"SILENCE is a girl's loudest cry. If she is speechless, her heart is too tired for words."
Day 1 - Most Hated Day
I wanted to die.
Heaven knew that I've wished for that more than once, twice, more than anything I've ever wished in my entire life. I wished for it for so many times my fingers on both hands could not keep up.
I desired to die when I witnessed my father nearly killed my mother and our bloody neighbor in their bedroom one night. When my mom, my one and only friend, was declared mentally deranged and was prohibited to see me and vice-versa. When I became a valedictorian in elementary but my father didn’t come because his whore was more important than me. When I learned that my first boyfriend only dated me because of a bet and then dumped me in front of everyone. When I discovered that Beth badmouthed me behind my back, spreading the filthiest lies and rumors behind her angelic, innocent face. When I came to my new school and I was shunned by my classmate-strangers. When I once lost my cool and fought back to protect myself, and I ended up wrongly suspended. When I realized that I was alone and with no one to trust, with no reason to go on.
Those and many more.
No, heaven didn’t allow my life to slip back then. I had to live and bear each and every agonizing memory. I had to run away from the place I knew was the closest thing I could call home, and stay with my cousins, the eldest to show me what I could never be – successful, contented and beautiful – and the youngest to torment me to death, a salt rubbed on my sore.
Yeah, life sucks for me. Cheers.
But at that very moment, when the huge truck sped towards me, I never thought that my prayer would be answered easily. It was as if the heavens were mocking me. Here you go, sweetheart. We’re getting sick of this game so we are finally ending your sorry life.
Thank you very much.
Or maybe, maybe, they truly, greatly, wholeheartedly pitied me.
I had never felt this pathetic. Never once. I used to have this great talent of ignoring my surroundings. I used to be stoic despite the staring or the murmuring. I used to smile and laugh when I was supposed to cry. But as the very thing I wished occurred to me, I realized that I didn't really want it. It was just a desperate plea for someone to save me from drowning.
A call for someone to help me break free.
I didn’t want to die.
* * *
Someone was calling out my name, but I couldn’t pinpoint the source.
Or perhaps someone was calling Beth or Cassy. We share the same surname after all, with our fathers being brothers.
And that is my name. Liliana. Little Ana. Derived from my mother’s name Anna, who looked exactly like me, except that she was pretty and more mature, with dimples on both cheeks.
I sighed. So I was the one being summoned. Wait… was that St. Peter in the Pearly Gates? Was I finally about to enter eternal peace? I didn’t know they do a roll call here too.
“What?!” I shouted, my sharp voice ringing in my ears. My eyes snapped open, blinking back the harsh white light. My confused gaze took in the surroundings. I felt blood drain from my face as a scrawny bespectacled woman stood in front of me, glaring daggers in which figuratively pinned me down on my place. It was my teacher. My Calculus teacher.
There’s no St. Peter and no angels.
Oh god. This is no heaven. This is the torture chamber of the underworld. And I was facing the devil herself.
“Ms. Jordan,” I said as I cleared my dry throat, but with my embarrassment suddenly kicking in, it came out inflectionless, almost bored. Ugh, she’ll misunderstand it for sure.
“Were you just sleeping in class?”
Erm, my eyes wandered again, aware of the unwanted but keen attention my classmates were paying on me. I stuffed my trembling hands inside my pocket. “No.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” I immediately replied, but I was too late. Oh god. It should be ‘Yes, I am sure, Ms. Jordan’. She always liked it that way. Why couldn’t I say the whole thing out loud?
She was one of the powerpuff girls – no, not because she was as cute and cuddly as those cartoon characters, but because she was one of three scariest bitches of the Bright Brooks High faculty. Almost menopausal, her goal in life was to terrorize students and teachers alike. If Math is hell, then Ms. Jordan’s Calculus is the ninth circle. Everyone was terrified of her shadow more than they feared repeating a grade. And I was no exception. Did she know that I was scared stiff, that’s why I couldn’t respond properly? But I knew she would misunderstand. Everyone does.
She theatrically raised one of her fuzzy brows. “I see. So you think I was lying?”
I could hear my knees shaking. For a split-second, I glanced at the wall clock. Wasn’t this the best time for the bell to ring? Come on, come on.
Disappointment flooded me when I realized there’s still fifteen minutes left. More than enough time for her to send me straight to hell and back.
My brief eye contact with the clock didn’t escape her attention.
“Very eager for class to end, Evans?” She was calm, like the calm before a storm.
No, Ms. Jordan. I love Calculus. You’re teaching inspires everyone. But I was too weak-kneed to provide her with that kind of syrupy answer I knew she knew was an utter lie. Being the complete idiot I am, I wanted to answer her truthfully, and with a genuine smile to boost. Yes, of course. Who the hell wants to sit here for a quarter of an hour and listen to you degrade me as if you're so great and mighty?
I simply settled with giving her a blank look.
She took one pink slip of paper from her desk and wrote in her ugly scribble. "For your rudeness, you've earned yourself a detention."
"Thank you." I sounded sarcastic. Why didn't I just keep my mouth shut? Ugh, ugh, ugh!
I accepted the piece of paper with resignation, tucking it inside my notebook as I sat down. I didn’t realize I was standing up. But for some odd reasons I couldn’t completely shake off, this felt vaguely familiar, as if this happened before. Didn’t they have a term for this?
Erm, was it déjà vu?
* * *
"Hey, Janice. I forgot my homework. Can I borrow yours?"
I raised my head to meet the dark brown eyes of a smirking guy. He noisily dragged the chair beside me which earned him a few dirty looks from the students and the librarians. He didn't seem to notice though as he kept on smirking at me.
I gave him a questioning look.
Yesterday, I'm Olivia. Now, I'm Janice? Oh, maybe tomorrow my name's gonna be Ella.
"Come on. Don't be stingy." He casually tossed his head in an all-too-friendly chuckle. "We're locker buddies, remember?"
He laid one arm on my shoulders and pulled me to him like we're childhood friends.
"Let me go, Conner," I protested.
"Pfft, Lyle's just fine."
"Let me go, Lyle," I said with the grudgingly soft voice of mine.
He gave me a pair puppy eyes which made me sigh. He didn't move. After a while, I sighed again as I rummaged through my things. I gave him a messy piece of paper, everything hand-written by me. "Here. Now, go away."
"Thanks a lot!"
Lyle beamed at me like he received the best gift ever.
Oh, that saves effort. I don't need to give him a graduation present... wait, why am I giving him a present? What's that about?
He stood up, waved the piece of paper in front of me and told me I was a genius. I simply gave him a flat look as he walked away, neither smiling nor frowning as he left the library.
I returned to reading the book I got from the shelves, inwardly laughing at what I just did. He deserved it, that no-good parasite.
Knowing him, he would copy the entire thing without rechecking. I was definitely going to look forward to the failing grade he'll receive.
I neatly folded my true homework and tucked it inside my folder. With that, I stood up and headed to my next class feeling a little smug of myself.
* * *
I sat by myself during lunchtime, as usual. My table was located near the outer wall in the huge cafeteria, the farthest side from the entrance. It was relatively quiet here; the noisy inner cliques were in the center, note that. You know the saying 'alone in a crowd'? Don't burst my personal bubble, but yes, that's my situation.
I silently chewed on a long piece of bread stick as I leafed through my scheduler.
And yes, I have a scheduler. It’s not empty, mind you.
I wrote under the May 10 column my detention record. I write everything here, from hearsays to major events. Good and bad included.
Wait. Hadn’t I done this before? I browsed through the small notebook, but of course, there was no such thing written anywhere. Like duh, I couldn’t forget something like a detention, even after a few years. I must be thinking of Beth again. Yeah, that could only be it. Didn’t she get a detention because the dean found her making out with one of her boylets?
I lifted my gaze and watched my schoolmates chatter and eat.
Something was wrong. I knew something was wrong. I could feel it in the deep marrows of my bones. But I couldn’t tell what. Weird.
What could possibly go wrong?
Everyone was exactly the same. Half of the girls were flirting, some were complaining about calories, a lot of the guys were guffawing, others busy eating, the nerds were still reading, a few were doing some paper works, etcetera, etcetera.
Typical school day. Right? I could even tell where everyone was sitting with both my eyes closed.
I guess it was just the chills… because in less than a month, the people I’ve observed for three years would part ways and live their own lives. June 3, 2011. Friday. Graduation day.
“Eww,” a girly voice whined, “Lily-poo’s gonna throw up.”
A brunette holding a tray was scrunching her make-up-modified plastic face. Probably on the way to the garbage bin. She was sneering. Vanessa Hopps, Aethan’s current girlfriend. Ouch. That didn’t hurt.
Biting my lip, I merely stared back, saying nothing.
“What, are you deaf?”
“Like, Nessie, she’s mute!” her blond BFF chimed in. I forgot her name; I bet it wasn’t worth remembering.
“Shut up,” Vanessa hissed. Her flawlessly manicured hand shot forward, but even before I realized that she was going to seize my scheduler, it was already inside my bag. Did I just subconsciously put it there?
I saw Beth entered the cafeteria from the corners of my vision, oblivious to my predicament as usual, indifferent even, and I knew Aethan West was just behind her even if I hadn’t seen him yet. And I was correct.
He was wearing his politely amused expression, and as he walked to the centermost table, I saw his penetrating green eyes flash to me, and then to his girlfriend. I expected it, but why, I didn’t know. It was as if everything was scripted, like we were actors in a play.
Oh my, was I some kind of psychic now or what?
“Please leave me alone,” I said with quiet dignity as I stood up and smoothened my boring white blouse. I returned my gaze to Vanessa. “I don’t want to make a scene.”
But it only seemed to incense her anger. I couldn’t understand her, and I didn’t have any mind to try either. “Make a scene, yeah?”
She grabbed my collar and pulled me closer. Her breath stank. Like onions.
“What?” she purred in a deadly whisper.
Oops. Did I say that aloud?
She slapped me with a force enough to send me sprawling. I quickly stood up as I automatically slapped her back.
I wanted to run away from everyone. I wanted to hide. Not even God could save me from this humiliation. But I wouldn’t cry. No, that’s something I would never do.
I saw Aethan grinning as he enjoyed watching us, his friends jibing beside him. But I felt like he only acted like he was enjoying. In the language of the eyes, I knew he wanted to tear Vanessa off me and stop this nonsense.
Wait. Why did I think that? It’s not like I personally knew him.
I closed my eyes. I was forgetting something. But what? Why did this day seem so dreadful? Why did this day seem so predictable?
When I opened my eyes, Vanessa slapped me hard again and dunked her half-eaten vegetable salad on my hair, the mayo smearing across my face.
I had my answer.
The reason why I knew and felt and expected.
This had happened before.
This horrible incident had happened before.
This awful episode had happened before… exactly this way. Not just this but everything, from the very start. I now remember – that’s why the entire day was all-too-familiar. It wasn’t simply a sense of déjà vu. This was a repetition of my most hated day.
May 10, 2011.
Oh god, why was it happening again?
Was this because I’m dead? Was this because I’m in hell?
What did I do wrong?