Saturday, August 6, 2011

Crab Mentality (Part 9)

June 7, 2010 4pm
   The ground floor was wide. To the left was the indoor staircase that led to the second floor. Unlike in other houses, their house had a huge number of windows. The windows were tall and open (well, the house wasn't air-conditioned). There was a pillar in the middle of the floor. On the other side of the place was a large dining table. The dining table had 10 chairs. A large fridge was a few steps away from the table.
   Chalano sat on one of the chairs that were facing from the windows. That was his favorite because he hated seeing the outdoors while eating. He kept talking. "We went to the canteen because Kim was hungry. John was going out of the canteen, and he said that Kim was blocking his way. Kim had said 'sorry' and we had made way for him, but he was still mocking Kim."
   She was wearing a blue dress. There was a small table beside the fridge, and she was preparing their supper. "What did John say?"
   It was too bad for Chalano to specify. "He criticized Kim's Chinese roots."
   "You shouldn't say anything bad about somebody else's race," she said in a kind way as she carried the plates to the table. "That is bad manners! Also, Kim is Taiwanese, right?"
   "Yes. I tried to stop him. Then he acted like he was going to hurt me. He said, 'You're going to fight back, huh?"
   Chalano still shivered a bit as he recalled that moment. His Mother suddenly became very serious. "Huh? Then what happened next?"
   "Kim told him that that was abuse of strength."
   "Abuse of superior strength," Mother corrected.
   "Abuse of superior strength," Chlano repeated after her to let her know that he accepted her correction of him, then he began too eat. "Tuna?"
   "Yes, your favorite," his mother replied, smiling back at her son. Then she asked, "So what happened next?"
   Chalano just loved tuna, but he had to answer her question. "He became quiet."
   Chalano stared at the bowl of tuna. "John."
   "And then?"
   Chalano just wished that he could finally eat his beloved tuna in peace. "Then he left us without saying anything more."
   "Good job for Kim," she said, and began to eat. It felt a little bad that his mother was praising his best friend and not him, but he could finally savor his tuna.

   Chalano's bedroom was right above the indoor staircase. There was a bed in the middle of the room, a bedside table, and next to the bedside table was a tall shelf. There were also shelves near the door.       
   Chalano finished his homework early. He turned off the light of the tiny lamp on his bedside table, and went to sleep.
   At the other part of Lincoln Street, Kim had just finished his homework, and he lay down on his bed. The white bed was soft, and the blankets were comfortable. It usually felt relieving to be in pyjamas and going off to dreamland after so much hard studying at school, but he just didn't feel tired. He turned to his left, and looked out the window near his bed. It was referred to as a "window" in their family, but, in other places, it could be referred to as a "glass wall." It was a tall, wide glass window. He could see the sky, the trees, the waiting shed across the street, and the street itself. This is weird. He just couldn't sleep. He turned again. Staring at the white ceiling and the small chandelier.

   The match was lit.

   Kim's mother, Jelyn, was sitting on the edge of her bed. She couldn't sleep. It felt like she should be awake all night. It felt like something wrong was happening at the moment.

   The fire crawled up the bars, like quick, yellow worms. It spread everywhere, and it surrounded them. He could see the fear in their eyes. He just had to do this. Their eyes were pleading, pleading for his help. But he did nothing. He just watched the fire burn. They screamed. The screams were deafening. But he had to do it. They were reaching out of the bars, pleading for his help. Screaming.

   Chalano woke up in fear. It was noisy. They were all around him. They looked at him, the person who wasn't giving the help that he could give. Then it was dark. And their screams faded into the silence of the night. It. Was just another. Nightmare. His cellphone suddenly rang. It startled him so much, that he literally jumped up. He went to the bedside table, and picked up his cellphone.
   "Hi, it's Kim," the voice on the other end of the line said.
   Kim was sitting on his bed as he spoke on his Samsung Punch. "I can't sleep. What do you think would John do tomorrow?"
   John was the least of Chalano's worries tonight. "Uh, I don't know. Who knows?"
   Kim laughed. "Right. Well, I'll hung up now. Bye."
   "Bye," Chalano said, still feeling too shaken to move.
   Kim put his cellphone on the table near his bed. He noticed someone at the open door of his room. Mom. "Hi. Are you okay?"
   Kim beamed. "I'm okay, Mom. Just couldn't sleep, so I called Chalano. He was scarily quiet," Kim explained, and shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know what went wrong with him."
   His mother left the door, saying, "That's alright, my son. That boy's got lots of problems; he's already a teen."
   Kim laughed, and called after her, "Why? I'm a teen myself, and I don't get that much problems."
   "You're cheerful, darling," she said as she walked down the stairs. "That's the difference."

   Chalano walked backward until he felt the wall on his back. He could still see them in his mind picture. It was gruesome. He could still hear their screams, but they were only on his mind.
   The glow of the street lights was shining through the windows and on his bed. He kept looking at the glow to comfort himself with the belief that he was here, in the present, and not back in the past.
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