By Aya Paredes
“Oh great! Nice trying to show everyone what a complete dork you are, Nicole! Nicole half-cursed herself as she picked up her books. She accidentally slipped and dropped all of her books. Nicole was a freshman in a university wherein everyone seemed to know each other except for her. She’s complete nobody. Not even her seatmates can remember her name. Rico, the cute jock who sits beside her in history class called her Nina three times!
She was so upset. Her term paper was all over the place and no one bothered to help her. Someone even stepped on her papers without even apologizing. She was so humiliated. Then suddenly, the bell rang. Everybody was in a hurry to get into their respective classes. She was kneeling on the dirty ground trying to grab her things in a hurry when an extended arm took some of her papers and handed them to her. She slowly looked up and she saw him.
He helped Nicole stand up after picking up all her things. Nicole was glad someone helped her. Now seeing him up close, something made her heart skip a beat. He was a total cutie! He was wearing the varsity jacket, which probably meant he was A member of the university’s basketball team. He had a wide warm smile. A dashing mestizo!
“Hi, I’m Bryan.” It took a while before Nicole finally was able to extend her arm for a handshake. The grip was firm yet cold. He was probably in a hurry, Nicole told herself
“You’re new here, right?” Bryan asked. “Umm, is it that obvious?” Nicole asked, her face was all red.
“Well, I know everyone here, or at least I’m familiar with most of their faces. I haven’t seen you before so that must mean you’re new here,” Bryan explained. “Umm, nice meeting you and thank you for helping me. But I have to go now, Im gonna be late for my next class. I guess you have to be in your next class as well.” “Oh yeah, right. Nice meeting you, Nicole.” Then Bryan went straight for the stairs in a hurry. Nicole was dumbfounded. She didn’t remember telling her name. Maybe he saw my name in one of my books. Nicole shrugged and went on to her next class. She can’t keep Bryan out of her mind though.
For the next two weeks, Nicole would see Bryan in the most unexpected times. Whenever she’s in a damsel-in-distress situation, Bryan seemed to appear every time to help her. The last time, Nicole went home late from a group rehearsal. She was afraid to wait for the jeepney by herself because it was alreadydark. She was surprised to see Bryan coming up to her out of nowhere and he accompanied her until finally a ride home came.
Weeks passed and Nicole suddenly couldn’t find Bryan anymore. She was curious as to what happened to him. She asked around if anyone knows him, but surprisingly, not evena varsity player classmate was familiar with Bryan.That’s strange. Bryan was wearing that varisty jacket all the time, he must a player. Maybe Bryan’s not his real name, Nicole was telling herself. She remembered the number 12 printed on Bryan’s jacket.
Nicole decided to go straight to the Athletics office and ask the coach herself. She’s more determined to find her only friend. “Who are you looking for again?” the coach asked Nicole “Bryan. I don’t know his last name, but I know that he wears the jersey number 12.” Nicole told the coach. For some reason, the coach became half angry and cold. “Miss Cruz , is this some kind of a joke? You see, you’re not being funny. I can send you to detention for this!”
“What’s No, Sir! Why would I joke about Bryan? I’m only asking about him. I haven’t seem him in a while, I was just worried,” Nicole explained to the coach . Then the coach stood up and reached for something on the upper shelves. It looked like an old photo album. He dropped it on the table sending dust to Nicole’s face. The poor girl coughed, expecting an apology from the coach through it never happened.The coach flipped into the old photographs, stopping on one page, then showed it to Nicole” Is he the Bryan you are looking for? Nicole immediately recognized the mestizo face, the warm smile. “Yes! That’s him. That’s Bryan!”
“Are you nuts, Miss Cruz? That’s Bryan Hernandez. Star player and team captain of our varsity team in 1996. He died later that year on the school grounds. Some fraternity leader stabbed him to death because of a girl they both fell in love with. Bryan Hernandez has been dead for a decade. How could you have met him just weeks ago?” the coach’s voice grew darker sending shivers to Nicole’s spine. The coach might think she’s a nuisance prankster.
But she can’t believe what the coach had said. Bryan can’t be dead! It’s impossible! She was still in shock as she read the accompanying school article about bringing justice to Bryan Hernandez’s untimely death. The killer was caught and was sent to prison the next year so it’s already a closed book. The school and its faculty apparently moved on. This story was confirmed by another faculty member `whom Nicole asked. She was in shock. She left school early that day and headed home in hopes that she was just dreaming.
She went straight to her room on the second floor, said a week “Hi” to her mom. She said she had a bad headache and want to rest in her room. She cried about the incident. She felt pity for Bryan. How could a nice guy like him die in such a horrible way. Was he just a ghost? She fell asleep crying. She must have fallen asleep for a long time. When she opened her eyes, it was already dark. Must be 7 or 8 p.m. She thought. She felt the cold breeze of the night.
She looked up to check if her windows were closed. They were. Then she sensed that someone was with her inside the room. Nicole sat up on her bed. She was a dark shadow lurking beside her cabinet.”Norman! Stop playing inside my room and get out,” she called out thinking that her brother yet again invaded her room. The shadow didn’t answer back Nicole got scared .The shadow was way too tall for her small brother. “Who are you?” Nicole bravely asked. “Show yourself!”
The walked slowly from behind the darkness of her cabinet , it walked up to her windows . The light outside illuminated the intruder. It was Bryan!
Nicole freaked out. She was about to scream but Bryan motioned her not to. Nicole broke into tears. “You lied to me, you never told me about what happened to you. Why are you here? Don’t bother me anymore!” Nicole told the ghost of Bryan. Bryan’s angelic face started to decompose to Nicole’s horror. It smiled and said, “You belong to me!” Then with its feet not touching the ground, it went straight to Nicole trying to grab her.
Nicole ran for the doors and screamed for help. Her folks had a hard time trying to calm her down. The next day, Nicole’s family brought a priest and held a mass for bryan’s soul to be at peace. Nicole started to have more and more friends. Sometimes she missed Bryan’s company when she’s alone. He was real sweetheart, Nicole’s dreamboy. Just as long as he’s not dead enough.