They were wandering in the woods. It was her favourite, for she thought that all the questions which arise in our mind or heart, the answers of them lie in the beauty of nature. Whenever she felt alone or found herself in a doubt, she would go in the woods to spend some time talking with the birds who were sleeping in their nest high above the ground. Or she would discover a caterpillar and look at it in amazement wondering how unique every creation is. But this time she was not alone, she was with him. No, they weren't friends. It was a matter of fact that he found someone going into the woods and followed.
"What are you doing here?" He asked quietly, still measuring the height of the trees by his eyes.
"Spending time with my best friends." She said softly, in a dreamy voice.
"But, where are your best friends?" He asked, still unsure about if she had any best friends.
"They are everywhere around you." She said in a soothing voice.
He got confused and turned around, "But, I can't see any." He asked with his voice lowered.
"Don't you think it's impressive that the most beautiful of the things can't be seen, only be felt?" She said, turning to him with her glittering, blue watery eyes.
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“Hey, Ash! Why are you there, Buddy?” Someone called out the boy from outside of the forest.
The boy, who name had a name, turned around to find his friend, Jason calling him. Ash wondered how Jason got to know that he was here.
Ash turned to the girl with the dreamy voice, “May I know your na.” But she was already gone. The mist covered his view and now all he could see were big green trees and sunshine slicing through them. “Where’d she go?” He said to himself. “Don’t tell me you’re playing hide and seek by yourself. Come on, We’re getting late” Jason shouted to make his voice audible to Ash in the forest.
Still dazed by what happened right now, he collected his senses, “Coming!” he answered and got out of that forest.
“What were you doing there? Talking with trees?” Jason demanded.
But Ash remained silent for a minute and then spoke up, “Did you see that girl behind me? With those blonde hairs?”
Jason shook his head. “No one was there except you.”
Ash couldn’t understand why Jason didn’t see that girl behind him.
“And where did she go? I wish I could know her name, at least.” Ash said.
Ash tried to keep him busy but why he wasn’t able to keep her out of his mind? He wondered. “Maybe she’s meant to be there.” He told himself.
“Jason, I’m going out for a walk. Will come back soon.” Ash said.
“Yeah, until then, may I eat your snacks?” Jason asked cheerfully but Ash didn’t mind.
He got out and sat near the bank of the Sanctus Lake. One could find him throwing pebbles in the crystal clear water, and then he caught a glimpse of a bright beautiful golden fish. His eyes followed it until the fish was gone.
The shining sun was now setting in the arms of the clouds. Ash didn’t realise that his time had passed so fast.
He stood up and decided to go back but wait, what was that? Did he really see a girl on the other shore, the same girl that he met before? He turned around and yes, she was there.
He rushed and crossed the old-looking wooden bridge over the Sanctus Lake.
“Hey, wait!” He said panting.
She turned around, “Hi, I am glad to see you again.” She said with a soft smile that made Ash forget his name for a while.
“Where did you go, then?” He asked the question that was upsetting him the most. “You just disappeared.”
“I didn’t leave, I was there only.” She said slowly in a soft voice.
“Oh, maybe I didn’t see you.” He paused. “I am Ash, What’s your name?” He said, and extended his right hand gathering all the confidence he could.
“I am Aurora.” She said in a dreamy voice, and extended her right hand, too.
He didn’t even notice that her hand was cold as ice, for he was mesmerised by looking in her eyes. Suddenly, he realised and came back into real life.
“What a beautiful name! By the way, where do you live? I live with my friend Jason just on the other bank of the river.”
“I live there, realised, ” She said pointing towards a beautiful small hut inside the thick forest, decorated with flowers and surrounded by what looked like a very small but beautiful garden.
“Who do you live with?”
“I live alone,” She said calmly.
“I am sorry; you may feel lonely at times, don’t you?” Ash felt bad for her and tried to show his sympathy.
She smiled that confused Ash even more than before. “I said I live alone but why should that mean I may feel lonely? There’s a different between two, Ash.” She said in a comforting tone realised
Ash that he was staring at her while thinking about what she had just said. Ash wished if he could stay there, with her, forever. He didn’t even know that stars were visible in the dark sky by now.
“I think I should leave now. Nice to meet you again, Ash.” She said softly.
“Now? I mean, you should.” It seemed as if he had a difficulty in speaking out those words. “I hope we meet again…”
Aurora smiled and left.
He saw her entering the dark for and disappearing by leaving behind only her words. But wait; was there something else also that she left there?
Ash decided to go back, it was already getting late. But as soon as he turned, something glittered on the cold soil below him. He picked it up and found it to be an earring, with a peacock designed on it, which looked beautiful. He guessed if it was of her because he didn’t ever notice this earring on her. He kept that earring in his pocket, taking it as a sign of hope that he will meet her again.
He crossed the old looking bridge over the Sanctus Lake that was now shining due to the reflection of the moon. He reached his small house where Jason was already waiting for him.
“Where on earth were you? Do you realise how long you’ve been out there?” Jason demanded.
“You know I was just near the lake, and hey, why are acting so… elderly?” Ash said trying to calm Jason down.
“You know I never eat dinner without you. I and my stomach were waiting for you, and you know that I hate to keep my stomach waiting.” Jason said.
“I am really sorry, Jason. Ok, let’s eat dinner. I don’t think your stomach won’t like to keep waiting anymore.”
They both finished their dinner and it was Ash’s turn now to do the dishes. So, Jason hugged his bed and slept in no time while Ash was doing the dishes. He used to sing songs to make his work easy but this was the first time when he was actually paying attention to the lyrics of the song.
After some time, when he’d done his job, he rolled his hand in his pocket. He picked out the peacock earring and looked at it with a feeling of amazement. Suddenly, all the events, from meeting Aurora to her leaving him in the starry night, revolved in his mind and brought a smile to his face.
He put the earring under his pillow and slept, or maybe tried to sleep because he didn’t know that now it was going to be very difficult to sleep without her coming in his dreams.
Ash woke up early that day, maybe because he didn’t actually sleep the whole night. The stars were still glittering in the dark sky. He carefully picked out that beautiful thing kept under his pillow. He grabbed it in his hand and rolled it over in his pocket. Without making any noise, he went to the kitchen and prepared the breakfast.
After some time, he scribbled something on a paper.
I know that by now, you would’ve woken up by the smell of the breakfast. Eat it soon. I’m going out to collect water. Don’t wait for me, I’ve already eaten my breakfast. See you soon Buddy!
Ash posted the paper on his fist and went out with a wooden bucket in his hand. Soon, he reached the bank of the Sanctus Lake and filled the bucket to the brim. By now, the sun outshined the stars. Ash knew where his next destination was.
He carefully crossed the wooden bridge, not letting a drop of water to fall out. He crossed the bridge and didn’t find any problem in finding his way. That beautiful small hut was visible even in the Umbrage Forest.
Ash followed the small path that reached to Aurora’s house. He didn’t notice that his bucket was now half-full. He walked over the steps and knocked on the door, three times. He eagerly waited for a response. But nobody replied. He knocked again, but again silence replied to him.
Ash thought if she was in her garden. He went to the backside of the house and something looked strange, very strange. All the flowers in her garden were droopy and some were even dried up. He thought for a moment and watered the garden with the water left in his bucket.
“Hi, Ash” Ash heard her soothing voice and turned back to find Aurora standing in front of him.
“Hi, Aurora… such a beautiful day, isn’t it?” Ash worried what she would think of him roaming in her garden, without permission.
“Yes, it is. Looks like my friends are enjoying this sunny day.” She said glancing over her garden.
Enjoying? Ash turned back and found the garden, in a condition that he couldn’t believe upon. Just a few seconds ago, the flowers that were dried up and droopy, were now looking cheerful. He gazed at them in amazement. “But how?” He heard himself say.
“It is so sweet of you Ash that you watered them,” Aurora said and smiled.
Ash was startled. He rubbed his eyes and looked at the garden again, it was just perfect.
“What happened Ash?” Aurora asked. “No, nothing… I mean, where were you?” Ash asked looking confused for what to talk about.
“I was… Would you like to come in my home first?” Aurora asked him.
Ash nodded pleasingly, maybe his words ended up in his mouth.
They both entered the house. Aurora put aside her rainbow sling bag on the table, with a flower pot near the door. As soon as Ash entered the house, he gasped; he’d never imagined a house that can be so clean and attractive as his own house was very far from being like hers.
“Alvin, Look what I’ve got for you,” Aurora said looking around the house.
Ash was confused;
Suddenly, a broomstick came walking from the kitchen. Ash’s eyes were now wide open. For a moment, he thought of just running out. But Aurora was with her, he couldn’t do that.
He saw the broomstick walking to him and suddenly the broomstick came to a stop, just in front of him.
Aurora picked up her sling bag and took out three apples and it looked like that she was offering it to the broom. What is she doing? Ash thought.
“Here you go; you’ve done a great job!” Aurora said smiling at the broomstick.
The broomstick fell on the ground and now the three apples were floating. In no time, all the three apples walked to the kitchen, floating in the air.
“What was that?” Ash asked, completely astonished. “Broomsticks and Apples float in your house?”
“No, His name is Alvin. He is a little bit shy at the start, you see?”
“What do you mean by ‘his name’? Who is he?” Ash was completely confused now.
“He is an Amicus…” Aurora smiled and said something that confused Ash even more. “I’ll be back in a minute”
Now, what is an Amicus? He thought. Ash waited patiently and looked around the small house. The house looked more beautiful and bigger inside. A sweet fragrance was in the air. He rotated his neck and found a canvas on the wall behind him. Ash found it strange as the canvas was incomplete. In the painting, there stood a girl by a cherry blossom tree. But the other half of canvas was empty, untouched.
Aurora came with a tray in her hands, with two glasses of orange juice and cookies; she put it on the table.
“Would you like to eat some cookies? I and Alvin made them together.” Aurora asked.
Ash picked up one cookie from the plate. As soon as he took a bite, it dissolved in his mouth like hot chocolate. After finishing the first, he picked up another. “They’re really delicious. Thank you. How do you make them?”
“Alvin says it’s a secret recipe, sorry,” Aurora said. “But you can come here whenever you like to have some.” Ash smiled.
He just completely forgot about for what he came here. Suddenly, he noticed only one earring in Aurora’s ears and woke up. “I am so sorry; I just came here to give you this.”
He picked out the beautiful peacock earring from his pocket. “I think you dropped it when we met on the Sanctus Lake…” He handed it over to Aurora.
Aurora stood up. “Thank you so much, Ash. I’ve been searching for this the whole time, and it was with you.” She looked at the peacock earring like it was away from her for years.
“I didn’t know that it was so important to you.” Ash stood up and said.
She choked up and lifted her eyelashes revealing her teary eyes, “Thanks, Ash. Isn’t it strange that we try to find our lost ones in our memories? Isn’t it strange that something becomes so valuable to us, just because our feelings are attached with it? When we lose someone, we try to find their presence in these materialistic things even when we know that they’ll never…” She took a heavy breath and wiped her eyes. With a smile, she said, “Thanks, Ash.”
“Don’t mention, instead of saying thank you, can you please pack me some cookies for home? I think there’s someone else also who should taste them.” Ash said which made her smile wider. He felt happy to see her beautiful smile back.
“Yeah sure, why not?” She said and came back with a box filled with cookies.
“I think it’s time to leave now, Aurora. Thank you for the cookies. Bye, Take care.” He said and walked down the steps.
“Bye, Ash. I hope we meet again.” Aurora smiled and waved her hand.
I hope so too, Ash whispered waving his hand.
The sun was now shining bright, it was noon. On his way back, he kept humming songs and smiling for no reason. Soon, he got out of the Umbrane forest. As he was crossing the old-looking bridge, he wondered if he was forgetting something. With a splash of water, all the thoughts got cleared.
He completely forgot about the bucket when he was in her house. He rushed back to Aurora's house. He remembered on his way that he left the bucket in her garden.
As soon as he reached her garden, he gasped once again, the entire garden looked dried up. It looked as if all the flowers were sad and droopy.
"Maybe she's not at home, again." He thought, smiling foolishly.
He crossed the Umbrage forest again and reached the bank of the Sanctus Lake, catching his breath.
He put the cookie box, wrapped in a red cloth, on the wet soil. And filled the bucket again.
He tried hard handling both, the bucket and the box but soon he reached his home.
"Where were you? I am dying here and you call yourself my friend?" Jason shouted and ran to the kitchen as soon as he got the clue of Ash entering the house.
"But, why? I made breakfast for you." Ash put the bucket down on the floor.
"Oh great, Thank you so much! Don't you know I hate to eat alone?" Jason asked, demandingly.
"So, you didn't eat it. But I wrote that I've already had my breakfast" Ash said.
"You and I know this thing very well that we can't fool each other. I know you didn't eat it. Now let's have breakfast, at 1:00pm, what a great idea." Jason said arranging the plates on the table. "By the way, will you tell me what's in your hand?"
Ash suddenly realised that he had a treasure in his hands, enough to make Jason more than happy.
"Your favourite cookies," Ash said, much whispering.
"Did my ears hear something like 'cookies' just now?"
Ash giggled, "Yes, Jason." He sat in the dining seat and unwrapped the box.
"Will you do it fast? Give it to me" Jason said getting restless.
"Wait for Dude, good things ask for patience." He laughed and offered him the cookies.
He picked out two together. And after eating the one, "They are.. so delicious. How do you make them so delicious?"
"She says it's a secret" Ash replied.
"Did my ears hear 'she' just now?" Jason gave him a suspicious look.
"Oh, there's so much work left to do right now," Ash said rolling his eyes here and there.