Chapter 2: Kaya
She held her daughter’s hand and sat by the bed like every time she did. Camilla had been comatose since three years ago, a few hours after her father died in a car accident. Kaya was lost right then and there. Losing her husband was one thing and seeing her daughter comatose like this was another thing. She felt her entire world was slowly losing its light. Before Camilla was born, Dave Smith was everything to Kaya. He was her world. The center of her universe. They met during a birthday party of a friend. Dave was attending the police academy when they met while Kaya had just entered university.
Kaya grabbed the photo at the nightstand and stared at it with a heavyweight in her heart. This photo was the last memory of the three of them. It was Camilla’s fifth birthday. She looked so much like her father with her curly brown hair and blue eyes. Kaya recalled the night where she lost everything.
It was three days after Camilla’s fifth birthday. Kaya was preparing dinner in the kitchen while her daughter was drawing on her book at the dining table. Since two weeks ago, Dave and his best friend, Colin, were working on a case which caused the former to be busy. Despite his hectic schedule, Dave took a day off for his daughter’s birthday and returned to work on the next day. He had been back and forth between two towns for the case. Early this morning, he called Kaya and said he was coming home tonight.
“What are you drawing, princess?” Kaya asked her daughter as she stood next to her.
“Me and daddy at the park.” she pointed at two figures in her drawing. “Daddy said he’s going to bring me to the park again.”
Before Kaya could reply, the front door’s bell rang. Quickly wiping her hands on the dry towel, she made her way to the front door and opened it.
“Welcome home, baby...” she trailed off when she recognized who stood in front of her.
He wasn’t her husband.
Colin was standing before her. He took off his hat and sadness lingered on his face. Kaya’s lips trembled when she realized the hidden meaning of his expression.
“Daddy, is that you?” Camilla ran from the kitchen with her drawing. She stopped. “Uncle Colin, where is my daddy?” When he didn’t answer, she asked her mother, “Mommy, where is daddy?”
Kaya looked away when tears streamed down her face. Her heart shattered instantly. She knew the risk of her husband’s job but she didn’t expect it to happen this way. Camilla kept demanding for her daddy while Kaya couldn’t speak a word.
“He was involved in a car accident when he was on his way to the airport,” Colin whispered to Kaya. “A drunk driver crashed his truck against Dave’s. He died when the Ambulance was taking him to the hospital.”
Picking her courage, Kaya knelt in front of her daughter with her teary eyes. The hardest part in life was telling Camilla her daddy wasn’t going make it tonight or any other night to come. But Kaya couldn’t form a word to say to her. Her mouth sealed tightly. She didn’t know how she was going to explain it to her daughter. Even without a word, Camilla seemed to pick her mother’s silence. Her lips quivered and her small hands clenched against the drawing tightly, crumbling the paper. The next thing happened, Camilla collapsed in her arms.
That was the last time Kaya saw her daughter’s blue eyes. Camilla’s illness remained a mystery until today. Kaya had brought many specialists to see what was wrong with her daughter. Nobody had an answer to it. She stayed in the hospital for about a year before Kaya decided to bring her home. Colin’s mother, Pamela, took care of Camilla when Kaya went for work. He also helped her to support the medical bill although Kaya refused at first. He was persistent about it and paid the bill without her knowing a couple of times.
Kaya worked at the local restaurant where she used to work during her summer holiday when she was in the university. Every day was the same for her. Dave’s parents had passed away about a year ago. Before Pamela took care of Camilla, it was Dave’s mother at first. After her death, Pamela volunteered to watch over Camilla because Dave was like a son to her too.
Today was exceptionally busy in the restaurant. Kaya barely could catch a break since the morning. Also, they were short of two staffs this week which made her schedule even more busy than usual. She was standing behind the counter when two men entered. All eyes in the restaurant followed the direction of the two men were heading. Kaya went to their table and was taking the order from one of the two men. He was a pale-looking man with golden eyes and leaned body while his friend was tanned and muscular. When she looked into his eyes, Kaya was lost in the beautiful orbs for a moment. After she brought their foods, he didn’t even glance at her. She didn’t know why she felt sad because he didn’t even glance at her.
“Seems like new folks in town,” Deborah said after she had keyed in the bill of another customer.
The two men did look like new folks in two because, in this small town, everyone knew each other. Kaya watched the two men talked. Their lips were moving fast as if they were rapping their conversation. With the loudness of other customers, Kaya couldn’t hear what they were saying. The pale man looked relax while his friend was tensed and serious. That was before the friend silenced him with his eyes glued to the TV.
Kaya sighed when the news was reporting about the homicide happened at the local hotel. She returned her gaze to the man. His paled friend was talking over the phone. Could it be their friend who was killed? They both looked equally interested with the homicide. Who were they? Detectives?
Shaking her head, she kept herself busy. Since Dave’s death, Kaya never went out with another man. She was too busy taking care of her sick daughter and paying the bills. But today, her eyes were refusing to look away from that one man in the restaurant. Something about his eyes was reminding her of her own eyes when she looked in the mirror. The sorrow was still lingering in her eyes. Everything fell apart for her in one night. Despite that, she managed to pull out her smiles.
She saw sorrow in that man’s eyes. She knew it well. And it made her wondered; who did he lose in the past?