It’s been three weeks since I’ve last written here. It’s funny because the last time was also the first time and so many things has happened since then. I guess I really just can’t commit to writing.
That says a lot about me but hello, here I am again. I never really thought I’d be coming back to write here but I figured that I should since I couldn’t sleep. And for some reason, I brought this journal with me here.
What I wrote last time was of the same reason. Trouble sleeping had been pushing me to do things I don’t usually do. But those last moments seem so far away. Like a start of an adventure. I still remember how it started with a dream. A child running around, screaming for help. There were people present but no one can hear her. I wasn’t really the one to believe in premonitions but instead of taking it as something as the typical ‘maybe that’s just how I’m feeling’, I looked for an answer. An answer that even I expect to be only a wild goose chase. I believe I explained why on my first-last entry. Was it the girl? Was it the woods? Both could be it but the thing is, that dream had been recurring since the night I turned nineteen.
It’s not always the same. I could do something and one event would be different. The bothering thing is that they always end with the girl lost in the woods and screaming for help. There would be farmers, even hunters, entering the woods to look for her. But she’s just there. They can’t seem to find her. They can’t seem to hear her. She would come up to them. Cry, beg them to take her with them. They just scream her name. I never remember the name until three days after I wrote my last entry.
It shocked me. I’m Nessa. How could they search for someone who’s just right there? Moreover, the thought of how I’m only watching and not doing anything came to me. Could the girl see me? I didn’t know. Two weeks of recurring dreams and I have done nothing but freeze on the spot. I haven’t told the farmers that there’s a girl there, in front of them. I haven’t checked if the girl could see me. No, I assumed that she can’t since she isn’t approaching me. And yet her shouting felt like I was using my own voice. Like I was the one seeking help.
I guess after realizing that, I figured that I was being called. The only woods I’ve been to was the one mountain near my grandparents’ house. I remember coming out of it, unlike the little girl from my dreams. But…entering it was locked away from my memory. To be honest, I haven’t been there since I was nine. I didn’t even remember having grandparents near the mountain until my mother mentioned it. “It brought us luck,” I heard her say. Despite that, she also said that she wouldn’t dare return to such poor place.
I didn’t ask questions. I always thought that I shouldn’t involve myself on my parents’ affairs. My family is complicated. All they look forward to is luck. They even look at me as someone who brings them oh so sweet fortune. They were selfish, I was aware of it.
So I looked up the province. It was an eleven-hour bus ride from the city. I have my own money, I know I’ll be able to buy my own food. Maybe even check in on a hotel room. I told my parents that I was going on a trip with a friend. I even called her to join in on my charade. And then, there I went. Searching for someone that may need me for something more. More than what people have used me for. It was ridiculous to think that I got it all from a dream. It was even more ridiculous that I followed something without having a plan. They think that I’m lucky. I held on to that. I thought to myself that maybe that luck would help me find her, the lost little girl.
I was being called by Nessa, a child similar to me. A child cannot be seen but desperate for the world to hear.
After eleven hours of boredom, with my only interaction being with music, food, and sleep (and thirty minutes of tricycle ride that cost way more than it should have)- I arrived. I never thought of announcing myself as someone’s family. The culture here would be to welcome the said family member. I didn’t want to be welcomed. So I decided to just ask around. My first day there gave me nothing. But the dream…changed.
That night, Nessa met my gaze. Her face was red and I could almost hear her heart beat getting louder, faster. She whispered something that I didn’t catch and then collapsed on the ground. I ran towards her but it’s as if I couldn’t reach her. “Please…please…give it back to me,” she begged. It repeated and repeated, until it came with a deafening ringing.
I woke up crying.
The next day I was more determined to find something. Someone. I know I shouldn’t waste any time. If you’ve notice, Diary, I scribbled notes at some pages. I was playing detective and piecing up puzzles. That time, the word ‘Help’ wasn’t the most important. It was her pleading to give ‘it’ back to her. I concluded that something was stolen from her. Innocence? Was she taken advantage of? What of those farmers and hunters who cannot see her? Did they-?
Then I remembered that they were mainly those people who she was asking for help. They were calling her name with worry, not threat. She was familiar with them, probably. I thought about asking the farmers. And would you know it, one just came up to me and muttered the name Nessa.
I was shocked. How did he know that I was looking for someone with that name? He pointed out that it was my name. There, I stopped. I had been so invested in this that I almost had forgotten my own name. Nessa…Nessa…he recognized me but I cannot recognize myself anymore.
He showed me a picture of my younger self when I was nine, together with my grandparents and the other cousins. But I didn’t see me. I saw the Nessa of my dreams. It was bizarre but there she was, smiling at me from the photograph. I wanted answers. So I joined him to my grandparents’ hut near the mountain.
Arriving there became the most traumatizing feeling I’ve felt. The moment my grandmother saw me, she began trashing and cussing me. Telling me that I shouldn’t have come back. That I stole ‘her’ from them. She kept on telling me to go where I belong because where it is, it’s not with them. She threw plates at me, yelling that I should’ve died rather than kill her precious. She even accused my mother of not being humane. It was terrifying. I know that I didn’t want to be welcomed but not like that. I never wished it to be like that.
My cousin kept on saying sorry when we were far from the hut. He told me how everything went downhill ten years ago. I went missing and no one can find me until…until I suddenly showed up bringing terror to the family. I didn’t know what he meant so he gave me directions. He said that it’s not him that should be explaining but someone who really knew what came to me, a witch doctor.
I went back to the hotel room I’m staying, tired and scared. I was afraid to sleep but I did. And little Nessa…
Red-eyed and full of rage was quick to put her hands around me. “You’re near. Give it back to me! Give it back to me now! Give back what doesn’t belong to you!”
I can’t find any ways to breathe until words came out from my mouth. “I’m Nessa.”
I countered her with it until she was squirming in pain. But…I realized that I didn’t want her to be in pain. I was there to help. I wanted her to understand that.
I woke up.
I contemplated on whether to go back to the city or continue my search. I know I can’t leave this as it is. After what I am to find out. I have scribbled so many things and to just retreat away from it would kill me more than what Nessa had been doing in my dreams. I prepared myself before going out. I’m going to help the lost girl. I suppose it’s like helping myself, too, since that child looks like me.
I locked on my goal.
The witch doctor was quite hard to reach. Took me a long walk before arriving at his hut. At the sight of me, his eyes widened. But he never really seemed surprised. He looked like he’s been expecting me, just at a different time.
I should have expected that I’ll get nothing from him. He said that I wasn’t Vanessa Agpaoa. That I locked her inside the woods, maybe even killed her, to borrow her life and make it my own. Nobody noticed and I seemed to like it but Nessa’s grandmother was becoming aware of it when I have done nothing but threaten the child’s cousins. I even injured a small boy because of my enjoyment. Nessa’s parents were noticing something different, too. But what they saw was the positive effect of it. When I came back from being lost in the woods, my father suddenly got a job. My mother won a small lottery prize. And again. And again. I became their little luck. But Nessa’s grandmother wanted her precious grandchild back. So she consulted the witch doctor. To bring me back to where I belong. My parents did a different thing, bribing him with money. They asked him if there is a possibility for me to remain as Vanessa, but without the evil intent. I was their little luck child and they can’t let go of it.
What bogus, isn’t it? Writing it all down seems funny to me. I am Vanessa Agpaoa, how could I even doubt myself? How could I believe a crazy old woman and a fake herbalist who only wanted to play doctor to gain attention? I decided to go home. I figured how ridiculous this is and I’ve had enough. I’m not a fool.
Night came and I was once again face to face with the child. Nessa. She wasn’t aggressive this time. She begged me to return what I got from her. That she’s been trapped too long. ‘Help’ were the lost words she muttered. I teared up.
That’s right. I was supposed to help her. Then help her I did. I let my feet take me deep in the woods. I found her by a huge boulder. Ragged and asleep. So small, something one would always be willing to protect. Too bad, her parents never wanted her. They are selfish, I am aware of it. Nessa opened her eyes for the last time, I gave her a smile.
Helped her, I did. I felt no regret when I saw her breathe her last breath.
I’m very glad that I finally got answers. That I’ll be able to sleep peacefully after finding her, helping her with her troubles. I bought bus tickets after my little journey. Seems that it’s really what’s keeping me up.
Diary, I can’t wait to go back home and enjoy the life I own.
All my love,