Chapter 1 – Eddo: At first Sight

Dreadful cries and the sounds of beating rang in my ears as I woke up, greeted by a crash of glass and relentless set of yelling. No matter how much weight my eyelids held, I had no choice but to force my body to get up. I had to get out of here.

A daily routine of my personal life, therefore I depended on alarm clocks not. Everyday my ears bleed at the melody of unfortunate events. Inside this metal-cased shelter for a home, a drunken head of the house commits a series of pounding for a living. The breadwinner for a wife was not the only victim, for the sole child of these ill-fated couple carried horrible bruises all over his skin.

Every single day I had to take a brief wash, quickly put on my school uniform and grab some bread hidden somewhere within my room, constantly checking out the expiry date. I dare not have my meals in the kitchen, for I fear to appear in the presence of that man whom I called 'father'. And every day, I had to make a sprint towards the exit as I put on my typical indigo jacket. Every day I had to evade wine bottles from connecting to my body.

I made use of the hiatus between the man and his wife to get a quick escape. The moment the wretched man saw me, I was already opening the door. He called out for me, but too late for him, I ran out without closing the door. He started to chase, but in his drunken state, he tripped over a rock and fell on his crumpled face. There was no way he could catch up with me now. And there was no way he was going to follow me all the way to school.

And this happened, almost, every day.

It was a bit too early for school. The sky was still pitched black, as the dim stars wait for the sun to creep out from the horizon. My schedule differs from other normal teenagers; some may still be sleeping right now. Even the paperboy was not this early. But I was not normal, I knew. From my backgrounds, you could tell.

I bypass the humble abode of a childhood friend. But for so long I had not come over Helena's domain. I need not worry her of my condition, regardless of how much she cares of me. I would not want to ruin her family's precious morning. She may be low-profile, but I envy her life. Having a father who earns at least enough to serve meals for the family is so much better than having a beast with no sense of responsibility.

I came to a halt at a familiar T-junction, where the left path leads to school. The school gates would not open this early, so I took the right turn instead. A few blocks away from the corridors of knowledge, stood an abandoned warehouse, which served as my personal space of tranquillity. By the time I reach this place, the faint light of the morning star have already seeped through the slits and holes on the zinc roof and the broken windows. And this, this is my sanctuary.

The air inside my sanctuary was never fresh to begin with, but once you get used to the stuffiness it was not much of a problem. I had made myself comfortable with the dust and the old crates as I felt like I am one with them. At the one corner of the large chamber was where I received the best lighting. And at this very corner was where I sit down, open my notebook and started writing.

I had always loved writing, but I can never have variety. I notice the moods in my poems are often too similar. I had tried my best to vary my style, but I often fail. I had always used to same old theme, but with different symbolisms. I enjoyed it anyways, I had freedom. I used to show Helena my self-made nursery rhymes, but not anymore. I could not imagine how she would react if she sees my sonnets of depression. Perhaps I was being too cowardly towards her..or to myself.

For my fingers to stop, seems close to impossible once I started writing. I lose track of time whenever I do this and without realizing it, school bell will ring in a matter of seconds. I guess I never learned my lessons; every day I had to make a sprint towards school. I was never unfortunate to be categorized as 'late' as the bell often rang after my feet moved several paces away from the gate. Once inside, I was already too weary to even stand up during the morning assembly.

Yet not today.

I was several seconds too late. The boy in blue shirt extended his hand to stop me, and scribbled down my name he read on my nametag. His lips curled, as though he was satisfied to see me finally broken a rule. I know I was often bullied, but little do I know that even prefects had something against me either. Was I really that much of a freak? Here I thought I had been keeping myself remain unnoticeable.

"You will see the disciplinary teacher right after the assembly," said the prefect smugly. I nodded, obviously I was terrified. As I walked ahead, I heard him commenting under his breath about my habit of wearing this jacket even during the hot weather. I admit I sweat a lot under that thick layer of garment, yet I still find it safe wearing one. It was like a shield, like an armour. It served like a wall between me and the world.

Maybe I was a freak. I had no friends...I kept to myself, I liked being alone. No, I don't... I don't know. It seems so natural that people avoid me or take advantage of my weak personality. I just want to stay away from trouble, I have no means to make people angry, so I might as well just do as they say. As long as they are happy, as long as I did not become the public enemy. Even Helena had left my side a long time ago. She was lucky to have found a gang of gossiping girls to hang out with. And there they were in the line, giggling and sneering at me who had to be displayed at the front as one of the late-comers. Helena was in caught between joining the jeers and giving my sympathy, she simply pretended not to see me.

Exhaustion had weakened my knees that I almost lost balance during the assembly. The thirty minutes was thirty days of hell, then along with the delinquents I had to listen to the disciplinary teacher's tremendously long lecture. Since this was my first mistake, he kept reminding me not to become like the rest of the lecture victims (whom I notice kept rolling their eyes whenever the strict educator was not looking at them). I was a little relieved that he dismissed me earlier, but still, the first period is almost over. I had to blame the time for flying a bit too fast, or the teacher had stalled me a bit too long. Either way, I missed a class. I hate it, for I had no one to refer to...

I headed to class walking as fast as I could muster with little stamina left, cursing under my breath why the office had to be situated at the other side of the world. Perhaps it was about time for me to learn my lesson. I must take note to come to school earlier. Maybe I could just hang out in front of the gate, enter as soon as it opens and find a quiet place for my own past time. Nearly impossible, I supposed the nice spots are already occupied by this time of the year. Or I could bring an alarm clock to the warehouse to indicate the perfect time for me to stop writing and go to school. But I did not have any.

Pain engorged somewhere around my shins. I had reached my limits. I continued my journey by dragging my feet...slowly...and slowly the distance between the classroom and I receded...

...as I listen to a gentle pick of a string...and another...then another... each of its tune sent shivers down my spine. The vibrations of every tone penetrated my heart like a barrage of cupid's arrows. And for the first time in my life, my ears...they healed with ultimate bliss.

All pain forgotten, unconsciously my feet made its way to the source of the sound. I have no idea why...but this...amazingly arranged set of tone was just too...too beautiful.

I came to a halt in front of the music room. It was situated further away from the classrooms. The door was ajar, and from this point the sound of strumming was more than close enough to swim into its emotions.

How curious.

Where did this come from? Who was responsible for this?

I took a peek into the room.

What I saw...had undeniably...took my breath away.

Sitting by the window, a man was playing a guitar. His eyes were closed as his fingers skilfully plucked the strings of his lute. His face was so calm...smiling so passionately. Even so passionate as the sun rays traversed pass the window sill emblazed his flaming red hair. He was lost in his own world, in his own music. With those exotic features, he was even more gorgeous with that ecstatic expression... so...so lovely, oh my goodness..!

I could not help but be reminded of myself, how I lost myself into my own fantasies. But was this the same? This man, seem a lot happier. I was envious...yet, at the same time, I was drawn...drawn to his passion...

Why...why did I want...why did I feel like...I need to be closer to him...?

I peered into the room for a closer look. I recognized him, he was one of the prefects, but I barely notice him – in fact, I barely notice anyone. Squeezing my brain a little, I tried to recall something. I found a little clue slipped somewhere in the labyrinth of my mind. This guy... I have heard of his sportsmanship and how popular he was with the ladies. Otherwise, I did not know him at all.

The door creaked. Damn! My foot had moved without my consent yet again, the tip of my shoes kicked the door. The noise was apparently distracting, that the man's flexible fingers froze froze. His eyes snapped open and slowly looked up.

Though the gap of the door was small, but he knew he could clearly see me beyond it; his eyes sent an enthralling wavelength straight into mine. My heart stopped.

His face shadowed - it could just be my imagination, or that he had turned away from the light, but it somehow creates a frightening aura. I could not see his expression, but I knew one thing; I felt a surge of fear crawling into my body. I had to get out of there.

Then I ran – ran for my life before the red headed prefect could even utter a word to cease me. Surprisingly my energy had completely restored that I made it back to class before the second period starts. I half believed that the music could have cured me, and the other part of me believed it was the very sight of the musician that enticed me. Although in the end he seemed malicious (if not I wouldn't have ran away like that).

Flushing, both from the strange thought and endless sprint, I sneaked back into the classroom through the back door. Returning to my seat at the back of the class, I clutched my chest – my heart had stopped beating earlier, but now it was pounding faster. No matter how many times I had ran so desperately, never before had it played this kind of rhythm.

Was this....

Was this because of... him...?

My pulses continued to echo...