The Ballad of the School Hallways
Stephanie Anya Cefiro, vice-president of Grade 8-Jade. She came from a ‘line’ of achievers famous in her school, which was nearby her neighborhood. Three of her uncles went there before; while they were notorious for their mischievousness, their teachers would also heap praises for them in the end. A cousin of hers was the elected president of Class Opal, and one of the best students in their section. Another distant cousin was showing promise in her own class, Juniper, though she’s more silent than the others.
However, their ‘greatest’ member was Carl Mijares, who was a level ahead of her. That cousin of hers was the new vice-president of the Supreme Student Government of their school for the current school year, and was often relied upon by the teachers. Yes, Carl had his share of mischiefs—one could easily mistake him as someone who’s not serious in his studies—yet, he had the respect and admiration of his fellow students and the faculty.
And Stephanie was more of a ‘second-rate’ copy of her cousin.
“Hey, cousin!” Carl called out to her as she was browsing her F*cebook wall. “I heard that Sir Seth had just assigned you as his little teacher, huh?”
“Mm…yep,” she answered, though she never took her eyes off her phone.
“What are you teaching for the Little Teacher’s Day?”
“He gave me the topic on Physical Education. I think it’s all about indoor exercises.”
Carl quickly stopped himself from laughing; Stephanie noticed that.
“Hey, I’m not fat,” she told him.
“Heh, I told you Sir Seth’s pretty approachable when it comes to these things,” Carl changed the topic. “That teacher won’t let his students down.”
“Hmm…he’s kind,” Stephanie chuckled. “Though, I’d say, he’s weird.”
“We got the same opinion; but I don’t think his weirdness is bad. In fact, the students love him for it. You want to know who’s the winner of the Most Admired Teacher in our school poll?”
“I get it, it’s Sir Seth.”
“True. And by a huge landslide of votes across the Grade 8, 9 and 10, too,” Carl showed to her the digital tally board he was working on. “The only ones who didn’t vote for him are the students from Grade 7, which is understandable, given that he’s a teacher from Grade 8. They don’t know him that much.”
“Eh, when I was in 7th Grade, I only got to know Sir Seth because you and Kuya Albert would tell stories about him.”
“We can’t help it; he’s that memorable,” Carl continued, “I can still remember that time when he was teaching about theater play and acting. To show us an example of how to act, he literally got into the role of an ‘action hero’, and dove on the floor, shooting imaginary enemies with the broom as his ‘rifle’.”
“Oh?” Stephanie stopped scrolling on her phone, “You didn’t tell me that part! Really? Inside the classroom?”
“Yes!” he nodded. “Imagine how awesome it looked; a teacher, trying to teach his lesson in a fun way, diving on the floor like an action movie star. You don’t get to see something like that in all your days as a student!”
“I’d love to see that happen,” she quipped. “For us, he’s that teacher who would join his students as if we’re his friends. And you know what, we look up to him like an older brother.”
“Yeah, don’t look at him as a father; he’d take offense.”
Stephanie giggled, then she brought out the question, “Carl, now that you said it, I’m wondering…”
“Sir Seth…I don’t know but, whenever I look into his face, there’s something that’s bugging me.”
“Eh, I’m no wizard, Steph,” Carl shrugged. “I can’t answer your question unless you’re specific about it.”
“Well, I’m not exactly looking for answers. What I want to say is that, for some reason, though Sir Seth is always smiling and at times, can be nasty, there’s sadness in his eyes.”
“Hmm…I didn’t notice that.”
“Your heart is made of stone, Carl.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you,” he grinned. “But, well, to answer you…I don’t know exactly. I guess it has something to do with his love life, maybe?”
“Love life? You even know of that?”
“Sir Seth’s someone who doesn’t hide much, see? He did tell us about his failed romance before, as part of a lesson. That guy still loves his ex-girlfriend, whom he tried to propose marriage, but dropped him for another guy.”
“Well, I don’t know. If I’m to believe his story, Sir Seth’s been pretty loyal to his former girlfriend. He always says that they were in a relationship for 12 years, starting from his 8th Grade up to two years ago, I guess? Then they drifted off from each other after the botched proposal. A year after that, the girl was married to someone else.”
“It is,” he went back to his tally board. “But we don’t know the full story. If I were to make an observation about Sir Seth, I’d say he’s still yet to move on. I mean, that teacher’s been ‘loveless’ ever since, though he’s being partnered and teased to Mam Chel!”
“Eh…must be that Sir Seth doesn’t want to enter into a relationship. Maybe, like what you said, he’s still in the process of moving on. I don’t think Mam Chel would like it if she learns that Sir Seth is using her as a ‘fix’ for his broken heart.”
Carl stopped typing and stared at his cousin.
Stephanie could feel the awkward air around them, “W-What?”
“For some reason, Steph, I think what you just said is right. Even I won’t like it if I learned that I’m someone else’s replacement. You finally said something that made sense!”
“I always speak with sense! Cut out the disbelief, heretic!”
“I think you can now ask Auntie to permit you to get a boyfriend.”
“What?” Stephanie exclaimed, “W-Where did that c-come from? Don’t you know my mother will kill me if she catches me with a boyfriend?”
“Well, do you have one then?”
Stephanie fell silent, taken aback by the suddenness of her cousin’s questions. Nevertheless, she rallied and vehemently denied his accusations, all the while turning off her phone’s browser just to be sure.
However, Carl only laughed and he went back on his tally board. He muttered, “Sucks to be you, then.”
Seeing that her cousin was busy once again and she escaped his scrutiny, Stephanie resumed scrolling on her phone. However, at the back of her mind, her teacher remained. Sir Seth had been a good friend to her and to her classmates, and as a friend, she wanted to do something to make him happy at least.
Maybe she’ll ask Kyle, Ferdie and Denver about her plan tomorrow…