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Chapter 4

  • A big clock in the school hall tolled seven times. It meant thirty minutes before the first class begins. I ran toward the bulletin board to see the poem published today. My heart was pounding harder, wishing my poem was posted there.
  • My eyes were red and enlarged twice in size. The poem I wrote in tears greeted me. Word forming sentences danced and drew me inside the excitement. My hand groped the paper to ensure that it was mine. My pseudonym — EL – was written under the title. This situation successfully boosted my mood. It could teleport me to the place where nobody was dismissive.
  • “You have a unique writing style. That mesmerized me. Why don’t you uncover who you are?” A bob-haired girl, Vera, the editor questioned me when we were in the editor room. She positioned herself in the chair across me. Her hands were set on the table with finger twitched. Her deep dark eyes met mine. “I can recommend you to be a part of our school bulletin.”
  • “Thank you, anyway. But, I prefer working alone. Besides, fame is not my ultimate goal. As long as I still write, I can be ecstatic and alive.”
  • “Alright, if you make up your mind, just let me know.”
  • “Sure. Thanks.”
  • Vera was one of a few students who were kind and friendly to me. She cared for and motivated me. I was so lucky to know someone like her although I had to say that we had a wide space to be closed and got involved in a friend-relationship (friendship).
  • “Hi....” I was startled. Reno, the nerd has walked behind me when I just got out of the editor's room.
  • “If it is about a pen, just forget it then. You don’t owe me anything.”
  • “No”
  • “So, what is it you want?” I faced him over my shoulder. His towering body made my gaze only reached his chest.
  • “Let’s befriend.”
  • “What if I refuse? A friendship is something I don’t believe exists.” He was shocked by my sentence.
  • “I’ll be waiting. No matter how strong you push me out. I will always knock on your door. I don’t know how bad your world is. But, mine isn’t better.” I was stunned. My feet are rooted in the earth. There was something I couldn’t interpret. The feeling in my soul crawled, hypnotizing me. I hated to confess that my heart was fluttering.
  • “Stubborn.” I hissed. My steps almost set me off.
  • “Congratulations.”
  • “What for?”
  • “Your poem, I just read.
  • “Thanks. Still, that means nothing.”
  • “Wait.” He ran up to me who has taken some steps ahead. Then, he took something out of his bag. “You may like it.” He handed me a book. “Poem collections by Maya Angelou,” he added. The purplish-red and blue cover teased me to adventure inside it.
  • “Is this a bribe?” I just blurted out. He shook his head.
  • “Of course, it isn’t. You won’t find this in the school library.” My eyes squinted. That was the book I have been craving for. Should I accept his offer? “Do you know Maya Angelou? Don’t worry, it’s the Indonesian version.” He knew my English was bad.
  • “Thank you. I’ll return it to you as soon as I finish reading it.” I promised.
  • “You can have it.”
  • “There’s no such free lunch in this world.” My sentence silenced him.
  • My classroom was on the second floor. It was big enough equipped with some furniture. The chairs and the desks lined up, facing the whiteboard hanging on the wall. The bookshelves stood at the back. There was a cupboard in the right corner near the teacher’s desk. In the left corner next to the board, the white screen folded down. The students’ works decorated the wall. The air conditioner circulated the fresh air. It created a cozy learning atmosphere.
  • The serenity fulfilled the room. The teacher’s eyes darted back and forth from the students on his right side to those sitting on the left row. His mouth was explaining the lesson. All the students’ eyes were on the teacher including that nerd, Reno. I turned the pages of the Civic book with no interest. Civic class always produced boredom. We studied citizen’s rights, the right to a good life. What kind of good life was meant to be? I meant to whom was it addressed? Was it a good life when the potentates toured around the world in the name of comparison study spending millions or even billions over those who never knew what to eat tomorrow? Was it justice when the powerful people bled for the throne, not for their people? I abhorred their selfish act and imaging. They hid the falsity behind the fake sincerity. They added more hypocrisy into public consumption.
  • “Ilana, could you mention the content of article 33 verses 1 to 3?” I was aghast. I never thought that the question went to me. I was not a typical active student, never debating on the issues nor giving arguments about something. Nobody recognized my presence, I guessed. I preferred not to say a word. “Alright, anybody can answer my question?” The question was like a ball gliding to the opposite side. Woefully, no one in the classroom caught the ball. The tedium probably had drowned most of them. Meanwhile, a few had no idea about the answer to the question.
  • The teacher was supposed to re-explain the lesson, but the bell rang. It signified another class would begin in five minutes. The lanky male teacher with wavy short hair left the classroom. The female teacher with black hair in a bun entered. She teaches math. Her high heels tapping the floor induced the noise, annoying my hearing. Her appearance looked trendy with a long skirt and black long-sleeved blazer wrapping her white blouse. God sculpted her face perfectly, pointed nose, oval-shaped feature, big brown eyes, and thin pink lips.
  • The math class ran smoothly even though only some were interested in that subject. The teacher assigned us to find a solution to several Math problems. They were a little bit tricky, but not harder than my life. If I were to choose, I would rather pick a hundred of a Math problem than hear the tongue lashing and experience the war at home almost every day. The bell ended the math class.
  • The book in my hand attracted my attention. I couldn’t wait to open the pages, wandering around in the world of poetry. The library was the most convenient place to read. It was on the second floor of the other building. I had to walk downstairs from my classroom to the exit gate of this building. It took about e few minutes to get there. The students had been sitting in some groups when I got into the library. It had a larger space with many seats, grouped and arranged in a circle. The bookshelves leaned on the light brown wall side by side. The lights illuminated through the ceiling.
  • I hastily proceeded to the one empty seat in the corner after signing in on the computer. The seat I choose was more private since I could elude other visitors. To be honest, this book reminded me of Reno. The cover reflected his eyes with spectacles on. Even every word marked his trace. The more I enjoyed each sentence, the more the term of friendship cooped me. Friendship? Would that magical word emerge in my life dictionary?
  • “No,” I muttered without realizing it. It was a relief that no one noticed that. The book absorbed my focus back.
  • “Hi! Is this seat taken?” I thought that this boy, Reno might have a supernatural power or something to be able to track where I was or where I would be.
  • “No,” I said hesitantly. He took the seat across me. A minute later, I glanced at the pages on his book flipping.
  • “May I know where your house is?” That question successfully took my eyes off the book. In my lifetime, no one cared where I lived or I was from.
  • ***
  • The objects were flying over from one side to another. The noise transformed into a shriek like a rumble of thunder roaring in the day. It portrayed my house when I just got home from school. My mom was kneeling. Her feeble grips clang on one of my father’s legs, begging him to cease his activities. The evil must possess that man’s soul. I ran toward my father, trying to save my mom. Yet, smacks landed on my arm and cheek. My father's hands pulled my tangled hair up, throwing me to the ground. It tortured me physically. Yet, my heart hurt more than my body.
  • “Give me the money!” He whooped at me. I just pretended not to hear, shed the blood on the tips of my lips. He was still hooting on and on while throwing anything near him. “I know you just got money from your uncle.” I was just silent. He lost his patience, then grasped and towed me out of our house. My hands and legs were scuffed. I grimaced, holding back the pain. My mom screamed louder, running after my father. She attempted to let my father go of me. All was in vain. His fist punched her forehead. My mom fell backward.
  • “Mom,” my voice can’t come out. My vision blurred.
  • “Please stop it.” Someone intervened. His face was not clear enough in my eyes. But, the voice reminded me of that nerd, the one who treated me well recently. Reno. Why was he here? No, how could he be here?