Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Palms and Pockets Chapter 3: New World

Palms and Pockets

by Paul Diaz

Chapter 3: New World

The following Saturday, Anne was having breakfast with her parents. Colleen and Gerard Rivera noticed big changes in their daughter lately, gone was the foul mood she would have every time they would transfer to a new city.

Their living room was full of boxes because the things they had at their previous home has just arrived yesterday. “Honey are you sure they gave you a days off today? You just have been at work for two weeks and I don’t think your boss would like the idea of you having asking for a day off immediately” Colleen said.

“I didn’t even have to ask for it, my boss told me to take a day off” Gerard told her. “Did you get fired dad?” Anne asked and her father laughed. “What happened? Why did he let you have a day off? Did you do something wrong?” Colleen asked.

“Relax both of you. I didn’t ask for a day off because I gave myself one” Gerard said and the two ladies looked at him surprised. “What are you trying to say? Its not time to make jokes I tell you” Colleen said as she raised her two eyebrows. “Well you see I didn’t tell you two about this. I wanted it to be a surprise. All the sacrifices we had to go through has finally paid off” Gerard told them.

The two ladies were silent and simply looking at him. “The company transferred me here because they saw me fit to take over one of their branches. Yesterday the manager of the local branch has retired and I will be officially taking over starting Monday, but yes unofficially I am already the manager” the middle aged man told them.

“Are you saying we don’t have to transfer to another city anymore?” Anne asked. “No more dear unless you want to” her father replied. “I like it here” the young lady said and Colleen almost in tears hugged her husband. “Are you saying I don’t need to work anymore?” she whispered. “Yes dear but its up to you” Gerard replied as they both looked at their daughter who was all smiles.

“I think I will keep my job, I know we are better off now but the extra income might come in handy. We owe her so much” she whispered. “Yes I know so that is why I think she will love the gifts I got her” Gerard said as he stood up and walked towards the living room.

“Anne how come I don’t see you using our computer?” Gerard asked. “Well dad because you keep hogging it” his daughter replied as she and her mother laughed. “Well you could have just told me if you needed to use it. Like for chatting and whatever teenagers do nowadays online” her father said.

“Its okay dad, I know your work has to come first and I really didn’t have friends” Anne replied. “I heard from your mother that you do” Gerard said as he finally got hold of two small boxes and walked towards the dining table. “Yes dad and his name is John, he is a good guy” Anne said.

Gerard stood right behind her daughter as his wife was surprised to see what he had for her. “This John I want to meet him. Send him a text message and call him over” Gerard told her and Anne laughed. “With what dad? My imaginary phone?” she said and her father placed the first box on the table. “With this of course, and now you can also chat with him” he said as he lay the other box on the right side of the table.

Anne could not believe it, on her left side there was a brand new mobile phone and on her right was a brand new laptop. “This are for me?” she asked. Gerard stooped down and kissed her daughter on the forehead. “Its long overdue, sorry it took a long time” he whispered. Anne stood up and hugged her father and then her mother.

She sat back down and her parents noticed Anne so happy and confused to which box to open first. A few seconds later she chose to open the phone but the smile on her face turned into a frown. “Whats wrong dear?” Colleen asked. “Don’t you like it? I can have it changed” Gerard said.

“I like it so much dad, the problem is I don’t know his number” Anne said and then grinned at her parents. The three of them enjoyed a laugh but suddenly the doorbell rang. Colleen stood up to check who it was as Anne and her father opened the second box. “Anne, your friend is here to see you!!!” Colleen yelled.

The young lady quickly stood up and ran towards the door. She was almost near the door and could clearly see the young man smiling at her. Anne’s left knee buckled and she lost her balance. Her body was falling forward, she could hear her mother screaming as she moved her hands forward. With her eyes closed Anne fell but she the floor didn’t feel as hard as she expected it to be.

Anne felt two strong arms embracing her, she slowly opened her eyes and saw John’s face close hers. “Are you okay?” he asked. The young man was kneeling on the floor and he caught her just in time. The two slowly stood up and Anne could not believe what just happened. “You caught me” she said softly. “Of course, just as I have promised” replied as the two smiled at each other.

“So is this John?” Gerard asked as he approach the three. “Uhmm mom and dad this is my friend John” Anne said and her father stood beside her mother. “Good morning maam and sir, sorry if I was too early and I am sorry maam if I pushed you. Everything happened so fast and all I could think of was catching her” John said as Anne began to laugh.

Colleen patted the young man’s shoulder and smiled at him. “Don’t worry about it dear, whats important is you caught her” she said. “Why are you laughing Anne? That’s being rude” Gerard said. “Because he talks too much” the young woman said as John bowed and scratched his head.

“Why are you here?” Anne asked as her parents shook their head with her question. “I came to check on you and maybe ask you if you wanted to go watch a movie or go to the mall” John softly replied. Anne looked back at the living room and saw the boxes, “I’d really love to but as you can see we have to fix our things because they just arrived yesterday” she said.

“Oh I see, maybe some other time then” the young man told her. “No, why not now? Me and your mother can manage” Gerard said and the young woman was elated. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Yes dear, go get a bath first. I’m sure John can wait” Colleen said and John nodded his head.

“Can you wait a few minutes?” Anne asked. “Of course, take your time” John replied. The young woman immediately turned around as was about to run towards the stairs. “Don’t run!” the young man shouted and Anne immediately froze and turned around to look at him. John was so embarrassed for even Anne’s parents were looking at him. “Oh…don’t run please” he softly said and Anne smiled and slowly walked towards the stairs.

Colleen and Gerard were not mad, instead they were happy to see that someone else was concerned for their daughter. “You know girls do take a long time so are those arms strong enough to carry some boxes?” Gerard asked. “As long as those boxes contain cotton” John replied and Anne’s parents laughed. “I already like you John, come on help me move some stuff” the older man said and two proceeded to the living room.

An hour later the living room was clear of boxes, John sat on the couch staring at a picture frame in his hands. “That was me when I was six” Anne said. “You looked so happy in this picture” John told her. “I actually was, and then we started moving and moving. It’s a different world each time we move” she told him.

“Well this is a new world now, I promise its different from the past cities you have lived in. I just don’t know if it will be as happy as this place you were in this picture though” John said. “We’ll see. Ready to go?” she asked. John stood up and was surprised to see her so vibrant.

Anne was wearing a pink collared shirt, jeans and pink sneakers. Aside from the scar on her face, she was really pretty. “Is there something wrong?” she asked. “Oh no, come lets go” he replied. “By the way my dad is going to take us to the mall. Will that be alright?” Anne asked. John would have wanted for them to walk but he remembered her condition so he immediately agreed.

Twenty minutes later they were at the mall’s entrance. John noticed Anne bowing her head as they entered so he reminded her that he was with him. Ever since she started limping Anne has never visited the mall or any other crowded places. She faced forward and took a deep breath and walked closely beside her friend.

Something was different and she didn’t know if it was because of John. As she looked around there were so many people but only a few do stare at her and this made her happy. “So what would you like to do?” John asked. “Hmmm lets just walk around and window shop” Anne told him.

It wasn’t the items on the store windows that Anne wanted to see. It was the reaction of other people around who saw her. Some would still give her a look but gone were whispering and the simple tugging of companions to give a look to. School was a confined place so she was easily noticed but this was the real world where everyone was too busy minding their own business. Yes there were still a few but it was bearable.

Anne now knew the stupidity of what she had done. She had enclosed herself inside a shell for years because of the pain and fear of what people might think of her. If not for the man beside her she would have still been inside that shell so she was so thankful that he came to her life.

A few minutes later Anne noticed that they were heading towards a bench. “Im tired, lets rest a bit” he told her. The young woman sat down and looked oddly at John. “You are already tired?” she asked. “Nope, but your hips are aching” he replied. Anne was surprised for he was right, her hips were starting to ache but she could not believe how he knew.

“How did you know?” she asked. “We have been walking home together for almost two weeks so I somehow know. Well I actually timed it since I don’t know how I am supposed to measure distance. Twenty minutes and your hips begin to ache and now I am talking too much again” he explained.

Anne laughed for a few seconds but she felt something different inside her stomach. Her body twitched and she began to giggle automatically, she leaned her head on John’s shoulder for a second but immediately sat up straight. She felt embarrassed so she looked away and still didn’t understand what was happening. Whatever it was she wasn’t bothered for it felt good.

After the rest the two proceeded to the movie house, John bought the tickets and Anne laughed at him for he returned with two odd looking glasses. “Red and green lenses?” she asked. “Oh you have not tried watching a 3D movie?” John asked and the young woman gently shook her head. “Oh good then, you are going to love this movie. They say this movie had already beaten Titanic. Im glad they are still showing it. Come on its about to start” John said.

The movie started and it was John’s turn to laugh for Anne was trying to reach out her hand. “Put your hand down, its just a movie” he whispered. “It seems so real” she uttered. John had his attention divided the whole movie because he kept looking at Anne. He could see much the young woman was enjoying and he knew this was her first time inside a movie house.

After the movie they were again walking around the mall and Anne could not stop talking about how good the movie was. John started to limp like her which made Anne stop and look at him. “Why are you limping?” she asked. “Because you are talking too much and that’s my role. So I decided to take your role too and limp” he explained and they both laughed.

They were both starving so they grabbed lunch at a fast food joint. They had burger and fries and John was amazed on how Anne would keep talking about the story. Anne took a napkin and wiped John’s upper lip but still kept on talking. “I knew he was going to choose to be permanent blue guy” she said.

The young man looked at Anne so she paused. “Is there something wrong?” she asked. “Nope, I like the part where he tamed the big flying thing” he said as he intentionally left catsup on his lip. Anne again wiped it off, “Yeah me too, well it was the only way he could have gotten the respect of the other blue people” she said. John liked what was happening so he repeated it and again Anne would instinctively wipe it off.

A few rounds around the mall after lunch and the two decided to call it a day. It was a long way back to their houses but Anne decided that they walk the whole way back. After a few stops to rest John noticed that Anne made a bad decision.

He knelt down on one knee and patted his back. “I still can manage” she told him. “I know you can but Anne its not a bad thing if you depend on me sometimes. That’s what friends are for” he told her. Anne was hesitant but her hips were really aching. She got on John’s back and wrapped her arms around him.

John stood up and held on to Anne’s thighs that were on his sides. “Am I heavy?” she asked. “Nope, you can relax and just lean on me” he said. Anne rested her head on his shoulder, she noticed lots of people staring at them but all were smiling. Instead of being ashamed she smiled back at the people and the more she hugged John.

“Hey John, why do you think the guy chose to be a blue guy?” she asked. “Hmmm because he liked the place and he loved the blue girl I guess” he replied. “Love…have you ever been in love?” she asked. “Hmmm…I don’t think so, but I do like someone” John told her.

“He chose to be a blue guy because he was happier that way, right?” Anne again asked. “I guess so” he answered. “Yeah because in his world he feels useless because of his disability but in that world he could do so many things” Anne added but John didn’t bother to answer.

“Hey John” Anne whispered. “Yes Anne?” he replied. “I like your world much better” she softly whispered. “Its not mine…its ours from now on. Okay?” he answered. Anne smiled and leaned her head against his and closed her eyes.

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