"SORRY I'm late," it was Norman, Aria's boyfriend who just arrived in a hurry.
Aria gave her boyfriend an understanding smile. "It's okay, let's go?" she said then softly put her hand on the young man's arm.
"Maybe you're hungry, let's eat first?" said Norman as they were walking towards the jeepney station.
She has been dating Norman for more than a year, who is only two years older than her. Like her, Norman also works in the mall. The only difference is that she was assigned to the department store area with the cashier position, while her boyfriend is a salesman designated on the supermarket of that giant mall where they met.
Aria graduated from a Hotel and Restaurant Management course. But because it is difficult to find a job, it does not matter to her if her job is way too far from the course she completed.
What is important to Aria is she have a job and she earns to help provide for the need of her family.
"No, I'm fine," she replied then got into the jeep that Norman called.
As usual, because of tiredness, Aria fell asleep on the trip while leaning on her boyfriend's shoulder. They were like that every day, Norman will only wake her up once they got to their destination.
"Would you like to have dinner inside?" they were already at the gate of their house then.
Her boyfriend shook his head consecutively. "I'm going home too," he said with a look of exhaustion and haste on his face.
Aria nodded then responded to her boyfriend's kiss when he bent and took her lips.
"Is it your rest day tomorrow?" the young man as he released her lips.
Isla nodded with a beautiful smile on her face. "Yeah, Why?" she had memorized that familiar question from Norman, and she was not mistaken.
“Can we stay at my apartment tomorrow? I will cook you lunch,” he said then teasingly bit her earlobe.
Aria was quickly affected by what Norman did. "O-Okay, I will visit you tomorrow," she answered.
Once again Norman planted a simple kiss on her lips before leaving.
“GOOD morning Papa,” James gently patted his father Jaime on the shoulder who he caught eating breakfast in the dining room.
"I guess you woke up late now son?" he picked up his cup of coffee and then sipped on it.
James was hastening when he started eating breakfast.
"I fell asleep again Pa," he said following what he said with a weak laugh.
The old man raised his two eyebrows.“You’re too stressed James, why don’t you take a break? Even for about a month? There is no problem with that,” his father's advice to him.
James shrugged his shoulders. "I'll think about it, Papa," he said.
The old man shook his head then drink his coffee again. "I want to have a grandchild," he said in a serious tone.
James was immediately taken aback by what he heard and then silently stared at his father.“You heard me right, James. I am old and I want to experience having a grandchild. You know my condition, right?” he said meaningfully then stared at the young man.
“Pa,” in his tone is a meaningful protest and Jaime got what he meant.
A bitter smile tore at his father's lips."Not all women are like your mother," he said.
James then quietly resumed eating. That's why his father spoke again."Do you think I didn't know that that was the reason why you were like that?"
Ever since childhood, Jaime has always talked to him this way. Too calm. But he could not explain the effect of its style. Because he is affected by intense guilt and shame.
“The day will come when I will be gone, you will be alone. You indeed have a lot of money but a family is still different. It is even happier to have a child and a wife,” he added.
James just smiled then finally finished eating."I'll think about it, Papa," he said kissing the old man's head before leaving the dining room.
ON THE road, James was still quietly thinking about what his father had said. Damian, their old family driver in front of the steering wheel as before was just quiet while driving the car.
"How is your family, Damian?" he thought to ask the old man.
The old man smiled as he glanced from the mirror at its head. "They are good, James," his answer to him. "I guess, maybe your Papa talked to you again about marriage right?" he said following that with a light chuckle.
James smiled with uncertainty. "Am I really that old with the age of thirty, for him to force me to get married?"
Just like before Damian spoke with a smile. "No, but admit it, among with your former college friends and classmates, you are the only one without a family?" the teasing was in the old man's tone.
"Of course, I was guilty there," he admitted.
“Your father is sixty-six years old, even if I am in his position, I will push you to get married. Especially we all know about his heart disease,” explained Damian to him.
At the last thing, the old man said, James was unable to speak. He loved his father so much and would do anything for him.
I think I can give you a grandson, Papa if that is what you really want. But a daughter-in-law?
At that thought James was stunned.
I am not sure...
The other side of his mind.
“ISN'T it your day off today, Aria? Why did you get up so early?” her mother Cita who was then in the kitchen preparing breakfast.
"Norman and I are going somewhere, Mama, " she replied then started making coffee.
Her mother nodded.“Your brothers and sisters seem to be getting a good night's sleep. Will you please wake them up? They might be late for class. Maybe they forgot that it is Wednesday today and not Saturday.”
After breakfast, Aria started dressing up. She knew that she and Norman agreed at lunchtime. But since she will be doing nothing at home, she decided to surprise her boyfriend. For her to spend more time with him.
She has her key to Norman's rented apartment that her boyfriend gave her.
It was past nine o'clock in the morning when she gets there. She smiled after noticing that the apartment windows are still closed. She thought that maybe Norman is still sleeping so she became very much careful with her actions.
But something that is beyond Aria's expectation happened when she saw a red shoulder bag on the top of the table. Her chest started to pound rapidly and yet managed to walk without making any noise as she proceeded to Norman's bedroom.
It was as if Aria was nailed where she was standing when from the slightly opened door she saw Norman busy doing something on the top of his bed with a woman not familiar to her. She felt the sudden and intense heat on the corners of her eyes and even covered her mouth using her hand, unknowingly.
An uncontrollable sob escapes her mouth and that reached Norman's hearing who was stunned after seeing her.
She saw the young man gets up.
Aria knew he would explain. But she didn't need that anymore, everything she saw was enough. So she hurriedly moved and left that place.