Chapter 4:

Three Truths and a Lie (Part 1)

The Curious Case of Clemsey

“Memories may be vulnerable to time, but the history that was made while creating them will persist to exist,” I said flatly, while pushing my swivel chair next to Aunt Gigi. “Uhm... what do you think of that line? Did… uhm... did it move you?”

The swift typing sound from the keyboard came to a sudden paused yet, it took quite awhile before Aunt Gigi looked at me and replied, “whatever is that for Clemsey? Are you reading a lot of romance novels lately?”

“Wha-whatever made you think that way Aunt Gigi. I have no interest in the genre much more so in real life romance.” I cleared my throat and continued, “you see, I joined the anime club in my high school and for as long as we could pitch a theme or a story, we could go home directly, as we please. Meaning! I could perform my usual library duties after my classes... and oh! uhm... I am thinking of creating a protagonist who forgets her memories and—”

“Sis!” My explanation was disrupted by a vibrant and excited figure of a little boy that is my brother, Enith, pushing open the staff room door with a bit of a struggle.

Aunt Gigi looked at her watch, stood up from her seat and said, “that line is moving and I also have to get a move on. Take care of Meliora. And... oh, add an element of surprise to the story. Enith, be a dear and help your sister out. Bye!”

“Yup! Yup!" Enith exclaimed. My little brother is really cute. “Sis! Sis! the cat is outside the library waiting for his snacks!” Oh, so it's a boy now? Just yesterday it was a girl. "All right, you go ahead, food’s in the counter outside, bring it to him, I’ll follow you in a jiffy.”

I wasn’t able follow in a jiffy. I positioned myself languishingly in the chair, stared blankly at the ceiling and stayed that way for quite awhile. An element of surprise, I pondered. Something unexpected or something highly unlikely... hmm... that would be nice.

I walked down the hallway, passing through the quiet reading area where two students from another high school seem to be doing a serious research on Japanese history. I ran my hand softly on the spines of neatly organized books while racking my brain, pleading it to produce a riveting story to present, until I made it to the entrance door without the faintest idea at all. Maybe the cat can help.

One thing to note about an “element of surprise” is that it reveals the very truth of the character or a particular matter. It is oftentimes a kind of truth that would leave us in a state of utter bewilderment for its sheer contradiction to what was initially perceived. For instance, I have already formed certain beliefs about my personality, but once challenged by unexpected narrative of events, it might require a great deal of courage to take a good honest look at myself.

A chain of events, an element of surprise then comes the truth...

With a puzzled look on my face, I am about to reach out my hand to the door handle when suddenly, the massively heavy entrance door of The Meliora swang wide open. I took a step back, out of reflex. My heart almost jump out of my chest. Enith rushed back inside and stood in front of me in full alertness. Before us, with one hand clutching on the door handle, the other on the knee, is a man who looks very much like he was forced into an errand against his will. Heavily panting, he looked up, met Enith’s eyes, then up again to meet mine. Green. Deep green, I gasped.

“Oh!” The man hurriedly closed the door behind and offered a deep bow, “I am sorry, I must’ve startled you. Please excuse me.” He straightened his back then smoothed out his demeanor the same way he did to his school uniform. As the angle of the sun passing through the window indicates that it will be setting soon, the angle of his face as he did a quick glance to the outside is pretty telling that there’s something he ought to set himself. I was able to calm my brother’s nerve by flashing a reassuring smile then, slowly looked up at the baffled person by the door.

“What a surprise Mr. Soreno,” I said.

“Ah- huh?” He looked at me in confusion.

“If you need the library as a means of escape, there is a fire exit door near the staff area.” I motioned him to my right then continued, “if you need the library for other means of escape, there are also study desks, and more private nooks nestled in between the book shelves. Should you need any more assistance, you can find me behind the counter.” I ended my statement with a bow and turned to my back.

“Ah- wait, uhm... how did you... know me?”

“A newspaper article and my friend Mashima mentioned you. You two are in the same club.” I turned to face him again. “Sorry, I haven’t introduced myself. I am Clemsey Akisa, same school, same year, most probably around the same age, The Meliora’s assitant librarian, nice to meet you.”

“Ash hair... gold eyes... the school... muse...” He said, a little bit muffled. “Ah! I mean, you are 1st year’s top student. Aren’t you the one who did the speech for the opening ceremony last week? I wasn’t there so—”

“Bro,” my brother interjected with a gentle smile. “My name is Enith. Five. Nice to meet you.” He offered a warm smile back and they had a little exchange. I think they just became friends.

“Anyway Akisa,” he said, “the escape... was it too obvious?”

“There’s a discussion nook in the corner of this library, just behind the history section. Do you want to check that out?” I asked.

“Sure thing, I love history,” he answered.

That said, it doesn’t really take much to make an assumption based on the scenario that played out. For one, the Soreno family is widely known in the country as the owner of a major shipping line that has its roots in the town of Port Ami. Soreno himself is dubbed as “The Prince” in our high school. Now that I get a better look at him, I can see how his facial features are soft and refined. Though, despite his offer of a warm smile, his presence is still somewhat intimidating.

“You are going to be the Soreno Group’s heir right? It was stated in the newspaper yesterday,” I said with a questioning look, remembering when Mashima told me how stern Soreno’s reaction was to the article. “Perhaps, your escape has something to do with that? Are you being observed?”

“Shushhh…” Oh my, the librarian is being shushed.

“Pardon me... I don’t mean to intrude on your personal affairs. But, seeing someone open the library door so effortlessly, I can’t help but take a moment to be wonder why.” I leaned a little bit closer to the table. “Besides, it’s not everyday that I see someone rush here in the state you were in. It’s always either dread or excitement.”

“I was trying to escape.” He looked at me seriously in the eye and continued, “from a private investigator my grandmother hired. She is the head of Soreno group and she hates me with her whole heart. Unfortunately though, I am the only remaining child of her only child. That doesn’t give her much of choice on the matter, but neither do I. My grandmother is keeping a close eye on my every move following that article. It’s exhausting you know…”

A ghost in form of a grudge... Surely something unexpected, I thought.

He leaned a bit closer to me, narrowed his eyes and said, “Hey, has anyone ever told you that you are crazy perceptive?”

“Hmm? My mom only calls me crazy. Anyway, you did a good job escaping. I need to do mine as well. Feel free stay, we close late.” I stood up from my seat.

“Akisa…” he said while looking straight at me. “Do you know why I joined the tabletop gaming club?”

“Hmm?” I muttered.

“You see, one plays the game with tactics, strategies and a good deal of risk to take. But, luck is an element that has a huge impact on the whole scheme of things. I really like that part. The unexpected,” he said, with eyes looking like he’s finally holding a winning deck of cards.

“Soreno, please… you’re being awfully noisy,” I said, while trying to stifle a laughter

“Oh no… you are being awfully cold…” he said.

“No, I’m being awfully awkward,” I responded.

There’s a lingering laughter in the air that day at The Meliora. I can hear it once again in this dream— whispered exchanges, chuckles and shushes. I remember it so vividly in my mind. It struck an unfamiliar chord inside of me that is as beautiful as it is haunting. I thought, this must be what it sounds like when history is starting to write itself…