22Igniting a Heartbeat
Igniting a Heartbeat
I have never felt home
'Til you entered my door
And from that moment I knew
That our home is whatever you choose
Just one kiss Loving Caliber
"Baby, please do tell me if it hurts, okay? We just really need to treat your wounds and bruises kasi bago pa lumala ang mga ito."
Maingat at puno ng panlalambing niyang saad sa'kin habang nakahawak ang isa niyang kamay sa baba ko, checking for every wounds and bruises on my face, while her other hand was getting some stuff– probably, a few cotton swabs and an ointment for cleaning, plus some band-aids– into the first aid kit that she took from the Yatch's cabin drawer, ready to treat me.
She was also the one who insisted on treating my injuries alone and by herself– kahit na may mga doctors on board naman pala silang kasama pero ayaw niya pa din na ipagamot ako sa iba– kaya ang ending, wala na silang nagawa pa at agad na lamang na sumang-ayon at sumunod sakanya since she is their boss– and technically mine as well too if I'm being completely honest– and under haha, but that's for another chapter na– and they– including me, cannot exactly oppose to her.
I mean, wala namang kaso sa'kin and I very much prefer the idea too and besides, if I let my girlfriend deal with my injuries instead of the others, then, I wouldn't have to worry, nor to be so cautious that much, dahil sa aminin ko man o hindi, it feels like I have developed a certain fear for unfamiliar people.
In short, now, I get easily uncomfortable and frightened with dealing with people who are not exactly my Karina and possibly, she had also sensed it too kaya ayaw niya muna akong ipahabilin sa ibang tao pwera sakanya.
With that, she started to carefully clean my wounds, wearing an expression of complete and absolute concentration, all while still being mindful of my reactions as well as my well-being by constantly asking me questions such as "kung masakit ba," or "if kung masyado niyang bang nadiinan ang pagsa-swab ng cotton bud sa sugat ko," which was so funny and endearing if it was on an another different situation.
And while she was busy on tending my wounds, ako naman ay heto, busy din– sa kakatingin sakanya. I mean, can you blame me though? How can I not when my lover's unbelievable beauty still amazes me– and will continue to amaze me even more– up to this very date.
But it's not just her beauty alone that captivates me, it is also her pure soul. Idagdag mo na din ang pagmamahal niya sa'kin. Atsaka I guess, totoo din ang mga sabi-sabi na mabilis kang maghe-heal kapag may mapagmahal at maganda kang girlfriend.
Mentally sighing, hindi ko na din mapigilan na hindi magpasalamat sa Panginoon sa itaas dahil binigyan niya ako ng isang Karina Ellyse Riego– who I think is an angel who got sent down here from heaven to save me– sa buhay ko.
And if you're also wondering about the current situation now, well, mga ilang oras na din ang nakalipas simula 'nung iniligtas niya ako mula sa mga kamay ni Sunmi, at ngayon, heto kami, nasa kalagitnaan pa din naman ng dagat pero this time, we are sailing away from that loathsome island.
I also have no prior idea, nor have any intentions in knowing, sa kung ano na ba ang nangyari sa gagang kumidnap sa'kin– kay Sunmi– dahil pagkatapos namin mag-yakapan ng Mahal ko kanina, ay umalis din kami kaagad at tumungong Yate– which is our means of traveling back home– while not minding the chaos that was surrounding us.
Alam ko din naman na protektadong-protektado ng mga tauhan ng Mahal ko ang bawat galaw naming dalawa kaya malayang-malaya din kaming nakaalis kaagad.
Idagdag mo na rin na hanggang ngayon ay namamaga pa din ang mga mata ko sa kakaiyak. Hindi ko na din kasi mapigilan pa na hindi umiyak nang umiyak dahil lahat na yata ng frustrations, pain at longing ay gustong-gustong kumawala sa pamamagitan nang pag-luha.
Pero matapos ng masugid na pag-iyak na 'yun ay wala na, parang gumaan na ang pakiramdam ko. Ito ay marahil dahil sa nailabas ko na ang lahat, o dahil sa alam kong safe na'ko, protektado na'ko at nasa tabi na'ko ng Mahal ko, or maybe, from the mix of everything. I don't know which one is the right reason but what I do know is that, I am finally free– I finally felt free. And I finally tasted my true freedom, which is here, beside my Karina.
Mga ilang minuto din ata ang iginugol niya mula sa pang-gagamot sa'kin bago matapos ang lahat since she also treated the wounds I have all over my body, at mas malalaki ang damage na natamo ko sa katawan kahit na kakaunti lamang ito kumpara sa mukha ko.
"There. All done na, Mahal ko." She solemnly declared, throwing the last cotton swab in the trash and then after that, she lightly graze her fingers onto my cheeks before giving it a gentle kiss na nakapag-pangiti naman sa'kin. "I heard that giving kisses to the wounds and bruises speeds up recovery." She smiled cheekily.
"Pero, I still believe that getting a good rest is what makes a recovery quicker. Kaya magpahinga ka na muna, Mahal ko." Pang-gagayak niya, fixing the bed so that I can lie comfortably. Dahil wala namang rason pa para maging matigas ang ulo kasi si Karina ko na'to eh, sinunod ko ang sinabi niya at komportableng humiga na sa higaan.
Pagkatapos 'non ay marahan din agad siyang sumunod at tumabi sa'kin, carefully wrapping her arms around my waist as well as placing her head onto the crook of my neck, inching a bit closer to snuggle me, making me feel safe and protected.
And I also admit, that the action brought so much warmth and solace within me that I cannot help but to sighed deeply into her hold. And there is also no doubt that the mere presence of my girlfriend alone is enough to give me a full sense of comfort. Enough to keep me relax. Enough to give me peace and tranquility. And enough to keep me grounded.
At alam kong ilang beses ko na ding sinasabi 'to– at kahit kailan ay hinding-hindi ako magsasawa na sabihin ang mga katagang ito– pero, Karina Ellyse Riego is truly, and without a doubt, my own definition of contentment.
"Sleep ka na muna, Baby ko. I'll be just here when you wake up, and I promise, that no one will ever, ever dare to hurt you ever again." I felt her soft lips again but this time it was placed on my forehead.
Humigpit din ang pagkaka-hawak niya sa'kin pero hindi ito 'yung klase nang hawak na nakakasakal, and instead, ito 'yung klase nang akap na nakakapagparamdam sayo na okay na ang lahat. That everything's going to be fine.
And because of the amount of comfort she's emitting, hindi ko na pala namalayan na nakatulog na ako ng mahimbing– which was probably one of the best sleep I have ever had for over quite some time now– at nagising na lamang ako na wala ng isang Karina sa tabi ko, and it was also nighttime already.
I panicked of course. Hindi lang 'yan, agad ding namayani sa'kin ang sobrang takot 'nung mapagtanto ko ang katotohanan na baka mamaya, isang panaginip lang pala ang lahat nang nangyari kanina at heto pa din ako, nakakulong sa mga kamay ni Sunmi, and gosh, I cannot afford to get my hopes be crushed again because that would break me for real this time.
With that fear, dali-dali naman agad akong lumabas mula sa cabin at kumaripas nang takbo para hanapin siya sa bawat sulok ng Yate, feeling my anxiety heightened by every second na hindi ko siya nakikita. Malaki din kasi ang sinasakyan naming barko kaya mukhang mahihirapan rin ako na pagha-hanap sakanya.
Hindi kasi ito 'yung pang-ordinaryong Yate lamang na sakto lang sa pang-lima o pang-anim na katao kundi, parang medium version na din ito ng cruise ship. Feeling ko nga, kasya na din dito ang mga isang-daan na katao.
Tired and was about to cry for real, my feet brought me to the last area– the deck– in hopes na baka andoon lamang siya, and a sigh of relief instantly came out of my mouth when I fnally saw her– standing near the railings, overlooking the ocean. Pati 'yung anxiety at takot ko kanina ay nawala nalang din bigla.
At first, napag-pasyahana ko na huwag muna siyang distorbuhin dahil she looks so peaceful to be disturbed, but seeing her attire– which only consists of a white spaghetti strap top, under her white flimsy cardigan and a pair of pajamas and flip-flops– I have decided to go against my decision as I immediately went back inside the cabin, took a thick jacket from the closet and brought it back along with me outside again to cover it to her since she was obviously starting to freeze from the cold breeze of the ocean.
Nang papalapit na ako sakanya, it was then that I heard a sound that felt like breaking my heart.– her silent cries. I suddenly became worried as the hunched feeling I was having since way earlier came back, and it was also in that very moment that I knew that something was wrong. And I know that sa simula palang kanina, she's only just faking to be okay, when the truth is, she is definitely not.
"Mahal ko..." Mahinang tawag ko sakanya to get her attention, and I was immediately successful when she immediately turned her head to face me with a shocked tearful look. Nagulat ko pa yata. Mukhang hindi niya inaasahan na magigising ako ng maaga.
As expected, dali-dali naman niyang pinunasan ang mga luha niya with matching pagsinghap pa na rinig na rinig ko naman atsaka umakto na parang hindi ko lang siya nakitang umiiyak kanina. "Baby! Omg, why are you here outside? It's cold here! Baka mas lalo kang magkasakit niyan!" Pagsasaad niya gamit ang garagal na boses kaya napa-buntong hininga na lamang ako.
Hays, Karina ko. Mas inuuna mo pa talaga ako kahit na ikaw ang mas may kailangan ng comfort sa'ting dalawa dito ngayon, tsk.
Kaya without thinking about anything else, I went straight to her, took her inside my arms as I hugged her tightly. But I also carefully sneaked the jacket onto her shoulders.
"M-Mahal?" Narinig ko pa ang pagkalito sa boses niya, at the same time, para ulit siyang iiyak.
"Karina, Mahal ko, hindi mo kailangang magtago sa'kin. Kung gusto mong umiyak, umiyak ka. If you're feeling weak, then be weak. You don't have to hide it from me." I bit my lips. "I won't hesitate to give you my strength. At kung parehas tayong mahina, then let's both be weak together. At least in that way, we both can find our solace and build our strength using those moments of weakness we have, together." I hope this would get to her, to get those whatever negative thoughts she have right now.
"So please tell me what's wrong, Karina ko. What's our problem?"
"Leafy... I‐I should be the one comforting you, not like this." I quickly shook my head.
"Shh, it's okay. Ayos na'ko, Mahal ko. When you came to rescue me earlier, I know that I was already fine. Your presence alone made me fine. So allow me to give it back to you. Let me comfort you too, Mahal ko."
"So please, tell me what's our problem, Mahal."
It went silent for a while when suddenly, her hold on me got tighter and then, I felt her head on my shoulders, kasabay din ang mahinang pag-impit ng iyak niya, and I can also feel her tears already soaking the fabric of my shoulder.
"I-I just felt so ing frustrated, guilty and useless, Leafy. Ang...ang lakas-lakas kong mag-promise sayo noon na pro-protektahan kita mula sa mga taong nanakit sayo noon pero look, wala man lang akong nagawa nung kinidnap ka na ng putanginang Sunmi Garcia na 'yun, and I was also a week late in rescuing you. On top of that, seeing your current state right now, I-I am just so ing angry."
"At parang hindi ko kayang tignan ka without feeling so ing guilty at myself, Mahal ko, and I hate it. I hate it so damn much. And... and I thought that by pretending like everything's fine, magiging okay din ako. But it's not, Mahal ko. Instead, what it does is just heightens these feelings and it's eating me up every second."
My mouth gaped. I didn't know that is what had she had been thinking, and feeling the whole time! I immediately bit my lip as I thought about finding ways to make her feel better, to assure to her that what she did already was beyond to what I could ever imagine for. And then, a question suddenly flashed into my mind. It was a question that I was mostly curious about simula nung iniligtas niya'ko kanina.
"Pwede mo ba mai-kwento sa'kin ang lahat ng mga nangyari, Mahal? Sa kung paano mo'ko nahanap." I asked, while gently caressing her smooth hair. Yup, this is the question I was solemnly curious for, and I also asked this with a purpose.
It took a while for her to process her thoughts– which was okay for me since I can wait naman– before she finally answered. "When we were driving you to your place, Mahal– sa kalye niyo, I-I was already feeling like something was not right. Na parang... na para bang may bumubulong sa'kin na huwag ka nanang paalisin at papuntahin sa apartment mo and instead, I'll just take you home with me, sa bahay namin. And maybe, that is why some part of me was so persistent on convincing you to come home with me..."
I mentally sighed. Actually, naramdaman ko din ang ganong feeling pero agad ko din namang ibinalewala ito.
"But I quickly shook that feeling away dahil baka it's just me, feeling sepanx for the first time. I mean, we just spent an entire lovely week together sa isla, and not to mention, we are like a couple that was attached to the hips sa sobrang hindi na'tin mapaghiwalay 'nun." I chuckled a little. Yeah, we were so clingy and inseparable that our friends– including River– always teased us about it.
"And I also do know that our time sa isla was already done at back to reality na din tayo kaya I get that we have our own personal time and space na. Plus, you insisted pa eh so I figured that you really want to spend time with yourself muna."
"Pero L-Leafy, I-I regretted my decision... big time." Me too, Rina ko. Me too. "I mean, I could have let you go, but only if I really made sure that you are really safe. Pero masyado akong naging kampante, Mahal. I knew of your situation pero wala man lang akong may nagawa miski ni-isa, and when you asked me to not worry nor to pry, sana hindi nalang ako sumang-ayon, Mahal." I bit my lip.
"Sana nag-matigas nalang ako ng ulo. Inalam ko nalang sana ang lahat ng mga taong involved sa past mo noon para in that way, I could have... I could have prevented this all from happening." I heard her sniffled again. "and... and I'm so sorry, Mahal ko, if... if I have these kinds of thoughts. But I do really regret agreeing to you at that time." I nodded. I understand. Because I also shared a few regrets too.
"It should be me, Rina ko." She looked at me, confused, kaya ningitian ko lang siya ng malungkot. "Ako. Ako ang masyadong naging kampante, Mahal. Akala ko... akala ko okay na ang lahat. Akala ko wala nang may manggugulo sa'kin. Akala ko malaya na'ko mula sa tadhanang ito pero mali pala na isipin 'yon haha."
"Dahil alam kong kahit kailan, hinding-hindiako magiging malaya hangga't sa nabubuhay at naririyan pa rin ang mga taong nanakit sa'kin noon, Rina. And... and I'm starting to believe that I am stuck in this same fate forever." I continued, and she immediately shook her head as she looked at me with fire lit in her eyes, fully determined.
"No you're not, Baby. Pangako ko, this time, wala na talagang may manggugulo sayo. Itataga ko 'yan sa bato." I smiled a little as I gently kissed her tears away. In return, she just hugged me again, placing her head onto the crook of my neck. "Leafy, when I heard the bad news from Nanay Haney saying that you got ing kidnapped by some psychotic obsessed – I'm sorry for my bad words–" I shook my head, chuckling a little. "I... I almost went crazy."
"I thought that she– or kayo– were just either joking or pranking us but it's not pala– pero how I wished na sana ganon nalang talaga ang nangyari even though it's a bad joke ay matatanggap ko pa– pero hindi eh, because it was the realest of the realest alright."
"Kaya ayun, hindi na kami nag-dalawang isip pa to immediately drove back to your apartment street but we were a few minutes late and you were... you were gone. We were lucky enough na merong nakakita ng plate number ng sasakyan, and trust me, we tried going for you pero ang bilis ka niyang nakuha sa'kin, Mahal." Humigpit na naman ang kapit niya sa'kin.
"And that's within that point that