An SK Production: I Remember.

Chapter 2: Nothing Ever Starts With The Word "PLEASANT"

I rocked back and forth on my chair.
It was a habit that I could never correct.
I knew the danger that it contained,
but still, bad habits are hard to change, isnt it?
I rocked a little further and leaned my chair on the table behind me.
Suddenly, the table behind me was pulled back.
I was caught by surprised!
Being one second too late,
my chair was not able to keep its balance and I was leaning too far back,
I fell onto the floor and landed on my butt.

"OUCH!" My limbs were all tangled in a mess with the legs of the chair.
I looked up from the floor and saw many pairs of eyes looking at me.
I blushed a deep crimson red and clambered quickly back on my feet.
Pulling my chair upright again, I sat down,
turned and stared at the person sitting behind me.

"What?! I hate people leaning their chairs on my table."
I continued shooting daggers at him through my eyes.
He ignored me and turned to speak to another girl,
ending our conversation just like that.

I was furiously mad at him.
Could he not have chosen to tell me?
Was such an action really necessary?
I was not some kind of imbecile who wouldn't be able to understand his words.
Secretly, I swore that I would not speak to him until he apologized for his actions.
But, once again, my lips defied my orders,
and I found myself conversing with him with much enthusiasm.
The incident was thrown right to the back of my mind,
forgotten and forgiven without an apology.

My first year with him, it flew pass quickly.
He, being smart, had the grades.
He, being good-looking, had the girls in the class salivating all over him.
He, being from a well-to-do family, had everything that he wants.
As for me, I was the complete opposite.
How could I ever be compared to him?
Standing beside him,
I'm like a trash compared to a King's Crown made in gold & diamonds.
I'm the ground for people to step on while he was the sky which people adored and prayed to.
The difference between us was just like the distance between the heaven and the earth.
We were far too different.

Although I was only 6 then,
I might have failed to recognize the signs of that nagging feelings within me,
but I knew that something was not right.
Not right because I shouldn't be liking him.
Not right because I wasn't suppose to like him.
Not right because I hadn't the rights to like him.
Not right because I'm not worthy enough for him.
A hundred, a thousand, a million, not rights I had in mind.
But I was still unable to control my emotions.
They were far beyond my control. Far beyond my grasp.
Then, I swore to myself to never let him know about it.
To never let him know my feelings for him.
To never let him know that I like him.

Heaven must have been playing a joke on me.
Just after I swore, heaven played a nasty trick on me.
A really nasty one. When we were Primary 2.

"Vera! Go sit next to Xavier."
"WHAT?! Why?!?!!"
"What why? Go sit next to him!"

I must have looked like a goldfish, with my big-bulging eyes.
I couldn't help it, after hearing the teacher's arrangement.
What kind of a mean joke is this? Making me sit next to him!
I grabbed my bag and trudged to my seat.
I plopped down on my seat loudly and stared at the blackboard,
refusing to make any eye contact with him.
Not a single word was exchanged between us
because I wasn't allowing a chance for it to happen.
Obstinate, I was being.
Although I might have seemed all unwillingly on the outside,
my stomach had wild butterflies soaring all around,
my heart was pumping faster than ever before,
my blood was rushing madly through my entire body.
My eyes were wanting badly to take a look at him,
my lips were wanting badly to talk to him.
There had never been anything that I had wanted more than in my life,
other than to sit next to him in class.

"NO! You're suppose to first multiply this, then bring that extra number forward, multiply the number at the second row, add the extra number gotten previously to this number and there you go, you've got your answer!"
"Oh! I see.." I gave him a look of apprehension.
He looked at me doubtfully. "You still don't get it, do you?"
I shook my head slightly.
He breathe out a loud sigh.
My face fell slightly and an apologetic look crossed my face.
He took a look at me and took a deep breath.
"Alright, let's do it again. Pay attention to my words. Look here.. Firstly, you multiply this digit with this digit, then you get an extra ten right? Bring that one forward to the next number. Multiply the next number with this digit..........."
I wiped the apologetic expression of my face and plastered a stern look on my face,
trying to get the word, SERIOUS, written all over my face.
I did as he said and paid serious attention to his words.
However, as I listened to his voice, I couldn't help but get lost in it.
That dreamy voice.... How mesmerising it sounds...
"Vera.. Vera.. VERA!!!"
"Did you listen to what I just said?!"
"Erm... Why dont you just let me copy your work?!?!!?"
"NO!! How are you going to learn like that? Do you want to fail your exams?"
"Like you care!"
"Yes, I do care!! Now, I'm going to repeat my words one more time, listen carefully and stop day-dreaming!"
He cared whether I knew my work.
He cared about my work.
He cared about me.
Those four simple words gave me a huge shock.
Never have I imagined him to actually be concerned about me.
I looked at him, I saw his seriousness, I saw his care, I saw his concern, I saw his patience.
How could I bear to disappoint him? No.. It was something that I couldn't do.
I struggled to focus on his words and not his voice.
It was something which I tried with much difficulty,
but still, I succeeded.

Most people wouldn't have bothered to.
Most people would have given up.
Most people would have ignored me.
But, he did not.
Never had he ever given up on me, never had he ignored the help I needed.
He assisted me all the way throughout the year, in my work.
I was a slow-learner, I was a slow-writer,
I was slow in almost everything that I did.
He was ever patient,
teaching me till I could fully understand the concept behind the question.
He was ever caring,
making sure that I did my work by the correct steps.
He was ever concern,
always nagging me to write faster, work faster, do things faster.
He was ever serious,
whenever I asked him for help.
He was always there for me.

"Xavier, there's something wrong with this question lah!"
"No lah... Eh! Wait! You're right!! I can't do this question either!!"
"Why only when you can't do then the question has something wrong? Can't it be that you don't know?"
"The question has something wrong because there never is a question that I don't know how to do."
"What?! Don't look at me that way! Come on, let's go ask Mr Wong about this question."
We rushed out of seat to get to our mathematics teacher,
eager to be the first in line to speak to the teacher.
As I was sitting on the outside, I managed to get to the teacher first.
There was a crowd of students surrounding the mathematics teacher,
I joined my classmates and began chanting his name as well,
hoping to get his attention.
"Mr Wong, Mr Wong, Mr Wong! There's something wrong with the question!"
I turned around and looked for Xavier,
he was standing behind me, a little distance away.
I turned back and faced the teacher.
"Mr Wong!!"
"Alright, alright 2D! I know there's something wrong with the question! Get back to your seat first, GO!"
The crowd started dispersing as everyone hurried to their seat.
Reluctant to simply return to our seat just like that,
we continued hogging the teacher.
"Mr Wong..."
"Didn't you hear me? Go back to your seat!"
Sensing the fiery in his tone,
terror charged through me,
I changed my mind and decided to listen to the teacher.
I had never expected Xavier to cover that distance between us,
he was always insistent on a distance between two people of different genders.
Assuming the distance was still there,
I turned around quickly, wanting to get back to my seat.
Then, my lips met his.
We stood there, for about 2 seconds before jumping apart.
Both of us blushed.
Mine a flush of pink. His a deep crimson red.
We rushed back to our seat and avoided all eye-contact.
Except for the both of us, no one else knew,
no one else saw, the class was in too much of a chaos.
It was as though the incident had never happened,
none of us ever spoke about the encounter.
But, deep in our hearts, we knew what happened.
This little incident was deeply imprinted in our minds,
never to be forgotten.

It was after the end-of-year exams,
there was no lessons to be taught, no work to be done.
It was just another relaxing day in school.
The students were bored, the teachers were bored,
we decided to play hang-man while waiting for the one-hour to be up.
It would be a match, the boys against the girls.
One gender had to think of a word, tell the teacher the chosen word,then the teacher would write the number of spacings for the number of letters of the words on the blackboard, draw each stroke of the hangman for each letter guessed wrongly, and the opposite gender would have to guessed the word before their hangman was completely drawn.

It was the boys' turn to think. Xavier thought of the word.
The girls' hangman was almost completely drawn.
The girls were desperate for an answer.
I turned to Xavier for a little clue.

"Come on Xavier.. A little clue, please...."
"Flip your Health Education Textbook."
"There's so many words.. Which one? Tell me please..."
"Its on this page, alright?"
"There's still so many words! Tell me...."
"Its somewhere in this group of words."
"Please.... Tell me...."
"Find it yourself!"
"Tell me lah.... Please Xavier..."
"Bah.. (in a whispering volume) Lettuce."
I gave him a wide smile.
"Now, you! Don't tell the other girls! No cheating!"
"I won't! Don't worry! I promise I won't!"

As I saw the teacher close to completing the hangman,
only a few strokes were left,
I started panicking.
Only I knew the answer to the hangman.
How could I bear to feign ignorance towards the answer when I clearly knew?
How could I bear to see the girls lose because of me?
So I told the answer to the other girls,
and naturally, we won.

Xavier was furious, he was mad.
He grabbed the back of my chair and tilted it forward.
I wasn't expecting it, thus,
I slid down my chair and fell to the floor,
grabbing my desk along as I hoped to get stabilisation from it.
The contents from my under-desk drawer came tumbling on top of my head,
it rained on me like a heavy hailstorm.
Without a doubt, it was painful. It hurt.
Silently, I picked myself up,
shove my things back under my desk,
pulled my chair upright, sat on it,
duck my head under my arms on the desk,
and I started crying.
Out of nowhere, a packet of tissue was stuffed under my arms.
I knew it was from him. Guilt was acting upon him.
I sat upright, grabbed the pack of tissues and threw it at him.
Duck my head under my arms again,
but this time,
I wasn't crying,
no tears came, my eyes were dry.
I was hiding, hiding from him.
I couldn't see his facial expression, I couldn't bear to.
I was the one at fault, I broke my promise.
He whispered a soft, "I'm sorry."
I sat upright and said back: "I'm sorry too."
He gave me a tiny smile, I returned him one.
We both knew, the war was over.
It came and went swiftly, never returning ever again.
Peace was once again, reinstated.

2 years passed with a blink of an eye.
We were both separated to different classes.
It was expected, seeing how different our intelligence level were.
Silently I hoped, that I could be in the same class as him.
I blamed myself for not working harder,
this consequences was to be expected, its what I deserve.
I knew that these 2 years would never be forgotten.
There were too many memorable incidents, too many unforgettable happenings,
to forget them would be a crime.
Secretly I wished, that I would have the opportunity to experience them again.

And after 2 years,
my hardwork was paid off,
my wish was granted.

-To Be Continued-

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