“How long do you think is this blackout going to last?” I asked father, who was sipping his cup of coffee beside the window. I could see only a fraction of his face, for the candlelight wasn’t as bright as it had been earlier. I could tell that he wasn’t pleased at all about the situation. He had a report he was working on the computer and it was due two weeks from now. Always the typical office man, he didn’t want to mess up his clean record. And now… now he felt as if he just lost his job. “Will you stop sulking over there by the window and help your pop and I set the table?” scolded mother, who was just entering with Grandpa behind her.
“I won’t be able to eat well until I finish the report I’d been working on. I was almost finished by half. Now I have to start all over again!” father said in an outrage, almost spilling his coffee just inches from me. “Enrique” Grandpa interrupted “don’t boil your anger in front of the food. It’s not right to lose your temper where my granddaughter can see it. Come on over and sit with us here so we can thank the good God for keeping us all safe under one roof.”
My grandfather was right. At least we were all together. Grandma came in with Gilda, my three year old sister. Rico, my brother of eight, was behind her. He was so close to Grandma that if she took a step back both of them would fall. The seven of us sat around the table and prayed a short prayer before eating our food. Though it was dark and the candle was slowly diminishing, we were able to eat comfortably.
After dinner, electricity still had not come back. While mother and Grandma were doing the dishes in the kitchen, the rest of us gathered in the living room. We all sat on the cold linoleum floor, except for Grandpa, who always placed himself on the creaky rocking chair in the corner of the room. Then rain started pouring down and streaks of lightning lit the dark sky. Rico cupped his hands over his ears and Gilda dashed to sit on Grandpa’s lap. “I remember a story about thunder and lightning and the moon.” father moved closer to Rico and me. “Grandpa, why don’t you tell the story to them?”
“Please Grandpa, we want to hear.” Rico and I chorused.
Grandpa smiled and winked at father. Father winked back in a sinister sort of way. I was puzzled, but the thought of hearing a story on a dark stormy night excited me. Grandpa put down his pipe and began.
“Once there was a prince who was loved very much by his father and mother, the king and the queen. On his twelfth birthday, they asked him what he would like to have. “The moon.” he said. And this troubled the king and queen because they did not know how to get the moon down from the sky. The king finally had an idea. He asked thunder and lightning to try to scare the moon down from the sky so that he could catch it. So lightning flashed a hundred times and thunder banged a thousand. But the moon did not come down and instead hid behind the clouds. When the prince realized that he could never have the moon, he cried so much that his weeping was heard even at the highest part of the sky. The stars felt sorry for the prince and so they came down to cheer him up.”
“What did they do?” asked Rico impatiently. This time father chose to continue the story.
“The stars went into the prince’s room and then they danced about his head and sang a beautiful chorus. And afterwards… do you want to know what they did?”
“What?” Rico muttered. “They tickled the prince until he laughed!”
Father tickled Rico on the tummy and on his neck until Rico laughed so hard he almost cried. Grandpa also tickled Gilda and she laughed too. They all started laughing and hardly noticed that mother and Grandma were already finished with washing. Grandma and mother left the kitchen upon hearing the commotion. They too sat on the floor and all of us created a sort of circle. Mother then told stories of her childhood and Grandma shared some of the old and scary tales she knew, including those about the kapre and aswang.
Our bones chilled with every horrifying depiction she made of these creatures. We felt as if something was watching us intently from behind out backs. One person or another glanced behind him or her more than once.
“Grandma, I’m scared.” Rico whispered after Grandma finished her tale of The Old Lady by the Well. “You know what?” Grandma said “Those stories are just make-believe. They’re not really true. They were just made up for fun, especially when you’re bored – or angry about an unwritten report that’s been sabotaged by black-out.” Grandma’s eyes fell immediately on father, who was rather embarrassed of the silly behavior he displayed a while ago.
“Why don’t we pray so that we won’t feel scared anymore?” mother suggested.
We all closed our eyes and held hands. Mother led us all in prayer. As we prayed, we hardly noticed that the rain was beginning to thin. Then it stopped completely. After we said our ‘Amen’, the lights turned back on in perfect timing. Rico stood up and jumped for joy and Grandpa picked up his pipe and blew on it once before putting it out.
“All right, kids, it’s time to go to bed.” Grandma took Gilda from Grandpa’s lap. I could tell she was very sleepy, for her eyes were almost closed. Rico too was sleepy, for he yawned thrice while Grandpa led him to his room. Father turned off the computer. He then tucked me in my bed.
“Aren’t you going to finish your report?”
“The report could wait. Tonight I’m going to sleep early and dream of the prince and his moon.” He kissed me goodnight and I was soon dreaming of the exact same story.
© Copyright 2016 Angelaine Espinosa. All rights reserved.