A Little Girl’s Gripping and Magical Story – 22


Literary Fiction/Epistolary/Drama/Fantasy

Baykoy and The Only Something

This is a gripping and magical tale of a little Filipino girl who goes by an endearing nickname, Baykoy.

The story is narrated through the heart-convulsing letters of a woman to her niece, detailing her extraordinary childhood experiences.

Written by

J.J. Ireneo


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The Dare to Die – Part Four


Part Three

Age: Six years old.

Year: 1985.

— indomitable —


Dear Sage,

The little boy. Should I become the little boy?

The little boy with the sharpest pencil. Who was the werebeast.

The little boy who had written about himself across his own pages.

With his prodigious and wide imagination.

That tortured the frightened minds.

That killed an innocent bliss.

Should I take it as an excuse?

Kids would still never accept me as another human.

I could never be just another kid around.

I would never find a good friend at all.

Angeline resting in a casket would be the last thing I would see.

Jiji’s peaceful and pale face, sitting in the funeral van…

… would keep on haunting me.

Stingstingsting

There it was. A warning.

I was a little girl. Whose wound was yet to heal.

I could feel it burning now… burning rage to ashes.

As the sad heart was once again… reigning over.

If only I could find Reynan, I would have been fine.

It had been so long, yet he was still on my mind.

A good friend he was, oh, I would have been happy.

I felt his good heart, it was all he would ever be.

I had to look for him. I had to see him again.

Grandma and grandpa’s foreboding faces greeted me in the morning.

I knew they were still worried sick about me. I also knew that they felt hopeless and saddened about not being able to go to Angeline’s wake.

The magic of feelings had also become intolerable for me to process. But I didn’t have the strength to fight it back. Not anymore.

If only I could find myself on the numb hook again, I would.

Grandpa checked on my wound. “Does it hurt?”

I nodded. And to my surprise, it pleased them.

“Hot chocolate,” grandma said.

Stingsting sting

It felt like being cut open with a sharp object now. It was making me cry. How could it hurt like this all of a sudden?

Magic.

It was magic when I did the deed, feeling invincible.

It was magic when it decided it was about time to make its prestige known.

“Would you wanna be the little boy or the young lad?” grandpa asked.

Grandma poked him in the shoulder. “Why would you ask her that?”

“It’s a little trick,” he said, then turned to me. “If you’d rather be the little boy, then you wouldn’t get home ‘cause all that really mattered to you was enjoying your prodigious and wide imagination, killing off your intruders along the way. If you’d choose to be the young lad instead, then you’d have the opportunity to save the little boy and, at the same time, avenge your friend’s death. So which one would you rather be? The little boy or the young lad?”

You would find yourself as the little boy.

You would also find yourself as the young lad.

Either way, it’s a life trick.

Magic happens once you make it home.

Feeling accomplished despite the earned run.

The only something.

— Indomitable —


Dear Sage,

Why would grandpa ask me that, anyway?

The kids couldn’t stop blubbering about going to Angeline’s wake last night. It oppressed my stomach, awakening rage.

“No, I didn’t look.”

“She’s wearing a pink dress.”

“It looks like she’s smiling.”

“My mother said we’re going again tonight to help.”

“Did you see the bruises in her arms?”

“She looks like she’s just sleeping, though.”

“She’s really pretty.”

“I’ve never seen a dead body before.”

“I’m not going to look again. It’s a little scary.”

“I think I caught her eyelids moving.”

“She doesn’t look dead.”

“The casket scares me. I’m not going again.”

“Shut up!” I screamed, choking up.

It might not be another disturbing spectacle anymore. But it was disturbing enough for them to fall in silence.

Tears spat out. Rage was ripping me up. Numbness had died off.

We were in the middle of seatworks. Grandma went to see grandpa, and it felt like she had been gone for so long.

I marched to the chalkboard and faced them.

I knew I was being a bad kid for doing so. Entitled, arrogant, full of herself. Just because her grandparents ran the Primary School, and they were well-respected and beloved.

Though what I had been doing had taken a great toll on grandma and grandpa. On their reputation. For their names were valuable around town.

But the kids knew, they must know, what I had been feeling. Deep sadness, loneliness. Maybe even trauma.

Yet they also knew I envied them. Despite what they thought of me.

“I’ve got a very important story to tell,” I said. “Would you listen?”

“Yes!” they replied in chorus.

I told them the story about the little boy. And I performed it as I imagined your great great grandmother. I even pretended I was her, and that I had been surrounded by eager kids.

By the end of the story, they bombarded me about the cliffhanger. They were antsy to find out what happened.

Did the young lad kill the little boy with the sharpest pencil? Or did the young lad take him home instead?

What might have transpired?

“That’s for your prodigious and wide imagination to find out,” I said.

It rankled their brains.

“That’s how the story went,” I told them. “Grandpa said the young lad made him write the story, and that the little boy didn’t want him write the story at all.”

“We’re definitely gonna have to talk about this at recess,” one second-grader said.

“I just came up with my own ending,” I said. “You come up with your own ending as well ‘cause it’s supposed to be that way.”

“That’s not fair!” a boy in my class yelped.

“Well, there’s nothing that I can do about it anymore,” I said, shrugging.

“I can’t wait to get to third grade, so I would know exactly what happened to the little boy,” a boy in second grade said.

“Me too!” another boy seconded.

“It’s only for fourth graders,” I said.

Gasps! “No!” they erupted, repulsed.

There is a radiant power within you.

Waiting to be discovered.

The only something.

— Indomitable —


Dear Sage,

Grandma resurfaced. The debate was put to an instant halt.

She was astounded to find me at the front. “What’s going on in here?”

“I told them a story,” I replied.

“You did?” she giggled.

“‘Cause they were talking about Angeline, and it was making me cry,” I sobbed.

Guilt broke into the kids’ faces. “Sorry,” they muttered.

Grandma kissed me on the forehead for comfort. “Don’t cry now,” she said.

During recess, since there was no way for me to play and write, I sat at grandma’s desk to read a new book instead. Hot chocolate and muffin stuffed me up. Kidlat and Kuwago were lounging beside me, with their sharp senses on full alert.

I was in a vulnerable shake. I could snap any second upon trigger.

Grandma and grandpa knew it. My best buddies knew it. Even the kids knew it.

I looked on to catch glimpses of them playing. But… oops.

Huddles! Immersed in serious discussions and debates. Fourth graders being surrounded by curious and impatient first, second and third graders.

No playing. Just a festivity of kids in debates. On a brain fire.

Grandma and grandpa came to see me. With a ‘What have you done’ look.

Or was it?

“What do you feel now?” grandpa asked.

I shrugged. “Okay.”

“We’re going to the wake tonight,” grandma said.

I looked away. Eyes were focused on the book page. The words read… the words read… The words read!

Tears blurred them up.

Seeing Angeline resting in a casket.

Seeing Jiji’s peaceful and pale face.

Sitting in the funeral van.

Too much. All too much.

But what was the point of grandpa asking me a surreal question this morning? Would I rather be the little boy or the young lad?

I couldn’t decide.

I’d take them both. For now. But I had to make a choice.

“You can go,” I said. “I’m staying home to read.”

“We all have to go,” grandpa replied. “We don’t have to stay there long. But we have to go tonight.”

“I’m staying home to read!” I cried.

“You wanna be the little boy or the other lad?” grandpa taunted.

“Both!” I answered.

“Pick one.”

“Both!”

“I’ll go alone,” grandma said. “We’ll just have to take turns then.”

“She needs to get over this,” grandpa insisted.

“She won’t get over it,” grandma replied. “Listen to yourself here. If she doesn’t wanna go, we can’t force her to.”

Grandpa petted my hair. “Ah, baykoy.”

A fight broke out outside.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph,” grandma gasped.

I had caused a war. The fourth graders had been attacked!

Brawl on, kids! Brawl on!

Consider other minds.

They all come in different measures.

Of strengths and weaknesses.

The only something.

— Indomitable —


Dear Sage,

Ceased! Silence!

I watched some of the fourth-grade boys wiping their tears away and shaking the dirt off their clothes. While the rest of the kids looked tougher. Stoic. Like they had claimed their power in the midst of it all.

An odd sight.

I stood beside grandma and grandpa as they mitigated the big scene.

Upon interrogation, it turned out I was, indeed, the culprit. The ‘werebeast’ story had disrupted their innocent bliss.

The fourth-grade boys had been assaulted for not knowing the truth of its ending. Their truth, as perceived, was a lie. And it was according to the smaller kids. Even the third graders were ignorant about it, though they shared the same classroom.

The story was only meant for the highest grade. Sly. Maybe even a life trick. Or a life lesson. Or some kind of a moral game.

But it was only meant to be kept as a secret.

That, according to them. As strictly instructed by grandpa.

And that was the truth. The ultimate truth.

Now grandpa must face the consequence himself. He gave me a look. No word. Just a kind look.

I was an embarrassment.

“Do you really wanna know the truth now?” grandpa said.

“Yes, sir!” they exclaimed.

“Or would you rather wait until you grow older and realize it for yourselves?” grandpa added. “Which one would excite you more? Now? Or discovering the truth in the future?”

They exchanged looks, confused.

“Because I have no problem telling you the truth now,” grandpa said. “But if you’re patient enough to crack this mystery for yourselves in the future… then that would mean… you’re a lot smarter and wiser and stronger and more courageous… and even more powerful. So which one would satisfy you more? The answer now? Or the answer found in the future?”

“The future,” a fourth-grade boy blurted.

“What about the rest of you?” grandpa asked.

They agreed with the fourth-grade boy.

“All right, then,” grandma said. “Recess is over.”

And the kids ran into the classrooms.

Grandpa smiled at me. “You know the ending?”

“Not sure,” I replied.

Yes. I had my own ending. But it wasn’t exactly the truest one.

As its truth depended on one’s heart.

The heart only had the power to locate its truth.

And whatever truth it had come to realize for itself, it was how the story would end. Nothing more. Nothing less.

For each heart believed its own truths.

Whether the young lad saved the little boy or not, only one’s heart would know.

Their story was meant for all hearts to grow.

As I thought of this, it had given me a little strength and courage to go to Angeline’s wake tonight.

Should I? Should I not?

Would it change what I thought of grief? Or would it get worse?

Would it make me feel better somehow? Or would it crush my heart more?

As I wouldn’t want to find myself in the future, regretting it all.

Some things are meant for the future to discover.

While the present confronts your strength and courage.

The only something.

— Indomitable —


Dear Sage,

We had supper like it was just another evening.

Well, the truth was, it had never been just another evening since I threw my first big baby tantrum cry.

Since I found out that I wasn’t just another kid around.

That a good friend was hard to find.

Another evening for me meant realizing my responsibilities. Like doing my chores. So I washed the dishes without getting my mind to work.

How to get my mind to stop?

How to get my heart to stop?

How to get my grief to stop?

There it was again. Tick tock tick tock.

My wound also cut in. Sting sting sting.

What was written in Angeline’s letter?

Now I was carving words in my head.

‘For Angeline,

I’m coming to see you tonight.

It’s me, baykoy. Are you flying? Are you singing?

I’m still sad. I can’t stop crying.

You have to help me stop crying.

Did I tell you I sat in a funeral van?

Did I tell you about Jiji?

Did I tell you anything about me?

I still hate the angels. I still hate heaven.

But I will always remember you.

And I think I have already loved you since I was born.

And I think I have already known you even before that.

Because you have a good heart. And I have a good heart.

But I don’t want to have a good heart anymore.

Because the angels have made me very sad.

I hope you’d be happy to see me tonight.

Love,

Baykoy.’

I hadn’t told grandma and grandpa yet that I was ready to go to Angeline’s wake. When I finally did…

“Are you sure?” grandma asked.

I didn’t respond. I wasn’t sure all of a sudden.

“We’re going,” grandpa said. “Don’t ask her anymore. We’re going. She needs to get over this now. God knows what would happen next.”

“And god knows what would happen next once she…” Grandma caught her mind instantly. “I don’t feel good about this.”

“Will you stop?” grandpa yelped. “You’re making me feel nervous, too. All I know is this has to end now. Now. Because everyday I’m terrified. I can’t even breathe anymore.”

No, it wasn’t guilt. It was me feeling sorry for myself. I felt sorry for them, too. And it was what made me sing the blues. Once more.

When would the baykoy song be heard again?

Only Angeline would know.

Grandma made me sit on her lap. “You don’t have to go, really. I’m sure Angeline would understand. It’s fine.”

I looked at grandpa’s face. His worries and frustrations were ready to go off the deep end now.

So my good heart spoke to me.

Yet my strength and courage knew.

That I wouldn’t survive it all.

I already knew what would happen next.

But!

“We’re going,” I said.

You may always put your strength and courage to a good test.

And only then… you would know.

The only something.

— Indomitable —