Aleta went to the Cyber Cafe. That had become a monthly habit for her. The clerk, a girl who was probably just a little older than her, smiled at her.
“Calling your boyfriend again?” She asked.
The first day, Aleta asked the girl for help about how to use the internet. When the girl asked if Aleta wanted to call up her boyfriend, she panicked and said yes. She was sure the clerk now had seen Emma on video chat with her, but she still asked the same thing every time.
After calling Emma every month, Aleta was now used on how to use the computer. Some months she did it every week. Every time she had the opportunity to go to the town, she took one hour to use to Cyber Cafe and call on a video chat. In the first time, she was too nervous. Emma still hadn’t given her answer then. But now she could talk at ease. Her heart always skipped a beat when she saw Emma on the screen.
“Oh, I wanted to see your face,” Emma said and her voice was transferred to Aleta’s earphones. She was wearing good clothes. Aleta wondered if she was always ready to see her or if Aleta just happened to have a good timing. “And that’s not just because homework is stressing me out and I wanted something nice…”
“Give your best,” Aleta said with a smile. “You’re graduating this year, right?”
“Maybe? Hopefully? Please, help me.”
“And what about you?” Emma asked. “What’ll you do about studying?”
“I, huh, I’ll take a test at the end of the year…”
“You’ll do fine. But really, grandma should’ve put internet for your studies at least. That stubborn old woman.”
“I-It’s okay. I’m just giving enough trouble to her.”
“That’s absurd, she would never think that,” Emma gave a sigh. “But seriously, I need a stress relief. I’ll be waiting for you to take good care of me next week.”
“Huh?” Aleta made a confused face.
“Next week I’m going to visit grandma.”
“R-Really!? Y-You didn’t say anything.”
“Well, I’m telling you now.”
Aleta gave a bright smile and almost jumped from the chair.
“Are you really coming?!”
“Hey, hey, calm down. Don’t make a scene,” Emma said and Aleta sat down, blushing. “Yeah, I’m going. I’m a little excited about it. I really want to see you in the flesh again. And I have, huh, something to give you.”
“What is it?”
“You’ll know next week.”
“Are you making me wait this whole week after saying that?”
“Yeah, I will. Hey, you’re going to see me, right? Am I not good enough?”
“That… That’s not…”
“I’m messing with you. Don’t take it that seriously,” Emma said while laughing. Aleta realized Emma’s eyes turned to something on her side. Probably something on her desk. “Well, anyway, next week we’ll talk about it. Now, let’s talk about something more important. What did you think about the movies I sent to you?”
Aleta and Emma talked during one whole hour. When the time was over, Aleta herself turned the computer off. The clerk once said she was okay with letting her use it for ten minutes more but Aleta never stayed one minute more than the time she bought.
While she was leaving the Cafe, the clerk called on her.
“So, something good happened?”
“Y-Yeah,” Aleta said, turning to the clerk with a giant smile. “My girlfriend is coming next week!”
The clerk just smiled and waved at her.
When outside, Aleta realized she had said “girlfriend”. She blushed and wondered how she would face the clerk next time.
Aleta waited almost the whole morning in front of the Inn. Since there weren’t many cars using that street, when she heard a car’s motor, she knew it was Emma. She almost jumped from the porch to greet her.
When Emma took off the car, Aleta thought she looked more mature. She was wearing black shorts and a black blouse. She was also taller than Aleta’s memory. Her brown hair still unruly in the wind. Aleta looked at her own body, still unimpressive. She probably had got some weight over the year.
Aleta approached as Emma walked to her, her heart almost coming out of her chest. She wanted to jump on her girlfriend’s arms. Instead, she stood in the middle of the way and gave a look at Rosa, who was waiting leaning against the car. Suddenly, Aleta didn’t know how to act.
Emma let out a laugh.
“Don’t worry. Mom knows about us.”
“R-Really?” Aleta said, looking at Rosa.
“Yeah,” Aleta said. “Grandma too. Mom sent her a mail telling everything. Guess she didn’t tell you.”
Aleta looked at Emma’s grandma, who just smiled from the entrance. Suddenly she felt embarrassed about all the times she asked the old woman for stories about when Emma was younger.
Rosa moved away from the car and walked in her direction. She ruffled Aleta’s hair. Aleta felt her body shiver.
“We’ll talk later. I’ll let you both alone now,” she said and got inside the Inn with her mother.
Emma grabbed Aleta’s hands. Aleta felt a nostalgic feeling with the warmth and perfume of her girlfriend’s body.
“What about my kiss?” Emma said.
When Aleta leaned forward, Emma put a finger on her lips. She made a confused face.
“Before that, I have something important to tell you. Can we sit down somewhere?”
Both girls sat down in front of the table on the porch. Aleta waited restless, her feets swinging below the table. She was afraid of what her girlfriend was about to say.
“Was your mom, you know, okay with it?” Aleta asked.
“Somehow. I think it’s normal for her to be a little hesitant at first. When I told her, she asked me for some time to sort her feelings about it. In less than one day she called me over and told me she would support us. She even told dad.”
“That looks like you,” Aleta said, remembering how she had gone to the city to call Emma the first day after she was gone. That day, Emma officially asked her to become her girlfriend.
“Well, she’s my mother. Dad was pretty cool with it, too. You’ll meet him at the end of the year.”
Aleta was planning to attend Emma’s graduate party at the end of the year since Emma’s grandma was attending it.
“Yeah. So, what do you…?”
“Oh yeah. Huh. I’ve been wanting to tell you about this for some time, actually, but I wanted it to be in person. I’ve been thinking about my future. What I’m going to do after school and such. I decided that college isn’t for me. Not for now, at least.”
“A-Are you sure?” Aleta asked, uncomfortable. Somehow, she remembered Emma saying she wanted to marry a rich man to have an easy life.
“Yeah, so I was considering what I want to do in life, and… Well, to be honest, all my thoughts lead to you. So, I think I want to support you the most. You’re really talented. I think you can have a career with art. I really want you to give it a chance. But even if you don’t want to do that, I want you to leave this place. This whole town. I think there’s a whole world for you out there. Lots of opportunities that you might miss. Does that make sense?”
Aleta nodded, wondering where Emma was going with that talk.
“And when I think about my future alone, it’s pretty empty. There isn’t much I want to do. But I know there’s something I really want, and that’s the be at your side. So I’ve been looking at houses for rent, and job offerings. I actually got a part-time job this year. Ah, wait, I’m spoiling it. I don’t know how to say it in a romantic way or anything, but I want you to come live with me after I graduate.”
“W-Wait! Are you saying…? Are you really…?”
“Well,” Emma took a little black box that was hanging on her shorts. Since it was the same color as the cloth, Aleta hadn’t realized it. “I brought this…”
Emma opened the box and showed it to Aleta. Inside there was a white ring with a jewel in the middle. Aleta felt tears born on her eyes as she looked at it.
“It’s not that expensive. I’m just a high schooler, after all. But, well,” Emma raised her right hand. In her own finger, there was a similar ring. “If you don’t put it, I guess this will go to waste.”
“O-Of course I’ll put it!” Aleta said.
She stared at the opened box in front of her.
“Huh…” Emma said.
“Ah, sorry. Won’t you put it on me?”
“I-I don’t know. Should I?”
“I don’t know…”
Emma laughed and took the ring from the box. She held Aleta’s right hand and put it on her ring finger. Aleta looked at it and gave a smile. She felt her heart beating like crazy.
“A-Are you really fine with it?”
“Well, you can support me later, when you become rich. That's my investment,” Emma said with a smile. “I'm just kidding. I want to be by your side forever even we have no money at all,” Emma let go of Aleta’s hand. “But anyway. That was it. You can kiss me now.”
Aleta laughed and threw herself in Emma’s arms, kissing her on the lips.
Both girls were in front of Sherry’s grave. The first thing Emma noticed was something still lying above it. The ring her mother had put there last year.
“How is that even possible? A whole year. After wind and rain...”
“I guess she really values it,” Aleta said.
“Can you see her?”
“No really. She’s not around anymore but I’m sure she’s somewhere where she can look at us,” Aleta’s eyes looked around. “I can see a lot of them surrounding us, though.”
Emma looked to her sides, making Aleta laugh.
“You know, I want to make a life drawing. I want to get better at it, sure. But I also want to keep trying to help them. I’ve seen these lost souls suffering since I was a little kid. Some people came to my house in the past trying to make me understand my gift. They were all fake and were frightened when they realized I was the real thing. I can see people who died and can’t move on but I don’t know how any of it works. But since I can see them, I want to help. I failed with Sherry but I wanna help them to move on.”
“Maybe is a bigger city we would have more luck learning about it.”
“Maybe. So I’ll keep looking. I don’t want to feel useless like I was with Sherry again. I’m really happy that you understand me.”
“Can I ask you a favor now?” Aleta said. “Can you leave me alone for a minute?”
“Huh?” Emma looked at Aleta and realized the girl’s determined face. “Sure. I’ll be waiting at the entrance. I’m sure mom will want to come here again before she goes home, anyway.”
Saying that Emma gave a kiss on Aleta’s lips and walked away.
Aleta looked at the grave. She held her right hand with the ring close to her chest.
“I believe that you can still see us. I’m not here to show off but I wanted to let you know. When we first met. When you knew I could only fall in love with girls, you said I would end up suffering as you did. But you know, you were wrong. I’m really happy right now. Remember when I first saw her photo? How I wished we could get along. How I fantasized that we could be friends or maybe a little more than that. Remember how happy It made me when she liked the food I made? Remember how I cried when she told that me she wanted to marry a man someday? I fell in love with her since the very first moment we met, even if by my own ideals. And yet she was there talking about marriage and boys. You told me that was how it would be. I would be alone and miserable like you. I believed that, too.”
Aleta felt tears coming out of her eyes.
“But I’m really happy right now. I couldn’t imagine she would love me back. I couldn’t believe it. But here I am. She gave me this beautiful ring. And she wants me forever beside her. I love her. I want to live with her. But is that okay? I promised to save you but I failed. Is it okay for me to be this happy? Will you hate me? Will you resent me? I really thought of you as a friend. You thought the same, right? Meeting someone who was like me. Another girl like me. Even if you were completely negative, that gave me strength. I don’t blame you, even if what you tried to do was wrong. I understand that you were confused and afraid. I couldn’t reach you. But I care about you, so I want to know. Will you be happy for me now? Or will you curse me now?”
Aleta hugged her hand tighter on her chest and started to cry. She wasn’t expecting an answer, as Sherry was somewhere far from her reach. Yet, she felt a strong gust of wind pass through her body.
It didn’t feel like just wind. She felt as if her body was being hugged. And she heard a faint voice inside her ear.
I’m happy for you, idiot.
Aleta’s cry slowly turned into laughter. She looked at the grave and realized the ring that was there was gone now. She looked at the sky and yelled: “Thanks!”
When she went back to the entrance, her eyes were still swollen but Emma didn’t say anything. She just hugged her girlfriend’s body and tried to kiss her but Aleta turned her face away. Emma gave her a confused look.
“Sorry, but, you know, there’s a lot of eyes on us right now,” Aleta said.
Emma laughed and pulled Aleta by her hand.
“Oh, by the way,” Emma said while both girls walked home. “We’ll be sharing the room.”
“I asked grandma already. She was okay with it.”
“I-Is that so?”
“You don’t want it?”
“That’s not it, but. I’m not ready yet.”
“Ready for what?”