Alright. This chapter was supposed to be a chapter that kicks off some nice fun action, BUT in the end it took too long and so I have to cut out the nice-fun-kickoff section for Chapter 13. This chapter is still interesting, though- I hope.
UNCHARTED STARS- CHAPTER 12
Click here to read previous chapters in this novel.
I woke up slowly in the nurse room.
That’s a funny word to use, of course. Waking up slowly. But it’s often like that when you wake up. I wake up, but it’s like I haven’t yet realized that I haven’t woken up yet. It’s like you’re in a transition period, from slumber back to life.
I guess I was in that so-called transition period for some time. I felt a level of consciousness, but I wasn’t exactly sure that I was awake , either. the bed wasn’t uncomfortable and I just kept lying there with my eyes closed.
I probably laid there for quite some time, until I felt a touch on my shoulder. I knew I wasn’t in a dream then, and I opened my eyes to see the school nurse sitting on the bed. She was an old nurse, a big woman, and her smiles remind me of a child opening a Christmas present.
“Welcome back to the world, Pete!” She said, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. I did not feel extremely enthusiastic. “You were gone a long time.”
“Uh…” I wasn’t quite that awake. “Wait, what happened? What time is it now?”
“It’s half an hour after school now, and I’d like to be going home, so I woke you up.” she said. “I think you’ll remember that you were running a race? I was watching, and boy, you are no athlete. You fainted during the obstacle race and people had to carry you to here.”
I nodded weakly. I didn’t want to get out of the bed; the warmth under the blanket was something I didn’t want to let go of.
“So was I asleep the whole time?” I asked quietly.
“Yes, you were. Are you strong enough to walk?”
“I think I am.” I summoned my willpower, silently said goodbye to the bed and stepped out. It was cold. No one had bothered to bring me proper clothing.
“Alright, thank you. I’ll leave now, then.” I walked out of the room, quickly jogged for the changing room, put on some proper clothes, and made my way for the entrance.
As I walked, I could see people still hanging out around the gates.
I gulped when one of the them saw me and pointed. “Hey, all!” the guy cried out. “Pete’s alive! He’s still alive! The run didn’t kill him! He’s not dead!”
Immediately, the people, most of whom I had never talked to, began crowding around me, asking various questions and giving comments. “Boy, that Sports day sucked.” someone said. “Are you fine?” said another. “You fainted in front of everyone.” “You’re so sexy, Pete.”
I couldn’t take any of it.
I just ran out.
* * *
I kept running through the busy, bustling streets of Hong Kong, I just kept running and running, turning around corners and crossing roads, until I reached the apartment. I ran into the elevator, went to the front of my room, opened it, ran into my bedroom and slammed the door shut.
It’s all too much.
I couldn’t really describe my feelings at that time. It was a hard feeling, one of a mixture of shame and embarrassment and humiliation and anger. I was having those times where I just wanted to leave this world, to cease to exist. What was good?
I threw down my school bag to the ground. I didn’t even want to think anymore and I just jumped on my bed and dived under the bedcover closed my eyes and tried to go to sleep. I wanted to suppress my thoughts, to clear them all away so that I could make way for the utopia of sleep. It did not come. I was exhausted, but random thoughts just kept swirling in my head.
Sports Day had not ben a success. It had been problematic and unsmooth. That hardly reflected well on me.
Worse yet, I had embarrassed myself in front of the whole school. Big time.
It was just so humiliating.
There was no way that I could rectify what had happened.
I just couldn’t sleep with all these thoughts poisoning my mind, preventing me from being able to escape from my life. I twisted and turned on the bed for a while, until I finally decided to get up, walked out of my room to the counter, grabbed a Tylenol pill and some water, and swallowed. I decided it wasn’t enough, so I picked up another pill and swallowed that too.
It didn’t take me long to go to sleep afterwards. Whatever I was thinking, my eyelids were just too heavy. They were forced to close and my mind went with it.
I woke up to find myself in a new Saturday. I’d slept since 5:30 the previous day and now it was 7. Yawning, I got up from the bed. I hadn’t ate dinner and I sure was hungry.
Food takes away any other desires in life. I quickly brushed my teeth, took a quick shower, got myself a piece of bread and slapped some Nutella on it. I then powered up my laptop while I ate the Nutella bread. It was delicious.
As I waited for my computer to start up, I realized that I had a one-week break ahead of me. I had no idea why, but my school always has a one week holiday at the time of the year, which makes no sense since it isn’t even half term or nearly half term yet but the students all love it. But it made me realize that I didn’t have to do homework yet if I didn’t want to. I had a whole empty week ahead of me. As I never went out, mostly because there was no one for me to go out with, anyway, I’d eventually become so bored I want to do homework. As much as I didn’t like procrastinating, I wasn’t in the mood to do work either, so I just ignored the piles of folders I had on my desk and turned on chat.
I had like three or four accounts on chat, and the only one ever online was Will. Sure enough, Will was online. He’s the sort of guy who can go by with three hours of sleep just fine; he always sleeps at 3 AM and wakes up at six in the morning. I don’t understand why anyone would want to wake up that early even if it’s a weekend, but Will insisted on living life to the fullest and on spending every minute of your lifetime wisely. He did not consider sleeping a way to spend life wisely. (I did.)
I didn’t even have to start a chat. Immediately, Will talked to me, and that began our online conversation:
Will: hi pete
Me: Hi, Will.
Will: how are you
Me: I’m fine, you?
Will: eh rn im just trying to find some sheet music i need for my band. its hard as crap to find u know and all the download links im trying are broken
Me: I see.
Will: oh, and i wanna meet up with u. can u come to the mcdonalds near the school at 11:30 today?
Me: Sure, why not
Will: well i found the sheet music and i gotta go now to try to play it. afk
With that, Will logged off and I was left to wonder 1) Why Will would want to meet me at McDonalds, since while he’s good friends with me he never goes out with me as he has a ton of other friends and 2) why my speed of eating Nutella bread is so remarkably fast. I started with disappointment at my plate.
I then logged on my school email.
“School Newsletter: Sports Day!”
I immediately slammed my laptop shut. To hell with Sports Day. Once again, thoughts and embarrassment filled me, and I thought I’d been able to put all that way after sleeping. I hadn’t.
I sighed while walking back to the counter. Stressed people like to eat. I grabbed more bread, slapped on more Nutella. I’d never really paid much attention to what was on the counter, and I didn’t think I’d ever seen a red box before, but today I did notice it and I grabbed it and opened it.
Inside it was a bunch of paper. The first one read:
“You need to allow yourself to dream big. Dreams are what will push you forward. Dream whatever you want- just make sure you have goals, that you have a vision of what you want to be. Here’s a poem by Langston Hughes that I want to read out for you today: ‘Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die/Life is a broken-winged bird/That cannot fly.’ It is true. Without a dream, you have no direction in your life.”
I reread the quote. And again. And again.
It just sounded so familiar. I read it a couple more times before I realized what it was.
It was my mother’s speech. Her last one. The one my aunt had shown me on her rage day.
A thought struck me. Was this a collection of my mother’s speeches? I quickly flipped through the papers. I was interested, even though I’d never felt any great attachment to a mother I don’t remember. The papers were all formatted in the same way: Arial fonts sized twelve.
I scanned through the pages. They were all speeches. Motivational speeches. Certainly my mother’s.
I started to wonder why my aunt never showed me any of these, except for her last one when she was raging at me. But then my eyes set on a page. It was a speech, and it had a rather interesting title. ‘Uncharted Stars’, it was called. I grabbed the page, held it up and began to read and scan through.
“Life seems to be a twisted path. The future is like unknown territory. There’s no knowing what lies ahead, unless you claim to be a fortune teller, and from my own personal experience I can say that half the time fortune tellers are wrong. Walking through life is like navigating through the stars of fate, except that rarely does anyone have a map or a compass to give them a clear sense of direction. The future is unmapped territory. The stars have yet to be charted.
“And you can never be charting them completely, not until you’ve reached what is still ‘the future’ today. But you CAN impact what you might find when you do finally chart the stars. It all comes back to what you’re doing today. Your decisions right now, how you choose to live your life, will determine the stars you find when charting them. Will they be bright, glowing constellations, or they will be lone, dying dwarfs?
“If you’d like to see some glowing constellations, then you need to be making sure you’re making the right choices. The best choices. These choices may not be what is easiest, or what is the most comfortable for you. It may involve you changing yourself or your way of life. But it’s better than to find yourself having looking back on your own life story and finding yourself to have missed all the opportunities you could have grabbed. The stars you are not yet done charting. Make sure you get to map up some bright, beautiful ones.”
I stopped reading and asked myself for a moment what sort of star I thought was my future. I chose not to answer my own question and simply placed the sheet of paper back in the red box, closed the lid and returned the box to its place.