R:TUL Chapter 5: A Story Behind

Julia’s P.O.V.

I’ve walked so far already, but I haven’t figured out where Mike wants us to go. My feet are starting to hurt too. Why didn’t we just take a tricycle(1)?

“Where are we going?” I asked him. I’m tired.

“You’ll see!” He shortly answered.

“What do you mean ‘you’ll see’? We’ve already walked so far, yet we still haven’t arrived at where we’re going?”

“You’re so noisy!” He said. How would I not be noisy when I’m so tired.

“We should take a tricycle(1).” I suggested.

“Fine, go ride one!”

“I really will!” I said.

I stopped walking and waited for a tricycle(1) that I could take a ride in. The man I’m with just keeps walking without taking notice of me.

“Haysss(2)… The tricycle’s(1) taking so long.” I said as I was getting impatient.

No cars were passing when I looked back at Mike. He takes a left turn towards a place without houses, but there’s a road connecting to it like a subdivision(16).

“Hey! Where are you going? Is it there? Why didn’t you tell me? You’re so confusing.” I yelled at him as I ran close to him.

He stopped walking. “I thought you were going to take a tricycle(1)?” He yelled back.

“I didn’t know it was here already.”

After I said that, he continued to walk through the subdivision(16). I look towards where we’ll be heading. There’s an incredibly steep path that we have to hike. That’s excessive. This man doesn’t take pity on me. If I die here, it’ll be his fault.

“Hayss(2)! Are we really going to climb that? Let’s rest for a while.” I said as I sat on the ground.

“Fine, just rest there!” He said. Is he concerned about me or is he planning on leaving me behind?

He didn’t stop walking even when he left me behind a certain distance. Aba(13)! Maybe he is going to leave me behind. I then stood up and ran after Mike.

“Hey! Wait for me!” I chase after him.

He stopped walking and waited for me to get closer. I was out of breath when I reached him. He walks really fast, does he come from a race of horses?

“Wow! Aren’t you such a gen-tle-man?” I said as I was panting.

I haven’t even had a moment of rest when he continued to walk again. He just ignored what I told him a while ago. 

“Haysss(2)! Again? I give up! I’ll stay here!” I said as I tried to catch my breath.

“Fine! Just scream if you see any ghosts okay?” He tried to scare me.

…And he thinks I’ll get scared. “Ghosts? In the afternoon? Are you trying to be funny?” I said. Actually, I’m not really afraid. He then comes back. See? Maybe he’s the scared one.

“There are no houses here because this was a cemetery before that’s why ghosts can appear even if it’s afternoon.” He attempted to scare me again with a spooky tone of voice then he walks away.

“Ahhh…” I screamed. “Wait! Wait for me. I’m not tired anymore.” I yelled at him.

As I was hurrying to catch up to him, I accidentally tripped on the heel of my shoes. “OUCHHH!” 

 He went back to me to check on my situation. “Oh? Why? What happened?” He said.

Is he concerned? How sweet. He can actually be so sweet. Once he approaches me, instead of feeling relief, I felt more pain from my body.

“Ouch! My hand!” I yelled.

He immediately holds my left hand. “Oh? Did something happen to your hand?” He asked.

“You’re stepping on it!”

“Sorry!” He quickly moves his foot away.

“Ouch! My foot!” I said as I massage my sprained foot.

“Don’t tell me I stepped on it again.”

“No! Idiot! Where are we going anyway?” I asked.

“Over there! We’re close.” He points afar where a big circular platform is.

“Oh! Fine!”

“Okay!” He stood and continued to walk.

“Hey! Where are you going?” I yell at that man who’s SUCH a gentleman.

He looked left and right as if I was talking to someone else. “There!” He points at the same spot again.

“Can’t you see? I’m injured.”

“Injured already. It’s so close! Walk it off.”

I threw my slipper at him. “Are you crazy?”

“What do you want me to do?” He said.

Excitement fills me as I’ve thought of what he could do. I gave a smile as if I’m planning something bad. Ha ha ha ha. It’s payback time!

***

We’re almost at our destination. There’s a bit of a slow pace because the man I’m with is so slow.

“Haysss(2)! You’re heavy aren’t you?” He said as he carries my suitcase while carrying me on his back.

“You’re so fussy! That’s the only thing you’re doing.”

“Wow? Aren’t you tired?”

“Not really!” I said as an insult.

After a long walk, we finally arrived at the peak of this slanted subdivision(16). We’re here on a platform. He lets me down from his back.

“Haysss(2)! The exhaustion!” I said as an insult while stretching.

“Happy?” He seriously said.

I just made a face at him.

I glance at the view. “Wow! It’s beautiful. It feels good here!” I said in a moment of relief.

“Shall we go?” Mike said. I wonder why? Is this not the peak?

“Where to now?” I asked him.

“We’re going back down!”

“Are you crazy? After climbing up the heights of this subdivision(16), we’re going down already?”

He just smiled at me and sat down on the ground. Me, I also sat down. Hehe. Once I sat down, I looked at the view again. It’s really beautiful. If only you could all see this. Really amazing. I think this is the best place for people who are feeling lonely to express their feelings.

“Why indeed…?”

I heard Mike say something and it made me look at him.

“What is it?” I asked. I didn’t hear it right.

“Nothing!” He said. Fine, don’t tell me if you don’t want to. I’m not going to force you anyway.

I went back to gazing at the scenery. “Something like this actually feels good? It’s like that feeling, as if you’re free from everything.” I told him.

“Why? Haven’t you ever felt free in your life?” He then asked.

“Only now! All my life, it’s full of restrictions. My parents won’t allow me to tire myself, to stay up late, to do the things normal people do. My boyfriend even restricts me on food. Why is it like that?”

“Why are they not allowing you? Do you have an illness?”

“An illness of the heart.” I said as I touch my chest.

“Sus(7)! Are you broken?” He asked, but I didn’t want to answer. I don’t like this kind of topic. I might cry. “Let it be, it’ll soon disappear!” He added.

Huh? What is he saying? “What will? My illness?” He may be thinking that it’ll easily vanish.

“Yes! Even though it hurts now, it will disappear when the time comes.”

“Huh? Why can you say so?”

“I was also broken-hearted before.”

“Huh? Idiot! I’m not broken-hearted. I’m not joking. I really have a heart illness.” I said. It made him nervous.

“Huh? Why didn’t you tell me then?”

“Did you ask?”

“Yes!”

“Only just now.”

“Are you okay? Maybe you’ve overworked yourself? Do you feel any pain? Do you want me to bring you to the hospital? What? Just tell me.” He frantically said.

“You’re so OA(17).”

“You didn’t tell me before. Then maybe…” He hasn’t finished what he was saying, but I spoke ahead of him.

“Then maybe what? Maybe you shouldn’t have let me bring my suitcase while we were walking around? Maybe we shouldn’t have climbed up here? Then maybe you should’ve been more careful with this woman you’re with? Huh!” I made a face. “It’s always like that.”

“You may be right, why is it like that? When we find out someone’s ill, we become overprotective. When there’s none, they’ll get ordered around a lot, get annoyed at a lot… but why do we force ourselves to try something that’s not allowed? Why are we curious of things we’ve never done?”

“Yeah.” I said, he talked a lot about that. Sometimes this man knows something after all. I thought he had a boring life.

“Thank you.” I said.

“Huh? What for?” He wondered.

“For everything. Thanks for all the things that happened today that I’ve never experienced before. For climbing here too, it’s like I hiked a mountain. So thank you. Thank you because I’ve managed to somehow experience the things normal people do.”

He just smiled at me as a reply.

“Oh? Why are you quiet all of a sudden?” I asked.

“Nothing! I just remembered something.”

“What? What? Your family?” I asked since he doesn’t open up to me. Maybe now’s the time he will.

“No!”

“Your friend?”

“You’re so noisy!” He irritatingly said.

“Maybe your girlfriend?”

He then looked at me seriously. “Pass.” He said then I got sad. It’s always like that. I’m always the one talking about my life and he doesn’t.

“I just miss her.” I heard him say. Is this real? Ahmmm… I coughed for a bit and checked if there’s something in my throat before I spoke.

“Huh? Why, where is she…? Is she dead?” I wistfully said.

“I don’t know? Maybe? No! I don’t know. I hope not.” He answered.

“Why? What happened?” 

“Car accident. Last year. June 21, 2018…”

When he said the date of the accident, my heart started beating faster. I felt awfully nervous as if I had a past life event that happened to me on this date. I just don’t know what.

“…All I know is that we were together that day. I think that was our first anniversary. We were so happy. Then before we went back home, she gave me a kiss on both cheeks. That day, I was driving us while we were listening to music. There was suddenly a huge impact that hit the front of my car, an out of control truck collided with us.
After that, I just realized that I was in a hospital. I asked where my girlfriend was, but they said I was the only one in the car. I almost died out of sheer loneliness. The hardest part of all that, I can’t even remember her face. Only the memories of us were left. No face. No figure.” He said.

I could almost cry listening to this. Only a few more, my welled up tears would be falling. “Shiiiii… That’s enough now.” I said as I gently rubbed his back.

“But I’m okay now. I just want to know the memories I lost. I just want to find out what really happened that day.”  He said.

“Why are you so curious about those? What’s with that?” I asked.

“I just know that I was actually with someone and my hunch tells me that it’s my girlfriend. I told her I love her before getting in the car.” He said as he becomes more teary eyed.

I paused for a moment when I remembered what my family told me. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ll still tell him.

“Last year. June 21, 2018. I also got into an accident.” I told him. It also made him pause as he sniffed. He looked at me like he’s waiting for what I’ll say next. I took a deep breath before I continued. Inhale… Exhale…

“Someone told me this, but I don’t know if it really happened. On that day, someone saw me on the edge of a road. Incapacitated, wounded, and my face scarred with small glass shards. I had wounds all over my head and other parts of my body. Maybe I was involved in a car accident then. But I’m not sure, I don’t know, I can’t remember anything so I didn’t bother thinking about it.”

“Where…”

“What’s the name of the girl you were with during the accident, your girlfriend? Do you remember?” I asked.

“Ahmm… I’m not sure but, during the car accident I mentioned a name. I think that was my girlfriend’s name.”

“What name is that?”

“Ju… lia… Juli@#…”

In the midst of the conversation, a man yelled so I looked over to know what he was saying, the man is a guard. I couldn’t even hear the name that Mike was saying.

“Ahh. Ma’am? Sir? It’s… night already, you’re not allowed to lo… here at night. Sorry… Tomorrow you can… back. Okay.”

I looked at Mike. “Huh? What did he say?” I asked. I couldn’t hear it properly.

“He told us that we have to go! We can’t loiter here at night.” He said. Ahh… So that’s what it was.
“All right, manong(18). We’ll head back down.” He told the guard.

We couldn’t continue the conversation as the guard approached us so we stood up and shook off the dirt on our clothes then we went back down and exited the subdivision. The way really is faster if it’s headed down or headed home isn’t it?

~~~

Footnote/s:

(1) Tricycle – A motorized tricycle, kind of like a rickshaw. A common means of public and private transportation in the Philippines.
[image credits: ffemagazine.com]

(2) Haysss – This is a sound or an expression equivalent of a frustrated or relieved sigh.

(7) Sus! – It’s an expression showing disapproval of something.

(13) Aba! – An expression showing displeasure or annoyance.

(16) Subdivision – This is a small town within a province.

(17) OA – It’s a common acronym in the Philippines meaning, “OverAct”. When people say that you’re OA, it means you’re overacting.

(18) Manong – An Ilocano term used to call older men derived from the Spanish word “hermano” (brother) and “hermana” (sister).

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