Blown By The Wind – Kabanata 8
The first three days in Batangas were all about work. My sisters did not grow tired of the sea in front of the mansion. Kaya naman ay hindi rin kami maka alis alis doon.
Sa ika apat na araw naman, ‘tsaka nagdesisyong mamasyal sa bayan. Few tourist spots. Few churches we visited until we got exhausted and went home.
Sa hapag, si Daddy at Vincent ay puro disenyo ang pinag-uusapan. Vanessa is always there every night but she doesn’t sleep in the mansion. Mukhang ang bahay nila’y malapit lang dito.
Isa-isa kami ng kwarto ng mga kapatid ko. But then Ate Lyanna would go to Ate Reanne’s room because she find the antique things creepy. I didn’t, though.
The whole mansion needs renovation. Though the woodwork is a fine art, it needed to be “updated”, my father had said. Vincent agreed to him. Pati ang pag didisenyo ng extension nito pa kaliwa na mapupuno ng mga rooms, facing the sea.
The house is very Victorian. And the owner wants the extension to have the same kind of feel. To preserve its originality and to conform with the other wing. The wide windows on the sala revealed the sea. Amoy kape at toasted bread pagkababa ko. Siguro ay nagluto na ang kasambahay kahit alas sais pa naman ng umaga.
Tulog pa ang pamilya ko dahil sa pagod kagabi. Ako lang yata ang nagising ng alas sais ng umaga.
I heard a sound from the dock. Sumungaw ako sa bintana galing sa pagkakababa ko sa hagdanan. Nakita kong naroon si Vincent kasama si Vanessa sa iisang bangka. His broad bare shoulders is flexing as he removed the anchor from wherever it is.
“Yuhooo!” Vanessa shouted as the boat advanced.
Nagmamadali akong lumabas ng mansion para makita ang pag-alis nila. Vincent started the engine and it roared to life. Nakita kong may hinigit siya na lubid galing kung saan at ‘tsaka ito umalis.
Nanliit ang mga mata ko nang nakitang papalayo na nga ang bangka.
Hurriedly, I went to the dock to see if there’s another boat. I couldn’t hardly see Vince’s and Vanessa’s boat and I have to see it. I have to know. For whatever reason.
Sumakay ako sa isang bangka. Nakita kong may lubid na nakapalupot sa engine ay agad ko iyong hinila. Sa unang hila ay hindi ito umandar.
Tumingin muli ako sa karagatan at mas lalong lumayo ang bangka. Thoughts about him and those other girls, my Dad’s team, my Tutor, and now his “girlfriend” Vanessa sent shivers in me.
Hinila ko ang lubid ng siguro’y anchor. Sobrang bigat niyon na kinailangan buong katawan ang pinanghihila ko. I put it on the edge of the boat and started encircling the ropes on the engine, gaya nang nakita kong anyo nito kanina. For the second time, it did not roar to life.
But I guess the third time is the charm! It roared to life on my third time and then suddenly there was no holding back. Hindi ko alam kung paano imamaniobra ang bangka. Basta’t dumiretso na lang ito sa karagatan.
The wind is chilling. The mansion is getting smaller and smaller in my eyes. Imbes na mag enjoy ay nagconcentrate ako sa pagtutungo sa kung nasaan ang dalawa. If Vanessa is, indeed, his girlfriend. Then we wouldn’t know what happened between them in a secluded but public boat!
Dire-diretso ang bangka hanggang sa nakita ko na ang tawa ni Vanessa. Vince wasn’t laughing, though. His eyes was keen on the boat that’s coming towards them and that was me! Kunot-noo akong nakatitig sa kanila hanggang sa nag-iba ang tunog ng bangka.
What the hell happened?
Luminga-linga ako at nakitang umaangat ang bangka sa harap dahil ang lubid ng anchor kanina ay nasa ilalim na ng dagat! I’m stuck while the engine is roaring! The anchor’s caught in a coral or a rock that the boat couldn’t move now. No. It is moving! But upwards!
Terrified at what’s happening. Tumingin ako sa bangkang nasa ‘di kalayuan. I saw Vince dived on the sea just before the boat turned upside down hitting my head and throwing me on water. I struggled to find my balance. Marunong akong lumangoy ngunit hindi ganoon kagaling.
Pikit-mata akong lumangoy paakyat nang nauntog muli ang ulo ko sa bangka.
I lost the faint of air I’m holding inside my lungs. Slowly, my sight is fading until I felt an arm snaked around my waist.
Nang sa wakas ay nakalanghap ako ng hangin ay hiningal agad ako.
“What do you think you’re doing, huh?” galit na galit na tanong ni Vince.
Nasa likod ko siya. Ang kanyang braso ay nakapalupot sa akin at ang isang kamay ang ginagamit para lumangoy.
“Ako dapat ang magtanong niyan, hindi ba? What are you doing and why are you alone with that girl!” I am seething with anger.
“You stupid kid! Muntik ka nang malunod iyan parin ang inaalala mo, huh?”
“Totoo naman! Maybe you have a stupid p-plan…” nanginig ako. “Kiss her while you’re in that boat? Maybe bed her in that boat? Oh right, you like to bed women in bed rather than-”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” The unrestricted anger dripped in his tone.
Kung hindi siguro siya lumalangoy ngayon ay kanina niya pa ako nasaktan! Ramdam na ramdam ko ang galit niya. The way his arm snaked fiercely as we moved closer to their boat, where Vanessa is.
“Oh my God, Vince!” Vanessa said in a worried tone.
She held out her hand for me. Vince tried to nudge me to get her hand but I didn’t.
“You…” he trailed off and lifted me up so he can put me in the boat.
“Bakit mo ginawa ‘yon?” Vanessa asked while she is giving me a towel.
Gusto kong isiping pinipeke niya ang kanyang reaksyon pero alam kong hindi. Alam kong totoong nagtataka siya at natakot para sa akin.
Vince rose swiftly with his arms, rocking the boat slightly towards him. His arms flexed and the veins strained. Ang takas na tubig galing sa kanyang katawan ay bumuhos. Naglahad agad ng tuwalya si Vanessa sa kanya.
Tinanggap iyon ni Vince ay nilagay sa kanyang balikat. Nilingon niya ako, anger is looming in his eyes like a powerful storm ready to kill. His jew clenched when he saw me just sitting there with the towel on my thighs, not moving or planning to move it.
He squatted in front of me while Vanessa is raining him questions.
“Paano ang bangka? May sugat ba siya? The anchor got caught?”
He didn’t speak. Ang tanging ginawa ni Vincent ay ang ayusin ang tuwalya at igapos iyon sa akin. I glared at him and he glared at me back. Maraming mga salita na parang nasa aming dalawa na hindi nasasabi.
“Vincent,” Vanessa called.
“Maneuver it back to the dock,” he ordered.
Tumango si Vanessa. She followed Vincent’s orders without question. At tahimik kaming nakarating sa dock ngunit sa ‘di kalayuan pa lamang ay nakita ko na kung sinu-suno ang nag-aantay.
Daddy, Mommy, and my sisters were one of the people on the shore. I can tell that they have been awakened by the maids because of the problem. May hawak si Mommy na telescope at agad akong sinalubong.
“Anak, anong nangyari?” blame is now in her tone.
“Eury! What is this?” Father demanded.
Yumuko ako. I am the author of my trouble. Indeed. Kahit noon pa man. And nothing has changed.
“Vincent!” dahil walang makuha si Daddy na eksplenasyon sa akin, kay Vincent siya nagtanong.
“She met an accident, Architect.”
“Paano siya nagkaaksidente?” Father’s tone rise a notch.
Napaangat ako ng tingin sa aking ama. He looked disappointed but somehow, I can feel the concern in his tone.
Vince didn’t or couldn’t say a thing. Vanessa butts in.
“She maneuvered a boat to the sea. Hindi ata naayos ang anchor. It was dragged until the boat was forced stop.”
Nilingon ko ang mga taog pumapalaot ngayon. Siguro ay para kuhanin ang bangkang halos tinaob ko.
“You what, Eurydyce?” Now, Dad’s concerned tone is gone. “You what?”
“Architect, I think it is better to let her rest first.”
“Hindi, Vincent. Eury is behaving oddly the past weeks or months. What is this Eury? Alam mo ba kung paano paandarin ang bangka?”
“Hindi naman pala!” sigaw ni Daddy.
I got startled that my tears came rushing like waterfalls in the summer. Pumikit ako ng mariin at nanatiling nakayuko.
“Ephraim,” Mommy called to stop Dad.
“Bakit mo sinakyan ng mag-isa, huh? If it had collided on someone else’s boat, then that would be a disaster!”
Nalaglag ang panga ko para humigop ng hininga at para salubungin din ang sakit sa aking puso. If my boat had collided with someone else’s? Perhaps, Vincent’s boat? Then if it didn’t, it doesn’t matter to Dad?
Shut up, Eury. Kahit anong sabihin mo, kasalanan mo parin.
“I will lead her to her room, Architect. She’s freezing,” Vincent said in a formal and controlled tone.
Hindi na nagsalita si Daddy. Naglakad ako pabalik sa mansyon habang tinitingnan ng mga taong naroon. They looked at me quietly and talked when I am already far away. I know because I’ve heard their chattering.
Dire-diretso ang lakad ko. I know and I can feel it that Vincent’s is just behind me, quietly watching me walk to my room.
Binuksan ko ang pintuan ng aking kwarto. I tried to close the door but he had slipped in before I could do it. I glared at him with disdain and went to the wooden rattan chair just beside my bed.
Nasa harap ko siya, nakatayo. Nakaupo ako habang nakayuko. I guiltily didn’t look at him. But I know that one wrong move from him, I’d be barking again.
“Leave me alone,” I said sharply.
“You’re father has gone too far again,” he said calmly.
Napa-angat ako ng tingin ngayon. His forlorn look told me that he realized what my father meant with his words.
And I hated it that even in this situation, my eyes traveled down his body, his pecs, where drops of water trickled down to his abdomen. Napakurap-kurap ako.
Nang humakbang siya palapit ay nanigas ako. As if his presence wasn’t enough. As if his presence here didn’t suffocate me. He squatted in front of me. Just inches away from my legs. Hawak ang mga hawakan ng upuang rattan habang nilelebel ang aming mga mata. Like a grown man talking to a kid.
I began to remember how I loathe him of course. And I don’t know why, even if I did loathe him, I couldn’t help but watch his weighing expression. The fluidness of his movement when he reached for the robe. When he put it on my back without slipping both my arms in its holes… but instead he tied the belt.
“You’ll get colds from this,” he said.
“I don’t care,” my voice is icy.
Huminga siya ng malalim at tiningnan ako, punong-puno ng kuryusidad ang mga mata.
“So what if I bed Vanessa on that boat?” his brow shot up.
Rage filled me again like a demon to its posession.
“See?” my voice shook. “You had that plan!”
“Fuck!” He closed his eyes as if trying to decipher some things.
“You manwhore! And all this time you have been screwing other girls? While your girlfriend is Vanessa?!” sigaw ko.
“She’s not my girlfriend,” he said.
“You liar! She is!” I said rejecting his words. “You’re a manwhore! And all this time, Daddy prefers you over me?”
Natigil ako nang hinawakan niya ang aking tuhod. My bare knee almost jerked at his warm touch. His calloused hand trying to rest on the softness of my skin. The difference is very evident and I know he can feel it. His roughness and ruthlessness over my softness and vulnerability.
“What is it that is really upsetting you, Eury? Please, tell me.”
Nangilid ang luha sa aking mga mata. The way he pleaded in front of me tug strings I didn’t know existed. But then my anger just couldn’t subside. Here is the man who’s practically stolen my role as my parent’s child, that should be what’s upsetting me. But then…
“Sinungaling ka!” I cried hurting his shoulders, trying to push him away.
He bit his lower lip. His eyes looked strained and very tired. Maybe tired of thinking about me. Tired of me, entirely.
“Vanessa is not my girlfriend,” ulit niya na tila naalu ako noon.
But then, I realized, it did feel me better.
“Sinungaling!” ulit ko.
Hinaplos niya ang aking tuhod patungo sa likod niyon. I shivered at the feel of his rough hands on my soft and delicate skin. I shiver at consoling strokes.
“Bakit? ‘Di mo na siya girlfriend? Dahil may girlfriend ka nang iba? Sino? Iyong ka team mo? Iyong tutor ko? Sino?!” I hurled.
He did not even flinch. All he did was stare up at me with so much pain in his eyes. And I don’t need the pain. The pity. Whatsoever. I need the answer.
He shook his head. Trying to control the thin line of his mouth until he sighed and couldn’t.
“I won’t have a girlfriend,” he said.
Pinalis ko ang mga luhang bumagsak sa aking pisngi kanina. My head poisoned with ill thoughts about him. That he is bluffing. That he is doing this to win my sympathy. And winning my sympathy will mean that there will be no thorns in his plan.
“Shower and change your clothes. Para hindi ka sipunin,” anito bago tumayo.
I know, because I have heard it that night. I have heard him talk to the husband of the owner of the mansion. And I wish I know more… I wish I have known so much more before I’ve decided.
“Nagkausap kami ni Architect Saniel. Mukhang interesado talaga siyang ikaw ang gawing head, kung sakali, ng kanyang Architectural firm. Hindi ba iyan ang pangarap mo?” the man asked.
Nasa barandilya ako. Bababa sana para uminom ng tubig nang narinig ang usapan ng dalawa, madaling araw na noon.
“Opo, Kapitan. Akala ko noon, mahirap abutin,” Vincent said in a low drawl.
“Hindi iyan mahirap, Vincent. Coninue what you’re doing. Architect Saniel trusts you. He will realize that you deserve it.”
I didn’t need to hear the rest of it. I scrambled on my feet and went back to my room. Confused thoughts didn’t let me sleep. As if I don’t have enough confusions to carry.
Tumunog muli ang windchimes. The probably two or three months Vincent has spent with our family was probably the hell of his life. I know that now that I’m just reminiscing it. Alam ko na ngayon.
Noon, limitado ang pananaw ko. I wanted my parent’s love so much that I no longer seek for anything other than that. I turned blindly at other things. I wanted them to love me the way I am and not the way they want. I want them to love Eury, who could actually pursue Architecture, but wanted to choose the easy life instead. I want them to love me for all my flaws. I want them. I want my parents. I want my family to. Not other people.
“Ate Ganda, are you crying?” The boy asked tugging my shirt.
I smiled weakly at him. It was the fear of being loved only on my best. My fear of disappointing people after the applause streaks that made my head so haywired. It was that.
“No,” I said at the boy.
“Sabi ni Mommy, wala ka rawng ma-i-stayhan? Dito ka na lang? Sa kwarto ko?” he said in puppy eyes.
Tama si Wanda. Ang kapal ng mukha kong manghingi ng tulong dito. Kay Vincent. Ang kapal kapal ng mukha kong mag request, magmando, at manggamit. Ang kapal ng mukha ko.
If only the wind has blown me to a different direction. But then I should be grateful, right? That I was blown in the direction where I could be safe. But people didn’t mind much about my safety.
“I’m sorry, Milo, but I don’t want to bother anyone. I will find a hotel,” sabi ko.
“Huh? Sa The Coast, po?” tanong ni Milo.
I wonder how, though? I don’t have any means to pay for it. I couldn’t contact my manager because I have no phone. And it will be, again, a big slap if I have to borrow from anyone in this house. This is Vincent’s house. And I don’t have any right where Vincent is concerned.
One of the Engineers turned the television on. Ang isa’y naupo sa sofa malapit doon. Nilingon ko iyon, sa ‘di kalayuan. Milo is still looking at me intently with his puppy eyes. I gave him an assuring smile even when I couldn’t even assure myself.
I wonder if there is news on the Television. Maybe some witnesses? O may hindi nakatiis sa grupo nila? Maybe the stylist? Or the other photographers? Or maybe the hotel? I don’t know.
Iyon ang hinahanap ko ngunit iba ang ibinalita sa TV. Para akong nakitilan ng hininga nang nakita ang isang picture habang ibinabalita sa isang showbiz column.
It is a picture of me and Zander holding hands. Naka slideshow iyon, iba-iba. Those pictures were private and from my phone! Damn it!
“Si Eury ‘yan, ‘di ba?” an Engineer noted.
Their heads turn to where I was standing and they all turned white when they realized I’m watching the news. Umamba si Rod na papatayin ang TV ngunit suminghot ako at nagsalita.
“I want to see it. Please, don’t turn it off.”
The remote control is in mid-air, itinututok na sa TV pero hindi pinatay.
“Netizens are raging at the photos of Zander Mendez, and the model, internet sensation, Astra member, Eury Saniel. Zander is rumored to have an on and off screen relationship with his love team Blair Francisco. Alin kaya ang totoo sa dalawa? Or maybe, there is a third party involved.”
My heart ached at the problems piling up before me. I licked my lips and tried to calm down though. I stared blankly at the TV as the screen flashed the Social media comments about it.
“Of course, si Eury ang kabit. God! I always know she’s a slut!”
“Blair is probably upset now. I hopw Zander clears everything.”
“Hindi pa nga sikat si Eury, kapal na ng mukha.”
“Eury looks like a witch who can allure any man.”
“She is like a bitch in heat. Lahat ng lalaki ay nagmamagnet sa kanya.”
I couldn’t cry more. I have cried reminiscing but now that the problems here in front of me is too much, I couldn’t cry hard enough. Nanatili akong nakatayo, namamanhid, kinakalma ang sarili. Nanatili akong nakatingin sa telebisyon hanggang sa natapos ang segment at wala ni isang report tungkol sa pagkawala ko, o sa kung nasaan sina Hubert sa oras na ito. Not that they are showbiz enough to be put to news but if they reported what happened to me, they could’ve made it to the TV.
The room fell silent as the television muted. Hindi ko namalayang si Cassandra man ay nasa likod ng sofa, natanaw ang balita tungkol sa akin kanina.
Yumuko ako at taas noo na lumapit sa mga sofa, sa kung nasaan sila. And to my surprise, on the stairs, there stood Vincent and his massive and demanding frame. His t-shirt fitted perfectly at him and his pants revealed how properly sculpted his thighs were.
He probably see me as that same girl. The needy one who was always rude and mean. Well, to be frank, only to him. I was not rude to anyone other than him and his girls. Now, I know why.
He tilted his head a bit, giving me half view of his hard jaw. The faint stubble on his face only added his musculinity. He had always been manly that only a few men of this age dared to be. Too rough and ruthless that I always thought he’d hurt me once he gets close. Kaya naman lagi akong naka depensa. Lagi akong masama. Dahil natatakot ako sa kanya. His presence intimidates me so much that I didn’t know it was possible. I have never been intimidated by the man my whole life. Now I realized, even Zander, with all his influence, did not intimidate me a bit.
Maybe, it is the power of beauty. Maybe, it is that pass that could get people to be nicer to me. Its pros that can help me pave my own way to wherever I was going. It was that that made me too confident to be intimidated.
“Can I walk here to the nearest hotel? The Coast?” tanong ko, hindi alam kung para kanino.
“Yes, you may,” Cassandra said. Si Milo ay nasa kanyang tabi na.
“Ate Ganda, don’t leave. May kwarto ako,” Milo said.
“Milo, baby, Ate and Mommy is talking.” Then Cassandra’s eyes lifted to me. “You can walk by the shore.”
“Saan ka kukuha ng pera?” Rod asked a bit shaken.
“I’ll use their phone to call my manager. From there, I will try to find a way to pay the bill.”
I scanned their faces. Pero sa totoo lang, isang reaksyon lang ang gusto kong makita. His cold expression did not budge at my statement. Not that I expect him to. He’s offered me a place to stay and I assume that’s because somehow, my father helped him a great deal. He can’t say no lalo na dahil ilang araw lang naman.
But I am not the kid I was before. I am not going to suck every ounce of energy from people and use it to my advantage.
“I apologize for the trouble. Thanks for the short stay.”
Napabaling si Cassandra sa kay Vincent na ngayon ay nanatiling nakatingin at nagmamasid sa akin. Yumuko ako at napalunok.
“The Coast is a five star hotel. Hindi iyon basta-basta magpapapasok nang ‘di pa binabayaran,” Vincent said in a hard tone.
“I will phone my manager.”
“Which you think your manager will give you the money immediately? That will take days and where will you be sleeping tonight?”
Hindi ako nakapagsalita. His eyes is cold and withdrawn, with a hint of fury or another similar expression.
“You are staying in my house for the day,” his voice thundered with finality.
“I am not asking you, Eury. That isn’t a question.”
Naitikom ko ang bibig ko sa sinabi niya. Though I think he’s right on some parts but I can find a way if I would. I can go out of here and convince anyone to shelter me in a hotel but… I just wonder. Am I going to be safe?