Chapter Three: Finders Keepers
“After I’ve announced the groups, you may use the remaining hours of this class for brainstorming. Choose a topic and write it on a sheet of paper with your names, then hand it to me before leaving this room. In case of duplication, the first group to submit gets the topic. Mechanics of the special project shall be discussed next meeting. All clear?”
“Yes Ms. Gray” the class replied in an anxious unison.
“Good. Now, listen carefully. I will not say this twice. Do take note that the names were selected randomly. I think that’s fair enough.”
The students were in their silent prayers. Hands clasped. Fingers crossed. Some were either biting their pencils or the tips of their fingernails.
Dirvo Stipp rolled his eyes.
“Peter Brent and Valere Clint,” Brent waved a hand, Clint sighed in relief.
“Alix Mort and Klayn Calvin”
“Carla Vern and Kettle Cooper”
“Asero Grecko and Davis Cook”
An assortment of expressions and emotions filled the room, until only three names were left to be mentioned. “And the trio will be Davinelle Stone, Carissa Hatt, and Dirvo Stipp. You may now start discussing with your team.”
“Think of luck,” Stipp mumbled. His classmates started their own discussions. He saw Hatt move to Stone’s place, and the latter pointed at his direction. Since Dirvo Stipp was no gentleman, he stayed seated in his corner, tapping his fingers. He waited for the girls to approach him, and they did, eventually.
“Perfect gentleman, you are.” Stone remarked snidely.
“Good observation, Ms. Stone.” He winked at Stone and gestured to the empty seats beside him. “Take a seat, ladies.”
Stone huffed and banged her books on her chosen desk, while mumbling something he did not hear clearly. The other girl, whom he observed as more passive, sat quietly beside Stone.
“So,” Stone started. “The floor’s open for suggestions, and if I may…” she looked sideways to Hatt, who gave her a nod. “I’d like to suggest the myth of the Ga–”
“I think the Gaila’s perfect. We’re done. See you next meeting ladies.”
Dirvo Stipp stood from his chair and motioned to the door, leaving the two girls sitting agape. Stone attempted to follow him.
“Hey Stipp! Come back here you–”
“SHHHHH!” the class chorused.
“My only weakness was her…”
“Indeed. And you have almost made her weak, like you.”
“That’s a lie. I was her strength. She told me so.”
“She was blinded. Alysha was young. Naive. She thought that those fleeting pleasures would last forever.
She thought the only source of joy and happiness is the world you offered her.
She thought she was ordinary…
She is not.
Alysha rebelled against true nature the moment she gave her heart to you. It was all a mistake…”
“I don’t understand. Why are you saying this? Do you even know who I am?”
The bird’s eyes pierced through mine.
“Mathias… I am Alysha.”
It felt like time stood still.
The creature spread its wings and flew away from me.
I found myself in my dark room.
“STIPP! Wait!” Stone was running to him. He halted his steps and turned to face her. She was panting when she reached him.
“What’s your problem? What did I ever do for you to be so mean to me?” She asked, face red.
Stipp raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”
“Argh! Why do I have to endure working with this person?!”
“This person is actually right here.”
“Unbelievable.” She stomped past him with a heavy breath.
Dirvo Stipp just chuckled. He was about to walk his way when someone called him. Again.
“Hey,” the girl with long jet-black hair and chinky eyes smiled at him nervously.
“Hatt.” He acknowledged.
“I was wondering if I could have the feather back?”
Stipp furrowed his brow. “Which feather?”
“The one from Agapao? It’s mine.” He searched her eyes for signs of lying, but the girl looked too innocent to trick him.
“My sister gave it to me. Said she bought it from some remote souvenir shop. Long story. Dropped the thing during our trip. Can I have it back?”
“Interesting. Remote souvenir shop, you say?”
“Don’t know.” the girl shrugged. “Listen, can I just have it back? I’m already late for my next class.”
“Won’t need it anyway.” He tentatively opened his backpack and searched for the feather, his plans of hunting the creature long forgotten. The mysterious thing, however, was nowhere in his backpack.
“Hatt, it’s not here.” he confessed.