Just to correct her spellings, Ari and I moved down on the floor and played with letter tiles, trying to spell out happy and family together. Soon, the air grew colder and rain began to splatter on the window panes. It was still quite early in the evening but the sky had darkened like night.
“Hah! It’s raining!” She gasped again, looking out the window. “Ro and August don’t have an umbrella! They’re gonna get wet.”
“I’m sure they’re inside a house. Once it stops raining, they’ll be home.”
I took her up to her room, which was the first room upstairs, to wear a sweater and socks. She had a pretty, bright room decorated with butterfly stickers of all colors and her own art on the pink walls. I picked out a light sweater from her cabinet and after wearing that, we went down again. She played with my hair for a while before she fell asleep on my lap at the sound of the rain.
Romeo came running in moments later as I sat there holding Ari in my arms. Huffing, he ran his hand into his hair and shook off the rain, shaking his head left and right.
“How’d you come back?” I asked him.
“My friend’s dad was going to a store. Hitchhiked.” He answered with his pleasant, everlasting smile as he shrugged off his jacket. “She sleeping?” He asked in a softer tone.
“Yeah,” I answered, looking down on her, breathing softly and slowly.
“For how long?”
“Not that long. About twenty minutes.”
“You can take her up to my room. I’ll be in there. I’ll look after her. My hands are cold. She’ll wake up if I touch her. Do you mind?”
“Of course, not.” I smiled at him as I stood up from the couch with Ari in my arms.
We let her sleep on his bed and Romeo stayed back on his computer desk while I went down to the living room. I still had about one hour left and I pulled out my phone to write. Since it was pretty cold, I removed my shoes and huddled up on the couch. I kept looking out the window as I write to see if the rain would stop. It only kept on falling harder.
I sighed, wondering how I would even get home if it never stops raining. I could call Jessica to come to pick me but, I really didn’t like troubling people. I stretched out my body sleepily once and went back to writing, hoping and praying that it would stop in time for me to go home.
Augustine returned home just when it was about time for me to leave. He came in with a friend, already changed into a pair of gray sweats with which I saw him first at the store. I was half sleeping with my eyes glued to the phone.
“Where’s Ari?” He asked, closing the door behind him.
“Up in Romeo’s room sleeping,” I said, taking my legs down from the couch and meeting eyes with his black friend, who was curiously looking at me.
He was just about as tall as Augustine was. Slim face, sharp jawline and short dark curly hair. He was good-looking too with a dimpled chin. Old, young, ancient, monkey, it didn't matter. Anything with a dimpled chin would come across just appealing to me.
“Romeo home?” He asked, holding the doorknob to his room.
“Hey. You the new nanny?” The friend asked me with a sort of, smile in his eyes as he walked in.
“I’m Marlon.” He said, extending his hand to me over the couch.
“Sophia,” I answered, shaking his hand.
“When did you start working here?”
Wrapping my arms around my body and rubbing my arms to warm myself, I replied, “Just yesterday.”
Augustine came out of his room and handed a sweatshirt to me. “Wear this. It’s cold.”
“Oh. Thanks.” I said whilst taking it in my hand, dazed by how considerate and caring he was.
He headed into the kitchen and Marlon quickly followed him. I stared at Augustine’s broad back with my mind still a bit dazed at his personality. To me, he appeared to be just. . . everywhere. In a good way. An everywhere personality – mysterious, quiet, considerate, tough, tender, mom. . . He seemed to think a lot and talk so less. He knows what he's doing. . . and these are just saying some.
I slipped on his shirt and his scent, powerful, musky and woodsy instantly filled my nose, driving my senses wild with the drugging fragrance. I held the collar and sniffed it once and quietly sighed at how good it was. I loved guy’s perfumes so much I had seriously once considered buying one for myself. Sometimes, I really don’t care what people will think as long I like what I’m doing and I’m happy with it.
Then suddenly I heard Marlon ask Augustine under his breath as they walked side by side, “She single?”
I instantly made a face and glanced back in surprise, running into Augustine’s gaze looking back at me over his shoulder.
“She heard you.” He chuckled to Marlon, causing me to laugh too (more like grin widely without a sound).
I stayed staring at the rain outside through the window while the two of them continued to chat and laugh quietly inside, sharing secrets. Just as I picked up my phone to call Jessica, Augustine called me from the kitchen.
My heart skipped a beat. That was the first time he actually called my name. A broad, infatuated grin quickly appeared on my face for no particular reason. I just liked the way he called me, him saying my name, his deep, raspy voice saying my name.
“Come have coffee.”
My coffee addict mind screamed in excitement. With the weather, it was just perfect.
With my phone over my ear, calling Jessica, I picked up Ari’s drawing and went to the kitchen. I sat on a stool at the counter again next to Marlon and Augustine pushed a coffee cup for me over the counter.
He responded with a quick nod.
Jessica answered the phone.
“Girlfriend, are you still at work?”
“Yeah. What’s up?”
“How long till you’re done? Like, it’s raining so hard and I need a lift.”
“I’ll drop you.” Augustine said from across the counter while Jessica asked, “I might take a while. Is it fine if you wait for about forty minutes?”
“Uh. . . hold on. Wait.”
I looked up to Augustine. “It’s fine. My friend’s coming to pick me.”
“No. I’ll drop you.” He looked right into my eyes and stated in a tone that ensured he meant it and that he was doing it regardless of what I say.
“Umm. . . okay.” I agreed, slightly flurried. I told Jessica that Augustine would drop me home and ended the call.
“Ari drew this,” I said and handed the drawing to Augustine.
He took it from my hand and stared at it with a big, warm smile lit in his eyes. There was no mistaking of the amount of love he had for his siblings. Each little gestures of his mirrored the love he had for them. I watched him as his eyes lingered on the paper pensively for moments and I wondered if he was seeing the magic box over Arizona’s heart.
“What’s that round thing over my head?” He asked later on.
“Oh, that’s the volleyball that hit you the last time you were at the beach,” I told him and he immediately laughed.
“This is fucking adorable.”
“Lemme see.” Marlon leaned over.
Augustine showed it to him with a proud, amused smile on his face. Marlon laughed too. After Marlon had seen it, Augustine pasted it on the refrigerator.
Then he went upstairs to call Romeo.
“So. . . I like your hair,” Marlon said.
“Thanks!” I smiled at him and sipped on my coffee.
“Yeah. It looks very rich and. . . nice on you.” He smiled, holding my eyes.
Is he flirting with me?
Nonetheless, I laughed and drank my coffee again.
“So, are you from Coasuta or some other place?”
“Other place. Georgetown. I came here for college.”
“Oh! I go to the university too!” He beamed brightly. “Mass media. You?”
“Great. How far is your town from here?”
“Two and a half hours flight.”
Romeo and Augustine came down together. Romeo came to sit on my other side as his brother poured him a cup of coffee.
“I’m sleepy now,” Romeo groaned whilst dropping his head and running his fingers lazily into his hair.
Fifteen minutes later after coffee, Augustine and I left the house. Marlon stayed back with the kids. The sun had long gone by then and it was already dark. The smell of rain lingered in the air giving us a cozy atmosphere and I felt like taking a nap in his car. Ten minutes later, it stopped raining and I opened my window slightly to let the cold night air refresh my body. Like earlier this afternoon, we didn’t talk much. My mind wandered between the rain, his silence, and Ari. I wanted to ask him so many questions regarding Ari but I could hardly bring myself to it. He just didn’t seem like someone who would talk to me about it. After all, I was still fairly a stranger to him.
But then I thought and thought and I decided I needed to know since I was the one looking after Ari every evening and what if something terrible happens and I really have no idea what to do?
So, I asked him. “Does Ari has a pacemaker in her?”
“Yeah.” He gave a brief nod with his eyes staring ahead at the road.
“What exactly is her heart condition? Like. . . it would be good if I can know more just in case. . . since I’m taking care of her every afternoon from now on.”
“She has Stage Three Congenital Heart Block. Just don’t let her do too much activity and keep her away from electronics or anything that might emit radiation. It might disrupt her pacemaker. If she complains of heartache, let her lie down, give her an aspirin. I keep them in the refrigerator and then call 911.”
I nodded vigorously as I took in all the information. “Okay. How serious is her case now?”
He swallowed and answered a moment later in a low, somber tone, “She’s in the waiting list for a donor at Good Tidings Children Hospital.”
“How many more in front of her?” I asked slowly with a lump in my throat.
I vaguely nodded. One sounded good but God knows how hard it is to find a donor. Let alone a matching donor. It was not going to be an easy wait. And just by looking at the passiveness on Augustine’s face, anyone could see how afraid he was inside although he showed no sign of it. His silence, his eyes spelled each and every word he was struggling to hide in his heart.
I didn’t ask more. The rest of the drive was mostly filled with heavy silence and I continually kept stealing glances his way just to see if he was fine. Two days was enough for me to see through the amount of love he had for his siblings, so true and firm, each and every action of his proving it.
I couldn’t even imagine myself being in his position, looking after a fourteen-year-old boy and a little girl with a heart condition all on his own. I would go mad. But, he appeared to be pretty much in control.
My eyes fell onto my lap and I saw the sweatshirt I was wearing. His. Then I couldn’t help but look up at him again and think. . .
Does he have a girlfriend?
If he does, she must be a lucky one.
Seeing as how kind and caring he was, even for someone like me whom he barely knew, I couldn’t even come to imagine how much love and affection he must possibly be having for his ‘the one’.
I felt a little jealous inside for the girl I didn’t even know existed. By that time, with the way I admired him, I was sure that a little crush for him was budding in me. He seemed so amazing and kind I couldn’t help it.
When we finally reached 6th Lincoln Street and I sighted my building from afar, I was groaning inside. With no specific reason, I had simply grown to enjoy even the very silent car ride with Mr. Augustine Urban. I enjoyed his presence and I loved the way he unknowingly made me feel secure and protected. Ironically, there was something so pleasant about his toughness, his sharp gazes, his clipped and to-the-point answers. . . He was just. . . very much Augustine Urban.
The car finally came to a stop in front of my building. With a sigh, I lamented in my mind that this was goodbye.
Me being extra.
“Thank you,” I turned to him.
I reluctantly opened the car door and got down before he kicks me out. And just before I closed the door, I remembered something.
“Wait!” I exclaimed holding the door, my mood suddenly skyrocketing in eagerness. I was excited to use the thank you word to him. “What is that word. . . chutiya!” I beamed at him as bright as the moon with gratitude in my heart. “Chutiya very much.” I said confidently.
His mouth slightly agape, a broad, amused and amazed smile slowly lit up on his face as he stared at me like he was stunned by my extremely high intelligence. He tucked his tongue against his cheek and staring at me in amazement, he tried containing his laughter for a while before he chuckled out.
“Correct, right?” I thought maybe I said it wrong since he laughed.
“Excellent.” He returned, swallowing his smile.
“Bye!” I chirped and closed the door.
“Bye,” he responded with a handsome smile illuminated on his face and drove away, shaking his head and laughing.
I went inside the building happily, so glad to have made him smile. It felt like an achievement since he smiles so rarely.