I had been watching Arthur and Callum run around the backyard, barefoot, since getting home from school. After getting tired of playing, Callum went in to get their guitar so they could have a mini concert and their audience was none other than me, I entertained him for a bit and played with him while Callum was inside.
“This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little pig had none and this little piggy…” I said, holding up Arthur’s last toe, the smallest one. He was already grinning from ear to ear, anticipating what I’d do next. I made a dramatic pause just so that I could surprise him. Then I tickled his feet and he began wiggling and laughing. “This little piggy cried wee wee all the way home!”
“Ate Drey!” He hysterically laughed as I tickled his foot.
I stopped after when he couldn’t catch his breath from laughing so much. “Tama na. Baka kabagin ka na niyan.”
“Ate Drey, I want to play more!” He excitedly said.
“Aren’t you tired yet? I asked, brushing my fingers through his thick hair.
“No! I like playing with you! Ngayon lang kasi ikaw nakipagplay sa akin kasi dati ayaw mo. Kaya nagwawatch lang ako pag nag peplay kayo ni Cookie but sometimes I get jealous. Now I get to play with you!” He happily said. His innocence was heartwarming and heart shattering at the same time. I couldn’t imagine the pain and jealousy he felt at that time. It was him who I should be loving more but instead all I ever gave him were heartaches.
“Oh, Arthur. I’m sorry.” I hugged him really tight, the tightest I could. As if it would make up for all the times I didn’t get to hug him like this. I felt his soft, little body against mine. I inhaled his scent and I never wanted it to go away.
“Why?” He said, sounding puzzled.
“Because I never got to play with you when you wanted someone to play with.” My voice squeaked, feeling like something was stuck in my throat.
“But now and tomorrow and the tomorrow after tomorrow you’ll play with me again?” He asked.
I nodded my head. “I will always be here to play you.”
“When Mama and Daddy comes back, you and Dr. Callum will go back to America. Paano tayo magpeplay? ” He pouted.
“Pwede naman tayong mag video call katulad ng ginagawa niyo ni Mama at Daddy ngyon habang nasa vacation sila.” I said, tears stinging in my eyes.
“You will talk to me? Kasi kapag nagcacall ka kay Mama di kita nakakausap.” His usual vibrant hazel eyes turned sad.
“I’ll talk to you. I’ll call you and we’ll talk every day.” I said, keeping my tears in. “Palagi mo akong kukwentuhan kung ano ang ginawa niyo sa school, ha? Kung kailangan mo ng help sa homework mo, nandito ako. Ikwento mo sa akin kung may new friends ka o kung may award kang nakuha. Tell me all the good and bad things that happened to you and Ate Drey will always listen to you.”
He nodded his head.
“Pinky swear?” I held out my pinky finger.
“Pinky swear!” He entwined his pinky with mine.
“Halika nga ditto! Give Ate Drey your tightest bear hug! Katulad ng hug mo kay Dr. Callum.” I said.
And he did. He hugged me and the smile on my face collapsed. Mas mabuti na yung ganito. Mabuti na yung siyang alam na hindi niya ako Ate. It would hurt him if he finds out that Mama and Dad were not his real parents. Maguguluhan lang siya. Masaya naman siya kina Mama at mahal na mahal nila si Arthur. They gave the love I never gave to him while he was growing up. I knew it would hurt to leave but this was for the best. This was for him. I wanted him to live a normal life and to have a normal family.
“Hey!” Callum sat next to me. “What are the two love of my life doing?”
“Dr Callum!” He lifted his head up from my shoulder and turned his head to my Callum. “Ate Drey and I are playing.”
“What are you playing?” Callum sat on the rug next to us.
“Little piggies!” He climbed on Callum’s lap and sat there.
“Pakiss nga sa baby namin.” Malambing na sabi niya. Callum bend his head down to give him a kiss on the cheek. He giggled cutely as Callum’s stubbles brushed against his smooth skin. “I have a surprise.”
“What?” He excitedly turned his head to him.
“Tadaaaa!” Inangat ni Callum ang kamay niya at ipinakita ang isang garapon. Inside the clear jar was a butterfly.
“Oooh! A butterfly!” His eyes widened and his mouth formed an o.
“Isn’t it cool?” Callum smiled. “When I was a kid, I used to catch bugs and butterflies all day. Wala kasi akong kalaro noon.”
“What do you do with the bugs you catch?” Arthur curiously asked.
“I let them go.”
“You let them go? Why?”
“Because they don’t belong in a tiny jar. They need to be somewhere big and beautiful with lots of flowers and plants. I only catch them so I can name them so when I see them again, I can say hi to them.” There was an innocent glow in Callum’s dark eyes. It was so amusing to see. “What do you want to name this butterfly?”
“Ringo Starr!” Arthur grinned.
“That’s my boy!” Callum chuckled, playfully messing Arthur’s dark hair. “Please, do the honor of opening the jar.”
Arthur opened the jar and the butterfly flew out of it, its orange wings flapping gracefully.
“Cool!” Arthur exclaimes as he watched the butterfly.
“See. He looks so much better in the garden than in a jar.” Sabi ni Callum.
“Bye, Ringo Starr!” Arthur jumped up and down, waving at the butterfly.
Callum and I both laughed and then he pulled the little boy back to his lap.
“So bugs were your only friends, that’s why you love The Beatles and you named your band Glow Worms.” Arthur snorted.
“You’re one smart little boy.” He chuckled and mindlessly raked his fingers through the boy’s hair. “I stopped hanging out with bugs when I discovered music.”
“Who thought you how to play music?” Arthur asked.
“My music teacher. She taught me how to play guitar, she would let me take her guitar home so I could practice by myself. I was a really lonely kid. My father doesn’t like me playing with other kids.”
“It’s hard to explain, Arthur.” He said and kissed him again. He exhaled heavily. His father believed that he was his mother’s lover son. Bukod sa pananakit ng ama niya ay ayaw niyang nakikita ng ibang tao si Callum.Sinabi niya sa akin na ikinahihiya siya ng ama niya. I couldn’t help but feel squeeze when he was telling me his story. I remembered Arthur and myself. I treated Arthur like how his father treated him. Kaya siguro ganon na lang ang pagmamahal niya kay Arthur. If I could only turn back time, I would. “But whenever I play the guitar or any other music, I don’t feel as lonely anymore.”
“Sometimes I feel lonely too. Especially when Cookie has to go to Ate Anais’ house and I have no one to play with. But now I am not lonely because I have you and Ate Drey.” He wrapped his arms around Callum’s neck. “I’ll get really, really sad when you go back to America.”
“I’m going to leave the guitar to you. Play it whenever you’re lonely or sad, okay?” He gently said.
Arthur nodded his head. “And I am going it too whenever I miss you and Ate Drey.”
“And whenever you miss me and Ate Drey.” Callum lifted his gaze up at me and smiled.
Why couldn’t everything be as perfect as this moment? I wanted to get lost in our own little world right here. Just Arthur, Callum and I. I wanted so bad for us to be a family. Knowing that our time was limited, that we’d have to go back to reality once Mama and Dad comes back, felt like a punch in a gut.
“You said you two are going to perform.” I pushed those thoughts away and tried to focus on this b beautiful moment with them.
“We are!” Callum grabbed the guitar that was strapped on his back.
“May concert kayo pero wala pa rin pangalan ang band niyo.” I giggled.
“We already have a name for our band.” Sabi naman ni Callum.
“We do?” Arthur’s brows furrowed.
“Yeah. Our band’s called Arthur’s band. We’re going to be the best band ever. You and I. We’ll be better than The Beatles and Queen.” Callum said.
“Yeah!” Arthur agreed.
Callum grabbed a banana from the snack plate I took out and pretend it was a microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you the band that will make The Beatles look like a garage band. Arthur’s band!”
Arthur played a bit, he already knew how to play a little bit of the song Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars. Still a bit out of tune but he was good for a beginner. I laughed and cheered for them as the two struggled with their mini concert. But the concert was cut out short when Ronnie and Tito Rome came out from inside the house. Nagpaalam si Ronnie kanina na magshhoshopping at pinayagan ko lang ng sabihin niyang kasama si Tito Rome.
“Aba! Ang galing naman ng baby na yan.” Tito Rome said. Tito Rome was Mama’s bestfriend and he’d been in our life for as long as I could remember. He was like a second mom to us. He was our go-to whenever we knew we were in trouble with Mama and Dad. I didn’t have to introduce Callum to him as they’d already met a couple of times before.
Arthur turned his head smiled, a big smile when he saw Tito Rome. “Ninong Rome!”
“Hi baby!” Tito Rome greeted him with a hug. “Ang galing mo na magplay ng guitar.”
“Dr. Callum taught me how to play!” He proudly said.
“They’re having a mini concert. Why don’t you two sit down and watch them with me para naman hindi lang ako ang audience at para lumaki na ang fans club ng Arthur’s band.” I joked.
“Oh, sure! Ako ang magiging unang fan ng baby Arthur natin.” Sabi ni Ninang.
“Nauna na ako, Tito Rome. I am the first and number one fan!” I laughed.
The two sat down next to me and watched Arthur and Callum’s mini concert. Pagkatapos ng concert ay nagdinner na kami. Tito Rome decided to stay and have dinner with us.
“Your Mama asked me to check on you.” Tito Rome as he cut through his steak with a knife. “Alam niyo naman yung mother dear at ang pudra niyo, masyadong paranoid. Sabi nga nitong kapatid mo , hindi daw siya makalabas ng walang bantay.”
“Fairy godmother, grabe sila! Buti na nga lang talaga dumating ka, mababaliw na ako dito. Daig ko pa ang nasa bilibid prison dito. Makatapak nga lang ako ng isang beses sa tapat ng gate namin feeling ko maglalabasan ang SWAT team.” Ronnie exaggeratedly said.
“Kaya nga I took her out. We went shopping, nagpasalon kami at nagpamani-pedi. Ayaw mo naman sumama, minsan na nga lang tayo makapagbonding.” Sabi ni Tito Rome.
“May next time pa naman,Tito Rome.” I smiled and turned my attention to Ronnie. “For sure, malaki na naman ang ginastos ng baby girl ni Mama at Daddy. Ang dami mong paper bag na inuwi. You know, money doesn’t grow on trees.”
“There were no trees harmed during my shopping trip. I used Daddy’s credit card .” She let out a cheeky smile.
“RONNIE!” Pinandilatan ko siya.
“Dad said I can use it.”
“For emergency!” I exclaimed.
“It was an emergency. An emergency shopping haul.” She reasoned.
I couldn’t help but slap my forehead with my hand. Now I knew why Mama and Dad had to get away from… from THIS!!!! She s such a headache.
“Kaya ito ang favorite ko. She’s my spirit animal.” Tito Rome hugged my sister.
“Hayaan mo na. Mayaman naman ang Daddy niyo. A fashion emergency is a real emergency.”
I just rolled my eyes. Nakahanap na naman ng kakampi ang gaga.
“So, Callum… you seem so good with children. May plano na ba kayong magkababy?” Tito Rome asked.
I almost choked on the steak I was chewing.
Nagkibit-balikat siya. “We haven’t really talked about it but if it comes, it comes.”
“Sayanag ang genes niyo, I’m sure your baby will look as beautiful as Arthur. Ang ganda-ganda ng Audrey namin at unfairness, may taste siya dahil ikaw ang pinakasalan niya. Isa pa, walang Cordovang pangit no? Magbaby na kayo at baka maunahan pa kayo ng Daddy at Mama niyo.” Tito Rome chuckled.
“As long as it’s okay with Audrey and Arthur, I’m fine with it.” Callum Gabe both of us a tender smile.
The thought of building a family with Arthur, Callum and our future child together warmed my heart.
“Yun naman pala eh.” Sabi ni Tito Rome. “Arthur, pag nagkababy ba si Ate Audrey at Kuya Callum, is it okay with you?”
“Um…” He thought for a while and then he pouted. “If they’ll have a baby, I won’t be their baby anymore.”
“You won’t be anymore because you’ll be a Kuya Arthur. Don’t you want that?” Callum wiggled his brows.
“Kuya Arthur. That sounds so grown up.” Tito Rome said. “Ikaw na maghehelp na mag-alaga sa baby ni Ate Drey mo.”
“Pwede na din sumali ang baby sa band niyo, madadagdagan kayo. Diba ang The Beatles four ang mushishan. Eh kayo two lang ni Kuya Callum.” Ronnie joined in.
“Well, okay! Can we get a baby tomorrow?” He innocently asked, looking at me and Callum.
The dining room filled up with laughter.
I laid on my side, watching Arthur s he slept peacefully beside me. I stroked his dark hair and just savored every moment I had with him. I didn’t know motherhood would be like this . This would be forever etched in my heart and mind.
“Ang bilis naman makatulog ng baby natin.” Callum said as he looked at Arthur.
“Napagod sa concert niya kanina.” I laughed.
“Our little musician wants to be a Kuya.” Callum said, his gaze lifting up to mine. “ What do you think? Should we start making one?”
“Right now?” My eyes widened.
“Right now.” He nodded his head as a naughty smile broke across his lips.
“Ano ka ba? Natutulog dito si Arthur.” I bit my bottom lip.
“We still haven’t take a bath.” He playfully winked and then slowly slid out of the bed. “I’m going to set the mood in there. I’ll wait for you okay?”
“Callum.” I shook my head, giggling.
He exaggeratedly bit his lips and winked at me before disappearing into the bathroom door. I didn’t play hard to get. After a few minutes, I found myself quietly getting out of the bed, careful not to wake the little one up.