The Face of Reality

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Chapter 6

Augustine parked the car at the side of the road in front of his house. It took us at least twenty minutes to reach Walnut Lane. Just in time, we met Romeo and Arizona too returning from school hand in hand on the sidewalk and talking between themselves with bright smiles on their faces.

“Hey there, miss Decent!” Romeo greeted me brightly with a welcoming smile.

I instantly felt ten times happier just by seeing that generous smile on his face. Sometimes, all it takes is a single smile to make everything feel better.

“Hey, King!” I beamed back at him.

“I liiike you!” He exclaimed, laughing.

Beside me, I heard that even Augustine was chuckling softly. When I turned to look at him, a pair of softly simmering green eyes briefly met mine and he gave me a full, knowing smile for the first time. And boy! If I hadn’t been shooketh right to my heart at the sight of it. It left me speechless like just one smile had stolen ever word I ever knew from my mind because none of them were ever going to do justice to how good he looked with a smile.

I had a gigantic soft spot for smiles.

“Hi, Ari.” I flashed a smile to her too as she skipped toward Augustine, who took her up in his arms with a quick kiss on her cheek.

With a quiet smile, she replied from Augustine’s arms, “Hi, Sophia.”

“How was your day at school?”

“It was fine. Miss Katie made us draw today so I drew a flower and an ice cream.”

“You did?! I don’t know how to draw a flower!” I said as I followed PuddinPants toward the house, Romeo walking next to me.

“I’ll teach you later.”

Romeo opened the door and we stepped in, going straight to the kitchen first to drink water. I sat on a stool on the kitchen island with Arizona on the counter right in front of me. Romeo had gone up to his room, Augustine busily strolled about in the kitchen, checking the cabinets and the refrigerator while I shifted through my gallery, showing Arizona the pictures of my family, Poppy and mom. Augustine put some washed strawberries and blackberries in a bowl and pushed it toward us across the counter.

“Have them.” He said and then, looking up towards the roof, he shouted. “Romeo!”

“Yeah!” The other shouted back from upstairs.

“Come down and have your fruit!”

“Roger!”

I just grinned so wide. He was such a mom.

Augustine continued to make Whey protein shake for himself and with that in hand, he strolled past us toward the living room, saying to me. “There’s some frozen pizza in the refrigerator. Heat it up and eat it if you’re hungry. There’s cereals and snacks as well in the cabinet. Just have them anytime you want. Anything.”

“Uh. . . yeah. Sure.” I vaguely answered after him as he disappeared into his room right across the living room.

Arizona and I stayed in the kitchen eating the berries. She loved it when I put the strawberries on the tip of her fingers for her to eat. It made her feel that the berries tasted extra good that way. Moments later, Romeo came down from his room and joined us at the table for a brief moment before leaving for his friend Lucas’ house with berries in his palm. Before he finally stepped outside, he stopped by Augustine’s room and told him that he was going out.

“Don’t be too late.” Augustine reminded him.

Arizona and I took the bowl to the living room where we reclined on the couches eating off from our fingertips. She kept on laughing with each pop. Augustine appeared from his room few minutes later having changed into white burmuda shorts and a loose black tank top, ready to leave for the gym. Without so much a word, walked about the house with his backpack behind him and I couldn’t help but stare and ogle at his body. That tan, the sharpness of his 6′2 feet frame and the muscles on his arms almost made me drool and I swallowed.

Okay. Maybe I did drool a tad bit.

His body wasn’t as horrifyingly muscular like that of a bodybuilder, despite working in a gym. He was rather lean with, I’d say, just the right amount of muscles packs chiseled here and there. The kind I liked. I’d say, Channing Tatum kind of body where you’d find yourself struggling impossibly with your rational sense to look away. My eyes were literally following each and every step of his and I could only avert it when he finally crossed his unrelenting gaze with mine.

I felt my cheeks warm up a tad bit as I pulled my gaze away. If I’m not wrong, I think I saw him smirk a little from the corner of my eyes as he sank into a single couch next to us. But when I looked back at him, he was starting up at the ceiling with his long body stretched out, tongue tucked against his cheek again, hands on his stomach and tapping his right forefinger over his left hand simultaneously with his right foot in an extremely contemplative manner.

And just like that I was lost in him again. I could stop assessing his whole body like I was eye-raping him – the veins on his arms, the Adam-apple on his throat moving as he swallowed, his legs strong and firm.

God. Is he even real? He looks like he jumped right out of Wattpad.

Few moments later, he held up his arm and checked the time on his wristwatch.

He looked over at Ari, who was still eating berries from the bowl. “Princess?”

“Umhmm?” She looked up at him, mouth full and a bit of red and black smudged around her lips.

Augustine pulled out a tissue from the box on the small table in front of us and gently wiped her mouth clean. “I’m leaving for work now, okay? I’ll see you in the evening.”

“Umhmm.” She nodded as she popped in another strawberry from her little finger into her mouth and munched on it.

Augustine planted a kiss on her cheek and got up from his couch. “I’ll see you too in the evening then, Miss Swann.”

“Yeah.” I returned and he walked out, throwing some orbit into his mouth from the pack he had in his pocket.

I watched Arizona eat after the door closed behind him. Not too soon after, Arizona gasped out, looking up from the bowl with a startled look on her face, her big green eyes sad.

“What’s wrong?” I asked her.

“I forgot to tell August that I love him.” She said as her little face crumpled in heartbreak. “August!” She screamed, sliding down from the couch, the bowl clattering in the floor spilling its contents.

Soon enough, she was running towards the door.

“Wait! Wait! Ari, wait!” I ran after her.

“August!!” She called again, crying.

I picked her up in my arms and ran out the door. By now, even my heart was beating wildly, trying to catch him before he leaves.

“August, wait!” I shouted when I saw him close his car door down the driveway. “August!!”

He looked up and through the window that was half open, I saw him frown when he saw us running towards him. He quickly got down and strode up the driveway.

“August!” Arizona cried holding out her arms to him.

Taking her in his arms with a deep, worried frown on his face, he asked me, “What’s going on?”

“She forgot to tell you that she loves you.” I said breathlessly and that stumped him the same way it did me.

Arizona was hugging him, her small tender arms wrapped around his neck, and crying. “I love you, August.”

“I know you do, Princess. I love you too. Why are you crying?” He returned in the tenderest tone as he faced away from me and wiped her tears dry.

Me being the kind of person who couldn’t live through a movie without crying stood by with tears in my eyes as he calmed her in his arms, sweetly talking to her in a low tone like they were in their own secret world. With his back facing me, I took the opportunity to wipe the corner of my eyes hidingly.

A few moments later, Augustine handed Arizona back to me and we stood by the road waving at him as he drove off for work. On the way back to the house, we met their neighbor Sonya and stopped by just for a while to talk to her. She was a middle-aged woman with long dark hair and such kind smile, I immediately liked her.

Arizona and I didn’t do much activity that day. We played blocks for some time, I read out stories to her and she taught me how to draw. We drew a flower together, a house, and a cat, which looked more like two rocks with whiskers and a tail. I was eighteen years old but I wasn’t any better than the four-year-old.

Later on, she drew her family – August, Romeo and herself at a beach. I watched her draw two boys (one much taller) wearing only shorts and herself much smaller than the two of them. She drew the stick fingers and gave the boys spiky, sticks hairs and herself in longer hair. Then I noticed a circle over Augustine’s head and assumed that that was the sun but then she drew the sun at the corner of the page with stick rays around it.

“What is this supposed to be?” I asked pointing at the circle over Augustine’s head.

“That is a volleyball.” She told me. “The last time we were at the beach, August didn’t see it coming and it hit him on his head.”

“Oh.” I laughed.

She continued to color it and told me not to look at it. Said she would show it to me when it’s over. I tried writing a bit on wattpad as I waited for her to finish her drawing. An army of dark clouds soon sailed over the town out of nowhere and the world seemed to get dark all of a sudden.

Arizona looked up from her drawing, gasping again. “Ro and August are still not home!”

“They’ll be back in time.” I assured her with a warm smile. “Don’t worry. Just finish your drawing.”

She went back to her drawing again with a long sigh after staring out at the window sadly for a moment. Fifteen minutes later, she climbed up on my lap and showed me her drawing. She had colored it brightly with blue sky and yellow sand, colorful clothes. And over the blue sky, she had written ”3 is a hapy nmbr. Smol famly is a hapy famly.”

Forget about spelling errors. My heart was squeezing so tight at how adorable it was.

“This is so beautiful!! You’re amazing!!” I exclaimed enthusiastically and asked her to explain the scene to me.

Pointing at each and every single thing she had drawn, she explained to me one by one who the people in the drawing were and what they were doing. In the middle of her explanation, she gasped again.

“I forgot one thing!” She said as she slid down from my lap and went back to the table to add detail.

In less than a minute she came back to me and said, “I forgot to draw my magic box.”

“What magic box?” I asked when she settled back on my lap.

“This one.” She pointed to a little square she had drawn over her heart. “Ro and August told me that I’m a fairy princess now because I have a magic box in my heart.” She beamed delightedly.

As sweet as it sounds, all I could feel at the moment was sadness and pity for Arizona. I nearly cried as reality hit that she had a pacemaker in her heart and that meant her heart condition could possibly be terminal too.

God. Please, no. Not Ari.

In just two days with her, I hadn’t realized but I had unknowingly grown to love her like my own sister. There was something about her that you couldn’t help but fall in love with. Both Romeo and Augustine would be devastated if anything bad which I wouldn’t even dare imagine happen to her.

Oh, Ari.


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