“Liza, I’m not well. I’ll be working at home. Please send the files I needed on my mail. Thank you.” Richard said in a straight tone. Without waiting an answer from his secretary, he hung up. He got up from his bed but he fell back down again when the aching of his head hit him. It kept on pounding and pounding so Richard decided to lie down again. It’s been a crazy week for him. First, he was told that his heart disease is getting worse and then just the other night, someone really broke his heart.
He has been absent for the whole week. Besides from the advice of his doctor to just rest, he really doesn’t want to be anywhere where there’s a lot of people. He just wants to be alone.
Damn heart. I wish I could just die.
Richard heard a knock on his door, and then he saw Manang Fe enter carrying a tray of food. The old lady put the tray down on the table inside his room and faced him.
“Ricardo, kumain ka na.” She softly said.
“Ayoko po, Manang.” He replied.
“Ricardo, dalawang araw ka nang hindi kumakain. Wala nang nutrisyon yang katawan mo. Nagluto ako ng lugaw –“
“Wala po akong gana.” he bluntly replied.
“Anong walang gana? Ricardo, kumain ka. Hindi yan maganda sa kalagayan mo. Gusto mo bang magalit pa ang Mama at Papa –“
“I want to die, Manang.” Richard muttered.
“A-ano?” The old lady asked even though she clearly heard what Richard said. She just couldn’t believe her ears.
Richard sat up on his bed and looked at the old lady. He gave her a weak smile and spoke.
“Gusto ko na pong mamatay.”
His voice was so audible that it sent goose bumps to the old lady. Manang Fe stilled for a few seconds and then she found her voice. “Ay, ito talagang batang ‘to. Ricardo, wag kang magbiro ng ganyan.” She nervously reached for the porridge on the tray she brought and stood near Richard. “Kumain ka na. Darating na yung Mama at Papa mo. Nag-aalala na sila sa’yo.” She tried to lift the spoon to feed him but Richard stopped her by putting his hand on her arm.
“I’m serious, Manang.” He said. When Manang Fe looked at him, she saw that he’s giving her a smile. “I’m done with my life.”
“Ricardo! Ano ka ba! Tigilan mo nga yang mga sinasabi mong yan! Hindi ka pa mamamatay –“
“I want to die Manang!” He exclaimed, startling Manang Fe. She’s scared of what Richard is saying. She’d known him all of his life and this is the worst she’d seen him. She never thought that Richard would actually give up knowing that he is a tough boy.
The tension between them stopped when someone knocked on the door, followed by his Mom entering the room. “Ricky, kumain ka na?” she said.
“I don’t want to eat, Ma.” Richard said in a low tone.
“Anong gusto mo, son?” Esmeralda asked as she sat on his bed. “Sabihin mo lang, ha? We’ll try our best to give you –“
“I want to die, Ma.” He said. “Suko na ko. Ayoko na, Ma.” He continued.
“Ri-Ricky, ano bang sinasabi mo?” Esmeralda asked. She was taken aback by what her son said. She knew how tough his condition is for him but she never imagined in a million years that she would hear those words coming out from his mouth. “Ricky, hindi –“
“I don’t want to live anymore, Ma! I’m tired! I’ve had it with this life!” Richard screamed, tears forming in his eyes. “Pagod na ko, Ma. Pagod na kong gumising araw-araw tapos matatakot lang ako kasi hindi ko alam kung kailan susuko yung puso ko. Ayoko na, Ma.” Richard’s voice was already croaking as he continued to speak. Tears are already flowing on his face.
“Ricky, sinasabi mo lang ‘yan gawa ni Alex. Kilala kita, anak, kaya mo ‘to.” Esmeralda tried to calm his son down as she wiped her own tears.
“Yun na nga, Ma eh! Alex left me because of my condition! She broke up our engagement dahil sa sakit ko! And since the doctor said that I’m getting worse, wouldn’t it be much better if I die right away? Mas maganda na, kasi hindi na ko masasaktan pa, di ba?” Richard continued, his voice rising up. “I give up, Ma! I –“
“Yan ba ang gusto mo, Ricky?” Esmeralda asked loudly, catching the attention of his son. “Yan na lang ba? Yan ba ang tinuro namin sa’yo nung bata ka pa? Ang sumuko?” She paused to wipe her tears away.”Isa lang ang ibig-sabihin kung bakit ka iniwan ni Alex! She doesn’t love you, Ricky! At please, wag mong isipin na gusto mo nang mamatay dahil lang sa iniwan ka niya. She doesn’t love you like we do, son. At pinipili mo siya kumpara sa’min ng Papa mo? Alam kong mahal mo siya, pero hindi siya katulad namin ng Papa mo na hindi ka iiwan kahit na anong mangyari sa’yo.” Esmeralda held her son’s hand. “Kilala kita Richard. And I know that you value your life more than anything. Wag kang mag-isip ng ganyan.”
Richard’s tears just kept flowing. He never thought that his mother would say those things. He accepted that what his mother said was true. He truly loved Alex but she didn’t love him back. His whole world crumbled down when Alex left him and made him forget that his parents are much more important to him.
“I’m sorry, Ma.” He finally said. “I’m just so tired. Hindi ko na alam.. hindi ko na alam kung ano nang gagawin ko.Natatakot ako na baka hindi na lang ako magising isang araw gawa nung puso ko. Ayoko na, Ma.” he trailed off as he felt something on his chest.
“Don’t worry, son. Kailangan lang nating maghintay para sa isang donor. Tapos. –“Esmeralda abruptly stopped when she saw her son turning pale and he’s clutching the part of his shirt near his chest. In a few second, his face was full of agony. “Ricky?”
“M-ma, it .. it hurts!” Richard tried to say, his voice was barely audible.
“Ricky! Richard!” Esmeralda screamed. “Fe, makikitawag si Roberto, dali!” she told the old lady. “Richard, kaunting hintay lang ha?”
Richard tried so hard to calm down, but his feeling this tremendous pain coming from his chest. After a few seconds, he passed out.
Richard jolted awake. He was breathing hard as he sat up from his bed. He immediately put his hand on his chest and when he felt his scar, he finally calmed down. It was one of his nightmares after he had his operation. It seemed like the pain he felt that day haunts him ever since it left him. He sighed and reached for his eyeglasses. He stood up to go downstairs but seeing his phone on the bedside table stopped him. Richard reached for it and went to the gallery. His face seems to smile every time he sees that picture he took on the jeepney.
It’s been days since I last saw you. I still haven’t found you.
He sighed and pressed the home button. Ever since he took that photo, it seems like his day can’t start and end without him looking at that photo. He decided to put the phone back on the table again and head to his bathroom.
“Roomie! Gising na!” Emman said as he knocked on Maya’s door. “Roomie! Naghain na ko!”
Maya stirred on her bed. She checked on the clock on her bedside table and saw that it’s eight in the morning. Still feeling groggy, she went back to sleep, or at least tried to. Emman kept knocking on her door and kept shouting that she needs to get up. When Maya still ignored Emman, he opened her door, sat on her bed and removed the pillow Maya used to cover her head.
“Rise and shine! Maya naman eh. Gising na!”
“Ang aga-aga naman Emman eh. Alam mo namang late yung flight ko kagabi. Inaantok pa ko.” Maya mumbled.
“Ah, basta. Tara na roomie! Gising na!” Emman tried to pull Maya but she didn’t budge. “Ikaw Roomie ha, hindi ko gusto ‘to pero kailangan kong gawin.” He said as he lifted his hands and put it on either side of Maya’s waist and started tickling her. Within a few seconds, Maya was already up.
“Emman! Tama na. Ano ba kasing meron at ang aga-aga mong nanggising?”
“Today is the day girl! Summit na!” Emman exclaimed as he clapped his hands.
“Eh mamaya pa namang hapon yun ah!”
“Ehem, kailangan nating magpaganda roomie! Hindi sapat ang oras natin kaya halika na!”
Maya sighed. It was the day that she was not really looking forward to. Well, yes, at first, when Emman showed her the dress and everything but as the day got nearer, she’s scared to face the people of the company James used to own. And she was more scared to be facing Francisco Ventura.
“I have to go, Ma.” Richard said when he saw his parents hanging out on the veranda. He kissed her mom goodbye and hugged his father. But before he stepped out of the veranda, his father stopped him.
“Wait, Ricky, your tie is crooked.” Roberto said as he stood up. He went in front of his son and fixed the black bow tie he is wearing.
“Roberto, hayaan mo na yang anak na’tin. Maayos naman ang suot ah. Ang pogi-pogi nga eh.” Esmeralda said.
“Eto namang si Esmeralda. Syempre I just want my boy to be dashing this night.” Roberto said. “O sya Ricky, lakad na.”
Richard smiled at his parents. “Ma, Pa, I .. I just want to say I’m sorry for the way I acted three years ago. Alam niyo na, yung .. yung bago ako inatake sa puso. I’m really sorry for the things I’ve said. I –“
“Ricky, alam na namin ‘yun.” Esmeralda said. She stood up and hugged his son. “We’re just really happy that you we’re strong during that operation.”
Richard hugged back. He knew that even though he really lost hope during that time, he still managed to survive that operation. And he’s so lucky with the heart he received. Because all of what happened during that day, including the heart donor, was not planned.
“Roomie! Tara! Dun yung table natin oh. Ayun yung logo natin sa taas! Saka nakikita ko rin sina Ms. Belmonte at Ms. Pacheco!” Emman giddily said as they entered the venue. It was Maya’s first time attending the summit and she was totally amazed at the place. It was everything James told her would look like.
“Emman! Ang ganda-ganda naman dito!” Maya said to her friend who’s wearing the same black mask as her but his was missing the blue feathers. Maya kept turning to look around the venue. The place was like the interior of a castle. She’s never been inside one but she just knew that she was like in a castle. The table were circularly arranged, leaving a space in the center, and a stage was present in front of them. The people inside were wearing black, as to the Summit’s theme, and she’s just one of the few people wearing white.
Ms. Pacheco and Ms. Belmonte greeted the two of them as they settled on their table. It turns out that the two of them will be joining the other supervisors and even the owner of Time Airways. As the people on their table talk, Maya kept searching for that table that she needs to avoid. And then finally, she sighted that table on the other side of theirs. A black flag was hanging above it, like theirs and imprinted on it was the logo of Ventura Inc.
“Mr. Lim, good evening. Your keys, Sir?” The valet rushed to Richard as he left his car. He gave his keys and thanked the valet. He took the stairs to reach the front doors of the venue of the Summit and when he was about to open them, one of the two men guarding, stopped him.
“Good evening, Mr. Lim. Makikisuot lang po nung mask niyo.” He said.
“Ah, thank you.” Richard said as he reached for the mask inside his coat. When the white mask was already worn, the two guards opened to doors for him. Richard smiled as he entered the place. His team really did a good job of transforming the whole place. It was him who wanted it to be like a castle. Somehow, he just wants it to be that way. He doesn’t want everyone to feel like they are just attending this Summit because they needed to, but he also wants everyone to have a good time.
As Richard walked to their table, people still greeted him. Most of the people who greeted him were complimenting the event even though it hasn’t started yet. He finally reached the table in front with their flag above them. His employees greeted him as he sat down.
“I just have one question. How come people still recognize me? Eh di ba the whole reason of this mask thing is for everyone to be anonymous?” Richard asked them, but he was just answered by his employees with laughter.
“Eh Sir, white mask kasi ang suot niyo.” Diana said. “Parang color of royalty ‘yon ngayon.”
“No, I don’t think it’s because of the color! They address me as Mr. Lim.” He raised his brows as if cuing for another answer.
“Siguro Sir, it’s because of your appearance na rin. Iba-iba rin naman ang itsura ng mga taong nakasuot ng tuxedo eh. Saka iba kayong magdala Sir, may dating.” Liza said. “Pero Sir, baka nga talaga yung mask. Kasi sampu lang naman ang company owners na aattend.”
Richard just shrugged. “Anyway, kudos to you guys. You really transformed this place.”
“Hindi lang naman po kami Sir eh. Tumulong din naman po kayo.” Diana said, and then she giggled.
Liza rolled her eyes at her and when Richard saw it, he already got the message. He realized that he really should’ve brought a date. If he did, he would escape this world with women flirting with him. And then there’s still the ball in the middle of the program. Richard was already constructing a plan inside his head to avoid that ball.
Little did he know, a black mask will stop him from doing so.
A/N : To my readers, I love you. Hahaha. How come you already knew about the ‘hearts’?! And it was just around the 2nd Chapter! I soooooo love you! I’ll be aiming for a double treat today. 🙂