You Under the Moonlight

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Could you believe it? Because I couldn’t! I definitely don’t! Anong kahibangan iyon? As I remember, we dislike each other. And I made it so clear to him! So, why asked for my mobile number?! Ang dami niya yatang oras para mang-asar!

‘At naaasar ako! Oh God, help!’

Our trip way back home was massively silent. Or I couldn’t just hear anything. My mind was elsewhere so was my ears. That utter is totally winning this game. I can’t wait to play mine.

‘You wait, bastard!’

God forbid that we should ever meet again! Makakapatay ako!

“It’s your favorite song.” Chris ended the silence. My eyes blinked with feigned innocence. It was like his voice that bring me back to reality. The honking cars, the radio, and his livid suspicious eyes.

And I’d give up forever to touch you
’Cause I know that you feel me somehow

“Uhm, yeah.” it’s almost like a question.

You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be
And I don’t want to go home right now

“Yeah.” saad niya sa mababang tono.

He stepped on the gas immediately the traffic light turned green. I shifted my seat akwardly. Shortly after, we found ourselves outside my house. I wanted to invite him inside and join us for dinner, but I am afraid that he would ask about what just happened. What in earth would I tell him?

Confrontation has been a very hard thing for me. I am no good at arguements and such. So if I could avoid it, better. But these things are inevitable.

“Dinner?” I asked as he turned off the engine.

Luckily, destiny sided me most of the time. At isa ito sa mga iyon.

The clear night sky was full of dancing stars. Huminga ako ng malalim. Hindi pa ina-unlock ang pintuan kaya naman ay hinintay kong gawin niya iyon. Chris helped me with the seatbelt instead. Wala parin siyang sagot sa anyaya ko.

Walang imik siyang bumaba para pagbuksan ako ng pintuan. His serious face wasn’t hard to notice. Kinakabahan ako, he never treated me like this before. I whispered my thanks when I got out his car.

“Tara sa loob?” I invited him again. His thick brows furrowed.

“Pumasok ka na, Leanne.” he commanded. Tumango ako ng wala sa sarili. I was torn of wanting more time to be with him and fearing to answer his possible questions.

“Aalis ako pag alam kong safe ka na.” I hinted something but I ignored it. Napa-paranoid na ako! Dahan-dahan akong naglakad papasok ng gate. I watched him go until the distance obscured.

Walang oras na hindi ako napabalikwas sa bawat tunog ng cellphone ko. I literally waited for his call.... or text. Ilang araw na simula ng sabihin ni Paulo sa akin na ibinigay niya sa lalake ang numero ko. Para akong tanga sa kakahintay. I was mad. Kukunin-kunin niya tapos ano? Huh!

‘Adik ba siya?!’

“Wag na wag kang tatabi sa akin Amerikanong hilaw ka!” Sigaw ko sa paparating na si Paulo. Mabilis na lumiko ang lalake sa kabilang aisle ng classroom. Bahala siya sa buhay niya! Mabulok siya sa likod! Kaasar!

“Hoy!” Si Xy.

“Oh?!” Naiiritang tanong ko.

“Aba! Kadamay pati sibilyan, ganon?” pamimilosopo pa niya. Umiling ito saka binalik ang mga mata sa whiteboard.

Hindi talaga ako natutuwa. Everyone was infuriating! Kahit na ang madaldal na guro sa unahan. Urgh!

“Bakit nga?” Napalakas ang boses ko. Miss Fidel turned her gaze towards us. Naningkit ang mga mata niya.

“Lopez.”

“Yes, Miss.” I stand for courtesy.

“Do you know what is this? You should, right? Because you would have listen to me if you don’t.” turo niya sa isa sa nakaguhit na structural formula ng mga molecular compounds. The letter ‘C’ have straight little line on its left, right, up and down. Each line have letter ‘H’ on it.

“It’s methane, Miss. Kind of covalent compound.”

“Formula?”

Oh God! Bumungisngis ang katabi ko. Mamaya ka sakin!

“CH4, po.”

“Thank you. And stop murmuring.”

Mabuti na lang at iyong madali ang itinuro niya! Tahimik kami ni Kate hanggang matapos ang subject.

“Mi amigo, maarte ka na.” She joked after I told her about Paulo’s filthy cousin.

“Stop it, Xy.”

“Because you are over-reacting. Wala pang ginagawa ah. Nag-text na ba? Tumawag? Inasar ka? Hindi naman. Arte lang?” Talak niya sa akin. Nakaupo kami sa bench. Sa ilalim ito nang puno ng akasya at tabi ng pathway papuntang library. I saw some students near us. Konti ang tao sa parteng ito ng paaralan pag tanghali. But I like it here. Tahimik.

The wind blew my hair harshly. Pumikit ako ng may pumasok na alikabok sa mga mata ko. Kinusot-kusot ko ito.

“Eh bat niya pa hiningi kung--?!” I stopped right there. Natawa naman ang kaibigan ko.

“Crush mo nga. But there’s DeSilva.” Makahulugang saad niya.

My jaw dropped, for real. Ano bang sinasabi niya? Ako? Crush? Who? Ew!

“Friends ba kami? And I don’t care kung magtext pa siya.” I just added.

Kinuha ko ang aklat sa bag at tahimik na nagbasa. Xy understood what I want so she stopped pestering me.

My mind was wondering everywhere.

Chris was definitely quiet for three days. He never asked me anything but his silent treatment was absulutely conveying suspicious thoughts. Kaya naman....

“May kasalanan ka pa sa akin.” he teased.

Sa takot ko na baka umabot pa ng linggo ang tampuhan namin ay nag-effort akong manood ng basketball practice. Hindi ako mahilig sa sport niya kaya bihira lang din ako manood.

But I should be there everytime they play when there’s school tournament. I like being his lucky charm. I like it when he’s looking at me before shooting the ball and score. I like his childish smiles when he’s playing. It lighten my day.

Life was unfair to him. He’d hit the bottom. After all he have been through, nakakatuwa na lumaki siyang mabait at masayahin. Since his mother died, basketball was his way to cope up. If he’s sad, he’ll just play. If he misses Tita, he’ll play. Kahit na ayaw ko sa laro ay natutunan ko na rin ito. Sometimes I played with him. Most days, I just watched him. But I was there, when everyone wasn’t.

“So, silent mode is done, huh?” I smiled sheepishly.

Dahan-dahan siyang tumango at mahinang tinapon sa mukha ko ang basang face towel na pinang punas niya sa pawis. Humalakhak pa bago lumayo sa akin.

“Dyan ka lang, Lopez. Idi-date mo pa ako.” Sigaw niya habang tumatakbo papunta sa locker.

“But its Thursday!” Pahabol na sigaw ko.

“Thursday is the new Friday, Love.” He winked.

I bit my lower lip to hide my treacherous smile. How could my heart beats so fast just after that wink?! Ingrata ka, Leanne! Ngayon ay kikiligin ka? Estupida! Natatawa akong umiling habang inaayos ang gym bag ni Chris. Tinupi ko din ang face towel na nasa labas pa. Nagsusuklay ako ng makita kong tapos na ang ibang team mates niya.

“Una na kami, Leanne.”

“Ingat kayo!”

I just waved at them. Ilang sandali pa ay tapos na din si Chris. Mabilis akong tumayo ng malapit na ito.

“Shall we?” si Chris

Nagkwentuhan kami habang nasa byahe. Pumunta kami sa mall para manuod ng sine at kumain. It was a whirl wind. Or things just meant to happen fast when we are happy?

Kakalabas palang namin sa sinehan at naisip namin na kumain sa isang fast food restaurant. Sa labas ay madilim na ang langit. Few of the night stars where also visible. The street lights and the passing cars were making the avenue alive and illuminating.

“Papa said you should pay him a visit.” Si Chris.

Tito Ron and I are close. He is like my second father. He’s not the typical tough father, though. Tito Ron is so kind and soft. I never heard him yell. He always tell joke. He loves to sing. He always go to church and he loves his son so much. Pero kung may nagkakasundo man pikonin si Chris ay kami iyon.

“Yes but I don’t know when. This coming weekend was scheduled for Kate, remember? Hay nako.” Malungkot kong kwento.

“Hush now. You’ll be alright. Ganyan na si Kate, noon pa. Hindi ka pa ba sanay?” He looked at me with concern but he smiled after while.

“But kiss Tito for me, please.” I smiled sweetly. Inalis niya ang pagkaka-akbay sa akin at mahina akong binatukan.

“Are you trying to be funny?” Natatawa pa niyang saad. “Because it never suits you. Ang tanda ko na para dyan. Kadiri yun, Leanne.” Halakhak niya. I pouted and make a sad face jokingly.

“Segi na, please. Ngayon lang eh. Tsaka sa cheeks lang naman.”

“Oh, shut up.” He ruffled his curly hair with a straight face! Jesus, he looks like Cupid! Why does he have to do that?

‘Stop beating so fast, heart!’

“Dali na kasi.” Pangkukulit ko pa. People are watching us with curious eyes. Some girls are actually pointing Chris and giggling after. Boys were lurking at me too. Oh God! What’s with them? I mentally rolled my eyes.

“Segi.” he suddenly said. His eyes were gleaming as he smiled playfully. “but you have to kiss me first.”

Humagalpak si Chris. This man really know how to stop me. Oh boy, I guarantee you my face is blushing so hard!

“S-shut up, DeSilva!” I stuttered. Lakad-takbo ang ginawa ko para maunahan siya. Kainis, pabigla-bigla naman to.

“Hey! Leanne.” Sunod niya sa akin habang hawak ang tiyan kakatawa. Sumimangot ako sa kanya. Inabot niya ang kamay ko at saka mahinang pinisil iyon.

“Joke lang, okay. Come here.” Niyakap niya ako sa baywang habang magkahawak ang mga kamay namin. He doesn’t care about those malicious eyes feasting on us.

“But eventually, Leanne. Not here. Not with everyone.” he whispered huskily on my ear. My heart thumped out of my rib cage. Like it was going to burst and break off my chest. And I’m so relieved that he can’t see my face right now.

“U-uhm. C-Chris?” Bumitaw ito sa pagkakayakap. Yumuko naman ako at naunang naglakad sa kanya.

Oh God. I need cold water.

Nasa kilalang fast food restaurant na kami. The queue was massive so Chris told me to look for a vacant table and just wait for him. I did what I told. There’s a vacant two-seater table on the right side beside the glass wall. I seated there and waited for him. Naglalakbay ang isip ko sa nangyari kani-kanina lang! Uminit ang pisngi ko dahil sa naalala. Umiling ako. Ano bang nakain niyan?

“You okay?” Chris asked while putting the food on our table. He ordered the usual fries, burgers, nuggets, and diet coke . And his favorite chocolate sundae..

“Oh god! I missed this.. but I thought it was my treat?”

“Just save it. I might wish bigger.” sabi niya habang tinataas baba ang dalawang kilay. Oh he’s so cute. Kumuha naman siya ng fries at sinawsaw ito sa ice cream. It’s his favorite. It tastes weird, but it wasn’t bad either.

“Para kang bata. Ewan.” I smiled. I dipped my fries on his ice cream just like what he did. Inagaw niya naman ito sa akin.

“Diba ayaw mong sinasawsaw tong fries sa ice cream?”

“Grabe sa ayaw? Ang sabi ko lang ang weird ng lasa ah?” Natatawa kong hinablot yung ice cream sa kanya. I could literally throw up because of his face! He looked so offended. Namumula na din ang mukha niya. Oh God!

“Blimey! Chris your face looks like cherry!” I laughed.

“Weird, huh?” he smirked and raised his eyes.

‘Damn it, not good!’

He dipped his index finger to his ice cream and wiped it in my face!

“Oh fuck Satan!” God, this man doesn’t really run out of energy, does he?

“I never like that expression of yours.” saad niya habang parang bata na dinidilaan ang daliri niyang may sorbetes. Jusko, paano po ba mabuhay ng payapa?

“Kainis ka. And stop doing that!” Ngumuso ako. Tumatawa pa nang pinaypay ni Chris ang babaeng crew malapit sa amin.

“Doing what? --Miss, pahingi kami ng extra tissue, please.” he requested. Namumulang tumango ang crew. Matatamaan pa nito ang bata sa gilid dahil sa pagmamadali. Iba din talaga tong kasama ko eh.

“Licking your finger! Just stop it. And you’re wasting food.” I countered. I wiped away the ice cream on my face using my wet wipes. Most of the teen girls were watching him with gusto.

“Alright, Leanne.” He said playfully. “Eat. Uwi na tayo after this.” He added.

Tumango ako at sinubo agad ang burger. He chuckled a bit.

We strolled around the mall with silly smiles on our face before going home. The cold wind whispered as we reached the car park. I opened and closed his car’s door. He did the same and started the cars engine.

“I had fun.” sabi ko ng huminto ang sasakyan sa tapat ng bahay namin. “Can we do it often?” I pivoted towards him after I unlocked the seatbelt.

“Three days was hell, Leanne.” he said acidly. His eyes were fixed on the steering wheel but I could feel his sadness and rage.

The empty ally wasn’t helping either. It looked like a scene in the horror movie. It’s queer and hateful, wasn’t it? I moved a bit.

“And I, too, Chris.” He looked at me frustratedly. Nangangapa ako sa salita. I wasn’t ready for this. Hindi ko din alam kung paano sasabihin. It’s just wrong.

‘Bobo ka kase, Leanne!’

Ano ba ang ginawa ko sa tatlong araw? Nastress kakahintay ng tawag ng lalakeng iyon!

Lumapit ito sa akin at mahinang hinalikan ang noo ko. Naiiyak ako. Paano ko nagawang balewalain ang lalakeng to?

Does he even deserves me? He’s just for keeps.

“You can tell me anything. I’m all ears.” Malumanay na sambit niya habang hinahaplos ang buhok ko. I feel so bad.

“It’s nothing, really.”

“Don’t you ever do that again, hmm? I’m completely gone crazy! I understand the US trip but this? You kinda shut me off, Eanne.”

“I’m sorry.” I genuinely said. I took his hand and hold it. “Forgive me, it won’t happen again.” Nanlulumo ako. How can my heart break and rejoice at the same time?

“I know.” Ngumiti ito at saka bumaba ng kotse. “Halika na. Hatid na kita sa loob.” I nodded and smiled at him.

Natagalan pa umuwi si Chris. Daddy invited him for small talk. Business and sports, I guess.

“Where’s Chris, Dad?” I asked cheerfully. Kakatapos ko lang maligo.

“Gone home, Hija. Hindi ka na hinintay dahil tumawag si Ronaldo.”

“Hmm. Okay po.”

“Leanne.”

Naglakad si Daddy papunta sa couch. Tinapik niya naman ang space sa tabi niya. Lumapit ako at naupo.

“May problema po ba?” Huminga si Daddy ng malalim. He looked at me. Hindi ko maiwasang kabahan. Our spacious living room seems shrinking fast.

“I’ve been thinking of buying the major stock of DeSilva Advertising.”

“Oh my God, Daddy! What?!” Na aalarma kong sigaw. Hindi na niya kailangan sabihin sa akin kung bakit niya gustong mangyari iyon. It’s obvious!

What the hell?! Is he even thinking? Ano nalang ang iisipin nila Tito? Daddy can win the majority of the board of directors, for sure. Tito Ron as CEO have brought issues to the other stockholders since Tita Celestine died. They are talking about Tito Ron’s kindness. He’s approving risky projects out of pity. He’s helping those dying companies. Mabait si Tito at hindi daw iyon maganda sa lumalagong kompanya.

And I won’t understand that! Paano naging masama sa negosyo ang pagiging mabait at may konsiderasyon sa iba?!

“And don’t tell me you just told Chris that... that selfish plan of yours?!”

Tumango si Daddy. Halos madurog ang puso ko sa pagkalakas lakas ng bagsak nito. Why is it always like this?

Can’t life just be consistent? Why can’t it just go straight?

“Oh my God, Daddy! You are completely insensitive jerk!” Umiiyak na sigaw ko. Tumayo ako. I just want to leave him and end this conversation.

This is why I always hate heated moments.. I didn’t think. I just keep talking.. my words are hurtful..

I saw Mommy running down our grand staircase. Hawakhawak niya ang mahabang laylayan ng night gown. Her specs was on. Siguro ay nagbabasa pa sa kwarto at narinig kami.

“Leanne George! Manners!” Si Mommy. Nasa baba na siya at halos mag-init ako dahil sa nagbabagang tingin niya.

“Baby, listen.” Malumanay na sabi ni Daddy. Naka upo parin ito. Hinihilot ang sintido at marahang humilig sa upuan.

‘Oh you should be feeling this.’

“Some of the directors might have the same agenda. At least, it was us who bought it, incase. Once I am the CEO of the company, Ronaldo will be at ease. This is help. Okay?”

“Then help" I said it nastily. “Tita Ron win it, not the other way around.”

Mom sitted next to Daddy. Ako naman ay nakatayo sa harap nilang dalawa. Mommy held my hand. Dad just sighed.

“But this is still business, Mija.” Si Mommy.

Oh fuck business! Fuck money! People could have been hurt! And they are not just people, are they? It’s the DeSilva. It’s Tito Ron and Chris. Ano pa ba ang hindi nila maintindihan?

“Mom, d’you hear yourself?! It’s the DeSilva we are talking. Our family friend!” My Chris...

“Just please, make Daddy understand that. Would you?” Pagtatapos ko sa usapan. I walked out with a heavy heart.

“It was me suggested that.” Mommy said meekly.

I stopped but I didn’t dare to look at them. I sighed my disappointment.

Kate...
11:34 PM

...?
11:34 PM

lmao. why?
11:35 PM

MY PARENTS ARE GOING TO BUY CHRIS DAD’S MAJOR STOCK!!!!
11:35 PM

SHIT?
11:35 PM

OMFG!!!
11:35 PM
Seen

My phone rang. It was Kate video calling. I swiped the answer button to connect the call.

“Hey.” Si Kate. The background light was dim. She was wearing her usual pjs. Her hair was bun.

“You okay?” She asked.

“How? Oh God. Kate, Daddy told Chris.” I said hysterically. I shifted sideway and adjusted the camera. Nakahiga na ako kaya mukha ko lang ang nakikita sa screen.

“Ano? Paano? Tito called him? Did they met? What?” Sunod-sunod na tanong niya.

Then I told her our date and Chris bringing me home.

“And he just left. Hindi ko matawagan cause I’m freaking ashamed of Daddy’s doing!”

“Teka, Tito can’t just buy Tito Ron’s share. He’s the owner.”

“Yes, but I think Mom and Dad have been buying some shares to the investors. Malaki na ang share nila sa kompanya ni Tito. They just need votes.. and Tito Ron’s way of running the company is really at stake. Kayang-kaya nilang makuha ang kalahati at bumuto sa kanila.” I sighed.

“But.. Leanne, have you ask why Tita and Tito doing this? Baka may valid reason.. Wag muna tayong....” naguguluhang sambit niya.

“What? No, Kate. Walang magandang rason. It’s pure business, isn’t it? They don’t care about Tito and Chris. They’ve gone bad, really. Like it was final. There will be no change of hearts.” Kahit ako ay nawawala na ng pag-asa.

Kate moved. Umalis ito sa camera. I heard her footstep marching away and the door creaking. Ilang sandali pa ay hawak na niya ang phone. Humiga si Kate at huminga ng malakas.

“Sorry, I closed the door. Baka marinig nila Mommy. So, paano na yan?”

“I really don’t know. I’m worried to Chris. And to Tito, of course.”

They are family to me. And my parents could ruin them.

“I’ll asked Mom and Dad too. Let’s just wait, a’right?”

“Yeah. Thanks.” Pumikit ako bago ngumiti ng malungkot.

Tumango si Kate. I smiled again before ending the call.

Things went not exactly it suppose to be. I barely imagine that it turned out unexpectable. Three months have had passed. I always think that life is a overflowing blessing and happiness. Unfortunately I failed to see them now, I was distracted by circling thoughts and preoccupied of my parents doing.

I tried to make things smooth for us. Kinabukasan ay hinintay ko si Chris. He was okay. Or I just want him to. He’s smiling. Or I wasn’t really looking. He acted like his usual self. Or that’s what I told myself. So I decided not to ruin things. Or I actually ruined it.

I didn’t talked to him about what my father told him. I was afraid. I was ashamed of it. Two weeks later, when I thought I made the right choice. Or when I thought I did what I have to.

“Chris, tara na.” I grabbed his hands. Kagaya ng mga naunang araw ay hinintay ko ulit siyang matapos sa practice nila.

‘Ano kaya ang magandang gawin?’

“Leanne, I’m tired.” Busangot ang mukha niya. I tried to help him with his things but he moved it away from me.

“I know. I’ll help, okay.”

“Ako na.” He plainly said. Kunot ang noo niyang nilagay sa gym bag ang mga spare clothes at towels.

“But I can do that. Just let me help, hmm.” I smiled cutely. Tumabi ako sa kanya at kinuha ang tumbler.

Chris throw the towel on the floor. His eyes were red, cold and rigid. I knew from that very moment he was farther from mad. My smile faded off.

“Leanne! What are we even doing here, really?” His lethal stare felt painful and piercing, as if his glare was tearing my heart apart. “I didn’t ask you to wait for me everyday. Why do I always have to drive you home? I didn’t even want that! You have your driver, naghihirap ka na ba?” He scoffed. “Fuck, how could I forget?! Your father is planning to overthrow mine on his own company? Huh!”

I backed away. I drew a deep breath. A single tear silently rolled down my cheek. Mabilis kong pinahid iyon.

“Are you mad at me bacause of that? Chris, it wasn’t my fault.” I sobbed. All I am was numbness, every emotion was gone away from my being.

“You know what? Forget it. Like you always did.” I met his burning stare. “Just don’t come and see me, Leanne.”

The gloom of the sunny afternoon crept into me like a wildfire.

“We can’t just stop this! Paano tayo, Chris? Wala tayong kasalanan. I talked to them and I am still.. I just need time. Please, not this.”

“But we just can’t, Leanne. I can’t act like everything is okay because it completely isn’t! It’s my father and mother’s company! And your parents are brewing some scheme on the daylight, obviously to steal it! Can’t you see? It’s mess up.. I can’t pretend that I’m not affected because I am. Leanne, hindi ko kaya ang ginagawa mo!”

My eyes strung as my body trembled. Kinuha ni Chris ang gym bag. I was rooted there, numb and cold. Lumapit ito sa akin at hinalikan ako sa noo. Have you ever felt something so euphoric and heart crushing at the same time? His soft lips touched my skin for the last time.

“So, that’s it? We are just d-done?” I hold my breath, afraid that if I move a muscle I’d breakdown. Chris clenched his fist and turned his back..

“I’m more afraid of losing Papa than you, Leanne. I tried but I’m sorry.”

I saw him kicked a plastic bottle before his frame got blurred while my heart broke into tiny little pieces.

~

“Leanne.”

“Hey, Leanne.”

Damn! Was it Chris who just called me?

Luminga-linga ako sa paligid. Pero walang Chris. Maingay ang mga kaklase ko dahil wala pang guro. Xy and Pau was uneasy of something.

“Kanina pa kita tinatawag.” Si Xy.

But that call wasn’t her voice, was it?

“It’s Pau, Eanne.” Xy answered my unspoken question.

I nodded half-heartedly. Tahimik na nagmasid sa akin ang dalawa.

Tatlong buwan. But it felt like hundred years since the last time I genuinely smile. Chris have been acting I didn’t exists. He ignored my presence. Kahit na tingnan ako ay hindi. But my faith is bigger than anything. So, I’m waiting and hoping that this will just end.

I barely talked to Mom and Dad. Things at home have gone indefferent. Who else to be blame? It was them, wasn’t it? It is just cause’ they’re selfish. I asked them to stop it but they said nothing. Our own company is arising. Why can’t they just focus to it? Bakit kailangan na may bumagsak?

“May emergency daw si Miss. Hindi daw papasok.” si Ally.

The room went wild after that. Madaling naglabasan ang mga kaklase namin. Last subject sana but fortunately wala nga daw si Miss. Nagbubulungan naman ang dalawa kong kaibigan. I don’t mind them. Akala yata nila ay hindi ko minamasdan ang mga kilos nila.

“What is it?” hindi na ako nakapag-pigil.

Nagtinginan ang dalawa. Pau cleared his throat. Tumingin ito sa akin at ngumiti ng pagkatamis-tamis.

‘Don’t tell me may kalukuhan nanaman itong ginawa?’

“It’s nothing, Eanne.” Xy covered up. Pinagsingkitan ito ng mata ni Paulo.

“Seriously, ano nga?” Walang gawang tanong ko.

“We are thinking... what if we spend time together on weekend? At my house or Xy’s? Sleepover, you know.” Nahihiyang saad ni Paulo. Xy’s was hopeful so was Pau.

My heart warmed. I just appreciate their efforts.

“Oh, I would love to.” This is my first time smiling at them since time forgotten so I did it with all the effort and love.

“But we have to resched it. Welcome party ni Kuya Jet this Saturday e.” I added.

“Oh, plano pa naman ni Pau na i-invite si Kate.” Humagalpak sa tuwa si Xy. Ngumiti rin ako sa pang-aasar niya.

“Then Kate is coming!” I happily preassumed.

Masayang tumango ang dalawa. They hugged me so I hugged them back. Natatawa ako habang umiiyak.

At dark times it is our love ones who help us move back on track. Hindi man sila Mommy at Daddy iyon sa ngayon, at least I have them.

“Nasa kwarto mo na iyong mga susuotin mo mamaya, Eanne. Pinapasabi ni Louren at Nicholas na susunduin ka ng alas sinco.” Si Manang. Nilatag niya ang dalang pagkain sa harapan ko. Naka taas ang dalawa kong paa sa upuan. I sipped on my coffee.

“Yes po.”

I put a pancake on my plate and poured maple syrup on it.

“Paa, Leanne. Igalang mo ang pagkain. Ikaw na bata ka.” Binaba ko naman iyon at saka sumubo ng pancake. Manang sat next to me. Nahiya ako ng magsign of the cross si Manang. Tahimik ako na nakinig sa dasal niya.

“Ganito ka nalang, Leanne George? Sana ay maintindihan mo sina Nicholas. Kinabukasan mo ang tinataguyod nila.”

Her sad way worn eyes looked at me.

“Manang, they are being avaricious and deceitful. It is bad. I never asked for more. I don’t care about their wealth and power. I can build my own name. I just want them to realize their mistakes.”

Manang gave me a weak smile. Binaba nito ang kubyertos at sumipsip sa kape niya.

“Anak ka pa rin nila at kailangan na nirerespeto mo pa rin ang Mommy at Daddy mo. Hindi ko gusto ang pakikitungo mo sa kanila ng mga nakaraang buwan.”

And that hit me hardcore. Am I being so disrespectful?

Tinapos ko agad ang pagkain. Manang changed the subject immedietly she realized I wasn’t comfortable. I leave the dishes on the table. Pumanhik ako sa taas at doon nagpalipas ng oras.

My phone rang. Pikit ang mga mata ng kinuha ko ito sa side table. I opened my left eye to see who’s calling. I quickly slide the answer button. It was Mommy!

“Mom!” I greeted.

“Where are you, Hija? Kanina pa naghihintay ang driver!” halos inip na sabi niya sa kabilang linya. I almost forgot what she’s asking for! Mabuti at naligo na ako bago umiglip.

“Ready? Wha-! Oh my God!” Kaagad kong binaba ang tawag. The clock was running quarter to five. I wore my bathrobe immedietly. I bun my hair and sat infront my vanity. The party is only for the family and closer friends. Maganda parin kung maayos ang pagkaka make up ko. It took me almost one hour to finished my hair and make up.

Wearing the sweet pink bustier dress and lexi stilletos that Mommy had bought me, I walked on the huge party hall gracefully. The theme was kinda gatsby. The gold and black curtains and silver ribbons on the walls and pillars were glittering on everyone’ eyes. People weren’t on their designated sits. A 70′s pop and rnb song was playing on the background. Well, Kate had done well organizing this party. And I absolutely missed the first part of it.

“Oh you ungrateful brat!” Kate was wearing a shimmering off-the-shoulder white dress with a Jimmy Choos silvery pumps. She gave me kiss and a glass of champagne she was holding. “Daddy just ended his thank you speech.” She informed me. “Bakit late ka?”

“I took a nap. Napahaba nga lang.” I chuckled.

“So, ano? Dyan ka nalang? Everybody’s looking for you, Princess.”

“Wag ngayon, Kate. Tatlong buwan akong wala sa katinuan. Please.” Sinuyod namin ang daan papunta sa unahang parte ng bulwagan.

“Hay nako, Leanne. Speaking of.” She cut herself. I waited for her to continue. I’m wishing that she would tell me about Chris but I’m just so tired of hoping. “the DeSilva..” she whispered.

My heart started pounding so loudly that it had gone to cresendo.

“W-what?” I nervously asked. I was hopeful for something good.

“Dad having a conversation on phone with Tito Ron the other day. Dad isn’t very supportive to Tito Nicholas, you know. And I think, I heard that Chris is going abroad to study business.”

So, okay. I can handle this. Chris told me that he might try Oxford or Cambridge and I think he’s decided. I understand that.

“Okay.”

“You knew?” her eyes got bigger.

“We talked about it long time ago.”

Our conversation got interrupted when Kuya Chesti greeted us.

“Hey, beautiful.” His straight long hair was shining and so was his smile.

“Naks. Pogi.” Si Kate.

“Hey there.” I greeted back. “So, how’s married life, Kuya?” I embraced him tightly. Nakakamiss ang kulitan naman nito e.

“Nagsisisi na ako.” Humalakhak pa. Aba. “No. Seriously, it’s fulfilling. Lalo na ngayon.” He winked at us. Halos mapatalon ako sa naisip.

“Dahil?” “Bakit?” kami ni Kate.

“We’re pregnant.” He whispered cheerfully. Napakurap-kurap ako. Kuya Chesti put his finger on his mouth. Tumango naman kami.

“Oh God. Ate Tara’s... wow.”

“Yie. Congrats!”

Pagkatapos naming mag-usap, umalis na si Kuya Chesti. I saw Kuya Jet blocking his way to Ate Tara’s table. I waved at Kuya Jet, he grinned playfully. Naglakad kami ni Kate papunta sa lamesa nina Mommy. Some near relatives greeted me on the way.

“Mom. Dad.” I smiled. “Nakatulog ako.” Kumunot ang noo ni Mommy but Daddy stop her. Humalik naman si Daddy sa pisngi ko.

Iginiya ako si Daddy papalapit sa grupo nila. Matalim ang titig ni Mommy sa akin. I know she’s probably thinking that I would humiliate them. Jusko, kung kaya ko lang talaga.

“Ang laki na nitong anak mo, Nicholas.” said one of my Dad’s associate.

“Amos.” Daddy’s rhythmic laugh erupted. “Dalaga na. She’s amazing. I couldn’t ask for more.” Mommy smiled unsuccessfully. Halos hindi maguhit ang mukha niya. I sipped on my glass. I couldn’t suppress my emotions. But I am sure, I was happy for what my father said.

“Ganoon talaga, pag anak na ay gagawin ang lahat.” an old woman squeked.

“Of course.” may diin na pagsang-ayon ni Mommy.

Tahimik naman akong nakinig sa kanila. I introduced myself to every one of them, thought I barely remember all of their names.

“May boyfriend ka na ba, Leanne?” Natatawang tanong ng lalakeng pinaka bata sa kanila. I looked at Mom and Dad and to that early 30′s guy awkwardly.

“Nako, Hijo. She’s pretty, what do you expect?” Mayabang na sagot ni Daddy.

“No doubt, Tito.” The bachelor beamed at me kindly. I nodded at him and I smiled back.

“Chris DeSilva and Leanne are getting along for years now.” Si Mommy. Gulat kong binalingan si Mommy. Everyone was eager to listen that earlier. Their faces were screaming so many unsaid questions. I couldn’t believe it! Halos sumabog ako sa galit. Mommy couldn’t just stop it! Ano ba ang gusto niya palabasin?!

“Mom!” Saway ko. Mommy tried to compose herself and continue to tell them stories. But I completely lost it. All I could hear was Chris’ voice telling how mad my parents is. It felt like a sinister scene and I couldn’t watch it.

“This is interesting.”

“I always wonder why Ronaldo’s never said a word about your plan. Eto naman pala.”

“I foresee a conglomerate merging in coming years.”

“They make a good couple.”

Mommy and Dammy kept their silence. They never confirmed anything but they never deny it, either! People will fucking assume things! And breaking news? They are, now.

I rolled my eyes. “Excuse me.” I didn’t wait for their answer because firstly it wasn’t a damn question and secondly I am so mad that I could turn all the tables here, right now!

My fist was clenched as rage flowed through me like lava. I marched off to the porch. The chilling air brushed my soft skin. I sat on one of the windsor chairs lined horizontally.

Marahan akong humilig sa upuan. I’m trying to understand them, really. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. Everything. Ano pa ba? Kahit ako ay ginamit para makuha ang gusto nila! Seriously, this isn’t about Chris anymore. Kung ang iiwan nilang yaman ay bunga ng kasamaan, kailan man ay hindi ko matatanggap iyon! I don’t care if they will throw me out or whatever! I am their only child! Sana ay maisip nila na wala akong pakealam sa pera. I just want our family to be normal and happy.

Tumingala ako sa itim at malawak na kalawakan. Ang mga nagkikislapang bituin at ang bilog na buwan ay nagpawi ng kung ano sa akin. It was always like this. These shining celestial objects are my haven. It gives me peculiar feeling. Siguro ay alam ko na sa malayong lugar, sa labas ng daigdig, may mga bagay na nagbubunyi.. at ang mga ito iyon. Their glittering lights are my hope. And until their light never fades off, my hope, too, is on fire.

The vibration of my phone from my clutch ended my reverie. It was a text message from unregistered number. Tumuwid ako ng upo at binuksan iyon.

Did you know that there are more stars in space than there are grains of sand in the world?

It was just a brief moment to finished reading it. For whatever reason, my heart was beating like a wild animal trying to escape my chest. There is only one person I could think of doing this. And the only person who could probably attend Kuya Jet’s party. And the only person could see me here, now.

Halos magtaasan ang mga balahibo ko sa naisip.

“I haven’t saw you smiling but I think it suits you better.” his deep but soft voice crept in every corner of my skin. He stood three meters away from where I am. I never thought a silhouette of a man could be this attractive. He moved closer like a flowing outline of darkness but unbelievably ethereal!

“Ysmael.” I finally find my voice.

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