I hugged myself and looked out of the car. It felt like every strand of hair in my body rose as we entered Andorra la Vella, the capital of a small and beautiful microstate in Europe. Andorra is bordered by France to the north and Spain to the south.
The car climbed a bit higher, and Aiden, turn to me and smile. "This is the highest capital city in Europe. More than 3,300 feet above sea level."
"Uhuh." I rubbed the goosebumps on my knee. I felt too exposed in my short skirt, but Amalia, Aiden's twin, sitting in the backseat assured me that summer clothes will be good enough. Well, it's not. It's cold. And cold is not the only thing giving me goosebumps. The more we drive through the town, the more I felt crept out. The town oddly felt familiar, which is strange because it's the first time I've ever traveled out of the Philippines.
Amalia popped her head between the driver and the passenger seat, "Oh, Jaz, I'm so happy you're here with us! There are so many places we could go together."
I gave her a timid smile, while Aiden scolded her to get back on her seat. I chuckled. How the three of us become best friends is a story long as a book. But to shorten it, they were on a one-year vacation in the Philippines four years ago when Amalia saved me from some coward assholes who got intimated when they saw her, a woman, towering over them. They tried to play it tough but when Aiden showed up behind his sister, they scampered off barking like dogs with tails between their legs.
I still smile whenever I remember it.
I looked at Aiden, his tall nose, his chocolate-like skin, and below the ears spiral curls which made him and Amalia gorgeous. All of us got long black hair and brown eyes but the similarity ends there. I look flat compare to Amalia, and a kid compared to Aiden's large built all thanks to my Asian genes.
And if it's isn't obvious yet, yes, I'm in love with Aiden, I've always been long before I met him and Amalia. But I've already accepted it years ago that I'll never be anything more than a friend because things that happen in your dream are just that, a dream. And the Aiden I fell for before meeting them was a dream. This Aiden was gay.
I sighed as a split road ahead come to view. I decided to test myself. "Are you going left or right?"
"Right," Amalia replied.
Aiden nods. "Don't worry, we're almost at our place." After a long road trip on a winding snake-like, narrow road through the mountains from France, I'm more than ready to jump out of the car.
I closed my eyes as Aiden geared down and signal to turn right. It will be an uphill one-way road, mechanic shop to the right next to a cozy restaurant named Vegetariana, facing them is a building with tinted blue diagonal glass in the entire front.
I felt us climbed and open my eyes. Everything was in front of my eyes, down the smallest detail like the bump on the road before the parking lot to the left. This is the town that's been a recurring dream for the last seven years. And now at twenty-one, I'm in it. I discreetly pinch my thighs and winced. It hurts. Unbelievable as it seems to me, but what I'm seeing is real.
I shivered and rubbed my arms harder. The chill I felt when we entered the town intensified. Amalia leaned toward me with a fleece blanket in her hand. "Here, wrap it around you. Sorry, I forgot that you come from the constant heat of the tropics. The temperature here could drop to 17 degrees celsius even now in the summer."
I'm not sure if they will believe me that the chilly air isn't the only one making me shivers, so I took the blanket and bundle myself in my seat as we drove and stopped in front of a residential building, which thank goodness, doesn't look familiar.
One week of stay with Amalia and the scaredy girl when I arrived, is nothing but a visitor. My shoulder sagged as I caught glimpse of my reflection in front in the tinted blue glass of the building. Who am I kidding? I'm scared to face everything that looks familiar to me. I'm scared to see everything I dreamed about becomes reality except for the one I wish for the most.
Amalia waved at one of the mechanics across the street and bump my shoulder with her elbow. "Are you sure you don't want to enter?"
"Yes," I said smiling up at her, hiding my trepidation as I looked up the glass building then back at her. Slapping me once more of how short my five-one height looked short compared to hers and Aiden's six-two. No wonder they treat me like a little sister even though we're all the same age.
Amalia put a hand on my shoulder. "Are you sure you don't want to go inside? You've been taking a peek inside whenever we pass by."
Amalia raised her eyebrows. "I don't believe you." She grabbed my hand and pull. The automated door slides open and suddenly I understand why some people have agoraphobia, at that very moment as the wide, tall, and elegant spacious exterior of the building swallowed me. I gape and almost expected flower petals to rain down on me and see Aiden on the balustrade on the upper floor declaring his love for me. But he was nowhere to be seen.
"Hey, why do you like you're about to cry?"
A tear drops from my eye. I quickly wiped it. "Amalia, will you believe me if I said that I actually know about this town long before I met you and Aiden?"
I shook my head. "Nevermind. It's nothing."
"No, tell me."
Amalia guided me on one of the mall benches and there I told her about my dream, about Aiden and she listened wide-eyed at my story. By the time I was done, she laughed just as I expected. I let out a weak laugh. "I know, it sounds creepy."
Amalia stopped laughing. "It's not creepy at all, it's supernatural." She sighed. "Gosh, you both must truly be fated." She turned toward the vending machine beside us, did you hear all that?"
"Perfectly," Aiden said coming out from the other side wearing an orange and black long sleeve top and white knee-length shorts, just like in my dream.
"Well, I've done my mission." Amalia stood up and winked at me.
I opened my mouth to protest but she already turned on her heel and Aiden was kneeling in front of me. "So, you have been in love with me long before we meet."
"It sounds crazy--"
"I've met you long before I went to the Philippines too. It was disconcerting at first, but I like having you beside me."
I looked away. "As a friend."
"As a girl," he took my chin between his fingers and his eyes, gazing at me like I'm the only one in the world, "I can't afford falling petals and grand confession but are you willing to take a chance on us?"
I looked at his full lips, his wide shoulders and arms which can easily hide me away, and shook my head. With a heavy heart, I said, "You're gay."
He let go of my chin. "I'm not."
"Yes, you are. You were dating a man when we met."
"Yeah, but I broke up with him years ago."
"But you still dated a man."
"Does that make me unqualified to love a woman?"
I stopped rocking my legs. "No. Of course not."
"Jaz, I haven't dated anyone else ever since I broke things with him, because I fell in love with you. The you who's in front of me now."
I nod comprehending. I may have been in love with the Aiden in my dream, but he's not Aiden with me now.
He smiled and pulled out a single red rose from behind him. "Are you willing to take a chance on us?"
I took the rose. Ignoring the loud hammering of my heartbeat, I smiled. "Of course, but only if you can make me fall harder than the you in my dreams."
He wrapped his hand on my hand and kiss the rose I'm holding and smirked while holding my gaze, "Challenge accepted."