The Day We Left
There are times when I feel like I belong to another time. Like I’ve already lived my life before as another person.
Others may not believe in reincarnation, but I do.
A lot of people think that I’m weird because of my interest in dreams and paranormal stuff. Maybe, that’s why children in the neighbourhood think I’m a joke.
There is a saying that it takes a whole community to raise a child and our community must have done a bad one raising my cousins, who do nothing but bully other children.
I wish I could be reincarnated as a bird and fly far,far away from here because I hate everyone.
Except for my only friend, Jenny.
Jenny became my friend when she and her family moved in our neighbourhood when I was eight years old. I was her first and only friend in the neighbourhood. Since the children did not want to play with me, I always ended up playing by myself. I was very glad that Jenny moved in our neighbourhood. She was a cute girl with a long shiny hair.
When you have a new neighbour, you’ll find a way to know her and welcome her. But in our neighbourhood, it was different. Children would try to make fun of you and embarrass you. I guess this was their way to welcome new neighbours.
I used to play with the kids in our neighbourhood. I wanted them to like me so I always let them borrow my toys. Although sometimes I felt that my toys are the only reason why they hang out with me. Well, I didn’t want to play alone so I needed to deal with that.
Everything went well. Until Hanna, the oldest among us, got upset with me for no reason. They started stealing my little cups and saucers and pinched me until I cried.
One time, I was playing with Jenny in their house, when Hanna approached us and started saying mean things about me. She even had a sort of assistant, Maggie, who looked at me as if I had committed a crime. Hanna was three years older than me and also bigger. I had no chance to beat her in a fight.
She asked me why I said to our playmates that she was a bitch when I never said anything like that. My playmates were making up stories so that Hanna would get mad at me. I didn’t understand them. They should be kind to me. After all, they were my cousins.
I did not say anything. I let her insult me and say everything she wanted to say. But deep inside, I felt like slapping her. I would never forget everything that she said. I swear.
I was very thankful; I have a friend like Jenny. There were times I wished Jenny was my cousin instead of them.
We were always together. After our classes, I would go to their house and we would tell stories about what happened in school. During weekends, we would play hide and seek in their backyard and her mother would prepare snacks for us.
We got closer during high school. We shared secrets and stories about boys and the teachers that we hate. We promised each other that boys could never destroy our friendship.
We never had an argument and I knew she will be my best friend forever.
That’s what I thought. Until my parents dropped the bomb. We are moving to a new house in Baguio City.
A part of me was glad for I will never see my mean cousins again. But at the same time, I was sad. I will really miss Jenny. Who will be her best friend when I’m gone?
What if I will not like our new place? And worse, what if the children there are a bit more like my cousins or even nastier?
No way! I’d rather stay here than be in a new place where I don’t know anyone and I’m not even sure if I’m welcome there.
I will never leave this place. If my parents insist of living in Baguio City, they have to leave me here. Maybe Jenny’s parents could adopt me.
I tried talking to my parents about moving to our new house. But I got disappointed with their answer.
“Mom, please! I don’t want to move somewhere in Baguio City. Our house is okay. Why do we have to move?” I asked. We were inside my parent’s room. My mother was reading her newly bought romance novel.
“Denise, we’ve already discuss about it, didn’t we? Your Dad has been assigned by their company in Baguio so we need to find a new house that is near his office.”
“Mom, we don’t have to find a new place. Dad could go to his office from here,” I said, trying to convince her.
“Five hours on the road? I don’t think so,” Mom answered. She put down her book and faced me. “And besides, the house is one of your father’s benefits for working in that company for over eighteen years now. We really have to accept the house, Denise.”
“Mom, it’s so unfair. If you want to move in that house, fine. I’ll stay here.”
Dad laughed, “You couldn’t. You don’t have a place to stay. I already sold our house.”
I was shocked.
“No, you didn’t! How come you didn’t ask me first before doing that?” I asked, angrily.
I hate them. They are always deciding without asking me. I know I’m still young but they should still consider my opinion. And besides, I am a part of this family.
“Oh! I’m sorry I didn’t know you were interested in buying this house. We could have a deal, you know? This house worth more than a million but I could give you a disocunt.”
They both laughed.
“That is not funny,” I said, sarcastically. “Well, I can see that I have no choice but to stay with Jenny.”
“We will be moving to our new house and you will be moving with us. That’s final,” My mother said.
“This conversation is close,” Dad said. He went to the dressing room to change in his new pajamas.
“Yeah, for now,” I mumbled.
“Go to bed. We’ll discuss it tomorrow,” Mom told me.
“Sure,” I moved out of their bed and headed to my room.
I switched on the light and looked around. I will surely miss my room. My bed, the blue painted built in cabinet, my terrace, everything. I wish my parents will change their mind.
I went to bed without closing the lights. I’m not used sleeping with the lights off. I yawned. I felt very tired and sleepy. The thought of moving to a new house is giving me a headache. After some minutes, I fell asleep.
The next day, I went to Jenny’s house. She was watering her collection of cactus plant. She has lots of them in her garden. She even has a pile of books about cactus and other ornamental plants cluttering her bookshelf. It’s a waste of money and space if you ask me.
We sat in a wooden swing under the big guava tree. This is where I got the big scar on my knee. We were playing in the swing and Jenny pushed me so hard that I was out of balance and fell.
This place holds a lot of good memories of me and Jenny playing together, talking about our everyday experiences, giggling, crying. It’s just hard to accept that I will soon leave this place that has been a part of my life.
Jenny broke the silence that had been reigning between us.
“Is it true that you will be moving to a new house?” she asked.
“Well, I don’t know,” I said. I don’t really want to talk about it.
She sighed, “Who will be my friend when you’re gone?”
“No! Stop it. I will not go anywhere. Even if it meant staying in my Aunt’s house. I don’t care if Hanna will treat me badly.”
“Don’t worry, alright?”
She smiled and we hugged each other.
“Hey! I have an idea,” She said with a big smile in her face. “I’ll ask my parents if you could stay in our house. But I think there’s no need to ask. I’m sure they will be glad to have you live with us.”
“That’s exactly what I thought.”
We both laughed at the idea of living together.
And the more I thought of this. The more it made sense. Until my parents told me the true reason behind moving in a new house.
“Mom, how about I stay in Jenny’s house until I reach eighteen?” I asked my parents when we were having our dinner.
“Please Denise. In times like this, we need your cooperation,” Mom said.
“What do you mean? I thought we will be moving because Dad was transferred in his new office in Baguio?”
Mom made a loud sigh, “There’s more than that. Your Uncle Jack borrowed money from your father to start his own business. And because your father wanted to help his brother so much, he withdrew all our savings thinking that his brother would pay him when the business is already doing well.”
“And so? What is this something to do with moving to a new house?”
“Your Uncle didn’t use the money to start a business, that’s it. And so, he couldn’t repay your father.”
“What?” I was really shocked. “What did he do with the money?”
“With our money, you mean? Well, he used it to take his mistress in a grand vacation in Bali,” Dad told me, angrily. “I shouldn’t have let him borrow that amount. I should have thought that there’s no hope for him to change.”
“Why do we have to move then?” I asked.
“We need to sell the house, Denise. The money I’ve been saving is for your tuition fee, allowance and other expenses until you finish college. But now, it’s gone. And my monthly salary is just enough for our everyday expenses,” Dad explained as if he was about to cry.
“Alright. I understand now,” I said. “Just give me some time to say goodbye to Jenny.”
“Okay, but tomorrow, you will have to start packing your things. We need to vacate the house as soon as possible. The new owner will be here early next week,”Mom informed me.
I sighed. I coudln’t do anything but to accept that we will be leaving soon. There was nothing I could do about it.
“So that’s it. You’re really leaving,” Jenny asked.
“Well, I don’t want to move but…” I tried to explain thinking that she was mad at me but instead she smiled.
“It’s alright. I’m not mad. It’s not your fault. It’s just that… I will really miss you, Denise.”
“I will miss you too,” I hugged her tightly.
“But don’t worry; I will visit you as soon as I get the chance. I promise.” I said, releasing her.
“Really? That’s great,” She said. I could see that she was just trying to hide her sadness.
I sat in our favorite spot in the garden, the swing under the guava tree.
I made a loud sigh.
“What if the girls there will not like me?” I asked.
Jenny sat beside me, “Do you remember the day I moved in this neighborhood?”
“Yeah, I remember.”
“I don’t know anyone and the children didn’t want to talk to me. I felt that I wasn’t welcome.”
“Well, even me felt that too.”
“Your cousins are really nasty.”
“Yeah, I know,” I nodded in agreement.
“But a girl approached me and asked me if I wanted to play with her. And soon, she became my best friend.”
I looked at her.
“Even people around you are mean; you will still find someone who will be kind and true to you.”
“Thanks. It made me feel better.”
“Well, I better go now. I have to pack my things. The new owner will be coming next week.”
“Really? Are there any cute guys in the family?” Jenny asked.
I laughed, “I don’t know. Why? Aren’t you satisfied with the boys around here?”
“Duh? The question is; are there any real boys around here?” she said, scornfully. “I mean, look, they were playing dolls when we were young.”
“That was a long time ago.”
“Well, Daniel was an exception.”
“ Yeah, right. As if I didn’t hear his sister complaining that Daniel was using her undies.”
I giggled, “Perhaps it was their laundry day.”
“Alright. I really have to go. See you later, okay?”
I saw her waved her hand as I stepped out of their garden.
I was walking home when I saw Daniel and Lloyd coming towards me. I walked pass them, pretending that I saw nothing but Lloyd called my attention.
“Hey, Pen…I mean Denise. I heard you’re moving to a new house in Baguio City.”
“Yeah. Must be good news for you.”
“Not really. Well, I guess you will be missing your weird, old friend.” Lloyd said.
“And why should you care?” I asked in a sarcastic manner. I was starting to feel upset especially that Jenny was already involved.
“Whoa! Don’t get mad. I’m just trying to make you laugh. I know you will miss us so…”
“Well, good luck. I hope there will be another weirdo in Baguio City to be your friend or else you will be a loner again,” Daniel said and both of them laughed.
“Thanks,” I said, trying a pretentious smile.
“See you then,” Lloyd started to walk away.
“Right. Goodluck to the two of you. I hope you enjoy playing dolls.”
The two looked at me, puzzled.
“What did you say?”
“Oh, nothing. Forget it,” I said, smiling.
“Come on. Let’s go,” Daniel called Lloyd. “It’s not worth listening to her.”
They walked pass me.
“Daniel!” I called.
The two looked back.
“Let me give you a friendly advice,” I said, smiling at him.
Daniel raised his brow.
“Leave your sister’s underwear alone.”
Lloyd looked at him and laughed so hard. Before I left, I gave him a triumphant grin. Daniel was glaring at me.
Uncle Jimmy helped Daddy put the cabinet in the truck that my parent’s hired. Jenny and some of my cousin were there watching us loaded our car with some of our stuffs. This was the day of our move to Loakan road, Baguio City.
I went near Jenny.
“Thanks for everything,” I said.
“Good luck. Come visit me if you have time.”
“Come on, Denise. We have to go,” I heard my mother called.
I looked at my cousins and smiled at them. Then I saw Hanna looking at me.
“Bye,” I said, softly.
I went inside the car. Dad started the engine.
When I looked back, Jenny and my cousins were waving their hands. I waved back. I could see them fade until they were out of my sight.