Chapter 2: The Boy named Archimedes
Melrose took good care of Henry’s house, which soon became home for the baby and herself. She entirely transformed it with feminine touches and good housekeeping. Henry smiled to himself every time she hummed a mellow tune while working in the kitchen and when she recited a lullaby to her son at night; there was nothing else he sought more pleasure in. Both he and Mr. Sprinkles had grown very fond of Melrose and her son as well who was almost two years old by then.
Henry looked after the kid as if it was his own and even picked out a name for him.
“Since you haven’t decided on a name yet, may I put forward a suggestion?” he asked cautiously one day.
“That would be nice,” responded Melrose sincerely.
“So how about we call him Archimedes?”
She chuckled melodiously upon hearing that and Henry watched in awe. She was always beautiful, but simply breathtaking when she smiled or laughed. She said something, but Henry didn’t hear it because he was too engrossed admiring her secretly. She waved her hand in front of his face, and he snapped out of the trance. He was embarrassed and apologetically asked her to repeat whatever she was saying.
“I was saying that I’ve never heard of the name “Archimedes” before,” she provided unbothered, “what does it mean?”
Henry told her that the name belonged to the world’s greatest Greek scientist, and it was understandable if she found it strange.
“Forget that I said anything,” he said ruefully, “I’ll think of something better,”
“I like it,” she replied.
She lifted up her son by the hands, so she could look into his eyes. She hesitated for a moment, but then smiled at him warmly; she told him that the world would know him by the name ‘Archimedes’ from that day onwards. Henry was delighted and Melrose had never seen him happier. He might not be an attractive man at first glance, but he was charming in his own way. He was kind, selfless, and respectful, which was worth a lot more than some pretty face. In was in that moment that Melrose realized that she was in love with this gem of a person.
Archimedes’ 2nd birthday was celebrated with fervor at the cottage. Melrose baked a delicious chocolate cake along with a variety of savory dishes. Henry decorated the whole place with ribbons and balloons; he also bought at least a dozen gifts and wrapped them by himself. It was indeed a memorable day for everyone including Mr. Sprinkles, who wore a party hat for the occasion. All the activity and excitement was a bit exhausting for the baby boy, so he was put to bed early. Melrose and Henry then sat down on the patio and had a cup of tea together.
“I don’t know how I could ever repay you for what you’ve done for me and my son,” she said out of the blue.
“You don’t have to…” began Henry but Melrose stopped him.
They sat in silence for several minutes, gazing at the stars and listening to the sound of crickets.
“Marry me,” proposed Henry, “unless I’m not good enough for you,”
Melrose did not look at him or say anything; she abruptly rose to her feet and ran into the house. Henry panicked, paused for a minute and then followed her to apologize. Tears streamed down her face as he held her by the shoulders to face him. He promised her that he had no intention of hurting her and he would never bring up this subject again.
“I love you,” she wept, “but I’m the one who’s not good enough for you,”
Henry was taken aback by those words. He gently pulled her into his arms and confessed that she was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He let her know that she was an amazing, brave, and beautiful woman; he didn’t care about her past and he already thought of Archimedes as his own son. She clung to him desperately and he held her protectively until the flowing tears came to a halt.
A month later they both got married and Henry proved to be an amazing husband and father. Near Archimedes 5th birthday, the couple was blessed with a baby girl. Unfortunately, she was struck by severe typhoid briefly after she turned one and couldn’t survive. Melrose didn’t take it well and fell into a state of depression.
Archimedes was turning out to be quite a handsome young lad. The growing resemblance to his biological father was uncanny for Melrose; at times she didn’t want to see her son’s face. His dark, yet bright eyes and playful grin sent shivers down her spine. Around the time he turned seven, she was diagnosed with malignant cancer. The illness progressed over time despite medical treatment, and a year later she understood that she didn’t have much time left.
During her last days, Archimedes would sit by her side while she was asleep. At times he felt like he was spiritually transferred to a surreal place where he would converse with his mother; there she was healthy and happy unlike in the real world. At the time he was just a kid and didn’t understand the power he held.
When Melrose passed away, part of Henry died with her. Nevertheless, he always put on a strong face and fully devoted himself towards the upbringing of Archimedes. A few months after the demise of Melrose, he received an opportunity for a better and higher paying job in the city of Chicago. He didn’t think twice before accepting the offer, as it meant a brighter future for his son.
Henry adored Archimedes more than anything in the whole world, which is why he made sure that he got the best of everything. He studied at the top school of Chicago and had access to every facility a boy his age could wish for. He grew into quite a handsome young man who possessed a talent for many things. Wherever he went, people wanted to be him or be with him, and that skyrocketed his confidence and arrogance.
In middle school, Archimedes met Demelza, the daughter of an influential socialite, and Kenneth, the son of a renowned surgeon in the country. These three became best friends and made a pact to always stick together. They were truly inseparable, given that they managed to stay close after graduating from high school. The trio went to college in New York, where they could start a new chapter of their lives without losing each other.
Archimedes developed a keen interest in science, thanks to having Henry as a father. In addition to his good looks, he was a quick learner and incredibly smart. He was academically gifted, great at sports, born for drama, and basically excellent at everything he tried. His buddy Kenneth shared his fascination with science and thereby the pair ended up in the same program. Demelza always wanted to be a spokesperson, thus she opted for media studies.
Demelza would keep telling everyone that she was born to be famous and she knew she had it in her. She was sharp, persuasive, devious, and gorgeous; she was also blessed with filthy rich doting parents and a flair for fashion. Kenneth on the other hand was less outstanding compared to the two. He was flaxen with plain features and a standard build; everything about him shouted average or mainstream, but in a positive way. He was a nice guy, someone you could trust and easily talk to.
The three friends had very different personalities, but they got along perfectly; hence, they rented an apartment in New York to share. While Demelza and Archimedes were busy partying or dating/ hooking up, Kenneth was the one being responsible. He would clean up the mess his roommates made, restock food, and ensure all bills were paid in time.
First semester of college was over and it was an excuse for celebration. Demelza had plans with her boyfriend “Dave” who was disliked by her somewhat racist parents (for being black). Since Demelza wasn’t around, the boys went out to check out a new club in the area. Archimedes promised that he was going to help Kenneth get laid that night. First of all, he picked his outfit, and then lent him his favorite cologne. When they reached the club, Archimedes asked him to browse and pick. Kenneth pointed out a girl dressed in yellow, but Archimedes disapproved after shooting her a momentary glance.
“Why not?” he protested, “she’s sexy and she flashed me a smile earlier,”
“She’s karma,” said his friend.
“Even her name is sexy,” insisted Kenneth.
“Her name is ‘Leslie’ but she is karma” Archimedes clarified.
Kenneth got mad and confused. He couldn’t make sense of the gibberish and Archimedes just rolled his eyes all the way back.
“Because she’s a bitch, get it?” he elaborated wryly.
It took a minute for the true meaning of his words to sink in. Kenneth grimaced and began to browse the crowd once again for a suitable candidate. Thirty seconds later Archimedes changed his mind and told him that he should definitely go with Leslie.
“But let it be a casual one night stand,” he advised Kenneth who was simply pissed at that point.
He enlightened his friend that it wasn’t his style. He could never randomly hook up with a girl and then forget about her. Archimedes’ response to that was a mocking chuckle and that he was an idiot.
“Sorry for being humane and giving a shit about others’ feelings,” commented Kenneth ironically.
In a matter of minutes Archimedes already had some tipsy hippie throwing herself at him at the bar whilst Kenneth sulked a few feet away. Not long after his gaze fell upon a beautiful young woman sitting alone a few seats away. She wore a fitted purple blouse with matching high heels and a black mini skirt. She seemed lost in thought as she carelessly played with her loose blonde curls and sipped a cocktail. Kenneth poked his friend in the ribs to tell that he had just witnessed the girl of his dreams.
“She’s waiting for someone,” speculated Archimedes after one good look.
“I don’t think so,” challenged Kenneth, “I’m going to ask her to dance with me,”
“Sure whatever,” he smirked back.
Kenneth went over and his friend’s prediction came true. He returned with a sullen face and told Archimedes that he hated him. Archimedes offered to hook him up with the tipsy hippy who was still ogling him from a distance. Kenneth refused the offer asserting that he wasn’t that desperate.
Right about then a model-like brunette in a sea-green maxi entered the club, and several guys dropped their jaws. Archimedes nudged Kenneth to go and take a chance with her if he really was a man.
“She’s too out of my league,” he owned up.
Archimedes called him a chicken and went up to her himself. He casually said “hi” and introduced himself, which led to a friendly conversation. Her name was Alicia and she actually was a model visiting the city for a photo shoot for some magazine. As expected, she was the type who played hard to get and for most guys, she was worth all the pain. Except Archimedes wasn’t one of those guys; he preferred girls fighting for him rather than the other way round. He scribbled his phone number on a piece of paper and handed it to her.
“If I’m not already the guy of your dreams, then now I will be,” he told her smugly.
She raised an eyebrow at him and her expressions conveyed “like, seriously?”
Archimedes flaunted his irresistible smile and let her know that he’d be waiting for her call. She couldn’t help being amused and reluctantly slipped the piece of paper into her handbag. He then walked away and rejoined Kenneth who was impatiently waiting to know the details. Archimdes informed him that she would call soon. Kenneth didn’t dare doubt him because past experiences suggested it was probably true. After that, the guys decided to leave early and get dinner someplace nice and fancy.
“How do you it every time?” moped Kenneth as he drove the car out of the parking lot.
“Well I have a secret,” confessed his friend.
The truth was that Archimedes had the ability to invade people’s dreams and manipulate them. This gift could be used to accomplish so much, but all he used it for was getting girls. All he had to do was close his eyes, think about that specific girl and voila! The only condition was that the concerned person had to be asleep in that time frame. Eight out of ten times he was successful influencing his subjects; the exception would be girls who didn’t take their dreams seriously.
Occasionally, he had to enter a subject’s dream several times to get a reaction. He had never mentioned his special power to anyone throughout his life, but that night he spilled the beans.
“Bullshit!” exclaimed Kenneth.
“Believe it or not, it’s true,” he winked.
“And I turn to a werewolf when it’s full moon,” shot back Kenneth sarcastically.
“I believe you,” said Archimedes in a serious tone and burst into hysterical laughter the next second.
“Screw you,” cursed Kenneth, “you’ll be paying for dinner tonight and I’m picking the restaurant,”
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