Sep 11, 2011

When The Fireworks Begin (Chapter XII)


James smiled as he woke up with a familiar body snuggling close to him under the thick blankets.  He smiled as he looked at his wife’s sleeping head cradled on the hook of his shoulder.  James shifted a little to look at Devon more closely,  Devon meanwhile, snuggled deeper into James.  He sniffed at her hair and planted an affectionate kiss on the top of her head.

They arrived from Baguio, a couple of days ago. Today, they are planning to explore Sagada and stay there for a night.  Baguio has always held a special place in their hearts and James would never forget why.

****
January, last year…

The early morning fog was thick in Baguio, the sun hasn’t risen yet.  It was still early but James was already awake and packing several things on the two bags in front of him. He and his girlfriend Devon are going on a hike.  This vacation was a great break for all the problems that they faced in the past few years.  He smiled and inhaled the sweet pine smell.

“Good morning handsome,”  a female voice spoke behind James.

James turned around and smiled at Devon who was standing behind him, “Good morning to you too, gorgeous.”

Devon smiled brightly. “Oh, I was referring to the horse,” pointing to a horse standing near James.  The horse snorted and Devon could not help but giggle. She walked towards the horse and she started to pat its back.

James pretended to be irritated. “Okay, you can sleep with him from now on. Let’s see if he can make squeal.”

Devon turned into bright red and slapped James on his arm. “Be quiet.”

James laughed hard.  He pulled Devon and kissed her on the forehead. “You started it.”

Devon smiled at the soft kiss. “Are we going to ride?”

“No, we’re going for a hike,” James smiled and signalled Devon to come closer.  He held up Devon’s pack and she slid her arms inside the straps.

They have been in Baguio for four days already. This was their last day and will be returning to the chaos they left in Cebu.  Nobody was speaking as they passed by the trees and joggers who were taking their morning exercise.  They followed the trodden path of horses and feet.  Both of them were taking in the fresh morning air and peace.

“Where are we going,” Devon finally asked James.  They have been walking for almost an hour. A sun’s beam has made it through the pine forage and was casting a bright light on the pine forest. Devon was not getting bored or tired, but she was wondering on where the hike will take her.

“Breakfast,” James answered looking back at her.  He stopped on his tracks and looked at the girl he has been with for more than two years.  She was wearing a blue sweater over her petite frame.  She was wearing her favourite grey pants and a pair of comfortable sneakers.  She was wearing her hair down and absolutely no make-up on.  She was not that fond in putting paint on her face.

“Where are we eating breakfast?” Devon asked the handsome and mestizo man walking with her.

“Somewhere,” James answered mysteriously.

“James,” Devon said warningly.  She knows about how mischievous he could get sometimes. 

They continued walking for another ten minutes.  Then James suddenly stopped and took off his pack.  Devon looked ahead and saw a picnic blanket carefully laid on the pine tree floor.  There were flower petals scattered on the blanket and another bouquet on it, beside a basket of food. 

“How did you?” Devon asked bewildered. They are an hour away from the house and everything looked as if it was just recently set.

“I have my ways,” James smiled. 

Devon heard fits of contained giggles behind her. She turned around and saw three children who were hiding behind a tree. They were the children of the rest house’s caretaker.  They immediately hid behind the tree when they saw Devon turned. 

“Aha,” Devon exclaimed, silently creeping towards the tree. “Boo!” surprising the kids behind the tree. The children jumped and laughed.

“Kuya James, asked us to do this,” reasoned the eldest kid. 

“He gave us a hundred pesos each,” piped the youngest boy.

James tried to shush the kids with a warning whisper. Devon eyed James. “It was a way of saying thank you,”  James tried to explain.

“You bribed the kids?” Devon asked raising an eyebrow.  James was about to say something when they heard the children running away.

“That’s our price,” yelled the eldest kid yelled. “Have fun with your breakfast!”

“Marry her now!” hollered the girl who was the middle child of the caretaker.

“Or else I will steal her from you and marry her when I grow up,” yelled the youngest.  His ate pinched him on the ear and dragged him down the hill.

Devon turned around and looked at James laughing. She took her bag off and sat down on the picnic blanket.

“I see that you have an admirer,” James raised an eyebrow.

Devon smiled. “Oh, he’s not my type. He’s very, very, very, very young.”

James nodded. “Yup,”  he seriously agreed.  “If you marry him you’ll be buying his milk, too.”

Devon laughed in agreement and she opened the food packages in front of them. There were kanin, hot pan de sal, fried eggs, longganisa, tapa, and slices of tomatoes.  There were also bananas and other fruits on the basket.

“Are we eating all of these?” Devon asked amazed. “Who cooked all of these?”

“Well, don’t look at me like that.  I cooked the breakfast and just asked the kids to bring it here,” James answered.  “And don’t pretend like you can’t eat all of it.  I know how much you eat, really. Sometimes I even wonder where all the food go,” referring to Devon’s thin and petite frame.

Devon threw a piece of a flower petal on James. “Well, Mr. I-don’t-eat-too-much, you eat more than me.”

They started to eat the food and bickered more.  They did manage to eat everything. James looked at the empty food containers and then Devon who just took the last spoonful of rice and tapa.  James was about to say something, when Devon covered his mouth with her hand.

“Don’t you dare say anything,” Devon warned. “We both ate the same amount.”

James removed Devon’s hand but did not let it go. “I was about to say that we have coffee,”  tilting his head towards the thermos.

Devon smiled, “Coffee would be great.”

James let Devon’s hand go and he filled two Styrofoam cups with the hot Benguet coffee. James sat closely beside Devon and they watched the fog lifting from the city below. Devon leaned on James shoulder, holding the warm cup of coffee between her hands.   Both were not talking for a few minutes. It was not dead silence, rather it was a peaceful moment. Both were content that they where with each other.

“Did you enjoy yourself?” James asked.

“Yes, thank you,” Devon answered.

“The tapa tasted great, right?” James asked again.

“Yes.”

“Is the coffee still hot?” James asked again, quickly.

“Yes.”

“Did you like the flowers?” James asked again.

“Yes.”

“Did you eat the strawberries?” James asked immediately.

“Yes.”

“Will you marry me?” James asked without any pause.

“Yes.” 

James looked at Devon when she answered.  Devon looked up and smiled.  “Yes, James,” Devon answered again, with laughter dancing in her eyes. “Your trick question worked. I will marry you.”

James planted a sweet kiss on Devon’s lips and he wondered, how long will they stay this way. I hope its forever, he thought.

****
The present…

James and Devon just got back from Sagada.  Devon was very beat from the trek and decided to sleep through the whole day.  James was gently massaging her legs, while Devon was laying down.

“I am sorry baby, you got really tired,” James guiltily said.

Devon raised her hand as if brushing the thought away. “Don’t think about that, the caves were wonderful. I would never dare miss that.”

While is Sagada, James and Devon decided to explore the beautiful caves and take a swim in the wonderfully cool waters of the nearby waterfalls. It was spectacular, but the physical activity took a toll on Devon’s strength.

“All I need is some rest and sleep,” Devon smiled.  James smiled back and continued massaging her achy legs.  In a few minutes, Devon was already sound asleep. James tucked her in and kissed her forehead.  He walked out the veranda and absorbed the beauty of the city amongst clouds.

He heard his phone ringing. He stood up and answered it immediately. Thinking it was a friend or a workmate.

“Hello?” James asked.

“James,” the voice in the other line spoke.

James stiffened. “You really do know how to ruin a vacation.”

“James,” said the voice. “What are you doing  there in Baguio? You don’t know what you’re doing to her health.”

“Are we really talking about this?” James asked in disbelief.

“The past is the past James, I made mistakes and I am trying my best to fix that. Get Devon back here in Cebu and we will find the best medical help we can,” James’s father tried to explain.

James snickered. “Father,” he emphasized the first word sarcastically. “Are you really concerned with Devon? I think that’s it already the end of the world.”

James’s father remained silent on the other end of the line. “She’s my daughter-in-law.”

James laughed, it was a bitter laughter. “When did you learn to accept that? This is really the end of the world.”

“James, let’s end this,” James’s father answered. 

“You’re right,” James agreed. “Let’s end this. Stop calling me.”

James turned off his phone and shook his head.  He looked at Devon who was sleeping peacefully. There are just some things that can never be fixed easily.

2 comments:

superior-minori said...

conditioning statements to a proposal. ka-kyoot!! and i bet the writer enjoyed baguio as well, it has become a recurring retreat for your stories.
James holds such resentment for his father though.. - your forever fan Tang :)

Anonymous said...

omg! This chap is really great..james, y not forgive ur father...i love how d story presentd..present_past_present..a little confusing sometìmes, but it gives me reason to crave 4 more updates...beautiful beautiful story..you already..ms bite... Casey here..

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