If a choice between everlasting memories or eternal love is made, what will prevail? I’d rather choose memories. Why? I don’t know yet.
I shall tell you my story. The story of my various peculiarities and vulnerabilities, which helped me become the Me at this point of time.
The City of Flukaa. It is where I live. It lies in an island far from the shore of Eastern Philippines. There, a strange someone like me exists. A student that disobeys the laws of equality.
Then the midterm exams started. As usual, the questions in it never posed a problem. It was way too easy. But let’s try something new. Maybe purposefully placing last?
The Flukaa University’s midterm exams test results were displayed at the bulletin board.
207th of 207 Grade 10 Students: Alex Winston. Score: 251/500
Well, I think that’s that, I passed, anyway. I got half of the score. But when I got home…
“86 in Math. 76 in English. 74.99, 75 when rounded off in MAPEH. 78 in Science. 76 in History and 75 in Home Economics. You barely passed, but what’s most disappointing about this is pretty obvious. YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS, ALEX!”
“Uhhh…” I said while lying down, reading my book while lying down on the couch.
The one shouting about my bad grades was my older sister, Christalla. We aren’t related by blood as our family adopted her from an orphanage before I was born.
She is right. I really can do better than that. Without any much effort, I can make my grades rocket up to 100 in every subject. As you can see, I‘ve degraded into a useless delinquent doing nothing but attending class whenever I want to just to take quizzes which I perfect without breaking a sweat. School is boring, anyway.
“Don’t ‘uh’ me, Alex, because ever since THAT happened, you have been doing nothing but laze around all day!” my sister said as she continued her loud rant that could be heard outside. “That’s it! If you get another failing grade, you’re toast!”
“Do my grades even matter? Will the Fourier Series or the Binomial Theorem be ever helpful in my life?” I replied with a poker face, pretending not to know why. “Fine. Is a 90 okay?”
“What you just said is one of the most clichéd phrases in the world.” replied my sister “You should know the answer to that. I’ll say it again. One more failing grade-“
“I didn’t even fail. The passing grade is 75. It’s enough.”
“But you’re not doing your best!”
I raised one of my eyebrows. “Since when did I ever do my best?” I asked. “Reaching limits and overcoming them are for losers. I don’t see the reason why should I even do that. What am I? A robot that should follow all the principles of this world?”
Then suddenly, my sister grinned as if nothing happened.
“Maybe I should teach you a little respect to an elder, Alex. Especially to your older sister.”
I tried to ignore my sister by continuing to read, but then she forcefully grabbed my book when I was about to turn the page.
“Hey! Give that back!” I shouted, jumping off the couch.
“And why should I do that?” my sister asked in return.
“Because that’s mine! That’s against the Constitution!”
“Huh? How is disciplining against the law? I am not robbing your book, anyway. This is a part of discipline that should be forced unto you. Got it?” my sister insisted. “Go to school tomorrow.”
My sister is being really insistent now. Should I be annoyed? I don’t know.
“Fine! Fine! Fine! You win. I’ll go to school tomorrow. I just know it’s going to be boring anyway.” I said.
“You should. If not, I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.”
I slept soundly as a log that night. I didn’t set the alarm clock. It was still Tuesday. I don’t want to go to school. My door opened, even though I know I locked it the night before. It was someone expected.
“GET UP, YOU SLEEPYHEAD! YOU ARE GOING TO BE FREAKING LATE!”
It was my strict sister. She wasn’t always strict like that. It was unusual.
“Fine.” I said, still sleepy, unwilling to wake up.
“If you won’t wake up on the count of ten, I’ll pinch you so hard that the pain won’t go away.” my sister replied.
I barely heard it, but I heard the ten count part. It’s fine. I’ll wake up when she reaches 9.”
Wait, what? Have I slept too long? All I could feel was intense pain from Sister Christalla’s pinch that it woke me up instantly.
After that, I went to the bathroom, and bathed, of course. I then reluctantly wore my uniform and became ready to go to school. What a pain.
This road, this scenery. To be honest, I liked these things, looking everywhere everytime I go to school for the past years. Now this just fills me with disgust. School has become useless because I have no competition around. UTTERLY BORING.
Then I saw a girl, around the 9th grade, doing what I used to do everytime I’m here. She had a pretty face that could easily be a model, and had gray hair which multiplies her physical beauty. She is familiar, although I cannot remember who she is.
She seems happy. What a poor thing. I hope she does not end like me. She’s a girl, after all.
I went to school after that. As expected, my classmates were astonished to see that I bothered to attend school. I’m just doing it because my sister says so and I was annoyed that I gave up. I went to my room. I sat in a chair that’s supposed to be mine.
“Alex!” called a classmate who happens to be my childhood friend as well as a former rival. “It’s me, Shierra! How are you doing?”
Shierra Dominti, the president of the sports and judo club in the school, and was the former second best in our grade. With me at the bottom, she replaced me as the first. Not that I care, anyway. Let her have all the glories.
“Just fine.” I answered back nonchalantly.
“Don’t you know? Everyone here is disappointed.” Shierra continued, becoming disappointed herself. “They expected that you will still be at the top. But look at yourself. You sure are pitiful.”
“Hmph. Like I care about their disappointment. School is boring, anyway,” I said. I then felt a very strong blow at my cheek signifying that I had been punched. I fell out of my chair. Then I saw Shierra instantly being angry. What’s with her anyway? That punch was so strong that it hard to believe that it was from a girl. Well, she’s the judo president, so it’s not surprising.
“So that means you don’t care about my disappointment as well?” Shierra asked, obviously trying to keep her cool, but couldn’t. I don’t understand it, though.
“Alex,” continued Shierra. “Forgive me, but I am going to release my anger,” she said, pinning me, leaving me utterly helpless, and then started punching me without stopping. None of my classmates even bothered to help. All I can remember was taking in Shierra’s punches until our homeroom teacher, Fuyumi came to stop the one-sided fight. It was somehow embarrassing to lose a fight against a girl, but who can blame her?
I then woke up at the infirmary at noon, missing half of the classes. There was an unprecedented person nursing me: Shierra. Her beautiful white hair was long. Long enough to be reaching me.
“Alex... I’m sorry for what I’ve done earlier,” she said, while suppressing her tears. “I-I just let my emotions get the better of me. Please forgive me!”
This is bad. Shierra is crying. Don’t cry!
“Please don’t cry. Even though you are the judo president and seem like a tomboy, please don’t cry,” I pleaded. If she cries, it’s all over. “You are really cute when you cry. If you cry...I think I’m going to fall-”
Shierra touched my lips with her index finger, saying that I should stop speaking.
“Don’t say that. You know that I am in love with someone,” she said.
“Of course that was a joke,” I said, faking a laugh.
It wasn’t. Good thing she stopped me. Or else I really had fallen in love with her. No, that’s not love. It’ll be only infatuation.
“We are childhood friends, you know,” said Shierra.
“That’s why we know everything about each other,” we both said in unison.
Then the infirmary door opened. It was a person who wears a coat for doctors. It was the guidance counselor and uncle, Doctor Marel Winston.
“Alex? Are you awake?” he asked. “Good. Come to the guidance office. Shierra, you too.”
“What for?” I asked.
“Just come.” he replied as he looked away from us and called someone else. “Madam Fuyumi! Please accompany the two to the guidance office. It will be better if you attended, too.”
I was nervous. If it was because of my fight earlier, then no worries.
“But, I’ve already forgiven Shierra, Sir Marel. If it is because of the fight earlier, then there’s no need for us to be counseled anymore.” I said.
Sir Marel seems to be confused.
“Huh? What are you talking about? It is very natural for the two of you to get along. There was a time you fought straightly for three hours, purely hand-to-hand combat, yet you still ended up forgiving each other. It has always been that way. There is absolutely no way for you not to forgive each other,” he said. “Now if you could kindly go to the guidance office, then thank you. Madam Fuyumi, if you please?”
“Yes, sir.” Madam Fuyumi replied.
And we were walking when I was bumped by a running girl carrying lots of things which fell. Must be club stuff.
“I’m sorry, senpai!” the girl said. “I am in a hurry!”
She rushed to tend the fallen things. I helped her.
Senpai? The Japanese word for upperclassman. Is she Japanese? Or just an anime lover? A weaboo?
We were finished arranging her things when I finally realized who she is. She is the girl I saw earlier today who was happily strolling around the area I usually take when going to school. I can only say one thing about her. She is pretty. I admit it. But I am not the type to fall ever so easily just from looks. But I wonder why I would think that she’s pretty.
She hastily made way and left. “I’m sorry, senpai! I’m in a hurry!”
“Do you need help carrying those?” I asked, but...
“No thanks! The thought’s enough, so thanks anyway!” she quickly said whilst running.
What a strange girl. Is she from an anime club or something? Is there something like that at this school? Never mind.
We walked until we reached the guidance office. The door was locked so we had to wait for Sir Marel. He must be hiding something important there. What could it be? To pass the time, I talked to Shierra about what happened earlier.
“Look, Shierra.” I started. “I know that it might have offended you, but school really bores me.”
“So?” Shierra asked back. “I have been waiting for the time that I could beat you in academics.”
She’s obviously lying. Sheesh. She knows that we are childhood friends so I know that she is lying. She can’t fool me.
“You are not happy about it. I know.” I replied.
“If you know about it, then just shut up about it!” she said as she started to yell. “Do you really want to go against me, Winston?! Fine! I’ll tell you my reasons!
I also noticed Teacher Fuyumi to be missing. This is going to be bad.
“Will you sto-”
“These past years, since we were still in kindergarten, you always stood out on the class, knowing advanced Calculus at that age. Did you think I wouldn’t be jealous?!” she started as she made a commotion, attracting nearby students. “It was true that I was proud of you, being my childhood friend at all, but I was afraid that you would leave me behind if I didn’t reach you.”
“Will you please sto-”
“Then I worked especially hard in order to reach your level, but it was still no avail. I could only reach the second place, which is still far below your rank.” she said while suppressing her tears, until she couldn’t take it any longer. “If I-I d-don’t b-b-beat you, your rank will go over the roof, then you’ll forget about me.”
I slapped her. I think I had just done something that must never be done to a girl, whether tomboyish or not.
“You idiot. You are the friend I treasure most. I won’t forget you, ever.”
“I want to beat you,” she said, trying to change the topic as her emotions’ intensity lessened. “But b-beating you in this state w-would mean nothing. I would like to b-beat you at your best.”
“A-at my best?” I asked, thoroughly unaware for I haven’t done anything yet that requires me to do my best. “I-I’m sorry, Shierra, but I think that’s impossible.”
Her mood lightened up a bit.
“I know you’ll say that, you idiot.” she replied. “That’s why I’m going to work hard to beat you.”
“Okay, I get it, so stop being a broken record disk.”
Then, out of nowhere, Sir Marel appeared within the awe-struck audience. “Okay! Counseling is over. Let’s wrap it up, guys!”
Huh? What did he say?
“But we haven’t even yet started it. How could we end it?” I asked.
“You already found the answer, Alex. Now be a good boy.”
“What answer?” I continued.
“You may have forgiven Shierra, and Shierra may have forgiven you, but mutual understanding is one of the most important things when it comes to friendship. You have finally known her reasons, and that’s great.”
“Where’s Teacher Fuyumi?” Shierra asked, changing the topic, wiping off her remaining tears.
“She went somewhere. Somewhere, where...never mind.” Sir Marel answered with no straight points given out.
Last year, I was looking at the bulletin board from afar when I saw a girl looking at the Ninth Grade exams test results.
1st of 203 Grade 9 students: Alex Winston. Score: 550/500.
She seems to have smiled. Why is that? I know that having an excess score is unnatural, but why?
My name is Miami Selantour, a ninth grader in Flukaa University. To be honest, I should be in the tenth grade, if not because of a respiratory tract infection back when I was still at kindergarten. I was retained. That’s how I got here.
To tell you the truth, I was disappointed when I saw the midterm exam results.
1st of 298 Grade 9 Students: Miami Selantour.
I was happy at first, but then I saw something that shouldn’t even happen when I looked to my right.
207th of 207 Grade 10 students: Alex Winston.
How come? We were classmates when we were still in kindergarten. We were friends. He was always spewing things we couldn’t understand back then. I thought it was amazing.
I just remembered a situation eleven years earlier…
“Tweacher! You said that living things only consists of plants, animals, and humans!” protested Alex. “I highly doubt your statement, Teacher!”
“Yes. I said that. What’s there to doubt?” the teacher asked in return, seeming to know where all of this is going to turn to.
“There are six types of living things, ma’am!” Alex explained. “Animalia, Plantae, Protista, Bacteria, Achaeans and Fungi!”
What are those? What is he saying? Animalia are animals, right? Plantae are plants, Protista...rebellion? I still couldn’t understand those back then.
The teacher did not lose her cool, even with that statement. Instead, she patted Alex’s shoulder.
“Alex,” said the teacher. “I know that you already know about this, and I know that you know a better scope than this. However, your classmates don’t know that yet, let alone understand what you are saying. Please be sensitive.”
“Okay, tweacher!” Alex said in a happy manner.
I knew from that time that he could do what he wants without effort. But how did he end up last? Is this really Alex?
I don’t see him that often like when he was still THAT active when he was still at the ninth grade.
In order to find out, I intentionally bumped him while carrying many things from the Anime club.
“I’m sorry, senpai!” I said, pretending to apologize. “I am in a hurry!”
I don’t think he understood what I said, but as expected, he still has a kind heart. He helped me with my things. I pretended to be hasty while trying to look everywhere for evidences that he really is Alex Winston.
When I saw the backside in Alex’s perspective, I saw a figure resembling Sir Marel following, more like stalking them.
I hurried up and carried my things.
“I’m sorry, senpai! I’m in a hurry!” I said.
Then he spoke, offering help.
“Do you need help carrying those?” he asked.
“No thanks! The thought’s enough, so thanks anyway!” I said while I pretended not to need help. He did not insist, although I’d like it if he did. Can’t blame him, anyway.
I then encountered Sir Marel who seemed to be really following them. I bumped him by ‘accident’.
“I know what you’re doing, Selantour.” said Sir Marel. “Hence, I’ll explain it to you.”
Did he know? Is he some kind of psychic?
“No, I’m not a psychic.” Sir Marel continued.
Did he read my mind? If then, I am screwed.
“You are totally screwed.” Sir Marel said once more. “As you can see, he’s the Alex you have always admired. I can confirm that. Happy?”
No way. How is he reading my mind? Is it just a coincidence? Let’s test it: What is the square root of 2401?
“It is 49.“Sir Marel answered, perfectly reading my thoughts. “If you think I am a psychic, quit it. I’m not. I just know who you are, because you are Fuyumi’s favorite student.”
Oh my. Am I screwed? What? Teacher Fuyumi’s favorite student?
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll need to follow them.” Sir Marel said as he walked away.
I thought for a bit.
“Where did my inspiration go? He just washed out like garbage. He was shining bright, then suddenly diminished.” I said to myself. “Guess I’ll bump him one more time.”