Sorry for posting it so late. My motivation tends to betray me way too often. :I
Anyway, I decided this chapter to be rich in dialogues. I'm NOT good at writing vivid and dynamic dialogues so if you have ANY critiques DON'T HESITATE to point out my mistakes, I'd be really grateful!
Honestly, I'm not satisfied with this chapter but after seeing the amount of followers I thought I'd post it anyway so that I wouldn't keep you waiting. Thank you so much for the support! Frankly, I didn't expect so many people to like it. So thank you! 333
PS. I didn't proofread this since I'm in a hurry so if you find any dumb mistakes or typos feel free to correct them
PS2. How the heck do I reply to reviews? xD
It is the transience of life that makes us ponder on ourselves - what are we? Where are we? And just why were we born? It is the innocence of childhood that ushers us in reality. It is the magic of this wonderful time of your life when we get about finding more about life, more about ourselves - in a rather fun, joyful way. It is the pair of those mysterious and captivating child eyes - the intense colour of their iris, the glint - as though a layer of soil, just waiting for the flowers to break their way through it and blossom. It is like a harmonious blend of cappuccino cream and chocolate stirred in a fine amount of creamy milk - savoury, enticing, an explosion of delight and joy. They fear, they're calmed, protected in the circle of their parents' arms, devoid of the monstrosity of life. Their eyes hold a mystery, a mystery yet to be revealed. Not in the least hatred - sheer curiosity.
And it's their vivid imagination - life which fires it, the surprises which stir it. It's imagination itself which spurs them to create, to explore, to discover - a gateway to reality. No wonder being a child is a period which they terribly miss - they play with toys, they create make-believe scenarios - like with imaginary friends. Admit it, you've also had them. Friends to diminish that sense of loneliness when you're left with nothing to do - you just "summon" them , kill your time playing with them, talk with them when you're down - the perfect companions. But things change.
The sad thing is - we grow up. We actually get to know more about reality. We simply know too much to be as ecstatic as children are. The flowers wither, the soil hardens - life isn't the fairytale we thought it was. The enchanting days of youth are over.
"Excuse me?" his brows furrowed in confusion. The music of those unforgotten years sounded again in his soul.
"You heard me," Jacob's teeth sunk into a melting piece of chocolate sweet. "What's of great importance to you?" his finger slid along the surface of his lips, the tip of his tongue claiming the creamy chocolate trails stuck to it. A selection of generously coated in chocolate cashews and caramel bars stood before him - his favourites, he claims. The boys were sitting at a table, not too far away from the entrance - Jamie could keep an eye on the counter while conversing with his good ol' friend. Not that it was a tête-à-tête. Well, they thought it was - it was only them who had installed themselves at the table. Or so they thought.
There was a hint of cold air emitted just beside them. They could feel it, but shrugged it off as the walls not being able to oppose to the bad weather outside. Well, they couldn't. Indeed they couldn't. But that wasn't the same frigid air like the one outside. It was different. A strange kind of different. Little did they know that Jack was crouching on a chair right next to them, meticulously observing both of them and absorbing everything they said. He was still trying to make sense of what was going on. He tried to use reasoning but to no avail - why was Jamie able to run through him? Why couldn't he see him? Could it be that he's stopped believing in Jack for good?
A look of irritation etched on his face. Jamie, the only one, 8 years ago, who never cast doubt on their existence, the one who stubbornly continued to believe that the guardians do exist, despite being roped into his friends' opposite opinion, the one who actually saved them from being consigned to oblivion, he, of all people, to cease the magic in his life. Jamie, the first to believe in Jack Frost.
"To me?" he nervously started fiddling with a lock of his hair, tightly rolling it around his finger and releasing it. Over and over again. Mindless thoughts pierced his mind in his presence. Jacob easily managed to awaken those sweet, sweet childhood memories he had with him and his friends. He actually missed being a careless kid.
"Yes, you, who else?" he arched an eyebrow with a smirk as he continued devouring the sweets one by one.
"The shop is, of course." not a dreg of determination was detected in his voice.
"No it isn't." Jack and Jacob said in tandem.
"Heey, I'm starting to like you." Jack grinned, his gaze having landed on Jacob, detecting the mutual doubt that Jamie's answer raised.
"What do you mean?"
"You actually take pleasure in rolling chocolate balls all day? Oh come on, you ain't some chocolate deranged maniac. Now tell me the truth. I know you, Jamie." he insisted.
He sat in an attitude of profound thoughtfulness. It was true. He was here because of his parents, constantly awash with a lot of other work. He thought he'd help them out, just so they could release all that stress. In the beginning it was the exhilaration of the sweet chocolate fragrance assaulting his nostrils that made him want to stay here. Every day greeted by this delicious aroma, all day preparing those enticing candied marzipans in a milk chocolate shell, rolled in pieces of caramelized almonds with honey. The thrill, the joy of the prepared batch of sweets - such delight, such ravishment! But not for long.
"I still draw, if that's what you mean."
"YES, that's what he meant. God, Jamie." he slumped on the table, head lowered to the surface of the table and hands firmly grasping his hair. He was disappointed. Disappointed that time could be such a cruel monster. That irresistible, ceaseless flow of time.
"Bingo! I remember that one drawing with the legendary sleigh ride." he let out a reminiscent chuckle. "We've changed so much since then."
"You're stuck in a rut if you don't change." he plopped a truffle in his mouth before flashing a smile and going to the candy counter to serve his clients.
"A rut?" Jack's scowl grew bigger and bigger. "A rut?!" he shouted, slamming his staff on the floor boards. His conviction that he was still a child at heart had long deserted him. "Since when did you-" he jumped on the counter in front of him "become such a philosopher?!" eyebrows furrowed in mock concern. Eyes following his every move - his slim fingers carefully picking up the paper bag, skilfully selecting the desired sweets all enrobed in a layer of his hard work. A rut?!
"Jamie, dear, I'll be taking over." a middle-aged woman entered - a head of lustrous black waves, dark complexion and dark eyes. Her face slid into an angelic smile. But behind her cheerful exterior there was something else. Something dripping from her voice. Her face congested with stress and anger but still carefully masked so as to deceive. Jack could feel it. He couldn't put his finger on it but he could definitely detect a dark note in her voice.
Or maybe it was just him.
"Alright mum." he sent the clients off with a lukewarm smile before scuttling off to Jacob.
"Do you have more of these?" he held the empty plate, all which occupied it now having found itself in his stomach. They were his favourites, after all.
"Even if I did I wouldn't give you any." he took it, a teasing look washed over his face as he stuck his tongue out and went towards the kitchen.
Jack had settled himself atop the table. He observed - his tall, lean body, his pace, his gait, his manner of talking - it was so unlike Jamie. Well, their last encounter was when he was still a child, of course it would be unlike him. But there was something strange in it. Children usually retain most of their habits and manners when they grow up. Jack knows best. He's constantly around kids, he knows what it's like to grow up. There's always a unique trait that would never escape their character. But Jamie... he couldn't recognize him at all. Everything in him was conquered by something else. What he witnessed was out of line with his expectations.
"It's Jack!" the bell on the top of the doorframe announced the arrival of a mother and her young daughter - probably around the age of 9. Jacob noticed that the girl's glance had landed in his direction. He nervously smiled and waved before looking away. Awkward. "Mummy, mummy, it's Jack Frost!"
Jack's eyes widened and fell on the child.
He was noticed.
"Of course honey. Wait for me here." the mother went to the counter. The scent lured her as quickly as possible.
The girl's eyes sparkled in curiosity and excitement. And so did Jack's. He jumped off the table and in front of the girl, crouching so as to be at her level of height.
"You can see me?"
"Of course I can! I knew you existed, I knew it!" the ground started trembling from her excited jumps.
A grin broke out across his face. This was his big chance - and he decided to leap at it.
"What's your name?"
"Right, Pam, could you do Jack Frost a little favour?" he set an arm on her shoulder, a reassuring smile flitting across his lips. He definitely had something up his sleeve.
"What's in it for me?"
His smile slumped. The cunning girl had bit her lower lip with a grin, hands clutched behind her back as she played with her foot. She was quite expectant. Most kids were like that. He wasn't the least surprised.
"How about we settle this up later?" he desperately insisted.
"No." Stubborn little kid.
"Well what do you want?" he was growing impatient. Jamie was going to come out anytime soon and he didn't want to miss his chance. His glance strayed to her mother. She had begun choosing the sweets.
"I want a snowman."
"You've got it. Now-"
"A big snowman. One that's alive!"
"... I'll make you proud."
"And I want him to talk."
"Deal." he wasn't sure if that was a good idea. Or even an accomplishable one. Maybe not. But he was running out of time. Jamie came out. "Look, see this boy there? His name's Jamie. I want you to-"
The girl didn't wait longer and hopped towards him.
Jamie just smiled and crouched in front of her. "Why hello there sweetie. How did you know my name?"
"Jack Frost told me!" there was conviction in her voice.
Jamie just raised his eyebrow. They held gazes, surprised gazes. He barked with laughter and stood up, ruffling the girl's hair, smile still glued to his visage. "Jacob, you're such a joker."
Jack's hand met his face in a painful facepalm. He knew he was fighting a losing battle. But nevertheless continued with his efforts. He wasn't going to give up even if that's the last thing he did. He wanted to be noticed. He wanted magic to wash over Jamie and revive his belief in him. His chances hadn't been diminished yet.
"Look, Pam. This is very important for me. Tell him I want to talk to him and-" he was once again interrupted.
"Jack wants to talk with you. He says it's very important." Pam knew this was a race against time. She looked up at him, a faint wistful smile lightening her brooding face.
Jamie stared. He could see some vague determination brewing in her eyes - as though she was actually telling him the truth. He could have reliance on her. Or maybe not.
"... And to think I almost let myself believe you." he laughed and patted Jacob on the back while putting on his jacket. "Your sense of humour never fails to amuse me."
Pam was indignant at the unfair treatment she received. While Jacob was confused. Neither did he know the girl, nor did he understand what Jamie was on about. "I... okay." He decided to just act normal.
"Come on!" Jack shouted out and vented his anger by stomping his foot on the ground. Just when he thought he was well on the way to getting his attention he always failed.
"Jamie! Quit slacking off, you've got a lot to study for tomorrow." his mother shouted over the counter as soon as she accepted the mother's money. Jack turned around. He didn't like the sound of her voice. At all.
"But mum, we're on vacation now. No school, remember?" he turned around, his features vivid with desperation.
"Nevermind. There's no such thing as a lost time in studying!"
"That's what I always tell Pam but she never listens. Always drawing her imaginary friends and playing games! Kids these days." the two mothers exchanged laughs.
He let out an exasperated sigh. There was no other choice but to obey his mother and to just return home. But Pam wasn't going to let him go.
"Jamie, believe me! Jack's standing right next to me and desperately needs to talk to you! He's close to tears now, please Jamie. Don't make him cry in front of me!"
"Don't exaggerate." he nudged her with a glare.
"Sorry, I'm off." Jacob and Jamie headed towards the exit before waving to his mum and sending the girl off with a smile.
"Pam, please, follow them and -"
"I'm not your servant." she scowled, quite offended at the older boys' behaviour. She didn't want to get involved with them anymore. And her mother had just finished shopping. "Bye Jackie! I expect the snowman tomorrow!" she hopped her way to her mom.
Jack just stood there, desperate, watching the retreating figures.
But he wasn't going to give up yet. He knew exactly what to do. And he didn't even need to go to incredible lengths to get what he wanted. He manipulated the wind with a single stab on the ground with his staff and pulled himself out of the shop, shredding a snowdrift after him. And Jamie's mum had to bear the burden of cleaning the unexpected bank of snow.
The sun had dipped behind the towering mountains, leaving the sky with a light purple tint. It was a rather cold evening in Burgess - people had huddled up in their scarves, throwing suspicious looks at shop displays, just longing to install themselves on a coach in front of their hearth where fire roars and warmth invades your senses. The air was crisp, the streets almost deprived of life while the wind carried snowflakes with it, whizzing past the few pedestrians and stinging their skin like salt on an open wound. The town had retreated into darkness, leaving only the vivid Christmas lights to illuminate the houses and create a festive atmosphere. It was quite nice actually. Jack always loved this holiday. Christmas... Mainly because he had always longed to celebrate it. A table, rich with Christmas delights - roasted turkey with a crispy golden brown skin coated in a very thin layer of butter, accompanied by a golden pool of mashed potatoes and the skilfully prepared bûche de Noël in creamy spirals of génoise cake and chocolate buttercream. But it's not only the Christmas cuisine that would fill him with the happiness - it was the joy of being together with your family, of knowing you have your loved ones beside you - his pillars of support and strength. But now - they're all gone. The loneliest time of the year for Jack, when he's surrounded by kids with loving and caring families, kids with hearth and home - he was happy for them. He really was. With a hint of jealousy.
The ferocious wind was taking him to Jamie's home. He tried to be as fast as he could. He didn't want to wait. He wanted to settle things up today and now. He was tense. He could even feel himself shiver which was quite unusual for him. In a matter of a few seconds he was already at Jamie's window. Things were almost the same as they were last time he was there. Only thing was that most of his toys were relegated to oblivion and his walls were wrapped in his drawings - be it portraits, landscapes, abstract art - a myriad of styles, drawn in a unique and eye-popping style.
'He really does have a talent...' he scrutinized them carefully, reminiscing and enjoying his retreat to the past. Quite a lot of time passed until Jamie came. He took the time to explore his room from the outside. What caught his attention was the rich bedroom library which didn't use to be there. There were collections of fiction and non-fiction books, from epic fantasy to thrillers, from thick biology course books to scientific books. It seemed that Jamie really had grown up a lot.
Speaking of whom, he hastily entered the room and sprawled himself over the bed. He seemed exhausted - his eyes betrayed it. Watery, puffy, black circles accentuating his eye shape; the typical adverse side effects of being overstressed. It hurt to see him like this. But Jack decided not to act on his feelings. He was there on a personal mission and he was to accomplish it. His staff came in contact with the window, trapping the glass in a beautiful coat of frost. He pressed his finger against it and started writing.
He watched it. Hesitated. He started being in two minds about it. Was it right to do that? His glance was glued to the sign probably a minute until he finally decided to let it there. If he doesn't do it he'd be counting the cost later. He swirled his staff, one of the windows bursting open from a gush of wind and greatly startling Jamie. A great tactic to grab his attention and divert it to the message.
And it worked. Jamie's brows furrowed questionably as soon as his eyes fell on the intact window. He hadn't the foggiest idea what was going on. His mattress was released from the weight of his body as he headed towards the window. Suspicion taking over, surprise prevailing; eyes widening in profound shock. It sprung a surprise on him. He got closer and leaned forward, eyes squinting at the sign.
How could you forget me, Jamie?
He drew his hand over his gaping mouth. A step backward. Moon-eyed.
"It can't be..."
A wide smirk settled itself on Jack's features.
SURPRISE SURPRISE! I love cliffhangers.
Hope you enjoyed it 3 I'll make sure I post the next chapter as soon as I can. I'm awash with homework and I can barely find time to write ._.