I scoff at him. ”Oh, please. Stop making me blush, ” I say in a sarcastic way.

Okay, I try to sound sarcastic but I was really trying to hide a smile trying to form.

He just calmly chuckles and stops in front of a flower shop, leans on a wall to face the store. ”You know. ” I stop as well. ”I want to own a flower shop someday. ”

I tilt my head in confusion. ”Huh? Well, Im sure youll own one someday. ”

He looks at me with a small smile. ”But Im allergic to pollen. ”

It makes me more confused. What am I supposed to do with this information? Is he saying that I should be the one to own a flower shop for him?

”My… mom. She likes collecting flowers, putting them in frames. Thats why I want to own one someday, but I think thats kind of impossible. ”

I pull my gaze away from him and I cross my arms in front of me. ”Theres nothing impossible. Maybe you won be able to open a flower shop but I think you can do something that will make you achieve your dream while considering your situation. ” I shrug. ”But then again thats just how I look at it. ”

I see him smirk from my peripheral vision and that somehow makes me smile as well. Once again, we fell silent. We were just looking at the flower shop, some people going in, the owner (Im guessing) arranging flowers, and other people passing by. And this doesn feel in any way awkward or uncomfortable at all. Its quite therapeutic for me, if Ill be honest.

Many thoughts are running in my head, questions left unanswered, thoughts that are making my mind messed up. But theres one particular thing I couldn ignore.

I harshly turn my head to look at him, my eyebrows furrowed. He looks at me. I gave this a lot of thought before saying it.

”Okay, Im saying this because I think we won see each other again. ”

He laughs while nodding his head. ”Alright. Its better to tell your problems to a stranger. ” He shrugs.

I take a deep breath and completely face him. ”Lets not overreact about this, yeah? No violent reactions. ” I shake my head fervently.

He just nods once, looking at me with anticipation, waiting for me to start talking. It really is odd that we
e having this conversation here, in the middle of a mall.

Whatever. Lets just do this. ”I actually work for my parents. Yeah, weird. ” I awkwardly laugh. ”Its- Its a long story. But you know, heres another secret. ” I take a pause. Am I saying too much?

”My real dream is to write. ”

He hums, fingers holding his chin. What is he thinking? ”I kinda figured out the working for your parents thing. But with the writer thing… ” he pauses. ”Well, I kinda did, too. ”

I raise my brows at him, totally not expecting to get this kind of reaction from him. ”Then I guess we should forget that we had this conversation. ”

”No, no! I mean, the way you look at the kids doing what they love, the books, your knowledge about it. It kinda made sense. I just didn want to appear rude and ask you right then and there when we just met. ”

I nod understandingly. In the end I couldn really conceal what I felt right at that moment. Well, for one person it wasn well concealed, but for my parents, I think I did a fairly good job. Until when do I need to keep my dream like Im doing something so obscene.

”Its your dream, Gem. I, nor anyone, don get to have a say on it because its yours, but I hope you apply the advice you give to yourself. ” He shyly pats my shoulder and smiles at me.

”Would you want to go back now? Ill stay with you. ”

”Ill just wait for them here. You can go on. ” I give him a small bow. ”Thank you. ”

”Oh, please. Not the bow! ” He laughs while he waves his hand in disagreement. ”Then, Ill wait with you here. ”

e still a volunteer, you know that, right? ” I chuckle at him. Hes totally unpredictable. ”Besides, I can wait for them on my own. And you made a promise with the kid. ”

He shrugs. ”Ill go back in a while. ”

And I just don say anything. I just look at him again because I felt his eyes on me. ”What? ” I ask.

”Would you, perhaps, want to get fresh air? ”

”Well, if you want to, we can go. ” I retract my back that was pressed on the wall and stand in front of him. ”Lead the way, Mr. Volunteer. ”

He shakes his head a few times but he was smiling widely that it wouldn get to escape my eyes. Instead of him following me earlier, I stand beside him while he leads us to somewhere.

It was just outside the mall, our arms were placed on the railings as we look far away, to the buildings which seemed too small from where we were, the lights of the cars, the traffic, the people, and the sky which was slowly changing its color.

”Sometimes all you need is fresh air. ” He closes his eyes as the wind hits us. It was cold yet comforting. Just like him.

I didn even notice I was smiling already. Thats why I instantly look away when I see him opening his eyes.

”You know, if my parents are done with their speech and they notice Im not there, Im totally going to get grilled later but somehow, I don really care much about it. ” I smile bitterly, letting my hair block my view a little bit. ”I want to escape from reality even just for one day. ”

”Yeah. Thats for the future you to think about. For now, live in the present. ”

And we both laugh at how ridiculous we totally sound. But it makes sense. Lets live in the present and worry about the future when its its time. For now, I want to cherish this moment.

I don know how, but it suddenly is dark. I didn even notice how the sun had set until I got a text from Daniel. Its 6 pm. The people from the venue are starting to disperse, and for sure my parents aren there anymore. I can really say.

I stand up from where we were seated and I hold out my hand to help Theo stand up. ”Oh my god, its done. The events done. Please pray that my parents are still inside. ”

He takes my hand and helps himself stand up. ”Thank you. Now, lets go to your parents because I do not want to be accused of kidnapping. ”

I just shake my head and laugh though Im already, basically, running or just jogging. I do not even bother to look back at Theo, if Im leaving him behind. But I think thats less likely to happen with that long legs of his.

When I arrived outside the door, thankfully, they were just starting to exit. I exhaled in relief. I just need to wait for my parents and create an excuse as to why I disappeared.

As I was catching my breath, that just when I remember Theo and I see him standing right beside me, waiting with me, I think?

”You can go, you know, ” I say, almost laughing because he weirdly just stayed beside me when it wasn really required for him to.

He just needed to keep me company inside the venue but even outside, he was still with me. With my parents, outside the flower shop, on the railings where he helped me clear my mind, take my mind off of things.

He was just standing there, looking at me with a hesitant look on his face. ”But— ”

I smile to myself. ”Its okay. Youve been tailing me around all this time. I know you have things to do. ” I give him a wide smile to reassure him that I can handle this.

In the end, he sighs in defeat which made me chuckle. ”Alright, I guess it really is time for me to go. Youll be okay, right? ” he asks again.

I giggle, finding him oddly endearing. ”Yes. I promise. You really don act like your age. ”

He holds his hips and raises his brow at me. ”Okay, what do you mean by that? ”

I point at him. ”That! Exactly that. Sometimes you act like my dad, sometimes you act like a 10 year old child. ” This is actually the most that Ive laughed in a day. It feels great.

”Whatever. Ill really go now, okay? ” He waves his hand but still wasn walking away.

I nod at him. ”Yeah, go! You
e gonna take forever to shoo away, seriously. ”

Hes the one who laughs now. ”See you when I do, Hazel! ”

I wave back at him until I can see him anymore. Hazel? Did he forget my name? And I just smile to myself once again knowing that we will never see each other again. /Theres no see you when I do./

As if it was planned, when Theo and I weren together, my parents got out and as soon as I saw them, I walk towards them and escort them to their car.

And just like what I expected, I was bombarded with questions as soon as we were together. I gladly answered them all, without getting fazed with the made up excuses I tell.

Thankfully, they believed it and did not ask any more questions.

”We won be having dinner at home. Tomorrow, well be having a meeting, announce that to the board. Thatll be held at 9 am. Sharp, ” My mother says as we near their car.

”The report I was asking for, send it to my email. Ill be looking at it later, ” Father also adds.

I nod once, firmly. ”Alright. To inform you, Ive already booked your flight next week to Tokyo just like you requested. ”

They both answer me with a simple okay and enter their car, taking their phones out. When they are gone, I blow out air as I wait for Daniel to arrive. My phones in my hand, clenched tightly. I tap my shoes on the floor repeatedly and when I finally see the car, I wave so hell see me.

I enter hastily inside and see Daniel welcoming me with a wide smile, a paper bag in his hand. ”Good work today! ”

And that makes me smile instantly. ”Thank you. By the way, what are you holding? ”

”Hmm… ice cream? ” He laughs as he opens the bag, handing me the ice cream and a bottle of water.

I take it with a smile on my face. ”Why ice cream? You want some? ” Slowly, I open it to make sure I won make a mess. Daniels sweet like this, thoughtful. A dad Ive never had.

He shakes his head with much disagreement. ”Old people can eat those sweet things everytime. Enjoy it, okay? ”

e not that old, you know, ” I say as I taste the sweetness and feel how cold it is. Actually, its rather perfect since Im feeling down, and I feel like my heads about to explode so this is helping me cool down.

He drives carefully, occasionally looking at me to make sure that Im okay and I just smile at him, still eating.

”How was it? ” he suddenly asks me.

I tilt my head in confusion. ”Oh, the ice— ”

He bursts into laughter. ”No, no. I mean the workshop, darling. ”

My cheeks started to heat up, blushing in embarrassment. I thought he was asking about the ice cream. ”Oh! It was— It was good. Great, even. ”

”Oh? ” He raises his brow. ”Great, huh? ”

I nod. ”Well I was there for quite some time without my parents and I was accompanied by this peculiar guy. And other than that, I think it was great for me because it was cute! The kids and stuff. ” I smile awkwardly. I think I was too enthusiastic.

He nods as well. I can see him smile contentedly. ”Thats good. Was it enjoyable? Even when your parents arrived, you know? ” He was still being careful, though he knew Im comfortable talking to him about this.

”Yeah. I mean I got to hear some of their stories, see their drawings. It was heartwarming. ”

Maybe because I wished I experienced that, too, when I was a child. Freely expressing my thoughts, dreams. I wanted them to support me for what I really love to do, where my heart belongs, what really makes me happy.

But I can change the past so I won dwell on it any more. Talking about it with Daniel makes it different now. Its a simple gesture but with me not having the chance to talk about it to someone, its a big thing for me already. I feel comforted knowing that theres at least one person who believes in me even when the whole world doesn .

The whole ride he just let me blabber about the event, the interactions with Theo and the kids, and just everything. He never failed to give me answers, sometimes asking about things, and listened to me so attentively. He laughs when I do, smiles when I do, compliments me about the randomest things and we laugh about how corny it sounds.

This conversation has been the lengthiest Ive had my entire life. Well, except for business related ones. This is the most light hearted, heart warming. And I guess this is the most Ive talked in years, too.

”Tell me more tomorrow, okay? Rest well, Gem, ” he enthusiastically says, waving his hand while I get out of the car.

”M-hmm. You, too, Dan. See you tomorrow. Drive safely, okay? ” I close the door after and wave my hand until he reaches the gate.

I was happy, walking up the stairs to the front door. Approaching the big ass door, I hear scrabbling and screaming inside which makes me stiff and eyes widening.

And in reflex, my face turns blank, heart not even beating erratically. I am particularly good at handling nervous wrecking situations. Especially when it comes to my parents shouting and degrading at me.

I mentally prepare myself before entering and there I saw the maids talking to each other, some were trying to do something so they wouldn be yelled at because my father wasn in a good mood.

I take off my shoes before advancing to the stairs. One step and all I hear is my fathers loud screaming, my mothers probably inside with him, too. I hear papers also.

Once I reached his office, I knocked twice. ”This is Gem. The maids told me you
e asking for me? ”

The door opened and the first thing I see is my mom, shooting eye daggers at me as if I made a huge mistake and that makes me confused.

”Get inside. Your father needs to talk to you about something, ” she coldly says, letting me in and closing the door.

I stand in front of his desk, totally baffled about this whole situation. Im pretty sure I sent him the report he asked of me.

”Good Eveni— ”

I couldn finish my sentence as I was interrupted by flying papers thrown at me by my father. I stand up from almost bowing and look at him.

”One thing, Gem. I gave you one thing to do and you ** it up! Change it this instant if you still have some respect for the people whove raised you! You really can make yourself useful,
o? Useless child, ” he says the last sentence under his breath but it was enough for me to hear.

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