Categories > Original > Drama > The View from Sta. Rita Street

Two

by Moira 0 Reviews

The Shadows I See

Category: Drama - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Romance - Characters:  - Published: 2005/09/14 - Updated: 2005/09/15 - 1074 words

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Vocabulary:

Cubao & Edsa
- prominent places in Metro Manila. Cubao is a district and Edsa is the name of one of the major highways in Metro Manila.

Tito - means "uncle," or an honorific given to much older males of no familial relation to you

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Me? I've been seeing the shadows ever since I was a child. They came with a vague, choking feeling, as if somebody had laid a hand against my throat, followed by cramping pains in the midsection. I was terrified of being alone; the shadows became tangible things when you had nothing with which to keep them at bay except the thin walls of your mind. Those things never seem to last very long.

When I was four, we lived in this runf{down apartment building in Cubao. My mother worked nights as a waitress in one of those sleazy nightclubs along Edsa. Before she went to work, she would dress me up in a blouse and jumper skirt, bring me to the apartment next door, and hand me over to the lady who lived there. After a brief exchange, Aling Nelia, the lady, would pull me inside and lock the door behind me with an ominous click. Since then, my nightmares always began with doors shutting behind me, leaving me alone to face whatever monster lurked in the room.

Aling Nelia smelled of onions and bleach. Her hands were rough, and her stare made me want to hide under the table. She had a son though, a twenty-three-year-old named Carlo, who always greeted me with a smile, always had candies and little toys to press into my hands. But Aling Nelia never stayed home for long. An hour later, she'd don a brightly-colored dress and yell at Carlo to watch over the brat while she went over to the neighbor's to talk business. Again, the shutting of a door behind me, leaving me alone with Carlo. Tall, good-looking Carlo, who had the smile of an angel. And me in my blouse and jumper.

I learned to see the shadows from those nights with Carlo and Aling Nelia. They were always there, scuttling about like rats in a sewer. And when my mother quit her job to move in with her boyfriend, Tito Rey, I found that the shadows were there, too. I remember sitting up gasping for breath one night, feeling the slimy things crawling all over me. I got out of bed, and found Tito Rey coming after my mother with a two-by-four.

Everywhere I went, they were there. In a mall, in school, in the street where I lived. Usually, they would keep out of sight, shrinking against the walls to hide from the daylight. But then something would happen--a woman filching a blouse from a store, a pair of men sweet-talking a girl into going someplace she didn't want to go, a murder, a suicide--and the shadows would be all over the place, lunging and snarling like wild animals. Eventually, I became used to it. It was just another part of my life that I had to deal with, that's all.

There were others after Tito Rey. We'd live with them for a year or so, then something would happen--he'd be cheating on her or stealing her money or he'd get arrested for drug-dealing--and we'd move back into a hole in the wall, until the next boyfriend came along. My mother soon lost her curvy softness, growing harder and thinner, like a knife blade. I learned the tricks of an alley cat--how to snatch what you can before somebody else does, how to skulk about in corners and lie low, and how to fight back. After Carlo, nobody ever touched me again.

Then my mother met Tito Bernard, a police sergeant at the Central Police District. A large, silent man, he courted my mother with the same grim determination he displayed when chasing down criminals. Three months later, we packed our belongings and moved in with him at his house on Sta. Rita Street. After a life spent hopping from place to place, the chance to settle down with this man who treated my mother like a queen--albeit in his own stolid way--and have a normal kind of life was almost too good to be true. But a year passed, then another year, then another. We'd been living with him for four years before you came. As a whole, it'd been a pretty good life.

Except for the shadows, of course. They're always there. And Sta. Rita, for all its picture-perfect ordinariness, was so thick with them that I sometimes wondered if my mother and I weren't safer living somewhere else, after all.

But then you came. You, with your wonderful, normal family, and your sweet, open smile and your warm laugh. You were like this photograph held up to my face, the image of what life should be. And I'd watch you from the window of my room on the second floor, the way a flower would watch the sun. Every morning, I'd look out to see you in your uniform, shaking the water out of your still-wet hair, yelling at your brother to get his ass moving or you're going to be late. At school, I'd wait impatiently for classes to end, so I could go home to watch you jump out of the car and jog through the front door, then come back out again to play basketball with the guys at the plaza. Without quite understanding why, I'd set the rhythm of my days to match yours. Now, I can close my eyes and imagine you wherever you are at that moment with perfect clarity. I have no idea what it is about you that fascinates me so; it¡¦s enough that you're there for me to be fascinated with. If it means I'm obsessed with you, then so be it.
I hope you don¡¦t mind.

But I'm not here to waste your time with things you probably don¡¦t want to hear about right now. I'm here to tell you about the shadows. That¡¦s what you wanted to know, isn't it? The reason why you asked me to be here with you right now.

I just...I just wish you wanted me here with you for a different reason.

Haha, did I just say that? Well, don't worry about it. I'm kidding, of course.
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