Chapter 9:

Chapter 9

Mokhoddis School Days Episode II

Part 1

The bell at Golden Hills Academy echoed. The crows cawed in the background. Students huddled together. Mokhoddis walked in the crowded morning hallway. He thought about the petty fight they had.

“Get to class everyone, your classes have already started! Don’t make me pull out detentions.” Principle May yelled. “I have them right here.” She pulled red slips out of her purse. Students rushed to their classes and the hallway became a ghost town. Mokhoddis trudged his way to the end of the hallway where class E rested. He felt butterflies in his stomach as he imagined himself having to face Phet and Rubina. After their fight, none of them properly spoke to each other. “I can just sit at my desk until the end of the period. There’s no reason for me to talk to them.” Mokhoddis convinced himself. “But the most awkward part would be me walking in as the whole class stares at me,” Mokhoddis argued with himself. “Maybe if I can just rush in without looking at anyone.”He stopped and looked at his feet, he was one step away from the classroom door. He could hear conversations going on inside the class. The door was open so at least Mokhoddis didn’t have to knock but before he opened the door another sudden realization hit Mokhoddis. He forgot to do his math homework. He stayed up all night trying to perfect his painting and he completely forgot about his assignment. “I can do it here in the hallway before I go in… but principal May will be patrolling the hallway, and I’ll get detention if she sees me. I’ll be forced to stay after school to do chores and won’t have time to make it to the art festival.” All of a sudden, Mokhoddis's focus shifted from worrying about seeing Phet & Rubina to completing his math homework. “Wait a minute, the class should have already started, but I still hear students talking to each other.” Mokhoddis had another realization as quickly turned around and peeked inside. His homeroom teacher wasn’t there. Was he late? Or was he sick? “There should’ve been a substitute if he was sick,” Mokhoddis felt a sigh of relief and felt comfortable walking in.

Compliments flew around the room as the class huddled around Nina’s painting. Phet came tumbling and joined the crowd

“Wow, you’re really talented Nina” Phet shouted.

“T-t-thanks” Nina looked down and blushed.

“Yours will definitely win first place in the art contest.” A student at the back exclaimed.

“Yeah, she will for sure”

Nods in agreement came from other students in the crowd.

“Glad you could join us in class.” Rubina was standing right behind the door. Mokhoddis stood still not knowing what to say. He wasn’t expecting Rubina to talk to him at all, let alone act normal as if nothing happened. His awkwardness led him to completely ignore her and creep to his seat. “You’re the only person whose homework I haven’t collected yet. If you could get that out, I would appreciate it.” Rubina continued.

“Where’s Mr. Thompson?” Mokhoddis asked as he looked in the general direction of Nina.

“He will be late today, so as the class president, he asked me to collect everyone’s homework beforehand.”

“Good because I actually forgot to do it.”

“Well, sorry to hear that.”

“Let me just finish it really quickly, I’ll be done in 5 minutes.”

“Sorry to hear that. But I’m sure you had enough time to finish this homework that would take 5 minutes because you weren’t occupied with other activities unlike the rest of us.”

Mokhoddis was confused. Was she still mad and taking a jab at him about the painting? Or was she simply being insufferable for the sake of being insufferable?

“I’ll be back in 5” Rubina walked away.

Part 2

Students lined up in the cafeteria like a pack of ants. The line stretched all the way outside the cafeteria door. Mokhoddis tried to adjust the angle to see what was being served but quickly lost hope. “What is this? Why is it so packed in here?” Eventually, he arrived at the sideboard where each dish was put on display. “Paper cups full of chocolate milk, stale bread, soggy meatballs…” Mokhoddis cringed at the sight of school food.

“Hurry up kid, there are others behind you.” A lunch lady broke Mokhoddis’s attention.

With lunch in his hand, Mokhoddis scanned the cafeteria of where Phet was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t sure if he can act normal with Phet yet, so Mokhoddis decided to go sit by Nina. She had her earbuds in and was doodling something as usual.

“What’s up Nina?” Mokhoddis called out. No answer.

“Hey, Nina.” Mokhoddis waved in front of her. Nina looked up and took off her earbud.

“Sorry, Mokhoddis I didn’t see you there.” She apologized.

“That’s okay, I was wondering if I could sit by you today.”

“Sit by me? Now that's a new one for you. But yeah sure, I don’t mind…” She paused, “i-is something going on between you and Phet? N-not that it's my business.” Nina stuttered.

“No, Phet and I are fine but thank you for asking.” Mokhoddis stabbed a piece of meatball with his fork, not breaking eye contact with Nina. ”So how is your painting coming along? Everyone was really praising yours today when I came in.”

“Oh, yeah I don’t think it's as good as everyone says it is. But I appreciate their kindness.”

“Nah yours is definitely a crowd-pleaser. You probably made Rubina really jealous today. I can imagine her working extra hard to finish the painting after school so she can one-up you.”

“Yeah I heard she’s planning on working and finishing her painting today with Phet and Josiah, but I don't think it's to one-up me,” Nina replied. “She already has a way better painting than mine.”

“Wait wait wait… She’s working with Phet and Josiah?”

“I thought you would join them, but I guess you're not the type of guy that finds painting too interesting huh? You’re more into math and…”

“I’ll be right back.” Mokhoddis interrupted Nina. He got up and scanned the cafeteria. “No wonder Phet wasn’t anywhere in the cafeteria. It’s because he was with that damn Josiah.” If anything that pissed Mokhoddis off, it's Josiah’s charm and popularity.

Gym, band room, game area-

Mokhoddis searched the whole school for Josian, Phet, and Rubina yet no sign of them. There was one spot Mokhoddis still hadn't checked. Mokhoddis slammed the door open, and with such force papers flew off the librarian's desk.

“What the hell are you doing!” The librarian yelled.

“I knew you three would be here!” Mokhoddis stood with a superman posture as if he just solved the greatest mystery all while ignoring the librarian's screams. Rubina, Phet, and Josiah sat together at a table, their canvasses laying, brushes and palettes organized.

“Pick this up right now!” The librarian screamed.

“Mokhoddis did you need something?” Asked Josiah.

“No, did you need something Josiah?” Mokhoddis mocked.

“No? I-I’m alright.” Josiah paused briefly. “We’re just trying to finish our paintings just in time for the art contest. I assume you already finished yours? You are the type to have your work done before everyone else” Josiah smiled. “Things just come so easy to you, I’m jealous.”

“Don’t worry about my painting Yoshiyahu, why are you in Phet and I’s secret spot? It’s reserved for people who don’t smell like cologne from 50 meters away.”

“Hey! Don’t ignore me!” The librarian yelled.

“Secret spot?” Josiah asked, confused.

“This is where Phet and I come after lunch to chill.”

“It's the library, that’s where everyone comes after lunch.” Rubina butted in.

“Mokhoddis it’s not that deep man,” Phet called out.

“It’s not deep because Josiah stuffed your mouth with bribes to let him paint with you guys huh?”

Mokhoddis tried to catch his breath. “Don’t think you could fool me.”

“Actually we’re the ones who asked him to come to paint with us,” Rubina replied.

Mokhoddis stood with his mouth open and eyes widened.

“Such a shame, looks like I’ve outgrown you two as I have already completed my painting even with much less experience than both of you. Have fun with your new replacement friend Josiah. Even though he will never be me.” The dark circles under Mokhoddis’ eyes became more prominent, his cheeks were noticeably sunken. “And screw your paintings and screw the art festival. It’s for losers who’s brains can’t handle logic. Real art is me beating the SpaceMan high score in all of Golden Hills!” Mokhoddis, now standing in a pose resembling that of an evil cartoon character, slowly started backing his way to the exit.

“Where do you think you're going?” the librarian grabbed Mokhoddis. “I’ll write you up for disturbing the peace and ruining school property.”

Mokhoddis turned his wide gaze towards the librarian, “And I’ll report you for harassment. Who do you think they’ll take seriously in a situation like that?”

“All right, break it up please,” Josiah started gathering the papers that had flown everywhere upon Mokhoddis’ entrance. “Mokhoddis isn’t in the best of headspaces right now, so on his behalf, I apologize.” Josiah Bowed.

“Fine.” The librarian let go of Mokhoddis as he ran out of the room.

“What’s wrong with him?” Asked the librarian.

“Don’t mind him, he’s been acting like a prick all week.” Replied Rubina.

“Hmm, I think I can fix this.” Josiah looked out to the hallway.

“There’s nothing you can do, he’s gone mad because he sucks at painting and can’t handle that everyone is finally better than him at something,” Phet replied with a mouthful of meatballs.

“Huuuu~” Josiah was deep in thought, “I’ll be back.”

Part 3

A door opened. Mokhoddis sat in his seat back in class E, curled up into a ball. He was watching each leaf being plucked off by the successive wind. “Mokhoddis, I’ve been looking all over for you.” Josiah walked up to him. He put his hand on Mokhoddis’ shoulder.

“Josiah, I think it's time for you to leave. And stop touching me.” Mokhoddis tried to shrug him off. “Yeah I know I overreacted. I don’t need you to come and be the hero. It’ll probably piss me off even more.” Mokhoddis replied without turning around.

“That’s not what I’m here for.” Josiah paused. “Phet and Rubina asked me to come to check up on you because they’re worried about you.”

“It's really obvious when you lie, you know. When you lie, your heart races and your nose starts making this high-pitched sound.”

“...You are as sharp as they say, it’s kind of scary.” Josiah chuckled and let go of Mokhoddis. “But let me just tell you something. Phet and Rubina had been planning to work on their paintings after school with you but you told them that you hate painting, that’s why they never invited you.” Josiah said calmly as to not anger Mokhoddis. “They asked around in class before you showed up, but everyone else was busy so I volunteered.”

Mokhoddis looked at his feet.

“And do you even know what Phet is painting? He’s painting you and him cheating on a math test together.” Josiah continued.

“That dumb Phet, if he gets caught he’ll get suspended,” Mokhoddis replied,

“And Rubina wanted to ask you for feedback on her painting. You’re the only person she’ll take suggestions from. That’s why both of them wanted to paint with you, but you got angry and misunderstood.”

“I don’t hate painting with them. It’s just-”

“Just what?”

“I hate-”

“Hate what?”

“I hate being the only one in class E that can’t paint! I’ve never experienced this before and I hate it!” Mokhoddis screamed.

There was a large silence that followed.

“I avoid painting because I suck at it.”

“Don’t you think you suck because you don’t enjoy it?”

At that moment, Rashid’s words echoed through his ears.

A painter who’s been inspired by his friends will produce a piece a thousand times greater than a painter who paints for himself.

“I see,” Mokhoddis whispered under his breath.

“This whole time, I’ve treated painting as any other exam or video game. Painting doesn’t follow the same rules and logic as Rashid said. I hated it because I didn’t understand painting. And that led me to release the frustration out on my friends,” Mokhoddis pondered. “Was I the one who was wrong?”

“Mokhoddis?” Josiah called out


Mokhoddis stood up and patted Josiah on the back “Thanks Josiah, I can see why you're popular with girls.”

“What does that mean?” Josiah was flustered.

“If I had been born a girl, I would’ve fallen for you.”

Josiah blushed a deep red as he leaned against a desk.

“So… are you going to apologize to Phet and Rubina?”


Josiah stood there perplexed as Mokhoddis walked out of the room. “I just don’t get that boy,”