a sob, a whimper, then a sigh

i can't believe i ditched a movie date with my best woman friend for this one. we were in the middle of a dinner when suddenly he complained loudly that the food tasted awful, the grilled salmon was not fresh at all and that the steamed rice was no longer hot when they served it on our table. other diners looked at us, alarmed, while the head waiter approached us quickly. calmly.
"what's the problem sir?"
"the fish is no longer fresh. it's also too salty," he said, glaring at the waiter who looked smart in a white long sleeve shirt, tie, dark pants and neatly combed hair.
in contrast, he was in a round-neck blue shirt with a big heart printed on it, tight-fitting black jeans and white converse. his hair was messy, as if a mouse and a cat had played on top of his head.
"i am sorry for that sir," the head waiter said in a whisper. "we will replace it for you."
"no need," i said sympathetically. "just give us the bill." then i gave him a smile that said: i understand. you don't have to apologise.
"but," the waiter protested.
i looked at him with pleading eyes. i didn't want more embarrassment.
"that's alright, really. don't bother."
the head waiter nodded and left hurriedly to get our bill.


inside the car he was still in a dark mood. quiet. not looking at me. i felt like a ghost. he also drove fast, speeding past other cars, ignoring even the traffic lights.
"what's wrong?" i asked once we reached my place. he went right inside the bedroom without even answering me.
i was starting to get mad also. i sat on the sofa and opened the television. a perky british anchor with huge glasses and ugly face (not my favourite), looking glum, greeted me in his booming, alarming voice, the kind that could awaken you in the middle of the night as if there was a war going on.
"stock markets all over the world are plunging as investors feared the global economic outlook is worsening after.."
i turned it off. i didn't want to further darken my mood.
in fact, that was the talk the whole day at the office. most employees complained that the downturn in the stock markets worldwide has wiped out almost half of the values of their investment portfolios.
one news report declared that the global stock market has lost more than $10 trillion since may this year. i couldn't help but feel sorry for them and millions of other small investors. so much money went into the drain, so many people lost and are losing their jobs, families losing their homes and going hungry just because of a few greedy bankers. and governments afraid to punish them.
i went to the bathroom and took a shower. hoping that it would at least soothe my nerves.


when i went inside the bedroom he was gone. i checked my mobile phone, there was no message. some of his clothes were gone too. i could tell from the empty hangers inside the open closet. it was so like him to vanish into the air after a mild misunderstanding.
i didn't even know what caused his tantrum during dinner.
he hardly talked. it was as if i could read his mind or i could correctly interpret his actions so i could come up with the exact reasons why he was acting this way.
i could not really blame him. he is only twenty one. what does he know?
in the next few days he would re-appear. with that adorable smile, dimples and a heartfelt apology. if he has extra cash, a saving from the allowance i give him regularly, he might even buy flowers.
but i am forty. i am too old for these games. i could not keep on letting him treat me this way, like a piece of laundry that he would neglect for a while and then toss into the washing machine if he has ran out of clean clothes to wear.
between us was another child of nineteen, an abyss so deep no amount of luv could bridge.
if he calls i would ignore him. if he comes, i will a turn deaf ear. if he follows me, i will call the cops.
but a week or two passed by and there was no him.
not even a text message.

i started to get worried.
i have learned to care for this kid, a troubled one.
his parents separated when he was ten and he grew up with his grandparents and his aunts and uncles. they did not like him. even his grandparents were cruel to him, or so he claimed. so he ran away from the house when he was fifteen and supported himself through odd jobs: cleaning cars, waiting at tables, selling stuff at the malls, distributing flyers on the streets. at seventeen, he met a lonely, old gay man who promised to take care of him. the old man did, but the young boy got bored of the orderly life, the sameness of everyday, the routine. so he ran away again.
at twenty, i met him. he was already old. tired. wanted to rest. i gave him a home.
months later, it was not enough.
he wanted to run away. he wanted his freedom. he missed his old life, old ways, old friends.
this was not the first time that i fell in luv with a wayward child. but he certainly made a mark. he was sweet, thoughtful and needy. i could not believe that someone so gorgeous, so young would need me like this. would want me the way he wanted me. it was like he saw a parent, a friend and luver in me. i wanted him more. i needed him more.


i did not look for him. i refused to go to places where i would run into him. even though i missed him, especially at night when it was painfully cold and the stubborn rain won't stop. but there was no point of holding on to something that was never yours in the first place.
it was time to let go.
let go i did.
everything can be learned. even living alone again. the heart can survive even the dreariest winter, with nobody to keep it warm. what i could not stand was to feel alone when someone else was beside me.
months passed, though not quite as fast as i wanted them to be.
but the worst was over. or so i thought.
i was still alone. nurtured by his memories. i still avoided the places where we used to go, where he used to go alone or with his friends. i didn't want to seem him while i was still vulnerable. still weak.  i might just forgive him once more and take him back.
then one day, i read in the newspapers that he was arrested for selling drugs. along with three others. they were now in jail.
i wanted to help him, to shelter him once more.
i could just picture him: helpless like a prey, broken, scared, about to be eaten alive by a lion.


i sent a good lawyer for him. a few months later he was free. but i did not take him back.
like him, i wanted my freedom.
it's about time we both grow up.



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