Tag Archive | Michelle

The Late Rose (4)

Michelle woke up in the middle of the night and saw her mother sitting by the window. She slowly got up and wrapped a shawl around her mother’s shoulders.

“I’ve been sleeping all day, what’s your excuse?”

“That’s not an excuse Inay,” Michelle softly laughed. “You need all the rest you can get.”

“And I am going to get it soon enough,” Aling Miding responded stubbornly.

Beaten, Michelle sat next to her mother and gazed at the sky. She remembered the night when she first arrived; it looked exactly like this.

“I want you to know that everything is going to be alright.”

Michelle was stunned at her mother’s words and could only look at her.  She was not sure what caused this, whether she really knew what was going on as all mother’s do or she was just in actuality reassuring her. She laid her head on her mother’s shoulder and moved closer.

“What if it won’t?”

“It will.  All you have to do is find the place where you belong, not where you think you have to belong and everything will fall into place. Listen to your heart, that’s where God puts all the answers to our questions.”

As Michelle tried to ponder on her mother’s words, an unexpected gust of wind blew into the room.  She felt her mother’s breathing become steady, too steady to be normal.

With her heart beating wildly, Michelle looked up and saw her mother’s face awash with peaceful slumber.

 

The next morning, Michelle went directly to Fr. Martin to arrange her mother’s funeral. The whole day was a blur to her and she felt more like a passive participant than an active observer.

The funeral was set up in one of the church’s rooms.  She was spared from the emphatic looks of people, some of whom were family friends once, as Fr. Martin, and the church volunteers took over almost the entire job. Fr. Martin brought her back to her senses as he gently shook her shoulders and whispered something in her ear. Erik is at the back of the room patiently waiting for her to notice him. She nodded at him in acknowledgement and followed him to the garden.

“Erik, I don’t think this is the right moment—”

“I’m sorry, I know it isn’t but I’ve been up all night thinking about us.”

Michelle held her tongue and waited for him to continue. A part of her wanted him to say that he does not care about her past, that he still loves her but there is also part of her that wanted Erik to say that it is over between them.  That it is never going to work.

“I never had a purpose in life Michelle.  Living in the province does not give you that kind of luxury, but that was only until I realized that I love you. Sure, you’re different now and at first, I did care. You couldn’t really blame me could you? Here I am thinking that you will always be the sweet, pure Michelle that I have cherished, and then you went away and…”

Erik trailed off and appeared to be at a loss for words. Michelle understood.  He was right; how could she blame him when he did nothing wrong but to continue to live in a dream?

“I changed Erik, and it was a mistake but there’s nothing more I can do but to recognize that fact and go on with my life. I’m not asking you to accept me; I know that’s asking too much.”

“I want to give us a chance Michelle; I care a lot for you. You still love me don’t you?”

Michelle looked directly at Erik and hugged him. Her mother’s word echoed through her mind as she closed her eyes and everything became clear.

“Yes, I do love you. That was one thing that never changed.”

 

On the third day of the funeral, Michelle walked beside Erik as she headed the procession to the cemetery.  She was still grieving but she did not cry; tears are only for those who are lost and hopeless, never again will she be one of them.

_______________________________________________________________________

    Arriving home, Michelle quickly searched through her family’s belongings and found what she was looking.  A family picture that was taken five months before her father passed away.  It was taken right after her high school graduation and their faces glowed with love and the promise of a bright future.

She laid the picture on the center table and put the rest of the things that she did not need in a big box.  After that, she went outside to wait for the people who were going to pick up her donations to the church. Presently, she saw a dirty pick-up truck that looked as though it was once white but was now the color of cream due to the dust it had collected through the years. It stopped in front of her and Fr. Martin got out, followed by two seminarians.

“Is this everything?” Fr. Martin asked as he pointed to the box that was positioned at the center of the porch.

“Yes,” Michelle replied as she went to lock the front door of her house. “And no.”

Without saying a word, she handed Fr. Martin a key and a paper that was rolled into a scroll. Curios, Fr. Martin unrolled the paper and stared in disbelief at the texts written there.

Michelle smiled understandingly. “This isn’t a house Father.  This is a home and I want you to find a deserving family that will once again bring life to it.”

Fr. Martin chuckled as he rolled back the title deed and dropped the key in his jeans’ pocket. He opened the front car door and motioned for Michelle to enter.

“Are you sure about this Michelle?”

As an answer, Michelle resolutely climbed in then waited for Fr. Martin to enter in the driver’s side as well as for the two seminarians to settle in the back.

As Fr. Martin started the engine, Michelle took one last look at the home that had once been the source of all her happiness.  Now it will serve as a very treasured memory in her heart.

The End.

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The Late Rose (3)

As morning dawned, Michelle could not help but feel as though she woke up to a different world.  Her heart was light and she felt very refreshed.

Her mother insisted on having breakfast with her the right way, on a chair and table.  After eating, she made sure her mother would keep her word and not get out of bed unless necessary, and went to the church.

This time there was no hesitation, and a smile kept playing at the corners of her lips as she entered the building.  She could see people either kneeling or standing, all with their hands clasped together, their hearts speaking as one.  Near the altar, she could see candles flickering gaily as more people came up to light theirs and give thanks.  Michelle stepped forward and added her candle.  She then went to the back of the church to where Fr. Martin’s office is.

As if fate became her dearest friend overnight, she saw Fr. Martin on his way to his office while talking to one of the gardeners.  She patiently waited for him to finish before approaching and she was spared from having to call to him when he turned and saw her.

“You seem different today.”

Michelle smiled and once again touched Fr. Martin’s hand to her forehead.

“I heard about what happened last night; I’m sorry.”

“I haven’t really thanked you for the letter. If it wasn’t for you—“

“I only did what I had to Michelle. Your father is my best friend and for me, that makes you the daughter I will never have. Tell me, what changed your mind?”

Michelle fell silent, an emotion she had come to hate until now.

“When I received a scholarship to study in Manila, I felt like I hit the jackpot. Finally, I had a chance to make something of myself but when I arrived there everything changed, especially me.”

Michelle faltered but only for a moment. She sat down and Fr. Martin sat next to her, ready to do nothing but listen.

“I became one of the damned as life left me one after another; I didn’t care.  I was too absorbed in myself, scared to be alone and unloved.  Scared to be a probinsyana, scared to be me.”

“But last night, after Inay told me that she loved me no matter what, I felt the need to pray.  When I did, I felt like I was given another chance to live a life.  A life where I won’t be afraid to be alone, as long as that meant I am true to myself.”

Fr. Martin looked reflective as he listened intently to Michelle. He did not need any elaboration from her. Clearly, Michelle had done it all on her own and a confession was no longer necessary. For what was an act of contrition done to a priest when compared to a heart-felt apology done directly to God?

“Late repentance is seldom true; but true repentance is never too late,” Fr. Martin thought to himself although he said it louder than he intended to.

“Walter King Venning,” Michelle replied promptly.

“Huh? What did you say?” Fr. Martin asked as if coming out from his own reverie.

“Late repentance is seldom true; but true repentance is never too late, Walter King Venning said that. I didn’t understand it then but I know perfectly well what it means now.”

___________________________________________________________________________

    Erik did not know what to make of Michelle’s message. He was out when she went to his home and looked for him; she found his mother there and instead left a note for him.

Upon receiving it, he immediately went to the cliff, their favorite place since they were children and there she was, more beautiful than the last time he saw her. She was smiling as they hugged but there was something in her eyes that made him nervous.

“I’m sorry—,” he began but Michelle cut him off.

“I know I haven’t given you the time of day since I arrived; I did it because I didn’t want to hurt you. I love you Erik, more than my life but at the same time I have to stop loving you.”

Erik started to say something but closed his mouth when he saw that there was more and he feared he would not like whatever it is.

“I’m not the same girl you loved, I’m different now and I don’t just mean the city-girl type of different.”

Pausing, as though she herself feared what she had to say next, she took Erik’s hands in hers and clasped them tightly.

“Two months before the end of my second year in college, I had an abortion and that was not the last.”

Erik gasped and took his hands from her. He did not believe her.  How could he when every time he looks at her, every time he hears her voice all he sees is the same Michelle he had known and loved all these years?

“I know how easy it is for me to say that it wasn’t my fault, that I’m just a victim; but I also know that if I said that then I’d be fooling myself.”

Michelle continued but try as he might, he cannot understand anymore of what she is saying. All he wanted was for her to stop, to say that this is all a joke, that she just made this up for him to finally leave her alone.

“That’s why I didn’t return. It did not feel right for me to come back knowing that I am no longer the person I was then; I became a woman although not in a way I would have wanted to,” she paused, as though searching for the right words to describe the grim reality of her experience. “I got lost Erik.”

Overhead, the distant flapping of an eagle reached their ears as it hunted for its prey.  Butterflies flew from flower to flower, unmindful of the life that is slowly ending.

“Why are you telling me this? To show me how wrong I was to continue on loving you?” Erik cracked. “To show me how stupid I have been?”

“To show you that the love you have no longer exists. I’m no longer the person you love.  Stop loving a dream.”

“Then you’re asking me to die.”

Michelle blinked her eyes as the birds broke into a song and the trees rustled to the arrival of the wind.  Her tears fell unchecked into the ground, happy never to be held back again.

“I am asking you to live.”

To be continued…..

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…..