Stop Calling My Name

I was walking back to the house, carrying my baby brother Marty. Earlier, I was watching my siblings play by a now dry creek. When I was younger, I remember being too scared to wander off by myself because I was always told of stories of bears and mountain lions that roam the hills. I also remember stories about duendes and water spirits, who would sit on the fence posts, luring children towards the river. I knew the kids would be fine, I just felt more comfortable watching over them as my dad and step-mom prepare dinner.

I was walking back to the house because I heard my father calling out my name. “Kiko, Kiko-man,” he said. I rounded up my little troopers, counted three little heads plus Marty in my arms. We headed back to the house, and marched up the kitchen. The kids sprawled on the living room floor, tired from running around the creek. Dad turned around and smiled. I asked what he needed. He gave me a puzzled look and asked “What do you mean?”

“You called,” I replied.

“No I didn’t,” he said, and turned back his attention on starting a fire in the old iron stove.

***

I had a bad habit of sleeping in on weekends. It was my second year in college, and I was still trying to get used to in my new school. I just transferred from a state university and now was in a Catholic college. The transition was hard.

My room did not get any sunlight. It used to be a huge kitchen that my mom decided to partition to have an extra room so I wouldn’t have to use the bedroom upstairs. It was the family ancestral house that Mom decided to take care of after selling our place in the city, and I was scared sleeping upstairs by myself. Silly, I know, but the house was older than me, it was where my grandfather lived and he passed away even before my mom got married to my dad. I usually imagine his ghost walking around this house, and him seeing me and wondering who I was and why was I in his room.

My room does has a window – it was just really an opening so you could get some air. The opening lead to an outside kitchen that lead to a bamboo thicket. Stories were told of how the natives would run through this area and head towards the river trying to get away from the Japanese soldiers that once occupied the town. History painted a bloody picture of the grassland behind our house. I never stepped my foot out there.

My mom has a bad habit of leaving her keys behind. She would usually go behind the house, and yell out and would ask to open the front door for her. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was napping the day away. I heard footsteps in the backyard. Footfalls on dried leaves. “Kix!” Mom yelled. “Ugh, she forgot her keys again,” I thought.

I begrudgingly got up and opened the front door. I dragged my feet back to bed. Minutes passed by. I thought Mom should have walked in by now. Maybe she shopped and she was grabbing the bags from the car. Maybe she needed help with the grocery.

I got up and walked to the front door. Mom wasn’t there.

I walked backed in and put on my shoes. I left the house and hopped on a jeepney heading towards my grandmother’s place.

Maybe she needed the company.