“Advice”

“Advice”

by Dawn | February 01, 2017

 

          I rubbed my face. Maybe for the fourth or fifth time, maybe more. It was after school hours, and my friend and I were in the classroom. In my table, she was crying across me, and I couldn’t help but pinch the bridge of my nose at her cause. Frustration was all over my face, and I urged to express my annoyance. I didn’t.

          “Kimmy…” I sighed. It came right out of my mouth without my consent. And I was surprised that I didn’t care if she have seen through my frustration or not.

          In her continuous sobbing, I was guessing she didn’t. Her face was almost covered by stains of her tears, and her cheeks were getting red than pink. She came to me just before I was about to leave, crying out her problem. Her annoying, dramatic problem.

          “What should I do, Lynn?” She said between sobs. “I don’t know if he still cares for me anymore.” She finally wiped her face with the back of her hands. She needed a handkerchief, something I didn’t have at the moment. “Is it because I don’t go along with his friends? Am I lacking something, Lynn?”

          Another sigh escaped my mouth, rubbing the space between my eyebrows with both hands before I put them down, determined to give her the answers she’s been asking. Straight to the point.

          “Kimmy, listen…”

          It was the first time Kimmy lifted her eyes at me ever since she started crying. Even her eyes were turning red, and I couldn’t help but pity her at her state—not for crying, but being so blind in all of this. I knew she was seeing the stern look of mine, even though I partly didn’t want her to.

          “Do you really think you’re the only one who’s lacking in your relationship?” I continued.

          She sniffed. A very childish one at that. “I-I think so.”

          “I think so too.” I swore I saw her face squirm at that, though I was only agreeing. “But what about him? Do you think he’s doing something for your relationship?”

          She hesitated. “W-what do you mean?”

          “I mean, you’ve been giving almost all the effort. Why can’t you see he’s not doing the same?”

          Caleb had asked for a date with Kimmy about a month ago. Along the lockers. Near my locker. Kimmy was tagging along with me when Caleb approached her, asked her for a date, and the next day she literally squealed at my face saying it’s already them. Just like that.

          “No. He does,” she defended, her face showing signs of attempts to prove me wrong. “I’ve received numbers of my favorite flowers and three teddy bears. He took me to malls, treated me with my favorite food, he’s done all that.”

          I couldn’t stop my brow from cocking. “Just that?”

          She sniffed the rest of her cry in my question. “What are you trying to imply, Lynn?”

          I slid my hands from my face to my hair. I didn’t want to say this directly, but it’s the only way I could do it. With my emphasizing gestures going along with me, I said, “I’m saying that you two aren’t fit to be in a relationship at all.

          Her face contorted. “What?”

          “Listen, Kimmy. What he’s doing are only efforts trying to flatter you and impress others and himself. Remember the day he found out that you like him?”

          She nodded.

          “Ever since that day, he started trying to get your attention, in the flirtiest ways.”

          She blinked, dropping her eyes on the table mulling over what I said.

          “Remember, Kimmy? The winks? The constant flattering compliments?” which were inappropriate, I wanted to say. “The hand holding? He only started being so sweet at the beginning of your relationship.”

          “But he loves me,” she defended again, quite a bit hesitant at her own claim this time. “He told me he loves me…A-and I love him.”

          “Are you sure he loves you?”

          “Well, yes—”

          “Are you sure you love him?”

          Her shock paused her a bit. “You’re asking me if I love him?”

          I brought my knuckles to my mouth, eyeing her seriously. Without answering her question, I raised another. “Why do you love him, Kimmy?”

          “What? I just do. Do we need a reason to love?”

          “In our nature, yes.” My voice decreased into a quieter tone. I’ve grown tired of this conversation even before it started. It’s already taking its effects. “Everything has a reason Kimmy. Why do you think you said ‘yes’ when he asked you out?”

          She shook her head. “I don’t think I get what you mean…”

          “I remember what your reasons were when you said you had a crush on him. Can you?”

          “That…he’s…”

          “Perfectly handsome,” I finished for her. I didn’t think I couldn’t cringe when it came right from her mouth. “That’s what you said.”

          “But I’ve seen more of him in our relationship. He’s really a nice person.”

          “And a very irresponsible one at that.” I will never forget how that kid didn’t come during that filming for the English project. He chose to be with Kimmy over it, and he was an important character on top of that. Caleb lied to Kimmy that the scene we were taking didn’t involve him. I almost wanted to throw everything I carried at him when I saw him the next day.

          “I know,” she admitted in defeated. “But I wanted to understand him, you know. He really didn’t like me being so clumsy, but he understood me.”

          “By letting him copy all of your assignments, isn’t that it? Kimmy, why can’t you see that you’re just an entertainment to him?” I leaned closer to her. I made this conversation with her before, and she didn’t like it. I didn’t care. “You’ve seen how he treated his little sister, didn’t you?”

          “What does his little sister have to do with this?”

          “He hates it when his little sister approaches him, especially when his friends are around. He may be sweet to you at first, but sooner or later you will be treated the same way he treated his little sister.”

          “What?” She’s starting to dislike this. “How can you say that?”

          “Kimmy, however a guy treats his mother or sister, he will do the same to any other girl. If he can mistreat those who have his same blood, how much more to someone else?”

          She grunted, bending her head to scratch the top. “You’re sounding like my mom.”

          “Which she may be right. Kimmy, I don’t want you to be a victim of this.”

          “You know what? You’re sounding like you know everything about this than I do. You never had any boyfriend since birth.”

          “You don’t trust me because I never had a boyfriend before?”

          “And certainly because you never had a boyfriend before. How would you know anything about love without actually experiencing it?”

          “Well, if you know more about love than I am, how will you explain your boyfriend’s behavior? Huh, Kimmy? Why are you being blind about everything he’s doing? Is that love to you?”

          She looked away. “Have you ever heard of the saying ‘love is blind’?”

          Lynn sighed. “Unfortunately, yes I have. And that saying is one of the reasons why most of people our age is a victim to infatuated relationships, Kimmy. Do you know that love is the best thing in the world?”

          “Of course.”

          “Then it shouldn’t be blind. Because if it is, you’re actually saying that being in love is being a fool. Do you get it, Kimmy?”

          She exhaled a frustrated sigh. I knew she was starting to hate it. “But if he’s the kind of person like you said, what can I do to change him?”

          “Change him?”

          “If he’s not really a good person, I want to change him. I don’t want to end the relationship.”

          “You can’t do it.”

          “What? Why?”

          “Because the basis of your love for him isn’t love, Kimmy. You first liked him because you thought he was handsome. Your basic reason for saying ‘yes’ to him is because he was handsome, not for who he is. Your relationship is nothing but some puppy love.”

          “Are you saying I should break up with him?”

          “No, I’m only saying you’re not ready to be in a relationship. None of you are. Just look at his behavior, Kimmy. He couldn’t even get his homework done, he couldn’t get his projects right, how much more in your relationship?”

          “So what do you want me to do?”

          “I’m not telling you to do anything. I just hope you get something from everything I said and decide what to do yourself.”

          She nodded, but her face betrayed her distaste of me. She wiped the remaining stain on her face and struggled to stand up. “I should go. Bye Lynn.”

          “Thanks for the time,” I said, with her already on the door and disappeared. I propped my head on my palm, thankful that it was done but felt bad of the outcome. Her farewell sounded more like ‘go away’ than ‘goodbye’. She never liked my answers, even though she kept asking. Though I’m sure it’ll be the last time she’ll ask advices from me.

          A figure walked in right after Kimmy left. I looked up to see Aiden with his face mixed with the hint of someone who had heard everything. His knowing smile made me respond a pursed lips and a snort.

          Aiden sat against the side of my table and crossed his arms. “That was really good advising.”

          “Well, she walked out on me unsatisfied with the answers.”

          “Still, I believe you were right.” He looked back to where Kimmy had gone. “Caleb really was only good at looks. A big jerk.” He looked back at me with his knowing smile. “I’m glad you didn’t fall for his tricks when he was annoyingly courting you.”

          I laughed. I was also glad he stopped when I kind of blabbered at him on the face when he was being all dramatic when I didn’t respond to his flowers and chocolates. I never liked the chocolates.

          “C’mon.” Aiden stood and motioned me to do the same. “Curtis is still in the parking lot. We were waiting for you.”

Posted on Wattpad | “Quick Streaks”

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“Overcast”

“Overcast”

Pre-chapter of “The Lost Mind” | March 2017

 

          Tech woke up to the soft taps of the rain.

          It took him a lot of effort to open his right eye. The sudden contact of the 6 AM morning sunlight had quickly gripped it back shut. He buried his left eye further down the pillow in hopes to bury the other along. The curtains weren’t even open, how was the incomplete sunlight ever so blinding?

          He tried opening them again. Pushing himself and sitting up gave its motivation not to fall back to sleep. The blurring colors of unrecognizable objects slowly made themselves noticeable. The originally white walls appeared to him as gray. He blinked. Blinked again. And again. The blur cleared a bit. Only a bit. It had never been clearer than that.

          He turned back to the curtain at his right, and he winced regretfully. His hands slowly reached up to rub a portion of his head. The seemingly blinding dim light and the blur had been a good recipe for an early morning headache. Rubbing circles would sometimes take a few seconds, sometimes more than a minute, until the pain faded. Tech reached out to the bedside table for the glasses, absentmindedly knocking off a book he was reading the night before. The blur disappeared. The headache slowly faded.

          Curtains aside, a scenery of wet streets and grasses and the cloudless white of the sky greeted him. No. More like the white clouds were covering the whole sky like it was the sky itself. The moderate rain wasn’t showing any signs of stopping. Neighboring houses were visually busy, nonetheless. Mrs. Brogan on the neighboring house was already out unlocking her unpleasing red-colored car outside of her garage. Tech suddenly felt a tinge of adrenaline. He couldn’t make it out quite right—he should also be doing something. What day was it?

          Hard rapid knocks emitted from outside his door.

          “I’m up,” he answered groggily. Almost automatically. That seemed to answer his question—it’s school day. Thursday, if he recalled correctly. And he couldn’t find any reason to wake up earlier before his sister did. He was reading a book until midnight. And it was raining early in the morning.

          Tech ruffled his dark messy bed hair. How did I wake up so early?

          He glanced up the sky. There was nothing more annoying than going to school with the rain making him feel so drained.

          Tech finished getting a hot shower and dressing up in less than thirty minutes. He exited his room to see his sister already on duty in front of a computer, fumbling to get the latch of his watch in place while looking at his sister’s attire. She was well dressed for an appointment on her upper body with her dark hair tied in a neat bun. On the lower part were pajamas and a pair of slippers.

          “Nice attire,” he commented, his tone couldn’t hold back the tease. His sister only responded with her lip curling up, continuing to type away and carrying on to her work. The repeated teasing got Tech acquainted with her usual response—the webcam wouldn’t be able to see it.

          He proceeded to the kitchen. It was neat. The dining table in the middle was still swept clean from last night. Cooking pans and ladles were still hanging on their places. The drain was dry from leaving the faucet closed overnight. Tech’s hand found itself on one of his hips, sighing in exasperation. She didn’t eat. Again.

          “Helen,” he called out warningly. “I swear, if I find this table empty again I’ll—”

          An unfamiliar, authoritarian voice echoed from the speakers of the computer, and Tech immediately closed his mouth. A meeting had started, shutting him up. He shot her a face, actually considering to disturb her for not eating first before she started working. He needed to buy an alarm clock. He needed to wake up before her or she’ll die of hunger.

          An omelet was enough for his breakfast, cooking for more than himself in case his sister remembered that she hasn’t eaten yet. He prepared a plate and milk for her to make sure she wouldn’t refuse. With a strap of his bag around one shoulder, he checked to see if he could say at least a goodbye. The meeting was probably almost over, one of her co-workers on the other side of the screen had already put away his laser. In a short closing remarks, he ended the meeting.

          Tech approached and kissed her in the temple. “See you later.”

          She turned to him, her work almost immediately forgotten as she moved her hands from the keyboard to hold one of his, a bit too tightly. Her eyes looked up at him with plea and disappointment, considering her words for a moment before giving a hesitant nod. Her smile didn’t even last a second. “Take care.”

          Tech smiled, hiding behind how sorry he was and hoping it would reassure her instead. He suppressed sigh and said, “I’ll call you later, okay?”

          She nodded, her smile still looked so hesitant. She let go of his hand, nonetheless. “Oh. Our food is running out.”

          “I’ll get it.”

          “Stay safe, John.”

          Tech kissed her again in the forehead. “I’ll be back before dark.”

 

          Tech drove down the road with his dark blue car, the view of the suburbs were shrinking behind him as the city up ahead still wasn’t appearing. There was quite a distance to get there, the road up ahead disappearing into nothingness, making it look more endless with the lack of manmade structures around. Trickles of droplets stained the window of the driver’s seat, blurring the vast space of green meadows on both sides of the road. The fifteen-minute drive sometimes felt like thirty minutes. Sometimes Tech thought he was going to be late.

          A color of dirty gray slowly emerged in a distance, standing out in the vast space of the greenery. Only the top of it was visible, with the rest of it covered by tall shrubs that snaked around all sides of its enclosing fences. The car closed in, and the front view of the structure was still barely visible. A three-storey building with twelve rooms wide stood dead and stranded for two years. A former mental hospital, left and abandoned for good. The idea of isolating people with unstable states of mind had left it a horrific view.

          Tech pushed his glasses up and stepped on the gas. Thinking about it had always brought shivers down his spine.

 

          The car drifted through the small parking lot of the school and parked beside an unfamiliar black motorcycle. The rain was already reducing into trickles of droplets that was probably going to stop soon.

          A group of lads uniformed with maroon varsity jackets passed by the sidewalk just across him. The one with the gelled blond hair stole a glance at him. Tech shot back a cocked eyebrow through the windshield, and the blonde immediately diverted his eyes.

          When will he plan on returning that wrench?

          The blonde went in the entrance of the school, goofing around with his friends as if he didn’t see him. The sight of him drained Tech even more today. He was starting to doubt whether that guy even remembered about the wrench he borrowed, or was only avoiding him entirely.

          Slipping through the crowd in the hallway had got him constantly pushing his glasses up. Everyone just couldn’t stay put. How could there be a lot of people in the last three minutes before class? It took him more time than needed to get to his locker, still having to tell the ones hanging around and blocking it to find another place to gossip. Pushing his glasses up for more than the fifth time, he turned the key and opened it. The locker door shook as it bumped on something, and a clipboard fell on the floor.

          Tech peeked behind the locker door to see a girl with her blond hair tied up in a low ponytail. Her head hanged low still bracing from the impact, partly covering her face with her cheek leveled bangs that kept him from seeing her eyes. “Oh, sorry. Are you okay?”

          She looked back, tucking one side of her bangs behind her right ear and revealing one of her glowing green eyes. “Y-yeah I’m fine. I’m sorry, I didn’t see where I was going.”

          “I think I didn’t look where I was opening my locker too,” he joked. He heard a soft dry laugh from her as he bent to reach for her clipboard. Her attention was drifting from him to something behind him as he handed it to her.

          “Thank you,” she said, flashing a smile before walking off.

          Where is she going? The classrooms were on the other side.

          She was trying to catch up to a guy, wearing the same varsity jacket as that good-for-nothing blonde, but with an unnatural white hair, leaning against a column with a phone against his ear as he faced the grassy field. Even the dim sunlight had actually made his white hair looked more transparent. The girl stopped next to him, looking like she was attempting for an urgent talk. The whitehead rudely ignored her and walked away—still away from the classrooms.

          An involuntary mumble escaped his mouth. “What’s wrong with people today?”

          The bell rang. Tech walked off, taking his phone out from his pocket as the bell reminded him that he hadn’t sent his sister a message yet. He had to tell her that he arrived safely—from his harmless short-distanced travel to school.

 

          I’m at school now.

 

          Not even a minute later, his phone vibrated with a reply.

 

          Good. Be back before dark. I love you.

 

          I love you, too.

 

*        *        *

 

          “Mr. Gilbert.”

          Their chemistry teacher turned silent at the interruption. Tech’s classmates had been giving him constant pleading looks since the last several minutes. It was already thirteen minutes after the standard dismissal time. The overtime of school hours and the darkening sky would divert anyone’s attention to anything but school discussions. He just had to interrupt.

          “Yes, Mr. Breyne?”

          “It’s been eleven minutes after your two-minute extension.”

          “Oh. Really?” Mr. Gilbert looked around the class, his face was obvious of playfulness Tech knew he was going to pull off again. He faced back to the whiteboard and attempted to write. “Another five minutes.”

          “No!” The class erupted in disapproval.

          “Fine, I was only kidding.” Mr. Gilbert’s laugh was husky. Tech sometimes find it either real funny or real annoying. Right now it was both. “You may leave.”

          Everyone immediately shuffled and left the room in less than a minute, some sighing a relieving and quite exaggerated ‘yes’. Tech had to laugh. It was only one of Mr. Gilbert’s jokes that he did almost every end of the class that everyone still hadn’t gotten used to.

          Tech had just started putting his stuff away when everyone had already left, with Mr. Gilbert still erasing the writings on the board. “I can’t believe those old jokes still work on them,” he mumbled, deliberately saying it out loud.

          “Oh? Doesn’t work on you anymore?” The teacher shot back with his head turned towards him, challenging his statement. “How about I stay on my word and have those five-minute extensions every day?”

          “Aw no,” Tech quickly chided, pushing his glasses up as it slid down his nose from the sudden jerk of his head. “Not with these new schedules.”

          “It’s only an hour extension from last year’s normal dismissal.”

          “And only an hour left before dark.” Tech shoved his bag around one shoulder. “Besides. I have an errand today.”

          Mr. Gilbert shot a grin before turning back to the board, erasing the writings on the top. “Everything going well for you, John?”

          “Huh?” The sudden change of topic direction almost caught him off guard. He adjusted the strap of his back uneasily. “Well, yeah. Nothing’s been happening at the moment. Except for Will, that is.”

          “Hm?” The eraser made a thump as Mr. Gilbert tossed in on top of his desk. The whiteboard behind him was already clear from any streaks of writing. “What’s with Will?”

          “He borrowed my wrench last Monday,” he said, his feet aimlessly approached his teacher, settling himself on a desk across. “He never returned it until now.”

          Mr. Gilbert snorted. “That kid had never been affected in my talks.”

          Not surprising, Tech thought. A small one-to-one talk wouldn’t probably affect the thickest heads in the school, especially that airhead Will. But he’d seen Mr. Gilbert not giving up, nonetheless, and had been setting schedules to talk with him when he had a chance, until now.

          It’s a personal routine Mr. Gilbert do, to help shape their mentality, he’d say. Tech had been a target on his days, the first time when he had to give up his lunch for a “short” talk with him. Confessing personal troubles had never been very comfortable, but Tech admit it was the reason why he was really close to Mr. Gilbert.

          He never mentioned anything about it since the start of class. Tech tilted his head, sudden curiosity hit him. “That reminds me. You have new targets this year?”

          “I have.” He pointed an urgent finger. Sudden determination washed upon the face of the teacher. “Especially that new boy in my class. I heard from Mrs. Brett about his reason for transferring here.”

          “Really?”

          “He’s from Crosswell High, transferred here because of injuring a bully.”

          “Wait, what?” Tech’s face contorted in confusion. “He injured a bully? Not injuring someone because he’s the bully?”

          “No. If that had been the case, he wouldn’t be in class B1. It was his aunt who came with his registration and explained about his behavior. He’s always been picked on. It just so happens that he has a temper.”

          Tech scoffed. “We mostly have the same people who might trigger that temper.”

          “Oh, but he’s really intelligent.” Mr. Gilbert pointing another finger, his tone boasting proudly at his new student. “That William Reid? He was pushed down to B2 because of him.”

          Tech laughed, shaking his head and unthinkingly adjusting the strap of his bag on his shoulder. “Good for him.” Tech pushed himself up, remembering he shouldn’t be staying too long. “I actually need to go now, Mr. Gilbert.”

          “Sure thing, John.”

          “Let’s do hope you won’t scare that guy off,” he said, pushing a disarranged chair back to its place under the desk before proceeding to walk away. “People always say your intelligence and humor mix is intimidating.”

          He pointed his third finger, this time accusingly, but then laughed it off. “See you tomorrow.”

 

*        *        *

 

          The road was still wet from the morning’s nonstop rain, but there were no more droplets hitting his windshield despite the still gray clouds covering the whole sky. Tech was on a ten-minute drive towards a grocery store, having no choice that it was the only closest one from school. He had spent too much time talking with Mr. Gilbert, though it had helped lightening his mood.

          The clouded sky dimmed into the darkest shade the color of gray can be, threatening to get dark thirty minutes early. He needed to work double-time. He needed to get home early before the dark engulf the sky.

          Tech mostly took and dropped things from aisle to aisle, not bothering to look for the price and hurrying to get to the counter. The grocery’s unpopular name deprived itself from having too many costumers. That was a good thing, though his eyes kept glancing at the ticking hands of his watch. Time had left him only thirty-seven minutes left before his presumed nightfall. He didn’t have time to buy that alarm clock.

          The sky shook and trembled at his arrival outside the small grocery store, striking about two streaks of harmless lightning before it trembled once more. He watched the sky as he placed the groceries inside the trunk. Surely they were heavy enough for the first drop of the rain. It didn’t. It was holding back a little more, waiting until it couldn’t hold in much longer and release it all at once on the surface of the earth.

          “Yo, Breyne!”

          The call stopped Tech from entering the car, turning to see someone he was holding grudges against at the moment. His face almost immediately scowled. “What do you want, Will?”

          Will didn’t seem glad to see him either, his face betraying his actions he didn’t want to do against his will, but didn’t have any choice anyway. His constant adjustments of his bag’s straps gave away his discomfort.

          “Can I ride with you?” he ask. Managed to.

          Tech flashed a sarcastic smile at his thick face, wiggling his eyebrows once, then frowned. “I believe you still owe me something.”

          “Geez, I know,” he said, scratching the back of his head with irk in his voice. “I’ll get to that later. For now I need to go home.”

          The response ignited something in Tech’s chest, a feeling of his patience rapidly draining. It had been three days since Will borrowed his wrench. He had never seen it ever since.

          Tech stared at him, displeased of the pride his guts could muster.

          Will rubbed his face. “Look, I don’t have it right now. Okay? I swear I’ll return it tomorrow. Just…give me a ride home.”

          Tech snorted. Wow. Demanding. For crying out loud. “Tell me one good reason why I should.”

          He opened his mouth, clearly was about to burst out, then stopped and closed it. Tech amusingly praised his awareness that he wasn’t in place to get mad. Tech saw him clenching his fists to hold his pride in. Will took a visible breath. “Fine. I’m sorry about the wrench. But I really need a ride home. I don’t have enough money for a cab.” He stole a glance behind him and turned back. “Please?”

          Tech raised an eyebrow, amused. How much pride did he bury down his conscience just to say that?

          The sky shook once more, and Tech remembered that he was catching time as well. With a sigh, he motioned Will to get on the passenger’s seat. “Just try not to touch anything, will you?”

          Fortunately, Will had been silent, busily tapping on his phone ever since they got on the road. He hadn’t looked away from it even when they got away from city proper and was on their way to the suburbs. That was a good thing, until he cursed and grumbled something about a low battery.

          “D’you got any charger ‘round here?” he asked, his hands itched to reach out for the glove compartment.

          “Get your hands off there, I don’t have any.” Will immediately stopped and retrieved his hand.

          “Can’t you go any faster?”

          “Why are you in a hurry?”

          “Nothing. My grandma can drive faster than you.” Will’s smirk was evident in his mocking tone. Tech had started to regret even letting him ride with him.

          He took a deep breath, holding his patience a little longer. “Well, I’m not your grandma, and this is my car.”

          “Let me drive, then. We’ll get home much faster.”

          Tech huffed. Now he’s considering to stop the car and drop him off or push him out right now. He was more inclined to do the latter. Holding his patience was getting harder by the minute. “Don’t even think about it—”

          A streak of light flashed the sky, forcing Tech to flinch down his shoulders. He looked back to see the familiar abandoned structure once again, the dark nasty sky complementing its eerie ambience. It was even more unsettling when it was still alive two years ago, knowing it was filled with people who’re mentally unstable. Looking at it empty now was unexplainably disturbing.

          A sudden blow cut through the still sound of the running car and swiveled the vehicle. Tech quickly stepped on the brakes, taming the car before dragging it towards the side of the road, right in the sidewalk of the dead structure. He stepped out immediately and strode towards the back. The back-right tire was deflated, completely out of air.

          Tsk. His hand leaned against the trunk, holding down the boiling sensation in his chest through biting his lip. There wasn’t anything worse than being stranded in a deserted street, stuck with someone he hated at the moment, and right in front of a disturbing abandoned mental hospital. There were only a few minutes left before nightfall, and the darkening sky confirmed his presumptions.

          He needed to get home before dark. He had to get home before dark.

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Story Analysis: “The Safe House” by Sandra Nicole Roldan

          Many people had expressed their experiences or opinions about Martial Law during Ferdinand Marcos’ time. It was said that those who were actually alive during that time said that Ferdinand Marcos was a great president, while those who weren’t said that he wasn’t—probably based on what they learned in our Philippine written history.

          But the story of Roldan brought me to a new perspective. A story that happened at the time of Ferdinand Marcos, of Martial Law, in the perspective of a little child.

          The little girl lived in a four-storey building, with four units to a floor and walls high and wide. Their house was identical to any other houses in that area—within the gates of the complex. I assume that place was a subdivision or some kind, made from a housing project designed for genteel middle class living by the First Lady, as her pride and joy.

          There were people going in and out from their house, which she considered as her “relatives”. Very many relatives. Some would stay in for the night, some would be there to be fed, sometimes to get money, to treat the wounds or change their bandages. They always TALK ABOUT IMPORTANT THINGS, with capital letters. The little girl did not probably have the right or the mind to know or understand, but these important things seemed to be confidential. Classified. Top secret. You name it.

          A time during the martial law. The feeling in my gut told me that these guys must be revolutionaries, going against the government. Against President Ferdinand Marcos. Why did they need to be in that house to be treated when they can go to the hospital? Where did they get those wounds in the first place? It was no doubt. One time when the little girl wanted to watch the late afternoon cartoons, there were a lot of her relatives in front of the TV. On the screen was the president and they all suddenly “erupt in a volley of curses”. They hated Ferdinand Marcos, and they’re gathered in that house to revolt against him. The little girl was only five that time—it was 1982—still too young to witness something like that.

          These relatives came more often on those times, treating the apartment like their own house. And that was also the time she lost her mother.

          When the house was crowded, the little girl’s mother was quietly crying in the kitchen, murmuring about underground, revolution, taxes, and bills. Soon, maybe about a few days or months, the mother left, emphasizing that she will never return. A year after, her father was arrested right outside their house one August afternoon. With all the neighbors watching. Even though her mother was never mentioned right after she disappeared, I have a feeling she has something to do with the little girl’s father’s arrest. Although he wasn’t really arrested because of being part—or being the leader, in my assumption—of the revolution, but because of illegally owning firearms. It was 1984. Her mother left on 1983. I couldn’t imagine what this girl had been through.

          The little girl would sleep with her father in the cell during weekends. One time she had a dream about war: she saw a blood orange sky of where the bedroom and the living room should’ve been, which I assumed that her house was destroyed. To make her house look livable again, she painted it with different colors. She also painted a sun, a moon, and a star on their red floor so she would have light. There was no one else in the dream.

          I don’t know why it was a dream of war, but maybe because of the broken-down house.

          It was years later when she realized that those relatives weren’t actually her relatives. I’ve calculated she was already 20 years old when she did, when she saw a familiar face from fifteen years ago. Fifteen years ago was 1982. Fifteen years after is 1997. By then she realized that not even her house was safe enough, that anyone cannot be trusted. That must be the meaning of her dreams.

          The Safe House. Ironic. Though it was clever put. It gave the story a mysterious aura.

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Note for Thoughts: “Ad Populum”

          The world had gone to the point where everyone stopped caring about what’s right or wrong, as long as everyone else is doing it. It is a sad fact that people refuses to listen to those “unpopular” opinions just because it goes against their constructed norms.

          People had forgotten about the proper morals of care and respect, bombarding their opinions at anyone anytime through different ways—rallies, social media, etc. They’ve embraced the idea of clichés and stereotypes and let it spread like an epidemic. It’s a world where “bad” boys are praised, where watching porn is a norm for boys, and where having sex before marriage does not violate anything just because the law does not require it. The worst part is they think it’s okay. They forgot the saying that “quality beats quantity”. They completely lost sight of what’s right and wrong and judge anyone who doesn’t follow their ways.

          What had the world become? We’ve reached the generation where people are immoral and think that it’s normal, where they think that the unpopular opinions are garbage, just because everybody is doing it.

          It’s a fallacy.

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Story Analysis: “The Vagabond” by Austin L. Wiggins

          “The Vagabond” is a short story in which Austin L. Wiggins, the author, presents how it is possible for a religious person and an agnostic person to get along. Eleazar, the preacher who lived in his run-down church, takes in a stranger who had been discovered by travelers nearly buried in the shifting sands. Eleazar finds that the man was looking for a place in which he believed does not exist, the Oasis. It is said to be a place of unity and had an abundant supply of food and water. Eleazar tried convincing the man to stay, which the stranger politely declined.

          Wiggins wrote the story in third person to equally convey the perceptions of both characters—Eleazar, the preacher, and Jovahn, the stranger. But the author seem to show more of Eleazar’s perception than of the stranger, where the stranger did not really have too much thought of anything other than looking for Oasis. This is probably because of the author’s relationship with religion and standpoint on God and fate that influenced the portrayal of Eleazar, though it could also be assumed that Jovahn simply does not think of anything else other than looking for Oasis.

          The story presented a setting in which the world is currently experiencing a geomagnetic surge that depleted most water sources and food. Travelers found Jovahn in his near death and left him to Eleazar to avoid the burden of more division of their supplies. Driven by his accustomed conduct, he took the stranger in without question and even wanted to learn more of him.

          When Jovahn woke up, he knew right away that Eleazar was “a preacher of some sort” (paragraph 16) when he noticed the cross on the wall of the room that gave him the conclusion that it was the reason why he had let him stay, when he asked “That’s why you let me stay here?” (paragraph 16). Eleazar did not give any response concerning that perception of thought stereotyped to preachers, but was actually impressed by his acute thinking from someone who had just woken up from unconsciousness. Other than that, Jovahn did not show any opinions concerning his religious stance, but was more focused on returning to his journey of finding Oasis.

          After a meal Eleazar shared and which Jovahn was thankful for, Jovahn proclaimed to continue his journey. Eleazar’s conviction drove him to state his belief about the non-existent Oasis and was worried about “willing him to his death” (paragraph 22). Jovahn expressed that he believed meeting Eleazar in church was not a coincidence at all, which implicitly is the same belief Eleazar have on fate, but he did not wish to intrude in Eleazar’s path and wish for Eleazar to do the same to him.

          In other circumstances, Jovahn would’ve been annoyed and attacked Eleazar’s faith for trying to stop him in his journey. He didn’t. He was quite annoyed for Eleazar’s insistence, but he didn’t direct it to his faith. He did know it was caused by Eleazar’s belief, but he understood that, asking politely to let him go. Jovahn understood Eleazar’s beliefs that had influenced his concerns and actions. It is the same way Eleazar understood Jovahn’s decision, despite the unmatched beliefs. Their interactions showed that there really are no need for arguments in terms of religion, as long as there is understanding and respect of someone else’s beliefs. Eleazar had told him what he had to tell, that “there is no such thing as Oasis” (paragraph 22). The rest will be on Jovahn’s decision.

          Although the disappointment of the result of Eleazar’s insistence, the two parted ways as strangers who only showed concern and thankfulness towards each other.


A special thanks to the author of “The Vagabond”, Austin L. Wiggins, for helping me provide information I needed for this activity. I feel like it’s not good enough, but it’s all I can analyze 🙂

The story had also affected me, also because I believe in the existence of the Almighty God and wish that those who do not believe in Him should not be so hard towards Christians. And I also hope Christians will not be so judgemental towards unbelievers. The world will be a better place with everyone respecting each other.

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