When I was seven, I saw my Uncle Bob on his knees with his hands on my mom’s legs begging. Begging mom to take mercy on him. You see, Uncle Bob was a drug addict and a bad gambler; he lost his whole inheritance in buying cocaine and meth and of course by gambling. He had a knack with the roulette table, mom explained to dad before. Anyway, mom’s family have always been known to be too proud so see my surprise when I saw my Uncle Bob on his knees begging mom to give him money to pay off the loan sharks and drug dealers.
Mom paid it all and she put him to rehab but not before she told him how pitiful and disgraceful he was. Mom told him that he was no man at all, to kneel down and beg, to set aside his dignity just for a pinch of meth.
I could still remember how mom laughed at the state of poor Uncle Bob. It was heartbreaking, to see Uncle Bob without his dignity intact. I prayed that it’d be the last time I see someone setting aside their dignity and beg.
I reach for the remote control of the TV to turn it on, I’m bored and there’s nothing else to do here at the hospital but stare at the ceiling. No one visits me, not that I’m complaining but I just miss the clatter of noises my cousins would definitely bring if they’re here.
Unfortunately, they’re all gone. They migrated abroad to avoid the scandal Karl had brought to the family. Last March, Karl shot his friend Michael, he almost went to jail if not for the help of one particular judge—a family friend they said—they won’t admit it but I think they bribed the judge and other authorities not to prosecute Karl.
Michael’s family dropped the civil case too. I don’t really know why I mean, Michael almost died because of Karl and he needed a new heart for what happened to him. But I think they dropped it because they knew they won’t win.
There are several family friends who are in politics and also we have the means to bribe. I’m not saying I agree with what my family had done bribing and all but if that meant that Karl would not be spending his life in prison then so be it.
Unfortunately though, my family and Michael’s had agreed that Karl leave the country. He’s exiled now to California.
I flip through channels and decide on ETC when I see The Vampire Diaries is playing. I hear my door open and thinking it’s just one of the nurses who come and go as they please, I ignore it and focus my eyes to Damon and Elena dancing.
“Are you going to ignore me all the way through?” I turn my head towards the door and I see Kim leaning against the wall with a big grin in his face.
I smile widely. “Anong ginagawa mo dito?” I ask him stilling smiling. I look at him from head to toe and I laugh. Kim’s wearing a black trench coat, it actually suits him. He looks divinely handsome. “Seriously? A coat?” I laugh again.
God. It feels so good to laugh. I’ve been moping since I got admitted and today is the first time I laugh.
He smiles “You don’t like it?”
“It’s hot!” I sputter. Then I look at him seriously. “Can you hold me?” I ask him.
Immediately Kim’s at my side and is holding me. I bury my face on his chest and let myself cry. I don't know why I’m crying, maybe because of the lost of time or chance. But I cry in Kim’s arms.
And it feels good to cry. To lean over someone’s shoulder and be comforted.
“Have you visited Michael?” I ask Kim who’s taking his coat off.
He looks at me then shakes his head. He gently folds his coat and places it on the chair. “I’ll see him tomorrow.” He sits over the chair beside my bed and starts to peel an apple for me.
“Do you think he’ll ever forgive Karl?” I turn the TV off and reach for my laptop.
He smiles at me wanly. “He’s angry. In one instant his life changed, it’ll take time for him to heal. He’ll forgive Karl eventually but they will never be friends again.” He says, he hands me the apple.
I take it from him and bite. “Then do you think Karl will ever forgive himself? I worry about him Kim.” I tell him. Since that fateful night, Karl seemed subdued. He hasn’t been himself and I don’t like it. I’m afraid Karl will go on to the darkness.
Creepy much, I know. But sometimes for people who are angry, hurt and confused, darkness is a very nice place to be. It numbs the pain. And everyone who’s hurt wants to numb the pain.
Kim leans forward and kisses me on my brow. “Don’t worry. I’ll talk to him.” He assures me. Maybe Kim could talk to Karl after all he’s the best friend. “Can I borrow your laptop? I need send an email to my professors.” And even without my answer, he takes my laptop from me and settles it to his lap.
He frowns. “I don’t like your wallpaper.”
I don’t answer him and just give him a smile. I love my wallpaper. I eat my apple as he uses my laptop. I just realize, it isn’t summer vacation in the US so why is Kim here and not back at Brown?
I shrug the worry away. Maybe he took a week of absence.
Kim left. He said he needed to check in to the hotel and shower. He had a long flight and when he arrived here in Manila, he came to see me first before anything else. He did look tired.
I jump off the bed, grab my laptop and sit on the armchair near the window, I don’t want to stay abed the whole time I’m here. When I open my laptop, I notice that Kim forgot to sign out.
I admit I’m nosy so when an opportunity like this arises I take control. I check his IM account and notice that he had been chatting with Lizzie. Lizzie is his ex-girlfriend, a very gorgeous hot blondie.
I open their chat and I read it which I’m ashamed to say is that this is one thing I regret or maybe not.
ian.montenegro: I’m sorry Liz
elizabeth.parker: You know, during our entire relationship I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was always waiting. I knew with one phone call, everything we have would change and I was right. For the first time in my life, I wish I was wrong because it hurts Ian. It hurts to be right about the one thing I knew that would make me lose you.
ian.montenegro: And I’m so sorry Liz. I never wanted to hurt you. I care about you.
elizabeth.parker: But you will never love me… It will always be her. It’s never going to be me, is it?
ian.montenegro: I love her. She’s it for me.
elizabeth.parker: I know. I’ve known that even before we started dating. God. Megan told me not to date you. She knew you’re going to break my heart because everyone knows Mary’s the only girl you will ever love. But I threw caution in the wind. You were so heartbroken when she pushed you away and I wanted to heal you. I thought maybe, just maybe you would forget her and you would love me back. I thought I could make you happy.
ian.montenegro: I was happy with you Liz. You helped me a lot. I was in a very dark place when you came to my life and I will always be grateful. I know I’ve hurt you so many times and for that I will always be sorry. And if you’ll have me as a friend then I’ll always be a friend to you Liz.
elizabeth.parker: You were my friend before you became my boyfriend, I guess you'll always be my friend. But are you really going to throw everything away?
ian.montenegro: Thank you. Yes. She needs me Liz. I need her. I can’t stay when I don’t even know if I’ll ever see her again. I need to be by her side.
elizabeth.parker: I’ve always wanted to hate Mary. She has everything I want: you. I kept thinking, why do you love her when she only pushes you away? Why her? Why do you keep letting her hurt you? I wanted to hate her. The first time you brought me to meet her, I wanted to tell her what I thought of her. I wanted to show her what she had lost. Then I saw her and she was so kind and always smiling. How could I hate someone like her? She has a life threatening illness but she was still smiling. Then I saw how you look at her and I understood. I began to understand why you fell in love with her. I understood the depth of your love for her.
ian.montenegro: If you understood then, why did you stay with me?
elizabeth.parker: Because the stupid part of my heart hoped that you’d look at me like that someday. The way you looked at her that night while you were playing the piano, there was so much love and admiration. I wanted that. Who doesn’t want a guy to look at her like she’s the world for him? I realized that night that if she just say the word, you’ll come back to her. You’d choose her over me. But I also realized she won’t ask you to choose her. I learned why she kept pushing you away and I kept it in myself because I love you and I didn’t want to lose you. So I kept hoping.
ian.montenegro: Someday Liz you will find someone who deserves you, someone who would look at you the way you want him to. I will never be that guy Liz. I love Mary more than life itself and I don’t care how many times she push me away because I will never leave her. She’s my life. I understand what you’re feeling and I know loving someone who doesn’t love you back hurts like hell. I understand that because loving Mary hurts and sometimes I just wish that I never met her. But then I will never know love if not for her. The pain will ease Liz. It always does. Be angry with me and it will help. But don’t let your anger be you Liz. You will find someone who deserves you.
elizabeth.parker: Are you sure you’re the best person to advise me with moving on?
ian.montenegro: Who else would you ask if not me? Megan? Tch. I know I’m probably the last person you’d trust but trust me the pain will ease. It’s not forever.
elizabeth.parker: Are you not hurting right now?
ian.montenegro: Me? It’ll always hurt. But this is the choice I made. She will always love Louie. She will always try to push me away. But losing her hurts more. I can’t bear a life without her. Mary loving Louie? That’s just a scratch but losing her? That’s like tearing my heart out.
elizabeth.parker: She will never let you stay you know that right? She’ll tell you to go. She will never let you defer for the year.
ian.montenegro: I know. I’m going back anyway. Mom said she’s dying Liz. She already died once and those two minutes were the most heart wrenching moment of my life. I thought I lost her. And this time I will make sure I won’t lose her. If I do lose her then I want to be the last one to hold her.
elizabeth.parker: You’ve made up your mind, if there’s one thing you and Mary have in common, that is once you made up your mind there’s no changing it. It hurts but I understand. She’s your everything.
I’m pacing back and forth, everything inside me hurts. And while everything hurts, I am also angry. Furious even. At myself, at Kim.
When I hear the door opens, I stop from pacing and stare at Kim who smiles at me when he enters the room. “I brought you some…” he stops as he sees my expression. “You know.”
“I want you to go back to Brown.” I tell him. I mask my pain with anger because I don’t want to let him see that I’m also hurting while I’m hurting him.
In an instant, he’s in front of me, his eyes pleading me. I shake my head. Then one unforgettable thing happens, he drops the bag he’s carrying on the floor and he drops to his knees.
I look at him dumbfounded. I shake my head again, willing him to stand because I can’t find my voice. I don’t want to see him on his knees. It pains me to see him doing this because of me.
“Please I’m begging you Mary, let me come with you.” he says looking up to me with his eyes full of unshed tears.
I let my tears fall because at that moment, I reduce him. I don’t see the confident Kim, I see the desperate Kim. The one who set aside his pride for me and I hate it.
I hate myself for doing this to him.