Broken15 Aug, 2012 04:03 AM
I don’t have tears anymore. I want to cry, wail out loudly, but I can’t. I just don’t have the strength to do it. I feel numb...alone...cold. I guess I have to go, I've said my goodbyes. And may God forgive my soul. I climbed on to my car, turned the engine on. I looked around, it’s so peaceful and quiet here, I could stay here forever. Hah! I still got a sense of humor. Well, this is Sky lawn, where my mother and my stepfather lie. I came to visit them, brought flowers, lit up a candle, said a prayer...and ask for forgiveness. I will see you soon, mother. I will be with you, Dad.
Blasted radio, why this song? Should I turn the volume up? Alex Clare’s lyrics says it all... “...just too close to love you...” OK, time to go, it’s gonna be dark soon. Oh well, time to drive back. I am at Half moon bay, this zigzag road that I’m afraid to tread. I Don’t like to drive here. But today is a special day...oh, there it is...the dreaded curve. I pushed the gas pedal, the car roared, and headed towards the cliff...I didn't wear any seat belt! I heard a big thud, my head hurts...and everything went black.
“Dynne, but you have to come!!” Trudie wailed. “It’s Luc’s engagement party, everybody...everyone, will be there!!”
“I can’t, mother, I have to...finish the medical mission. I hope you and Dad understand.” Please put down the phone, mom, it’s hard to hold back my tears.
“What about Luc? He wants you to be there, too. And so does his fiance. Oh, you should see the size of Marian’s ring, it is humongous!!” I’m sure. She should swallow that rock and choke. “I’ll just call them to say congrats.” And may they rot in hell.
“Oh, fine. This is a family affair, you know. Anyway, this is just the engagement. But don’t you dare be absent on the wedding day!!” CLICK. I have to hold my hand on my mouth, I don’t want to make a scene, especially when my best fiend June and her boyfriend Xander is suspiciously quiet in the room, and their eyes are on me.
“Was that your mom?” I could see June frowning. “She’s bugging you to attend Luc’s party.” She sighed and looked at Xander. I didn’t answer. I went straight to the shower, locked the door, and cried.
My father died when I was seventeen. Mother has to find a job; my father just left us debts. My mom got a job as a domestic helper in Hong-Kong, and I will be left here in Manila by myself. Anyway, I just graduated from high school, about to start college. I want to be a doctor, but with our financial situation, it might be just a dream. Although, I got a scholarship in one of the top university in the Philippines. They offered a two and a half year premed course, and I got in the program. For two years, my life was a routine. I went to school, then at home to study and read. My mom sent money, just enough to pay the bills and for me to eat 3 times a day. I don’t go out with friends, no budget for that. But I’m okay. No distractions. I have a goal, and I don’t want my mom’s sacrifice to be nothing. Then I got a call. My mom is coming home. Was her contract done? Is she ok? She told me she will tell everything once she arrived. I saw her at the airport, and she is looking good. Her eyes are smiling. She’s wearing this nice caftan dress and it looks good on her. She was talking to a tall, white haired man, and he was holding my mom’s hand!!
My mom got married to Theo, her sixty year old employer. She was a housekeeper at Theo's massive flat in Hong Kong. I learned that he is a Greek businessman, about to retire, so he could enjoy travelling. He’s a widower, and he adores my mother. I could see, and my mom looks happy, too. They came here together to tell me the good news. So, in three short weeks of their stay, Theo bought a furnished condo unit near my school, paid my tuition in full and placed a substantial amount on my bank account. He also settled all our debts. It was like a dream. Mom said that they are moving to the US. Theo's head office is in San Francisco, but his son Lucas, will be taking over. And as soon as I finish my premed, I could go and study abroad.
I’m glad to finally set my foot on land. It was my first time on an airplane, and I almost freaked out. There was mom and Theo waving at me.“So, how’s your flight?” Mom said after hugging me tight.“It’s okay, I guess.” We drove up to a huge Victorian house, the ones that you see in postcards. Nice. “So, Kohr, have you decided on what school are you going?” Theo said in his baritone voice. Just then, in the corner of my eye, I saw something...someone. I turned around and saw this tall, lean guy with dark hair looking at me. He was gorgeous. “Ah, there you are Lucas. Come and meet your stepsister, Geraldine.” Smiling, Theo was kissed on the cheek by this handsome Greek god. “Welcome to our home.” He nodded at me curtly, and walked away. I am in love. Love? Wow! I had crushes before, but never like this. My heart was fluttering like crazy whenever he’s around. I can’t even look at him to meet his gaze. I stutter whenever I answer his questions. When his arm accidentally brushed mine, it sent electrical shocks to my core. Any skin contact with Luc, or just being in close proximity with him, makes my legs feel like jelly. Lucas, or Luc, as he preferred to be called, took on the family business after his mother died 4 years ago. He’s just 30, but already an accomplished businessman. When he took over Theo’s import/export business, he was able to branch out to other industries, as well. Hence, Leonidas Group of Companies was born. Theo said it’s time for him to relax, so after he turned full control of the business to Luc, he and mom started travelling around the world. A mistake, he said, that he wasn't able to do with his deceased wife, and so now he wants to make up for it with my mother.
I was looking at medical schools here in Northern Cali, so I could be near my mom. Ok, really? Fine. I want to be near with Luc. Even though this step sibling thing is an obstacle, I’m content with just seeing him everyday. Not that I have illusions of him and me getting married, but hey, one can dream, right? And I am cheering on the inside when I learned that Luc has no serious girlfriend yet. Yes, I could see him with other women, but he’s not the playboy type. I understand, he has needs. But still, I’m glad he’s not into a committed relationship. I hope that he somehow sees me, like, admire me. Well, I can’t blame him for not even looking. I have not shed this huge hideous vintage round glasses that I’m wearing that Harry Potter’s got nothing on me. His spectacles are miniature compared to mine. I’m not into fashion anyway. Besides, I am petite, about 5’4”, and fat. I try to cover up by wearing loose, frumpy clothes, hoping that no one can see my shapeless figure.
I got into UCSF’s MD curriculum program. I know that Mom and Theo are proud of me, they never failed to say that every 5 minutes. But Luc? Nope, no words of praise. He just said ‘good’ when he learned the news. I don’t think he’s jealous, Theo always praises Luc’s achievements every time we have dinner together. Well, that is like every other month when I saw him and my mom here in SF. They’re always travelling elsewhere.
I did not leave Luc’s home. I just drive to school, even though I leave an hour early for class to avoid traffic. No problem, as long as I am living in the same house with Luc. I always try to strike a conversation with him, to appear as cheery as possible. But he’s always frowning at me. I hope he notices my smile.
It’s my first summer here in SF. Mom invited me to join her and Theo in an Alaskan Cruise. But I wanted to go back to Manila to see my best friend, June, even for two weeks only. “What time is your flight? I told you to email Carina your itinerary”. Carina is Luc’s PA, she’s also like a mother to him. “S-sorry, I...um...I forgot. But...I have it here...a copy of the...the itinerary.” Gosh, why can’t I talk straight with this guy?? He grabbed it and frowned, “You’re leaving at 8? What time is it?” He looked at his watch and grabbed his keys. “I’ll just drop you off. Come on.” It’s a 30 minute drive to the airport, with the traffic, of course. But that is like a lifetime for me. To be with Luc this close... “Are you asleep? We’re here.” Nope, not asleep at all. I just closed my eyes while I imagined that we are on a date, and that Luc loves me. He placed my luggage at the curb. I sighed as I got out of his car. I want to kiss him, badly. You know what? I’ll do it!! Why not? At least, I will be gone for 2 weeks, and who knows, he might realize something while I’m gone. We’re not even related, like blood related, so...
I grabbed his dress shirt, tiptoed and kissed him! But...his mouth remained closed...?! He grabbed my shoulders and pushed me. “What the fuck was that?” he wiped his lips. “I...I’m sorry.” I love you. “I thought-“
“Shit! Don’t ever do that again! Fuck! I did not LIKE that, ok?” and he turned away, slammed his car’s door and drove.
“It’s okay...he doesn't mean that.” I was crying inconsolably, June doesn't know what to do anymore.
“Here, drink some water.”
“I know what can take your mind off things. Xander’s fraternity is organizing a medical mission this weekend, and I want you to come with us!!” Xander is June’s boyfriend and schoolmate, he’s a year older than us. Both of them are studying medicine here in Manila, and I’m staying at June’s condo.
“Hi, I’m Bernard, I’m one of Xander’s frat bro. You’re Dynne, right?” I looked up and saw this guy smiling at me. He looks handsome, tall, but not as tall as Luc. “Hello.” And I continued sorting medications that are to be dispensed by the volunteer doctors. “It’s good that you’re able to join us. I’m one of the volunteer doctors, I’m over there.” He pointed at the shed where the free circumcision sign was hanging. “I’m actually a urology resident. I heard that you’re in UCSF med. That means you’re not only beauty, but brains as well.” What?? I looked up again, I can’t believe what he’s saying. Is he blind? Maybe he needs glasses. I’ll let him borrow mine. “After this event, can we have dinner?” Ok, this Bernard guy is a lunatic. No one asks me for dinner, unless he expects me to pay for it?? “Umm, sure. What time?” I need to get my mind off things, and Bernard amuses me. “Let me get your number, and I’ll tell June and Xander that I will be the one to drop you off at the condo later.”
“Thanks, Bernard. Bye!”
June closed the door after we saw Bernard get in the elevator. “So, how was it?? He’s cute, Dynne!!” “Yeah, I guess.” And I didn't paid the bill for dinner, he did. “Oh, and your mom called. I told her that you’re out on a date. Did she call you on your cell?” Mom called me? I hope Luc did not say anything about the... “Did she say why? Does she sound mad?”
“Nope, more of surprised actually. I guess she never thought you date.” I don’t. It’s not that I don’t want to, but no one really looked behind the surface. “Hello, mom? What’s up??”
“Dynne!! I heard you went on a date!! How was it?” I told my mother about Bernard, she seemed ecstatic that I might actually introduce a boyfriend to her. She seemed happy, and proceeded to tell me all about the wonders of Alaska. Theo made sure that mom has a good time. They are still in the cruise, but will go back midweek of July. “Why? I thought you’re going to Hong Kong? July sale, remember?” Hong Kong has its biggest sale in July, and mom never misses it. “You’re gonna be in SF at that time too, right?”
“Mom, what’s going on?”
“Luc is engaged!! Theo will be throwing a party, engagement party for them!!” Oh. “So you’d better be here so that we could shop for clothes. Marian already booked us for spa and salon.” Marian. I haven’t heard that name before. Maybe she’s pregnant? “Oh, Dynne. They look so good together. Well, he is Luc’s third cousin...oh, no, fourth I think...anyway...Dynne?? Hello?”
“Ok, so...that’s the big news!!”
I heard Theo’s voice, and soon after, mom hanged up.
Luc is engaged. Engaged. In love and engaged. But not to me. I extended my stay here in Manila, until the second week of August. I could register online for school anyway, so I don’t have to be there. I don’t want to be there, near Luc and Marian. I think I’d better start looking for an apartment. Or better yet, why don’t I stay here for good? Nah, I still have school. What is 2 more years anyway? Then, I’ll move somewhere far...Alaska? I hope the moon is ready for occupancy in 2 years time. I told my mom that the medical mission is gonna take a month. Of course, I lied. I just hope they bought it. I know that June hears me when I cry every night, no matter how I try to muffle the sound with my pillow. It doesn't help that my eyes get easily puffy after crying.
To take my mind off things, I agreed to go out with Bernard. He’s a good guy, attentive, funny...and he said he likes me. We almost go out every night, eat dinner, movies, or sometimes, just hanging out at the coffee shop. Still, I think of Luc...and it hurts. It’s two days before the engagement party. I don’t know what to do. I want to tell Luc how I feel, and maybe...“Don’t do it, Dynne. You told me what happened at the airport. Ok, think. Let’s say he likes you, say, loves you...then what? He is your stepbrother. Think about that.”
“I know...but I just want him to at least acknowledge me.” And...?? “I’ll stay away from him, from them, when I get back.” I emailed Luc, extending my best wishes to his fiance, Marian. It was a short letter. June is right, and I can’t bear another rejection from him.
Your decision to stay in Manila says it all. Let us put the incident at the airport behind us. Perhaps it is best for you to continue with the man that you’re seeing at the moment. Try to dress up nicely, accentuate your features and don’t hide it. I hope that next time we see each other, you will not be mooning at me.
Oh.my.God!! I closed my eyes. I should ‘dress up nicely’. Sure, Luc. ‘Continue seeing the man’. I will, Luc. I will. I spent almost half the day in the shower. Good thing that June is spending the long weekend at Xander’s family, and I am all alone in her flat. Tomorrow is their engagement day. Everybody will know that Luc and Marian are to be wed. I left a message at Bernard’s phone. I want to see him tonight. He’s here 10 minutes early. “I’m happy to see you, Dynne. So, where do you want to go?”
“We’re booked at The Peninsula. We’re going there.” Bernard looked at me, surprised. “Booked?”
“Yes. We have a room. We are going to have sex tonight.”
We were both staring at the ceiling, stark naked. “I have to tell you something.” What now? I don’t have any condoms left. I don’t want to talk. Can he just leave? Or maybe, we could have sex again, until I don’t feel anything. Until I’m numb. “I’m married.” Great. Just fucking great. I just gave my virginity to an asshole. I've waited this long, saved myself to someone worthy...someone who could see beyond the frumpy me...and it all comes to this?? “Dynne, I’m-“
“Save it. I don’t wanna talk. Just go.”
“I said go. I don’t care anymore. I never did care. So you’re married. Fine. Make sure the door’s closed when you leave, ok?”
“OH MY GOD! DYNNE!! CALL AN AMBULANCE, HURRY!! XANDER, DO CPR!!” I tried to open my eyes but they were so heavy. I could hear June’s voice, but this is not her place. Where...? I could hear June sobbing. “Dynne, why did you do this?”
“Please don’t tell my mom, anybody in my family.”
“You lost a lot of blood, you know.”
“I’m sorry if I made a mess in your bathroom.” June held my right hand. My left wrist is bandaged, and it hurts. “Why, Dynne? Why?”
“I wasn't thinking right. I just realized that if I died, Lucas will not be happy, as it is his engagement day.”
“I called Bernard, and he was guilty as hell. But Bernard already filed for an annulment two months ago, he’s just waiting for it.” June shook her head. “So it still IS about Luc...”
“June, just withdraw money from my ATM card. If I use my credit card, mom might know about this. Pay the hospital bill in cash.”
“They will see the scar, Dynne. You sliced your wrist with an X sign. The doctor told me” They won’t see it. In fact, they won’t see Dynne at all. Dynne died already.
It’s a good thing I left June’s condo 3 hours before my flight. With this traffic, I have only 1 hour left to check in. Anyway, good thing I flew Business class, they’re somewhat lenient to Diamond card members. Ok, so I've checked in already. All I have to do is wait at the lounge. I've checked my email, mom said they left for Greece. Another engagement party thrown by Marian’s father. Nice. I wish them well.
"Hi, are you waiting for somebody?" Hmm...he smells good. Blonde hair, tanned skin, chiselled body. Surfer dude? “No, I’m flying alone.”
“Good then. I’m Ethan.” Oh, well. I could see that Luc is right. A little haircut, ditch the frumpy clothes, throw the glasses and get contacts...voila! Men will notice. I left almost all my clothes for donation. June helped me find dresses, skirts and pants to suit my curves. Yes, curves. I could see Ethan conversing with my breasts, as he is looking at it most of the time. Thanks to this fit hugging shirt and push up bra, my boobs seemed to double in size. Nobody’s home. Good. I’d better sleep, I want to go to school early to finish my registration and check out my schedule.
I haven’t seen Luc in about a week since classes started. I don’t know how will I react if I saw him. Everybody in school thought I was a new student. Heck, even my friends Joan and Denise can’t believe it’s me. Funny how they could see me now, with these entire facade. Nobody even dared to talk to me before when I was just simply Dynne. I also started dating Ethan, but I haven’t gone to bed with him yet. Maybe soon.
Marian came to the house one day, looking for Luc. I find it funny when I told her I’m Geraldine. I guess Luc told her how I look, how pathetic I was. At first she thought I was Luc’s mistress, boy, she was ready to hurl that vase at me. If she did, I will not hesitate to cut her throat with the broken vase, since she already sliced my heart to pieces. I’m pretty sure she’ll tell Luc about me.
Ethan reached for my hand. “Please, Geraldine, let’s talk.”
“About what? I told you, we’re over. Done.”
“What happened? Is it about the other night? Tell me.” Ethan’s blue eyes pleaded.
“What about it? I enjoyed it, Ethan, believe me. But, that’s just it. We can’t see each other anymore.” I put my sunglasses on, hoping that Ethan gets the hint that he has to leave. Now. He pulled the chair closer to me. Still not letting go of my hands. “Is it because I said I love you?” I straightened up, but still sitting on the lounge chair facing the pool. I removed my sunglasses, looked straight in his eyes, “Yes. I don’t do love, Ethan. I don’t believe in it anymore. And I have the scar to prove it. Goodbye.”
I stood up to go inside...I almost froze. Luc is standing by the door, looking at me. In what seems like an eternity of looking at each other, I shifted my gaze, and headed inside, walked past him as if he does not exist. He used to do the same to me before, as if I am invisible. But why do I feel this ache in my heart?
Luc tried to search something in Dynne’s eyes. Gone is the innocent, shy, timid Geraldine. All he saw was coldness... Luc and I sometimes see each other at the house. But I always turn the other way. Nothing has changed really, except that I don’t look at him anymore. No mooning, right? I also forgot the last time we talked. Meaning, that it was a long time ago. Why do I still love him? I spoke with my mom later that night. They are coming back here in SF. I missed her, although we talk twice a week, I still want to see her and hug her. Greece has a storm coming, Theo wants to get back here in sunny San Francisco.
Why is Carina calling me?? She knows I’m in class. I turned off my cellphone. I have to listen on how these intestinal parasites proliferate, I want to ace the exams again. Wow, 6 missed calls in 2 hours? Carina didn't even leave a message. Wonder what happened? Did Marian lose her big ass ring? Oh, maybe Luc had seen the light and he loves me now? Sure. “Hey, Carina, I was in class. What’s all the missed calls?”
Gertrude ‘Trudie’ Leonidas. Mother. Wife. Friend.
Theodorus Nikolai Leonidas. Father. Husband. Friend.
I am alone now. My mother and Theo died in a plane crash. I will never see my mom again. She did not even see ‘Geraldine’. But I know she knew the real me. He never saw Dynne cry. Not even a drop of tear. Luc suddenly missed Geraldine, her longing eyes that he usually catches looking at him. He never seen her laugh nor smile, either, for the longest time. He wants to know what Dynne is feeling, now that she’s an orphan. Well, not really alone, technically speaking, he’s still the stepbrother. Geraldine is so different now. She carries herself with confidence, like she came out of a shell. And what a transformation. From ugly duckling to a princess...stoic, ICE princess.
Luc was talking to almost everybody who came at the burial. I don’t know them, only a handful. I guess they don’t know me either, but everyone was polite with the condolences. I noticed something odd, though. Why is Luc always glaring at Marian? “Who was that? Is he the third one you rejected again?” Luc said as he was looking at Parker as he stormed out of the house. Oh, so now he’s talking to me. “It didn't work out.” I headed to my room. Luc stood in front of me “So, what is this scheme of yours?” I looked at him, trying to hide the pain of his rejection. “I followed what you told me. It worked.” I held his gaze, be brave, Geraldine.
“Excuse me. I’m going”
“No” he did not move to give way. “We have to talk.”
“Okay. Is this about Theo's will? I don’t know how to handle that insane amount of money, but can I ask you to handle the finances? Until I graduate?” You’re going to handle everything anyway.
“It’s not about the will, Dynne-“
“Geraldine.” Dynne is dead.
“So now you’ll call me Lucas? What’s the deal here? Talk to me.” I love you...always have, always will. “Maybe you’re the one who wants to talk, Luc. I’m listening.” I pulled out the bar chair and sat down.
“You don’t have to hide what you feel. You need to grieve, Dynne.”
“I already did, Luc. I’m already broken, just waiting for another drop...” And I will burst into pieces. Luc, still standing, placed his hands on each of his pockets. “Well, Marian says that she’s pregnant.” He shrugged. “I guess the wedding’s gonna be next month.” Shattered. Crushed into tiny bits. Broken. “Good for you. I wish you both well, and the baby, of course.”
I don’t have tears anymore. I want to cry, wail out loudly, but I can’t. I just don’t have the strength to do it. I feel numb...alone...cold. I guess I have to go, I've said my goodbyes. And may God forgive my soul. I climbed on to my car, turned the engine on. I looked around, it’s so peaceful and quiet here, I could stay here forever. Hah! I still got a sense of humor. Well, this is Sky lawn, where my mother and my stepfather lie. I came to visit them, brought flowers, lit up a candle, said a prayer...and ask for forgiveness. I will see you soon, mother. I will be with you, Dad. Blasted radio, why this song? Should I turn the volume up? Alex Clare’s lyrics says it all... “...just too close to love you...” OK, time to go, it’s gonna be dark soon. Oh well, time to drive back. I am at Half moon bay, this zigzag road that I’m afraid to tread. I don’t like to drive here. But today is a special day...oh, there it is...the dreaded curve. I pushed the gas pedal, the car roared, and headed towards the cliff...I didn't wear any seat belt! I heard a big thud, my head hurts...and everything went black.
“Mr. Leonidas? Are you her family?” Dr. Williams looking sternly at Lucas. “Yes, Doctor, I am.”
“But her emergency contact says here Carina Sandoval.” The doctor was frowning as he flipped through the medical chart. “Carina is my secretary. I am her...stepbrother.” Lucas said firmly. “And Carina is not here at the moment.” Dr. Williams looked at him. “Ok, since no one can confirm what you’re saying...do you know any distinguishing marks on her...scar, maybe? “Birthmark? Scar?” He paused. “I don’t really know.”
“You might want to look at her, just to be sure.” They walked at the hallway, leading to the last room on the left. Lucas could hear the beeping sound of the monitor, the blowing sound of the respirator...and he saw her. Her head and face was covered with bandages, her right arm raised on a sling, her left leg with cast up to her thigh. Multiple bruises and abrasions everywhere. “She’s on the breathing machine, her ribs were crushed. She is in coma. She’s practically broken.” Dr. Williams explained, while he flashes light on to Dynne’s eyes. That word. Geraldine said that. He held her left hand, his thumbs caressing her arm, touching her wrist... “What’s this?” He flipped her left wrist, and saw a big X scar.
“Carina!! Did you find whatever??” Lucas banged the wall. He asked Carina to look into Dynne's room to find something, anything, that could tell him what went on Dynne’s mind. “Luc, I did not see any diary, or letter, or...something. I flipped through her notes and books, and there’s nothing. Geraldine just kept everything to herself...” Carina turned around and sobbed. Lucas already spoke with Ethan, James and Parker. All three said the same thing. That she’s always distant, cold...mysterious. That’s why they were drawn to her. Nobody knew about the scar. She always wears bangles or cover it up with wristwatches. Carina came up, handed Dynne’s cellphone to him. EMT found her purse and was returned to them. He looked at the directory, remembered a familiar name...June. In between sobs, June was able to tell Luc everything. And he already knew what the last straw was.
Luc went to Marian’s penthouse. He needs to tell her something personally, and does not want to say it on the phone. He’s pretty sure Marian’s at home, as if she’s working anyway. He has his own key, convenient at times, his office is just a block away from here. He heard muffled voices... “But, mama, he always uses condoms!!”
“So, condoms break!!”
“But it didn't!! So how? What am I supposed to do?” Marian wailed.
He walked in. “Tell the truth.” Luc is seated beside Geraldine, his palms covering his face, “I’m sorry, Dynne. I really am.”
“I didn't know...God, how I wish I was as bold as you. But I was scared.” He touched her scar, his finger outlining the raised X mark. “Please wake up, Dynne.” I love you.
Luc wiped his tears. He looked at his watch, and straightened himself.
Gertrude ‘Trudie’ Alves-Leonidas. Mother. Wife. Friend.
Theodorus Nikolai Leonidas. Father. Husband. Friend.
Geraldine ‘Dynne’ Alves. Daughter. Friend. His Love.
It’s been 2 years, and Luc never fails to visit Dynne every 15th of the month. His calendar has an X on every 15th, to remind him of the day Dynne had died, the date of his previous engagement day to Marian. He looked up, sighed, and closed his eyes. Only one word can describe what he feels...EMPTY. Lucas made a vow, a promise to Dynne’s grave. That he will soon be Lucas Armand Leonides. Son. Friend. Her Love.