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9. Metamorphosis

She walked onto the center of the stage and bowed. She walked towards the piano and started playing Clair de Lune, hitting every key right on tune.

The auditorium was filled with lovely classical music, and every person in their seats are devouring the sweet mystifying effect of the song.

But the young pianist is feeling a bit off despite the beautiful melody she is producing. 

Alexandra felt a heavy contraction in her loin. And all of a sudden, there was a long and steady cramp that concentrated in that area. The pain was pricking and deafening.

For ten agonizing seconds, Alexandra kept still of the pain and managed to continue playing smoothly. She cannot risk spoiling the beautiful classical music that is now in the middle of cradling and serenading the audience.

She mentally asked herself,

"What the hell is happening?" 

The auditorium was dimmed, and the only light that shone was coming from the spotlight centered on Alexandra.

She didn't worry about leaving her eyes off the keyboard for a bit of a moment just to make contact with her audience. But even that she refused to do, because the spotlight was blinding her. Her eyes cannot bear to meet the intensity of the light. So she just kept her head still, and just her ears served the function of her eyes as well - quietly listening to any prevailing murmurs in the crowd.

Flooded with classical music, the fully occupied hall was quiet. Alexandra could only hear her own heartbeat as she continued playing.

After Clair de lune she shifted smoothly to Moonlight Sonata. Swiftly, her fingers hit the right keys and the room was again filled with another romantic and relaxing vibe of classical music.

Alexandra ended the song, and the audience stood up, together with large and loud applause. The room was illuminated again with fluorescent lights on the ceiling. This time, Alexandra had a clearer view of her audience. Some were on smiles, some were talking and paying less attention, some were on smiles and talking - about her.

She saw the table where Eloisa and five other girls sat. She clenched her jaw and balled her fist when their eyes' met. 

Even now, she really couldn't believe that Eloisa grew such an abominable attitude towards her. And this, as Alexandra assumed, would make Eloisa bore more malignancy of her filthy personality. Seeing her on stage and applauded, only would attract more hatred to her. 

She mentally shook her head and smiled rather, concealing her growing irritation. But in her peripheral view, she felt a stare that belonged to someone in the crowd. Everybody was all eyes on Alexandra. But there was one person that demanded her to turn to that direction where she could feel the heavy concentration of the stare and yearned for her to stare back. 

Alexandra caught Dimitri and four other guys on the far end table. The gluey stare came from him. He raised his lips in a curve when their eyes met. She felt uneasy, like something throbbed in the deep core muscle of her loin. It was an unprecedented contraction down there. What could that possibly imply?  

She snapped that thought and instead bowed her head for her closing remark.

When she turned her back and made her way through backstage, a loud and ridiculing exchange of laughs occurred from one table in the audience.

That table was occupied by Eloisa. They attracted more people in the audience to laugh as well. 

Alexandra was confused. What could have possibly triggered their laughter that sounded more like a mockery to her? 

"Hey, Alex! I've got some tampon here!"

Shouted one of the girls from Eloisa's table. They shared a boisterous laugh after. 

Alexandra quickly looked at her behind, and there was indeed a red leak on her white dress. 

She felt like crying. She never expected this kind of humiliation. She wanted to run towards backstage, but her legs would not move like they have nailed themselves onto the floor. 

Mother Superior hissed at those who are laughing at Alexandra's vulnerable situation, but her threatening disapproval was overly powered by the ludicrous jests passed through the female audiences.

"Look at her. She looked like a spider who's about to give birth." 

"Enough!" 

Father Prakash stood up on his seat. His voice was faint and there are wee traces of difficulty, but he made it loud enough to cease the crowd from making fun of Alexandra. 

There was silence.

Suddenly, some footsteps meddled with the prevailing silence. A young man walked his way through the hall and up to the stage.

The footsteps stopped when the young man reached Alex. Then there was again silence, this time, more deafening silence. Everyone was waiting for what this young man has to offer.

For Alexandra, looking at Dimitri walking towards her appeared to her in slow motion. It may happen only in a split second for others but for her, it was for a couple of long and deep breaths that lasted.

Dimitri took off his black tuxedo and placed it on Alexandra's shoulder, so she is semi-wearing it. The tux was big for her petite body, and it also covered the leak on her behind. It was of a complete fit to cover up the source of her vulnerability.

"Everything's fine now. Just pretend you don't hear anything of what they have to say about you."

Dimitri whispered to Alexandra. He then escorted her backstage.

The hired host of the foundation day awkwardly proceeded with the next part of the event. 

Sister Helen sneaked out of her table and hurried to the backstage. She found Alexandra letting out her frustrations in between sobs. The young lady was with a young man, as the nun assumed to be Dimitri.

"Hey."

Alexandra turned in her direction and immediately hugged her. She was crying furiously in the nun's embrace.

"Sister Helen I don't know what I can do if they continue to do bad things to me."

Alexandra said in between her sobs. 

"It's alright, Alex. Mother Superior will take care of those girls."

Sister Helen felt very heavy at that moment. She felt the humiliation Alexandra just received. After all, she didn't deserve that. She was the ace of her batch. Everybody, especially the younglings, look up to her. If they planned to destroy her, well they can't do that to Alexandra easily. 

The nun believed that Alex was strong and tough. She can face and surpass any hurdles that come in her way. 

"I want to rest now, Sister Helen. I'm not feeling really well today." 

The nun nodded at Alexandra.

Sister Helen turned to find the young man, and he was just a meter right behind them. 

She smiled and mouthed the word thank you. Dimitri smiled back. 

She escorted the young lady back to the dormitory. Suddenly, she felt a pinch on her arm, where Alexandra was holding onto. 

"Wait, Sister Helen, I forgot about Dimitri. I haven't formally thanked him for saving me earlier and for letting me borrow his tux."

"It's fine, I have said my thanks to him already. You can thank him, until next time, Alex." 

The pinch loosened, like of a sudden disappointment that Sister Helen felt slowly enveloping Alexandra. 

"Are you upset Alex?" 

"Yes. I would like to see him personally again Sister Helen." 

"But you know that's not possible. You could only see him again till the next annual foundation day." 

Alexandra sighed in dismay. She felt very weak to raise an argument. 

"Goodnight Sister Helen. Thank you for ditching the event just to escort me all the way here." 

Alexandra smiled weakly. The nun felt uneasy. She felt the need to do something to somehow compensate for Alex's weariness. 

Just before Alexandra closes the door of her room, Sister Helen uttered the words that she never expected would come out from her personally. 

"Alex, write him a letter instead. I'll try to sneak it out in the boy's building and give it to him personally."

Alexandra again opened the door of her room, surprised by what the nun had said. There was a ray of beam slowly taking over the young woman's face.

Sister Helen smiled and stroked a single brush using her palm on the young lady's hair. 

"Goodnight, Alex."

Sister Helen walked out of Alexandra's sight. She carefully took every step away from the dormitory back to the event. 

She knew she had promised a very difficult favor to Alexandra. But she would do everything for her, just to see her happy. Even if that happiness wasn't anymore centered between her and the young lady. Even if that happiness would include a man in Alexandra's life. 

So this young man just saved Alexandra twice for today. It may just be his right timing that enabled him to settle a spot in Alexandra's heart. The nun was certain of that. 

It was like looking through reflecting chandeliers. Slowly, she unravels the same and exact turn of events between her life and Alexandra's. 

Later that morning, Alexandra did her usual routines. She attended classes and during the afternoon she taught the younglings some basic piano lessons in the music room. She did her usual everyday routine as nothing humiliating happened to her the other day.

But that night after Sister Helen left, she closed and locked the door of her room. Alexandra slammed herself onto the bed and buried her face into her pillow. She continued crying.

It wasn't just because she felt humiliated. It was because of the questions that kept running in her mind as to why would they say and do bad things to her. What is there to laugh about a woman who'd got a menstrual leak? As fellow women, they should've understood the situation better than anyone else; they should've helped her rather than laugh at her.

She just can't point out a justifiable reason why Eloisa would want to destroy her.

Then suddenly, her thoughts shifted to Dimitri. That young man witnessed both of her vulnerable situations, and he was there on both for rescue. 

Alexandra got up and took the tux that belonged to Dimitri. She hugged it and felt lighter. The fabric was very smooth and cold in texture. It felt very comfortable against her skin. 

She remembered what Sister Helen have told her. It excited Alexandra. She would love to write him a letter.

She got up sat on her study table. She tore a page of her notebook and cut the unclean traces of the torn length.

Suddenly she felt ashamed looking at the blank paper. She remembered the letter given by Dimitri himself. That was written in a fancy scented paper, and hers now was just a torn page of a notebook. 

"Ugh. This won't do." 

It appeared so ordinary to her. She wanted it special, yes, but then she has no choice. 

She grabbed her pen and smoothened the paper with her left palm. 

Alexandra thought of an idea. 

"I'll just make a few doodles to bring life to this bland paper." 

She drew a sunflower on every corner of the paper. Using her yellow highlighter, she traced the petals and colored it. She scribbled some tiny curved marks surrounding the sunflower using her black gel pen, just to give sort of a shadowy effect on her doodle. 

Alexandra felt overwhelmed when she finished the last sunflower. 

She took her pen and started pouring her heart's content through words. 

Dearest Dimitri, 

I apologize if I hadn't been able to thank you for helping me out earlier. I was preoccupied with a series of events that just happened today. I was locked up first and just earlier I showcased my menstrual leak. I didn't know it was coming, neither that I knew that people in the audience will make fun of it. What you did for me what really heroic. It was really appreciated. 

I hope this letter will come to you. I just want you to know that I felt moved by you. Today was just the first time I was able to have a look at your face. You were a stranger, but you made me feel that you weren't. You made me feel comfortable and at ease.

You made me feel at home. 

Thank you again for saving me twice today. I'm sorry about your tux. I promise to give it back when I have the chance. If ever we may have the chance to see each other again, I would still thank you, personally. 

Sincerely,

Alexandra

P.S. I am looking forward to reading all of your written pieces. 

Alexandra can hear her heart beating so fast and heavy. It wasn't a regular heartbeat. And yes, every beat is telling her that she is missing a part in her letter. Something more vivid, more like a three-lettered word, more like a confession.

But no, that cannot happen. She is not the type to get easily infatuated. She snapped that thought and folded the paper evenly. She took Dimitri's letter which she hid behind her picture frame. She pulled out the letter and inserted it again behind the frame. She will use the same envelope as Dimitri had given her. Alexandra thought it might be out of classy feminity but, practicality weighed more to her. Besides, she has no envelopes with her, and she just can't let her letter be sent nude to Dimitri. 

When she finished, she placed her letter in between her book. Alexandra crawled back to bed, with the young man's tux in her embrace. 

After her piano lessons with the younglings, Alexandra went to see Sister Helen.

She brought the letter with her. She felt very excited and thrilled to give it to Sister Helen, alongside with the hope that the young nun wouldn't read through the letter first before Dmitri does.

But, she saw no traces of her since early morning, and now it's getting quite late in the afternoon but she still got no chance to see the nun.

Sister Marny, a close companion of Sister Helen, passed by the corridor. Alexandra saw her from the garden she had been squatting on and immediately called after her.

"Sister Marny!"

The nun turned her head and saw Alexandra breathless.

"Alex, what's wrong?"

Sister Marny was tall and slender. She had a very attractive pair of emerald green eyes. This is just one of the highlights of her because the rest of her face is Caucasian beauty.

"Sister Marny I'm looking for Sister Helen. Have you seen her?"

"Oh, Sister Helen was summoned by Mother Superior since early morning Alex. After that, I haven't got the chance to see her."

"Why is she summoned, Sister Marny?"

"I don't know, Alex. It is not for us to meddle as well, it is only a matter between her and Mother Superior." 

The nun had an apologetic face. 

"Okay, Sister Marny. I'm sorry to have bothered you." 

The nun gently brushed Alex's hair. 

"No problem, Alex. I shall go now." 

Alexandra just nodded and stared at the back of Sister Marny walking towards the infirmary. She felt quite nervous about what Sister Marny had told her. Maybe something had happened to Sister Helen.

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