He was the campus's golden boy - smart, athletic, good looking. Everybody loves him, and everybody wants him...
She is an outcast. A loner. A broken person. Nobody knows about her existence, nor cares about her. But despite of it all, he loved her ...
He never noticed her existence, until that fateful day. From thereon, he swore to protect her and to stay by her side at all times...
But fate played a trick on them, separating them for 10 years...
She waited for this time to come, for her to tell him how she loved him all these years...
And he waited for her, to finally love her and take care of her for the rest of his life...
Rosewood High, 1999
Mariel walked through the hall with her head back down. Her long hair hides the loneliness in her eyes. She was known in the school as a loner since no one wants to befriend her. She was always teased by her classmates because of her looks - her hair entirely covers her face, her uniform disheveled, her shoes worn out. There are times that she does not go to school, and nobody knows why... nobody cares what's going on with her life.
It's one of those unusual days that she would come to class. The usual empty seat at the back of the sixth row will now be occupied. The teacher never dared to ask her why she never came to class for the past days, for they already knew the answer. The teachers, just like her classmates, never seemed to care at all.
As she reach the classroom, a group of boys blocked her way. She looked up at them, and the boys started to snicker at her. "L-L-Let me through..." she pleaded in a low voice. The leader of the group just mocked her. "'L-L-L-Let me through...' Hahahaha why should we?" he said. The other boys started to laugh at her. "If you want to enter this room, then you have to pay..."
"B-b-but... but I don't have the money..." she said. The boys laughed at her again. "I'm sorry, but you can't enter this room, dirty rat!" The other guy said. The boys started to walk towards. She stepped back as they approached her. She knows that these guys will try to beat her up. She ran as fast as she could, but then she bumped into another guy. She quickly rose from the floor to get away from the bullies. She looked back, and she saw the bullies still running after her. "I-I-I'm sorry... please let me through..." she said to the guy whom she bumped into. She tried to run again, but she fell on the floor. She could feel the pain in her ankle, she must've sprained it. She lost hope, she could never get away from those bullies.
"Leave her alone!" she heard the guy shouted at the bullies. She looked back, and she saw the guy standing infront of her, trying to block the bullies. "Mind your own business, Jed!" one of the guys shouted at him. "Just leave her alone or else..."
"Or else what?"
"Or else I'll tell the principal about this... you don't want to be expelled this time, right?"
The guys became quiet. They gave him a stern look, then left. The guy looked back at Mariel, who's still lying on the floor. He held her hand, and helped her to stand up. "Are you OK?" he asked. Mariel nodded her head. "Yes... thank you..." she said in a low voice. After that, she left him and limped towards the classroom.
"Today, I'll be pairing you up with your fellow classmates for your project this quarter." Their art teacher announced that afternoon. "You will be making a painting about the topic about emotions. You can use any medium that you want to use.". Then, their teacher announced the pairing. Mariel, who was sitting at the back, didn't pay any attention to what their teacher is saying. She might be absent for the next days, and would not be able to work with her partner about the project.
Just then she heard her name being called by the teacher. "Mariel will be paired with Jed". their teacher said. Eyes were turned on her for a while, and then, she heard murmurs. "Good luck to Jed if she will be able to work with her!" she heard one girl said. "I feel sorry for Jed..." one he classmates said. She lowered her head and began to scribble on her notes. Her classmates are right. That Jed is really unfortunate to have her as a partner. She's always absent. Aside from that, who would want to work with someone ugly as her?
She felt that someone was staring at her for a long time. She looked up, and she saw the very same guy who saved her a while ago from the bullies staring at her. "Why is he staring at me?" she thought.
Jed, on the other hand, just kept on staring at Mariel. He remembered her as the girl he protected a while ago from Yuri's gang. From what he knows, this girl rarely goes to class. The truth is, he's a little worried about this project. He needs to pass this subject to be able to get in to the university his father wanted him to go to. Aside from that, he's running for honors. He planned to talk to Mariel about their project after their class, but she suddenly disappered. He waited for her, but she never showed up. She missed half of that day's class. This worried Jed again.
Clutching the money on her hand, Mariel went to the school's bookstore and bought crayons, pencil and an illustration board. She have to spend her remaining money for their art class project. At first, she has no plan of doing the project, but when she realized that Jed was the guy who saved her from the bullies a while ago, she decided that she have to do it for him, out of gratitude.
All her life, nobody defended her like what Jed did a while ago. Ever since she was a kid, her father always beat her up. He always blames her for his misfortunes. Since her mom left them, he's always drunk, making him very violent towards her. Whenever she would do anything that's wrong in her father's eyes, he would beat her up. When he's not drunk, he acts as if she never existed. Their neighbors tried to help her, but her dad would threaten them when they stop him from hurting her. She was only able to go to school once in a while because of her part time job as a helper in a cafe', and because of the help of their neighbors. It's also one of the reasons why she wasn't able to go to school everyday. It's either she doesn't have enough money, or her body aches after her dad beats her up.
After buying the materials she needed, she went at the back of the school's chapel. She sat at the chapel's stair, then began to draw. Her hand swifts like a wind with every line and with every curves. Little by little, her emotions depicts in the rough draft that she have created. Then, she took out the crayons, ans began to add color on her work. Shades of blue can be seen from her work, adding other colors for details. After a few hours, she finished her work. She looked at it, and she felt proud. Most of her artworks were destroyed by her dad, and this one is the only "survivor" from her works.
She took her things, and stood up from where she's seated. She headed to the classroom to find Jed, and to give him their project. She doesn't know when she will be able to go back to school, so she have to give it to him now.
Mariel passed by the music room, and she heard someone playing the piano. It was a melancholic piece. She stopped, and peeked through the door - it was Jed who was playing the piano. She stood by the door, as she listened to him play the piano. She closed her eyes, and let the soothing sound take her away. Freedom... for the first time in her life, she felt all the pain she feels suddenly disappered. It's as if she began to dream again. When was the last time had a beautiful dream? Everyday was like a nightmare to her. There are times that she wants to run away from everything, but she have nowhere to go. She have nowhere to turn to...
Then, she heard the music stop. She opened her eyes, and she saw Jed staring at her. "I... I'm sorry..." she stuttered. Jed just smiled at her. "Care to join me?" he asked. She nodded her head, then walked towards him. Jed moved a little bit from his chair, and gave her half the space of his seat. There was an awkward silence between them, as Jed began to play a new piece. Mariel just listened to him play with her eyes closed. Once in a while, Jed would look at her. He's still wondering why she's so reserved, and why she distance herself from everybody. It seems that she's scared of people. There's something in her that made him feel like they're on the same boat. The only difference is he looked perfect outside but lonely inside, and she looked like a broken angel inside out.
She was the first person who found out that he can play piano. He always kept it a secret from everybody, afraid that his dad will find out. He wanted to become a famous pianist someday, but since he's the only son of a rich businessman, he have no choice but to follow his dad's footsteps. He have talked to his dad about this that summer before he started senior year, but his dad disapproved of his decision. "No son of mine will become a pianist. You will be a businessman like me. Do you understand?" he can still remember his dad telling him. After tht incident, his dad forbade him to touch the ivory keys of the piano. He had no choice but to obey him, but if he had a choice, he wants to turn his back from his perfect life and live his own life, and chase his dreams.
Mariel gently opened her eyes as soon as the music ended. She looked at Jed and gave him a faint smile. "T-that... that's beautiful..." she said in a small voice. Jed smiled back at her. "Thanks." Again, there was silence between them. Both of them didn't know what to say to each other. He wants to ask her why she's always absent, but he thinks it's none of his business to pry into her life. He also want to talk to her about their art project. "A-a-about the project..." Mariel began. Jed looked up to her as she speak. "I... I... h-have f-finished it..."
Jed looked at her woriedly. Since the time she talked to her, she was already stuttering. "There must me something wrong with her..." he thought. Then, she handed him the illustration board covered in plastic. "I... I... t-tried to finish i-it as f-fast as I-I could... I-I d-don't know when I-I will attend the c-classes again..." she said. "Can I see it?" he asked. Mariel nodded her head. She was scared that Jed might not like what she drew. She lowered her head as he began to take the illustration board out of the plastic.
It's a drawing of a girl, curled up un her bed with tears on her eye. At her back, a male angel was hugging her. For Jed, her drawing is perfect. It depicts different kinds of emotion - pain, sorrow, love, hope... It didn't looked like crayons were used to color it up. "It's the most beautiful drawing I've ever seen..." he said, smiling at her. Mariel looked up at him and smiled.
"T-thanks..." she said. Then, he held her hand. He held her hand for a long time, so as to comfort her. For him, her drawing is the reflection of what she feels now, and he just wants to comfort her. She could feel the warmth in his hand. If only the world would stop spinning, she wished this would be the time for the world to stop, even just for a second.
After a while, Mariel looked at his worn-out watch, and realized that it was already late. She needs to go home early to cook her father's dinner. "I... I have to go..." she said. "OK... ummm... Mariel, can you keep this piano thing a secret?" Jed asked. Mariel just nodded her head. She stood up from her seat and headed to the door. Then, Jed called her again. "Mariel..." he said. Mariel stopped walking and looked back at him. "Will you come to our class tomorrow?" he asked. Mariel just lowered her head, unsure of what to tell Jed. She have no idea if she would be able to come to school the next day. She have spent her money for the project, and she needs to go to work tomorrow. Aside from that, if her father's drunk tonight, there would be a slim chance for her to come to her classes. "I don't know..." she said. After that, she turned her back around Jed, and left the music room.
It was almost dark when she got home. She just walked from her school to their small shanty. When she entered their home, she saw her father sleeping on the table, holding a bottle of gin on his left hand. She quietly tiptoed inside the house, so as not to disturb her dad. Befor she could reach her room, her dad woke up and saw her. "Why did you come home late, you little rat!" he shouted at her in a slurred voice. Mariel looked at her dad with fear in her eyes. "Dad..." she said weakly. "I told you to come home early to prepare my dinner!" he shouted at her again. Then, he closed his fist and punched Mariel on her stomach. Because of the pain, she lost her balance and fell on the floor. "You're an insolent child!" he said again, as he spanked her. "Dad... please spare me... please..." Mariel pleaded as she cried out loud.
Her father seems not to hear her plead or her cry. He continued spanking her, and kicking her. "Dad... don't hurt me... have mercy on me... please..." Mariel cried. "When I tell you to come home early, you should go home early! You never learn, you bitch!" her dad shouted again. Then, he took his bottle and hit Mariel. Good thing Mariel covered her head with her arm, the bottle hit her arm instead of her face. She could feel her arm numb as the blood started to flow. "Serves you right..." she heard her father say. After he beats up his daughter, he left their house. Mariel, on the other hand, remained on the corner where her dad beat her up as she cried herself to sleep, ignoring the pain she felt after he hurt her.
Despite her condition, Mariel managed to go to her class the next day even though she's all black and blue. She bandaged her wound with a white cloth she found in her cabinet. As she walked through the school's hall, she felt like she was ghost floating in thin air for she's not with herself. Some people who saw her just ignored her, some who noticed her began to talk behind her back. She didn't care how these people react about her. She just need to see someone who could make her feel warm. The same person who defended her yesterday. The same person who made her smile for the first time yesterday. She needs to see Jed.
She doesn't know why she have to see him, but when she sat close to him yesterday at the music room, she felt safe and comfortable. Something she never felt before since she's been living in fear. At the other side of the lobby, she saw Jed talking with some of their classmates. She decided to turn back and go home, thinking he didn't see her. "Who am I kidding? Why would he notice a frail girl like me?" she thought. As she was about to leave, she heard him call out her name. "Mariel! Wait up!" he shouted at her. Mariel stopped walking, and faced him. He smiled at her, he was happy that she was here. "I'm glad you came." he said. Mariel just gave him a faint smile.
Then, he noticed the white cloth wrapped around her arm. The cloth is a little pinkish, tracing the blood oozing out her fresh wound. He held it gently to take a look at it. "What happened to your arm?" he asked. Mariel didn't answer him. "Don't worry, let's go to the clinic so that - "
"No, please. I don't want to go to the clinic..." Mariel interrupted. The last time she had her wound treated at the clinic, the school nurse askled her questions about her abuse. She told her to tell the police about her father's wrongdoings to her. She doesn't want to do that, simply because her father's the only family she's got. "OK. I won't ask you what happened. Wait for me here, and I get some bandages at the clinic." Jed said. He ran as quickly as he can to get the things he need to wash her wounds. After a few minutes, he came back.
They went at the back of the chapel to treat her wound. He tried to be gentle in treating her wound, but no matter what he do, he could see in her face the pain. After he cleaned her wound, he wrapped the bandage around her arm. "There you go..." he said after he finished wrapping the bandage. He sat beside her, and put his arm around her. His instincts tells him something's going on with Mariel. He want to tell her, but all the time that they were together, she just kept her silence. "C-can... c-can I..." he heard Mariel say. He understood what she meant (she wants to rest her head on his shoulder), so he just nodded his head. Mariel gently put her head on his shoulder, and closed her eyes. Then, he felt teardrops starting to fall from her eyes. He held her tight as she began to cry. He had the urge to ask her why, but he felt she needed a friend at this moment than someone who investigates her life. In his arm, she felt the comfort she never felt before. She felt protected. She feel she can let out all the pain and anguish she feels inside. With him, she found a shoulder she could cry on.
After she finished crying, she lift her head and faced Jed. "T-thank you..." she said in a low voice. Jed smiled at her. He took out his hankerchief, and wiped the tear on her cheeks. "Mariel... whenever you need me, I will always be here..." he said. "You can tell me anything. I'm your friend..."
"T-thank you... thank you, J-jed..." she said. She wanted to open up to him, but she's scared that he'll judge her. She's scared that if he found out what's going on with her life, he would turn his back on her. She wanted to stay this way with him. As long as she kept her silence, she know she can always turn to him when she needs him.
Weeks has passed since Mariel last came to their class. Jed was a little worried, since the quarterly exams are coming up. If Mariel would fail this quarter, there might be a chance that she will not graduate. Aside from that, she have exceeded the number of absences allowed for that school year. Before their quarterly exams, their art teacher returned their project. With Mariel's drawing, they were able to get a perfect score. "By the way, Jed," their art teacher said as she hand him their project. "Since you got the highest grade for this class, we want to display this drawing on our upcoming Arts festival after the exams week."
"Thank you, Ma'am, but it was Mariel who drew this. Maybe you should ask her permission to display this picture..." Jed explained. "That's too bad, I don't know if Mariel would still come to school. We really want to display this since her drawing is really good..."
"Ma'am, if you want, I can come to their house and talk her about this. I can also tell her about the upcoming exams so that she could study..."
Their teacher agreed. He told their teacher to return their project after the Art's festival, in case Mariel agreed to display it. That day, he searched Mariel's whereabouts. With his connections, he was able to get her address. He found out that Mariel lives in a compound area a few kilometers away from their school. He decided to pay her a visit that afternoon.
As he walked towards their house, he found Mariel running outside her house. She was crying as she ran away. "Mariel!" Jed shouted at her the moment he saw her. Mariel saw him, and began to ran towards his direction. As soon as she reached him, she hugged her. He was confused with what's happening to her. He looked up, and he saw a man (her father), running after her. "Come back here, you stupid girl!" the man shouted. He looked at Mariel, who was still crying. "Take me away from here... please.. Jed..." she said to him between sobs. Afraid that the man would get Mariel and hurt her, he pulled her arm, and they started to run away from that place. Once they're out of the compound area, he hailed a taxi and left that place. The man still tried to run after them. He could hear him cursing at Mariel. "Sir, please drive as fast as you could!" he told the taxi driver. The driver nodded his head, and sped away from that place.
They went to his home. Good thing his dad is on a business trip, or else he would ask Mariel to leave immediately. Alogn the way, he noticed that she had a black eye, a wound at the corner of her lips, and bruises all over her arms and limbs. He tried to trat her bruises and wounds. Mariel, on the other hand, was thankful she was able to get out of that hell, and Jed saved her again. She couldn't stop crying as Jed treated her wounds.
He was right all along. Something is wrong with Mariel, and this caused her to be silent and reserved most of the time. It also explains her absences from school. He pitied her for what she have gone through. If he only met her before this happened, he could've saved her and protected her... but it's better late than never. At least he was able to take her away from her abusive dad. "Why did you let him hurt you?" he asked her.
"I... I don't know... Maybe because he's my father - "
"But even if he's your father, he have no right to hurt you like that!"
"Maybe it's my fault... I'm worthless, and I'm the reason why my mom left us for another man..."
Jed sat beside her, as he began to listen to her story.
"When I was a kid," Mariel began. "I remember mom always arguing with dad because of money. Dad used to have a job as a janitor, and his salary is enough for our daily needs. He thought his love was enough to make her stay, but one night, mom left. Dad tried to find her for days, until he saw her with another man. He was so heartbroken. Since the day he saw mom in the arms of another mom, he became a drunkard. When he's drunk, he would wake me in the middle of the night and hurt me. I thought it was only because he's drunk, but even he isn't he's so cold towards me. Whenever I do something wrong or if I didn't follow his orders, he would beat me up..."
"Did anyone tried to help you" Jed asked. She nodded her head. "But everytime they stop my dad from hurting me, he threatens them. One time, he almost killed our neighbor for hiding me. Since then, nobody tried to help me ever again..." she explained. Jed felt sorry for her. From what he heard, it seems that neither her dad or her mom loves her. "Just like me..." he thought. Yes, they're on the same boat. Jed, the perfect kid outside, but he feels unloved by his parents who's always attending to their business. Mariel, the loner, simply because nobody wants her. That's the reason why she's always alone, and seemed to be afraid of people. It also explains why she always stutters when she talks. It explains that day when she went to school, wounded and bruised.
Mariel felt her tears starting to fall from her eyes again. This time, it's not because of the physical pain, or the pain of reliving the past. She was crying because telling Jed her condition made the pain go away somehow. It's like being free after years of being inprisoned in a dungeon, and she never felt this way before. Jed put his arms around her, and his touch as if tells her that everything will be all right from now on. From that moment, he made a silent pact to himself and to Mariel that he'll do everything to protect her and make her feel loved.
A few months later...
Mariel now lives in a Welfare Center that caters for the abused women and children. She's undergoing psychological threapy so that she could live a new life, and to make the trauma disappear. Her father, on the other hand, got arrested for child abuse and was put behind bars. She finally decided to leave her cruel past behind and start a new life the day Jed saved her from her dad. She found the courage to stand up for her rights, and pick up the broken pieces. At the center, she was able to make friends with young girls who had the same experience. She found a family, and a mother-figure in Agnes - a battered wife who has been living in the center for years. She's staying there to get away from her saddist husband while her cases is still being heard. Jed always visits her. He's there almost everyday. He always makes sure that she's doing OK. He have noticed a lot of changes since she run away from her abusive dad - now, she smiles often, she doesn't stutter, and her long hair doesn't cover her face anymore. He's happy to see a new, confident Mariel.
Jed paid her a visit one day at the center. It was a special day for Mariel, since it's her 18th birthday, and the people at the welfare center are throwing her a party. He saw Mariel playing with the kids. Her smile seems to illuminate her pretty face, and her laughter is like a music to his ear. Seeing her this way juist makes his heart beat faster. There's something in her smile that made him feel warm...
He remembered the first time he saw her. She was helpless and lonely. He felt that she needed someone to care for her, and he felt happy knowing he comforts Mariel. He didn't know what, but as days passes, he's starting to see her differently. He couldn't last a day without seeing her, and he ached for her when he have to leave her. All the while, he thought he was helping Mariel, but the truth is, it was Mariel who was helping him.
He grew up without his parents beside him. He's always alone at the big mansion. His parent are always out on business trips, and they never spend time with him. He felt like he's just brought up in this world to be their heir, so that someone would take over their work when they retire. He thought he was happy with all the material things his parents shower him, but when he met Mariel, he realized he was lonely inside. He loved the feeling of being needed. He loved the feeling of warmth of someone's touch, and he felt it because of her. He never felt loved, but when's with Mariel, he felt like he's the most important person in the world.
"Are you just going to stand there?" he heard Mariel said as she walked up to him. He smiled at her, then he gave her a hug. "Happy Birthday!" he said. Then, he handed her his gift. Mariel happily took it, and opened it. His gift was a teddy bear. "Wow! I've always wanted one!" she exclaimed. "I know... that's why I bought you that...."
Mariel clutched the stuffed toy on her one hand, and then held his hand. "But I want a different gift..." she said. "Hey... I just bought you a - " before Jed could finish what he's about to say, Mariel pulled him at the center's music room. Once they're inside the room, he gave her a startled look. "What's your plan?" he asked. Mariel walked up to him, smiling. "Remember the first day we met? You were playing this piece... when I listened to you, I felt free..."
"But you're free now..."
"I know. It's been a long time since I heard you play the piano. Can you play that piece again for me?"
Jed nodded his head. They sat on the piano's bench, then he began playing. "Mariel closed her eyes as she listened to his music. She felt the same feeling when she first listened to this music. Each notes seem to make her drift into a dream. The sound just made her want to fly. Jed played the piece by heart. As his fingers press the key of the piano, it also made him feel free. It's been months ago since he last touched a piano, and just sitting there and playing feels free. With Mariel by her side, it's more that heaven.
Mariel opened her eyes as soon Jed finished. "It's beautiful... more beautiful that the first time I heard it..." she said. Since that day she heard his piece, it's music played on her mind when she feels lonely and hurt. She plays it in her head after her dad beats her up, when she consoles herself and cry herself toi sleep. Tears began to swell at the corner of her eye again. She felt like a crybaby just remembering her past. "Are you OK?" Jed asked. She looked up at him and smiled. "Yes... it's just that..." Jed cupped her cheek with his palm, and wiped the tear from her eye. "Sssshh..." he cooed. He stared at her for a long time. He's starting to see her in a different light, and it seems that his feeling for her has changed.
Love... it's what he feels now for her.
He love her not out of pity...
He love her not because he needs her or she needs him...
He love her because he doesn't need to have a reason to love her at all...
Mariel felt awkward with the way Jed gaze at her, but she can't take off her eyes on him. Those eyes were the first thing she noticed when they met. It was cold, yet warm. In his eyes, he could see sadness, and yet she could see happiness. In his eyes, she could see understanding.
He carressed her cheek as he moved closer to her. Both of them closed their eyes as their lips touched. they kissed, and the world seems to stop at that moment. After a while, their lips parted, Jed still stared at her, as if he's lost forever in her eyes. He moved again to kiss her, but Mariel turned away from him. He realized what he was doing, and got into his senses. There was an awkward silence between them. Part of him wants to regret kissing her, but part of him wants to feel her lips again. He assumes everything will be different after this moment, and he knows what he did is wrong... but why does it feel so good?
"I... I think we should go..." Mariel said. She stood up from the seat, but Jed held her hand. "Mariel... I... I'm sorry..." he said. Mariel looked at him. Was he sorry becaused he kissed her? For her, it's the greatest gift she had. She felt his love in his kiss... and if he's sorry, does that mean he doesn't love her at all? "I... I'm sorry too, Jed... I didn't mean to..."
"Mariel, I love you..."
Upon saying that, Jed stood up from his seat and help her both hands. "I love you Mariel. I don't know when, I don't know why... but all I know is that I love you. Not as a friend, not as a sister, but..." Then Mariel reached to him, and kissed him. Their kiss is much longer than the first time, and when their lips parted again, tears began to flow from her eyes again. "Mariel..." he said in a worried tone. "I love you too, Jed.... I do... but I'm scared..." she said. "I'm shattered, and none is left of me but broken pieces..."
"Then let me help you..."
Mariel shook her head. "You've already helped me, Jed. You helped me when you saved me from the bullies in school and from my dad. You were there when I needed to cry. You took me in your arms... but it's something I have to do for myself, Jed..." she said. Jed didn't say a word, and just hugged her tight. "I don't think I deserve you yet, Jed. Not now... will you wait for me when I have healed myself? When that day comes, I know I'll be worthy and whole again to be loved by someone like you..." she continued. "I will wait for you, Mariel..." Jed said in a low voice. "I will..."
Mariel didn't have the courage to tell Jed the truth. She'll be leaving the center tomorrow, and will start a new life in a new country, and a new family. Weeks ago, Agnes talked to her. She won the case, and she'll be getting all of her husband's money. Agnes adopted Mariel, and another kid in the center, and they plan to start a new life in a new country. She was happy, because she now have a family. At the same time, she's sad with thought of leaving Jed behind. She had no choice but to leave him.
They left the country the next day. They took an earlier flight, so that she wouldn't be able to see Jed. It would break her heart to see him, and is she does see him, she might change her mind and stay. But she decided to leave to make herself whole again. "When that day comes, I'll be worthy and whole again to be loved by someone like you..." she remembered saying to him.
As expected, Jed came at the center the next day. The staffs informed him that Mariel left. He was stunned upon hearing that. "But... but she can't leave!" he said. "Jed, Agnes adopted her. They decided to leave so that they could start a new life. We thought she already told you about it yesterday..." the staff. He was heartbroken. Yesterday, he remembered kissing her and telling her that he love her. Yesterday, he remembered her telling him that she love his as well, but she felt she's not worthy of him. "Will you wait for me when I have healed myself? When that day comes, I know I'll be worthy and whole again to be loved by someone like you..." she said.
As he was about to leave the center, the staff handed him an envelope. "We saw this in her room... it's addressed to you..." the staff said. Jed thanked the staff, and went home. Once he's home, he rushed to his room and read her letter.
Forgive me for leaving you. I know you're mad, and I know you don't deserved to be left behind but please hear me out...
I have always loved you, Jed. I will always love you. But as I said yesterday, I don't deserve to be loved by you. I'm still a broken person, and the only person who could help me is myself. I need to learn to love myself first before I love someone else. It is important to me... because I love you...
When Aunt Agnes told me that she adopted me, and we'll start a new life abroad, I was hesitant because I'll be leaving you behind. But I realized I should do this for us. Ten years from now, we'll meet again. I will wait for you, no matter what it takes. By that time, I'll be whole again to deserve your love...
Thank you for all the good things you have showed me. Thank you for protecting me, and for comforting me. Thank you for being there for me when I needed someone. And most of all, thank you for loving me. Jed, please don't try to find me. I have to do these things by myself. I know one day we'll see again. If fate's on our side, I know one day I'll be back in your loving arms again. Please wait for me Jed... I love you...
I know you've always wanted to be a pianist... will you chase your dream for me?
His face is covered with tears by the time he finished reading her letter. It hurt when he learned she's gone, but he understood her reasons. He looked at his wall, where her drawing hung, and he smiled to himself. Deep in her heart, he's happy for Mariel. She's brave enough to deal with her own problems, and she was brave enough to leave and start a new life. He's happy for her... He walked up to the drawaing and touched it gently. "I will wait, Mariel... I will wait, even if it takes forever..." he said to himself. From this day on, he's looking forward for that day... and when she's back, he'll never let her go...
His finger swift like a wind as he played his piece. It's his last piece for that night, and he's glad that his concert's over. Upon the last stroke on the key, his audience clapped their hands, and stood up. Jed smiled back at his audience as he stood up. He went at the center of the stage, and bowed. It was a great performance, and he's pleased with it.
Yes, Jed became a world-class pianist. He defied his father's wish and chased his dream. It didn't matter to him if he'll disown him, because all that matters is Mariel's request to chase his dream. He was fulfilled, and free. He felt like he got everything - fame, fortune, power. He had everything except for one thing - the girl he loves. The last ten years has been chaotic to him. Since Mariel left, he tried to find her warmth in other girls. He's always getting in and out of a relationship. He was finding Mariel in those girls, but he realized they could never be like Mariel. He waited for her, and she's still waiting for her.
"That's a good performance, Jed!" he heard his manager say. Jed just smiled back at him. "Thanks..."
"But it would really be great if you play 'Waiting' on your next concert. It's such a hit, you know..." Jed paused and looked at his manager. 'Waiting' was the piece that he played to Mariel before. He swore to himself that he will only play it again when he found Mariel. "But you know that..."
"I know, I know... I'm just trying to convince you to change your mind..."
His mind raced back to Mariel's memory. He knows she asked him not to find her, but he still tried to find her. "By the way... do you have the news from the P.I.?" he asked. His manager just shrugged his shoulder. "Same as always... they haven't found her..." he said. "What if she's... you know... dead?" Jed gave him dagger looks. "She's not dead. And don't say that ever again!" he shouted at him. After that, he stormed inside his dressing room.
"It's good to be back..." Mariel said the moment she stepped out of the airport. She have been living for 10 years in the States, and it's her first time to come home. She had always wanted to come back, but she's not yet ready to face her past. She spent the last 10 years undergoing psychological therapy, and it paid off. Who would've thought 10 years later, that a timid and unconfident Mariel would become a famous Child Psychologist?
She have treated a lot of children who have been abused by their parents. That had helped her heal herself, but the true test is in facing her abusuve father in jail. "It seems a lot of things have changed here..." her foster mother, Agnes, said. "Yes, I guess a lot of things have changed..." she replied. Then she remembered Jed. 10 years ago, a day after her 18th brithday, she left him without his knowledge, only leaving a letter for him. She remembered telling him that he have to chase his dream to be apianist. 10 years later, he has became a renowned pianist. She watched some of his concerts abroad, but she was too careful not to be seen by him. Just watching him from afar would make her day, and for her, that's all that matters. "Still thinking of him?" her mother asked. Mariel looked at her smiled. "He never left my mind..." she replied.
Agnes knew everything about Jed and Mariel. It was Jed who brought her to the welfare center 10 years ago, and she witnessed how love seems to blossom between them, and she saw how Mariel cried the day they left abroad. "Why don't you find him?" she said to her daughter. "I don't know... maybe I still don't deserve him... I just left him just like that... maybe he's mad at me... maybe - "
"You wouldn't know the answer if you won't try, Mariel."
She realized her mom is right.
Mariel patiently waited at the visitor's area of the prison. Even before she came home, she decided to pay her biological father a visit. Has she forgiven her? Yes. Has she forgotten what he did to her? No. It will always be a scar in her heart. She never despised her father for hurting her, but she have to know why he did those things. Practice what you preach. She have been telling her patients to face their past so that they could move on, but she herself haven't done that. She have to do this for herself so that she could have a closure.
After a long wait, she saw a familiar man walking up to her, two guards were escorting him. She stood up from her seat, and faced her father. "Hi..." she said as soon as the guards left him. Her father just lowered his head, not knowing what to say to his daughter. "It's been a long time. How are you doing?" she said casually. Deep inside, she wanted to cry when she saw him again. "I... I'm OK... how are you?" he said in a low voice. "I'm doing great, dad..."
Then there was an awkward silence between them. She have always thought she's ready to face him, but at that moment, she wanted to back out. She didn't know what to say to him. All she wants to do is see him. "A-about what happened..." her dad said, finally breaking the silence between them. "Why, dad? Why did you do that to me?" she could already feel the tears coming out of her eyes. She tried to remain calm despite her emotions. "Did you ever loved me?" she asked again. Her dad looked up at her, with tears starting to flow from his eyes. "I do, Mariel... I do love you... but you always remind me of your mom... and I was afraid you would leave me just like what she did."
She knew it was a lame excuse, but still, she listened. "I'm really sorry, Mariel. If only I could turn back time, I whot take back what I have said and done to you... I regret everything..." Mariel gave him a weak smile. "I have forgiven you, dad... I have forgiven you..." she said. She held his hand, and they both cried. Time have already passed, and they both know, they could never change everything, but they can start all over again as father and daughter.
He played the piece again on his piano as he reminisce his memories with Mariel. "Where are you, Mariel?" he thought. Last night, he just had another dream about Mariel. He was chasding her, but before he could reach her, she faded. As soon as he finished playing the piano, his manager entered his music room. He stood up from his seat and greet him. "Do you have any news?" he asked. His manager just shooked his head. "I'm really sorry, Jed. But we're trying our best to find her..." he said. He was disappointed. He walked over the drawing (her drawing) on the wall, and gently touched her. "Jed," his manager said. "Maybe the reason why we can't find her, is because she don't want to be found... maybe you have to leave everything up to destiny..."
Jed didn't answer. He could still remember the line she wrote in her letter. Please don't find me... "But why? Why won't you let me look for you?" he thought. He closed his eyes for a long time. Please wait for me... "I've been waiting for you, Mariel... but when will I see you again?" he said to himself. "You know," he heard his manager say. "they say that if two people are meant for each other, no matter how far they are from each other, God will make a way for them to be together for the rest of their lives. I believe one day, you will see her again, and when you do, she will never leave your side..." Jed looked at him an smiled. Ever since he met him, he have given him words of wisdom. He knows he just need to have faith, and one day he will see her again. "Thanks..."
"Come on, cheer up! We still have to go to that art exhibit for the welfare center..." his manager said as he leave him.
Jed is one of the benefactors of the welfare center. There are times that he would have concert for the benefit of the center. It means so much for him, because it reminds him of how he helped Mariel. That night, the welfare center had an art exhibit, showcasing the paintings of the kids who are staying there. They are also showcasing some expensive paintings given by another benefactor.
The exhibit room is filled with people from the high society. The night is also filled with laughter, classical music, champagne, and caviar. Jed was looking at the paintings that he could add on his collection. He was surprised to know that the children at the center are very creative. "Just like Mariel..." he thought again. At the other side of the room, he saw a very familiar painting. He walked over it, and looked at it closely. It resembled the drawing Mariel made for their project before. It's a painting of a girl curled up in her bed with tears in her eyes, and a male angel behind her, consoling her. The only difference is that paints were used to this picture, while the one that he has was colored using crayons. He felt his heart started to beat faster as he looked closely at the painting. "She's here!" he thought. He just need to find a way to know who painted this, but his instincts tell him it's Mariel's work.
"I can see you're also interested in this painting..." he heard the events organizer say. "Who... who did this painting..." he asked, not taking his eyes off the painting. "From what I know, this was painted by a young girl who used to stay at the center. She was adopted by a rich woman. I heard she did this while studying abroad..." the events organizer said. "W-who... who is she..."
"Her name is Dr. Mariel Chen. She's a Child Psychologist."
He knew it was her. Maybe that's the reason why he can't her is because she used her adoptive mother's surname. From the way the organizer described her, he knew it was her. "Is... is she her?" he asked again. "Yes. You know, a lot of guests have already talked about buying her painting, but they told them it's not for sale. Too bad, it would raise a lot of money for the center if she'll sell it..." Jed turned to the organizer and smiled. "Thank you for that information..." he said. Then he went to look for his manager. He knows now how he could find Mariel amidst these crowd.
"I need a piano!" he said as soon as he saw his manager. "But Jed, this is an art exhibit... not a concert!" his manager told him. Jed just shook his head."I don't care, I just need a piano now... I need to play now!" he said firmly. When he looked at the stage, Jed saw the pianist from the orchestra about to take her break. He immediately ran to her, and asked if he could play the piano for a while.
When Mariel heard about the art exhibit for the benefit of the welfare center, she didn't hesitate to lend her painting. Her mom donated some paintings when they heard about the exhibit, and when the organizer saw her painting, they asked her if they could put it in display. She said yes, on the condition that it will not be sold. That painting means so much for her, because it reminds her of Jed.
That night, a lot of people have already talked to her about buying her painting. Some of them even offered millions of dollar, but she turned it down. It seems that the people that she talks to just want to buy her painting. Some of them even followed her and badger her until she could say yes, but they only got disappointed. She wanted to get away from this place first, and clear her mind. She decided to take a walk outside, but by the time she's at the door, she heard a familiar piece being played. She stopped walking, and looked at the direction of the guy playing the piano. Even from afar, she recognized his face. "Jed..." she thought.
Everyone's attention is now on Jed. All of the stopped, as they listen to him play. He's playing the most requested piece, 'Waiting', which he never plays on his concert. Mariel, on the other hand, tried to find her way to get near Jed. She looked up to him as he played. God knows she have been waiting for this day to come... she's used to seeing him from afar... but now she's standing in front of him, watching him as he plays his piece. 10 years has passed and her feeling have never changed for him. He's still the man that she loves, and will love for the rest of her life.
It was fate that brought them together 10 years ago, it was fate that separated them... and now fate brought her back to him. The first time he told her he loves him, she was scared. She thought she never deserve him, for he's a perfect guy. That's why she chose to leave, because she have to pick up the pieces and learn to love herself before she could give herself to him. And now, she's ready to love him. There's no turning back now.
As soon as he finished playing, he turned to the crowd, and in front of them, he saw the girl he love. He felt his tears starting to fall, and he didn't hold it back. She was here, and his instincts are right. He stood up from his seat, and walked towards her. He never said a word. Instead, he just hugged her tight. He embraced her for a long time, and he doesn't care how many people are watching them. Then, he let go, and looked into her eyes. "You're back..." he said. "I've waited for you..."
"I'm sorry if I left... I just want to be someone who deserves your love..." Mariel said. Her tears were also starting to fall from her eyes. Jed wiped her tears, and smiled at her. "You will always deserve my love. And now that you're here, I will protect you and I will never ever let you go..."
"I love you, Jed..."
With that, he cupped his palm on her cheek, and kissed her lips. And with his kiss, he assured her that he'll stay with her forever...