The One

By Jing Villamil

AS regular as clockwork, at six on weekday mornings, she would be quietly tiptoeing down the stairs in her flannel pajamas and bare feet. Then she would be running to her secret place, hopping on cold, wet flagstones and even colder dew-wet grass.

She would be wheezing before she can cut midway across this forest of a garden, her Mom’s wilder version of Eden. But, once she reached her place, she knew her heart and lungs would quiet down.

It was a place not exactly where parents would like their sickly daughter to be during dengue hours. The bushes were most thick here, and twigs and thorns poked and pricked fiercely so. There were other flying, crawling bugs, too. But this was the best place to watch “The One” unobserved through the curtain of vines and leaves, and branches and trunks of fruit trees nearer the fence. It truly was such a forest of a garden.

Weekday mornings, he leaves his house early and walks by hers on his way to the mountains, a jacket and an engineers’s helmet to shield him thinly as he battled the blackest of all mines. Her heart would echo the dread in his brave heart. At end of day, she too would be as tired and droopy as he clonked heavily down the road, eyelids weighed down as heavy. She would watch him till he was out of sight. .

It would be such a struggle to hold back her heart. It would squirm so. It would wrestle with her will. It would thrash restlessly about as if to scream: “Let me go! Let me fly! Let me zoom over to him, to hum him my song; to sooth, to smooth the furrows on his brows!”

Each time her heart screamed outrageously to do one or all of these things, she would place a palm to the left region of her chest. Warned, her heart would slump and throb wearily against its ribbed cage.

Until one day, her father’s workers cleared the area near the fences.

That day, when The One came home clonking his boots down the road, he looked up startled. Something new and truly strange made him smile. For the clearest sun-drenched moment . . .he sees!

Where there had always been a thicket covered with swirls of vines, there is but a neat trim of trees and hedges and bushes after bushes of pink and red roses!

And a very pale girl in a very pale pink dress, bare feet delicately balancing on a stone hedge, a sprinkler in both hands, spraying gentle shower to colorful blooms and their budding sons and daughters.

His smile broadens to a grin of surprise and delight. The girl, as delighted, dimples a shy smile back.

He stops. He opens his mouth for a greet. Then he takes her high-school prettiness in, and the rest of her home and what it means. He thinks. He clamps down his mouth. He walks slowly on. He turns around to look at the vision of pink and red and the pale girl standing amidst. He does this twice, thrice even.

It was the shortest, deepest think of all.

When he stopped . . . Time stopped for her in one most beautiful moment. When Time picked up again . . .

(Author’s Note: Of all Feelings stories, this is the most requested & most revised. I never got the ending down pat. YOU tell me!)

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