Chapter 13:


The Ballad of the School Hallways

Realizing that Stephanie had me cornered and she wouldn’t budge from her position, I could only shake my head and say, “Well, shitty things happened.”

“What things, Sir? You’re being vague.”

I was still having my doubts as to whether or not I’m doing the right thing. I’m a teacher, and an adult; Stephanie should stay out of my personal affairs.

Yet, there’s this little voice inside me that keeps on urging me to trust her.


She’s still a kid! Yes, Stephanie may be a teenager, but no matter how I look at it, she’s a minor!

“Sir!” she took hold of my hand. “You can trust me. I may be young, but my desire to help you is all the same. If you’re doubting if I can offer anything, at the very least—like what you’re doing to us, you need someone to listen to your problems.”

Stephanie uttered those words with a straight-face. Her eyes never wavered, and I could tell that she’s determined to know whatever pains me. My lips formed a weak smile, and I told her, “My…My former girlfriend tried to talk to me again. She contacted my friend and passed an invitation to her son’s baptismal. I guess she wanted me to appear there.”

“Ha?” her expression changed from serious to disbelief. “Is your ex-girlfriend right in the head Sir? Why would she do that?”

“I don’t know, too,” I replied. “But yes, it’s painful. I still love her, after all.”

“Well, are you going?”

I couldn’t answer Stephanie’s question for a few seconds, though I said in the end, “I wanted to see her badly, you know? Even with all that happened between us…at least, let me have a closure to our tragedy.”

“Don’t go!”

I just grinned at her suggestion.

“No, seriously, Sir!” she reiterated. “Don’t go! I know you wanted to, but you’ll only hurt yourself! Don’t be a martyr; it’s okay to be bitter! And if you’re looking for a ‘closure’ to your failed relationship with her, then it’s perfectly fine to decide here and not there!”

“I…I don’t know…”

“If you go, I won’t talk to you anymore!” she threatened.

Well, it’s not like I’m afraid of Stephanie’s threat. However, I was touched by her audacity to say those words to me—who was supposed to be her teacher—in an effort to save me from pain.

Haa…this girl, teaching me how to move on. I really love you; well, as a friend, of course.

“Sir, am I clear on this?”

“You’re not my mother.”

“I’m just your student, yes, but I’m also a girl,” she insisted. “And honestly? I wanted to kick and punch your ex-girlfriend for hurting you! She wasted your kindness! If I was her, I would say yes to your marriage proposal even before you asked me!”

Heh, how does that happen?” I chuckled, “Besides, don’t make me a criminal; I’m not into children.”

“Well, I did say if I was her…meaning, if we’re of the same age, Sir.”

“Alright, I appreciate your feelings,” I jested. “But I’m rejecting you right now.”

Wow…broken-hearted yet you still have the guts to refuse a cute girl like me.”

“You’re a brat.”

Stephanie countered by sticking her tongue out.

Hm…seriously, thank you for cheering me up, Steph.” Though it was weak, I still flashed her a smile, and gave her a pat on the head, “I think I just want to go home…”

“You won’t come to class?”

Nah, I only said I ‘think’. It’s different to I ‘intend’.”


“Well, thanks for talking to me. I’m not fine now, but I will be soon.”

“It’s all good, Sir! I’m glad that you opened up to me.”

“I see…thanks!” then I turned around to walk away, but…


“Come on, Sir!” Stephanie grabbed my hand, “If you’re feeling down, come join us at our jamming! Hey Kyle, bring out your guitar and let’s sing some songs!”

I was surprised by the sudden gesture. She pulled me lightly, but I let myself be dragged, anyway. Leading me into their classroom, Kyle, Ferdie, Denver, and the rest of Class Jade (and some students from other class were there as well) were already waiting for me to appear, and they formed a circle. Kyle was the one who held the guitar.

Ah, sir!” Kyle’s face brightened up. “Steph told us that you’re down today, so we thought we’d like to cheer you up!”

“Oh…” To be honest, I didn’t expect to be treated like this. I’m a teacher, and I should be the one standing by the students. But, for now, I guess relying on them wouldn’t be too much…just let me feel love, even if it’s just for a moment.

“Kyle, why don’t you go play a sad song for Sir Seth?” Stephanie suggested.

“You idiot!” I countered, “I’m sad right now, and the last thing I have on my mind is a sad song to listen to.”

“This song…” Kyle began to strum the strings of his guitar, “…I dedicate to our idol teacher, Sir Seth…”

“Come on, Kyle, don’t even try to start it, or I’ll get pissed.”

And yes, Kyle didn’t heed to my threat, and actually began to sing a sad song. Stephanie, Ferdie, Denver, and the rest of the 8-Jade joined in, which was then followed by the students from the other classes (who were curious at what’s going on), singing along as well.

I love you guys!


Hey assholes! Good afternoon!”

“Good afternoon, Sir!”

A few days after that incident, and here I was, back on my feet once again. It was one unusually hot afternoon, but it didn’t dampen my spirit to teach. In fact, you could say that it even strengthened my resolve to help my students.

Who wouldn’t, after they drowned me in their love?

“For today, our lesson in Arts is what we call ‘Mandala Art’. As you know, Mandala meant ‘circle’ in Sanskrit and it is connected to…”

Honestly, what Stephanie and the rest of 8th Grade students did to me was quite refreshing. I never cried that much for a long while, and it poured out all the anger and frustrations I’d been trying to suppress for a long time.

As a result, when I went to class in the following days, I felt so free. Well, there’s still that lingering sadness in my heart, but well, I think I could get by thanks to the love and support of my students, especially Class Jade.

Oops, before we start our painting though…” I bowed before them; my only way to express overwhelming gratitude to these lovely brats. “I wanted to thank you all for what you did to me last time. You guys are the best, you know?”

The entire Class Jade erupted in cheers. A lot of them were consoling me as well, like, “Sir, we understand! It’s okay!” and “Sir, who’s that bitch who broke your heart? Tell us so we can piss her off!”

Nah, don’t even try,” I replied. “I just want her to be happy, you know?”

“But she made our favorite teacher sad!” said one student.

“Guys, guys!” I calmed them down; there’s no telling if their statements were true, or they’re just bluffing. If I didn’t stop them, it could turn ugly. In any case, I didn’t want them to have anything to do with Anne Marie. “You know, I think my ex-girlfriend had found her happiness, and as someone who still loves her, I never wished to destroy it. Though it isn’t me whom she chose, I’m still going to support her, even if I end up in tears.”

“Awww…” they could only bemoan my fate. Well, that’s to be expected…and, I guess it could also be an opportunity to show them the ropes on how to properly love a person.

You see, a lot of relationships today among the younger couples end up on a tragic note because they selfishly pursue their own happiness to the detriment of their partner’s. Talking and advising them on social media led me to that conclusion. ‘Give and receive’, that’s what I’ve been teaching them when it comes to those matters…

And I hope they learned it by heart as well.


Oh well…

Although it’s been energetic and happy when I’m at school, the moment I’m alone, all of that sadness comes back to me like a crashing wave. Nevertheless, this time, it’s not that painful anymore. After all, while Anne Marie had her family, I got my students to support me.


But well, just like what Stephanie said, I could move on even though there’s no closure between me and Anne Marie. I had my loving students—ready to fight and prop me up all the way, and I resolved to help them as well.

Time to apply my lessons to myself, I guess?


I slowed down my motorcycle and stopped at a nearby convenience store.

“Miss, do you have a phone load credits card?”

“How much, sir?”

“Give me the 300, Smart.”

The cashier searched for a bit, and came back to me with a card in hand, “Here you go!”

“Thanks,” I gave her the bills and went out of the store to get some proper phone signal. Then, I entered the numbers on my phone to get the credits. After making sure that my phone account had been duly refilled with credits, I went to the message inbox, and called the number of my friend…


“Erika? This is Seth.”

“Ah, long time no hear, Seth! Have you read my message?”

“Yep. And I’m actually calling you about that.”

“Yes…well, Anne Marie wishes to speak to you about what happened before. She says if you can come to her son’s baptismal. I think that girl’s going to ask forgiveness for what she did.”

“I know. But I won’t be going.”

“I see…I understand. I won’t blame you for it, Seth. Anne Marie is at fault here, though—as her and your friend—I want to personally ask for your forgiveness for her actions.”

“No, Erika, listen. Please tell her this…” I took a deep breath before continuing, “Tell Anne Marie, I still love her, and I forgive her for what had happened. Please say to her that I’m also asking for her forgiveness; I think I’m also at fault for our failed relationship.”

“Yes…” the voice on the other side of the line was trailing. “Even though I know you did your best…”

“Isn’t it because I love her?”

“You fucking martyr! Don’t make me cry over here!”

“I’m sorry,” I chuckled to lighten the atmosphere. Nevertheless, I said, “Erika, tell Anne Marie…I wish her happiness. And don’t fucking worry about me, I got my happy students to support and love me all the way. That’s all, and ‘goodbye’.”

“That’s…haa…” I heard the person on the other line sigh, “Man, you really love her that much, huh?”

“Of course, she’s my first love, after all. And first loves will always have a special place in our hearts.”

Erika fell completely silent. Maybe she was surprised by what I just said; nevertheless, I meant those words, having gone through those myself.

“Hey, Seth.”


“Would you like to know the name of Anne Marie’s son?”

I thought to myself, why not? It’s not that I’d dive into deeper depression that I was in right now. “Okay, let’s hear it.”

“The cute little boy’s name is ‘Seth Michael’.”

Heh, she really named him after me, huh?” I surmised that ‘Michael’ was the name of her husband.

“Anne Marie still loves you, Seth. It’s just that, she knew she has to suffer for her sins. Give back your heart to you, and move on.”

Those words were painful to hear, yet, I’m at peace, “So am I, Erika…I receive back my heart, and I give hers as well. I wish only the best for her family, and her husband.”

“Got it. Thanks for calling me, Seth. I bet Anne Marie will be relieved the moment she hears what you told me,” Erika said.

“Then it’s all good. Bye, Erika!”

The line went dead. As I stood there outside the store, I looked at the night sky. My feelings were still down, but I could feel I was healing. Maybe in a few days after this, I’d be completely fine. After all, I won’t let my students efforts—especially Stephanie’s—went to waste.


‘Give and receive’. It’s the proof of my everlasting love for her; I gave her back her freedom to love…so you better receive it well, Anne Marie!