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Chapter 8

  • I walked out of the library. My hand wielded the plaster Reno had given me. I put it into my pocket in a second and probably needed this later. “I care for you”. I didn’t know why Reno’s sentence still played in my mind. And honestly, it mesmerized me for a moment. Yet, I directly discarded his words from my memory. I exited the main building. The students were still teeming and cheering the basketball players. One of the players successfully threw the ball into the basket. He did a small celebration by kicking up his fist to the air and bowed down before his supporters.
  • Someone handed me a bottle of soft drink. Vera was standing beside me with her sincere smile. Now, the bottle had moved to my hand. We chose to rest on the bench under the big tree, not far from the court, and just fell silent. Vera was sipping her drink while staring blankly at the throng.
  • “My parents got divorced when I was just seven.” She began the conversation. And her words made me choke. “Are you okay?”
  • “Yeah, I’m sorry to hear that. Your life must be tough.”
  • “I saw how my dad treated my mom. He often slapped her face, cursed her, and even almost killed her. I wanted to save her. But, I was just a kid.” I was still listening to her. She was stronger than I could imagine. No tears trickled down from her eyes. “I shouldn’t be so melancholic.”
  • “That’s ok. Sometimes you need someone to listen to your story.”
  • “That’s right. And you do too.” I was jerked and put aside the bottle in my hand. “Who did that to you? I mean how could you get the scars? Is it your father who hurt you? If you need a friend to share, I’m here for you.” I didn’t know how to respond to what she said. I looked down on my palm of hands instead, entwining my fingers. My heart raced. There was a part in my deepest heart that was eager to express what I felt and hoped someone to help me lift it. Another part warned me to keep all the sorrows for myself. “It’s ok if you don’t want to.”
  • “So, you’re here.” Vera and I looked up almost together at Reno. “I have a new book for you. Hope you like it.”
  • “Secret Garden,” Vera read the title on the cover.
  • “It’s a good novel,” Reno said.
  • “Yeah...I’ve read the book. It is a recommended classic novel.” Vera commented on the book. I picked the book from Reno’s hand and exposed it slowly. The book was old, indeed. Nevertheless, it still looked good.
  • “I’ll read it later.” I decided and delivered the book back to Reno. It wasn’t because I had no appetite to read it. Many things consumed my thought now. After a second pause, I got up and left them. Reno was supposed to run after me. But, Vera restrained him.
  • I needed me-time, pondering what the doctor, Vera, and Reno said. They could be true. I should tell the adults or whoever could give me a favor regarding my problem. The picture of my father absently occupied my mind. The fury flared in my eyes, I bet. My stomach was queasy every time I saw the scars imprinted on my arms and limbs. My heart ached more and more. How could I tell Vera or anyone else? What could they do? Vera was just like me, a teenager. Reno wasn’t more than a nerd, approaching me since he has no friend himself. Wait! What was the relationship between Reno and Kevin? Were they brothers? It wasn’t something I should concern with although I admitted that Reno always treated me kindly. At least, he knew how to make my days with the book he lent me a few days ago. I breathed in and out to soothe myself.
  • I viewed the students swarming the arena of basketball match from the second floor in my classroom. The crowd became thicker and thicker. More students clustered around. They enjoyed the moment. Some of them even screamed in delight when their team scored three points. At least, that was what I could catch. The boy in the red jersey, I assumed Kevin jumped up and dove. The ball loosely slid into the basket. The claps and cheers enlivened the arena. Then, the referee blew the whistle. The match had ended. The crowds scattered.
  • I wish I was one of them who merged in excitement. What did it feel like to be a girl born in a rich family and possessed many friends? That query was unexpectedly blazed. I dismissed that feeling. It was useless to think about such a thing. I fished something from a drawer, my diary. Pouring the tizzy into poetry was sometimes a form of self-care. That only defined a diction for loneliness.
  • I captured all the traumas, sufferings, and disappointments in my writing. Let it be printed there. The memory I’ve brought in was not something sweet, indeed. Nevertheless, I still had a willingness to keep it as a remembrance. I reread my poem. Delight covered my face. I would show this to Vera. Two students abruptly burst into the classroom. They were mentioning the familiar name. I turned my head to them, just curious about what they were sharing.
  • “I just saw them in the toilet, Kevin and Reno. They were arguing about something.”
  • “Those two brothers have different traits. Kevin is cool and popular. Reno...,” the boy with a taller body says.
  • “A nerd,” the one in spiky hair continued.
  • “Correct.”
  • “At least, he’s smart.”
  • “I don’t think that’s enough.”
  • “Agreed,”
  • “Who do you think will inherit their father’s property?”
  • “What are you guys talking about?” Suddenly a girl in blond wavy hair got into the classroom and interrupted. She wasn’t alone. Two girls were standing on her right and left sides. The one on the left was shorter than her with ponytail hair. And the girl standing on her right was sweet with her dark skin and black curly hair. They all looked classy especially the girl in the center, the blonde girl. She had the beauty every girl dreamed of, slim and tall body, an oval face, sharp nose, big eyes, and white skin. “I don’t care if it’s about Reno. But, Kevin is my boyfriend. Don’t try to talk about him behind me.
  • “Angeline. We just....”
  • “Get lost!” That girl, they called as Angeline didn’t even give them a chance to clarify. Those two boys had no other choice, but to obey the girl. She and her friends got out of the classroom as well after the boys did. Who was that girl? She wasn’t familiar, maybe because other students ‘life didn’t matter to me.
  • ***
  • “Here’s the book.” A thick book with the title Secret Garden” printed on the cover was handed to me. The glasses boy, Reno grinned. He didn’t seem to bother with what just happened to him, the quarrel with her brother. Sometimes, everything was all right outside. Yet, it couldn’t depict the secret inside. Many people dissembled their heartache behind their smiles. Perhaps, he was truly fine. I shouldn’t find out.
  • “Thanks.” I saved the book in my bag.
  • “So, what do you usually do after school?” he asked me the questions while we are descending the stairs toward the exit.
  • Work,” I answer plainly.
  • “Then?”
  • “Work,”
  • “How many hours do you work in a day?”
  • "Never have time to count it.”
  • “So, when do you study or read?”
  • “Anytime, I can read while washing, or even digging the trash.”
  • “Yes, of course, you can read while the washing machine is working.”
  • “We usually do the laundry in a public bathroom, without a washing machine.”
  • “I shouldn’t have pertained that.” We kept walking out of the gate.
  • “Your taxi driver has been waiting. See you.”
  • “Why don’t we get together? I can take you home.”
  • “Thanks, anyway. But, I like walking.”
  • I turned in another direction and then stepped over the curb under the stings of the sun. The sweat glued my uniform so that it stuck on my skin. To cool my body, I fanned with my hand despite being helpless. The car’s horn blared and distracted my focus. A fancy silver car ran slowly near the curb. Then, a window rolled down. A boy with a sweet smile said hello. I blinked my eyes. We didn’t even know each other. How could he get off of the car and approached me? It was Kevin.