BARYO ISABELA IS VERY FAMOUS because of Sawali Lake, where fresh water undulates from the terrain of the mountain. Its beauty is a manifestation of the virgin forest that the barrio has. Many visitors went to visit the lake to witness its beauty . However, no one is allowed to swim because the local government is preserving its nature and a fear that the deity will suffer the people of Isabela. Despite that, the number of visitants is constantly increasing. Most of the visitors make their self satisfy from taking photos while riding in a small boat which they rented from the business minded populace of the barrio.
However, there is a myth that there is deity guarding the lake making the place more interesting for those who loves mysteries and adventures. The myth started as the talk of the town after a woman is shouting ‘Isabela’, where the name of the barrio is derived, and anxiously running to the barrio central that she saw a woman floating above the water. After that incident the woman died. Later, people suspected that the death of the woman is because she disturbed the deity. Since then, people thought that Isabela is the name of the deity. They believed that the bountiful fruits and vegetables which the people harvested from the barrio is from the blessing that the deity gave, that is why the people named the barrio after her. From then on, many attempts to prove that the myth is true but all of these turned useless. Until now. Until that the barrio central is continuously modernizing.
IT WAS NIGHT IN THE barrio and the moon is full. The moon shatters light making the night buoyant despite the diminutive dim covering the surrounding. From the window, Will is easing the monotony of the silence through enjoying the site he is seeing. The site is glittered with beautiful fireflies playing around the unusual tree. He thought of it like a Christmas Tree though the season is summer. There is also an unbelievable very detailed life-sized structure of a sculpture of a lady tiptoeing in the infinity pool facing the tail of the lake. According to the utility boy whom he asked, the sculpture was Isabela, the deity of the lake.
Will is a businessman, who loves adventure and found the Sawali Lake very interesting, after a friend of him shared to him the story of the lake .
While enjoying the scenery, Will gets surprised upon seeing someone walking in the middle of the night. He stands up from his sit and peeps out his head in the window. He seems aghast when he sees a woman who goes out from no where. The lady is definitely pretty and it defies among the scenery he is watching.
“Hey!” He says to the lady. The lady faces him. In return, he gives her an abrupt smile. “Miss may I know you.” Though their eyes meet, it seems that the lady has no intention of greeting him in return. Her face is constantly no reaction. She doesn’t smile nor shows sadness. Her eyes say nothing and that made him thought that she is like a marionette.
He doesn’t deny the fact that he is physically attracted to her even though that is the first time he sees her. His gladness glows as the moon helps him to see her clearly. Indeed, she is really like a goddess. Her eyes though say nothing, is really attractive. Her eye lashes whip perfectly. Her hair is graciously dancing with the wind. His whole face is a picturesque of a true Hera… of a true Isabela. Yes, he thoughts of her similar to the deity of the lake. They are definitely the same. There is part of Will’s head… What if the lady he saw was really Isabela? Will negates his thought. That is impossible, Isabela is just a myth and the lady is right in front of his window and looking at him is certainly a woman. A real woman.
Minutes after, Will concludes what he wanted to do. “Miss, wait me there. I am looking for a companion tonight.” Like the usual thing, the lady doesn’t give any reply even a facial expression. So, Will climbs the nearest staircase to the infinity pool where the lady is. He is gladdened to see her in more proximity and it is apparent from his heavy foot steps going down the staircase.
To his disappointment, upon reaching the pool the lady is no longer there. He doesn’t badly react. On the first place who is he to ask someone to wait for him just to have some companion? He can’t blame the lady for not waiting him; the mere fact that he is stranger to her could justify the lady’s action.
Still, the eagerness of meeting her again is still there. So be it. He believes that his encounter to the lady speaks of something. Well, he thinks that maybe they are really destined. He is hoping that one of those days while at the Baryo Isabela, he will be meeting her for the second time. And that time will be memorable. Wherein, they will be spending time together and will get to know each other. That is how future thinker he is. He admits it that Cupid narrowly strikes his heart, despite that, what he feels the first time he saw her is just a physical attraction. But how could he explain his feelings that he always thinks of her? Is it still an ordinary child-like feeling? Or a guy thing of getting hooked to a woman?
THE NEXT MORNING Will walks along the valleys and terrains of Isabela to witness how bountiful is the nature of the barrio. He brings his SLR camera which hangs in his neck and clinging over his chest. Most of his photographs are mountains and the sky. He is also fascinated by the exotic flowers which he never seen before. Those little flowers are like the small version of a rose. But its color is far different from rose, it was gold and quite unusual. He takes photograph of the flower. Because of his curiosity he approached one of his companion, also a traveler, to ask for its name. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to pick a sample of the flower so what he did is he just describe the flower.
“I don’t know the flower you are referring you have a photo of it?” His fellow traveler asks. Will lifts his camera and face the small screen of the gadget to the traveler. To his amazement, the flower which he captured is far different from what he saw. His fellow traveler laughs at him. “That flower is not the one you described a while ago. That photo of yours of the flower is just a flower of one of the grass here. Man, maybe the one you see is just an apparition.”
Apparition or whatever? Will is consistently convinced of himself that he truly saw the golden rose-like flower. In fact he captured many of these flowers. Then why those pictures are not the one he captured? He is definitely mystified of that experience. Or? He gasps air first before justifying his thought; the myth about the Isabela is probably true. That the one he witness is one of the mystics of the deity of the barrio. He remembers his friend who introduces to him the myth about the barrio, he mentioned that the deity likes a golden flower which no one has ever seen. Only few were given the chance. Those of which are chosen by the deity herself. But that myth of the golden flower remains a myth. Though there are few who claimed that they saw the flower, people of the barrio still don’t believed them. According to his friend those who will be chosen has a responsibility to protect the lake from its cynics. There was once an experience in the barrio, five years ago, where a vacationist claimed that she saw the flower. For no reason, that visitor believes in the mysteries concealed in the barrio. The lady is aware of the symbol of the flower, so she did his mission. She lived with the people of Isabela, though these people are still not convinced of the golden flower, they still wholeheartedly accepted her as the mortal guardian of the lake. She fearlessly lives near the lake with the devotion that the deity will guide and protect her. Unfortunately, her dead body was found by her fellow guardians near the lake. Her body was blotted by blood. A blood clot in her face and some part of her body is noticeable. Others believed that the suspect is one of the visitors of the lake whom the lady knew very much– the lady’s boyfriend. They theorized that the caused of killing is somewhat personal. Though the deity of the lake doesn’t help the poor lady it seems like the deity make use of her miracle in finding the murderer. The murderer was imprisoned and was sentence to a lifetime imprisonment with no chance of bail.
Will, after thinking of his friend’s story , continues the trek going to the lake.
That morning is not only for the purpose of taking photographs of the beautiful scenery in the barrio but also to find the lady whom he supposed to meet last night. He is confident that the lady is one of the residents of the barrio. It is obvious in the lady’s dress that she is not a vacationist. Most of the ladies in the barrio do not wear jeans, blouse nor mini-skirts or a two piece shirt like what those in the city did, instead they wear a plain color or floral duster which is evidently how rural the barrio is.
Will seems has the luck on his side. In one of the big stones near the lake he notices a familiar lady whom she will never forget. It was the lady whom she saw last night. She is picking flowers, where he doesn’t care at all. To him, what mattered most is to approach the lady. From the lady’s place, others may not notice her; she is actually hiding from the bunch of leaves covering her. It is so happen that he leaves his companion to seek for more subject for his pictures. Or maybe they are really meant to see each other. Will thinks that maybe the deity is again guiding both of them to meet. Or possibly that the lady was the deity herself. He instantly deletes that thought of him about the lady.
Momentarily, without any second thought he greeted her: “Hi,” he said.
The lady gets surprise. As she reacted, couple of the flowers she picks fall from her hand. The lady automatically picks those flowers.
Will is about to pick the flower when he noticed that the flower is the same as what he saw that morning– the golden rose-like flower. “Let me help you.”
Through lady’s action it seems that she is allowing him to get the flowers. All of a sudden, he accidentally touched her hand; it creates tension in his part. Then their eyes met. As the lady automatically releases her hand away from him, he can’t help but to give her a smile. He feels the embarrassment of the lady though she is focus in getting the flowers.
Silence between them intercedes.
It is Will who began the conversation. “If I am not mistaken you are the girl I saw last night. I remember you.”
The lady, like the usual thing she does to him, doesn’t give any reply. Even a facial expression. Will feels that the lady has no interest of talking with him, she is still busy picking many flowers from its stem and put it in her basket.
“Well, if you don’t mind, I am Will, a vacationist from Manila, and you are–” Will lend his hand showing his intention of getting her name. Even just her name. That is how desperate he was.
Again and again, she doesn’t speak. But Will never loss his hope. He assumes that maybe she is just the typical type of barrio woman who doesn’t talk all the time especially for a stranger like him. As always… he can’t blame her.
Will has decided to leave because he thought that the lady wants privacy while doing her task. There are many things he is still puzzled about: Why this lady also sees a golden flower? To whom is that flower for? Is she also one of the guardians of the lake?
For others, maybe they don’t matter of the golden flower, but for him it means a lot.
Before turning his back to the lady he said first to her: “Maybe you don’t want to get disturb I will leave now… all I want is to have a companion. Nice seeing you.”
Deep inside her heart, the lady feels guilty of her treatment to what she believed as her suitor. In a short moment she gets strength from her grip to the five pieces of flowers in her hand. “Wait,” she said. Will turns his face to her. “It was me, the lady you saw that night.” She said timidly.
Will comes to her closely. As his steps getting closer and closer to her, her heart beats became faster than the second. “May I know you?” He asked gently.
“I’m Sabina– Sabina Aldante. I am living near the lake,” she said.
Will raised his hand to her. “Nice meeting you Sabina.” Sabina gets surprised. No one has ever uttered her name as beautiful as that. She doesn’t know what she truly feels. There is something in him that she likes most. And she can’t explain it. Was it because he mentioned of his first name the first time they officially met? Or she is just longing for someone who can utter her name without anger and covet. It maybe called hypocrisy if she won’t let herself to express to him that she is happy of seeing a man whom she thinks appreciated her. In return she smiles at him as she accepted his hand and then have a handshake.
“Nice meeting you too,” Sabina answered. From the grip of her hand to him it seems like she had found a companion. A companion whom she thinks could listen to her solitudes. Her sentiments. Her failures. Her inhibitions. Her dreams. Her happiness. Her voice… the soft voice of her which never used of expressing herself because there is no one to express with aside from the deity of the lake. The deity of the lake whom she had never seen but only hears her voice calling her.
Will notices how sad she was. Her eyes can’t hide it. “What are that flowers for?”
“A present,” she answered.
“A present to whom?”
“To someone important to me. For giving me this life. For offering her humble abode to me”
“I really don’t get it”
“Sure you don’t. I understand”
“What do you call to that flower?”
“The golden rose of life.”
“I see that’s different rose. It was unique I had seen the same flower just this morning near the lake.” Will explained.
Sabina begins to become interested of him. She knows that only the chosen one could see the flower. “Do you see its color and how it looks like?”
“Yes.. it is gold… Why?” Though he already knew of the flower he still asked her for confirmation if his friend’s story is true.
“Never mind…”She just answered that way because she doesn’t know how to explain that to him.
“Your flowers… they will not stay long after you pick them from their stem. Unless you will shower it with water so that it will still look like fresh. I knew that because my aunt has a flower business”
“I knew that the flower quickly dry, but the golden flower is not the same as the usual flower we know. This is called golden not only because of its color, but also gold means for a life time. It is endless and precious. Like the usual flower this will also dry after several hours of no water but if you will keep it with too much appreciation despite of its look then it shall be forever. Just like the love that should be infinite.”
After hearing that, Will’s only reaction is to show to her his cute smile. “Wow! Very well explained. I am quite curious, is the person whom will received the flower had experienced the infinite love, the love which you liken to the golden flower?”
“Yes she does… and no one should question that”
Will smiles at him. He feels that she is comfortable of his presence. “It is kind of weird though, but I am pretty sure that whosoever received that flower will be very happy because of your good intention.”
“By the way, may I ask are you inspired of the lady whom will received that flower?”
“Yes. All my life she is always there guiding me. And by giving her these flowers is my only way of appreciating her. Will I think I have to go.”
“Let me bring you home”
“No. I can take care of myself”
“Okay, I heard that you mention a while ago that you are living in Manila, I am as well stay there for more many years”
“Wait…” Will gets his notepad and pen from his backpack. “Where are you in Manila?”
Sabina mentioned to him her exact address in Manila.
“So, nice meeting you Sabina. I’ll be leaving soon and I am hoping that by next week or one of these days you will be on your home in Manila”
“Sure I was”
As she leaves, Will becomes more excited of meeting her again. He finally made up his mind that he will begin courting her.
AFTER A WEEK OF VACATION, Will returns to his normal life– a full-pledge businessman of a textile business.
He sits in his swivel chair facing his laptop while reading the proposal of Vic, the company’s Marketing Strategist. On his front is Just, his best friend and legal consultant of the company.
“This proposal will surely increase the company’s income,” Just told Will.
“But I am quite hesitant of merging to a telecommunication company. I don’t see the logic,” Will said.
“Come on, the logic of it? Will don’t you get Vic’s purpose of merging with this telecommunication company?”
“Then tell me”
“Like the same old brand new you… I don’t know if you are reading the proposal well”
“Just, I don’t have time of reading the proposal that is why I call you”
“That is why you call me? Will I am your legal consultant”
“Still a consultant. My personal consultant”
“Okay. Fine.” Just sits properly. “Merging with this company will open door to widen the company’s horizon because business process outsourcing is in demand nowadays. The telecommunication company will be responsible for reaching the prospective client through phone calls just like what the call center is doing,” Just explained. “We will be selling our products through phone,” he stressed out.
“Okay I will discussed this to the board. If the majority approved, then I will have no power to negate it”
“That is good. And I would prefer if Vic will prepare the presentation for the board. I think if it is you… you will not convinced them”
“You know what Just if you are not my best friend you will see yourself bang out of this room,” Will said jokingly.
Will and Just are best of friends since college. They finished their bachelors degree from the same university. It was so happen when they meet, their fathers are good friends too. Since then, they started to see each other when one of their family has something to celebrate.
AFTER THAT CONVERSATION Will went to the address that Sabina had given him. His car stops in front of the green gate. The house is astonishing with a nature inspired of structure. He thought of it as upper class type of nipa hut. Without any hesitation, he comes out of his room and proceeds to the door bell. He presses once, but no one came to open the door. He again presses the door bell and waits for about two minutes. A moment later he hears hurrying foot steps going near of the gate. A boy, which looks like in the teen ages peeps out his head from the partly open gate. Will approaches him.
“Is it the address written in here?” Will shows the piece of paper.
The boy quickly read the piece of paper.
“Yes sir,” the boy answered.
“Is Sabina there ?”
“Sabina?” It is in the boy’s face that that was the first time he heard of the name.
Will attempts to ask again though he feels that the boy doesn’t know of Sabina. “Sabina Aldante, that is her exact name,” he emphasizes.
“Sabina Aldante? Sir I am sorry, I am just a caretaker of this house”
“Where are the owner of the house?”
“They are abroad.” The boy seems careful. It is apparent on how he hide himself from the partly open gate. “Sir if you will not asked anything can I leave now?”
“Can I ask one more question?”
“Sir but I was not allowed to give more information to a stranger.”
“I understand that you are just doing your job, but I assure you I will not harm you. My intentions are good.”
Will seems convinced the young boy.
“The Mauricio family are the one living here and like what I had said they are abroad for vacation.”
“Do you hear them saying of the Aldante?”
“Honestly sir, according to them, the former owner of the house are the Aldante. But a tragedy happen to the family so the one left among the member of this family sell the house to the Mauricio.”
“Well thank you for the information it will give me a peace of mind.” Peace of mind? Well, that is just what he uttered but nevertheless he feels disgust.
When he went back to his car a sudden coldness touches his arms. His hair strands stand. It was a goosebumps perhaps. As the coldness lingers his skin there is one person who flashes back on his mind- Sabina. “Sabina, where are you?” He whispered.
He truly misses her. That was the first time he became very much interested of a girl whom she seen for a short span of time.
Unnoticeable to his thought, there is a lady in the azotea of the house who is watching over him. And she was none other than– Sabina. She looks saddened of what she did (again) to him. She wanted to approach him but how she will do that? Her secret might be revealed and she doesn’t want that to happen. She thought that by giving him her address will stop him from seeing her but in return is the reversed of it. He became more eager to see her.
Upon reaching his room in his condominium, he religiously removed all his clothes and damp those in his used-clothes-basket. He proceeds to the bathroom and begins to take a shower. Only the sound of the undulating water that breaks the silence of his room. All of a sudden, he smells a familiar scent. It was fragrant and all his life the very first time he smells that kind of scent is when he is at the Baryo Isabela. It reminds him of the unusual golden rose-like flower, the one Sabina is picking for her dearest inspiration.
As he brushes her body Sabrina’s face instantly fade in to his memory. Just to savor the smell of the scent he closes his eyes and let the water travels in every curved and inch of his muscular body which doesn’t help him to relax. His heart beats fast as the tension grows in him. Why? Why is he thinking of her? Why is he undressing her in his mind. He became lustful and before he reached the self satisfaction that man did, he quickly pull out the shower from where it was hang and let the water dampen in her face.
Though he is done from rinsing his body and put the towel in his shoulder, the smell still lingers in his nostril. He walks naked around his room and proceeds to his bed. He rests his tired body in his soft king-sized bed and wrapped the blanket around his body.
He can no longer control of his eyelids. So he closes his eyes to take a rest. But it seems it won’t happen. He cant sleep though his body told him so.
Alight emits in his room. It covers the whole room leaving no trail of anything inside it. He sees himself awake and standing. The last time he remembers he was in his room lying in his bed. He looks around him and sees nothing but a white light.
Later, as he began confusingly walking, he sees an open portal leading him to which he thinks a forest. He followed the trail going to the portal. Upon reaching it, it reminds him of a familiar place. The huge stone. The plants surrounding a path of water. The flower. The unusual golden rose-like flower. The scent of it. The rushing water channeling to various part of the mountain. Indeed, he been to that place. He is exactly knew that place. The Sawali Lake. It is just a dream. Just a dream. He said to himself trying to remove that what he is thinking is palpably true.
That night becomes a visit to the lake. A visit through which he spends hours with Sabina. It looks like true. He can touch the stones, the flowers, the plants and the flower. He hears the water rushing.. Mystically though, but it is really happening.
In his realistic mystical dream, he was walking along the virgin forest of the Baryo Isabela; a path going to Sawali Lake. Then after stepping an old branch of tree, he hears a sound of a beautiful siren from the water channeling the lake. It was like a music to his ears that seems chasing his pavement. Instead of taking the pave he used to follow, he turned to his side, where the sound he hears came from.
The sound brings him to a beautiful part of the lake. From his place he over heard a siren. That’s the time he realized it isn’t just a siren instead a music who was hummed by someone. The one who is humming hid in a large leaves to which he thought is in the water. He unravels the large leaves covering the part of the lake. To his surprise he sees the back of a naked woman while taking a bath in the lake. Facing his back though, he is familiar to that woman. Is it really her?
He becomes awkward. He is afraid that the woman might see him peeping her while she is having her bath. But he admits that it creates tension in his part and actually it seduces him to take advantage of watching her. But because of conscience that whispering him not to do so, makes him to silently leave the place. He bend his body and cover himself from the large leaves beside the lake. Accidentally, he slides from a small cliff, thus, creating disturbance to the silent forest.
That accident caught the attention of the woman in the lake.
Will is really nervous, because he might make the woman angry and will accuse him of taking advantage of her for being unaware.
Out of dismay, Sabina already covered her body; faces him and gives him a smile. “I am waiting for you here.”
Will is really surprise. Is it true? Sabina is right in front of him? And she is waiting for him? He gets tongue-tied. He doesn’t know what to utter first. Should he greet her first? Should he explain first what really happen?
Instead, Sabina offered him her right hand to help him stand from the cliff. “Will what happen to you?”
“I just became careless I don’t know that there is a small cliff near the lake,” Will explained.
“It is me who called you here”
“I want to know you… and because I like you.. the same thing as what you feel for me”
There is a certain part of Will’s heart which overflowed with joy and he doesn’t know what he really feels meant. Truly, he is very excited of seeing Sabina. He doesn’t care of what or who brings him in Sawali. What he cared most is, he is with Sabina, though it is a dream or true.
Upon hearing her saying those words, the only response he gives is to caress his face.
“Why don’t you join me, the water is mildly warm it will not chill you,” Sabina offered him.
Sabina turns her back and proceeds to the lake. She again undress her clothes. Will follows her and out of respect he is quite hesitant to remove his dress.
“You won’t enjoy the water if you still wear your dress,” Sabina told him, though she sounds flirting him.
“Y-yes… you are right… it is quite uncomfortable taking a bath with a dress”
So, he turns undress, exposing his flesh. Upon looking at him he is a picturesque of a god approaching his goddess. At first, they are both looking for the right time to speak. But as they began to play in the water, the monotony of the silence also began to break.
The water fluxes so gently as gentle as the soft touch he gives to her. They both exchange a timid smile; yet still treating each other a fragile object.
“I thought I’ll never see you again,” Will said.
“Now, here you are. You are with me,”Sabina uttered.
“Because you call me… and because…”
“I truly miss you…”she added.
Will showed his overflowing joy. It is apparent from the huge smile he painted in his face. “W'”ow… I thought you don’t like me too”
“I think it is a love at first sight”
“Meaning the first time you saw me in the lounge?”
“Call it unpleasant but that is true…” She bows her head to cover her face which is turning red. Will lifts her face.
“Let me see you… you know, I do feel the same feeling the first time I saw you”
“This relationship will not work. I am not existing…”
“Yes you are–” Will holds his hands and placed it in his chest. “I do feel it here”
“Then what is the sense of telling me that you like me too, then you will say that our relationship won’t work?”
Sabina doesn’t know how to explain to him that she is immortal. That she is not a human but one of the spirits guarding the lake. And that her immortal life came from Isabela. How she should tell him that everything happens to him that night is true and not just a dream? She might scare him. But according to the deity Will has a special ability; he can see the golden rose-like flower and the spirit of the guardians. And the reason for that is the love he showed to one of the guardians of the lake, who is Sabina. Isabela told her that it is the power of love that gives him that special ability, which the deity herself gives. Thus, telling her that she chosen Will to be one of the guardians, but in due time.
Like a flip of a finger tips, his lips covered hers. Sabina has no chance of getting off with him, because he tightly wraps his arms around her. That kisses take only for about half a minute, but it is worth an hour. It seems, as they move their lips the clock stops.
Sabina seems helpless as Will caresses her lips. And when they released each others lips, she appears she wanted more. Just to hide her desperation of wanting him more, she placed her hands in his wide chest. She feels that Will is pressing his back making her covered by his hard body.
“Sabina,” Will uttered while gasping air.
Sabina shows her nudity to his. And even Will, he can’t hide his nakedness because he already carries her. He put him down in the shore and helps her to wear her dress.
While Will starts dressing up he asked Sabina about the address she gives to him. “Sabina is it okay to ask about the address you gave me?”
“Maybe you just went to a wrong place”
“But the caretaker of the house told me that that was actually the address. Honey, are you hiding something?”
“No Will, maybe it is just a wrong place”
“Wrong place?But—” Will sees the fear in Sabina’s eyes. He just extends his understanding that maybe she has a purpose of hiding something to him. Besides, they are only in the stage of mutually getting to know each other.
All of a sudden a heavy light emerged at the back of Sabina. It’s hurting Will’s eyes making him to hardly see Sabina. Sabina, standing just meters away from him, is little by little was covered by the light. And the rest remain is white. No Sabina. No Sawali Lake. No siren nor music but just a light. And him… still confused of what really happened.
THEN HE HEARD OF SOMETHING and someone is shaking his shoulder.
“Will… Will… Will,” the voice said. Will is still unconscious but he hears the voice uttering his name. The voice sounds worried. “Will… Will…” He opens his eyes and sees a blurred vision of a man.
A slap from someone’s palm brings back his consciousness.
“Where is Sabina? Where is she?” Will said in a tense voice.
“It is me Just. Will it is Just,” Just said while tapping Will’s shoulder. “Sabina isn’t here. Wake up bro.”Just teases him again. “Is Sabina the girl you dated in Sawali Lake? And are you fantasizing her in your dream?”
“Stop it Just. I saw her and we talk,” Will insists.
“Then who is she?”
“Sabina my special friend”
Just shows his teasing huge smile to his friend. “Perhaps a girlfriend. But how come? You never mentioned of that girl whenever we talk. That is quite unusual of you bro.”
“Do you find that girl in Sawali Lake?”
“Yes… and we saw last night”
“In your dream perhaps…”
“No, that is true… we saw each other and we… we…”
“Ow… come on… Just don’t be silly…”
“Will don’t you get it? Baryo Isabel is eight hours away from Manila. Yesterday we left the office late in the evening. It goes to show that if you stay there for an hour then you will arrived here late in the afternoon. Will it is seven in the morning… So it means that you are still traveling on that hour?” Just explains.
“Just okay. So be it if it is just a dream. But, please I had no intention to argue about it. The important is I am in love. Aren’t you happy that I am planning to settle down because of that lady I met in Sawali Lake.”
“You know you are my best bro and I am always at your side. So what is her name again?”
“Sabina– Sabina Aldante”
“Actually I had heard of that name but I am not sure of it”
“But I am not really sure.”Just turns serious. “I will go back here if my thought is right. But let me tell you this, if I proved that I am right with my thinking I am telling you to beware of.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t want to give word unless I am sure of it”
“Will Just fixed yourself we will leaved soon”
IN THE OFFICE, Will is thinking deeply while in front of his laptop. He is browsing the photograph he took during his stay in Baryo Isabel. He remembers he took photos of Sabina in the huge rock where he saw her picking the flowers. He takes note of that photo. But to his surprise, he doesn’t see Sabina, instead only her back drop is seen in the photograph. He is sure of it that he took photos of her. How come that Sabina is not seen in most of his pictures?
He examined the other photos, most of which are the pictures of the mountains and skies which are perfectly taken. He remembers of the golden rose-like flowers which he saw at the barrio. The picture of the flower changes when he let someone to see it.
The pictures are isolated cases compare to most of his photographs. Again, he thinks of the unusual things he experienced since he visited the barrio. From Isabela, who mysteriously visiting him in his sub-conscious to the golden rose-like, the picture and the Sawali Lake. He conceives that there might probably mystics happening in the barrio. But there is a certain part of him which is negating, that maybe he is just inputting those ideas in her head that made her conscious of the mysteries of the barrio.
Before he let those ideas to subdue in his head, a familiar scent scattered in his office. He knew what does it mean. A moment after, drowsiness engulfs in his whole system. Then, he could feel the heaviness of his eyelids. Like his first experience, a white light scattered all over the room. The white light covered the whole room including him.
He found himself awake in a familiar forest with out remembering how he was able to get in there. He is lying in the pile of dried leaves when he hears of the footsteps unhurriedly approaching him. The steps create a crackling sound upon stepping the dried twigs and leaves.
His vision is quite ambivalent, so, he hardly seen whose hand is in front of him. The one who lend hand is helping him to stand.
He is almost standing and has regain his strength when he closes his eyes to clear his vision. Little by little he opens his eyes and later had realized that he is with the woman whom he loved.
“Sabina?” He said in a rough voice.
“Yes it is me,” Sabina answered.
“Is it true I am with you?”
“You are not dreaming. All of these are true. The trees. The wind. The leaves. The water . And me. We are true”
“I can’t believe why is it happening? I am confuse”
They stop from a small hut which was surrounded with the golden rose-like flower. The whole place is like a paradise, through which Will had never seen before. He feels that they were like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, where no one but them, are the human being who are surrounded by the beautiful nature.
Will sits inside the hut, while Sabina leaves him for a moment to get some tea to offer to his visitor. She pours the tea, which made from the fermented golden rose-like flower, in the small porcelain glass. She adds a little bit of honey to increase its taste.
From where he sits, Will could smell the scent which she usually smells in his room and his office. Just minute after, Sabina comes with the glass of tea.
Will accepts the tea and take a sip. The tea tastes good. And it actually taking deep into his taste buds. Its scent refreshes his mind, to the point that it seems it has an aphrodisiac. He looks at her again, he terribly misses her. Her touch. Her kisses. Her voice. Her whole. But he won’t let his temptation to over-control him.
“What if you finally knew?” Sabina started.
“What do you mean?”
“About how you get here, the golden flower and me?”
Instead of giving a reply, Will just look at her straight to her eyes. He could see her goodness of her it; the window of her soul.
Sabina gives her a smile. Her sweet tender smile.
Will begins to caress her hair and gives her a three short kisses in her forehead. Then, he hugs her, making her feel how much he loves her. When he releases her from his arms, he holds her chin and make a short kiss in her lips. “What is bothering you? That I might leave you. No, that will not happen. You know how much I dear you.”
“Will I am not existing,” Sabina begins to sob.
“Honey, yes you are. I can touch. I can hug you. Kiss you,” Will exclaimed.
She begins to well-up her tears. “But the point is I am not a human, I am immortal. I am a soul. I am dead. A deity’s guardian.”
“What are you saying?” He turns confuse. Yes it is true that he had experience weird things since his first step in Baryo Isabela, but, he thought of those as the deity’s scheme. But he never think of Sabina as what she claimed she was. “No… I will not believe you”
“Please Will don’t be blinded by your love towards me… Open your eyes. Aren’t you wondered how you able to get here in the Sawali Lake without riding your car? Everything… all of these are the mysteries of the deity of the lake who is Isabela. All these happen because of her. She is the one who gives me the power to bring you here”
“If that is true, then why are you saying that now? Now that I learn to love. Now that I could offer a life time to you? Why you let it this far?”
“Be-because like you, I was blinded as well by the love I feel for you. I know I became selfish of letting you believe that I was truly existing…”
“I cant hold on to this… sent me home… sent me home… now”
His voice echoed in the forest, making the birds in the trees to get disturb and fly to other tree to perch. As his yell continuously increasing the white light begins to scatter, covering the whole forest including him. As he leaves he witnesses how Sabina fades sorrowfully from his vision.
Suddenly, h feels someone is shaking his shoulder. He open his eyes. Blurred though, he sees Just in looking at him straight to his eyes.
“My God bro,” Just says in worriedly. He brushes his hand in his hair. ” I thought you won’t wake up. You are moaning and seems exorcised. And… and you uttered Sabina’s name. What is happening to you bro?”
“I don’t know. As far as I remember I am at Sawali”
“Sawali? Bro… again in Sawali? It made me worry of you. Don’t take my stories seriously. Those are just a myth.” Just explains. “Myth…” He emphasizes.
“I saw her again,” Will said. He is deeply confused.
“I really can’t imagine what will happen to you if I am not here. You are likely possessed”
“And I am here to tell about Sabina”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, better dressed-up first”
Will fixed himself first before he followed Just in the salas.
“So what is with her?”
“First, I want to see the address Sabina gave you”
Will opens the cabinet beside him and get his mini notebook where he wrote the address. He hands it to his friend. “Just tell me what you really know about Sabina. Don’t take it long. I am no longer enjoying it. Honestly, I am bit of scared that I may not want your discovery of Sabina. So please tell it to me straightly”
“Bro, I understand don’t rush me. It is not easy to say this. Even me I am bit of scared of your reaction. For sure, you will not like it”
“Bro, again tell it…”
Will sits properly. His heart palpitates fast. Indeed, he has an idea of what his friend will reveal.
“The address she gave you,” Just begins. “it was right. And the Sawali Lake where you find her belongs to their family. And the whole Barrio Isabela belongs to them. None of its residents knew it,” Just explained.
“I don’t care of Sawali Lake nor the Barrio Isabela, what I want to hear is all about Sabina”
Just take a deep sigh. “All right bro, Sabina Aldante, a daughter of Don Rodrigo an Dona Margarita Aldante, a famous businessman of Aldante Telecommunication or the ATC. Their house was situated in this address,” he explained while lifting the notebook. “But they are no longer the owner of the house, someone sell it to the Mauricio”
“I knew that Mauricio are the one who buy the house but who sold it?”
“I don’t know. Remember the bank secrecy policy. The bank don’t tell me of the one who sell the house”
“But how about the ATC, as far as I remember someone had already managed it and it is no longer the name of the company”
“Yes, it already changed its name. But based on my research a member of Aldante clan is trying to revived the company which originally theirs”
“And it was Sabina”
“No, that is impossible,” said Just.
Just again take a deep breath. “Bro.. be-because…” He looks at his friend straight to his eyes. “Sabina is already dead.” Will instantly open his mouth. He is terribly shocked. “Bro he is five years dead”
“Bro, open your eyes, he is dead,” Just emphasized.
“She is not. I could see her. Feel her,” Will exclaimed.
“Don’t make yourself be blinded of truth”
“Because that is not the truth…”
“Bro… please I am not telling this if I am not sure of it. I am very sure of it…”
Will stands from his sit, trying to absorb what his friend had revealed. Looks calm though, but tension still in his system. It is in his gesture that he wants his friend to stop from revealing more of Sabina. He doesn’t know how he should react if his friend will tell more about his belle. But there still part of him which pushes him of knowing more about her. “Just, bro, you are a good friend of mine, but I really don’t know what you are talking about. But how are you going to explain to me that if she is really dead then how come we could talk when I was at Sawali?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it is part of the lake’s myth, which I myself told you about”
“Honestly I had that kind of feeling too…” He suddenly remembers his last encounter with Sabina. “Will I am not existing,” Sabina begins to sob. “Honey, yes you are. I can touch. I can hug you. Kiss you,” Will exclaimed. She begins to well-up her tears. “But the point is I am not a human, I am immortal. I am a soul. I am dead. A deity’s guardian.”
“She tells that to me already. That she is dead. That she is a guardian”
“Then that explain why you can see her in your dreams”
“It is her scheme of expressing his love to me…”He begins to get teary.
“When her parents died in a plane crashed she begun to get lonely. She struggled from running their business because one of the investors is claiming that the company is no longer under the Aldante clan. So, she asked help from my father, whom Aldante’ Family’s lawyer.” Just said. “The investor failed to get the company because it was proven that the papers presented in the court is not authenticated. After that, that investor was convicted.” He added. “Sabina, thought that everything is all right. The company is doing good, so she wanted to take a vacation. And I think she is the woman whom the people of Barrio Isabela referred who claimed to be the guardian of the lake.”
“But how she died?”
“She died because she was murdered and because she fall in love. My dad is the one who handle the case of Sabina that is why I was able to have an access in my father’s data files”
Just continued the story of Sabina. According to him: Sabina fall in love to a guy in Barrio Isabela. Their relationship lasted for a year which went through an indecent proposal of getting married. They are planning to settle down when he later discovered that his fiancee is the father of the person who tried to steal their company. She got hurt. She thought of him playing a trick to her to revenge his father’s fate, which in fact is true. The guy planned to let her fall for him and later to seek vengeance by destroying the company. Since then, Sabina stopped seeing his fiancee. After their break up she never seen him again, that is why she thought she will now have peacefulness in life. But she was wrong when she met an horrible incident happen to her when is staying in his hut near the lake. She was killed by her former fiancee.
“Bro, if you want to learn more of the story about the death of Sabina, I have here the copy of the case,” Just gives it to Will. Will accepts it. “The guy who killed Sabina was also convicted year after his sentenced was also killed inside the jail”
Will is still consistent of his nervousness, but one thing he assured of, immortal though, he never changed his love for Sabina. “Bro, sorry if I say something against you”
“It is okay bro, I understand you. It is just that there are things here in earth which cannot be explained by science, maybe that myth of Sawali is one of which”
“Thus, include how Sabina and I truly fall in love to each other”
Just taps his friend’s shoulder and instantly leaves Will’s pad.
When Just finally leaved the place, Will can’t stop his tears to fall. He wants to shout but it is useless. Until that time, there is a small part of him unconvinced of stop seeing Sabina.
Like his usual experienced when he needs her, a scent began to scatter. “Sabina… Sabina… I want to talk to you.” He bowed his head and put his hand in her face in her face covering his eyes drifted with tears. As the scent immensely going into his nostrils, the coldness also began to embrace him. He knew that Sabina is around. He is fearless of her presence though her entrance is truly frightening for others.
He still sobs his face in his hand when he hears steps slowly coming closer to him. He sees a familiar feet approaching him and a long white dress sweeping in the floor. He knows who owns those. He lifts his head and sees her hand offered to him. Instead of accepting her offer, he pulled her hand and she falls in his chest.
She could feel his warmth. His love. His warm love. “Will I am sorry,” Sabina said.
“I know that you only did that because you love me. And I can’t blame you for that”
“I once loved and failed to be loved but when I fall in love again and found the right person to give the same feeling I want it was too late, I had reached my boundary. Am I really not fortunate to love?”
Will caress her hair. “No.. you are fortunate to love, because the deity gives you to me. You made me realized that love sets no boundary. Even in the outer world of mortal”
“Myth though, it will be forever a realistic for me”
“So am I”
Will releases her from her chest. They look at each other closely. Sabina wipes her tears. “Come on Will, it is not the end of the world. You have to forget about me. Forget about the Sawali. Forget everything which would remind you of me. I am not the only woman here in earth. You can love other woman whom you can enjoy a normal life. Not this kind of immortal life.” Sabina kisses him in his lips. As they release each excited lips, Will is touching her cheeks wiping her tears.
“I believed you won’t get angry of me if I will say that I will never forget you. You are part of my life and no one could replaced that. Even though you are already in your own world and I will have my own family you are still here. Here in my heart. Sabina I love you”
“So am I, I love you too”
“I am happy now, but it is hard to forget the sweet memories I had shared with you, though, those memories are only channeled by our dreams.
Sabina touches his eyes closed it. She hold his cheeks and gives her final kiss before she whispered: “That is true will… that is true… because of you… because you love me too…”
Will hears that Sabina’s voice is fading and so is the scent of the golden rose-like flower.
When he opens his eyes, he sees the golden rose-like flower. He smells it. “I knew… I knew it Sabina that your love for me is more eternal as your immortal life,” he said in his mind.
KRINGGG… it was the sound of Will’s telephone. He is in his deep sleep when he hears of the ring tone. He presses the intercom.
“Sir, this is Vic, I just want to remind you of the meeting with our new investor,” Vic said from the other line.
“Yes I will be there soon”
It was a year. A year the last time he and Sabina had a mythical affair. That is how he called his affair with her. Since that year up to present he still thinks of her. That is why there is no question why he still a look after bachelor of the town.
Not quite a long hour he reached his office while fixing his dress. He sees Vic approaching him.
“Am I late?” He asked him while walking along the corridor going to conference room.
“You are just in time sir. The investor had just arrived five minutes after. Mr. San Francisco is with her to discuss about the company’s profile”
“Her?” He asks his employee. “I thought it was Mr. Antonio”
“Well, anyway she is still an investor”
Vic opens the door of the conference room. As Will arrives, he sees Mr. San Francisco doing his job and the back of a woman, to which he thinks is the investor whom Vic referred to.
“Excuse me maam.” Will heard of Mr. San Francisco saying it to their visitor. “Mr. Kurt is already here”
The visitor turns her face to Will with elegance and sophistication. The woman smiles at him. Will also smile in return but get surprise of their visitor. So he uttered nothing but… “Sabina?”
Vic hears him. “A si- sir she is not Sabina. But quite near. She is Ms. Sabrina Aldante, CEO of ATC the then Antonio Communications,” he explained.
Will comes closer to her and then lend his hand to her. “Nice meeting Ms. Aldante.” Sabrina accepts his hand shake and later feels the warmth of it. Will can’t help to look at her eyes. It truly reminds him of Sabina. There is portion of his heart trying to emulate gladness and excitement the first time she saw Sabina. Is this Sabina had told him that he should open his heart to new one?
“Nice meeting you too Mr. Kurt. Before anything else, I was Sabina’s twin sister. Have you had met before? For sure, she didn’t mention you about me. It is my personal of not telling anyone about our relationship”
“So much for acquaintance… can you take your sit Ms. Aldante?” Sabrina follows him in the chair.
“I thought it was Mr. Antonio who will be here today”
“For some practical reason, Mr. Antonio is the CEO and has the highest share of the investors of the Antonio Telecommunication and I buy his share, since the company is experiencing financial problem. So from now on I am the owner of the A.T which is the former ATC and now it is time that the company which originally ours will be set foot to its original owner”
Sabrina laughs silently. “Are you really the owner of this company Mr. Kurt? Aren’t you aware of your investor’s profile. You should be thankful that you have dynamic employee in your company who are intelligent of a kind,” then she looks at Vic and Mr. San Francisco.
“Vic and Mr. San Francisco can you leave us first?” When his employees goes out of the room he proceeds to Sabrina’s seat. Without any second thought, Will’s face gets near of Sabrina’s, and it is one inch away. Sabrina seems not affected to the seductive move of Will which seems trying to evoke her. Will touches his chin and shows his teasing smile, then he whispers: “You are far different from your sister. She is soft and charming.” He gives a distant space between them. “And you… you are so sophisticated and brutally frank. How come you questioned my leadership in this company in front of my employee?”
Sabrina stands from her seat. “Sophisticated and brutally frank? Well nice description, besides Mr. Kurt, I am here for business not to create war. Have I stepped your pride Mr. Kurt?”
Will can’t hold on to his perseverance. He looks at her closely. “You are really trying me Ms. Sabrina”
Before she goes to her seat, Will had already cornered her and wrapped his strong arms in his waist. “You are really fearless,” he looks at her lips. Sabrina eyes is really intense. It seems like that Will had already tickled the soft part of her. She is about to force herself from getting out of him when he already covered her mouth with his.
Sabrina slaps his face. “How dare you?”
“Then dare me. If you will still humiliate me in front of others then I will do more than that”
Sabrina doesn’t know what to react. Will she filed a case against him? Or what? What she should do? Why can’t she burst her wrath to him? Is it because… she likes him too? Her face turns red and Will notices it.
“I know it is a rush move of mine. I am just carried by my emotion. I don’t get used of being humiliated. I am asking for an apology.” Sabrina is still consistent of her silence. “Besides, you had already signed the papers for merger and I am sure that I can file breach of contract once you turned down the contract”
Sabrina brings back her gesture. She takes a deep breath first. “You know Mr. Kurt, I am a kind of person who seek revenge but I will forget all of these… for the sake of our business”
“Then, I may not filed breach but I can file illegal breaking of man’s heart”
“What are you talking about? There is no such case as that?”
“Yes there is…” Then he gives to her his calling card. “I will fetch you at your office after six.” Sabrina accepts the card with out any second thought. Even her, she doesn’t understand her feelings towards Kurt. Is she falling for him? ‘What if’ sheasked in her mind ‘I am really falling for him — then so be it.’
At the back of Sabrina, Will sees Sabina smiling at him. Unknowingly, Sabrina is not aware of the golden rose-like flower, which Will and Sabina only see, showering in the room.