He stops and says he’s sorry.
So I tell Nate the reason why seeing a ruined book upsets me. I can’t help but pout to him about my new paperback copy of Divergent book. At school one day, I showed it off to my friend. So that I won’t ruin it during classes, I left it for a while in the desk drawer at the museum, and when I returned to get the book, the culprit left evidence of their crime.
They opened it too much and left a visible line in the spine in its centre! I was so angry, and my friends in the museum started asking who visited during that time and got nosy when I was gone. But they didn’t find out who it was. I was furious at that time! I still feel bitter about it, as you can see.
Nate is chuckling while nodding and listening carefully at me when I finish. He says, “Where is this museum? And what Divergent is all about? Is it good?”
My eyes widen as I gasp. Sometimes, I just get carried away. “Oh, it must have been a dream, but yeah, the story is good!”
“So, you’re telling me… You are very careful when it comes to books?” Nate says, chuckling. “You’re adorable.”
Before looking away, his deep blue eyes widened at the words that escaped from his lips. I curl my hair and look somewhere else. Silence overtakes us once again, and the only sound we hear is the raindrops hitting the glassed roof.
“And rain falls angry on the glassed roof!” I sing out of nowhere, kill me and my weirdness. He laughs as I wince at my oddness. God, I’m so weird. Then we let the rain drown the stillness.
“I saw you were scribbling down on your notepad,” he slightly goes pink at his curiosity. “Do you mind telling me what you were, you know, writing about?” His voice is quiet and low. And I can feel his warmth right next to me.
“Oh, I, uh,” I clear my throat and shrug, “well, I don’t really trust my brain, so whenever I have an idea, or I want to write down notes, I always have a pen and notepad with me.”
He lets out a husky chuckle.
I sigh and say softly, “To tell you the truth, it’s one of my ways to be ignored because I’m not used to being the centre of attention.”
He looks at me, puzzled. “Huh, I didn’t know that. Whenever I see you,” he clears his throat, “uh, you always seem so happy surrounding yourself with your friends. Your positive energy is actually infectious.”
“I guess I have fooled you then for thinking that!” I laugh. “I… have a difficult time saying what I truly feel. So, I write them down instead,” I surprisingly say. I look at him, shocked. It is unusual for me to open up without hesitating.
He smiles at me reassuringly and takes my hand with his. Er. He. Is. Holding. My. Hand. Mari, calm down. Je suis calme~!
“Wow, I’m not sure why, but when I’m with you, I’m at ease,” I say as my brows meet, and I look at him to smile. For me, this is strange because I have no idea what to say when I like someone. Take it from Dave, my college crush. I can’t utter a word to him. Ever!
He smiles and squeezes my hand. “I’m flattered, honestly,” he becomes serious, “I feel the same way.” Nate’s eyes shine as he looks at the lilies in front of him, and then he shrugs. “I think… I can open up easily to you too, and I like having you around.”
I smile as he bumps his knees to mine, our hands still clutch to one another. As the rain picks up, I notice a small platform and a grand piano at the far end of the solarium. I pull Nate up and lead him to it.
“Do you play?” I ask, quite excitedly. It’s been a while since I’ve touched one.
He sits down and opens the lid, “a little.”
I sit beside him as I wait for him since he’s cracking his knuckles. He caresses the ivories. Then he plays a song I’ve been trying to master for years and still can’t play it perfectly, but he can! Chopin’s Valse Op. 64-1. Petit Chien.
My mouth hangs open, and my eyes follow his fast slender fingers playing fluidly with grace. When he finishes the song, I say, “You call that a little?!”
He laughs. “Yeah, mother said, at least, one of her children must have the gift of music.” He smiles shyly; it’s so delightful. “I’ve been playing since I was five,” he says, remembering a tasteful moment of his childhood. “But this one is my favourite most of all.”
Once again, he plays gracefully with his heart pouring into the song. To my surprise, it’s my favourite as well, and I have always played it since I was younger, maybe because of Nana Charlie’s influence. The piece he’s playing is Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8, Op. 13. Pathetique II.
“Wow,” I breathe out. “That was beautiful.” He added a flare of his own in the piece, and it blended impeccably well.
I didn’t know he could play the piano. All I knew was that he plays the guitar. I know it because he was the reason I studied how to play it in the first place. Which in this timeline, 15-year-old-me is still learning.
“Thank you,” he bows, “how about you? Do you play?”
My face reddens. “Oh, I can. But I’m not as good as you.”
I started playing one of my favourite songs, Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland. I sing it again, but this time with a 180 cm sixteen-year-old as my spectator. Even though some of the doors are ajar, my voice bounces in the solarium, creating an echo effect like Lana Del Rey. Nate is looking at me as if mesmerized. I finish the song like most of its versions: singing the first verse and the chorus twice.
“Mariana, that was beautiful,” he touched my shoulder. “Hm, it sounds familiar, though. Is that song from one of Judy Garland’s movies?”
“Yeah, In the Good Old Summertime, but it’s not from where I learned about that song.” I smile, and my eyes glisten. “My nana, she always sings it to me when we were still living in London. She taught me how to play it and told me her mother used to sing it to her all the time.”
“You must be really close to your grandma. That’s sweet,” he says, smiling, playing a piece I don’t recognize. “My grandparents passed away before I was even born, so I have no idea what they were like when they were still alive. Ariel was the only one who experienced having them.”
I sniff and put an arm on him. “I’m sorry about that.”
He smiles warmly, “it’s alright. I didn’t mean to ruin the mood.”
As if he wants to lift the low energy back, he abandons the piece he was playing earlier and starts with a new one. I recognize it this time, but it is in a higher key. He is playing ’Isn’t This a Lovely Day’ from Top Hat.
I gasp at him and smile brightly because of too much excitement; I want to jump. I bet he could feel my enthusiasm since he chuckles. He grins and sways as he plays it on the piano with much vigour. He looks at me as if waiting for me to sing the lines.
So I sing passionately, clapping my hands on my lap and tapping my feet. “The weather is frightening, the thunder and lightning seem to be having their way. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s a lovely da~ay!”