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Drama Inspirational Teens & Young Adult

“Today is the last day I’m hiding from you.”


Celestine whispered to herself as she stared out of her bedroom window, secretly watching her older brother Christian who just walked out of the house. He came by again today to visit them—their parents, their youngest sibling Clara, and her, of course. He didn’t live far; his house was just a fifteen-minute drive where he lived with his wife.


And just like the last time, Celestine didn’t come out of her room to meet her brother. None of their parents nor her sister bothered her, to her relief. She didn’t want to see him, she still wasn’t ready to talk to him. The last time they talked, they had a big argument. It was so bad that Celestine wanted to move out of the house just to get away from her brother.


She backed away from the window and looked around her room. A suitcase full of her clothes and a couple of boxes for her shoes and books were stacked neatly beside her door. It was finally her last day before moving out, and here she was still unable to meet her brother. She wasn’t even sure if she still felt mad at him. She just didn’t want to see him.


Stacked tidily on her desk was her journal and books. It’s been a while since she wrote an entry. She didn’t have the heart nor the energy to do so. She instead browsed on the inked pages to try to make sense of what really happened between the two of them.



2019 July 11 

For the first time ever, I think I managed to stand up against Kuya and his nagging. I told Rizza about what happened, and she was actually proud of me.


Kuya has been nagging me to apply to their company. He said it wouldn’t hurt to do some clerical work while I figure out what I want to do with my life (his words, not mine!!!), as if I don’t know what I want! I’m an artist! I finished Fine Arts! How could I not know what I want for my life???


It’s the way he always says it, really, that irks (ooh, great word yeah?) me so much, as if I haven’t done anything meaningful ever since I graduated. I have, actually! I’ve been getting commissions here and there. I know it isn’t much, but it’s not like I’m not doing anything! I am earning my own money!


He dropped by earlier just to tell me that he scheduled me for an interview tomorrow at their company. I was so shocked I asked him why he did that. In his usual indifferent tone, he said it was for me to gain experience. I told him to stop making me do these things just because he thought he could. He wasn’t able to say something, so I decided to give him a piece of my mind. I told him that he needed to respect my choices and my decisions, and not force me to do the things he wanted for me just because he wanted to. Before Kuya could say anything else, Dad the peacemaker got in between us.


That also meant nothing was ever resolved between Kuya and me. I didn’t even reach out my hand when Dad asked us to make up and talk about our differences calmly. I told them unless Kuya acknowledges my own plans for my life, I’d never make up with him. (harsh, I know!) He only said he’d cancel the scheduled interview and said goodbye before heading home.


I’m so happy to be able to stand up for myself this time! Rizza reminded me to not be so hard on him after congratulating me. I don’t intend to, you know. I just wish Kuya would put his faith in what I can do, and stop worrying about me.



“So everything started here?” Celestine pondered. It was the only entry where she talked about her brother in that light. She went ahead and flipped the pages, searching for the next clue.



2019 October 11

I can’t believe the plan for tomorrow was almost ruined because of Kuya!


Today, we decorated the condo we rented from Tito Ruel and Tita Michelle for Dad and Mom’s wedding anniversary weekend getaway. It was almost perfect except for Kuya who just disappeared on us! The mastermind of this entire surprise forgot his plan and scheduled something else for himself!


I'm so bummed! Ate Kristine apologized on his behalf, said he’s been stressed out on his work lately that’s why he forgot about this. She even said he needed that time off with his friends. I dare not say anything to sweet Ate Kristine.


And guess what, Dad and Mom have to drive themselves tomorrow to the condo because Kuya won’t be home until the afternoon, and Ate Kristine will be attending a conference. Kuya took care of it by calling our parents to tell them to go to the condo tomorrow, ruining the surprise!


Our parents were touched and grateful. Clara and I ended up telling them that everything’s all set...


Clara just left. She came to talk about what happened with Kuya. We’re both equally disappointed, but she’s a bit more understanding. I’m still mad at him.



2019 December 25

Well, what else do you expect from him? He’s been making these promises but never once fulfilling them! I don’t understand why Dad and Mom just let him slide so easily like that! And Ate Kristine too! How could she even stand him???


I know it’s Christmas, and I should be happy, but I’m crying out of frustration! He promised to bring home cake and wine for Christmas Eve, but all he did was come late to the dinner with two boxes of donuts!


Don’t tell me to not make a big deal out of just cake and wine. It’s not like it’s the first time this has happened! He also did the same thing with Clara, promising to buy her the thing she wanted and coming home empty handed. Why does he even bother making promises when he can’t even fulfill them?


I must’ve looked so disappointed that Mom called me over and told me to try and not make a big deal out of it. I was actually hurt about that when I hadn’t even said a word. I reminded her that it’s our family tradition. You’re supposed to present what you pledged to bring for the Noche Buena. Clara pledged to make carbonara, the ingredients she bought herself because she didn’t want to take our money. I originally pledged to buy the cake, but Kuya insisted on it because he said knows a good baker who just started a business. I ended up with a pledge to bring fried chicken. I was so busy with commissions that I ended up ordering three buckets instead of cooking. Mom and Dad pledged to make the delicious shepherd’s pie. Ate Kristine pledged to bring drinks and fruits.


Mom said it wasn't a big deal. It’s Christmas anyway, we should at least be more forgiving and understanding of one another. I didn’t say anything anymore and just stayed quiet the entire night. I just told them my head ached because of the amount of commissions I needed to finish that week.


Am I being selfish for feeling this way? Is it wrong for me to feel so extremely disappointed and frustrated at my brother for the things that happened? Like Mom, Rizza and Clara told me to not make a big deal out of it. But I can’t help it! Even the little things that he forgets, dismisses, or ignores, when those things pile up, they still take up space. Why do I find it hard to forgive him? Why does it seems so easy for them to forgive him?


God, I need to do something to my eyes. I don’t want to wake up to Christmas morning with puffy, swollen eyes. Not even makeup can hide this.



Celestine took a deep breath after reading both entries. She felt something warm roll down her cheeks. She scoffed at herself for crying while reading her journal. Somehow, the events felt like distant memories echoing in her head, the pain, frustration, disappointment she felt during those time bounced along the beatings of her heart.



2020 June 7

I think this pandemic’s driving all of us crazy.


It’s been almost three months since the lockdown, and I haven’t been out of the house since then. I admit I’ve been dying to go out, but it’s not like I’ll do it just because I want to. I’ll do it for the family as well.


Since the lockdown, Kuya took charge of buying groceries for the our families. I’m the only one qualified to go out in this household, with Daddy being a senior, Mommy being asthmatic, and Clara being an underage.


Last night, Kuya and Ate started a video call to share a great news. Ate Kristine is pregnant!!! It's a bittersweet news, really. They have been waiting for this day since they got married two years ago, and although they’re excited, the current situation our world is in now isn’t exactly ideal. But hey, our parents our delighted, Clara and I immediately became rivals to become the best Tita to our unborn niece/nephew. Most excited are Kuya and Ate. We can worry about the future when it comes, right?


That is until I raised the issue about going out to do groceries. I told them I should start doing it instead to ensure Ate Kristine and the baby’s safety. These were my exact words: “By the way, starting this month, I should do the groceries for our families now. It’s better that way to make sure that Ate and the baby are safe from the virus.”


I honestly don’t know if I worded it wrong. I’m reading it again and again, and it doesn’t seem wrong. Not to Kuya. He was offended by what I said, asking if I meant he hasn’t been careful enough the past months. I was shocked and told him I didn’t mean that. Then, he went on to say how it’s been difficult for them since the lockdown, that every time he went out, he’s dead scared to catch the virus and bring it home to us. And here I was, just giddy excited to finally get an excuse to leave the house in the guise of doing errands for the family.


I was so shocked that I wasn’t able to say anything. Dad immediately snatched the laptop and took it in his office. In the video, I could hear Ate Kristine trying to calm Kuya down. Mom and Clara comforted me by hugging me and telling me it’s just a misunderstanding, that I said nothing wrong and that Dad would take care of it.


I kept crying all night and only managed to write this down now. I still don’t know what happened, but maybe this pandemic and the lockdowns are driving us insane. I wanted to talk about it with Rizza, but she has her own stuff to deal with too. I feel so alone.

***

Looks like it’s set. I’ll take charge of doing the groceries starting this month. Dad talked to me privately to tell me that he and Kuya talked it out. He said Kuya didn’t mean what he said and was only under a lot of stress due to work. He told me that Kuya wanted to talk to me about it, and Dad’s willing to be there during the call. I said no, told Dad I wasn’t ready to talk to him, but I’m ready to take on the responsibility.


I think I made the right choice. Forcing me to make up with him won’t do us any good.



“So this was when I started to distance myself from him,” Celestine said to herself. It’s the longest one she wrote from around that time, with the previous ones only her writing about the boredom that crept in when the lockdowns happened, nothing trivial, nothing noteworthy.


The next entry that caught her attention, however, was short.



2020 September 30

I might’ve caught the virus, and Kuya is beside himself with anger. I get where he’s coming from, but why blame me? As if I intended to cause harm to our families. I did everything I could to make sure I was well protected when I go out to get groceries. I even use disinfectant spray before I load the groceries in the car. It wasn’t my fault a customer who tested positive went out shopping the day before he got the result. It wasn’t my fault we were in the same store at the same time. It wasn’t my fault he was being completely stupid and selfish!


I’ve been quarantining in my room for two days now. I also muted my brother’s number and chats on my phone. I’m so heartbroken by how he’s blamed me for what happened. What I wouldn’t give just to be away from him, just to not be in his life anymore. I’m leaving this place as soon as I’m all cleared and allowed to leave. If I have to run away and hide, I will. Anything, just to be away from my Kuya.


God, I hate him.



The last lines made Celestine feel sick. The tears wouldn’t stop flowing. It was that day when she started packing her stuff. She flipped the pages, the rest of which contained only scribbles and doodles, an odd documentation of the isolation and boredom she experienced during the isolation. 


The following pages were blank.


Celestine buried her face on her journal and cried as she recalled what happened next, every scene as vivid as a movie being played in her head over and over again.



The initial findings when Celestine got tested came out negative. This, of course, brought comfort to her and her family. Just to be sure, she still stayed in quarantine, locked up in her room. She continued working on her commissioned works, thankful for the wonders of digital art during this time.


However, she didn’t know her condition slowly worsened. It was only after Clara noticed something different from the way she spoke. Clara urged her to go to the hospital just to make sure, but she declined. There was no one else to drive her there, except their Kuya.


The next day, however, Clara came to her room to help her get dressed. She told Celestine that they’re going to the hospital with Christian. She felt too weak to protest.


The next thing she knew, she was at the hospital, with the medical staff donned in their PPEs hustling and bustling around her. She thought it was funny how she couldn’t distinguish the doctor from the nurse. She also didn’t see Clara and Christian anywhere. But of course, they weren’t allowed to go in.


When Celestine woke up, she was back in her room. Relief washed over her when she realized she’s back home, safe and sound. She couldn’t sit up though, she still felt weak. Feeling groggy, she closed her eyes. The door opened and she managed to take a peek. She recognized Clara’s silhouette entering the room. Then she passed out again.




Celestine woke with a start. She was on her desk. She fell asleep while reading her journal. The noise from outside woke her. She stood up and walked to the window. It was dark out, but not outside their house. She saw Christian and the very pregnant Kristine walking towards their car, along with the rest of the family. All of them were wearing their masks. Celestine pulled open her curtain, in an attempt to grab their attention, to which she succeeded. She and her Kuya locked eyes for a second which made her freeze. It’s been so long since she met his eyes, she couldn’t move.



The family’s Noche Buena started and ended earlier. Things were different this year, with the pandemic and all, especially with a pregnant one in the family. Clara went ahead and placed the packed food at the back of the car, while the rest followed behind her.


While waiting for them to get to the car, Clara saw it when her brother’s eyes looked up to the window behind them. She saw them when they widened, as if alarmed. When she turned to look at the window which belonged to her Ate Celestine, she heard Christian say, “Celestine!”


Next thing she knew, she was hot on Christian’s heels, who rushed back to their house and went straight to Celestine’s room. She was beside him when he opened the door and found their sister standing in front of the window, a warm smile on her face before slowly vanishing like flickering lights, the curtains swaying in front of the sealed window.


Clara saw behind misty eyes the tears that rushed down her Kuya’s face. Then, she noticed the open journal on her table, the one she just neatly arranged yesterday. On its blank page, almost at the end of the journal, something was scribbled, it was undated.



I just had a thought earlier. I can’t continue being this distant with Kuya if I want to be present in their baby’s life. I found out from Clara they’re having a girl. I know I have wronged him too, and I hope he can still forgive me. I’m working hard on forgiving him too. This time being isolated surely helped. It’s like destiny gave me a chance to experience what it’s like without him nagging or worrying about me, without the need for me to actually end our relationship. Maybe things’ll get better or maybe they won’t, but at least I understand now why I felt the way I did. I’m sure Kuya realized it too. He’s my Kuya, afterall. And Clara’s our bunso. Family is family.


Fin.

February 05, 2021 07:48

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2 comments

Mango Chutney
00:23 Feb 12, 2021

Beautifully Written..! Love how you weaved the Journal entries in. Also the characters are well thought out and the emotions are so raw. Loved reading this story :)

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Alai Agadulin
04:10 Feb 13, 2021

Thank you so much! It's the first time I've received a comment here, and it means a lot that the story served its purpose. Take care and until then! :)

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