Wednesday, August 15, 2012

24-Hour Friendship

It was six in the morning. As I opened my dry eyes, I was blinded by the morning sun that shone from the window. Getting up from my soft and warm bed, I looked at the calendar that hung on the wall. Today is May 21, 2010.

And suddenly, there was a knock on the door. 'She' came in.

"Good Morning Tina! I'm glad you're finally awake! Today is going to be a beautiful day!" she said as she came into the room on her wheelchair.

Her name is Caroline. For some reason, she knew me even before I introduced myself to her. I was a stranger in this house. A 19-year-old girl, she had long, golden curly hair with green jade eyes. And to match her cuteness, she often wore pink clothes and a pink ribbon on her hair. Her glasses tend to support her poor eyesight, since she cannot see me without them.

"The sunrise is majestic from here, isn't it?" she said.

"Why yes, Caroline. This is actually the first time I ever saw a real sunrise, right?" I said.

Caroline paused for a while. "Oh yeah, of course! You must be very happy right now, huh?"

I smiled. "Well, I wouldn't stay in this place if I'm not happy, you know."

My name is Tina. According to Caroline, I was born from her wish last night. To tell you the truth, Caroline is a girl soon to die due to her Leukemia. And according to the doctors, today is the estimated prediction of her death. So she made a wish…

"I wish that on the day I will die, Tina will be there to keep me company and make me happy until my soul reaches the other world. Even for just a day."

She uttered these words under the North Star last night, at about seven in the evening. It would seem that her wish came true. For I am nothing more than an imaginary friend coming from her creative mind. This is my first and last incarnation on Earth. So I might as well enjoy such a rare opportunity.

We went outside to catch a better view of the beautiful sun as it rises into the morning sky. The garden was filled with flowers of all kinds – daisies, roses, and even tulips! There were no neighboring houses, no industrialization, and not much technology, except for a satellite above the roof that takes care of the Internet, Telephone and Cable communications. And surprisingly, cellphones work on this area because it is near the Telecommunications Company.
Indeed, it was nature's beauty at its finest. Birds chirping in their little nests, butterflies and bees hover around flowers for nectar, and most importantly, this is the very first time I experience the 'real world' itself.

"You know, I always remember my long-lost older sister whenever I look at these flowers." Caroline said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Back then, when I was around six years old, we played around in this garden every morning. Sister would always pick a bunch of flowers and I get to decide what to do with them. We've made them into Hawaiian Leis, painted them in different colors, and drew smiley faces on them and put them near mom and dad, so when they wake up, they'll have a beautiful day!"

"Wow. That's very nice. So, where is your sister now?"

"Sadly, I don't know anymore. All I can remember is that she was kicked out of the house, along with her boyfriend. Now they probably live together, but who knows where."

"That's very sad." I patted her back and gave her a warm hug. "Don't worry. I'll be your big sister from now on." I said without even thinking. She smiled with tears in her eyes, and I quickly wiped them away.

To cheer her up, I cooked breakfast. Back when she was still living alone, she always ordered online from fast-food chains, since she didn't even have a maid and couldn't go out alone in town alone because of her medical condition. I prepared bacon, eggs, hotdog sandwiches, and warm chocolate drinks. I helped her sat on the table. She was very happy.

"Thank you so much for getting into all this trouble!"

"It was nothing." I said. "I wanted you to feel loved, like you still had your sister."

As we ate our breakfast, the sun is now a little higher than usual. It was eight in the morning.

"Hey Caroline," I asked with a bit of fear. "I don't know if it's right to ask you this but…what happened to your parents? And why do you live alone right now?"

All of a sudden, Caroline's smile turned upside down. I felt nervous. I should've never asked that question. But I was relieved when she smiled again when she looked at me.

"My parents used to sit with me in this table. Every morning, it was always quiet. Dad was reading newspapers, and Mom was cooking breakfast. Sister always carried her cellphone in the table despite my parents forbidding her to do so."

"Oh, I see. Were your parents strict then?"

"I think so. Because right after they kicked out my sister from the house, I was enrolled to an all-girls school so that I have no contact with what they called 'dirty world of lewdness'. I also had to leave my male childhood friends behind because of them."

"That's sad. It's not really like they love you anymore. Because if they did, they wouldn't keep you locked away from the world forever."

"Yeah, something like that. And then one night, during Dad's business trip where Mom accompanied him, their car was poured with gas by some guy in black and BOOM! They died in the explosion. Well, that's what the police and the witnesses said."

I felt shocked, like my heart was about to fall apart. "I…I don't know what to say. I feel sorry for everything that happened to you. I wish I was there."

"That's okay." She said with a smile, as if she accepted everything. "Now I don't have to live alone, because you're here! And that's the most important thing!"

With that I felt relieved. Although I never became a human being before, I could tell that her experiences were a real pain in the back for her.

We went to her room, which was filled with anime and video game posters of all kinds. Her medicine cabinet was near her bed, and cute little toys were all around. She had an LCD TV next to her PC. Next to the PC was a keyboard and a bunch of speakers. There was also a bookshelf filled with different books, probably even more than a hundred. I opened the window so the dark room could freshen up a bit. And immediately she turned on the PC, switched on the modem, and went on her so-called 'daily routine': writing on her blog, playing online games, watching anime shows, and other internet stuff. Her keyboard is connected to her PC, so she would sometimes record and compose original songs. This is what she would do everyday, isolated from the pains of the real world.
It was ten in the morning. And although she's very happy in her PC, I can see from her face that she's afraid of something. Probably because today could really be her last day. So I talked to her again, in the hopes of entertaining her and making that cute smile appear again.

"You know, your blog stuff are great! You must be a very great writer. In fact, with the many talents and hobbies you have, you're sure to have a great future!"

"Not really." She said. "I only do these things to escape the loneliness of reality. Everyone had been cruel to me. I felt like life itself is crushing down on me. I have nowhere to go but death."

"That's not true!" I said, staring at her. "You are a very blessed girl. Even more blessed than future celebrities with diamonds on their rings!"

"Thanks but…I only express what's on my mind. I don't intend on being popular, not even on the World Wide Web." She said with a smile.

It was twelve noon. The sun outside rose up to its highest point. And even when I decided to cook lunch myself, Caroline insisted that she would help me. I agreed anyway. We had roasted chicken and pasta for lunch. And not to mention lemonades upon her request. It was truly special.
After that, she took me to her backyard. I was surprised at what I saw – a mini-pool of her own! But there was no water, as she could not get things done in a wheelchair. So I prepared everything: filled the swimming pool with water, got her into the pool and made her enjoy the rest of the afternoon. There was still some lemonade left during lunch time, so we saved it for snack time.
By the time we went back to the house it was two in the afternoon. I helped her dress up to ease her pain. On her room, I saw another picture aside from her parents' and sister's. It was a young man. He could have been an important person in Caroline's life, so I asked without thinking, yet again.

"Uhm…may I ask whose photo is this?" I said as I showed the picture to her. "Your brother? Or someone special, perhaps?"

Caroline quickly grabbed the picutre from me. Her eyes shook, her cheeks went red, yet her smile was still there. "This is Jesse. One of my childhood friends. We met again when I was in college and surprisingly, he was still single. I was unsure of my feelings for him, because I was afraid of my parents who just died back then."

"Ah I see. So what happened between the two of you? Was it love?"

Caroline smiled. "Yes Tina. For me it was love. But when he told me that he's going to become a priest, I've decided to cut off my relationship with him. I don't want both of us to get hurt."

"That's so tragic." I gave a sigh. "Have you met any other guy after him?"

"There were many guys who offered me roses, but Jesse remains inside my heart forever."

"Aww. So where is he now?"


Suddenly, the telephone rang. Caroline answered it.

"Yes?.....huh? Really?......N-no, it's okay, I'll go there……I have someone to accompany me….hold on, I'll write it down…."

I saw what she wrote on the small piece of paper. It was an address. '#25 Epilogue St., Sakura Village, Augsburg'. It was her sister on the phone. She told me to accompany her in this place.
We rode on a taxi after getting near the main road that leads to the town. I looked at my watch. It was four in the afternoon. This was my first time inside a taxi, and in the beautiful town of Augsburg. There were many people: tall handsome guys, pretty girls with sunglasses, children with candy and lollipops, and senior citizens who sit in benches.

Finally, the taxi stopped at the said address. Caroline paid the driver and off we went to this house. Surprisingly, there was a sign on the gate: "Welcome back, Caroline Rodriguez!" So that was her full name. Then this must really be her sister's house, or something like that.
We knocked on the gates, and a guy opened them.

"Good morning sir!" I said.

"My sister called and gave me this address." Said Caroline. "Is she home?"

"Why yes!" the guy said. "In fact, we've been expecting you! Caroline Rodriguez, right? Yes, your sister is right here."

As we entered this house, I felt like magic was in the air. The lighting was quite dim and according to Caroline, everything looked like during the 1900's, especially during the sink of the Titanic. And from the stairs, a woman came down and greeted us. It was Celina, Caroline's long-lost sister. She is now a widowed businesswoman. The guy who opened the gates was her son, Marvin. And since this is a family-related issue, I stepped aside and went outside for a while.

Their garden was similar to the garden at Caroline's house. It had the same kind of flowers too! I guess the bond between the two never wore off, despite long-time separation.
After that, Caroline told me it was time to go. Her sister had a meeting to attend and she did not want to bother her. However, Celina promised to visit Caroline tomorrow morning at around eight.

"Eight?" I asked.

"Yup. Eight in the morning. So we should be up by six." She said without worries.


"Don't worry. Everything will come as planned."

I didn't know what she meant. What if she dies tomorrow? What should I do? Oh yeah, that's right. If she dies tomorrow, I will die too. Her wish indicated that I would only be around until her 'soul reaches the other world'. I guess I'll just leave everything up to God tomorrow.

Oh that's right. God. I almost forgot about God. It was through him that I have the chance to become a human being just like Caroline. And it is also God who will have to take these lives of ours away.

"Say Caroline…how about if we…you know, go to Church?"

"Huh? Why?" She seemed irritated by my request.

"Well you see, we have to thank God for everything that's happening now. That I am with you, and that you're with me, and your sister found you!"

"Yeah well…eventually, God will take it all away. So what for?"

But I insisted. "Trust me. God's plans are better than ours. Besides, is it not fortunate enough that these things are laid down for you before the time of your death?"

She understood well. The church was just around the corner so we took a short walk. Pigeons were flying everywhere. Suddenly, we felt snow falling from the sky. So this was why Caroline insisted on putting winter clothes.

At last, the church of Saint Michael. It was filled with people of all ages. The bell from the tower rang, meaning it was six in the evening, and everyone should pray the Angelus. There would also be a Holy Mass so we entered the church.

I was amazed at the things I saw: images of angels, saints and other holy figures. And then of course, Lord Jesus Christ's cross in the middle. But what struck me the most was the priest. He had a familiar face. I wanted to ask Caroline if she knew him, but I was afraid because she seemed terrified at what she saw.

The Holy Mass started and ended with both of us staring at the priest and trying to figure out who he really is. And just as we went outside, the priest tapped Caroline's back. It was Jesse. It was really him.

Looks like my 'God's plans are better than ours' phrase really came true.

Anyway, as we went home, it was getting dark. So Father Jesse took us a ride home and promised to visit next morning, just like Celina. Hmm…I wonder what's going to happen tomorrow?

"Jesse may have understood your feelings now, that's why he accompanied us home." I said as we came home. "See, I told you. You're very blessed and you shouldn't take things for granted just because there was pain."

At eight in the evening, we cooked and had our dinner. It was mashed potatoes, tomato salad, mushroom soup and orange juice. She opened the TV, then we watched an Anime Movie called "Red Sky", which was about an actress and her real dreams off-camera.

I prepared popcorn and soda to make our movie marathon more exciting. At around ten in the evening, we also watched "Siberian Drama" and "Shannon's Magic Hair", which were both short comedy films.

To add up to the excitement, Caroline brought out her PlayStation 2 and we played fighting games like "Cyber Wars" and "Death Fusion". Until we finally heard the clock rang. It was twelve midnight.
Caroline and I were getting sleepy, so we got ready for bed. Upon her request, we had a last-minute slumber party in her room – just the two of us. We played a bit of board games and told ghost stories. We didn't want the day to end.

But at last it was time to sleep. At two in the morning, I felt like our existences started fading away into nothingness.

"Hey Caroline." I said to her. "Thank you very much for letting me be a part of your memory, of your existence, of your precious life. Even if I shall fade away, I will never forget you and the memories we've had."

"Thank you as well, dear Tina." She replied. "Because of you, I realized that things happen for a reason. You have shown me what true happiness is. And most importantly, you helped me find Celina and Jesse! I will always keep you in my memory, even until the next life."

After that, Caroline was sound asleep so I went to sleep too. Sweet dreams!

After our chance encounters with Caroline and Tina, we visited them the next day, at around eight in the morning. The sad news is that, both of them were cold and their breathing completely disappeared. The doctors said that Caroline's death was because of her Leukemia, while Tina's cause of death is unknown. Celina decided to pay the expenses for their burials and I held the mass. It was indeed a very sad moment to see my dearest Caroline and her best friend Tina go to the other world. But God's plan is God's plan. I have faith in God that both of them were very happy before their anticipated end.

You are my hope.
When the stars fall into an endless void,
When the world's darkness I cannot avoid.

You are my music.
When the sky dims into an endless night,
I believe everything will be all right.


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