Chapter 1: Orange-dyed Club Room
22/11/2014 § Leave a comment
“Hey, Leonard, are you free this afternoon?”
“Leonard, if you want, why don’t you join us later?”
“Do you have plans after school Leonard?”
“Leonard, are you listening?”
Noises. Mumbled voices. Uninteresting sounds. The people surrounding me kept on asking the same questions, repeatedly saying the same things, again and again, like they were recorded and set on repeat. I have always wondered why they kept on trying to get my attention despite the fact that never once did I respond to anything they said. The girl, who calls herself my follower, said that they were trying to be on good terms with me because of my status. It was not only my classmates, in fact, it was the entire school, both students, teachers and staff. I find it extremely annoying at first, but I got used to it. There was no use getting myself worked up if this is not going to stop.
It was a scenario that I need to endure every single day since I started high school. The boys are trying to keep a short distance, and the girls are trying to get as close as they can…it was a terrible mixture of scents. I always get a headache because of this. Do they really need to fuss over me every single time? Ah, I guess. How could they leave alone the heir of a multi-billion business group when they have the opportunity to get close to him? It was their chance to climb up the social ladder, and the only thing they need to do is to suck up to me. But it was never going to happen. Everyone is only trying to use me for their personal benefit, but I had enough of that. I learned to act cold towards everyone, even towards the people who genuinely care for me. It was the only defense I have to protect myself from being hurt by anyone.
“Hello? Leonard, I’m talking to you.”
“Are you okay, Leonard?”
Ah, I had enough of this noise. I seriously am getting a headache. Why did the teacher need to take an urgent leave? How much time is left before the school bell rang? What? It has only been five minutes since this period started. Maybe I could leave. I am tired of this scenario. Won’t they leave me alone for once? Their uninteresting blabber is only making my headache worse. I need to get some fresh air. But more than that, I need to have some peace.
I stood up from my seat and headed for the door. I could hear them calling for my name again, but I did not care. Why do I even have to care? They are people I do not need to bother myself about. I wandered aimlessly in the hallways, walking lazily, just to kill time. Some students were chattering happily on the sides. They probably have a free time too. I continued to walk until I found myself to be in front of a room labeled with the word ‘Library’. I looked around me and everything seems unfamiliar. It was the first time I had been to this place. I know that there was a library in this school, but I never found out where it was.
I tried to see if the door is open, and much to my surprise, it was unlocked. I entered it, and immediately inhaled the scent of an unused room filled with books. The room was big and quiet, without a soul of a student, or teacher, or staff present. It was the first time I found a place where no one is following me, or no one to bother me. I walked towards the bookshelves and randomly picked a book. I do not want to be found easily, so I decided to use one of the meeting rooms. I heard that I need to make arrangements to use it but it wouldn’t hurt if no one is using it right? No one will find out. It is class hours after all.
I tried to open the door to the closest one, but it was locked. It was the same with the other rooms. When I was about to give up, I tried to open the door to the last room and it was open. I thought I was lucky, that someone might have forgotten to close it. When I entered the room, there were several non-library related things inside. Do you usually put a thermos and tea cups in a meeting room? Well, it makes sense but it was not like the rooms are always used. I tried to neglect the oddity and proceeded to take the seat closest to the window.
The room was overlooking the courtyard, partly hidden by a huge tree from the view. I opened the window, wanting to get a breathe of fresh air, and the light breeze brought a fresh scent to the musty room. For some reason, I let out a sigh. Was it because of stress, or relief? I do not even know the answer. What I understood, however, is that for the first time in this school, I was able to find a place I can describe as ‘peaceful and quiet’.
I started to hear something…a voice of someone talking. A girl? Her voice sounded nothing like the girls in my class. Hers was soothing and calming, as if she was trying to lull me to sleep. I want to hear more of this voice. What is she saying? Is she reading? Why would she- no, wait. When did she arrive? I was reading a book in a meeting room and then…No, I don’t remember what happened next. Did I fall asleep?
I jerked my head up, feeling a slight pain from doing so. There was a girl standing by the window holdin an open book in her hands. I could clearly hear the words she was saying as she read them off the book. I know this story – The Castle of Otranto. I have read this story before but for some reason, the way she read it make the story seem different from the theme. It was my first time hearing a gothic horror novel sound like a bedtime story.
Unconsciously, I let out a chuckle. It surprised the both of us; her, because of the shock, and me, because I never thought I would show other kind of emotion besides the poker face I always wear.
“So-sorry. Did I wake you up?” She said a little flustered. She closed the book she was holding and I caught a glipse of the title. I was right; it is The Castle of Otranto.
“No. But I remember putting the ‘In-use’ sign outside the room.” I answered, trying to interrogate her a little. I was used to having people fussed over me, even if I was sleeping. Girls always try to sneak photos of me sleeping. If I ever fell asleep unconsciously by myself, I would normally wake up after a short while because of the noise the people surrounding me are making. So waking up and finding a girl hovering over me is something that I am used to. But this time is different. She was not close to me, nor is she watching me. She was just there, standing by the window absorbed in her book, reading the words with a calm and sweet voice. Maybe she got tired and bored of watching me?
“Well, in order to use a meeting room you need to make arrangements with the library committee. But I don’t remember having any reservation made for today.” She stated in a wise manner, and I know right away that I could not say anything back to her. I was in the wrong this time. Is she the one on library duty? She could have just woken me up if she wanted to close the library.
“That aside…this room in particular could not easily be used by other students.” She continued.
“Why?” The question came out before I could stop myself. I could simply leave the room and forget about this incident. I would normally not bother about something like this, and it puzzled me as to why I am even keeping a conversation with someone I do not even know.
“Oh, because this room is being used as a club room by the Literature Club.” Literature Club? Is there something like that? The club presentation only happened last week but I do not seem to remember a club like that.
“I do not recall anything about a Literature Club.” I answered honestly. I noticed a slight blush appeared on her cheek.
“We really did not do anything flashy back then, so I understand if no one even remembered our club.” ‘We’? So she’s not part of the library committee but of the Literature Club? I am amazed that someone is actually part of such a lame-sounding club. Ah, there really is no point in keeping this conversation.
“I apologize for using the room without permission. I will take my leave now.” I said out of courteousness. When I was about to leave, she said something that caught my interest.
“Oh, it was no trouble at all. And you probably can use this room however much you want soon.” She looked sad as she said this.
“How come?” I once again said without meaning to.
“The club is going to be disbanded due to lack of members. So this room would be free just like all the other meeting rooms. Just remember to make a reservation for it.” She said, her lips curved up into a smile, while her eyes show traces of sadness. He spectacles slipped a little low on her nose. A light breeze passed by, bringing in fallen leaves inside the room, and lightly blowing her hair that is loosely braided to one side. Behind her, the sky was painted by hues of pink, red, and violet, and the sunset rays, strained by the leaves of the tree, partly dyed the room with orange. I thought that it was such a beautiful scenery…a painfully sad and beautiful scenery.
I stood there looking at a painting-like picture. The orange-tinted room warmed by the sun, the faint musty scent mixed in with the fresh breeze, the sad look in her eyes that was poorly masked by her small, sweet smile, and her gentle, soothing voice that was saying something that could not quite reach me. At that moment, I just felt really comfortable, and peaceful, as if I had forgotten all the worries I had. If not for the vibration of my phone, I would not have realized that I have been standing in the doorway, stunned and speechless.
“Is that so?” I finally said in my usual nonchalant tone. It was really none of my business whether her club disbanded or not. I left the room and took my phone out to answer the call.
“Where are you?” The voice on the other line said. I did not miss the surprise in his tone. Even I was surprised that I did not simply ignored the call.
“At school.” I simply answered.
“We have been looking for you for a loooong time. Hurry up. We’ll wait for you at the entrance, or-” I hung up. I know where to find them even if I do not want to. It was just part of my everyday. That, however, was the only part that I do not find annoying in any form. If I were to be honest, it would be the opposite.
I took my bag from the classroom and headed for the entrance. As I walked in the hallways, two figures appeared on both sides – a girl with waist-long, wavy hair, and a tall, slim guy. I continued to walk pass them, not even saying a word of greeting. Even without acknowledging their presence, I know that they would still stay with me, following me.
I looked up to the sky tinted with hues of pink, red, and violet, and the clouds that were lined with silvers. “Is there something up there?” The guy who was walking beside me asked.
“I just thought that orange could be a sad color as well.” I said ignoring his question. I heard the reaction of the both of them, puzzled by a sentence I said out of the blue.
This story is purely a work of fiction. Similarities of any part of the story, be it the characters, events, or the story itself, to anyone or anything is purely coincidental.
I am still thinking of a title for the story so it will only go by chapter titles for now. I’d love to hear an opinion though. – Thestreetcat