The Ballad of the School Hallways
I sure was glad I made it in time.
The car’s driver tried his best to avoid us, veering his vehicle to the left when he realized that the road was slippery, and his brake was nearly ineffective. In my effort to save Stephanie, my leg hit his front light on the right side, but fortunately, it didn’t cause much damage to both me and the owner. Everyone present in the area rushed to our aid, especially to my student, whom they immediately brought aside to safety.
Meanwhile, I sat on the sidewalk. My right leg, which hit the car, was not painful. Nevertheless, I’m still careful to give conclusions since someone told me before that I may not feel any pain right now because of the adrenaline rush. Overall, I think I’m fine. Everyone’s focused on my student, so I guess I’d just take a bit of rest and slip away when the opportunity presented itself.
“Are you alright?” Stephanie’s mother rushed and threw her arms around her stunned daughter. “No injuries, huh?”
Watching them brought happiness in my chest, which was—honestly—filled with anger before. At least, even though the mother made a mistake, she was making amends because she loved Stephanie more than herself.
I hope they talk about it later. What’s important is that Stephanie’s accident was averted…
Maybelle was also helping her cousin. She brought out a handkerchief in a vain attempt to wipe Stephanie’s face, soaked in floodwater. The driver was also with them, who turned out to be a doctor. He was checking her for any injuries.
Stephanie, however, was looking somewhere else.
She was staring at my direction. I had no idea if she knew it was me; the rain and my wet hair obscured the upper part of my face, after all. Well, it’s not that I’d like to hide myself. However, answering questions were a pain in the ass. See, I went back in time in my uniform and sling bag. Of course, it would arouse suspicions as to why—even though it’s Sunday night, I was in my Monday clothes.
I knew Stephanie would come to my spot in a short while, so I stood up and used the commotion to slip away from the crowd.
The moment I woke up the next day, I immediately examined myself. My power always demanded a price from me for changing the events to my favor, so I was looking for any signs of ‘consequences’ in my body.
So far, I’m pretty much fine. My eyes remained as it was, right eyeball was semi-paralyzed, and both were still weak. My blood sugar was in normal level, though it was on the ‘high’ normal side, meaning, my diabetes was still there. I could move my limbs as if nothing happened, including my right leg that was hit yesterday.
I went around the house to check on my mother, my sister and her son, and my younger brother. All were good, with no signs of being affected by what I did. Our father called from overseas that morning, and the conversation went its usual route.
Strange, I thought. By this time, I should be feeling the consequences of what I did. After all, it was a major change in the events. But no, everything seemed normal…
Well, it’s not that I’m wishing something bad to happen to me. If my ability decided to stop demanding for an equal exchange, then it’s all good. I just hoped that it remained as it was. Again, I didn’t have a full grasp on how my power worked, so I wouldn’t know…
“You got a cold?” my mother asked.
“That’s what you get for soaking in the rain,” she told me as she searched her bag for a medication. “In the first place, I thought you’re home last night. What are you doing outside the house, anyway?”
It took me a few moments to answer her question. This was one of the problems with my time-travel; as I couldn’t choose where I could go back, there were obvious ‘inconsistencies’ with the timeline whenever I change it. Like this one, in the original Sunday timeline, I didn’t even went outside, so my mother thought I was just in my room. Then, when I altered the events, the original Sunday and the divergent Sunday merged, forming a weird narrative where I was in my house, yet I came home soaking wet.
Yep, if one doesn’t know my circumstances, they’d find it weird.
“Anyway, here’s medicine,” my mother handed me a small, yellow tablet. “Don’t forget to eat before you drink that.”
“Yep, thanks mom!”
Honestly, for the entire morning, I kept on drinking medicine. My cold was bad, and I felt sick. I knew I should’ve choose to skip classes, but for some reason, I wanted to check on Stephanie if she’s okay.
Though, thinking it over, it can be that she’s absent for today, after all that has happened.
I just stayed at my ‘private’ spot along the school corridor, catching on some sleep since my head was heavy. The morning session was still in class, so I got a few more hours of rest. Hopefully, I’d be fine later.
If it gets worse, I guess I’d cut my hours and go home early. I just want to see Stephanie.
I never noticed when I drifted off to sleep. I was roused from my slumber when I felt my table being bumped into by the students of the morning classes, who were recently dismissed. My eyes immediately went for my watch, which said ’12:44’ in the afternoon.
I still don’t feel well…
I moved my table, as I was about to stand up, when I noticed that something was pulling my clothes. I thought my uniform got snagged on the metal frame of my chair, but then I realized, I was sitting on a monoblock. How is it even possible my polo to get caught in that?
“!!!” I nearly jumped in surprise when I saw Stephanie sitting beside me, her hand holding the hem of my uniform. I fumbled in my words, as I surely didn’t expect her to be there, “We—W-W-Why are y-you h-here?”
“My mother cooked this for you,” she brought out a food container filled with pasta, and put it on my table. “I told her that you love carbonara.”
“Oh…OH!” I could only stare at my student, as I was afraid to ask her what I had in mind.
Nevertheless, Stephanie knew of my thoughts, “You’re that scary guy who pushed me off yesterday, right?”
“W-What are you talking about?”
“Your sling bag, Sir,” she pointed out. “I can still remember how it looked like.”
“Must be a coincidence,” I chuckled. “There are a lot of similar designs out there.”
“And your uniform you're wearing today. It’s not the Monday uniform of the teachers.”
Spot on. Stephanie’s eyes were sharp. Still, I tried to evade her question, “I mixed it up with my Tuesday clothes.”
“Hey, are you alright?” I dropped any pretensions when I heard my student cry out in pain. Though I remember I shielded her head yesterday, I quickly checked it for any signs of injury the doctor may had missed.
However, Stephanie was unfazed, “Sir, you know I didn’t tell you the guy yesterday protected my head. Why do you know about it?”
Yep, she got me. This brat…
“And the final piece of evidence for my case against you, Sir…” she paused for a moment, as if she was an attorney in the middle of the courtroom. “You got a bad cold, right? Of course you would; it’s so cold last night, and we got wet together.”
“You’re not sick,” I reminded her.
“My house is minutes away. It’s pretty easy to travel from the gasoline station, to my place and change my clothes.”
She’s got a point. In contrast, I had to wait for a jeepney for nearly 30 minutes, in the middle of the downpour, since my motorcycle was at our house in the original Sunday timeline. Now that the ‘other’ Sunday night merged with the unaltered version, I was left to commute. I got my sling bag with me; that’s where I kept my money, IDs, and licenses. But the drivers won’t allow me in their vehicle because I was soaking wet—they were afraid to turn away other commuters because of me.
I was eventually helped by a jeepney driver who pitied me, and took me with him; he was on his way home from a long day of work. So yes, cold, wet and exposed for a couple of hours, it’s not a surprise I ended up sick.
“So, that man yesterday is you?”
Cornered, and all the evidences pointing me, I sheepishly nodded, and said, “Yes.”
“Sir Seth,” she gave me a long stare that I got awkward. “I hate liars. Why did you suddenly disappear?”
I fell silent. Well, considering her recent experience with her mother, I guess Stephanie had all the rights to feel that way. In any case, I never intended to hide my identity; I just don’t want to answer questions, especially the ones that could lead to the discovery of my ability. I’m afraid that people would think of me as a ‘weirdo’ if they learned about it.
But, I was about to tell her the ‘official version’ (the alibi I prepared to hide my power) of the truth, when…
“What are you doing, Steph?” I was caught off-guard once more when my student suddenly embraced me. Naturally, my instincts kicked in and I raised my hands, just to show to everyone who might be watching that I’m not holding her inappropriately.
“Let me be like this for a few moments, Sir…” she said as she buried her face in my round stomach. Stephanie was the one who requested it, so I just let her be. Soon, I could feel a wet and warm sensation through my uniform. The following sob confirmed my suspicion that she was crying.
“It’s alright,” I gave her a head pat. “I’m glad you’re okay.”
“Thank you, Sir…” her muffled voice told me. “I wouldn’t mistake this fat body of yours for anyone else. I love this warmth…you’re a precious person to me.”
I don’t know if I should be offended or grateful when she referred to my body as ‘fat’. But no matter, it was a trivial issue; at least, I could rest easy now that Stephanie was safe.
At the end, I couldn’t stay at school anymore. My cold went from bad to worse, and it’s as if my head was being pounded. I had to cut off my work hours for today and head home.
I guess this is my payment for changing the timeline? I don’t know, but I’m kind of suspicious it is relatively light compared to the other consequences.
After that incident on the road, Stephanie and her mother had a ‘heart-to-heart’ talk, where the latter asked for her daughter’s forgiveness. Stephanie, consistent with her happy attitude, was quick to forgive her. Also, as a sign (as well as security) that she would turn away from that illicit affair, she allowed her daughter to use her phone, as long as she’s not doing something with it.
All’s well that ends well, is it?
And since I accomplished what I intended to do, I left an activity to a colleague and notified our principal about my plans to go home. Of course, our school head—an asshole that she was—scowled at me that moment she learned of my situation. However, even though she wanted me to stay at school, she had to agree with me, simply because I couldn’t teach properly when I’m sick.
“If you can’t do something about your absences, Mister Gilles, I’d be forced to slap administrative cases against you,” she threatened just before I went out of her office.
“Noted, Mam. Thank you for the warning,” I told her. Well, no matter how much our principal tried, she won’t scare me. I’m not that lazy when it came to work. My absences were limited to a maximum of two per month, as I was getting tired and stressed by her ‘bossy’ way of leadership. Back when she was not our head, my attendance was perfect, so I guess one couldn’t fault me for what I’m doing.
Bye, you incompetent fucker! See you tomorrow!