By Shawn Guzman
Episode 8
I felt quite important as we both walked to Nathan’s car, with linked arms. He opened the door for me and I giggled.
“Well, someone’s on his best behaviour. You go on like this and I might just give you that ice cream you’ve been asking for.” He laughed and shook his head.
“You’re something.”
Of course I am. He got into the car, smiling at me. That was when I realized I was staring. Well, excuse me for staring at the Eight Wonder of the World.
“So, where are we going?” I blurted out. Jesus Christ, Annabelle shut up!
He smiled. “You’ll see.”
On our way to the place “I was gonna see”, we drove past a pretty orchid and I thought we were having a picnic. Then we drove past a Chinese restaurant and I thought we were going all “Hong Kong”.
We drove past trees and I stopped trying to figure out where we were going. He stopped in front of a tree.
Tired and irate, I scoffed.
“A tree. We drove ten thousand miles to see a tree.”
He chuckled and took me to an entrance that was really difficult to notice. Even though it was labelled “Private Property, Do Not Trespass”, he shrugged and I shook my head, laughing. We went through the huge but camouflaged entrance and I goshed. The grasses were very green and the pond’s water was clear and in tandem with the sky. I felt like I was in a painting. I was never one for nature but this… This was explicit.
He saw the awe on my face and smiled.
“Welcome to Ponder Paradise.”
I choked back a giggle. He’s so cute. The grass looked amazing and I just lay on it and felt the summer sun. He lay beside me and turned to look at me.
“This place is amazing.” I said to him. I saw a shadow of terror on his face, then it was gone as quickly as it came.
“How did you find here?” I asked. He looked pensive, probably pondering if he should tell me. I just stared at him. Hell, I could do that for eternity.
He sighed. “One night, at the orphanage. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was thirteen. Depressed. Hungry. Neglected. Unloved. Outcasted. I just kept running, not looking at where I was running to till I hit my head on the entrance of this garden. I was so paranoid and mad. I yelled at it, bursting into tears and leaning into it to cry. My weight pushed the door and I saw the garden. To be honest, I thought it was heaven. I thought… I thought I’d see my parents. Finally, realization dawned on me and I saw it was just a garden. In the illumination of the moon, the pond looked unreal. Everything looked abstract. I ate fruits until, I felt like I was gonna pop. Then I sat down to ponder. About life. About death. About me. About love. Loneliness. The afterlife. I immediately felt at peace, here. Closer to a higher realm. I felt the urge to sing. When I started singing, man.. I didn’t wanna stop. It felt so good. This place changed me. Ponder Paradise.”
A tear rolled down my cheek. I looked at him, getting lost in his incredibly blue, cheerful eyes.
“Nathan, I don’t even know what to say.” I said, my voice hoarse.
He smiled. “Then don’t try to. Right now, I just wanna be in Ponder Paradise with you. You’re important to me.”
I blushed scarlet instantaneously, searching for words.
“You’re more important to me THAN me.”
He flushed, smiling. “I think we’re both on the same level of importance.”
He leaned in, his eyes closed.Yes, baby. I moved closer to him and his lips met mine. I felt his tongue probe my own and my head started spinning. His hands held my waist and the severity of the contact felt toxic. I  moaned into the kiss and held his neck, avoiding his head injury.
His mouth left mine for a minute and left to nibble on my earlobe, leaving me in a state of perpetual pleasure so intense, that all I could was mutter gibberish incessantly.
“I want you, Annabella.” He whispered into my ears, causing the words to echo in my brain, making fresh goosebumps appear. It felt like I was in a trance. I tried to feel his abs when my hands touched something solid, making him groan in inexplicableness.
His phone?

But why did he..

“Oh, my God!” I yelled, making him jump up from me in shock.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…” I started.
“Its okay. I liked it. I don’t wanna seem like a perv tho.” He said, stifling laughter.
I blushed, looking at my cell phone.
“Crap, its late. Dad asked me to come back before eight. Its almost seven and its a long way back.”
He nodded, smiling. “Let’s head back to the car.”
We walked to the entrance and then, I took one last glance at Ponder Paradise.

I drove in an ecstatic mood, feeling like I ruled the world. With Pharrell William’s “H=blasting through my stereo, I sang along on top my lung, getting weird smiles and stares. I don’t care. I have a life now.

After a long distance of driving and repeatedly singing Happy, I drove into my house’s garage and headed in the house. At the doorsteps, I heard wails and cries. Ugh. It’s those dimwits yelling about losing a football game. I swung opening the door to find Eric crying hysterically, hovereing above Kyle, who was gasping like a fish out of water… What the hell? I suddenly heard my dad’s panicky voice over Eric’s paranoic cries.
“…he just dropped in the middle of a sentence and started suffocating. Please get here, quickly, Oh God. Please. Please. Please. Please…”
What.. What is this? No one seemed to notice me until my dad saw me and muttered “Annie” so softly, I wasn’t even sure if he had said it. I walked over to embrace him.
“It’s gonna be Alright, Dad. I promise.” I said. He choked back sobs. I could already hear the ambulance’s sirens.
Hope you enjoyed reading this. Catch another thrilling episode next week Friday.

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