The graduation ceremony finally ended. Excitement buzzed as the class had arranged to stay at a resort after the commencement exercises. They had decided to rendezvous at Fred’s apartment. Kristina and her friends were the last to arrive. Luggage lay in one corner, the chairs and sofa were occupied with glum faces in the cramped living room. Ina, who coordinated with the resort, had been told that the venue was suddenly reserved and paid for by a TV network for the shooting of a drama series. The personnel had assured them that their deposit would be returned in a week. They waited for Fred, who was talking on the phone with a friend who might just help them find another venue.
A whoop rang from the adjoining room. Fred burst in with a wide grin plastered on his face. His eyes scanned the crowd and rested on Kristina briefly before telling them the good news.
The subdivision’s security staff had been expecting them at the gate. The guard waved to them to enter and gave directions to the house they’ll be staying at. “A white house with a hard-to-miss garden,” the security personnel said.
The description turned out to be accurate. Unlike the well-manicured lawns of the other houses, plants and flowers were left to grow wild around the residence. A bench positioned at the front was the only thing that demonstrated order. The two-story house they entered was airy, well maintained and decorated with art pieces. Some of the paintings depicting nature were signed with initials “A.M.”. Art’s house looked something that may have been featured in a magazine. It appeared new and untouched as if he never really lived in it. It was a stark contrast to the condition of his grounds but seemed to support the idea that the owner seldom stayed home.
They found a note and a diagram of the house stuck on the refrigerator with instructions of which rooms they could use and to enjoy the swimming pool at the back. This lightened the general mood of the class. After they had settled in, some swam in the pool, drinks and food circulated, one of the guys played the guitar while the others sang or listened. It was more of a relaxing night rather than a party; after all, they didn’t want to cause Art any trouble by disturbing his neighbors.
Liza and Mindy sat away from the others with their heads close together. Nica played chess with Jake while Kristina and another classmate watched the match. Kristina knew the discussion going on between her two friends. Peter had managed to throw a wrench in a decade-long friendship.
Kristina stood up from sitting cross-legged on the floor. Thumping her thigh with a fist to get the blood in her leg circulating again, she headed for the kitchen. Their bags of groceries were placed on the counter; while food, drinks, paper plates and disposable cups and utensils were left on the center table. She got herself a glass of water and was about to return when a glint of an object caught her eye.
It was coming from outside. She opened the front door and saw a single firefly hovering near the kitchen window. She sat on the bench and looked at the sky. Street lamps lit up the neighborhood against the darkness. The cloudless night sky offered a clear view of the stars. She studied them. Carefully, she scrutinized one of the stars. After a few moments, she realized these weren’t stars! They were UFOs. Three of them had made a beeline across the sky and stopped just as suddenly. At closer inspection with the physical eye, they moved in minute distances; thus, the twinkling effect. It was impossible for them to stay in one place. Kristina had read about it on the internet. UFOs were being sighted everywhere in the world. She never imagined that she would witness it firsthand.
She gazed at the sky wonderingly when Art appeared at her side. He was looking at them as well. Silence reigned for several minutes.
“Thank you,” Kristina said quietly.
She wasn’t entirely sure what she was thanking him for but he nodded seeming to understand the depth of her meaning.
“Aren’t you going to show yourself to the guys?”
“Perhaps I will tomorrow. I don’t see any reason for me to break up the party with my presence.” He sat on the ground, arranging himself into a lotus position as if preparing to go into meditation. “They’ve been dotting the night sky since the new year.”
“They? You know what they are?”
“Everyone knows about them. They just don’t see it or fail to understand these beings. You see them perfectly, though.” He paused. “You perceive them as what they really are.”
“It’s still tricky even if I have 20/20 vision.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
Kristina looked at Art then. Half of what he says always puzzled her. This time, though, she knew what he was going on about.
“I’m not a freak,” she said with more emphasis than she had intended. “I’m a normal person.”
“No one said otherwise.” He smiled.
“You’re not going to ask me about ghosts, are you?”
“No. I wouldn’t dream of asking anyone to see lost souls when they don’t want to,” he replied with gravity. “From where I come from, we’re warned of the implications of entertaining them. They can be quite overwhelming when they learn that you’ve helped one of them.”
“Have you done that before?”
“Someone I know.” He picked a dry leaf from the ground and twirled it between his fingers. “You still haven’t answered my question.”
Kristina thought it over. It was rare to find someone who understood this side of her, even if only for a fraction. She looked him in the eye. “We’ll only be friends?”
“As long as you wish it.”
“Deal.” Kristina stretched out her hand, a corner of her mouth lifted.
Art’s hand was warm against hers as he shook it and produced a smile of his own.
“Are you always this composed?”
“I try to be.” He untangled his legs and stood stretching his arms upward. “You should go back. Your friends are looking for you.”
“How would you know that?”
“You’re not the only one with a secret.” He grinned. “Good night, Tina.”
“Good night, Arty.”
He cocked his head to the side.
“Arty,” he echoed, tasting the sound of his new nickname in his mouth. “No one has called me that since…” He smiled in remembrance but didn’t continue. “See you in the morning.”
Without looking back, he waved his hand and disappeared around a corner of the house.
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.