Gray clouds hung overhead. A thunderclap followed by several fat drops of water from the sky; suddenly, the rain came down heavily. People ran for cover. With the wind blowing so strongly, even those with umbrellas sought shelter from the downpour.
In one of the classrooms of a public college, a girl fixed her gaze outside the window. Her eyes watered as she sneezed for the third time. Classes had just been dismissed and most of her classmates were streaming out of the room. Some of them groaned and complained how the rain would inconvenience their ride home. The girl inwardly sighed as she gathered her notes.
She retrieved a red jacket and umbrella from her bag. She was in no hurry as she headed for the gate while weighing her options. Since it was still early, she could wait and see if the rain would let up. Or, she could just try her luck and hope for the best.
The first option was a waste of time and she felt that the rain would continue until late evening. A slight quirk of her mouth was the only indication of her frustration as she stepped into the rain. The girl tilted her umbrella forward against the wind and rain, slightly obscuring the view in front of her.
“Kristina! Wait.” Recognizing the voice, she resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Kristina turned to see him running towards her. “You’re going home, right?”
“Yes.” She waited for him to continue. Sensing that there wasn’t any forthcoming, Kristina continued: “Don’t you have practice?”
The tall lanky boy suppressed a grin.
“No. I quit, remember? Have to get serious since we’re graduating this year.” He swung his backpack onto his shoulder. Then he added quickly: “Actually, I was wondering if we could share the umbrella since we take the same route if it’s okay?”
Kristina deliberately ignored Peter when he offered a hand to hold her umbrella.
She warily observed her companion at the corner of her eye as they waited for the bus. He shifted his weight from side to side, a sign that he wanted to discuss something uncomfortable.
So, he’s calling me by my nickname now, she thought.
“Tina, I want to apologize for not telling you sooner about Ina and me. It’s just that I couldn’t help it – what was happening between us – I know you think I’m making excuses but it’s true. I was going to tell you. The right time just never came.”
Does he really mean that? Kristina wondered. She was the one who broke off with him sensing that there were a lot of things to consider. To begin with, they didn’t have much in common. He was sporty, laidback and outgoing. She was studious, introverted, and led a not-so-ordinary life.
He easily accepted her decision to revert to being friends. However, it upset her when he suddenly turned his attentions toward another girl a month after the breakup.
The whole class witnessed Peter and Ina’s growing feelings for each other. It was only when one of her classmates’ thoughtless question if she was okay with it, that Kristina became completely aware of what was unfolding right under her nose. At the end of the day, she was no longer sure which part of her was more hurt – her heart or her pride.
“There’s really nothing to forgive.” She gave the tiniest of smiles to reassure him that she meant it. Peter looked relieved.
“You’re too good.” Smilingly, he shook his head.
I’ve heard that before, she thought. Well, that happened a year ago and he’s broken up with Ina two months ago. Kristina stared at the road in order for her companion not to see her amused expression. “Bus is here.”
Thankfully, the seats available were few and separate providing her a chance to get away from her ex-boyfriend.
As expected, the bus ride took less than an hour; however, it did not save her from getting soaked as a strong wind blew the rain towards her back. The unexpected assault almost knocked the umbrella from her hand. As she fumbled to get a better grip, she nearly collided against a stranger. Muttering an apology, she proceeded homewards.
Shortly, she noticed the splash of feet behind her, in spite of the sound of rain hitting the pavement. Footsteps drew closer making Kristina tense. To end the suspense, she forced herself to look back and see who it was.
The street was empty except for a number of people going the opposite direction.
With a sigh of relief, she turned forward.
Her heart jumped as she saw a young man standing before her. He stood at least six feet tall, his dark hair and clothes dry in contrast to the weather. He held an umbrella which served more as a costume prop rather than carry out its initial purpose. The rain didn’t touch him, not even his “prop”. It seemed to hit an invisible barrier surrounding his person. Taking a step closer to Kristina, a warm sensation hit her face and coursed through her. A tiny part of her noted that she was out of the rain thanks to him. Involuntarily, her alarm faded and calm set in. Looking up at his eyes, she was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion.
Something trickled down her cheek. Touching it, her fingers came up wet. Kristina realized that there were tears. The man smiled at her softly, embraced her, and whispered something in her ear. She couldn’t understand the language he used. Whatever it was, it felt like a heavy burden was lifted from her.
He took a step back, still smiling, and said: “Remember, you are not alone.”
Suddenly, a blinding light engulfed him. When Kristina opened her eyes, the street was empty again and the stranger had disappeared. She blinked a few times to see if she had been dreaming stopping short of pinching herself. The man was truly gone.
The next several weeks passed swiftly as Kristina prepared for her final exams and met her group mates to prepare for their thesis’ defense. The memory of her strange encounter had a habit of resurfacing on her mind when she was completely at ease. Oddly, it was a welcome distraction for it brought her the same feelings she felt at the time.
“Tina, Tina,” someone called. Kristina snapped out of her reverie and glanced at the faces of her friends. Her eyes rested on Mindy. As usual, her friend’s curly hair was pulled back and black-rimmed glasses dominated her small face. The girl’s brow was raised as well as the corner of her mouth. “Where’ve you been?”
“Sorry. What were you saying?”
Mindy gave her a speculative look. Shrugging her shoulders, she said: “I was saying that, maybe, we can go to the mall on Saturday to celebrate a little. It would be just the four of us, you, me, Liza, and Nica.”
“We can watch that movie you mentioned,” Nica encouraged. Her short hair bobbed as she nodded. “What was it called again?”
“The Flame Thrower,” Kristina said automatically.
“The reviews say it’s good,” Liza said. “It skipped some parts in the book but, overall, the movie remained faithful to the story.”
“Are you talking about the Flame Thrower?”
The girls turned their heads toward the newcomer. A boy with a face filled with acne and of medium build carrying a black backpack leaned on the empty table next to theirs.
“Hi, Fred. Where’s your group?” Nica asked.
“We’ve just split up. We’ll be meeting at Peter’s later. So, are you going to watch?”
“We’re planning to.”
“Ah. That’s nice. The guys were talking about celebrating on Saturday…assuming we pass the defense. You know, booze and DOTA. Congrats by the way. I passed by our department’s office. They were really impressed with your group’s work.”
“I wish we get the same feedback tomorrow. Anyway, I’ve got to go, don’t want to be late.” Fred made his way to the cafeteria’s exit.
“Come on, Tina. Let’s watch the movie. You know Nica’s going back to the province soon,” Mindy said, shaking Kristina’s arm.
“Fine,” breathed Kristina. “I’d love to.” Their thesis was a success. They were graduating in a week. What could possibly go wrong?
Saturday. Kristina had come an hour early before the time she and her friends had agreed on. She was browsing a book by the entrance of the bookstore when someone tapped her shoulder. Kristina’s smile faltered when she looked up and saw Peter.
“Tina.” He tilted his head to one side.
“Peter. What’s up?” She managed to say in a stilted tone, her voice a bit high.
“I’m with Fred today. He’s right over there.” He pointed at the direction of the office supplies section.
“Oh.” Kristina saw Fred scanning the counter full of pens. Her gaze returned to Peter, who was staring openly at her.
“I miss you, Tina,” he mumbled.
“You miss me,” she repeated. Alarm bells rang in her head. Is he trying to get back with her?
There was a rumor circulating around the college how Peter and Ina had broken up. It was pretty nasty when dirty linen was being aired in public. She, however, knew most of the truth since the girl had confided in her. Naturally, both parties were at fault but kept her opinion to herself.
Lifting the corners of her mouth into a smile, she said: “You’re overacting. We just saw each other yesterday during practice.”
An awkward silence followed.
“You’re right. Forget what I said.” Peter raked his hair with his fingers. Just then, a beep sounded. He retrieved his mobile phone from his pocket and started texting rapidly.
His attention elsewhere, Kristina made her way to one of the bookshelves she favored in the store and found something she liked. The only problem was the book she wanted lay on the top shelf. At the corner of her eye, she saw a tall young man beside her. She was too shy to ask for his help.
She had been looking for that book for some time and tried to reach it by herself. On her toes, her fingers grazed its spine. A hand appeared, plucked the book, and handed it to her. Kristina hesitantly accepted it and started to speak but the words of gratitude froze in her mouth.
Wattpad code: 58366003
©MC Babasa 2014
A/N: Feel free to post your feedback as this is the first book. Your comments and suggestions may influence the story as it progresses up to the second book.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.