ups and downs of love and social classes.betrayal and pain as love tries to conquer all.
The beauty of the night always mesmerized him. He didn't know what always made the nights magical. But whatever it was made him enjoy working at night unlike many people. He could spend hours looking around admiring the wonders of the nocturnal world. he had names for all the constellations he could see and could tell every change in the stars.
Tonight was no different from any other night. He sat out in the open watching all around him. the fireflies flitted around him dancing. the air was filled with the songs of crickets. Once in a while a faint howl could be heard from afar and he knew he wasn't alone.
'Why does everything seem to go against me? 'he asked a firefly that rested on his palm, 'why does every one hate me?'
'that's because you also hate yourself 'said the imaginary voice from his little firefly friend
'Do you think that there is somebody out there for me 'asked Eric ' or will I die a lonely bitter old man '
'If it's bound to happen it will definitely happen you will fall in love and be happy forever 'said the firefly
'When will that happen my friend' Eric asked desperately
'When you stop hoping that one day your stupid stars will drop you an angel as your wife' said the firefly, 'Get out more and find friends and that will be a good way to start.'
For the rest of the night Eric was happy and never noticed time passing he found himself at packing his attire. He walked home a happier man with a mission to complete. He wanted at least to make one friend once he woke up in the afternoon.
* * * * * * * * *
He took his time reading and old magazine after lunch and decided to take a walk to the river trying to explore the vicinity. The cool breeze was refreshing and he found himself enjoying the walk much than he thought he would. It was almost after thirty minutes when he found a beautiful spot along the river and gave up to the temptation of taking a rest baking in the sun just killing time before he got back to his work. Eric placed his old magazine aside and gave in to the temptation of having a rest doing nothing. He took a nap and when he woke up moments later the first thing he saw was a girl out of his imagination some meters downstream. she was too beautiful to be real. Eric was forced to admit that even the girls in his imaginations were not half as beautiful as this girl was. He walked down to her noiselessly in fear of disrupting the serene aura around this angel.
After a long time staring at her Eric finally felt his traitorous voice betray his presence.
'What are you doing here all alone at such a time.' Eric heard himself say. Surprisingly he was audible and without a stammer for the first time talking to a stranger.
'I spend most of my afternoons here when am not in school. 'She replied in such a melodious voice, 'who the hell are you and what do you think you are doing here?'
'Am Eric and i also spend my afternoon here.'he lied.
'The river is too big you can find some other place,' her angelic said icily, 'will just leave me alone?'
'will you at least tell me your name? Eric asked hopefully.
'And why on earth would I do that? 'she queried her piercing gaze boring into his and he just stared into hers as if he was compelled by their magical beauty.
'I only hoped to be your friend I never meant to upset you.' Eric said.
'I have more than enough friends Mr. Eric I honestly don't even know where to take some.' she said closing the novel she had been reading before he had interrupted her. 'you are way too up your head find a girl of your own class.'
Eric walked away ashamed but happy he had talked to someone, but his little firefly friend had a million questions to answer that night.
As nature would have it once he reported to job that evening it rained so heavily and since there would be no fireflies he knew he was in for a long night.
Eric was reading an old newspaper sitting under a tree by the river someone sat beside him. On turning he was meet by a smile by the last person he expected to see.
'what are you reading?' she asked taking the newspaper for him.
'Just trying to go through an old newspaper.' Replied Eric looking away,' it's nothing important.'
'Do you always spend your time alone' she asked her eyes fixed on the newspaper.
'What make you think that?' queried Eric.
'Eric, I just came to apologize for all that I said last time we met.' She said after some moments of silence. Eric felt a twinge of hope when he heard her call his name, he now anticipated knowing her name. 'by the way my name is Catherine but you can call me Kate.'
'you have nothing to apologize for Catherine,' said Eric.' you just spoke your mind out and I also learnt to mind my own business.'
'I can see my reckless words caused quite a damage,' said Catherine. 'I had to apologize and let you know that I only said those things to embarrass you and never meant any of them.'
'it's okay Catherine, apology accepted. 'Eric replied avoiding her teasing gaze. He could have sworn she was an ice queen incapable smiling but the warm smile on her face proved him wrong.
'I was hoping we can put the unfortunate incident behind us and be friends.' She said unsure of what his answer would be.
'Are you sure I will fit in your circle of friends Catherine?' Eric asked trying in the best way not to make her feel uncomfortable.
'Why wouldn't you fit among my friends Eric?' she asked giving him back his newspaper.' What do you do that makes you think that you wouldn't be fit to be my friend?'
'I think it would be better if you found out now that am a night guard in a local school,' said Eric.
'You are a watchman? Catherine asked sharply, probably more than she meant to.
'Yes Catherine i......'
'Have a nice afternoon' she cut him off and almost broke into a run as she walked away.
'Have you been avoiding me?' asked Catherine standing in front of him.
'Why would I avoid you Catherine?' countered Eric,' a wise lady once told me to always mind my own business and when I last checked, I was doing just that.'
'I have been trying to find you for days,' she said. 'in fact if I didn't find you right now I would have paid you a visit in your place of work.'
'why have you been trying to find me?' Eric asked trying not to stare at her. He always couldn't help admiring her. She was the prettiest girl he had ever seen and he was trying his best to be confident. He was really nervous and it took almost every ounce of courage in him to face her. The way her gaze was piercing felt as if she was seeing through him which only made him more nervous.
'I wanted to apologize for last lime we meet. 'Catherine said going direct to the point. 'if you don't mind I would really like us to be friends.'
'Are you not afraid of being gossiped around and losing your other friends because of me?' Eric asked still trying to fight his nervousness.
'I hope that you won't get some funny ideas in your head just because we are friends,' Catherine said smiling, 'I have a boyfriend and I don't want to give a reason to doubt my love for him.'
'I'm very grateful for the honor of being your friend and I will be a good friend.' Eric found himself promising. He relished the thought of spend time with her and getting to know her.
'Am grateful too Eric but am afraid I will be around for a limited period since am still in school.' Catherine said, 'You need to have more friends.'
'How do you know I don't have other friends?' Eric asked doing his best to hide his surprise.
'You seem to be the kind who worry so much about what other people think about you and trust me that's not the attitude to make friends around such a neighborhood.' Catherine said with a smile, 'I could even help you making more friends.'
'you being my friend is enough Catherine.' He said quickly, 'I will try finding more friends and you won't have to spend so much time with me and give you boyfriend a reason to be suspicious.'
'I never implied there would be a reason for him to be suspicious,' she said,' I love Gerald and he knows I would never do anything to hurt him.'
'That's for sure Catherine.' Eric said, 'But I don't know Gerald may be he would find a reason to get hurt.'
'Relax Eric you worry too much,' she teased, 'why don't you tell me more about yourself?'
'You already know am a watchman.' Began Eric,' what else would you like to know about me?'
'I would love to know where you are from, why you decided to do what you do. 'replied Catherine, 'In short I'd love to get to know every little thing about you.'
Eric told her about himself and how he got away from home to find a job. The way he landed on the night guard of a school and had been there in the same job for three years. He deliberately skipped the part about his family. He was even more relieved when she didn't ask any more about his life.
'what do you intend to do after the watchman job?' Catherine queried, 'or do you intend to be a watchman for the rest of your life?'
'I haven't yet thought of my future,' he told her, 'I don't know what to do next with my life but I still have time to figure things out.'
'you sound to have a very lonely life Eric,' she said avoiding his eyes which she was slowly drowning into,' I could help you find a girlfriend.'
'Thanks Catherine but I will pass.' He said quickly, 'I have the best friend I could ever ask for and am sure it's enough for now, others will come as time goes by.'
'You know I can't be with you all the time Eric,' she said, 'I have to spend time with Gerald, I don't know how to find time to get to you.'
'You spend all the time you want with Gerald,' said Eric, 'I never want to ever come between you two, I will still be here for you when you won't have anyone else, Isn't that what friends are for?'
'Do you understand it could at times take even months before we meet again?' she asked, 'maybe I won't see you again this year.'
'It really doesn't matter Catherine,' Eric replied, 'You just have to be with the people who really matter and do the things that really matter, I will be ok there are a million things to do.'
'And what is that supposed to be?' Catherine asked.
'Gerald and your studies.' Eric said simply, 'it's getting late Catherine, let's call it a day until we meet again.'
'you are awfully quiet today,' Catherine said as the were having a walk in the woods. It was on the new-year's eve almost a month since they last met.
'You never know Catherine,' countered Eric 'may be am just excited to see you again and am relishing spending time with you.'
He could have sworn he saw her blush but it was very short lived she quickly went to her usual confident and serious nature. He always thought she was the cutest girl he had ever seen no matter the mood she was in. today he could there was something bothering her but was so afraid to ask.
'there is something I have to tell you Eric,' she said avoiding to be held in his gaze.
'What is it Catherine you know you can tell me anything.' He said very quickly trying his very best to curb the urgency to reach for her hands.
'This the last evening we are spending together,' Catherine said reaching for his so that he could look into her eyes but he never looked into them. He never wanted her to see the disappointment in them. He never wanted her to know how much he enjoyed the time they spent together nor know how lonely he would be. He never even dared to ask why she wouldn't spend her free time with him.
'The more time we spend together the more and more we fight with Gerald and I never want to hurt him or give him a reason to be jealous.' she said still holding his hand.
'it is ok Catherine; I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt your relationship.' Eric said, 'you never have to worry about me, do what you have to do.'
'I know I promised to visit you house soon but am sorry I won't be able to do that,' she said,' you have to promise me you will find more friends.'
'I will try to find more friends.' He told her, 'right now you only have to worry about yourself and am sure all will be well.'
'Bye Eric,' she said letting go his hand and walked away without looking back.
He continued his walk further into the forest trying to kill time. It seemed like an eternity when finally, the time to get back to his home and prepare for work came. He couldn't hide the disappointment and there was nothing he could do about it. All he could do was be thankful for the period they had spent together and keep hoping that a day would come when she would miss him reach out.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
That evening when Eric had just finished doing his rounds at school he received a call from Catherine. He stood there frozen for a moment wondering what he would tell her.
'Was she calling to tell him that she had changed her mind and they would continue seeing each other? 'he thought hopefully,' did she want to surprise him with a visit to his house?'
For a moment a series of wishful questions ran through his head and could even hear his heart beating wildly in his chest. When he finally picked the call he was breathless and was desperately trying to sound calm.
'how are you doing Eric,' Catherine asked sounding cheerful and I a voice that sounded like music on Eric's ears.
'I am doing good Catherine, 'he said, 'how about you?'
'Am doing good too.' She replied, 'what are you doing right now?'
'Am just relaxed watching the stars,' he said reluctantly.
'Wow me too Eric am watching the stars from our yard,' Catherine said. 'it's too lonely out here, I wish I was there with you.'
'There's a million things to do Catherine.' Eric told her.' You could go watch a movie or read a book.'
'I have a better idea Eric,' she said. 'I could come over and we spend some time together since am alone at home.'
'What about your Gerald?' asked Eric, 'won't he have me for breakfast?'
'He will never know that we spent the night together,' she said, 'and if he ever knows I will find an excuse to tell him.'
'what if we meet tomorrow and spend all the day and do everything you want unless you want me away from your new year's plans.' Said Eric.
'There is a bash tonight and I desperately want to be there,' Catherine told him, 'I want to surprise Gerald will you please take me there?'
'you know there is nothing I can't do for you Catherine.' Eric said. 'you only have to ask; I will be there in twenty minutes to get you but I can't stay at the party since I still have to work.'
Eric borrowed his neighbor's motorbike and ferried her to the party. He couldn't find any topic to talk about throughout the whole journey. The way she held onto his waist almost tempted him to keep riding the whole night. He couldn't help feeling a little disappointed as they approached the destination.
'How long will you be here Catherine?' asked Eric as she disembarked.
'Honestly I don't know Eric,' she said, 'it could be the whole night you would better get back to you job.'
'just take good care of yourself Catherine.' Eric told her handing her bag.
'I will do as I please Eric!' she snapped,' making you my friend doesn't give you the right to lecture me around; go watch and count your stupid stars.' She continued,' I will find my way back. Get lost!'
'We are having a party in the afternoon Eric,' his neighbor informed him when he returned the bike. 'it brings us together to celebrate the new year together.'
'I will be there Michael what do I bring around?' Eric asked.
'You just have to come earlier and help me out in some errands around the party.' Mike replied,' am sure it will be fun.'
'Count me in Michael.' He said and was on his way. He was in good spirits for he would be involved in something with the community for the first time since he got to the area almost two years earlier. He had been visiting the orphanage he had been raised every holiday. Today he thought it would be better to celebrate the new year festivities with his new neighbors. He wanted to take the chance to know his neighbors and at least make a new friend or two.
Having spent most of his life in an orphanage he hadn't been very social since every friend he made was adopted. He was oldest kid in the orphanage and it was very hard for him to find parent to adopt him. The fact that he was often sick didn't help in the situation. He eventually stopped hoping for adoption since he always got disappointed, he even wondered how he could ever hope to get other parents when his own parents wouldn't keep him. The nuns who run the orphanage loved him since he always took care of the others and made sure they were safe. He felt bad for not visiting them this time but considered it as a necessary evil to lie to them and then spend time with them when he would get some time off job.
He got to the party venue at noon and began working on the decorating the party ground. When all was done he joined Michael and the caterers on the meals and setting up the tables. He had never felt so useful. Though there were some people who resented him he felt there were some people who liked him or his efforts at least. When the party started Eric sat on a table at the end of the hall alone and watched as people danced and enjoyed the party. Most of the people were couples and it made him miss being with Catherine so much. All he could do was watch and take photos of the event hoping that the owners would be kind enough to pay for their photos.
When Eric couldn't fit in the party he decided to do what he knew best which was getting out place. There was no way he could be there and have all eyes on him being the odd one out.
'What are you doing here all alone?' asked a little girl sitting next to him. 'Are you not afraid of the dark?'
'It's so beautiful out here watching fireflies and listening to the crickets.' Replied Eric.
'fireflies are cool but crickets are gross.' The little girl said. 'mom says that crickets bite bad children.'
'Am sure you are a good girl and that's why the crickets wont bite you.' Eric reassured her. 'what are you doing outside alone am sure your mom will be worried sick about you, let's go and find her.'
'No let's just stay here and watch the stars,' said the little girl.
'What's your name.' asked Eric helping her sit well on the log.
'Alexandra but call me Alex.' She said. 'Can we be friends.'
'Of course Alex we can be friends,' Eric told her. 'let's name the stars and then you can go to you mum so that she won't be so worried.
'I want to stay here with you my mom is always drunk and keeps shouting at me,' Alexandra said. 'can I stay with you here until the party is over?'
'Have you eaten yet? Asked Eric,' we can go and get the food and eat together.'
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When Eric got a month off from job he had a lot free time. He took long walks in to the forest in the mornings to avoid meeting Catherine. He took photos of the beautiful sceneries which he would later paint. Eric loved painting and hoped that one day he could get to an art school or at least become a good painter that he would earn money from his talent.
Lately whenever Eric tried to paint he found himself painting a portrait of Catherine. He couldn't get her off his mind though he knew she was out of reach for him. Ever since the new year's eve incident he tried his best not to cross her path. He never even at one time visited their favorite spot at the river. He couldn't face her after all she said to him.
He had just go home from delivering a birthday present to Alexandra and started preparing lunch when there came a faint knock at the door. He ignored it since he rarely ever had any visitors during the day. He continued with his cooking when the knock came again. This time it was louder and precise. He walked to the door thinking it was his neighbor only to find the last person he was expecting. Catherine stood there facing away from the door as if she was unsure if he would or wouldn't open the door.
'Hello Catherine.' Eric saluted after some long awkward silence and staring into each other's eyes. 'come on in please.'
She kicked off her shoes and walked past him into the house.
'Am not doing great Eric.' Catherine replied,' you have been avoiding me and you ignored my calls.' She continued. 'I don't know why am always unkind to you and soon after I can bear the thought of staying away from you. I really am sorry Eric.'
'There's no need to apologize Catherine,' Eric told her. 'you always say whatever is on your mind and that's one of the things I really like about you.'
Eric had never seen her blush as she did immediately the words left his mouth. The smile she gave him afterwards seemed to light the room and melt everything he was about to tell her. He just stared blankly into her eyes as if he was drowning and there was nothing he could do.
'You are always so understanding and considerate Eric,' Catherine said, 'you are too good to hurt anyone and I hate it when everyone takes advantage of your good nature. Even myself Eric sometimes I find taking advantage of you and hurting you in the process.'
Eric could hear all she was saying but for a moment he just nodded. He couldn't seem to find the words to reply. It wasn't until she held his hand that he was finally able to reply.
'I have been raised in an orphanage Catherine,' Eric said. 'in my situation beggars can't be choosers. It's not every day I came across a beautiful girl who would be my friend irrespective of our differing social status. How many people do you think would be here apologizing for something so little like you are?'
She gave the tightest hug he ever received. Eric had never felt so loved and appreciated as he felt the moments the hug lasted. He wished it could go on forever.
'Let's go ahead and prepare lunch Eric. 'Catherine said when the hug ended.
'Anything for you Katie.' Eric said blushing.
'I wish you would always call me that all the time.' Catherine said.
Catherine sat at a pond in the woods trying to pose for photos which Eric was taking. He never told her that he had another hobby other than taking photos. He wanted to surprise her on her forthcoming birthday. He wanted to give a perfect painting of her on their new favorite spot.
'You are so distracted today Katie.' Eric observed taking a place beside her. 'Is there something bothering you?'
'It's just lately Gerald have been ignoring me and I don't what I did wrong.' She replied, 'I don't know if he will be present to my birthday next weekend.'
'May be its because you have been spending all your free time with me Katie.' Replied Eric. 'Maybe he just wants to get back your attention.'
'I don't know how to make time for both of you Eric,' Catherine said desperately. 'I never want to be in a situation where I hurt either of you.'
'You forget that you have a boyfriend and just another friend.' Eric told her, 'you know that you will never lose me and you thet you don't have to see me all the time