From here to there! (Part 6) Epilogue
By Jing Villamil
AS soon as she stepped out of the car, and as soon as she looked around for Chuck, she felt something was terribly amiss. It was like waking up from a deep sleep and walking through an abandoned house that exact moment it ceased to be home.
The talent management staff and fellow performers avoided looking into her eyes. Those “in the know” would attempt to hug her or pat her back, or clasp her hands – physical touches she cringed from in normal times.
Only from Chuck she would like (would love!) a touch even so slight, a kiss ever so light, a tickle of whisper to her ears! But Chuck, the entirety of him, is missing! He is not idly lounging around her pretending to be busy, nor is he walking in front beside behind her keeping time with her steps. Come to think of it, all of him and all about him, are so “lover-ly” cute from the first time they met and even more so when they found each other again. And lately, he did these lover-ly cute things for her even when he was still so sleepy from his previous night’s gig! Do not fret, Chuck, I saw you every time!
BUT I DO NOT SEE YOU NOW! No. You are NOT HERE. NOR THERE!
With much prodding (slap the table, slap the wall), and so much fierce and loud stomping of her feet . . . she was told of Chuck’s lonely, dreadful last “flight”.
After which, she screamed her longest loudest ever, then she clamped shut her mouth. The scream, though, went on and on. But only in her mind, only in her mind. And in her heart, twice-broken, million-times cracked.
She shut her eyes and her light switched off. She covered her ears and the song in her mind clicked off, too. It was so much soundless wailing into an emptied space bereft of him and without his voice speaking to her through the haze of her wretched pain: “Listen, my Manta, listen! Breathe! Breathe in our music . . .” Until, finally, everything was a most kind motionless enveloping silence.
Chuck’s story ends here. But not Manta’s. After Chuck “went ahead”, she taught math and music in a school for the specially disadvantaged. She continued to play beautifully and excellently, any of the three or more instruments she kept learning to play.
But not the guitar, never the guitar. And she firmly refused to perform on stage. The stage shall forever belong to him, and he was/is her only “star”.
She also abandoned ballet, except for a pirouette or two along deserted halls or pathways when she played in her mind a snatch of their music. But she could not leap and split and fly anymore as high and as joyfully.
But, yes, she is forever young and as prettily fiery as was described in the beginning chapter. And, no, she did not turn hopelessly, pitifully “desperada”. Not all women who went through heaven and hell on earth turned weak and wretched. Sometimes, they become strong, stronger, even strongest of us all.
Manta never did look in on his wake. No man-made box can frame in his lovely self and his beautiful music. Nor did she visit his grave at any time. There is no such a place, she disdainfully dismissively gestures.
She visits her high school though. Too often in fact.
She would plop herself down cross-legged on the practice ground under the shades of the acacia trees. And she would gaze for the longest time, lovingly and longingly, at a spot on the elevated stage at the far opposite end. Then she unfreezes. She stands. She brings out her flute and . . .
Their music, runs up and down the scales, light and swift, unfolding a musical tale without words . . . of leaps and soars, over mirrors of water left by the rain or stream overflowing. Of a face, eyes closed, turned up to the trees, bathing in warm streaks of sun rays.
She searches the sky. She speaks to him: “Wait for me.” It must be his voice, not the wind, she hears softly whispering to her ears: “Uhuh. I wait. Do not rush.”
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