“It’s been a long year I have spent my time alone. No friends, no family, no relatives, hmmm, all sucks. I don’t know how I could spend a lonely dark life like this. I don’t know why those people stay away from me. I asked God, why?
I used to have many friends, families, it seemed like everybody knew me. I was more than a celebrity. That Whitney Houston, Jagger, Madonna, Sylvester Stallone, you name it, they were all nothing. I was more than them. I had everything. I could get anything I want effortlessly.
Then, my life took a 180-degree turn. Rich to poor, famous to unknown, stunning to dirty. Why? I couldn’t even figure out who I was then. I was nothing. Just nothing.
I recalled the moment I had been enjoying the world. I had been a wicked person. I didn’t care about anybody else. I didn’t even turn my eyes to those beggars on the streets who asked for just a cent. I regret what I have done. The whole things.
I wanted to change. I didn’t want to stay like this. I wanted to get up and have my life again. I told myself, ‘It’s not too late. I still have a chance. I’ve heard that God gives people a second chance. I might be the one who gets it. I can’t waste it.’
I stood up and cleared my torn shirt from the dirty ashes. I went to a pool and washed my face and body. I started to find for a job such as a newspaper boy, a pool or garden cleaner, and even a street-sweeping person. I did whatever I could do. Though I had to do that dirty job with a really low salary, it didn’t matter. At least, I got rid of that ‘unemployed’ label from me. You know, sometimes beggar looked better than me.
I knew that I had to start from zero as the price that I had to pay. However, I’m grateful to God that I could be somebody again,” Mr. Paul Sylvester ended his story.
I confessed that I was a terrible neighbor who always visited him every time I was down. Well, yeah, it always worked. He made me feel better after listening to his story. He was such an amazing father if he had a family. To be honest, I actually considered him as my own dad. I wondered how he could live without a family. Well, yeah. I know. I know he would answer that it’s God, the reason why he could survive.
I believed that my pain was nothing to compare to what Mr. Sylvester experienced. I mean, besides the pain I already had. I only broke up with my boyfriend and lost my wallet containing a hundred dollar. It was truly nothing compared to his. I should get up and not weep all the time inside my room. I believe God prepared a wonderful future for me.
“Cassandra!” Mom yelled for the third time because she didn’t have me in the basement right away after I answered her ‘yes’ to come.
“I’m coming, Mommy!” I answered her loudly as I was running down to the basement.
I managed my breath when I stepped into that dirty, stinky basement. Mom didn’t look at me at all. She was just moving things here and there and then she asked me to help her. No sooner said than done.
“I saw you went out from Mr. Sylvester’s house again this afternoon,” said Mom. She wiped an old photo frame full of dust with a napkin. “What’s the problem? Did you make yourself better?”
“I’m sorry, I was too busy with my job. Now I resigned,” her confession made me shocked.
“But why did you resign?” I stopped moving things and moved closer to her.
She remained silent. I looked up to her face since I was still shorter than her.
“Why?” I repeated.
Tears burst out from her eyes.
I startled. I wondered what happened to her that she looked like feeling deep pain. Was I a bad girl? Or she had something with Dad? Again? Well, since he moved out of the town and never came back, Mom always felt lonely. Sometimes I saw her talking to herself. Technically yes. But she might be talking to God at that moment. Whatever it was, for sure it was something which would be the last thing I would ever want to know. I didn’t want my Mom to feel sad.
“My boss oppressed me. I couldn’t stand with it anymore. I was treated like a slave. I’m sick of it,” she told me with heavy tears streaming down her cheeks as if I had not been her daughter but a friend.
“Mom,” I rubbed her back with my left hand and touched her shoulder with the right one. “I’m here to give a hand in everything. Always.”
She embraced me. Tightly. It felt like her pain was in me as well when I felt her heartbeat. I let her lean on me until she felt okay.
~ IABOG ~
The day passed. Another morning came. I should go to the campus again. Things would go as usual.
I always went to campus on foot. Well, it was only two kilometers far. It could save me money anyway. I really wanted to buy a car for my mom, though Dad could afford a luxurious one by his prestigious job –- only I don’t know what it was –- but you know, it’s about pride. Since they were separated but not divorced, mom wanted to buy it on her own money, so that she didn’t have to catch a bus to go to her office again. Well, I meant, if she wanted to get another job. Besides, I wanted Mom to feel proud of me.
“Cassandra!” Jimmy called my name loudly from a distance. It made people around me glanced to me for a while. I just smiled wryly to them.
He came bringing a big headphone and an MP3 Player. “I need your help,” he said.
“I’m afraid I can’t. I want to help my mom to get a job,” I told him. I put my right palm on his shoulder. “You’re my best friend, but, sorry, pal.”
“Wait,” he prevented me from walking away. “How about doing mutual symbiosis?”
I tilted my head; questioning what he meant.
“You help me, and I help you find a job for your mom,” he offered. “You know, my parents have sort of, huge connections everywhere.”
I brought myself to think for a while. It might sound like a good offer. I didn’t need to worry about Mom anymore if she had a job. She could feel happy again.
“Deal,” I said. “So what is it?”
He smiled. “I like a girl –”
“Girl?” I interrupted. “Again?”
“You want to get your mom a job or not?” he threatened.
I closed my mouth. I listened to him.
“She is in many of your classes. Tanya, the Asian girl. I need you to make her closer to me,” he expressed his desire.
“Do whatever I tell you. And this is the first,” he held out a starred envelope. “Give it to her.”
I chuckled as I saw it. “It looks like a five-year-old boy’s letter,” I told him. “Honestly.”
He changed his smiling face to a sullen one.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll give it right away when I meet her, and you will get your desired love, Prince Charming.” I teased him with a naughty face.
He tickled me but I ran away from him.
“Hey, Cody said he wanted to meet you at the back park at 12!” he shouted.
I smiled and lifted a thumb to him then turned. I walked to my first class and would do what Jimmy told me. What a boy. He was about to turn to be a man, not a boy anymore. Why did he act like an eighth-grader? Funny.
As I sat on my favorite seat -- right corner front, near the lecturer as I always liked of which I didn’t know why -- Tanya passed me by. I stopped her and gave her the envelope without saying anything, though she actually asked me who gave it. I acted nonchalantly. I thought I was a little bit off that day.