Catalog
23 chapters
Prologue
He was coming. Fast.The pain in my left shoulder throbbed relentlessly as I caught my breath. I was running away from the onslaught that was happening in the hotel where we were staying. The smell of blood and flesh had clung to me. I feared that it might linger on until my last breath.I stubbed my toe on a rock, tumbled on the muddy ground—face first—and swore. I brought my right elbow at my side and pushed myself up, hardly noticing my quivering fingers, only to stagger at my left side and drop on my knees. Even with how groggy I felt, I still forced myself to crawl forward. The winds were blowing angrily; a premonition that it would happen to me as well. I’d be next. And then the gruesome scenario flashed back.Everything played in reverse and I was stuck on my knees, finding it hard to get up. I pounded the ground, splashing mud around and onto my face, and screamed out loud like I didn’t care anymore if he’d catch up. I couldn’t believe myself that I left her—that I left her w
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Chapter 1 - The Secret
I hated schools the most.I was just having a splendid dream about my crush, who—by the way—was the most beautiful girl I found in that boring school when an earthquake woke me up. Not a destructive one, but it would surely spring you up and out of the bed and make your knees wobble.Earthquakes were recently occurring here in Cebu.It made me nervous because I was kind of an irrationally anxious person. A paranoid who always thought the world could end any minute. Not to mention, I was sentimental and sensitive. Yes, you could judge me, but you couldn’t actually judge me. I mean, you had never been with me my entire life, so how in the name of Karens could you say something negative about my personality? If you were to know me, though, there was only one notable thing that you would always remember. I had a natural sloth, and yes, I’d admit it. I’d love to procrastinate and not do things in haste as I believed all things would come in due time.In fact, I was known as Josh the lazy b
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Chapter 2 - The Hopeless Romantic Girl
“Hand me some buwad, Olly.”“Why are you the one who always orders around here? Would you just stand and help yourself?”“Come again? Remember the Penshoppe bag I bought you?” “Okay, okay. I know it’s coming. You’re always making use of your trump card. In fact, it’s more of a normal one now.”“Are you still flapping those lips?”“Nope. Here’s your buwad, ate.”It was a sunny afternoon, flabbergastingly serene weather, for the two of us. Christmas just went by. Lots of firecracker wastes and party poppers dotted the streets and canals. Leftovers of Piccolo, Sinturon ni Hudas, and lots of trash littered the whole sitio. It was an extended season of family love and merrymaking, yet for me, it was another season when I’d look after my silly sister, and I didn’t want to be a babysitter.My name was Jelly and I was a twenty-two-year-old Science teacher at Arullina National High School who advised tenth graders. Molly, my sister, was a twenty-year-old call center agent who was the t
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Chapter 3 - The Back-to-School Hassle
Mondays.Freaking Mondays. Why were Mondays created?The sizzling sound of the onions being sautéed and of the birds chirping outside our apartment brought a relaxing and calming effect on me as I cooked our breakfast in our makeshift kitchen, yet the day being a “Monday” drowned all of it.I hated Mondays the most.Others would see a teacher’s job as much easier than a worker in a convenience store or any fast-food chain because, according to some people who thought highly of themselves, we were just teaching students. One of my students once said that we were so lucky we just needed to sit to get paid. The audacity of the child made me mad; however, I had to cool my head, so I just let it pass through my other ear as a professional.They were wrong.I might be too lazy to think through this, but all the same, still had an idea as to how it worked. They didn’t know what was happening in a teacher’s schedule. Imagine having to bring all your paperwork at home just to finish them all, w
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Chapter 4 - The Troublemaker
“Okay, class, you’re dismissed.”I went straight to the faculty office to drop off my instructional materials and joined my gang at the cafeteria. Around the table were Ritchelle, Vhina, and Alyssa. Every lunchtime, Ritchelle would get our reserved food ahead of time because she was the first to dismiss her class. She had her classes only in the morning. A month had already passed since then.“Hey, why is the you so late to sits here by the us?” Ritchelle asked just seconds before I settled on my seat. “Me is the stressed by the students, but I scolded them, which make me the stresser,” I replied, following with the flow of the joke. “Wow, I’m impressed that both of you can understand that kind of English,” Alyssa commented as she professionally sliced off the egg white of her sunny-side-up, to be given to Veruca later who notably liked it. Our conversation low-key annoyed her because she was an English teacher.“Join we. We is the teaches you how to says we is the language,” Ritche
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Chapter 5 - The Short Meeting
Friday.Blessed Fridays. Why couldn’t all days in a week be Fridays?The day of the retreat had finally come. I had been waiting for this day in like, forever. Finally, I’d be able to go back to Bantayan and experience the beaches I had been planning to go to but failed to do so because of time constraints and the people who I was supposed to go with. Sure, I was into traveling but I just couldn’t do it without a friend or two to accompany me. All the teachers who were assigned to attend the retreat were already in the audio-visual room for the meeting and the final preparations. The school bus would pick us up at five, taking us to Hagnaya port in more or less four to five hours. The student council officers were ready with their things and had had their consent forms all signed. I’d surely enjoy myself even with the cumbersome conjunction of minding the students’ security.Including Finlay. Especially Finlay.The school’s AVR was not spacious; they had to move the equipment to the s
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Chapter 6 - The Incident
The dawn was surely majestic and wonderful when I arrived at Hagnaya Port. The sky was painted with distinct shades of orange and red. It looked like a painter had thrown his palette out of his well-crafted anger, which depicted the rashly-made-but-awkwardly-stunning atmospheric skies. The vicinity was filled with the cries of deafening waves retreating to and fro and mumbles of soggy tires of trucks and buses against the dirty-wet soil. The area had been swept already, but still some types of trash lay dormant in every nook. The cleaners were surely not paid handsomely for the job. A nostalgic, mossy smell and the stingy, salty sea hit my olfactory nerves, which brought me down memory lane. Ah, those were the days.Hagnaya Port was the only port to receive passengers going to Bantayan Island—forth and back. The retreat house we would visit was situated near Kota beach. The earliest trip going there was at four-thirty, but we had all agreed we would have the nine-thirty trip. The call
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Chapter 7 - The Island
My head hurt. My surroundings were a blur, and I found it hard to stand. My ears were ringing. I felt like there was blood flowing out of them. I tried to lean sideways using my right arm, and I touched my head with my left to check any injuries. It hurt. I twisted my hip and noticed that something was lying on my lower body. No, someone. And it hurt. I shook my head a little bit, and gradually, the environment became clearer. I first noticed that everything was blue. The person dangling limply on my legs was my student—Finlay. His disheveled, smooth, black bangs were complementing the overall shape of his small face that consisted of wide eyelids, broad nose, well-shaped lips, and a firm jaw. I had never been this annoyed with such a handsome face before. I remembered what happened. All my pure concern with this student turned to a feeling that I neglected for a long time, which I should have accepted all this time. I was enraged, and I badly wanted to shove this disrespectful
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Chapter 8 - The Captain of the Barge
I was inside our room with Molly once again. She was not saying anything: she just kept on sobbing. Why ate? Why... hic... hic... I was faithful. I was faithful until the end. I even promised myself that I will be serious this time. I’m head over heels in love with him. But he said that he didn’t feel the same, that he never did. He just dated me because of my looks—never of my whole being, uwaaa...It was the worst. I was never good at consoling people and giving them pieces of advice. I tried comforting my sister but with no avail. I didn’t even know the boyfriend Molly was referring to since she had been dating down to an art, to begin with. I even attempted asking WikiHow about how to comfort someone who had just had a breakup when a message came in.Teacher Jelly, the headmaster wants to talk with you regarding your late submissions.It was teacher Grumpy. Oh, no. I had been passing my LPs late. I was about to send a reply when I heard a feeble voice calling me out: Elly... Elly
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Chapter 9 - The Edifice
This might be some kind of mistake. Or a dream.The behemoth just five meters ahead of us—the one we found unrealistic—was a dilapidated edifice stretching from one side of the woods to the other. We couldn’t see the other end as it was heavily enshrouded with coconut-looking trees—which we all agreed to call “cocohair trees”—from the windows and cracks, but memory-wise, we might know how massive it was.The cry that we heard—and still going on—was of a fire alarm. It was still functional and noisy despite the stature of the building.I was about to tell everyone to be cautious with it when Chevonne, again, sprinted toward the main facade, entering through the wide-open main entrance. Shards of glass littered the threshold where glass doors should have been. We followed suit to avoid losing sight of her.The sound finally ceased. She might have turned it off already.We tiptoed our way in awe as we entered the main gate—ironically, without the gates themselves—and proceeded through the
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