Camp NaNoWriMo part 14
Genre: friendship, general, slice of life
There was a saying that went something like this: it takes a village to raise a child.
For Wilfredo, his family was the village. Even with members constantly moving out of the estate, there were still plenty of people around to watch his every move.
As the children of the family head, it was almost impossible for him and his brother to go anywhere alone. His brother learnt to accept it. He learnt to escape it.
His favourite hiding place was a cluster of trees at the edge of the estate. It was so far from where all the activity was that hardly anyone went there, and there were plenty of trees to cover him even if anyone came looking. For close to a year, that was his own little kingdom.
Then Esther came in.
The first time he found an intruder in his kingdom, he hid in the trees and watched her like a hunter. Who was this girl? What was she doing here? How did she find his hiding spot? And more importantly, how could he make her leave?
He grabbed the first idea that came to mind, which was to load up on pebbles from the ground and climb up a tree. He aimed.
He threw the pebbles at the girl. It worked on birds and cats, so it would work on her too. The girl shrieked and took cover behind a tree, but she didn’t run. She looked around with narrowed eyes until she stared straight at him.
He stayed where he was. His hiding spot was perfect. She couldn’t possibly see him. Even as she bent down to pick up her own pebbles, he refused to move and reveal his position.
And that was the story of how he took a pebble to his face and fell off a tree. Not that he would ever tell that to anyone.
Esther was a girl, and old by child standards, but she wasn’t family, and she didn’t know who he really was. He did whatever he wanted however he wanted, and she took it all without batting an eye.
So he let her stay.
It was another year before he learnt that their families had been neighbours since forever, and his little kingdom was actually on her side of the property.
“So our parents know each other?” A cold hand gripped his heart. Had she been a spy all along? A secret babysitter?
“No. Our families don’t talk to each other much.”
She looked away from him. “We drifted apart. It happens.”
He was still young then. Hopelessly optimistic and a firm believer of things staying the same forever.
“But we’re friends now right? We can start again. And this time we’ll be friends forever.”
But they did drift apart. As they grew older, they had less time to run off on their own. Duties came first, as did career and relationships. They still kept in touch. She went to his graduation, he went to her wedding, but it wasn’t the same anymore. He could go years before thinking about her. Had gone years without remembering her.
Until she turned up at his doorstep.
“Uncle Wilfredo, someone’s looking for you,” Lilibeth announced with Esther behind her.
That his own niece didn’t recognise his old friend made a weight settle in his chest as he recalled his childish declaration years ago. The weight grew when he didn’t recognise her son, who was younger than Luciano but older than Lilibeth.
“Please help me.”
The weight choked him until he agreed. Anything she wanted, however long she needed, whatever method she chose.
She asked for a protector for her son until she returned and complete secrecy. No questions asked.
So that was what he did.
That was the last time he saw her.
~Head over to the next part here~