Chapter 4: Envelope
I stared blankly at the white wall. The silence is deafening. I sat here, lifeless, while everyone is praying and hoping that my parents will get through this.
Even if it was unbearable to see, I looked back to see my parents. They’re both lying on different beds with different machines attached to them. I could feel they’re struggling. And it just pains me more to see them both there.
Sara’s not here. She couldn’t even move when Uncle William fetch us earlier so we can rush here. She’s too shocked to process everything right now.
How ironic, right? She a nursing student, but she can’t even do something right now.
Uncle Lucas is on his phone. He’s been receiving endless phone calls since he got here. They’re all asking about the accident and my parents’ status.
I bet those who called and will call do not really care about my parents. They’re just worried about the company being left alone because my family will consider this situation their top priority.
I really despise the business field.
Auntie Elaine held both of my shoulders. I looked at her as I try my best not to cry.
She’s trying her best, too, not to cry.
She caressed my shoulder up and down, and the warmth it gave me just made my tears fall.
“I heard you reached h-hundred thousand subscribers...”
I covered my eyes and started crying like a child.
I only nodded several times while shaking because I couldn’t even say a word.
Auntie Elaine hugged me from the side, and I cried even more. I didn’t know I had a lot of tears reserved in my body. I wish Mom and Dad would wake up soon.
She offered to buy some hot chocolate and coffee for everyone. She left me and promised to come back as soon as possible.
I calmed down a little bit. My eyes are tired from crying and are wandering when I realize I could not find Rueben anywhere.
Rueben, Aaron, and I were the only ones here. Uncle Lucas asked David a favor, so he left to run some errands. My sister and my cousins were all at home, waiting for us to deliver the result of the operation.
I stood up and roamed around outside the ICU, but when I still couldn’t find him, I decided to go farther to find him. I was scared to leave my spot, but I was more afraid to be alone near my parents, fighting for their lives. Uncle William and Uncle Lucas left, too, to see Auntie Irene. She’s a neurosurgeon here in the hospital. She will explain to us the result of the operation in a manner the whole family would understand.
After minutes of looking for my brother, I saw him outside the hospital, talking to someone. I saw them went somewhere unfrequented place, so I ran after them and chose a hiding spot. I maintained my distance so he won’t see me. I saw the man he was talking to gave him an envelope. Rueben opened it, and I saw him pulled out some photos. I also saw him gave that man some money before he left.
Is that the same envelope I saw earlier? The one that Mom was holding?
My brother walked back towards the hospital and looked sideways like he was scared someone might have seen him. When he was about to pass where I was hiding, I came out from my hiding spot and prevented him from reaching the elevator.
He looks surprised and immediately hid the envelope behind him.
“Who’s that?” I asked, and I made sure he will see where my eyes went.
“You don’t know him... just a friend of mine...”
“You have a friend?”
My brother does not like making friends because everyone takes advantage of him.
He looked suspicious, so I do not buy his excuse.
“What’s that?” I asked specifically.
He pulled out the envelope from his back and lift it in the air like it was just a random envelope.
“Nothing. Just a business proposal,” he answered, trying to succeed with his lies.
But he’s not good at acting, more in lying.
“Okay,” then I shrugged my shoulders.
I went beside him, and we started walking together. His right hand was holding the envelope, so he moved it to his left hand.
“Did Sara say she’ll come?” I asked, trying to start a conversation.
“I don’t think she can for now.”
“You should convince her. She needs to see Mom and Dad. This is the field she chose to enter-”
“Jael,” he stopped walking and called me. “Why are you so worked up? You don’t push Sara like this. We have to understand her and-”
“Am I?” I faced him. “Am I being worked up?”
The elevator in front of us opened.
“Of course, you’re like this because you’re not emotionally stable right now. You should go home and-”
“I’m seventeen, but I don’t like it when people lie to me,” I said and rode the elevator.
He hesitated to ride with me, but I pushed the button to stop the door from closing.
“Especially when my brother attempts to feed me with lies....”
“That’s not a business proposal. You don’t exchange money for a business proposal. And you just started your training a year ago. I know you’re competent, but Dad is still teaching you things. You’re in no position yet to make a business proposal-”
“I will soon be a part of this company-”
“I am a part of this family, so tell me the truth about that envelope. What’s inside that? Why did Mom and Dad have that? Did you get that from the police after the investigation? Do Uncle Lucas and William know about that?”
I heard him pronounce a sigh.
“Stop now, Jael. Let’s not fight. I have the right to possess this because I’m a family member-”
“So am I!” I shouted.
He went silent beside me.
I breathed for air. Being inside the elevator and getting so worked up is so exhausting.
The elevator opened, and he walked away from me immediately.
He pissed me even more because of that. I ran after him and pulled his shirt to prevent him from walking away.
“You know something, don’t you?” My eyes squinted.
He looks so annoyed at me, and he keeps removing my hands off of him. I grabbed the opportunity to get the envelope from him and ran as fast as I can. I ran towards the comfort room for women so he won’t be able to get in. When I already locked the door, I tore the envelope apart, and pictures from inside fell to the ground.
I picked up the photos from the floor where I saw my father, Arthur Valmonte, is with someone I am not aware of. I’m not sure if this is a man or a woman because her face is completely hidden.
In the first pictures, they looked civil with each other, so I didn’t mind. I continued to look at the photos one by one. Trying to figure its importance for my brother. As I was almost finished, the last photo caught my attention.
My hand was shaking, and I can feel my tears building up.
My father is inside our family car... kissing someone... but it’s not my mother.