Chapter 1| Viridity

The warm glow of the setting sun caressed its way through the glass windows and reflected on the mirrored walls of the studio, making the small room bathed in a subtle orange glow. The clock was already striking 5 in the evening when the door of the studio opened with a little noise and the visitor stood at the doorway, the corners of her lips turning upwards in a proud smile.

Dreamy, ethereal, and alluring!

These words were the best to describe the sight Mina had just witnessed. Standing at the entrance, her hand still holding onto the doorknob, she watched Emma dance elegantly. Her petite body flowed perfectly with the rhythm, reflecting a different kind of aura; Bold, seductive, serene yet innocent.

The scene was mesmerizing. The dim light of the setting sun falling onto her dancing figure served as some majestic spotlight, bestowing her with the attention she deserved. Watching her dance was a blessing to the eyes. Her body moved with elegance, loose brown curls swaying side to side along with the silk skirt as she moved and twirled, trying to match her steps and harmonize her fragile body with the changing beats. It's stunning yet strange and it always baffles Mina how expressive Emma becomes whenever she dances. Being reticent, Emma always struggled to initiate or carry on a conversation; however, she's exceptionally good when it comes to the language of emotions:dance and music. Her elegant movements always portrayed the unsaid thoughts that often had her awake till late at night. They depicted the passion, the suffering, the need.

Mina remained silent and kept watching Emma dance, lovingly until she saw her movements slow down and then ultimately stop. She seemed doubtful. Closing the door, Mina moved forward and stood behind Emma. Her reflection now joined Emma's reflection in the mirror. The minute Emma saw Mina, she smiled and turned around.

"Just…" Her rosy lips parted and instead of words, unsteady breaths left. She's breathless. Expected. A three hours-long practice could make anyone exhausted. "Just five minutes more," came in her soft voice again along with the heavy breathing. Mina stared at her for a few seconds and sighed seeing how tired Emma looked. Lips parted, voice heavy, hair a mess, she surely needed rest. Pulling a water bottle from her bag, she handed it to Emma. "No! You've already tortured yourself enough," said Mina sternly. "No more practice, we're going home."

"Mina, please...I need to rehearse more. I'm still lacking." Grumbled Emma, her voice turning less confident once she saw Mina moving across the room and packing her things. "Jeez! It's perfect Emma. Trust me."

Emma smiled softly knowing there was no way Mina was going to listen to her. She turned around and glanced at her reflection in the mirror, her lips forming a small pout. "What's wrong? Asked Mina seeing the younger one looking so lost suddenly.

"It's just. I-I'm nervous, afraid maybe. You know how important this event is for us. For the school. I'm afraid I'll mess up."

"Ugh! Mina sighed, her forehead wrinkled with worry. "Look, don't worry about tomorrow's event. Please! You are incredible at this. We've worked hard. Everything's gonna be alright. It'll be perfect. Yeah?" Emma nodded her head, eyes crinkling at the corners, and crouched down to take off her shoes. Small whimpers escaped her rosy lips the second she touched her bare feet. Mina's right. She needed rest, otherwise, she might not be able to perform tomorrow. Seeing Emma's swollen feet and the obvious pain flashing on her face, Mina's expression dulled. Emma's a hard worker.

Mina remembers the first time she saw Emma when she moved next door, her thoughts about this young girl were completely different. Obscene maybe. Young, naive, breathtakingly gorgeous, with no one beside her except a baby that she's carrying in her arms with much care, Mina believed her to be some spoiled teen that's been dumped by her boyfriend and abandoned by everyone. But with the passing time, the more she got to know Emma, the more she realized how wrong she was. This girl here was different. Different from anyone Mina had been with. And it wouldn't be wrong to say that Mina's quite impressed by her; truly charmed how Emma always prioritized her morals and self-respect more than anything in her life. Mina now knew everything about Emma, her worries, her struggles, her passion, and her love for her brother. She knew how hard Emma was struggling for her brother at such a young age.

She's proud of her friend.

"Where's he?" Emma's soft voice resounded in the empty studio bringing Mina back from her thoughts.

"Before I came here, he's doing homework but I think now he'd probably be sleeping on the couch again."

"Sleeping Bear," Emma mumbled before flinging her bag on her shoulder and the two women walked towards the door. But the sudden beep of Mina's phone halted their steps. "Jeez, not again." She yelled, frustrated after reading the text.

"What's wrong?"

"Peter's drunk again. I have to go." Mina explained before shoving her phone in the front pocket of her skin-fitted jeans. "Call me when you reach home."

"Can you stop worrying about me? I'm not a child Mina. Stop treating me like one." Emma complained but regretted it the next moment as she saw Mina giving her an angry look. A look that Emma knew very well. "Fine, I will. Now go. Leave before he creates more trouble." Soon Mina left and Emma sighed seeing how disturbed Mina looked. Peter and Mina have been together for the past three years, but that man gave her nothing, just troubles, and pain. Emma didn't like Peter; he was greedy and nasty and even a cheater. She always wondered why Mina was with him. Perhaps, she'd never know because she never asked. Didn't feel the need to. But she hated seeing Mina worried, she's like a family to her.

Turning off the lights and getting out of the small studio, Emma made her way to the faculty room. It's an enormous room with lots of desks placed on one side while tiny couches occupy the other side of the room along with huge shelves of books. She opened the door slowly and made her way towards the couches. She knew he'd be there. Probably sleeping like a Koala or maybe a bear. Bear! Yes! Her cute little bear.

As expected, soon her gaze rested on a tiny figure sleeping on one of the couches in a curled up position while his books were placed near him, opened, pages turning with the wind coming from one of the opened windows. His color pencils were scattered on the adjacent seat. He probably slept while working. He looked tired. Emma sighed. Her eyes dull, sadness residing in them. She didn't like how he had to spend his entire day here waiting for her but clearly, she had no other option. No other place to leave him. She couldn't afford a daycare center, besides she didn't trust them with her most precious thing. After the demise of her parents, he's the only family she has, the reason for her living. She would never keep him away from her.

Leaning down, she gently pressed her lips on his head before ruffling his hair. "Wakey wakey!" Whispered the girl and a smile found home on her lips as she saw him yawning, some whines leaving his small lips. He looked cute. "We late for school again?" James mumbled, thinking the next day had started already.

"We aren't. It's evening," replied Emma before grabbing the small panda bag placed beside him and began putting his things inside. "Going home?" Asked the little one, he was getting up now although it was still hard for him to leave his sleep. He looked at his sister who was packing his bag but stopped with a frown the moment her gaze rested on the piece of paper that lay beneath the color pencils. Holding the sheet between her fingers, Emma stared at the drawing for some seconds. A wave of sudden sorrow washed over her as she looked at the two figures drawn over the paper with mom and dad written on the top. "For our room..." said the kid, his green eyes twinkling as always but a bit dull today. "So we won't miss them."

"It's beautiful," Emma broke into a sad smile realizing he was missing them again. She missed them too. James jumped off the couch and hugged his sister who seemed to be in deep thoughts, her gaze still fixed on the paper. Soon, she took a deep breath to calm herself and hugged him back.


"Yes, honey!

"Why did mom and dad leave? They didn't love us?" James asked, breaking the hug and looking into his sister's sparkling hazel eyes.

Emma stilled. Taken aback. Surely! She had no idea what to tell him. The truth? Truth's bitter. He's so young and sensitive and-and… But she had to tell him someday. "They loved you a lot, baby," Emma smiled, remembering how happy her parents were when James was born, but unfortunately they couldn't spend time with him. "They really did!"

"Then why did they leave?"

"Um, they...Mum and dad didn't leave us, honey. They-they..." Emma began, her voice strained, eyes refusing contact with the younger one. They are dead. She couldn't bring herself to say this. "They are up there," she began, sadness swelling inside her but she tried not to show it on her face and smiled instead. A sad smile. James looked out of the window at the sky where she was pointing. He thought for a second, confusion stirring him to silence.

"Up there?" He asked, eyes big and curious. "In the sky?"

" Mm-hmm… And they are always watching us!"

"But why can't I see them?" James whined, his small lips turning into a pout.

"Gem!" Emma sucked in a deep breath. She couldn't do it. Not today, maybe some other time. It's complicated, rather crushing and the girl secretly prayed for someone to change the topic. God must have heard her prayers as a sudden knock on the door disturbed their conversation. "Still here?"

"We're just leaving." Said Emma, feeling relieved once she saw the security guard standing at the entrance with the keys. "Hurry up! Wear your coat Gem."

Shortly after, they walked out of the school building. Emma held James' hand. He was silent which was unusual to Emma since he'd always been so talkative."How's your day? Did you eat well?" She asked, trying to divert his mind. James looked up at his sister and nodded. A flash of excitement reflected on his chubby face as he remembered something. "It was good. I made a new friend. We played hide and seek together. And we ate together. She-" James paused, and left his sister's hand. "She had a huge cupcake Em," James raised his hands in the air making a circle. "This much. Chocolate. Lots of chocolate." Emma looked at his face with fondness. She knew how much he loved chocolate.

Together, they walked, and all along the way, James kept talking excitedly about his friends and telling stories to his sister. The moment they crossed the bus stop and reached the small cafe that was located nearby, James tilted his head in confusion and looked up at Emma. "Where are we going?"

Emma crouched down and cupped his cold cheeks with her delicate hands. "To get you a cupcake!" James gasped, eyes going big, joyous. "Really? Chocolate one?"

"Yes, yes! Lots of chocolate." Emma retorted with a smile and looked at the exquisite cafe. Surely expensive but she could manage. Anything for him. Emma asked the man working behind the counter for a chocolate cupcake and looked at James who was jiggling, the excitement making it hard for him to stand still while his big eyes were on the man who was putting the delicious cake in a box for him. It's rather endearing to watch him getting excited over small things. Contentment settled in her soul seeing him happy.

Despite the struggles and the never-ending hardships, she was happy and very much satisfied with her life but destiny had something else planned for her. Something unexpected. Vicious!

Comments (2)
goodnovel comment avatar
Sakshi Sharma
This was magnificent. Every spec of Emma's beauty reflects the creative skills of the author since the character depicts the depth of her visions and manifestations. I appericiate your hard work , Author .
goodnovel comment avatar
Deepa Jani
will Kevin regret later.. and be punished for what he did to Emma? I just started reading the book.. it's good.. but.. I truly feel for poor Emma.. let her get justice..

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