If Only - Chapter Thirty Eight

His memory is like a net full of holes. The most beautiful prizes slip through it. This is the pic of Russel.
I watched him, sitting on a solitary chair, underneath the spotlight holding his guitar. His skin looked so fair, almost sparkling. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

The audience lit lighters and candles to make a dramatic and acoustic atmosphere. The first thing that we heard wasn't the guitar sound, but his husky voice. He was luring our hearts with his soft, melodious voice. Thus, the anguish and sad voice, drowned us to feel the song to swoon over this poor guy who sang his heart out, followed by a beautiful sound of his guitar.

It started with "Just a little", but I could hardly make it, because I was too captivated by his expression, it was...

I know, there's no other choice,
I know very well, I resent the truth, this world,
Just a little.

… those expressions I'd never seen before.

If you need to leave, if you're going,
I don't think I can take it.

I lost a lot of lines, but my eyes barely blinked. His voice then sank into a sweet whisper. I caught my breath, and felt my heart clenched. It was the feeling I got when I listened to a truly, phenomenally beautiful song that actually felt like it dragged you along with the melody; feeling as hopeful, as yearning, as painful, and even depressed.

Your bright smile gradually vanished, and recently it rains a lot,
That's what makes me a bit sad,
There's nothing I can do but,
Just a little,
It just hurts a lot.

At the end of the song, he smiled bitterly.

But the audience were clapping insanely loud, praising and cursing how awfully beautiful his voice was and how they really got into the song.

I sighed. "Oh My God," Ellie dramatically said it word by word, "he looks gorgeous, but his voice is definitely something."

"Ellie," Rebbeca sobbed, "I actually cried," she wiped her eyes and sniffed, "I think my period is coming - God, I'm supersensitive," she chuckled. And Claudia was gobsmacked, her jaw dropped. It looked ridiculous.

When Russel got off the stage, another band with more aggressive music, almost deafening, performed. The number of people, especially guys increased, jigging around, bumping people who stood close.

We were practically jostled by the crowd filled with insane people, "Can't we get out of here first, this is violence," I laughed. I noticed Rebbeca got unintentionally hit on her head, and smacked another guy's head, nagging him to apologize.

We managed to get out from where I saw - a bunch of ... mad bees. I spotted Russel and others at the corner. Ronne hit Russel on his arm, laughing, Matt had his arm around Russel's neck while he rustled Russel's hair with his other hand, Chad then suddenly gave them a big bear hug. They seemed to have so much fun, which made people who were watching, subconsciously smile from the heartwarming scenery. Bless them.

Ellie dragged Daniel and Chris to join us, she practically told every moving, breathing objects in our school that I was back. Especially Rebbeca; she was looking around to find Julie to personally tell her, and to see her priceless expression. And I couldn't refuse such a great occasion.

Talking about my friends, after hearing the news about the cancellation of my migration, and of course, a second chance given to me to be able to graduate here, their expression was rather extravagant. Before Russel headed back on the stage to sing the second song, we decided to tell them and the news had utterly exhilarated them. They let out a hell of exultant shout, and sort of treated me like an adorable big teddy bear - you know, all the hugging tightly thing, stroking, and shaking to the point of violence.

And of course, they would not miss a chance to hug Russel as well - though, I didn't think that was out of gratitude. More like, grabbing a nice opportunity to be in his arms, touching, and sniffing around like perverts.

I so didn't want to miss it - Their laughter and coquettish, playful behavior. I was glad and grateful for getting such a precious chance. All thanks to Russel. A guy, I never thought would have such a great impact in my life and decision.

"There she is," Rebbeca flicked her fingers enthusiastically. Julie and others were sitting near the edge of the stage. Seeing her, my mind couldn't help wondering about Tyler. The image of his desperation, and guilt.

I never intended to make him feel that way. No, I actually did. But I didn't expect it to be so-dramatic. I'd been having scars because he never once noticed me before. I had been his best friend, or so, we called it. I listened to everything he complained about. His football team, his family, his friends, the only thing that made me feel isolated and alone was when he talked about his girlfriend, and moments they spent together that I never knew, that he didn't tell me. He got less time to spend with me, while I'd spent my time waiting for him. Sure, I was absolutely fine with waiting, but gradually, I started to feel pathetic. So I drowned myself into studies and courses. Not enough, I even dared to take a part-time job to fill the space of time that used to be our time together, when well, he was single. I'd planned to tell him, but when I felt that I had to, there were always reasons not to. What if he scolds me, what if he tells his girlfriend, and she then tells the whole school, what if-what if-

...until it gradually turned into something more complicated. He got something, he couldn't tell me, why couldn't he?

It was selfish, greedy, and weird, but that was what I actually felt this whole time. And I disliked the fact that he'd never by my side when everything was a mess.

Nonetheless, I've missed him - which I admitted, even weirder.


"So... How are you bitches tonight?" Rebbeca pushed through the bunch of girls and sat next to Julie, "Oh... pretty tonight, aren't you?" She drawled her words in a very irritating manner, running her fingers down Julie's cheek, she ward off Rebbeca's hand away, disgusted.

"Bitches?" She scoffed, and her nicely-curved eyebrows arched when she saw me, "Oh, my ... I barely recognize you, Cheater." Her friends turned to look at me and whispered at each other, I rolled my eyes. If they had something to say, they should point it out loud, how old were they, anyway? 5 or something?

I smiled and tucked some hair strands to the back of my ear, "Different from your popular self, that's what I'm fully aware of. People will recognize you, wherever you go, indeed." Ellie scoffed, "Oh, Please," she had her arms crossed, standing right next to me.

"Oh, I made a little mistake, it's not actually YOU that's popular," I chuckled, "Yeah, your vagina is." Rebbeca rolled her eyes, pointing it out bluntly. The girls gasped, and I could see Julie's face flushed with anger.

"That's just one reason of so many, why your boyfriend dumped you, bitch," she snarled, her eyes flashed a wicked glance for a second before she smiled slyly, "he loves my thing, you hear me?"

It took me some time to get what she meant, and when I got the picture, I suddenly had the urge to strangle her throat. I gritted my teeth, trying not to lose my guard. I had to be as stoic as I could, because if I were to show her my real feelings, she would crash the remaining into bits. I raised my brow, "And so?"

She narrowed her eyes, "So, you're proud that guys are only after you because you give your thing to them so easily?" Ellie, Rebbeca, and Claudia gawked at me, probably didn't see it coming. But Julie's answer was never one that I'd expected, "I make them beg, you slut," she snarled fiercely. Just how much stupid she could get?

I let out a sarcastic laugh, and leaned closer to her, "Slut?"
"That sounds ironic when you said it."

Her face pinched into an expression of utter anger. She was about to throw me another spiteful allusion, "Cut it out Julie, she ain't worth it. She's just a loser who soon will exile herself out of this town, a freak," one of the petite blonds said. I arched my brow at her.

Julie then laughed, and walked closer to me, "Yeah, why don't you just go home and pack your stuff, little girl?" She twiddled my hair with her fingers, "accept that you no longer belong here - you never did." She pulled my hair to bring my face closer to hers, "Nice try for a change. But no matter how much you tried to change yourself, for better, for worse - losers stay as losers, Samantha. And you are no exception," she whispered into my ears with a sharp tone. And her breath reeked alcohol.

Rebbeca got in between us and pushed Julie until she lost her balance and stumbled backwards, "She ain't goin' anywhere, so get that fucking hands off her hair," she gruffly snapped. "The whole statement about her never belonged here; seems like the principal had it otherwise," Ellie said, "and you are the real loser, bitch."

Julie frowned. "Liar," she accused. I shrugged, "I may be good at it. After all, you used to claim me as one," she glared at me, "you filthy..."

"You know better," I cut her off, flashing a devilish smile, "then, I'll see you tomorrow," Rebbeca flipped her off before she grabbed me, and we left them. Julie seemed not too pleasant by the fact that I came back. She yelled and smashed the bottles of juices and beers down the floor furiously. Felonious Witch.


"Turtle!" My body spontaneously froze. I knew who it was, I knew this voice but I refused to turn around until he called me by my name! "Turtle!" No. Keep walking Samantha. I started to make another step forward, but Rebbeca and Ellie grabbed both my arms. Huh?

I glared at Rebbeca, and she winked. I threw a pleading look to Ellie, yet to no avail, I sighed in defeat. Both girls dragged me, until that guy and I were standing confronted to each other. "Russel" I knew, I should probably kneel or something for his generosity, or at least drop the whole exaggeration, and just show him my gratitude by granting his wish, which was probably not a clever decision, knowing what kind of person he used to be as well as his evil treats. "I told you to stop calling me that," I faked a smile. The corner of my lips twitched which evoked a light chuckle from him.

"That was a beautiful performance, Russel." Ellie mentioned, followed by nods of agreement from others. He arched his brows and smiled, "Beautiful?" He sounded astonished, "I've heard of not bad, cool, and great. But not beautiful," he said, "Not for a long time." He added in a whisper, as if he were talking to himself. I heard it, faintly.

Not for a long time? "I don't know how to write a love song?" I frowned. Somehow, they had an awful lot of differences, but it rang the same in my ear - the way he said it.

"Maybe because you sang a love song..." I said, watching his face as I added, "… once again, after such a long time," in a whisper, but I made sure it reached him. It was like playing a puzzle, and the riddle I had to figure out was right in front of me - in an awfully gorgeous human form. He turned his attention to me, but his focus wavered - as if he had his mind somewhere else right after I said it.

"Do you think so?" He abruptly asked, grinning sheepishly. I blinked.

Was he the one too elusive, or that was just my imagination? Was it not there, or were there a lot of things that he kept hidden? I tried to read his eyes, but couldn't surmise what's buried within it. Even somehow I knew, it was none of my business, but I was frustrated. He made me feel frustrated.

And these feelings started right after I saw it. I had been watching him the entire time, but no such expression in his eyes reflected, one of the boys had in the picture. I had my doubt, but I also suspected Russel for being secretive. The whole thing about not having parents, relatives, nothing. I knew nothing of him. And suddenly, someone just literally shoved Russel's past onto my face, furthermore ... a past that seemed more complicated than I had expected - if ... If I had ever expected it at all.

I knew, I shouldn't dig further into his personal life, I ... I struggled not to - but the fact that the boy in the picture was actually Russel, disturbed me. I hesitantly approached him, and stopped just a step away. Their chatter gradually stopped, I could feel stares of curiosity and expectation. I carefully lifted my hand to the level of his chest and slipped it underneath his shirt. I could feel it, the cold and hard material - the pendant.

"Turtle?" I gulped, slowly looking up into his eyes, my hand weakly fell back to my side, "can we talk?"

It was cold outside. We were heading to the block near the school yard. Wearing his gray coat, a white smoke that escaped from his lips, decorated the figure of his pale face. His misty green eyes stood out like it'd never been before.

We were walking together, his long steps matched my short steps, "You make me really curious. Now, what do you want to talk about?" He finally stopped, and turned me to face him by pulling my shoulder back - it was obvious, he knew that I had been hesitating. I lifted my hands and rubbed my palms, blowing my warm breath on both my hands. He was looking at me carefully, watching my every movement until he sighed, holding my hand and slipped one into the right pocket of his warm coat. Instead of pushing him away, I felt comfortable. The warmth of his hand felt so good on mine. And we kept on walking like that. My eyes frequently stole a glance until I couldn't stop staring at him. "You'll make a hole on my face the way you look at me." He sniffed, looking at me from the corner of his eye until he suddenly brought his face to the same level of mine, "I'll give you a full view of this handsome face," he smiled, before he added, "what happened?"

I bit my lip, what happened should be my line. What had happened in his past, that he refused to admit, he still had a Father? Was Mr. Hans really his Father?

I held onto his hand more tightly, "Um ... I can't say thank you enough for your help, Russ." I bit my lips and looked up into his eyes, "thank you so much for everything." Though we behaved like brats whenever we were together, even though there had never a nice word between us, all of this now felt so right. He let out a chuckle, "It's so not like you for acting so sweet," OK. Maybe not.

I sighed, "Russel."
"Have you ever had someone to share?" I pulled my hand out his pocket, and walked a few step ahead, looking at the sight of stars above. It was a cold night. I kept walking toward the park bench under the tree where I used to sit, reading books in peace. Where, under that particular tree, I could talk to Tyler without having to worry of intruders. Where Russel and I argued about love songs, where we had our share of fun with everyone. He followed me and we began to sit on the ground, leaning our back against the enormous tree trunk.

"Chad, Ronne, Matt, lots of them - why suddenly ..."
"Songs, composing, footballs, cafe, foods, and girls - I'm not talking about those light conversations," I smiled bitterly, "if I'm not an awkward person like, Rebbeca, Ronne, or you, I could have that kind of talk with a complete stranger."

He stared at me incredulously and opened his mouth to argue, but then nothing came out, except, "Have you been stalking me?"
I rolled my eyes, "No!" Don't tell me, he talked about girls with strangers too?! And as for me stalking him, there's no fuc-wait. I sort of did something alike then. I saw his childhood pictures, and tried to dig the truth from him. I watched him the entire time today, I was officially his stalker. I sighed, feeling exasperated.

Russel noticed the constant change of my facial expression, he laughed. "I'm kidding," he said, "I mean yeah, so what kind of talks are you referring to?"
"Something you can't talk to others."

His brows pinched into a scowl, "How am I supposed to share something I can't even let others know?" I watched his eyes as he stared at me with confusion, "Did you remember? I shared my 'something I can't even let others know' to you, and my friends - the one that got me in a big deal of mess?"

"Sometimes it hurts to keep it alone- 'No matter how hard you try to hide your shit in corners, it stinks. There is no way you can hide it forever', right?" I reminisced the moment when he caught my biggest secret, and nagged me to tell him the reason. I remembered all the 'shit philosophy' he told me.

He laughed, "Yeah, that. You sure have a good memory."
"You have one, haven't you?" I suddenly pointed out. I carefully watched him, but he just wrinkled his nose and shrugged, "Not really?"

Frustrated, I sighed again, "May they be your personal matters, like girlfriends ... family?" As soon as words escaped my lips, I regretted it. At first, he looked like he had no clue, but then he seemed to be taken aback and his eyes turned cold. His jaw clenched and his figure tensed, he broke our eye contact, and abruptly stood up, dusting off his pants, "What did he say ... to you?"

I shook my head, "Nothing, actually I was just..."
"Forget it," he cut me off. It made me look up at him, the same look as what I'd seen on the photograph. I saw that kid, the kid with sad eyes, yet again, but his facial expression hid it with a cold and hard look, like a shield. "Whatever," he said, "none of them should concern you." My heart ached when he said that, as I witnessed this side of him - a broken side of him.

That mischievous, crooked smile vanished, as if it never existed. As if he never truly smiled before. 'So, it was true,' I thought. I stood up, "He said you have a bad memory that should have been forgotten," I watched his face, an expression of disbelief, and then he laughed. He laughed with a sad look in his eyes, his hand slipped into his shirt, holding the pendant. Like, when I saw the picture, my hands reached out trying to console him, comfort him, as they cupped his face gently.

"Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than bad memories. It's one key to happiness out of so many. It was one thing to make you 'you' now." I said, caressing his cheek, "and if Mr. Hans had only seen those memories in a bad way, then his memory is like a net full of holes; the most beautiful prizes slip through it."

"You and your memory might be the most beautiful one, he missed," I smiled at him and patted on his head. He looked into my eyes. Like a melting ice, his eyes softened and sighing he bit his lip. He stared up, looking at the sky or ... an empty space above us. He didn't say anything after that. That was the first time I saw the other Russel. Or maybe, the real Russel.


Writer's Note

This is utterly insane. I know. I haven't posted forever and I don't blame you guys for hating me. Seriously. Because I even started to hate myself for not writing for decades. I just got into a huge writer's block. Not for wondering what should I write about next, but wondering why my writing style had become more ... and more ... and MORE boring.

*Back sound* ARRRGGGGGGGG!!!! *Back sound*
Mental breakdown

So, I'm thinking to start anew, hopefully with more interesting way of writing. I am open to curses (for not posting), critics, and LOVE. Leave me something in the comment box and don't hate me too much.
Published: 8/30/2013
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