I am getting used to this.
It's getting ordinary for me to be ignored, now. I'm beginning to forget that I was once the best high jumper at our school, that I was once the one who would be called to represent our region.
I'm beginning to welcome their weird stares…stares that tell me that I barely exist. After all, I never made it to the competition that's why our school lost. That should be the final step…and I blew it.
That mishap happened a week ago. And so far, they're still talking about it.
"It was really disappointing, how Nina never made it to the compe—"
"Shut up!" Her seatmate said, elbowing her as she glanced at my seat.
I just buried my head in my arms. I know I blew it. So stop rubbing it in.
Even the teacher was angry at me because she never mentioned my name when she checked the attendance. Talk about grudge. I never bothered to talk to her when her lecture was finished. I never cared.
Dismissal came. I went to the field, staring at the bar that was over my head. I also looked at the cushion that was ready to catch me.
"Fine." I said, dropping my bag, taking a few steps back. I crouched a little, and then I began to run. When I gained the right momentum, I jumped, twisting myself. I finally faced the crimson sky and then I felt that feeling again…that invincible feeling when you jumped. I smiled as my heart began to sink…and finally, the cushion caught me. I bounced a little, and then the excitement was gone. I sighed, and then I headed home, to my empty apartment.
I just watched my classmates have fun the next day. It was our P.E. time. This was supposed to be my favorite subject. Even my best friend was ignoring me. She cried a lot lately, but she never turned to me. Maybe they broke up. After all, she and Kei have always had a rocky relationship. I wanted to shout but I just composed myself. Since the teacher, too, ignored me, I decided to head for the rooftop to clear my mind. This was way too frustrating.
The cool wind brushed my cheeks, and then I smiled a little. Well, something's worse than being ignored.
"Why are you here?" A voice of a guy asked.
I suddenly looked back, and then I saw River, my teammate.
"They just…pissed me off, River." I replied.
"Pissed you off how, Nina?"
"They keep on ignoring me." I said after a long pause. I leaned on the steel fence of the rooftop. "It upsets me because it's really just one game. Can't they ever forgive me?"
He just looked at me with his kind, brown eyes.
"At least you're not ignoring me." I said with a smile.
He just smiled back; also leaning is back on the fence. We were now standing side by side.
"Can you tell me why you never made it in the competition, anyway?"
"I woke up late…" I replied lamely, looking down. "There was no bus, so I decided to run to the venue. Unfortunately, a road accident occurred, delaying me. A lot of people were gathering about. I decided to take another way since I really couldn't get through. And then, when I finally arrived, the place was empty. I was too late."
"An accident happened, huh?"
"Well, do you know who was in that accident?"
"I told you I took another way, didn't I?"
"Look at me." He said.
I slowly looked up. He has the saddest eyes that I ever saw.
"Do you know that person, River?" I asked.
He nodded. "The one who died was a friend of mine."
He licked his lower lip, and then he closed his eyes.
"The one who died…was you, Nina."
I forced out a nervous laugh.
"That can't be, River. If I'm dead, then how can you see me?"
"I have a third eye. The rumors are true." He quietly replied. "I'm sorry, Nina. But I think it's time for you to go."
"Go where?!" I cried, tears emerging from my eyes. "You casually talk to me, River…as if I'm not dead yet!"
"Just accept it, Nina. And you'll be free. You'll be away from here."
"River…" I said, a little more calmly. "How did I…"
"You were the one who was in that accident." He explained. "You were hit by a truck. When we heard about the news, we quickly left the venue, hurrying to where you were."
So that was why the venue was empty. Why I was ignored. Why my teachers missed my name on the attendance.
I closed my eyes and then I felt that rising feeling again. I felt happy, and content.
I opened my eyes and then I smelled River's cool scent. He was hugging me. He was actually sobbing.
"I'm sorry, Nina. I'm sorry that this happened to you."
"If only I woke up earlier, right, River? If only I didn't slack off."
He suddenly let go. His face was so close to mine. And then, our lips met. I can't believe it. I actually felt the warmth of his lips. I actually felt alive, human…and solid.
"I was supposed to confess to you in that competition, Nina." He said. "But this happened. I guess that would be my lifetime regret."
I didn't reply. I saw him let go of my hand, and then I went higher. I went on, and on, until I could barely see him. I saw my classmates in the field, doing the usual P.E. activities. I saw the wholeness of the school beneath me. I smiled as I accepted this fate. I am finally free.