The breeze and serenity Midori felt wasn’t normal. She shut her eyes tightly before opening them up. It wasn’t necessary to overanalyze where she was, the sole fact of not having the bandages over her eyes let her know clearly where she was. For some reason, she was again in the oasis. It wasn’t normal for her to have recurring dreams, but she didn’t question it much. She was in the same place she first woke up in. Observed the tree she was under which looked exactly like how she last saw it. She decided to make her way to the waterfall in which she encountered the boy in white.
The sun was dazzling, there were almost no clouds in the sky. The breeze was perfect. She could hear the small birds singing in the distance. It really felt like the best place to be, the total opposite of the hospital in which she was laying. On her way to the waterfall, she couldn’t stop thinking about that boy. “What could happen if we see each other again?”, thought Midori. She couldn’t deny that he was attractive. She shook her head, surprised that she was thinking like that, she’d never thought about those kinds of thing. A few more steps, and she arrived at the place.
She quickly surveyed the place. He wasn’t there.
— What was I thinking…? I can’t expect him to just be here —she told herself—.
In that moment, Midori decided to go to another place. A small sigh left her lips. With a shrug she turned around and her eyes opened in surprise. She thought her mind was playing her games. But no, in front of her was the very person she was looking for. She felt a little confused. By his expression, she could deduct that he too was surprised to see her so close. Midori could confirm what she saw from afar, the boy was really attractive. His white hair fell almost to his waist, dancing along the slight breeze of the place. Midori felt how his almost purely black eyes penetrated her soul. That boy looked almost like an angel. She was starting to think that maybe this time she had indeed died and this was the person to take her to heaven.
As much as she wanted, words failed to fall form her lips. Without noticing, Midori started to lightly blush. Just when she was about to say something, the boy decided to break the ice first.
— I’m really sorry, did I scare you? —he tilted his head to the side—.
After hearing his voice, a knot formed in her throat. She felt like she was totally mute and ended up shaking her head side to side as a no. She ended up exaggerating the gesture. The boy smiled slightly. Taking this chance, he once again took the initiative and sat down on the same rock he was the first time they saw each other. He patted down a small part of the rock, letting Midori know that she could sit next to him. It took her a few seconds to process that action. She slowly made her way and sat down next to him. She started playing with her fingers and draw small circles with her feet. She was breathing quicker than usual. Midori didn’t have a lot of experiences in situations where she was alone with other people besides Aoi and her family.
— My name is Atlas. —he said looking up, observing the place— I’ve never seen you around here. —he looked down to her—.
Midori swallowed down.
— I-I am… ah… —she sighed— M-Midori. —she looked at him— My name is Midori.
— Pleasure to meet you, Midori.
Atlas extended his hand, offering a handshake. Midori extended her hand too, a little scared, and lightly shook his hand. Atlas went back to look forward.
— Do you like the place?
— If you like it. I do. It’s an escape from reality. The breeze, the waterfalls, the birds singing… is extreme relaxing.
— If you look at it like that… everyone could like this place.
— Yeah? —he turns around to look at her again for a few seconds before going back to look forward— Do you think that this is a paradise for everyone?
— Who wouldn’t like to be in this place? For the exact reasons that you mentioned.
— What about if someone was assaulted here? Or if someone’s familiar drowned under the waterfall? We can’t know what happens in someone else’s life to know what’s their definition of paradise.
Atlas leaned forward, supporting his arms on his knees. Midori stayed looking at him. She could see how he was a very intelligent and analytic person. Someone very different from those who usually surrounded her.
— Well… you’re right… I guess…
— You guess? —he chucked—.
Midori couldn’t help it and chuckled along with him. It was a strange sensation. Midori couldn’t smile. She was quickly aware of this thanks to her thoughts and the smile was immediately wiped off her face. A basic emotion like happiness was a concept that hadn’t existed in her world for a long time. Just thinking about it made her feel guilty.
Atlas noticed how Midori’s expression changed drastically. He knew something was wrong with her.
— Are you hungry?
— Eh? —she looked at him confused—.
— That. If you’re hungry?
She brought her hands to her stomach. To be honest, she was hungry. It seemed like her nerves made her completely forget about that. She was a little embarrassed but nodded anyways. Atlas smiled. He pointed at a small place in the woods in which he had left some apples. Midori pointed at herself to make sure he was telling her to go look for them. Atlas nodded.
— I’ll wait for you here.
Midori got up from the rocks and cleaned up her shorts. She stared to make her way to the direction Atlas pointed her. In the middle of the path, she turned around, she needed to confirm that Atlas was there and that he hadn’t abandoned her. And indeed, Atlas was still in the same position she left him in. It seemed a little curious when he talked to her, nothing seemed to bother him.
She turned back around and continued her way. She entered the woods in front of her. She only needed to walk a bit more and was able to find the basket with was appeared to be the apples. She guessed those were the ones Atlas was talking about, so she took the basket in her hands. It was full of apples, almost overflowing so she set a slower pace, watching out where she was stepping. She stepped on a tree branch and almost fell over. The movement made an apple or two to fall off the basket. Midori rolled her eyes and didn’t mind it much, there were enough apples anyway.
Exiting the woods, she made a direct beeline to where they were seated. But to her surprise, Atlas wasn’t there anymore. She lowered down the basket to the ground and stared at the rock in front of her. She bit her lip. She knew perfectly well the emotion she was feeling in that moment: betrayal. She was feeling betrayed. A very common emotion in her daily life. She grumpily took an apple and sat back down, lowering her head in disappointment. She felt like she finally could talk to him. In that moment, she remembered that the first time they encountered each other, Atlas disappeared right in front of her eyes.
She couldn’t be sure if that was what happened once again. She wanted to think that and not that he left her alone. She started to eat the apple and before she could finish it, she felt how she was back to the hospital bed. She heaved a deep sigh.
She was starting to get attached to the paradise. She brought her hands to her stomach and to her surprise, she felt full.
TO BE CONTINUED.