"At night, darker lighting triggers the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you sleep. Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip." This was the Google said when she tried to search why she couldn't sleep at night. Was it a trauma of the virus that took a lot of lives or just an insomnia that she couldn't bear while not being with her grandparents?
The idle stars knew that the smiles had gone and the things left were fear and uncertainty. People all over the world were seeing the darkness through their masks and face shields. Through every washing of their hands, through their few steps as distance apart to avoid the virus contamination. It was not easy to face the new normal, the new normal as a result of human greed and selfishness even if the entire universe suffered, the culprits didn't care.
She went to her terrace seeing nothing but the cars in the car park. The surrounding was so quiet. Seemed nobody lived near in her flat that was provided by the pageant committee because of the sudden lockdown. It was like a graveyard where the sole noise was the dancing of the tree leaves behind her building. She was thinking if what the hell was going on when anyone couldn't see the virus. How could the world survive by the negligence of the few? She almost believed the conspiracy theory but, no- she told herself to believe what should be the believable with facts. She was not used to that scene where she could always see kids with their small bicycles pedaling around the small park but that time she couldn't hear the lively and lovely voices anymore even a single laugh coming from the kids -nothing.
The Miss Universe was about to start in its promotion in New York in June but it was stopped and postponed until further announcement because of the coronavirus that brought so much problem. The place where she stayed was hit badly by the pandemic and she couldn't go home because of it. Her excitement of staying in the Big Apple was filled with sadness and worries. A total devastation cracked her heart because everything seemed like the Statue of Liberty- it never moved. The stock exchange dove swiftly in just a wink Everything was crippled.
She was very proud practicing introducing her name and her country to the million of viewers in the mirror . Her name was Rona, a candidate for the most famous event in the pageantry world. She almost hated her name because it rhymed or a nickname of the virus.
"It doesn't make sense, but I can't stop myself thinking this."
Her grandmother called her on Skype if she could go home after the horrible year of the modern apocalypse in the 21th century. She just nodded without reassuring her in words. She only told her to do strictly and seriously the protocols. To sanitize everything and to stay at home still. Her grandma could even see her sad face through their virtual conversation. She knew that it would be impossible by that time yet.
The" Ber" months were already approaching because of the chilling weather of the fall and winter seasons. She could hear her lips singing the Christmas song.
"Why I'm doing this? I don't want to sing. It's not appropriate." She whispered while watching the news on the television. The virus had destroyed even the mental health of other individuals. The phobia in hers kept tossing in the thin air. She lived in that foreign place because of her dream to become a beauty pageant queen and to present her nation. To be an inspiration to the youth, but it was crashed right then and there. She hoped that it should vanish totally.
In January 2021, she went home and started her life looking for a job in a modelling company hoping to be hired, so she could support her olds. She was an orphan since her parents had a car accident in their land travel going to her grandma's house. She grew up with her grandparents because her parents were both pilots. They wanted an adventure they just went home by car to make it different. Her ambition to become a flight attendant when she was in her elementary grades was gone. She erased it in her memory. She didn't want to add the agony to herself instead she joined a lot of pageants to uplift her confidence and to fulfill what she really wanted in life. To follow what her heart desire even though it was very difficult for her to cut the tie of her tragic past She concealed it with a smile because she knew that it was for her own good- for her to move on about what had happened to her parents.
Her resume wasn't the same from the other applicants because she was just an undergraduate and planning to finish her studies if she could get a job that's why she really had to try her best to pass the screening and all. She stood 5'10, had a fair complexion and slim. Her look was very Filipina. Her smile really could launch a thousand ships, but she never thought that she was that kind of person though her friends always flattered her for her beauty was superb and almost perfect. She remained so humble and didn't want to be adulated. Her reply to those compliments was simple as this: We are all God's creation. We are all beautiful.
Her application was already submitted and noted to the HR department and she just waited for someone to call her name. "Rona Silang." A male voice called her name and she went where the door was a bit ajar, when she came in she was shocked of the guy that was there sitting like a prince. A tall, dark, and handsome guy who couldn't speak Tagalog fluently.
"Please sit down." He smiled and his tantalizing eyes distracted her for a second.
"Okay, let me guess why you are here, you want to be a model right? His question deafened her and she was surprised why he asked that. It was a modelling company, of course she wanted to become a model.
"What am I thinking?" She stopped again herself. She was straightforward woman and didn't want to have a very long and winding conversation, but that time it was her patient that was being tested.
"Yeah, I am obviously. I want to become a model to boost my confidence at the same time to help my grandparents. It's so hard to look for a job nowadays because it seems the world is crashed by the virus, but I'm looking for my luck here in your company." She said it confidently and the man in front of her was amazed by her confidence.
"Wow, that was fast! It's like you are answering in the beauty contest," She didn't exactly know how to react to his words. She didn't know if it was a compliment or an insult. He asked her again questions that challenged her mind and charismatic charm until he told her that somebody would call her if she passed or not. She left the room with question as well if she passed the interview or not. The other woman outside asked her to do the catwalk and all in the room that had like an aisle as her runway. Then she left the building admiring her courage.
"I am a woman now! I can do what others can do. I can survive and support my olds by my hard work and dedication if they will hire me!" She shouted out but no words came out of her mouth. She was numb and mute because the truth was she was really scared of rejection.
After two days, her phone rang. It was Jerry calling her from the other line. Rona was quite surprised why he called her. It was supposed to be her secretary not him.
"Rona, I know that this is a bit awkward but may I invite you for a dinner?"
She was speechless. She never expected that to happen, not in her entire life because all she knew was that she was really needing a job to support her grandparents especially after the pandemic.
"Ahhhh... why? I can go to your office if you want but not in a dinner. Oh no... not of course!"
"I will just explain to you as soon as you arrive later. See you at around 7:30 at the western resto near McDonald's in the intersection?" He ended the call without saying goodbye.
She was confused why he did that to her. Though she had confusion, she still went there. He was waiting with a nice polo shirt. His handsomeness overpowering the resto that had beautiful designed paintings on the walls. Seemed they were alone and just enjoyed looking with each other's eyes. She suddenly woke up from that some kinda odd feeling because of his attire and smile.
"I am really confused. I don't even know your name yet now I am here in front you like a lapdog bowing her master even if I really don't know your intention as to why we have to talk in private when we can talk to your office about my application. If I fail or not I can overcome it."
"Please stop! Jerry stopped her. He just saw her eyes like wanting enough explanation if what happened. He could see a smirk through her mask. Rona wore it even though the virus was already subsiding.
"My Dad was a pilot and your Dad's best friend. They revealed everything in their life. Everything under the sun. One day your Dad just like having a premonition and told my father that if something happened to him because of the type of work that they had, he told my Dad to take care of you and your grandparents and that was your mom request too to my Dad though it was a creepy thing, he answered them yes. I left my work from New York and wanted to be assigned here in our other branch to look for you and really destiny is quite amazing because when I saw your resume I called my Dad before I called you to come in. He told me to be not strict on my qualifications because you were my father's best friend's daughter. I am sorry for not telling you immediately, because you would absolutely surprise of all these years . I almost forgot to tell you my name. I am Jerry Castro.
She remained speechless. She couldn't utter words to reply the man in front of him. She didn't notice her tears that were chasing down to her face. Jerry gave her his handkerchief and patted her shoulders to comfort her. It was an odd moment for her. She marked it as one of the most unforgettable days of her life. The meeting with a guy who she never knew at all. Days, months, and years passed by after they decided to run the modeling company. They studied the trend fashion after the pandemic, especially for the millennials who were so addicted of new trending in their fashion with masks included. They collaborated their knowledge into one and at the same time, they got to know each other flaws as well.They planned to say their vows if things would go better and stable because they wanted to invite their loved ones on their wedding day.
Things became easier and happier as time went by. Everything fell into place. Their eldest went to their room. She joined them watching the other set of candidates in Miss Universe with their gown competition. Jerry told her their love story and what their mom really loved and wanted before. Their eldest Pia, whispered something to her mom:
"No worries Mom, your dreams will come true soon." Pia said it with a thumbs up.