A BROKEN PROMISE OF A BROKEN HEART
I stood there for about an hour, facing the wide, blue sea, thinking of all the things that had happened to me since the day my father left me, my mother and my five siblings.
How long has it been since the last time I’ve seen my father’s kind face? I was only an eight year-old kid back then, when he bade us his last good bye. That was already 6 years ago. And everything from that day seemed to have changed abruptly. We suddenly didn’t have enough money to buy the things we need and want. Lots of furniture in our house has been sold by our mother. We couldn’t even manage to buy our water and electric bills that resulted into being cut off. Our huge TV has been sold and so was my big brothers’ play station. Our supposedly friends started to act weird in front of us. They still play with us, but we can no longer come into their houses because of the fear of being robbed. Then after a few months, they already acted as if they didn’t know us. It was then that I noticed these big changes that greatly affected our lives. My mother, who was normally violent to us, became crueler than before. She’ll beat us every time we do something wrong, using thick brooms, sticks and mostly belts. Surely, our neighbors could hear our cries because of the pain of the beating, but they seemed to like playing deaf and ignorant about it. My two big brothers seemed to learn ‘the art of beating’ from our mother and soon started to beat the three of us, their younger siblings who were all girls.
“Jan! Where are you going?! Come back here or I’ll beat you to death! I said come back here, damn you!”
I bit my lower lip as the angry voices of my eldest brother kept on ringing in my head.
I usually do this thing— running away from home every time my mother and big brothers beat us. This is the only way I know to escape their wrath. But I couldn’t stay long outside our house. I would surely die in hunger, thirst and cold. So I always go home after running away and let them beat me until I lay there on the ground feeling very weak and hurt.
I suddenly closed my eyes as I felt the tears trying to escape from them.
No. I don’t want to cry. I no longer want to shed tears. Hasn’t my tears been dried up after all these years?
I really wish I belong to another family. I really wish I wasn’t born as Heidi Castro. I really wish my father hadn’t left us. I really wish I could go to a place where I could stay there forever.
I really wish I could die now, at this instant.
My tears were now already falling from my eyes, wetting my pale cheeks. I opened my eyes and let them fell as I stared once again at the deep blue sea.
Why is everything seemed to be unfair?
I believe that there is a God and that everything that had happened to me is just part of his plans. But can’t He just stop letting bad things happen? I know that He is just testing my strength and faith on Him. But I really have no strength left to fight everything. I’m already tired.
I envy the other children who got good fortunes. I envy my ex-friends who are loved by their parents. I envy every happy child on earth!
Why is this all happening to me?
I sobbed at this thought and closed my eyes.
“Hey! Where are you, guys?” Said a voice from behind me.
I quickly opened my eyes and turned my back around to see who had spoken. And I saw him.
There stood a few steps away from me a young pale boy around my age whose ginger hair was messed and was holding on his right hand a long stick with its other end touching the ground. And I also noticed that his dark brown eyes were kind of weird.
“Hey, Leo! Where are you, guys?” The boy asked once again as he lifted his left hand on the air as if trying to reach for something.
I looked around us and saw three boys running away from the shore. Those three were all laughing.
I shifted my gaze back to the boy in front of me.
“Leo? Marc? John? Are you still there?” He said and I noticed his face went paler.
This boy… He couldn’t see.
I quickly wiped my tears with my bare hands and answered him. “They already left.” My voice was trembling.
Of course! I was terribly crying awhile ago!
Blind people are sensitive to the sounds around them, he might have noticed it, but he didn’t seem to pay attention about it.
He sighed after hearing me. “I see. They did it again.”
My brows furrowed. “Again? Do they always do this to you? Those three guys, are they your friends?” my voice was still trembling but I didn’t care. This boy was used to being bullied. Well— I’m also being bullied in my house, that’s why I sympathized with him.
Birds of the same feather flocked together.
“Yeah, I guess.” He answered.
“No, they aren’t your friends.” I quickly replied. “Even though this is the first time I’ve seen you, I could already tell that they’re making fun of you.”
He slowly smiled at me, but his eyes looked somber. “Were you crying a few minutes ago?”
I bit my lower lip. Yeah, he really heard me. Why didn’t I notice him earlier?
“What’s your name?” he asked after realizing that I wouldn’t answer his first question.
“January, Jan for short.” My voice was already calm. “What’s yours?”
“Michael.” He gradually sat on the sand.
“Do you study?” I asked as I also sat on the sand, facing the boy. Well, that was a stupid question. By just looking on his clothes, I could already tell that he’s one of the fortunate families I envy.
“Yeah. I’m already in High School. What about you?”
“I see.” He looked surprised.
We were both silent for a few minutes.
And after that, I stood up and walked toward him. “Where do you live? I still have time. I can take you back to your home.” I offered.
He looked up to me, though he couldn’t see me. “Is it okay?”
“Yeah. Come on. It’s getting darker.” I said and offered my hand to him.
Michael smiled once again and softly held my wrist which brother broke during his beating awhile ago.
I quickly reacted. “Oh no, not there!” I hurriedly took my wrist away from him.
“I’m sorry.” He apologized. “Did I hurt you?”
I shook my head. “No, it’s okay. Let’s go.” I then held his warm hand and led the way away from the shore.
That was the first time I held a guy’s hand and it was kind a weird feeling. But I don’t care. Michael’s blind, so it’s okay.
THAT wasn’t the last time we’ve met and talked to each other. Michael and I quickly became friends after the incident at the shore which was our favorite place after then. We would talk and laugh about the things we like and don’t like. He told me everything about his family, about himself being the only child and the day he got into accident that made him lost his sight. For about a month, I already know a half of his life because of his stories. But he knows nothing about me. I couldn’t tell him about myself for I fear that he would also go away just like my old friends. Though I was being unfair. He was still kind to me and didn’t force me to tell him anything.
He was really, really kind.
While I was being unfair to him.
“Hey, Jan.” Called Michael.
We were hanging again at our favorite place at that time. Both of us were silent as we sat there facing the setting the sun and sea.
"I think we’ll be leaving tomorrow.” He said without looking into my direction.
I quickly looked at him. “You’re going away?”
“Our family Doctor said that my eyes still have hope if we go to America. He was so sure that I could see again. My parents were so happy after knowing about it. And they wanted to go as soon as possible.” He was explaining this very calmly.
I looked down. “I see. Good for you.” I choked.
This time, he looked to my direction. “I’m sorry.”
I hastily shook my head. “No, you shouldn’t say that. It’s for your own good.”
“But we wouldn’t be able to meet here again.”
I smiled. “You won’t be away for long, right?”
“I’ll make sure I won’t be.”
“Then, I’ll wait for you.” My voice was now trembling as I was fighting back my tears. “And if that time comes, you’ll be able to see me.”
And my scars.
Michael reached and held my hand. “Promise me that you will.”
I nodded, though he couldn’t see me doing it. “I promise.” I whispered.
“DAMN it, January! Open the door!” my mother shouted behind the bathroom door.
“NO!” I shouted back. “I DON’T WANT TO BE BEATEN ANYMORE! IT HURTS SO MUCH! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?! AREN’T I YOUR CHILD?!”
“I said open this damn door!”
I could hear her hitting the door with her thick belt.
“PLEASE, MOTHER! STOP THIS! I’M BEGGING YOU. I COULDN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE. WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH? WHY CAN’T YOU BE AS GOOD AS THE OTHER MOTHERS?” I was already shivering in fear and my face was already wet because of the tears.
“JAN!” She was so mad she seemed to be deaf of my pleading.
I bit my lower lip. She wouldn’t listen to me. There is no one there to protect me. My brothers will not. My younger sisters cannot. And my father isn’t there to stop my mother from trying to beat me to death.
I’m just all alone.
I stepped into our bath tub which was already full of water.
I should have done this along time ago.
I sank myself beneath the cold water, together with my head. I closed my eyes and my father’s kind face came into my head.
Where are you, father?
And then, I saw Michael whom I last saw a month ago.
I could still remember the song he used to sing which was my favorite.
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.
There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.
I’m sorry, Michael. I couldn’t wait for you anymore. Please, forgive me…
It was just a matter of time to be able to kill myself by drowning. And no one was there to stop me from doing so.
I am just alone…
FOR the first time after the successful operation of his eyes, Michael was now looking into the sea. He was standing there at the shore wearing all black from head to toe. But January wasn’t with him. He heard that the girl drowned herself in their bath tub a year ago. Soon after that, Jan’s mother was brought into a Mental Hospital while her brothers were thrown into prison because of drugs. And her father went home and took the other three girls after January’s funeral.
“Why, Jan?” Michael muttered. “Why didn’t you tell me about the beatings? I could have save and take you that day. Why didn’t you let me protect you?”
The lad closed his eyes as he let the tears flow down on his cheeks. He remembered the quote his father usually tells him every time he made some wrong friends.
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”
He really hated that quote. Because it was so true, it hurt so much.