The Late Rose (2)

Rain started to fall without warning and people ran in different directions to find shelter but Michelle did not care until her feet brought her in front of the church.  Hesitant though she was, she could no loner ignore the incessant raindrops drenching her whole body and hurriedly walked in.

A thick blanket was wrapped around her as the rain instantly sounded muffled and a warm, glorious sensation seemed to seep through her. She found herself standing next to a large figure and she backed off, not for anything else but shock. Gathering her wits, she looked back at the figure of the Archangel Gabriel with Lucifer at his feet and felt her insides squirm.

“I see you still have a fascination with that statue.”

Michelle slightly jumped at the sudden voice that came from behind her. She turned and saw Fr. Martin smiling as if he caught a child stealing a cookie before supper.

“Should I say a little prayer of thanks to the rain for bringing you here?”

Michelle smiled and touched Fr. Martin’s hand to her forehead. “I was going to see you Father, the rain just made my plan sooner than I—

“wanted?” Fr. Martin interrupted.

“planned,” Michelle corrected and looked back at the figure.

“I remember when you were a child; you used to be really scared of that.”

Michelle smiled at the thought. She would always hide behind her mother’s skirt and tightly close her eyes whenever they passed by the statue. Once outside, her father used to buy her a balloon and tell her that she should not be afraid because she will always be safe with them.

“I’m not scared anymore Father.”

“Neither do you know what you truly feel.”

Taken aback, Michelle tried to deny what Fr. Martin clearly sensed in her. She was very confused and more lost than she thought she was.

The rain has stopped and the sun began to show itself again. Michelle felt the rays of the sun kiss her cheeks and took it as her cue to go home. Fr. Martin knew that she was ready to leave and politely stepped aside. Michelle gratefully bid him farewell but stopped short when she heard his parting words.

“No matter how lost you are Michelle you can always find your way back. He will never give up on you and neither should you.”

Fr. Martin’s words were still ringing in her mind when she reached home. However, before even reaching the door, Michelle became aware that something was amiss. The sight that met her was more than enough to confirm her suspicions and any feeling she had felt vanished the instant she saw her mother sprawled on the floor. Rushing to her side, Michelle half-dragged and half-carried her mother to the bedroom and ran outside to fetch a doctor.

______________________________________________________________________

    Michelle had never been more afraid in her life than she was right now awaiting the doctor’s diagnosis. Unable to sit still, she paced back and forth across the living room until Erik had to stand in front of her to make her stop.

“It’s going to be fine.”

“No, it’s not,” Michelle choked as she sat down. “The doctor’s been in there for over an hour without a word or even an order to bring him something, anything.”

Michelle had run into Erik on her way back to the village.  Upon learning of her mother’s plight, he insisted they fetch the doctor in his tricycle since it is faster than relying on her feet. Gratefully, Michelle let him take the lead and became almost detached to everything until they went back to her house.

When the doctor finally came out of her parent’s room Michelle felt her knees shake. He said nothing but told Michelle everything. Sometimes, silence can also be a dreadful sound.

“How long?”

“You need to understand Michelle that your mother refused to be hospitalized. She also rejected the medications I gave.”

Michelle almost collapsed to the floor had it not been for Erik catching her just in time. Not knowing what else to do, the doctor silently gathered his tools.

“You still have at least three days with her.” With that, the doctor slightly dipped his head in farewell and headed for the door.

For the first time since she arrived, Michelle let her tears flow.  As her sorrow began to take hold of her body, all she could do was hold on to Erik, the man who had been so much a part of her life as a friend and as a lover.

Erik gently lowered her on the wooden sofa and held her tight, forcing his strength into her.

“If I only knew,” Michelle sobbed.

“Don’t torture yourself into thinking that this is all your fault, you mother has advanced leukemia and without treatment, it’s a miracle she lasted this long.”

“You don’t understand,” Michelle countered.

“If you would only explain it to me then I would,” Erik suddenly snapped. “That’s what I was trying to do this morning Michelle but you wouldn’t let me.”

“I can’t—”

“And you won’t. I don’t know why you are trying to be so mysterious but I deserve an explanation. I’m your boyfriend.”

“I never told you to wait for me Erik, I told you years ago to forget about me.”

“I did not think for a moment that you were serious.”

“And all the unanswered letters, all the times I was conveniently busy when you called did not tip you off?” Michelle fumed.

A bright flash of lightning suddenly cracked through the sky followed by the deafening roar of thunder. Without another word, Michelle went to the kitchen to cook a meal for her mother and simultaneously heard the loud bang of the door.

 

A few minutes later, Michelle was carefully balancing a tray filled with a bowl of hot porridge and a glass of water.

“I thought you were sleeping.”

“I couldn’t sleep, especially when I smelled something wonderful.”

Michelle smiled and set the food on the end table and pulled up a chair. She helped her mother to a sitting position and was about to reach for the bowl when Aling Miding gently admonished her.

“You’re not thinking of treating me like a baby do you? I’m not that ill not to be able to eat by myself.”

It was all Michelle could do not to break into tears as she handed her mother the food.

“Inay?”

Aling Miding put the spoon down and looked at her daughter. She motioned for Michelle to sit beside her then kissed her cheek.

“Whatever it is, forget it.  I don’t care what happened and why you did not come back for so long.  You’re here now and that’s what counts.”

Michelle hugged her mother, feeling guiltier by the moment.  Why won’t she let her apologize?  At least that will make her feel a little better.

“I’m a mother Michelle; mothers love their children no matter what.  To others you may be bad or ugly or too perfect but to me you are just Michelle, my daughter.”

 

The rain continued to pour as Michelle silently slid next to her mother.  As she closed her eyes, she felt a strange emotion invade her body.  As her mind recognized a long forgotten feeling of tranquility, a sudden urge burst from her heart as it guided her hands together in prayer.  Tonight, the voices did not come.

To be continued…..

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