For the record, I never expected this kind of situation...
"You troublesome guy! You ruined every single piece of my dream! Now it was shattered! All of it!" Aunt Winnie said to a guy older than my age, a laid back with a messy hairstyle guy with an aura that screams danger, who is smiling like a fool even though his mother is hysterical.
And we're just here, me and my family, standing at the side, watching the whole scene.
Aunt Winnie is my mom's best friend, she insisted that I call her "Auntie." Well, here in the Philippines, even if you're not blood related, you can call them that as a sign of respect as they are older than you.
We've been in Winnipeg, Canada for almost half of my life and when Auntie Winnie knew that we were coming back in the Philippines for good, she insisted that we spend the holidays at their house.
Well, we're here, but I think they're not aware...
"Stop the drama, Momma, your visitors are here," the guy simply said then look at our direction, his eyes meeting mine.
I saw Aunt Winnie flinched, she holds the guy's shoulder and whisper, but loud enough for us to hear.
"Mairie's family is... here? Are they standing at the s-side?"
The guy, who is still staring at me, nods. And then, we are surprise to the sudden change of mood of Aunt Winnie.
"There you are Mairie! Happy Holidays!" she said as she turn her way to us.
She then look at me and gasp.
"Oh my! Clairiemina! You've grown a very fine lady now!" she said and then embrace me in a bear hug.
The guy- her son, surprisingly now on our side, taps Aunt Winnie and I think that's a sign because she release me.
Aunt Winnie then turn to my parents and by then, my presence was forgotten...
"Well, my momma was right, you've grown a very fine lady."
...or I thought so.
I turn around and see the guy- Aunt Win's son smiling down at me. He then turn serious when he realized something,
"I got it bad. You forgot about me," he said and I notice a very slightly pinch of pink in his cheeks.
I look at his face to remember him, as he claimed that I know him. I'm not good at remembering names, I just remember faces plus a signature name, that's all. And it only applies at the people I know here in the Philippines.
"What are you doing?" he said and I notice that the amount of pink in his cheeks grew.
I ignore him and focus at looking at the whole him. And that's where I notice the scar at his neck.
"Oh!" I look at him and puts my two hands on his cheeks earning me a weird look from him.
"You're Will, right? Will the explorer?" I said amusingly, remembering my childhood friend way back the time we were in Philippines a long time ago.
"Y-yeah, I am," he said.
I smile and remove my hands on his cheek. I look at him from head to toe.
"Wow, you're... a bit different."
He look at me and there's something in his eyes that I can not fathom. "Sure I am."
We stare at each other a little longer, reminiscing the old times, then he shook his head and look away.
"Want to explore Wonderland, just like old times?" he said.
"You're far different from my friend way back but yeah, let's explore!" I said excitedly, earning a genuine smile from him.
"Well, Mina, it's just a facade, but now that my girl is back, I can let my facade away," he said and then pats my head.
"Your girl? You used to said it sweetly, if my memory is right," I said.
"What? How does it said now?"
I smile and whisper to him. "Dangerous."
I watch him as he look around the place with a ghost smile playing on his lips.
"So... what brings me here to your fortress?"
I look around and smile at him.
"Welcome to my world, Will!"
He shook his head and smile back at me.
- - - - - - - - - - -
For a guy with a dangerous aura as Will, he has a very persuasive skill.
It happens after our little chats and our lunch when he opened that we will explore the place like before. He has its dangerous aura while he was saying that, but I'm surprised that my parents and his mom agreed.
"Catching up, aren't we, Will?" my mom said earning a slightly pinch of pink on his cheeks.
I don't know but I felt they have their own private joke within themselves, not inviting me. Not cool.
But my slightly attitude breakdown was released when Will suddenly walked into the main door and stopped.
"Aren't you coming?"
I can feel a certain vibration within me. Isn't it excitement? I don't know but all I know is that we will explore just like old times.
And now, we walk absentmindedly. The talk we have earlier died down and I am trying my best to reconnect it. This is Will, my only recollecting piece for the life I have left here in the Philippines.
While we are walking with no direction at all, I suddenly bumped at his halted figure. I am trying to complain when I see the place where he longingly stare at.
"You are making me gay."
"No, I'm not."
"They say you are."
"Don't listen to them. Listen to your queen."
I smile at the two figures at the entrance of the forest. I suddenly look at Will and his face is full of longing.
Suddenly, I feel a pang of guilt inside my chest.
I look at the two younger fingers now dissolving as the wind blew. Turning them into dust.
I heard him take a breath and look at anywhere but me.
"It's been years eh?"
I can hear a pang of hurt in his tone.
He look straight at my eyes.
"My queen, I said I'm going to bring you to Wonderland. Don't be surprise if it was abandoned or worse. The king grew tired of waiting for uncertain things." he said and walk passed the place where the two young figures- the younger me and Will had been.
I look around and sigh. We are not absentmindedly walking into nowhere. It's like our feet knows how to be in the place he and I share.
And the facade he is saying earlier, it slowly shattered its way, making a fragile grip of the things in past scattered and made him have it wear him on when he reminisce the lost days.
I jog to his figure and promised myself that I will throw the mask he returned in his whole form when he reminisced the lost years. I will make this adventure have a positive outlook and will bring serenity to the lost years of Wonderland. Taking the solitude away.
The entrance to Wonderland is not what I remember it is when we arrived.
Will is just looking at my expression as I observe the place. The rich colour of green that I remember is now fading. The trees are dried, magically from the weather and well, it feels like I'm in the ruins inside of the forest.
I look at him at I can see his real self, slowly but he quickly close the gap of his facade.
I sigh and touch the vein in one of the gap between two trees.
"I thought you will remove that facade of yours." I said as I draw invisible circles in the bark of one tree, pretending I'm busy.
When he didn't answer, I look at him and there's something in his stare that made me lost for a minute.
"It's glowing," he whispers.
"What?" I asked.
He come closer to me and touch the veins.
"Earlier, it's glowing."
I watch as he confusingly stares at the veins. Suddenly he stop looking at the veins and look at me in the eyes.
"Pretty isn't it?" he asked as he roams his eyes around the place.
Well, it is, years ago. But now, it feels like the place is dying but it's still radiating like before. The little waterfalls at the side is still sparkling as I remember. And the line up of the trees are like before, in a weird pattern that I can't still decipher till now (Maybe I'll ask Will, well, I can pick a flower once in Wonderland and give it to him for him to stop the coldness aura that I can sense. Seriously, this man is confusing. From dangerous, to the Will that I remember, to cold, but I will just forget it cause I am also confusing with my characteristics.
Will turn his back suddenly and I can feel it again. That certain vibe. Suddenly, my arms are around Will's from behind.
I can feel him stiffened but relaxed after a few seconds.
Like what I said, I am also confused with my characteristics, so I just shrug and let my mind dictate what my action is.
He looks at me sideways as I whisper those words in his back.
"It's just, I think your subconscious tells you to fade the mask you are wearing when see me, but then when it slowly drawn to you that I am here, after so many years, you wear your mask again. So I'm sorry, I am so sorry, Will."
I release him and look at my feet.
"Sorry for leaving and left you behind. But I'm thankful that you waited for me. Even if half of your mind denied you that you are. I know half of you hates me and half of you--"
"Who said I hate you?"
I pause and look at him.
He put his hand on his forearm and closes his eyes.
"I'm sorry, too. It's just that I'm unstable. I release too much emotion at the same time. But that doesn't mean I hate you. You are my girl after all."
A ghost of smile then traces his lips. He opens his eyes and pinches my cheeks lightly,
"Ah damn. This place is a mess, isn't it?"
"It's more like a ruin to me. Forest version," I said and return his smile.
He snap repeatedly, a mannerism when he is thinking of something but continue staring at me.
"You know, you are still sounding dangerous when you said that I'm your girl. I don't know what happened to my good ol' Will." I suddenly blurb out.
He looks around.
"Well, I think I have lost him in Wonderland, trapped for so many years. Or lost in the depth of myself. Who knows, I'm a mess."
"Oh, I'm a mess too."
He finally looks at me.
"I think we should stop talking and think about how to get inside, again?"
"Good idea! But are we good?"
He touches my hair and mess it up, just like old times.
I glared at him.
" We're a pretty mess, alright? And I think that's why we're stuck at each other when we were just young kids."
I smiled at him. "I think we should start thinking."
He touches the vein and look at the sky. "Yes ma'am."
"And yes, we're a mess. A pretty mess."