Chapter 2:

Chapter 2

Mokhoddis School Days Episode II

A melodic school bell echoed through Golden Hills Academy. Students rushed out like sardines in a feeding frenzy as the clock signaled their dismissal for the day. Mokhoddis, Rubina, and Phet walked out side by side. Conversations about the new cute boy in class, the next volleyball game, and complaints about the math homework fell into Mokhoddis’s ears as he passed by groups of students huddled together walking home.

“Hey Phet, wanna stop by the arcade today? Your bringing up of SpaceMan today made me want to go beat some high scores. We haven’t played in a while.” Mokhoddis asked Phet.

“Ahh, I don’t know Mokhoddis. I have to go home and outline my painting.” Phet replied as he bounced happily.

“C’mon dude, you still have three days to do it.”

“Three days isn’t enough if I want to make a painting worth displaying in the contest. I still need to fix a bit of the composition before going over my sketch with ink.”

“Dude cmon, you’re not going to even come close to winning.” Mokhoddis laughed.
“And?” Rubina interrupted.

“And what?” Mokhoddis looked at Rubina.

“I’m doing this for fun, I don’t care if I win or not.” Phet replied.

“You can’t possibly find painting fun. The only reason I’m doing this is because it is a grade. You really want to go out there and lower your self-confidence even more by comparing your junk to professionals who are going to be participating?”

“I won’t know unless I try!” Phet stepped his foot on the ground. “At least I’m willing to try unlike you. Even if I’m bad at it.” Phet turned in the other direction to show his annoyance with Mokhoddis.

“Phet wait..” Mokhoddis tried to stop him to no avail.

“You know, you crossed the line, Mokhoddis.” Rubina scolded.

“I crossed the line? Phet is acting like a little kid, stomping his feet on the ground when he’s mad.” Mokhoddis teased. “Anyways, do you want to go to the arcade with me instead?”

“Sorry, but I have better things to do than go beat up a bunch of pixel space pirates. Why don’t you come paint with me instead?” Rubina invited Mokhoddis with a tone of superiority.

“What happened to you, you used to love SpaceMan as a kid. Phet too, but both of you guys barely come to play with me now. You would rather choose to scrape a soggy brush on a piece of paper instead”

“Maybe because we’re older now and are busy with other things? And you really like to describe painting as a heinous activity don’t you?” Rubina retorted.

“I know your Monday schedule. All you have is your piano practice. You act busier than you are.” Mokhoddis said.

“And my science homework and doing the dishes and getting this painting ready for contest quality” Rubina added.

“You have all that stuff you need to do and still want to enter this boring contest too?” Mokhoddis laughed hysterically this time.

“What’s wrong with competing in the art contest?” Rubina creased her eyebrows.

“Rubina.” Mokhoddis grabbed her shoulder. “You’re going to work yourself to death trying to perfect your painting. Trust me I know how you are. You don’t always have to be competitive in everything.”

“So what if I work myself to death? You don’t know me as much as you think you do.”

“I’m just saying this because I care about you.” Mokhoddis said gently.

“Maybe you should care more about finishing your painting, just for a class grade.” Rubina brushed Mokhoddis’ hands off her and walked away. “Besides” She stopped. “If you really did care for me, you’d join me.” She gave him a resentful look before walking away.

“You know what?! You won’t even produce the best painting from class E, let alone win the art contest. Nina is way better than you.” Mokhoddis tried to draw breath. Rubina stopped again, her body jolted as if she was shocked at what came out of Mokhoddis’ mouth and slightly tilted her head down before she resumed walking.

“If I really tried, I could win the art contest, but I find painting stupid.” Mokhoddis continued. The sun was drifting towards the horizon. Crows lifted themselves off the branch and flew in a murder. Mokhoddis had realized what he had just done to Phet and Rubina.

“I’m sorry… Rubina.” He tried to redeem himself, yet no one was around to witness his sincerity.

Rubina rushed home, contemplating what just happened. She wanted to go to the arcade, but she also knew that she couldn't afford to spend more time away from her painting.

Rubina wasn't the kind of person who shied away from competition. She was pretty good at debating and debates were a lot of fun. In fact, she loved debating with Phet since his logic was always flawed in some way. They all got along well since they were kids, but it felt like all three of them were slowly drifting apart. Rubina went straight to her room. It was already late, “I should’ve started my painting earlier.” Rubina sat on the corner of her bed and began working on her painting. Her mind drifted to Phet and how mean Mokhoddis was to him today. "I've never seen him like that, usually it was playful banter between the two. Yet, today... Today was different."

Rubina thought to herself. "He's right though. I'm wasting my time by painting. What use is it? It’s not really making me any smarter nor any richer." Rubina sighed.

She picked up her brush and began to paint the landscape.

Mokhoddis zoomed past in space, shooting down any alien spaceships that stood in his path.



“Oh, I’m approaching level 9?” Mokhoddis looked at the corner of the screen. Mokhoddis gripped the yellow stick and twisted it in every direction.

“Ahh, these asteroid soldiers are trouble.” He creased his eyebrows. As he approached the end of the galaxy, the enemy spaceships got faster and smarter. Now he had to react quickly. “Haha, you think ganging up on me with your level 5 rocket boosters is gonna stop me?” Mokhoddis smiled.


GAME OVER popped up on the screen. In the end, Mokhoddis was outclassed. “Thank you for playing ‘HunterChad72’, you placed in the top 10%. Press enter to continue.” Popped up on the screen.

“Hmm, only the top 10%? I’m really sluggish today.” Mokhoddis whined.

“Look, it's the legendary HunterChad72.” little kids across the room gaped in amazement as they surrounded Mokhoddis.

Mokhoddis’ eyes narrowed at the crowd. “Arcades are no fun by yourself” he walked out in boredom.

“Hey! Heyyy!” A squeaky voice yelled across the street.

“You look like you would be interested in buying our paintings. We need to raise money for a charity”

A group of kids with poorly proportioned horses and other animals in a painting stood on the other side of the road. Mokhoddis narrowed his eyes.

“Not interested kids.” he muttered while walking away.

“Please! Please buy our paintings! It's for a good cause!” the children pleaded to Mokhoddis as he closed his eyes and turned back towards the child.

“Look kid, your art sucks, those don’t even look anything like horses. Why would I bother spending money on a useless piece of junk? I would much rather donate to your cause if it meant never seeing your hideous paintings again.”

“I-it's not a horse…'' one of the kids whispered.

Mokhoddis opened his eyes and looked at the children, tears forming in their eyes,

“This sucks.” He said to himself before walking away.

“Painting this painting that, I wonder if Phet is still working on his painting.”

At his home, Phet lounged on his bed. “Hmmm, maybe I should have finished my painting by now.” He thought to himself. “No, I'm taking a break. I'll finish it later.” Phet picked up his notebook and began flipping through pages, his eyes lit up with every turn. “Wow, this book brings back memories! If my painting is to be the greatest, I need to go and cite primary sources!” Phet creased his eyebrows and grinned. “But…” Phet put down his notebook, his grin faded, and looked out his window. “If I were to paint Me and Mokhoddis beating SpaceMan high score… I would need to talk to Mokhoddis about it.”

Phet sat on his bed and sighed, “I don’t like emotional turmoil.” He grabbed his eraser and reworked his composition.

Walking aimlessly, not wishing to go home nor wanting to do anything Mokhoddis conjured up a dream in his head,

“Hey Phet, I was thinking of going to the arcade today. Do you want to come?”

“Yeah, sure Mokhoddis. Rubina is also coming!”

A voice called out, breaking him out of his delusion. “Hey buddy, could you do me a favor?” A man with a huge smile tapped Mokhoddis’s back. Analyzing his shirt, Mokhoddis noticed he was a college student from the town nearby.

“What do you want?” Mokhoddis narrowed his eyes once more.

“Could you please take a picture of me and my girlfriend with this painting?”

“Paintings… Here we go again.” Mokhoddis uttered before turning around.

Meanwhile, Rubina sat still staring at her canvas “Sigh, after all this time, I still haven’t gotten to an acceptable stage yet.” She got up and went to her window. There she watched starlings soaring in the sky as an elderly couple strolled down the street, occasionally smiling at each other. Occasionally, the autumn breeze would lift a group of leaves off the tree and swirl them around. “Maybe I should go for a walk to clear my mind.”

The painting’s composition appeared to be a landscape about 3 meters diagonal with the subject being that of a mermaid glazing in the blades of light offered by the most astonishing sunset imaginable, filled with vibrant colors conveying a particular emotion one can interpret without explicitly being told. Perplexed, Mokhoddis widened his eyes.

“D-did you make this?” he said while being frazzled,

“Yeah, we’re both students at the Goldfinch Institute of Art. We worked on this piece together as a capstone project.”

As Mokhoddis snapped the picture of the two lovebirds, he thought to himself. Maybe painting isn’t that pointless. Maybe he can get himself a girlfriend by learning how to paint.

Mokhoddis imagined himself walking into the class with his painting.

“Wow Mokhoddis your painting is so cute”

“You’re so cool Mokhoddis”

“I didn’t know you had a secret talent like this”

“Boys who can paint are so cute!”

Mokhoddis hysterically laughed as he imagined himself being popular around all the girls.

The college couple gripped each other's hands as they walked away raising their eyebrows at Mokhoddis.

“Though, even if you can get swooned over by girls, the amount of effort it takes is off-putting. And there's really no guarantee that swooning will occu-”