It was getting close to noon when the van carrying Celie and Lisa arrived at the venue. Nestie was already there, having gone earlier in the morning to direct the staff and get the venue ready. Nestie watched the two women alight from the car.
"May I bow before the princess?" asked Nestie after seeing Lisa’s attire and make-up as she got off the car. After a graceful bow, Lisa then looked at Celie who was also stepping out. "Of course, you will always be the queen," said Nestie. Both Lisa and Celie giggled and they flanked Nestie holding on to his arms.
"You took your time, both of you. We've fed the seniors breakfast and just ending the fun activities. Gift giving would be next." Nestie led them towards the nearest building where there was laughter and dance music.
As the trio entered, they saw a group of elderly women in costume onstage, dancing to a modern song. The music ended and the crowd applauded. Nestie went up stage and took the microphone.<
Toto placed his wrinkled hands on top of his notebook. He took off his glasses and looked at his audience around the table. They had all finished lunch and were listening to him as he read from his notebook. "Why did you stop?" said an old lady. "Go on. I want to know what happens next." "Yes, I want to know what happened between you and Clara," asked another bright-eyed old lady. "You had me talking for almost an hour. I think I deserve some breather," said Toto. He coughed, prompting Nestie to grab the pitcher and pour cold water onto Toto’s glass. “Thank you,” said Toto to Nestie after taking a few gulps of water. Lisa was amused. "You mentioned the Devil's Sea. Is that a real place?" Toto gave another cough and set down his glass on the table. "It's real alright. You don't hear a lot of stories about it now, but in those days, there were a lot of boats that went missing in that area." "You mean like the Bermuda triangle?" a
The rain fell just too heavily and too sudden that Lisa could not tell if she did see what she thought she saw. She remembered seeing banners pinned on the trees outside as they entered the building earlier and knew that she could have imagined those to be something else. There was another flash of lightning followed by thunder and Lisa knew that it could be another one of the freak weather disturbances that she and Nestie had been seeing more frequently lately. “Toto, you have to stay calm,” said the nurse to the old man. She had come to the old man’s assistance when she found him to be distressed. “It’s just the rain. It will be over soon.” Lisa walked over to Nestie who was looking at the nurse as she tried to calm Toto. The two friends wanted to help the old man, but knew that the nurse would be able to do a better job. The nurse turned to Lisa and Nestie and gave them a smile. “He’s always like this during thunderstorms. Crying like a child.” “Ju
The gates to the Adobe House opened slowly to allow the van to enter the grounds. There were soft knocks on the van’s window that made Lisa look at the person making the sound. She saw a young woman outside the van offering her garlands of sanaria. After a short pause, Lisa decided to lower the window and bought several garlands from the young woman. The young woman beamed, briefly showing her white but misaligned teeth. She thanked Lisa before walking off to find other buyers of her sanaria garlands. The sweet smell of the fresh garlands filled the van as it drove inside the Adobe House grounds. Lisa took a deep breath and was quickly reminded of her time as a young girl in Cardena. She remembered that there used to be plenty of sanaria growing wildly in nearby vacant lots and she and Celie would compete on who could pick the most. The flowers were brought to the kitchen were the kitchen maids would take some of their time to turn them into garlands. Sanaria leaves that did
“Is that you, Lisa love?” came Celie’s drowsy voice as Lisa entered the guest room. The lights were off and Lisa could only tell from the dark shape over the bed that her cousin was already lying down as if ready to sleep. “Yes, Celie,” said Lisa, looking at her cousin. “It seems too early for you to be sleeping. Would you mind if I turn on the lights?” Lisa switched on the lights and saw that her cousin was in bed with her blankets drawn up to her neck. There was a soft moan from Celie. “Oh, sorry. Is the light too bright?” asked Lisa. “N-no,” came Celie’s reply. “Keep the lights on.” Lisa was about to walk towards her bed when she noticed Celie’s face. Celie’s face was ashen and her lips were pale. “You look pale, Celie. Are you sick?” asked Lisa worriedly. “No. I’m alright, Lisa. Don’t mind me. I just feel tired, that’s all,” came Celie’s reply. “Sorry to hear that,” said Lisa. She nevertheless went towards Celie and
Lisa lay in bed with her blankets to her neck. Celie was right. It was a cold night. Lisa, however, could not figure out why Celie insisted on having the windows open despite the cold. Her cousin’s actions had been a bit erratic and illogical these past days, thought Lisa. She knew that her cousin tended to be unpredictable at times even when they were young. Back then, it could just be attributed to their youth; Lisa, herself, remembered doing some wild things with Celie. However, they were now grown women and very much in control of their actions. Lisa could understand Celie’s predicament of having to live under public scrutiny and always acting as a model figure for her father’s citizens, but Celie’s sudden disappearances and escape from her security detail were quite irresponsible. There was a quick snort coming from Celie’s bed and Celie moved restlessly to one side. Lisa looked at her cousin and wondered where she had gone after her photo shoot at the Home for the Elde
Lisa woke up from the sound of birds outside the window. She slowly opened her eyes and saw the room flooded with golden light. She stretched her arms and rubbed her eyes before sitting up in bed. It looked like it was going to be a good day, she thought as she looked around the brightly-lit room. Celie was still sleeping soundly so Lisa silently got off her bed and prepared to take her morning shower. It was good that Celie was able to sleep without any incident. Her cousin needed to have a good night’s rest if she were to look great for her birthday party. After taking her shower and putting on her usual comfortable clothes of jeans and a cotton shirt, Lisa noiselessly left the room. She then walked to Nestie’s room and knocked on the door. “Come in, Lisa,” came Nestie’s voice and Lisa twisted the door knob. “How was your sleep last night, Nes?” asked Lisa. Nestie had already changed and was combing his hair. “Very well. Thank you,” replied Nestie.
Upon alighting from the tricycle, Nestie saw the ocean and the tall cliffs that surrounded a wide beach. They were a short distance from the sandy coast where several boats were docked. Out on the sea were numerous islets that rose from the water like the backs of turtles or upturned boats. Several of the islands were connected to each other like a pearl necklace, the sea between them becoming labyrinthine for boats to navigate through. Fortunately, the islets also served a purpose in protecting the moored boats on the small beach where Lisa and Nestie were standing as well as the inner islets in the archipelago from the strong currents and big waves coming from the open ocean. “Do you like what you’re seeing so far, Nestie?” asked Lisa who had just paid the tricycle driver and stood beside Nestie to admire the scenery. “I’ve seen so many coasts in my life, but this is still breathtaking!” remarked Nestie, drinking in the scene before him. They were on top of a cliff
The boat glided over the water, leaving ripples in its wake. The boatman jumped aboard and started the engine, steering the boat towards one of the many islets that dotted the sea. Nestie turned his head and looked at the cliff that they had just descended. He swallowed hard before saying to Lisa. “I can’t believe we descended from that,” he said. “Are we going back the same way?” Lisa smiled as she saw the expression on Nestie’s face. Her friend took the front seat on the boat while she sat behind him. “Do you want to?” Lisa asked. “I don’t know if I can make it,” Nestie replied. Then, he added. “Maybe I can, but you will have to pull me up.” Lisa laughed at Nestie and pinched his back. “Ow! What was that for?” asked Nestie, rubbing his back which Lisa had just pinched. “For being so adorable!” Lisa answered. “Look ahead of you and enjoy the scenery. Don’t you think the islets and the rock formations look stunning?” Nestie loo