Mira sat in the front row with her hands clasped together as she flashed an encouraging smile at her little girl who now stood at the center of the stage with a red bandana on her hair and a simple blue dress.
Celestine’s eyes darted around the room frantically measuring the size of the audience, pointing out familiar faces, counting strangers, noticing the eyes that looked at her and the expressions on each of them. She felt smaller and smaller every second.
She looked down and clutched the skirt of her dress as she started taking quick shallow breaths and her face was slowly being drained of its color. She raised her eyes and found her mother’s warm brown eyes who stared at her lovingly.
Mira smiled wider and nodded at her daughter. She made two fingers into a V and pointed them in front of her eyes then at Celestine. It was all the little girl needed to know that no matter what happens, her Mom will always be there for her, watching, supporting, protecting and loving her and that’s all that mattered.
Celestine smiled back at her mother and took a deep breath while the piano started playing to begin her song.
The audience fell silent as the little girl’s beautiful voice filled the room with the words of the song.
Somewhere out there
Beneath the pale moonlight
Someone’s thinking of me
And loving me tonight
“What a beautiful little girl.” A woman whispered behind Mira.
“Yes, with the voice of an angel.” Another answered in an undertone.
Somewhere out there
Someone’s saying a prayer
That we’ll find one another
In that big somewhere out there
“She does look and sing like an angel but I heard her mother is far from...” The first woman said.
“Ssshhh…” The second one reprimanded. Be quiet. She’s sitting right in front of us.”
And when the night wind starts to sing
A lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping
Underneath the same big sky
Mira sighed and ignored the gossiping women. She did not need to hear what else they meant to say. She has been hearing it for seven years ever since Celestine was born.
“She’s such a beautiful baby. But she doesn’t look like any of her parents.”
“Who do you think the father is?”
“Have you heard? Rumor has it that the mom was wild and wanton when she was younger and doesn’t even know who the father is.”
“Really?! What a shame. You know my son had a crush on her in high school. I mean what guy wouldn’t. She’s the prettiest girl in town from one of the richest families here. I knew then something must be wrong with her and I was right because she’s a slut.”
That was the story. Mira couldn’t blame them.
She just showed up one day on her parent’s doorstep, finally home after two years of living on her own in the big city, pregnant and not knowing who the father was. She wasn’t the same person they knew and she didn’t remember much of the past couple of years.
Everyone, including herself, just dismissed it as a drunken one-night stand gone wrong. They even suspected substance abuse as the cause of her confused memories and migraines. She went to therapy for it and has been living an otherwise happy life since.
Somewhere out there
If love can see us through
Then we’ll be together
Somewhere out there
Out where dreams
Ted and Mary, her parents, were completely disappointed and didn’t speak to her for months but they can only be angry for so long.
Mira was too depressed that she even thought of getting rid of the baby but her conscience and her heart just couldn’t bear doing that to an innocent child. It was her mistake and only she needed to suffer from it.
She tried searching for the father but how can she search for someone if she can’t even remember his name or his face?
One day on her third trimester, her mom knocked on her door and placed a couple of shopping bags on her bed.
“What are those, Ma?”
“I bought things for the baby. You’re due to give birth in a few weeks but all you have are a few pieces of clothes and a pack of diapers. You won’t have time to shop when the baby arrives, you know. I got you everything the baby will need for the next three months. The crib, stroller, changing table, and rocker will be delivered later. I’m having the room next door cleared out for the nursery. I had a car seat installed in the van too.” Her mom quietly said before turning to leave the room.
“Ma...” Mira hesitantly called as tears flowed down her face and sobs broke out of her throat.
Mary turned around and ran to her daughter, quickly enveloping her Mira in a warm embrace. She knew how difficult it must have been for their only child to bear her baby while everyone looked at her with prejudice, including her parents. Mary held her close and cried, regretting all those times she wasted on anger.
“It will be okay, sweetheart. Your Papa and I are here for you. I’m so sorry if we made you feel otherwise,” Mary whispered.
And from that day on, Mira did not bother about looking for her child’s father. She had her parents and they were all she needed. Between the three of them, Celestine grew up surrounded by all the love and support any girl could wish for.
Mira and the entire audience sprung to their feet and thunderous applause filled the school auditorium. Celestine gave a shy smile and bowed before running backstage as the set changed for the next scene.
The show went on and everyone was impressed with the kids’ performances.
“Where’s Dad?” Celestine asked after the curtain call as Mira met her at the side stairs.
A simple question that always triggered memories for Mira from when her daughter was four and came home from playschool crying because the kids teased her for not having a father.
“Where’s my Daddy?” Celestine sobbed and Mira didn’t know how else to answer her daughter except to give her a little glimmer of hope.
“Soon, my love. You’ll meet him soon.” She would say.
Two months after, Mira would meet a kind and handsome man named Andrew. He may not be her biological father but he was more than happy to step into the role of Celestine’s Dad.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. Your dad wanted to be here but there was an emergency at work and he needed to be there,” Mira explained. She didn’t have to say much because her daughter understood the nature of Andrew’s job as a paramedic.
“It’s okay. Someone needs a superhero and Daddy is there to save them.” The little girl smiled.
Mira met Andrew in a restaurant. It wasn’t your typical boy meets girl and they fell in love kind of setup. She was having lunch with a client when all of a sudden the older woman started breathing heavily and clutched her chest. She was having a heart attack. Mira quickly called the emergency number and an ambulance arrived a few minutes later.
Since no one else was there for her client, Mira rode in the ambulance with her and accompanied her to the hospital until her children came almost an hour later.
Thank you’s and grateful hugs were exchanged then Mira left. At the entrance of the hospital, as she waited for a cab, a man approached her.
He was kind and respectful as he introduced himself as the paramedic who responded to her call and gave her his number.
She smiled and got in the cab that parked in front of them. She left and held on to his number, never really intending to call him until the next incident when her daughter came home crying from school looking for her Daddy.
It was then that Mira decided that it might be time to open herself to a relationship and dialed Andrew’s number.
She never intended to shut out other guys but something always pulled her back and somehow held her to the memories of a man. A man she could not even remember. The man who fathered Celestine.
It puzzled her and she still couldn’t figure out why. It was supposed to be just a drunken one-night stand but to Mira, it felt like it was far more than that. It felt like that man was a significant part of the two years she spent away from home but couldn’t remember, like he was supposed to be there but was somehow ripped away from her life and now there was a void in her heart that was impossible to fill not even with all the love and kindness Andrew has given.
Then she knew that no matter what she does, by some strange reason, only that forgotten man owned that spot forever.
Mira wondered as she drove home with Celestine humming the song she sang in the school play if she will ever find that man who owned that space in her heart.