Disclaimer: All stories that you see in my fanfiction tab are just that–fiction. All events happening in these works are fictitious and are in no way meant to imply actual facts about the people portrayed. Any resemblance to real occurrences, past or present, is purely coincidental.
“Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.”
– William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 1.3
It had been a grueling week in the university. Sarah has finally submitted all the requirements needed for the course but pending research works still pile high at home awaiting her attention. It’s only her third month in the campus, quite a short time to fully adjust to its demands. The place, the culture, the people—quite a lot to take in, but everyone had been accommodating to help her find her footing.
Pedaling faster, she weaved through crowds of people walking home, in a hurry to escape the fast dipping temperature. This is one of the things she enjoys the most, the anonymity and the freedom to do anything outside the four walls of her house. Nobody knows her here and it’s quite liberating to feel the air on her bare face. That too, is a novelty—to be able to leave the house without make-up.
Finally slowing down, she stopped in front of a two-storey house and parked her bicycle at the rear. Going up the small flight of stairs, she took out her key and distractedly unlocked the front door, her mind already planning the weekend ahead. She almost fell over though when a small, speeding ball of energy jumped at her and grabbed her leg.
“Mommy!” piped up the excited voice of the little boy clinging to her leg.
Laughing hard, she bent down towards the grinning kid and pulled him up into her arms.
“Musta na baby ko?” she murmured teasingly to his ears, as she kissed his ticklish neck.
The boy giggled, enjoying his mother’s attention, trying to surround her neck with his short pudgy arms.
Sarah carried the child to the kitchen, unzipping her light jacket and taking off the scarf from her throat. Old habits die hard. She still takes care of her voice even though she doesn’t sing anymore—to crowds at least. She has a captive audience-of-one in her son.
“Oh, Asher, you’re here,” said Mrs. Sharp, her hired nanny and help. She’s introduced herself as Ms. Asher Tua to everyone here. It’s one of the things she has altered to keep her anonymity. As it is, she has cut her hair very short and colored it a shade lighter than her usual. She knew Filipinos are everywhere and there’s always a chance they would recognize her, but she could only do as much as she can to protect herself.
“I hurried home as soon as I can,” she quipped, “my schoolwork keeps piling up.”
“It’s still too early to be worrying about things. There’s still a lot of time yet to adjust to school life,” she consoled her, “ and besides, I will always be here to help you with whatever I can,” Mrs. Sharp assured her as she removed her apron and placed it behind the pantry door. “Goodnight, for now, dear, and sweet dreams, Johnny,” she said, kissing the boy’s head as she passed them in the hallway and went home for the night.
“Mommy, play,” Johnny said, grasping her face between his sticky hands.
“Bath first and then play, ok?” she bargained, kissing his button nose.
“Ok, Mommy,” he agreed, squirming, wanting to be put down.
Later that night, after she has put her son to sleep, she went to her bedroom to try to add a couple of more pages to the research work she’s been doing. She probably could finish this one tonight so she could start on another one tomorrow. After weeks of sitting-in in classes at the university, she has decided to pursue Early Childhood Education, a topic that has become more important to her now that she has a child of her own. She has noticed the lack of daycare centers in their place and pursuing this course would prove beneficial not only for her but to her community as well. Rifling through the pages of her book, something caught her eye that made her heart twist in pain.
Studies have shown that…When children have fathers who are emotionally involved-that is, they acknowledge their children’s emotions and help them deal with bad emotions-they score higher on tests of ’emotional intelligence’. Moreover, they tend to have better relationships with other children and behave less aggressively. Fathers’ involvement in their young children’s care can even last well into adulthood. It really is fathers who can have a major influence on helping their children build strong social relationships during childhood and later in life.***
Putting down the book, she sat back and closed her eyes, unable to stop the tide of memories from crashing back into her thoughts. Her baby needs his father—but probably not as much as his mother needs his father right now. She stood up, suddenly agitated, and walked to her son’s room. She went to his crib and looked down at the now sleeping two-year old.
He looks so much like his dad—curly hair, thick brows, big eyes—a carbon copy of the man who broke her heart. One look and people will know who the father is and, even though that was an added complication to her secret, it has helped her pick her life back again. In a way, it validated her love for him because of this beautiful life they have created together.
Letting the memory come visit her for the night, a luxury she never gives herself anymore, she sat by the window in the arm chair where she has spent countless nights remembering the last day she saw him and what happened between them.
She had just arrived in L.A., a week before her class in voice and acting started. Her mom would be following her in two days, leaving her on her own for that amount of time in total freedom. Curious, she ventured out on her own, going inside stores and shops, purchasing gifts she plans to give her siblings and friends when she goes home in a few weeks. She knew she probably wouldn’t have any more time to do these things once her classes started. Going back to the hotel after a whole day of shopping spree, she walked through the lobby clutching bags from the different stores where she bought them, excited to try on some of the things she also bought for herself. Suddenly, someone from behind her grabbed the packages she was holding in her hand. Surprised, she swiveled around, frightened of the danger she didn’t even consider when she decided to be adventurous.
“John Lloyd!” she exclaimed, taken aback by his presence. She was aware of the fact that he was in Europe spending a vacation with his girlfriend. So why was he here? Expecting to see Shaina any moment now, she looked behind him and scanned the place to look for her, her expression controlled for the unexpected and most unwelcome possible meeting. Seeing no one, she turned her gaze back to him, her face questioning.
“Uy, dami mong binili ah. Bigay mo sa’kin yung iba, hatid kita sa room mo,” he evaded, not acknowledging her silent question, hurriedly grabbing some of her bags and walking off towards the elevators.
“John Lloyd,” she called, running after him.
He didn’t look at her the whole time they were inside the elevator. He seemed to be lost in his own thoughts.
She hurried after him again when the elevator doors opened, not even surprised he knew what room she was in as he stopped in front of her door. Pulling out her card key, she opened the door and led him in.
“Sarah…,” he started.
“Gusto mo soft drinks, coffee…,” she offered, suddenly afraid of what he was going to say.
“Can we talk…,” he tried again.
“Please, pwede mamaya na lang,” she begged, “alam ko pagod tayo pareho. I-enjoy na lang muna natin the rest of the day, ok?”
They stared at each other for a few seconds and Sarah was the first one to break away from their locked gaze, feeling her cheeks blush in embarrassment. Her stomach suddenly fluttered with unknown excitement, but she tried to remind herself that he has a girlfriend somewhere.
“Ok. Pero kailangan talaga nating mag-usap ng seryoso.”
“Anong unang gusto mong gawin,” he suddenly smiled playfully.
She smiled back, laughing at this familiar side of him, the part of him that she first fell in… Ooops. She refused to think about that right now.
They went to the nearest grocery store deciding to just cook their dinner together. Even though they’re very far from home, they knew there would always be curious eyes that would follow them around. They had a lot of fun cooking, John Lloyd teaching Sarah how to cook spaghetti from scratch. Despite the pasta turning out to be too soggy, they were able to consume the entire batch, wiping their plates clean.
Afterwards, they decided to watch a movie as they eat the tub of ice cream John Lloyd insisted on buying. She didn’t know how it started but she just found herself in his arms. She didn’t have the strength to stop him and neither did she feel she wanted to. All she can remember that very moment were the nights she spent crying over him and the pain she feels every time he leaves with someone else.
The next morning she woke-up alone in her bed. He left a short letter on the side table telling her how sorry he was, and that he needed to leave. He promised they would talk when she comes back to Manila and he also explained that he needed to fix his personal life before anything else. He signed it and said he loved her.
But that was the last she heard from him. She met her mother the next day and she tried her best to act normally, hiding the guilt she was feeling as they went around meeting with their contacts there. She tried her best to be patient and waited for him to call her—but he never did. Every second felt like a day and every minute like a year.
A week later, talking to Mark on the phone about their next concert tour, he casually dropped a bombshell that would change her life forever. “Ikakasal na raw si John Lloyd, narinig mo ba yun?”
She was speechless, devastated by that simple news dropped at her feet. She hurriedly said goodbye, took her jacket and went to a nearby park to cry her eyes out. She didn’t want her mother to see. She just wanted to be alone and plan whatever she could do next. What keeps echoing in her mind was that she could never go back and act as if nothing has changed.
In two hours time she was able to come to a decision. She contacted her school friend, Julia, and asked her to pick her up from the hotel. Before she arrived, she went to her mom to beg her to give her a month to think about what she wanted to do with her life. At first, her mom was so confused, not knowing why she was crying and why she was begging to be set free, but seeing the desperation in her eyes, fear made her let her daughter go, holding on to her promise that she would come back after a month. Hugging her mom tight, Sarah then left with her friend, trusting that her mother would explain to everybody why she was gone.
She never told her about John Lloyd’s visit or the reason why she went away. She also wasn’t able to keep her promise to her that she would go back after a month because, by then, she had found out she was pregnant. She called her up one day and told her she wouldn’t be able to come back and that she wouldn’t be able to see them anytime soon. Her mom didn’t say a word, passing the phone to her older sister, setting the pattern on how they would be communicating in the future. She knew it was unfair and irresponsible to leave the explaining to her family but the only other option would be to completely break her mother’s heart and destroy her family’s reputation. She knew it’s better to let her mother think that she had a mental break down than to let her know the real reason she needed to go away.
Until now nobody from home knew that she has a two-year-old son—not her parents nor her siblings. They didn’t even know that she was not in the U.S. anymore, choosing a city where she thought there would be just a few Filipino residents, if at all. Julia was the only one who really knew what happened and the only one who was there when she gave birth. She helped her find residence here, having been here before since it was her husband’s birthplace.
And about John Lloyd, she never knew if he ever got married. She never made any attempts to contact him or to know what’s going on with his life. She tried her best not to get any news from the Philippines, anything that would bring back old memories better forgotten.
Taking a deep breath, she turned her eyes back to her son. She would do anything to protect him from the malicious gossips that would surely swarm his way if anybody found out about him. Still, one question bothers her than most, is it right to keep the knowledge of him from his father? She stood up and whispered her goodnight to the sleeping boy, but before she could go back to her desk, her cell phone suddenly rang.
“Sarah, may masamang balita,” her sister Jonnah informed her quietly, “si Mommy nag-colapse kanina.”
“Ano? Bakit anong nangyari, saan na siya ngayon?” she asked one after the other, suddenly dizzy, feeling her blood rushing to her head.
“Nandito kami ngayon sa hospital naghihintay ng resulta sa tests,” Jonnah continued, her voice brimming with controlled emotion. “Hindi pa kasi siya nagigising eh,” she was finally crying softly.
Feeling choked up, she tried her best not to give in to her tears, but images of her tough mom flooded her memory—her mom borrowing money for her talented little girl, her mom telling her she was the most beautiful girl in the world when she went to her crying because someone said she was ugly, her mom fasting for her when she suspected she was giving her heart to someone she thought didn’t deserve it and, finally, the last image she has of her was when she left her standing there in their hotel room in LA, confused and devastated.
Tears pouring from her eyes, she gripped the phone tightly between her fingers, afraid that it would fall before she could say what she wanted to say.
“Uuwi na ‘ko.”