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

Four

by Moira 0 Reviews

Tito Bernard and I

Category: Drama - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Romance - Characters:  - Published: 2005/09/15 - Updated: 2005/09/15 - 775 words

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Tito Bernard loved my mother. They'd been together for six years. After a long string of losers and relationships never lasted past the first year, my mother finally found a man she could trust and rely on. She didn't mind the way Tito Bernard tended to be a bit unemotional, even indifferent, at times--considering the things the others did to her, Tito Bernard was a saint. And I was heartened to see some of the old softness return to my mother's thin face. She was happy; that's what counted.

I didn't know how he felt about me, though. He and I treated each other with courteous tolerance; once in a while he even became a bit sweet toward me. He'd given me a room of my own, after all; that was a big deal to me. But from the very first, we'd silently drawn the lines marking our spaces, and wordlessly agreed to maintain the delicate balance between us, for the sake of my mother. I would have done anything to protect that balance, and protect the joy my mother had found. Besides, my life was more precious to me now, now that you were in it.

By the time I turned fifteen, I began to notice the way his eyes followed me. I would walk into a room, and his gaze would settle upon me, watching my every move with a vacant expression in his eyes that frightened me more than if he'd openly leered at me. At first he didn't do anything but look; I solved that by becoming scarce, leaving for school early in the morning, staying out until late in the evening, and locking myself in my room otherwise. The looks eventually stopped, and I silently breathed a sigh of relief.

I should have known from the shadows. They had been gathering slowly, swirling around the house like a noxious mist. But there were always shadows in Sta. Rita. Sta. Rita was drowning in darkness. How could I have known? It's been six years. Six years since the shifting blackness that only I could see meant anything to me or my own. Six years of relative safety.

Safety always dulled the senses. Sometimes it was better when you were afraid. You kept your mind alert and your reflexes sharp, and you survived day after day on your instincts alone. But I wasn't an alley cat anymore. I was a fifteen-yearf{old high school student, whose biggest problem was how to get the boy she liked to like her back. Just an ordinary girl.

How could I have known?

It was a Sunday afternoon, one of those heart-of-summer days, with the kind of heat that could kill. My mother had gone to the mall with some friends. Feeling dull and drowsy, I slipped out of my room and padded down to the kitchen for a glass of Coke. There must have been some kind of noise or movement, because my body suddenly tensed. Calmly, I put the glass down, reached for one of the kitchen knives in the rack on the counter, and turned around.

We didn't say a word. What was there to be said? The shadows whirled around us in an unseen hurricane, and he stood there with his hands loose on his sides, wearing only a pair of jeans and that terrible blank expression in his eyes. I stared at him coldly, my grip tight but steady around the knife handle. We both understood what was going to happen: he was going to take me, and I was going to fight him, and we both knew who was going to win.

And then the doorbell rang. A familiar voice, unnaturally loud in the unmoving heat, began to shout my name. Again and again, with increasing anxiety. Then the jarring sound of somebody banging on the gate with both fists. Tito Bernard¡¦s cheek twitched, but the shadow-storm had already begun to subside, and he turned around and walked away not long after. Feeling as if I was about to faint, I slid the knife back into the rack and ran to the gate--

And found you there, barely dressed in a pair of shorts and a wrinkled tank-top, looking confused and annoyed and terribly worried. You asked me if I was all right. I said yeah, I'm okay. You looked at me as if searching for something, and I gazed back, willing you to find it. Then you asked if I'd like to hang around your house for a while and watch videos. I said sure, why not.

Then I leaned my head against your shoulder and cried.
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