The scenery in front of me is that of a sunset. Here I am, sitting on a bench with a girl that I had no recollection of, yet she gave me the feeling of comfort and nostalgia.

Though it might just be my feelings towards her. What we brought upon ourselves here is something dismal, ironically.

”I love you. ” I blurted.

”I know, ” She said. The monotone in her voice gave me a clear estimate of what shes going to say. ”But its not going to work. ”

That much I understand. What she just said to me is something that I can refute. It is a fact that we had no other choice but to accept. Yet, deep down, I can help but wonder. If things were different, could we end up being together? Perhaps so. But pondering about what ifs won change reality, since all of it is merely conjecture.

Trying to let all these feelings sink in, I closed my eyes.

****

Morning. I don know what time it is, but the sun had already shone through the window in my room. Knowing that I woke up late, I rushed towards the bathroom to take ablution and returned to my room to do morning prayer.

After I finished my prayer I wondered for a while why I didn manage to get up earlier. My phones alarm didn ring, and nobody told me to wake up either. Today was supposedly my first day as a highschool freshman.

I head to the dining room for breakfast with my family… or not. It seems that my parents have already gone to work.

”Do they really have to go so early though… ” I mumbled while chewing on the sandwich that was on the table.

Hm?

I looked at the clock and it showed 6.30 am. School starts at 7.00 am. Going by bus, it takes at least 30 minutes to arrive at school. If I go by motorcycle, it takes at least 15 minutes.

Surely it means that Im on a tight schedule, but I keep staring at the clock. Since the clock doesn have seconds hand, I can really tell if the clock is working or not.

hm… okay, it moves. But is it accurate? I walked to my room on the second floor to get my phone while chewing on my toast.

Wow, what a neat room. It must not be my room. But actually, it is! I, whose room was usually messy, now have a neat room! I was amazed by my own doing, but it was done because mom yelled at me yesterday. You
e a highschooler now, she said…

Anyways, my phone. I grabbed my phone on the side of my pillow and turned on the home screen to see the clock.

Oh no, this is bad. I really am on a tight schedule. Chewing the rest of the toast hastily, I rushed to the bathroom below to take ablution and return to my room to get changed to my white-white uniform. This color doesn seem like highschool at all.

Right before going, I checked my phone one more time to see the time. 6.36 am. Too late for the bus. I guess I should ask the bike driver near the main road to take me to school.

I walked a little bit fast to the bike drivers post. I don really have to run. I believe I still have time before the gate closes.

”Heeeey! ” I waved at the bikers in the post.

”Sup. Need a ride? ” One of the bikers, Mr. Atang, responded. He catches on so quickly. Talk about being sensible.

”Yeah. Im going to school. ”

”Aight, boy. Hop on ” Mr. Atang turned his bike on and wore his helmet.

”Oh, Im attending a new school. Way further than before“ I told Mr. Atang as I took a helm from him.

”Oh? Tell me the way then. ”

”Alright ”

****

As expected, the road is crowded in the morning. That being said, I already knew the estimated time since ive calculated it when I visited the school for the entrance exam before the start of the new academic year. The way to school from my neighborhood is not so complicated that it only takes 17 minutes for Mr. Atangs first time taking me here.

After paying Mr.Atang, I rushed towards the school gate. The school field, which was located in the middle of this U-shaped school, was crowded with students from every year, grouped by each class. It doesn take long for me to know where I should be since first year students stick out so much from the rest of the students because they wear silly attributes.

In Indonesia, it is a common thing for sophomores during the first three days known as the orientation period to wear silly attributes, as instructed by the seniors in the student council. It was already part of the culture. And among first years, my look stands out the most.

Every freshman in the crowd wears silly attributes, as much as I can see, except me. I wear a plain white-white uniform. I knew that I would wear silly attributes one day, but how come that I didn hear anything from the school?

This is bad… Im getting so conscious about my looks that I can only stay silent. It seems that some people here have already made friends and are talking while waiting until the start of the ceremony. As a result, I began darting my eyes around looking for another idiot who also didn wear any silly attributes. Wait, whos the idiot here?

As I looked around, my eyes finally fixated around the middle row diagonal from me, where I saw what seemed to be a girl with long hair wearing a plain uniform.

Thank God Im not the odd one out. I muttered in my head.

It seems that the girl is having fun chatting with another beside her. I couldn see her face as she didn face my side.

”The ceremony is about to begin. All students please return to their respective classes lines ”

As the announcement was made, several students began to move around, returning to their supposed position.

****

After the ceremony, which miraculously only lasted 30 minutes long, the freshmen were guided to the student hall on the right side of the building. Even with all the freshmen that amounted to 360 students admitted, the hall is still spacious enough for another batch of the same amount.

The freshmen were already talking with each other as soon as they got their seat. They really make friends that fast, huh? Maybe they were from the same middle school. Then again, I don know if there was anyone from my middle school.

”Why didn you wear attributes? ” a boy on my left spoke to me.

”Huh? Oh, no one informed me anything about the attributes. ” I replied to his sudden question.

”For real? ”

”Yeah. Why did you wear those? ”

”I got a message from a senior last week. ”

Whats the meaning of this? I get the feeling that I was left out deliberately.

I was about to say to him that I didn even get a message, but then the principal and his colleagues entered the hall. Every student ceased their chatter and the room was filled with silence.

They are here for the opening ceremony of orientation, after the ceremony. They sure love ceremonies.

”Whats your name? ” The boy asked me again.

This guy got some nerve talking in the middle of the ceremony. I had wanted to ignore him, but since the speech was boring anyway, maybe chatting wouldn be a bad idea.

”Uril. ”

As soon as I spoke my name, the lips on his round head turned into a grin. ”Noah? ”

”Haha, almost there. Its Peterpan ”

Yeah, the names Uril Peterpan. When I asked my parents why they named me after the singers name plus the bands name, they said they hoped for me to become as famous as them. But then they changed the bands name.

”Wait, for real? Cool. ” He widened his eyes, seemingly bemused by my name.

”Thanks. ”

”How about yours? ”

”Salman. ”

”Oh. Nice to– ” I caught a glance behind us, and saw a student council member standing there.

”Don chat. ” He whispered to us with an intimidating glare.

The both of us went into silence, and pretended to listen to the boring speech from the principal. When the upperclassman left, I glanced at Salman and saw him giggling.

Well, good for you. Now they noticed I didn have any attributes on. I thought to myself while drenched in cold sweat.

****

”Okay juniors, lets give our appreciation to the principal and the teachers! ” Said the announcer girl from the student council.

”Thaaaaaank youuuu siiiiirs, thaaaaank yoooouu maaaaaams. ” The sound of loud, high-pitched boredom filled the entire student hall as the principal & co. waved to the crowd of freshmen before they left.

”Now then everyone, did any of you understand what was being said? ” Announcer girl asked cheerfully.

”I bet they don , cause I don either. ” Announcer boy remarked.

”Shush, you
e a bad example. ” Announcer girl glared at her partner. Some laughter can be heard from the crowd of freshmen.

”Alright, since we
e nearing the end of todays schedule, we got something for you freshmen. ” Said the announcer boy before he gave his mic to Bob, the student council member with a big body.

”Anyone who doesn wear any attributes, please step forward. ”

Uh-oh. As soon as I heard that, I got a sudden palpitations, and. I could feel my surroundings glancing at me. I hunched a bit hoping that the student councils wouldn notice me, but then I saw one of them looking at me.

”Step. Forward. ” Bob repeated with more seriousness shown on his square face and voice.

I guess I can evade this one.

I stood from my chair slowly, then walked to the platform on the front. There were two other boys stepping forward, as well as the girl I saw during the flag ceremony. We were lined up facing the freshmen, just like inmates or suspects in the news, minus the blurred face.

At this distance, I was finally able to make a clear view of the girls face up close. Upon closer look at her features, I think she would pass as one of the popular girls. I mean, I could clearly see some freshmen boys staring as she walked toward the platform. Her slightly brown skin, combined with her black hair styled as a low bun, radiated a certain charm from her.

”Tsk, tsk. Look at these dumb kids. ” Bob said while shaking his head dramatically.

”You. Whats your name? ” Bob asked the girl who was standing beside me, in a commanding tone. His voice was so loud that he didn need a mic despite holding one himself.

”Permata Indah. ”

Props to her parents for giving her a name so accurate.

”Tell me, Indah. Why don you wear any attributes? ”

”Oh. Um… I had no intention to? ”

I couldn tell if she was brave or just being disobedient. Every student council member, and perhaps some freshmen whod heard her response, including me, were left agape and looked at her indifferent face with eyes so wide it might pop out from the sacks.

”What did you just say? ”

”I said I– ”

”No, shut up. ” It seems the fact that she was about to repeat herself made Bob even angrier. Just standing between them gave me the chill.

Make it quick, please. I feel like running away right now.

”You
e being cocky, newbie. We
e the seniors. And, you, the junior, just do what we told you to. ”

”Yeah? well, I beg to differ. ” There was a fierce expression on her face when she talked back against Bob.

”I don care. Here, take the mic. Repeat after me. ”

Bob moved behind, right between me and her. He shoved me a bit, indicating that he was about to whisper to her.

”Friends, my name is… ”

”Friends, my name is Permata Indah. ”

”And I am sorry for not wearing attributes. ”

She looked at Bob for a few seconds before repeating what she had heard… or not.

”And I don feel sorry– ”

”And I Feel sorry. ” Bob interrupted her with a loud voice.

Silence has taken over the entire room. She just stood there, expressionless, looking at Bob. and He just pointed his chin at her, indicating to her to go on with his script.

”I know you wanted to wear those silly attributes, but why don you just say so yourself? ” Despite the rudeness she did to Bob, she said all that off mic with a soft voice.

Bob was bewildered by her response that he can say anything. I was afraid that this would turn into a fight, and since I was the closest to the scene, I had no choice but to interrupt.

”Um, excuse– ”

”Friends, I am sorry for not wearing attributes and for being rude. ”

right when I was trying to tell her to back down, she blurted the phrase she was told to, so fast it almost like eminem. She then gave the mic to me and returned to her seat.

The student council members could only stare at her. No one dared to bring her back.

Seriously, who is she and whys she so scary? Even the mic I was given was already drenched in sweat from my palm.

”Okay, you. Whats your name? ” Bob turned to me. His anger from before could be seen from his face. Scary.

”Uril… Peterpan. ” I replied while looking at the floor. I couldn muster the courage to look him in the eyes.

”Don joke around. ” His face became more red than before.

”B-but thats my real name… ” My voice trembled.

For a second there was a moment of silence after I said that, then it was broken by the announcer girl who was trying to hold her laughter. Hey, don laugh at someone elses name!

”… Alright. Why don you wear attributes? ” Bob shot a glare.

”Nobody told me about it. I– I didn receive any message. ” I told him, still looking at the floor.

”Nobody told you, huh? ” Bob nodded, then gave me a smug face. ”Are you sure you didn mistake your school? ” The student council members behind were giggling.

”Um, actually… ” one of the members raised his index finger. ”I thought you guys were messing with me, so… ” He stopped his slow speech midway.

These guys are making me want to suggest a name change. I thought to myself.

”…. ” Bob was silent for a while. ” Go meet with Bagas after todays closing. Now, repeat after me: Friends, my name… ”

”Friends,my name is Uril Peterpan… ”

”and I am sorry… ”

”and I am sorry… ”

”I have Diarrhea. ”

”I ha– whuh? ” I turned to Bob. I wanted to laugh like the people behind me, but I couldn .

Are you sure you don belong in the restroom? I looked at him with concern.

”Ahem. ” Bob ceased his giggling. ”I am sorry for not wearing attributes. ”

”I am sorry for not wearing attributes. ” I finished the sentence, gave the mic back, then returned to my seat.

****

The orientation for today ended a little after 12 P.M. Everyone had gone from the student hall to do their prayer, eat their lunch, or straight up going home. After I went to see Bagas, the one responsible for my lack of knowledge of the orientation, I immediately went to the bus station.

As I went to the bus station, I noticed no one from my school. It seems that no one is going home in the same direction, or I missed the timing. My mind wandered for a while, and when I finally reached the station, I saw Permata Indah standing there, staring at her smartphone.

”Hello? ” I greeted her.

”Hi….? ” She gave me a puzzled look for a second before she realized. ”Oh! You
e… the band boy, right? ”

Her description of me put a faint smile on my face. ”… Its Uril. Nice to meet you. ”

”Nice to meet you too. Im Indah. ” She said, also with a smile in return. The way she introduced her name sounds like she was bragging about her features, which I can deny.

Just in a few seconds, the bus I had to take to go home arrived. I turned to Indah. ”See you tomorrow. ”

She gave me a surprised look. ”Huh? Im also taking this bus. ”

”What a coincidence. ” I said as I got on the bus. It wasn crowded, but the seats were all taken so we had to stand.

”Yeah, right. ” She said, seemingly unmoved.

Silence fell between us for quite some minutes. The bus had passed two stations, and all the while I was recollecting what had happened back during the orientation.

”Why are you staring? ” Indah snapped me out of my thoughts.

Seems like I was staring at her unconsciously. Due to her sudden question, my eyes began to dart away. ”Oh, um… You see, you were so bold back then. ”

”Oh. Thanks. ”

No, that wasn a compliment, girl.

”You seem to be deliberately calling for trouble. ”

”What trouble, may I ask? ” She said nonchalantly.

”I don know exactly… But aren you afraid that the seniors might pick on you? ”

”…No? ”

I can tell if this girl is bold or oblivious. ”It was kinda dangerous. How about getting along tomorrow? ”

”You telling me to be a clown? no way. Ill never wear attributes. It was a stupid tradition anyway. ” She explained. She might be putting on a straight face, but it was getting redder.

I was at a loss for words because of her answer. I don know what to say, but I kind of understood what she was getting at; she was unsatisfied with how things were run. However…

”Im getting off now. ” She said, ”Bye-bye! ” She waved at me with a smile before she stepped out of the bus.

The words that I was looking to say to her echoed as the bus door closed. Theres time and place for everything, but not this time!

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