10 Years Ago
Thunder and lightning echoed all around them. Skies so heavy and dark, taunting and mocking. They were nervously aware it will rain cats and dogs tonight. A tropical typhoon had just hit the country.
A year had passed since they fled their hometown province. Bringing the three of them to her dead mother’s friend’s door. Still poor as a church mouse but one thing had changed -- they were safe.
From sexual assault --yes. However, from financial problems --no. Not yet.
Which brought Rie and Anna to their recent problem.
Her small and frail body was huddled under a huge bulk of worn and tattered blankets. Pained, wheezing breaths were coming out from her congested lungs and she was shivering from high fever, making them worry it was another bout of pneumonia.
Rie’s worried eyes found Anna’s.
Their eldest sister was frantically dressing in warmer clothes, eyes determined, face pinched.
“This is the last spoon, Anna,” Rie whispered.
Anna nodded and slipped her feet into her worn rubber shoes. “I have to go out. I’ll go to Mrs. Flick and borrow some money --I’ll go straight to the nearest pharmacy. Make sure to keep Mish’s fever down.”
Round eyed, Rie bobbed her head at Anna’s instructions. She took a deep breath. “Aunt Delia will be back soon with hot food. Locked the doors behind me and don’t let anyone else in.”
Her younger sister scurried after her and she heard the bolts click. Good.
It was her turn to shiver from the cold wind. Damn! She should be considering a third job soon. Maybe a servant or a waitress.
Taking a deep breath once more, swallowing her tears and her pride along with it. Chin firmed and shoulders straightened, she braved the stormy weather and blowing winds.
She had to be strong for her sisters.
She was all they had.
He looked so big and scary yet she doesn’t fear him. In her eyes, he looked more like a big cherub with his curly light yellow hair.
Grinning, she squealed and twirled around the room. Happy and carefree.
Mish was back. To her dream world.
“I haven’t dreamed of you in a while.” Joyfully scanning the museum-like room --all in black and silver marble-- with her light brown and green hazel eyes, her cupid bow like lips curve in a contented smile. Just like before a table was set in a corner laden with all types of food.
Mish returned her attention to the magnificent man sitting on the black velvet couch. His gaze sharp. His jaw clenched.
“You are sick again, my beloved.” Though his voice was dark and strict, she could feel his sadness and worry. For her.
“It’s nothing. I like being sick. It makes me dream of you.” She answered innocently. Before she could blink, she found her small body cradled in his big arms. She giggled. He was fast.
His answer to her enthusiasm was a pained grimace when his cold skin came in contact with hers. She knew she must be burning up with a high fever. And she realized she could barely breathe.
Out of nowhere, a wet cloth appeared in his hand. He bathed her forehead and brows gently while he chanted in a foreign tongue.
Lights of different colors rained upon them. Her feverish eyes widened in reverence. White, red, and facets of blue, mimicking the jewels in the evening sky.
Blinking, her hazel eyes connected to his crystal-like sky blue eyes. Mish watched him closely. Observing.
They’re glowing. She grinned once more, showing her crooked white teeth.
His lips quirked a bit and his sharp canines appeared. She was not afraid.
Knowing he will never hurt her.
He had taken care of her whenever she got sick these past few months.
“I’d rather you are okay, my beloved.” He muttered. “It would hurt me not to see you but...it pains me, even more, to see you thus.”
“What is your name? You still haven’t told me.” She snuggled in his warm embrace. Odd for her to feel this despite his cold skin. He sighed and hugged her tenderly. Like she was made of the finest porcelain.
“You may call me your beloved. When the time is right, I will come and find you.” Mish hummed. Shaking her head yes. At eight years old, she doesn’t know what he meant by his words. Maybe he wanted to be her prince?
“You mean like Prince Charming in Cinderella?” She loved watching Disney cartoons. With utmost trust in her hazel eyes, she waited for his answer.
He drew her back in his arms and pressed his lips to her temple to check her temperature. Satisfied. He chanted once more and her eyes felt droopy. Her fever was gone and she could breathe easier. Then she felt his whisper. “More like a king, my beloved. And you...you will be my queen. Someday soon, we will be together. And we will know the meaning of forever.”
She smiled, feeling much better, and burrowed deeper in his arms and fell asleep with him guarding her.
He was her beloved.
What does it mean?
Anna was soaked to the bones when she entered their small home.
Trembling, she called Rie and handed her the bottles of medicine, and ran to the bathroom to take a quick shower.
Warming her hands on a cup of hot tea her aunt offered, she joined her sisters in their small bedroom.
Halting, she was shocked to see Mish smiling and reclining on their cot and happily sipping her hot tea.
Sickly and undernourished, her youngest sister had always looked frail and smaller than her actual age.
“Mish, baby, how are you feeling?” Anna bent to touch Mish’s forehead, her neck, and her hands. She was cool to the touch. Though flushed, she could detect no fever.
“I’m ok, Anna.” Mish hummed. Smiling shyly at her. Anna frowned when her little sister coughed. Not convinced.
“Regardless, drink this.” Anna Marie helped her drink the cough syrup --she did without a fuss. Always a sweet little girl. “And try to go back to sleep.”
“Ok. I might dream of my prince again.” Mish whispered conspiratorially as if sharing a deep secret. Accept it’s no secret at all. She had been telling them of her dreams more often than not.
“Your Prince Charming?” Indulging her at the same time helping her settle back on her pillow and tucked her in.
Anna and Rie will be taking turns in checking up on her all night.
“He told me he is my king,” Mish mumbled and yawned. “I’ll be a queen.”
She said so matter of fact it made Anna smile genuinely for the first time since her baby sister got sick. Again.
When will this end?
“Of course, baby. Now, get some sleep. You can’t be a queen if you’re always sick.” She bussed her forehead then her sleepy eyes --Rie did the same, making Mish grin sleepily, asleep in no time.
“Let’s get something to eat, Rie. Aunt Delia is waiting.” Anna whispered.
“Are you sure?” Rie asked. Unsure. She returned her gaze to the bed --uncertain.
“Yes. Everything will be fine.” In her heart, Anna pleaded. Hoping she could make everything right for them.