A CUP OF COFFEEby jojo sabalvaro-tan
I can already hear Aling Meding clattering about the kitchen preparing for the start of a new day. Through eyes I could hardly open, I checked the time on the alarm clock by the bedside table... 6:30 am. My body feels stiff and heavy against the bed. I can hardly move a muscle, my head's in a haze... addled... confused... I command myself to wake up. "Focus!", I instruct my brain. The message is flatly rejected. I shut my eyes tightly, willing the memories of the previous night to disappear or just be a horrible nightmare. I slowly opened my eyes again. My fingers found their way to massage the pressure points on both sides of my head to ease the painful throbbing. I'm overcome by a wave of nausea.
"Oh, God, help me, please..", I intone silently, making the sign of the cross.
Jake is laying on his side of the bed still asleep... Peaceful, like nothing's happened...nothing's changed.. Except, it has all changed, everything is different... Our world as we know it is shaken and shattered. "Who are you?" I wanted to shout out. My husband is all of a sudden a stranger to me. He appears to be the same Jake who shared my bed every night, the loving father of my children who attended every school play... every game , the one who has breakfast with me every morning, the Jake that calls me everyday to say " I love you." What happened
I met Jake in college. He was studying to be a journalist - one that would make an impact on the world stage. I majored in Food Technology and was keen on inventing new ways to feed the poor people of the Philippines, the world. Our shared idealism was boundless and was what brought us together at the start. Like many other students of our time, we joined anti-government demonstrations and rallies trying to be catalysts of change. We were comrades- in - arms. We became fast friends , then lovers. 60s Free love and all that.
I found myself pregnant. I was afraid and did not know what to do. Jake wanted to get married and insisted we elope. Our wedding took place in a small church in Jake's province of Tarlac, witnessed by his brother and cousin. After the wedding, we went to see my parents who met us with stone faces and stern disapproval.
Jake and I made a go of it on our own while he continued his studies, living off the meager sums he got from his parents and selling articles to various newspapers and magazines. Francis, our first born brought us immeasurable joy and made us forget the hardships that surrounded us. I proudly sat in the audience with Francis on my lap as Jake received summa cum laude honors when he graduated. He got a full time job at one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country. Through the years, he rose up in rank until he eventually owned the newspaper and several other media outlets - TV, radio, cable.
We were happy and blessed with a supportive circle of family and friends who were all around for our annual Christmas parties. We have more than we need - our house in Makati, another house along Kaanapali Bay in Hawaii, a brownstone in Manhattan and a condo in Malaga, Spain. For holidays, we sometimes take our 40 footer sailboat to Hongkong, Singapore, one of the South East Asian islands or the Australian coast. Both of us suffer from high blood pressure that is controlled by medication, otherwise we are lucky to be relatively healthy at our age. Now that our two children are grown and have kids of their own, we have talked about Jake slowing down on the business end and semi-retiring . We fancied spinning the globe and living in the place where our fingers rested - new adventures, a new chapter in our already fulfilled life.
Last night, two sentences changed all that. We had dinner at home, leftovers from the day before. We had some of the chocolate cake I baked that afternoon with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side - Jake's favorite. Our conversation was light and involved news about the grandchildren and the progress of the charity event I am chairing.
We retired to our bedroom to watch TV. I was curled up in the couch. Jake sat next to me and held my hand.
"Darling,' he silently said to draw my attention from the show I was watching, 'I'm in love with someone else. I am leaving you." I was too stunned to respond. My heart constricted, I started gasping for air. Then the room started to sway.
"Are you joking?" I said, incredulously.
'No, I am serious. I met this woman and we fell in love. It just happened. I still love you but it is different with her. I want to spend the rest of my life with her.'
I gave out a big wail... All I was feeling was in it.... frustration, anger, confusion, surprise, sadness, disappointment, and everything in between. "How could you? How could you?' was all that I could say as I pounded on his chest as hard as I can until he took my arms and held me at bay. I broke into sobs. He says he's sorry but this is for the best. 'The best for whom?' I asked. I wanted to hurt him as much as I was hurting, slap him silly until he came to his senses, but I realized that was impossible. Of all the times I needed strength and coherent reasoning, this is the time they fail me. I was a blubbering idiot.... I blamed myself, there were tell tale signs I'm sure. How could have I missed them. I could not do anything but cry. Until finally exhausted, I cried myself to sleep.
So here I am this morning feeling like I went through hell and back. As I lay in bed, I realized I can not allow Jake to leave me. I resolved to do everything I can to keep him with me.Think! Think! Eventually, as my brain slowly got into gear, a plan started to formulate. I decided that the best thing to do right now is to pretend last night did not happen. This thought renewed my energy, I rose, showered. The warm shower was invigorating but not enough to wash away all the physical aches and mental anguish from last night. I put on a sundress and applied some make-up to mask the puffiness of my face from crying all night and went to the kitchen. I will prepare all of Jake's favorite breakfast foods. I told Aling Meding to go attend to the laundry and I will take care of preparing breakfast...
First, I put fresh water in the coffee maker and ground some Kona coffee beans, placed them in the filter and started the brewing process. As the whiff of fresh coffee enveloped the kitchen, I prepared crepes from a recipe a chef at one of our favorite Parisian restaurants shared with us. It was a simple recipe using flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs and melted butter. With the crepes, I planned on making French breakfast galettes filled with sautéed diced onions and ham and grated gruyere cheese with a sunny side egg on top. Additionally, I minced some garlic for the fried rice and fried up some pungent dried herring - a favorite meal, especially during our early years when we were practically penniless. For the side condiment, I made a salsa mixture of fresh diced tomatoes, mangoes and onions with some finely chopped cilantro leaves.
I just finished setting the table when Jake walked into the kitchen, freshly showered and shaved, in need of a haircut, I thought.
"Good morning, he said as he sat at his regular place at the table. "I'm very sorry about last night. There was just no easy way ..... ", his voice trailing off in a crack.
"I'm sorry also", I said and I brought him his coffee just as he likes it, more warm frothy cream than coffee, two teaspoons of sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon. But this time, for a special touch, I added a teaspoon of finely ground blood pressure medication.
This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.
All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
A Cup of Coffee - A Short Story
This is my first foray into writing a short story. I wrote it for a literary contest about breakfast; but after I completed it, I found out they wanted essays instead of short stories. I have been urged by friends to share it with a wider audience, so here goes. Please remember that this a work of fiction and a product of my imagination so any similarities to people, places and situations are purely coincidental.