Disclaimer: Please see Part 1….
JUST THE WAY YOU ARE
Sarah dropped the book she was holding and hurriedly followed the loud clatter that came from John Lloyd’s room—correction, their room. The loud crash was then followed by the muted voice of Manang Belen apologizing. Dashing inside the room she discovers the household help picking up the scattered dishes and scraps of food off the floor while John Lloyd was leaning back on the headboard of their bed with his eyes closed, breathing hard, and his face tense. There were dark stains trailing down his sleep shirt.
“Ano pong nangyari Manang?” she asked warily.
“Wala po mam,” Manang said not looking at her. “Mainit daw po yung sopas kaya po siguro nadulas. Babalik na lang po ako para punasan yung sahig,” she added before leaving the room hurriedly, the tray in her hands swaying precariously.
Sarah started picking up some of the things Manang missed—a fork, a saucer, and some stray meat, and then followed Manang to the kitchen, not saying anything to the person occupying the bed.
“Manang, ako na lang po ang maglilinis dun sa kwarto. Ituloy nyo na lang po yung ginagawa nyo,” Sarah said kindly, tapping her shoulder apologetically.
“Salamat po, mam,” she answered quietly.
With a heavy sigh, she walked back to their room carrying a wet rag in her hand.
It had been an awful week. Ever since they came home from the hospital John Lloyd has been unbearable. First few days he was all silence and abrupt grunts. It was quite understandable since he was probably in a tremendous amount of pain. The doctor warned her that after the anesthesia faded he would later feel the brunt of his injuries.
Today was the worst yet. She guesses he was probably angry about her not telling him about the scheduled appointment she has today. She, too, completely forgot about it. As far as she knew she’s cancelled everything in her schedule this week. When her mom called earlier that day informing her of the overlooked engagement, she somewhat knew he wouldn’t take it well.
Finished with wiping the floor, she went through the bathroom and took a damp face towel and walked towards the bed. Not looking at his face, she reached for the hem of his shirt to help him change into a fresh one but she was surprised when he pushed her hand away.
“Huwag na sabi. Baka madumihan yang damit mo hindi ka pa maka-alis,” his voice dripping with sarcasm. “You don’t have to do this. Sabi ko naman sayo hindi mo trabaho ‘to eh,” he said with controlled temper, his breath rasping with difficulty.
“Eh, kanino?” she asked plainly, her voice empty of emotions.
He carefully reached over the night stand intending to get the phone.
“Sinong tatawagan mo,” she asked daringly.
“Mom ko,” he muttered defiantly.
“Ok.” She was suddenly choked with controlled tears. She turned away from him and left the room, grabbing her big carry-all bag along with her. She picked up the book she dropped earlier and went outside to wait for the van. She only had to wait a few seconds before it finally arrived. Her mom met her at the door.
“O kamusta asawa mo?”
“Halika na, alis na po tayo,” stepping through the door of the waiting vehicle.
“Babati muna sana ako e,” her mom said, confused.
“Huwag na po, wala sa mood eh,” her voice was severe, abrupt.
“Bakit? Nag-away kayo?”
She couldn’t help it, she started to cry.
“Huwag na po nating pag-usapan,” she brokenly said, wiping her tears away.
“O sige na,” her mother sighed wearily. “Hindi ka pwedeng namamaga ang mata. May photo shoot ka pa pagkatapos nun eh meeting naman. Hindi na rin daw pwede i-cancel eh.”
“Sige po,” she said, trying her best to compose herself, shifting difficultly to business. Years of training has taught her to manage her emotions well although not as perfectly as she wanted to. There are days when her training becomes impotent in handling certain situations that arise. She hopes this day would prove manageable.
The day has been veritably productive. She was not given any time to dwell on anything but what was demanded from her. From make-up to costume change to multiple poses and set changes, complete focus was required.
She met with advertisers afterwards. Her new endorsers needed to prepare her for the shooting of her next commercial, showing her the storyboards the production will be using next week. They informed her of what the company wants and asked for some inputs from her.
Seven o’clock, Sarah was finally free to go home. Sitting in the van, she was thinking about what transpired that morning.
“Gusto mo munang umuwi sa bahay natin?” her mom asked carefully, testing her mood.
She shook her head, her eyes misting over.
“Grabe ba ang away nyo?”
“Hindi po,” she said sniffing. “Tampuhan lang po,” she evaded, clearly agitated.
She was remembering the way John Lloyd looked when she left him and her heart twisted in self-recrimination. “Sana hindi ko na muna sya iniwan,” she finally confessed to her mother. “Masakit na masakit pa rin po kasi yung ribs nya pati yung iba pa nyang sugat.” She can still remember when she first helped him change his clothes, the wounds and bruises that confronted her were almost too painful to see. He was literally black and blue all over. She couldn’t control the grimace that formed on her face when she first saw them. She didn’t know how to help him with whatever pain he was going through and his refusal to talk about it doesn’t help either.
Bathing him was another matter. He also refused to remove any clothing in front of her even after giving him all the assurances she could think of that its ok. It was understandable since they haven’t had the opportunity, if you can call it “opportunity”, to see each other that way. In the end it was either do the inevitable or go for 6 weeks without bathing.
“Hindi ko na kasi alam ang gagawin ko para matulungan ko sya e.” Her tears suddenly flowed profusely. “Nahihiya ako dahil hindi nya ako maasahan na mapagsilbihan sya ng tama.”
“Haay, anak. Malalaman nyo rin pareho ang tama at mali. Ang importante ay nag-uusap kayo. Wala namang nag-aasawa na alam na kaagad nila ang gagawin. Kailangan maging pasensyoso kayong pareho.”
Sarah nodded. Her mom was right, she needed to be patient, even to herself—more so to herself.
Arriving home, she hurriedly waved to her mom and went inside the house. She couldn’t wait to see him. She missed him—tantrum and all.
The house was quiet. Even Manang seemed to have retired for the night. She probably left her some food in the kitchen but she couldn’t seem to find her appetite to go have dinner.
Carefully opening the door to the darkened bedroom, she peeked to check if John Lloyd was still awake. He was already in bed, blanket all the way up to his chest. Disappointed, she went to the bathroom and got herself ready for bed. She was hoping he was still awake so that she could apologize for this morning.
She sat gingerly on her side of the bed, not wanting to disturb his sleep. She wanted to cry. She feels so guilty and ashamed for not being a good wife to him. She couldn’t blame him for wanting his mother there. At the first sign of trouble, she abandoned him knowing that he needed her to take care of him. She wanted to crawl over to him right now and hug him in remorse.
“Kumain ka na ba?” suddenly hearing his gentle voice pushed her over the edge. Incapable of abating the tears that she has been pushing back since this morning, she let them flow quietly down her cheeks.
Not looking at him, she shook her head as answer to his question.
“Akala ko hindi ka na uuwi eh,” he confessed quietly. “Hindi naman kita masisisi kung hindi mo na ako balikan. I know I’ve been pushing you away, and I’ve hurt you over and over again.” He was crying now as well, staring up at the ceiling. She was worried that it might make him sicker. “I’ve been very rude to you.”
“Bakit?” she asked, her heart constricting in pain. “Kasi ba wala akong alam. Kasi hindi ko kayang tulungan ka?” she sobbed pitifully.
“No,” he rubbed at his tears angrily. “Never think that. You’ve been a great wife to a shameless husband. You’ve been very patient with me kahit na ang sama sama na ng ipinapakita ko sayo.”
How she longs to go over to him and stop him from berating himself—but she knows that he had to say what was in his mind. He has been keeping it all in ever since they came home from the hospital.
“Nahihiya kasi ako sayo. We should be in our honeymoon but instead nandito ako nagpapa-alaga sayo. I want to free you from this kind of responsibility pero gusto ko rin na parati ka sa tabi ko,” he confided, filled with self-reproach.
“I don’t think I deserve you,” he said, looking now at her bent back, “but I want to keep you, if you still want me.”
She turned and crawled to him with a little cry. Carefully, she pressed her face in his neck hugging him with one arm as gently as she could. He lifted her face to him and kissed her lips, tenderly at first, then deeply.
Both of them laughed after their lips separated, embarrassed—Sarah, because he’s never kissed her like that before and John Lloyd, because he couldn’t seem to control himself.
“Sorry,” he said, although he doesn’t seem to be. He caressed her blushing cheek, amused because she couldn’t meet his eyes. “Hindi ka na naman makatingin sa ‘kin,” he pointed out.
She looked down his chest and laughed the laugh that always made his heart skip a bit. “Kinikilig kasi ako, e.”
He blurted a loud chuckle which he regretted immediately. He’s starting to despise the pain in his chest.
“Akala ko nandidiri ka na sa akin e,” he confessed.
“’Sus, bakit mo naman naisip yun?” she asked, bewildered.
“Kasi halos ayaw mong dumikit sa akin. Parati kang malayo pag natutulog na tayo. Tapos, kiss lang sa cheeks ang binibigay mo sa akin…nagmamadali ka pa.” She’s thinking he looks cute pouting like a little boy.
“E pano po nakita ko yung mga sugat mo at saka mga pasa. Iniiwasan ko lang na madagdagan ang sakit mo noh.” She was surprised by his accusation. “Kung alam mo lang,” she teased flirtingly, hiding her face in his neck.
He was smiling now, tickled with the idea of her seducing him
He acknowledged the feeling suffusing his heart. He’s happy for the first time since he came home. He could stay like this forever, Sarah lying in his arms.
“Anong sabi ng mommy mo nung tinawagan mo sya?” she asked curiously.
“Sorry about that,” he grimaced, rubbing her back in apology. “Hindi ko naman talaga tatawagan. Ginagalit lang kita.”
“Ibig mong sabihin, mag-isa ka lang the whole day?” she asked, lifting her head to look at his face.
“E di hindi ka pa rin naligo,” she joked, attempting to press her nose in his armpit.
“Ano ka ba,” he rebuked, embarrassed. She was laughing at him.
“I’m sorry, Beh, kasi marami pa akong kailangan matutunan,”she said, serious all of a sudden. “Guilty na guilty ako nung umalis ako kanina. Dapat pala hindi kita iniwanan.”
“Shhh. Gusto kitang kantahan,” he offered smiling tiredly.
“He, he. Ano?” she asked looking at his face,waiting.
“Don’t go changing, to try and please me, You never let me down before…” he sang roughly, his voice breaking.
Her eyes tearing up, she stopped his lips with her fingers.
“Ako na lang kakanta para sa yo,” she offered tenderly, laying her ear on his chest.
“Hanggang makatulog ako?”
“Oo, kung gusto mo.” She said, smiling.
“Sa bagay, ikaw naman talaga ang Ipod ko e,” he teased, tenderly kissing her head.
“Don’t go changing, to try and please me, you never let me down before…” Sarah started to sing softly.
The couple drifted off to sleep before the song was finished, deciding to finish it together in their shared dream.