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Notion Press Singapore Short Story Contest 2017

Weight A Slander Carries

By Aina Syamimi in True Story

My name is Alisa, an ordinary 15-year-old girl. I am just an average girl. My height is average; not too tall and not too small. I am not clever nor am I stupid. My grades are just nice enough not to feel humiliated. I am no beautiful, just not ugly. My skin is in the middle of white and black. Brown? Nah. Maybe a little more towards white. My hobby? Hurm… you could say I love reading. My dream? Err… an author? Typical, huh? If you ask my friends, they would probably say I am an introvert. But the only thing I’m proud of me, is that I have a strong sense of justice which, sometimes got me into trouble. In fact, it once got my life so messed up I was almost gave up of living. But before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story.

It was in early February, when the school library had just been renovated. There were loads of new books, and I couldn’t resist spending my break time exploring them, even though I knew that meant I’d be starving for the rest of the day. But hey, who cares?

One day, I went into the library as usual. But it was awfully less crowded that day. There were only the librarian, some guys at the back and I. I picked up a book and headed towards the table to start reading it. That was when I smelt something odd. It was cigarette smoke coming from those guys! Carefully, I tiptoed towards them, trying not to make them notice my presence. Once I was near enough (but still a safe distance), I took a glance at the boys. Hey, they are my classmates!

“What are you doing?” asked Azrai loudly. A wicked smile plastered on his face. Uh, I didn't like that look on his face. Something told me I'd just gotten myself into trouble. Congratulations dear self.

“Uh… nothing. I was just…”

His two other friends scowled at me. I could feel my heart palpilated vigorously. I didn’t know what to do. Please stop beating so fast, dear heart. “You better shut your mouth, or else…” One of them, Hazeril, grinned sinisterly at me. I gulped. Phew, even that was hard. My eyes widen as he put his cigarette on the table and squeezed it, as if to say I’d be dead like the cigarette if I blabbed. My feet were like jelly by now. I nodded obediently and immediately dragged my heavy feet towards the door. Oh my feet, would you please cooperate just this time? Please, help your owner to escape this dangerous situation.

As soon as I got out of the library, I quickly headed towards the classroom. When I walked past the teachers’ room, my legs froze. They refused to obey me. Why legs, oh why? Just walk to the stairs! Yes! The stairs! Right next to the teacher’s room! I almost cried. No matter what I did, my legs stood still. How dare they disobey me! I bit my lower lip. My eyes scanned the door in front of me. It was waving at me, begging me to push it open.

No, I stayed firm. You should not report those boys, Alisa. You should not do it. Save yourself the trouble. Don’t even think of going in there, girl. Just walk to the stairs. Yes the stairs. That’s what you are going to do.

I grinned foolishly.

But that’s an act of a coward. You do not want to be a coward, Alisa. Said my angel heart.

I let out a heavy sigh. This is going to be hard. I clenched my fists. Clenching my teeth, I pushed the door open with all my might. I walked to my homeroom teacher, Miss Zarina’s place. She looked up to me with a quizzed look. “Yes, Alisa? Do you have anything to say?”

My sensible brain told me to shut up, tell her I have nothing to say, and go back to my classroom. There. No harm done. But my idiotic heart whispered to me, that it was wrong. A rule is meant to be abided by the way. Show Azrai, just because his father is rich, didn’t mean he could do anything he pleases. Huh, such a spoilt rich kid.

I looked into Miss Zarina’s eyes. “I… I went into the library.” There you go. Attagirl! You can do it! “I saw Azrai, Hazeril and Amin…” Miss Zarina raised her eyebrow up. She might have guessed already. The three of them were troublemakers anyway. “They were… smoke… smoking…”

Miss Zarina sighed. I understood how she felt. It must be a headache, dealing with those boys almost each day. “I got it. Thank you, Alisa. I will investigate further. You may go now,” she said with a smile. A wave of relief passed over me once I entered my classroom. But little did I know, this typical life of this typical me was about to change unexpectedly.

A week later, I knew my peaceful life had ended when I got cornered up in the back of the school building by Azrai and his boys. There were hardly any student who would walk here, therefore there was no chance of me getting help from other students. So it was only me and my teeny guts left. So much for the situation. Azrai shot me a furious look. Uh-oh, I think he knew that I was the one who told on him. “What were you thinking? Are you a prefect or what?” He asked. “Were you that bold enough?”

I shook my head. Oh God, please help me. Please send your Angel. Amin picked up a big stone on the ground and threw it in my direction. I tried to avoid it. Instead, it hit my shoulder. Auch! That hurt a lot. The boys laughed at my reaction. Gratefully, a guard saw us from afar. He came running towards us. The boys saw him and quickly dashed away. Thank you God. I said, for saving me.

“Wait and see!” shouted Azrai. “You’ll regret this!”

Wait and see? Those words scared the creep out of me. I recalled back a year ago, when a classmate of mine accidentally spilled his orange juice on Azrai’s shirt. That boy ended up being bullied by him for quite some time. Would I get bullied? I shuddered at the thought of that.

My thoughts were proven true a fortnight later. Even worse things happened. Not only I got bullied, but also my best friend who used to stick to me like a glue, now avoided me and pretended as if I was not exist in this world. In fact, the whole class- no, the whole school pretended like I was invinsible. Minus the school staffs, of course. That just proved how big Azrai was.

The thing was, the next day after I got cornered up, a boy in my class said he lost his wallet. The teachers checked our belongings and yeah, don’t guess. His wallet was found in my bag. I said I was innocent but another boy stood up and said he saw me putting the wallet in my bag. You see, I got a hunch that Azrai paid him to lie. But that was definitely a slander. I never touched Arif’s wallet. What do you take me for? A thief? So long story short, the teachers believed him. And I was the villain in this case.

My family didn’t flutter me either. They said they trusted me, but why did they shoot me those strange looks? They said they believed my words, but why did they seem to hide their money or whatever whenever I came in? They said they knew I was telling the truth, but what about all the little talks and secret whispers they’d been doing behind me?

Screw Azrai and his boys. Screw the school. Screw them all. I didn’t care a bit.

But Azrai and his boys weren’t that satisfied until I was gone from the school. He started playing some terrible jokes and pulling pranks on me. He thought he was so funny; I didn’t. I wasn’t laughing either when the others laughed as I was soaked up in smelly water. I didn’t join the laughters when I saw the writing in red marker on the whiteboard. I felt offended when one of the girls called me names in front of the others. I felt like crying when I tripped and spilled my chocolate milk on my school uniform. In front of throngs of people, I must added that. I, had a feeling too, people. I was just a human. Not a robot.

And above all, I couldn’t forgive myself for becoming so wimp that I didn’t even dare to tell the teachers. Where did the old Alisa gone?

I was not a thief. And never would I be. That was what I’d told the teachers when another girl lost her pencil box. And another boy lost his expensive wristwatch. Or that time when Ashikin said she’d lost the storybook her mother bought her from German. Or the other time when Widaad complained about his notebook suddenly disappeared without a trace.

Jafar, that was what they all called me. It hurt when the teachers had called your parents to school, only to say that their daughter was a thief. It even more hurt when your parents called you a disgraceful child. The pain was too excruciating. I might look okay from the outside, but my heart ached so much that it started to feel numb. My eyes were swollen from floods of tears streaming down every night before I went to bed. I knew I suffered from depression so, I started taking anti-depressants. A couple of pieces each time.

I was not a thief. Alisa was not a thief. I had told myself these every night and every day. Therefore, even though all the people in the world thought I was a thief, at least my own self knew she was not. At least she didn’t forget her own name. For her name was Alisa, not Jafar and not Trash or Useless.

But I was a human. One little girl who had her own feelings too. I was too tired for all of this. I was exhausted. I needed a rest.

And so that day on my birthday, 12th August, I made the biggest decision in my life. It was the last choice I had. To live or not to live. I chose the latter. You would’ve said I was an ungrateful fool. But put yourself in my shoes. It’d been months. I couldn’t bear on living a horrible life like this, even just for a day more. I didn’t leave a single note though. What’s the point of it anyway? Nobody was going to miss me. So I cut my wrist in the classroom after school. I decided to die here because this was the place that started the slander. Remember Arif lost his wallet? And remember how it was found in my bag? And did you remember how absurd it was when Hakimi told everyone he saw me pinching the wallet in my bag?

My vision blurred. Blood oozing out from my left wrist. This pain was nothing to be compared with my pain of getting slandered. I felt hot and at ease. If this was death, it was sure to be weird. Because I remembered hearing someone calling my name. And this time, it was Alisa. Not Jafar. I smiled before closing my eyes tightly.

I opened my eyes and saw white ceiling. Almost everything was white. And why is that? I looked beside me and there she was. A girl in my school uniform stood beside me, her face ceased with worry. “Oh my God! Alisa you’re awake!” Her face lit up. “You tried to cut your wrist. Fortunately, I went into your class to borrow Sidratul’s pen. Urm… then I saw you… Taking off your life…”

A doctor came over to me. “Ah, you’re awake? Well that’s good. You just lost quite a lot amount of blood. Luckily, your friend got you here on time. If we’re one minute late, we might lose you.” Brilliant. That was exactly why I cut my wrist for. To go away. “You can discharge tomorrow morning. For now, please have a rest.”

I looked at the girl. A stranger. “Who are you?”

“I am Aisyah. From the other class. You may not know me though,” she said. She put on a serious look. “Do you really have to do that?”

“You know nothing.”

“Was life that sucks? The doctor found pills in your bag. What makes you take them?”

“Isn’t it clear? Because of the slander. Everyone said I’m a thief,” I answered slowly.

“Not everyone. I didn’t,” Aisyah said softly. “I’m on your side. I’ve always been.”

I was dumbfounded. She trusted me? Really?

Her lips formed a sad smile. “Although everyone turns their back on you, but you still act as though nobody matters. I like how cool you are. You don’t care at all. I’m sorry. I should’ve said this earlier. But please be strong. The world outside is much more vicious,” she continued. “Every time I walked into your class, I would wipe the writing on the whiteboard off. I would clean orange juice off your chair. That was all I could do. I’m not the girl with much courage you see. I’m so, so sorry.”

She suddenly laughed. “How pathetic of me.”

I sobbed. I never knew there had been someone supporting me from behind. That was a nice thing to hear. “Thank you,” I whispered.

She nodded. We both cried our eyes out. It was the first time I felt so light in so many months. I was so glad there’d been someone like her.

Now it’s ten years later. I’m sitting in the waiting room with four other job candidates. This is my first job interview. I’m quite nervous but confident at the same time.

“Number 23,” calls a pretty lady.

“Me,” I quickly raise my hand up and walk to the interview room. I take a sit in front of the interviewer politely. After all, it’s the first impression that’s important. After I introduce myself briefly, he asks. “Why do you want to be a lawyer?”

I smile. A question I so love to answer. “May I tell you a story?”

Copyright Aina Syamimi
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