Julie Anne and I sat on the swings in the middle of the park, a few blocks from her house and were silent for a while as we both swung ourselves back and forth. She didn’t ask me anything and I was glad she didn’t because I wouldn’t really have opened up anything to her. She was a stranger, regardless of the fact that we seem to hit it off whenever we see each other at Locker Letters. I didn’t really know her and she didn’t really know me. The shop was basically the only thing we have in common, for now. Yes, for now. I’m not shutting out the possibility that we could be friends. After all, I don’t really have girl friends. Well, I’ve never had a girlfriend, too, but that’s a totally different story, right there.
“Are you better now?”, Julie Anne suddenly asked as we stared ahead, not really looking at each other, swinging slowly back and forth.
I shrugged. “Define better”.
Julie giggled. “Okay, never mind that. Do you feel better now? Compared to how crappy you may have felt earlier?”, she asked.
I had to laugh at her giggle. It was too charming. “What made you think I was feeling crappy earlier?”, I teased, looking at her.
She frowned and turned to me. She kicked at me, and since I was out of her reach, she almost stumbled out of her swing in the process. I laughed.
“I’m trying to be nice here, Moses”, she told me, glaring at me.
I smiled. “I know. I was just testing how long your patience will be and how long you’ll last trying to be nice”, I said.
She sighed and looked away again, looked ahead, but remained silent. I must be starting to annoy her now. I retracted my sarcasm. I didn’t want to alienate her, just when we were only starting to be friends.
“Sorry”, I said quietly.
She looked back at me and raised her eyebrow. “Oh, you know how to apologize, don’t you?”, she teased.
I smiled. “From time to time, yes”.
She smiled, too. “Better than a no. Apology accepted, then”, she said to me.
We grew silent again. We could hear kids playing in the street a few meters behind us. Cars honking in the main street to our right filled the night air, as well. I looked to our left and watched a guy and a girl making out in a bench. I looked away.
“It’s just so serene, isn’t it?”, Julie suddenly asked. I looked at her, but she was looking at the sky. I looked up, too, but all I could see was the moon, and a few scattered stars. I guess she must be talking about them. I shrugged and looked at her.
“They’d look better if there were no streetlamps to overpower their light from down here”, I said.
She looked at me. “Just like you would probably feel better if you had less pessimism that overshadow your optimism. But that’s just my opinion”, she told me.
I was surprised by her honesty. I frowned at her. “How would you even know I’m a pessimist? You barely know me”, I said.
It was her turn to frown at me. “Of course, I do. We’ve been schoolmates since we were, like, 12. You’re just too busy being ‘emo’ in school, to probably notice”, she said.
I laughed at the term ‘emo’. I certainly feel like that, sometimes. “How come I never noticed you before?”, I asked.
“What would have been there to notice? I’m an average girl, I don’t do any extracurriculars, unless you count hanging out at the bleachers alone an extracurricular. But you? People know your name”, she replied with a chuckle.
I shook my head. “No. They know my brother and sister’s name, not mine. They just know I’m the younger brother”, I corrected her.
It was true. If I wasn’t Frank’s brother, I was Maxene’s brother. Or ‘that other Magalona boy’. At first, it was great to be recognized immediately, especially when I was just starting in high school. Eventually, though, it got too repetitive whenever people called me that, so I opted to stray from the shadow of my siblings. Even though I was really good at football, or soccer as most people called it, I didn’t try out for the team because Frank was already known for that. And even though I loved acting, drama was Maxene’s thing, so I steered clear of that, too. All that was left for me was my music, and even that I couldn’t even express that much. I mostly only play music in my room, which I almost always gets scolded for.
Julie stared at me and sighed. “Still, my point is you were popular, or still are. I’m not. So you may as well never really have met me if it hadn’t been for that one remark I made in Locker Letters that day we met”, she said.
I remembered that day, but I shook my head. “Well, not really. I already noticed you before that. The day I signed up for my locker, I checked it out and you were just coming out of the hallway while I was in line. I would’ve waved at you, but you looked down immediately”, I said.
Julie Anne laughed. “Oh yeah, I remember seeing you that day. That was also the first day I dropped my letter in my locker. But I don’t believe you. You never would’ve waved at me”, she said, shaking her head.
I raised my eyebrow. “Oh? And you’re sure of that because?”, I asked.
“It’s just too random. We didn’t know each other, at all. It’s not something a normal person would do”, she said.
I chuckled and shook my head. “Maybe I’m not normal”.
She laughed her head off at that, even though it wasn’t really that funny for me. But maybe it was, for her. “I’m beginning to think maybe you aren’t”, she teased.
I teased her back. “Being ‘judgy’ now, are we?”.
She shook her head and looked at me. “Just stating my opinion. I am free to do such, am I not?”, she teased back.
I nodded. “You are”.
We were silent again. I looked at my watch. It was almost 9:30 P.M. I stood up.
“Come on, I’ll walk you to your house”, I invited, offering my hand to her.
She looked at my hand, then up at me. She stood up, but she didn’t take my hand. “Sure”, she said. She led the way.
I put my hands in my pocket and fell into step with her. I wasn’t offended that she didn’t take my hand. It was a pretty random gesture, if I do say so myself. We really didn’t know each other anyway.
We arrived at the gate of her house. She turned to me and smiled. “I really hope you’re feeling better now, despite the fact that you won’t admit feeling crappy earlier”, she said.
I shrugged. “Fine, I felt crappy earlier. Happy? But I do feel slightly better now. We’ll see in the morning, though”, I told her.
She smiled wider. “Happy that you admitted it, but not happy that you felt that way. Anyway, I hope you’ll feel even better in the morning. See you around, Moses”, she said. She walked closer to me and gave me a light peck on the cheek.
I was taken aback, but I stood my ground. “Let’s hope I do feel better when I wake up tomorrow. What was that for?”, I asked frankly.
She shrugged. “A ‘thank you’ for letting my accompany you tonight. Not many people can tolerate my meddling. And while I didn’t really meddle—-“
I snorted at this point. “Didn’t meddle?”
“I didn’t meddle… that much”, she said with a laugh. “Anyway, just, thanks for bearing with me tonight”, she added.
I laughed. “I should be thanking you for approaching such a pessimist like me”, I said.
“Thank you for allowing a weirdo to approach a pessimist like you. We definitely make an odd duo”, she joked.
I laughed. “Better odd than scary. I think”.
She laughed. I found her laugh very carefree. “Definitely. Anyway, you better get going. It’s getting late. See you around.. Elmo”, she said, finally calling me by my first name.
I laughed. “See you around, Julie”, I said. I turned around and walked back home.
I agree about what you said regarding the lame jokes. I, for one, am actually suffering from scarcity. I might have to Google some, soon. The horror.
Anyway, I’m glad you could find amusement in my suffering, regarding my family. I hope you find it in yourself to feel remorse for laughing at the expense of other people’s suffering… hahaha I’m kidding! (In case you think I was serious) About your suggestion, I think giving them a chance is beyond me at the moment. I’m not one to give personal details to strangers (and we barely know each other), but let’s just say some horrible news landed on my lap tonight. It’s probably gonna take some time for me to have faith in the goodness of my family again, although my ‘rage’ is more towards my parents than my siblings, this time. How great for me, right? If it’s not about my siblings, it’s about my parents. It’s a good thing I don’t live with an extended family, like you, or I’ll have more choices with regards to disappointments. I do hope you don’t have a messed up family, like I do.
To answer you question, no, I’m not a serial killer. (Or am I?)
My favorite color’s blue (it’s probably obvious from the color of envelope I use in my letters just like yours is in orange). Although, I’m not an all-blue freak. You know, those people who mostly owns objects in their favorite colors. I just don’t want to look like a smurf, walking around with everything in blue: blue bag, blue shirt, blue pants, blue watch, blue hair… you get my point. I love cookies, specifically, Oreos! I can probably finish a big bag by myself. I know it sounds like I’m such a pig, but I’m not. I’m actually quite fit, I think. I try to run everyday, although I think my motivation is more of having some time for myself, away from my family, than actual fitness, but I think it’s still legit.
I have to go now. It’s getting late and I’m still feeling horrible about that news I received tonight. Thanks for bearing with my pseudo-depression. Feel free to back out while you’re still able. Hoping you don’t, though. Hope to hear from you again, soon.
I sealed my letter in a blue envelope, as usual, and put it in my bag to drop tomorrow before going to school. I lay down on my bed and fell asleep thinking about swings, the stars and a kiss on my cheek.
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