By Yosephine Sevanya Kivi

*is the 2nd winner of Short Story writing competition held 6-8 May, 2015 in Tarumanegara University.

She told Stanza about how back in her college days she was this free spirit who destined to venture the world. She went on so many road trips with her Hippie group friends and even once toured around South East Asia together. Stanza was easily tangled with Mrs. Ray?s story cause she has never stepped foot outside of the country. It was very interesting to listen to Mrs. Ray?s description of the temples in Bangkok, the sunsets in Bali, and the villages in Vietnam.

Stanza opens her eyes. She spins the chair around and checks her cell phone. She was hoping to find any messages or notifications but there was none. Her mind has wander around to the times she spent with her teacher-slash-friend, Mrs. Ray. The paper that was supposed to be filled with a single picture is still blank. She then dialed a number from her cellphone; she waited as the dial tone rings on her ear. No answer. Stanza tried dialing the contact again but there is still no answer.
Stanza rises from her chair and walk out of her room. It is still four in the afternoon. She walks across the hall to the kitchen and open the fridge. Her father left her some leftover lasagna with a note on the plastic wrapping, but she was not hungry. She then grabs a can of soda and shuts the fridge. This is so boring, she thought. She needs to go out and find some inspiration for her final project. And so she did.
She walks down the familiar path to a park nearby. There were a lot of kids playing around, shouting and giggling. Stanza stares at them. She thinks about how fun it must be to be so carefree. Then she let out a sigh and continued walking.
Outside of a convenience store Stanza found a bench and sat down. She took a sip of the soda she brought from home. She used to come here back when her brothers were fighting all the time. They were around her age now. The small one-year gap apart does not make them get along well. In fact, they always compete against each other. Stanza hated seeing them shouting at each other and calling names like savages. She used to sneak out of the house and just sat here. Back in those days her father was rarely home. He always managed to make excuses to go out from morning till night.
Stanza told Mrs. Ray about her brothers. She told Mrs. Ray how she has never gotten a chance to actually get along with them. They have moved out now. They live overseas now. One lives in Scotland, the other lives in Brazil. They rarely come home even though Stanza sometimes call them and beg them to go home for Christmas.
Right about when Stanza finished mentioning her brother who lives in Brazil, Mrs. Ray started telling her about her stay in Brazil a couple of years ago. Mrs. Ray said that she stayed in Brazil for a month with her husband. They travel around the city to see favelas and then they set out to the Amazon to stay in a camp. She even had a photo of her and her husband sitting on a boat crossing the river. They both look very happy that Stanza could not help not to smile at the photo. It reminded her of her parents? wedding photo that her mother used to show her.
Stanza takes a final sip of the soda and then she throws it to the bin. She takes out her cellphone and texts her brothers. She stares at the screen for a while but there was no reply. She was not sad that her brothers ignore her. She had gotten used to it. So Stanza puts her phone back to her jeans pocket and walk home.
Once Stanza got home, it was still empty. Her father is at his friend?s house for a birthday party. She moves to her room and lock the door. She is faced again with a blank paper that is due tomorrow morning. If Mrs. Ray found out that she had not even started working on her final project, she would be pissed.
Stanza has spent the week contemplating back and forth at her life so far. The seventeen years that have gone by right before her eyes. There are a few points that she has concluded so far. The first one was she is upset at the fact that she could not remember being born. The second was she has unsolved issues regarding her mother?s death. The third and the final one was Mrs. Ray is her only best friend.
Stanza tilted her head. She echoes these three points in her mind over and over again as if wishing they could magically transform into a single work of art. She then takes a pencil and started doodling on the blank white paper. The pencil scratched and scratched until it started forming into a drawing. She then takes out several photos from her photo album. She cuts some and the glues some.
It was almost 8 pm when Stanza finishes her art project. She looks at it for the longest time until she finally feels that it was right. Mrs. Ray told the students that they have to put captions for their pictures. So Stanza takes a black marker and starts writing down some words. It says something like this: ?A token for Mrs. Ray.?
The next morning comes pretty soon for Stanza. She walks into the classroom with a smile on her face. She knows that her project is good and she cannot wait to show it to Mrs. Ray.
Stanza greeted Mrs. Ray as soon as she saw her in the classroom. Mrs. Ray greeted her back. When it is time for the project to be submitted, Stanza waits patiently for her turn to present her project. There were only 20 students so the wait was not that long.
When her turn finally comes, Stanza takes a deep breath and walk to the front of the class. ?Good morning. I?m Stanza Hawthorne and this my token for Mrs. Ray.? Stanza shows the entire class her picture. ?This is a bud rose mosaic. I filled it with some old photos of my mother and I when I was born and also some pictures of Mrs. Ray and myself when we were eating froyo.? The class giggled. Stanza took another breath and said, ?Mrs. Ray is the best teacher that I have ever met and she is the only best friend that I have. She listened to me and taught me about art as well as life lessons. Therefore I would like to thank her and give her this little token of my memories.? Stanza hands the paper and goes straight to her seat. Not long after, the class is dismissed. Everybody rushes out of the class except Stanza. She approached the teacher desk and started chatting with her favorite teacher.