“Cal, saan ka galing?” I asked as he pulled up in front of the main door. He got out of my parents’ minivan, the car he uses to drive around. Arthur and I had been looking all over for him. We woke up with him gone and the help told us he left early. I tried calling him only to find out that he left his phone in our room. Habang nasa playroom kami ni Arthur, nakita ko mula sa bintana ang kotse na pumasok sa gate bumaba ako at sinalubong siya.
Callum grinned going around the trunk of the car and open it. He took out a small blue bicycle. “I bougth a bike for the little one. Do you think he’ll like this?.”
“Oh, I’m sure he’ll love it. Lahat naman ng ibigay mo, gusto niya.” I smiled and walked towards him. He wrapped an arm around my waist. “ Bakit naman naisip mong bilhan siya ng bike? Baka naman pangarapin niya naman maging next Lance Aarmstrong.”
He chuckled and buried his nose into my hair. “I saw him trying to ride his cousin’s bike. Masyadong malaki yung bike ni Cookie kaya hindi niya maabot.”
“Kanina ka pa niya hinahanap. Umiyak nga kanina noong di ka niya makita. He thought you went back to California. I had to explain to him that you probably just went out to buy something.” Natatawang sabi ko.
“Oh poor little guy.” He shook his head. “Hindi ko na kayo ginising kanina kasi ang himbing ng tulog niyo. Besides, I want to suprise him. Where’s he anyway?”
“He’s inside. Kanina pa kami naglalaro sa playroom. I left him in there when I saw the car. Busy kasi sa panonood ng leapfrog. I’m going to go get him, ilagay mo na sa backyard yung bike.” Sabi ko.
“Yes, ma’am.” He cupped my face and kised me firm on the lips.
I went up to go get Arthur who was still watching tv.
“Nandyan na si Dr. Callum.” I sat down next to him and kiss the top of his head. “He has a surprise for you.”
“What is it?” He suddenly sounded excited.
“It’s a surprise kaya we need to go downstairs. Hinihintay ka na ni Dr. Callum at ang surprise niya sa’yo.” I nuzzled my nose against his soft and rounded cheek.
“Okay, lets go downstairs, Ate Drey!” He excitedly squeled.
Bumaba kaming dalawa and just before we go to the garden, I covered his eyes with my palms.
“What do you think Dr. Callum’s surprise is for you.” I asked as I carefully walked him to the backyard.
“A spaceship!” He said.
“Close enough.” Callum chuckled.
Tinanggal ko na ang kamay ko na naapatong sa mga mata niya. In front of him was the blue bike Callum had bougt for him.
“It’s an Arthur ship!” I giggled.
“Wooow! This is so cool!” His eyes widened as he looked at his bike. He went around it and checked out every sides of it. “Is this mine?”
“It isn’t called Arthur ship for nothing.” One corner of Callum’s lip tugged upward.
“I’ve always wanted a bike!” He excitedly climbed up the bike.
“We know. That’s why Ate Drey and I bought you one. Nagustuhan mo ba ang surprise namin?” Callum asked.
“Yes!” He frantically nodded his head.
“ Marunong ka na ba magbike?” I asked.
“Yeah! I biked Cookie’s bike before and Kuya Coco helped me.” He said as he started pedaling.
“Ang galing naman ng baby namin.” Callum cheered as he began to move.
“Careful, okay?” I reminded him and turned my head to my husband. “Didn’t you get a helmet and elbow and knee pads for him? Baka mamaya mahulog siya sa bike niya.”
“I did but he doesn’t need it. Nandito lang namn siya sa backyard at may training wheel naman ang bike.” Sabi ni Callum
“Cal, he’s still going to get hurt.” I worriedly said.
“Fine. I’ll put those on him.” He said and chased after him. “Arthur, come over hare we forget to put your helmet and your pads.”
Arthur stopped and he started putting helmet oh him. I help and atarted putting on his elbow pads wile Callum knelt in frot of him to put on his knee pads.
“I don’t like this. I can’t move a lot and I feel like I robot.” He complained.
“But you need it. Do you want to get hurt?”
“No.” He shook his head.
“Pagbigyan mo na si Ate Drey. She’s just being overprotective.” He chuckled.
“You’re the most handsome robot I’ve ever seen.” I cupped his face and kissed him on the forehead. “Sige na. You can go ride your bike again. Just be careful.”
“Okay!” He answered before hopping back on to his bike.
Callum and I just stood there and watched Arthur as he wheeled his bicycle around the backyard.
“Now, Imagine having at least three more of those.” A smile broke across Callum’s lip as his eyes followed Arthur.
“Three more?” I cocked my brow, my arms folded across my chest.
“The Beatles had four band members. Gusto ni Arthur bumuo ng sarili niyang banda. We’d have to give him three more sidlings so he could for his band with them.” Callum chuckled.
“You are so supportive of him.”
“What can I say? I’m a stage Dad.” He shrugged, smiling proudly.
I couldn’t help but let out a small snicker. He pulled me to him and I wrapped my arms around his waist while we watch the little one. This was one of those moments when I wanted to stop time. Relish the sight, sound and feelings I could wrap around my senses because everything ws just wonderful.
“Did you wash behind you ears o baka naman puro play lang ulit kayo ni Dr. Callum? I asked as I walked into the bathroom. Callum bathed Arthur while I was busy with cooking their breakfast. The two hadn’t gotten out of the bathroom for almost an hour now so I decided to check on them. Arthur was still playing with his toys in the tub when I got there.
“I washed him behind his ears.” Agad naman na sagot ni Callum habang nakaupo sa gilid ng tub.
Kinuha ko ang blue towel ni Arthur at lumapit sa tub. “Let’s get you out of there. Your finger and toes must be so wrinkly now.”
“Aww…” He whined.
“Listen to Ate Drey. Come on, big boy. Mamaya maglalaro ulit tayo.” Callum gently pulled Arthur up from the tub and covered his body with a blue towel.
“Halika na, bibihisan na kita.” I took his hand and brougth him into our bedroom. Nakaready na ang susuotin ni Arthur sa kama. A khaki pants and blue shirt. I put powder and cologne on him and then I helped him put on his clothes.
“Ang handsome at ang bango naman ng baby namin.” I smiled as i neatly comb his hiar.
He cutely smiled back at me. I couldn’t help pulling him into a hug and started showering him with kisses. He squirmed on the bed as i playfully kissed him all over his face.
“Ate Drey, that tickles.” He giggled.
“I can’t help it you smell so good.” I sniffed his neck and lifred my head up to look at him. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Ate Drey.” He wrapped his little arms around my neck.
I gave him a peck on the lips. “Always remember that, okay? Ate Drey loves you so much.”
He nodded his head. Callum suddenly dove into the bed next to us. He wrapped his arms around Arthur’s waist and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“I’m getting jealous. Where’s my hugs, kisses, and I love yous?” Callum jokingly said.
Ikinawit ni Arthur ang isang biig niya sa leeg ni Callum habang ang isa naman ay nakakawit sa akin. He left a sweet kiss on our cheeks and pull us into a hug.
“I love you Dr. Callum.” He said and then turned hid head to me. “ And I love you Ate Drey. I wish you cn just stay here forever and not go back to America.”
I wished the same too. He wouldn’t understand it when I tell him that what I was about to do was for his own good. He was better off with Mama and Dad. Mahal na mahal nila ang anak ko. They were his family now. Ayaw ko nang guluhin iyon.
We went downstairs to have our breakfast together and then we decided to go to the mall. Gusto namin ipasyal si Arthur at bilhan na din siya ng mga toys. We only had a few more days together before Mama and Dad comes back.
“I can have all the toys I want?” Arthur’s eyes shone with excitement.
“All the toys you want.” Callum answered.
“Is it okay if i get a lot of toys?” He asked.
“It’s okay. You can take whatever you want. I said. It wouldn’t be bad to spoil hi every once in a while. Kulang pa ito sa mga taong hinid ko man lang siya nabigyan ng regalo sa birthday niya at tuwing Christmas.
“Ate Ronnie, it is my birthday today?”
He turned his head over to Ronnie who ws walking bside me. She decided to come with us had nothing to do in the house. It was weekend today and the two doesn’t have school. Mahipit na pinagbilin ni Dad na hinid pwedeng lumabas si Ronnie ng walang kasama.
“No. it’s not. Malayo pa ang birthday mo.” She answered, chuckling.
“I thought it’s my birthday because when I turned three, Mama and Daddy let me get all the toys I want that can fir in the basket. I got the soldier toys, a bunch of dinosaurs, and a nerf gun and Daddy even let me get a huge train track even when it can’t fir in the basket anymore.” Kwento niya.
“Wow! Marami ka na palang toys.” Sabi ni Callum.
“Well, I had to give some of my old toys to the orphanage to mke room for the new ones. Sabi ni Mama, sharing is carinf.” He said. It had always been like that since I was a kid. We had our own toy chest and we were only allowed to keep the toys that could fir inside it. The rest goes to the orphanage.
“That’s right.” He ruffled his hair.
We entered the toystore and Arthur just went crazy. He ran and went through every aisle, grabbing all the toys he wanted. We just watched and followed himm and around. He filled a whole cart full of toys and when he got tired we went to the cashier to pay for them.
“I forgot to get the ninja turtles”. Sabi ni Arthur habang nasa cshier na kami. “Can I get the ninja turtles?”
“Sure.” Sagot ko naman. “Do you know where it is?”
“I know where it is.” Sabat ni Ronnie. “I’m going to go get it.”
“Sama ako, Ate Ronnie. I want to pick!” He excitedly said.
Ronnie held his hand and Callum and I both watched as the aisles of toys.
“Our little musician is having so much fun.” Callum smiled and sighed. His smiled slowly disappeared. “I think I’m going to have a hard time leaving him.”
“Me too…” I swallowed. “Hindi ko na siya pwedeng angkinin, Callum. As much as I want to be with him, si Mama at Dad ang kinilalang niyang magulang. He has a great life with Mama and Dad. They love him with everything they have.
“I know…” He silenty said.
“This isn’t how I want it to be but this is what he needs. I can’t reject him and then show up and claim that I’m his mother. Magiging selfish ako at hindi lang si Mama at dad ang masasaktan ko, pati siya.” I said.
“I understand. Its just that I’ve already grown attached to him. The idea of him and the reality… it’s just hard…” He exhaled heavily.
I saw Ronnie walking towards us without Arthur. The moment I saw her, I instantly felt uneasy. Like something wasn’t right.
“Ate, nasaan si Arthur?” She asked.
“What do you mean? Kayo ang magkasama…” Panic rose from my chest.
“He was running around and then he saw a man in a Spiderman costume. Tapos… tapos hinabol niya… I- I tried chasing after him but I lost sight of him…” Ronnie’s face slowly paled as she tripped over her words. “Kanina ko pa siya hinahanap. Hindi ko siya makita.”
Callum breathed out a soft cuss.
“Baka naman nandito lang siya. Let’s go find him.” I could feel mu heart dropping to the pit of my stomah but I didm’t want to panic. Maybe he just got lost. Maybe Ronnie just didn’t look hard enough.
“Call the securities, Ronnie. Hell, call the police.” Callum instructed, urgency in his voice. “Kami na ang bahala ng Ate mong maghanap Kay Arthur.”
Ronnie noddd her head, eyes already moist with tears. Tumakbo siya papunta sa securities at sinimulan namin hanapin si Arthur. Callum went to find Arthur in the toystore while I spoke with the staff and asked for their help. They sent out all their sraff to find Arthur and Ronnie came back with five securities. Hinanap namin si Arthur at hals mabaliktad na namin ang toystore sa paghahalughog pero hindi namin nakita kahit anino niya. They decided to have the mall closed down so nobody could go in or out as they tried to find him. Announcements were being made in th speakers. Nagkalat ang mga securities at police sa buong mall para hanapin si Arthur pero hinid siya nakita.
“Hey, it’s okay. We’ll find him…” Bulong ni Callum sa akin habang hinihimas ang likod ko.
“What if he kidnapped? Ayaw konf mag-isip nang kahit anong masama pero bakit hindi pa rin siya makita?” I sobbed, burying my face into his chest.
“We’ll find him. Hinding-hindi ko hahayaan na may mangyaring masama Kay Arthur. I’d kill anyone who tries to hurt you or Arthur. Anyone.” I could feel the bite in his tone.
“Ma’am wala po kami staff na naka-costume na Spiderman.” Sabi ng manager ng toystore habang kinakausap kami ng police na dumating. She overheard what Ronnie told the police.
“Then why the hell did you let someone come in here in a costume? Alam niyo naman puro bata ang nandito.”
Callum’s voice shook with anger.
“Sir, wala din po kasi kaming alam.” Sagot ng manager.
“Wala ba kayong CCTV footage?” Callum massage his temples.
“Meron po, Sir!” She immediately answered.
We were taken to the control room where we watches the footage. Nakita namin ang lalaking naka -Spiderman na costume. He ws covered from head to toe. He gestured for Arthur to come over to him when Ronnie wasn’t looking. Sumunod naman si Arthur. The guy in the costume made Athur chase after him and then he grabbed Arthur and left with him through the other exit. We followed them througt a different camera angle as they went through the parking ot. Sinakay niya si Arthur sa isang motorbike, the plate number covered up. And then thay went off.
I lost every ounce of strength I had in my body when I saw the vedios. Para akong pinagbagasakluban ng langit at lupa. He was clearly kidnappred. My so was kidnapped. I bursted into tears and Callum caught me in his arms. He must be so scared right now. He must be crying for Mama and Dad.
Flashbacks of me being kidnapped starting flooding my mind. It was so scary being kept in the dark and tied down. I had never felt more scared than I did at that moment. I’d never felt more alone and helpless. It was as though the world had turned its back on me. Sa mga panahon noon, I had a hard time believing that there was benevolent being up there. If there was, why would He allow something like this to happen to me?
Ayaw kong kahit kailan maramaman ni Arthur iyon. Ayaw kong maranasan ang kahit karampot ng takot, hirap, at sakit na naramdaman ko.
“Bakit si Arthur?” Tears gushed out of my eyes. “Bakit pati ang anak ko? Why? Sana ako na lang I’d go through all those pain again, wag lang si Arthur. Ako na lang!”
“Shh… It’s going to be alright. I promise. We’ll find him and everything will be okay again.” He said.
“Sorry. Ate…” Ronnie sobbed, her words almost incoherent. She hugged me from my back and began crying too. “I’m so sorry. Dapat binantayan ko maigi si Arthur.”
“If I have to descend to hell to find our son, I will. Mamamatay muna ako bago may makapanakit kay Arthur.” He said with a silent roar in his voice.
“Ano’ng nangyari kay Arthur?” Kuya Miggy ruched over to us.
“Kuya, someone took Arthur…” Naiyak na sabi ko.
“Son of a-” His jaw clenched, his eyes had a mixture of anger and fear in them. “Nasabi niyo na kay Coco, Kay Mama at Dad?”
“Natawagan ko na si Kuya Coco about ten minutes ago.” Humihikbing sabi niya. “ Ate Anias contacted her Dad to ask for help. May connection si Tito Axel sa PNP. Nagbook na sila ng flight pabalik dito sa Piipinas. Baka bukas nandito na daw sila.”
“What anout Mama and Dad? Alam na ba nila ‘to?” Kuya raked his fingers through his hair.
I slowly shook my head.
“We’re too scared to tell them.” Sagot ni Ronnie.
“Kuya, Ikaw ang kumausap kay Mama at Dad. I don’t know how to tell them…”
Pakiusap ko sa kanya. Tears still dripping from my eyes.
Kuya Miggy took out his phone from his inner coat pocket and dialed a number. Callum stared blankly into space with jaw clenched tight. Ronnie couldn’t stop crying and I wanted to go crazy. If anything bad happened to my son, hinding-hindi ko mapapatawad. Ang sarili ko. We’d only been together for a few days. Ako ang pinagkatiwalaan ni Mama at Dad na magbantay at magaalaga sa kanya, Hindi na nga ako naging mabuting ina asa kanya at ngayon ay hinayaan ko pang may masamang manyari sa kanya.