Erica Bids Goodbye
He put his hands on her shoulder. There was a twitch in her body. She looked like she bounced back to reality. Her eyes became restless, looking at him. He noticed the fear in her eyes. Then tears started to build up. She seemed confused. She started to sob and then tears rolled down her cheeks. Then a little voice hurting squeaked, “No… don’t, please.”
“What’s happening Erica?” queried Mr. Green. He looked at Erica closely. He moved his hands off the girl’s shoulder. “What’s wrong Erica,” he repeated. The whole class’ focus was on Erica. She was acting weird. She would be present physically in class but her mind seemingly out wondering somewhere.
Erica tilted her head and recognized the familiar room. She recognized the faces of her classmates. She was in their classroom. She felt relieved for a moment only to feel the familiar fear when she recognized Mr. Green before her. Suddenly, she started to shake again. She had a grip of her bag. She pushed Mr. Green and jumped on her feet and ran out the classroom.
Mr. Green was awed. He did not understand what happened. He noticed the bizarre demeanor of Erica a week ago. The happy friendly girl started to move herself away from her friends. She started to put a wall between herself and to everyone. She would trepidate if a boy or a male would touch her.
Mr. Green shrugged his head. He pushed the thoughts away from his head. He moved back to the front and continued with his lecture.
Erica did not go home. She did not want to. She waited till late afternoon when she thought her mom would be home before she started home. She slowly opened the door of their house. She did not hear any sound. Mom is not yet home, she said in her mind. Nobody is home. She stealthily went to her room, not making any sounds. She closed her door and pushed the table to the door.
It was a moment later when she heard knocks on her door. She did not move. She started to breath very slow. There was another knock and she heard his step father’s voice saying, “Erica, open the door.”
Erica did not make any move.
Then, again, there was his step dad’s voice, “Don’t be a bad girl. Let daddy come in.” But Erica did not budge. She heard a step moving away from her door… then there was silence for a moment. She heard the crackling sound of the keys in her door knob. She heard a thud on the door. She saw the table she pinned on her door slowly being pushed forward and then she saw her step dad smiling at her in her doorway.
She suddenly moved and crammed herself on the side of her bed. There was a frisson of terror as her body started to shiver. She saw the shadow of her step dad moving closer to her.
Her dad moved closer to her and sat down. Patted her back and stroked her hair.
It was Tuesday early morning, around 7 o’clock. According to the radio, a storm is going to hit their place that morning. The sky was dark, and the sound of rumbling thunder was heard. Classes were suspended.
Aling Pena felt a tight hug from her back. She turned her head and saw Erica. She pushed her away. “Stop being dramatic,” she said in coarse voice. “Help me instead prepare the food for your dad.” Aling Pena saw the forming water in the eyes of her daughter but she did not let if affect her. She turned her back and busied herself. Erica moved away.
It was some moments later when Aling Pina noticed a folded paper on the table. She thought it was just another letter from the school about her daughter acting strangely. She lazily opened it. She noticed the familiar stroke of the letters. It was her daughter’s letter. It was addressed to her:
I am so grateful that I was born on this world. My words can never surmise how thankful I am. You nurtured me for some months in your belly, protected me and when I was born, you nursed me until the time when I can manage myself.
I remember back then, whenever you come home, you and dad would ask how was my day. You would kiss me and embrace me. Dad would do the same and sometimes, will pick me up and kiss me. There was one time when we went out together and I saw a doll. It was a pretty doll. I told you that I like it and you said we’ll buy it next time. I cried and you scolded me, but dad bought the doll anyway. I love that doll. It was my first doll. I still have it mom; it’s in one of the boxes in my room, I sleep with it every night. I tell all my problems to it… it reminds me of dad.
There was then another time when I woke up in the middle of the night because of a dreadful dream I had. I cried, and you heard it. You came to me and embraced me and told me it was only a dream. And to make me feel comfortable, you brought me to your room. I slept between you and dad and felt comfortable. That dream did not come back. I felt secured with you both by my side. We were then a picture of a happy family.
It was Sunday. We just came out from the church. I asked you if I can play in the playground with the other kids. You said no because we were going home. But dad said it was okay. Before you let me go to the playground, you reminded to stay only in the playground. I wish… I wish, I should had listened to you. I wish that when you said I can’t play, I said, “let’s go home”. I wish that when you said that I stay in the playground, I listened.
When the ball I was playing with went outside the playground to the other side of the street, I wish I should had called your attention to get it, and dad would still be then alive. Dad saw me when I tried to cross the street. He ran towards me and saw a car fast approaching. I wish dad did not come and pushed me away. It was my fault, I know, that he died.
You started to hate me then. I did not know. I did not understand then, but I understand now. You distanced yourself from me. I tried to make friends with other people to fill the empty space of longing for parents in my heart. You saw me laughing and hanging with my friends… but I was not totally happy. I miss dad terribly, as I miss you, too.
Then one day, you brought home tito Andress. Tito Andress brought shiver into my spine the first day I saw him. I dislike him… the way he looks at me and all those stuff. But I want you to be happy, so you did not hear a word from me against him, until the day he did that terrible thing to me. He does it whenever you’re not around. I tried to tell you about it but you dismissed me and told me that I must not bring scandal to the family’s name. I was hurting so much, but I can not tell the pain I was carrying inside me because you would not listen. I wanted a mom who would kiss me again and comfort me but what all I’ve got was a cold stare. I wanted a warm hug but what I get was a cold one.
I can’t take it anymore mom. I wish dad was here so I do not have to carry all alone my burden. I love you mom, but this is goodbye.
Aling Pena’s eyes were covered with tears staring at the letter. Then she called for Erica for many counts, but no Erica was answering. She hurriedly went to her daughter’s room but it was empty.
“What the hell is going on here?” shouted Andress, Aling Pena’s 2nd husband. “Why the hell are you shouting while it’s still early in the morning?” He demanded an answer.
“Damn you!” reiterated Aling Pena. She pushed him and stormed out of the house. She went out and searched for Erica but failed to locate her. “Where are you Erica,” she cried. She touched her head in a bewildered manner. She looked up in the sky, and her eyes spotted something in the bell tower of the church.
As if by divine intervention, she knew by heart the thing she saw in the tower is not a thing. She looked intently and she saw Erica.
She swiftly ran to the church and climbed the tower. She called for Erica.
Erica heard the familiar voice of her mother. She did not budge. She heard it again and she turned around and saw her mother. She smiled bitterly. She thought her mother was there to witness her end her life. Tears started to plummet down her quivering lips with the sting of her mixed emotions.
Erica moved one step backward to the edge of the tower. She felt the cool breeze of the air in her skin. She felt cold, but that did not matter for she knew that any minute from that time, she will not feel again the emptiness of life. She heard her mom said stop, but she was perplexed. She moved another step backward but there is no more to step on. She tried to balance her self, but she was unable to. She fell backward.
She saw her mom ran towards her. She raised her hand. She tried to reach her mom and her mom tried to reach her. Then she felt the warm skin of her mom. It had been many years since she felt that. She saw her mom’s lips move. There was a deafening thunder. But even with the sound of the thunder, she heard it. She heard the words clearly.
She closed her eyes. There was a smile on her lips. Not a bitter smile. Not a sad smile, but a smile of someone whose dream was fulfilled.
“I love you, too, mom,” were her last words. Then, there was silence. There was darkness. There was void and the rain teemed down.