Wind blew me as I swiftly entered a deadly turning long followed by a jumping turning forty-five. I smirked when I heard the groan of the leader’s opposition, so I stepped back and raised my front leg, then immediately threw a back kick, full of anger and hatred.
“Is that all you can do?! What is that, a kid’s punch?” I laughed so hard, pissing him off. Harshly, I grabbed his hair and forced him to look at me as if I planned to take his head off. “I haven’t even swung a punch yet. How weak you are.”
Laughter filled the atmosphere as the watery alphabets of the clouds drifted upon the roof. The night was so fine, I was wondering if everybody was sleeping in peace while the rest of us were covered in anger, hatred, and pain inside this four-cornered abandoned street. This was supposed to be a sanctuary, but every time the sun started to be eaten by the dragon who only carried darkness, it became a place of blood. Every night at every corner, it is filled with different people in a group of gangs that the world has already forgotten.
“That’s the only thing you’re capable of. All of your value lies only within the gang. But you know what, Leo?” He called me by my codename. “In reality… you’re just another piece of trash. You are nothing more than a mouse strewn across the road, worthless and inept.”
The moment he flashed a cheshire grin, my hand instantly landed on his face.
“You don’t know anything!” My screams come from deep within, as if my terrified spirit had unleashed a demon on the world.
I heard every sound of his feet as he walked towards me under the crying sky. “No one listens to poor, Leo. Who cares if the wealthy continue to amass wealth at the expense of others who struggle and die attempting to live moral lives and raise families? You lost your family because of poverty, right?”
“You drop out of school because they don’t accept people like us, right?
“I said shut up!”
“What direction are we taking our lives in? We are born unfortunate, and we die unfortunate. We are born sinners and we die as sinners.” He paused as he extended his arm and touched the back of my neck. “And you know what’s even more surprising?” He leaned forward and whispered, “We are already dead.”
Everything happened like a blast of light. The last thing I knew, I was covered in blood, my mouth dropped open and my eyes widened in surprise. The onslaught came out of nowhere in a matter of seconds. My abdomen was sliced open on the left side by the blade.
“Once you enter this place, you can never change your life…”
My eyes started to get heavy, blurry and unclear. As I slowly closed the holes, the last thing I saw were the colors blue and red.
No one joins a criminal organization without first being a lone wolf. The only people who seek advice from monsters are those who have no other choice. The stories of violence among the youth of today’s generation were sad to hear. But even sadder was when I was the one being part of it.
If I will be given another life to live, can I change my life to the way I wanted?
I FELT like the crying sky that day answered my last call. Four days after the gang fight happened, I found myself again isolated from the outside world, but what’s different now is that I didn’t hear the cries of violence and abuse. All I could hear was the humming of silence, peace, and hope.
I was transferred to a rehab facility for alcohol and drug rehabilitation. It requires comprehensive counseling, which seeks to remedy drug-seeking habits, instill improved coping mechanisms, and teach vital relapse prevention skills. They said that this was a free government program. Young people and even adults who were involved in addiction were being brought here. I had no idea what they had planned, but one thing was certain:
“I need to get out of here.”
I slowly took a few steps outside from the room where I was staying. Whenever I saw people approaching, I tried to act normal. They shouldn’t be able to see that I’m rushing away. My fleeing should go unnoticed by them. The only way out of here is for me to go out now.
Rushing to the corridor, the sound of music reverberating off the walls of the building lifts my spirits.
“Almost there!” I shouted inside my head.
Suddenly, the sound stopped as I felt a hand touching my shoulder. It’s as if everything has come to a halt for a moment’s rest.
“Escaping?” My eyes slightly widened when I heard the soft melody of a woman’s voice. I got stacked in my position like a statue in a central museum. “Escapin — “
Nothing in my body could have done anything but cover her mouth. “Shut up or I’ll stitch your mouth, young lady.”
That didn’t worry her in the slightest. She did little more than shake my hand fiercely and giggle gently at my annoyance. “Cut it off. No one escapes this rehab, anyway.”
“I’ll prove you wrong.”
I haven’t even taken a step yet when I heard her saying, “Don’t you want to change? Don’t you want to be healed?”
It hit me. After hearing her words, I felt like the hole inside my heart had been hit with an ice-cold magnum. Even though it was difficult, I attempted to retain my composure and pretend that it didn’t bother me.
I turned to the woman in front of me and fixed my eyes on her. “I’m not sick to be healed.”
“What about here?” she softly touched my chest. “Isn’t it heavy? Isn’t it painful over there?”
I just blinked. She was right.
“I know you want to leave this place because I was like that before. But I just want to tell you, if you go back right now, you’ll be stuck in that misery of your life forever.” All of her words were cut. “Can’t you see? You were given a chance to live again, so grab it. It will take some time to be okay, but trust me, once that time has passed, you’ll be back in the public eye, telling the world that you’ve made it and that they are wrong about you.”
Silence filled my system as the memory of the past came back. I was born into a working-class family. I was only a child when I became aware of the realities of life. I’ve witnessed firsthand how unjust the world was to folks like us. The scene inside my head when my parents died at the hands of rich people was still visible. Every single day was a nightmare. Because their deaths were tainted by money, there was no justice. A child like me was the only one who witnessed the tragedy, but no one cared enough to listen. But what did I have to expect? That’s how the world revolved around us.
When I entered high school, I vowed to succeed in order to get revenge for the death of my parents. I dreamed, but I saw more and more of the wrong system. Poor people like us have no chance. It all comes down to money. That’s when I came to the conclusion that having a dream wasn’t enough. This led me down an unfamiliar path. Selling drugs was a lucrative career choice for many people I’ve spoken to. Affiliate awards were given to winners of gang fights. In this way, I was able to fulfill my lifelong ambition. Everything in my life seemed to be going well until the school found out what I was doing.
Rejection, pain, anger, grieving, sorrow, and isolation… all my life I’ve been living in those. It was as if you were living in a body without a soul, without direction, and without meaning. But now, I want to end it. I’ve had enough of it already. I want to fill my world with colorful clouds and rainbows again.
“Against all odds, you’ll be able to achieve it,” she uttered and smiled as she slowly vanished into my sight.
“THREE YEARS AGO, that was the last word she said.” I held the microphone tightly. “I was with her all throughout my recovery. She was my voice every time I couldn’t speak. She was my strength every time I felt like giving up. She was my hope when there was none. She was sick too, like me. I felt like she was carrying the load I was also carrying at that time. I don’t know why, but it only matters the moment I know I am healed. She was healed when I was healed. Because…” I paused. “She was me. She was only a product of my mind.”
Murmurs filled the room. I was standing in a huge crowd, full of young people who were also suffering in the same way I was three years ago. I found out that the girl I saw in the hallway that day was just a creation of my mind. I suffered from a mental disorder due to trauma after everything that happened in my life. Yes, that happened three years ago, and now, I am starting my path as a speaker, inspiring and motivating youth around the globe.
“But because of her, I was able to be healed. So I don’t regret creating her. And she wanted to tell all of you, ‘Against all odds, believe that you can be healed and you can achieve the life you always wanted.’”
Maintain a positive frame of mind. I understand how difficult it might be, but you’re not far from where you want to be. Whatever your age, you have a long way to go. Right now, I know you’re in pain, but you’ll get through it.
Nothing beats the quote, “We can do all things with a complete state of harmony of the body, mind, and spirit,”
which I, Trisha Reyes, agree with. Growing up, I was exposed to a healthy lifestyle; I am a varsity player who enjoys going to the gym, dancing, and singing. In my modeling career, I am proactive and never miss a workshop. I am proud to be a product of mixed culture and blood of Filipino-American-Chinese descent. During these quarantine series, I’ve been binge-watching Netflix shows. I find it fascinating to interact with because it provides a wide range of award-winning TV shows, movies, anime, and documentaries. Aside from watching, I consider myself a bookworm who enjoys reading. I can spend an entire night reading; it has been my hobby since I was a child. Because of my love of reading and writing, I became a member of my school’s journalist team. Writing and reading are my escape and companion when things become too difficult to bear; it is where I express myself. When I think of myself, and as a writer, I imagine myself as a Molave Tree, which is sturdy and maintains its position even when numerous typhoons or high winds pass through me; a tree that stands straight learns and grows as its branches do.
In the same way, a tree provides shade and protection to the people and creatures who live in its immediate vicinity. I plant roots in my words and impart wisdom to my local community. Finally, Tigercubs represent a place to call home, a source of hope, and a vision for the future that I hope to realize.