The other line was dead when I picked up the phone. I could still hear the busy tone playing around my ear. Akira mentioned ‘she’. It was the only thing I know. It was the first time someone (not a relative) called me.
Akira knocked and peered through the door as I fix my hair. “You’re up early.” he teased. “I thought I’m gonna wake you up with this--” He lifted up a glass iced cold water and drank it.
“What the hell? Seriously?!” I gasped and he nodded, chortling. Truth was, I couldn’t sleep thinking about the weird ‘thing’ I saw last night. But I decided not to tell him that. “I want to cut my hair.”
“Why? I like-- I mean, that length suits you. You know, not too long and not too short.” He said tilting his head, pupils contracted. I guess he was trying to take a good look—to make sure he was right? Thanks, brother. But I was not convinced. He was nodding. “Why?”
“Just…for a change.” I said. He shook his head lightly no. “That’s better. Don’t cut your hair or I’ll cut your nose off.”
It was a little early when I came to school. I heard the clattering from the school speaker, it seemed like there was an announcement. “…The classes will stop after the first period.” That was the only thing I was able to hear.
Sir Philippe , our history teacher, started his lecture with a joke as usual. No one even bothered to laugh or simper, although I always found his caprice funny, I could only laugh to myself. I was having this feeling that there were sharp stare and glances to me coming from everywhere. It occurred to me-- Charles talked to me yesterday and they didn’t like that. I kept my head down, trying my best not to look at them. Ignore them, I told myself.
“Okay class, listen now… We all know that there are a total of 214 regions in the world. A country should have a maximum of twelve regions and a minimum of ten. Each region represents any of the five sectors of industry. Meaning the regions in a country are uhhm…the source… of… the prosperity of the country? Something like that. The number given to each region, in each country is actually not in order. For example, the region we are in now is Region 209. Region 210 is not in this country, but on the other.” He discussed waving his hands like a conductor in an orchestra. “Do I have to explain this?” Nobody answered. “No.---“
Someone threw a piece of paper to me. I looked around, but it appeared everybody was listening enthusiastically to the lecture.
Sir Philippe continued. “---The first sector includes farming, mining and logging. Those regions are designated with numbers from 150 to 199. The second include factories which refine metals, produce furniture, or pack farm products such as meat.---“
A piece of paper again. But this time, it felt like there was something inside. It was soft and muggy; must be a gum inside. I heard a voice inside my head saying, ‘It’s a gift.’
“---Those are Regions 100 to 149. The third on the other hand, include teachers like me, managers and other service providers for Regions 50 to 99. I was born in Region 92 for your information. I studied Education there, and moved here and bwalaah! I’m standing here in front of you.” He was making a gesture that mascots did when playing tricks in children parties. “Wanna know more about me?” Again, nobody seemed interested. “No? Okay…“ He carried on. “While the fourth sector has the scientists, doctors, and lawyers on 1 to 49. And lastly is the fifth, being the most important. The highest levels of decision making in a society or economy is there, the top executives, the government, universities, and elite schools like ours, nonprofit, healthcare, culture, and the media on 200 to 214. ---”
Someone blipped my back. When I looked behind, the girl raised her left brow, grinning. What is her name again? I couldn’t remember. Someone chuckled.
“---But you know guys, there are many political activists who attempted to bring back the political stability and the way the countries were supposed to be. However, scarcity is still being controlled. That’s why the nineteen powerful presidents were selected to control everything. Meaning, there are now only nineteen elected presidents in the world, to be specific. Only nineteen. Of course, everybody knows about the assassination of the two most powerful presidents almost 21 years ago. Oh well...Anyways… this is History class, so don’t take it to heart? Alright?” He moved back to the table and closed the book. “Run free and go wild, but don’t break anything, alright? Class dismissed.”
Tapping me from behind, Chloe greeted. “Hi Sammy!” I was stunned, she called me ‘Sammy’. I looked at her as we walk. I could feel those who saw us raging now. “What’s wrong Sam?” She asked pensively. I kept my head down. She puffed, “So, your name is Sam. Mind if I call you Sammy? I called you last night. I remember. Here--” she handed me a small piece of yellow paper—sticky paper, “--someone gave you a gift early in the morning.”
“So it was you who called me… How did you know my number?” I asked, reading what was written on the paper--- LEECH! I just realized ‘that’ girl who spanked me in History class actually made an effort for this gibberish act.
“I asked Chelsea. I passed out last night... I was drunk” she said, laughing.
“Drunk? You’re allowed to drink? I mean… you’re not even eighteen.”
“Yeah… It's easy, really. It’s not a big deal. You should come with us next time—“
“I don’t think that’ll be a good idea.” I said as we mount the stairs. “Why did you call anyway?”
“Well, next week will be the school’s thirtieth anniversary. There will be a lot of activities for the whole week. It will be my first time to attend too. But I’m not into that kind of stuff. I’d prefer to stay home.” She said, grabbing my arm. “Our seniors will be busy, but we can help them for the preparations. They announced it earlier, just in case you didn’t hear it.” She paused, “Let’s go the council.” She smiled, pulling me and leading the way.
It seemed like the school just realized that next week will be the celebration. They announced the preparations pretty late. Is it always like that? I wondered.
“The school organizers are not into celebrations.” She cleared. “They’re more focused on competing with other elite schools. Celebrations, festivals… Charles’s grandfather does not like them.” She blinked twice, her posture was suddenly perfect.
There was no one in the council’s office when we got there. Chloe pouted her lips, and rumpled her brows. It looked like a large living room: sofas with leather upholstery and a glass table at the center; a large abstract painting that covers entirely the wall on the right; a couple of bookshelves and PCs on the opposite corner; and a long wooden table with eight chairs before the overlooking window-- with neatly arranged curtains. There was a gigantic portrait of a man who almost looked like Charles in between the bookshelves. There were lots of figurines too. The other things I saw were a coffee maker and a white board with - PARTY! and a doodle I couldn’t understand– written with a marker on it.
”It doesn’t look like the typical student council office I have in mind.” I said. “I should go now.”
“No, let’s stay here.” She implied, sitting on the sofa comfortably, and then brushing her hair to the side.
“I’ll help with the preparations.” I said. She just looked at me. When I was about to reach the door, someone opened it. It was Charles. I suddenly became a stuck up. Our eyes met, it was just a moment but it felt like an hour already.
“Hi Sammy” he said, walking towards me. I couldn’t move. I was actually blocking his way! He leaned his face forward, still looking at me-- so close! I jolted backwards. “Are you all right?”
“I’m sorry!” I stammered. “Yes, I am all right.”
Chloe heaved a sigh. “You’re scaring her, Charles.”
He patted my head lightly. I couldn’t look at him in the eyes, but I could see from his chest (where I was looking) that he was smiling. He is smiling, isn’t he? He walked towards the small refrigerator on the corner that I did not see earlier. My eyes were following him. He opened it and took a bottle shaped like a chess piece with Fillico written on it.
“Hello” Chelsea greeted, who just came in. “Leaving already?”
“Yes.” I replied adjusting my specs.
“She wants to help with the preparations. Do something about it Chels… I mean, we know how they treat her. We shouldn’t just leave her like that.” She paused in a jiffy. “How about that thing you told me?” Chloe said, looking at Chelsea and then to Charles.
“The list of players.” Charles cleared his throat and drinks again.
“Yeah, why not help us here instead?” Chelsea asked. “Other members of the council are not here, and I doubt if they will even help. They are busy themselves with practices and college entrance exams.”
So I did.
It was the first time I was able to spend the whole day with them. It was the first time I laughed openly too. I didn’t know they were fun to be with. I found out that Charles was actually outspoken, funny, and easy to tease. He was always smiling, sometimes clumsy too, cool, and very intelligent.
Is this really okay? I asked myself. They were so carefree. They looked happy. It seemed like they had no troubles in life like did. I don’t think I fit here. After all, they were rich; they shouldn’t be spending time with a commoner like me. I was not saying I was not happy being part of the Mizuki family. Honestly, I was very glad they found me. I was grateful I met Akito and Akira, but ever since I got into this school, I couldn’t stop comparing myself to these people. I’m terrible… how could I think this way? The Mizuki’s were elite too! They were considered one of the best in the police force. I kept reminding myself that.
If these people would find out I was just adopted, it would only make everything worst. Taking advantage with the Mizuki’s influence, I’m the lowest… Despicable. And what’s more, I didn’t even know who my real parents were and where they were. I didn’t know my identity. I didn’t have memories. I had no past, just the orphanage.
I was good as dead. If the orphanage did not find me; if Father Emmanuel did not give me a name; if Akito did not take me…what and who will I become? Will I live the life I have now? Or will it be different?
Whatever my past was, I didn’t want to know. No need. I would rather remain a fool. I am what I am now. What I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me. Or so, at least.
I am happy. I should be happy.
I was about to leave when Charles said, “I’m always worried about how you handle yourself around our schoolmates. I mean, I never received a complaint from you or your family. I see you with different bruises, and you always say you bumped into something. Dirty uniform, messy hair… Now I know. I saw it myself this morning and it was the first time. As tough as a guy. You really are interesting, Miss Mizuki.” He chuckled.
I didn’t know what to say. It would be embarrassing if I say something.
“My bestfriend’s father died last week.” He bounced on the balls of his feet, hands in the pocket, poker-faced. “He’d be glad if we visit him. Do you want to come with us?”
I remembered what I told Akira this morning when he asked why I wanted to have a haircut-- For a change. I should move on, I decided that. A new beginning was waiting for me. So I looked at Charles and met his gaze, I nodded. “Yes.”
That made him smile.