"Good god you scared me. I thought you may have already left," I wheezed and stuttered as I realized Joaquin was still in the office library room.
"Why do you want to get rid of me so soon Angelica, it is just my first day of work" Joaquin replied rather sarcastically.
I decided that there was no point in prolonging this so I briskly walked away and said in a parting shot, "If you are hungry I can have someone arrange your meals here, if you prefer otherwise, I will have a setting for you at the Dining Room," without turning back. I can feel my heart thumping again and being squeezed, an all-too familiar pain. I hold back my tears and think to myself, how could I hate him so much and feel so much hurt in my heart? I might have heard him mutter something in reply but I didn't look back.
I suddenly felt so alone and sad, I clutched at my chest because I was finding it hard to breathe. I crept slowly back inside the Office when I felt a presence behind me. I turned around abruptly almost knocking heads with Joaquin and tripping over each other. He caught me by the arms to stop me from falling and I grabbed onto his shirt. He held on.
"Angelica please, let me talk to you. I am so sorry that I have hurt you and caused you so much pain" he spoke with his face very close to mine. My heart tightened some more.
I turned my head away from him realizing that I was trembling, I was almost choking, "Please don't Joaquin. It was a long time ago. I have forgotten all about it." I tried to wiggle out of his hands, but they tightened on my arms some more. He continued, "You never gave me any chance to explain or to redeem myself."
I kept my eyes down but then this didn't stop my tears from falling and I kept asking myself, how can a 10-year old wound feel like I just got stabbed yesterday? I have buried this hurt so deeply but his touch made me feel vulnerable and weak. I thought I was floating back into my dark memories as I started feeling woozy and unsteady, my knees started to wobble only Joaquin's grasp was keeping me up. My arms felt too heavy I dropped them to my sides. I can hear his voice saying words to me, fading. I can smell his scent and feel his body close to mine, all his muscles tense. Everything started to spin and I was falling, my tears blurred my vision and I couldn't move. I was drowning in a sea of overwhelming emotions and dark shadows. I heard his voice again but I couldn't make out what he said but it sounded gentle and sweet. I did not want to answer him and even if I did, I couldn't. I tried to open my eyes but I don't remember closing them. He was calling me "Angel", a name he called me a long time ago, but the free falling sensation I was yielding to was too seductive to turn away from and the bottomless pit felt so peaceful and painless.
I awakened to sounds of strange voices and nervous chatter.
A Doctor, two nurses, a medical aide, my Nanna Consuelo, and someone sitting beside me on the bed holding and squeezing my hand, Joaquin, "my" Joaquin. I stare at him, he still has that boyish look about him, soft brown curls fall carelessly on his forehead, his chest, broad and muscular, his skin, a burnt sienna tone, his arms strong and I know under that shirt how ribbed his muscles are. I know how every part of his body looks and feels. I notice sweat beads rolled down from his neck to his chest. He looks at me.
"Angel? Baby?" he whispered. I gawked back at him as he has not called me baby in almost a lifetime. I tried to stand and get my bearings. I didn't realize my knees had turned to jelly and slumped back.
"What happened?" my voice cracked as I searched for Joaquin's eyes.
"You fainted baby, the Doctor here said from over work and stress and he has taken some blood samples for testing. I never felt so scared in my life Angelica, the thought of losing you again is going to kill me" Joaquin explained in a very shaky voice.
I tried to get my head to think straight, I fainted in Joaquin's arms? Such poetic irony. And with a start, "Papa! Did anyone call my father?" I looked at everyone's faces as I almost screeched. They all looked down uneasily and Joaquin spoke first, "No baby, I thought it best not to, since he is travelling. It will be too stressful for him, too."
"Thank you ... Joaquin, so much" I stammered back, softly and barely audible even to my ears.
The crowd in my room fell silent and slowly started to leave. Joaquin gave my Nanna a look and she almost bowed at him, smiled at me sweetly then left.
I could feel Joaquin's presence all over me now that he sits beside me, on my bed, just the two of us.