Pregnant! I can’t be! No freaking way! I was very careful. Ethan and I have always used protection. How can I bring a child into this world? I can’t be a mum! I don’t want to be a mum. What if I turn out to be as bad as her? She never did anything to help me. I’m sure she knew what was happening, I even found the courage to tell her, and yet she turned a blind eye, even shunned me! Now she says she does not understand why I am screwed up, why am I clingy! What if my child turned out to be a girl, what if her ‘grandfather’, or someone else, does to her what he did to me when I was a minor? I can’t watch her all the time. I’m so lost. What do I do?
Ethan is not here, lost in his geek world again.I don’t know where anymore. I’m sure if I tell him he will insist that we keep the baby. Maybe, he will even propose marriage! Yes, I do want to marry him, but not if he will insist that we keep this baby that is now growing inside me. I’m so tired, I will think about my options tomorrow. I’m so tired. I just want to sleep. I just need a little help from ever dependable friend to sleep, I wish forever….
“Oh, God! Oh my God!” Ethan felt his stomach getting hollowed, as if he was falling as he bungee-jumped from the tallest building in the world, as he read first the last entry on Claudia’s diary, the day she died, wanting answers to all the unanswered questions brought by her death! That was what Claudia was thinking when she took those sleeping pills, Ethan thought! That was her state of mind! She took sleeping pills, knowing that she was pregnant! Something so terrible happened to her when she was younger was the second thing that registered in his brain!
He had known before that Claudia took sleeping pills when she can’t sleep, but he didn’t know about the demons haunting her, making her unable to sleep peacefully. When he asked her one time, she said she just needed a little help to sleep as she was stressed out from work. He didn’t know that she was dependent on it! Sometimes, he was away for several days a week, or weeks, doing work in Northern Europe for various software companies, so he was not with her most of the time. He thought she understood as he had explained it to her when she insisted that they live together that he has to travel a lot for work and he can’t be with her all the time.
With that revelation, Ethan went back the first entry in Claudia’s diary and read it from cover to cover. He felt like his stomach was going to heave as reading it, felt like entering a nightmarish world. The diary detailed Claudia’s life from the time she was in her late teens, when she was no longer living with her Mum and the man she had called Dad, up to the night she died. It revealed a lot of insights into a life and a personality that was completely opposite of what Ethan had seen and known. It also revealed the hell she had lived for several years, in details.
If felt like he was living with a female version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for more than a year! It was not that, she was bad, it was just she had a personality and a life she hid from him, turning her into a completely different person that what he had known already. It also reflected the effect of the sexual abuse she had suffered as a teen to the grown-up Claudia. He was completely clueless about it. She hid everything very well.
Is more than a year not enough time to know someone whom you were thinking sharing the rest of your life with? One of his friends, Robert, told him that to really know someone, you have to live with that person. The close proximity will make you see all kinds of things as no one can be always on her/his behaviour in that kind of environment. His friend said, that is why, his closest friends were his flatmates, especially during his university days. They have seen and lived with the best and the worst of each other. Robert, it seems, was not completely right in his theory, especially when it comes to Claudia and him. But maybe, it was his own fault. He should have seen signs that everything was not okay.
Poor Claudia! Ethan felt a profound sadness at what Claudia experienced at the hands of the man she thought was her father. She said in her diary, that the abuse started when she was 13 and it lasted until she left home at 16. It didn’t happen often but it did, and that she had to live through dread in those three years that it could happen anytime her ‘father’ wanted to do it. She was at his mercy. The only option was to leave him and her Mum, go on her own, when she was stronger and can fight for herself.
Before she did, she found the enough courage to tell her mother about the abuse. Her mother didn’t believe her, saying that Claudia was just making it up. She insisted that her husband was the nicest guy, having married her even when she was already pregnant with Claudia. Claudia’s mum had told her that Joseph, the man she knew as her father was so much better than Claudia’s real dad who denied that he was the father of unborn Claudia when she told him. Claudia’s mum even accused her of seducing her ‘father’! It was only then that Claudia found out that Joseph was not her dad. She left the house she had called home and stayed with a good friend and her family. Her mother didn’t run after Claudia. She just sent her things to her.
“Claudia, I wish you had told me! It didn’t have to end with you and our child gone forever! I may have not love you the way you wanted to be loved but I would have been there for you, stood by you, no matter what! But maybe I was not trustworthy enough for you to do that or maybe I was away most of the time and you felt you didn’t have anyone in your corner.” Ethan said, talking to himself as he closed Claudia’s diary.
Ethan had met Claudia at Ally’s birthday party. She tagged along with a friend’s of her sister. He was immediately attracted to her vivacious personality and her physical beauty. She seemed to be equally attracted to him as she never left his side. By the end of the evening, they were together at Ethan’s flat. A month after meeting each other, they were living together.
When Ally found out that he was seeing Claudia, she told him to be careful as it was too soon and she had been hearing some not so nice things about Claudia, that some called her ‘crazy’. Of course, Ally said, she does not have any proof as Claudia has been gracious to her on the several occasions she had met her prior to her hooking up with Ethan. However, there was something in her that rubbing her off. But Ally did say that Ethan is a big guy and he knew what he was doing.
That evening, before she went to bed, Ally gave him Claudia’s diary. She told him to read it when he is ready. His sister also told Ethan, again, that no matter what he will read there, he shouldn’t feel guilty with what happened. He didn’t neglect Claudia. He had been a nice boyfriend to her. Ally also said, as much as she didn’t want to speak ill of the dead, she had to say that their common friend finally admitted to her that sometimes, Claudia was emotionally unstable and that she went through men like a tissue paper before hooking up with Ethan. She only had some sort of stability since she started living with Ethan. That is why the friend didn’t understand too why she committed suicide . True, she would complain from time to time about Ethan’s busy schedule, but that was it. She also told her of hers and Ethan’s happy times. The friend further said that Claudia seemed happier since she started living with Ethan.
Ethan and Ally talked most of the evening. For dinner, they just stayed at Pippa’s apartment and just ordered food from a Filipino restaurant. Ally was very sleepy after their late lunch, but she fought it, wanting to wait until it was night before resting. Otherwise, she would be awake most of the night. Brother and sister chatted, trying to catch up and fill each other on the more than six months they have not seen each other. Pippa excused herself early on as she needed to finish some work for the Palawan trip which they will join. She also wanted to give brother and sister their own moment to catch up. Ethan went with her to the room they are now sharing and gave her a kiss before going back to his sister. He wanted to be sure that Pippa is okay. He did really find the most loving and wonderful girlfriend in Pippa.
Pippa had said good night while he and Ally were chatting earnestly. Both brother and sister asked her to join in their conversation. Pippa, however, insisted that it was their night. Ally asked Ethan about his relationship with Pippa after she left. Ethan told her what he feels for her, that Pippa is the love if his life, his forever. That he didn’t feel what he is feeling for Pippa in all his previous relationships, including the one with Claudia. He told her that’s where his guilt also stemmed from. He knew in his heart that he didn’t love Claudia the way she wanted to be loved. Ally assured him that said it was enough that he gave her a love that he was capable of. He didn’t treat her badly. He loved her in his own way. He had lived with her occasional emotional outbursts and her mood swings, her wanting reassurance most of the time. They had happy times together. She seemed happier when she was with him. He was faithful to her.
Now, after having read the diary, he understood why Claudia refused to discuss overly personal stuffs. She seldom visited her parents. In fact, the only time Ethan met them was after Claudia died and they laid the blame game on him. Claudia also always insisted on using protection every time they made love, even during the heat of the moment, she didn’t forget, always insisting on that. She also shifted the conversation whenever the topic of children came up in chats among their friends. Now, he understood why, as well as her other actuations which at that time, he thought was just a ‘Claudia’ thing. It didn’t justify what she did, for no one can justify killing oneself, and another human being, deliberately or not, but Ethan understood how confused she must have felt on the night she took the sleeping pills. Whether she was intending to kill herself that night or she just did, by accident, only Claudia can answer that. Ethan believes, though, that she didn’t intend to after reading the diary.He also believes that she would have left a note if that was her intent. Poor, sad, lost Claudia. Their poor unborn child! Ethan wished then that Claudia had found peace wherever she is now. And their little baby that has never had the chance to be born, must be an angel in heaven now.
“Ethan? Gising ka pa?” Pippa called from the doorway. She suddenly woke up and noticed that Ethan is not yet sleeping beside her. She looked at the clock and saw that it was already two o’clock in the morning. Pippa saw the diary Ethan was holding. “Oh, honey, are you okay?”
Pippa walked towards Ethan, sat beside him and put her arms around him to comfort him. Seeing a whole gamut of emotion on his face when he looked at her , she knew that he had already read Claudia’s diary.
“I’m okay, Pippa. I just feel very sad for Claudia after reading her diary. Doubly sad for our unborn child! I understood everything now.” Ethan hugged Pippa tight, then rested his head on her shoulder, taking comfort. “I also believed that she was never intending to kill herself the night she took those pills. Come, let’s go back to the bedroom, I want to lay down and cuddle with you as I tell you the whole story.”
Ethan stood up, then put his right arm around Pippa’s waist. Pippa did the same, his left arm around Ethan’s waist! They walked back to their sanctuary for the night, Pippa’s bedroom, and each other’s arms.
Pippa laid down again at her side of the bed, then patted the space that Ethan usually took the past two nights they have been sharing a bed. Ethan laid down like a meek child. The impact of what he had read, hitting him. Suddenly he felt emotionally drained.
“Ethan, maybe, it is best if you just rest for now. We can talk about it tomorrow.” Pippa suggested, seeing the weariness in his eyes and drooping shoulder.
“Pip, darling, I’m okay. Everything there is just hitting me. I don’t think I will be able to sleep anyway.” Ethan put his arms around Pippa, then he started telling him the tragic story of a girl who have been abused by someone she thought was her father and the betrayal she suffered from her mother, the long-term effects on her of what shaped what should have been a happy childhood, the fact that she was unable to seek help, and help her with what happened.
When Ethan was finished, his voice was hoarse, and there were tears in his eyes as everything sunk in while he told Pippa. There were also tears on Pippa’s eyes. She was sniffling. Poor, poor Claudia! Poor, poor baby, never had a chance to be born. Ethan wiped the tears from Pippa’s eyes. They hugged each other very tight, mourning the lost of Claudia and the baby’s lives. Being able to share this with Pippa felt cathartic to Ethan.
“Ethan, I also wish that she had tell you. But maybe, she was not capable anymore of doing that, after what she had suffered. It does not justify what she did, or what she accidentally did, but let us just pray for her soul and hope that she is in a better place now. She was a victim too. I also would like to think that your unborn child is among the angels in heaven now. Just remember the happy times.” Pippa said as she caressed Ethan’s face. “I remember nga what one of my professors once told us, no one in their right minds will kill themselves. Hanggang there is a rational thought pa in someone’s mind, hindi mo talaga gagawin iyon. Tanging si Claudia lang ang nakakaalam kung ano ang last thought niya and whether she really intended to do that. Let go, darling.”
“I know, Pippa. Reading that diary freed me. Even if I felt like a boulder was on my heart while I was reading it. You are right. I must just think of the happy times. In my own way, I have given her love, not the one she wanted probably, and not the one I have for you, but I did.” Ethan softly said. “Thank you darling, for being with me in this, for the comfort. I love you very much. You are my life now.”
“I love you much too, Ethan. Anything, basta ikaw! I’m just here. You are my life too. I’m so grateful that you still have in you to open yourself to love after you have been through. I’m so lucky to have you.”
“Pippa, I never expected to fall in love so soon after that, when I arrived here I was not even thinking of it, but I just did, with you. I never felt like this before.” Ethan said, giving Pippa a sweet kiss, which she had returned. “I’m the lucky one to have found you.”
“What are you planning to do with the diary?” Pippa asked as she settled more comfortably in the crook of Ethan’s arm.
“While reading it, I had the distinct feeling that she was addressing everything to her mother. Her mother’s betrayal must have cut the deepest in Claudia’s mind. Somehow I got the feeling that she wanted her to know what a monster of a guy she chose over her.” Ethan said. “She should know. Maybe, after that, Claudia will be at peace somehow!”
“I agree. She should know. Para naman what Claudia’s stepfather did will not go unpunished.” Pippa said, as she heard Ethan’s tummy grumbled. “Come, let’s just go eat something since you can’t sleep and I think nagutom ka from the emotional roller coaster you have experienced this evening.”
“How about you, Pip. Baka inaantok ka na. Just go to sleep, darling. I’ll be okay. I’m okay as long as you are here by my side.” Ethan said, kissing Pippa affectionately ashe hugged her.
“Hindi na rin ako inaantok.” Pippa replied, then getting out of the bed, she held out her hand to Ethan, “Come, I will make you an omelette and a cup of tea.”
Ethan smiled at that. “Just like the first night we have met each other. You also made me an omelette then. Thank you, my darling.”
Hand in hand, they went to the kitchen. They chatted as Pippa prepared the ingredients for her ham and cheese omelette. It was like it was just the two of them in the world as everything was very quiet and peaceful. Ethan was so grateful that he had Pippa with him when he finally dealt with his painful past.
When they had their fill, Pippa and Ethan went back to the bedroom, and soon after, they fell asleep with their arms around each other, at peace, and ready to face their future together with the overly long shadow that Claudia’s suicide cast, vanished. Ethan can now move on completely, with Pippa by his side always.