Juice Box

December 15, 2011
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She was a dreamer. Her thoughts fluttered to the clouds and raced with the birds. They glided over the ocean and swam with the fish to the murkiest parts of the sea where even sunlight could not caress it with its glowing warmth. Her thoughts were free to roam, yet trapped within the boundaries that reality had set for her. Fantasy was uncontrollably wild and wonderfully ridiculous with so much space to roam, to create, to build, to become. Reality was restricted to the formal laws and policies that the world had spent centuries debating over until it had come to a general consensus.

But amid the sea of people confined and living with the rules of reality, there was her, the rebel. She refused to run with the crowd and fought to bend the bars of her prison. She would find the key to her escape and let her fantasy become reality. After all, she was a dreamer.

“Excuse me, Miss, is this spot taken?”

Her thought bubbles evaporated into thin air as she stared quizzically at the stranger whose words had tumbled down like stones onto her blissful thinking. He was fascinating-looking with his closely cropped hair- a mohawk in the center to add flair- the color of a raven’s feathers with dark tanned skin to match. His face contained enough piercings to open his own jewelry store and the tattoo of a ferocious dragon beginning from his neck and crawling into his shirt would’ve been enough to send her running for the nearest police department if it wasn’t for his eyes. His eyes weren’t abnormally-shaped or oddly-colored- actually, they were typical almond-shapes, soaking in the world with common hues of chocolate brown. But the way they radiated with so much tenderness and compassion immediately captivated her attention. Her insides churned with warmth and she felt a sudden craving for him. For his eyes. For whoever he was.

“No, I don’t believe so. Please do sit,” she responded lightly.

They watched in silence as the waves playfully tumbled and crashed against each other, almost inviting the awkward two to join them. She fumbled with her tongue, trying to figure out if he was waiting for her to initiate the conversation. Why had this random male suddenly come up and sat next to her?

“The name’s Daino,” he finally spoke up.
Daino. What an alluring name with curious mystery behind it, she thought.

“I’m Filipino,” he added, as if that would explain the uncommonness of his name.

“Annabelle…but you can call me Anya. And I’m Latino, by the way,”
He nodded approvingly and then glanced down at her hands with a chuckle. “I’m guessing you’re a big fan of Minute Maid?” he asked.
She followed his gaze down and then reddened at the juice box in her hands. At the age of seventeen, she still hadn’t overcome her unusual habit of always having a juice box within centimeters away from her. The tangy sweetness of the fruity drink reminded her of the bittersweet world she was living in.

“Truth, I’m a Minute Maid addict kicked out of rehab,” she teased shyly.

Daino looked at her thoughtfully before pulling something out of his pocket. It was a Minute Maid juice box.

“Truth, so am I.”

They both grinned in unison.

“Orange flavor?” Anya questioned.

“Only the best!” Daino triumphed, causing another grin to creep onto Annabelle’s face.

The two sipped in silence, letting their recent discoveries sink in. Anya tapped the grainy sand underneath her fingertips. She had so many questions she wanted to throw at Daino. For example, who exactly was he and why was he here, next to her? But she knew slow and steady won the race, so Anya sat, letting the silence converse for them until they were ready.

“The ocean’s pretty magnificent,” Daino commented, closing his eyes and feeling the salty wind embrace him.

“It’s its own kingdom with knights, pages, servant boys…”

Daino turned to Anya with an amused expression painted across his face. “Kingdom, you say. Then who’s the king and queen?”

“The merman and mermaid that live in the richest parts of the ocean, of course,” Anya replied bluntly.

Daino grinned and then shook his head at the idea.

“Well then, shall we play like mermen and mermaids in the water?”


Daino stood up, brushed sand off of his board shorts, and then grabbed Anya’s wrist gingerly.
“Come play in the kingdom with me, Miss Mermaid,” he whispered.
The two splashed around in the water, their eyes shining brightly as they attempted to get the other wet. They moved gracefully, each one complementing the other’s steps and movements. Water jumped around everywhere, soaking them to the skin, yet they didn’t notice. Their laughter vibrated throughout the entire ocean, waking up sea creatures burrowed under the sand. They spun, leaped, twirled, whirled, twisted, turned… It was as if they were dancing. They wanted each other, badly. They wanted to hold each other and read their future in each other’s eyes. They wanted to stop the hourglass and let the world revolve around them.
“You’re beautiful, Annabelle,” Daino murmured softly into Anya’s ear.
“Not as beautiful as this day has been and where my dreams will soar tonight.”
“You’d be surprised,” he said and then touched his lip against hers.
Anya reached up, stroked his face, touched his piercings, and then smiled.
“Mermaids don’t kiss,” she teased.
“Well, looks like we’ll have to teach them something new,” Daino replied and pushed his lips closer.
They kissed under the setting sun, under the floating clouds, under the magic that could never be reality.
The sky was painted with multitudes of colors as Daino and Anya dried themselves off on shore. Shades of magenta, orange, yellow, and red intermingled with one another, creating one of nature’s greatest beauties. The sun, halfway to its bed, extended its arms as far as it could reach one more time. The sky glowed brightly in return and brought peace and wonder to the hearts of everybody watching. The two stared in awe, soaking in its beauty.
“If my imagination was the sunset, what colors do you think the sunset would be?” Anya wondered.
“Your imagination can’t be the sunset,” Daino replied simply.
Anya glanced at him, slightly offended. “Why not?”
“Because no color brilliant enough exists in this world.”
“There’s us.”
“We’re a color?”
“Yes, the color of brilliance,” Anya said smugly.
Daino chuckled and wrapped his arms around Annabelle, giving her a light squeeze. She grabbed the arm around her shoulders and peered up at him in amazement and wonder. How had destiny put two strangers in such an odd, yet pleasant situation? It felt right and wrong at the same time.
“I’m not who you think I am, Anya,” Daino said suddenly, breaking apart Anya’s thoughts yet again.
“Then who are you, Daino?” she asked.
“I’m not a person, Anya, I’m your wildest dream.”
“My wildest dream? Then that means you won’t last; you’ll disappear before I open my eyes.”
“So let’s savor each moment, like we would for every sip of our juice boxes.”

“Every single sip…” Anya murmured and rested her head on Daino’s shoulder. The Filipino boy hummed a familiar tune that gradually soothed Annabelle, and soon, she felt herself doze off.

Her eyes jumped open as she felt sand tangle within her hair. Annabelle lifted herself up and realized that she had tipped over while taking a light nap. She rubbed her eyes and scanned her surroundings, trying to grasp something familiar. As she watched the waves dance playfully in the waters, she remembered.


Anya spun her head around, searching for any clue of Daino, her beloved stranger. But as she desperately looked around, a familiar voice trickled into her head.

“I’m your wildest dream.”

The brown-haired teenager closed her eyes, understanding the truth. She grinned to herself and sank her feet deeper into the golden sand. So he was, and would forever be her fantasy. But it was alright, because after all, she was a dreamer and during those precious hours, she had for once been completely free.

With that, Anya lifted her head up to the sky and slowly drank the juice box in her hand. She wanted to savor each sip.

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