Seven years later, I am still here; a bit lost, a bit out of focus. But luckily, I am still alive with a small bit of hope in my heart.
Small cracks on the off-white ceiling greet Elise as she opens her eyes. She groans as she reaches for her phone which is now crying so loud with an alarm that she has set the night before. She swipes the button to turn the cries off. She sighs and slowly gets up while stretching her arms upwards as far as she could reach. She lets out a long yawn before she finally shakes her head and says, “Good morning, self. You can do it.”
Elise throws her soft, purple blanket to her side and after a few seconds, her entire body is vacuumed back to her bed. She groans while she reaches for her pink striped pillow just above her head. Then she exclaims, “No! You are so stupid! Sleep is life.” She dozes off once again but just after a seemingly quick nap, she opens her eyes as she hears the crying of her phone, again. This time, she quickly gets up from bed and turns off her phone. She runs to the bathroom and turns on the shower. She removes her blue onesie and jumps under the running water. “Aaah! Shit, it’s too cold!” she jerks away from the water and quickly reaches down to the knob and adjusts the shower temperature. After a few seconds, she extends her right arm towards the running water and checks the temperature. “Great! Much better.”
“Esme, can you please get the snacks for our guests?”
Esme looks to the direction of the voice as she stands in the middle of the living room holding a handful of freshly picked roses. She smiles as she responds to the voice, “Yes, Mama. I will get them in a while. I’m just putting the roses in the vases.”
“Elise… Elise! Hoy!”
Elise suddenly jolts off her chair after that hard tap on her shoulder. She stares at her laptop and sees that there are a few new lines in her story. She adjusts her glasses and tries to double check what she has, but it does not take a long while until she hears another call, “Elise? Ms. Elise Marcelo.” This is the only time she remembers the tap on her shoulder and slowly glances at the person calling her.
She sees a thin young woman now standing on her left, holding a lot of black clear books. Elise smiles and responds with her high-pitch voice, “Anna! You’re back!” She gets up and jumps in front of the lady while stretching her two arms wide open for a hug. “Anna, girl! Come here. Give me a hug.”
Anna steps back before responding, “Hoy, girl. Stop that. Can you just help me with these first?”
After hearing this, Elise drops her arms as well as the wide smile that she has on her face. She grabs a few of the clear books and put them on her table. Then she grabs the rest from Anna’s arms and put them on top of the others. Then she glances at the lady next to her, the one she calls Anna. She smiles again and opens up her arms. This time she hugs Anna and kisses both her cheeks.
“Friend, you’re back! I am so happy to see you! Why didn’t you tell me that you are coming back today? I would have picked you up.,” Elise cheerily begins the greeting.
“Ms. Elise, as if you are really going to pick me up. You are the busiest person in the company. But…” Anna forces herself free from Elise’s hug and glides to the right side of the table after quickly picking up the laptop. “…it seems you aren’t so busy after all. Are you writing again?” then she stares to Elise
“Shhh… give me that,” she snatches her laptop back.
“I…I am not sure. Okay?”
Elise sees Anna’s face turns so pale with her mouth opened and her arms just hanging to her side. “Anna, hey. Here, sit down first.”
“Elise, is… is it happening again? Girl! That’s great news!”
Anna quickly snatches the laptop from Elise’s arms and reads the first few lines outloud.
As the warm touch of the afternoon sun touches the window of the Serafin family’s house, the glitters of the light fill the room and lighten up the newly picked roses from Esme’s hands. They bring a sweet greeting, not knowing that in the next hour, the entire family is going to face the angel of death.
After hearing these lines, Elise’s eyes widen as if it is the first time that she hears of the events.
“Girl! Are you writing a horror story this time?” Anna exclaims as she gently puts down the laptop on the table.
But Elise seems to have frozen in her position and simply stares blankly at her friend, until Anna claps loudly in front of her face.
“Girl, are you alright?”
Elise’s knees weaken and set her down to a crouch. Her left hand starts to tremble and tears fall down her cheeks.
Seph opens his eyes to the tapping of raindrops on his bedroom window. He gazed to his right to check the time. With a quick sigh under his breathe he murmurs in disbelief, “It’s just freaking 4am.” After another sigh, this time much louder than he anticipated, he moves to his side and grabs the pillow under his head. He covers his entire face with the soft pillow and hugs it so tightly while he lets out a scream. As the pillow muffled the sound, he releases his grip and throws back the pillow behind his head. He moves lies back; eyes looking at the ceiling.
Damn it! I need to get up. Why do I need to do this?
He rubs his eyes first as to wake himself more. Then he slowly sits down on his bed and reaches for his eyeglasses that are on top of the night stand. He switches on the light on his headboard and goes stands up. He gently put on his slippers and walks to the window.
“Luckily it’s raining. At least there’s something good with this morning.”
After looking out of the window, he turns to his bed and stares at it for a while.
“Hay, later. I’ll see you again later.”
Seph walks to the bathroom and turns the knob on for the shower. He waits for a few seconds before he reaches to feel the temperature of the water. As he touches the water, his lips gently turn to a smile. He takes off his eyeglasses and put them on the sink outside the shower area. Then he goes back in and takes off his shorts and goes straight under the shower. This time, he breathes softly as if counting all the seconds in between. He opens his eyes and sees red all over. He suddenly gets dizzy and has to lean to the wall on his left side to keep his balance. He closes his eyes again to clear his view. He waits and counts to twenty. Then he opens his eyes. Nothing.
He closes them again and rubs both his eyes feverishly. He stops when he hears a call.
“Esme… Esme, come here.”
Seph's breathing quickly changes pace as if he has run a marathon. He cannot seem to control his breathing. His knees fail him as he suddenly drops to the bathroom floor. He keeps his eyes close as he tries to get his breathing back.
He counts to twenty and back. He does this over and over until he hears another call.
“Why are you waiting there? Come join us.”
Seph cannot see anyone or anything until he hears a familiar voice responding back.
"No worries. I am just waiting for Esme to come and see me before the dinner. I will be going as well in a few."
He touches his chest and whispers to himself, Calm down. That is just your dream. Stop it. Relax. One, two... and he counts until twenty again.
Remember what Mom used to say. Count to twenty and it will be gone. One, two, three, four...
He finishes two sets of twenties and his breathing goes back to normal. He slowly opens his eyes and sees the shower still running. He is seated on the cold bathroom floor and he sighs in relief.
"I should take take medicine. I should definitely listen to Mom more."
Seph then gently pushes his body up but for the first try misses it. He simply lets out a big laugh and then tries again. He stands up and presses himself against the wall. He turns the knob of the shower and waits for the water to change. He touches the drops and knows that it's ready.
Just a hot shower. That's all I need. I need to rest.
Just then, he hears his phone in the room ringing. He sighs and turns the knob close for his shower. He gets the shampoo and squeezes a small amount on his hands. Rubs it on his hair and then turns the water on again. He later gets the soap and washes his body. He does not mind the continuous ringing of his phone in the bedroom. He simply just continues with his early morning shower.