Chapter 2

    The day was as bright as ever, with the clear blue sky and fluffy clouds wandering around like curious children. It was the perfect day for taking a walk in the park with my little sister, Samantha. Samantha is my eight-year-old sister who hates wearing dresses and loves Spiderman. Whenever I take her to the park near our house, I soak up the opportunity to watch her running ahead of me, picking up everything she finds interesting and asking me about whatever she sees. She especially likes to consult me about bugs. Her favourite hobby is collecting small insects and keeping them in specially made glass jars. The jars jam up her room, and I take up the responsibility to help her choose a few insects to set free from time to time. She gets depressed when she has to say goodbye to her beloved friends, but she understands that freedom is the priceless blessing that God gives to living beings. Whenever I remind her of this statement, her pretty purplish-grey eyes will light up with delight.

    Samantha and I have the exact same characteristics. We both have smooth, dark hair. Our eyes are of the same colour, which we both inherited from our mother. We even have the same big smile that people are so fond of, and the smile undoubtedly comes from our father. Every member in my family has a healthy, dark complexion, including my grandparents and other relatives. It’s sort of like the trademark of the Ryan family.

   Another interesting trait my family possesses is that we all love light blue, the colour of the sky on a sunny autumn day, the background colour of the drifting orange maple leaves and the V-shaped compositions of Canada geese migrating south. The colour of the sky of that fine day.

   Jame-sy!” The irritating whine of Freeman sucked me back from my daydreams like a gigantic vacuum. Why do I have to waste such a day on this guy?

   “Come on, Jame-sy! Come sit down beside Tutto as he tells you what his daddy told him. Haha!” The idiot was twirling and swinging the four of his skinny, long limbs around in a crazy dance, making the most out of the vacant space of our “Secret Hiding Place.” How the hell am I supposed to “sit down beside you” when you’re all over the place?

   “We don’t have time for this.” I called out to him, not even bothering to keep the impatience out of my voice. “First class starts in ten minutes.”

   “Ah, it won’t take long, Jame-sy.” The maniac finally stopped his dancing and sat down in front of one of the four brick walls that lined the cement roof.

   I sighed. At least there will be an end to today’s talk. Legs still sore from the previous climbing of the stairs, I dragged myself over to where Freeman was sitting and forced myself to kneel down beside him.

   “Oh, don’t be so conservative. Jame-sy and Tutto are best pals, right? Hahaha!” Freeman placed his right arm around my neck and rested his head on my left shoulder. I tried my best not to punch him in the face.

   “Say what you want to say.” I grunted, wanting this to end as soon as it could.

   “Yes, sir! Haha!” Freeman sloppily saluted with his right hand, choking me in the process.

   “Get your hands off of me and start talking!” I protested, grabbing at his arm and pushing him away from me.

   Still wearing that goofy smile on his face, Freeman turned from me to face the sky. “It sure is a nice day today, eh?” I could see he said this more to himself than to me. “It was just as nice a day that day. Day, day, day. Haha!” I massaged my forehead with two fingers. This will take forever.

   Freeman curled up and hugged his knees, then found interest in his shoes. Twirling his shoelaces with his pinky, he continued his story.

   “Tutto woke up that morning and almost got blinded by the blazing sun, which was when he realized that it was already the afternoon. As soon as he realized what time it was, Tutto’s belly started screaming.”

   “Your belly doesn’t scream, it growls.” I didn’t know why I had to interrupt him.

   “But Tutto’s belly really was screaming! It went like this.” He started squealing like an ambulance truck.

   I covered my ears with my hands. “Alright! Alright! Your belly was screaming. Now stop that!”

   Freeman stopped abruptly, his head still raised upwards to the bright sky. Only this time, his expression was blank. Time seemed to have frozen. I stared at him. He stared at the sky. Neither one of us made a sound.

   “Um…continue?” I pleaded. It was about time someone broke the silence.

   Freeman turned to face me with his stupid smile again. “Tutto woke up again and was very hungry, so he went down to the kitchen for his favourite food—roasted potatoes.” He literally licked his lips when he said the words. “When Tutto was finished heating the potatoes, he heard his daddy’s footsteps coming from outside. He happily opened the door to let his daddy in. As soon as he took off his coat and hung it up, Tutto’s daddy sat at the kitchen table, staring at his boots. Tutto asked where his daddy had gone. His daddy told Tutto to sit down in front of him. Tutto sat down in front of him. Then Tutto’s daddy started to talk.”

   What in the world is he talking about? And why in the world am I listening? I took a look at my watch, and groaned when it read only three more minutes till class started.

   Freeman suddenly sat up straight with his expression as serious as it could possibly be—which was still dumb-looking. “Tutto’s daddy put a hand on Tutto’s shoulder and told him that, among us in this world, there are people who are angels. As long as you think that a person is an angel, then you have mentally turned that special person into an angel that you can cherish and love. Some people have many angels, while some have only one. Some people have guardian angels that can protect themselves from harm, while other people have angels whom they try to protect. Tutto’s daddy told him that Tutto is his angel. Tutto told Tutto’s daddy that Tutto’s daddy is Tutto’s guardian angel. Tutto’s daddy smiled and patted Tutto’s head. Tutto’s daddy told Tutto that as Tutto gets older, he will no longer think of people as his guardian angels. Rather, he will think of people as angels that he will try his best to protect, and also do his best to make them happy. Yet, Tutto’s daddy had to warn him that even though these people are angels, they are still ordinary people, and ordinary people fall. So when one of Tutto’s angels falls, he doesn’t need to be too shocked or sad, because this is the way life is.”

   I was staring absentmindedly at the boy sitting beside me. Never had I truly listened to him talk before, and never had I heard him say something so profound. This was the first time his words made me think.

   Looking at my feet, I thought of my mother and father, Miranda and Patrick Ryan. They are my guardian angels whom I can always depend on. I thought of all the times when situations seemed way out of control, but my guardian angels always knew the perfect way to untie tangled knots. They never let me down.

   Then I thought of Samantha. I had always wanted a sister, ever since I knew what the word “sister” meant. When Samantha was born, I was as happy as any little boy could be. I would dance around in front of her, give her candies, and share my toys with her. When she fell, I helped her up; when she was scared, I comforted her. She is the angel that I would try my best to protect.

   “Jame-sy.” Freeman’s voice made me snap back to reality. I didn’t turn to face him, but I knew he was looking at me.

   “What?” I asked.

   Freeman put a hand on my shoulder and said with a smile, “You’re my angel whom I will try my best to protect and make happy.” He squeezed my shoulder a few times, as if assuring me his promise.

   For the first time in my life, I really looked at Tutto Freeman. I never realized that his hair was a light amber color. I never noticed that he had wide, beautiful orange eyes that shone when he laughed. I never knew that his mouth pouts out even when he’s smiling, nor did I know that he had a clean, pale complexion. I never seriously put my mind on him before, yet he still took me as such an important friend.

   “Jame-sy?” Freeman waved a hand in front of my face, dragging me out of my thoughts once again.

   “Yeah?” I asked, with patience this time.

   Freeman’s smile turned mischievous as he stood up and looked down upon me.

   “Nice watch. Hahaha!” And he danced away.

   Watch. Time. Time? Time! I jumped up in utter shock as I realized that class had already started thirty minutes ago. I dashed down the stairway ten flights a time, and got to Mrs. Tanlle’s classroom just in time to see Freeman walking ghostly into the room as if nothing happened. Great. Of course he could walk in there at leisure, because people always acted as if he didn’t exist, even the professors. But that would be impossible for the sunny, friendly and popular me.

   Just as I was thinking up an excuse for why I was late, Freeman turned in his seat and winked at me, still wearing his stupid naughty smile.

   And I thought I was his angel whom he would try his best to protect and make happy. Blah, blah, blah.

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 -羅寗 Michelle Ning Lo



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