books

Thank God, I was able to submit my story on time.

I was so distracted by academic works and my mind couldn’t formulate a climax and ending to it. I have to stay up late last night to be able to finish it.

Imagine that you’re me and your dad won’t allow you to be awake and kicking past nine-thirty.

Yes. It was that hard.

They would think that I’m going to sneak out of the house and meet random people (gangsters in his vocabulary; for me, they’re only called mild troublemakers. Very exaggerated) outside.

And, yes. I only said “dad”.

Why?

They filed a divorce after I became four-year-old and got completely separated when I nearly turned five.

So much for birthdays, right?

Now, mom is living in San Diego, California with her new family: a husband, a pair of identical twins (boys) and a dog.

And believe me, when I came alone to visit, they maltreated me: my mom always scolded me whenever she thinks I did something wrong, my stepfather treated me like a servant slapped me when he thinks I’m not doing things right, and, worst one, my brothers jump into my face, blow raspberry and pull my hair and act like I was the one who was hurting them.

I told every scenario to dad, and as he listened, he shook with anger.

It looked like he wants to travel all the way from New Jersey, to California just to barge in and confront them all.

I asked him to calm down and promise him the hardest thing ever: not visit my mom ever again.

Yeah. You might tell me that should’ve been what I wrote for it to be easier to make, but it was already published last year when I first entered Veritas (fact: Veritas is the Roman goddess of truth. That’s why the school paper is called Veritas, because everything we post about reality IS real.)

Back to reality.

As what I was saying, I was so glad that I came on time.

When I entered the office, I noticed that the others gathered around the editor’s table, admiring something.

“My feels—”

“I love the story.”

“The one who did this is awesome.”

“The drawings are perfect!”

That’s the moment when I knew that good news has already arrived to me.

You see, I was also assigned by our school paper moderator, Mr. Mitchell, to find the boy from the Visual Arts Club (who was also made cartoonist) who was assigned to draw the comics on the paper. I went yesterday to the Art Studio and met their adviser, Mr. Wickes, there. He promised me that before eight, it would be already inside the office.

And there it is, being flocked by the officers.

I approached them and prodded our Photojournalist, Jefferson Davids, who prefers to be called Dave instead of Jeff.

He turned around and smiled at me. “Hey.”

“Hey, what’s up?”

“You’ve got to see the drawings for the paper. Very inspiring, since most of us are Catholics here.”

“Who drew again?” I asked him, suddenly forgetting the name Mr. Mitchell gave to me yesterday.

He frowned. I turned his back to me again and raised his voice.

“MS. EDITOR!”

“What is it?” a voice emerged from the middle of the crowd. I recognized it once as Hermione Burnham, our editor-in-chief.

“Who made those drawings?”

There was a moment of silence, and then she replied.

“It says here, C. Lane. It must be a girl.”

“It’s a guy,” I spoke up.

All heads turned towards my direction.

“How did you know?” someone I can’t see asked.

“Mr. Mitchell asked me to go to the Art Studio and told me to look for a guy named ‘Christopher Lane’ and tell him to submit it before eight this morning.”

Someone whistled.

“I never knew that there’s still a guy left who can make this kind of story line,” Hermione said, squeezing herself through the others and handing me the copy.

“Even I can’t make any inspiring story myself,” Dave said.

I reached out for it and held out my own story, saying “Here’s my work. Sorry if it’s late.”

“It’s okay. We were a simply distracted by that, causing us not to notice the time,” she replied with a smile as the others proceeded to do their work.

I looked down and looked at each scene carefully. By the time I got to the end, I said “wow”.

It is beautiful.

It was about a boy who met Jesus, who was watching after a cross twice the boy’s height, on a summer day. Jesus saw him and asked if he could guard the cross until he came back. The boy willingly accepted. He guarded it throughout many days and seasons: the remaining of summer, and the whole of autumn and winter, through rain shine. He was already looking bad. It was nearly spring when a strong gust of wind blasted in his direction, toppling the cross over. He, himself, fell flat on his back, exhausted, but he thought of the challenge he accepted and got up on his feet again. He continued to guard it until the end of spring, when Jesus came back. He saw the boy’s persistence and willingness, so He made him stop the boy and told him to stay in His arms until he recovers.

It almost made me tear up but held myself together.

“That was really nice,” I said to Hermione, who was now sitting on her chair, and handing her the paper.

“Yes,” she said. “The students should be able to get the moral of the story here: Determination, persistence, patience, willingness, and hope. We should all have these values.”

I agreed with her. But I don’t think I would be able to have hope, though.

I remembered that day when I told my parents that they should withdraw the divorce. They told me they will for my sake, and my hopes rose up. They acted sweetly in front of me, keeping me happy, but it ended up like a pile of shattered glass on the floor when dad told me they already split up and there’s nothing they could do now with their divorce. I asked what really happened, and he told me they really didn’t remove the case. He then told me that as he spoke, mom is already travelling back to California, her home.

I cried that time and never spoke to him the whole day.

Dad went to my room at night, and promised me he’ll be a better father.

And by “better”, he means “protective”.

Even though his “protection” is too much, I still follow his rules, and try not to disappoint him. The divorce was hard for me, but I know that it’s harder on dad.

Starting that time, I never hoped for anything I want badly but so complicated.

Come what may. Let it be.

I live on those phrases now.

Of course, I still wish people to have the values that guy, Christopher, showed through that story, but I think I would never be that boy completely.

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