Disclaimer: Please see part 1
Note: Sorry for the delay. Just blame the ISP. I was supposed to post this last night.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
“Beh, gising na. Kailangan mo ng uminom ng medicine mo,” Sarah said, sitting at the edge of the bed. When he was still unresponsive, she gently shook him again, trying to rouse him one more time.
Mornings were the worst for him. Every day since his accident, he wakes up being reminded of the worst day of his life. Groaning, he rubbed his chest gently, trying to bring a little comfort to his throbbing side.
“Good morning,” said the sweet voice of his lovely wife.
He revised his thoughts. That day could be the best day of his life because it brought his princess to his side. That thought brought a smile to his lips, happily opening his eyes to her voice, anticipating a whole day spent with her—or so he thought. His smile was immediately replaced by a big scowl. She was wearing jeans and a pink polo shirt, obviously on her way out.
“Beh, bangon na, nakita ko nang bumukas mata mo,” Sarah said, chuckling, when she saw him close his eyes once more, pretending to be asleep.
She could see the scratches on his face healing nicely. He told her that the branches growing by the side of the hill in Tagaytay served as traction when he was tumbling down the ravine. He kept grabbing at them and it eventually slowed his fall. If not for those branches he doesn’t know how much worse he might’ve been right now.
“John Lloyd Cruz…” Sarah said threateningly.
That made him open his eyes, discovering the stern face of his wife very near his own. He doesn’t know why but he feels scared whenever he hears her say his name like that.
“Hmmn,” he grunted, still scowling his annoyance, looking pointedly at her clothes.
“Inumin mo na ‘tong gamot mo,” she said, helping him sit up before reaching for the glass of water and pills by his bedside.
“Saan ka pupunta?” he asked obnoxiously.
She didn’t answer immediately, handing him the medicine and the glass, forcing him to drink it first.
“Hindi ko nasabi sayo kagabi, Saturday ngayon diba, may rehearsals para sa ASAP,” she answered distractedly, putting back the glass on the table before facing him again.
“Hmmn.” His displeasure was evident.
Reaching out, she rubbed one cheek, subconsciously taming the angry lion inside her husband.
“Huwag ka na magalit Bebeh ko,” comforting the scowling man, sliding closer to him. “Uuwi naman ako kaagad eh,” holding his face with both hands.
Liking the feel of her warmth near him, he started to slide his arms around her waist to pull her closer but the effort jarred his already throbbing side.
“Ouch!” he yelped in pain.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry…” she comforted, moving back, putting a little space between them.
“Uuwi naman ako kaagad eh,” she promised again, looking at his bent form worriedly.
“Mmmnn,” groaning loudly, ”pwede bang huwag ka nang umalis,” squirming in feigned pain, acting his heart out, milking the situation for all its worth.
She laughed, bending towards him, giving him a swift, affectionate kiss.
“Best actor ka talaga,” she teased, looking at his moping face. “Magla-lunch tayo together, ok?”
“Ok,” he acquiesced, taking a long affected sigh. She gave him another quick kiss before she stood up to finally leave. “Pero I am warning you,” he said sternly, calling out to her, looking at her standing figure by the door.
“Ano po yon?” she asked in amusement.
“Pag-galing ko, hindi na pwede yung mabilisang kiss na binibigay mo sa’kin,” he concluded warningly.
“Looking forward to it,” she quipped, laughing aloud as she left the room with a wave.
She rode her personal van to the studio. She didn’t have a full assignment for Sunday, merely a couple of songs. Mr. M knew that she was quite distracted and he even gave her last Sunday off. Just a couple of quick run-throughs and she’d be able to go home early.
After four hours of rehearsals she was in her dressing room preparing to go home. She was quite satisfied with the way the rehearsals went, except for some minor technical difficulties, everything went well. Everything’s looking up, she was thinking, a positive sign altogether. Packing her stuff in her bag distractedly, she was startled when Iya walked in the open dressing room.
“Are you ready?” she asked expectantly.
“Ready saan?” Sarah asked, confused.
“Wala ba nagsabi sa’yo,” she asked in consternation. “Pupunta tayo sa house ni John Lloyd…”
“Ha?” she squeaked, cutting her off mid-sentence.
“…para sa birthday nya sa Monday,” Iya finished, unruffled by her interruption. “Ay, Oo nga pala, wala ka last Sunday. We planned na we will bring in food and have our surprise party there for him.”
Panicking with the imminent disaster she is foreseeing, she scrambled for any idea that might prevent them from going.
“Magaling na ba sya? Hindi pa yata sya tumatanggap ng bisita e,” she warned her weakly.
“Pwede na. Luis called his house yesterday and manang told him na he looks better already,” she said happily. “
“Manang?” she repeated feebly. The call probably came in while she was out.
“Oo, yung kasama nya sa bahay,” Iya answered, mistaking Sarah’s unbelief as a question.
Seeing Sarah already packed, she pulled her hurriedly along with her. “Let’s hurry, yung iba kasi uuwi pa ng maaga. We won’t be there long,” she assured her.
Reaching the main lobby, everyone was all there noisily milling around, lightheartedly making fun of each other.
“Sarah!” Billy called out, “You can ride with us,” he said exuberantly, pointing to Iya, Nikki and Luis.
“Ride with you? Bakit? Hindi ko ba pwede dalahin ang van ko?” she asked, looking helplessly lost.
“Para hindi masyado visible pagpunta natin dun. Vhong, John, Yeng and Ann will be riding in another car. Then we will all ride back here afterwards,” he explained.
After that, she was swept along the lively bunch, going to the car assigned to her. Apprehensive with how the day was going, she didn’t know what to expect or how to act. If they found out today about their secret, would they be angry? Would they feel betrayed? Will both of us lose all these friends who had been with us through thick and thin? Will we lose their trust forever?
“Sarah, kailan kayo huling nag-usap ni Lloydie?” Luis was asking, interrupting her grim thoughts.
“Ay, Oo pala, di ba you went there sa Tagaytay when he had his accident?” Nikki added, very curious.
“Narinig kasi namin yung nangyari sa kanya kaya napapunta kami dun,” she informed them, embarrassed. “Oo, nakakapag-usap naman kami,” Sarah answered evasively. “Excuse me, text muna ako ha.” Escaping the questions thrown at her, she decided to try to contact John Lloyd instead. She really needs to warn him about this “emergency”. Taking her cellphone out, she texted a simple but direct message:
“ASAP grp on d way der. Hide my things!”
“Texting your mom?” Iya asked smilingly when she saw her take out her phone.
Sarah just smiled, not wanting to speak any more lies. She just hopes that John Lloyd would see her message on time.
An hour later, they were parking outside the house. Her heart was thumping in trepidation, scared of what might happen next. Apprehensively, she stared at the looming house in front of them.
“I’ll buzz the house first,” Billy said as he opened the car door.
Sarah saw the small gate open first and then close. When Billy came back to the car, the big gate was then pushed open and they drove in followed by the other car.
Finally, all of them alighted. Since the other car was assigned to bring in the food, Vhong and the others were the ones who brought them in. Sarah lagged behind, not wanting to look too familiar with the place. Quietly sitting on the white settee facing the terrace outside, she discreetly looked around to see if any of her things were left lying in plain view. This is where she usually spends her time during the day but the terrace doors were usually open.
“Hey, need help?” Luis asked as he rushed to the man slowly going down the stairs.
“Happy birthday, Lloydie!” everybody greeted loudly.
“Guys, thanks for coming,” he said as he slowly sat down on an arm chair near the bookshelf.
One by one, the girls stood up to go give him their greeting, kissing him on the cheek. Not wanting the others to suspect anything, she also stood up casually and went to him, the last one who approached to greet him.
“Happy birthday,” she also said quietly, nervous. She was about to kiss his cheek when he suddenly turned his head, intentionally catching her lips with his own. To say that she was shocked was an understatement. She was blushing and sputtering at the same time. Quickly looking at the chattering guests around her, she was scared to know if any of them noticed the stunt John Lloyd pulled just now.
He was clearly amused, hiding his chuckles in his coughs. She wanted to hit him with her fist, broken ribs or not. She almost had a heart attack and he doesn’t seem to care. She squinted her eyes at him as a warning and went as far away from him as possible.
‘Uh-oh,’ he thought. He knew he’ll be in a lot of trouble after this.
“Sorry guys, hindi pa ako pwede magsalita masyado,” John Lloyd apologized to everybody in general.
“Ok lang yun, kaya nga nandito kami para pasayahin namin ang birthday mo,” Yeng happily told him.
“At saka miss ka na namin,” Vhong told him, grinning. “Di ba Sarah?”
“Oo nga Sarah, namiss mo ba ako?” John Lloyd asked, teasing her unmercifully.
Everybody was staring at her now, waiting for her reply. It’s always entertaining to have both of these individuals in one room. They can’t seem to help it, they sparkle at each other’s attention.
“Opo Kuya, miss ko na kayo talaga,” Sarah said in retaliation. Everybody laughed in delight. Sarah is usually soft spoken and gentle off cam but not when she’s upset with John Lloyd. She couldn’t seem to hide any of her emotions when it’s about him—and today is no exception.
“Uyy, Lloydie, sino pala nag-aalaga sayo dito? Bakit wala ka yatang kasama ngayon?” Ann asked, bothered.
“Meron, umalis lang sya kanina. Pangako nya dito daw sya magla-lunch,” he said earnestly, not looking at Sarah.
“Buti naman. Parang ang hirap hirap kasi ng kalagayan mo.” She added sympathetically.
“Oo, dedicated yung nurse ko. Siya nga nagpapaligo sa akin eh,” he said smilingly, volunteering the information.
Sarah started to cough violently. Yeng was talking to her and she was half listening to Ann’s conversation with him when she suddenly heard what John Lloyd said. Yeng started to thump her back, trying to help her recover but with Lloydie’s statement left hanging, Sarah doesn’t think she even wants to.
“Manang Belen, tubig po please,” John Lloyd called out, his eyes twinkling.
Manang Belen walked cautiously into the room balancing a glass of water and, noticing Sarah coughing, walked towards her.
“Ay mam ito na po,” handing her the glass. “Dadagdagan ko po ba yung niluto kong kanin?” Manang innocently asked as she was about to swallow the water. Surprised by her question, she spewed water everywhere and started coughing again.
“Manang, paki-prepare na po yung lamesa. May pagkain po silang dala,” John Lloyd instructed hurriedly, distracting the others from catching on, controlling his laugh bubbling within him. He can’t seem to remember the last time he had this much fun.
“Anong nangyayari sayo Sarah,” Billy exclaimed, amused.
“Uyy, Lloydie, ano yung sinasabi mong pinapaliguan ka?” Luis insisted.
“Secret lang yun. Very sensitive topic, censored.” John Lloyd whispered loudly, clearly enjoying the situation.
“Akala ko ba hindi ka masyado makapagsalita?” Sarah reminded him warningly.
“Oo nga pala,” he said, zipping his lips.
“Bakit Sarah, nag-seselos ka?” Vhong teased.
“Hindi ah, lalaki yata nurse nya eh,” she speculated, smiling too sweetly.
“Hindi, babae,” John Lloyd corrected but quickly zipped his lips again when Sarah’s burning gaze hit him.
Before anymore questions were asked, Manang Belen appeared beside John Lloyd to tell him that the table’s ready. Everybody went to the dining room and Billy assisted John Lloyd to a chair at the head of the table. A lit cake was placed in front of him as Nikki led a prayer for the birthday celebrant.
“Kainan na!” Vhong said after they sang the birthday song and John Lloyd blew the candle.
Everybody started going around the table with a plate in their hands filling it with food but, instead of sitting down afterwards like what the rest of them did after getting what they wanted, Sarah walked to John Lloyd and placed her full plate in front of him distractedly.
At first she didn’t notice that everybody was looking at her because she was too busy plotting her revenge in her head. She only noticed that something was wrong was when the room became unusually quiet. Lifting her head, she saw all of them sitting open-mouthed and staring at her. Blushing, she suddenly became aware of her blunder as she removed her hand from the plate she placed in front of John Lloyd. She’s been preparing his food for more than a week now and it has become almost automatic. How should she explain this?
“Parang narinig ko yata na nagpakuha sya kanina,” she explained lamely.
“Thanks Sarah,” John Lloyd said pretentiously serious.
“Pakuha din ako dessert, Sarah,” Luis said, teasing her.
“Sige, pero babaliin ko muna ribs mo, pwede?” she easily retaliated.
“Sobra, nagiging masyado ka na yatang violent ngayon,” he answered back as Sarah sat beside him.
“Uyy Sarah, dito ka umupo,” Billy said, offering his seat beside John Lloyd.
“No, thank you,” she answered with a sigh, shaking her head in exasperation. Boys will be boys.
Leaving the topic of Sarah and John Lloyd, John mercifully started a different discussion altogether. After they’ve had their fill, the girls left the table, scattering in the living room.
Sara decided to sit on the sofa a little farther away from them but near enough to see if John Lloyd’s overdoing it. Suddenly she remembered his medication—two o’clock. She stood up, trying her best to be discreet. It’s important that he gets his medicine.
“Lloydie paggamit naman ng CR,” she requested.
“Doon sa last door bago pumasok ng kitchen,” he directed.
She went to where he directed but went through a back way going up the stairs to their room. She gathered his medication and looked for Manang to tell her to hand it to his sir.
Going back to the living room, she noticed that the boys transferred back to the settee, watching Nikki set up the videoke machine.
“Hey Sarah, kantahan na,” Billy said excitedly, looking through the list of songs along with everybody else. All of them wanted to sing first. It’s as if they haven’t gotten tired of performing yet. It’s one of the reasons she loved this group so much—they love the business as much as she does.
John Lloyd was sitting alone on a green loveseat observing the group’s antics. He looks exhausted and in pain but was trying his best not to show it. He looked at her distractedly when she entered the room but when he saw that it was her, he smiled. Her heart twisted with longing. She made a face and walked slowly towards him and then sat at his right. He laughed quietly. He knew that she couldn’t resist being close to him. She doesn’t mind that he knew because he is the same with her.
“Hmp,” she said quietly, it was meant only for his ears.
Manang finally came into the room and handed the medicine and water to John Lloyd which he, in turn, handed to Sarah. She’s the only one who knew what medicine he should take. It was good that everyone was too preoccupied to notice the exchange.
“Nakapili na ko,” Billy said triumphantly. “Nikki duet tayo,” he exclaimed, handing her the other mike.
The first notes of the song filled the air and she knew immediately what it was, ‘A Whole New World.’ It was so much like going into their marriage, experiencing a completely new world from the world they’ve gotten used to. Billy started the song:
I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, princess, now when did
You last let your heart decide?
On the word ‘princess’ he discreetly nudged her hand. She just smiled as a sign that she understood. They listened to the song, remembering all the things that happened between them leading to their marriage. It is true that it is a ‘whole new world’ and that ‘every turn’ is a surprise but they wouldn’t change a single day that happened between the start and now because it brought them there.
A whole new world
That’s where we’ll be
A thrilling chase
A wondrous place
For you and me
Billy and Nikki finished the song with great aplomb making everyone cheer loudly, clapping and whistling raucously. It seems the party is just starting. Ann started to sing next. Singing, ‘I’m too Sexy.’
She felt John Lloyd lean towards her and, aware of his discomfort, allowed him to mould his body fully to her side, helping him all she can to ease his pain.
Yeng was the first to notice that John Lloyd was already sleeping. Sarah felt him rest his head on her shoulder three songs ago and she accepted his weight graciously. Yeng started signaling to the rest of the group that they should leave, pointing to the now sleeping Lloydie.
The guys offered to carry him to his room but she told them that he wouldn’t like that. She asked them to go ahead instead and she will help him settle in herself. They agreed, not wanting to embarrass Lloydie if he finds out that he fell asleep in his own party.
“I-tetext ko na lang driver ko para dito na lang pumunta,” she whispered to them.
They kissed her goodbye and finally left. It was only then that she relaxed, feeling her tense muscles let go. She rested her head back on the sofa and closed her eyes.
After a few minutes she turned to her husband and called to him gently.
“Bebeh? Halika na sa taas. Umalis na sila,” she whispered to him.
He opened his eyes sleepily, staring at her.
“Halika na, matulog ka na dun sa taas,” she told him again.
“Anong oras na?”
“Maaga pa para matulog.”
“Oo nga, pero kailangan mo na magpahinga.”
She helped him stand up and assisted him back to his bed upstairs. She was about to leave and go downstairs to help manang with the dishes when he gently grabbed her hand.
“Saan ka pupunta?” he asked groggily.
“Tutulungan ko si manang.”
He shook his head, pointing to the space beside him, “Please stay.”
Smiling at his half-opened eyes, she walked towards her side of the bed and lay down.
“Lapit ka,” he requested, his eyes closed.
“Demanding,” she jested, moving closer to him, smiling.
He opened his tired eyes and looked at her wryly. “I’m sorry. May gagawin ka ba?” he asked apologetically.
“Oo, sasamahan ka dito,” she said lovingly. “Masakit ba ‘to,” she asked, putting her arms around him.
He shook his head. “Higpitan mo pa.”
She smiled and did just that.