Great. A bugger.
He flashed a smile with both eyes squinting and sweat trickling down his temples. He had one hand extended for a shake and the other held firm to his pod.
"I'm Kyle Knight. You are?"
"Alice," I replied quickly as if by impulse. I had gotten so used to giving an immediate response that I forgot I was already in control of things. I was already in control of my life. I straightened my shoulders and lifted my chin as I started walking away. He increased his pace and deliberately walked on my left side to avoid the sun's heat. He was incredibly short for a higher year and so I assumed he was some freshie expanding his network of friends. A bit odd to consider having a five foot ten girl in his network.
"Hot isn't it?" He looked at me again and this time, up as I towered over his petite stature.
I kept silent with my head forward, breathing heavily and sweating uncontrollably from the scorching heat of the sun. The uncomfortable number of students passing by me did not make it any easier either. I couldn't believe I got past the guards at such a high-maintenance money-consuming university. I walked through the hall and headed for the theatre where the play was said to be held.
You see, I was invited by an old friend, Hannah Poole, who was playing an important role as the queen. Behind the scenes, that is. She was directing the reenactment of Alice in Wonderland and thought it would be funny if I were there, and so I just had to see how horribly she had had done.
Analyzing my surroundings for the first time, the place was undeniably huge with chandeliers hanging on every corner and windows lighting up the whole room that any artificial light was completely unnecessary. I gave a twirl and embraced the immensity of the area but as I looked back, Rumpelstiltskin had been dragging his own legs towards my direction and managed to get through that crowd while he rapidly fanned himself with his pod. He stood beside me panting heavily while still holding that same grin, then made some unpleasant sound like a squeaky toy was about to give up on its voice box.
"So, Alice.." He paused, still heaving from that previous heap of humans he brought himself out of. "What school are you from?"
I hated talking to anyone. I found it so stressful and energy consuming to construct words and repeat them again when people pretend they didn't heart it the first time. Unless necessary, talking was not my expertise.
Despite the apparent display of disinterest, this guy was persistent.
"Oh some business school." I said as I walked around again to take pictures of the building's artifacts thinking that I would hopefully bore him with my interest for the arts.
"Yeah?" He asked, suddenly lightening up as I had finally spoken to him. "What business school?"
I walked through a huge arch door with Kyle still catching up, and stopped in front of a huge painting covering almost the whole wall of where it hung. There was a fleet of soldiers falling off ships and streaks of lightning striking at the scene. Pirates were attacking from every corner of every ship up to the broken casts swinging from rope to rope. But it was only the encounter of the commander with the captain that seemed to transcend in the battle. Images of violence and rage kept my eyes glued on the painting that brought nostalgia. A man in a suit of gold armor raised his sword, mercilessly gushing towards every man he encountered. His eyes even sharper than his sword, pierced through the captain's gaze as they fought their way towards each other. The commander looked with hatred and guilt. The captain, with rage and disappointment. The same disappointment I saw in my father.
I blinked once and looked ahead, and the painting had again been still. I lifted my camera towards my face and took one last shot.
"Ei, what business school?"
He asked again.
Astoundingly persistent and irritable, I let my camera hang on my neck and looked at him, and I did not expect who looked back at me or rather, what looked back at me. The moment I met his eyes was the moment I regretted having him tail me around. It all started coming back. It was the color of the ocean my mum and I swam in during summer. It was the brilliance of the stars gazed at the peak of the Himalayas. It was as deep as the sword that was plunged in the king's heart in that last story I read. It was a cosmic crime. It was all too familiar. But as I stared intently, I remembered. Jane. I remembered that last time I failed someone. I blinked rapidly to get rid of the images off my head and was again, looking at that short nugget with intergalactic eyes.
I walked fast, away from the paintings and went straight to the theater, patting my satchel to see if my pod were still there. I am not risking my life again.