In the evening, I received an email containing an invitation letter with a train ticket to Axel City and a hostel token marked ‘D’. The letter stated that I had been accepted as a freshman at the academy with the roll number 30561/B. I booked a cab over the phone and settled the payment in advance.
I got out of bed and started collecting my clothes from the wardrobe, tossing them onto the bed. I then retrieved a bag from the corner of the wardrobe and began packing my clothes. But as I started packing my bag, a sudden memory hit me like a truck. The pain started to spread throughout my head, but it was not the first time I had experienced it. Whenever this type of headache occurred, it would trigger memories from my past. The pain typically lasted for almost two hours, and taking painkillers would alleviate it. However, I was out of painkillers because it had been months since the last time this happened. I saw myself as a child, my mom coming to receive me from elementary school. I also remembered waving goodbye to my friend with black short hair, who was peeking out of her car window and waving back at me.
I tried to focus hard and remember the face clearly. But then, a sharp pain shot through my head, making me clutch at my temples. I tried to push it away, but the pain became unbearable and I fell back onto my bed. The last thing I remembered before losing consciousness was the sound of my bag falling to the ground with a thud.
I woke up to bright sunlight streaming across my face. I quickly checked my phone, realizing I only had three hours left before my cab arrives. It was already half past 8, which meant I was four hours behind my usual wake-up time. I hurriedly got up and completed my morning routine. Today was my last day in the house, so I needed to tidy up and pack my bag and return the keys to the owner. It took me almost two hours to finish everything.
“Finally, all the work is done. I think I should buy some daily necessities from outside. But firstly, I need some breakfast.”
I rushed to the kitchen, only to be met with the biggest disappointment of the day. The bread was finished, and I hadn’t had dinner last night. I started running, wearing slippers towards the market, which took me about 15 minutes to reach. I quickly grabbed some breakfast and bought most of the things I needed to purchase before heading back home.
After finishing everything, I checked the time and realized there were only 20 minutes left. I grabbed my bag and began running. Mr. Norman called me midway, but I cut the call and continued running until I reached home.
I began to get dressed and continued packing the things I had just brought back from the market when I received another call from Mr. Norman. This time, I put it on speaker.
“Are you still sleeping?”
“Do you think I am?”
“Come on, don’t lie. I was calling you from 6 am from different phone numbers. If you count it, it’s exactly 10 times I have called you on your phone.” He shouted on his phone.
“Yeah, yeah whatever. I am ready and the cab would be coming any time soon.”
“Actually, there’s one more thing I need to tell you,” Mr. Norman said.
“What is it?” I asked as I tied my shoes.
“We still haven’t found anything about your father,” he said.
I paused for a moment before replying, “Thanks. But I don’t have any interest in that topic and I have already told you about that. If that’s all, I’m hanging up now.”
He shouted “Hey, Zohan! Listen! I dare you to cut my call without letting me complete! My daughter Xina is also heading to the station. If you meet her at the station, help her carry the lu-“
I aborted the call.
“That really was a waste of time. I also have to return the keys. Gotta hurry. “I thought to myself.
“Take care of yourself, lad,” the owner shouted as I left after handing him the keys. I also thanked him while leaving the apartment. The cab honked as I was reaching the front of my home. I shouted to the cab driver to let him know. As I opened the door, I saw a girl already sitting at the back of the cab. She greeted me as I looked confused towards her.
“Is it the right cab?”
“I apologize sir, but our cabs are running late due to some minor inconvenience. As you both are going to the same destination, it would be better if you could accommodate yourself together. Or you could wait for some time if you want your personal ride.”
“It’s okay. I am alright with it.”
I instructed him as I sat inside. The car started moving. Both of us kept their silence facing straight for some moment. After a few minutes, she finally broke the silence.
“Hello. I am Xina. Nice to meet you.”
Wait. This couldn’t be a coincidence, right? Is it the work of Mr. Norman for aborting his call? No, maybe only the two of us are the only ones who are traveling to the station from here at the same time. This could be a reason. Also, the cab driver wouldn’t lie so casually.
“Nice to meet you too. I am Zohan.”
“Oh…. so you are Zohan, about whom my father always talks about. He always brags about your grades and your nice behavior at home. He even told me to learn from you, and even to be good friends with you.”
Except for the cab coincidence. He was already setting me up for the luggage-carrying purpose. Even to the point he had to coax her about me. Damn you old man!
“Um… By any chance, are you also joining SOAA as a freshman for the 1st year?”
“Yes. Aren’t you one too?”
“Right! Also, do you know the opening of SOAA has gained a total of 5 million retweets on its Twitter in just 2 days? Reporters from all over the world are covering this academy as their headlines. This feat is considered unimaginable. To think that I would be studying there….”
And she kept on going just like her father in a joyful mood. I shut my eyes and started thinking about the memory that flashed in my mind tomorrow. I tried to remember the details but couldn’t think of anything.
But I felt something. This person maybe I have met somewhere. As I again took a look at her face, I found out that I had seen the same features in a person somewhere. The glasses? Curly hair? Around 2 years ago? Middle school?
“Have we met each other previously?” I asked in the middle of her speech.
“Sorry? Have we?” She replied being astonished.
Nope, maybe I am thinking too much these days. I need to calm myself a bit. I must try to sleep.
After finishing the talk with her, Zohan went into a deep sleep and so did Xina. After 5 minutes, Xina woke up from sleep to see Zohan still sleeping. Seeing him sleep, Xina murmured a bit.
“It’s been a while. Isn’t it?”