|The light burns my eyes, making it impossible to see my surroundings. I can only feel the cold air on my face. I scream! I scream at the top of my lungs, but there seems to be no voice coming out at all. I stay still trying to shout for help. No one seems to hear me. I am helpless and I feel so weak now. I'm not sure what happened, but I am soaking wet. I can feel the water running from my hair down to my shoulders. I'm just too afraid to do anything. I can't even run. I don't know where to run either. I don't know why I'm just standing here before the blinding light!
The alarm clock goes off.
I have had this nightmare so often, I'm used to it.
I get up to stretch a bit and then make my bed. I always wake up around eight in the morning because I have to be at school at ten. Then I head to the kitchen, have a cup of coffee and eat my breakfast. It’s always rice and something easy to cook like sausage or egg. Lastly, I take a cold shower and get dressed. Like any other people, it’s my normal morning routine.
I’m now in my second year in college, and I'm a returnee student. It’s still a little awkward because I’m a bit older than my classmates. I’m turning 23 in two months. Not until recently, I've decided to continue my studies.
The reason is I had a vehicular accident five years ago. I don't have clear memories of how exactly it happened. All I remember is that I got hit-and-run by a motorcycle, and no one actually saw the accident. I recall waking up in a hospital bed complaining the agonizing pain on my forehead near to my right ear. I understand that I had to stop school for my recovery, and lost track of time then.
Walking to school today, my head starts to hurt again. I rub it with my right index finger feeling the healed scar on my forehead. I have had it since I left the hospital, but it pains from time to time. Anyway, I like it - looks like what Harry Potter has. Not to mention I have the same hairstyle and wear these round glasses too.
“Hey, HP, what’s up?” I always see this couple of boy classmates on my way to my first class every morning. They always look like smirking at me as if they’re trying to tease me or something.
“That scar… it’s actually cool.” Then, there’s this other boy who always sounds like he tries to save me from his annoying friend.
I’m grateful to hear those words from him, but I choose not to respond. I put my earphones on and walk fast ahead of them.
I have had this feeling of withdrawing myself from a group of people. I guess I’d like to protect a little self-esteem left to myself. I don't know why I have become like this, but I have memories of being friendly to my classmates when I was a kid that I, unfortunately, ended up crying in the corner because they just didn’t want to play with me.
In the classroom, I still sit on a chair where no one is next to me. I prefer to be alone ever since. I don’t normally talk to people first. They don’t even know when I come and go. I know I’m like a ghost to all of them.
The school bell rings. Finally, I can get away from these noisy kids.
The cafeteria isn't very far - it only takes like around five minutes to walk. It’s lunch and I’m starving. So, I quickly get my tray and have my daily rice-vegetables-meat combo platter. Like usual, I always find the corner table where no one likes to sit. Eating alone comfortably is when I make peace with myself.
“Hey HP, are you eating with your ghost friend again? Would it mind moving his ass out of the seat?” That bothersome guy comes at me again with those mocking laugh. I never talk to him or to anyone, but sometimes this one gets on my nerves.
“You are one persistent piece of bull crap.” Then the good guy always comes in my rescue. He wraps his long, lean arms around his friend’s neck as he drags him away from me.
“Sorry, big bro! He just lacks some motherly love!” While jokingly choking his friend, he turned to look at me, smiling.
Normally people call me Jacob or Jake. However, I doubt anyone here cares to know my first name. They just call me big brother since I’m older.
8:00 PM. The last class before going home.
We're still waiting for our professor. He doesn’t come to class on time anyway. So, I decide to go to the men’s room first. I put my earphones back to my backpack, and then I head to the exit door. I always look down and never look at people’s faces in the room or the hallway. I always try to avoid any conversations with anyone.
”Hey, big bro! Has our teacher arrived yet?” It’s him, the one who always saves me from his huge bully friend.
“No, he hasn’t.” Hesitating, but I respond in a very low voice.
I continue to avoid eye contact and pretend to check my pockets.
I know exactly how he looks like, but I don't know his name. He's in his late teens – he’s 18 I think. He’s tall, around 185 centimeters, lean, fair skin, very nice thick short black hair, and with this small handsome face. This boy amazes me - he's a lot younger and has full of energy. Whereas I’m 15 centimeters shorter, almost mid-20's, and all my confidence has been sucked dry.
“Where are you going?” he asks.
“Restroom!” I answer softly.
“Do you need company?” he chuckles.
For a few seconds, I look back at him blankly. He gives me this one big smile before he goes straight to our class.
The tap water is cold. I wash my face and I just realize I have been staring at the mirror for a while now. I frown as my vision starts to blur again as I feel the sting on my head. I take my glasses off and clean it with the bottom of my white dress shirt, and then put it back on. I look fine now – that’s what I always say to myself. I should be fine.
Another ordinary day comes.
I get to my last class early. I always check and review my notes every time, and I still sit on the same seat in my 8:00 PM class.
Oh, he’s here. His smile is golden.
Somehow I feel very happy to see him this close. He's been very nice to me outside and inside the class. I've always admired his looks from afar. It's like gazing at a bright star in the cloudless night sky and admiring how beautiful it is, but you cannot ever reach it.
"Hey," he greets again. He puts his bag on the empty seat on my left and sits there this time.
We only have one same class together since he has a different major. I have known him for almost three months in this second semester, but he hasn’t sat next to me in class until now.
My heart races very fast. I don’t know, but I haven’t felt anything like this for sure. Why is this happening by the way? I move my seat a little farther from him.
“I noticed you were drawing some Marvel characters. It looks good. How long have you been a Marvel fan?” He actually sees what I have been scribbling on my notebook.
“I’m not a big fan.”
I sound like I am just talking to myself. So, he leans towards me and moves his chair a little closer. I feel embarrassed.
“I just like drawing, and I watch Marvel movies too,” I continue to mumble.
I can’t really look people in the eyes, but this time I have a bit of courage to look at his face. He’s talking about the recent Marvel movies and the superheroes in it... and now I stop listening. I just stare at his beautiful face, nose, those very lips, and his smiling eyes while a part of his shiny, wavy front hair covers some parts of his thick eyebrows. He’s been talking for almost a while now, and I just nod in agreement every time. I surely look like a fool.
Our professor arrives and starts the class. It is our final examination.
9:00 PM. The class finishes and everyone leaves to go home.
“See you when I see you, big bro.” He smiles one more time before leaving his seat. He heads to the exit door hurriedly.
I’m a bit sad saying goodbye to my new friend. It’s sad because I just get to talk to someone who could be a good friend to me but it’s the last day we meet in class. Too bad that the semester concludes without even knowing his name. Apart from being too shy, I have troubles memorizing the names of people because I just remember faces. I think his name was mentioned by our professor or classmates before, but I get it that didn’t really care about it at first.
I have to make a humiliating decision now. I have to know his name. I have to at least ask him to eat out and talk about Marvel superheroes or go to the movie theater. I have never thought of having to do any of these in my entire life.
He walks so fast ahead of me, so I have to literally chase him.
A few feet away, I see him getting on his motorbike. The parking area is too dark. I stopped as I hear the sound of the rustling leaves. I stand still as I feel the cold air on my face. Then, I feel the raindrop on my head flowing from my hair down to my nape. It now begins to rain. As soon as he starts the engine, I see the blinding light from the headlamp in front of me. I can't see him since it's too bright.
That light… that is something I can never forget. It burns my eyes.
My chest hurts, and I can barely breathe. It's a very familiar feeling. I shout for help. I find myself screaming like a helpless kid. No one seems to care. I was soaking wet. The rain keeps on pouring, but I just can't move. Then, everything seems to blur. I can't open my eyes or mouth. I have no strength as I start to black out. My body drops on the ground feeling this mysterious pain I can't understand.
That’s the last voice I hear.