I open the door of the abandoned building, sliding myself in, walking myself to the rooftop area, shaking in fear. Fear that keeps increasing as I get a step closer to the edges of the rooftop.
And when I reach the short fences surrounding the rooftop area, I can only gulp down in nervousness as I glance the scenery below me; dark alleyway with nothing but the concrete road.
It will hurt, wouldn’t it, if I fall directly from the tenth floor?
Fear swirls inside my mind make me take a step backwards, distancing my body from the fences.
Yet the angel, or maybe the devil, who resides inside my brain, keeps reminding me of the painful memories I had, shaking me off of my fear, encouraging me to leap over the fences.
It will hurt, sure, but only for a second. If I continue living, the pain would have last for much longer, wouldn’t it?
With that thought, I place my feet, heels on the tiles of the rooftop, toes dangling on air. Opening up my arms, taking a deep breath, closing my eyes, I get ready to drop myself.
And I feel a heavy load drags me by my red hoodie until I fall backwards.
“Ouch,” I grunted, feeling pain squeezes my body for a second. With my bottom on the tiles, I open my eyes, only to see an owl flies in front of me.
“You seems too young to be dying, young boy,” the owl started to talk as it perches on the tiles.
“What do you know, you weird talking owl?!” Startled with the unusual occurrence, I yelled back at the owl. Yet, a part of my heart feels relieved that it drags me back to life.
“I know a lot of things in this world, young boy,” the owl replied to me calmly.
Using its two feet, it walks closer to me. “I don’t know your stories, but I have the time to listen to those stories of yours.”
Slowly, words come out from my lips, retelling what I had experienced to the talking owl in front of me.
It started with me missing a pencil case. The black-coloured cotton pencil case that I brought every day to class, that I always stored on top of my desk during class, vanished when I came back from the toilet.
I looked inside the drawer of my desk and found nothing but my textbooks. I looked inside my bag and found nothing but my other belongings. I checked the locker in front of the classroom, but it was not there either.
Could not find it anywhere, I asked the guy who sat behind me. He remained speechless, yet his fingers pointed me to the trash can beside the whiteboard.
My eyes followed his fingers, only to see a group of students threw the shredded black fabric and dismantled pen into the bin.
“What are you doing? That is mine!” I shouted angrily as I stomped towards them.
“Oh, sorry. It looks so dirty like it belongs in the trash can,” a girl with a blonde hair replied. The rest of the group laughed out loud, then left me taken aback with their behaviour.
The day after, I came to school only to find my locker had been forcefully unlocked. The books that I stored inside were gone.
I stood in front of my locker, angered, yet remained speechless. I could hear the whispering noises from my classmates, who were scared, who also took no action to help me nor to reach out to me.
I wished anyone could let me know who did this.
That day, I got scolded by the teachers as I did not bring the textbook to the lesson. That day, I spent my lunch break to search for my missing textbooks. That day, I found out the same group who took my pencil case, were ripping off pages from textbooks, folded hundreds of paper planes, and sent it to the sky from the school rooftop.
And I could never find my missing books. Never.
The third day, I was walking to the cafeteria during lunch break when I noticed that everyone was staring and laughing behind my back. Brushed off their laugh, I prepared myself for the next lesson.
It was when I got changed out of my uniform, I realized the reason behind everyone’s action: a paper that was stuck on my back the whole day.
A paper that stated: I am an ugly idiot who does not realize the paper stuck behind me.
I never considered myself handsome, but I could not disagree with the second part of the sentence.
I did not realize anything throughout the whole day, I might actually be an idiot.
Crumpled the paper, I laughed at myself, promised myself to be more aware of the upcoming pranks.
For the week after the paper incident, the group kept doing the same thing over and over. They asked whomever that sat close to me to stick the paper on my back while I was fully focused on the whiteboard during the lesson.
The first day, stated: nerd but stupid, don’t talk to me. I took it off during the lunch break, with a hope that the group would never pull this stuff on me again.
Yet I was wrong. They continued, and the writings on the second day were: my name is a fat piggy. A drawing of a pig wearing the same glasses as mine can be seen on the corner of the paper.
The third day, written: loser of the year. Thumbs down scattered all over the paper. My patience had gone; I had enough of the pranks. I decided to walk to the group and ripped off the paper in front of their eyes. Then, I went home feeling proud of myself.
Surely they will not pull any more pranks to me, right?
Sadly, my thought was proven to be wrong.
The following week, the group elevated their mistreatment. It was as if they were saying: we were unhappy with you putting up a fight against us.
I came to school to find trash piled up on my desk. The stinky smell penetrated my nose even from the classroom entrance, about 5 metres away from the desk. Yet, I had nothing to do but to clean up the trash, so I could take the lesson for the day.
On another day, I found writings carved onto my desk. It made my desk stood out to the other smooth-surfaced table that surrounds it. The teacher noticed and decided to punish me for the destruction of school property. I explained that it was not me, yet I was powerless without any evidence to prove my words.
The day after, I had nothing until the lunch break, when I decided to go to the toilet. As soon as I sat inside the toilet stall, buckets of water were thrown unto me. I could hear the group sinister laugh as they exited the bathroom.
I was drenched in my uniform, smelled funny due to the muddy water that flooded the bathroom stall. Felt unable to be sane, I cried inside the stall.
Why do they target me? What did I do to them?
It was then I started to succumb to the self-destructive, negative thoughts.
The day after the toilet incident, I pretended to be sick, and my mom let me stay at home for the day. I felt happy knowing that I would not have dealt with any pranks for the day.
Yet, I was wrong, again.
As soon as the clock hand hits twelve, my phone buzzed as six messages came in. I checked my phone, only to realize that these messages were from the group. My hands were shaking as I touched my phone screen to uncover the messages.
“Did you enjoy the shower on the toilet stall yesterday?”
“You are a worthless human being, well suited for the muddy water.”
“Oh, wait, actually, you are a pig. You worth less than a human being.”
“Sadly, the pig went sick from muddy water.”
“But thanks for not coming to school today. It is so hard to have to look at your ugliness in class every day, you see.”
“So can you do us a favour and just kill yourself?”
And that messages were the one who brought me here, at the abandoned building.
I wrap up my story, holding back tears that are about to stream down my cheek.
“So you were about to throw your life for them?” the owl asked.
“So that I don’t have to experience more pain,” I clarified my intention.
The owl stares at me. “Don’t you feel guilty about leaving your parents who have raised you for the past fifteen years?”
“I am thirteen though,” noticing that something is off from the question, I answered the owl. Yet its question makes me think about mom, and how she would be alone if I had jumped and died earlier.
“More the reason for you to not throw your life for those people,” the owl replied.
As I stay still without response but dropping my head low, the owl lets out a sigh, then rubs my leg using its wings. The owl then plucks its own feather, gesturing me to take it.
“Feather?” I asked in confusion. I hold the dark brown feather in my palms.
“This feather is filled with my magic. Hold on to it every day, every time. Hold it as close to you as you can,” the owl stated.
“Wait, what is this for?” I asked again, demanded more explanation from the creature in front of me.
“If you hold to the feather, I can assure you that those bully never gets close to you anymore,” the owl answered my question. It turns back, then flies to the dawn sky, leaving me with its feather on my palms.
Wait, will this really work?
Decided to give it a try, I wear the feather as a necklace and hid it inside my uniform. As I enter my classroom, I glance at the corner where the group used to hang out. Yet, none of them looks back at me.
Arriving at my desk, none of the previous carvings can be seen. No stinky trash either.
Lunch break comes in no time. I walk out to the bathroom, not forgetting to check my back. No paper gets stuck onto it.
Hesitantly, I enter the toilet stall. Bracing for any muddy water thrown my way, I hold up my arms, shielding my face. Yet, I am not drenched like last time.
Entering the classroom, I check all my belongings. Notebooks are at the same place as I previously left. No issues with my pencil case too.
It is truly working! With its feather, I am no longer bullied!
Sitting on my desk, I continue to enjoy the rest of the class for the day. The day when no one pull pranks on me, the day where no one bothers me.
And it would not be just for today, but for the next day, the day after, the week after, and then forevermore.
I smile at the glimpse of the happy future ahead.
Without a single realization to the body in red hoodie, that laid down on the cold concrete in an abandoned alleyway, drowned in a puddle of blood breathless, whose eyes got covered by an owl with its feather.