It wasn’t the only tree at school. But we could obviously see it every time we enter and exit the school gate. It was not a special tree. The leaves were lush and they fell every day, because somehow, the wind was always quite strong during the morning at my town. I never paid attention to that tree. Its lush leave created a large shadow on my school’s gate every morning. Before entering class, sometimes some students waited for their friends under that tree; sitting while talking to each other. It was such a relaxing view to see. There was a road near the tree which led to another gate, an always closed one. The gate led to the outside “ring-road” of my school – a road that went around my school complex so that everyone around it, from the kindergarten building, elementary school building, and junior high building, could have easy access to every other part of the school. On the tree’s opposite site was the school’s Hail Mary Cave, a man-made cave with Hail Mary statue on the middle, with a pond with colorful fishes around it and a small bridge to let people pray in front of the Hail Mary statue. The tree had the most convenient place. It was surrounded by everything. But of course, most of the times, the tree was surrounded by junior high school students.
It was a nice tree but it was never special, at first. But after that particular day, the tree had acquired a new definition – of a memory which I could not seem to forget although I really wanted to. The tree became a place, a witness, of how I gave in to my pity for others, for guys, and how I could not help but say ‘yes’ because I was such a nice person.
It was Monday I believe. The sun was sunny and it was a bit windy – as always. On the past Sunday, one of the boy in my class told me something I never had before; a confession. A love confession for God sake! His name was Jonathan. He was one of those ‘athletic’ boys in my class, and in the school. He played soccer and basketball, and his skin was pretty exotic looking. He had a very sharp eye and a pretty deep and coarse voice for his age at the time. He was not that much of a nice boy, but he was also not in the group of the bad boys. Jo was quite nice to some people – and quite religious also. I often saw him in front of the Hail Mary Cave for weekly prayer every Thursday. Basically, he seemed to be a nice guy; an okay one at the very least. Two days before one of the luckiest and unluckiest day of my life, a friend of mine – whom I later figured was also his close friends in church, told me to expect a surprise tomorrow night. I was so curious so I waited all night long for this said surprise. No text appeared on my phone. So I figured it must not be a text, or a call – because none came in. So I decided to check my Facebook the next night, and after I was online for about 10 minutes, he messaged me. I was a bit shocked and scared – my stomach was turning; probably caused by a mixture of curiosity, and excitement I had. He was asking about what I was doing and after about 10 messages, out of nowhere, he confessed to me that he has liked me since the day we got into the same class. Oh great! Even at that time – and until this very second even, I still can’t believe someone can actually like me at first sight. I mean, it’s just ME!
My insecure self was panicking, but excited too. Being told by someone, a pretty cute guy too though, was of course, a whole new experience for me. It felt almost ecstatic, but scary too – I was that scared that it wasn’t real. So after a whole lot of silent screams and pillows thrown all over my bedroom, I told him to wait for tomorrow. He told me then to see him under the tree in front of the school gate. I never thought that my nerve-wrecked self would go on an emotional roller-coaster for 48 hours not long after that legendary confession.
So the next day came and I waited. People kept coming and going, but somehow, some stayed for quite a long time. Then he came, with a bunch of other guys and girls behind him, cheering him on while he was walking towards me, a ball of unappealing nerve-wreck.
Under that tree, on 7 AM, Jonathan confessed to me. Witnessed by his group of 15 who were very noisy and quite loud, and all was waiting for my answer after that particular re-confession. His face, his friends’ euphoria, and the fact that the bell almost rang, dispelled my hesitation and I ended up saying ‘yes’. Everyone was cheering loudly and the word I now despise the most ‘cie’ was echoed so loudly when both of us walked in to the school for class.
I didn’t really think that I would regret my choice at the time. He was so sweet for God sake! Never have I experienced that in my life. Well, the words he said, the way he smiled; all seemed so perfect. He was so sweet and caring, protective and helpful, during our first day together. On the same day, he walked me home and we passed the tree. But somehow, it seemed like it was very quiet, like the tree was trying to keep a secret from me. On most days, the tree always looked vibrant yet calming. Only days after that then I figured that the weird feeling that the tree gave at that day would actually lead to my first heart break.
Jonathan and I only lasted for 48 hours, because later then I knew that the romantic confession and the innocent exhibition of affection yesterday was a part of a bet: a nasty, cursed bet – or as I called it, with one my friend. The bet was a successful one, because he won my friend for winning me. Jonathan won the bet and my friend, Jessica then became his girlfriend for the next 2.5 years. What a pathetic story of friendship, and love.
The tree stayed there of course. It kept quiet, but I knew that it must’ve seen hundreds of things, heard thousands of secrets. Maybe the tree has been feeling guilty for being a silent witness to all the things that have happened for decades. Those moments were probably kept under its leaves; the tree listened to everything and our words stayed under its leaves, then it fell and then got forgotten. I think mine didn’t get stuck on the leaves, but was embodied as the bark of the tree. Because, I could not forget what happened under that tree even after I graduated from that place. My bark stayed. It didn’t fall, nor did it get forgotten. The tree never looked the same in my eyes ever since. I could sense a tinge of pain every time I passed by that tree. Because under that tree, someone showed me an important life lesson: a man could be sweet and romantic for a bare minimum 48 hours and a prick for the next 2.5 years.
Word Count: 1,256
Photo by: Tim Dapokdikbud