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Once Upon A Time
By
rune

Once Upon A Time

Tags: thinking, rune

How do you know if it is love ... a love story.

The world where I live in is my imagination.

Ever since I was a teenager, I always liked being alone lying on our house's rooftop covered by the tree branches. The swaying leaves gave me shade from the harsh burning rays of the sun while talking to my favorite tree and eating my manzanitas with the birds, or sleeping after all of my house chores was done. Hiding at the rooftop, daydreaming the rest of the day before my mother got back home from work.

Growing up, my brother and sister were making their own adventures involving exploration of the great outdoors. And me? I have traveled the world but, in reality, I’m not really a fan of playing outdoor games. I prefer reading comics, love stories, and fairy tales in my tree. I was the middle child. That is why I am weird. I have my own concept of playing that is only inside my mind, to enjoy wherever I am and whatever I do.

At a young age, I already knew what I wanted in life, and that was to be a wife. To have my own family that I loved. To raise a dozen beautiful children of my own. I wanted to be so in love that my heart overflowed love through my eyes. My heart would beat so fast that I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. And someone special would always be in my mind or I would be dreaming about him.

That was my reality. I mean...my dreams.

The first time I laid eyes on him it was hate at first sight.

I was late picking up my mother because of the rain. That was one of the causes of heavy traffic, and I had forgotten my umbrella that night. My bus stop came and still rain kept pouring down. I had to run for it or expect my mother would be likely to get furious at me. Hugging my backpack in front of me, I ran as fast as I could. Drenched from the rain, I kept running towards the building where my mother worked.

Catching my breath, I stopped at the lighted lobby of the printing press building where my mother worked in the production department. Employees roaming around the lobby of the building were looking at my sad outfit. With head held up, I walked straight to the entrance door without registering. I was used to that leniency from the security officer when fetching my mother at work. Then we would go home together.

“You’re not an employee here. You are not allowed to enter the production area,” said the new security officer standing in front of me, blocking my way from entering the door.

“My mother is waiting for me!” I tartly replied as I looked at him in the eyes while drying my school backpack with my hankie and still in my soaking uniform.

“Let her in, she is the daughter of the supervisor.” A familiar face said that but I forgot his name. I didn’t wait for the officer’s approval. I ran inside to my mother’s table.

“Hey! Miss! You are not allowed!” the man in uniform called out.

“Let her, she is the Big Boss's pet,” the man whose name I had forgotten told him.

“Brat! I’ll get in trouble from the bosses!” I heard him say before I turned a corner to my mother’s table.

“What happened to you?” My mother, as expected, was furious at seeing me in my soaking uniform.

“It’s raining outside and I forgot my umbrella at school,” I said, while my mother was drying my hair with a towel.

“You’re going to get sick with this attitude of yours. Not taking care of your own self...,” as she kept talking while her hands with the towel were still wiping my head.

When she was satisfied with her work she gave me her spare shirt and jeans to change into and get ready to leave and go home.

“Good evening, ma’am. Your daughter is not allowed in the production area,” the new security officer told my mother while he was checking my mother’s bag.

“Sorry about that, I will tell her not to do that again,” she apologized to the man. I could see how tired she looked. I kept my silence the whole time and turned a dagger’s eye on him.

We headed out of the building. Thank You for mercy, the rain had stopped. Walking to the bus stop I told my mother, “You shouldn’t have apologized to him. He is rude. Boss Carlos allows me anywhere inside the building.” As I complained to my mother she just held my hand as we hurried up to catch our bus going home.

She was a working mother of three and with a husband who was working overseas in the Middle East. My big brother was in college. My younger sister in her second year of high school. They were all bright students and I was an average college student in Manila in my second year. She was practically both parents in one person. She was my superman-cum-wonder woman mother.

College life was not easy for me. I was not allowed to work to earn my own money while studying. I had a lot of house duties to do every day and to fetch my mother from her work. I hated the daily traffic and waking up very early to be at school on time. I was a night crawler and I was more wide awake at night than in the morning, doing all of my chores at night on school days and laundry on the weekend. Plus the occasional sermon from my mother.

~

“Manuel asked me for permission to date you.” My mother told me that while we were walking to the bus stop.

“Why?” I look at my mother, confused. She was talking about the security officer who saw me last three weeks ago. Yes, it was already three weeks with me not talking to him and not even looking at him. I didn't like him.

“He likes you and he asked me courteously. He is a good boy, give him a chance. He wants to pick you up at school and have coffee with him tomorrow. You can fetch me afterward.” She was overselling the man and I couldn’t say no to my mother.

“Okay.”

He was so full of himself. I hated his guts. He was not like the other men who courted me. He thought he was handsome and that he was God’s given gift to mankind.

That was my first impression of him.

He courted my mother so he could date me. My mother in return kept pushing me to give him a chance. I hated being nagged to do things I didn’t like to do. So to keep my mother off of my back I agreed to give him the chance to get to know him.

He was already waiting at the school gate when I got there. He gave me a shy smile, looking fresh and smelling like a baby. His teeth were all white when he smiled. His body was built like Lou Ferrigno. Not the Hulk but the Hercules. Buff, with his broad shoulders.

That made my first impression of him change.

~

We had been dating for the past two months and my eighteenth birthday was getting nearer. Dating meant he fetched me to school, we ate dinner together, and he brought me back home. That kind of routine. He was sweet, too, cooking dinner for me when he visited at home on his day off.

The weekend before my birthday he asked my mother if it was alright to sleep at our home. She always gave her blessings.

Late at night, I woke up from someone kissing my lips. I thought it was just a dream. A very pleasurable dream. He kissed my cheek and whispered in my ear, “Happy Birthday, Maria.”

Here I am again.

Something changed in me that night and I wanted to know how it felt to be totally taken by him.

On my birthday we went to Rizal Park for a walk after school, killing time before we went to fetch my mother at work and then to visit the church together. When we reached the breakwater of the park we sat on the rocky edge looking out to the light tower.

“See those ships? Someday when I pass the internship and start working on a ship like that one I will buy you a bag of your favorite chocolates,” he said, pointing at the big ships lining up Manila Bay. I just smiled at him, looking at the side profile of his face while the sun was setting.

“Every time I will be coming back home to you.” I choked on the crackers I was eating as he kept dreaming about the future. “We will have children of our own and they will run around the park while we sit here looking at them, happily.”

I tried not to cry as I listened to him weave his dreams of the future. The dream I had since I was just a young girl who believed in a fairy tale.

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