A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 14

This entry is part 16 of 18 in the series A Promise Not To Break

“WHERE is she?” he asked for the hundredth time at his silent parents. An hour has passed since matapos ang concert and he still couldn’t find Prie. The last time he saw her, she was smiling at him as he started to play her favorite song.

“Nasaan si Prie, dammit!” He was getting hysterical. No one would tell her where Prie was. And he needed to see her. To hold her. To feel her. “Sabihin niyo sa ‘kin,” patuloy na sigaw niya sa kanyang mga magulang. He didn’t care even if the makeup artist saw him throwing a tantrum.

“I don’t know son,” mahinahong sagot ng kanyang ama. “I don’t know.”

“How can you not know? You talked with her! You were sitting next to her, for God’s sake!”

“I’m sorry, son.”

“Fuck it! Why are you even saying sorry? Ano ba talaga ang nangyayari? Bakit ayaw niyong sabihin sa ‘kin?”

“David.”

“Mom, I need to see Prie,” matigas niyang tugon sa kanyang ina as he made his way to the dressing room’s door. Pero pinigilan siya ng kanyang ama bago pa man siya makalabas.

“Where are you going?”

“I’ll talk to tito Levi and tita Mel. I’m sure they’ll know where Prie is.”

“Umuwi na sila.”

“What?” hindi makapaniwalang tanong niya.

“Umuwi na sina Levi at Mel.”

“Isinama nila si Prie?”

Nagkatinginan ang kanyang mga magulang. Then his father answered, “ No. Sila lang dalawa.”

His heart felt like it would explode because of too much anger. “Then where the hell is she?” sigaw niya sa kanyang ama. “We agreed that we will talk after the concert! ‘Asaan na siya? Answer me, dammit!”

“Dave, iho, you need to calm down…”

“Calm down, my ass! Where is Prie? Kailangan ko siyang makita. I need her, now!”

“Son—”

“Where is she!”

“She’s gone, David. She’s gone. She’s not coming back.”

**

They were lying. Hindi siya iiwan ni Prie. Mahal siya nito! Maybe something happened…She was pale earlier. Maybe they needed to take her home early at hindi lang siya nasabihan dahil nagpeperform siya. Hindi pwedeng magkatotoo ang sinabi nila. Hindi siya makakayang iwan ni Prie. Magpapakasal pa sila!

Nang makarating siya sa harap ng apartment ni Prie, agad siyang umibis ng sasakyan bago pa ito tuluyang  huminto. He didn’t care that he was making a loud noise as he opened the gate and went to the house. He knew where she put her spare key.

Agad-agad siyang umakyat sa second floor. Baka inatake itong muli ng migraine…Baka hindi na naman ito makagalaw dahil sa sobrang sakit kaya hindi ito sumasagot…Baka—

No one was in her room. Kahit sa banyo, or sa guess room-cum-office nito, wala ring tao. Ng bumaba siya, hindi rin niya ito nakita. She couldn’t have left him. No. No. No!

Hindi niya kayang maniwala na—tumakbo siya pabalik sa kwarto nito at agad na binuksan ang cabinet nito. He thought he would die when he saw it empty. Even her drawers. Her… bigla siyang tinakasan ng lakas. She couldn’t have left him. She couldn’t. They were getting married. She couldn’t—

He couldn’t even finish the thought. Nagsisikip ang kanyang dibdib. Gusto niyang magwala. Gusto niyang umiyak. But he couldn’t do anything but foolishly stare at her empty cabinet. Sa bawat sandaling nakikita niya iyon, lalong parang sinasaksak ang kanyang dibdib.

She couldn’t have left him. She loved him. She told him so. She told him again and again and again. There must be some mistake. She couldn’t have left him…again.

Nahagip ng mata niya ang kama. With strength that he knew he didn’t have, pinilit niyang lumapit sa kama at mahiga roon. Her smell was there. In the sheets, the pillows—in everything. He closed his eyes. Maybe—maybe he was only having a bad dream. Maybe he will wake up and find Prie in the circle of his arms, smelling of wild flowers.

But when he opened his eyes again, there was still no Prie. And the feeling of hopelessness finally sunk into his brain, feeding his heart…emptying his soul.

“Prie!” sigaw niya sa kawalan. Then the hot, angry, tears came. Filled his chest, and flooded his eyes.

**

“Prie? We’re here,” gising ni Mael kay Prie ng mag-land ang eroplano. She cried herself to sleep the first half of the flight, and she looked helpless and lost when she opened her eyes.

“Mael…he was crying,” wika nito as tears welled anew.

“Shh…everything will be okay, love.”

**

It was morning. He felt the angry rays of the sun on his face, drying his tears. But he didn’t want to get up. He wanted to stay there and die. Nasaan si Prie? Bakit siya iniwan nito? They had so many plans…

“Dave?”

Binuksan niya ang kanyang mga mata ng marinig niya ang pagtawag sa pangalan niya. For one crazy moment, he thought that Prie was the one who’s calling him.

But when he saw that it was not Prie, but her mother, he closed his eyes again and felt his world come crashing down once more.

“Dave?” tawag nitong muli sa kanya. He didn’t answer. He couldn’t.

“Alam kong gising ka. Ipinagluto kita. You should eat. Halika na, samahan mo na ‘ko.”

“Where is she?” tanong niya rito. It was all he wanted to know.

“Dave…” Lumapit ito sa kanya at naupo sa gilid ng kama. “Dave, be strong. Hindi gugustuhin ni Prie na makita ka ng ganyan.”

“Where is she?”

Umiling ito. “I don’t know,” sagot nito, at pagkatapos ay sinubukan nitong haplusin ang kanyang buhok.

“Don’t touch me!”

“Dave.”

“You’re lying!” sigaw niya rito. He didn’t care anymore even if she was tita Mel—Prie’s mother. “You’re all lying to me! Alam niyo kung nasaan siya and yet you wouldn’t tell me. Liars!”

“Dave—“

“Leave me alone!” Pagkasigaw noon ay tinalikuran niya ito. After a while, naramdaman niyang tumayo ito at lumabas ng kwarto. When he heard the front door close, ipinikit niyang muli ang kanyang mga mata. He would stay there. Until Prie returns.

**

It has been three days. Three days that he did nothing but lie down on her bed and bathe in her sent as he begged her to return to him. He cried and cried, and pleaded to God to return Prie to him. But he was still alone in her house. And as the days passed, his longing for her turned into a silent rage, that by the end of the third day, his anger became fuel enough to make him stand up from the bed and allow him to go down to the kitchen.

How could she leave him like that? After all they’ve planned. After her professions of love. How could she love him so cruelly? How could she stand to tell him that she loved him when she could leave him so harshly? Again and again, these words fuelled the rage inside him. He wanted to kill. He wanted to hit somebody. He wanted to bent his anger at someone and make that someone pay for the sins of a jilted love.

But he did nothing of those things. Sa halip, sa loob ng isang linggo, nilinis niya ng nilinis ang buong apartment ni Prie. Bawat sulok, bawat gamit, lahat hindi niya pinatawad. He was so angry that when he saw her laptop wallpaper—isang litrato nilang magkasama ng nagpicnic sila—he almost threw the thing out of the window.

Ng wala na siyang magawa pa, he jogged and jogged and punished his violin. Pero kahit isa sa ay wala siyang sinagot sa mga tawag sa answering machine. He hated them all. Alam niyang alam nila kung nasaan si Prie. And yet ayaw nilang sabihin sa kanya kahit man lang ang dahilan ng pag-alis nito. It angered him. As it continued to tear his heart.

Then one day, a call once again shattered his empty living. He had been in Prie’s apartment for two weeks when the call came. At first, he let the answering machine pick it up. But when he heard the voice that said ‘hello,’ agad niyang kinuha ang receiver.

“Prie!” sigaw niya sa kabilang linya. Sigurado siyang si Prie iyon. “Prie, answer me. Answer me, dammit!” But after a long pause, narinig niya ang isang ‘click’ na tanda ng pagbaba ng telepono mula sa kabilang linya.

“Why are you doing this to me!” sigaw niya sa kawalan, at pagkatapos ay ibinalibag niya ang telepono.

How could she hurt him so much? So much…

That night, his anger was so great that he wasn’t able to control it anymore. He didn’t think. He just let his instinct do everything for him. By midnight, namalayan na lamang niya na nakaparada siya sa harap ng mga bahay ng mga Israel.

Ng bumaba siya ng kotse, he didn’t care anymore kung sino ang makakakita sa kanya o kung mabulaho man sila sa kanya. He just attacked their doorbell and pounded at their door again and again.

“Dave?” tanong ni Mel ng pagbuksan siya nito ng pinto. “What are you—”

“Where is she?” sigaw niya rito. He wanted to know!

“Naka-inom ka ba?”

“Fuck it! Where is she? Tell me! I have the damn right to know.”

“Dave?” It was tito Levi. “Dave, ano’ng ginagawa mo rito? Gabi na—”

“I just want to know where she is! Is that so hard?” Nauubusan na siya ng lakas. Even his anger wasn’t enough to dampen the pain anymore.

“Dave…”

“’Asan na siya? Bakit ba ayaw niyong sabihin sa ‘kin? Mahal na mahal ko si Prie! Hindi niyo ba maintindihan ‘yon, ha? Hindi ba kayo marunong magmahal?”

“Son—”

“Twenty-two years! Twenty-two damn years. Buong buhay ko, siya lang ang minahal ko. Siya lang! Hindi niyo ba naiintindihan kung gaano kasakit ‘yon, ha? Kung gaano kasakit na bigla ka na lang iwan ng mahal mo when everything’s so perfect. Magpapakasal na kami. Then bigla na lang siyang mawawala? And no one’s telling me a damn thing!”

“David, naka-inom ka lang—“

“Of course naka-inom ako! I just had a mysterious call, and it was Prie. But she wouldn’t even talk to me. Wouldn’t even tell me why she left me without a word. And that’s foul. Alam niyo ba bakit? Tanungin niyo ‘ko bakit—”

“Mel, help me lift him up. Ipasok natin siya sa loob.”

“—dahil dalawang beses na niya akong iniiwan ng walang pasabi! And you know why it feels worse? Dahil ang sabi niya mahal niya ako! Me. Mahal niya ako. Ang hindi—hindi ko lang maintindihan talaga ay kung bakit sinasaktan niya ako ng ganito kung mahal niya ako. Naiintindihan niyo ba ‘ko, ha? Hindi ko maintindihan—“

“Let’s just put him in her room. I think that may calm him a little. Maya-maya rin naman e makakatulog din siya.”

“—kung bakit! Siya lang—siya lang ang may power na saktan ako ng ganito. Shit siya! Tapos wala pang may gustong magsabi sa ‘kin ng kahit na ano. Shit din kayo! Alam niyo ba ‘yon ha? Ang sakit-sakit sa dibdib. Mga wala ba kayong puso? Mga—mga animal kayo! Nasaan ba si Prie? I need—“

Hindi na niya natapos pa ang mga sasabihin niya sana. Nang makatulog siya, nagkatinginan sina Levi at Mel. And then Mel broke into sobs.

“Hindi nila dapat dinadaanan ‘to, Levi! Hindi dapat!”

“Shh. Kailangan natin mag-tiis sa ngayon. Gagaling si Prie. Alam kong gagaling siya.”

“Kung sanang napansin lang natin ng mas maaga—kung sanang hindi na niya kailangan magpunta sa ibang bansa para humanap ng donor! Levi!”

“Mel… Wala na tayong magagawa pa sa ngayon. Alam ni Prie ang ginagawa niya.”

“But what if she’s wrong? Paano kung hindi kinaya ni Dave? Narinig mo ba ang sinabi niya? Levi, mahal na mahal ni Dave si Prie!”

“Mahal din siya ni Prie, Mel. Dave is intelligent, and he’s still young. He’ll move on.”

“Bakit ba hindi na lang niya sinabi kay Dave? Maybe we should just tell him—”

“No. This is between the two of them.”

“There’s a big possibility na mabubuhay si Prie—maybe we should just—”

He shook his head. “No. Prie has her reasons.”

“I—I’ll call Lexa and tell her—tell her that Dave is here.”

**

Prie was smiling at him and calling him foolish names. She was laughing at some joke that he said. She was throwing stuffs at him because he called her ‘mine’. She was looking at his eyes and telling him ‘I love you’. She was kissing him and telling him how much he means to her…

It was morning. Nang buksan ni Dave ang kanyang mga mata, he was in a vaguely familiar but alien room. It was a room filled with lots of posters and stickers and odd-shaped cut-outs. It was a room that smelled of Prie. Prie.

Napabalikwas siya. He was in Prie’s room. Sa lumang kwarto nito. Sa kwarto kung saan una siyang nagtapat ng pag-ibig dito. What was he doing there?

But as he asked the question, flashbacks of what happened to him the night before floated in his consciousness. He barged into the Israel’s house, and they decided to put him here. The irony of it all brought a sick smile on his face. Prie. A memory of one of their picnic talks jumped at the front of his mind.

“Nasaan yung mga sulat ngayon?”

“At home. I think I left them on my secret box sa cabinet.”

Kabinet…Maybe he could find those blasted letters. Before he could stop himself, tumayo siya mula sa kama and let his instincts drive him. Nagsimula siyang maghanap. After ten minutes, nahanap niya ang secret box matapos niyang makapa ang isang secret pulley sa isang dulo ng kaisa-isang wood cabinet sa kwarto.

Like a treasure hunter who just found his loot, maingat niyang dinala ang box sa kama. Muntik na siyang matawa ng makita ang diagonal na message na nakasulat with pentel pen across the box’s lid if not for the thought that Prie was still lost to him. ‘TOP SECRET. Do not open. Personal property of Priscilla.’

Ng buksan niya ang box, hindi siya makapaniwala sa mga nakita niya. At the top most layers were random pictures of Prie and him when they were children. Mayroong nakasuot sila pareho ng school uniform at kumakaway sa kumuha ng litrato, a picture of them in the pool. Lahat ay mga litrato nilang dalawa bago sila nagmigrate sa Australia.

Then the thought hit him. It was a little girl’s memento box. Malamang ay ginamit lamang iyon muli ni Prie when she needed a place to hide the unsent letters.

The next levels were full of different knick knacks, ranging from a blue button to a plastic diamond earring and a Disney princess pen. When he got to the bottom, he saw what he was looking for. A buddle of airmail letters without stamps.

He opened the first letter. It was dated a month after nitong umuwi ng walang paalam from Australia.

Hello cute. It has been a month. Are you still angry with me? Sana hindi na. I do not expect you to understand, but I wish, someday you would realize that I left because I love you. Ayokong makita kang nahihirapan dahil sa ‘kin. And somehow, I thought that maybe if I left, you would forget about what you feel for me. Ayokong gawin mo akong sentro ng buhay mo. Bata ka pa. There’s so much you can do. I hope you’ll forgive me. Loves, Prie.

23 December 2002. Hello cute. It’s been months, isn’t it? Grabe, how time passes by. I didn’t get to send my first letter to you. Maybe I’ll send it with this. By the way, Merry Christmas! I hope you’re having a good holiday. Mine’s a little quite this year due to, well, somethings. I got your last letter. Dave, I want you to know that I didn’t abandon you. And yes, I do love you. But I can’t do what you’re asking me. Please, believe me when I say that I love you. Always, P.        P.S. How I wish I could see a white Christmas! Maybe I’ll go to US? Haha!

10 February 2003. Oh, how I miss you, cute. It’s been a while since I last got a letter from you. You’re still angry, aren’t you? Oh Dave. How I wish I could turn back time and set things right. Nga pala, Happy Valentines! Siguro I’ll send you this with a gift. Both for Christmas and Valentines. Andami ko na kasing hindi naipadalang sulat, eh. Anyway, how are you? Please tell me you didn’t really try to kill yourself. Please! I can’t take it. Don’t do such foolish things. Sige ka, baka bigla akong mapabalik diyan ng wala sa oras. Haha! But I don’t think I can. I—well, medyo may problema kasi. Anyway, I hope I can send this. I miss you so much. Yours, Prie.

22 March 2004. I don’t know why I keep writing. Wala naman akong lakas ng loob na ipadala ito sa’yo. I’m still afraid of hurting you. Though ironically, I know that I’ve hurt you so. I love you, Dave. I do. I want to tell you so much that it hurts but I can’t. I’m not the one for you. I’m too old for you. And Mael…I owe him so much. You’re still young, my dear Dave. Do not waste your time destroying your life because of me. I don’t want you to. I’m not worth the destruction of your life. Yes, yes, yes. I love you. If I could, I’d say yes and marry you. But I can’t. There’s so many things—complications, in the end, I think hindi ko rin maipapadala ito, so what the heck? Might as well say everything. You know what? It has almost been two years, and still pinagsisisihan ko pa rin ang pag-iwan sa ‘yo. Akala ko noon it was for the best. I was so confused.  I loved you but I didn’t know what love I felt for you. But the day I saw you all bloodied and dirty and sick, I knew I loved you not as a brother. But then, it can’t be helped anymore. You still hate me, don’t you? I think I can do nothing about that now. Maybe that is why I never took these letters to the post office. Maybe it’s better this way. The silence. It will keep you from wasting your life in loving me. I want you to move on. I need you to move on. I’m not sure if what I am doing is right—but one thing is for sure. I did it because I love you. P.

That night, as he talked to his parents, Prie’s words kept repeating on his mind. She did it because she loved him. It doesn’t matter that the words were written so many years ago. They were Prie’s words. And he still trusted her. He knew, whatever it was that took her from him, she loved him. And she wants him to move on.  “I’m migrating to the US,” he told them. “I’m moving on.”

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