Chapter 1 - The Beginning
Copyright © DenGlemtePrinsesse, 2020
"And for God's sake be one less burden for everyone!" My arms flung up in the air, protecting my head from the calloused hand I anticipated, but surprisingly never came.
Confused, I peeked through my makeshift shield to know why the pain didn't reach me —not that I preferred it did, but it's kind of given, as always.
I saw his hand, hanging inches from my face, he clenched it into a tight fist and hit the back of the driver's seat instead.
Watching my father composed himself and fixed his black suit, relief washed over me. Finally I exhaled, dropping my hands back to my sides.
I can see how hard he tried not to take his anger out on a living thing especially now that he still has a meeting to attend to, and I couldn't be grateful enough for that.
I sighed in relief, glancing through the tinted window beside me, staring intently to the white house I was told to leave in about two weeks from now. But I really like it here.
It has been a month now since my father, my mom and my older sister had gone to US. The reason for the sudden dispersal I wished I didn't know. My brother and I were left in the country, and since Carlo is the oldest he insisted he's independent enough to live alone. As for me, my Mom brought me to her best friend, Aunt Joyce and asked her to take good care of me.
Since Aunt Joyce wanted my stay to be free, she and Mom had a hard time convincing each other. They transferred my things as soon as she said yes and finally agreed that my family will contribute paying the house expenses, and then everything was settled.
I was hesitant at first for I'd no prior experience living away from my family but in the last four weeks I stayed in here I felt surprisingly happy, like finally things are working out for me. There's some sense of belongingness that took over me the moment I set foot in their home, it's as if I finally found my place in this world, like I simply belong here.
"Carlo will pick you up." His deep voice echoed in my ears, sending whip lashes to my existence. It's a done deal then.
Both my hands crawled up to one another, caressing what lies under my long sleeves, the outcome of my last minute plea, I probably had it coming.
During lunch, I mustered all the courage to finally voiced out what's on my mind, to asked him if I could just stay here with Aunt. 'It's do or die' I told myself. I remembered how my father almost flipped the whole mahogany table at me for asking, but he couldn't afford to let the foods spill on his suit because of his tight schedule. Instead he towed me to his office and made it clear that everything shall be done accordingly as planned.
Now, with my sore arms, I only felt foolish for expecting that my father would do otherwise what's already planned when I was certain it had never happened before. I felt foolish for believing my opinion would matter this time, it never did but why did I try anyway?
I smiled at the house across our car.
Maybe because of the people who lives in that house that I was finally brave. In just one month that I stayed here I think I got so much used to how the way they treated me, who wouldn't? They introduced a whole new world to me. My inputs were being asked here, I was being considered, and Aunt never failed to remind me that my feelings are valid and that my opinion matters when I didn't even know I was allowed to have one.
So for being beaten for trying to hold on to the life they'd offered me, I believe it's worth it.
"Are you listening?"
"Yes, Sir." I nodded. My father stared at me for a few seconds then gestured me to get out of the car and I immediately did. I bowed a little, watching it sped away until it was gone.
Funny, this wasn't the first time I watched my father's car left me, only this time I was sad for a different reason.
My fingers gripped tighter to my sling bag as I turned around, heading towards the open gate. I saw Dave and Macforth walking towards the van, Aunt Joyce stayed by the door watching them leave. My lips automatically smiled at the sight in front of me.
"I'm back, Aunt. Where are they going?"
"Grocery shopping." Aunt Joyce grinned watching them. She finds it funny when the guys do chores that aren't their forte and didn't require masculinity. Something the guys often pout about but they love Aunt so they would still comply. One of the reasons why Uncle Jason jokes around calling himself a bullied husband. I will miss this.
"Can I come with them?" The idea excites me but something in my heart ached a little. I never tried it with them before and I really wanted to, suddenly there's a need to double time making memories that I'm keeping.
"Good idea, honey!" Aunt pinched my nose and I almost clap when she said that.
"David, take her with you!" She called just before Dave could get himself inside the car. He simply smiled and nod his head to the car, telling me to come. I wasted no time to jumped in.
"How's lunch with your family?" He asked, closing the doors behind us. Macforth started driving quietly, like the usual.
"They're not back yet. It's just father, he needed to attend urgent matters but he'll be with them after. Lunch was fine." Even seated I still have to glanced up to see Dave's face. He nodded, running his hand to his chiseled jawline as his brown irises stared at me.
This is just one of the many good things about Dave. He listens regardless how trivial the things I shared with him, he never made me worry about boring him. Dave is forever welcoming and always considerate at how everyone around him feels. I will miss him.
But I'm not sure if I should tell him now that I'll be moving out soon. I'm already bothered by it, I don't want anyone else be too.
"Carlo also came." Half-heartedly though but he came. My brother left as soon as we're informed about what my parents had already decided. My older brother despised the idea of me moving in with him for he enjoys his independence —maybe a little too much than he's suppose to.
And now that I'd given it a thought maybe that's part of why my parents decided to have us under one roof, because I'd been staying here for a month now and on multiple occasions I told mom that I love it here and I remember her saying she's glad to hear that, so this sudden change of wind perhaps wasn't just because of me. Maybe it's because of my brother too, so we can look after each other and make sure to remind one another when enough is enough. Carlo has vices that worries mom and angers father. He's in a rebellious phase, mainly because my father wants him to takeover the company but he wanted to pursue arts.
"Good for him. By the way did you remember what I told you this morning?" I glanced up at him, blinking.
"Didn't I remind you to ask your dad for a phone? You'll be needing that tomorrow." I smiled at him apologetically for I forgot, not that it would change anything if I didn't. Father prefers that they're the ones calling me than the other way around.
I reached for my sling bag for the longevity bracelets I made, one of the skills I acquired during my eight months of home-schooling. I'd been meaning to give these to them, as my friendship token, on the day that I transferred here, but I forgot to pack it with my things. Fortunately I remembered this during lunch so I took it with me together with the other materials so I could create more for my future friends.
"I made this." I smiled at Dave, handing him one.
His eyes twinkled as he examines it. I'm not embarrassed of my work, I put a lot of effort in it. Instead of using beads, pendants and leather, I used four tiny jade cylinder and thin golden clasp with embedded Chinese characters to connect them.
"This is nice, thank you." He tried it on and I felt happy that it matched with his fair skin tone. I only hope he feels the same way and would wear it as often as possible.
Dave smiled at me, his gaze slid down to the other bracelet on my hand. He didn't speak but he nodded his head towards Macforth, encouraging me to give it to him. I contemplated for a few seconds for I originally planned giving it to him when no one's around so no one could see if ever he would reject it.
In the end I hid it back into my bag since we've already arrived at the mall, parking. It didn't take us five minutes before we reached the mall. Aside from the fact that it's not far from our village, Macforth likes driving faster than the speed the of light.
I glanced at him as we got out of the van. Like our usual driving scenario, his eyes remained on the road the whole trip and didn't bother to join our conversation.
Macforth tossed the keys to Dave as we head towards the entrance. We're greeted by the conditioned air that sent shiver down my spine the moment we step in. I hugged myself but immediately regret it for the pain shot through my sore arms with the simple touch.
"Go ahead, I'll pick up a few things from the hardware." Dave walked away even before Macforth could object. I was startled at first then I realized what he's doing, I believe we all do.
Dave could've taken me with him knowing too well that Macforth doesn't like having me around, but he also knows that I like to be close with him, so Dave's rooting for me. He was giving us a chance to spend time together. Dave's always been considerate and usually serves as the mediator for Macforth and I so there wouldn't be an awkward silence every time we're in a room. He prefers that Macforth and I would be close too just as I am to him, and I couldn't be thankful enough for that.
I turned around and glanced up at Macforth.
I didn't miss the sudden darkness on his face as his gaze followed Dave's fleeing figure, his eyebrows furrowed. I wanted to smile at his reaction but my face and my whole existence froze when his dark irises moved down to stare at me.
I gulped, blinking up at him, waiting. I thought he would say something but seconds passed and there's none. Macforth just turned around and headed to the supermarket, picking up a push cart by the entrance.
Breathing finally, my hand ran to the neap of my neck, massaging it a little. The day with them has yet to progress but I can already feel the stiffness in my neck with all the gazing up that I did.
I followed Macforth. He took out the grocery list from his pocket and stop at the Produce section. I put a lot of effort to get a glimpse of what's written on it while maintaining a safe distance from him so he won't get irritated by my presence.
I started with what's closest to me, the tomatoes. Cautiously I put a pack of it inside the cart, moving extra slow because in my peripheral vision, I saw him paused and watched me moved. After I let go of the tomatoes, I stood in front of the cart for like the longest second in my life, because I was waiting for a side comment. I don't want to irritate him. If he doesn't want my help I would immediately get out of his way, but since none came I moved on to the next vegetable I saw on the list.
On the eight agricultural products that Aunt wanted us to take home, five of them I help finding.
At first Macforth was reluctant when I started moving on my own, gathering products and putting them into the cart. I noticed him pausing every once in a while and pursing his lips in what evidently to be annoyance, but I doubled my effort, I hastened finding the products on the list and fortunately after a few minutes he finally gave in and accepted my help. While there was no official acceptance coming from him, the fact that he stop sighing loudly and just crossed the products on the list that I already found, I took that as a positive development.
"That's the last one. Can we eat before we—" The annoyance on his face had stop me. And before I knew it, he was already there, making his way to the cashier.
I sighed, following him.
Staring at Macforth as he put the goods on the counter, I couldn't help but wonder. Ever since the day I transferred here he never failed to make me feel outcast. He always gives me those intimidating stares, the cold treatment and the one-liner responses, sometimes none at all. I don't understand why he treats me like this, that's why I had extended my ways to understand. But as I'd come to wrap up how the things will end today, I had to admit it really won't be easy.
I reached for the longevity bracelet in my bag, thinking this is the right time to give it to him, to break the ice and save the day. But to my utter surprise someone's not being careful.
A guy in a blue polo had sent me to the floor with him. The impact was loud, I winced at the additional pain he brought to my arms.
"Miss, I'm sorry!" Hurt though, he was quick on his feet, embarrassed at the attention he drew. He didn't even thought of picking up his things before offering his hands to me. His face was red and he couldn't even lift his head. I can see the regret in him with what happened so there's no way I could held him responsible for this accident. Maybe he's just really rushing.
I was about to take the help he offered but it was snatched from me — he was snatched from me.
"Watch where you're going." Macforth had his hands gripping on the guy's collar, but I was certain he wouldn't hurt him. Even though his eyes were staring down at him and his face was impassive, Macforth was never violent.
"I'm really sorry." I heard him say as I crawled a little to reach the longevity bracelet on the floor.
"Get lost." Macforth finally let him go.
The guy hesitated whether to help me get up or just walk away as he was told, so I mouthed 'It's okay' to him.
Macforth leaned down to help me, but I was quick to jerked my arms from him for he was meaning to help me get up by holding my beaten arms instead of offering his hand. I couldn't afford another pain so I smiled at him and got up on my own.
His hands dug into his pocket for his wallet and I think he almost rolled his eyes at me before turning back to the counter girl.
"Thank you, Sir. Come again." The counter girl dimpled.
I was about to get one of the three full size grocery bags over the counter, but he did it first. Gentleman enough not to let me carry any of those heavy bags, I know there's kindness in him. He must have been just too picky to when and whom he'll let it show.
"Walk faster." He said, impatient.
I kept my pace behind him. Afraid to walk too close to irritate him, and too far to get lost. We stop just right before the exit of the mall, his back still facing me.
My eyes revolved from floor to floor, killing time and avoiding the awkward silence. I saw bunch of girls walking pass the entrance, their eyes were glued on Macforth, but he didn't seem to notice. He's still busy, looking straight to where Dave had vanished earlier.
At the bottom of the escalators, straight and not so distant from where we were waiting, stands a small chocolate kiosk that above all the booths in here, had caught my attention.
"Can I just go and check that out. I won't take long, I promise." I asked, walking in front of him, pointing.
He followed my fingers, and after a matter of searching, his eyes landed back on me. He must have realized that the kiosk is not that far and that they can easily call me once Dave arrived, so he didn't bother to object. Sure, he's still wearing his poker face on, but the fact that there was no official presence of objection coming from him, I took it as a yes.
"OMG! Don't look up." One of the people behind me said. If her statement was sincere and that she really didn't want her friend to look up, she might want to consider reverse psychology. Anyone who'll hear that will be tempted to look up, and so I was.
They were talking about the guy on the second floor, he's alone there so I assumed.
"What was he... never mind, let's go home."
"See? I told you not to look up."
"I'm sorry, I was curious."
"You're not supposed to be here." And then suddenly, the voice was too close. So close that it appeared to be intended for me. I looked back to the girls behind me, but it doesn't seem to be from them, they weren't even looking at me.
Halfway through my destination, I felt a spasm of odd sensation went through me. And then, I saw several things happening simultaneously. The people, coming from different directions started bumping me. As if the mall is not large enough to make room for everybody. Every bump was followed by a questioning look, eyeing me for my sudden stopover, but even I couldn't explain why.
Abruptly, everything began spinning round. I tried to look back to Macforth, but with all the circular movement, I couldn't distinguish him from the others. I walked forward and quick in search for a support but the movement had worsened my situation. Everything in my vision started fading, not a second later everything's black. But, despite the darkness, funny that I can see stars. Not like those shown in the movies, revolving on the heads of the characters whenever they hit something hard and became disoriented. I only saw five small stars, all was regal.
The first two, green and red, were the farthest. They were positioned firm and too close to one another. The third one was a light blue, and it was moving, fast approaching. But, despite the entertainment that the stars had given me, I was suddenly anxious, and frightened. The environment was alarming, like something doesn't seem to be right, and it was never calm.
My knees suddenly turned jelly that I lost my balance. It was obvious because the position of the stars was changed. And there I saw the fourth one, it was purple, it was the highest. Like the first two, it was immobile.
And then, I felt like I was shaking. That's when I saw the last star, the white one. The brightest, steadfast and not so many inches in front of me. It was the closest.