THE JUICE, THE PILLS, THE PHONE, AND THE CAR

It was gloomy Sunday morning when she accompanied Mike to the Loyola Memorial Park. It is the most exclusive private cemetery located in Parañaque City. The cemetery is thirty minutes to travel by car from the BF Homes Subdivision where she and Mike are neighbors.
The weather cooperated with the lonely surroundings. She was staring at him when Mike knelt and slowly put the bouquet of flowers on the grave of Jasmine. He lighted the candle they brought and he put it beside the flowers. Silently, he stood beside her. She looked at him. He is wearing a dark sunglass even if the sun is hidden in the clouds. She can’t even notice if he’s crying or not.
“Are you alright, Mike?” she asked.
“Y-Yeah…” he whispered huskily.
It’s been a year since her friend Jasmine died of a car accident. Since then, Mike never smiled again. It seems that his life is buried with his fiancée six feet under the ground.
She could hear as he took a deep breath as if it’s his way to release the heavy loads that burdened his heart. If only she can make those eyes twinkle again. If only she can make those lips smile again. But she doesn’t know how.
“She’s happy now. Sometimes I envy Jasmine because she is in a peaceful place now. No more pain for her. However, she still owns your heart,” she said. “You too, you need to go on with your life, Mike.”
“I can’t forget her, Maggie.”
“I am not saying that you forget her because she will be in our minds forever but you have to let her go in your heart. You have to forgive yourself. Stop dwelling on the past. Live your life again. Move on, Mike.”
“It’s easy to say that but I don’t know where and how to start.”
“I am here to help you. I’ll always be here to help you. I’ll never leave you, Mike.”
“Thanks for always being there for me, Maggie.” He held her hand and said, “You’re such a good friend.”
Friend… This word echoed in her mind. For all these years, he is still calling her friend. How she wished that he could love her more than friends. How she wished to be hugged by his masculine arms. How she really wished that he’ll realize that he’s better off with her. She could almost shout out loud to his face that she is there beside him, waiting to be loved by him. But she did not. She’s afraid of rejection.
They were going back to the car when a familiar voice calls them. A lady with exact resemblance with Jasmine is holding a bouquet of flowers. Her hair is long and straight and flows with the waves of the wind.
“Kristine! When did you arrive?” she asked excitedly.
“Yesterday… Off course it’s my sister’s death anniversary.”
Kristine hugged her and shook hands with Mike. Mike removed his sunglass and stared at Kristine. His eyes twinkled as if he saw Jasmine.
“When will you go back to America?” she asked.
“I’m not going back to America. I am staying here for good. Dad is complaining that I should spend more time with him before he dies.”
“Is he sick?” Maggie asked worriedly.
“Yeah… Hypertension… But I know he’ll be OK if he will follow his doctor. I love him and I missed him that’s why I went home.”
“It’s good that you’re staying here. You’re the only child now. You are supposed to be with your parents especially at this moment.”
Kristine took a deep breath as she shrugged her shoulder.
“It’s been a year. It feels like yesterday. I really missed my sister so much.” Her tears fall down.
Maggie held her hand to make her feel her sympathy. Kristine is as lovely as her sister. They are her good friends in college. They are the sisters she never had.
“By the way, Kristine, where are your parents?” Maggie asked.
“They’ll be coming. They’re on their way. I just went ahead of time.”
Mike eyed Maggie telling something.
“Come on, Maggie. I have something to tell you.”
His eyes rolled around. Maggie knew what he’s thinking. Jasmine’s parents are coming. Before the accident happened a year ago, Mike and Jasmine had a misunderstanding and Jasmine’s parents blame Mike for Jasmine’s death.
“Kristine, I am sorry if we need to go. Don’t worry I’ll attend the commemoration rites this afternoon.”
“OK. I understand. Bye.”
Mike pulled her into the car. It is almost fifty meters away from the grave. He leaned anxiously on the seat of his black Toyota Vios. For the meantime, he did not start the engine.
“You know, Maggie… this doesn’t sounds good but is it possible that I fall in love with Kristine the way I love Jasmine?”
“What!”
“I…don’t know. It’s just that I feel the same for Kristine every time I saw her.”
“That’s insane!”
“It may sounds crazy but it’s true, Maggie. I know you’ll understand me so I’m opening it up to you.”
“You’re thinking that Kristine can be replacement of Jasmine. They’re twins but Jasmine is different from Kristine. You can’t love a woman instantly because she looks like your dead girlfriend? What will their parents do if it happened?”
“I know…I know…”
“Mike, you can’t call it love because your heart is still beating for Jasmine. It’ll never be called love if you see Jasmine’s image when it’s Kristine after all.”
“I’m confused. Since the very first day that I saw Kristine on Jasmine’s necrological service, it felt like my heart jump for excitement and nervous. I thought Jasmine went back for me.”
“Mike, I understand you but it’s not the right way to mend your broken heart. You have to let go of Jasmine, all about Jasmine first so that your heart is ready to love again. You’ll only hurt yourself and also Kristine if that’ll happen.”
“I…thank you, my best friend. I’ll think about it,” he stared at her. “You know what? I realized that the guy you will love is very lucky, Maggie. You’re very understanding that’s why you are important to me.”
She smiled timidly. Her heart is touched by what he said but at the same time it feels like it is squeezed until the very last drop of blood. She felt the pain that was encompassing her for years. If he only knew that he’s the lucky guy. She’s his best friend. Best friend only. They’ve known each other since they were in grades school. Their parents are friends and neighbors that’s why they met twenty years ago. They were close to each other and no one can separate them since then. He is very handsome and very sweet since then. Mike’s and her parents almost thought that they should get married when they reach the right age. But Jasmine came. Maggie is lovely but Jasmine is lovelier. She did not blame Jasmine because she was the one who introduced her to Mike.
They got to BF Homes Subdivision. She thanked him for the ride. She waited for him to enter his garage and parked the car. Her house is in front of his so she can see if he already entered their house.
She called Kristine and checked if she’s home already. Maggie told her that she will attend the commemoration rites. Their house is located at the other subdivision near BF Homes. Before Jasmine died, she used to sleep in their house especially when her parents are out of the town for business trip.
She brought her handbag with her. She checked if her medicines are with her especially the sleeping pills. She is insomniac since last year.
Kristine smiled at her when she saw Maggie opened the window of her car. She unlocks the gate and let her park in the garage of their two-story house.
“Come in. Have you eaten your lunch?” Kristine asked as they enter the house.
“Not yet. I’m starving.”
“I am cooking my specialty, seafood pasta.”
“Hmm…sounds delicious. Where are your parents?”
“They are still in the memorial park. They have their moment with Jasmine. I just went home ahead of them because of the visitors that are coming this afternoon.”
“Hmmm…OK. By the way, I am sleeping here. There’s no one at home. Silence will kill me.”
“No problem. Feel at home,” she answered.
They proceed to the kitchen of Kristine’s house. Kristine is boiling the pasta on the uncovered pot. While boiling, she sauté the garlic and onion and the other ingredients. Maggie smelled the aroma coming from the pasta she is cooking.
“Can I help you?”
“Oh sure,” Kristine answered sweetly.
“What can I do?”
“Just make a juice for us. The powdered juice is on the fridge.”
While on her back, Maggie looked for the powdered juice in the fridge. She got the glass pitcher and poured water first in it. And then, she mixed the juice in the pitcher while Kristine is in front of the stove. She made Kristine taste the juice.
“Hmmm… It’s good.”
“Do you think I can be your apprentice, Chef Kristine?” she joked.
Kristine laughed and said, “Yeah not bad.”
Maggie poured a glass of juice for her and for Kristine.
“Bottoms up…” Maggie eyed her as if she’s challenging her to drink it all.
“Cheers!” they both shouted.
They drank the juice until the very last drop. Suddenly the phone rang. Maggie volunteered to answer it because Kristine is busy cooking. Kristine’s mother is on the line. Maggie talked to the other line while Kristine is attentively listening in the kitchen.
“Who is it?” she asked when she put down the phone.
“Y-Your mom…” Maggie told her worriedly.
“What’s wrong?”
“Kristine, she said that your father had a heart attack. He’s in the hospital now.
“What!” Kristine immediately turned off the stove and got her car key. “Can you manage alone here?” she asked. “Take your lunch even if we’re still not around.”
“Yeah… Don’t worry about me. Go on.”
Kristine rushed to her black car and drove and got lost in her sight.
A devilish smile slowly drawn on Maggie’s face… She’s gone! They’re gone forever! Jasmine died exactly one year ago, and now Kristine will die the same way as her sister. Her car crushed because she fell asleep while driving, because of the sleeping pills that she put on her drinks one year ago and now it’s Kristine. The juice, the pills, the phone and the car, these are the main ingredients to cook the fabricated accident.
“No one will hinder Mike to love me. Mike is mine. All mine. Mike will finally see me and love me.”
She returned home immediately. Tonight, and following nights, will be sleepless nights for Maggie. She will need more sleeping pills – if until when – she doesn’t know.

————THE END. —————

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