Disclaimer: All events written 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.
What if Sarah Geronimo did not become our princess? What if life was different for her and everything else was the same? I would like to think that when two people who were “meant for each other” were given different circumstances, they would still be able to recognize each other as the other half of themselves, the person created specifically for them.
Then I will give you rain at the right time, and the land will give her increase and the trees of the field will give their fruit.
A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN
“If you gave someone your heart and they died, did they take it with them?
Did you spend the rest of forever with a hole inside you that couldn’t be filled?”
The rain that brings you here
The skies begin to clear
And I’m at rest
A breath away from where you are
I’ve come home from so far
“Mommy, Daddy…sorry ha,” Sarah panted tiredly, putting down her big green bag on the slightly wet grass, rolling one shoulder back to ease up the pinched muscle brought on by the heavy weight. “Ilang buwan na kong hindi nakakadalaw sa inyo. Sobrang busy lang talaga sa school,” she said apologetically, shielding her eyes from the intense glare of the sun as she carefully knelt down beside her bag. “Pero finally natupad na rin yung pangarap natin,” she murmured quietly, extending a hand out to brush away the dried leaves scattered on her parents’ gravestone.
She lifted her gaze from where she was kneeling and looked around the almost empty cemetery. A couple of men were busily putting up a big tent a few feet away from a small backhoe and a mound of soil piled high beside it, fighting with the strong pull of the wind, unconcerned with the heat beating upon their naked backs. It was a sad, familiar sight, one that nobody would want to get used to but a reality that she was forced to accept later on. Even the woman pulling out plastic chairs from a stack to mechanically arrange them in rows on the well-trimmed grass duplicates the image she has kept hidden in her heart.
The rain would’ve completed that sad picture but mercifully, the exuberant dancing of the sun robs that scene of its severity, kerbing away a little bit of its sadness, somehow reminding her that no matter how grim the night has been, the sun would always reveal how beautiful and grand the bigger picture has turned out to be.
The whole week had been a torturous, storm-filled battle with the elements, strong winds and non-stop lashing of typhoons, one after the other, bashed ruthlessly over the city. It was a relief to be welcomed by the sun for a change, the heavens finally closing up to give the people a much needed reprieve. Even the flowers outside the small chapel at the center of the cemetery decided to wear their Sunday’s best, happily bathing their open faces under the friendly warmth of the sun, enjoying the precious gift of another day. They were beautiful—magnificent even, and her mom would’ve loved them. She roughly wiped away the moisture that easily formed at the corner of her eye as the image of her mom busy with her small garden in their former house flashed momentarily in her mind’s eye.
“May trabaho na po pala ako,” she continued, looking down again, glad about her new accomplishment. “Nag-apply lang ako nitong Wednesday sa isang newspaper firm pero tinanggap kaagad nila ako. Naka-schedule na nga ngayong araw ang first assignment ko, eh,” she boasted. “An interview with John Lloyd Cruz,” she giggled, her eyes crinkling with controlled amusement. “Biro niyo po makikita at makaka-usap ko na yung idol ko.”
Sighing, she reached out and traced the names of her parents etched on the headstone, her delight dampening a little bit. “Sana,” she whispered softly, finally allowing a few tears to escape from her eyes, “sana kasama ko kayo nung natanggap ko yung diploma ko,” she whispered wistfully, “sana nakita niyo kung gaano ako kasaya nung araw na yun. Sana nandun kayo nung binigay ko yung speech ko—narinig niyo sanang pinasalamatan ko kayo……alam niyo ba,” she added painfully, “kahit alam kung wala kayo dun, hinanap ko pa rin kayo doon sa upuan na naka-save para sa inyo.”
It had been very difficult to start anew after she lost everything that was familiar to her—deciding to sell their house soon after her parents died to use the money for her education. Two years ago, her father suddenly succumbed to a simple flu almost a year after her mom was suddenly taken from them, somehow suspecting that it wasn’t influenza that really killed him but that he died because of a broken heart. It bothers her that, even knowing they never intentionally left her, it still made her feel somehow rejected and abandoned, left alone to fend for herself. She knew her mom was sick and even understood why her dad gave in to his sadness seeing firsthand how deep their love went for each other but she still couldn’t help resenting them a little bit for leaving her behind. But accepted her situation, she did, and tried to live the life she knew her parents would’ve wanted for her—the dream that they talked about when they were still alive.
Diverted momentarily by the low flying maya that went past her, she gazed at it as it pushed against the wind, using the turbulence to lift her up instead of allowing it to press her down.
The truth was she’s starting to forget a lot of things about her parents, the little details that she’d always took for granted—the sound of her name on their lips, the constant reminders they’ve always showered her with and even the way they looked the last time she spoke to them. Those memories are fading, fast becoming just mere shadows at the periphery of her brain—vague and dishearteningly hazy. Even photographs have ceased to be enough—she looks at the family photo album but only sees them oddly like strangers as if they were from someone else’s memory, looking happy for some forgotten reason. How she misses them, how she misses being with them—to hear them fight about petty things and watch them whisper endearments when they thought she wasn’t looking.
Straightening her back, she pulled out a small towel from her bag and wiped her face. “Alam ko na kailangan kong maging matapang—and I promise I will be,” she told them resolutely. “Huwag po kayong mag-alala,” she promised, forcing a smile out, “I will make you proud.”
Suddenly remembering the time, she quickly glanced at her watch and stood up from the ground brushing away all the grass stains clinging to her pants.
“Mommy…Daddy, aalis na po muna ako. Alam ko po na Sunday ngayon pero hindi pa po kasi ako pwedeng pumili ng schedule. First time ko po kasi sa field kaya kailangan magpakitang gilas,” she said distractedly, picking up her bag. “I love you. Babalik na lang po ako next time,” she said, giving them one last glance before turning decisively around to swiftly go on her way.
***—***—***Sometimes, perhaps, we are allowed to get lost that we may find the right person to ask directions of. Robert Brault
She’s running late. She needed to be in the studio by 3 pm and it’s almost that already. It’s her first assignment and she wanted it perfect but who would’ve guessed it was going to rain? They were in the stupid eye of the storm that’s why the sky was clear that morning. She knew she should’ve double checked from PAG-ASA like what a good journalist would’ve done, but she was just too preoccupied and too nervous with her first assignment that she overlooked that important detail. Now, she feels somewhat deceived—betrayed even!
She ran as fast as she could after she got down from the bus, not bothering to flag down a tricycle thinking that, surely, running would be faster. Well, you might as well put that down on her long List of Stupid Mistakes Done for the Day along with losing her umbrella while she was carrying it, which was currently at number 8. Not bothering to care anymore if she stepped into an open manhole, she carelessly waded through the flooded street. At least, falling into one is easier to explain than saying you stupidly thought you can walk on water or that you weren’t able to calculate correctly the distance from the bus stop to the studio and so decided to do a little bit of strolling—the very same time three storms were simultaneously passing through the city.
She was about to cross another intersection when a big black SUV suddenly sped by splashing her with a huge wave of rushing mud and grime causing her to fall backwards and slump in the knee-deep, flood filled street. She wanted to cry as she watched the purple plastic envelope she ingeniously emptied and worn as cover on her head slowly drifting away from her while the bag that she’s been trying to keep dry all morning become thoroughly soaked as she gingerly feels its leathery texture lying heavily beneath the slimy water.
She was feeling so miserable she didn’t see the vehicle stop a few meters away and then slowly reverse itself back to where she was sitting, only noticing it when it finally stopped in front of her and stayed there idling a few seconds more. It’s not because she was waiting for her offender to help her up that’s why she remained sitting dejectedly in the water. It was the desperation and the impossibility of her situation that was keeping her totally weak and powerless to even consider preserving any more of her remaining dignity—however small it has become.
“Miss, miss, okay lang po ba kayo? Miss?”
She knew somebody was talking to her but she was trying her best to ignore it, hoping that that somebody would take a hint and just leave her alone in her misery. She’s afraid that if she made any more movement her whole world might finally crumble and she wouldn’t be able to put it back together again. She was still contemplating about how wretched her life was when that somebody suddenly grabbed her arm.
“Ano ba, bitiwan mo nga ako,” she said desperately, struggling from the hands that were trying to help her up. She wanted to keep reality at bay as long as possible, becoming angry at the person who was rudely pulling her out from her dark bubble.
“Bakit ka ba pumipiglas…tinutulungan na nga kita eh,” said a man’s exasperated voice.
That was the only time she lifted her gaze and looked at the face of her rescuer. It was the man she was supposed to be interviewing that very moment–Philippine’s Best Actor and Box Office King, Mr. John Lloyd Cruz.
Suddenly in shock, she finally stopped struggling and allowed him to put her in the passenger seat of his SUV staring dumbly at him as he fiddled frantically with the thermostat to turn up the heat in the car.
“Sorry talaga miss. Hindi ko sinasadya,” he anxiously apologized, looking at her worriedly. “I will pay for whatever injury I may have caused you.”
Still in a daze, she removed her eyes from him and numbly looked down at what he was looking at so worriedly—then started to cry. She didn’t snivel quietly and she didn’t sob gracefully…she simply let the dam open and bawled her eyes out.
Life’s not fair she was thinking. It took her almost all of last night and most of this morning to choose what she would wear in her interview with John Lloyd, wanting to look presentable and smart, but now, sitting in front of him covered from head to toe with flood water and mud, she could only guess what he was thinking. How could you redeem yourself from this kind of embarrassment? Is it even possible? It’s supposed to be her first interview, her only chance to make a great first impression, but she bungled it up—big time. She was wondering if it’s a sign that she should change her profession. Feeling like ten kinds of fool, she shamefully covered her face and cried some more.
Surprised at her reaction, he could only stare at her with growing consternation wondering what he’s gotten himself into. He doesn’t think he actually hit her but if she asked to be compensated he would do so willingly if only to pacify the obviously devastated girl.
“Nasaktan ba kita? May masakit ba sa’yo?”
“Wala po, sir,” Sarah mumbled through her fingers, “ok lang po ako,” she pitifully added as she reached for the door handle planning to go back into the rain and escape his presence.
But he was faster than her. He removed her hand from the door and locked the door from his side.
“Ano ka ba? Ano akala mo gagawin ko sayo,” he irritably asked, insulted by her attempt to escape. “Sinabi ko na ngang tutulungan kita eh—kita mo na, magkakasakit ka nyan eh,” worried now as he looked at her small frame being wracked by deep coughs. He noticed that she was shivering, already making a puddle of water on her seat. Collapsing his backrest, he reached for his gym bag and pulled out one of his shirts and a towel.
“O, magpalit ka ng damit at baka magkasakit ka…o baka naman mas gusto mong dalhin na lang kita sa ospital?” he threatened when she started shaking her head stubbornly.
“Huwag na lang…,” she started, her eyes begging him to reconsider his threat.
“Nasa sa iyo yan,” he warned her unwaveringly. “Punta ka sa backseat para dun ka magpalit,” he said when he saw her wordless surrender, “—hindi ako titingin,” he assured her smilingly as she clumsily transferred to the back, making her feel somewhat insulted. She feels it’s his way of saying she’s not attractive so she didn’t have to worry.
“Tatawag lang ako sa manager ko, sasabihin ko lang na hindi ako makakarating,” he said distractedly as he took his cellphone from the dashboard, “tapos ihahatid na kita.”
“Hindi na po kailangan,” she pled weakly, but she knew he didn’t hear her since he’s already talking on the phone—but even if he did, she knew it wouldn’t make a difference. It seems he’s decided he’s the boss between the two of them. She sighed forlornly, feeling caught up in a whirlwind and feeling powerless to stop it from taking control of her life.
“O, ok ka na?” he asked, still preoccupied with his cellphone, sending text messages.
She shrugged indifferently, feeling all the fight leave her body. She felt so weak all of a sudden.
He turned worriedly to her when he heard her cough some more. She was looking outside the window, lost in thought. She was looking like a teenager with the loose shirt he lent hanging on her thin frame making him feel an overwhelming pity wash over him. He threw his phone on the dashboard, buckled himself in and looked at her in the rearview mirror.
“Saan tayo?” he asked quietly.
She turned to him with glazed eyes, still thinking of ways to escape him but seeing his determined face, she sighed and gave in submissively. “Sta. Cruz po.”
NOTE: This is dedicated to Sel who personally sent me short messages encouraging me to write more stories for her; and also to those who never get tired of allowing me into their thoughts by reading and loving my little creations. Thank you for your nice words of encouragement.