Sitting by the window was not a habit, forced, by the promise given to him a year ago, unrealized but never rescinded.
Michael was not the typical boy-next-door teenager. His good looks was neither an asset nor a liability. Normal could describe his relationship with society.
He used both hands to lift himself up from the rattan chair, maneuvered his body in such a way he could drop straight on the bed. The constant practice kept him independent from his younger brother’s aid especially during the first few weeks after his accident.
How was she?
Tired at looking at pictures of days past, he closed his eyes and savored in his head those wondrous memories he shared with her. If they were old enough back then, their eldest child would have been fifteen months old.
Fat chance! She was the conservative type. He waited a year before she relented on him planting a kiss on her cheek. A sweet smack on the lips was just a dream he waited to come true.
“Don’t fool around, Michael! My father is a military man.”
She always reminded him of that fact. Of course, he was not brave enough to invite her father’s ire, let alone cross her mother’s rigid strictness whenever he visited her at home. Unwelcome was how he felt, hated was more like it.
When he tried to hold her hands, she always retracted them. It would seem her parents’ faces guarded her every time that she was uncomfortable with him close.
“Someone might see us, Michael. I don’t want you hurt.”
“I am not afraid,” he said, though his eyes surveyed the surroundings to see if anyone gave them undue interest.
From that point, he did not realize he was in danger of losing his mobility. The veiled threats followed: leave her alone or else.
They were in love. That’s what Michael believed the risk he had to take. To forget her and save himself from harm was like killing a part of him. It was not to be.
He opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. As if converted to a wide screen, he watched vividly how the nightmare happened.
They just exited the theater when her father called them with a wave of a hand. Such gesture alone forebode of something ugly.
“We’re going home,” the old man ordered, yanking her gently away from him. “It’s late. Your mother has been worried sick.”
It was only four in the afternoon which he wanted to point out. But he was literally outranked that he simply followed them like a dog wishing to be noticed and taken with them.
“Stop!” her father commanded. Michael knew the order was directed at him.
“We’ve done nothing wrong, sir!”
“Don’t test me, boy!”
“I love your daughter, sir.” Michael was close to tears, his voice solid.
“Take him away,” the old man shouted.
Unknown to Michael, two men trailed him all those times he met her. Only then he feared that she somewhat suspected what her father was up to.
“No, father! Leave him alone!”
The old man did not say a word. He kept her in tow till they reached the car.
Her screams pierced his heart to pieces, his mind unafraid of what would happen to him once he was led away.
“I am coming back! I promise!”
He wiped the tears off his face.
Tomorrow, the day after, and days to follow, his ritual would be repeated.
Where was she?
(to be continued)