For sure mother wouldn’t mind if I went to the party as sometimes she herself got home late. I didn’t ask her permission. In the first place, she didn’t care. Unlike my grandparents who’d freak out if I was late and they didn’t know where I was.
Tim’s family was not there and so he was free to do everything for his own party. Even though we were still in high school and minors, he prepared heavy drinks for us. I felt awkward seeing the girls who were invited by my guy classmates. Some of them were older than us. I felt bad for Marco for he had the least good-looking partner…
After a sumptuous dinner, we played some games. Video games, turn-the bottle, and even card games. I was enjoying myself, although I kept wondering if mother had opened the gift I had given her? Even out of curiosity?
Time passed, it was almost ten and I didn’t even notice. There was a constant passing of drinks and I was thankful that I was able to resist any offer after having a glass. My phone started ringing and I was quite surprised to see it was my mother who was calling.
“Where are you? It’s almost ten,” she asked. I detected anger in her voice. Perversely, the anger in her voice made me feel happy.
“I’m at my classmate’s house. We are rehearsing for… I mean… I was invited to a birthday party. I’m sorry I forgot to ask your permission.”
I was really bad at telling lies and so I just told her the truth.
“Margarette, I want you to go home now.”
“Okay, Ma… Martha. I’ll go home now.” I waited for her reply but there was none. She had ended the call.
I said goodbye to the guys at the party and left.
The night was cold and the chill of the wind made me shiver. I was already 10:15 in the evening and I was still waiting for a jeepney. Our home was two rides away from Tim’s and it would take me about half an hour to commute. I was all alone, trying to be brave. My heart beat faster every time I looked at my surroundings, as I was at the street side waiting for my second ride.
I hoped my mother would call me back. Or just text me and ask where I was for her to pick me up. Just like what Rona’s mother would do. But then, she was not like that.
I almost wanted to cry because of fear. I was not used to be out in the street at such a late hour. All stores around were already closed and I didn’t have any load in my cell phone to text anyone about where I was and my situation. I should have been sleeping now. This was the consequence of what I had done.
Interrupting my thoughts, I saw a group of men wearing black clothes with red bandannas on their heads. Another group of men also in black was running after them, brandishing metal tubes and knives. I stood frozen for a moment. They were running in my direction! Instinctively, I ran away from them!
I just heard a screeching sound. I was not able to hear my own scream.
They placed me in a bed partitioned off with green curtains. A nurse strapped a pressure cuff on my left arm. She didn’t know I was already half-awake.
“Martha?” I cried. “Martha?”
“Hush, calm down, young girl.” the nurse said, rubbing my arm with alcohol then injecting me with something.
“Martha’s outside, so calm down, please.”
I wanted so much to believe that the nurse was telling the truth, that the person I needed most was just there, worried about me.
“Tell her not to leave me… Please.” I said.
I felt the pain all over my body. The nurse went about her task, as if she didn’t hear my request. I was about to ask her again, but I heard a familiar voice demanding to see me.
“Miss, I mean, Ma’am, calm down. We’re already attending to her needs.” I surmised it was the doctor talking.
“I understand, but she also needs me…” it was definitely Martha’s voice.
I barely heard the doctor’s reply but I think he was trying to calm her.
As for me, it was enough to hear her voice. I closed my eyes and cried. Yes mother, I need you. Thank you for loving me.
Mother was crying, sitting right next to my bed. My grandparents were there to comfort her. I also wanted to hold her, hug her, and tell her to stop crying.
“Margarette, I’m sorry,” she said, kissing a small paper that she held in her right hand. The paper looked familiar. It was the one that I had attached to the purple box. And she was wearing the bracelet that I had made as a gift for her. She had finally opened the purple box.
Seeing her cry and calling my name tore me up inside. She looked so vulnerable. I was not used to seeing her like that. She had always been the tough, unconcerned mother to me. But now… I wanted to speak but then, there were plastic tubes coming out of my nose and mouth. One of the tubes—the one stuck down my throat—made me feel as if I was choking. She was holding my hand and I squeezed it.
“Margarette? You’re awake…” Martha said. She stood up. “Nurse? Nurse?.”
I held her hand tightly. Please, don’t go. Just stay here, right beside me.
“I’m sorry Margarette… I almost lost you for the second time without you even knowing how much… How much I love and care for you. I was never wrong in my decision that… That I didn’t abort you amidst all the shame and anger I have to face. Margarette? Listen, I like your gift and… I love you.” she kissed me again.
She said it all at once. All too fast, maybe because she wanted to burst it all out of her, all the words I had longed to hear from her for years. Yes, I was right. She had toyed with the idea of not having me, but in the end, she decided to have me. At thirteen! And now, her fear of losing me proved how wrong I was in thinking that she didn’t care for me. She did care for me. And she loved me!
I realized how hard it must have been for her. She was just a teenager, not ready to face the problem of raising her own child in her young and unripe years. But she showed her inner strength, facing the consequences of a very careless decision of loving someone who would abandon her and her child, me.
And so, I couldn’t stop and tears kept falling down my cheeks. I cried with her, with my young mother.
Farah Aimee Virador is a 4th year AB Literature student of the University of Southeastern Philippines.