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“I’ve always wanted to be a politician,” I said, chuckling, “You know, be the President someday.” I laughed then, and I had no idea why. Thinking of the President, his situation at the present, and what I would have done if I was in his shoes probably tickled me some. What I had said was true nonetheless. I did want to be a politician. Still do.

“Really,” Dr. Simon replied, turning his attention away from his laptop to me. His eyes were sparkling. I had learned with time that he only does that when I tell him something new. “And what would you do if you were?”

I laughed again. “You know, the usual. Clean up the government. It seems so easy, but I probably wouldn’t know where to start when and if I’m finally there.”

“You’re right,” he said, “I’ve always thought that a lot of politicians start with noble intentions, but they get all swallowed up in all those greed until... well, until greed becomes normal. I’m not saying they’re all greedy, but that they’re somewhat tainted.”

“Psh! I don’t believe that. I’m sure there are some who managed stay untainted,” I said, drawing quotation marks in the air at the word “untainted”.

“I don’t think so.” He grinned at me, looking rather smug.

“Adults always think they’re right,” I muttered, going back to my Rubik’s Cube.

I heard him chuckle. When I looked at him, he was already back to whatever it is he was working on in his laptop, which, as far as I remember, was what he has been doing from the first session that I’d had with him.

I remember the day we first met. It was the day after I got released from the hospital. Everyone had thought that I needed him - someone like him - but I had been of a different opinion. When I was finally alone with him, he had said, “Hi, Jake. I got here a PS if you want to play some games and the fridge if you’re hungry. Just help yourself. You want a Coke?”

I remember thinking that he wasn’t exactly my movie shrink.

After handing me a can of Mountain Dew, he went to his laptop and started to fill the room with the sound of him hacking away on his keyboard. I shrugged my shoulders and turned on both the TV and the PS and played Tekken until my dad came for me.

I can’t even remember anymore when Greg and I had started talking. All I know was that he knew a lot more stuff about me than anyone in this world did. He had become a treasured friend, and I wouldn’t know what to do if he’d suddenly disappear. I sure am glad that Dad had thought I needed to talk to a “professional” because he thought that the accident had traumatized me. And yeah, because of the other thing too.

About a year after our first meeting, Greg had stopped billing Dad for my sessions with him. I was pronounced mentally fit. Though when I told Greg that, he had frowned, clearly not thrilled with how I saw myself, but he didn’t say anything to correct me.

I didn’t stop going to his office after school hours though, and as far as I know, he had long since reserved that last hour of work for me. My dad had been hesitant at first, saying that I would be keeping the doctor from earning the money that he deserved, but Greg had talked to him and set him straight. Nothing special really happened. We just picked up where we left off. We would either talk or play a game together, but he would always be working on that file in his laptop. When it was time for him to go home, he would either take me out to dinner or drive me home directly.

Now, though, already more than two years since my first session with him, I felt that we’d already talked about everything that we could possibly talk about.

Except for that file in his laptop.

It wasn’t work related; that much I knew.

I looked up from my Rubik’s Cube and cleared my throat just loud enough to let him know that I was about to say something. “Do you mind me asking what’s that you’re always working on?”

He laughed, you know, that kind of laugh that’s both heartfelt and embarrassed at the same time. “It’s a novel,” he said, but refused to look at me. He was blushing.

So I decided to tease him about it. “A romance novel? Erotica?”

He got even redder. “I would have you know that it indeed has a little romance, but it is definitely a whodunnit.”

“Well, I hope the main character is not a detective. That’s sooooo cliché! But if he’s anything like a shrink, you best keep that in your laptop!”

“Har har. Actually, he was a shrink, as you so nicely put it.” He paused. Then he looked at me with an enigmatic smile. “But something’s made me change him. That’s why it’s taken me this long. I had to rewrite it from the start.”

“So if he’s not a shrink anymore, what is he now?”

“I’ll tell you when it’s published. Actually, I’d do better than that. I’ll give you a copy.”

“You mean someone made a drunken mistake of publishing it?” I smirked at him.

“Yep, it’s going to be published as soon as my editor and I have everything ironed out,” he said, ignoring my smartass comment.

I was happy for him. But, more than anything, I was definitely curious about his writing career.

“Is that one of your dreams? Becoming a writer?” I asked him.

“You could say that. But I’ve always been writing. I guess, what my dream actually was, was to be a published writer.”

I nodded my head, you know, in that contemplating kind of way. “So... any more unfulfilled dreams?”

“If traveling around the world is a dream, then...”

“Well, you know me. I got lots of them,” I said, unable to keep the bitterness from my voice.

“Jake...”

I ignored him. “I wanted to fly a plane. I wanted to play pro basketball. I wanted to build my own house. I wanted to prosecute criminals then become a judge later. I wanted to go hiking and camp out alone for a week. I wanted to learn how to surf. I wanted to...”

I almost screamed in frustration. I almost threw the Rubik’s Cube in my hands across the room; as it was, my hands were trying to squeeze it into one little ball. I didn’t know when I’d ever be over this thing in my life. It seemed to haunt me every day of my life, and often, at the oddest times, at the most unexpected moments.

I sighed loudly, but it did little to alleviate the heaviness I felt.

“Jake, I...”

“You know, right now, my only dream is to be able to get out of this chair, but I know that’s exactly how it’s going to end: just a dream,” I said. “Just a dream.”

 

*        *        *

 

I had never received a package on a Saturday morning before, or any other mornings for that matter. That’s why when Dad handed me one while I was eating breakfast, and I saw that it came from Greg, I guessed that his book must have been published already.

It was. And what a gloomy title it had: When Sorrows Come.

The synopsis at the back was enough to make me roll my eyes.

“Jake Rodriguez's father receives death threats all the time. It's all a part of the job, he says, being the mayor of Manila. But when one turns out to be serious and barely misses his father, Jake decides to play detective and snoop around the city hall. A car hits him as he was going out of his car, and the next thing he knows, he is in a hospital and will never be able to walk again, his memory of the of the accident totally gone. All that he remembers is going to sleep the day before that.

“Convinced that his accident was connected to the threat on his father's life, Jake decides to pick up where he left off. Though now, he is definitely conspicuous. One day, he wheels himself to the wrong part of the city hall, and suddenly, shadows begin following him. Will he be able to solve the mystery before his father's time runs out, or the shadows catch up to him?”

I began turning pages, and the moment I came to the dedication, I couldn’t help but choke at the emotions that had suddenly flooded me. Both my dad and brother turned to look at me with concern, but I ignored them.

“To the Jakes of this world: Nothing can keep you from doing what you want except yourself. Just remember that I’m right behind you."

 


 

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