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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

final chapter

The room was filled with silent. Everybody was watching me intently. Anastasia was taken care by one of the maids in her room.  She couldn’t stop crying since Cornelius was taken away by the officer. Poor girl. It was because of her I hesitated one too many time to turn Cornelius in.

“12 years ago, when I first came here, do you still remember it, grandpa?” I looked at the window, not wanting to meet any of the gazes that befell upon me.

“Of course… it was the day of your parents’ funeral.” He looked at me, probed by the question of why I brought it up all of the sudden I presumed. Of course, I never did want to talk about the past.

“It was also the first time we met.” I looked at grandpapa with a weak smile. He looked down as sorrow colored his face.

“Yes, how could I forget? If it wasn’t because of your parents’ accident, we may never meet.” He looked at me tearfully. Frederick gave him a handkerchief from his tailored coat’s pocket. You looked at me silently, as I looked at you. I couldn’t read your expression, thus I looked away at the garden. I mustered all the courage that I could find left inside of me.

“What if I told you…?” I hesitated. I looked at each and everybody in this room. Grandpapa, Kazuki, and then at you. After a long while, I looked out at the garden again. “… If it wasn’t an accident?”

There were gasps, but I did not know from whom, though I had a guess or two. “What do you mean?” Grandpapa was on his feet, with the help of Frederick. But then, he fell back on his chair as Frederick coaxed him to calm down. I looked at Kazuki, and we nodded our heads in sync.

“I’ve check the records of the accidents.” Kazuki stepped forward from the corner of the room, with a red wine on his hand. “Upon the request of the mistress.” He smiled at me. I looked at him, annoyed. Just get on with it. “The wire for the breaks was cut.”

“How did you…” grandpapa gawked at him in surprise. He looked at me, asking me if this was some kind of a joke I tried to pull. Of course, he too, was affected by his son’s death. Even though he had him banned from this family for pursuing his love one.

“The reports from the police.” Kazuki handed him a copy of the report from the investigation. He read the report over and over again. But I knew that he couldn’t believe what he had just read.

“But Cornelius...”

“He lied.” I raised my voice, so that everybody could hear me. There is nothing to hold me back. It was time for me to speak the truth that I had kept hidden for so long. “He lied to you all this time. He’s the culprit behind it.”

Grandpapa shook his head, then let his hand touched his temple. “You’re wrong. Cornelius wouldn’t…”

I let out a sigh. “He knew that I manage to smell out his activity. So he blackmailed me. He…” I could not finish my sentence. It was too hard for me to say. But I must. For my parents’ revenge. For my freedom from this guilt. I found my legs were shaking that I had to find something to hold on to. You caught me before I reached the floor. I looked at you. Somehow, it gave me back my courage. Then I looked hard on grandpapa. “He raped me.”

Of course, the news set the room in chaos, though everybody was silent. But I could tell from their faces that they were bewildered. Even Kazuki, for I did not tell him this.  Grand papa’s became heavier. He grabbed onto Frederick’s sleeve as he gasped for air. Frederick quickly gave him his medicine with a glass of water. When he had calm down, Frederick let out a sigh of relief. “Master, you should rest now. There is no need for you to worsen your health like this.” But being a stubborn old man as he is, he insisted that he must hear this till the end.

“Tell me…” his breathing was still heavy. But he continued on. “Do you know the reason why he did all this?”

“We believe it’s because of your money. He wants it.” Kazuki looked at Grandpapa, not sure to either continue the discussion or just end it. But he continued on anyway. “His company was having setbacks. And I don’t mean minors. He laundered the company’s fund for his own enjoyment, complaints from the employees that he always sleeps around, either with his staff or his clients. Not to mention that his clients has no longer have any interest doing business with him. And…”

“enough.” Grandpapa looked down as he let out a deep, heavy sigh. Then, he covered his face. “This is my entire fault.” The room was silent. Nobody reciprocated to that. I looked at grandpapa, waiting for something, though I didn’t know what. “I was too blinded by my own ego. If only I listen to Marshall back then, these thing would never happen.” I could hear his sniffles, trying to hold back his own tears. After all these years, he did feel guilty towards chasing away my family; his own son and his pregnant wife.

I got up, letting go of your hand that I grasped so tightly earlier, and slowly walked towards grandpapa. I held out his hands that covered his face. His old hands were shaking, and his eyes were red as tears rolled down from his eyes.  Without a word, I buried myself into his arms and we cried in silence.

*  * *

I took the last cigarette from my pocket, but did not light it. For a long time now, a smoke had not touch this lips of mine. Too many things happen this past fortnight. I looked up at the cloudy sky. Slowly, the clouds moved away, showing how blue the sky was. Finally, it has finished, though I had no expected to come to this kind ending.

“Are you even planning to stop smoking?” suddenly you took me by surprise as you stood with your hands crossed your chest and your back on the wall. I smiled at you emptily and put the cigarette back into my pocket. In silence, you sat beside me with your eyes looking at the sky. I took my breath slowly as I enjoyed the silent company with you.

“So, what are planning to do now?”

“Staying here I guess, looking after grandpapa. His health is deteriorating. What about you?” I looked at you as you kept your eyes at the sky. The breeze slowly played with your curly hair, which apparently grew a few centimeters longer at the back. Then slowly you looked at me.

“You’re not going back?” your voice sounded hopeful, though you tried not to show. I smiled, painfully, before looking away at the ground and shook my head lightly. I knew that you were disappointed, as you let out a sigh.

“Then I’ll stay here.” Your voice was firm as you told me this. I imagined that you had rehearsed this in your head, playing out the possible scene between us.

“What about your job? What about Adam?”

“I’ll quit my job. You do not have to worry about Adam. This is my life. I’ll decide what to do.”

I scoffed at your idea. “You should go back there. You can’t just waste everything you’ve built just to make me feel happy.” I knew it; I need that cigarette after all. I was thinking of lighting it when you suddenly stood up in front of me.

“You can’t just dismiss me like this!” clearly, you are in the clouds with your thoughts. I kept quiet for a while, searching for the words that I need. I let out a sigh while my hand rubbed my temple.

“Have you called Adam? He must’ve been worried sick.” I tried to change the subject.

“I’ll do it later. I …” you were probably in a shock as I hugged you tight. I closed my eyes, wishing that time would stop. Wishing that I did not have to do this, but I knew that I have to. Then I slowly released you from my grasp, looking at you in the eyes. I could feel my eyes are filled with tears, so I had to hurry.

“I think it’s better for you to go home. To Adam. I cannot give you what you want, even if you think I can. I need to sort things with this family first. Then, maybe, just maybe, we’ll meet again.” I padded your shoulders with the brightest smile I could give to you, though it was fake, and I figured that you knew it too.

You were quiet for quite a moment, probably trying to reason out the behavior of mine. I left you with your thoughts.

“Promise me, we’ll meet again,” you shouted behind me. I smiled quietly. How persistent. I turned around and there you are slowly getting closer to me.

“Yes. I promise. Though I don’t know when.” You were reluctant, but you nodded eventually. I left you in the garden, busying myself with pondering upon silly things, thinking about you and the conversation that we just had.

 True, I did want to be with you. However, with the way things were, I must figure out what I want to do next. All my life, I had been running. Running from the facts and lies of my life. I was planning on my vengeance before I met you. Moreover, I could not stop what I have started halfway. The time for me to face reality has come. I would not run anymore.

Therefore, I am sorry. You have to wait. Better yet, don’t. But maybe, just maybe, we may meet someday. However, that would be another story then.

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