–You are doing WHAT did you say? The combined amusement and amazement was obvious in Erik’s , Bastians freind and classmates voice. Nevermind, I have stopped ages ago to wonder about your strange ideas in getting girls.
–Not just any girl Erik, THE girl, Bastian corrected his freind, while restlessly shifting the phone from one hand to the other. Anna is perfect. Yes, even her name is perfect. Did you know that “Anna” is a name with greek roots that means “Mercy”? Is that not just adoreable?
Bastian heard his freind snort of laughter at the other end of the phone.
-So basicly what you are saying is that you are so deeply in love with this amazing, merciful girl, but you do not have the courage to talk to her? Instead you are just sitting there, on a bench in Plumbob knows what kind of clothes…
-Fishing – dishing, whatever. Basicly what you are saying is that you are spying on her. Her, your love of your life? That is more than a little creepy, you know that, right?
-Not just spying, I actually do get some fishes at times. Fishing is very relaxing did you know that? You should try that instead of making fun of people.
Now Erik was not even trying to hide his cheerfulness, but laughed out load on his end on the phone. A roaring cathching laugh deep down from the belly.
-Sorry, sorry, I did not mean it like that. But you know you really should try and talk to her.
-Easy for you to say, girls comes to you and talk if you just say “bottleneck”. Me, they hardly notices.
-Hey, is it my fault I am irresitable?
-No, I find it a really good quality to be honest and what makes you a really good freind too. And that is why you is going to help me!
-Sure thing bro, what do you want me to do? And may I have the first dips on her twin? I always loved twins!
Erik was a very enthusiastic teacher and the following days he gave Bastian several steamy tips and a 101-crash course in how to get girls. Then he forced Bastian to practice those pickup lines over and over in front of the mirror:
-Are you a magician? Because when I look at you everyone disappears. Gah! You got to be kidding me Erik! Are you saying girls actually falls for this?
-Everytime man, everytime…. Once again, with feeling this time!
-My freind bet I could not talk to the prettiest girl, want to use the money…. No, way! Sorry Erik! I can’t do this! It just feels to exploiting, cheesy and truth be told a little to degrading.
-Suit yourself. I gave it my best anyway. Don’t come to me and pine when you are all old, wrinkly and alone….
So Bastian continued on his strategy of basicly not doing anything at all about his love-at-a-distance crush. He continued going to the park fishing and found out that he actually liked the tranquility and peacefulness it installed into him. When doing the quite mechanic movement of tossing the fishingrod back and forth his mind got a chanse to relax and be still. He also got a chanse to daydream quite a lot without anyone complaining and demanding him to pay attention as the teachers at school did all the time. The dreams was of course fairly straight foward and maybe a tad unrealistic. But what to expect from a Young, romantic teenage boy? He dreamed about bright red sunkissed hair and sweet lips that tasted of just a dash of vanilla…
It was during one of those dreamy afternoons that he met the Old Woman. She came Walking alongside the riverbank where he had decided to try his luck with the fishes this time (Anna was nowhere to be seen and that felt unsettling to him).
–G’dday to you young man, the Old Woman greeted Bastian with a deep melodic voice. How is your fishing-expedition faring?
Bastian had been so Deep into romantic dayreaming and thoughts that he nearly jumped out of his skin by the greeting. He cursed loudly when he saw the big old mean trout that he had been trying to lure all afternoon swimming away with a cheacky twist of its tail. He turned around to annoyed tell the voice but stopped almost in mid air:
–It is you! he exclaimed! Iti s really you! My mother used to tell me stories about you when I was a young boy. About the woman in the Woods who helped her get back home when she had got lost.
–Well, the Old Woman chuckled. There is Always two sides to a story and all stories has to come to an end eventually. She smiled with an almost regretful smile. But I am happy that the PlumbBob allowed me to meet with my bloodline one last time before I have to go.
–Go? You can not go! Bastian protested. You have to come and meet mom! She will be thrilled!
–Hush boy! said the Old Woman sternly. Do not talk about things you do not understand! And why have you not talked to that girl yet! Youth of today, you all think you have all the time in the world. When in reality it could be over with just a breath of a second. By the way, let your sister know that it wont be her fault. She will blame herself for what will happen. But some things in nature man can not rule over. Fate gives and fate takes.
The Old Woman looked up sharply, as if she was listening to some invisible voice, although there were only the two of them around. She nodded.
–Yes, she said. I know. It is time. Then she turned back to Bastian and handed him an yellowed envelop. Here, she said. It is not much, but it all I got left and it will explain a lot of things.
Bastian looked down on the envelop in his hand.
–Thanks, he said and looked up again. The Old Woman was nowhere to be seen though.
Bastian was still deep in thought the same evening when he went to Willow Creek park to fish some more. Who had that old woman been. She had had grey hair, but her features had looked very ageless. At the same time, he had recognized her immediately. It was logically and realisticly impossible, but as young boy he never had grown tired of hearing how his mother had met her grandmother in Granite Falls just before he was born. And this woman looked so much like his mother had described her that the only thing Bastian could conclude was that either she had been a mirage or he had had just met his great-grandmother. He looked down at the envelope in his hand once again with a frown between his eyes. One part of him desperately wanted to open and look at the content another one was afraid for its content. It was very much like Schrödeinger’s cat he mused: If the content was horrofying and aweful and he did not open it – would it still come back and haunt him. He did not know for sure.
-A penny for your thoughts, a soft voice said just in front of him.
For the second time the same day, he almost jumped out of his skin. When he saw who it was, he felt his face turn bright red.
–Eeehm…. Uuuh… I mean… Hi! He did not mean it to but he could feel how his face lit up in a big goofy grin. Hi! he said again. I am Bastian.
Anna laughed, and he felt how he got tingling butterflies mixed with bubbling lemonade all around in the pit of his stomach.
-I know silly, she said smiling. You have classes across the hall every Monday and Wednesday. And besides why would I not remember the cutest boy in the entire school? That would be stupid, right?
-What? No way…. I mean Yes! Yes, and I think you are cute too! He could feel how his heart was beating like a sledgehammer inside his chest, at times almost skipping a beat. Was he really doing this? Was this really happening? Suddenly, as if she was right there he could here the voice of the Old Woman: “ You all think you have all the time in the world. When in reality it could be over with just a breath of a second. “With courage almost as miraculously as from the Cowardly Lion walking alongside Dorothy he gently leaned over and pressed his lips against hers.