Feb 21, 2011

When The Fireworks Begin (Chapter V)

Chapter V

“I can’t understand why you have to help me out like this,” Devon complained. “I could walk all by myself.”

James has his arms around Devon, supporting her while walking. Less than a week after being released from the hospital, Dr. Alvarez has been asking them to return to take additional tests and monitor Devon’s improvement.

“I don’t want you to trip,” James feebly explained. 

“I am fine, baby,” Devon defended.  She removed James’s hand from her shoulders.  “I am fine.” She smiled and gingerly walked to the house.

I think you’re making a mistake, James remembered Dr. Alvarez saying.  James pleaded the good doctor not to tell Devon her condition yet.  She has to know, Dr. Alvarez told him.

I know, James answered. I just want to be the one to tell her.

Dr. Alvarez did not agree, but James insisted and promised to tell her immediately.  James decided to tell Devon’s parents the truth, asking them not to tell their daughter her disease. Nanay Linda cried, while Devon’s father Tatay Tony tried to control his emotions, but was miserably failing.

They have been spending their time with Devon while James works in the office.  As much as he wants to take care of Devon, he can’t.  Monthly bills won’t go away just because a person is sick.

James followed Devon inside the house.  She was already seated on her desk, opening her laptop. James walked and closed the laptop immediately.  He knew that Devon would be checking her e-mail, and check her students’ papers and exams. 

“No working,” he explained. 

Devon stared at James, with an incredulous look in her face.  “I told you James, I am feeling fine and great.”

“It is better to be on the safe side,” James weakly answered.  He climbed the stairs to their room. Devon hotly followed him.  James could sense Devon’s frustrations these past few days.  He knows that she is bound to ask him why he is being so protective of her.

“I want to go back to work,” Devon said sharply.  She followed James inside the bedroom and was leaning on the doorframe.

James sighed. How much longer could I keep it from her, James thought.

“Not yet,” James said. “Besides you haven’t filed for any vacation leaves yet, this would be the perfect time to use them.”

“I can’t just file for a vacation.  It’s the middle of the semester.  I just can’t drop my students like that,” Devon explained angrily.

“I just want you to stay home and rest,” James answered back, trying to control his composure.  I don’t want to lose you, James wanted to scream.

“I had enough rest already,” Devon defended. “I don’t know what you are so scared of.”

I am scared that the next time you get off a jeep, you would fall and the next car won’t be able to stop on time. I am scared that the next time you leave the house, you won’t be able to make it back¸ James wanted to scream.  James wanted to question all the forces in the universe, why this thing happened to both of them.

“I just wanted the best for you,” James was trying so hard to control his emotions.

“What’s best for me physically, emotionally and mentally right now, is to go back to work and just live normally,” Devon replied. “It is as if I have a virus or communicable disease!”

You have an incurable disease, James was already distraught. 

“Devon, let’s stop this,” James said. He was standing in front of Devon, with his hands both on Devon’s shoulders.  “I just wanted you to be safe, I want you to remain healthy and you need to rest.”

Devon brushed James’s hands. “I am going back to work tomorrow and you cannot stop me.”

That’s when James felt all the frustrations starting to spill. “Why can’t you make this small sacrifice for me?” James almost shouted.

“This is not a small…” Devon countered.

“I have sacrificed everything for you,” James cut what Devon was trying to say.

Devon’s mouth opened wide in shock. “Are you trying to blame me for whatever it is that you have lost?”

James raked his fingers through his hair, angrily. “That’s not what I mean. You know that. I am telling you, begging you, to do this for me. And you’re not listening. Why can’t you understand that this is for both of us?”  James passed Devon and went down the stairs.

“For both of us, or just for you? Aren’t you becoming selfish?” Devon pried again, walking behind James.

James turned around, raising his voice. “Is it selfish of me to think that I wanted to have you around longer? Is it selfishness if I wanted you to stay by my side for more than 2 to 5 years?”

“What are you talking about?” Devon countered.

James shook his head and started to climb down the stairs.

“Where are you going?” Devon asked, running after James.

“Out,” James answered.


James has been walking aimlessly for half an hour already. He was unmindful of people behind him who are becoming impatient with his slow walk.  He took no notice of the cars that were almost brushing the sides of his elbow.  He took the phone out of his pocket and called Sam.

“Sam, are you home?” James asked.

“Yeah,” Sam answered back.

“I am coming over,” James said and ended the call abruptly.  He walked towards James condo unit which happens to be a few meters away. He could’ve taken the taxi, but walking calmed him.

Upon reaching Sam’s condo, he knocked on the door and waited for his friend to open it.  When Sam opened the door, he immediately noticed how distraught James was.

“You look like hell,” Sam commented and opened the door wider.

James walked in and plopped down on the sofa.

“Beer?” Sam asked.

James nodded and tried to sink into the sofa more. 

“What’s going on?” Sam asked when he approached James and gave him the can of beer. He sat there waiting for James to start.  Before James could open his mouth, there was another knock.

Sam walked towards the door and opened it. He was taken aback when he saw Aleli standing outside.

“Brought some beer,” Aleli said and walked inside Sam’s apartment, straight to the kitchen.

James, upon hearing Aleli’s voice, looked at the direction of the kitchen.  “What are you doing here?”

“Well, I called Sam and he kinda mentioned that you’ll be here,” Aleli smiled.  “I brought beer. Just like the old times.”

Sam shrugged, when he saw James giving him a questioning look.  “She asked me about for today. I told her I am staying at home since you’ll be dropping by.”

“Oh, come on guys,” Aleli complained and walked towards the sofa and sat beside James.  “Are you telling me, I am not supposed to be here? The last time I checked, I was still in your friends list.”

James did not pay attention.  He leaned back with the sweating can of beer on his hands.  Where to begin, he asked himself.  He opened his mouth and voiced out the things that he has been trying so hard to shove out of his mind in the past few days. 

“Devon is sick.  It’s called ALS, there is no cure. The doctor said that those who have ALS have an average of 2 to 5 years to live. Very few lied longer than that,” he started.  Sam raised his head, he almost dropped the can of beer.  While, Aleli remained unmoving besides James.

“Are you sure, there is no cure?” Sam asked.  He placed the can of beer on the table and started to wring his hands together.  “I have aunts and uncles that could take a look at her.”

“Doctor Alvarez is already handling her case,”  James mumbled  Sam shut his mouth.  He knew that Dr. Alvarez’s reputation is spotless, he is one of the best neurologists in the country. He has been awarded and recognized internationally for his contribution in his field  Sam would not disagree with James that Devon is better off to another doctor.

Sam stood up and walked towards the kitchen.  He was obviously affected with the news that he heard.

“Where are you going,” Aleli asked the restless Sam.

“I am going to call her,” Sam replied.  “She must have been really scared by all of this.”  He gave James an angry look. “I can’t believe you left her alone.”

“She doesn’t know yet,” James answered back.

Sam placed the handset back on its rack. “What do you mean by she doesn’t know yet? She’s supposed to know.”

“Well, not yet. She’s gonna freak out,” James explained. “She’s not yet ready to know about it.”

Sam was about to argue more, when Aleli raised her hand and cautioned Sam. 

“How about taking her to medical centers outside the country?” Aleli asked.

James rubbed his forehead.  “As much as I want to, I can’t.  We don’t have enough money in the bank yet.”

“Why don’t you ask for your father’s help,” Aleli suggested. 

James pulled himself up from slouching on the sofa.  “Never.”

“This is for Devon’s good,” Sam tried to explain.  “He may have contacts abroad, he could easily pay for your fare.”

James eyed Sam. “You know what he told me when I left the house?”

Sam and Aleli shook their head.

James took a deep breath and stared ahead.  “He said that, ‘one day you’ll be crawling back to me, asking for my help.’ I swore on that day, that I would never live or use any of his help, ever again.”

“So are you telling me, you’ll choose pride, over your wife?” Sam asked angrily. 

James was unable to answer.  He bowed his head and felt that he has already lost a battle which hasn’t even begun.  Sam shook his head, and walked out of the living room. 

Feb 18, 2011

When The Fireworks Begin (Chapter IV)

Chapter IV.

James was looking at the screen of his laptop in his small cubicle in the advertising firm where he has been working for a year now. He has been trying his very best to gradually step up his career.  This work and his salary were far from what he had before, when he was still managing the family business or businesses.  But when he decided to marry Devon and go against what his father wants, he dropped everything like a hot potato.

He glanced at his wristwatch.  He was trying to wrap his work up so that he would be able to go home, early.  His hard work is paying off, he was just promoted a couple of days ago.  Promotion would not only mean another step in the salary table, but would also mean more responsibilities.   This is the day he and Devon would be celebrating his promotion.

James was in deep concentration with the design and program, when he heard another officemate calling his name.

“James, phone call for you,”  his officemate called, while holding the receiver. 

James was not expecting any call.  “Hello?”

“Hi, James,”  the authoritative male voice on the other end of the line greeted.

James was shocked to hear that voice, he has not heard that voice before. He did not say anything.

“I was going to call you on the cell phone, but I figured you would not be answering my call. So, I decided to call you on the office instead,” the male voice explained.

“What do you want,” James silently asked, with no hint of expression on his voice.

“I just want to congratulate you, James,”  the man continued.  “I heard you got promoted.”

“Who told you that?” James asked, there are few people who knew about that.

“Well, a friend of mine is a board of director in your firm and I asked how you were doing,” the man answered slowly.  “He told me that you got promoted.”

James wavered. Was he promoted because of his good work or was it because this man has something to do with it again?  “Do you have anything to do with it?”

“With the promotion?” the man surprisingly asked. “Of course not.  I just asked him how you were doing. As your father, James, I want to know if you are okay. Your mother is very worried about you.”

“I never thought that you were still my father. I thought I was no longer your son,”  James answered.

“James, about that,”  his father started.  “I…”

“No time to talk about that,” James cut him.  “I have work to do, and I honestly prefer if you would not be calling this number again.”

James did not wait for his father’s reply and immediately said goodbye.  He placed the receiver back and walked towards his cubicle.  He started to rub his forehead, he hated what he was feeling. He’s so angry with his father, but he wished that he also said he was worried about him, too. 


Devon was walking out of the university. She was sending James a text message, telling him that she would just go home to change clothes and then meet him in the office for their dinner.  After sending the text message and having a quick chit-chat with other faculty members of the university, Devon hailed a jeep.

She was calmly looking at her schedule, looking forward  for their dinner celebration.  This night was special, it is James’s night.  Devon stopped the jeep when she saw their street.  She was climbing down the jeepney, when she felt her knees buckle on her step.  She felt that she lost control of her leg muscles.  It was as if her legs became jelly.

She fell hard on the concrete road.  Passengers were surprised by her fall. Then suddenly, an incoming car was speeding towards the jeep, perhaps unknowing that somebody was crumpled on the road.

Oh my god, oh my god, Devon whispered.  Let the car stop. Let it stop.  She was struggling on her feet. Trying to stand up, but she was unable to accomplish anything. 

Those who were standing on the sidewalk were screaming.  “Stand up!?!”

But Devon can’t stand up, and then she heard screeching brakes.  The car stopped just a few inches away from her.  The driver angrily went out of the car and started shouting at Devon.

“What are you doing in the middle of the road?” the driver asked angrily. “Are you trying to kill yourself?”

People from the sidewalk started to walk towards Devon and the driver.  Hoping that nobody got hurt.

Devon’s tears welled up and slowly answered. “I can’t stand up. I can’t move my legs.”

Perhaps the driver saw the fear in her eyes.  He hunched towards Devon and looked at her. “You can’t stand up?”

“I can’t. I can’t do anything,” Devon said.

The man started to touch her legs and looked like he’s applying pressure on it. But Devon felt nothing. 

“Do you feel anything?” the man asked, while pinching her leg.

Devon shook her head and then the tears started to fall. This time, she became so scared. This is not simple numbness, it is the feeling that she no longer has any legs.

He shook his head.  “Come on, I’ll bring you to the hospital,” he answered.  He motioned two other guys to help him carry her and her belongings to the car.   “I’m a doctor, Doctor Alvarez.”


James was already packing his bags, when his phone rang. He saw Devon’s name on the phone’s screen.

“Baby,” he answered quickly. “I am going out of the office now.”  He started to walk out of the door and towards the elevator.

Devon cleared her throat.  This was supposed to be his night, she whispered to herself.  And then I have to ruin it for him.  

“Baby,” she started. “I’m in the hospital.”

“What?” James stopped on his tracks. “What happened?”

“There’s a small accident earlier, when I was going home,” Devon explained. “But I am okay, they just want me to stay here a little longer for some tests.”

“What hospital?” James asked.

Devon gave him the hospital name and said that she would be wheeled into another medical test again. James said goodbye to his wife and started to fidget. She has been into so many accidents lately, that James was starting to think something is wrong to her.  He was about to ask her to have some tests, but not this soon.

He hired a taxi and asked the driver to sped it up to the hospital.  He almost broke into a run, when the taxi stopped in front of the hospital.  He walked towards the ER and was looking for Devon when he bumped into a doctor.

“James,” the doctor exclaimed, when he saw James.

“Ninong,” James greeted and gave the man a hug. It has been a long time since he saw Ninong Robby or Doctor Alvarez.

“What are you doing here?” the doctor asked.

“I’m looking for my wife,” James explained, reaching out for the cellphone and trying to call Devon.  But there was no answer on the phone.

“You’re married? Why wasn’t I invited,”  Doctor Alvarez exclaimed.

James forced a chuckle. “Believe me, Ninong. You are not the only who’s not invited.”

“Ah so you eloped,” Doctor Alvarez concluded, and gave James a smile. “Is your wife working here? I could check where she is.”

“No, she’s not working here. She’s a faculty member in the university. She called me about getting an accident and that she was taken here,” James explained.

Doctor Alvarez nodded. “What’s her name, I’ll check.”

“Devon Rocafort,”  James answered.

Doctor Alvarez looked at James when he heard the name. “Devon?”

James nodded.  Doctor Alvarez shook his head, as if in disbelief.  James heart raced faster. “You know her? Where is she?”

“Well, the car I have been driving almost hit her and I brought her here,” Doctor Alvarez started.  James looked so confused, that the doctor started to tell him what happened.

“Where is she right now?” James asked, very worried. “She still can’t move her legs?”

“She’s still in the laboratory, she’ll be back soon. And no, she still can’t move her legs,” Doctor Alvarez answered.

James sat down on the row of chairs.  He felt as if all the energy has been sapped out of his body. “She’s been getting into these small accidents, lately. Slipping, falling down. She kept telling me that she tripped or the floor too slippery. Do you think it’s serious?”

“Well I have no idea yet,”  Doctor Alvarez said. “We’ll be looking on the results first, I’ve asked for MRIs and scans, we need to be very sure about this.  Don’t worry about the cost of the tests.  It will be my wedding present.”

James thanked his ninong and hugged him. “Thank you.”

“She’s here,” Doctor Alvarez said, motioning a wheelchair being moved out of a room.

James rushed to Devon’s side and she was wheeled inside the emergency room. “How are you feeling, baby,” he asked.

“I’m okay,” Devon answered. “I think I would be able to go home later.”

“I don’t think so,” interrupted Doctor Alvarez. “I think it would be better to have stay here tonight, stay under observation. I’ll be back tomorrow with the test results.”

“But,” Devon tried to resist. “I can already move my legs.”

The Doctor was taken a back by what Devon said.  He has a suspicion but he has decided to keep it to himself, first.

James stopped her. “Baby, it would be better to listen to the good doctor.  He knows what he is doing, he’s the best here.”

Doctor Alvarez placed his hand on James shoulder. “I know you’re my godson James, but don’t flatter me too much.”  He smiled towards Devon.  “You’re husband here, happens to be my favourite godson.  You don’t have to think or worry that I am one of those doctors who just want to make your hospital bill bigger”

Devon smiled back at Doctor Alvarez. “I was not thinking about that Doctor.”

“Then you will be staying here tonight,” Doctor Alvarez concluded.

Nothing happened overnight.  They called Devon’s parents, James insisted that they should know what happened. They would be coming over the next day to visit her.  Devon and James slept cuddled together on the hospital bed. The next morning James brought the breakfast to Devon’s table. 

“This is so foolish,” Devon said. “I feel fine, I can move my legs. I already walked to the bathroom without any trouble.”

“I know baby,” James tried to explain. “But we have to wait for the doctor’s go signal.”

Devon nodded exasperatedly.  “Aren’t you going to work today?”

James shook his head. “I wanted to take care of you today.”

Devon dropped her fork, sounding so frustrated. “I don’t want you to miss work because of me. I know how much you enjoyed working in that firm.  Go to work., I am going to call Mama. They can stay here with me.”

James hesitated.  Devon touched his hand and looked at him. “I am going to be fine. Now scoot. Go home and take a bath, I am calling Mama.”

James smiled at his wife and looked at her while she dialled her mother’s phone number. 


James rushed to the hospital, after work.  He received a message from Devon telling him that she has finished all the tests and the doctor would like to talk them first before being discharged. 

James was about to enter Devon’s room, when Doctor Alvarez called him.

“James,” Doctor Alvarez called. “It’s  a good thing that you’re here. I wanted to tell you this first.”

James walked towards to Doctor Alvarez and listened intently.  Doctor Alvarez cleared his throat.  There is no way he could make this easier for both James and Devon.

“I think that Devon has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS,”  Doctor Alvarez started.

James leaned closer and tried to listen better. The name of the disease is definitely scary. “That sounds serious,” James said.

Doctor Alvarez answered slowly, like a father talking to his son. “It is very serious, James. We would be running other tests to confirm that.  However, you could take her home now but I’ll give some medications and she needs to be here for her additional tests.”

“Okay,” James agreed. “But what is this thing that she’s sick of?”

Doctor Alvarez looked at James and slowly began explaining, “ALS is a disease that causes muscle weakness and disability.  You’ve seen how she would often fell, perhaps this has started a year ago, but she dismissed it as unimportant.  Often, this disease would strike older people, but they could also affect younger patients like Devon.” 

James was feeling overwhelmed with what Doctor Alvarez said. “Are you telling me that Devon may not walk?”

Doctor Alvarez took a deep breath, he continued his explanation. “ALS does not only affect leg muscles, it may also affect and paralyze muscles needed for chewing, swallowing and speaking. Muscles may be paralyzed, but the person’s mental condition or thinking is not affected.”

James nodded. “I don’t mind having a paralyzed wife.”

“This is a fatal disease, James. Muscles for breathing could also be paralyzed,” Doctor Alvarez tried to explain.

James was startled with what Doctor Alvarez said. “Are you telling me, that she could die?”

“James,” Doctor Alvarez slowly said. “Those diagnosed with ALS only have an average of 2 to 5 years to live.”

James became deaf. Two to five years, he thought.

“You expect me to believe, that my wife would die in two to five years?” James angrily told Doctor Alvarez.  “I am not believing this crap. I thought you were the best doctor in here.”

“I am,” Doctor Alvarez answered.

“Well, what you said to me Ninong is crap. My wife is not going to die,” James tearfully exclaimed. “Not yet.”

“We would run more tests to determine if it is indeed ALS,” Doctor Alvarez commented. “But most of the tests are already leaning towards that disease.”

James collapsed on the row of chairs near the door. He closed his eyes. This is all a dream, I would open my eyes then this would all go away. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes.  He was still in the hospital. That is when it hit him. He would lose Devon.

He placed his face on his hands and cried.  He sobbed so hard, he felt racking pains on his chest. Five years, he thought.  I thought I have a lifetime with her. He sobbed harder, punching his right thigh trying to make the pain on his thigh more painful than what he is feeling inside his chest.

Doctor Alvarez was unable to answer him and hugged James instead. 

“I can’t lose her,” James whispered. “She’s all I have.”

Feb 14, 2011

When the Fireworks Begin (Chapter III)

Chapter III

“Baby, what’s taking you so long,” James kept knocking on the bathroom door. 
He glanced on the clock hanging on the wall, in a few hours, the year’s going to end. Well, not really end, more like a beginning, James thought. 

“Thinking about your New Year’s resolutions, baby?” Devon asked, while leaning on the door frame.  She was wearing a red off shoulder blouse with long sleeves over tight jeans.  James could not help but smile but when he saw her.

“Different kind of resolutions,” James smiled and pulled her. “You look like an apple.”

Devon could not help but laugh.  “I’m just wearing red.”

“Can I take a bite,” James asked teasingly, while hugging her. Devon blushed and James did not miss that.  He laughed really loud. “Why blush? It’s as if you don’t know what I am talking about.”

Devon knows what James is talking about.  “Stop talking like that,” Devon countered with a slap on the arm.  “They are waiting for us.”

“I think that they could wait for a little more,” James said with twinkle in his eyes.

Devon slapped him again on the arm. “They are waiting for us.”

James leaned forward and started to kiss her hair. She smells like a flower.  “I said that they can wait.”

Devon tried to suppress a giggle.  James buried his face on her hair.  He began to run his fingers on her back, creating a hot blazing path in Devon’s back.  She was no longer laughing, her breathing became deeper and longer. James smiled on Devon’s hair.

“I think you are agreeing with me now to let them wait,” James whispered, dropping small kisses from her hair, down to her forehead, on her cheeks, and landing a long kiss on her lips.

Devon did not answer, James doesn’t need one.  The kiss was deep and passionate.  Devon started to run her fingers to through his hair.  In response, he deepened the kiss further. She opened her mouth and whispered his name. It was a song for James.  As their lips coupled passionately, James’s free hand grazed on Devon’s chest, sending shivers to her spine. 

Pleasure exploded. James cupped her face and distanced himself from her lips for a while.  Devon has this dazed look on her face that James’ found so endearing.  He dipped towards her lips again while gently guiding her towards the bedroom.


“Where have you been,” AlingLinda asked.  James and Devon were walking inside the yard, while holding each other’s hands.  “You said you’ll be here by seven, it’s almost ten o’clock.”

Shey was already in the garden, fanning the outdoor grill with the chicken barbeque on top of it.  James scratched his head, smiling sheepishly. 

“We have to do something,” he answered.  Devon blushed profusely.  Good thing she was not near any light, or else they would see how red she has become.

Mama Linda did not ask anything else.  But Shey could not resist.  “Newly-weds,” Shey joked, shaking her head.

James laughed and Devon slapped him hard. “That should be your New Year’s resolution honey.”

Ivan popped into the door, holding two bottles of beer. He handed James a bottle.  “You should really stop hitting people,” Ivan agreed with James.  “That’s considered as a human rights violation.  Is she hitting you?”

Ivan was looking at James.  James shook his head. “I dodge.  I am good in dodging.”

“You should not hit your husband, do you want to go to court for battering?” Ivan angrily told Devon.

Devon was about to hit Ivan when he ran towards Shey and hid behind her.  Devon smiled at her two friends, they have been spending New Year with her and her family, for more than ten years now.   

Shey’s family has been living in the United States and refuses to spend her New Year’s eve with her aunts and uncles.  Ivan’s mother is also living in the United States, while his father has already remarried.  He has been living alone in Cebu and refuses to relocate in Manila where his father and new wife live.

“Stop playing, children,” Shey reprimanded.  “Don’t make me spank both of you.”

Ivan stopped hiding and started to look at Shey. “You’re all dressed-up tonight.”

“No, I’m not,” Shey reacted and started to turn the barbecue sticks.

Ivan touched Shey’s short skirt. “You’re wearing a new skirt. I have never seen this skirt before.”

“Really, Ivan,” Shey reacted, waving the tong close to his nose.  “Don’t tell me you have seen all my clothes. Or maybe you have been raiding my closet when I am not looking.”

“Dating somebody, tonight?” asked Ivan.

“No,” answered Shey.

“Then why are you so pretty tonight,” Ivan insisted.

“I’m hearing a hint of jealousy in your voice,” Shey joked. “Are you afraid that somebody would sweep me off my feet and you will be celebrating New Year’s eve all alone?”

“No,” Ivan countered.  “I’ll get a girlfriend of my own.”

She lifted an eyebrow and looked at Ivan. But Ivan took a swig of his beer instead.

“Well, you are not borrowing anything from my closet again. I need a plate here,” Shey shouted.

“I’ll get it,” Devon volunteered.

“I’ll come with you,” Shey reacted. “You keep an eye on the barbecue,” Shey reacted shoving the tong to Ivan.

Ivan shook his head.  James looked at the two girls who walked inside the house.  “Remind me to get both of them drug tested,”  Ivan told James.

Inside the house, Devon was looking for a large serving plate and saw one on the washing basin.  She was rinsing it when she heard Shey approaching.  Devon noticed Shey was walking behind her, and then leaned on the refrigerator’s door.

“If you have something to ask me, then fire away,”  Devon said smiling.

Shey looked at her exasperatingly.  “How would you tell a person that you really like, that you like him?”

Devon looked at Shey.  Between the two of them, Shey is the more experienced person when it comes to boys and relationships. “You’re supposed to be the expert.”

Shey sighed. “Well, obviously I’m not. I am not happily married, you know.”

Devon laughed.  “Just be honest with how you feel.”

“What if,” Shey paused.  “What if, he loves somebody else.”

“Are they together?” Devon asked.

Shey shook her head. “No. They have never been together. He has accepted the fact that they could never be together.” 

Devon nodded. “So, make the move. Make him realize that there are women out there who can still make him happy.”

Shey nodded and started to nibble on her thumb.  Devon noticed this, she knows that when her friend does that, she wants to say something else.

“Do I know the guy?” Devon asked casually and finished washing the serving plate.

“Uhm,” Shey started to run her hand through her hair. “You do…”

Devon took the serving plate out of the sink and started to pat it to dry.  She was wiping it when she started to feel the loss of control in her hands.  It seems that her thumb and fingers lost their muscles and bones.  She could no longer feel the plate, nor the dish towel in her hands.


The plate fell from Devon’s hands and shattered on the floor. Shey was startled out of her thoughts.

“What happened?” Shey immediately asked, running towards the kitchen backdoor, getting the dustpan and the broom.

“It slipped,” Devon explained. But she knew it was more than that.  She felt fear. Because what she felt with her hands is what she feels whenever she falls down.

Devon and James were sitting on a grassy hill.  It was a few minutes before midnight. They escaped from the chaos of Devon’s parent’s home and made their way to their favourite hill, a few minutes away. On the top of the hill, their house and Christmas blinking lights were like stars.   A car would pass on the roads, with their headlights on and shining the way.  Occasional fireworks would stray in the black and starlit sky.

Devon smiled at the prematurely lighted firework shooting in the sky.  James opened a can of light beer and handed it to her. Devon smiled back and leaned at his husband.

“So peaceful here,” Devon stated.

“Well, any place can be peaceful, as long as Ivan and Shey are not there,” James reacted jokingly.

When they left the house, Ivan was screaming his heart out to a song on the videoke, with Devon’s sisters laughing hysterically at the background and their dog barking so loud, as if it is protesting to Ivan’s voice.  Shey has been screaming also on the top of her lungs, telling Ivan to tone it down cause she was talking to somebody on the phone.  Devon’s parents meanwhile, where huddled in the kitchen with cups of coffee on their hands, wishing that they have ear muffs. It has been ten years, but they have never been used to it. 

Devon and James managed to escape the house, a few minutes later and hiked up the hill. 

“Do you think, Ivan has already stopped singing?” Devon asked.

“I think, Shey forcibly took the microphone away,” James answered laughing.

Devon laughed hard too.

“You dropped a plate earlier,” James said.

“I know,” Devon slowly answered, trying to choose the words carefully. “The soap was too slippery.”

James nodded. “You’re really a klutz.”

Devon pulled away from James and pretended to be angry.  She was about to punch  James on his stomach, when he grabber her hand. He pulled her back to his embrace.

In a few minutes later, the fireworks started to shoot up to the sky.  It looked like it was raining small stars and moondust.   Devon loves fireworks and this is the best place to watch them. The dark sky started to light red, then green, they patches of yellow and white light. 

James is also contently watching the fireworks.  “I really hope we could be like this forever.”

“Watch fireworks forever?” Devon joked. “That’s going to be very expensive.  We would not be able to have children with such expenses.”

James laughed, wrapping his arms tighter around Devon.

“We could spend every New Year’s eve, here,” Devon said.

James nodded. “Where are we going to spend New Year’s eve, anyway?”

“Let’s just promise that wherever we are, we will try to get back to this hill,” Devon insisted. 

Another shower of lights filled the night sky.  Devon was startled from the loud bang.

James kissed Devon’s forehead.  “I promise, baby.”

Devon smiled and cuddled to his husband, watching the fireworks in the sky, wishing on each of the false shooting star coming from the shower of lights.
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