Life & Times - Chapter 5
Chapter 5 - Priscilla's Case
Lily was sitting awkwardly next to Dylan, the school prefect she had taken quite a liking since Form 3. They were sitting on Table number 6.
It's just another cliché in life. You go to school. You fell in love with the school prefect. Somehow, Dylan liked Lily for quite some time too.
"What leads you here?" Lily asked, not looking at him. She was looking around the whole canteen, but not at Dylan. We all know we wouldn't look at our heart-throbs whenever we talk.
Dylan looked at her. And if only Lily would look back at him, their eyes would become one.
Eddie was looking at them from the food stalls. He took his packet of curry puffs and walked away.
*End of Flashback*
It came back to them in that chapel. Hafis were busy consoling Lily with her uncontrollable burst of tear. Then Priscilla starts to talk.
"Lily, if I would rate the world's dumbest person, it would be you."
Lily looks at Priscilla, her face disappointed. How would you feel if your best friend said this to you?
"Why would you say that?"
Chandran and Johnny tried to hold the two girls back, fearing that it might be a cat fight in the chapel.
"Why would I say that? I'll tell you why!" Priscilla said. And the end begins.
Eddie and I knew each other since Form 4, which also since I became friends with Lily. During recess, he came towards me.
"You know Lily, right?"
"Give me a break. Tell me you're not another one of her admirer."
"In this case, it's different. I'm Eddie Tan."
From then on, he approached me during recess, asking me about Lily's favourite colour, her favourite food, and what she likes in a guy. I was annoyed at first, but he is one interesting guy. He told me that he would do anything for Lily. And he certainly did. That explains the hero who emerged from out of nowhere to protect Lily from rabid dogs.
It was Form 5, and Eddie and I were sitting in the canteen. Lily was at the library that moment.
"So, does Lily have anyone that she likes?" Eddie asked, he then realized he asked the wrong question.
"So far, your rival would be Dylan, the school prefect."
"What? Why would anyone keep falling for prefects?"
"Well, she told me Dylan is a gentle guy. And he didn't behave like you."
"Tell me she didn't say that. By the way, 'gentle' and 'guy' just don't mix!"
"Lily knows what she likes."
It wasn't long before I discovered he was diagnosed with brain cancer. I saw the papers in his bag - aside from his Marlboro 20's. I was a prefect too. His face was unimaginable. He was scared. I don't know why he is so afraid that I found out.
After the assembly, he ran towards me and stopped me from going into the prefect's room.
"You can't tell the others. The papers. Please."
"Why? You are going to die!" I said, almost crying.
"I don't want them to know. They'll get all dramatic on me. You are already getting dramatic." He wiped away the tears from my eyes.
"What about Lily?"
"No, I don't use sympathy to get to girls."
I slapped his shoulder.
"No, seriously. She and everyone else will focus on me. You know SPM is due this year, right?"
So I kept the secret. And I returned his cigarettes. To respect a dying man's wish, he said. And what will you do if you're diagnosed with brain cancer? You spend the rest of your lives in full blast. You enjoy every day as if it would be your last. Eddie did enjoy moments of his life before he even got brain cancer. That hyper-active boy, Eddie.
I respected his wish, to be silent about the matter. I did help him enjoy his last moments though. In fact, it was his wish too.
"Since you've already know, I'll enjoy my last moment with you as my companion." Eddie said, before pulling me to a carnival.
He did everything he hesitated to do when he is healthy. He jumped on that 'Roller Coaster of Death' he had called since he was a kid. He even turned down a bet once that include him to ride that coaster. And now, he's doing it with me. It's not that I have more guts than him, I was scared too. But it was Eddie's last moment. Speaking of last moments, he once told me that he finished two packs of his Marlboro 20's in one day. It was disgusting. He replied to me, "Hey, you can't kill a dead man."
After getting out of that "Doom Coaster", Eddie headed for the bathroom. That's when I know, I had more guts than him, after all.
After spending the next 10 minutes in the bathroom, he came out and said to me, "I want to try the 'Space Shot'."
And there goes another 10 minutes in the bathroom.
He rode on almost all the rides in the carnival - including the 'Cupcake'. He told me that he never rode on a childish/girlish ride before. Even when he was a kid. He decided to do everything he dreamed to do during his childhood. So, after the 'Cupcake', he got me and himself an ice-cream.
Eddie and I were sitting next to the carousel, holding an ice-cream cone - a very romantic scene if you ask me. We watched as the innocent children ran around, screaming for their mother to buy this and that. Some of the parents were taking pictures of their children. I saw a father holding his 3 year old daughter while the mother took their picture, before the mother said 'cheese', the father moved his lips next to his daughter's cheek and pecked her. It was lovely. It makes me search for my childhood here. I noticed Eddie was smiling at them too. The only difference is that he had tears in his eyes.
"I can never become a father." Eddie said, taking a big chunk of his ice-cream with tears in his eyes. What an irony.
I moved myself closer and embraced him. He put his head on my shoulder, like a child asking for comfort from his mother.
Unlike everyone, I took a peek of Eddie's softer side. And I cried with him.
Few weeks later, I got news from Hafis that Eddie was hospitalized. I panicked and almost tipped him off. He said Eddie was bitten by dogs. For protecting Lily. "How far would this idiot go?" I thought.
Lily were asking me to go with her to visit Eddie. I made up an excuse to decline. I wanted to be alone with him. The relationship between me and Eddie were built on secrets, I can't break it by accidentally tipping the others off.
Just after lunchtime, which means Lily went home for her revisions, I went to Eddie's ward.
"Idiot." I said as I opened the door.
"I guess I am. But I don't regret it. In fact, I enjoyed every seconds of the mauling." Eddie replied, laughing. He was folding the paperbirds. I can tell some of them are lazily folded. Eddie is getting bored.
"You and hospitals are inseparable."
"You are stealing Chandran's line."
"How do you feel? Did you get rabies?" I asked, showing a little concern on Eddie's heroism.
"No, I'm good. I'm just staying for a week. That's all."
"I see. So this is going to be your longest week ever." I laughed, as I settled down on the chair next to Eddie's bed. I took few pieces of paper to fold more paperbirds.
"Just so you know, I appreciate everything you've done to me. Thank you for being my companion when I'm having my last moments."
"Don't say that. You'll make me get all dramatic again." I pretended to laugh.
"I have to. You know, when someone is dying, they'll see life flashes before their eyes."
"I'm worried that I might see you instead of Lily."
"Can you please stop making me cry?"
Few minutes later, we started to have the talk. About Lily. And the future.
"What are your plans, Eddie?" I asked, tying up a chain of paperbirds on his bed.
"I think I'll let go of her."
It was sad. They were really meant for each other. He looked away from me and into the windows. I think he was trying to hide his tear. I continued folding paperbirds to let him know that I’m not looking.
"If I keep on making moves on her, I'll break her heart even more." Eddie continued, looking down, his hand was holding the other.
Eddie was right, he had to let go. To protect Lily again.
It was a hot, red afternoon. The ring of bell was sounded and everyone scattered away from the canteen and into their classes. Lily had just returned from recess with Priscilla. Both of them settled for their seat.
Lily reached for her bottle and drank a quarter of water from it. When she is putting down her bottle, she saw a note under her desk. She read it aloud for Priscilla to hear.
"Lily, I think I have feelings for you. Please meet me during tomorrow's recess in the canteen. Table number 6."
"I think it's from Eddie again." Lily laughed and put the note away.
"But Eddie said he's being purely friends with you, right?" Priscilla replied, taking a peek at the note.
Lily looked away from Priscilla to hide her tears.
Eddie looked at her from a distance. He smiled and walked away.
*End of Flashback*
Upon finishing her story, Priscilla embraced Lily - who was crying like a newborn baby. The three guys were trying to hide their tears. Hafis were looking away from their friends, trying to hide his 'gangster' ego.
"I don't blame you or Eddie for not telling us." Chandran said. "If it would be me, I would respect his last wishes too."
Lily was silent for the moment, unless you count crying as a noise.
They left the chapel.
Few days later, Johnny received a note from Eddie's mother. She said she found this in Eddie's room, and it was addressed to 5 of his best friends. Johnny called everyone else to the playground Eddie had liked so much.
Chandran skipped his taekwondo class. Hafis ran out from his tuition centre. Lily packed her books and left the library. And Priscilla followed her closely.
They gathered together around Eddie's porcelain duck, and Johnny tore open the envelope. He read it out:
"Dear 5 of my best buddies.
If you're reading this, I'm already in Heaven, playing chess with my grandfather. And Heaven is an awesome place too, it would be better if you guys were here with me.
I just want to tell all of you how much I appreciate living around you guys. Chandran, you taught me what it's like to be friends. Hafis, you gave me a big lesson on how to be a man. Johnny, you remind me of how precious life can be. Priscilla, you carried the legend of seeing me cry in front of you. And Lily, as my beginning and the end.
I had never felt so happy after I was diagnosed with cancer. Because I spent my days living my life to the fullest. No one ever appreciates their life before it flashes before their eyes, don't they?
Finally, now that I'm dead, I can finally tell all of you: "Sucks to be you!"
Because I will never get old. And I graduated from life. Haha.
I might not have any inheritance for you guys. All I have is this note, unless you want my stale cigarettes. I could give it to Lily a stick or two.
All in all, I love all of you. And I will bring that to my grave.
It was a short note. But it put smile on their faces.