“YOU CAN’T be seen here!” Sarah repeated and dragged Jino towards her room. She pushed her inside and told him to keep quiet. “Don’t open the door without my signal, okay?”
“Okay,” Jino nodded and smiled at her.
Sarah felt her heartbeat skipped a beat with his smile, but this is not the right time to entertain that giddy feeling of weakness. As soon as she closed the door in her room, Ismael opened her front door and stepped inside.
“Did you just wake up?” Ismael asked in a knotted forehead when he found her standing in front of her room door. “I’ve been calling and knocking at your door.”
Sarah wiped the sweats of tension in her forehead. “I didn’t hear you…” she lied. “I was cleaning my house.”
“Really?” Ismael roamed his eyes around her apartment. His forehead automatically furrowed when he looked in the direction of the joss papers around her house. “What are those?”
“Joss papers,” she said and took the pizza box from him. “Is it for me?”
Ismael nodded and followed her towards the living room. “It’s your favorite flavor,” he said, then looked at the joss papers again. “What are those papers for? It looks like ang-pao.”
Sarah laughed. The joss papers are indeed looked ang-pao because of its colors and embossed Chinese characters. “Wow, ham and cheese!” she blurted as she opened the box. She purposefully ignored Ismael’s queries about the papers. “Didn’t you bring milk teas?”
Ismael narrowed his eyes at her. “We’ll get two large cups if you want,” he said and took out his phone. “I’ll order online, and then you’ll pay for the bill.”
Sarah groaned. “I’m jobless, you know…” And, somebody took my one thousand bills for those papers. “I’ll treat you as I get new work.”
“When will it be?” Ismael asked in a knotted forehead.
“After the bad charm left my body,” she said positively.
“Ah, I get it!” he said and pointed at the joss papers around her house. “So those weird things are for your belief that you have a jinx?”
Sarah pursed her lips. “I know I’m desperate, but I really wanted to change my life…” she heaved a sigh. “Misfortunes come and go and in my life since I was a child. My parents fight often, and they’re not even ashamed of themselves because they fight in front of me. I grew in a family where parents told each other every day that they regret having this kind of family…” Her chest tightened, but she continued. “For them, the family we have is a disaster, but for me, it’s like hell disguised as a paradise…”
Ismael reached for her hand. “But you grew up and became the strongest woman that I’ve known.”
She laughed. “And, also the unfortunate woman,” she sighed. “Then, my parents separated when I was in high school. I’m still lucky enough because they separated when I was in my junior high and not when I was just a kid. Still, they abandoned me. Then I met Carlo in college. I thought the jinx has disappeared because my life looked so perfect with him. That’s why a few years of studying Nursing, I agreed when he asked if I wanted to live together.” Tears stung her eyes. She’s still hurt. And she doesn’t know when she will move on. “Then, I caught him cheating… And, I got fired from work because of thinking about him.”
“Sarah…” Ismael squeezed her hand. “I’m still here, and I won’t leave your side, I promised.”
Sarah smiled at Ismael. “Thanks, Ismael. You’re all that I have now.”
“Does it that I am your everything now?”
She snorted. “For now…” she laughed. “I know the man that’s meant for me is just out there, waiting for me.”
“What if the man that is meant for you is in front of you now, and you’re not just aware that it’s him, you’re soulmate?”
Sarah looked at Ismael and thought about what he said. “I will know that it’s him…” she said. “I will feel deep inside me the familiar feeling for reunited. That something is being completed inside me, and that’s him. And, when we saw each other that whole surrounding will move slowly like a—”
“Like a fairytale,” Ismael finished her words in a dull expression. “Like fiction,” he taunted and shook his head. “Sarah, wake up. Prince Charming doesn’t exist.”
“They exist,” she countered. “But not romantically… And, I hate to recall the history of royalties and dynasties in some other countries. Inbreeding gives me chills!”
Ismael laughed at her reaction. “By the way, Sarah. I wanted to invite you to a live concert tonight,” he said and showed and placed two live bands tickets on the coffee table. “Don’t worry, those were acoustic bands.”
Sarah took the tickets and got amazed by the written guest list. “The Out Of Body Special band Maude! They’re my favorite acoustic bands!”
“So, it’s a yes?” Ismael asked, grinning like a kid.
Sarah squealed. “Yes!”
JINO leaned his back to the door and listened to what Sarah is telling her friend. He didn’t expect that the woman has experienced so many struggles in her life. Her bright smiles and pleasant laughter are deceiving because they’ll make you think that she’s happy and contented. But, when the night comes, all of her worries haunt her.
“I will feel deep inside me the familiar feeling for reunited. That something is being completed inside me, and that’s him. And, when we saw each other that whole surrounding will move slowly like a—”
Jino almost laughed at Sarah’s perspectives about finding true love. “The time will move slow? And you will feel as if something is reunited inside you?” he paused and remembered the night that he first encountered Sarah. “You’ll feel as if the person is familiar to you… as if you’ve seen him or her somewhere…” he repeated as his heart started to beat faster. he looked at the closed door and shrugged his shoulders. “Impossible… And, the guy is right. The perfect relationship only happens in fiction and fairytales.”