Chapter 1: Morning Sketches
June, 2016 in New York City
“Just let me go this once, Papá.“, she insisted with pleading eyes as she followed her father to his study. Her father only kept a stern look as he walked briskly.
“I already gave my answer Amalia, and it remains the same.”
“Papá, I am not asking for you to pay for me, I only want your approval in this matter so that I won’t leave like this.” Amalia reasoned, with tears brimming in her eyes- waiting for the moment to fall.
“Dije que no, Amalia.” (I said no, Amalia.)
By this time, her father was furious, as he spoke in their native language. One she hadn’t heard her father speak in a while.
Dante Alessi, is a man of many languages, as it is crucial in his line of work. Although, unnecessary, but crucial. He is well known in the field of Architecture, having designed several prestigious buildings in New York City and internationally. Dante occasionally speaks his native language whenever he is around his family. However, he stopped when his mother died of cancer. Ever since then, he became a cold-hearted businessman Amalia had always resented.
Amalia did not push her luck in convincing her unwavering father. As tears finally fell, staining her ever so fancy white dress, she had already decided. She turned around and walked in the direction of her room, her vision blurry, her breathing heavy. She opened the door and immediately went to her walk-in closet- one her father also designed. She went into the furthest part of the closet and kneeled down to pull out her traveling backpack. She only packed light, bringing only the necessary clothing, leaving all of her fancy outfits in New York. However, she took one fancy dress with her- her favorite red satin dress. She always brings it whenever she travels together with her parents, but she never used it.
Standing up, she went to gather her remaining essentials and took her stash of money hidden somewhere in her room.
‘I saved a lot for this, I waited so long for this. There is no way I would let this pass’, she thought.
So she wiped her tears dry, wrote a letter for her parents, and changed into casual clothing- white-washed tattered pants and a black sleeveless tank top, paired with her maroon converse. She braided her hair into two french braids and slung a plain pastel violet hoodie on her arm so that she won’t have to rummage in her backpack to get it by the time she gets cold. She took one last solemn look in her pastel-colored room, breathed deeply, and finally closed the door. Tiptoeing around the hallway to the stairs until she was in the living room, she left the note on the coffee table and opened the door.
The guard at the gate was shocked to see her carrying luggage but still nodded as she walked past him. As she was nearly out of sight, she felt as though someone was watching her, and so she looked back. Amalia saw her father with his arms across his chest, furious than she has ever seen in her entire life. The only time she ever saw her father mad was when she ruined his blueprint that was due in a few hours by accidentally spilling coffee all over it, and that wasn’t even as mad as he is now. She saw her mother beside him, trying to ease his anger as her eyes were hopeful and mouthed at her daughter to go.
Amalia woke up from an alarm buzzing on her bedside table. She groaned and blindly tapped the alarm on her left until it stopped buzzing.
‘I keep having the same dream ever since I left New York’, Amelia thought.
She sat up and took a look around her surroundings.
‘The interior is run down, however, it still emanates a heavenly feeling that puts you at ease.’
She took a bath as she cleared up her thoughts. After that, she wore a tie-dyed crop top and high-waisted denim shorts, paired with white sandals. She grabbed her bag and went out to the elevator.
Ding! The elevators opened and she went inside. As the doors nearly closed, a hand stopped it halfway and a man came in. Amalia wasn’t paying attention to her companion for she was too lost in her train of thoughts, so she didn’t notice the man had greeted her and asked her which floor until he waved his hand in front of her.
“Oh! I’m sorry, what was it that you were saying?“, Amalia politely asked, still not looking at the man but at her phone to check up on the weather for today.
‘Oh, the elevator stopped?’
“Well good morning to you too. I was just asking what floor are you off to?” The man replied, his voice amused.
“Oh, the lobby please.” She replied, sheepish, but nodded her thanks, her attention still on her phone. The man then tapped on the elevator buttons as it started descending.
There was an awkward silence but Amalia never noticed as she was too preoccupied with her plans for the day. She didn’t even notice that the man kept on glancing her way until they reached the ground floor. As the elevator opened she was the first one to leave, heading for the outdoors. Amalia went inside her usual café, a breakfast café of the hotel that she went to for almost a week now. She sat on her usual spot- by the window where she can see the ocean. A waitress came up to her to confirm her usual order to which she nodded. The café has the scent of a brewed coffee, one that gives off the feeling of nostalgia. For such a known hotel, its breakfast café is quite simple and homey, yet can still give off a feeling of elegance. That’s what made Amalia love the place. Not only does it have a tasty breakfast, but it also has an ambiance one surely doesn’t want to miss.
A few minutes later, the food arrived and Amalia enjoyed her breakfast. She then pulled up her sketchpad and pencil after she finished her food and started sketching. She drew a sketch of a house that has a homey feeling into it, one that welcomes warmth the way the café does. She hummed as she continued sketching around the edges, providing shadow and depth into her work. When she was satisfied with her work, she put the things back into her bag and paid for her food. She then went out into the direction of the sea.
She walked on the shore for a few moments until she found her spot. It had a great view where she could clearly see the surfers as well as the people on the shore, enjoying their sweet time. She took out her sketchpad and started drawing again. This time, it was the surfers. It always fascinated her how surfers move around the waves- how their body goes in sync with the ocean’s ever-so-hungry waves. She was so focused on finalizing the details around the surfer’s physique, that she did not notice one of her subjects was already approaching her. The surfer towered over Amalia as she sat on her towel lying on the sand. Only then did she look up, when confusion took over her as to why a shadow lurked above her.
The young woman released a yelp which earned a chuckle from the surfer in front of her.
“Uhm, hi?” Amalia was so confused and nervous that those were the only words that came out of her mouth.
“Hi. I noticed you kept on looking our way.” The bare-chested man said charmingly.
By this time, the young Latina blushed profusely and stuttered in embarrassment.
“H-how did you know? Y-you were far away a-and you were too busy riding the waves. So, how come?” She looked up as she wondered despite being flushed.
“One of my mates noticed you. So I figured I’d go say hi and see what you’re up to.” The surfer replied with a smile and indeed, one of the surfers waved at her too cheerfully for her liking.
‘Why does he keep on smiling? Is he flirting with me?’ This thought made Amalia even more flushed.
“Oh. Well, I was just looking for a subject to draw and the surfers are my subject for the day.” She tucked a piece of her hair into her ear as she replied.
“Can I take a look?” He asked as he motioned to sit next to her to which Amalia reluctantly agreed.
She tilted her sketchpad for him to have an easier look at the sketch and finally took a glance at his physique. He has tanned skin, perfectly defined muscles, and had a tall height as she was almost a head smaller than him. He has curly light blonde hair that he tied up. As she figured she stared too much for her liking, he lifted his gaze from the sketch and unto her. He smirked as he noticed she was staring and that’s when Amalia saw his eyes. They were a pair of greens like an emerald shone under the light. For a moment, she was mesmerized by the sight of it but composed herself a second later.
‘Hmm, not bad, he’s really kinda cute.’
“I like it.”
The unknown surfer spoke, as he kept on smiling and staring right into her, his gaze traveling down to her physique and back up.
She blushed at first, but she noticed where his gaze was wandering and that lessened her nervousness around the said guy.
“I like how you drew us, how you drew me.”
‘Is he flirting? Sin Duda (without question)’
Amalia internally rolled her eyes and thought, ‘boys’ and just went along with whatever’s going on.
“The name’s Calvin. You can call me Cal.”
Calvin stretched his hand for her to shake.
“Amalia. Elle for short.”
She took his hand and shook it. Little did Calvin know, Elle isn’t really Amalia’s nickname but only said so in the hopes he’d forget her real name.
“Nice to meet you, Elle, I heard there’s a party here by the shore near the bar later on tonight. Wanna come?”
Calvin asked, trying to get close to Amalia. Too close for her liking.
‘What a flirt. But whatever, it’s not every day I get to experience this.’
“Hmm. Maybe I’ll come. What time is it?”
She asked, smiling, trying to flirt back at him.
“9 pm. I’ll be waiting for you.”
He winked as he got up and walked backwards, only for him to bump on a running child which earned him an earful from the child’s mother who witnessed the scene nearby. Calvin forgot Amalia was still looking as he was too caught up in the scene to remember, too busy apologizing to notice Amalia was laughing at the sides.
‘Should I go? There’s no harm to it. The people here don’t know me and they don’t remember me.’
She pondered as she packed up her things and got up to leave.