Chapter 1:

Chapter 1: The Urban Family


Bogo City, Cebu, Philippines.

As the soft rays of light began to filter through the curtains, Reese stirred from his sleep, a sense of unease gnawing at the edges of his consciousness.

In the depths of his dreams, a faint voice whispered reminders of the day’s importance, slowly pulling him from his slumber. With a sudden jolt, Reese’s eyes snapped open, his heart pounding in his chest as he realized the importance of the date.

Today was the day of their high school retreat, a three-day and two-night event filled with team-building activities and bonding with his classmates in the southern province of Cebu.

Frantically, Reese glanced at the clock on his bedside table, his eyes widening in alarm as he saw the time: 7:20 AM. “Shit!” Reese cursed.

“I can’t believe I forgot to set the alarm,” Reese mumbled.

He had forty minutes left before the bus left for Badian in the southern part of Cebu, and panic surged through him like a tidal wave.

Without hesitation, Reese sprang out of bed, his movements swift and determined as he dashed to the bathroom. With urgency, he took a quick shower. The icy water jolted him to his senses. ‘Ah! Cold,’ he complained. The coldness of the water in his body drove away the remnants of sleep.

As he hastily dressed, his mind raced with thoughts of the day ahead, his stomach churning with a mixture of excitement and anxiety and, of course, hunger. He couldn’t afford to be late. ‘Not today,’ Reese thought worriedly.

Then Reese practically bounded down the stairs of their home. His backpack was slung over his shoulder. And then he ran straight into the kitchen to eat his breakfast. He spotted his dad, mom, and his younger brother on the table, eating their breakfast.

“Mom, why didn’t you wake me up? I almost overslept,” Reese asked his mom as he sat.

“Well, good morning to you, too.” Rema, Reese’s mother did not answer him immediately. Reese just rolled his eyes at his mom as he ate his breakfast.

“Honey,” she began, with her motherly voice. “You are already 18 years old, stop depending on me to wake you up every morning; I’m not your human alarm clock.” She paused to let her words sink in, then continued, “Be responsible for once. You’re graduating in two weeks, for goodness sake, and your grades are not good.”

‘Welp, as long as I graduate, that’s all that matters.’ Reese thought.

“You know, son, your mom is right,” Robert Urban, his father, said, his voice carrying a weight of concern. “As you’re getting ready to head off to college, it’s important to start taking more responsibility for your time and your priorities.” Reese nodded, a hint of uncertainty clouding his expression as he listened intently to his father’s words.

Beside him, Ryan glanced at Reese, silently curious about the conversation unfolding between his dad and his older brother. Robert continued, his tone gentle but firm. “Those video games you’re always playing... They’re fun, I get it. But they can also be a distraction, especially when you have important things to focus on.”

Reese shifted uncomfortably in his seat, feeling a pang of guilt as his father’s words struck a chord. He knew he had a tendency to lose track of time when immersed in his favorite games, often resulting in rushed mornings.

“As your mom said, your grades are really not good,” his father said seriously.

“Dad, the important part.. is that I will graduate, and even though I don’t have a good grade, at least I passed all my subjects.” Reese retorted.

“Yes, dad, Kuya (Big Brother) is right. He did pass, but barely. Hahaha,” Ryan Urban, Reese’s younger brother, said, trying to lighten up the mood as he looked at Reese with a mocking smile.

“Thank you! See dad, even Ryan agreed.” He said this with a dramatic pound of his hands on the table.

Ryan was stupified at his big brother’s response. “Ah, that was not a compliment at all,” Ryan said with a dumbstruck look on his face.

“By the way, Kuya, did I tell you about the new nickname going around school for you? They’re calling you ‘Mr. Ordinary’ because, well, let’s face it, you’re just so... average.” Ryan, always one for playful banter, couldn’t resist the opportunity to tease his older brother.

‘Ordinary? As if that’s an insult, and I prefer it that way anyway. It would be so annoying if I had a lot of friends at school. Two friends are enough for me; thank you very much,’ Reese thought, defending himself inwardly.

Reese chuckled, rolling his eyes at Ryan’s antics. “Oh, really? And what about you, Mr. Varsity Basketball Star? I suppose the girls are just lining up to get your autograph, huh?”

Despite Ryan’s teasing about Reese being ordinary, Reese couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride for his younger brother. At just 14 years old, Ryan had already made a name for himself as a basketball varsity star in their school.

Despite the occasional sibling rivalry and banter, Reese knew that, deep down, he was incredibly proud of Ryan’s achievements. He admired his brother’s determination, his work ethic, and his ability to excel in something he was passionate about.

On the other hand, he was the complete opposite of his younger brother, a nobody. Just as Ryan put it, ‘Mr. Ordinary’. Reese just smiled at his nickname.

Caught up in the playful banter with Ryan, Reese lost track of time once again. As they exchanged jokes and teasing remarks, Reese’s laughter filled the air, oblivious to the passing minutes.

Suddenly, Reese’s eyes flicked to the clock on the wall, and his heart skipped a beat as he saw the time: 8:00 a.m. “Fuck!” Reese cursed.

“Language!” His mother said as he stared at Reese with daggers in her eyes.

“Sorry, mom.” Reese apologized to his mother.

Panic surged through him like a lightning bolt, his mind racing with thoughts of being late once again.

“Ryan, we have to go!” Reese exclaimed, his voice tinged with urgency as he scrambled to his feet.

“Joke on you, Kuya; I only have basketball practice today at 9 a.m. Hahaha,” Ryan laughed at Reese.

’Damn it! Reese cursed again.

Reese rushed out of the door as he said goodbye to his mom, dad, and younger brother.

As Reese ran along the sidewalk towards his school, he couldn’t resist greeting his neighbors with a friendly wave. He exchanged smiles and nods with the familiar faces he passed.

As he turned the corner, Reese spotted Mr. Reyes, the town’s infamous drunkard, sitting on a bench with a half-empty bottle of beer by his side. Despite Mr. Reyes’s reputation, Reese couldn’t help but offer a friendly greeting.

“Morning, Mr. Reyes! Enjoying the fresh air today?” Reese called out with a playful grin.

Mr. Reyes looked up, his bleary eyes squinting in the sunlight as he mumbled a gruff reply. Reese chuckled to himself, knowing that Mr. Reyes’s response was more likely the result of last night’s indulgence than any genuine interest in the morning air.

Continuing on his way, Reese soon spotted the house of his beautiful neighbor, Mrs. Yap, who was known throughout the neighborhood for her elegance and charm. Reese couldn’t help but admire her from afar, even though she was married to his teacher, Mr. Yap.

“Morning, Mrs. Yap! You are looking as lovely as ever,” Reese said with a charming smile.

Mrs. Yap returned Reese’s smile with a warm one of her own, her eyes twinkling with amusement at his playful banter. “Thank you, Reese! You always know how to brighten my day,” she replied, her voice carrying a hint of laughter.

Unable to resist the opportunity to tease his neighbor, Reese flashed Mrs. Yap a playful wink before continuing on his way to school.

“It was a good thing that my house was only walking distance. Or should I say running distance?” Reese said to himself while running as fast as he could.