A Search for the Lost Stars

I – Empty Home

How long does it take to heal a broken heart?

How long does it take for that love to die down?

How long does it take to find a new love?

For some, it took months and years, but for some, the healing never comes, the love never dies down, and they never find a new love.

Once in a while, there comes a love so deep and so strong that nothing else could replace it. And when it’s lost, the pain and heartbreak are beyond compare. While time heals most wounds, the pain cost by this heartbreak never does. So, the only thing one could do is wait.

Wait for the uncertainty of that love’s return.

The same was true for 26 years old Sebastian Torres until he grew tired. Until he realized that it was time to let go.

It had been a year since Seb had an epiphany that his love would never return. After four long years of waiting for that promised return, Seb realized that it was just nothing but empty words.

Things would have been easier for him if he had someone else to blame, but there was no one else to blame but himself.

He caused their parting, he was the reason why they had to break apart.

“Hey, Seb are you even listening?” Nora Jones, Seb’s friend, and contractor-extraordinaire called his attention.

“Yeah.. yeah… I am.

“Really? Because you’ve been staring at that sign for quite a while now.

“Ummm… I’m just making sure that it isn’t crooked.” Seb said as he continued on staring at the sign ‘Taylor, Salceda & Associates Law Office’.

“It’s not, it’s bolted perfectly in place. Now, could you please help me? We need to finish this in a week.” Nora said, sounding really stressed.

“I thought your New Year’s resolution is to be stressed less?” Seb asked her. “We’re just a week in 2019 and you’ve already broken that resolution. That’s a new record.” Seb said as he started carrying boxes inside.

“Like I had a choice. My workers are still all in vacation, the furniture aren’t here yet, I still haven’t lost all the weight I gained from the holidays, I just turned 30, and I still don’t have a date on Valentine’s.” Nora hissed.

“Relax.” Seb said as he opened a box full of decors for the whole office. “The supplier said they would deliver it tomorrow and all the heavy works are done, it’s nothing the two of us can’t handle in a week.

“How can I turn-over this project if they don’t even have a chair to sit in once they move in?!” Nora was totally stressing out and Seb was scrambling to clam her down. “I’m sorry, Seb…” Nora sighed. “I really appreciate you lending me a hand, but this is my first big contract, and I don’t want to mess it up.

“First of all, you’re not going to mess it up, second…” Seb said as he placed a vase on the counter. “You know I’m not helping you for free, right?

Their work ended just before the sun sets and Nora was still visibly stressed. “I’m going straight to Barry’s for my shift, do you want to come? You look like you need a drink.

“Yeah, sure, but Seb, aren’t you working too much? You’re practically just going home to shower and sleep.” Nora said.

“I’m fine. I like keeping myself busy.” It wasn’t about being busy or distracted, it was the simple fact that Seb doesn’t like staying in his apartment, or in that building.

That place hosts so many memories, there are countless of happy ones, but the painful ones simply overpower them. It was too much for him to handle.

Moving away was out of the question. Selling that building that his late father left him was never an option either.

As Seb took orders from the bar patrons, Nora sat at the bar and slowly drank her beer. “Another tiring day?” Barry, a tall bald man in his 40’s served Nora her beer.

“Very stressful…” Nora sighed and drank the beer. “Seb, though.” She said and then turned to watch Seb. “He says he’s fine, but…” She sighed again. “He’s overdoing it.

“He needs it.” Barry replied. “Getting busy is the only way he could distract himself. The more distracted he is, the less he feels alone.

“Is he still waiting? It’s been five years, if the guy really had plans to return, he would’ve done so years ago. Seb kept on saying that he gave up waiting a year ago, but practically spaced out for a few minutes looking at the sign of the law office.” Nora said. “If those little details could trigger him, I mean…”

“That’s just it, he just gave up waiting, Nora, I don’t think he had given hp his feelings yet.” Barry said.

“Well, he should. I don’t know the guy as much as you do, but he left when Seb needed him the most. He’s a jerk.” Nora turned around again and drank her beer and raised her glass. “Hit me up again.

Seb’s shift at Barry’s finished late. He took a cab home and hesitated to go into the five-story apartment building.

For something that was a decade old, the building looked updated and well kept. Seb made many renovations, making sure that the building would be up to the current trends and standards, but with all the works done, the fifth floor remained the same as it used to be.

It was kept untouched all those years.

Seb took a quick shower and then went to bed. He woke up early the next day and, took a long bath as if he was drowning his misery and flushing it down the drain and then walked out.

“Great, you’re still here.” Albert, the building’s maintenance manager walked up to Seb holding a box of fruits. “Here you go, my nephew sent some fruits again.” He said as he handed the box filled with different fruits.

“You don’t have to give me anything every time your nephew sends you some.” Seb said politely.

“That’s alright, he sends me plenty. Besides, you’re working too hard, you need to keep on eating right.” Albert told him with a smile.

“I will. Thanks for the fruits again. If you’re nephew visits, I’ll treat him to a meal. The least I can do for all the fruits I got from him.” Seb said with a smile.

That day, Nora’s workers finally returned from their vacation, and not wanting to be idle, Seb accepted a part-time job at a moving company. There was a newly built high-end condo building near the law office Nora was working on, and a lot of rich folks had bought a unit or two. Seb was to help someone move into a penthouse unit.

A young lady hired the movers; she was tall, fair-skinned, a very beautiful. All it took was one look for Seb to know that the lady was incredibly loaded. Penthouse aside, she just looked very regal, like a princess fleshed-out of a movie.

“Careful on that one.” The lady said as the movers brought in a box.

The lady opened a box filled with books and carefully placed them on the shelf. There were different kinds of books; from novels to biographies, but what caught his attention the most were the law books.

“Are you a lawyer?” Seb asked her.

“No. My boyfriend is.” She replied with a proud smile.

“So, you’re moving in together?

“Well, not yet, but I’m hoping he would ask me soon.” She replied.

“He’ll be an idiot not to.” Seb replied. I doubt it. Seb thought. The mere fact that he hasn’t asked you yet means that he had no plans on moving in with you.

“Do you by any chance know a cleaning company? My boyfriend is really busy and he tends to forget to clean up, I’m thinking of telling him to hire someone to clean this place a few times a week.

“You could hire him.” One of the movers suggested.

“Really, you work for a cleaning company too?” The lady asked him.

“I work here and there.” He replied.

“You know what, you sound like a hard worker, give me your number. I’ll talk to my boyfriend and then call you after we finalize the arrangement.” The lady said. “What’s your name, by the way?

“Seb.” He replied.

“My name is Hannah, expect my call in a few days.” She said as they exchanged numbers.

“Alright, I’ll be waiting.” Seb replied.

Seb really had no interest in working for a workaholic lawyer who had no time to clean his own place. He had nothing against lawyers, it just that it was a very sensitive trigger for him.

He had been working so hard for a year to forget and move on, and he wasn’t so sure if he could do that if he kept on encountering things that reminded him of the past.

After his moving gig, Seb needed a shower, but he didn’t want to go back to his apartment, so he decided to go to the gym instead.

On his way there, he received a call from the agent handling the rent for his apartment building. “I have no available occupancy as of now, you know that.

“What about the unit on the fifth floor? The client is moving in alone and he said that the space is enough for him.” The agent said.

“I already told you, the fifth floor is off-limits. That room is not for rent.” Seb replied. “Why is he keep on insisting? How many times have I to say that the room is not available, that it already belongs to someone?

“Seb, it’s sitting idly for five years now.

“I’m sorry, but it’s really not available. That room… There’s only one person who could stay there…” After all those years, after deciding to give up, there was still part of him hoping.

Deep inside he was still waiting.

It’s never easy to let go, and sometimes there are just some memories that would stay with us forever.

No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we want, some memories could never be forgotten.

And as long as those memories live on, hope would rekindle.

January 6, 2014

Seb heard a rustling noise outside his door. It was early in the morning and so he thought that Ryan was coming over for breakfast. When he opened the door, though, he was greeted by an entirely different scenario.

“Seb…” Ryan had boxes outside the door and he was rolling his big luggage out.

“You’re leaving…?” Seb asked as his heart pounded in anxiousness and fear.

“I’m sorry, Seb. I couldn’t tell you, I don’t know how.

“Ryan, if it’s about what I said to your family, if it’s about that…”

“You did what’s right, Seb. I would’ve done the same thing if I was in your shoes.

“I don’t want you to leave, Ryan. You’re all I have left. You can’t abandon me too. Please…” Seb pleaded as his eyes started watering.

Ryan let go of his luggage and walked towards Seb. “I’m not abandoning you, Seb.” He said as he wiped away Seb’s tears with his fingers. “It’s just that, their still my family, and going with them is the right thing to do.

“What about me?” Seb started sobbing. “Who else do I have? Who else would stay with me? I have no one else but you, Ryan. I don’t want to lose you too…”

“Seb, we talked about me staying in a dorm when I attend law school, right? Just think of this like that.” Ryan said in a gentle and clam tone.

“This is different. I’m not yet prepared, we still have plans before you leave… we haven’t done all that yet…”

“We’ll do all that, alright? I’ll come back during break, I’ll message you, I’ll call you… You’re not losing me. You’re never going to lose me.

“It’s all my fault…”

“Not, it’s not. You didn’t do anything wrong, Seb. I’ll come back for you, I promise.” Ryan said and the kissed Seb’s forehead gently.

Next chapter