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Chapters Quick Jump November 25, 2008

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Lonely Road
mithfalath

A light novel about a young man who traverses life in search for answers to his questions. At first, he believes life is a steady rock in a river that only moves when there is a strong current. However, his realizations in life took an entire turn when he entered high school. Eventually, life’s meanings become known to him as every problem deepens and every situation complicates.

Chapter 1. Sunrise
Chapter 2. Uphill
Chapter 3. Zephyr
Chapter 4. Upsurge
Chapter 5. Endeavor
Chapter 6. Enigma
Chapter 7. Revert
Chapter 8. Glimmer
Chapter 9. Nostalgia
Chapter 10. Euphoria
Chapter 11. Being
Chapter 12. Reverie
Chapter 13. Precept
Chapter 14. Prelude
Chapter 15. Foundation
Chapter 16. Implication
Chapter 17. Downhill
Chapter 18. Turn

HIATUS March 1, 2009

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I will continue writing Lonely Road once Summer classes start. In the meantime, just browse over ~Hanamuke no Merodii or give suggestions about the light novel. Thanks.

Yours truly,

Mithfalath

Chapter 18 January 25, 2009

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Chapter XVIII. Turn

I wonder what falling has to do with my life? It has a lot of connotations and I wonder which one it is. I turned around again, hoping to see one of my classmates, but none of them was around. I tried walking slowly, without knowing where I’m heading at. I just walked and walked in random directions.

The sun is still high. There seems to be no sign of a possible rain or storm today. My heart feels a little troubled, but I think I can handle this. It’s not like I haven’t been through all of these, right? My hands were shaking a little, as if I’m anticipating something bad will happen. I don’t know if this is an extra-terrestrial ability I’ve learned, but I seem to have a premonition of various things around me. And now, I feel like something bad will happen. I’ve got to be prepared. But, then again, what is it?

Finally, I just decided to join the others in their rehearsal. The court and the part of the garden where the swing is located is only a couple of steps away; yet, it took me two minutes just to get there. I don’t know why, but I just can’t help but think. The man said that he’ll tell me what the favor is once the right time comes. And now that it’s finally here, what am I supposed to do? It’s not even a favor for him; it’s more like a personal request with no justified end result. Heck, I don’t even understand what it means. Then again, I remembered what he once told me. Life is not just a world of reason and logic. What really makes the world go round are the more abstract things and those whom you cannot comprehend, but is easily understood by the heart. I feel like I have understood this for a long time now, but I just can’t tell why. For what purpose it may serve is definitely beyond my control. We’ll just see then. See where this life takes me.

As I approach the group, Namie, Ivan, and Patty all greeted me and they all somehow look relieved to see me join them. I sat on one of the benches as I looked down on every member of the group, trying to figure out what they were thinking at that moment. Do all of us live the same life? Have they ever felt something so heavy in their hearts up to the point that they wanted to collapse and let go of everything? If the answers are no, then I’d shout this with all my heart: Why is life unfair! What have I done wrong? All I ever wanted was to live a normal life with the people I love. What good will these teach me? Morals? That’s insanity. I haven’t even solved my previous problems and now, I’ve been given another one! It would be unfair to share them with my friends since I don’t want to burden them with something that is out of their way. Besides, they “could” be experiencing the same hardships as I am. I can do this! I know I can. But, I need more time.

Namie told me to join the others in practicing the project, but I don’t feel like it. I just told them that I don’t feel well, like I have a headache or something, so that they would excuse me from being there. I lied once more. I just want to sit here and think of something else; something beyond my eyes could see. In the end, they all agreed with me and told me to just rest my eyes. Francis took my place temporarily and I thanked him for that.

However, I just can’t concentrate on anything! I was always being troubled by my memories – of what I saw earlier this morning. Was it for real? What troubles me more is that I saw that scene twice already! So dreams were really phases of the future! John… I just can’t believe it. I don’t know why I’m feeling this. I feel like being jealous, but who am I to say that? I am a close friend of Namie but beyond that is non-existent. I’d be happy if she’s happy of course. If she’s happy that way, then why shouldn’t I be? But, John? I don’t know. Yes, John is one of my friends since we share the same passion for music, but personally, I don’t think I’d vote for him. He once told me how he views life in general, and I negated every little bit of it. That tiny conversation developed into a small debate. We haven’t talked to each other since then.

Patty probably noticed how uneasy I was as I saw her approaching me.

“What’s happening, Eric? You look terrible. Do you want to go home now?”

“Don’t worry much about me Patty. I’m fine. Thanks for the concern anyway.”

“But, Eric…”

“Okay, Patty, I’ll tell you something. But please, don’t tell this to anyone. It might spell trouble.”

“Trouble? Okay then. You can trust me.”

And so, I told her everything about my dreams – including this very scene! I couldn’t even picture her face how surprised she was as I unfold every story I share to her. She understood my state and tried to help me, but I insisted that I deal with this myself. This is my problem after all. However, I feel very blessed having a friend as trustworthy and as nice as Patty. I don’t think anyone could ever replace her. She’s a jewel sent from the heavens to help me and to encourage me – to remind me that not everything in this life is covered in problems. After all, there is hope for everyone. Thank you again, Patty.

She returned back to the group while I stood up. I wandered around the house and I tried to go back to that little shack so I could relax myself. But John called out to my name so I stopped. I didn’t look back at him. I just stood here waiting.

“Hey Eric, can I talk to you for a while.”

“Oh, it’s you. About what?”

“Nothing. I just figured I’d talk to you again after some time. How have you been?”

“Fantastic. And you?”

“Sorry, I can’t find a better word than fantastic.”

“Really? How so?”

“Well you see, I’ve met this girl that I think I’d like to be with for a very long time. She’s so beautiful and nice, I can’t even find someone out there who’s a better person than she is. Whenever I’m with her, I feel like I’m the happiest man alive. It’s definitely something I haven’t felt before.”

Damn it. Do you really need to say this in front of me? Do you think I don’t know who you’re talking about, pal?

“So.. What do you want me to do then?”

“I figured since she’s your friend, do you mind helping me in.. Umm. You know..”

What? Are you kidding me? This guy is really getting in my nerves. Are you testing my temper? I want to punch him right in the face! Argh! This is too much to bear.

I turned around without saying anything and left. It is probably better to just leave this place before something inevitable happens. I don’t want to make a scene. This is just too much. I want to relax. This is a weekend! How can I relax when everything around me stresses me?

So I left the place without informing anyone. It was only John who saw me leave the place. I know he wouldn’t tell anyone about that and just pretend that he never saw me. How pathetic! But that’s fine in this situation. I don’t want anyone bugging me around. I want to be alone for a while.

I commuted on my way home. I hired a cab as soon as I exited the gate. I kept on looking outside through the window, hoping to see that man from the docks again. I always see him in the most unexpected places and time. But I don’t think it would happen this time. I reached home – without seeing him. This is unbelievable. In the first place, I still don’t know who he really was. I just felt like everything he said was true. I think I’ll hold on to that as well.

A few steps more and I’m home once again. I want to lie on my bed and rest. But I don’t feel comfortable enough in my bed. Ah, I know! I think I’ll visit the town plaza once more. Besides, today is a weekend, isn’t it? It’s time for my weekly rest there. Finally, some peace of mind.

As usual, I just walked on my way there, which is just a couple of minutes away from home. As soon as my eyes caught a glimpse of the park, I got excited. Excited enough to make me run. And I did run towards the gate. Yes, paradise. This is what I call paradise. A place to be alone, free of worries and problems. What better way to relax than to let nature caress you. This is bliss. I want to take my slippers off so I could feel the warmth of the Earth. I want to shed my skin off so I could let the wind blow me away. I want to take my ears off so I could listen intently to the whole music of nature. The migratory birds are in the sky again and I could almost hear them. Although the sun gives off a lot of heat today, it is still bearable. After all, a large, old tree just over the grasslands has a wide canopy where I couly myself and take my nap.

Then, memories of Namie’s diary came to my mind again. I still can’t believe how a very important piece of one’s life could be left behind just like that? Was that really her intention? But if that’s the case, for what purpose? That’s silly. It might have just slipped her mind.

Sleep. Let me rest my eyes and my mind. After all, the only moment where all our souls lay silently, is on our dreams.

After sleeping for quite some time, I awaken my eyes, noticing immediately the sun’s altitude. It was still high enough to be considered noontime, or probably afternoon. Then that means I slept only for about an hour or two. The sun’s heat penetrated into my skin even deeper, making me sweat a little. The wind stays the same but the birds aren’t present in the sky anymore.

As I raise my upper body, almost to the point of standing, I noticed something behind me. As I sit, I turned around and to my surprise, there I saw Namie – sitting in the grass as well, staring at the cloudy sky. I immediately caught her attention.

“Hey, Namie? What brought you here? How did you know I was here? Or did you?”

“John said you left and I thought this is the first place you’d go. And I was right.”

Ah, a change of heart, maybe? John actually told her that I left the rehearsal.

“I’m sorry I left you guys. I just couldn’t stand…”

“Your sickness? Or yourself?”

“Myself? What do you mean?”

“Nothing. I just want to tell you that whatever happened this morning, it was nothing. Nothing happened. If you’re feeling awkward about me and John’s shoulder, as Patty had told me, please don’t. I just rested my head. It could’ve been anyone else’s shoulder, you know! It’s just coincidence that she sat in the swing, right beside me.”

“Oh, it’s not about that really. I just don’t feel well, that’s all.”

“Okay. But are you feeling better now?”

“Yes. Thank you. You shouldn’t have gone here. Everyone else must be looking for you!”

“That’s fine with me. I’m more worried about you. You left without saying a word to us.”

“Thank you. By the way, how come you knew this is the first place I’ll go?”

“You see Eric, I always see you here. I always have. For the past 4 years now actually. You just… didn’t see me.”

“Oh right. It was written in..”

Oops! Damn! That was in written in her diary! And I told her I didn’t read it! Idiot! How could I forget it! Stupid, stupid, stupid. What should I say now? Oh no…

“That’s fine Eric.”

“Namie, I’m really, really, really sorry. I really didn’t mean to..”

“Please stop Eric. It’s okay. I’m fine with that.”

“What do you mean fine? And how come you’re not surprised? Don’t tell me… You.. knew all along?”

“Well..”

Namie told me everything. She shared to me her experiences when she first saw me. How Patty also saw me. How they were friends and both wanted to become friends with me, but were both too shy to do it. And eventually, how they managed to know where I was going to attend high school. I listened intently to every word that she said, as if I didn’t know it yet. Although there are some which I don’t know of yet. It really surprises me how she knew me all along. I’m a little embarassed as she reveals to me everything. How come I haven’t seen her, even once! We should’ve been friends for a long time now.

But come to think of it, if I did saw her, will I approach her? Will I?

Knowing myself…. No, I don’t think I have the courage to approach her that time. Even now, I still can’t believe that I’m talking face-to-face with the girl that changed the course of my life!

After all the stories that she told me, she suddenly stopped. I couldn’t say a word, so there was silence for a couple of seconds. Then, she held my hand. I didn’t resist it. I would give everything away just for this moment to last a lifetime. But what’s this? The first time she held my hand, it was warm. It was when she had shown me how beautiful the afternoon sky was. Then, it was cold – when she was afraid and confused, even traumatized. Then, there was even a time when it was blank. Nothing. I felt nothing. But now, this is certainly another first! Her hands were, kind of wet. Is this sweat? I didn’t know she sweats a lot like this! It’s also warm, but the sun is high enough for it to be understood.

“Namie, are you not feeling well? You don’t look so good!”

I looked at her eyes as I ask this, and I immediately noticed how pale she is. Her eyes lookes troubled. It seems to me that she’s more stressed out than me, or something similar to that.

“Yeah. I think I’m just a little tired.”

“Is that so? Then let me accompany you home. You have to rest now.”

“Eric, you don’t have to. I can handle this myself.”

“Oh please, don’t say that now. I insist. Let’s go.”

So I helped her stand up and accompanied her home as promised. She started walking towards the gate slowly while her vision wander around the plaza. I followed her pace as I intently watch over her. She’s really not feeling well. All the troubles, concerns, and problems must have piled up on her. I’m sorry Namie. I know I’m one of those.

She suddenly stopped, so I stopped as well. She raised her right palm and placed it in her forehead. She bowed down for about 3 seconds, and then she fell to the ground. She collapsed!

I panicked. I yelled for help, but no one was around. With adrenaline flowing all over me, I lifted her and carried her in my arms. I ran and ran as fast as I could as I hailed a cab and directed the driver straight to the hospital. Namie, what happened? Please, open your eyes and tell me that you’re fine.

The moment we reached the hospital, I was still panicking. But I managed to bring her to a nurse in the emergency room.

“Leave everything to us.”

Those weren’t very comforting words! She should’ve said something like, “She’ll be fine in no time.”

After that, I stepped out of the hospital so I could go to the nearest phone booth and call her parents. This is an emergency!

I reached the booth and dialed the phone number to the office of Namie’s parents. It’s a good thing I memorized it just in case something like this happened.

“Hello, may I please speak with Namie Wanabe’s parents?”

“I’m sorry, they are in an emergency meeting now and they can’t be disturbed at the moment.”

“But this is also an emergency. Her daughter is in a hospital right now!’

“I’m really sorry but no one may communicate with them.”

“But can’t you understand! This is a matter of… Hello? Hello? Hello!”

What the hell? He hanged up on me! What kind of expression is that? Are you kidding me? What kind of company would allow such behavior! That’s absolutely nuts! I will not give up on this. I will try to call once more.

The line is busy now.

Another try. Still busy. Another one.. This is terrible. Maybe I should call Patty.

I called Patty and she immediately responded to my call. I told her everything and she rushed in to this hospital. I told her what happened to Namie and the conversation I had with probably the secretary of Namie’s parents. Namie, I’m sorry but I’m very disgusted. Patty told me to calm down. She reminded me that these are the times when Namie really needs us. We have to get ourselves together.

Lord, please tell me that she’s safe. Why do this to her?

We entered the hospital and waited in the lobby. All we could do is pray.

After only about 10 minutes, a doctor approached us.

“Are you friends of Namie?”

“Yes doctor. What happened to her? What’s wrong with her?”

“Have you already told her parents about this?”

I told the doctor everything. I became furious, but thinking of what happened, I regained composure.

“I see. When will they ever learn to take care of Namie? I guess, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

“Say again, doctor?”

“Sigh. What’s your name kid?”

“I’m Eric and she’s Patty. We’re Namie’s close friends.”

“Good to hear. You see Eric, I am Namie’s uncle. My name is Dr. Hiro. I took care of Namie when she was still young, and I’m the doctor who attended to her when she had that accident. I know I’m not in a position to say this, but you are her friends. Right now, it is only the both of you who can help her.”

“We understand.”

“Good. Namie and her parents always had a cold relationship. Her parents hardly ever cared for her, and all of us don’t know the reason behind it. This is why I took care of her. The problem now is that when the accident happened, she had acquired a rare, terrible disease from the polluted waters of the river. I only told that to her parents and I doubt that Namie knows it herself.”

What? So she has a fatal disease? This can’t be. She can’t pay for the mistakes of her parents! It’s just so unfair!

But wait, after she was released from the hospital, she called me. Right! She called me that night. I was even speaking with Erica!

“Don’t worry, I’m… Fine. It’s… Just…. Nothing. I just.. I’m sorry. Forget about it.”

That’s what she told me that night. I can clearly hear her cry while uttering those words. Could it be that she knew all along.. that she had that disease?

Chapter 17 January 10, 2009

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Chapter XVII. Downhill

What is this? Is this it? Is it the time for me to realize something? What am I to do? Will I just stand here and do nothing? No, I can’t. I’m shaking. Trembling. Once more. I’m afraid. I’m anxious. I’m absolutely out of myself right now. Help me. Somebody. In just a small amount of time, every scene and image that I have forgotten immediately came flying back to my memory again. I don’t want this. I’ve spent a very, very long time trying to forget all those unwanted blankets of memory; but it only takes two seconds to revive all those. How unfair could that be?

My vision is darkened, I can feel. My body is aching, my heart, and my head. I’m having a migraine, or whatever the doctors call it. I almost stumbled down to my knees, but thankfully, I was able to control it. I want to approach her. I want to sit as well in that demented swing. But I can’t find the courage to do so. I just can’t… I don’t like this feeling. I want to rest. Sit somewhere. But where?

Oh I remember. The court. There’s a little shack there. Maybe I’ll just take a rest there. Calm down Eric. I can handle this. I have prepared myself well for this moment. I know it will come. My mom once told me that dreams do come true. She just can’t tell if it’s exactly the same thing or the opposite. So what’s going to happen next? Wait, my dream wasn’t finished anyway. Now what?

The court is just a few steps in front of the gate. Beside it are a few coconut trees, and a little to the right of it is the little shack. From the looks of it, it might actually collapse any minute now, but that will not stop me from going inside. The sun is high today and the heat adds to the pain that I feel. The wind is blowing and the birds are migrating in the air, but the sun’s rays are torching my skin. This is horrible.

Inside. It feels, kind of cozy. I feel relieved. It feels warm, but in a different kind of way. I feel that I belong here. This is somewhat familiar with the little nipa hut in our school. Coincidence? Fate? That I cannot answer.

A little over a minute later, I saw Patty approaching me. I tried to look outside the window as if I didn’t see her coming.

“Are you okay Eric? What’s wrong? Why don’t you join us?”

“Don’t worry. I’m… fine.”

“But you look pale.”

“That’s my natural color.”

“Don’t try to make me laugh Eric. We’ve been friends for quite a while now and I think I now have the right to say that yes, I can see that you have a problem.”

“You got me. Yes, I’ve ran into trouble.”

“Actually, I do know as well. The moment I saw Namie in that swing with John, I know something terrible might happen. But sorry, I coudn’t do anything.”

“Terrible? Not really terrible. I’m just..”

“Surprised? Terrified? It’s okay. I know how you feel.”

But Patty, you’re the one who look pale to me.

“Patty, how come it seems that you’re worried about something. What’s the matter?”

“Me? Oh, I’m fine. Don’t worry, everything will be fine. I’m sure every action in this world has its logical explanations. Right place at the right time, remember?”, Patty told me those words as she gave me a pat in the back. Logic, huh? I wonder what’s the logic behind that? And besides, what’s making me feel this way? So what if Namie is there, leaning to someone? Does it matter?

Well, honestly. I know. It does. I just can’t figure exactly why or how. Why? How?

A few moments later, Ivan arrived as well.

“Why won’t you join us Eric?”

Patty grabbed his arm as they walk a few steps farther from me. She then explained to him what happened. But neither of them knows what really is happening at this very moment. The invisible hand is gripping my heart tighter again. It used to be really painful, but I became used to it. I don’t know if it’s something to celebrate about or not.

“Oh Eric, don’t worry about that. Patty told me what happened. Tha’ts just fine, I was there and I could swear that it was absolutely nothing.”

“I’m fine Ivan. You both don’t have to worry about me. I was just overreacting, I guess. Nothing happened to me.”

“Oh really? We could see it from your face.”

“What?”

“I don’t know. Jealousy, I guess.”

“No way. What for?”

Jealousy? Why would I feel that? I’m in no position to have such an emotion. And besides, Namie is just my friend. I will support her all the way. If she’s happy with the way things are working out, then I am happy for her as well.

“Nothing? If that’s the case Eric, then join us. There’s no reason for you to stay in such an isolated place like this. Everybody’s waiting for you for the planning and rehearsal parts.”, Patty encouraged.

“Oh, alright. I guess you’re right.”

Thanks to my friends, I finally was able to control myself better. I feel a lot better now. I will just try to enjoy the scenery here and focus on the rehearsal. As we walk towards the group near the swing, I tried diverting my attention to the scene at the other side of the street. I was behind Patty and Ivan when they stopped walking. I wonder why.

“Hey Patty, Ivan. What happened? Got your shoes glued to ground suddenly?”

But they did not respond. Eventually, I walked a little bit forward and saw Namie in front of them. They must have almost bumped to each other as they all turn in the corner of the house. Our eyes met. Patty looked at me. Then, Patty and Ivan left. Now, it is only Namie and I. What happened there? Everything happened so fast. Some seconds ago, I was talking with two of my friends and now, I’m up in front of Namie! I couldn’t help but stare at her endless beauty. Her hair shone brightly with every strike of the sun’s rays to it. Her eyes looked sincere and it was directed straight at mine. Her hands were at her back as if she’s hiding something in her hands. The silence was deafening. I tried to utter a word, but she beat me to it again.

“Can we talk for a while?”

“About what?”

“I don’t know. About you. About me. About this and about that.”

“If you say life in general, then I suppose you have nothing important to talk about, right?”

“What’s the matter? You don’t sound like the Eric I know.”

“Oh, it’s nothing. I’m just feeling a bit tired, that’s all.”

“You could take a rest with us. Why don’t you join us?”

Then Namie held my hand and tried to take me with her, but I resisted. The first time she held my hand, it was warm. It’s like the heat of her body flowing into mine. I can still remember that as she told me what a beautiful afternoon sky it was. And yes indeed. The second time I felt Namie’s hand, well.. It was cold. Probably because of anxiety and fear. Because of that, I held her hand even tighter so she could worry nothing when we crossed that bridge once more. And now, I can say that I felt nothing from her hand. It was totally blank. I don’t know why, but I immediately resisted it, and thought of an alibi just to think things over. I don’t mind being alone. I’ve been used to it all my life.

“I’m sorry Namie. I think I want to spend some time alone here.”

Surprised, she immediately stopped the initial motion of walking and turned around so she could face me. She looked me in the eyes once more.

“Okay then, I will respect your decision. But are you sure you’re fine?”

“Yes, I am. Thanks for the concern anyway.”

“No problem. If you need anything, just don’t hesitate to call any of us, especially me. Got that?”

“With pleasure. Thanks again. See you around.”

She walked away probably feeling disappointed because it is exactly that which I would feel if I were in her shoes. I’m sorry again Namie, but something is not right here and I would like to figure it out.

So I turned my back trying not to look back. It was very hard for me to say that, but I did it nonetheless. Was it the right thing to do? Well, in the first place, do I have a choice? If I see that same scene one more time, I may not be able to take it anymore. I just can’t. Funny thing is that I don’t know why.

At first, I said to myself that I would go back to that little shack, but I figured I want to be close to nature again. It might give me hints about what is happening and what will happen. So I went back to the basketball court and sat in the shade on one of coconut trees there, with my back leaning against its trunk and my legs sweeping the grass. This is relaxing. If life could only be this simple, then we have nothing to worry about. No problems, no tragedies, no hatred. A perfect world. But that would be impossible. If such a thing exists, I bet it’s centered on lies and other evil. No such paradise exists or ever existed. And there will never be. That’s why we all have to suffer every now and then. You win some, you lose some.

As I stare at the gate of the house at the other side of the street, I noticed someone standing by the gate of this house. I think I saw him the frist time I went here a couple of minutes ago and now, he’s still here? I have a bad feeling about this. What will I do? Argh.. I can’t control myself. I want to approach him. I’m intimidated by his presence.

As the distance between us gets smaller, the more familiar the body built and face seems to be.

What in the world? You are.. the man from that pier! That docks near the bridge! How could that be? Unconsciously, I ran towards him probably because of amazement, or surprise, or fear, or disbelief. I don’t know exactly what I’m feeling right now. But one thing is for sure, this isn’t a coincidence. The two feet of a person covers only an average of about 1 square feet, probably even less. And how many square kilometers is this area? This city? At this point in time! It’s ridiculous!

“Hey there boy, I thought you’d never notice me.”

“You are creeping me out. What are you doing here? How do you know I’m here? What do you want? Who are you?”

“Take it easy, young lad. I only have a single mouth to answer all your queries.”

“And I suppose it’s enough to answer all of my questions. I can listen to all of them. I have all the time in the world.”

“Don’t worry. You’ll eventually learn the answer to all of your questions.”

“I figured you’d say that again. So, what now?”

“I think this is the right time for you to do me the favor you owe me.”

“Really? I didn’t see this coming. So, what will it be?”

“Don’t fall in.”

“Don’t fall in? What is that? Fall in what? Where?”

As soon as I ended my question, I heard voices getting louder and louder by the split-second. I think it sounded like “Eric, where are you?”. That’s strange. I thought Patty, Ivan, and Namie knew where I am. I turned around and shouted back.

“I’ll be there in a while!”

But as soon as I turned around again, the man was gone. Now that gave me the chills! Don’t fall in? Do not fall in.. Fall in what? That’s the favor? I don’t even understand what it means.

Regarding the Holidays December 18, 2008

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Click HERE.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Chapter 16 December 17, 2008

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Chapter XVI. Implication

I tried talking with Namie as much as possible on her way home. It really feels awkward walking in this beautiful night with her. She’s by my side as I cover her from the rain. I don’t care if it’s me who gets wet, as long as she’s fine and she does not get sick. We took a taxi so she could rest while in the cab. She might be feeling really tired now after directing the whole rehearsal – not only physically, but also mentally. I don’t know what to say to support  her, but Namie, I will always cheer for you.

So, this is the way to her home huh? Then that means, we’ll pass by the suspension bridge! Oh no. I almost forgot about that. We’re even riding a cab now. I’ve got to talk more so she won’t notice.

I told a lot of jokes that made her laugh. Even the cab driver was laughing at one point. I thought she forgot about everything already, but I was wrong. As we pass through the middle of the bridge, Namie held my hand. I was surprised and was blushing at the moment – but all those feelings faded away in an instant. I’ve never felt her hand as cold as this before. Is it because of the rainy season? Or the air-conditioner of the cab? Or fear? I held on to her hand even tighter just to somehow say that I will save you.  Nothing like that will ever happen to you again as long as I’m here. Yes, I know, and I’m  confident, that I am capable of doing that!

Namie told the cab driver to turn left, and then right, and then another right from a certain street I couldn’t remember. Then, we stopped. Namie told him that this is it –  their house. I suddenly became anxious. Why?

“Eric, thank you so much. Without you, I would still be in Keane’s house by now.”

“It’s nothing really. So, I’ll be going now.”

“Wait! After what you’ve done? Please, come inside. Join us for dinner.”

Dinner? Join you? Are you kidding me? I can’t just go bulging in anyone’s house to eat! I, ah… I don’t even know her that much. Wait.. What am I saying? We’re not.. I’m  not.. I mean.. Ummm..

I forgot I met her parents before in the hospital. But that’s not sufficient! I just can’t do this.

“Oh please, don’t mind it. I’m fine.”

“But I insist. Come on Eric. This is just my way of thanking you. You’re hungry aren’t you? It’s alright.”

“No, not really. I can still manage. And besides, my parents might be worried about me.  I really should go now. I’m sorry.”

“I see. Sorry for causing you this much trouble.”

“Oh no, please.. Don’t apologize. It is I who approached you in the first place, right?”

“I guess you’re right. Well then, take care! Thanks again.”

I waved goodbye as I walk away. Every step I take means I’m farther away from her. I want to be with her always…

I commuted normally on my way home, knowing that my parents won’t scold me  anyway. The rain is not stopping. I’ll sleep immediately when I get back to my room. I’m feeling a bit tired.

As the bus passes through that same suspension bridge, I felt an urge to go down to wander around. Something is telling me that I must go down. Now. And going down I did. Even the strength of this rain could not stop me from observing this bridge and imagining what really happened that time. That was very tragic.

Then, I remembered something again. Namie called me the day she was released from the hospital – and she was crying. But she didn’t told me why. I still can’t figure out what’s that about. Is it something about me? About her? About… us? I don’t know. What I do know is that my heart aches everytime I hear her cry. Please, Namie, I don’t want you to cry anymore.

I decided to stop by the docks. There was once an old man here who saved me and helped me by crossing this river. To my surprise, as I approach the river, I saw a boat! Not only that, the old man was there as well. I tried speaking but he beat me into it.

“You still owe me a favor, right?”

“Why on Earth are you here? What are you doing? Are you sailing even in the midst of this storm? Are you always here?”

“No. I’m here because I know you’d be here, boy.”

“How did you know that?”

“Fate.”

“So you’re telling me that you understand you’re fate and that you can see what will happen in the future?”

“No. I can feel it but not see it.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m just an old man by the river.”

“What do you want? Anyway, as promised, I will do whatever favor you ask of me.”

“It’s still not the right time boy. For now, just hold on to yourself. Control yourself. If you found yourself down on a struggling and empty road, don’t give up just yet. It is only you who can save yourself. Anway, you should just go home already, boy. Your parents could be looking for you.”

I walked backwards away from him. I didn’t say a word after that. I felt scared. Who the heck is he? What does he have to do in my life? Is it fate that also allowed his route intersect with mine through Namie? Above all, what could the favor be? He said now is not the time. It must be something really important. I don’t like this feeling. It’s like somebody is controlling me and telling me how to live my life. This is the exact opposite of freedom.

But alas, I also know and feel that there’s no escaping him.

As I arrive home, my heart still bears the mixed emotions I gathered from the day. Some of these emotions make the invisible hand holding my heart grip tighter, while some of them loosens it – but I don’t know which emotion loosens it. Most probably, it loosens because of Namie and it tightens because of the mystery of the old man. Anyway, I don’t want to tire myself thinking of these things tonight. I’m tired and I want to get some rest.

Good night. Oh namida, I know you couldn’t stop.

Today is a wonderful day, I suppose. Although it is a Saturday, a lot of work needs to be done. There will be a final practice of the first few scenes today. I hope everything  goes well, now that I have also memorized all of my lines on the script.

I woke up earlier than I was supposed to. Probably because of two main things.

The first one – Namie’ parents are out of town, so Namie can’t attend the practice unless someone accompanies her from her home. But she must attend since she’s the director of the play. That is why Keane and I agreed to fetch her this morning so she could come. I became really excited since I will see her the first thing in the morning.  Seeing her would definitely complete my day. It’s a good thing that Keane agreed to accompany me. I accompanied her last night alone and I don’t think it’s a good thing to be with her alone for the second straight day. She might notice this feelings I always  try to hide whenever I’m near her.

However, I can’t sleep comfortably last night because of the second main event of the day. Keane called and said that he couldn’t attend the practice because he has a fever. That’s ridiculous! As far as I can remember, he’s still feeling well last night, and he even was joyful and energetic during the practice. But I can’t force him to go. Is he just playing on me? Moreover, I will have to fetch Namie by myself! This not a part of the plans!

But I just can’t ignore Namie and not show up. The whole class needs her, and it is only I who knows where she is. Might as well try it. I hope I won’t lose anything here.

I commuted all the way here at Lenny’s – our meeting place. It’s just two blocks and a street away from Namie’s house. We are to meet at 8am and I arrived here around 15 minutes before 8. I’ll just sit for a while and wait for her.

As I sit, I observed how each individual moves without even knowing each other – like in this restaurant. Some of them might have known the other, while others will eventually know each other. The melody of fate is a strange thing. You’ll never know what will happen. Time runs like a flowing river. Only time can tell when we will all forget everything. From dust we came and to dust we’ll end up.

But I’ll never forget this. This emotions that I have always felt. In the end, I remained seated here for more than 40 minutes now and still no sign of her.  Will she ever come? But at this moment now, it is not a question of will I leave or not.  Rather, it is a question of how much more I can take. I will not leave this place until she arrives. If I do leave and she arrives, then that hurts a lot – for both of us.  She will find no one. She is expecting me to be here.

What if she forgot? What if she didn’t came after all? What if I’m waiting for nothing? Will I be able to bear the pain that goes along with it?

8:49. 8:50. 8:51. I thought I saw her. I did! Oh my! This is astounding! Never in my life have I experienced this. I don’t know if everything else stops or everything moves so slowly, but all I can see is her. The way she crosses the street – it was everything to me! It probably took her only 8 seconds to walk from the other side of the street through here, but what I experienced seem like twenty minutes – of my life indulged in the moment. That scene. Her beautiful hair sways along with the wind. I can’t help but stand and stare at her endlessly. I can end my life here, as long as she’s the last thing in my eyes. I thought you can only feel this in movies. Hypothetical, in some way. Guess I was wrong.

Heart beats. Heart beats even faster. Heart beats the fastest. I.. Most probably.. Have  fallen..

I stepped out of the restaurant. I approached her as she approaches me. She’s smiling and somewhat frowning at the same time. I can see that clear, heart-melting smile.

“Eric, how long have you been here? I’m sorry. It’s only minutes ago when I realized that the clock on our house is an hour late. I’m terribly sorry.”

“Oh that’s okay. I don’t mind. Shall we go then?”

“Okay. I’m really sorry.”

I just smiled.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t really care whether you arrive 10 minutes earlier or even three hours late. If only to see you, then I will risk everything. I remember from before, the risks can be really demanding but the rewards are great. I’ll also hold on to that from now on.

As we travel towards our meeting place with the rest of the class, I’m kind of worried if we’ll still be able to get there on time. Or wait, that’s wrong. I’m more worried if they are  still there! We’ll arrive there at about 9:10, but the meeting time is 8:20. I hope they haven’t left yet.

As we arrive there, everyone else was still eating. And as they saw us, they all smiled at us. It was a different smile! Not a smile that says, “Hi, I’m glad you came”. But rather, it was a smile that probably implies, “Hmmmm. Say, where are you both from? And you’re together!”. I can’t help but smile as well. I know they’re teasing us. I can feel that I’m blushing but I can’t help it. Namie just immediately sat down along with her friends as I took a sit with my friends as well. A little over twenty minutes more and off we go. We’re going to Aika’s  place to practice.

As we go there, we are divided into two groups because we are too many to travel at once. But Francis requested me to accompany him at his aunt’s place first before proceeding to Aika’s. Naturally, I agreed. He said he will just give something to his aunt and then we could go. His aunt’s house is close to Aika’s house anyway.

We stayed at his aunt’s house for only about 5 minutes and off we go as well.  Everyone else was at Aika’s house already. They said they won’t start until we arrive so we had to hurry.

Gate. Wow, her house is beautiful. But somehow, this looks familiar. Wonder where have I seen this? Have I seen this before?

As I enter their garden, I began looking around. Flowers. Sky. Birds. Hut. Something tells me I’ve seen this place before. I haven’t been here before, right? But really, everything looks familiar to me. I just can’t remember where have I seen this scene…

Francis and I continued walking at one side of the garden. I thought I heard something swinging like a metal covered in rust. I can also hear their voices. They’re all here and they all sound so happy. Oh, so there’s an extension to this garden. And I was right, there is a swing after all. Is that Namie on the swing? With… Her head leaning on somebody’s shoulder?

Oh my. This place… This is it… This is the place from my dream.. And.. Namie…

Chapter 15 December 12, 2008

Posted by mithfalath in Lonely Road.
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5 comments

Chapter XV. Foundation

“Me? I was just staring at the sky! I’m glad you came over.”

“Came over? Patty, you knew all along that she was here?”

“Actually, yes. Come on, have a sit.”

I took a sit in my usual place. The sun is setting in a magnificent way as always. Namie was standing by the other window, staring at the sky and the view outside. Patty took a sit, a little on the left in front of me with her back leaning against the wall too. There’s the three of us inside this little shack.

“So, what are we here for?”, I asked abruptly.

“Nothing really. We’re just here to relax. Take a breather. I’m feeling a little stress now. How about you Patty?” Namie asked.

“Yeah, I’m feeling a little tired too. Hey Eric, do you know that we were friends way back when we were still kids?”, Patty asked me with a smile.

“Oh yeah? So you’ve known each other in quite a while now! That’s great. You must have been really good friends then. You’ve been through…”

Oh gosh, I might say something I’ve read from Namie’s diary. I must avoid this type of conversations. I need to change the topic. But what? Come on Eric, think.

“Been through what, Eric?”, asked Namie while still staring outside. Then she looked at me when I couldn’t say a word.

“Ummm.. Well, you’ve been together for about 10 years now, probably more. The bond you two share with each other must be really tight. I admire your friendship. I hope you two will be friends forever.”

I don’t know where I got that statement. It just came off my mouth instantly. I haven’t even thought of that. But I liked what I said. Yes. That’s what I want to say. And as soon as I ended that statement, Namie and Patty looked at each other. Then, both of them smiled. Namie then stared at the sky once more while Patty grabbed something from her pocket. There was a moment of silence. I wonder if they are really alright now. Are they trying to hide something from me?

I almost forgot that they are not like this before. Something happened between them, I’m sure of that. Patty even told me that she could die! That’s non-sense. They look absolutely fine to me.

It’s not about me, right? I hope not. I’m just trying to help here.

The day ended with a smile on all our faces. I shared some secrets of mine and other interesting facts about me and they were both amazed. They didn’t know that I could play the piano – and they even requested me to play a song for each of them. Should I play a song for both of them? In the near future, I guess. I haven’t touched a piano for months now. I don’t think I can still play it as gracefully as I can before. I was also intrigued by the fact that Namie  can actually play the violin. So, I also made a request to play a piece for me. Patty, on the other hand, has a wonderful, angelic voice. She sings with unbelievable passion and emotion, I can actually feel it. We all share a common interest – music. That’s good to hear. Because I love music a lot. And I mean, a lot. It was my uncle who thought me how to play the guitar a couple of years ago and then last year, I thought myself how to play the piano. Patty, Namie, you will someday feel the rhythm of my heart.

We parted ways. I walked home. I became used to walking home rather than commuting. I feel so alone when commuting, while I feel I’m with nature while walking. Suddenly, I don’t want to feel alone anymore. Is it because… I learned the feeling of being with someone?

Home. Dinner and TV. Lucky! There are no homeworks for today. Now what should I do? I want to talk with someone. And that someone is…

Ring! Ring! The phone rings.

“Hello, good evening. Dunnan residence.”

“Hi. May I please speak with Eric. Erica here.”

“Oh Erica, Eric here. What’s up?”

“Eric! Nothing really. Just checking up on you.”

“On me? Really?”

“Ummm. No.. Not really. I’m anxious! I’m shaking. I want to call Ivan but I don’t know what we could talk about. I want to talk with him and listen to his voice, but I’m scared to death! Please help me Eric.”

“I thought you’re going to ask her some sports questions? Like basketball. Trust me, it will work. Confidence Erica. Just don’t tremble while talking or he’ll notice it!”

“I don’t think I can do it.”

“Come on! It’s not like he will argue with you, or tease you, or anything like that. Just a friendly chat. Okay. I’ll give you a tip.”

“Okay, go ahead. I’m listening.”

“End this call. And call him now. Or better yet. I will end this call so you can call him immediately. Courage Erica. Sorry, but I have to do this. Bye!”

“Wait! I’m…”

I ended the call. I then lifted the headset so she can’t call me again. She has to do it. If not now, then when? If you can do it tomorrow, then why not today? The first step is probably the hardest, but once you get used to it, then everything should be fine.

First step, huh? Have I done something yet? Courage…

Right.

I dialed a phone number. This is the first time I dialed a phone number for about a year! Courage…

“Hi. May I please speak with Namie? This is his classmate, Eric.”

“Okay, hold on for a sec.”

I can here her shout, “Namie! Eric here. Is he your boyfriend? Haha.” It’s probably her little  sister because she has a cute voice.

“Eric! You called.”

“Yeah. I did. I called. You. Called you, right.”

Damn, what is happening. My lips are trembling. What am I to say? Why did I call her in the first place?

“Eric? Are you alright? What’s wrong? Do you have any problem? I can help you. You don’t sound so good.”

“Oh, I’m fine. I was just..”

Sports? Will it work? Is she into sports programming?

“…sad that my favorite team lost. I can’t believe the Royals actually lost after leading by a dozen points at the half.”

“Oh, I watched that game too. Yeah, it’s really disappointing. I thought it was a win.”

“Really? Do you watch any sports program? Are you into sports?”

“I am fond of watching volleyball, tennis, basketball and yeah, Royals is my favorite team as well. However, this weak body of mine can only learn badminton as a sport. It’s really fun!”

“Oh. That’s surprising to hear.”

In the end, I got to talk with her for a long time, knowing that time was never a factor in this one and that we don’t have any homeworks to waste our time on. I learned a lot from her.  She said she’s also fond of watching international programs like anime and Music Station.  That’s cool. I thought I’m the only one in this world who likes those programs. We share a lot of characteristics. I hope this friendship would be as tough as her relationship with Patty. But, certainly though… I don’t want it to end there…

How far can I go?

From that point onwards, my days were filled with expectations. I realized a lot of things just by reason, observation, and the hardest part, the melody of fate. What is it trying to show? I think I learned that now. I think my heart knows it now.

The never-ending lessons of the music class, a couple of short and long quizzes, long overdue books, tiring cleaning of the classrooms, and the progress of the short play for our project. This has been the outline of my life for the past two weeks.

The short play is taking shape now and only time knows when we can finish this. But at this point, the only other thing left to do is to practice for it.

Classroom. Thursday.

“Classmates, settle down please. About one-third of the script has been finished. It’s now up to us to apply them. That is why we need all the characters included for the first four scenes tomorrow. Could we like, do a practice after school hours? We will stay at Keane’s place to practice. So, is that okay with you?”, Namie asked the class during our free time.

The majority of the class agreed. I was part of the first four scenes, so I have to attend that practice too. Namie will be the director. I’m pretty nervous, if you’d ask me. I wonder how does Namie look like while she commands? Nevermind, the point now is to memorize the script.  Good thing I don’t have very long lines to say – because I’m not good in memorizing such lines!

Tomorrow is a day to look forward to. A day of new beginnings. A new chapter ahead. I hope we can accomplish this task as a group, as a class, and as friends. Let’s see what we can do.

Finally, the day of revelation! Okay, that was an exaggeration. But seriously speaking, we are going to practice today! Our first ever rehearsal for the play. I have memorized quite a number of lines last night, so I’m feeling confident today. Can I act naturally? I’m not good at this.

This is it. The night that everyone’s been waiting for. We are team and I know we can do this. Finally, I can feel the spirit of cooperation. This is so unlike me four to five months ago. What a change! Let’s go team!

We arrived at Keane’s house about thirty minutes after music class and everyone is busy memorizing their lines. Namie then approached me as we enter this spacious and elegant attic.

“You look enthusiastic today Eric. Something happened?”

“Nothing really. I’m just excited at this play. I wonder how it will turn out?”

“Leave everything to us. We’ve got everything covered.”

That’s very comforting to hear. I know she’s a great person and she can lead this team to success. That’s what I like about her. She’s a friendly, calm, and  down-to-Earth person. She will worry about you and make you feel that she’s concerned. That is most probably why I… Ah, nevermind. My script! I shouldn’t forget them!

In the end, everything happened as if all of it was planned. We managed to practice a few scenes. But it’s a very hard task for all of us. We spent only half the time we were there practicing. The other half? Well, let’s just say we missed each other that much that we only talked and chat and played and did whatever things that were not needed. Ironic? Guess so. But that’s how it turned out. In any case, at least we did something. Namie was a great leader back there. She really knows how to run the scene! As if she’s been in this position before. She’s very talented. I hope I can know her better.

Time to go home now. It’s getting late.

“Okay everyone, thanks for your cooperation. To those who are able to come tomorrow,  please do so. We will contine practicing this scenes until we perfect this, okay?”, Namie  requested, and almost everyone agreed.

Rain. It’s raining. Good thing I have an umbrella. But Namie’s not moving. Seems that she’s waiting for something. Oh, she must be waiting for her parents to fetch her. I almost forgot she doesn’t know how to commute her way back home. I think I’ll stay here for a while until her parents arrive.

“Keane, can I stay for a while. I’m just waiting for something.”

“Sure, sure. Make yourself at home.”

About ten minutes later and still no sign of Namie’s parents. She’s still standing by the gate. I think it’s time for me to approach her.

“Hey Namie, why don’t you get inside? You might catch cold here. Aren’t your parents coming soon?”

“Oh Eric. You see…”

She told me that her parents are too busy at the moment because of an emergency meeting.  She also told me that she doesn’t know how to commute, which I know of from Patty, and that she has no umbrella. It’s getting really late now and she’s still here, waiting for nothing! What am I to do? I guess…

Fate leaves me with no other choice again.

“Let me take you home Namie.”

“Oh don’t mind it Eric. I’m fine. I’m just waiting for the rain to stop.”

“It won’t.”

“How can you tell?”

“The rain is pouring so hard that it might continue to fall for the next 12 hours. So please, let me accompany you home.”

“But our house is out of your way.”

“That’s fine. I’ve already asked permission to my parents that I will be late.”

“That’s very nice of you Eric. Thank you so much.”

“Anytime, Namie. Anyway, are you hungry? Would you like something to eat first?”

“No, no. I’m not hungry. How ’bout you?”

“I’m fine. I’ll eat when I get home. So, shall we go then?”

“Okay. Thanks again.”

“Hey Keane! Thanks. We’ll be leaving now!”

“Okay Eric! Good move right there! Hahaha!”

“What did you say?”

Good move, huh? I guess so. I certainly hope Namie appreciated this. Just a smile and all my worries, anxiety, and stress will be gone. You really are quite something, Namie. Thank you  Lord for letting my fate intersect with hers. And today, I feel like I will do everything!  Everything – just to let my fate run in parallel with her fate. I’ll continue walking this way and I will not deviate from this route.

Chapter 14 December 7, 2008

Posted by mithfalath in Lonely Road.
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Chapter XIV. Prelude

I immediately switched back the line to Erica.

“Erica, Namie called. She said she wants to tell me something, but she ended up not saying it and cried. She then hanged up on me. Do you know why?”

“I’m sorry, I haven’t talked to her for quite a while now. I have no idea why.”

“I have a favor to ask Erica. Could you please call her and talk to her. Just make her feel comfortable. She might still be feeling a little traumatic from the accident yesterday. You’re her friend and I’m sure she’ll feel a lot better when you talk with her.”

“Of course. I would call her even if you didn’t say so. Anyway, I’ll call her right now. Remember our deal okay?”

“Yes. Sure thing. Just say take care for me. Thanks.”

“Okay. Bye now.”

I pushed the plunger on the phone and tried dialing another number. I wanted to talk to somebody about how I’m feeling right now! But I.. Don’t know anyone.. Whom I.. Can talk to.. If a heart aches but nobody hears it, then does that affect the world? Of course not. It is only I who is affected. This is miserable. Why on Earth am I experiencing such things? Maybe, I’m a partner of bad luck, bringer of catastrophe. Maybe, after all, that is my fate. But I don’t want that! I don’t want to live a life destined to harm and be harmed; to hurt and get hurt.

I want to love and be loved. To care and be cared for. I want to be someone to die for. I haven’t even felt that to my parents. I’m so pathetic.

I went to the rooftop again to think things over. I like thinking things over. I will reshape my life. But how am I to do it? A lot of mysteries are surrounding me. Reality check. Does everyone suffer the same fate as I am? If only I could hire a private investigator for all my problems, then this would be a relatively easy life! But that’s not the way life works, right? Every time I try to think about my past, everything that had happened, my head aches. After that, I can’t seem to remember anything. Something happened to me. I don’t know what but that’s how I feel.

I stared at the trees beside our house. Its leaves are swaying to the direction of the wind. The wind is cold today. But thankfully, there are stars at the night sky. There should be no rain coming tonight. The sky is beautiful. I can even see the clouds although they are too dark and were only lighted by the moon. The moon forms a perfect crescent. Beside it is a very bright star, the brightest among any others. That is probably a planet. But most probably, I can see that star as myself someday. I will shine the brightest among others and be the one closest to the moon. I love how my imagination works. It usually separates my conscious self and reality to the miseries that I have at the moment.

“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know difference.”

I feel better again. Thanks to that prayer I learned when I was just a kid. It feels so close to my heart.

I tried sleeping here at the rooftop, but I failed again. I have tried it many times before, but I always keep on failing. My mom would check me if I’m in my room and if nobody answers, then this is the place to go. So I went back to my bed, hugged my plush doll, and went to sleep. And here it comes again.
The next day, the morning looks usual. The sky is bright as usual. My breakfast and my uniform are there as usual. I think I love the usual things more than what’s happening to me now. I used to do and to feel what’s normal. But this is way beyond normal. A total turn-around! If not for my friends, my life would have been a total grief. Speaking of friends, I forgot about Namie! Is she coming to school today? I hope yes… Wait.. I hope.. Not.. Bah! What is this? Something is telling me that I want to see her, yet the other side of me tells me that today is not the right time to see her. What is wrong with you, Eric! Of course you want to see her! For the sake of.. For the sake of.. Myself..

Classroom. Okay, everything seems normal as well. The classroom looks tidy and the usual early birds are here. Except for one. Namie. Maybe she won’t be attending class today.

“Hey, Eric. Why don’t you take a sit?”

“Oh. Namie! What are you doing behind me? You surprised me.”

“Actually, I saw you arrive here at school. I was at the store at the other side of the street. But you were so busy thinking about something that you didn’t even notice me. So I followed you and yet, you still didn’t notice me.”

“Sorry ’bout that. Actually I was thinking of..”

You.

“Thinking of?”

“Ah, nevermind. We have a homework in Social Studies. Did you..”

“Yes. Erica told me about that.”

“Yeah? What else did she tell you?”

“You look nervous. Why? Is it because.. Hmm. You confessed to her that you actually like me? Hahaha.”

“Wha? What? Don’t be silly!”

I haven’t seen her this joyful as before. Even if she’s teasing me like this, I can’t help but blush and smile as well. So I immediately turned around so she won’t see me. She’s so beautiful to my eyes – it never fades. I missed her..

Ms. Alena enters and made an announcement before starting the class.

“Okay class, I will be explaining to you today your class project. This project is good for 4 quarters, so do your best to accomplish this task. You will re-enact the short play Ibong Adarna*. You may use this time period to assign to yourselves who will write the script, who will direct the play, who will be the main characters, and so on. I will be back in a short while. Ms. President, please take over the class.”

“Yes ma’am.” Namie replied.

Wow, this will be my first time witnessing Namie act as a leader. I wonder how will she fair?

So as Ms. Alena leaves the room, Namie steps in front of the class and starts discussing the matters. I could not understand a word she’s saying, but the whole class seems to be agreeing with her. I can only notice the wonderful voice that she possesses.

A lot of discussions happened, suggestions raised, and questions answered. In the end, it was Namie who volunteered to be the director of the play and Ivan will be the one writing the script, along with two more. Everyone else will take part in the cast of characters, the generation of props, etc. Me? Well, I ended up being the king in the story. I’m not good in this acting activity, but since it is a project, and academics is my main goal, then might as well prepare for this one.

Lunch break. Erica approached me.

“Say Eric, do you know what interests Ivan?”

“All I know is that he’s a little bookworm, although at times he watches sports – basketball, I think.”

“Really? That’s good to hear. It’s a good thing I watch basketball as well, because of my older brother. Great. Now that’s something we can talk over the phone right?”

Yeah. That’s something we can talk over too. I wonder if she’s interested in sports too.

“Of course. Is Namie interested in sports too?”

“I’m not so sure. Give it a try. Thanks!”

“Okay.”

I think I know someone else whom I can seek for help. But I don’t know if I should do this. How will I do this. Is it okay? She is my friend anyway. And she said friends help, right? I hope she helps me on this.

Taking steps huh? What am I doing? This isn’t anything like me… Maybe perhaps, I’m getting bored with life. I need excitement. I realized… I don’t want to feel alone anymore. Desolation is painful. Every time I’m alone in my room, the invisible hand that grapples my heart becomes more powerful. It seems to me that it’s getting its power from the darkness, from nothing. Exactly that. Literally, it’s getting the most out of nothing.

I need someone. I want to be with someone. I want to talk with someone. Maybe, like what that old man said, there is more to life than this. I can change my fate, and I will change that fate. Patty, you will help me reach that goal, won’t you? Because I want to be… With.. Namie.

I sat beside Patty in our music class as usual.

“Patty, can you please help me with something.”

“Oh sure. About what?”

“Can we talk about it later at the nipa hut?”

“Is it about Namie?”

“Ummm. Well..”

“Geez, Eric. You shouldn’t be so shy about that anymore. It’s actually obvious to me what’s happening now. So just open up to me all your thoughts and I’ll gladly help you. We’re friends, remember?”

That was a very confident answer. That put a big smile on my face. She’s smiling as well. I think she understands me now. I understand you Patty. Thank you for everything you’ve done to me so far. I really appreciate it.

“Really? Thanks a lot!”

I didn’t mind the music class. I just want some help. I occasionally glance at Namie but she’s focused at the lessons by Ms. Mia. If only she knew what Ms. Mia told us yesterday. Speaking of which, what she said yesterday. Was that meant for me? We even offered the same prayer!

“Mr. Dinnan, this is the nth time I’ve caught you daydreaming. If I caught you once more, you’ll be asked to step out of the class. Class rules.”

“I’m sorry. Yes mam, I understand.”

Argh. Rules rules. We don’t have to be bound by rules. That’s just silly.

Finally, music class ends.

“Come on Eric, let’s discuss the matter.”

“How come you’re more excited than me? Haha.”

“Nothing really. It’s just a little funny.”

“Funny? How so?”

“Let’s just go. Come on.”

So, we reached this nipa hut. I wonder what she’s so excited about.

“Hi Eric.”

“Namie! What are you doing here?”

*Ibong Adarna – a popular folktale in the Philippines.

Chapter 13 December 4, 2008

Posted by mithfalath in Lonely Road.
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3 comments

Chapter XIII. Precept

Yesterday was a very memorable day for me. A lot of things happened that were definitely unforeseen – even to the point of almost impossible to occur. Everything happened so fast, I didn’t even had the time to catch my breath there.

As I wake up this morning, I immediately looked outside. I wonder what’s going to happen today? As soon as I entered high school, my life took a full 180 degree turn. What used to be a systematized, step-by-step everyday events is now a random box of chocolates. And guess what, it’s raining again. I used to love the rain. The feeling that it imposes on me is unexplainable, unreachable. But now, every time the rain drops from the sky, unpredictable things happen. There will be uncertain moments – and I hate them. I hate things that I can’t control. I don’t want anything or anyone else dictating my life for me. This is my life and  I will etch it the way I want it to. Fate will bow down before me.

But what about yesterday? I’m still boggled with what Patty said to me when I was still in the nipa hut. Love Namie? What about that? That doesn’t make any sense. Or am I just too naive to read between the lines? Then, there’s that old man in the boat. How did he knew me and Namie? I guess he’s right. The world does not rotate on reason and logic alone. I guess things are better explained by abstract; and therefore, some things happen for a reason we can’t simply comprehend at the start. I hope it will give light to some things in the end.

Finally, what did Namie and Patty talked about? They must have been through something difficult that it made both of them share their tears before smiles. But anyway, it seems to me that they’re back to being friends again. They look so happy together – and seeing them that way makes me feel overwhelmed. I think I can see the fruit of my efforts now – with some sacrifices. Great ambitions and success mean great sacrifices. I can live with that. I hope everything wasn’t just a dream.

“Eric. What are you doing? Do you want to be late again? Breakfast is waiting!”

Oh, I can’t believe it’s this late! I overslept! I have to hurry or I’ll miss the first examination again.

Schoolyard. Building lobby. Room 103. I used to stare this room number – the number of destiny that links us friends together. Without this room, none of us would have experienced these exciting moments together. I am thankful, Room 103, for letting Patty and Namie cross my path. Without them, my life would have been as dull as those manga characters I’ve read.

Namie is not here. She’s still probably in the hospital. Recovering. From the trauma she experienced, it is likely that she won’t be here anytime soon. That’s alright. Keep the faith Namie. Everything’s gonna be back to normal. Wait.. What is normal?

Class starts. After the examination, I tried to focus myself on the lessons being discussed by  the teacher, but unfortunately, I can’t. I think I’m spacing out again. I remembered the moment I apologized to Namie’s parents as they enter the hospital. I waited for them on the counter after I shared my stories with Namie and Patty so Namie couldn’t hear us. I know Namie. If I apologize in front of her, chances are, she’ll stop me and say that everything is fine. But it’s not. It’s not…

“Excuse, where is the room of my daughter, Namie Wanabe?”

“Oh mam, you mean the girl from the accident this evening? This way please.”

As they were about to follow the nurse, I grabbed the opportunity to speak to them – to tell them the truth – that it was all my fault. My conscience ate me alive. I’m a terrible sinner and I would gladly accept all  the consequences that await me. I apologized with all my heart. Sorry. I’m sorry. Thanks to me, Namie is in trouble now. But they didn’t scold me. Heck, they didn’t even get mad at me.

“It’s okay Eric, we understand. Now why don’t you go home now. It’s almost midnight. Your parents could be looking for you now. Don’t make them worry honey.”

Those are very sweet words for a sinner. They probably felt a little pity towards me. If I could cry my blood at that moment, I would. But, I’m only human and tears are all I can cry.

“Mr. Dinnan. Are you paying attention to the class?”

“Oh, I’m sorry Ms. Alena.”

I just can’t concentrate. I’m just a high school freshman and these things are already happening to me? I have only seen this chain of events in a movie once – but that is directed. A cut from the director and a little edit from the script could end the character’s misery at a snap. But this is reality. I’ve held my own fate. How can I turn this around by myself?

That’s right! I’m not alone. I won’t be alone anymore. That is probably why… I have a friend. I have friends. I think can see it all now.

A little over an hour later, the rain still continues to pour. It brings more memories to me. Like what happened last night, before I went back home. I felt like crashing. I didn’t know what to feel, what to do. I’m a useless person. Can’t I think and make decisions in an instant? That was certainly quite a moment.

I was about to go home after saying my dearest farewell and sincerest apologies to Namie and her parents, but Patty grabbed my arm while I’m at the stairs. She hugged me. My instincts told me to embrace her as well. What’s this for?

“Take care Eric. I will give up on this. I’ll miss you.”

“Huh? Are you going somewhere?”

“No. Not really. Physically, no. Anyway, it’s late now. My parents are waiting for me downstairs. You should go home too. So long…”

Then she turned around and ran away. She gave me that same smile as she turns around but this time, a couple of tears dropped down from her empty face. That smile. It was blank. I tried to chase her to comfort her, but I remembered what Ms. Alena once told me. If a girl is running away crying, then she needs to be alone. Eventually, I stopped chasing her. I will go home anyway. Patty, I’ll always be your friend, and I know that you’ll always be my friend. Right? That will never change.

Though I got used to being alone all my life, it’s hard. Definitely.

Ouch! I felt a piece of chalk thrown at my head.

“Mr. Dinnan, if you’re not planning to listen to any of my lessons, then please, step out of the room immediately. Don’t make me do it for you.”

Oh man. Fine. I’ll just listen. This is my main goal anyway – to finish my education. Graduate. Everything else are just spices to the main ingredients. Sigh. What incredible spices…

Music class. Finally, I’ll get to see Patty again. I wonder, is she alright?

I sat beside Patty as usual, together with Ivan and Francis. We told them what happened to Namie. The rest of the class seem to not know it yet.

The class noise suddenly dropped as expected – this means Ms. Mia is here. And there she is. Wonder what kind of aura she has that makes her a powerful person that she is. I hope I can also have that kind of power someday. The power of self-control and respect.

Our usual before-class prayer and she’ll start discussing again.

“Class, before I start our discussions, let me tell you first a little story.”

Now what? Oh I forgot! She is indeed Ms. I-Will-Fix-Your-Life. She thinks she know it all! Sigh. Here we go again.

“When I was still a child, I had a lot of doubts about myself. What can I do? What are my capabilities and my limitations. These things, I don’t know about. What can life give me? Is there more to life than this? At first, I thought being alone is not an option, but a necessity. Then, I learned to make new friends and later realized that life is not about myself and myself alone. Life is not selfish. Life is a compendium of events packed in wrappers, then scattered all over the world – we just have to search for it. It’s best to tell them, our friends, how important they are to us before life expires. We just borrowed our lives, and when our time comes, we can do nothing but return this life to Him.”

That is… So.. True.. What if.. When will my life end?

“Two lives, two different fate, one moment. One died in just a snap, leaving his family and his loved ones behind while the other one lived to tell the tale. An accident happened at our local suspension bridge last night. Two persons are inside a cab in the bridge while a ship bumped into it. Unfortunately, that car was thrown out to the river. The taxi driver died while the passenger managed to live. So you see, you can never tell when our lives will be taken away. Taken back. Before it’s too late, let’s do what we can – be it a friend, a loved one, or even someone in between. Remember, open your senses! You might be struggling for more reasons to live, for clarifications on life’s problems. But don’t give up just yet. You might be enclosing yourself to reason and logic. Remember, life is not always about that. Fate. Life is abstract. Because of reason, things happen. But it is not always reason that causes some things to happen.”

Oh my.. I didn’t know that. The cab driver died? What a tragic fate. Moreover, where did she get all these ideas? It seems that she’s pointing all those things to me! What a coincidence! It’s a like a missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle.

I looked at Patty. She’s so.. I don’t know, serious? She’s not even moving. She’s paying so much attention to Ms. Mia’s talk that she probably didn’t even notice me looking at her. She just stares at Ms. Mia. Her eyes are almost teary now. I looked outside. I tried connecting things, but my head aches even more. I’m so confused! I can’t imagine life could be this complicated. God, I seek your guidance. And with this, I said to myself a prayer in silence.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know difference. Amen.”

I love that prayer. I always feel relieved whenever I say that prayer, though I can’t remember how I learned that prayer. Who thought me that in the first place?

“Okay class, you see, life is never a piece of cake. Let us pray to that poor soul and let’s ask God for his blessings and guidance. Let us all pray again. God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know difference. Amen. Okay now, let’s resume the discussions, shall we?”

I’m amazed. Astonished. Frightened. That same prayer? That prayer! How did she…

This is going nowhere! I’m getting more and more confused by the minute! This is just too much to handle! Why do I have to suffer this? Have I done something wrong? Is endless suffering my fate?

“Eric, what happened? Are you alright?”

“Yes. Thanks for the concern Patty. Don’t worry, I’m fine. Something just came up.”

“What is it? I can help you.”

“Don’t worry, it’s fine. I can handle this. Thanks again.”

Everything is a mystery to me. Indeed, life is not just based on reason and logic.

As I walk my way home after class, somebody called out my name. Is it you Namie? No, it can’t be. She’s  still in the hospital.

“Eric! Wait.”

“Oh, hey Erica. What’s up?”

“Are you going to visit Namie at the hospital?”

“Yes, why? You want to go too?”

“Actually, I’d like to visit her. But she informed me that she has been released from the  hospital this morning. She’s at home right now and she said she’s fine. She also wants to thank you for everything you’ve done for her. That’s very nice of you Eric. She told me everything actually.”

“Oh. Thanks for informing me then. You don’t have to say that really. If you only knew.. It was all my fault really.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Nobody wanted that to happen right?”

“I guess you’re right. So, you heading home?”

“Yeah. And oh, Eric. Can I call you later? I just want to ask a little favor. If that’s okay with you.”

“Sure, sure. Call anytime.”

“Really? Thanks. Bye then! Take care on your way home.”

“Yeah. You too. Thanks again!” A little favor?

Home. Dinner. TV. Homeworks? Done. Time to relax now. Just for this moment, I want to forget all my problems. I need a breather. Then, the phone rings. Is it Namie? Oh, I forgot, Erica’s supposed to call me right? It’s probably her.

“Hello, good evening.”

“Hello, is this Eric?”

“Yes, Erica?”

“Hi. I just wanted to ask.. Umm. You see..”

“Calm down Erica. You’re mumbling. What is it?”

“Sigh. I guess it can’t be helped. You’re a friend of Ivan right?”

“Yeah. Then?”

“Well. How do I put this… Do you know what he likes?”

“Likes? Oh I see. You have a crush on him! That’s interesting. Haha.”

“Stop it! You’re making me blush.”

“That’s alright. I guess we’re at the same state right now.”

“What? Really? You’re also attracted to someone at the school? Share it to me then!”

“I won’t. Haha.”

“You’re mean! I told you mine. Okay, let’s have a deal, if this is fine with you. I’ll help you with her and you’ll help me with him. How’s that?”

“Hmmm. Sounds fair enough. Well, the class president..”

“Aha! I knew it all along! It’s Namie!”

“All along? But we have only talked twice right?”

“Ah.. Well.. Intuition, I guess. Haha. So how about it. How do you feel about her? This is so interesting.”

“Not much really. It’s just… Oops, wait. There’s another caller on the line. Wait a sec, I’ll just answer it, okay? Hang in there.”

“Sure.”

I immediately switched on the other line.

“Hello?”

“Hello. Eric? It’s me, Namie.”

“Namie! How have you been? Are you feeling well already? You should rest more!”

“Don’t worry, I’m… Fine. It’s… Just….”

“Namie.. Are you crying? Why? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I just.. I’m sorry. Forget about it.” Thumping sound. Busy line. She hanged up on me. What could’ve happened? This is bad.

Chapter 12 December 2, 2008

Posted by mithfalath in Lonely Road.
Tags: , ,
3 comments

Chapter XII. Reverie

It can’t be! I’ll dial it up again. + 6 3 9 2 7 8 5 9 4 0 3 0.

Searching up contacts. Number found! Namie Wanabe.

This is disastrous. This is more than punishment. I really have to go now. But what the heck, the hospital is also on the other side of the bridge. How am I supposed to get there? The only other bridge aside from this is about six kilometers away! That’s so damn far away. She needs someone to be there. I don’t even know the contact numbers of her parents. I hope the doctor also called her parents. Oh God, I’m sorry for I have sinned. If this is the only way I can repent for my sins, I’ll accept it but please, save the people I love.
They have nothing to do with this.

I love?

The only possible way is by using a boat to cross the river, but the possibility that there is a boat at this time of the night is like winning a lottery raffle – twice on the same year – considering that the storm is as heavy as this! Even if there is a boat, I will be putting myself in danger with the strong winds and mighty currents of the river, not to mention the steady downpour of heavy rain.

But there’s no doubt in my heart what I’m going to do. It is I who invited Namie to go to that place in the first place. If it wasn’t for me, she shouldn’t have been in this situation right now. She should have been with her family, in her home, studying and taking a rest. What have I done? I’m so useless. I’ve become a bad omen to everyone I met. What is my real purpose in life then? No! Mother, please forgive me.

I ran into the docks at the bottom of the river, about 500 meters away from the store. And what luck do I have now? There is a boat and someone is about to ride it! This turns out to be a big turn of events now. This happens once in a blue moon and I will not let this opportunity slip by – again.

“SIR! EXCUSE ME! SIR! WAIT!”

“What is it kid? And what are you doing in this heavy storm without an umbrella or a rain coat? You’ll get sick. It’s too late for kids to be out on the street! Go home already!”

“But sir, my friend is in grave danger right now. She is in a hospital across that river. And since the suspension bridge collapsed or something, vehicles are not allowed to pass through it. This is my only chance of reaching the hospital. So please, let me join you in your boat.”

“Get lost kid. It’s dangerous here.”

“Please. I’m begging you mister..”

“I said get lost!”

“Please. I’d do anything! Please?”

“Hmm.. Anything?”

“Anything…”

“That’s interesting. In that case, I will ask you a question and let you do me a favor in return for this ride. You okay with that?”

“Thank you sir. I appreciate that.”

“I will tell you the question now and if you can’t answer it, then say goodbye to your only chance. You will do me a favor after the trip so don’t mind that for now. As for the question, I’m not really in a hurry so there will be no time limit. However, think about your friend whom you said is in danger right now. Let that serve as your time limit, got that?”

“Okay, so what’s the question?”

“Well..”

“It’s not one of those logic questions…” I remember the time when Patty asked me about the carbon-dioxide poisoning question. Is this another test?

“Logic? Sorry to disappoint kid, but things don’t work out that way.”

“Huh?”

“You see kid, the world rotates because of reason and logic. We remain on the ground – alive and breathing, also because of reason and logic. But you know, there are things reason and logic can’t be explained.”

What is he saying? We are living in a scientific world. But anyway, what is he up to? Namie is waiting for someone to come for her. As of now, I am the only possibility. But either way, I have to answer this question.

“Why are we living? For what purpose are we living? How about you kid, do you know why you existed?”

“Well is that the question, sir?”

“No. My question is, who is she to you?”

“She’s Namie, a close friend of mine.”

“Now that answer is based on reason and logic. But that’s not the type of answer my question is looking for. Obviously, you don’t understand such things yet. Fate, my boy. If you believe that you are destined to suffer at this moment, then why not believe? In what? In yourself! That even if it’s just a spark of hope, then, there is still a chance. My boy, do you believe that you two are destined to be friends?”

“I think so. Yes.”

“Then why not change it the way you want it to be.”

What is he talking about? From the very definition of it, fate is constant. From the very beginning of our lives, we are destined to be something, to do something; and trying to change all these is an impossibility.

But.. What if he’s right? Is it possible that we can change our fate someday, somehow? Is that true? How will I believe that?

“Mister, who are you?”

“I can’t believe you still have the time to ask those types of questions, my boy.”

He’s right. I’m wasting precious minutes here.

“Now, I ask you again Eric Dinnan, who is Namie in your life?”

What in the world! Did I hear that right? He uttered my name. My full name. She even knew Namie. This is scaring me. Who are you? Are you some spirit sent to guide me? Do I really know the answer to that question? Fate. Change? Reason? Does it concern me?

Why does Patty’s smile feel so warm? Namie’s smile feels warm as well. So as her hand. But what I felt about Namie certainly is a bit different from what I felt about Patty. I’m pretty sure Patty is a close friend of mine but Namie… She’s something else. Is this what Patty meant by opening my senses? The trembling of my body and the anxiety of my heart. My body is giving up but my emotions feel otherwise. If that is the case, then there is no doubt in my answer.

“Mister, I think.. I..”

“…”

“I.. Love.. Her..”

“What’s that again? I didn’t hear you.”

“I love her…”

“Hmmm.. Hop in kid. I’ll take you there in an instant. I’ll just contact you if I need you okay? You owe me something.”

“Right. Thanks sir!”

As we traverse the cold river, the storm somewhat weakened. The rain eventually stopped, although there’s still there some occasional thunder which really frightens me. I didn’t open up a conversation with him. He might know something else, which I don’t know. That would frighten me to death! Who is he? But that doesn’t matter now. I’ll think about it at a later time. The important thing now is that I’m on my way to Namie. Don’t worry Namie, I’m coming.

“Off you go kid. A couple of blocks away from here and you should see the hospital.”

“Thanks a lot sir.”

“You don’t have to thank me. Just believe in yourself. You helped yourself a lot back there.”

I helped myself? I did! I helped myself. I did..

“Here’s my contact number…”

“Oh it’s fine. I’ll contact you as I wish. Well then, ’til next time. Take care kid. And take this umbrella with you. It might rain again.”

“Thanks again sir.” I turned around and started running as fast as I could. I will never forget his face. I’m sure we’ll meet again. I just had that feeling.

There, the hospital! I entered the main door and immediately asked the nurse at the desk where is Namie.

“Excuse me miss, do you know at what room is Namie Wanabe located? She’s the girl from the accident at the bridge a while ago..”

“Oh. Room 4103. Take the elevator, first turn on the left and the second room should be it.”

“Thanks.”

I don’t have time to notice what I looked like. I just focused my attention on just one thing and one thing alone – Namie. Is she alright? I hope she is. I certainly hope so. Even if it’s just a spark of hope, I’ll hold on to that.

Here it is. Room 4103. Knock. Another knock.

“Come in.” That’s Namie’s voice. No doubt. I entered the room. There she was, lying on the bed. At least she’s awake and sitting upright with her back leaning against a pillow. No cords are attached to her. That’s what I’m usually afraid of when I see someone in the hospital.

“Namie.. I… I’m..” My mouth is trembling.

“Eric, please don’t apologize. It is my choice too, you know. I guess it’s just fate.”

How can she smile knowing what happened to her? As I approach her slowly, tears fall from my face. I’m sorry Namie. What have I done. I shouldn’t have invited you after all. If I knew all along that the hospital would be our next meeting place, it’s better that we switch situations right now.

“Eric, are you crying? Come on, don’t give me a face like that. I know why you came here. You’re here to cheer me up right? Don’t tell me I’d be the one to cheer you up instead?”

She told that to me with another smile. A smile so dear, I can embrace her. I want to embrace her. And I did. As I embrace her, I kept on saying sorry and sorry and sorry. I felt her arms around me as well. Then, I thought to myself, this is a moment to die for. I’ve never felt this in my entire life! I can’t even explain this. I feel I could die just by embracing her ’til the very end.

“Eric, it’s fine. I’m fine. Now, why don’t you tell me stories when you were still in elementary. Like graduation. What happened on your graduation day? That will be exciting.”

“Oh ok. But first, I have to call your parents so they know what happened to you.”

“Don’t worry about that. The doctor said that they called my family already and they should be on their way.”

“Okay then, just wait here for a moment. I need to call someone.”

I was supposed to call my parents too because it’s late in the evening and I’m still not at our home. They must be pretty worried about me. But someone else went to my mind. Patty. They’re friends before right? And I’m sure, and I can feel it, that they are still friends until today – up to this very moment now! I have to call her and inform her what happened to Namie. Is this the right time to straighten things up? Only time knows. But I will try. I will call her.

I reached for my phone on my pocket. What? It’s not here. Oh man, I left it at the convenience store! What luck! Maybe there’s a payphone outside the hospital.

“Stay here okay, I’ll be back. I just need to call someone.”

“Okay. Take care.” I can’t help but notice that smile again. What a wonderful smile. Any problem could be solved and forgotten with that very smile of hers.

Outside the hospital. Oh there’s the payphone station. A car stopped in front of the hospital. I didn’t mind it so I continued walking. Then I heard someone continuously shouting my name. When I turned around, I saw Patty! She’s from that car.

“Patty, what are you doing here?”

“I got a call from Namie’s mom and she told me what happened.”

“Oh I see. Then why did you arrive first? Where are her parents?”

“They live farther away than me from this hospital. They should be here any minute now. Is she upstairs?”

“Yes. I was just about to call you and tell you what happened. Do you want me to accompany you?”

“Sure. Let’s go.”

We’re here, standing in front of the door of Namie’s room. I was about to turn the knob when Patty grabbed my arm.

“Eric, I want to go inside alone. We’ll just talk for a while.”

Then she turned the knob, entered the room, and then closed the door. What could the two be talking about? Will they finally be friends again? I hope Patty had that kind of initiative.

Ten minutes later. Namie’s parents are still not here. What’s taking them so long? Then Patty came out from the room – with a smile.

“Come join us Eric.”

I entered the room and they were both smiling. I didn’t say a word because I didn’t know what happened. But by observing things, as I always do, I noticed the floor beside Namie’s bed had some droplets of water, as well as Namie’s bed sheet. She’s trying to hide it, but I saw it already. What is this? They’re both happy now but they cried?

What happened there?

“Well then, shall I tell you both my experience during one of the most memorable days of my life?”

“Sure, I’d like to hear that.” Patty said.

“Go on.” Namie agreed.

I’ve never seen them as enthusiastic as this before. They both made me a better man. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be standing here with such courage and poise. And so, I will share to them what happened during my graduation day.

Namie, Patty – my efforts were not put to waste. Thank you both for being here for me.

Chapter 11 November 30, 2008

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Chapter XI. Being

I didn’t mind what she said. She’s holding my arm! We are in class. Somebody might see us! This could be trouble. But anyway, why do I think that way? We’re friends anyway, right? But her hand… It feels warm. Warmer than before. I could not focus my attention on the view outside because I can feel her whole self through her hand. She’s also anxious – anxious as I am, but she’s more composed.

In order to divert my attention outside, I tried talking as well.

“Really?” That’s all I could say – a single interrogative word.

Then, I had the chance to stare at the window too. It was really beautiful. To my left? She’s also beautiful. The world is not filled with problems and hatred after all. I couldn’t wish for anything better than this. It definitely relieves all my problems away. Then I remembered her diary. Namie, I’m sorry I’ve read your diary. I’ve deprived you of your privacy.

“It’s a good thing we don’t have music class later. We will be dismissed early today. That’s nice, isn’t it?”

Come to think of it, she’s right. We don’t have music class later. That’s good news! But what does she mean by that? I remember last year, when I was still in elementary, my friends used to tell me that line too. And I’m pretty sure that when they say stuff like that, then it means they’re inviting me to go to their place to have fun. So does that mean… What am I gonna do? She’s still holding my arm?

Courage. Eric, it’s time!

“Yeah. Say, would you like to have dinner later at Lenny’s? That is, if you don’t have any important matters to do later.”

“Sure! I’d love to.”

She agreed. She actually agreed. That stunning smile was once again reflected from her glimmering face. She said she’d love to, right? Then that means, I have done something pleasing! But what about Patty? Is she alright? I wonder how she’s doing lately?

“Umm.. Namie, could you head there first. I’m sorry I can’t join you on the way there. I have something else to do here. But I promise I won’t be late. Is it fine with you?”

She nodded, and then went back for her chair and packed her notebook back to her bag. I am a faster writer than Namie and I know she hasn’t finished copying the notes yet. I’m only on the second part and she packed her bag already? What have I done this time? I just want to keep in touch with Patty later. I’m sure she’d understand that. If only I could read their feelings, then I wouldn’t have any problems anymore.

But for now, let me finish copying these notes here. Let’s take things one step at a time so if I stumble, I could easily get up and continue walking.

Finally, it’s the end of the day. I’m looking forward to two things right now. One, I will meet Patty at the nipa hut again. It’s been a while since we last talked about life in general there. I’m going to bring Ivan and Francis with me so we could all talk like there’s no tomorrow. And two, my awaited dinner with Namie. Is this true? Am I not dreaming? I actually had the guts to ask such a request? Where did I get the nerves to do that?

“Hey Ivan, Francis. Since we don’t have music class later, let’s spend some time at the nipa hut with Patty.”

“Sure. That’s a great idea. Shall I bring our homework?”, Ivan asked.

“What? Homework. I thought it’s a get-together party, or something like that?”, Francis surprisingly asked.

“Haha. Gotcha! I’m just kidding. Of course, it’ll be like that. Well let’s not keep her waiting. Shall we head there then?”

“Sure let’s go.”, I replied as enthusiastic as possible. Do I have to be happy? Am I forcing myself to be happy? Something is not right here…

“Patty! How are you? Is somebody bullying you on that section? Let me have it!!! Come on. No more Mr. Nice Guy here! Nobody bullies you and gets away with it! Wahahaha.” What a statement by Francis!

“Oh don’t worry, I’m fine. They’re all really friendly and nice. I’m enjoying it actually.”

“Good to hear that”, I said. But I did not look at her. I’m still looking at the vast, distant sky where the sun is only starting to sink in the horizon.

“So Eric, how are you? I’m glad you could come here”, she asked with a smile. I tried to smile as well, but my other self won’t let me. What’s happening?

“I’m fine. I just can’t believe that you followed…”

Oops! I wasn’t supposed to say that! That was from Namie’s diary.

“That I followed what, Eric?”

“That you followed the fruit stand playing with the kids on the street.”

What on Earth did I just said? I was almost caught there. I shouldn’t leave any evidence that I read any part of Namie’s diary. If I do, then all these relationships will be shattered into pieces in just seconds like a fragile glass.

“What? I’m sorry, I can’t understand what you just said”, Patty looks confused.

“Eric, what the heck are you saying? Are you sick?”, Ivan asked as he feels my neck for my body temperature.

“No, I’m fine. Family problems, I guess.” There! I lied again! Geez. This is starting to be habitual.

Patty touched my arm with her right hand. I can feel her warmth through this hand, just as I felt Namie’s a while ago. Something is beginning to take shape here. I need more signs and I think I’ve got it.

“Well, whatever that is Eric, I’m always here. You can always approach me if you need any help, okay?”

“Thanks Patty.”

We shared a lot of conversations, especially Francis. He’s the one who told us a lot about himself that moment that made us really intrigued. Ivan would listen to all of Francis’ stories and he would comment on every bit of it! I would simply listen to their stories while glancing at the window once in a while. Patty is the one who enjoyed it the most, since she is the one who is separated from us in the class. I would definitely miss these moments when graduation time comes. But that’s silly! Graduation is a distant 3 years from now. How I wish graduation would be tomorrow, so I could finally free myself of these worries.

“We’ll be going now Eric, Patty. Our school bus is here”, said Ivan with Francis beside him.

“Okay. Take care. See you tomorrow!”

Patty waved them goodbye. I waved them goodbye. There’s only the two of us in this hut now. She sat beside me as she stared at the window too. The sun had started sinking about twenty minutes ago and only a third of it could be seen now. The once blue sky turned bright orange once again.

Patty’s head leaned on my shoulders. I felt something special.

“Say Eric…”

“Yes?”

“It looks like paradise… isn’t it?”

Oh my word! That’s the exact phrase Namie told me a while ago! What is this? What relationship do they have from each other? Are they trying to play tricks on me? Or is it purely coincidental! My heart is pounding so fast, I can’t feel anything aside from my beating heart!

Oh damn! I forgot! Namie’s waiting for me! It’s almost five-thirty!

“Patty, sorry I have to go. I forgot I have an appointment.”

“Oh okay. By the way, how’s Namie?”

“What about her?”

“Nothing, I’m just thinking, if ever she’d love you and you would love her back, don’t forget that I’ll always be your friend. I am here and I will always be here. I will wipe your tears and comfort you. That’s what friends are for.”

I couldn’t say a word. Those sentences are too much! Love? How do I know if this is love? How does she know that she’ll love me? Is it obvious? I feel so naive. What am I to you anyway? I still can’t say a single word.

“Bye.” And I ran. Away from her and into Namie.

Analyze you stupid brain! What happened there? I don’t have a clue! Of course I know she’s always there, she doesn’t have to say that. We’ll always be friends. Now what about Namie? Love? I can’t comprehend this much! All I know is that I will be terribly late if I don’t hurry.

“Taxi! To Lenny’s please.”

I had to take a taxi to get there. It usually takes thirty minutes to get there, but this is a different case now. It started raining hard again! The traffic might be jammed again. It’s a good thing I always bring my umbrella and my jacket.

Voilah! Would you believe this? The traffic jam really is heavy in here. Our vehicle is not moving even a single centimeter closer to my destination! What is wrong? I understand that it’s raining but this is exaggeration. Other than rain, something else must have caused this commotion. As far as I can see, there are no vehicles on the other side of the street, literally! What is wrong?

“Excuse me mister, where are you going?”

“I’m going to take a look outside. Something is wrong here.”

The cab driver pulled himself out of the car and started running forward, without an umbrella. The rain is steadily pouring while I wait anxiously inside this cab. I wonder how long has Namie been waiting there? I can’t contact her because my phone’s battery is drained. Oh, here comes the taxi driver.

“Sir, what happened?”

“An accident happened. The storm is so strong that it cut the electricity lines off of the majority of the city, including the street lights. Because of this, the lights at the suspension bridge were also cut off. It was too dark to see in there because there are a lot of trees around that bridge and that river. A while ago, a foreign ship sailed on that river and did not notice that the suspension bridge was too low for it to let the ship pass through. So the ship bumped into the bridge. Now, the bridge is broken and it cannot allow any vehicles to pass through it. There was even this one car thrown out to the river. But they said nobody died.”

“Oh. That’s really a disaster.”

That means I’m waiting for nothing! I’m going nowhere!

“Here’s my fare. Thanks.”

I’m more than an hour and a half late now. Where will I go? How can I reach the other side of the city if the bridge is broken? I feel so helpless. I just dropped to the ground once more. I’m now wet all over. I did not open my umbrella. What is the use of umbrella if I’m going to get wet anyway? The wind is as cold as ice while the drops of rain seem to be getting heavier as time goes by. Oh glorious rain, for what purpose did you arrive at this time of the day? Please hide my tears as you glide on my face.

Oh God! Is this my punishment? This is too much to bear! I don’t care if I get ill after this, but somebody is waiting for me on that other side of the bridge! She’s probably thinking, “What could have happened to him? Why can’t I call him? I hope he’s safe.” I don’t want her to feel that way. I have already experienced that and it hurts a lot. Where will I go now? Look left. Look right. Straight ahead.

Oh there, a convenient store. Good thing it still has its electricity line working. I entered the store even with my clothes all wet. All the people inside started staring at me, but I don’t care. I immediately went to the counter and asked their request if I could somehow charge the battery in my phone. I’m so desperate.

“Excuse me, may I charge my phone’s battery here. It’s just for emergency. I will pay the cost of my usage. It’s just really urgent.”

“Oh you don’t have to pay for it. It’s okay young man. You may use it.”

“Thank you very much madam!”

As it started charging, I opened my phone and got a few text messages and a missed call even, but I don’t know who it’s from. One text message is from my mother, saying will I be late tonight? I replied yes, but I didn’t say why.

The other text is from someone I don’t know. Are you playing a prank on me. Not at this moment you brat! I’m going to call you.

The phone rings. Somebody answers,

“City State General Hospital, how may I help you?”

Huh? A hospital?

“Oh sorry, wrong number.”

What was that about? Sigh.

Oh right, Namie! I almost forgot! I immediately dialled her phone number but the operator said that the number was out of reach. That’s strange.

My phone rings. It’s that number from the hospital again. Now what?

“Hello?”

“Thank goodness you called. I’m Dr. Phillip of City State General Hospital. You’re the last person the patient is trying to contact, according to the memory log here in the phone. It’s also by luck that this phone is still working. The patient almost drowned because the car that the patient is riding was thrown off the local suspension bridge when an accident happened a while ago. Thankfully though, she is safe now but in a critical condition. Do you happen to be a relative of this patient?”

“Uhm, what’s the phone number?”

“It’s +639278594030. Again, +639278594030. You got that?”

“Okay. Wait a second, I’ll look it up.”

Let’s see, +639278593040. Nope, I have no contact with that number.

“I’m sorry but I don’t have any contact with that number.”

“Oh okay, but could you please ask your other contacts if they know someone with such a phone number. You see the river is polluted and the patient is in danger. This is an emergency.”

“Okay, thank you. I will.”

That’s strange and scary at the same time. God, save that patient in danger. If I were a relative of that patient, I’d run out of consciousness by now! But what’s that about? Why would someone contact me if I don’t even know him. Or her.

Wait! Wait wait wait! That phone number seems familiar to me. What is it again? 6 3 9 2 7 8 5 9 what? 3 0 4 0? Hey. I got the numbers mixed up! I think I know someone whose number is +639278594030. It’s 4 0 3 0 and not 3 0 4 0! How could I overlook that?!

I’ll search for it again. + 6 3 9 2 7 8 5 9 4 0 3 0.

Searching up contacts. Number found! Namie Wanabe.