I miss dolphins with smiles on the wall of an abandoned house at the corner of the street. I miss stopping by granny’s house before heading home for dinner. I miss every time I opened granny’s door she would be sitting on her sofa knitting and watching tennis on the TV. I miss cycling back to the tents empty-stomach after failing to start a fire on a beach. I miss holding my breath in front of fireflies with Remsi, the donkey. I miss playing pokers while hiding to be sought. I miss Frodo hopping high as I flung the grass in the air. I miss handstands on the deck of a ferry.
Forteza is a small town. The kind of size that you think you would never get lost in it but you do. Every single alley looks so similar in a sense that the blocks are so colorful and yet so unique that there are no colors being repeated. The only way to locate yourself in the town is to get to know the people.
Lukas just finished putting fresh roses on the tavern tables for dinnertime. Tables are all set, lights are dimmed, the chiefs are chopping in the kitchen and Tom, Lukas’s manager, is napping behind the counter.
Charelle has been looking for her friends’ place for an hour, circling among the colored blocks. “Remember the fountain plaza?...Right right… straight through it and turn left after the second blocks…””No, Tim, the bar with red flags…” “Yes, the bar, and then to the street … you see the a café… behind it” “Lemon Tree café? Or Lemongrass…” ”Ask someone. You’ll find it!”
Sure not. It’s stupid enough to leave my friends early, for a tourist who lacks the sense of orientation. She has passed the red flags for the fifth times and still no luck to spot the Café. No one has heard of the Lemon Café. Oh…Tim, that airhead!
“Hey! What are you looking for?” Lukas has noticed her passing for quite a while.
“My friends’ apartment.”
It’s a tavern at the corner with a wide arch entrance. Chairs and tables spread from the tavern aligning in the alley. Red flower vines are shielding above the tables at the side arch entrances of the tavern.
“Do you have the name of the street?” Lukas asks.
“No, but I guess it’s somewhere around here.”
“Well, this includes the whole town already. What about the number of the street?”
She shakes her head, feeling sorry for Lukas as he seems really helpful.
“Do you have the card of it? Telephone no.?”
“Fuck...” He walks into the tavern, calling Tom.
“But I know it’s a white gate. Behind a Lemon Café?” She sounds doubtful even to herself.
The city goes into a blackout couples days later. Charelle is wandering on the street with her friends after dinner.
“It almost feels like Halloween. I should have worn my skeleton outfit and put one some…” Tim waves his lighting phone under his chin.
“Oh, shut up Tim. It’s NOT fun! I feel like a hobo.”
“Hobos don’t have beers and Roman…”
“Hey! My friend! How are you? Did you find your place?” It’s Lukas, the waiter.
The electricity is back on.
“Hey! Timmy!” Lukas goes over to give Tim a tight squeeze.
The town locates at the shore where the waves are crashing the cliff all year round. There is a fortress on one side of the town, right above the cliff. It looks so idle that you can’t even imagine it’s former significance. But this fortress is probably the only place where you will not get lost in this town. Seen from the fortress, the town looks like a chessboard. People are moving in between pastel colored blocks. There is a playground in the middle of the town beside the school. At the very corner of this playground, there is a shortcut to an abandoned building with drawings of sunset and animals on the walls. Though it had been said that this building is abandoned, the drawings on the walls change from time to time. Sparkling stars and seashells, a boy jumping rope with an anchor attached, Roman candles popping in white wine bottles. Summer after summer it changes.
Two blocks down from this building, you see a lemon tree sticking its crown out from the backyard of a house. The crown covering a family having picnic in mid-summer when the berries are sweet for jam and giggles of a little girl lingers…
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