- A Promise Not To Break: Teaser
- A Promise Not To Break: Prologue
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 1
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 2
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 3
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 4
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 5
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 6
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 7
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 8
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 9
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 10
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 11
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 12
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 13
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 14
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 15 (END)
- A Promise Not To Break: Epilogue
HE should have expected na hindi madaling susunod si Prie sa mga sinabi niya kahapon. Hell, he knew his behavior yesterday only irritated her all the more. Malamang ay hindi na siya nito gugustuhing makita.
And yet it still broke his heart. More than anything else, more than any hurtful words that were said, silence—Prie’s silence—cuts through him. Too much.
Ipinarada niya sa harap ng gate ni Prie ang pinahiram na kotse sa kanya ni tito Levi, as requested by his mom. Ng bumaba siya, napansin niyang tahimik ang bahay ni Prie.
Nasa bahay kaya ito? Naglakad siya palapit at nag-ring ng doorbell. Walang sumagot. Sinipat niya ang kotse nito sa garahe at muling pinatunog ang doorbell. Wala pa rin.
Luminga-linga siya sa buong paligid. Ng masiguradong walang tao, binuksan niya mula sa labas ang gate, dahan-dahang pumasok, at pagkatapos ay isinara iyon muli. Ng lumapit siya sa front door, sandali siyang nag-isip kung kakatok ba siya o hindi. Better not to announce my presence. Baka tumakas pa siya, he thought. So he tried the doorknob. It opened without any protest.
Kahit na natuwa siya at agad siyang nakapasok, he was still seething at the back of his mind. How can she be so careless? Damn! Paano na lang kung magnanakaw pala siya?
At that thought, bigla siyang kinabahan. What if…?
Dali-dali siyang pumasok. “Prie?” tawag niya rito ng mapalapit siya sa hagdan. Tahimik ang lahat. Maayos naman ang mga gamit. He breathed a little better.
“Prie?” tawag niyang muli. Walang sumagot. Nainis na siya. Kung kanina’y inakala niyang may masamang nangyari dito, ngayon ay alam na niyang pinagtataguan lamang siya nito. For God’s sake! Nasa loob na siya ng bahay nito. It’s too late for her hide and seek tricks. He’s late enough for his rehearsal as it is.
“Prie?” sigaw niyang muli sa kawalan. Nang wala pa ring sumagot, nagpasya na siyang umakyat sa kwarto nito. “Prie? For God’s sake, where are you? I’m tired of this game. Okay, I was wrong about what I did to you yesterday. Can’t we go on? Lumabas ka na,” iritable niyang tawag dito ng nanatiling tahimik ang paligid.
When he went to her room, what he saw stopped him dead in his tracks. Prie was lying on the floor, curled into a ball, and shivering badly. He rushed to her side.
“Prie? What happened? Shit! Halika nga rito,” natatarantang wika niya rito as he carried her like a baby to the bed.
Umungol ito ng ihiga niya ito sa kama. Kinabahan siya.
“Prie? Anong masakit sa’yo?” tanong niya rito habang hawak ng isang kamay niya ang kamay nito, at ang isa naman ay hawak ang noo nito. “What the fuck? You’re running a fever! Wait, I’ll just get your things then—”
Natigil siya sa pagsasalita ng hilain nito ang laylayan ng polo niya. Nang harapin niya ito, unti-unti itong nagmulat ng mata.
“No, please,” she rasped at him. Her voice was so lined with pain that he had a trouble comprehending her at first. “No…Just—just meds. Biogesic. Lagnat lang ito…sinabayan ng migraine…kaya…kaya hindi ako maka…makakilos.”
“Pero mataas ang lagnat mo! You should be in the hospital. And you should have bloody called me in the first place.”
“No hospital. And dammit—don’t shout. You’re making it worst.”
“You should have—”
“Bathroom. Medicine cabinet. Nandoon yung gamot,” sabad nito sa mga sasabihin pa sana niya sabay hila nito sa kumot upang takpan ang sarili.
Huminga siya ng malalim. Tama ito. He shouldn’t spoil for a fight right now. Kailangan niya itong alagaan. Tumayo siya at kinumutan ito ng maayos bago tumungo sa banyo upang sundin ang utos nito.
“Do you have a thermometer?” he called out from the bathroom. A bary noticeable “hmm” was his answer. When he opened the medicine cabinet, he readily saw the biogesic and the thermometer.
Nang balikan niya ito, nakacurl itong muli at nakakulubot ng kumot.
“Prie? Heto na ang gamot mo,” wika niya rito sabay upo sa gilid ng kama. Nang ibaba niya ang kumot mula sa mukha nito, napansin niyang lalo itong namutla kaysa kanina at punong-puno ng sakit ang mga mata nito. She looked so vulnerable.
Tinulungan niya itong maka-upo ng maayos upang mapainom niya ito ng gamot. “Here,” abot niya sa gamot.
“And put this on your armpit,” abot niya rito sa digital thermometer. “Para malaman natin kung gaano kataas ang lagnat mo.”
Walang sabi na tumalima naman ito.
“Are you sure ayaw mong padala sa hospital? You’re as pale as the sheets. And you’re obviously in pain.”
“I’m fine—I can handle this. Can you just—”
Tinitigan siya nito sa mga mata as she slide back down. “I mean, could you call Mael? For me…please? I’m not sure I have the strength to do it.”
He stiffened. “Nandito naman ako,” wika ni Dave. “What do you need him for? I can take care of you. Where’s the thermometer?”
Sandali itong pumikit at pagkatapos ay inabot sa kanya ang thermometer before answering.
“Please Dave. I can’t deal with your jealousy now. He’s my doctor. So can you please call him? It’s important,” marahang wika ni Prie sa kanya bago ito muling nagbalot ng kumot.
He felt his face grow warm while anger pounded at his heart. Call that sly, damnable, SOB—
“Please,” he heard Prie whisper.
He took a deep breath. He was left with no other choice but to do as she bids. Gaano man siya naiinis na gawin iyon. Nagsimula siyang hanapin ang cellphone nito.
“It’s me,” wika ng boses mula sa kabilang linya. His mind suddenly went back to the scene yesterday. He felt his anger rise up. Dave.
Sandali niyang tinignan ang pangalan na nakaregister sa cellphone niya. It was Prie’s name. How come this bastard’s calling from her phone? A tiny claw of unease touched his gut.
“What do you want? And where’s Prie?” he brusquely asked the other man.
“I’m with her,” sagot nito. And he felt his gut tighten. He was with Prie? But Prie said she’s at home because—
He was pulled out of his dark reverie when Dave spoke again. “She’s sick. I found her curled up on the carpet when I came to see her. She told me to call you.” He heard the subtle anger on Dave’s voice. He clearly didn’t want to call him.
Prie? Sick? Agad na napababa ang tingin niya sa mga test results na hawak niya. Prie’s test results. He felt himself grow faint. She can’t be!
“What?” hindi niya napigilan ang sigaw niya. “Anong nangyari?”
“Don’t shout at me, dammit! She’s got a fever. 38.2. I want to take her to the hospital but she told me to call you instead. So I’m calling you. Get the hell out of there and see her now.”
He heard the hint of panic in his voice. 38.2. Shit. Hindi siya pwedeng magkasakit! Bumaling siya sa table clock niya. 8:59. He’ll be off in a minute.
Tumayo siya at tinanggal ang coat niya. “I’ll be there. Just make sure that she won’t suffocate herself. She tends to do that. And give her light food if you can. Soup, lugaw—”
“I know that. I already did. Just get the hell here.”
Bago pa siya makasagot, namatay na ang kabilang linya. He couldn’t help feeling angry. How dare this Dave—this child–make him look incompetent! He has been taking care of Prie for years! Then his gaze fell down again to the papers he had been reading before the call.
No. It couldn’t be happening again. Not again.
An hour has passed bago niya narinig ng sasakyan ni Mael. He wanted to rail at the man. One hour? One hour! Isang oras ng bumibiling-biling si Prie habang natutulog ito. He tried to feed her but she refused, so pinatulog na lamang niya ito. But even in sleep, she was suffering.
Tumayo siya upang palitan ang tuwalya na nasa noo nito.
“How is she?”
Napalingon siya sa pinagmulan ng boses. Isang haggard na Mael ang nasa pintuan ng kwarto ni Prie. “Bakit ngayon ka lang? I thought I told you to come pronto?”
“Shut up, kid.”
“She’s sleeping now.”
“I know. And didn’t I tell you to shut up? I’m her doctor so I know more about what she needs.”
“Yeah, right. She could have slept the whole day on her carpet and you wouldn’t have noticed. What a doctor.”
Tinapunan siya nito ng isang masamang tingin bago ito naupo sa gilid ng kama ni Prie. Gusto niya itong palayasin. Wala itong karapatang lapitan ang Prie niya!
But reason won out. Kailangan ni Prie ng medical attention, and he knew Mael could give it. He is a doctor. But that didn’t stop him from feeding his anger as he made his way to the bathroom.
“Prie?” marahang tanong ni Mael kay Prie as he touched her forehead. Medyo bumaba na ang lagnat nito. At masakit man sa pride niya, he knew Dave did a good job.
Unti-unti itong namulat ng mata. “Ma-mael?”
“Yes, love. I’m here. How are you?”
Pumikit itong muli. Ng buksan muli ni Prie ang kanyang mga mata, ngumiti ito.
“I think I’m feeling better.”
“That’s good. I was so worried when Dave called me.”
“Why? What are you saying sorry for? I should be sorry. I wasn’t here when you needed me.”
“No. It’s okay,” sagot nito na puno ng pasasalamat at paumanhin ang mga mata. “I’m sorry that Dave was the one who called you. I was just so weak that—”
“Shh. It’s okay. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I was able to go to you.”
She must have seen something in his eyes, because as soon as the words left his mouth, she became alert. “What is it? Mael? It’s the tests right?”
Nagulat si Mael sa sinabing iyon ni Prie. Did his face betray him?
“N-no, of course not—I only meant that I’m relieved that I’m with you right now. I’m your fiancé and your doctor, I care about your health,” sagot niya rito as he tried to smile at her. It felt stiff and it hurt his face.
“Your lying. I know you. You’re hiding something.”
“Prie, love, magpahinga ka na. You need to rest. Muntik mo na akong patayin sa takot. Bakit naman kasi nilagnat ka na naman? Di ba sinabihan na kita na maghinay-hinay ka lang?”
“I don’t know. I just woke up this morning like this. I tried to get some meds but my migraine got the better of me. Thus, the call.”
He wanted to ask kung paano napasok si Dave, but he held his tongue. It wasn’t the time for petty emotions like jealousy. “You need to rest the whole day. Okay?”
“Yes, doc,” may bahid ng ngiting sagot nito. “Anything else?”
Anything else? Palayasin kaya si Dave? He gave himself a mental shake. “May masakit pa bang iba sa’yo?” Umiling ito. “Kumain ka na?” Again, she shook her head. “Ano ka ba, you need to eat! I checked your blood pressure, it’s a bit low but food can take care of that. Okay? Take your meds. Have you called tita Mel?”
She shook her head. “Ano bang gagawin ko sa’yo?” he asked her, frustrated. “You’re so stubborn.”
“I’m okay, Mael.”
“You’re sick, of course you’re not.”
“I am. Now answer me. You’ve seen the results, didn’t you?”
She was looking at him with calm, penetrating eyes. He could lie no more. “Yes.”
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea to discuss it now.”
He sighed and held her hands in his. “It’s not good. Your RBCs are exploding. You’re body is not responding to medication anymore. If this continues—”
“It’s coming back, isn’t it? I’m going to die.”
Bumaling siya sa mga mata nito. She wasn’t crying but there was despair in the depths of her eyes. “Of course not!” marahas na sabi niya rito. “Don’t you ever say such a thing. Inaayos ko na ang lahat. We’re looking for a hospital in the US who’s specializing in bone marrow transplant. You’ll be okay.”
“Yes. I’ve talked with my mom. Siya na ang mag-aayos ng papers natin from there.,” wika niya rito. She was trying so hard not to cry. “You’re going to live. I need you.”
As he said the words, tears started flowing from her eyes.
“What the hell did you do to her?”
Sabay silang napatingin sa kinatatayuan ni Dave. He was clutching the wet towel on his right hand and fire was in his eyes. Lumapit siya kay Mael at hinila ito patayo sabay dapo ng suntok niya sa kaliwang pisngi nito.
“You son-of-a-bitch! Anong karapatan mong paiyakin si Prie?”
“Dave stop it!”
Akmang susuntukin na lamang ulit niya ang hindi lumalabang si Mael ng maramdaman niya ang hawak ni Pries a kanyang braso. Putlang-putla ito ngunit puno ng determinasyon ang mukha nito. Binitawan niya si Mael.
“Why are you doing this? Walang ginawang masama si Mael.”
“He made you cry!”
“Anong masama sa pag-iyak ko? He did nothing to me. And you’re acting like a child.”
“Acting like a child? What the fuck! Ayoko lang na pinapaiyak ka. I told you. I hear it when you cry, and I hate it when I see you crying. This bastard made you cry.”
“What?” hindi makapaniwalang tanong ni Dave. “I’m wrong? I’m always wrong in your sight. Shit! Get back to bed.”
Pagkasabi noon ay padabog itong lumabas sa kwarto at pagkatapos ng ilang sandali, pabagsak ding nagsara ang front door. Ng marinig niya ang pagharurot ng sasakyan, parang bumagsak ang kanyang puso.
Lumapit siya kay Mael. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” wika nito habang pinupunasan ang nabasag na labi nito. “C’mon, you should go back to bed.”
“I’m sorry for his actions—”
“No. Don’t worry. I’m okay.”
“Bakit naman hindi mo man lang siya pinigilan? Look at you.”
“He’s got a point. I did make you cry. I’m guilty.”
Dave was seething with anger. Once again, kinampihan na naman ni Prie ang lalaking iyon over him. Ganoon na ba kababa ang tingin nito sa kanya? Lahat na lang ng ginagawa niya, mali para rito. And to think that blasted Mael was enjoying at his expense.
Binusinahan niya ng marahas ang kotse sa harap niya. Shit. What a rotten day. Even a drive couldn’t cool his mind.
“There are times that I just want to look at your face, with the stars in the night. There are times, when I just want to feel your embrace…”
It was his phone call alert. Prie’s favorite song. “Hello?”
“David! Where are you, my boy? We’re supposed to start rehearsals two hours ago.”
His researhal. He forgot all about it. Shit. “Yes, I’m sorry, mate. I got stuck with something. Anyway, I’m on my way.”
“Okay. We’ll be waiting.”
Ng pindutin niya ang end button, muling sumagi sa kanya ang kalagayan ni Prie. May sakit pa rin ito at ang tanging kasama lamang nito ay ang Mael na iyon. Nag-tiim ang kanyang mga bagang. He couldn’t go back there until that man was out of the house. And he couldn’t cancel the rehearsals. Sigurado siyang makakarating sa kanyang ina ang balita kapag nangyari iyon ang he didn’t want her getting suspicious.
Minaniobra niya ang kotse at nag-U-turn. He needed to go home and get his Morgan Monroe violin. Ng makalipat siya sa kabilang lane, naisipan niyang tawagan si Prie.
“Hello?” sagot ng isang baritonong boses. Pinatay niya ang telepono. That bastard was still with her. Even though it irked him to let him take care of her, he was glad she had someone for awhile.
He couldn’t risk his mother’s suspicions for now.
Hapông ibinaba ni Dave ang kanyang violin. Tatlong oras nang tuloy-tuloy ang kanilang rehearsals at nauubusan na siya ng lakas at pasensya. Inabot ng ilang ulit bago niya naayos ang kanyang pag-tugtog at halatang ikinairita iyon ng kanilang direktor. Halata kasi na wala siya sa focus.
“What’s happening to you, Dave? You’re out of focus,” sita sa kanya ni Kanji, ang direktor, ng bumaba siya ng stage. “It’s not like you at all. Are you sick?”
“Then what in the heavens is happening at you? You’re mother will be going after my head if she ever hear you playing like that. For goodness’ sake! It’s Mozart’s. You’re a Mozart genius.”
“Hey, I know I did bad,” naiirita na rin niyang sagot. “But I’m trying to do my best. Something just came up and it’s kindof distracting me. That’s all.”
“Well I don’t care what the hell happened, but what I do care about is your performance. You have to do more than try your best. You’ll be performing with your mother and Alexa is a perfectionist. Even if you’re her son, you have no right to destroy her career. Are you listening?”
“Whatever,” inis niyang sagot rito as he made his way to the snack room. Hindi na niya pinansin pa ang tuloy-tuloy na paglilitanya nito tungkol sa kanyang pagiging isang arrogant snob. He already knew what his tirade was all about. He has been hearing it for so many years. It doesn’t bother him in the least.
Walang gaanong tao sa snack room ng pumasok siya. Good. Pumunta siya sa isang sulok at inilabas ang kanyang cellphone.
“Hello?” mahinang tanong ni Pries a kabilang linya.
“How are you?”
“Hey, look, I’m sorry about what I did earlier. It’s just that—”
“You don’t have to say anything, Dave.”
“Bullshit. Look, Prie, I said I’m sorry okay?” inis na wika ni Dave sa kausap. “Anyway, how are you? Are you—is anyone looking after you right now?”
Narinig niya itong bumuntong hininga. “I’m okay. Konting lagnat na lang. And no, pinaalis ko na si Mael dahil may duty pa siya mamayang gabi.”
“Iniwan ka niyang mag-isa diyan?” hindi makapaniwalang tanong ni Dave. How could he possibly do that to Prie? She’s sick!
“Dave, malaki na’ko. I can take care of myself. You don’t have to be so over-protective.”
“Of course I can be over-protective! Ayokong nagkakasakit ka at ayokong mag-isa ka lang. I’ll go there after the rehearsals. I’ll be there, I think, mga eight. Have you eaten?”
“Thanks, but no thanks. Itutulog ko lang ito. Anyway, good luck sa rehearsals. Do your best. Bye.”
“Wait—” pigil sana ni Dave. But he was already talking to a dead line. Gusto niyang ibalibag ang telepono sa galit. How can she put him off like that? She needed caring and he wanted to give it, but she’s acting like she didn’t need him at all. It grated at him that she could dismiss him like that.
“Hey Dave, Kanji’s calling you,” tawag sa kanya ng isang assistant mula sa may pintuan.
“I’ll be there.”
“Is there any problem?” tanong nito sa kanya ng makita ang ekspresyon sa kanyang mukha.
“No, nothing,” sagot niya ng lagpasan niya ito.
He couldn’t tell anyone there why he was distracted. If he did, siguradong makakarating agad iyon sa kanyang ina. At kapag nangyari iyon, malamang ay gagawa ang mommy niya ng paraan upang ilayo siya kay Prie. Takot pa rin kasi itong bumalik siya sa dati kapag napalapit na naman siya sa kinakapatid. And even though he’s legally an adult, his mom still holds the reins gawa na rin ng nangyari sa kanya dati.
“Let’s do it from the start. Leo, you do the piano for now, I think you’re more in tune with Dave than Alicia,” wika ni Kanji pagbalik niya sa stage. Bumaling ito sa kanya. “Dave, I want a perfect piece.”
Sa halip na sumagot ay ipinwesto na niya ang violin sa kanyang balikat at pumikit. He needed to concentrate. Kailangang matapos agad ang rehearsals. Mag-isa lang si Prie sa apartment.
The sound of the notes filtered to his consciousness like the soft words of a lover. When he heard the familiar opening note for his violin solo, he gave himself fully to the music.