High School Reunion

High School Reunion

A Story by sutoraika
"

Some feelings never change.

"

"Welcome Alumni!" banners covered the white walls of our old school chapel. Besides sitting through chapel hour in the past, we used to perform our skits and plays here. The worn out platform holds memories. 

 

I remember when I stood on it in the sixth grade. My dress was white as the walls, and my hair was cropped so short that I could've been mistaken as a boy if not for my attire. He wasn't there yet...
 
A shrill sound pierced my left ear drum. It was a voice that belonged to no one else but Greta, the class songbird. I smiled sweetly and embraced her. She hardly changed.
 
"Ohmygodisthatyou?! You look so great, gosh, how long has it been? Ten years! Ayeee!" she was so happy, she could burst.
 
"I love the new record," I said simply. Her songs made me nostalgic sometimes because her voice took me a long way back. Back to the sixth grade. Back to high school. Back to him.
 
"Oh did you? Thank you ever so much, my dear friend!" she smiled and waited. After a moment of my silence, she raised her hand and showed me a large diamond ring.
 
My eyes widened. "Holy--it's the motherload of diamonds!" I took her hand and examined the intricate ring. When would I get one, I wondered.
 
"Yes! And do you know who it is?" she giggled when I started thinking. Of course. Who else could it be? I clasped my hands in delight.
 
"It's Stuart, isn't it? Our Stu! That sonovabitch finally proposed!" Stu and Greta were an item since higher elementary. They've been on and off during our high school years till I heard nothing of their relationship until...well, now.
 
"Greta's getting married!" I yelled. My former classmates looked up at the platform and trooped toward it as if someone yelled "Freebies!". I felt that I had to yell. I wanted to see if he was there amongst the crowd. He wasn't.
 
"Stu, you b*****d, ten f****n' years!" Todd elbowed his best friend. "But you finally did it huh? And a diamond ring too! Not bad, not bad." Todd was the richest of us all, now a full-fledged hotel owner. Diamond rings were just his style - he had given them to all his former wives when he proposed.
 
"Yeah, sorry I didn't call you up last month when I proposed to her," he said meekly. "We wanted it to be a surprise. I didn't want you poking around, asking questions."
 
"Wait, you flew all the way to New York to propose to your gal," Todd cupped his own cheek as he stared up at the old chapel ceiling. "And you didn't even have the decency to call up your best bud. Oh that hurts. I'm shocked to the core."
 
"Shut up, drama king," Stu laughed, landing him more elbowing in the ribs.
 
"It's you who was the drama king back in HS," Todd laughed. "And you were so emotive when you directed us in your little tragedies."
 
"I write sins, not tragedies," Stu said, quoting a popular Panic! at the Disco song back in high school. "Besides, drama got me this nifty new award from the Playwright's--"
 
I was hardly listening. Stu created the best English stories back in high school. Our Tagalog plays though, were directed by someone who wasn't here.
 
Greta was showing her ring to everyone else, gaining oohs and shrieks from the girls. I've been able to speak to them a few times today, but about nothing really important. I've always had trouble sustaining conversation for more than thirty minutes. Especially with fellow women.
 
I've always been more tomboyish. I've always been able to get along with the boys more. The one I felt most connected to didn't even show up.
 
"So, how are things going with you, Audrey?" I hadn't realized Todd was speaking to me. "Computer animation thing going well in Canada? You know I plan to open a branch there someday. Do you know a great location in Vancouver?"
 
I started giving one-word answers to his list of questions. He was the talker and the great PR guy - popular, handsome, everything. But a terrible listener. I adored this friend though. As a matter of fact, I thought that I used to love him.
 
But infatuation has a habit of disguising itself as deeper feelings.
 
I used to think I was infatuated with someone too. Then, I realized it was more than that. What I was experiencing was love, true, pure, and young. My mother found dad when she was seventeen and in college. I found my love when I was fifteen and in high school.
 
He was the newcomer that time, and I hated him. Actually, we all did in our devilish little ways. All except for Greta who knew at once that he was more than he let on. Under the moody 'tude. Under the thick glasses and the bangs that shielded part of his face.  
 
Greta thought he was cute, and Stu chuckled nervously. I was there beside them that time. Todd was lying casually on one of the long tables, and the others were gossiping loudly. The newcomer did not like too much noise.
 
"Ah, Audrey, you should stay longer," Stu said, patting my arm. "You haven't been here in the Philippines for more than a week, and you're flying home tomorrow? Stay a bit."
 
"Can't," I replied. "Busy these days. There's a new game we're developing and--"
 
"Gawd, is it the new Lesallia installment? I've so been waiting to get my hands on that!" Stu yelped. I almost forgot he was still addicted to video games. It's the only thing that made him jump out of his serious playwright skin.
 
"Will you come back soon for our wedding? It's on the twentieth of next month," Greta batted her eyelashes and gave me her puppy-dog-eyes stare. Next month already? So fast.
 
"Please? Pretty please? We miss you so much, and you're hardly home," she pleaded. "You and I live far away from the Phil, but I visit more often than you do!"
 
"You've got Stu to visit," I said curtly.
 
She sighed. "Don't you have a boyfriend yet?" I laughed and fiddled the straps of my purse. "Isn't it about time?" she raised an eyebrow.
 
"For what? Don't worry, I'll come to your wedding." I tried to change the topic.
 
"Great! But isn't it still about time?" She never lets go once she's got me cornered.
 
"I don't know what you're talking about," I lied. She's known all along. The girls were staring. I bit my lip.
 
"Come with me," she dragged me to the garden and shook my shoulders. "Come on! You both are out of this school; it's time you admitted your feelings to each other!"
 
"He's not even here," I said through gritted teeth. "Besides, we've lost contact a long time ago. You know I'm bad in sustaining contact. I haven't even heard much about you, Stu, or Todd since I got here!"
 
"Ten years! Ten f****n' years!" she said, echoing Todd's statement. "I know he likes you. He's never shown anything, but I can feel it! He's liked you since you left for college!"
 
"Ask him that yourself. We haven't spoken in a long long time."
 
"Wait," she lifted her cell phone out of her bag. "We'll see about that." The woman was so updated in phone numbers. I could've smashed the phone right there and then, but a part of me wanted her to make that call.
 
"Hello? Yessiree, it's me! Oh please, you can't be that busy, it's a reunion!" she paused, listening to his rant, I guessed. "Don't be silly, you're a part of the class! Hold on. Okay. Okay. You will? Awesome, we'll see you then!"
 
She snapped her phone shut and beamed at me. "Guess what?"
 
"Yeah, he's coming." I groaned. "You won't quit bugging me till I die, huh?"
 
"Only until you do this one thing for me. No, I mean two things: admit your love for him and attend my wedding. Deal?"
 
I stared at her outstretched hand. Greta could do anything. One time, she claimed to be able to talk to spirits. God knows she would haunt me for the rest of my life if I refuse this now.
 
"Fine." I shook her hand and she wrapped me up in a hug.
 
Thirty minutes later, my former classmates crowded around the entrance to the chapel. Besides the sounds of their voices echoing in the chapel, I could hear my own heart beat. Ten years. I've seen his latest picture on Friendster, but a mere photograph was nothing compared to meeting him again in person.
 
How to explain what I did? The fear of explaining and confronting my weakness took over any loving emotion. I slipped out the side before he could make his way through the crowd. I had to leave. Guilt perhaps, made me a coward. Guilt for not doing anything, guilt for not showing that I still cared about him and all the others.
 
If anybody didn't deserve to be in this reunion, it was me. I should have called Todd when he was divorced the third time. He needed a friend to talk to. I should have contacted Stu when he received all those awards. He worked hard and deserved it. I should have attended Greta's concert when she toured in California.
 
I should have told Xander I loved him. I could say it now, but I guess ten years is too long to wait. Perhaps he has someone else now. Somebody who displays real emotion. Unlike me. I hide. I run away.
 
I slipped out the side. Wrong move. After all these years, Greta, Todd, and Stu never forgot my habit of leaving when a real party starts. Todd and Stu were smirking when they grabbed each of my arms. Greta ordered them to take me inside.
 
F****n' friends. I hate love them. At that moment, I could have killed myself embraced them.
 
"Here she issssss!" Greta pinched my cheek. Xander's hand was clamped over his mouth. I guess he was holding back a guffaw after Greta's henchmen dragged me in.
 
"Well, well, well, you still exist after all," he stood peered at me through his thick glasses and gave me his trademark smirk - one that made us realize back then that he was different...that he was human even though we hardly thought well about his kind.
 
He was the newcomer that time, and I hated him. Actually, we all did in our devilish little ways. All except for Greta who knew at once that he was more than he let on. Under the moody 'tude. Under the thick glasses and the bangs that shielded part of his face.  
  
Greta thought he was cute, and Stu chuckled nervously. I was there beside them that time. Todd was lying casually on one of the long tables, and the others were gossiping loudly. The newcomer did not like too much noise. He stood on his table and slammed his books on the floor.
 
Xander, the twenty-one-year old teacher, easily earned disdain from us during his first week. His methods were harsh, and his grades were unforgiving. He was the Tagalog instructor, and for the first time, we loathed our native language.
 
Then there was the smile. The smirk of triumph when he was impressed by our effort one day. If not for Greta's adoration of him, we wouldn't have given him a chance. Greta wanted to impress him, and Stu did the same to gain admiration from Greta. We each had our own reasons.
 
It took time, but we learned to like that smile. And the person who owned it.
 
"Of course I do," I said with a hint of irritation. "Sir."
 
"No need for that anymore. I'm a professor now at the university." Hell, did he want me to call him professor?
 
"Okay...professor," I huffed.
 
"No, what I mean is that you can uh, call me Xander, not sir, since I don't work in your high school anymore," he ran his hand through his jet black hair. "You look great."
 
"So do you...Xander." By this time, the crowd left us alone. Todd and Stu distracted them with a little sing-and-dance like they used to back in high school.
 
"I haven't heard from you in a long long time." I was unsure of his expression. He headed to the garden, and I followed.
 
"How've you been?" The man, now thirty-one, was merely six years older than me. When he showed his "cool" side, we got along really well, and I treated him as a big brother.
 
"Great. Relatively successful," I mumbled. He eyed me curiously.
 
"Relatively successful to whom?"
 
"To Todd and his business, to Stu and his fame. To Greta and her...engagement," I realized what I was saying and clamped my mouth shut. I didn't want him to be suspicious.
 
He chuckled. "Still comparing yourself to every human on this planet? Tsk, you never learned a thing from me."
 
"That's not true!" I yelled. "I learned to play some piano because of you. I learned to like basketball and---"
 
"Then you disappoint me, Audrey. You've neglected to remember the most important lessons." His expression was dark, moody. He taught me to overcome insecurity, but I was too stubborn to listen.
 
"Are you happy with your life? Are you content?" he did not expect me to answer.
 
"Are you?" I shot back. He was silent.
 
"No." He traced the delicate pattern of a mango tree bark. Ants were crawling away. They were in a hurry. Time was precious to them, and they were running out of it.
 
"How long will you be staying?" he turned to me and looked into my eyes. What did I want? I wanted him and no one else. I wanted to stay longer if only he would take me in his arms. But I didn't say that.
 
Instead, I said, "I'll be leaving tomorrow. I'm extremely busy."
 
"That's a shame," he said. If he liked me, then he should say it already! I was tired of waiting for a question that would never surface. If I made the first move...I was afraid of appearing pathetic.
 
"Let's ditch these folks and have dinner in Tagaytay," he said suddenly. There was mischief in his tone and a sparkle in his eyes.
 
"What? Are you serious?" I wanted nothing more. Caught in glee, I clutched his arm. Afte realizing what I've done, I released it quickly, as if it was on fire. He grabbed mine instead.
 
"Shall we?" he gestured in a bad British accent. I laughed. He was quirky and bubbly all of a sudden. Unpredictable. Adorable. All mine for a while.
 
He took my hand gingerly and gave it a squeeze. "I missed you."
 
I gave him a push. I told you I got along more with boys. Meaning, I liked to play rough sometimes. We jostled all the way to the car, just like we used to in the old days. He was still a young lad, and I was still his little sis.
 
"I missed you too."
 
There was something else in his eyes, but he did not have to say it in words. I knew. He was not the type to admit his feelings, but there would still be time during dinner.
 
I would still fly to Canada tomorrow, I figured. At least there was someone I would look forward to when I visited next month. I loved him, I still do. Perhaps he felt the same way, but the mere fact that we had time together after so long...made me smile. Genuinely.
 

© 2008 sutoraika


Author's Note

sutoraika
Please submit your review! This is my first long story.

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Featured Review

I was staring at this story, all googly eyed.

So Filipinos CAN have romance.

Wait a second. I'M Filipino!

It took me a while to realize we were in Canada (should have known, Canada has a fair Filipino population right? I think I have distant relatives up there too). I wish we had Tagolog instructors in our American high schools. Maybe then I'd understand what the hell my mom's talking about when she's at my grandma's ^_^

It didn't have an OVERLY sappy ending, but it left on a happy note. They didn't run off into the sunset together, but it's not over for them. They didn't end up married, but one step closer to what may be for them.

I had a crush on one my teachers, too. Nine years older than me, took me several weeks to figure out how good looking he was, and a good man too. Te hehehehehe

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I was staring at this story, all googly eyed.

So Filipinos CAN have romance.

Wait a second. I'M Filipino!

It took me a while to realize we were in Canada (should have known, Canada has a fair Filipino population right? I think I have distant relatives up there too). I wish we had Tagolog instructors in our American high schools. Maybe then I'd understand what the hell my mom's talking about when she's at my grandma's ^_^

It didn't have an OVERLY sappy ending, but it left on a happy note. They didn't run off into the sunset together, but it's not over for them. They didn't end up married, but one step closer to what may be for them.

I had a crush on one my teachers, too. Nine years older than me, took me several weeks to figure out how good looking he was, and a good man too. Te hehehehehe

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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sutoraika
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