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A nerve-wracking marriage of two old lovers who broke up once few years ago If there will be a reverse button, would they choose to click it

Napabalikwas ako nang marinig ko ang malalim na boses ni Dad. Humarap ako sa kaniya. He's hands were slid inside his pockets like he's expecting this to happen.

He looks calm.. but as for me, I think I'm going to faint here..

"D..Dad." My voice cracked as tears fill my eyes. Oh my, God. My hands trembled like hell and surge of fear drowned me kaya nabitawan ko ang cellphone niya at ang hawak kong papel. 

Mabilis siyang lumapit at hinawakan ang kamay ko. His eyes were serious and it's like he's saying that he forgive whatever I just did. "It's okay.." 

Sunod sunod ang pagtulo ng luha ko. I am so fucking scared! "Stay away. Stay away!" Imbes na bitawan ang kamay ko ay mas hinigpitan niya ang hawak. I don't feel any pain pero mas lalo akong nanginig sa takot. "I said stay away!"

"You have to understand, Wendy! This is all for you!" His voice sounded like  thunder. Gustong gusto ko nang tumakbo! Pilit kong binabawi ang kamay ko ngunit hindi niya binibitawan.

"On your 19th birthday, you got drunk.." His baritone voice sent me warning that I should listen very well. Unti unti akong kumalma habang minamasahe niya ang kamay ko. Bakit niya ito sinasabi ngayon? What is he up to?!

"Abala kami ng mommy mo sa pakikipag usap sa mga kliyente sa opisina kaya hinayaan ka naming magsaya kasama ang mga kaibigan mo. Akala ko natanggap mo nang hindi na babalik si Renzo dahil isang taon na ang lumipas. Until that night, on your birthday, we heard everyone shouting your name."

Hinila ako ni Daddy patungo sa balcony at ayaw ko mang magpatianod ay wala akong nagawa dahil malakas siya. Marahas niyang binuksan ang glass door. "You stood here." Saka niya nilapag ang kanang kamay ko sa mismong tungtungan ng sementadong balustrade. Then suddenly, I recognized few memories of me standing right here.

I'm waving my hand. 

"You were waving your hand."

I'm holding a bottle of beer.

"You're holding a bottle of beer."

Then I shouted.

"Then you shouted that you wanted to die."

Umatras ako pero hinawakan ako ni Dad sa braso habang nakaharap pa rin kami sa direksyon ng pool. Saka ko naalala ang isinigaw ko pa ng gabing iyon. 

"How could he forget me like that? What am I going to do now?" It was a whisper but my father's glance at me proved that he heard it. He didn't correct me at all, meaning.. I remembered it right.

Muli akong nanginig sa takot dahil may mga alaala akong bumabalik pero hindi ko matanggap. Tuluyan akong nanghina nang tila mabuo ang lahat ng pangyayari gamit ang huling piraso ng alaala ko.

Dad held my arms tight while his other hand landed on my back preventing me to lose balance. "Wendy.."

"Then I.. I jumped, didn't I?"

He remained silent. I stared blankly at the pool. Pinapakiramdaman ang pagkirot ng bawat sulok ng puso ko. 

"Why.. why am I still alive.. then?"

"You're badly injured but not enough to cause you death."

The emptiness was slowly filled with grief. Grief for my old self. How.. how could I do that.. to myself? 

"You were declared comatose for a month..." He continued..

"Sinabihan ko ang lahat ng dumalo sa party mo na kung magtatanong ka, ang sasabihin nila ay nadulas ka lang at nabagok ang ulo. I don't want you to remember how pathetic it was.. to kill yourself.. for a goddamn boy. It helped that you got drunk that night.. you did not remember anything."

Nang makabawi ako ay kumawala ako sa pagkakahawak niya at matapang siyang tiningala. Fully believing that I am his precious daughter and that he wouldn't hurt me even if I betrayed him. "Why are you telling me this?"

"Your mother had miscarriage four times."

"W..what?"

"You're our fifth baby, our fifth miracle, our fifth try and I swore to the depths of heaven and hell that I'd do anything for you. Anything for you. Gusto mo si Renzo? Hinayaan kita sa kaniya! Pero masyado ka pang bata, wala ka pang alam sa pakikipagrelasyon! Mas inuna mo siya kaysa ang pag-aaral mo. You were badly distracted so I told him to back off.."

"Sandali. You.. you're the reason why he broke up with me?"

"I did it so you could focus on your studies but I didn't know that you would waste your life just because of a heartache. 8 long years and yet.. you're still crazy for him. I don't want you to do the same mistakes again, skipping meals, slitting your wrist and worst, killing yourself! I can't watch you do that all your life. So I did what I had to do. The fire, everything.. just to push this wedding. To give.. what you wanted the most."

Pakiramdam ko'y masusuka ako sa lahat ng narinig. It.. it was all because of me! Oh my, God! Tinulak ko siya at pinilit siyang maainag kahit napupuno ng luha ang mga mata ko. My heart is pounding hard and painful at tila gustong kumawala. Hindi ko makayanan ang mabilis na pagtibok nito kaya kumikirot ang buo kong katawan sa sakit.. "Why.. why?!"

Huminga siya ng malalim. "Ida's death was not part of the plan. She's supposed to leave for her next appointment before the explosion but it's not my fault if she decided to take a nap instead." 

Tuluyan na akong bumagsak sa sahig habang nakatakip ang dalawang palad ko sa aking mukha. I gasped for air habang sunod sunod ang paghikbi. "It was my entire fault then.." I muttered to myself. Umiling ako habang patuloy sa paghikbi. "But I.. I never asked for this. You should've never done things like that!"

"I am your father, you don't have to ask for this—"

"You're crazy!"

"Look who's talking.."

Sinasabunutan ko ang sarili ko at baka sakaling magising ako sa bangungot na 'to. Is this even fucking real?! Because I'm losing my sanity!

"Ang inutusan ko, tumawag siya ulit para sa karagdagang bayad. Kung hindi ako susunod, nagbanta siyang papatayin ang Mommy mo. I can't let him touch my wife.. so I killed him." He didn't even trailed off, like he believes that all he did is just fucking right but it isn't. Kahit saang anggulo tignan ay mali! 

"I know that the phone is your last chance and I can't believe you really took the bait.." Pumasok siyang muli sa kwarto at pinulot ang cellphone niya pati ang papel. "You betrayed your own father."

"How could you.. how could you do this, Dad?.. How.." 

I spent the whole night crying.. my conscience didn't let me sleep. Nanginginig ang buong katawan ko at paulit ulit akong sumisinghap ng mas maraming hangin. My heart is aching to death I want to remove it from my chest. Mom didn't know what happened and I don't want to tell her either. I was so fucking scared.

The morning came at maaga akong umalis. I can't stay another hour in that house. I called Renzo para makipagkita. 

Nagpunta siya sa opisina ko nang past lunch na. "Nakuha mo ba?"

I stared at him at hindi ko na lang maiwasang mapabuntong hininga. How could I tell him that everything was my fault? I was so crazy for him that's why my dad took steps. So crazy.. so pathetic. 

"Nahuli ako ni Dad."

Kumunot ang noo niya at napaupo ng diretso.

"H.. he knows. Alam niya ang plano natin.. we lost our last chance."

Kumuyom ang panga niya habang hindi maalis alis ang kunot sa kaniyang noo. Nanlilisik na naman ang kaniyang tingin kaya yumuko ako.

"I'm sorry." That's all I can say. I was so afraid to tell him the reason behind everything.

Mabilis siyang tumayo at lumabas sa opisina ko. Napabuntong hininga ako at yumuko sa lamesa. Binuhos ko ang mga natitirang oras sa araw ko sa iba't ibang meeting sa labas dahil kung magmumukmok ako sa opisina, pakiramdam ko'y mababaliw ako sa kakaisip. Balak ko nang umuwi pero tumawag ang sekretarya ko na naghihintay daw si Dad sa opisina. Pagdating ko roon ay pinagmamasdan niya ang bagong name plaque na nasa lamesa ko.

"How's OC?" He asked casually. As if wala siyang nagawang pabigat na kasalanan. Like he didn't kill anyone!

Bumuntong hininga ako at saka nagtungo sa upuan ko. "It's fine."

"Nabawi na natin ang mga kliyenteng naagaw ng iMake, have you read the contracts?" Pinilit kong maging kalmado but I'm actually shivering. Nangangatog ang tuhod ko sa presensya pa lamang niya. Halos hindi ako makahinga kaya imbes na pumunta sa lamesa ko ay nagtungo ako sa fridge at uminom ng tubig. There's a devil with me in this room and that devil is my own father. How frightful this could get?

Sumulyap ako sa kaniya. "There's too many, bukas na 'yung.. iba." My voice fucking trembled! He noticed it kaya saglit niya muna akong tinitigan bago nagsalita.

"Wendy, you have to prioritize the clients."

"Marami akong meeting sa ibang mga kliyente kanina, give me a break."

"We can't lose another two or three clients. Ayokong maulit ang nangyari, na naagawan ng kliyente ang kompaniya ko."

"You're too greedy! Kahit bumagsak ang OC, hindi ka maghihirap, you have enough!"

"Watch your words."

"Ano ba kasing ginagawa mo rito? Binabantayan mo ba ko? Hindi ako magpapakamatay, okay?"

"Wendy.. I did all of this for you-"

"Stop it! Sa tingin mo ba ay natutuwa ako sa tuwing binabanggit mo 'yan?! Alam mo ba ang ginagawa mo, Dad? Pinapatay mo 'ko sa konsensya! Ako na sarili mong anak! I hate you for being so evil! Hinding hindi kita mapapatawad sa ginawa mo!"

Napaatras ako nang lumapit siya at umamba ng sampal ngunit nanatili ang kaniyang palad sa ere. Tila tinakasan ako ng kaluluwa ko habang tulala lamang sa kaniya. He stiffened.. and so am I. Nang makabawi ako ay hinamon ko siya ng tingin. "Sige saktan mo 'ko! Patayin mo na lang din ako para matapos na 'to!"

"Stop it!"

"You are so evil! I was hurt, yes! Pero hindi ibig sabihin ay mananakit ka rin ng iba para lang maghilom ako! I can heal! Kahit mahirap ay kinakaya ko but what did you do?! I was already barely living, Dad! But because of what you did, what else could push me to continue to live?!"

He stared at me for a while. Suminghap siya at matamang tumingin sa akin. I can see pain in his eyes. "You have to live if you want Renzo to live as well."

Nanlaki ang mga mata ko habang siya ay walang bahid ng kahit anong emosyon. "You are so fucking evil, Dad. Hindi man ngayon pero sigurado akong pagbabayaran mo ang lahat ng ginawa mo!" 

Biglang may kumatok sa pinto at niluwa nito si Renzo. Matagal ko siyang tinitigan habang siya ay nakatingin lang din sa akin.

"Ba.. bakit ka bumalik?"

"Gigi told me to come back. Para maasikaso ang mga kulang pa sa kasal." Saka niya inangat ang hawak niyang mga magazine nang hindi man lang tumitingin kay Dad.

I faced my father. "We'll talk about the wedding. You should go home."

Tumango siya at saka lumapit kay Renzo, tinapik niya ito ng dalawang beses sa balikat bago tuluyang lumabas. Renzo closed the door habang ako naman ay naupo sa swivel chair ko.

I exhaled violently para pigilan ang nag-aalab na galit para sa ama.

"Nakakagulat na kalmado ka lang.." I said.

"Yeah."

"I'm glad that you're looking forward to this wedding. I think this is the only way para hayaan ka ni Dad."

Tumango lamang siya. "I told you that someone has to pay. Hindi pwedeng ako lang ang nahihirapan."


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