Deserted

 

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Prologue

 Things fail for a reason. Sometimes it's not yet meant to happen or it's really not meant to happen. 

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Desert 1

 Chapter 1: Favorite

I grew up with hatred in my heart. I cherished it. My heart became a paradise of thorns and drought. But then ice is also abundant. I could be the coldest person, or the most destructive. And as I loathe those people whom I should love, I'm also busy hating myself for my becoming.

They say we shouldn't live up to society's standards. We should adapt but we can't let them dictate our way of living. Yet, what if society is not the enemy? What if my real enemy is myself?

"I didn't allow you to touch my chessboard," sita ko kay Gin. She's my younger sister – half-sister to be exact, mother side.

"Teach me how to play chess Ate, please," she said while blinking her eyes. Akala niya ata cute siya sa ginagawa niya. Well sorry, she's not.

"No. Stop touching my things and get out of my room," mariin kong sabi sa kanya. Nakita ko ang mariing paglunok ni Gin. Lumihis ang kanyang tingin sa akin at maingat niyang binalik ang chessboard ko sa lagayan. That's it Gin. I want you to know your place.

"How about we just play with your dolls Ate?" Bigla niyang kinuha ang dolls ko na nasa isang lagayan. Nanlaki ang aking mga mata nang ginugulo na niya ang buhok noong mga dolls ko. Stop, please.

"Stop touching my things! You have your own toys!" Sigaw ko sa kanya. Para namang walang narinig ang kapatid ko't patuloy parin siya sa kanyang ginagawa, tinanggal niya pa ang damit ng dolls ng walang halong ingat. Stop, stop!

"Angelica Nicoline! I told you to stop!" Sigaw ko sa kanya. My heart's beating so fast. Halong kaba at galit ang nararamdaman ko. Kung may pinaka off-limits man sa lahat ng gamit ko, that's my dolls. Si Daddy ang nagbigay sa akin no'n, wala silang alam kung gaano ko 'yon iniingatan.

"Yna, stop yelling at your sister!" Pabalibag na binuksan ni mommy ang pinto ng k'warto ko. She came to Gin's rescue. Gano'n naman parati...and why am I acting like I'm not used to this?

"Tumigil na kayong dalawa. Change your clothes, kanina ko pa sinabi na aalis tayo," aniya. Napairap nalang ako sa kawalan.

"Don't you roll your eyes at me young lady! Hindi kita tinuruan ng ganyan, lumalaki ka ng paurong," sita niya sa akin. I gritted my teeth.

Ang lawak ng bahay namin pero sa kahit anong sulok nito, walang lugar para sa akin. I'm my mom's firstborn. I don't know if society's aware of this hierarchy, but I'm supposed to be the who's getting the attention, the respect, the favor. But then, how's that going to happen if favoritism exist in this house? 

Nanahimik nalang ako. I kept my mouth shut although there's a war going on inside my head. I pretend like it doesn't affect me, but it's really consuming me inside.

Kinuha ko ang dress sa aking closet saka mabalis na nagpalit ng damit. Nang matapos kong itirintas ang aking buhok, nag pabango't pulbos ako.

Bumaba ako sa sala para hintayin si Gin at mommy. Inabala ko ang sarili ko sa pagbabasa ng magazine na nadampot ko sa center table. Agad din naman akong nabagot doon kaya binalik ko nalang ang magazine sa kung saan iyon nakalagay kanina.

Napakabagal talaga nilang kumilos. I hate waiting for too long...

"Mommy, buy me dolls later, okay?" Rinig kong sabi ni Gin. Tumayo na ako nang marinig ko ang mga yabag ng paa nila sa hagdan.

My brows furrowed when I saw what Gin's wearing. Tiningnan ko namang muli ang dress na suot ko.

"Later Gin."

Padabog akong umakyat papunta sa kwarto ko para magpalit ng damit. I don't want to be seen outside matching outfits with my sister, just no!

We attended a birthday party that afternoon, my mom's friend celebrated her 37th birthday.

"Beatrice family?" The concierge asked. Nasa isang magarbong hotel kami. This is too much for a 37th birthday party. I'd understand kung debut 'to.

"Yes miss," nakangiting sagot ni mommy doon sa babaeng nasa front desk. The event lasted for 3 hours, kung hindi lang magmamaktol si Gin na pumunta sa mall ay hindi pa kami aalis. Good thing I brought the book dad gave me when I was six. I lost count on how many times I've read Dante's Inferno. It's my favorite although I can hardly understand some words used in the book. 

"Ate, may I see your book?" Tanong sa akin ni Gin. I was hesitant at first pero pinahiram ko narin sa kanya. Inabala ko ang sarili ko sa tanawin sa labas. I kept myself busy by observing what my eyes sees. I may seem quiet, but the truth is, I'm busy watching things within the grasp of my eyes. I am busy classifying people, labeling them on how they act.

Napalingon ako kay Gin at nanlaki ang mga mata ko nang makita ko kung anong ginagawa niya. She's scribbling on my book! Where'd she get that goddamn ballpoint pen!

Agad kong inagaw ang libro ko sa kanya, then I made an impulsive decision because I am damn angry! I spanked Gin on her thigh. Napahiyaw naman siya sa lakas ng palo ko. I don't know what to do with this kid anymore!

"Arya Nicolette! Anong ginawa mo sa kapatid mo?" Sigaw sa akin ni mommy. Huminto siya sa gilid ng highway. Pinalipat niya si Gin sa passenger seat at inaalo.

"Tingnan mo nga! Lumatay na 'yong palo mo sa kanya! Lintik ka!" Galit na galit si mommy sa akin dahil sa ginawa kong pagpalo kay Gin. Tiningnan ko ang libro kong sira ang cover page. May plastic cover 'yon pero sobrang diin ng sulat ni Gin. Sinulatan niya rin ang front page ng libro pati narin ang ibang pahina.

My favorite book has been murdered to death...and I hate how my mom is oblivious on how many generation this book has been passed on. Dad's great grandma was the first owner of this classic.

Iningatan nilang lahat 'to tapos hinayaan ko lang na masira siya bigla. I'm such a disgrace!

"Say sorry to your sister Yna," baling sa akin ni Mommy. My system's heating up and I know I'm about to blow. Si Gin ang may kasalanan bakit ako ang hihingi ng sorry? Dahil lang sa pinalo ko siya? That kid needs discipline! Masyado na siyang spoiled kay mommy, she needs to learn.

"No," sagot ko kay mommy. She looked at me with her sharp eyes, she thinks she can tame me with that? Sinuklian ko ang tingin ni mommy, doble pa nga kung tutuusin. I won't compromise. Kahit pagalitan niya ako pag dating namin sa bahay, I don't care. I'm not going to apologize for something I'm not even sorry for. Never.

"You're grounded." As I've said, I don't care. I'd take that anytime. She's actually doing me a favor here. Grounded means freedom for me. I get to live a quiet life for the mean time. It's just me and my books, nothing in between. No Gin, no mom...nothing, like I don't exist.

Sumalampak ako sa kama ko pag dating namin sa bahay. Sunod-sunod ang patak ng luha ko habang tinitingnan ang librong sinira ni Gin. I'm sorry dad, I have failed you.

Nang pumunta kami sa mall kanina ay hindi ako pinapansin nila mommy. Alintana ko na 'yon, sanay naman na ako. If one day she'll confess to me that I'm adopted, I wouldn't be surprised.

Niyakap ko ang malaking bear na bigay sa akin ni daddy. Bihira lang kami magkita kasi ayaw ni mommy na nagkakalapit kami. She hates my father so much, alam ko naman ang history nilang dalawa and I don't know what makes my mom so furious up until now.

What they had was just a puppy love. Bata pa sila noon at naging mapusok sila. Dad didn't know that my mom was pregnant when he flew to Spain. He returned a month after pero ayaw na siyang kausapin ni Mommy. Mom was the one who burned the bridge between them. I get where she's coming from but not hearing my father's side is unfair.

Dad loved my mother so much. It took him a while to move on, kahit pa nagkaroon ng bagong boyfriend si mommy. Ang lalaking 'yon ang tatay ni Gin. I forgot his name though, but I can still recall how handsome he is. Hindi ko lang malaman kung bakit hindi dala ni Gin ang apelyido ng lalaking 'yon.

I'm not carrying my father's name because my mom didn't approved of it. Dad threatened her with a lawsuit but my mom is a descendant of the devil. She told my dad that she'll abort me if that happens.

Daddy had no choice but to live with it.

Binuksan ko ang laptop ko na bigay ni daddy para sana mag iwan ng message sa kanya sa mail. But my mom's damn fast, napalitan na agad ang password ng WiFi. Hindi ko naman puwedeng tawagan si daddy 'cause my phone's confiscated. Laptop lang ang hindi because of educational purposes.

Months passed, grounded parin ako. The only thing I hate with being grounded is my inability to connect with my dad. I miss him so much. Siya lang naman ang palaging nasa tabi ko.

"Ms. Beatrice, ikaw ang representative ng section niyo para sa Science Quiz Bee," sabi sa akin ng Science teacher ko. Ngumiti't tumango lang naman ako kay ma'am. Sanay naman na ako sa ganito. I like competing, it's my drug. I like seeing people lose, I like seeing them in pain.

Because seeing them like that is like seeing my own reflection. It's good to know that I'm not the only one in this world who's hurting. That's how I cheer myself up.

"Merry Christmas mommy!" Bati ni Gin kay mommy. She planted a sweet little kiss on our mom's cheek. Ang cute nilang tingnan, but too bad I couldn't care less. My only wish right now is to get out of this house and visit my father. I don't know how long has it been. Apat na buwan na ata akong grounded. Even on Christmas Eve!

Inabot ni mommy ang malaking regalo niya kay Gin.

Ang sa akin naman ay nasa isang maliit na pulang sobre. She'll bother herself finding her favorite daughter a gift, and when it comes with me...never mind.

Tinanggap ko nalang ang binigay ni mommy, iipunin ko nalang 'to.

"Aren't you going to eat Yna? Niluto ko 'yong favorite mo," nakangiting sabi sa akin ni mommy. What now? This is the first time she smiled at me again simula no'ng sinabi niyang grounded ako.

"Later Mom, I'm not that hungry," tamad kong sabi. Wala talaga akong gana. I want to talk to my dad and greet him.

"Yna, don't spoil this night," paalala niya sa akin. Hindi nalang ako umimik at nilampasan si mommy. I went to our balcony for some fresh air. The cold breeze kissed my skin. I could sense happiness in the atmosphere, but my system's not permitting me to absorb it.

Umalis ako sa balcony at napadaan ako sa kitchen. Nakita ko sa bar counter ang cellphone ni mommy. Hindi ko na pinigilan ang sarili ko, agad kong kinuha 'yon at tinawagan si daddy.

"Hello Amanda?" Sagot ni daddy sa kabilang linya. My lips involuntarily smiled when I heard his voice.

"Daddy this is Yna," sabi ko. Nag-iinit ang gilid ng aking mga mata. If only I could leave this house and live with my dad...I can't wait till I'm eighteen.

"Merry Christmas Yna! Sorry daddy can't visit you. Ayaw ng mommy mo," malungkott na sagot sa akin ni daddy. Pinunasan ko ang mga luha kong lumalandas sa aking pisngi. This is more than enough daddy.

"I love you daddy-"

Hindi ko na natapos ang sasabihin ko kay Daddy dahil may umagaw ng cellphone sa akin. It's my mom. Agad niyang pinatay ang tawag saka niya ako kinaladkad papasok sa kwarto niya.

"What are you doing Yna? Do you have to talk to your dad? Am I not enough?" Sigaw sa akin ni Mommy. I can feel her frustration, it's too strong to ignore.

"I want to talk to my Dad," simpleng saad ko kay mommy. Kahit gusto kong sagutin ang sinabi niya kanina, I still need to respect her because it's a norm to honor our parents.

"Why is it always your dad?" Tanong niya sa akin. Hindi ko napigilan ang sarili kong magpakawala ng maliit na ngisi.

"Why is it always Gin?"

Let's not talk about favoritism, mom. Perhaps I'm not adopted at all. I got this trait from her.

 

 

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Desert 2

Chapter 2: Tell Me

After that Christmas Eve, hindi na ako gaano kinakausap ni mommy, hindi narin naman ako grounded. She returned my phone, may access narin ako sa internet kaya madalas ko naring nakakausap si daddy. I'll celebrate New Year with him and his family.

"Wala kang nakalimutan?" Tanong sa akin ni daddy nang sumakay ako sa kotse niya. I simply smiled and shook my head. I was like a wandering soul for the past four days. I didn't know how and where to settle, until dad's new wife insisted to invite me over and celebrate New Year with them.

"How's school? Ilan na umaaligid sa'yo?" Nakangising tanong sa akin ni daddy. He keeps on asking me that, kung may umaaligid ba sa akin, kung may manliligaw ba ako...it's sickening.

"School's fine dad, and walang umaaligid sa akin." Mayroon, actually. I'm just good at shooing them away. Hindi ko rin alam kung paano ko nagagawa 'yon, isang tingin ko lang naman sa kanila ay nawawala na sila na parang bula.

And I'm only in Grade 5, for heaven's sake! Bata pa ako para sa mga ganito. Dad shouldn't be thinking about any of this yet. I'm still so young...but something deep within me has already grown because I nurtured it, and I shouldn't have.

"Hmm...totoo ba 'yan?" Naniningkit ang mga matang tanong sa akin ni daddy. Napailing nalang ako't umiwas ng tingin. Okay, there's one guy in school who's pursuing me. Pursigido talaga siya kahit anong pananaboy ko. I've turned him down for like seven times already! I don't get why people my age are so thirsty with love and being in a relationship. What's so good about love? It's a flaw...a fatal one. I should know, I've seen it fail too many times.

"Your tita's really excited to see you," ani daddy. He meant Tita Ria, his wife. Sumilay ang isang ngiti sa akin. I like Tita Ria for my dad. She's very welcoming and sweet. Sweet to the extent that I like her more than my Mom.

"Kumusta pala si Raphael? Can he say daddy now?" Tanong ko. Raphael is my half-brother, one year old palang siya. Dad kept on complaining about Raphael, hindi pa kasi nito sinasabi ang word na daddy o kahit dada man lang. But my brother can utter mama already...dad's just jealous.

"He said dada one time when he was pooping," galit na saad niya. I can't help but burst into laughter. Natawa nalang din si daddy sa akin...I wish I can just live with them.

"How are you Arya? How's living with your mom and Gin?" Seryosong tanong sa akin ni daddy. He knows about my issues, I can hardly keep it from him. Hindi ko nga lang alam kung nagagalit din ba siya, most of the time kasi he's trying to make me understand why my mom and my sister are like that. He's always telling me that he would be really sad if I let myself drown in anger.

The last thing I want in this world is to disappoint my father...so I try and try to understand even though they're illogical.

"I'm fine dad, everything's fine." I lied. Daddy, alam mo bang sinira ni Gin ang paborito kong libro? Alam mo bang dahil doon kaya hindi kita nagawang kausapin ng ilang buwan? Daddy, alam mo bang hirap na hirap na ako sa bahay? Alam mo bang pakiramdam ko sampid lang ako? Daddy, alam mo bang ayaw ko na sa kanila, gusto ko nalang tumakbo at sumama nalang sa'yo?

I have so many things to say to him...I want to shout everything that's breaking me and ruining my youth. I'm just a child...and I shouldn't be like this. I shouldn't be filled with anger, I should be the one who knows more about love and faith.

Pero may mga tao lang talaga sa mundong ito na sisirain ang paniniwala mo, na sisirain ka...at minsan sila pa 'yong tinatawag mong pamilya.

Dad let out a deep sigh. Hinawakan niya nang mahigpit ang kaliwang kamay ko't hinalikan 'yon.

"I love you so much Yna," aniya.

"I love you too daddy."

Pag dating namin ni daddy sa unit nila ni Tita Ria, isang masarap na amoy galing sa kusina ang sumalubong sa akin. Tumakbo ako papunta kay tita saka humalik sa kanyang pisngi at nagmano.

Buhat ni tita si Raphael habang nagluluto ng Menudo. Hinalikan ko si Raphael sa kanyang pisngi at hinayaan naman ako ni tita na kuhain si Raphael sa kanya.

Yumakap si daddy mula sa likuran ni Tita Ria. He wiped tita's sweat and he even planted little kisses on her nape.

"Stop it Al. Kuhain mo nalang si Raph kay Yna, patulugin mo na muna siya," ani tita. Humabol ng isang halik si daddy bago sundin ang sinabi ni tita. Napapangiti ako sa kanilang dalawa.

The bond they have is too strong. It's powerful and beautiful at the same time. I haven't seen a love like this before...

"I missed you Yna, bakit ngayon ka nalang ulit bumisita? Nalungkot tuloy kami ni baby Raph," ani tita. Napangiti nalang ako't lumipat sa kanyang tabi para makisilip sa kanyang Menudo.

Knowing that tita missed me is flattering. Buti pa siya...

"I missed you too Tita Ria, grounded kasi ako kaya hindi ako nakabisita, kahit nga tawagan si daddy 'di ko nagawa," I honestly said.

"Tell me about it. Anong pagmamalupit nanaman ba ang ginawa ng mommy mo sa'yo? Sinabihan ka nanaman ba niya ng lintik?" Tanong niya. If there's one person I could be totally honest about things, si Tita Ria na 'yon.

She's not just a step-mother to me, tita's like my best friend as well. Kung may maliliit man akong detalye na hindi nasasabi kay daddy, kay tita ko iyon nasasabi lahat, ng buo.

Sinabi ko kay tita ang lahat ng nangyari, walang labis, walang kulang. Nakikita ko ang maya't mayang pagtaas ng isa niyang kilay, ang pag-irap niya sa kawalan, at ang pagkuyom ng kanyang panga.

"For Pete's sake! Yna, dito ka na tumira sa'min. You don't deserve to be treated like that! Your mom does not deserve a daughter like you!" Paasik na saad ni tita.

"Tita why are you like this? Why are you so good to me?" Minsan hindi ko maiwasang hilingin na sana sa kanya nalang ako nanggaling. Sana si Tita Ria nalang din ang mommy ko, Raphael's really lucky.

"Why not Yna? You're a good kid, you're also my husband's daughter. At kahit hindi ka niya anak, magiging mabuti parin ako sa'yo," nakangiting sabi niya sa akin. Something within me felt warm...

"Sana katulad mo si mommy. Or better yet, sana ikaw nalang ang mommy ko, tita." I couldn't help it. Bigla akong napaluha dahil sa mga sinabi sa akin ni tita. Niyakap niya naman ako't hinalikan sa noo. I want to be a part of their family so bad...I want this kind of family.

"Ako nalang ang mama mo. Instead of calling me tita, call me mama instead," aniya. Pinunasan ni tita—mama ang mga luha ko.

"Okay mama."

Tinulungan ko si mama na maghain sa hapag. Nilipat naman nila si Raph sa crib para sabay-sabay kaming tatlo na makakain.

Mama and daddy kept on asking me stuff about school and my subjects until...

"Bakit hindi mo nalang palitan ang surname mo Yna? Arya Nicolette Devereux sounds nice. Right Al?" Aniya.

"Yes it does. Kaso magwawala ang mommy niya. Baka ipagdamot na sa akin si Yna kapag ginawa namin 'yon." And I don't get why...

Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit possessive sa akin si mommy kahit hindi ko naman maramdaman na anak niya ako. Is it some kind of ego trip?

"Hmm...let's just wait until she turns eighteen."

Unlike Christmas, my New Year's far better, I had a blast. We went to Hong Kong on the 30th of December. Doon kami nag celebrate ng New Year. For once, I got to enjoy and embrace my youth. I felt like an actual kid. Hindi rin nila pinaramdam na iba ako, I felt like I really belong to a family...their family.

"Bumisita ka sa weekend Yna, okay? We'll miss you so bad," paalam sa akin ni mama. Ihahatid na kasi ako ni daddy ngayon pauwi sa bahay.

And as usual, parang wala ulit ako sa paningin ni mommy, si Gin naman ay parati akong kinukulit para makipaglaro sa kanya o para hiramin ang mga laruan ko, especially my dolls.

"Zon, stop it will you? I made myself clear, I'm not ready for a relationship and I don't like you," sabi ko sa aking kaklase.

Christmas vacation is over at pasukan na ulit. Si Zon, siya 'yong lalaking pursigido talaga sa akin. Habol siya ng habol sa akin kahit anong pananaboy ang gawin ko sa kanya and it's tiring. He's a good guy, but he's not just for me.

"Yna please, kahit tanggapin mo nalang 'tong chocolates. Pinabili ko pa 'yan kay daddy sa Canada, please? Kahit ito lang," aniya. Bigla naman akong sinipa ng konsensya.

Zon is good at making me feel special, ramdam ko naman 'yon sa lahat ng ginagawa niya. Kahit simpleng pagpapahiram lang sa akin ng nag-iisang lapis niya just so I could answer my test, gagawin niya.

"Thank you Acosta, thank you so much..." Ngumiti siya sa akin nang tanggapin ko na ang chocolates na bigay niya.

The least I could do is to appreciate his efforts...I'm sorry Zon. You're too good for me.

Mabilis na lumipas ang panahon, graduate na ako ng elementary, Top 1 ako sa batch namin nang mag Grade 7 ako...and then I met people who made me feel that I wasn't alone in my game anymore. They're the ones who keep me sane in my day to day living.

"Hi guys! Kanina pa ba kayo?" Tanong sa amin ni Farah. She's my friend along with Kate, Giana, and Alexis. I consider the four of them as my family. They're not just my best friends, they're my sisters.

"Yes, apparently," sagot ko. Nilingon naman niya ang dalawang lalaking kasama niya. She introduced them to us. The three of them are childhood friends, they were neighbors at sabay-sabay na silang lumaki.

"Rhys," naglahad ng kamay sa akin ang isa sa kanila. His eyes are dark...like my soul. They were also expressive and really strong.

"Yna." Tinanggap ko ang kamay niya. Sinabi sa akin ni Rhys na pinsan niya 'yong isang kasama nila ni Farah. Tumango lang naman ako't inalintana 'yon.

"Giana, is Alexis ever coming?" That girl better be here in five minutes or else! Siya ang nagpasama sa amin dito sa bazaar, dapat siya ang pinaka maagang dumating, hindi kami ni Giana! I should be reading a book right now!

"Hi I'm Illes," singit sa amin ng isang lalaki. Rude! Nakita na nga niyang kausap ko si Giana, sisingit pa siya.

"I'm Giana," nakangiting tinanggap ni Giana ang nakalahad na kamay ni Illes sa kanya. Ni hindi man lang sinagot ng kaibigan ko ang aking tanong, thanks to this guy.

And then it's my turn to accept his hand...I didn't. Tiningnan ko lamang iyon saka siya tiningnan sa kanyang mga mata. His almond brown eyes were smiling at me. Unlike his cousin Rhys, Illes' features were softer. The only thing that made him look like an asshole is his scar on his left brow...and also his earring.

Siya na mismo ang kumuha sa kamay ko. That gesture made me furrow. The guts of this guy!

"Illes Fuego De Quintos," aniya. May diin ang pagbigkas niya sa bawat pantig ng kanyang pangalan. I was about to retrieve my hand when he tightened his grip.

"Come on Yna, say your name and tell me that you're glad to see me." What the hell? Who is this guy again?

"At bakit? Sino ka ba?" Naiinis na tanong ko sa kanya. Siniko naman ni Rhys ang kanyang pinsan para suwayin. Thank you Rhys!

Binitawan ni Illes ang aking kamay saka siya humalukipkip at nagpakawala ng isang ngisi.

"Once is enough for a wise man," aniya.

This can't be happening.

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