1- Kuya (Filipino word) older brother. Also called to a male person.
Nearly three weeks and four days had passed, Agatha’s seat is not occupied. She was absent for a long time and everybody was worried about her. I am skeptical if we can be able to practice to the play and they will follow us. Luckily, they did follow us and helped us, Frida, Evan, and I, all the things that need to be done. Doing the props and finding for the costumes of the actors.
When it comes to the incoming events of the school, it is unusual that it was not Agatha who is going to announce those. Most of the time she along with the P.R.O will announce it and plans it immediately and they will do that once the teacher was not around or during breaks.
Today’s announcement is not different, no teacher is around but no one is listening to the P.R.O and often bullied by Agatha’s admirers. She was going to announce the contest for the Love Month event.
Every event that we have was always anticipated by everyone in the class and we are happy to participate in every event. However, this event fell under the radar as everybody does not care about it. Most of us are sleeping on it and not talk about it. However, this time the officer in front of the room and doing everything to discuss the event to them but no one was listening. I felt pity as she cannot control everyone. I walked in the aisle going in front of the room. As I stood up in front, I can see and hear my classmates do crazy antics and make noises. Evan meanwhile is smirking, anticipating that I might do something every outrageous.
“St. Carmel! Shut the f*ck up!”
My voice spreads till to the other room. The noisy room became silent. They finally stop doing everything that they are doing and went back to their seats.
“Yes! Shut the hell up and listen to her!”
“Go on and speak,” I said to her and get back on my seat.
She starts discussing everything that will happen to Valentine’s event. I decided to participate in the poster making contest which has a theme about “Love”. A lot of my classmates are not interested in the event and sees is crappy.
“I don’t know why we are listening to this. I don’t see the importance of this event.”
“Me either. I do not understand why we need to celebrate it. What for?”
As hear the statements of my classmates, I could not help but agree. However, they have forgotten that we are always doing this year and I am the only one who has misgivings about it. I can see the hypocrisy in this room, as last year they anticipated this event just because Agatha was there. I noticed that some of my classmates especially Agatha’s admirers’ seating in front of me do not bother to listen to the announcement.
Frida being always the savage went in front of them and scolded them, “Hypocrites, shut up or leave the room?”
After this, they finally close their mouths and eventually leave the room. They went back when our next teacher arrives.
I was walking on my way home along with Frida, and Evan.
I now express how I feel to those people earlier. “I was annoyed at the people in front of me.”
“Who?” asked by the two.
“Remember those two boys who dissed the two of us earlier, Evan?”
“Oh! Those knuckleheads.” He casually said.
Frida also recognizes the persons I am talking about, “Agatha’s admirers, or I would prefer to be called STALKERS!” she madly shouted while we are walking near the house of one of our classmates.
“Who are you?” Evan now disowning Frida after shouting in the street.
“Shut your foul mouth! Someone might hear you.” I scold her.
“How dangerous are they?” Evan asked.
“I don’t know.” I quickly replied.
“They are looking to Agatha’s profile in her social media accounts and often chats her maybe every night. She just ignored them. But for me, I felt scared of those dumbarses. I found them creepy.”
“They seem in love with Agatha, but it doesn’t reciprocate.”
I cannot help but laugh to Evan after savagely joked to them. I did not know that I was already at my house.
“See you tomorrow!”
The next day, we still have our practice for the play. Agatha still not there. We are still adjusting a life without her. It was hard but we have nothing to do but continue all this without her. I am also either paired or grouped with Agatha in other of our activities.
In-home economics, I was grouped along with Evan and we did all activities on our own despite our leader was not around. The worst part is, both of us do not cook and have a hard time to accomplish the task. Therefore, our teacher assisted us in the activity, which we felt quite embarrassed about.
The chemistry class, however, went in my favor. As I am used to doing a thing on my own, I gladly survived the experiment activities without a pair.
I was supposed to go home until Frida went to my seat and invite again to go where again. But this time…
“Franz lets go to Agatha’s house.”
I gladly not refused it for the first which make the two surprised. As I am notorious for rejecting all these kinds of things, as this will make me tired easily.
“Do you know Agatha’s house?” Evan asked.
“Yeah. Duh! I am Agatha’s friend. Have you forgot?” she immediately replied. She looked first in the hallway to make sure that no one is listening to us and immediately dragged outside of the campus. Frida continued to explain to us why we are going to Agatha’s house.
“We’re going to try and visit Agatha to her house. It has been four weeks since we last saw her. I am worried about what is happening to her.”
Evan however was skeptical about it, not because of the concern whom her parents ignoring us or if Agatha was either in her house or not. Instead because of, “How we can go to her house?”
“My goodness, Evan! A ride a car obviously because she lives outside of this village. The only thing that we have to do is to wait for my brother in the third gate of this village making sure that those arseholes will not follow us.” She stated loudly.
We looked at our backs and we saw two people hiding from the bushes.
“Wait! They are following Agatha?” Evan shockingly asked.
“And they are in the bushes.” She continued.
We are continually being dragged by Frida in the whole subdivision. I don’t know where we are going.
“I am familiar with the whole subdivision and it is not the way going to Gate 3.” Evan stated.
“I just said that because they were following us.” Frida explains to him while we are running to this “secret passage” going to the Gate 2 of the village where her brother is waiting.
“How come you notice that without looking?” I curiously asked.
“Well, I am just suspicious of them. That’s why I should be aware of them.” Frida quickly replied.
The relentlessly run until we are near to the second gate. When Frida saw his brother waiting for us, we run fast going to him.
“(1)Kuya, go inside of the car. Someone is following us!” Her order to her brother.
He immediately went inside of the car so as we.
“Do you want me to drive fast?” he asked Frida.
He immediately drives out of the village going to Agatha’s house.
“Evan! Franz! Look outside and be alert. They might be lurking somewhere and following us.” She commanded.
We look at the windows, making sure that no one is following us. I guess!
“I bet no one is following us.” Evan sighed.
“I don’t think so.” Kuya Philip strongly stated.
He immediately went somewhere. “What are you doing?” Frida asks him.
“This is a safety measure just in case they are following us. I am going to an alternative way those kiddos wouldn’t know.”
“Kuya Philip, are you sure that way nearly going to Taguig is safe and will not be discovered by those people?” I skeptically asked.
“Yes. Agatha’s stalkers would not discover it.”
“You also know them?” I asked again.
“Yes. We saw them when they in the mall. I nearly called the police, but they immediately run.”
“What they did that?” I shouted and starts swearing due to outrage.
“Calm down Franz! It happened several months ago. Luckily, they hide in a secret area in the mall and I immediately run them out to the mall safely.”
“If only I can shout and swear like a sailor. But sadly, I can’t.” Evan suddenly uttered.
He went to drive to that way, to make sure that those people will not follow us going to her house. He drove to Kalayaan Avenue until going inside the business district and drove to a village in Bel-Air.
“She leaves in Bel-Air?” we both asked Frida.
“She only lives near Bel-Air, but not inside of the village.”
After thirty excruciating minutes of travel going to her house, now we are finally here. The three of us went out of the car and went in front of her house. We start to shout her name and called someone that is maybe inside of the house.
“Is someone inside?” Evan asked after calling her for nearly five minutes.
“I don’t know. Just continue shouting. Maybe someone will entertain us.” Frida demanded.
We continued to call her but also, we must be fast because of the people that might be following us. We waited here until someone finally entertained us. A tall guy went outside of the house and walked going near to us.
“Hello!” Frida loudly greeted him.
“Hello! What brought you here Frida?”
“Agatha wasn’t attending our classes for nearly a month now. We are worried that something might happen to her. When she will return to school?”
“I don’t know. She went to my paternal relatives’ house in Alfonso. I do not have any idea when she will return here in Manila. I am sorry if I cannot answer everything about it right now. I am sorry Frida and… your companions.”
Frida introduces us to him. “(1)Kuya, they have names. This is Franz.” Pointing on her left side, “and this is Evan.” Pointing on her right and continued. “They are also classmates of Agatha.”
“Hello!” he greeted us.
“Hello!” greeted by the two of us.
“We’re going home instead. Thank you and sorry for being a disturbance.”
“It is okay Frida. Don’t worry, she is fine.”
After that, we went back to the car, a bit disappointed. We went to the village and go home. While on the ride home,
“I have something to say…” Evan begins a conversation. The two of us immediately carefully listened and look at him with anticipation. “There are rumors that Agatha might have a severe and incurable illness. I just heard it to our classmates and talking about it almost every day.”
“Where did you got that information?” Frida furiously asked.
“Frida, it was a rumor. It is not confirmed nor denied.” Her brother casually said to her.
“I heard only it. Spare me!” He angrily said.
After hearing this rumor, I was stunned and caused to be more cautious about what the future will bring. I have not told everything that I felt to her. I went home, without saying any word to them. I quietly walked at them and go to my room and sleep because of the exhausting day.
The following days are just agonizing. Since she was still not around, I am the one who replaces her as the leader of the class in the play and becomes the representative in an essay writing contest. I was able to win and represent in the division next school year.
In the chemistry class which we frequently have lab experiment, I was partially grouped with Evan and Julianne so the activities for me to be easier than carrying it on my own.
A world without is getting sadder and sadder and sometimes I cannot take anymore. I am now used to days without her.
Despite being without her encouraging me to went out of my bubble, I started to go out by myself. I encourage myself to started to greet my classmates every day which made them a shock. I am also starting to interact with my classmates even more and talk to them and now become acquainted with Evan and my cousins Frida and Fredrick.
I am also shocked yet proud of Fredrick’s changes, as he was now becoming more considerate of people around him and not bullying everyone anymore.
These changes would not be possible because someone always encourages me, but I must move also to accomplish these changes.
You have changed my life
For the better.
Little by little,
I am finally doing new things I cannot imagine.
Months have passed you have not been seen.
Seasons are now changing,
You have started to be wilted.
I still hope your bright wonderful bloom went back.
As I still wanted to say…
The practice in the play is finally done for now. However, the people who are assigned making the props would not be able to take the break. As usual, Agatha was still not around, and her absence starts the rumors to spreads that are deemed to be unrealistic. Everybody was not only worried about her condition but also if she can be able to pass the final quarter.
“Do you think Agatha will still attend the last remaining classes?” Evan asked.
“We still have a month before the school year ends. It depends on her if she still wants to go back.” Frida answered.
“We are getting used to Agatha not being around. All the duties that were supposed to hers were given to us. The duties of being a president were given to the Vice President. The essay competition was just given on the spot to our cousin and the managing of the play was given to the three of you. It doesn’t make sense anymore if she goes back.” Pessimistic Fredrick uttered while helping me painting the background.
“Why are you so negative Freddie?” Frida yelled to his cousin.
“We still need Agatha, as she was the one who plans this. I am still hopeful that she will go back.” I confidently said to them.
After the theater, we went back to the classroom to have a break.
The outside of the classroom was in chaos. All of us were confused about why they are being like that. We run fast to the room to know what is happening. Until one of our classmates just rush in front of us and said exciting news.
“Agatha is here!”
We entered the room, and, in our shock, she was inside the room! She is sitting in her chair, looks a bit pale and fragile. Her smile was not the usual anymore, I would perceive that her smile was already forced. From that, I along with Evan, presuming that the rumors about Agatha’s condition are probably true.
“Agatha!” Frida immediately ran near to Agatha and hugged her. Agatha stand up, I witnessed that she does not walk properly and when I looked to her head to toe, I noticed a lump on her right foot. I do not bother to ask because I do not want to ruin the two of them.
“I miss you!” she said while hugging her.
“I miss you too!”
It is a sincere reunion so, I go back to the seat, get my wallet, and went out to eat along with Evan. While eating the snack that we bought,
“Have you saw Agatha’s walk and her lump in the foot?” I asked.
“I have noticed that.”
“Do you think that the rumors about her being sick are true?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. She appears frail.”
Based on his answer and what I have seen earlier, it means that something is going on. We went back to the room. However, I am carrying this heavy heart of going back to the room. I am keeping my tears to fall to my eyes. I am keeping avoiding her until the class ended. She wants to have a meeting about the play, but I refused because I am going to practice the essay competition. I immediately run fast going home.
Despite her return, I am still not delighted as Frida and others as I predict that something is not right. I might have a little time to be with her, be close to her, and know her more.
We have a practice on a Saturday. Agatha will attend the practice for the first time.
While my classmates are practicing, she was watching the improvement of all of them.
“They are not unrecognizable Frida. They act incredible.” She praised them.
“Franz and Evan did all of that. They practice them and taught them the right way of saying and the movements that they should do in front. I become an acting lesson every practice.” Frida explains while painting the little part of the background.
“It is no doubt that Evan will do that as he was a former member of the drama club. However, I didn’t expect Franz will do that!”
I am aware that they are talking about all our accomplishments while she was not around, but I ignored them. Instead, I continue doing the props as it was not done. They got a short break while all of us who are not have any character to act were busy tracing, cutting, and tracing the background and other props. Meanwhile the others a now fixing the over-all setting of the stage based on what I have told them.
“Franz, thank you for all of this.”
I look at my back and it was Agatha. I do not have anything to say. I am doing it for our grades because we wanted to pass this and enter the senior year.
“You don’t need to say that. We are teammates here. We are working here together. If someone was not around or fall, someone must move and continue.”
She was impressed with my answer and continues to smile at me.
However, I must continue my task and finish this. We have the last two weeks before our performance. She went back to the stage and help the other who was practicing along with Evan, while I and the other continue making the props.
Evan probably noticed that I am avoiding her. He sent near to me, grab a paintbrush, and help me to this.
“I just saw that we are avoiding her.”
“I’m not avoiding her. I am just saying that she doesn’t need to thank us because it is our responsibility to continue without her.”
“Okay. But the tune of your sounds like rude or something.”
“This how I talk.”
Stand up get the other paint on the table while he was laughing hard.
Few hours have passed,
“Finally! We can go home!”
We wrapped up our day very well. My classmates who are going to act have done very well than in the past few weeks when we started a month and a half ago.
“Are you home already Frida?” Agatha asked.
“Yes. I am freaking tired after all of this.” She replied while tidying herself.
I, along with Frida, Agatha, Evan, and Fredrick, walked in the hallway going outside of the school and talking. For the first time, I talked to Fredrick because the rarely talked to him because of our past. I would have to thank Frida, if not because of her, he will not change. Despite all of us were happy, I am still avoiding talking to Agatha.
I am standing near her. However, do not want to say any word to her, continuing pretending that she does not exist. I am also exhausting after a lot of things that I did earlier.
“Franz, how are you? I have not heard anything from you. You didn’t even greet me.” She calmly said.
“I’m fine. And yeah! Hello!”
That cold greeting has pulled a trigger to her. For the first time, I heard her shout.
“Franz Joseph, what is wrong with you?”
Frida and Evan raised their eyebrows while Fredrick and I looked at her with astonishment. We did not expect that she will shout as loud as that.
“Talk to her nicely. You talking to her in a delinquent manner.” He whispered to me.
I went near to me and tried to calm her down and talk to her in a “polite” way. If it is not nice to her, I do not know what that is.
“Agatha, I am feeling fine despite being busy. You don’t have to worry about me, okay?”
Agatha, however, was not convinced of my answer and continuously looking at me.
Frida and Evan dragged the two of us, “Never mind! Let’s go to the café outside of the village. And probably chill because this day is so tiring.”
We walked from this street near the school going out of the village. When we see a building where there are restaurants, cafes, and retail stores, we immediately entered a café.
While looking at the menu,
“I don’t think I am going to buy anything here. I don’t have any money in my wallet.” Agatha complained.
“Bruh, just choose what you want. It’s my treat!” Fredrick stated while standing also choosing what to order.
“Thank you, Fredrick!” all of us said in chorus.
“Yeah! Whatever! Just say anything that you want.”
After he ordered, we played this card game that Frida found randomly under the table.
“Let’s play UNO!”
When we received the order, we started playing these cards. Since I haven’t played this, Evan taught me about how it was played before he let me do everything that I wanted to do.
Frida just throws the card in the table, “Done!”. It shows “+2” meaning that.
“Franz, get two cards.”
In the end, I lost the game. Frida was the first one who won,
“Truth or dare?” she asked me.
“Truth?” I indecisively replied.
“In the class, who is your crush? Or probably you like?” she asked again.
Everybody looks at me with anticipation as they expected me to answer something personal.
“I don’t have anything.” I boringly answered.
They clapped in disappointment as the expected me to answer it properly.
Evan, Agatha, and Fredrick cannot help but roar, “Seriously Franz Joseph!”
“Come on! Franz!” all of them are pushing me to speak and say something very realistic.
“What if I don’t have?”
Despite my misgivings, they are forcing me to tell it. Instead of saying it directly, I told them some hints.
“She would probably the beautiful person that I saw through my lifetime. Aside from that, she was intelligent, kind, and understanding.”
And I whispered, “She also helped me to get out of my bubble. If not because of her, I wouldn’t be able to talk to each and everyone.”
They are starting to think about whom I am talking to.
“Is that Agatha or Isabella?” Frida asked.
“Maybe, Gia…” Fredrick said.
“Any other hints Franz?” requested by Evan.
“I guess the hints were enough for me,” I answered.
They were content to the short hints that I gave to them. After finishing our food, we walked going to the terminal where Agatha usually get her to ride outgoing to her home.
“Thank you, guys! See you on Monday!”
She went near to me, and whispers, “Goodbye Franz! Rarely, you are here along with Fredrick. I am thankful and glad that you went here for the first time. I just hope that you continue doing this. Just like what I am telling you.”
“Take care!” and went inside of the shuttle.
The four of us walked back inside of the village.
I remembered how much Agatha telling me to, “Talk more often...” Every time I come near to her or across, she will always say that to me. My heart was sick and tired of hearing that. However, I realized that it is paying off. I am still a shy and awkward person but now I can manage it. Little by little, I am getting out of my bubble and talk to someone.
If not because of her and my cousin, I would be stuck in my cage forever.
I went home tired. I do not bother to eat with them, instead, I went to my room and sleep. I would admit that I am happy and have a fulfilling day.