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“this is as good as it gonna get!” Elaine let out a sigh after changing for more than an hour now.
She is staring at her long mirror. Her faded shirt hangs loose, edges of her pants were folded
haphazardly and her wavy hair was in a tight yet messy bun.

She grabs her back pack and runs downstairs. Their house is as gloomy as ever. Their kitchen
is empty. She could see her own reflection on the well polished tiles. She walks towards the Page | 1
refrigerator hoping to see what she’s looking for. There she finds her A+ paper in Geology which
she purposely posted for them to see, which to her, they obviously missed.

“I guess it’s me and the notepad again huh?” She murmurs as she see the note that reads;

Hey honey.

We’re off to work.

Lunch at the paper bag by the fruit stand

Enjoy your day


Mom & Dad

“Yah right!” she mutters and opens the ref poured some orange juice and takes a sip from it.
“Well happy birthday Elaine Gomez! Really smart of you to expect something from them! Might
as well wish for an angel… I guess it’s another year in hell!”

She walks to school with a heavy bag and a heavy heart. When she was about to enter the
gate, she hears the annoying laughter from her back.

“look at those hideous shirt”

“ I bet those were ages old”

“I believe that’s the last one left since the beach boys retired”

Then there’s an explosion of laughter. She tries her hardest not to turn to see the source
because she might hear worst than what she thinks she’s hearing.

She walks directly to her locker. After collecting her books she decided to go to the library.
There she was about to take the book for the assignments when a senior student stops her.

“hey! I was gonna read that” a tall sturdy guy stood beside her.
It’s pretty clear that he just arrived and has no way of finding the same book first. But he’s
staring at Elaine real sternly.

“ I’m sorry here you go” she hurriedly grabs the book hands it over while trying to avoid
eye-contact. She almost run outside the library. She could have reasoned out and said that she
saw it first, but she didn’t. “maybe some other time” she mutters. Page | 2

She’s about to enter their room when,

“Hey there missy, can you get me a cup of coffee from office.” A male voice from the
adjacent room echoed on the hallway. She turns around. She’s obviously alone. She trurns to
the voice it was Norman a staff of the school. “But I’ll be late”

“What did you say?!” Norman calls

“Nothing sir! Black with sugar and cream right?!” she answers while trying to hide her

“Yes! Thanks” Norman a fat man whose in the verge of baldness went inside his room.

“Wow! What a perfect luck!” She’s running as she arrived at her Literature class.

“Well this is a surprise! Gomez! Your LATE again!” An old woman holding a stick and a
chalk glared at Elaine as she enters the room. She feels the entire class staring at her. Sudenly
she hesitated to get in.

“Well? Don’t waste our time get in and take a seat!” Then Miss Santos turns to the board
and continues scribbling on it.

She could her whispers as she passes thru the aisle to her seat. She’s trying her best to
avoid hitting her classmates with her bulky back pack.

“Is she really a freshman? She looks old?

“What do you think is in that bag?”

“I heard toys from her elementary years…”

She neglected everything and felt the comfort of her seat at the back of the room. Here she
could perfectly see the back of Miss Santos whose been talking to the board until the bell rings.

“Okay, your assignment is to write a 5-page paper on the Lost City of Atlantis!” She finally
faces the class yet everyone seems too busy fixing their things to hear her.
“Hey Gomez… I was just wondering…” Jenna the ‘hottest’ girl in the class approaches

She could readily predict what’s about to happen and she could not bear another ‘martyrdom’.
she had more than enough nasty stuff for this day she doesn’t need another one.
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“Make your own assignment Jenna…” she murmurs

“What did you say?” Jenna and two other girls stare at her. But she refuses to be
intimidated this time.

“I said go and make your own assignment you empty-brained user!” Elaine blurted at

“What ?! Did you just call me empty-brained user?” Jenna was obviously furious.

Their voices were so loud that everyone in the room is staring at them now. Elaine panics. She’s
oblivious on what to do. Then as her reflexes suggests she grabs her bag and runs outside. She
was in so much hurry that she forgot to zip her bag. Her stuff falls as she runs and she can feel
everyone’s stares so she throw her bag and runs even faster.

She didn’t know where exactly she is heading. All she knows is that she wanted to get away
from everything. She runs faster than she could ever do. She wanted to run from her neglecting
parents, from her plastic friends, from the cruel world, from her life!

She didn’t know how long she’s been running but she still wants to run, perhaps until the world
ends! She feels her legs numbing, her lungs almost runs out of air. She gasps and runs even
faster. When finally, her foot gets stuck into a hole, she stumbles into the ground. She can feel
the warm dusty pebbles on her face. Her heart is beating so fast as if it’s about to blow. Sweat
drips all over her body. The scorching sun is blindingly bright. She squints just to see that she is
lying on the ground by the high way. She can feel the ground vibrates as vehicles pass by. She
tries to get up but her body’s too weak to do so. She has been running for hours now, so she
just laid there. She really doesn’t care now. She closes her eyes but manages to stay

It’s not long until a car stops in beside her. She tries to open her eyes but she can’t. Then an
arm grabs her by the shoulder and carries her. She tries even harder this time to open her eyes
but it was only enough to see a wing silver pendant worn by the person carrying her. She’s
placed into an air-conditioned car. The sudden shift of temperature causes her to be completely
unconscious this time.

Elaine struggles to open her eyes and sees the blinding bright light. Her head is aching really
bad. As she tries to reach for it she notices something. There was a needle in her hand! It’s
attached to a bottle. “Dextrose…I must be in a…” she looks around and she sees herself in bed
inside a white room with no windows. “…hospital!” She exclaims.

Everything seems like a dream but she know it all had happened. “I got to get out of here before
mom and dad gets here and threw me back to that stupid school.” So she gets up, hurriedly
pulls out the needle and changes back to her old clothes. They were dirty and dusty. She just
finished zipping her pants and is about to leave the room when a kid just opens the door
“What are you doing?” A little girl with really stunning brown eyes greeted her with a faint smile

“Am… I’m going out…” She answers

“You know, you’re not supposed to get out of bed when you’re sick?” the little girl knowingly
declares while pushing her back to her bed. Page | 4

“No!...I’m not sick…” she tries to protest but of no avail because the persistent little girl keeps
pushing her back.

“Jessica…Jessica! Where are you? We’re ready for you…” a voice from the adjacent room calls

“I’m coming mom! The little girl answered as she turns towards the door. But before she could
even step out of the room

“You…!” she pointed to Elaine like a mother would do to a naughty kid, “you should go back to
bed” and then she turns and runs off to her own room.

Elaine just smiled and sneakily walks out of the room when a familiar shriek echoes in the hall
way. She hurriedly follows the source of the voice which leads her to a room opposite to hers.
There she sees Jessica lying in bed with machines all over her petite body. There were people
surrounding her, a doctor, some nurses and a lady who seems to be Jessica’s mother. She
looks up at the door and sees the sign ‘Chemotherapy’. With tears in her eyes Jessica smiles at
Elaine by the door and gives her the knowing look to tell her to go back to bed.

The look on the little girl’s face struck Elaine. She doesn’t know why but tears start to form in her
eyes. “Such a brave little girl” Elaine thought, “Cancer is a monster and Jessica is just little

Her deep thoughts peter out when she hears footsteps from along the corner. “Those could be
Mom and Dad! I better get out of here!”

So she sneaks out of the hospital. She’s relieved to see the gate of the hospital. But as she
approaches the exit,

“Alms…Alms for the poor…” An old man approaches her and extends his trembling hands.

“I’m sorry mister but I don’t have any money in here,” She politely answers

So the old man hobbles away. There were blisters on her soles. He was barefooted. He got a
cane for support and his hand trembles as he walks. Elaine doesn’t know why but something
urges her to follow the old man. So she tries her best to be unnoticeable.

The old man goes on begging. Some gave him coins, others neglects him, one even knock him
down accidentally out of annoyance and a generous lady gives him a the leftover of her
daughter. It’s a piece of bread. The old man hungrily feasts on it. “I bet it isn’t enough to
appease his hunger. He’s been walking and walking for hours now.” Elaine thought.

To her surprise, the man stops eating. He only consumes half of the bread and the rest he
carefully places in his belt bag. He goes on begging again while Elaine tries her best not to lose
sight of him.
He eventually ends up in an abandoned bridge. There’s garbage around the place. In one part
there were cardboards and newspapers that’re spread neatly. To her surprise, Elaine notice and
old lady lying amongst the spreads of paper on the filthy floor. The old man struggles to help the
weary lady to get up. He opens his belt bag and gives her the piece of bread the lady gave him
earlier. The weary woman munches on it. She looks really hungry but she’s too weary to eat.
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The scene causes Elaine to break down in tears. The words of Jessica come back to her “go
back…you’re sick!”

She feels miserable.”Jessica’s right. I am sick! I’m so stupid.” For a moment she made herself
believe that she’s the most pathetic being and that she bears the world’s greatest problem. She
even tried running away and giving up when here are these people who got problems far worse
than hers yet they are struggling to survive. She feels more pathetic than ever. So she just sits
there and cry. She cries for Jessica, She cries for the old man and his wife and most especially
she cries for herself. She poured out all the emotion that’s been holding her for so long…

After about an hour she finally gets hold of herself. “I’m going home now!” It was almost dusk.
Everything around her seems so yellow. Her legs are still aching but she feels lighter than ever.
It feels like she’s going home for the first time. The surroundings seem brighter than it ever was
and her heart is filled with warmth.

Her house was like glowing she opens the door and sees her mom and dad seated on the sofa.

“Honey…where have you been?” her mom smilingly reaches for her

“Happy Birthday dear!!” His father hugged her.

“Wait… it’s still my birthday?” To her it seems ages ago when she left there home

“But of course dear we were waiting for you” her dad confirmed

“I bake your favorite cookies…!” her mom added.

“It really felt like I was gone for days…” Elaine bewilderedly thought. She may not have notice it
before but even if her parents seems away most of the time, she could never miss the point that
they always make an effort to make-up for it.

“I got one problem left…Jenna!” It isn’t long. Morning came. “This is it” Elaine gathers her
courage and finds herself walking to school along with a crowd. “How will I ever face Jenna?”
She’s half trembling as she enter the gate.

“Gomez…!” Somebody calls from behind her.

“Too late… she saw me first…” Elaine turns towards Jenna

“Where’s my assignment.” Jenna demanded

“What assignment…” Elaine trembles

“My Literature assignment for miss Santos!”

“I’m sorry Jenna but I don’t have it… but…”

“What?!” Jenna is obviously irritated

“Am.. but.. if…” Elaine tries to reason,

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“Whatever! Let’s go girls…” Jenna and her friends turn and walk away

“That wasn’t I expected at all!” Elaine was relieved yet confuse.

“You know, you just have to say no to them so that they won’t abuse you” A voice from behind
her said

“ Excuse me?” She turns and sees a guy smiling at her.

“Kuya…Kuya” A familiar voice calls out to the stranger, it was Jessica!

The stranger heeds the call and walks away with Jessica. Elaine was about to run after them but
something on the ground caught her attention. It was the wing pendant she saw from the car!
She picks it up but the stranger and Jessica is nowhere to be seen!

“I have to return this to them”

So after school Elaine went to the hospital.

“She’s not here” the nurse in the information answers when asked about Jessica

“Who are you looking for” The head nurse comes and buts in the conversation

“Jessica…She was once in Room 202?” Elain inquired.

“Oh that sweet thing… She’s not here anymore…since last month..”

“last month?” Elaine’s confused. “Do you know where I can find her. How about his brother”

“on…honey…Jessica has no brother…she’s an only child, ”the head nurse’s mood changes

“and she’s not with us anymore. She died of cancer last month. I’m so sorry”

Elaine was devastated. She did not know how to react. She looks at the pendant. A white
feather fell and the pendant glittered. Somehow she understood.