Posted in Stories

57: The World’s Greatest Composer

18-year old Amadeus Chandler gingerly removed his cherished Yankees cap and settled it on his bed, opening the window curtains. For 18 months, he had been living in a decrepit dormitory in California. It was built on high ground, giving Amadeus a majestic view of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. He was obliged to stay in the western state for his thorough geological research on the San Andreas Fault. The work was difficult – setting up seismometers, taking readings every now and then, and gathering and analyzing the day-to-day data. Truth to be told, his heart really wasn’t in it.

The sunlight shone into his room, brightening the gloomy indoors. The morning rays lit up the picture of his family resting on the desk next to his bed. He moved over and picked up the photo gingerly. It was a shot of his family back at New York City. His grinning father was wearing a tuxedo with coattails, while his stern mother was wearing a glamorous red dress that went all the way down to the polished hardwood floor of the mansion. And there he was, little Amadeus, pointing his father’s baton at the cameraman as if it was a magician’s wand. Behind them, there rested the apple of his eye – the majestic grand piano that his father had bought years ago. The memory of the grand piano made his shoulders sag. It had been a year and a half since his fingers last danced on the ivory keys of the piano. Then a few hours alter, with his meager belongings packed in a traveling suitcase, he had left for California at his mother’s urging. Mercedita Chandler wanted her son to become a world-renowned geologist, much like her father.

The teenager wanted so bad to feel those smooth keys under his grasp again. His ears yearned for each of the lovely tunes yielded by the piano. His eyes wanted to rest on the shiny instrument and find that little scratch he made with the baton.

“I cannot go back… I cannot disappoint my mama.” Amadeus hung his head. But looking at the grand piano in the picture once again, he remembered an old memory that his father had told him.

“You are a musician. That is why I named you Amadeus, after the world’s greatest composer. Our family had always been musicians. Never forget, my son. Follow your heart. Seek what will make you happy, not what will make others happy.” Beethoven had pushed his favorite Yankees cap into little Amadeus’ hands and left for Europe. Later that day, Beethoven Chandler’s plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Amadeus picked up the Yankees cap. He decided that he wanted to enjoy his life, not being a slave to his mother’s wishes. He called his roommates camping at San Andreas Fault to tell them that he was going to leave for New York. He was going to return to his old friend and resume his true nature. After all, he is Amadeus Chandler.

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Posted in Stories

26: World of Parallels: Fateful Morning

5:01 am.

I woke up to the screaming of my phone’s alarm. My fingers groped around for the vibrating device while trying hard to pry open my heavy eyelids. Like clockwork, my index finger found the snooze button, mercifully halting the incessant ringing. That was when I felt it.

A moment before I opened my eyes, I felt that there was something wrong. Lying flat on my back, my sleepy eyes staring at the singular iron nail embedded in the ceiling. My brain tried to reach out and sense the irregularity, but could not pinpoint exactly what it was. I shrugged it all off as a dream and closed my eyes again.

But when I woke up for good 10 minutes later, the weird sensation prevailed. In the end, I gave up and went downstairs.

My dad was sitting on the sofa, watching the early morning news. He nodded at me for a second before returning his focus on the news about the weather. My towel was already hanging by the bathroom door, but the odd thing was…

It was pink. yet for some reason, I was a hundred percent sure it was my towel.

I must be going paranoid.

The hands of Morpheus were moving around in my head again, lulling me back into his embrace, so I ignored the sense of foreboding and stepped in the bathroom. I didn’t look straight in the mirror, as I would usually do. Perhaps if I did, I would have caused a lot of problems. But I didn’t look at my reflection. Instead, I took off my clothes first. And that was when I saw it.

My eyes grew wide and my heart rate went off the charts.

A split second before a scream escaped my open mouth, my hand instinctively flew up to cover it. I forced my baffled brain to work and sorted out my jarred thoughts in a heartbeat.

If I scream, my parents will panic. They’ll come running and ask what’s wrong. Then I’ll say… no, they’ll understand once they see me. But… my dad already saw me, and yet he didn’t seem shocked. This is a drag… maybe I should act normally first and find out what happened to me.

In those few seconds, I formulated a plan.

It took me 10 minutes longer than usual to take a bath. I wasn’t used to this body. I went straight upstairs, careful in tying my towel around me like how they do it. Once I was upstairs, I hastily checked my cabinet. I didn’t know why I wasn’t surprised.

What are these? I don’t remember having this. What’s this? How do you wear this?

Even though I was completely disoriented, I did my best to know which one I was supposed to wear and in what order. It took me some time to get the clothes straight, and the uniform felt weird. I’m not supposed to be wearing this.

Even my bag and things were completely different. I knew I had to find out which one is which, but I was running late. I had to leave.

“Bye, dad.” I called out in the new voice I wasn’t used to.

“Bye, Jo-” I couldn’t hear my name over the noise the door beside our unit made as it slammed shut. But somehow, I felt that my name must be concealed from me… until the right time.

While walking through the street, I couldn’t help but notice the collective eyes of boys on me. I’ve never felt this watched before. Eyes, staring straight at me. Or at some other point on my body. I tried to ignore them, but even as I stepped within the walls of my school, I still felt watched. I forcefully pushed away the unpleasant feeling and busied myself by studying the other students entering. None of them seemed to look at me weirdly. But I expected that; I knew none of them.

The chilly and noisy atmosphere of the Amadome greeted me. Automatically, my eyes found Nico, Jay and Frank, huddled together. Andrew and Joan were talking together with Terry. I walked towards them, checking if they would react to seeing me.

“Oh, hey look, it’s our playtoy!” Andrew laughed and clapped me across the back. Nico whistled and raised his brows. I tried hard not to show the confusion growing in me. Jay seemed held back, but he smiled at me. Behind him, I saw Jet smiling at me too, but it seemed forced.

“Joshua?”

It’s him. I had a hunch that he’d know. He is my best friend, is he not?

“What happened to you?” Shin’s eyes were full of surprise. But there was another glint in his eyes, something I’ve seen before.

“What? She’s always been like this.” Nico raised an eyebrow.

“And her name isn’t Joshua.” Joan chimed in.

For the first time, I looked at my ID. It showed a girl, shockingly beautiful, with long, wavy hair, with large glasses. She was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. And below the picture, was her name.

Joshina A. Inopiquez.

“No way.”

 

 

Posted in Stories

15: An Image of Perfection part 2

The next day, I came to school early as usual. Once I got inside the Amadome, I set my bag by the Amadome’s last pillar, the one in front of the entrance to Lover’s Lane. This habit of mine started since July, and it hasn’t faded since. At times I refer to it as “my pillar” though no one really understands why.

Like always, I was scanning the students entering, when she appeared. My best friend, in all her glory. She seemed brighter today. There was a spring to her step. Her smile was impossibly perfect. She was radiating the aura of happiness, and I wondered who could be able to do such a miraculous thing. I had my answer a few seconds later.

A few steps behind her, he followed. His hair was neatly swept up, his jacket draped across his back. He seemed to radiate the same aura as her, but his was more manly. His smile was one of pure joy, and I couldn’t help but wonder… this is how much they like each other?

“No. They love each other.” I said out loud, not caring if anyone heard me.

She passed by me and gave me a happy grin then went on. He followed and nodded at me. Together they sat beside each other somewhere in the front of the line. Yasmin was talking with Maowell. Jayzer was laughing with Jetka. Ice was holding Hannah.

And I was standing there, alone, without anyone to talk to, much less feel comfort with. I clenched my fists and bowed my head. This is your fate. Accept it.

But as I took a second look at everyone, my mind rejected my thought. Maowell was whispering something in Yasmin’s ear. Jayzer was draping his jacket over Jetka. Ice was smiling at Hannah. He and she were holding hands while laughing. This is unfair. You don’t deserve to be mocked like this. 

Your fault. You let go of the only girl who ever loved you.

I didn’t let go! She was-

We are not having this argument again!

I didn’t mean Ella!

That.. girl? She was never mine to begin with! And all I wanted was for her to be happy! Nothing more!

And look where your kind self got you now.

I lost the argument. Suddenly I felt a surge of hatred fill me. They didn’t deserve to be happy. Maowell doesn’t deserve someone like Yasmin. Jayzer and Jetka aren’t for each other. Ice and Hannah will break up soon. And them… I became jealous of everyone. Yasmin is in my squad, Maowell. Jetka, Jayzer is part of The Circle and you’re not. Hannah, Ice is Copernicus. And you… she’s my best friend. I used to be beside her, not you. Where were you when she needed you? Nowhere. I was there, not you. Murderous thoughts filled my head.

“Calm down.” A hand clapped on my shoulder.

I turned. “Nii-chan?”

He stepped closer and hugged me. “It’s okay, it’s okay. I’m here. Hush now.” Kenshin’s baritone voice filled my ears. His presence made my hatred crumble to dust, leaving my raw emotions fully exposed. I hugged him back and buried my face into his chest. He held on as my tears overflowed.

“Nii… chan…” I cried.

“It’s okay. I’m here now. I won’t leave you.” He stroked my hair. I held on and cried, feeling guilty for being jealous, feeling guilty for thinking those thoughts.

“There, there. I’ll always be here if you need me,” he whispered as I broke down.

 

Posted in Stories

13: An Image of Perfection

It was the 18th of January, year 2017. The sun was blazing bright, a perfect day for good events. I was feeling lazy, with the afternoon sun beating down upon the entire school. As luck would have it, the teachers had a meeting in Alzona Hall, so we had three hours of freedom. At least, that’s what I thought until our Science teacher left us with some work. How bothersome…

I left the Amadome to go and get myself a drink from the canteen. My throat had been sore for several weeks now. Upon reaching the canteen, I met nii-chan. As usual, I hugged him-our way of greeting.

“Nii-chan!” I called out in a child-like voice.

“Hey, where are you staying?” he asked.

“At the Amadome. I just went here to get a drink.”

“Oh sure, I’ll wait for you.” He patiently waited as I purchased a C2, which I rarely do. A look at my phone told me it was 11:11. Maybe they’re done changing by now, I thought. I hurried back to the Amadome with Shin-niichan.

I was out of breath when I got back. My eyes roamed the place. Her bag was beside another bag that I didn’t recognize. What? Who’s she hanging out with? I wondered. From behind me, Eli appeared with a grin on her face. And it wasn’t a simple smile. She looked like she won the lottery or something. Nii-chan had just appeared by the Amadome, trying to catch his breath.

“Eli? What’s up?” I asked.

“Look there.” She pointed by the entrance to the Lover’s Lane. Like clockwork, a girl and a boy appeared, both smiling, laughing, holding hands. The boy was tall, a little bit taller than me, with hair swept upwards and a dark but handsome complexion. Over all, he was considered “handsome”. He was holding a water bottle that was opened. Beside him was the girl, a few inches shorter than him. She had her hair tied back with a dark blue hair tie, and she had a fair skin, contrasting the boy beside him. But the difference only made them look more perfect for each other.

As they stepped into the sunlight, the girl laughed and the boy smiled. At that moment, I caught the image of perfection. The image of love.

I watched until they got back to their bags and sat down. They continued to talk, not giving a care to the world. They seemed truly happy to have each other again. Our hard work had paid off well.

Nii-chan came up behind me. “So are we going to eat or are you going to stand there all day staring at them?”

I took one last good look at them. I smiled contentedly before turning around to have my lunch with my own best friend.

“Have fun, imoto-chan.”