Flash in the Pantry: When Gumamela Blooms by Zea Perez

‘I never thought I could meet you again like this,’ Lu said to Mr. Ray. Her voice tried to control her agitation.

They both continued walking on a cemented pathway, heading to the community park. At a distance the Gumamela flowers greeted them in their full blooms in red and pink rooted on the side of the benches. It was the blossoming season.

‘At a certain point before this moment, I thought I must not see you,’ Mr. Ray replied. ‘I mean, as much as possible, I was of the opinion we must refrain from any crossing of our paths,’ his voice was steady.

‘I understand,’ Lu said with a sigh, ‘but at least let me tell you this. I’d like to express my deepest gratitude in favor of the people and the children you helped in my community. In the end, you stood beside them,’ her voice near to breaking point. Mr. Ray looked up at her intently.

‘You owe me nothing and the community. I just did what I needed to do,’ Mr. Ray replied firmly.

She continued, ‘I thought you were one of them. Those despicable business owners who only care for their greedy interests.’

Lu’s eyes, expressing humility, fixed on Mr. Ray.

They reached the benches and sat on one of them, silently for a moment. A huge Talisay tree provided a magnificent shade as the sun basked them at ten in the morning. A soft wind roused the leaves and the twigs to stir lightly.

‘I could have done that a long time ago, Lu. If that was what I call for and if I only pay attention to my interest.’

He paused for a moment.

‘Our family owns this place from way back in the Spanish era. And we have all the papers to back it up. Fortunately, I grew up in this place too,’ Mr. Ray said in a clear, light voice.’

‘Yes, you did,’ she said pensively. She stared at the Gumamela blossoms. Her memories flew back when Mr. Ray would fancy giving them to her when they were young.

‘I had a charming childhood in the community. I loved the neighbourhood, the people, the children, and the camaraderie,’ Mr. Ray recalled. His face was shining.

‘And I respect their tenure in this place. Most of all, I love your vision with them. That library and the little park. A little ideal Eden of yours, but I share with your vision, Lu.’

Mr. Ray smiled at her. Lu smiled back.

‘I thought your company already sold them to a new investor. That is why there was a threat of demolition against the community. And you were one of them. A notion I had before your cousin confronted me and urged me to encourage you to take your side with them. If not, the future of the community and my family will be most unfavorable,’ her voice rose mildly. She sighed and stared evenly at Mr. Ray.

Mr. Ray stood up and took a step from the bench.

‘It was the workings of other greedy relatives,’ he continued, ‘My cousin told me about your meeting with them. They said you were firm against your views on the community conversion into a highly commercialized area.’

His eyes were gleaming with admiration as he gazed at her.

‘Yet, instead of a feeling of displeasure with you, my other relatives became impressed and saw a refreshing and meaningful perspective about your vision,’ he expounded.

Lu recalled the engagement with his relatives. It was indeed intense. Yet, it unfurled her significant discovery and realization of the true character of Mr. Ray.

‘I never thought of that. I just wanted to say what I had to say. That very moment there was a great realization I discovered about you,’ Lu said. Her eyes bared with wonder as she glanced at him.

‘Yes, it gave me hope, Lu. I thought if you had turned down my interest with you, you could have told them about your disinterest in me. Told them you do not care about whose side I was with.’

He beamed and sat comfortably beside Lu.

They were a picturesque image of two contented souls.

Children came to the park.

Lu and Mr. Ray were jovial as they watched the children about to play hide and seek.

Lu envisaged the kids’ laughter seemed to revive the congenial wind to budge the branches of the trees and enthralled the Gumamela blooms surrounding the park to dance gently by trailing the rhythm of the wind.

Zea Perez lives in the Philippines. She writes children’s stories. But only now did she dare to share some of her writings. She has some pieces published at Flash Fiction North, Literary Yard, and soon at TEA. She also writes reviews for Booktasters and Goodreads.

Yu can find more of Zea’s work here on Ink Pantry.

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