To a Better Tomorrow

A dedication...

 

I look at the sky tonight, the stars being the only ones I share parts of my soul with, and think to myself: "Is this it -- the only thing that life has to offer? Isn't there something more?"

Tomorrow is the first day of summer vacation, but why is it that I do not feel like my friends and everybody else about it: free time, partying and all of the other fun stuff that could be done only when there is no school. I feel alone, now, in this quiet night. Like no one else can understand what I feel, and even more alone when I don't have anyone to share these troubling thoughts with. Maybe I am being depressed. Chasing happiness, right? But while others do chase it, I rather stop and ask questions, trying to understand and explain it to myself. An enormous dissatisfaction is what I feel from life. I can't find something real to live for. A goal, I ask myself, what is your goal, Alec? Who do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish, when there is a veil covered over everything that could be seen?

Millions of years it would take for my shining friends to answer.

Guess I should be getting to bed. There's a whole summer ahead of me that I don't know how to spend. Will it pass in the blink of an eye or it will drag itself forever? As I lay in bed, I said out loud:

"It will either be quick moments of happiness or slow ones in solitude."

 

 

I woke up to the smell of pancakes. Like always, grandma must be in a good mood. I got up and headed for the shower. There is a big mirror on the inside of the door there and after I undressed I stood in front of it. Medium length black hair, brown eyes, slim, but a little muscular build -- yep, that was me. And one other attribute that had my attention and was the reason I was standing in front of the mirror -- a 6'' morning wood that I needed to take care of now. The pancakes might wait a little more...

As grandma saw me downstairs, she said:

"A special breakfast for your first summer day, hon. Here, eat up, they're made with love. I told your grandpa to wait until you wake up, but you know him -- always excited to start the day early. So he went already outside."

I sat to eat my breakfast and she continued:

"On days like these I'm happy to be still alive." She wasn't your usual grandma, you know. She had a rare gift at her age, one that allowed her to enjoy every little detail in everyday life.

"Heh, you shouldn't talk like that, you know!" I said.

But she ignored my comment and said, like in a dream state:

"Did you hear the birds this morning? Your grandpa was whistling them back, as though he could speak with them. I say, the old man is enjoying his age more than me." She laughed happily. "So how are you going to spend your first summer day? You should do something special, so that the rest of it is the same."

"You know that I don't like to make plans, grandma. Whatever happens-happens and so be it." Uhh, it's like she knew exactly what was bothering my mind.

"Yes, but if you got the option to choose then, I think, is up to you, right?"

"Hehe, you always know the right things to say." An ability of hers I was used to.

"That's because you unconsciously want me to say those things." She said with a warm smile. There it is again.

"Okay, okay, I'm going out now." I said laughing.

"Have a nice day, hon, and tell me if something special happens. Oh, and if you see your grandpa, tell him that I'm making him a special lunch, so not to roam the streets all day."

 

As I got outside I was really wondering what am I gonna do this day. I headed for the park. Guess that direction is good for now.

I was living with grandpa and grandma. My parents aren't here anymore. When I was little both of them were in a car accident. I remember them: my mom's smile and how I used to play with dad; I also remember the shock after hearing the news. I may have been little, but I understood what I'll never again have, and receive, and give. It is something that no boy, even person, should experience... the emptiness. Grandma and grandpa were there for me and still are. Like I said, they're not your usual grandparents. Curious would not be much to describe them with. More like they're awake for the world around them. They still hold something unique inside of them that makes them act like children sometimes, yet they're grownups, but with an irresistible feeling to experience new things. There is little that I do not share with them. The age gap between us doesn't really matter -- they're open to me, I'm open to them.

There really is some special connection between grandparents and their grandchildren. Like a bridge between generations. There are things that only they can understand and things only they can teach you.

Most of my friends were either working in the summer or have gone somewhere travelling. But even if they were here, I doubt the summer would have been something different from the rest I have had. Don't get me wrong, I have good friends, we spend a lot of time together, joke, have fun, drink, but somehow that, which I search, they can't offer. Uhh... I hate it when these thoughts of loneliness and misunderstanding come to my head when the day starts. Now that this has happened I know where I'm going.

At the end of the park there is a path, that can't be seen if you don't get close enough. After about 20 minutes the path will lead you up a hill where most part of the city is visible. People usually don't come here since it's a lot brushy. But the place I go is a little further where there are some trees and rocks. It is my place of peace and quietness where I come to think, or in this case try not to. It works both ways, really.

As I got up there the scene unfolded in front of me. I took my usual spot under the big oak tree. Down there, in my view, is a place where the humans reside. Their whole life, mine also, passes there... "Is this life?" Be born, grow up, go to school, go to college, marry, find a job -- what is it, that I should be happy about when I know what is supposed to happen with me or what is expected.

I do not know when or why, but something within me, a feeling of magic, has been replaced with displeasure of life. I wonder do I have the thing that both grandpa and grandma have. They have had their time to enjoy it, without understanding it, lose it, while regretting it, and now finding it again, knowing of what it is. Does it happen to all of us that way? But why do I feel so alone with these thoughts and have nobody my age to share them with. It is like everybody else has given up on something and to them it seems normal, nothing out of the ordinary, yet I hold tight to that, because I want to understand and feel it... Magic, was it?

 

I had lost idea of time and realized that a familiar figure was standing close.

"What are you spacing out for? Meditating?" A familiar voice too.

"Hey, grandpa, what are you doing here?"

You would imagine that a grandpa should look like an old man with a cane, white beard, bald, humped and slow moving. Hehe, but that's not him. He was standing tall, no cane, shaved, and had his hair. He was usually always full of energy, despite his age.

"What am I really doing here?" He laughed. "Just taking a walk... I guessed that you'd be here. So what's up?" He said and sat next to me under the oak.

"Nothing... just thinking." I said.

"It is not the place to be thinking too much, is it? When I saw you, I thought that you were talking with the birds like me." He smiled, making me laugh too.

"Hehe, grandpa, only you can do that."

"Oh, want me to teach you?"

"No, no, people would think I'm talking to myself if they saw me. And, actually, that is what I would be doing."

"Hmm... Do I have a non-believer next to me?" He sighed. "You think the birds can't understand me? They're part of life, Alec, filled with the same thing, that makes you and me breathe! Others may think what they want, that shouldn't stop you from being yourself." He was calm, as usual, but was becoming excited.

"I think, that the life, that birds and we live is different. Maybe theirs is real, ours is just somewhat empty, wrapped in foil."

"Ahh... What youth is... here you are, troubling yourself with such things. Life is here, this moment is life and you are missing it on your first summer day. You think that by coming up here, you could be able to figure it out, look at it sideways and point it with a finger. It doesn't go that way, Alec. Remember: The past does not remember the past, the future does not create the future; they both collide right now, in the present, in this exact moment."

"I think I understand what you mean."

"Of course you do. Maybe I should have let you figure it out yourself, but I'm feeling happy today, such a beautiful day."

I remembered that I had something to tell him:

"Oh yeah, grandma said that she will make you a special lunch, so you should be home a little early today."

"What doesn't she do to celebrate a good day. I guess I should be going. What are you going to do?"

I thought for a moment. I may as well spend some time with them today.

"Wait up. I'll try that special lunch and celebrate too."

"Good to hear. Then let's get going before we are late."

 

The rest of the day went normal. I thought about going to the mall, but quickly dismissed the idea. Grandpa mentioned at lunch that they were putting up fair in town. Maybe I should go in the next few days, just to escape from all these thoughts.

The sky had become dark, it was nighttime already. It's summer, so you could guess that it wasn't early. I was sitting in the park again, just a few people around, but not close to where I was. I was tired, although not doing anything the whole day. So I got up and headed home.

Suddenly I heard a voice behind me:

"Hey, boy, where do you think you are going?! I was coming behind you and you just stand up and start walking! Give me what you've got!"

It was a middle aged man by the looks of it. I couldn't see his face, it was dark and he was wearing a cap.

"Great!" I thought to myself. "Now of all times someone would want to rob me!"

This man was suddenly pulling me from a trance. The whole day I didn't talk with many people and now this idiot wants money. I wasn't going to give him anything. I thought about running, but somehow I wasn't taking him seriously. And something made me want to talk to him. So I calmly said:

"Sorry, but I don't have anything for you. Maybe..." But before I could say something else he closed the distance between us. There was a knife in his hand now.

"What about now? Got something to give me?" He said that, pushed me to the ground and pointed the knife at me. Okay, I should have run when I had the chance. My heart was beginning to beat a little too fast, I was getting nervous. Now what? "Hurry up, kid. There are others waiting. Hehe, maybe if I slice you a little you will understand."

He was really gonna do it. But there was a voice and we both looked in the direction from where it came. The man shivered a little to the thought of getting caught now that there was a third person.

"Why must you do something like this which masks with hideous appearance the human nature?" It was a boy, around my age. I couldn't tell much more, because of the darkness.

Seeing the same the man regained his senses:

"For a minute there I thought I was busted. Two prizes now. Good."

"I don't know the reason you revert to stealing, but I will ask you to drop that knife and go home. Also take care of that personality of yours."

"Shut up! Who do you think you are? Your life is in my hands now, got that?" And with that the man started walking towards the boy with the knife in hand.

"A knife, huh? You have to do better than that. I don't want to hurt you. I understand that for you to be this way there is a reason..."

"I told you to shut up!" The man said and with that he struck with the knife. He missed, as the boy evaded, and before he could make another swing or even a movement the boy caught the hand with the knife. I heard a cracking noise, followed by a scream of pain. Then the boy got in close distance and kicked him in the stomach. The man fell to the ground but after a while got up and started to run, probably for his life.

I was still on the ground watching what happened like it was taken from a movie. Who was this boy? He headed towards me, but before I could stand and say something, he walked past me.

"Hey, wait, thank you." I finally said.

The boy stopped and turned to me:

"There is no need to thank me. I just prevented something that will have had an accumulated effect: for you and for him. If I knew you would be grateful for causing someone pain by beating them up, then I wouldn't have helped you."

I was now standing close to him, and could finally see a little better his face. He looked well-build, muscular, with short spiky hair. I wondered what the color of his eyes was. His face was magnetizing, I couldn't answer anything, just stared at him.

"It's a circle, you know. He will search to get his revenge. An endless senseless fight, the traces of which are deeply inscribed into history... Well you're okay, so you don't have to worry about those things. Goodbye." And he walked away again.

I was a little confused by his words. Was he serious? But I wasn't just gonna let him go. I went after him.

"Hey, wait... tell me your name."

"Why do you need such things? Names come and go, repeat and never follow. The pride I have I put in other things."

There was a long silence in which we looked into each other's eyes in the darkness. Neither one of us moved. After a while he spoke:

"Your eyes glitter even in the night." He got really close, face to face, I could feel his breath. What was going to follow? I was becoming nervous. "You have a pure heart. I see it in your eyes. Keep it that way. It's beautiful." I was startled by that last comment and he took that as an opportunity to walk away again, but after a while he turned. "It's Zac. My name, that is."

He was soon lost in the darkness.

 

Something ignited in my soul this day. This boy that had passed through my life... "Zac" I whispered his name while lying in bed. Will I see him again? His whole presence was something new to me. The way he acted, the way he talked... He wasn't from town. He is different...

 

 

As I greeted the morning rays of the sun, thoughts and memories of last night flooded my mind. I fell asleep only to wake up again with them. Maybe I'll see that boy today. I want to see Zac. He has something in him that is special.

Grandpa saw that I wasn't myself during breakfast and said:

"You're acting strange today. Excited about something?"

"No, not really, just thinking." I said.

"I told you to forget thinking." Grandpa said. "If it isn't about someone, that is." He laughed.

"Well, whatever it is, he will say it if he wants to." Grandma said with her kind voice. "Are you going to the fair today, Alec?"

"Yeah, I'll go check it out."

I forgot that grandpa did mention it. But with my mind being elsewhere the thought escaped me. That's it! There are going to be a lot of people... maybe... just maybe one of them...

I got up excited and accidentally hit my knee in the table. But I quickly headed for the door and said:

"Have a nice day, both of you." No doubt they were wondering what's gotten into me today.

 

The fair was, for some reason, very close to the park, and hence close to home. Believe me or not, I spent the whole day at the fair. I was becoming obsessed with the search for Zac, just like a stalker would. I wonder if I would recognize him, but even in the dark last night his face is clear in my mind. I was picturing him standing in front of me and hoping that until the day ends I will have my chance to see him again.

I met some friends and decided to stick with them and continue my search. We had some fun, well they thought I was having fun, but I was excited about other things; we ate; and pretty much tried all of the attractions there were.

I really believed I will see him today. I don't know where that confidence came from. It was like we had a date, except he didn't know about it. But as the day went on the euphoric feeling was close to an end. As the realization of how absurd this was came to me, I felt like a total idiot for even thinking it could happen. There was no trace of him. The excitement became loneliness again...

"Hey, Alec, there is a circus. The show starts in a few minutes. Wanna go?" One of my friends said.

"I don't know. I am not feeling up to it. You guys go."

"Come on. It will be fun. It is years since we have seen one in town."

Although they were trying to cheer me, I didn't feel like myself right now.

"I told you to go. I may come later."

"Okay, but hurry up. It will get crowded and the tickets might end."

They left for the circus. I was just standing out in the open with only few people around.

It is strange, weird, peculiar... Every day we pass unseen through small fragments of people's lives, as do they through our own. We often see their happiness, or sadness, or some other feeling, expressed on their faces. We experience it there with them, although we do not know each other, they don't even notice us. The same happens with the other way around. We move through the day, meeting the eyes of people, who we will never talk to, never going to connect our lives with, probably never see again. But it happens that one exact person will catch our curiosity. We would so want to talk to him, get to know him; to learn what kind of person he is, how he talks, what he thinks. To be emotionally and even physically attached to a perfect stranger, who so happens to be in the same place, at the same time as you... it happens to all of us, right? This is the philosophy of the moment, grandpa wanted me to learn. To get a hold of that single piece of time, that would probably change our life forever. Fate does not give us any reasons. It just wants us to think that it isn't there, so that we may act on our own.

I decided that I would go to the circus and then head home. But when I asked for a ticket at the stand in front of the circus, the lady said there were no tickets left for the show. Uhh, so, I guess, I will head home now. It was then that I felt as struck by lightning when I heard the voice that saved me last night, the one I had been searching all day! It was Zac!

"Isn't it interesting how fate binds us to meet each other again?"

He was behind me. And, despite the initial shock caused by his voice, I was even more stunned by what I saw in front of me. I could now clearly see what he looked like and I was mesmerized. His spiky hair was brown, his eyes had a deep shade of green and there was a mysterious and immense depth in them, from which the presence of his soul could be felt.

"Are you here for the show?" He asked, his voice echoing in my mind.

I couldn't answer, just nodded. The realization came to me now, but I had no idea what was I going to say when we meet. The whole day I was persistently searching and now that he is right in front of me I can't even speak. My heart was pounding fast. I was out of breath, gasping, speechless and most of all nervous. How did this boy manage to bring this new experience to me, I couldn't comprehend anything.

"Aren't you going to say something? You're just starring like a weak-headed."

I really tried, but nothing came out of my mouth. Uhh, I'm feeling like a total idiot! I tried again. This time I mumbled something, but before I had the courage to continue a female voice called behind me:

"Zac, what is taking you so long? We are about to start. You need to get ready and..." She stopped talking when she saw me. "Oh, are you a friend of Zac?" But before I could even answer she introduced herself. "I'm Nia, nice to meet you."

Nia had long blond hair, which almost reached her waist. What caught my attention were two sparkling blue eyes that could pierce right through you. I was for a moment lost in them and in the cute smile, which brought a charming look of innocence to her face.

"I'm Alec, nice to meet you too." Finally some words left my mouth.

I heard Zac say:

"Alec... It suits you, the name that is." And he smiled at me.

"Umm... thanks." I could feel myself blushing.

"Listen, Nia. Those special seats are free, right? Since Alec here is a little late to get tickets and there won't be any other seats." Zac said.

"Special seats?" I said under my breath, confused.

"Yeah, no problem, come on" Nia said.

"Wait. What..."

But before I could say something Zac grabbed my hand by the wrist and lead me to the circus.

"Come on."

 

All of the fear, nervousness and frustration had left me as I watched the show. I felt kind of awkward at first since we didn't know each other and here they are, offering me first row seats right next to the arena. It was like they have both known me for a long time. I felt it too, actually, a comforting aura from being close to them. I was right when the thought crossed my mind that Zac and Nia must be working in the circus, but I didn't even guess that they would be leading the show and presenting the performances.

You would guess right that my whole attention I devoted to Zac. It was annoying when they said their stuff and left the scene just for some stupid trick or performance, which entertained the audience, but not me. It was a blessing when he would enter again and start talking. Then I would feel something inside of me, a feeling that can't be described, mysterious vibe of attraction that pulled me towards him. I don't even remember much of the show. I was hypnotized by his entity the whole time. A few times he would glance at me and our eyes would meet. It lasts no more than a second, but it feels like centuries have past, centuries in another world, more perfect, just the two of us in it.

Time flew fast. People were getting up to leave. The show was over. But I was still in my seat, unable to distinguish reality.

"Hey, Alec." It was Nia. "Do you know a good place we could hang out? You know, Zac, me and you?"

What? They wanted to hang out. I wasn't dreaming, right? Again I was becoming nervous and excited.

"Umm... Yeah, I do. I know a place." I answered.

"Cool. Why don't you wait outside? We'll be there in a minute."

I got outside and I couldn't stop twitching. Why do they want to go out together? I mean, I wasn't nervous about that fact, but more that I was going to be close to Zac. The idea of him being in short distance was making me self-conscious. What if I act like an idiot again and do something stupid? I was lost in thought when suddenly a voice startled me from behind:

"Well, well, if it isn't the boy I tried to rob last night." I didn't recognize him until he said that. "Funny we meet here. Your friend isn't around, huh? I guess you have to pay for what he did to me."

He quickly closed the distance between us. I had nowhere to run. He grabbed me by the shirt and lifted me off the ground. I could see the rage in his eyes. I guess Zac was right. He will get his revenge, even for something that was wrong to do from the beginning. The man threw me on the ground, like I was some piece of rag. All of a sudden felt a sharp pain on the back of my head. It was getting dark... I lost consciousness...

 

When I opened my eyes the first thing my brain registered was the excruciating pain in my head. I must have hit it pretty hard.

"Hey, you're awake! How do you feel?" I recognized Nia's voice.

It was a little blurry when I looked around. I was lying in bed, but not mine, the place was unfamiliar.

"Uhh... What happened? Where am I?" I asked.

"You hit your head and lost consciousness."

"That man..."

"Yeah, we were just getting outside to meet you and saw everything."

"Zac... Where is Zac?"

"Don't worry. He's probably around. He got very vicious when he saw all that and... kind of beat the shit out of that man. I couldn't stop him when he saw you lying there unconscious."

I felt strange when she said that, but more worried.

"Wait... Is he okay?"

"Physically, Alec, he is. Emotionally, he is not. After that he carried you here in his place and treated you."

It took some time for my brain to register the words she said.

"You mean I'm in Zac's bed..." I almost jumped from the shock. "Uhh... I'm an idiot. I'm sorry about tonight. I was going to take you two out and... I should..." I got up, ready to leave.

"Relax, Alec. It's not your fault. Rest for a while." Somehow her voice calmed me down and I sat on the bed.

My curiosity got the best of me and I finally asked:

"So why isn't Zac here?"

For a moment her blue eyes had a little different expression, a little sad maybe.

"That boy, Alec, bears great solitude in his soul, because he is never understood. He has ideals, which the world is not ready to live with. He can't stand pain: to receive or go give it. Be it in the form of violence, people's relations or some other. He is probably self-regretting right now what he did. But, I think, it was worth it."

Something like a motherly smile, which like before brought a touch of innocence in her, like an angel, came across her face.

The door then opened and in came Zac. I gasped as I saw him. I could feel that just from seeing him my pain faded away.

"How's your head?" He asked, directing his green eyes to meet mine.

"Oh, it's okay. It doesn't hurt much." I lied.

"You're lucky that that there isn't an open wound. It was just a concussion from the impact."

"Zac's parents were doctors, so you were in good hands." Nia said with a grin.

I now remembered that she said he treated me. I couldn't stop the thoughts from appearing one after another about that fact. I freaked out when I realized some of them were slightly naughty.

"I know you said you didn't want gratitude, but I want to thank you again." I finally said to Zac. "I should be heading home..."

"You need to do more than just say thanks this time... I will walk you home." He said.'

Okay, now I was sure that someone in the fate department was setting this up. I wasn't gonna stop him, obviously.

It was dark outside, not even street lights were on, only the stars above. However on the way home we were quiet. We didn't say anything, just walked. If I wanted to get a hold of this opportunity I had to do it now. We weren't gonna walk together for much long. Often I peeked to see him. It was becoming like a drug for me. The whole time, however, his eyes were directed upwards to the sky.

"Are you looking at the stars?" I finally asked him something, talked.

"Yes. The sky is clear, they are beautiful tonight." He didn't even look at me. The silence came again.

Why did he want to walk me home, when he doesn't say anything? What could it be he is thinking about? I remembered what he told me yesterday. Is it because of what Nia told me?

"You seem sad, Zac. You didn't have to save me both times if you would feel like this."

For the first time in a while he looked at me.

"Then should I have just left you? I wonder, where would you be now? I doubt you know how I feel. You just don't understand, Alec." And again he looked up at the sky.

I don't know why, but I felt a little irritated by his comment.

"What? What is it I don't understand? What is it with you?" I asked harshly.

He didn't look at me.

"There is pain in the world, an endless cycle of suffering, caused by human nature and its hatred, anger, violence, jealousy, injustice, judging, which only give birth to more of the same. The fact is that right now, at this very moment, life is being taken from somebody, somewhere. And yet here we are, having fun, enjoying life, not even caring. Is it right to be happy when others around you are not? Is it alright not to care, because you have your own life to deal with? Well, there are things far greater than the search for self-pleasure, greater things you could devote your life to. The things I see cover the whole world and view it from a distance, just like how the stars up there are watching us now. These are not just my points of view. They are horizons, widespread throughout history. There I see the fatuity I try to change."

The silence again came between us. There was now emptiness in the night that I felt. What could I say to him? What could I think?

"Zac, I..."

But he cut me at the same time:

"I'll leave you, goodnight." He turned his back to leave. "Just forget about everything I said and did." Why did he always say these things with his back turned, not looking me in the eyes? "I'm just a passing moment through your life, nothing more." His voice had a pitch of melancholy and was becoming more saddened as he talked. "It's best if we don't see each other again. I'll leave after a few days and I doubt we'll see each other again after that."

And he left, leaving me confused, emotionally down. The stars were now closer to me than he was. If all was right, then what did go wrong?

I realized something now. All I ever wanted was something to change, something to happen, different from what everybody else would experience in their lives. The nervousness I felt the whole day has never happened to me before. Was it because of the unknown?

Zac wasn't like the rest. Have I missed the moment to change the course of my life? All of these thoughts wouldn't leave me alone. The image of Zac was constantly in front of me. I couldn't sleep.

 

 

Thursday was a rainy day. It poured from the sky and it didn't seem like it would stop -- a not so desirable weather for a summer day. But it suited my mood just fine. I was in bed till late, just lying there, back to my old depressed of life state, images and words of Zac restlessly visiting me.

He said forget, but could I possibly erase from my mind all that has happened. Why was I so attached to his entity? No, I knew that. It was because he was different. How many teenagers like him were thinking of fixing this screwed up world? That was something that even grownups don't think. My thoughts drifted in that direction.

I got up to look through the window. There weren't any drops of water, there were whole streams falling.

"Someone, somewhere..." I whispered.

But what is it we can do? What is it that Zac is doing to get rid the world of its pain? Thoughts of helplessness crossed my mind. This isn't work for just one individual. But will people understand him? In reality, I barely have asked myself questions like these. I haven't thought about others like this. In the same way, I doubt, others care or even think about the world. I now realized how selfish I was, wanting something to change in my life, depending on someone else to do it for me, someone like Zac. At that moment I felt even more awful and miserable.

What did I expect him to do? What did I expect it would happen? He will leave soon. Like he said, we will never see each other again. But...

I went downstairs and saw grandpa sitting in his couch, reading a book. Grandma was in the kitchen. When he saw me, he left the book and said:

"Alec, want to take a walk under the rain? It's summer. It's hot. It's strange and there are no people in the streets. The rain will help you clear your thoughts, wash them away, so that what is left is just you, your true self." He said in his usual manner of curiosity and strange ideas.

"No... not right now. Maybe later..." I said, sitting on the couch, opposite of him.

He was waiting for me to say something, but as I didn't he put his hand under his chin and looked out of the window, at the rain. It was the only thing that made the silence more bearable, as it was like a rhythmic melody, played by the water. We remained like that for a while. I was feeling more relaxed, as I was not alone.

"Will you tell me what's bothering you?" He asked breaking the silence, but still looking at the rain.

I struggled for the right words to say what I was feeling.

"Grandpa, do you... do you think it is right for someone to... to forsake happiness for something he believes in, an ideal?"

He now directed his eyes to meet mine.

"It depends on the person and the ideal." He said calmly.

"Let's say that person sees things what others cannot. He wants to change those things, to change the world, to cure the world's pain. But in doing so he is bound to live in solitude, unhappiness, to the point of self-sacrifice. Is it fate that is leading that person or an illusion? Is it the right decision?"

At first he didn't say anything. Then,, after there was a thunderous roar in the sky, he began speaking:

"There are three kinds of people in this world, Alec. The first are those, who live only for themselves. They are happy, as long as they have what they need: food, home, pleasure. The majority of people are like that. Then there are those, who live for others. Their friends and family come before themselves. They are the kind ones, responsible, good and happy, as long as the people around them are happy. A person, who makes others happy, cannot be sad, right? The last kind is those, who live for the Universe. They are the ones with grandiose dreams, ideas, thinking. They're not confined by prejudice, because they connect with the real life. For them every single day is a new experience.

It is all in the way you look at the world, Alec. If you see the world through the eyes of pain and hatred, then that is what it will be."

Every word he said resonated in my mind. I left him, maybe, with the thought that I was talking about myself. I was feeling better, not cheered up, but grandpa's words had an effect on me. Now I was considering other things.

Later that day I had an unexpected visit. The doorbell rang and grandma called me. I was really surprised when I got downstairs and saw Nia.

"Here he is. Alec, you have a visitor." Grandma said, smiling from ear to ear. I could easily figure out what she was thinking, there being a girl wanting to see me. But I was more interested in what Nia was doing here. I could have easily avoided an embarrassing situation however grandpa too decided to join us and see what was going on.

"Are my eyes lying to me or has a beautiful angel visited our house? I may be old, but thou' can see into my soul: a feather there is, not aging from the years. Angel, don't take me away. But if you must, then rather take Alec away with thou'!" And in a theatrical way he took her hand and kissed it.

If there was a moment in life when I wanted my grandparents to be normal ones now was a good time. Embarrassing was a weak word to describe what I felt. And I don't even imagine now Nia felt. But as I looked at her she seemed quite calm, maybe slightly amused by what had happened, not running away, screaming hysterically.

"If I am an angel, then that is only because I have a certain devil to take care of. My name is Nia. I'm pleased to meet you. You're wonderful people." She said with ease.

I instantly knew who she was talking about. But be it parents and grandparents, always thinking for their children, they misunderstood it. And both had silly grins on their faces, like they were two year olds.

"Alec, what wicked thing have you done to this young lady?" Grandpa spoke, trying to act serious.

I couldn't take it anymore. I grabbed Nia by the hand and headed upstairs.

"Give it a rest already. Geez! Act your own age for once!" I said irritated.

"Oh, will you be acting your own age up there too?"

"Grandma!" I yelled.

"Hohoho, I couldn't stop myself. Sorry, sweety. Nia, it was nice meeting you." Although there was that loving look in her eyes, I could tell she was barely managing not to laugh.

"Have fun up there, but not too much. You might get overexcited." Grandpa had the last word.

Uhh... What is it with these grandparents?!

When we got to my room I had to apologize, obviously:

"Nia, I'm sorry that they embarrassed you like that. They don't know their age."

"Oh, no, don't apologize. You have great grandparents. And I think that they only embarrassed you." She said giggling. "But I was wondering could you let go of my hand now?"

I then realized that I was still holding onto her hand. Again embarrassed...

"Oh, yeah, sorry about that..." I said nervously.

"So this is your room, huh? Has a different atmosphere than a home on wheels. But it has a definite resemblance to Zac's. Boy's room is a boy's room."

"Ohh, sorry about the mess..."

"Stop apologizing already. We're friends, right?" She said smiling.

"Yeah, of course..."

"I'll just sit on the bed."

"No, don't!" I instantly yelled. "I mean it's not that comfortable. Here, take the chair."

Well, she was right. A boy's room is a boy's room, if you know what I mean.

"You're probably wondering why I am here, right? I made Zac tell me where you live, so I can come and talk with you."

"Talk about what?" I asked slightly confused.

"About him..." She looked at me, her blue eyes meeting my brown. She had an angel face, no doubt!

"Oh..." ...was all I could say.

"I know what happened last night. I'll say I'm sorry for that, but it is his job to do it. I want to ask you what do you think about him, about Zac?" Her eyes widened as she said it.

"What do I think?"

"Yeah, what do you think? What do his words mean to you? Do you find them stupid or amusing? Are you capable of laughing at them or treasure them?"

This was the moment to say what I really have been thinking.

"Zac is... amazing. I mean, before we met, even if it was for such short time and those things happened, I was used to the monotonous days, one after the other, nothing really happened, nothing changed day through day. He isn't like the rest. He brought something new to me... At least that was, what I was thinking, but I understand now that it isn't just about me. I am not saying that what he wants to do is stupid, he has ideals, something greater to accomplish. But, I wonder, is the road he has taken the right one, because in the end he will have brought peace to all, but himself. You too, Nia, said he was lonely, but why? Aren't you beside him?"

She got up and came close to me, looking me in the eyes.

"He was right. You do have purity in your eyes, purity and innocence. That is what beauty is made from." Like before I was startled and she just sat on the chair again. "His heart is elsewhere, Alec. He has overcome the ego-self, resting in all of us, to replace it with the vision of the whole world. I can't reach him there.

Do you understand? He is self-sacrificing himself for something he believes is the right thing to do. He suffers from the same pain he is trying to erase from the world, because of that there is great solitude in his soul."

The room was quiet, the rain still continuing to fall outside. I was silent, I couldn't say anything. After a while she continued:

"I can't be next to him, Alec. He doesn't let me into his world. I tried and I couldn't. He is still searching for a way to deal with the world's pain. But he needs someone to stand beside him, maybe someone to free him, break his chains and show him the right path through all of this." She stopped again, looking me in the eyes. "Do you know why I tell you these things? Why I came, even if Zac didn't want me to?"

I just shook my head. The moment was too tense.

"You are special to him, Alec. He took interest in you -- something he has not done with anyone else. You can show him the way."

But I stopped her, seeing where this was going.

"No, Nia. I don't think... Uhh... I mean, he said it himself that we will probably never meet again. You will soon leave and what? We are just passing through each other's lives and that's it."

"He thought that he was getting too attached and decided to do such stupid thing before things got complicated. He had his back against you, right? That's because he couldn't look you in the eyes. And are you being honest with yourself, Alec? I can see it in your eyes that he means something to you and for that I am happy that Zac met you."

"But..."

"Listen to me, Alec. Spend the time you have together. Fill it with moments of amazement and joy. There are things that only he can tell you. Don't remember the past, don't think about the future. They are both manifested right now in this series of moments that we call life." I really forgot about the meaning of those words. "Come to the fair tomorrow. That is all I wanted to say." And she got up to leave.

"Wait... What if he doesn't want to see me?"

"He wants to, Alec, believe me."

"How are you so sure?"

There was a wide grin on her face.

"It's because he likes you, silly!" And she was gone before I could even realize what she said.

And when I did my heart nearly stopped. I couldn't breathe. I fell onto bed, my stomach feeling weird. There was laughter downstairs, no doubt grandpa again with his jokes, seeing Nia off, probably asking about me, but I didn't register any of that. Zac liked me! Where did that come from? And suddenly like a flash of lightning it came to me! Could it be that I liked him too? The feeling was mutual...

 

 

I was at the circus tonight. This time I bought my own ticket. It was strange when mine and Zac's eyes would meet, since we were both surely thinking about the same thing -- each other, that which left me without sleep the whole night.

I was sweating, nervous and absolutely not myself. If he had this effect on me from a distance imagine what would be to be close to him!

The plan was to talk to him after the show, but when it ended he was nowhere to be found. Nia saw me looking for him and she came to me.

"That idiot... He is probably in his motorhome. I will go see and talk..."

But I didn't let her finish. A feeling of confidence that came from nowhere was now overtaking all of my previous feelings.

"'No, don't worry. I'll go see him." And I quickly walked away.

I remembered the place from where we left with Zac the other night. When Nia said motorhome I thought it was something like a trailer or a caravan, but it really was a huge motorhome and Nia did mention it was his. He lived in it by himself!

There was a light coming from the window. He was here. At first I hesitantly raised my hand to knock, but even I didn't hear that, so the second time was a little more confident. I waited, but no one opened the door, there was no sound from the inside either. I knocked again.

"Hey, Zac... It's Alec. Can we... talk?" But again no one answered.

I then put my hand on the door handle and before my mind, or even conscious, figured what their owner was doing I opened the door. Only when the door opened I regretted it and wished that it was locked. Despite that, my desire to see him was stronger. As I put my foot on the first step, my heart was already beginning to beat like never before, but I continued.

Last time I didn't see how spacious it really was in here. There was a table and a long sofa on one side. Opposite, on the wall, was a huge flat screen TV, then a kitchen and other furniture and appliances. And still there was a lot of room left. If I said only that, it wouldn't sound like a boy's room. However it was pretty much a mess, just like mine. CD's, clothes, stuff lying here and there. Hehe, he wasn't so different in this part. I didn't dare touch anything, but something caught my attention. It was a picture, a boy, a woman and a man. I instantly recognized the green eyes, the same as the woman's.

All of a sudden I heard a door open behind me and when I turned my jaw dropped and my heart exploded. Zac was standing there... naked... in a towel around his waist. My eyes instinctively traveled from his wet dripping hair, down his neck and chest and abs -- a striking well-defined body, then further down to his crouch, which was visible, because the towel was tightly wrapped around him. My dreaming lustful gaze was interrupted when he spoke.

"Alec, what are you doing here?" His voice was surprised.

"I... uhh...umm... I came to..." I struggled for words, but the view in front of me wasn't letting me concentrate.

"Never mind. I was going to come to your house, so it doesn't matter." He, obviously, wasn't bothered by the fact he had no close on.

"Oh?" It was all I could say. Again being an idiot.

"Yeah, I want to apologize for the other night."

"No, you don't have to. I'm the one who should. You're the one who saved me after all."

"No, let me do this! Just stop talking and accept my apology." With that he came close and offered me his hand. I nearly melted when I felt the sensation of holding it.

"Do you want to hang out? Go somewhere?" He asked.

"Okay."

"Just let me change into something else, hehe."

"I'll wait outside." I was really on the edge here. A little more excitement and...

"No! I mean, you don't have to. Just sit on the couch. I'll come in a minute."

I did as he told me, thinking if I could even get more excited that I am now. He went to the back where there was a door. I remembered that it was there I had woken after that incident. However much to my surprise he left the door slightly opened. Well, of course I looked in that direction. I tried to convince myself not to, but come on! But then I saw his towel drop onto the floor and then he took a step behind! I could see him naked! At least half of him and it was the behind half! I wasn't dreaming, right? It was real! I could barely control myself at that moment. It was just too much!

Soon he came, illuminating the room even brighter. Before, I thought about what that feeling of attraction to him was. But now when my thoughts wandered off I found out. He was hot!

"Shall we go?" He asked innocently.

I had adjusted my pants, so that there was no visible excitement, but I could tell he was stealing peeks. This was so not accidental.

"Where do you wanna go?" I asked him as we got outside.

"Wherever you take me. Just not here in the fair. I've had enough of it."

"I know a place where we could be alone." I realized right away what had I blurred out. I was still in my dreamy state. "I mean just the two of us... Uhh... That is... If..."

"Oh, it's okay. We don't need other people. Lead the way." I relaxed, after hearing his voice.

I decided to take him to my favorite place on the hill. It was dark, but I knew my way well.

We were chatting the whole way through the park, but as we started climbing the path, be it during nighttime, he was often tripping.

"Give me your hand. I'll guide you. I know this path well." I said.

"Okay." And again the sensation was amazing. "You're not going to do something to me in the woods, are you?" He said giggling.

"Hehe, no... I wouldn't do it like this." I was beginning to relax around him.

"Where are we going?" He asked.

"I come here when I want to get away from things, where no one would disturb me."

We got up there and sat under the oak tree. The city down in front of us was shining from the lights. The stars above us, scattered in the sky, were also beaming.

"Wow, this is an awesome place. You can see everything from here. You're even closer to the stars."

"Hehe, I'm glad you like it." I said smiling.

"You are amazing, Alec." He said out of nowhere.

This time I wasn't going to be all self-conscious.

"You say amazing, but the other day you said we were never going to see each other again."

"Yeah... I'm s... sorry about that." He said lowering his head to his feet.

Was this Zac? He wasn't being himself -- that confident, straightforward boy I met. As we sat there under the tree I felt the need to do something. This moment was special, now or never.

"Hey..." I said as I lifted his chin to meet my eyes. It was then that they connected, soul touching another soul, they stayed like that even when we both closed them. The magical moment that followed was inexpressible. Our lips touched, our hands traveled each other's backs. We were kissing until we had no breath left. Then he surprised me as he got on top of me and we lay on the grass. His face was close to mine. I felt his breathing, felt his scent. Our eyes were locked in a gaze. There was no need for words. He pressed himself on top of me, our bodies connecting as one. I couldn't take it anymore and I put a hand behind his head and pushed him for another kiss.

I don't know how long it has been but at one time he pulled away and said:

"I'm not dreaming, am I, Alec? Because if I am and I wake up I doubt I will ever feel like this again."

"It's real, it is all real, Zac. I want to know you. Let me be by your side. Tell me about the pain, you don't have to be alone."

"I don't want you to know those things, Alec. Those, who don't gain knowledge, are the happy ones; those, who know about the world, are not. I don't want you to lose that purity I saw in your eyes."

"No! I'll not leave you alone. I'll be right next to you. To share and experience every sorrow and every joy."

"But... why do..."

"You ask even now... It's because I... love you!"

The rest of the night we talked, we laughed, we shared far too many kisses. He opened my eyes for a whole new other world. Things I've never paid attention to before, details that I didn't see.

"How come you are traveling by yourself? I saw a picture back there. It was you and your parents, right?"

"Yeah, they're not here anymore." He said looking at the stars.

"Oh... I'm sorry." You would think we were bound by fate.

"No, there's no need." He said this time looking at me.

"Will you... tell me?"

"Are you sure about this? I haven't told anyone else, except for Nia, and I..."

"Shh..." I put my finger on his lips. "Tell me everything. I can handle it."

We were in each other's embrace when he started.

"My parents were doctors. I was little when it happened. Even so, I clearly remember them both. They were traveling around the world, taking me with them most of the time. There was this conflict thing in Africa. They were sent as military doctors. I had just learned to ride my bike and I wanted to show dad. I was constantly asking grandma when they were going to return. But... they never did... They were taking care of the injured after a bloodbath had happened. Among the injured was a soldier from the enemy. As doctors they were obliged to help him, but they were going to do it unconditionally whatever the person was." He started to shake a little as he talked and I held him tight. "When the man had woken he had went into hysteria, craziness, I don't know what. He probably thought why those people, working for the enemy, helping him. So he... he killed them... he killed the people who had helped him... he killed my parents." There was a short silence, in which only the wind was heard. "I won't tell you, Alec, how that can affect a child. To wake up every day and ask where your mom and dad are..."

I held him tight whispering:

"I know. I know how you feel. I'm... the same."

I told him about my parents, about the car accident and after that. He was listening the whole time, holding my hands.

"It is as if fate has really brought us together, to meet each other. Do you think they're up there?" He asked pointing at the sky. "Do they have something to do with this?"

"I wish only that they don't blame themselves for what happened. We were in pain, but I don't want to think about them, not being next to their children..." I said, giving more thought to the matter. "But I hope that they were not watching what we did before, because it would be really embarrassing."

"Hehe, I hope not." His smile was so precious.

"So why are you in a circus?" I finally asked.

"After I found out about what happened years later something began to change in me or I was just finding real self. You know it yourself, life without parents is difficult. I took interest in biology and medicine. My parents taught me a lot of things, even if I was little, but there was so much more to learn. I wanted to continue what they did. But things weren't like that around me. I was always the different one, always the problem child in school, even at home. A lot of things happened I will not tell you now. At those times I began to wonder about the world, about people, why things happen like this. What my parents did, I consider something a normal person would do -- to save a life! But why did that man killed the ones who saved him? And that was only the start. Wherever I go after that I would see such things, as if they were following me. Pain, sorrow, grief, that were caused by actions, which were influenced by hatred. Everywhere! In the whole world! I asked myself why people hate each other, why do they do such horrible things, why don't they see the love. We accept the pain, because we have no other way of beating it. That is why every person has learned through their life that he can't escape from it. It's something awful, yet we treat it like experience, from which we learn, which makes us stronger, but we just build bigger walls when we think it may come again. People don't learn to live because they suffer. They learn to live because they don't ever want to feel like that again. I realized that it was not that simple when I discovered the essence of something bigger, which feasted on human emotions, something that is passed on throughout generations. Few people understand; the others just keep unknowingly supporting it. It's everywhere in our history, yet we think it will end in our time. I, however, think like that, I strive for the same. To end it! To end the world's pain!" There was a slight pause. "Later I went through a tough period. Was I the only one who saw those things? I was confused by the hypocrisy of the same people who received that pain, only to give it to someone else. That's when the cycle revealed itself to me. Did they not see? I started judging people, first in my mind, then in reality. How could they feel happy, when others around them were not?! How could they not care?! They never answered me. I realized that I can't judge anyone. It's not how it should be done. It was two years ago I met Nia. She was traveling with her father doing shows. We became friends. And soon I was along with them. The role of the circus is an important part in all the events. Acrobats, clowns, musicians, artists -- those who I came to knew were one part of the idea, the other was the crowd. They would come to see the show, come to entertain themselves and I watched and sort of studied them. That was all while travelling, seeing all kinds of places, meeting all kinds of people. I searched for an answer." He finished and looked at me. "Are you okay, Alec?"

I got really emotional at the start. His every word was like happening in front of me, feeling it with my soul.

"There is no greater pain than to remember a happy time when one is in misery. I now understand what that means." I said.

"Dante... Yeah... it is written as well. Then why is it like this?" But he wasn't asking me. He maybe said it to the stars, aimlessly.

We stayed for another hour, talking, looking at the sky, kissing. Our time however had to come to an end. But that's when he said:

"I don't know the places around here, but would you let me take you on a date?" Hehe, he's back to his straightforward self.

"Do you have a limo and a mansion?" I giggled.

"Who needs them? But I do have a surprise for tomorrow, so you'll have to come."

"What is it? Tell me! Or you'll not get your goodnight kiss." I teased him.

"You'll see tomorrow, I'm not telling. As for the kiss, I may as well steal it from you, just like I did with a few touches when we were kissing tonight." He grinned.

"Oh, I did felt those! Want me to return the favor?"

"Hehe, you're not going to seduce me. Look, we're in front of your house. So I say you goodnight." He started to walk away.

"You know I won't be able to sleep, right?"

"Still, I won't tell you what it is."

"I'm not talking about your surprise, doofus. I'm talking about you, about tonight."

He stopped.

"It was amazing tonight, Alec. You're incredible." Yeah, like he didn't know himself.

We shared a few kisses before he left.

 

 

"Are you ready?" Zac whispered in my ear.

He had covered my eyes for the surprise. For all I know we were back to the fair, but nothing more.

"Hehe, yeah, show me already."

He removed his hands...

"What? This is the arena."

 

There are no words to explain how great it felt to spend a day with him. The whole day was like being in paradise. When I got up in the morning I couldn't stop giggling to myself when I remembered last night and the date with Zac.

"Someone's in a good mood today." Grandma said during breakfast.

"Want me to guess?" Grandpa said. "It has something to do with that angel, right?"

"In a particular way -- yes, but it's not because of her. I'm just happy."

"Hehe, and that's the way it should be."

After that I got ready. Zac was going to wait for me in front of the fair entrance. I struggled with what to wear, but managed to look stunning enough for his eyes, hehe. But he obviously did a better job, as it came like shock to me. He was gorgeously hot! Will I keep it under control the whole day? We were surely to touch, bump into each other, even when talking, or a glance. I wouldn't manage to resist his eyes.

"You're beautiful, you know that?" He said as I got closer.

"And have you looked yourself in the mirror?"

"I try to see the reflection in your eyes, but I keep getting lost there."

"Hehe, okay, okay. Where do you want to go?"

I took him around the city, hanging out, having fun. We then went to eat and after that to see a movie. Moments like these hold the true meaning of happiness and fulfillment in life. There was no trace of pain, no feeling of it, neither in Zac's, neither in my eyes. Something deeper now connected us that did not made us forget it, but rather pass through it and stand on top. What you feel inside is what you see outside. But I had no time for these thoughts. My attention was devoted to Zac.

I was excited like a little kid about the surprise and asked him all the time, hehe. But while we were in the cinema he took my hand in his and said:

"Alec, let's just enjoy this. But I don't know how much of a surprise it will be, since it involves the two of us, hehe."

"The two of us doing what?" I asked curiously.

"You'll see. But don't think too perverted thoughts. I want you here." He giggled.

 

"What? This is the arena." I said as he removed his hands. "Are we gonna do it here?" I grinned.

He hit me lightly in the shoulder and said:

"No, listen!"

I heard music coming from somewhere and it was getting louder.

"Come on." Zac said and took my hand.

"What? You're kidding, right?"

"Nope, we're going to dance, hehe. The arena is perfect, there is no one around."

Wow! I didn't expect this!

"You know how to surprise someone."

"Only you..." He said as he pulled me close to him.

"This is amazing. I never... I..."

"Shh... just feel the music, feel my touch, relax."

Again time was of no importance, we lost track of it, like it didn't exist for us then and there. The change that I wanted to happen in my life had already started the moment I met Zac.

He pressed me against himself and put his hands on my waist. I could feel the warmth from him. My body followed his, feeling the soft music.

But I could feel his grip getting stronger. At one time he whispered in my ear:

"Five days, Alec... I'll leave in five days..." His voice was trembling.

"That doesn't matter now. This moment is ours." I whispered back.

After a while he relaxed.

"Yeah, you're right." And he laid his head on my shoulder.

The emotional moment lasted until we were both tired. I felt that there was nothing that could separate us when we were holding each other... being together forever... There was no pain, it was not even happiness. It was an omnipotent universal feeling that connected our souls. The music transported us into our world, where there was no need for words. Only a look into his green eyes and I could tell what he was thinking.

After the music stopped we were still standing in the center of the arena, holding each other, not wanting to let go. We shared a tender kiss.

"Isn't it time we call it a night." I said.

"Yeah..."

"In your house..." And before he could say anything, he understood from the look in my eyes what I meant. I took him by the hand and lead the way.

Soon we were in his bedroom kissing, our hands traveling underneath our shirts, feeling the skin. The moon was illuminating the room, adding a touch of romance to the atmosphere. I lifted his shirt and threw it on the floor. He did the same to me. The sensation from our bodies touching was arousing us even more. As my hands caressed his back, I felt how he slid his in my pants, gripping my ass. At the same time he pressed me tightly against him. I pushed him on the bed and began kissing his neck. The sensation was overthrowing and he began to moan and whimper, his fingers traveling through my hair. I worked my way down to his nipple, hearing him almost scream in ecstasy. Then I went down further with my tongue to his naval, moving in circles around it. I could see the lust in his eyes, the deep green sparkling in the dark, wanting me to go further down. I unbuttoned his pants and slid them down and teased him a little by breathing closer to his crouch through his underwear. It was driving him crazy. Then I removed his underwear and he was now naked in front of my eyes. I took a moment to take a look at him and enjoy the view, but he did not stand still. As I was standing on my knees on top of him, him between my legs, he reached out for the tent in my pants and started stroking it. Soon I found myself naked lying on top of him. His hands were again on my ass cheeks and he was pressing us even more. I was grinding into him, unable to control the excitement, our legs were entangled, our dicks pressed against each other. I could feel his heart and the warmth that our bodies shared. Body on body, soul to soul -- we were becoming like one, connected not only physically, but spiritually as well. We were still kissing during all this time, without even taking a breath. But the anxiety could not be held anymore. Zac began to moan wildly.

"I'm gonna..." And the same time both of us erupted, the warm juices mixing between us.

We were both panting, trying to catch our breaths.

"Wow..." Was all I could say.

"You're amazing." He said as he kissed me. "You don't necessarily have to go home, right?"

"Do you even have to ask?"

I stayed the night with him, in his embrace, many times repeating our love sessions until we were both tired.

 

 

The next few days were the best in my whole life. We were together the whole time, except for when he had to work, but even then I was in the audience unsatisfyingly watching him the whole time.

I decided I would show him my home, but again instantly regretted it when my grandpa saw us. It was good that it was only him, but it was too late to avoid him.

"Alex, I'll have a heart attack, if you keep bringing these angels here." Grandpa said, again with his eloquence. "Hi, nice to meet you, I'm Alec's grandpa." And he extended his arm.

Before I could say anything, Zac took his hand and said:

"Nice to meet you sir. I'm Zac." He said in his charming voice. "But don't worry, if I cause you a heart attack, I can take care of you. My parents were doctors, so I know what to do."

I knew that look in grandpa's eyes when he is interested in something.

"To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art..." He started.

And then Zac continued:

"... to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; to look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art."

"But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts." Grandpa said last.

I stood there, wondering what just happened.

"What was that?" I asked.

"Don't you have common knowledge?" Grandpa said. "It's the Hippocratic Oath." Then he moved his eyes towards Zac. "You're an interesting boy, Zac." I knew he wouldn't last long before he joked again. "Alec, why don't you have an accident, so that Zac can be a good doctor and help you?" He laughed.

"Can't you be normal for once?" I said irritated.

"If by normal you mean boring and not being myself, then -- no."

"Actually I have already played doctor on him." Zac said out of nowhere.

The words startled me and I looked at him.

"Hehe, what?" He said innocently.

"Oh, is that so?" Grandpa looked at the two of us. "Alec must have been lucky. Why don't you two join me for tea?"

"Actually we..." But before I could finish, Zac had answered.

"Sure, we'd love to."

"I'll go make some then." And grandpa headed for the kitchen.

I pulled Zac aside.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"What do you mean?" He looked me with those green eyes.

"I mean about the tea and the doctor part. I was thinking of having some fun."

"And we'll still have it." He grinned at me. "But why are you so annoyed? Your grandpa is awesome and..." His voice lost its excitement for a moment. "... It's just that I always wanted one like yours. Mine didn't exactly knew what to do with his only grandchild and he wasn't a model for one either. He was just some grumpy old man. I'm sor..."

But I kissed him, before he could say that meaningless part.

"Let's go to the living room. And, if he asks you, don't get too graphic on what you were treating me for, doctor."

"Hehe, pervert."

The first thing that caught his eye when we entered the living room was the huge collection of books.

"Wow, you have a lot of books here." He said as he skipped to the shelves, just like a little boy.

"Well, they're not mine. Grandpa..."

"Oh, nonsense. Could books belong to anybody?" He was standing at the doorway with the cups of tea.

"Take your time, Zac. There is some interesting stuff there."

"You have my favorite." He said.

"Oh, which is that?"

"The catcher in the rye, Salinger."

I was sitting on the couch and didn't take part in the conversation. But, I thought, maybe this wasn't a bad idea. I was, somewhat, proud of Zac, because grandpa liked him. I mean, like me, he could see that he was different. My thoughts wandered somewhere else. What was his life before the circus? What exactly did he have to endure? He and I have become part of the circle of pain, as we have both lost our parents. But for him to see things from such an angle, that had never occurred to me before... What has really happened to him?

Right now I was grateful that I had a grandpa like that, who, like me, can really talk to him and understand him. He was, maybe, the only other person, who could do that.

Zac came and sat next to me.

"And what intrigues you about the catcher?" Grandpa asked him.

"I have the same dream as Holden -- to become a catcher in the rye." His green eyes sparkled.

"It's a beautiful, yet lonely dream, Zac." Grandpa sighed.

"He is not alone, grandpa. I mean, he has me as a friend." I said.

Grandpa looked into my eyes. I think he figured out who I was talking about that day.

"Those children, who fall into the abyss, metaphorically the adult world, I want to save them. When they get close to the abyss, I want to catch them and bring them back to the rye, where they will never experience neither pain, nor anybody's judgment for who they are. That want them to know and all other people that that rye is a special place in our lives, from where children do not leave. They are forced to fall into the abyss. And I want to be there to catch them."

When he finished I realized that I was holding his hand. It must have happened by instinct, but I didn't want to let go. Then grandpa suddenly said:

"Alec, why don't you leave us alone for a while?"

"What are you up to?" I asked, confused by his suggestion.

"Oh, it's nothing." But the look in his eyes wasn't the usual easy-going kind.

I left them alone and went to sit on the staircase, wondering what was he gonna say to him.

It was about twenty minutes later that they both came out from the living room. I searched for Zac's eyes, but they were locked to the floor.

"I'm going out now. You boys have fun. I think normal grandpas would say: and don't do anything stupid, but stupid is fun, hehe." He laughed and headed outside.

He was his usual self, but what about Zac?

"Hey, you okay?" I asked him.

"Hehe, I'll say it again: your grandpa is awesome!"

"I know. He got it from me." I joked.

"And am I going to receive something from you?" He looked at me with his gorgeous eyes. "He did say to have fun, didn't he? And I've wanted to see your collection of action figures in your room." He said as he took me in his arms and kissed me.

"I so don't have those." I said between breaths.

"Let's go and see, shall we?"

I don't know what did grandpa really tell him, but the fact was he was so happy and excited that he couldn't be tamed... in bed that is, hehe.

 

 

However I could feel a little sadness from him at times. It lasts no more than, but it is there. Of course, I could instantly tell what was on his mind. The laughs and fun we shared would eventually come to an end...

It wasn't until the day before he would leave that it happened.

We weren't very eager to do anything, so we were just lying in the bed at my room. Neither of us wanted to say something, to break this silence, knowing that the closeness between us would soon be only something to remember. And that thought was not giving me rest. We avoided it, but now, at last, we must face it. But can a relationship, like the one we had, suddenly break?

"So, tomorrow..." I finally said, but didn't have the courage to continue. But Zac's eyes were fixed to the ceiling and he didn't react. "Zac, hey."

"Oh, what is it?" He didn't hear me.

"What do you... umm... you know... about tomorrow. What is going to happen with us?" I shivered as I said those words.

He was quiet again.

"Some idiot, like the one, who wanted to rob you, was bothering Nia yesterday."

"Is she okay?" I asked concerned.

"Yeah. Luckily there were people around her. But that occurrence made me remember something, Alec. It was not that serious, but it brought up all of the other stuff."

"What do you mean?"

"I never intended to stop, Alec, even for a minute. My mind was made up and it is the same now. Tomorrow I leave. But..." He didn't finish.

A mixture of feelings flowed through me. Hurt, betrayed, saddened? It's not like I expected him to stay here...

"Then what am I to you, Zac?" I said, my voice rising. "This thing was bound to happen, but we waited till the end."

"I know. I know! But what do you want me to do?" He had tears in his eyes by now.

"Just don't say goodbye like that and leave! It hurts, it will hurt!"

"You think I don't know? You think I won't be hurt? You mean a lot to me, Alec. But I can't stay."

"A lot, huh... I don't want you to stay, Zac. I just want to be with you."

He didn't say anything. After a while he spoke:

"There are others, beside you, Alec." I felt hurt. "No, Alec, I didn't mean it to sound like that."

"Zac, what are you trying to be? You can't cure the pain from the world! Not like this!"

"I'll try, at least.''

"And where would that lead you?! Are you just gonna leave like that?"

"Do you know what your grandpa told me?" He looked into my eyes. "He said: take him with you. Simple, just like that... That is why I was happy. But I'm not so sure now. I'm confused. The times we spent together were awesome. But there was always the thought in my mind, that when we were having a good time, someone elsewhere wasn't. It felt like a sin, Alec. My conscience couldn't disregard that thought. I'm sorry. Even if you come with me, I don't know what will happen... I can't inflict this upon you."

He stood up, ready to leave the room.

"You could say I'm selfish by wanting to be with you, but you are even more by burdening yourself and carrying it alone."

"I know, but few are those, who can understand." There was a silence between us. "Goodbye, Alec." His voice was trembling, sorrowful.

"Don't! Not like this!"

"It is better this way. I'll remember the time we had together." His eyes were in tears.

My vision, too, was blurred.

"Zac!" I cryed.

But he left the room...

 

To just say I was devastated would be a light figure of speech. Unable to accept the present, my mind traveled to the times we had together. But every time the facts forced themselves and I was in more pain than before. I lost track of time. Was it day or night? I cried in my pillow like never before. The excruciating feeling of emptiness, that that person will never be next to me again, brought that long forgotten solitude and displeasure from life. But there was a stronger pain now. I had realized it when I was with Zac. I loved him! And because of that I wanted to save him... from himself.

"You realized something now, right?" A voice in my room said.

"G-G-Grandpa... How long have you..." But that wasn't important right now. "What... time it is?"

"It's morning." He calmly said.

I then hear the splashing sound from outside.

"Is it raining?"

"Yes. But this one has a different feeling. More like depressing, heavy, rayless."

"He must be gone by now."

"Oh, no. The fair has settled down, but they're not going to leave in this rain."

"I'm gonna take a walk outside."

I got up and as I passed grandpa, he put a hand on my shoulder:

"Just be true to your emotions. Both of you, okay?"

By then my eyes were again in tears. I hugged him tight.

"Thank you." I muttered between sobs. "You don't know how proud I am, that I have someone like you and grandma."

He put his arms around me.

"Go now. He is waiting."

"How do you know?" I asked, still in tears.

"There is a bound between you. He won't leave you."

The rain was really pouring outside. I couldn't see far. But it relaxed me, as I stepped under it. I knew what to do, so I headed for the fair. But not far from the house there was a figure on the street.

"I can't go!" He shouted. It was raining heavily, but from his voice and the look on his face, I could tell there were tears coming from his eyes. "I-I just... You're..."

I didn't say anything. I just got close to him and took him in my hands, hugged him tight. We were now just two boys, standing under the rain; two boys, who love each other; two boys, who shared the same pain. The rest of the world didn't matter.

"Everyone deserves happiness, Zac. If you want to remove all of the pain in the world, you first have to remove it from inside you." We were soaking wet, but held each other, afraid to let go. I continued. "If you want the world to be happy, you have to be too. If you want the world to be filled with love, you have to find love. If you want to change the world, you have to change. The outer world is a reflection to your inner."

"I want to change, Alec. I so want it, if it means to be with you, but..." His voice was trembling.

"Let me help you. Together... You said you were searching for a way, a path. I want to be with you, beside you, so that together we find it."

"I can't be a good friend... I don't know if..."

But I didn't let him finish.

"Shh... There exists a stronger word for that. Bounded by love, with our souls linked... boyfriends, partners through life, soul mates."

We knew then, that we couldn't be separated. It was perpetuated by a kiss, under the falling rain, into each other's embrace.

 

About an hour later I returned home, wet from head to toe. As I passed the living room, I saw grandpa and grandma sitting there. I went in.

"I'm going." I simply said.

They both exchanged looks. Grandma got up and hugged me.

"I wish your mom and dad were here right now." She said.

"They're watching. They are with their boy." Grandpa said. "It will be good once in a while to act as a grandpa should." He stood up and went to the bookshelves and took a book. "Here." He handed it to me. "It was your father's favorite. I doubt it is a coincidence that it is Zac's too." He smiled. "It will be lonely without you, Alec. But don't listen to my old ramblings."

"I love you both."

The rain had stopped, the sky was bright. The rays were making their way through the clouds. I had packed what I needed and was now headed to my new home on wheels. This summer something had really changed.

 

9 August 2011

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