Graduation June 2019
I glanced at the empty chair next to mine. Though it seems hopeless, I was still hoping that he might make it. I was still hoping that he might want to show himself even for the last time.
No one knew what was going on with him. Even the closest persons to him, do not have any idea of his whereabouts. In fact, he was already reported missing.
He was gone right after the year book photo shoot, right after everything was finally settled, like it was already planned. Like he had already plotted to disappear like that.
“Anderson, Lei Rafael,” the person on the microphone called. I took a glance at his teary-eyed mother. She was sitting at the seats provided for the graduates’ parents, with her husband beside her. I know they too were hoping he’d show up.
But he isn’t here, and it is very much frustrating that he isn’t here. I was wishing, I was wishing that I’d know of his whereabouts. Because it was driving me crazy, it was bothering me so much, I was worrying a lot.
I marched towards the stage to receive my diploma. We were waiting and praying so hard for this moment to finally come. All the hard works, all those sleepless nights, all the breakdowns, they were all worth it. It was truly worth celebrating, that we are finally here in this moment... and I just wish he was here to celebrate with us. I just wish he was here so we too could celebrate for his success.
The ceremony ended well, but not too well for a piece of us is not here at this special moment.
I walked towards our squad who were all holding a handful of congratulatory bouquets. There were six of us, including him. I could call our whole bloc our squad, we were that close. Except that maybe the six of us was the closest and that all of us believed that we were all each other’s soulmate. Yeah, it sounds crazy having five soulmates, but I love them, and that’s all that matters.
“Congratulations, you crazy earthlings!” Anya greeted.
“Yeah, congrats we made it, dudes,” Geko followed.
“You guys, we got to talk to Lei’s parents,” Nica interrupted. I was about to suggest that, but Nica found the words first. I saw how Anya and Geko’s expression immediately changed. It was the same expression I was wearing the whole ceremony.
“We should. But we got to find Jay first,” I suggested.
“Right. He was here just now, let me find him then we’ll go,” Geko volunteered. The three of us waited as Geko searched for our other friend and finally looked for Lei’s parents.
“Congratulations, darlings,” his mother greeted. I couldn’t help it as I instantly wrapped my arms around her. I felt her body shook. The rest of the squad followed.
Lei, just where are you right now?
“Hey, it’s not like he’s really gone. He’s just somewhere out there. Maybe trying to clear his mind,” I tried to cheer them, when in fact I, myself was worried sick.
His father gave us a weak smile. It was not the likes of Lei to do things like that, it was not like him to disappear like that. No wonder his sudden absence was giving us this effect.
“I think we need to go now. As much as we want to stay and celebrate with you, we have errands to run, kiddos,” Mr. Anderson spoke. I gave him a weak smile. We certainly knew what those errands were. They have been looking for Lei nonstop, and they continuously were. He was an only child, and it would certainly drive his parents crazy, literally, if he doesn’t show up as soon as possible.
We bid them goodbye and the next thing we knew, we were silently standing on the same spot where Mr. and Mrs. Anderson left us.
“I’m going to punch that punk as soon as he shows himself up,” Geko broke the silence.
“As if you could really punch him, stick boy. You’ll only hurt yourself,” Anya commented. I saw how almost everyone gave a silent laugh. Yeah, as if Geko could punch his bestfriend. As if he could with that petite structure of him, even I could easily knock him down with just a single punch.
“By the way, I gotta meet with parents first, I’ll see you guys later at the party,” Jay uttered.
“Yeah, me too,” Nica and Anya said in unison and excused themselves.
“Aren’t you going to go to your folks too?” Geko asked.
“Maybe later,” I answered.
“Okay then, see you later. Bye, D.”
After we bid our temporary goodbyes, I went straight to a convenience store to buy some strawberry milk.
“You only drink strawberry milk when you’re sad.”
I stiffened as I heard someone spoke from behind while I was grabbing the drink from the fridge.
My eyes widen as I turned around and recognize his very familiar face.
“Hi,” he smiled. He smiled as if nothing happened. He smiled like it was just another normal day at school.
“Miss me?” he asked while giving me his infamous playful smile.
Did he seriously just asked me that? I wanted to punch him. I wanted to punch him so hard.
It was raining hard outside, and I almost did not hear what he had said. But I could feel it, I could clearly hear the loud beating inside my chest. It was too loud that I thought it was going to explode. I wanted to cry at that very moment. I was too worried, and damn, I missed him so much.
I have tried so hard to prevent my tears from falling. I was afraid if I’d let them fall, it would block my view, and I might lose sight of him. I might not see him again. I was even trying so hard not to blink.
All of the sudden I was wrapped in his embrace.
“Goodbye for now, Nana,” he whispered and ran away.
It took more seconds for my slow mind to register everything. As soon as I finally came to my senses, it was too late because he was already nowhere to be seen.
I did not know what really happened there. All that is certain for me was that I never saw him ever again. No texts, no emails, no calls, not even a single chat or an update on his social media accounts. No communication, none at all.
He left me there wondering, he left me there trying to figure out what was that about. He left me there with a hole in my heart. He left me there with questions, with what’s and why’s.
He left me there with my heart beating for his name.