Esme hurriedly ran down the stairs towards the kitchen when she heard the good news. She was inside her bedroom doing her homework. Her mother knocked on the door and told her that her brother Ipe was finally coming home for a short vacation.
“I need you to help me around the house to prepare for his visit.”
“Of course! I’d love to help! When is he coming home, Mama?”
“He’ll be here after a couple of sleeps.”
Esme could not hide her excitement. She wondered if her Kuya still looked the same after two years of studying in Canada. She was only in first grade the last time she saw him. And she missed him terribly.
Esme had only a faint memory of their father. He died soon after her fourth birthday. Whenever she felt sad about not having their father around, she would think of Kuya Ipe. He was the one who defended her from her classmates when they teased her for not having a father. And he used to read her favorite books to her before she went to sleep. Her Kuya also helped their mother around the house. Her brother was enough, she thought to herself. He was like the father she never had.
Pat loves her Papa so much, she follows him everywhere.
When her father goes to the living room to watch the evening news, she sits in his lap and leans on his chest. She loves it when her Papa carries her to bed when she falls asleep. She is not afraid of monsters under her bed because she knows her Papa is still awake and is just one cry away.
Whenever she becomes thirsty in the middle of the night or wants to pee, she carefully walks her way to the bathroom near their front door. Nerves set in when she reaches the stairs but she becomes calm when she smells the familiar smoke. It’s her father smoking in front of their house. Pat thinks that her father has been guarding them from monsters and thieves.
One night, she opens the door and runs to her Papa. He quickly sways his hand with a cigarette away from his daughter and asks, “Why are you still awake?”
“I’m thirsty,” she replied.
“Get some water and then go straight to your room, okay?”
“Do you mind if I stay here with you for a while?” Pat asks him.
“I’m sorry Pat, but get back to sleep now or you’ll stop growing,” he puts his cigarette stick on a flower pot and opens the door for Pat.
Meg always spent two weeks of her summer vacation with her Auntie Del, who lived with her husband Uncle Ben in an animal farm in Bansalan. Meg adored her aunt and uncle. They did not have any children of their own and they were always sending Meg dolls and books.
In the farm, Meg could run around without the danger of getting run over by big vehicles and she could milk the cows and the goats with Uncle Ben when she woke up early. Their farm was spacious: there was a shed for the cows, a pen for the pigs and goats, and a coop for the chickens. They even had a couple of horses that Uncle Ben and his help would ride. And so, she always looked forward to her stay in the farm.
After Meg settled into the room she had claimed as hers, Auntie Del led her to the back of the house. When she asked why, Auntie Del’s response was only, “I have something to show you.”