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Chasing Mr. Prefect by Katt Briones
For the first time in her life, Vinnie finds herself on the brink of academic suspension.
While standing up to a bully is something she’ll never regret, she has to take on additional responsibilities in lieu of punishment for the offense. This unfortunately involves working with Cholo, the head disciplinary prefect, who seems to take delight in other people’s blunders. Her determination to match his expectations eventually leads her into a crazy chase to keep up.
Will Vinnie be able to carry on and eventually catch up? Or will the chase be too much for her to handle?
“Gutom ka talaga, ‘no?”
I recognized the voice, but I had to double-check just in case. I didn’t know if it was because he sounded different in Tagalog, or because my village was around forty kilometers from Dresden, where I normally saw him.
When I turned to look, Cholo was behind me, holding a paper cup in one hand and a stack of sugar and cream sachets on the other.
“Yeah, so?” I said, resisting the urge to give him another once-over. His hair was sticking out in every direction, eyes sleepy but alert. The flip-flops on his feet were just as depressing as the ones on mine. “Ba’t ka andito?”
“I needed a boost,” he said, raising the cup to eye level. “Had to finish my Rizal term paper.”
I just nodded then paid for my food, waiting for the staff to assemble my order.
“Order is complete, Ma’am! Have a great morning,” said the cashier, and I made an effort to return the smile. When I turned, Cholo was still there.
“You going to eat here?” he asked.
“Hindi, iuuwi ko ‘tong tray,” I snapped, walking past him towards one of the tables. Cholo shook his head and followed me, clicking his tongue all the while. For a moment there, I thought he was aiming for the exit but he ended up joining me.
“Are you sure you can finish all that?” he asked, emptying five cream sachets on his large coffee. I gave him my best glare as I opened my nuggets box.
“Shoo,” I snapped, now tearing the plastic seal off the barbecue sauce tub. “I didn’t say you could join me.”
He rolled his eyes. “Sa’yo ‘tong table?”
“No, pero itong Mcdo, oo,” I answered, sloppily putting a handful of fries inside my mouth, and that seemed to gross him out. “Alis.”
“You wish,” he snapped and he stirred the contents of his cup. “You live near here?”
“Yeah. I thought you were from the North part of Manila, what’re you doing here?”
“I live two streets away, but stay in a dorm near Dresden on schooldays. Are you still in that two-storey green house?”
“What the fuck, totoo ka ba?” I sputtered, my mouth still full of fries. The guy knew where I lived!
“Ikaw ‘tong weird, don’t you remember me?” he asked, laughing. His eyes were doing that adorable crinkling-at-the-sides thing again. “We had the same school bus in first grade.”
“Seriously?” I said, unable to believe it. I would have noticed if my college crush (ew) was in my yearbook, right?
“Yeah! You always wore this pink headband with a bow at the side. Your watch was… Barbie, I think?” he said, waving his stirrer in the air as he narrowed his eyes at a point over my shoulder, as though trying to remember. “And your bag had a Sailor Moon design.”
There was a picture of me in my room, wearing the exact same things he had described. It was getting really creepy. “You remembered that? Even the bag?!”
“Of course, you wouldn’t stop hitting me with it!” he said, now laughing openly. “Sapul pa lagi mukha ko.”
“Should I say sorry?” I asked. “If I had been aiming at your face, I must have had a good reason.”
He snapped his fingers so suddenly that I jumped in my chair. “Alam ko na!” he said, eyes wide, all traces of sleepiness gone.
“Alam mo na what?” I asked, sufficiently annoyed.
“The trend back then was to call people by both their first and second names, buo,” he said, sounding excited. “That’s why you don’t remember me. You all called me Charles Paolo.”
My eyes widened. He was that scrawny, Chinoy kid who made fun of my name. The reason why I became Lavinia the villain in every single play!
“You!” I said, gripping my fork as though to stab him. “I hated you!”
“Chill!” he said, holding both palms up, eyes focused on my plastic fork. “Seriously, Lavinia Magdalene-“
“Do you really want to get skewered?!” I demanded as the son of a gun was laughing his head off.
“You haven’t changed one bit,” he commented, taking a sip off his coffee. I could see his dimples making deep gouges on his cheeks as he grinned. “I was surprised you didn’t recognize me in the disciplinary prefects’ office.”
“Kaya pala ang lakas mo agad mang-asar!” I seethed, taking a spoonful of rice and half a nugget in one bite and chewing on it furiously.
How come I didn’t recognize him? Sure, he had better arms and an even better wardrobe nowadays, but I should’ve known it was him the moment he impishly suggested that I needed checking. The thought of me crushing on a childhood bully (the same one whom I had vivid dreams of drowning in a pool when I was little) was just so infuriating!
“Some things just never change, no? I still find it really cute when you get pikon,” he reasoned. Taking his stirrer off his cup, he raised it again and tipped it to his own mouth. “Wait, why do you eat here? Don’t you have food at home?”
“Hindi ko pwede kainin pagkain ng amo ko, magagalit ‘yun.”
Cholo laughed and choked hard on his coffee. I watched in amusement as the liquid started coming out of his nose, which looked hot as the cup was still steaming. I shook my head and handed him some tissue, which he gladly took.
“Ayan kasi,” I said with a nasty smile. “Karma!”
He glared at me and sloppily wiped his face. Even his eyes were red from so much coughing.
“Do you ever stop being mean?” he demanded, and I gave him my best smile.
“Does the sun ever stop shining?” I asked sweetly.
“Ewan ko sa’yo,” he said, stealing the rest of my tissues.
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