Chapter 17:


The Ballad of the School Hallways

I tried to contact Stephanie the moment I received her message asking for help. First, by replying to her chat. When she didn’t answer, I called her via Messeng*r. Still, the line won’t connect. With my options slimming down, I contacted Stephanie’s friends, but even they didn’t have an idea of why she sent that message to me.


Though I’m worried sick of my student, with the little information that I had at the moment, I could only wait for the next day. I did not get a proper sleep that night, and I went off for school the next morning…even though my class was still in the afternoon.

When the bell rang dismissing the morning classes, I stood by the gate of our school, looking for Stephanie among the incoming afternoon session students. Almost everyone—save for the habitual latecomers—were already inside the school grounds, but I didn’t see even my student’s shadow.

At that moment, my heart is melting. I can feel my hands quivering; I’m scared.

“Stephanie…what the hell happened to you?” I could only mutter.

Then, I saw Maybelle coming in from the corner of the road that led to our school. I was about to meet her halfway, when I saw Stephanie’s mother following her closely.

“Good afternoon Sir!” Stephanie’s mother greeted the moment she saw me. Though she said ‘good’, her face looked the otherwise. It’s as if she didn’t sleep with all those dark circles under her eyes.

“Yes Mam?” I tried to remain as calm as possible, though when my eyes met with Maybelle’s, I knew the news wasn’t good.

“I’ll just excuse my daughter, Sir!” Stephanie’s mother began. “She won’t be coming to school for a few days…possibly, weeks.”

Err…what happened to her, Mam?”

“My daughter…” there were tears forming in her eyes, “…she got involved in an accident. A car ran over her last night; it’s a good thing that she’s still alive, but she’s severely injured.”

The words from Stephanie’s last chat rushed back into my mind. ‘Help me’. She’s asking for my help, even though she knew I couldn’t come to her right away. Of all the people she could call upon, the first one in her mind was…me.


“Sir?” Maybelle nudged. “Are you okay?”

“Y-Yeah, I-I’m good,” I tried to present a calm front to Stephanie’s mother. “Mam, don’t worry. As her teacher, I’ll tell it to her adviser. Please take care of your daughter.”

The mother just gave me a nod, as she was also keeping herself from breaking down. Then, she excused herself and went on her way.

As for me, I don’t know what to feel at the moment. Deep inside, a myriad of emotions sprung up. There was a part of me that wanted to get my motorcycle keys and head straight to the hospital where Stephanie was confined, and there was also that side that’s blaming her mother for what happened. After all, these stupid adults always follow their instincts, disregarding reason and common sense, and worse, they pull down their children with them.

“What…happened?” I muttered, though that question was directed to Maybelle, who stood beside me all the time.

“Sir…” Maybelle couldn’t hide her sadness as well, “…I was with Stephanie yesterday, at the convenience store. Just as we’re about to ride the tricycle, she saw her mother with someone else…”

“Honey, eh?

Maybelle nodded, “It’s a man, Sir. I tried to stop Steph, but it was raining, and my hands slipped. I was too late when she crossed the street and—”

“Please stop,” I couldn’t bear to hear anymore. “I already know what’s next…and, it’s not your fault.” I could only close my eyes. Initially shocked, rage was slowly taking over me. Stephanie, a cheerful, lovely student of mine, had to suffer because of the irresponsible adults around her.



When I finally calmed down, the first thing that I did was to ask Maybelle for the hospital where Stephanie was being treated. Finding out that she was in a nearby private hospital, I never waited for the class dismissal and headed over to visit her the moment I’m on my break.

Well, I also got her some flowers on the way…

“I’d like to know where Miss Stephanie Anya Cefiro’s room is.”

“May I ask if you’re a relative, Sir?” the receptionist replied.

“No,” I gave her my IDs. “I’m her teacher.”

The receptionist examined my IDs before she went back to her list, “Miss Cefiro is in Room 329. You can take the elevator to reach the third floor, Sir.”


At the elevator, various memories flashed through my mind. That time when she first reached out to me while drawing. That moment when we had our lunch at McDon’s. Or when she stood by me when I was down because of my ex-girlfriend.

Her smile is the reason that I’m here today. Her love—even though I’m just her teacher—is what kept me going.


And honestly? I don’t know what I’ll do once I see her. Her mother told me that she’s ‘severely injured’. I had no idea how severe was her ‘severely injured’, but I expected that I won’t like what I’d see.


When the elevator finally reached the third floor, I didn’t even wait for its doors to fully open. I immediately stepped outside, and reoriented myself. This hospital was familiar to me, after all, I got a cousin-in-law working here as a medical secretary.

Looking for her room was an easy task. The ‘3’ in 329 was for the third floor. The ‘2’ meant that she was in a private ‘suite’, and the odd-numbered suites were to my right. I just had to follow the ascending order of rooms, till I reached the door that bore her name.

‘Stephanie Anya Cefiro, 14 y/o. Dr. Rey Tolentino.’

And to think that her doctor was an acquaintance of my cousin-in-law as well…I knew she was in good hands.


I fixed my uniform before knocking on the door. It was opened for me on my second knock, and Carl came out to greet me.

“Sir!” he couldn’t keep his surprise. “I thought you have class? Please come in!”

“I do, but I can’t visit Stephanie later, so I decided to come now,” I smiled as I entered the room. Carl took the bouquet from my hands and put it in a nearby makeshift vase.

Meanwhile, my student was sleeping. Stephanie’s head had bandages, her face had bruises. Her left arm was broken; according to her cousin, the car hit her on her left side. Carl also told me that she was awake a couple of hours ago, though the doctor wanted to have her rested.

I don’t know what I should feel. My heart was breaking for her; though she’s just a friend, Stephanie was an important person to me. And looking at her like that…I just couldn’t imagine what she’d been going through right now.

“Where’s her mother?” I asked.

“Auntie’s with our relatives,” Carl revealed. “They are having a private talk right now, so I get to stay with my cousin.”

“I see…” I tapped his shoulder. “Thanks for looking after her.”

“I could say the same to you, Sir. Stephanie is always excited to come to class because of you.”

I didn’t say anything after that. I don’t know what I should tell Carl, anyway. They knew that deep in my thoughts, I was with Stephanie. Not only did I wish for her to get better, I also wanted her problems solved. After all, it was hard and painful to heal from your injuries when you’re expecting trouble once you recovered.


All the while I was with Stephanie in that small hospital room, I was thinking of my options.


The first time I caused a permanent change in the timeline (preventing my former student from killing himself), I paid it with my physical condition: I got diabetes. The second instance was when I kept Stephanie from getting hurt because of my decision to select someone else for my little teacher. For that, I paid with my eyesight getting weaker, and my right eye semi-paralyzed.


Yes, for this one, I don’t know what would happen to me. Not only am I clueless of my power’s consequences, I had no idea of where my ability would take me. I wanted to go back to the time when Stephanie’s mother got to know that guy whom she was having an affair with, for that was the root cause of all this incident. But then, I knew that I might end up someplace else.

Nevertheless, even with all those conditions going against me, I’m determined to reverse everything. I wanted Stephanie to be happy, and even if it cost me my life, it’s a battle that was worth it.

“Carl, I’ll excuse myself now. Please watch over Stephanie…”

Ah, yes Sir! Please take care on your way back.”

I couldn’t tell him that I don’t need that ‘care’ anymore. After this, we won’t even meet here at the hospital!

Once back at the hospital corridor, I immediately went in a nearby comfort room and locked the door. Uttering a silent prayer, taking a deep breath, and closing my eyes, soon I began to wish to go back in time…wherever my ability would take me.


The next thing that I knew, I was already soaking wet. The downpour was heavy, and at my feet was water…the streets were flooded. Looking around, I realized that it was nighttime, and I’m in the gasoline station right outside the village where my school was.


Right, there’s a convenience store here.

Turning behind me, I saw Stephanie and Maybelle inside the store, paying for the items they bought. In a few seconds, these two would encounter Stephanie’s mother, together with Mister Honey. And even later than that, Stephanie would be involved in an accident.

“!!!” Good thing I was soaked, for no one could recognize me. I quickly walked away from the convenience store, looking for Stephanie’s mother. I saw her standing on the other side of the street, opposite of the convenience store, with an open umbrella in hand. The rain partly obscured her from her daughter, who was only a few meters from her spot.

I guess they don’t know that both of them are there.

In any case, I knew from the way she stood that Stephanie’s mother was waiting for someone, and I expected it to be Mister Honey. My plan was to create a distraction, and stop Stephanie and her mother from seeing one another. Then, once I created enough trouble for Maybelle and Stephanie to go away, I’d confront the adults and give Mister Honey a beating and a warning.

They will never know it’s me anyway, after I use my power to stop time.

So, even without practice, I began positioning myself near Stephanie’s mother by deliberately walking slowly. Of course, I hid my face with a towel—trying to make it as if I’m covering my head from the rain in vain—so that she won’t suspect a thing. And then, my target finally showed up…

“Why did you call me in the middle of this rain?” the man said to Stephanie’s mother.

“I wanted to stop this,” she replied. “I love my daughter, and I don’t want to destroy her future!”

My steps halted when I heard their conversation. I hated Stephanie’s mother when I learned of her daughter’s accident. However, I was shocked that she—though imperfect—still cared for Stephanie. She loved her enough to cut ties with this fellow trying to wreck her family.

“…” From a determined attacker, my resolve suddenly wavered. I couldn’t change this timeline, now that Stephanie’s mother was actually remorseful of what she did. However, what I needed to prevent was…

“Stephanie, don’t do it!”


Maybelle’s voice echoed even though the rain drowned other noises. The car that hit Stephanie also showed up, and my student was already halfway across the street. Fuck! I was the one who got distracted!


I’m a person of compulsion. Even if the entire universe bestowed to me the most powerful ability there was, I’d still revert to my basic human instincts whenever I’m confronted with a sudden, life-and-death situation. As such, I didn’t think of stopping time back then. What’s on my mind was…

I’ll save you!


The loud blow from the car horn and the screeching from its tires drowned my scream—which was my way of forcing the adrenaline on my limbs to save a life. Stephanie froze when she saw me flying towards her; using my body, I pushed her away from incoming vehicle, and held her head so that she won’t hit it on the pavement.


We both splashed down in the floodwater.