“This is Guilin! Its mountains and waters are very beautiful. It is said that Guilin’s scenery is the best, stretching all the way from east to west.”
“This looks amazing!” His gaze was fixed upon my family photo. I pointed at my parents. “They are my parents. My dad is really handsome, isn’t he? And my mom is extremely pretty!” I looked at them proudly.
“My mom works in the literature and art industry, and she is very pretty and fashionable. People always think that we are sisters when we stand next to each other.”
“Mm!” Raffles nodded. Then, he looked at my picture. I was wearing a floral maxi dress and my long hair was tucked behind my ears. “You had long hair back then?” He looked at me and his gaze lingered upon me as if he was imagining me with my long hair.
I nodded, and pulled off my hair band. My shoulder-length hair unfurled gently to my shoulders. I looked at the picture as I tucked my hair behind my ears. “It was even longer back then... I used to find the length of my hair troublesome back then, therefore, I cut it short sometime after that picture was taken."
“Why?” He looked at the side of my face.
My face suddenly started burning from his gaze; it was as though his gaze was toasting my face.
I lifted up my legs onto my bed, and hugged my knees as I said, “Our school used to require us to have very tidy and well kept hair. On top of that, my long hair would make me feel very hot after our PE class. So, I decided to cut it short. Fortunately, the Eclipsers had thought that I was a boy because of my short hair when I first arrived in this world. Heh!” I smiled and looked at Raffles. He was still looking at me, and my heartbeat skipped a beat as his gaze met mine.
He didn’t look away. In the past, he would have definitely looked away to avoid eye contact, and would have blushed too.
But then, in that very moment, he looked deep into my eyes with sympathy and love. He fixed his gaze upon my face, as though he could look at me like that forever... or maybe he had simply lost track of time as he kept looking at me...
I blushed, blinked, and then looked down. “Raffles, what are you staring at?”
“At you.” It looked like he was lost in his thoughts. “I think you look really good in long hair.”
I was stunned, and my heartbeat became faster. Raffles is a little weird today and so is the way he is looking at me.
“You look really good in that dress.” He murmured as he looked at the picture. There was a tinge of shyness in his voice, yet also an excitement that would make one’s heart race. “I’d like to see you like that in person,” he muttered again. His short hair could no longer cover his face. I could clearly see that he was blushing.
The air in the room suddenly became thinner and I started blushing involuntarily after hearing his words. I turned away to hide my face from him. “You never said things so directly back then.”
“Heh, that is why I am trying to change,” he said calmly as he held my family’s photo. “Harry told me that the girl I like will never know about my feelings if I don’t speak up.”
My heart clenched. Raffles really has a girl that he likes!
I really wanted to turn around and ask him her name, but I couldn’t muster up my courage to do so.
Why? Why am I acting like this? Why am I starting to behave so weirdly?
I suddenly felt awkward sitting on the same bed with him.
And my heart started racing once again. Should I be sitting on a bed with a guy? It was the first time that such a thought had even crossed my mind.
I became restless and felt stuffy as I was having difficulty breathing. I had to stealthily take deep breaths to get sufficient oxygen in order to feel better.
“But why did such a magical thing happen?” Raffles was finally acting like his normal self! This was the Raffles I knew and was familiar with. I eased a bit as he changed the topic and felt like my normal self around him once again.
I turned around to look at him. As expected, he was still pondering over the picture. “How could traveling to a parallel space happen out of nowhere? How much energy did it require for that to happen? What was that situation like? What machine were you in?” He looked at me hastily. I finally saw the usual Raffles who was always curious for answers. And the air between us was completely back to normal.
He looked at me with great anticipation. I frowned and said, “I wasn't inside any machine. I was standing on the road at that time, and suddenly, there was a ball of light, about this size!” I drew the size of the light-ball in the air. Raffles nodded and quickly took out his notebook to draw it and take notes.
“A white ball of light… right… just like a mass of energy. It looked like it was contracting in the middle, producing a very strong suction. It swallowed me in, just like that. Then, I fell into your world.” I hugged my knees tightly in distress while I put my chin on my knees. “I know that I can never go back.”
“A white light-ball… energy mass suction…” Raffles was deep in thought as he jotted on the circle that he had drawn in his notebook.
I peeked at him, as he came to sit closely next to me. I could feel his warmth, and his soft arm against mine.
Harry, Raffles and I have always had occasional close proximity with each other. During those times, other than Raffles’ blushing, Harry and I had never felt this way. It was mainly because Harry and I were used to training together. And how were we supposed to train together if there wasn’t any body contact?
Back then, as I was always training with the boys, we had never even bothered if our arms had touched or if our backs had leaned against one another’s. There were times when we’d even used to hit one another for fun.
But at that moment, I seemed to have suddenly realized that Raffles was a guy and I was a girl. We weren’t supposed to sit so close to each other, were we? We shouldn’t have any body contact, should we?
The room became quiet as Raffles was in deep thought. On the other hand, I was getting anxious in this silence as I was imagining things in my head.
Elder Alufa’s method was working. It didn’t matter whether I wanted to be in a romantic relationship or not. The atmosphere and the vibe between us was affecting the way Raffles, Harry and I were communicating. I was becoming very awkward and uncomfortable around them. Not to mention, I was becoming more sensitive.
And I was realizing that I could become sensitive, just like any other girl.
“This ball of light, is it like a space-traveling tunnel or is it some kind of a wormhole?"
“A tunnel can be shaped like a ball?!” I exclaimed in surprise. The only way to rein in my imagination from running wild was to talk to him.
Raffles nodded and explained, “Within space and time in the universe, a tunnel may not be linear or curved like how we imagine. It may also be shaped like a ball.” Raffles continued to ponder with tightly knit eyebrows. “Ball, ball…”
I suddenly recalled that the wormhole in the movie, Interstellar, had been shaped like a ball too!
“Oh yeah, Raffles, you mentioned about time traveling... Does it mean I could go back home, then? If we could turn back time, then I wouldn’t have fallen into this world, would I?”
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