Days passed and we didn’t talk to each other. What happened that night made us tense and uncomfortable toward each other though I didn’t know why.
“Let’s stop this.”
Naaalala ko na naman. Ni hindi ko nga alam kung ano ang kailangang itigil. I was pretty sure it was a one-sided affection but that statement confused me more, and confusion was one of the things I hate the most.
Nag-ayos na lang ako ng gamit dahil mamayang madaling-araw ay aalis na kami ni Akira, samantalang ‘yong tatlo ay magsstay rito. The vacation before the Fielding has started and I can’t believe that seven months have already passed. It felt like I used my sixth sense for a long time.
I was in the middle of packing my clothes when Akira approached me.
“Naomi,” she called with her stern expression.
“Hm?” I put away my clothes and gave my attention to her.
“Alam kong napapansin mo rin . . .” Her voice trailed off but I already knew what she wanted to say through her inner voice. ‘Something is really strange about Akemi though I don’t know what.’
“I know,” sagot ko naman. “She gives off a dangerous vibe and her sudden disappearances make me more doubtful.” “Umaalis din ako tuwing madaling araw para mag-training at minsan ay hindi ko na siya naaabutan dito.” Ah so that was what she was doing. I thought she was secretly meeting with her fiance.
“Hideo’s already observing her so we don’t need to worry.”
Bigla namang nagbago ang expression niya at tumingin siya sa akin nang nakakaloko.
“Pansin ko lang, bakit hindi mo na hinahampas—” I glared at her. “I mean, kinakausap si Mitsuo? Nag-away ba kayong dalawa?”
I was hoping that no one would notice our situation but Akira’s instinct was second to none and lying to her wouldn’t be a good choice.
“Sort of,” sabi ko naman at pinagpatuloy ko ang pagliligpit ko. “He’s too complex. I can’t understand him at all.”
“You mean, the both of you are complex,” she retorted. “It’s too obvious that you guys are attracted to each other.”
Saglit akong napatigil dahil sa sinabi niya. Did I hear it right? And how did she know?
“Anong sabi mo?” tanong ko at tinuro niya ang tenga niya.
“I know everybody’s secrets.”
Pagkatapos no’n ay napunta na sa iba ang usapan namin at inayos na rin namin ang mga gamit namin. Kumain lang kami at naghintay ng ilang oras pero nagulat na lang kami nang biglang bumukas ang pinto. Akemi was catching her breath as she stared at us, as if she’d seen a ghost.
“Hindi na namin tatanungin kung saan ka galing pero aalis na kami,” Akira said with her teasing smile.
Hinintay lang namin si Akemi na makauwi para makapagpaalam kaya naman kinuha na namin ang mga gamit namin at lumabas ng kwarto. Pero bago kami tuluyang makalabas ay halos sabay pa kami ni Akira na gumamit ng inner voice.
‘Don’t worry. Your secret moments are safe with me,’ she said. ‘Pagbalik ko, we’re going to talk about a lot of things,’ sabi ko naman at saka kami tuluyang lumabas.
“Secret moments? You mean with Hideo?” tanong ko kaagad noong nasa labas na kami ng dorm.
We trod inside the forest and using our weapons, cleared the wild plants and shrubs stems along the way until we reached the abandoned mansion in the outskirts of the city after a couple of hours. Actually, we could’ve crossed the lake and walked into the forest and we could’ve arrived at the park but there might be few people strolling and exercising around so this was a good choice.
We put our contact lenses and went on our separate ways.
Sumakay ako ng taxi nang makarating ako sa shed at tahimik na tumingin sa labas. Makalipas ang isang oras ay nakarating ako sa apartment na tinutuluyan ko tuwing bakasyon. Nagbayad ako at saka pumasok sa loob.
When my parents died, Hideyoshi, Hideo’s father and my godfather, took me under his care and that was why I am close to Hideo. I was grateful but sometimes, I still want to be alone, away from all the things and people that reminded me of my parents. That was why I rented an apartment in the humdrum’s world and I would always go here if my mind is troubled or I just want to escape.
Inayos ko lang ang mga gamit ko at matapos no’n ay agad akong humiga hanggang sa tuluyan na akong makatulog.
Pagdilat ko ng mga mata ko ay napabangon ako. I was a bit disoriented and when I looked at the time, it was already 8 PM. I can’t believe I slept for about twelve hours.
Bumangon agad ako at naligo. Pagkatapos no’n ay kinuha ko ang wallet ko para bumili ng pwedeng lutuin. Mayu has been the ‘cook’ in our family and whenever we have some free time, she would teach us, saying that we would need it when we have our own families.
Nagsuot lang ako ng jacket at saka lumabas ng bahay. Dahil wala namang masyadong dumadaan na sasakyan dito ay naglakad ako papunta sa palengke. Tahimik lang akong naglalakad nang bigla kong maalala si Mitsuo.
I like him, I had admitted that, but I don’t think it was right. Yes, he’s a great and gentle person despite of his appearance and action but his memories . . . those thoughts that I have seen showed otherwise. His glaring eyes, cunning smile, his clothes soaked in people’s blood and the sword he was holding . . . his memories made me shudder in fear.
My focus went back to the present when I heard people shouting and running. Parents were carrying their children away, teenagers were running for their lives and the men were guiding them away from the park.
“Miss!” sabay hawi sa akin ng isang babae. “Tumakbo ka na! May mamamatay-tao d’yan! Dali!”
I approached the park instead.
Some people stood frozen and some were recording the situation but what caught my attention was the guy in the middle of the park. His muscular body almost ripped his shirt and his hair was long and ragged. He roared and bared his teeth to the remaining people, causing them to scamper away.
I was thinking of a plan to subdue him but I immediately froze when I saw the body lying behind him. The guy’s throat was slashed and his blood painted the park’s cobblestones. The murderer turned around and locked eyes with me. When I saw his scarred face, I almost stopped breathing.
“You . . .” he growled while pointing his finger at me.
I was paralyzed with fear and confusion but his raging, intense, green eyes showed no sympathy. I gathered my remaining courage and yelled at the people lingering near the park.
“Run away! Now! He’s going to kill everyone!” With much fear in my voice, and I wasn’t faking it, my warning was effective. All of them scrambled away from the scene and after a few seconds, the guy, the dead body and me were the only ones left.
“You . . .” He pointed at me again. “You’re like me! You can’t deceive me!” He roared with laughter that made my skin crawl but it was shortlived. He suddenly yelped and clutched his head in pain. “Stop! I said stop!”
For a second, the color of his eyes changed into different shades of green. He looked like a mad man and I was beyond scared. I reached for my fan but I went rigid when he hollered at me.
Everything happened so fast and I didn’t realize he was already in front of me. My instinct took over and I used my sixth sense to stop his time. His movements went still and I pushed him to the ground, pointing my fan at him. After a few seconds, he shouted in pain and my eyes hurt badly.
However, he was quick even with that kind of body structure. I didn’t realize that he was hiding a knife and he thrust it on my leg. I stumbled as I kept myself from howling but I didn’t want to give up. Using my remaining energy, I slashed the edge of my fan to him and its sharp metal wounded his abdomen but it didn’t seem to bother him. My body crashed to the ground and I was panting heavily as blood trickled down my legs.
“You’re the same as them!” he roared and held the knife with both of his hands, aiming at my chest. “You want to kill me! Die! Die!”
I closed my eyes and memories from my childhood until the present time flooded my mind. My parents playing with me, Hideo telling me stories, Mayu helping me to get dressed, Akira and Michiko forcing me to go with them, Akemi asking me to decode some parts of the book and Mitsuo carrying me in his arms.
I was about to accept my demise and drown myself in good memories but a gunshot shattered my preparation. The guy bellowed and when I opened my eyes, the bullet was already planted on his chest. Two more bullets were fired and I had to cover my ears because of the ringing sound. The guy fell to the ground with a loud thud and he looked at me blankly.
“S-seven. . .” Before he could even finish the word, his eyes rolled backward and went motionless.
“I finally found you.”
Mitsuo stood beside me and looked at the guy’s dead body. He checked his pulse and after that, he properly closed the guy’s eyes. He turned around and when our eyes met, my body convulsed, as if the fear and panic I should’ve felt earlier took effect just now. He knelt in front of me and gently pulled me in for a hug.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
I didn’t know why but tears started falling from my eyes. I slapped his back because I was frustrated, confused and scared at the same time but he didn’t complain. Instead, he pulled me closer.
“And this is why I don’t want you to get close to me,” he breathed and I felt the thumping of his heart against his chest. “But I’m glad you’re safe. I’m really glad and thankful.”
During that time, his mind was opened for a while, but instead of those dark memories, warmth flooded my mind as he recalled his moments with the Atama family . . . and times we were together.
“Liar,” I said between my sobs.
“I know,” he mumbled and we stayed like that for another minute.