Saturday, February 17, 2007

Remembering Laughter

It was back in my high school years when I met her. She was a new face in the campus, perhaps an exchange student. I noticed that her eyes were laughing blue.

There was something different about her. She did not know how to get sore, or if she did she seldom showed it. She would smile at you whatever you would say, or laugh her clean and youthful laughter. I was always spellbound whenever she does that. Whenever she smiles at me (or at least I thought she did), I couldn't help but smile at her, too.

Since then, I had a mission: to befriend her. Sure it was easy, since we were classmates and she was very easy to approach. All the boys in class were her friends already, including myself. But I wanted to go beyond that. I wanted to be close to her than any other boys in class, or even in school.

After some time, we became closer to each other. We shared a lot of characteristics, one of which was laughing over small things. Everyday we'd talk about anything while going to school. I became used to walking and laughing by her side. I thought everything was going fine then. Then I guess, I was wrong.

But at the beginning of the next term, she suddenly became pensive. There was a problem, I thought to myself. Something was the matter, and I was touched to see her so quiet and lonely.

"I haven't heard your laugh for a week now. There is nothing wrong, I hope?"

"Nothing, nothing at all."

But deep inside her, I saw there was. As the days went by, the loneliness in her eyes got deeper and deeper and I felt bad whenever I look at her now. She was totally different from the one whom I knew before, she was a total stranger in front of me now. The laughter on her face was now gone.

Questions clouded my mind, unformed and merely hinted. I kept asking myself over again but still, I couldn't have a definite answer. I would rather find it out myself, or if I can't, I must make her laugh one more time, at least.

One afternoon on our way back from school I decided to start the small confrontation.

"There is something wrong. You haven't even smiled in weeks. Mind if I try to make you laugh again?"

She smiled wanly.

"Sure, but seriously there is nothing wrong with me. It's just that I don't feel like laughing over anything at all. At least, for now."

That was it. When one doesn't feel like laughing, there must be something wrong. But I could not think of anything to make her laugh again. My tongue was at a loss for words, I was totally speechless. Back then, it was easy to say something laughable but everything got tangled up in my mind and nothing would come out - nothing laughable at all. Suddenly, she stopped walking and held onto my arm.

"What's the matter?" I asked, bewildered.

"Nothing, I hope." she said softly.

But soon she felt faint and she sank slowly in the grass, biting her lip. I was quick by her side. I took placed her head in my lap. I was calling her name, almost in tears, but still she was not answering. She was pale and her sweat was cold as ice. All at once, she clutched her sides and threw up. I stared in terror and could not say a thing. And then, she broke the long silence.

"Please, take me home now." she whispered, wiping her lips.

"Okay, then."

I held her clammy hand and led her down the street. We parted ways since that day. It was the end of the term, and she had to go back to the States, perhaps for her treatment.

Days later, she died of a quite rare disease. When I went to their home, her mother told me: "Before she took her final breath, she told me to give you this." Then, she handed me a small note, written on a fine white paper.

"I was glad that I shared a part of my life with you. Thanks for the fun and laughter. Thanks for everything, really."

Two big tears coursed slowly down my cheeks.

Her laughter will always be remembered. I'll never forget that she once became a part of my life. Most of all, I will always love her.

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Arnel C. Uyaco Jr.
Sixteen Seventeen years old.
UP Manila Sophomore.
An alleged loverboy.
A pilot of my dreams.










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