Wings on Flames and Kings With No Names
Diane had been in Catholic school since she was six.
That didn’t mean she considered herself to be a Catholic anyway. To be perfectly honest, Diane didn’t see the whole point of religion at all. She found it stupid that people killed each other for religion’s sake, or that nations conquered people who only wanted to live in relative peace and used crosses and the Bible as fronts, when these nations stole land and raped women when the backs were turned.
She found it hypocritical how men fucked their whores on the side, only to confess their sins just in time for Sunday mass with their families and communion. Also hypocritical how women went to mass on Sundays and then gossip about other women for the rest of the week.
It also didn’t mean she wasn’t stupid nor hypocritical. But at least, she acknowledged it.
Diane’s relatives were Roman Catholics, dispersed along different parts of the Catholic spectrum, as she would like to see it. There was her devout Catholic aunt with her Sunday Catholic children, Diane’s cousins who did not believe in abortion but were too weak – and horny, really – to go against premarital sex. Then of course, both her sets of grandparents served their respective churches; her grandfather from the father’s side used to be in the seminary but then he met her grandmother and the rest was history.
Diane’s parents were probably on the loose, more liberal end of the spectrum. They didn’t always go to mass on Sundays, and if Diane’s school didn’t require her to go to Sunday mass, her parents wouldn’t even make her go. The biggest reason her parents made her go to St. Francis wasn’t because they wanted Diane to have a good Catholic education. St. Francis was one of the best schools in the country and a private school at that. If Diane didn’t graduate from her school a Catholic, her parents could care less. As long as Diane graduated smart enough and with good grades that would get her to any university in and outside the country, then she could do anything she wanted.
And for the most part, she did. Not that her parents were around to witness most of what she did anyway.
Diane wasn’t one of the smarter kids in school. She was really bad at any science-related subject and she hated math to boot. But she liked music and she liked acting, and she was fairly popular because of that. It also helped that her best friend was a genius who always made sure she passed her exams, so Diane did. She didn’t really have trouble with school at all, even if all she really wanted was to get out of it and finally be a theatre major in college.
She only had a year to go.
A lot can happen in a year.
“Good morning, Mrs. Manalac,” Diane greeted with a smile as she passed by her Chemistry teacher from the year before.
“Good morning, Diane. How was your vacation?”
“Relaxing. We went to the beach.”
“With your family?”
“Family, at first. And then I was mostly with friends for the rest of the time,” A friend, actually. But she didn’t have to tell the elderly woman that.
“Oh well, that’s good then.”
“It was,” Diane had had enough of her own hypocrisy. If she had to go through the rest of the day, she might as well have some saved up in her hypocrisy reserve. “I’m going to head to class now…”
“Well, off you go then and enjoy the rest of the day.”
“I’m sure I will,” she said, her back already turned to the Chem teacher and her feet on their way to her first class for the day.
There were only two other people inside the classroom as she got in. Diane smiled as she saw the familiar smile of her best friend. And then she turned to look at the other person that her best friend was talking to.
The girl wasn’t anyone she recognized. Diane wasn’t exactly friends with everyone in her batch but she had been in the school long enough to recognize the student from her batch from the others. And this person, the person Kristen openly talked to, wasn’t anyone she could place anywhere – not in her whole stay at St. Francis anyway.
“Hey Kristen,” she called out as she approached the pair, and Kristen, her best friend since they were assigned partners for a Christmas presentation when they were seven, turned to face her with a huge, wide-eyed grin.
“Diane!” Kristen held her in a tight embrace that Diane returned, and then they both let go. “I missed you!”
“We talked on the phone last night,” Diane said with a matching grin of her own.
“That was last night. And it was on the phone. How was the summer escapade?” Kristen asked with waggling eyebrows.
Diane only laughed. “Great.” A pointed look from her friend. A half-smile, and then Diane squealed, “Fantastic! Amazing! Everything!”
“Met anyone new then?” Kristen teased with another pointed look.
Diane shook her head. Kristen had no idea. “Nope.”
“No.” No one new, anyway.
“I don’t believe you, Diane.”
“Then don’t,” and before Kristen could continue, “Who’s your friend, Kris?”
Kristen only gave her another look, but this time it was the best friend look, the one which meant, we’ll talk later and don’t you dare leave stuff out from me.
The other girl looked out of place, like she didn’t want to be in the middle of the friendly reunion that was unfolding right in front of her. Diane noticed that the other girl’s hair was a darker shade of brown, which was actually a whole lot lighter than the shades of most of the students and teachers and everyone else at St. Francis, which were mostly black, like her own.
“Leila, this is Diane,” Kristen said, “and Diane, Leila. She just transferred.”
That was new. St. Francis had very strict rules when it came to transferring and students mostly transferred at the start of high school, not at the end of it.
Interesting was turning out to be intriguing.
“That’s pretty weird, for you to transfer at the last year of high school. Of course, I’m assuming you’re a senior considering you’re in this classroom.”
The other girl, Leila, looked like she didn’t know what to say, or that if she had to say anything at all to what Diane just stated. At that moment, Kristen spoke up.
“Diane, don’t be rude.”
“I was just wondering. Don’t tell me you didn’t wonder yourself.”
“It’s okay,” Leila spoke up and Diane couldn’t help but look at the other girl. Even the other girl’s accent was different. “I am. A senior, I mean. My father got me transferred here.”
“Your father must be some kind of guy to get you transferred to St. Francis on your senior year.”
“You could say that.”
Kristen was already looking at her with narrowed eyes and Leila’s eyes were fixed to the floor. Diane finally decided to stop with the inquisition.
“So, welcome to St. Francis then, I guess.”
“Yeah, you’ll like it here. Everyone’s really nice and we can use cellphones outside of class,” Kristen said, a smile on her face again, as Leila looked up.
“That’s good,” there was a timid smile on the new girl’s face. Timid, but present.
“Better than a lot of private schools around,” Diane said. “Most private schools don’t even allow cellphones on campus, but here, you can use your cellphone in the hallways. Just keep it in silent mode during class or you won’t see your phone for a month at the very least.”
“Speaking from experience, Diane?” Kristen smirked.
“You should know.”
Diane dared a brief look at the new girl and even though Leila wasn’t openly smiling, there was a slight crinkle at the side of her eyes that showed her amusement. Diane was about to ask her something when a loud thump came from somewhere near. She turned to look and there was a body half-sitting, half-sprawled on top of a desk. Then the presence of another girl who placed her bag on the seat beside the one Diane had been looking at (and consequently, the person on that seat).
Kristen looked at Diane, “Looks like Sven’s actually up for class.”
“I heard that,” it was a grumble, but a discernable one nonetheless. Then fingers were on Sven’s hair, head buried on arms on top of the desk.
“Hangover. I had to drag her out of bed this morning,” Julia said to Kristen. Julia, who was to Sven what Kristen was to Diane. Julia, who was also Kristen’s friend but not really Diane’s. Julia, whose fingers were now tangled in Sven’s chin-length hair to smoothen them out, and then scratch at the scalp.
Julia, who Diane realized a few months ago she kind of hated.
“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here,” and then there was Sven, who looked up, suddenly. Sven, who looked at Diane with bleary eyes and all, and then looked away.
Sven, who Diane realized a few months ago she kind of loved.
Maybe that was also part of the reason why Diane didn’t consider herself a Catholic.
(A two-part gift, yeah? Merry Xmas!)