Chapter 2: The Engineer
Cadence gulped her last sip of alcohol before waving goodbye to her bandmates. She wore her leather jacket over her white graphic shirt and carried her guitar on her shoulder. She smiled and walked towards the exit of the pub. It was a fun night. It had been a long time ever since she played gigs and the thrill didn’t leave her body at all. However, the night was bound to end. Thankfully, her home was just one jeepney ride away.
While waiting for a jeepney to arrive, her phone vibrated. She fished it out of her pocket and unlocked the phone screen. The name that flashed on her phone screen was Dinah. She smirked and accepted the call.
“Hello?” Dinah said.
“Hey,” Cadence said. “What’s up?”
Cadence heard some rustling over the phone. “I miss you, Cade.” Dinah said.
“I miss you too.” Cadence casually said.
“Cade, I’m just minutes away from the pub. Can I see you right now?” Dinah said. Cadence simply roamed her dark brown eyes and caught a glimpse of a girl a few meters away from her. She sighed. Cadence pretended not to see Dinah, the brunette girl leaning on her red car.
“Sorry babe but I’m going home now.” Cadence said and ended the call. She returned her phone in her pocket and ignored Dinah’s attempts to call. Cadence thought that if she agreed to see Dinah, she already had a free ride home, but she did not want to give Dinah another reason to fawn on her. Her relationship with Dinah was not official. They met weeks ago and they had a lot of fun. They messaged each other every night until it lasted. Cadence wasn’t really serious at girls. She was just flirting with them and that was it. Maybe if she was in the mood, she might flirt with Dinah again.
She lifted her hand to motion the jeepney and it stopped. She climbed inside and sat near the driver. She looked at the streets and remembered the guy she spoke from earlier. Even if she didn’t get to flirt with a girl that night like she planned to, Cadence felt good with her short conversation with the guy. It was not like every day, she got a chance to talk with a stranger with wits like that.
I forgot to ask for his name, she thought. She just shrugged and placed her headset across her ears. Halsey’s raspy voice started to play. It was not like they were gonna see each other again. The interaction that Cadence and that guy had ended that night. There was no next time.
With the music playing, Cadence’s eyelids started to feel heavier and she drifted off to sleep.
Cadence was sitting on her bed, next to her window. Her dark brown eyes were blank and she had layers of bags under them. She was alone in her dark room and the only light that made it barely visible was the moon. Despite this, Cadence was hearing voices. Voices that sounded as if there were people constantly nagging her.
From the reflection of the mirror hanging on the wall, tears started to fall from Cadence’s eyes. She was not even making any sound. The silence seemed to fill the room but the voices inside her head kept on banging her sanity saying,
“I don’t have a dumb daughter.”
“Nobody loves an unstable.”
“You’re worthless. Why don’t you just die?”
“The flowers will still bloom, the sun will still rise, and people will still go on with their lives, even without you.”
“End it! End it! End it! End it!”
Cadence was crying silently. She lifted her hands slowly and covered her ears, hoping that the voices would stop tempting her. But, the more she resisted, the more the voices kept getting louder and louder.
“End it! End it! End it! End it!”
“Please, stop..” she pleaded. She winced when she realized that the voices didn’t hear her words, like how other people turned a blind eye to her indirect screams of help.
Out of nowhere, a gun appeared on her bed. With the voices ringing in her ears, she didn’t stop herself from reaching it. The cold metal kissed her skin and it made her feel comfort. Cadence smiled, tears continued to fall from her eyes.
“End it! End it! End it! End it!”
Cadence pointed the gun to her head with trembling hands. A smile was still etched on her face and her chest started to hammer. She pulled the trigger and a sound of death echoed throughout the room.
“Shit,” Cadence mumbled when she opened her eyes. She shifted on her side and her hunch was right. She was already meters away from her home. She quickly jumped off the jeepney and gasped as she realized that she caused the passengers to panic because of her stunt. She ran away, hoping that nobody in the jeepney saw her stupid face.
When she thought that she already ran enough, she slowed down her pace into walking. She sighed, realizing that Halsey’s music already stopped playing minutes ago. She pulled out her headset and placed it in its container. She checked herself and her guitar if they were still in the right shape and fortunately, they were.
Cadence stopped walking and leaned on a wall. She clasped her chest and gasped for air, “Darn, I ran away without thinking. I forgot my lungs weren’t that strong to handle it.”
After some minutes, Cadence already had her breathing normalized. She continued walking and said, “I got to stop myself from falling asleep in public transportations. This always happens.”
When she was in her home, she put down her guitar in its stand and slumped on the bed. She didn’t even bother to turn on the lights. Cadence closed her eyes and remembered her dream. She smiled bitterly and whispered, “Fuck my life.”
Those words triggered the voices like in Cadence’s dream but the real Cadence already knew how to adapt to them. She winced and the tears started to fall from her eyes, but unlike in her dream, she didn’t want the voices to stop. She wanted them to tempt her more and push her to her limits so that she could end her life. If that would happen, she could finally have her rest...eternally.
Suddenly, an idea struck her mind. She opened her eyes and sat down. She switched on her lampshade and reached for her guitar along with a notebook and a pen. She positioned her guitar on her body and then placed her hands. She started to sing the lyrics that she thought on the spot while her hands automatically strummed the melody to the guitar.
“How many times did I make a promise to myself?
I don’t wanna be a ghost of someone else.
I want to go out there and see the world through my eyes,
But how can I do that when I am chained by these lies?”
She kept her hand on the guitar, strumming as the lyrics for the chorus popped out of her head again.
“I’m suffocated bound by these rules that prohibit me from going,
To a place that I can put my heart out and remind me of living,
I keep on smiling, trying to conceal the truth that I am dying,
But every time I look in the mirror I see a different version of myself.”
She caught her breath and mumbled, “Oh man. That was good. The rhythm was in the style of rock music and the lyrics...oh gosh.”
Her phone vibrated. She glimpsed at the caller and she felt a tremendous hesitation to answer the call. Hence, she still reached for it and clicked the green button. She waited for the other person to speak first.
Cadence swallowed an imaginary lump on her throat. “Yes, mom?”
“How are you?” Her mother asked, “I couldn’t call you an hour ago. Is your phone on vibrate again?”
’Sorry, mom. I forgot to turn it to sou---”
“Did you forget or did you choose to forget?” Her mother stated angrily. Cadence imagined her mother gnashing her teeth and squinting her eyes. “What if it was an emergency? We can’t even rely on you! You really don’t care for your family. You only think of yourself!”
Cadence heaved a sigh when her mom ended the call. “Goodnight too, Mom.”
Just like that, Cadence’s tears started to fall again. She whimpered and thought about some happy memories that she spent with her mother in the past. Her heart shattered to pieces when she realized that she had none, because every time her mother and Cadence were in the same room, the day will not end without her mother getting angry with her. It became their routine but Cadence was not immune to it yet. Hence, she needed to or else the voices will hunt her more.
The room was filled with laughter. “Nonsense. I should not keep the voices at bay, I need them to end this.”
Cadence’s laughter faded. Tears continued to fall. She clenched her fists hard until her nails dug into her skin. She could not commit self-harm. She didn’t cut herself or poke veins inside her legs to cope with the pain. For her, when the time came that she would harm herself, she needed to make sure that she would be dead.
Cadence wiped her tears. Her suicidal thoughts drained her and the only way to keep on going throughout the night was her music. She continued writing down the lyrics of various ideas that she thought and played them. Hours passed and she didn’t even notice it. The voices seemed to sing with her every note that she sang. She was not sure if a person could normally feel their heart being squeezed but Cadence felt it every time her sadness was translated to a song.
Cadence was halted when her alarm rang. Her dark brown eyes were already drooping when she grabbed her phone and looked at it. She rolled her eyes when she saw the time.
“2 fucking am.” She mumbled. She stretched her hands up and yawned. She fell on her bed, her guitar lied next to her, and her notebook and pen were thrown on the floor. She slowly closed her eyes and whispered to herself, “Oyasumi.”
Her third alarm woke her up with a bang. Her body was about to smash her guitar but she managed to dodge it, thus, the reason why her head struck the headboard and her butt kissed the floor.
“What a disaster.” She said and yawned. She looked at the clock and it was 7 am. She stood up and walked like a zombie towards the bathroom. Unlike other girls, Cadence took only almost an hour to finish her morning routine. She didn’t wear any makeup and she barely brushed her dark curly hair. Her blue polo shirt, jeans, black belt, and black sneakers looked decent enough for her to attend her classes. She threw her backpack on her shoulder and then her ID next. She checked her wristwatch.
“7:45.” Cadence muttered and closed the door, “Just in time for my first subject which starts at 9 am.”
After securing the lock, she proceeded to ride a jeepney to the University. She placed her headset over her ears and music started to play. She was still yawning but she stopped herself from falling asleep. She didn’t want another running session. It took her 45 minutes to arrive at the University.
Cadence observed the entire place that was in her sight. A fountain with black marble walls was meters away from her with lively water flowing in a curved manner, Bermuda grass was scattered all over the places that weren’t concrete and the buildings were set apart from each other. Cadence admired the architectural designs of each building that clearly conveyed the departments they represent. Gears, circuits, and Pi were just some of the figures she can see from her position.
“Calamba’s Science & Math University really speaks for its name.” Cadence said.
Today was her first day at the university. It had been a year since she graduated with BS Electronics Engineering and got her license. She had a job in a research firm and recently, her mentor advised her to acquire a master’s degree of her choice that was inclined with her bachelor’s. She chose Physics.
Cadence stopped by the Cafeteria for a morning snack and then searched for her classroom. She already had her breakfast in her apartment but her tummy was not satisfied and growled. She casually glided through the corridor, her left hand was in her pocket and her other hand was holding her Swiss chocolate waffle. She scanned the room numbers and walked passed them as if it was not her classroom number.
Finally, she found the matching numbers in her schedule. She stopped at the front of the door and checked her wristwatch. It was already 8:50.
“Just in time.” She mumbled and turned the knob. She went inside the classroom and sat to the front. Cadence valued learning more than anything else--she would not settle for the seats further on the back. However, she had the urge to use the bathroom and it was located at the back. Thankfully, her class was just minutes away from starting. She removed her headset and placed it in her pocket and then opened the bathroom door, only to find out that someone was already inside.
“Hey!” A man’s voice said. Cadence thanked herself for not opening it with full power or she might see something that she shouldn’t see. She stepped back and said, “I’m sorry!”
She sat at the nearest chair from the C.R and patiently waited for her turn. Her bladder was nagging her but she ignored it. She tapped her feet on the ground and created a beat to distract herself.
After some minutes, she heard the bathroom door open. She quickly jumped inside, ignoring the person that she bumped into, and locked the door. She did her thing and then she released a sigh of relief.
When she was done, she went out of the bathroom and gently closed it. She flinched when a familiar voice spoke just behind her back, “Small world.”
Her feet unconsciously moved and faced the person. She gaped at the sight. A guy with a black hair pulled up into a ponytail and charcoal eyes, blue shirt underneath a grey jacket, jeans, and, sneakers.
“Y-you.,” she mumbled, surprised. Her gaze went down to his ID and looked for his name.
“Janne...” she said. She instantly covered her mouth and looked at Janne. She didn’t mean to say his name out loud. “What if he thinks I’m really hitting on him?”, she winced.
“He’s cute though. Looks like a girl.” Her brain argued. She mentally rolled her eyes.
Cadence cleared her throat and flashed a smile.
“Well, I didn’t see this coming.” She said. Janne nodded, “Neither did I, I never would have thought that a girl I just met last night would open the bathroom door while I’m doing my business, because I’m pretty sure that just happens in anime.”
Cadence laughed a little but their conversation was interrupted when their professor entered the room.
Cadence didn’t know what happened but she found herself sitting next to Janne, not in the front where she first settled earlier, luckily she grabbed her bag. She mentally scolded herself for doing so.
She looked at Janne in her peripheral vision and she caught Janne staring at her too. She froze and then blinked.
“U-um...” she stuttered. Janne turned his head towards the front and said, “Class is already starting.”
Cadence nodded, “Yes. It is.”
“Later. Let’s talk at lunch.” Janne said. Cadence moved her head towards the front and focused on the bald professor with a goatee. At the back of her mind, she wondered why Janne wanted to talk to her and even asked her out for lunch. She could not even believe the fact that they, indeed, met again. She shrugged and arranged her glasses.
If it happens, it happens, she thought.