Sunday, February 28, 2010

Palms and Pockets

Palms and Pockets

By Jonathan Paul Diaz



The sun was peeking along the curtain spaces and the room was slightly brightened. The door opened and a middle aged woman walked towards the bed to wake up her daughter.

“Anne, wake up dear. You are going to be late for school” she said. The young woman slowly opened her eyes and immediately frowned and shook her head. “Why did we have to move?” she asked. “Oh dear, do we have to go through this conversation again? Your father was assigned to this city, he had to accept it because the compensation package is better. Look we now have our own home, we don’t have to rent anymore. I know your father does not earn that much but I too will find a job and I promise you we will be better off in this city” her mother Colleen said.

“I was already doing well and they already accepted me in my last school. Now a new school, another first day, and I have to go through it all over again. Do you even know what I have to go through? Its not easy” the young woman exclaimed as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“Anne, I know its hard but please I promise this will be the last transfer. Everything is going to be fine from here on. I know the pain you feel when people first see you. I too get hurt but if you could just hang on. I promise this will be the last. If you get past high school they have a good college here so you don’t have to adjust anymore. By that time people would have accepted you” her mother said.

Anne sighed and pouted, her mother kissed her on the forehead and smiled. “So come on get up now. You don’t want to be late for your first day” she softly whispered. Anne’s mother walked out of the room and the young woman slowly got out of bed and stood in front of a huge mirror.

Standing in front of her was a young woman, she had a pretty face and straight shoulder length hair. The left side of her face was partially covered by her hair so she slowly moved her hair with one hand to reveal a coin sized birthmark on her cheek. Anne frowned and slowly looked down to look at her legs and the more depressed she got.

She turned around and shook her head, grabbed her towel and slowly limped towards the door. Aside from the birthmark on her face, Anne had a crooked left leg.

A few blocks away, a young man was staring outside his window and watching his father wipe the car windows. “John, come on down and eat your breakfast. I don’t want you to be late for school” his mother said. “I don’t want to go to school” the young man replied.

“Whats wrong? Do you feel sick?” his mother asked as she moved closer to feel his forehead. “No mom, I just cant go to school after what happened. I cant face my schoolmates” he explained. “Is it about Sarah?” his mother asked and the young man nodded.

“John that is part of growing up. I know you like Sarah but you cant expect her to like you back. The good part is at least you tried, you told her your feelings. Don’t get all depressed, getting dumped is a part of a man’s life you know. You should talk to your dad about this” his mother explained.

“But mom she could have just said no or I don’t like you. I would have accepted that. She told me she had no time for a relationship and that we were too young. The next day I see her with Barry, holding hands walking around campus. That just hurts” John told her.

Linda embraced his son from the back and whispered in his ear. “At one point she was right, you are still young for those stuff. But you are right, she should have just told you the truth. John sometimes the truth hurts so maybe she just didn’t want to hurt your feelings by being honest” she said. “Still she was able to hurt me” John replied. “I know son, but that is part of growing up. You have to accept it and move on”

“You will never hear us say that you are too young for love. You will never hear that from me and your father. We believe that love can happen anytime, but don’t make it your priority for now. Okay?” Linda said.

“Okay mom. So what am I going to do if I see her?” John asked. “Hmmm pretend to act normal as if she doesn’t mean anything to you anymore. She knows you like her so if she sees you all shy and embarrassed she would feel a sense of control over you. Don’t ignore her or else she would say you feel bitter. Just act cool, act as if she was just another unimportant person” she whispered.

“Will that make her feel bad?” John asked. “I would if I was her” Linda whispered and they both laughed. “Mom, maybe I am not handsome enough for her. Could that be a reason?” he asked and Linda immediately turned her son to face her.

“If that is how she looks for love then she is bound to fail. I don’t want to hear you say that again. Don’t just let your eyes decide for you. Listening to your heart is what is important. If I did let my eyes choose for me I could have landed a handsome man but I would not know if I would be this happy” she scolded.

“Mom are you saying dad isn’t handsome?” John asked and they both laughed. “He actually is but there were more handsome men back then who were courting me” Linda explained. “So what made you choose dad?” the young man asked. Linda smiled and didn’t utter a word, she fixed her son’s collar and kissed him in the forehead.

“Well? What made you choose dad?” John insisted. “Cant you see the answer? Its written all over my face. The young man shook his head and smirked, “Don’t worry you will get to know the answer when you find your partner in life” Linda said.

“Mom! I am only Fifteen, that is going to be a long time from now” John said. “It doesn’t have to be. I was only fifteen too when I met your father” his mother said. “You got married at fifteen?” John asked and his mother laughed.

“Silly boy, of course not. You will understand what I am saying when you find this exact feeling I have had ever since. And when you do get to feel this same feeling don’t ever let it go. Come on your breakfast is cold already” Linda told him.

John took a deep breath and noticed her mother smiling, he walked towards the window and saw his father doing the same. He walked towards the mirror and took out a picture of Sarah from his wallet. He stared at the picture and tried to smile and looked at himself at the mirror.

“Its not the same smile” he whispered so he tore the picture in pieces and walked out of his room.

Chapter 1: A Friend

It was a sunny Wednesday, John was honking the car horn madly. “Dad I am going to be late!!!” he shouted. His parents were locked in a tight embrace by the door dancing to imaginary music.

“Your school is nearby why don’t you start walking” Bob replied and Linda giggled. “Bob you should go, we can continue when you get home. A lot of patients are going to get irate when you go in late” Linda said as she planted one kiss on her husband’s cheek.

Bob sighed and kissed his wife on the forehead, “I think we should go on another vacation” he said. “But we just had one” Linda replied. “I was thinking of a vacation for just the two of us” he said and Linda again giggled. “Dad!!! I am going to drive your car now!!!” John yelled and the two laughed.

“Sixteen years and its as if a day never passed. I am still in love with you like before and even more” Bob said. “Ditto. You better get going now and you are right, you should start planning for our vacation” Linda said as she smiled. The car engine started so Bob quickly kissed his wife and ran towards the car.

Along the way John noticed a young woman limping her way to school. Their car passed by her but the young man turned his head to look. “Hey dad, what do you think is wrong with her?” he asked. “I cant say, maybe she hurt her foot” Bob replied.

John felt sorry the girl so he looked at his legs and his father. “It bites at your heart right?” Bob asked and John nodded. “Well I see those everyday at work. I have been a doctor for so many years and I thought I would get used to seeing people like that. But you know what it still stings” his father related.

“And you would wish there is something you can do to make them better” John whispered and Bob smiled and patted his son’s shoulder. “If you plan to take up medicine then you would be a great doctor with that attitude” the older man said. “Are there instances where there is nothing you can do for a patient?” John asked and Bob was surprised. “Lots of them. No matter how much you explain to them that there is nothing more that could be done they wont believe you. They would start to dislike you and curse you and say it’s a money issue. At those instances we stop being doctors because we are supposed to heal, at those times we doctors feel useless” Bob said.

“That’s the time when you should take of your white gown and start being a friend dad” John uttered and again Bob looked at his son surprised. “Because most of the time a friend will always be there to listen and comfort you no matter how big your problem is. At those times they become the healers. Maybe that is what you should do dad when there is no medical solution left. Be a friend and heal their emotional pain, its the least you can do to make them feel better” the young man added and stared outside the car window.

As soon as they reached the school, John got out of the car and thanked his father. “Hey John, when did you grow up?” Bob asked and the young man laughed. John looked around and started acting bewildered, “How did I get here? I don’t remember anything. You brought me to school?” he said and they both shared a laugh. “Later dad” the young man said as he waved and turned around.

Bob was used to seeing his son always being funny but this day was different. Just minutes ago he had a peek on his son’s inner being and along with the smile on his face was a few tears rolling down his cheeks. Like what all parent’s dream of, it seems he and Linda had already achieved, a good and kind hearted son.

John was surprised to see lots of his schoolmates loitering around the main gate. It seemed that they were waiting for someone to arrive. He saw his close friend Rick among those in the crowd so he quickly approached him. “Okay guys I am here, you can all go back to class now” John said and a few of them laughed.

“You should stay and wait with us” Rick told him. “Wait for what? Is a celebrity coming to our school?” John asked. “No silly. Everyone is waiting for the freak” his friend said. “Freak? What do you mean?” he asked. “There she is, look!” Rick said as he pointed towards the gate.

John turned around and saw the young lady he saw earlier. She had her head bowed as she limped entering the campus. Several students were whispering and staring at her as one even imitated how she walked.

“I bet you got two heights!” one shouted as the crowd burst in laughter. The girl just continued walking and momentarily raised her head. She and John had eye to eye contact and he could see sadness in her eyes but there was nothing he could do as the others kept making fun of her.

As the girl passed a lot followed closely limping like her and laughing all the way. Rick started to imitate the girl and John stopped him. “What are you trying to do?” he asked. “Oh come on its just for fun” Rick replied. John stomped on his friends foot and his friend grimaced in pain. “Now you don’t have to act” he said and walked away.

“Hey John I was just kidding alright?” Rick shouted as he limped after his friend.

Lunch break at the cafeteria was always noisy. John was surrounded by friends as he was cracking a joke. Suddenly there was silence as the limping girl entered. A group of students suddenly burst in laughter as John proudly smiled as he finished his joke.

The limping girl looked at John who was surprised to see her. “Oh shoot maybe she thinks I was making fun of her” he said. The girl flashed a pout and walked towards the counter, John was about to go towards her but Rick stopped him. “Relax John, I bet she is used to it” he told him. “No, I have to explain to her that I was not making fun of her” John said. “Oh chill out man, the damage has been done” his friend explained.

John didn’t feel right as he watched the limping girl carry her tray towards an empty table. She had her head bowed as she took a bite on her sandwich and slowly chewed. After a few minutes later students started leaving the cafeteria. Rick stood up and shook his friend who still had his eyes glued to the limping girl.

“Hey man lets go” Rick said. “She is pretty” John whispered and his friend started to laugh. “Yeah right, you should see what she is hiding on her other cheek” his friend said. “What do you mean?” he asked but for a moment the girl’s hair moved to reveal her birthmark and John was surprised.

The girl quickly fixed her hair and covered her cheek and continued eating. “Did you see that? Now tell me do you still find her pretty?” Rick asked and John stood up and stared at the girl. “Actually I still do” he said so his friend shook his head as they walked towards the exit. “From Sarah to the freak show, I really don’t understand you man” his friend uttered.

The school day ended, John and Rick were briskly walking along campus when suddenly they saw the limping girl exit the gate. “See you tomorrow, have to go” John said as he ran towards the gate. “You are really getting weirder each day John!!!” Rick yelled but his friend never looked back.

John caught up with the limping girl and walked beside her. “Hi, my name is John” he said. The girl stopped and slowly looked him and immediately she recognized him. “Why are you here? Are you here to mock me?” she asked.

“Oh no, I just want to be your friend” the young man said and the girl continued walking. “Hey, I said I want to be your friend” he repeated and the girl stopped once again and looked at him. “Yeah right, is this a prank? I saw you at the gate this morning with the others. I saw you again during lunch time at the cafeteria” she told him.

“Wait you got it all wrong. This morning at the gate I just arrived. I wasn’t waiting for you to arrive like the others. And during lunch time I was cracking a joke and I didn’t know you were there” he explained. “Yeah a joke about me probably” the girl said. “No, honestly it wasn’t about you. I am sorry if you thought it was about you. I really want to be your friend” John said.

“If youre doing this to ask for forgiveness then I forgive you. If you are here because of pity then I don’t need it. Leave me alone!” the girl yelled and started to walk away. John shook his head and took a deep breath and continued following the girl.

A few meters away the girl again stopped and turned around. “Why are you still following me?” she asked. “I am not following you. It just happens we are going the same direction” he replied. “Maybe you are waiting for me to trip so you could take a photo of me and post it on the bulletin board” the girl said.

“Hey look I know we started at the wrong foot…oh crap im sorry I didn’t mean anything by that. What I wanted to say is that you got the wrong first impression. If you don’t believe me then I am sorry if you think I was one of them and I am sorry if you think I was cracking a joke about you during lunch” John said.

“Okay fine, apology accepted so now leave me alone” the girl replied. “Hmmm I am leaving you alone it just happens we really are walking towards the same direction” John told her. “Your feet are fine, so why are you walking slower than me then?” the girl asked and John held back his laughter as he scratched his head.

“I don’t know, maybe I wanted to be there just in case you fall down” John said. “See! You are waiting for me to trip!” she angrily said and the young man slapped his forehead. “I was trying to say something nice so you would trust me and let me be your friend but you took it negatively” John explained. “Whats nice about falling?” the girl asked and the young man sighed.

“Okay I give up. I am sorry” John said as he started to walk ahead. “Wait!” the girl yelled so John stopped and turned around. “What now?” he asked. “What you said…its supposed to be sweet right?” she asked. “I guess so. Yeah maybe it was but I just learned that you can interpret that saying in a negative manner too” he said and the girl started to laugh.

“What’s so funny?” John asked and the girl pointed at him and continued laughing. “Me? You are laughing at me?” he asked. “Uh huh, youre funny. You talk too much” she said and the young man felt embarrassed.

“My name is Anne” the girl said the young man smiled and was about to offer his hand but instead he stuck his foot forward. Anne raised an eyebrow and pouted but John was quick to explain. “Hey, instead of a handshake why not we do a foot shake. I am not trying to insult you. Actually I am trying to make a good thing out of your disability. You know instead of thinking of it as a disability you could just make fun about it. Something like that” he said.

Anne took a deep breath and angrily stared at him so John again slapped his head. “You are sticking out the wrong foot. My left foot is shorter so you should footshake with your left foot not your right one” Anne said and John was surprised.

John extended his left foot and Anne gamely touched her right foot to his. “Nice to meet you Anne” John exclaimed and again she laughed. “Shall we get going?” he asked and they both started to walk again.

“Oh I get it, you could not shake with your right foot or else you are going to lose balance” the young man uttered. “Uh huh” Anne replied. “But you know what you could have used your right foot because I told you if you fall I will be here to catch you” John smartly told her and grinned. Anne slightly giggled and elbowed him.

“You really want me to fall that badly?” she asked. “Of course not. I was just trying to say something nice again. Still you take it negatively. Whats wrong with you?” John explained. Anne didn’t bother to reply but deep inside she was happy. She felt something different for the first time in her life but she just couldn’t say what it was.

A few minutes later they reached Anne’s house. “This is me, how about you?” she asked. “Oh we passed by our place a few blocks back. I just wanted to see where you live” John said and the girl nodded her head. “Well thanks for the company. I actually enjoyed it” Anne told him.

“Wow, we can do it everyday you know. Oh except Saturdays and Sundays that is because we don’t have classes” he told her and again Anne laughed. “Of course its understood when you say everyday, you mean school days” she said. “Oh right, stupid me then” the young man quipped and the more Anne laughed at him.

“Hey, I don’t exactly know how you feel with your disability and how the way people treat you. Instead of sulking you could just make fun of it to show others that you are cool with it. I know I may be crossing the line but just think about it” John said and Anne looked at him.

“I have accepted what I have, thanks for the concern” the young woman said. “It doesn’t show. Anyway just think about what I said. It was nice meeting you Anne, looking forward to tomorrow. Sorry if I talk too much, this is just me” John said as he waved goodbye.

“Don’t worry I will get used to it” Anne replied as she waved back and walked towards the door.

As soon as she was inside she quickly closed the door and leaned against it and smiled. “My its been a long time since I didn’t see a smile from you dear” her mother said as she came to give her daughter a kiss.

“How was school today?” she asked. “Hmmm happy I guess” Anne said. “Happy? Want to share it with me?” Colleen asked. “I now have a friend” the young lady replied. “Oh that’s good. Whats her name?” her mother inquired.

“His name is John and he talks too much” the young woman said as she hugged her mother. “So it’s a boy, is that why you are all smiles?” Colleen teased. “Mom! He is just a friend” Anne told her.

“Well you did have male friends in your last school but I never saw you smiling that way” Colleen replied. “Yes I did but they were all classmates that I met inside the classroom. John is different. He came and introduced himself to me and said he wanted to be my friend. My friend, do you get it mom?” Anne explained then giggled.

“So are you still angry because we moved?” Colleen asked and Anne kissed her mother on the cheek and hugged her tightly. “I actually believe this city will bring lots of changes. I am beginning to love it here already” she whispered.

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