Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD
I first met Katrina during the 2nd week of Medical school. I was the idiot who played too much video games and forgot to study for the first test of the semester. I was also the same idiot who decided that cramming in the Cadaver room of the anatomy building was a very good idea because no one would come in there at 5am to disturb my very fast fact memorizing skill.
So there I was reciting mnemonic after mnemonic like a mad man. I was in between 2 cadavers who were covered by a very thick green tarpaulin material. It didn't help much with their smell but at least I wasn't looking at any dead peoples faces this early in the morning. I probably wouldnt mind because I was too busy reciting things that I would probably forget once the exam starts anyway. I was too busy in fact to notice that something was moving behind me. Too busy to notice the hand that clasped my shoulder and the mouth that was suddenly near my ear asking ,"Hey , what are you are doing here?".
I think I must have jumped out of my seat for a good few feet off the air. I was also shouting like a shrill voiced woman for a good ten seconds. When my heart stopped pounding and I finally calmed down , I was able to look at the prettiest girl that I have ever seen in my life. She was also red in the face and in tears with laughter. The laughter was directed at me of course.
"I never thought anyone could move so fast away from me like that." Katrina started to say until she burst into another fit of laughter.
"Why would anyone want to move away from you? Wouldn't they want to stay where you are?" I found myself saying without a moments hesitation.Unfiltered thoughts. My greatest downfall since I was able to form words.
Katrina stopped laughing for a moment and suddenly looked serious. Then she gave a big shrug. "Let's hope you don't find out."
"My name is... , she began to say...
"....Katrina. You sit 2 rows in front of me." I finished for her.
"Very impressive. You remember me..." The way she said ,left the sentence hanging in the air, as if to ask for something.
"Ollie. Ollie Oliveros." I supplied readily.
Katrina burst into laughter one more time. "Your name is silly.Like Bernie Bernardo or Joselito Jose."
"You know , I could get offended..."
"No please don't , I am sorry. Its just that I am new here. And you are probably the only person who has made me laugh in the 2 weeks that I have been here."
"I am not offended then..."
"You still scream like a girl though..."
And this is how I always imagined Katrina.It was weeks and the effects of her smile was still upon me. I smiled too much when I remembered my friend Arnold told me once.
Katrina and I,We would often bump into each other at the parking lot because I was someone who didn't want to go home too soon.And she was there to wait for her folks or brother to pick her up. I teased her about that once or twice.She would often laugh about it but when I told her that she must have done something pretty bad for them to even pick her up from Medical school and not just let her drive home she gave me a very serious look. She didn't say anything but I knew I hit a nerve there.
Still my imaginations of Katrina continued.There she was a laughing and blushing among the cadavers. What a pretty macabre picture but it was one of those things that made things easier for me especially when I found that I was barely passing anything in something that was supposed to be easy for me.Surprise surprise Medical School can be really tough.
If things were hard for me. Things were equally hard for Katrina who had trouble fitting in among her new found friends.Friends who rolled their eyeballs behind her back and made fun of everything from her accent to her being the rich kid from the province.Probinsiyana these friends would say as if it was a demarcating line, something that makes them more special. Goes to show that you could be pretty , be rich and still not fit in.
After a while , her laughter in my mind seemed to be sad , seemed a little heavy.Of course I could be imagining things(Wow! Imagining things in my imagination!) because she had consistently been in the top of our section despite her crummy friends.How about that , maintaining grace under pressure. The same pressure was cracking me and instead of focusing I turned to writing more and more. It just felt better. That and my thoughts of Katrina.
Then one day in the middle of Biochemistry class , a summons from the Dean of Medicine. People huddled in their favored groups and mentioned a few hush words. Some looked serious , some were laughing. Katrina. What was happening to Katrina? It was hard enough calculating how many energy I could get out of the Krebs Cycle.Now I didn't even pretend that I was interested to know. I kept looking at the door waiting to see Katrina smile. She never came back that day.
The last time I saw Katrina she looked like she was bearing a cross. Not that you could see it because she was as beautiful as ever. It never diminished but there were lines under her eyes. There was less energy. Maybe people didn't notice but I surely did. I wanted to let her know that I was with her but one time we walked along each other and all she said was...
"You know this is my last semester here..."
"I know" was all I ever got out. I suspected something but had no proof. I wanted to say something but could not.For the first time I didn't know what to say , my mouth would not be my downfall.It felt like a tomb sealing in all the questions I wanted to ask and all those other things that were clamoring to get out.
We walked silently going toward the parking lot. I parked my car near where she usually waited for her ride so that I could spend a little time with her. I knew this was the last time I would ever walk with her. Her last day was all her so called friends could talk about and me being the diligent eavesdropper always heard every word.
I wanted to say something...
She turned to me and looked into my eyes. A kind of sadness that could never be described by my words. She looked at me and all I said was...
"You are a Phoenix."
"I will be one you mean..."
"Nope. You are"
A puzzled look began to cross her face but it quickly vanished around the corner of her eyes and she gave me that smile of hers for one last time.
"Thank you" She said. And she moved away from me toward the car that was already waiting for her. And for awhile this was how I imagined being with Katrina.
Editors:This is a prequel of sorts to my Original story Forgetting Katrina. You could click on the link below if you want to check out that story. Thanks for reading.
Female Phoenix Picture by Marta Nael