He first saw her one beautiful day in July. She was being her usual self- silly, giddy, childish. He’s been watching her for sometime, but never really that close. He could never understand why she caught his eye. Maybe she was just too pretty to look at. Maybe there was something that made her stood out in that crowd. Or maybe he was alone and lonely for far too long.

His gaze lingered a bit too much, he realized, because the next thing he knew, she was looking right back at him. With those big brown eyes, she was staring right through him. He could’ve sworn there’s something utterly captivating about her- hypnotic, astounding, mystifying. Whatever it was, he was drawn to her like sunset on the water, like dandelions on the wind.

But he was not ready. Not yet.

The fascination is a bit too quick it’s reckless. He of all people should know this. Experience is a ruthless teacher- it does not forgive, it does not falter. His lost youth is a testimony to the menace of a hurried passion. He was too quick to love but too slow to let go. He dallied too long and missed his chance to make proud the one that he most cared about. So this time around, he will take his time. Too much is at stake, he can never be too careless. The pursuit to his calling comes first and all others must line up and wait.

Or so he thought.

¬————

It was business as usual for her on that fateful day. A couple of weeks ago, she was just another wandering soul- optimistic about new beginnings but fearful of the all too familiar endings. If only prequels can be relived, but no, the past has fashioned her into what she has become today and there is no turning back. So far, life has been sunny- at least for the most part. There always were some growing pains: friendships, puberty, heartbreaks; yeah, growing pains.

But indeed, she is a free spirit.

Life has taught her to take risks, to inspire and be inspired. She personifies Princess Jasmine- spontaneous, sure of herself, born with a silver spoon but enjoys the simplest of things. She embraces authenticity, secured in her thoughts and very comfortable in her skin. Her creativity knows no bounds. She can make it on her own, no doubt, and now she is chasing that ultimate dream beyond her fifteen minutes of fame. She is on her way towards immortality.

And like Jasmine, she found her Alladin- the guy with the big dreams- while disguised as a peasant. Kismet! Destiny found its way into her heart. She lost track of what she was or where she’s at the moment she realized he was right there, peering, staring, acknowledging her very presence. And before it was over and done, she felt herself letting her guard down and embracing the reality of what was to come. She was so sure it was going to be the start of a beautiful thing.

Or so she thought.

————

He is now basking in the limelight. The big dream is finally real!

The crowd cheers for him, screams his name, and the sound is music to his very soul. This is what it’s all about right here, the realization of dreams he worked so hard for all these years. He keeps himself busy with what matter the most in the grand scheme of things. Strike while the iron is hot, they say. Someday all of these will come to an end, but when that time comes he will have proven to the world that he triumphed. At the end of each day, he reminisces on the sweetness that fate has now offered him- oh if only his Mom was there to celebrate this blissful life with.

This was her dream for him. This was what got away when he chose heart over reason. He must not commit the same mistake again!

Because this right here is his second chance, and oh how sweet second chances are for him. So he is going to enjoy every minute, every second of it. He has come this far he can’t stop now! All of his life’s adversities, all of his burdens, this is his ultimate reward. He deserves all these, and more!

Yet in the wee hours of the morning, when he readies himself to sleep, when he lies down to marvel about all of the things that made his day, he finds himself pondering: “Why does the room still feel so empty? Why is the other side of the bed so agonizingly lonely?”

————

His absence does not shake her resolve. She has grown familiar with his ways, so now she will not expect. She found herself just trying to enjoy the moment. There were times when he looked so sincere that she assumed too much, only to be woken up to the realization the next day that not everything is what it really seemed. But he does seem pretty nice these past few days, she can feel the odd change in him. “What are you trying to say?”, she thought. Still, its better to stay on guard. Her heart is now too fragile- she doesn’t know if she can handle heartbreaks anymore.

Because everything is still very surreal. She cannot but be amazed at how she got to the top too quick. Luck of the draw? Millions of people all over the world would kill and die to be in her position. Millions of people all over the world worked so hard, spent too much and sacrificed practically their way of lives and still fell short to get to where she’s at right now.

Her life was already a joy before all these but she can’t complain for wasn’t this her secret ultimate dream? Fame comes at a steep price: under the bright lights is a feisty woman, trying too hard to appear tough, headstrong, resilient but beyond the dazzles is a young girl once free now captive in the standards that she is expected to sustain. The pessimist in her is slowly creeping up again. But she knows she will survive.

The distinction between the real and the reel is now a haze. “Are you really interested in me, or are you just interested in what I can do for you?” This is a perennial question. She dreads the thought. She is not like this! Once upon a time, she gives her trust openly and freely. Now, everybody is all praise- but who are sincere and who are merely patronizing? Oh how lonely fame can be.

Yes fame, she thought. Funny how people crave for it in the beginning, dread it halfway there, then long for it again in the end.

She longs for the time when she can just go away, be lost in humanity. She misses her friends, her family. She has long lost her privacy. She might have even already lost herself.

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From the Author: Every now and then, as we struggle through the humdrum of ordinary existence, life throws us a fairy tale.

Will there be a happy ever after? Maybe.

But this one is just beginning.

So, stay tuned. ~ Vilo

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