32 ~ AUSTIN


Austin signed up for the Robotics Club. He went to the robotics laboratory to check out the place. There were only a few people in the lab. Four students and a teacher. They were cleaning up the laboratory.

He approached the middle-aged man who was wearing baggy pants and loose buttoned shirt. He didn’t look like a physically fit guy. His hair was brown and long. He was growing a beard. His eyes were dark brown. His nose was a bit huge and he had a very noticeable mole on his right eyebrow. His skin was like one of those Indonesians he saw last summer.

Is he Indonesian? Austin thought.

“Excuse me,” Austin said.

The middle-aged teacher was cleaning up his desk. He looked at him. He was just a few inches taller than Austin.

“What is it?” he asked. His voice was a bit weird. It was like a voice of a boy who hasn’t hit puberty yet, and it sounded as if his voice vibrates at every word he says.

“Well, I-I,” Austin muttered. “I signed up for the Robotics Club. They told me to come here.”

“Hmm?” the teacher said.

“So what am I supposed to do?” asked Austin.

The teacher laughed. He placed a nameplate on his desk. It said: Engr. Vincent Gomez.

“You need to take up Mechatronics, especially the Robotics subject,” Engr. Gomez. “The Robotics Club isn’t an ordinary club. We are a band of tech savvy who compete. We are one of the best in the country so we don’t just take anyone who ambitions on going to different countries for the International Robotics Competition but has no skill.”

“I know,” Austin said.

“You know?” Engr. Gomez laughed. “So what are you still doing here?”

“Well, I’m hoping you’d reconsider me.”

Engr. Gomez stopped from his work and stared closely at Austin.

“And why would I do that?” asked Engr. Gomez.

“I know a lot about robotics. If you would just come down with me to the ground floor, you would see what I’m talking about,” Austin muttered.

“Okay, hold up! I’m the teacher here, right? So why don’t you take it here?” said Engr. Gomez.

“Well, there are a lot of them and they’re heavy. . . in general,” said Austin.

“Well, then kid. If you really want to be in the team, you’ll have to take up Mechatronics for even at least one semester if you have good grades. Those are rules,” Engr. Gomez said.

Austin looked down on his foot. He was disappointed. But he didn’t need to hurry. That’s what he thought. He’ll patiently wait to finish one semester of Mechatronics, then he can go on competitions.

I’ll just have to keep on doing what I have been doing for a long time. He thought.

He got out of the lab, still disappointed.

What would my father say? He asked himself.

His father was a professional programmer. He designed and programmed for a successful technology company. Austin looked up to him. Engr. Cohen was his role model. Ever since his father’s accident and death, he desired for only one thing: design and program robots like what his father did. That’s what he has been doing for a long time. His father owned the equipment needed, and he would teach Austin every night after he was done with his school works, and the whole day every weekend.

But now his father had passed away. He would always be in his father’s old office, building up the things he and his father had planned years ago. When he finished one project and another, he had hoped his dad was there to see it.

He was already at the main hallway. His mother was waiting for him with his cart that carried his finished projects. Mrs. Cohen was just as tall as Austin. She had brown hair, thick eyebrows, deep-set brown eyes, thin lips, and turned-up nose. She was also thin and fair.

“Is the professor coming?” his mom called when he saw Austin. He took the handle of the cart from his mother’s hand.

“He’s not,” muttered Austin, staring at his feet.

“Why not?”

“I have to enroll to Mechatronics. If I finish it with good grades for at least one semester, they’ll let me in,” Austin said.

But they should look at these projects first.”

“They’re rules. I can’t change it.”

Mrs. Cohen lifts Austin’s head. “Well, I know you can do it. Me and your father will always believe in you.”

“Thanks mom,” Austin smiled.

“You want me to take this with me?” asked Mrs. Cohen.

“I’ll just put them in my gym locker.”

“But it’s for your clothes, honey.”

“Then, I’ll just have to bring them to school when it’s my PE,” Austin said. “Besides, these projects with dad are a lot more important.”

Mrs. Cohen touches Austin’s face. “I’ll go home now.”

She kisses Austin’s forehead and left. When she left, he carefully pushed the cart down on the ramp. He couldn’t remember where was the easiest way to the gym locker rooms. He knew he could get there if he went around the school.

He pushed his cart around the school grounds. He had finally reached the track and field where he continued to push his cart. He saw a huge door just before the edge of the school building.

He looked down when he saw the five girls who were also about to enter through the huge door. They stopped on their tracks when he passed them. He didn’t take a look to know who they were or what they looked like.

When he was inside, he saw a huge sign that said: Gym Locker Rooms. He entered the place and so it looked really like rooms. Good thing there were these somewhat like traffic signs. Straight ahead of Austin was the locker rooms for the athletic organizations. On the way to his right was for tenth, eleventh and twelfth years, and to his left were the locker rooms for the seventh, eighth, and ninth years. So he just followed the signs.

He turned to his left. There was a long hallway. He just went straight ahead until there was a sign that said: Year 7. There was an arrow next to the words. Year 7’s locker room where to his left. There was a security guard standing before the door.

“Year 7? Last name?” the guard said.

“Cohen,” Austin replied.

He looked through a box full of cards that seemed to be arranged carefully.

“Here,” the guard said as he handed out a green card. “You’re locker number and combination are in there. Don’t lose it.”

Austin took the card. His locker was GL-07025. He went inside to look for his locker. The locker room was huge. Of course, it’s supposed to contain lockers for 108 7th Years. He wondered then, do the students belonging to athletic organizations have two gym lockers?

He found his locker and opened it using the combination written on the card. He carefully put three robot projects of his and his dad inside. He managed to put three safely and neatly inside.

He closed his locker. He huffed.

Tomorrow’s another day.

All Rights Reserved 2013

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