Redemption doesn’t come easy. It involves hardship, righting wrongs, and making tough choices. This four-story bundle showcases characters who made wrong turns in life, and want nothing more than to make things right. Features Era by Jesse David, Turning Points by Yeyet Soriano, A Fateful Encounter by Cali (Angie Sanchez), and Encyclopedia Mystique by Racquel Sarah A. Castro.
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Click the Read More link for the excerpts. If you want to read my take on Turning Points by Yeyet Soriano and A Fateful Encounter by Cali, plus story blurbs and author links, click HERE.
EXCERPT from Era
This story is about Era.
The story is about his lifetime, and also the meaning of his name is a lifetime. This person really follows a strict time when it comes to business. He wakes up on time. Go to his work on time, but never going home on time because going home is not part of the business.
A lot of people are like him. They love to follow a schedule. It is much easier to follow life on a schedule. It is easier to live if you know what you will do next.
Are you like him, always doing things on schedule? Exact time to eat, exact time to take a shower, and exact time to sleep.
The time now is 5:28 a.m., by exactly 5:30, his clock will alarm. He will wake up, go to the bathroom to take a shower, and brush his teeth. He will then have his coffee. After that, he will now proceed on leaving his unit at exactly 5:58 a.m.
He will now walk to the train station and arrived at 6:05 a.m. The train should arrive at 6:10 a.m. but we are not living in the perfect world or rather a perfect country that follows a strict time. It is acceptable to be for an hour late in this country.
The train arrives at the station at 6:23 a.m. which is totally occupied. To get inside of the train, you need to transform as Spartan soldier, this is one of the ways to get in the office on time with this volume of people. And since Era is a person that loves a schedule, he will ride this train even if only a single person is the only one that will fit in, but eventually 5 persons will try to get in. But don’t worry, with the magical push from the people outside, the 5 people will actually fit in.
After the train, he will then need to fall in line for the gate ticket. But with the volume of people in the line, Era estimated that it will take 2 minutes for him to pass the ticket gate and another 5 minutes to get in the building.
He could have a longer time to wait if the line for the elevator is long. Using the stairs could be an alternative but the time and effort will double or even triple.
Era works as an executive in an international company. He always makes it on time to go to the office but never going home. His dream is to live life to the fullest. Having this dream, he thought that he needs to be rich first before he can enjoy life to the fullest.
EXCERPT from Turning Points
I heard the voice. I knew the voice. Was I dead?
“No, you’re not dead,” the voice said.
I opened my eyes and saw him, my dear friend from very long ago.
I slapped him. I had no time to think; my hand had a life of its own.
Luca reeled from the slap. Served him right.
“Sandy . . .”
We stayed that way for a while just looking at each other. I had so much anger and pain, emotions I thought I had forgotten about. How dare he show his face right now?
Oh, shit . . . this had to be a dream. I remembered I was on a plane, and it was crashing.
“Where am I?” I asked. I looked around and there was just nothing. Everything was white. “You said I was not dead, so where the hell am I?” I demanded an answer.
Luca still looked at me with a sad expression.
“You are in a pause state,” he said.
“A what state?” What the hell was he talking about? Why was I talking to Luca at this moment? And why would I believe him if he told me I wasn’t dead?
“Pause.” Luca enunciated the word. I heard it right the first time, I just didn’t understand it. I still didn’t understand now. I kept quiet and waited for him to explain.
“A pause state is when we get a chance to step away from time moving forward and just . . . take a breather.”
“A time-out of sorts?” I asked. Now I’m sure I am dreaming. This is ridiculous.
“You can say that,” Luca said.
“So . . . after this . . . the plane will still crash?”
“Ummm, yes, time will move forward.”
“Can’t we make it move backward so that the plane doesn’t crash?”
“It doesn’t work that way,” he said patiently.
“Then why the hell am I here?”
Luca breathed deeply as he stared at me. I was obviously still mad, but I couldn’t meet his stare. Memories were coming back, and I didn’t think I was ready to confront them . . . again. After all these years.
EXCERPT from A Fateful Encounter
I continued to argue with myself quietly. I want ice cream. Do I really need ice cream? No. But do you want ice cream. Yes. Is it right to put yourself in danger for the sake of ice cream? No. But you want one, right? Yes. There you go. And there goes my logic. But in order to dig into my cravings, I must find someone to go out with me at this time of night. Now who’s going to be my knight? It would be wrong to ask for my friends after what happened earlier. My only available choice was Requiem. He offered to go out with me. Nothing’s wrong with accepting someone’s offer, right? I thought about it again. And again. It was unacceptable and irresponsible. Who goes out with a stranger, at night, for ice cream? I sat thinking of all the possible solutions for my dilemma. It wouldn’t be bad to trust someone, just this once?
[10:30 pm] Requiem: San kita pupuntahan?
[10:35 pm] Me: Nakatira ako sa may apartment sa dulo ng Emerald.
[10:36 pm] Requiem: Sige. Puntahan na kita.
[10:37 pm] Me: Ingat ka. Text mo na lang ako.
I suddenly became nervous. My heart started beating so fast that I could feel it could jump off my chest. Just because of a stupid craving, I invited a guy I didn’t even know over for ice cream. It was ridiculous. And idiotic. Aimee had already warned me before that nothing good comes out from meeting strangers. I could already picture out Aimee scolding me. I groaned. She is a very protective friend.
My legs are shaking from panic. I could feel my hands getting cold and sweaty. I couldn’t think right. What if this guy were a poser who might think of kidnapping me and holding me for ransom? Or worse, rape me and throw my body somewhere? I promised my parents to stay out of trouble, but I’m directly putting myself into a mess. No one except for myself knows that I would be meeting him tonight – not my friends, my family – absolutely, not a single soul. If something bad happens, no one would even know. I walked to the living room, then back again to the kitchen. I suddenly had the idea to send him a message that I have a bad stomachache and couldn’t get up. I was about to text him through WeChat, but a message appeared.
[10:46 pm] Requiem: Andito na ako.
I frantically rushed to the kitchen drawer to get my Swiss knife and pepper spray. I’ve always kept these in case of emergency. I placed both of them inside my purse along with my phone, my wallet and sneaked a peek frim my apartment window. There, I saw a person standing right outside the gate. For a while, I remained seated on the couch debating whether to go through with it or not. I gathered all my courage and closed the gates behind me.
“Hello,” a guy wearing a jacket and cap said.
“Hi,” I replied nervously.
“Tara na?” he spoke.
EXCERPT from Encyclopedia Mystique
Racquel Sarah A. Castro
“Techie geek . . . at the national library? Interesting!” He curiously stares at me. Well, I like geek reporters with glasses. That’s why I have a little admiration, okay, a lot of admiration for him. I have glasses too by the way. That’s a match.
“See you around!” I leave him with a quick glance and a friendly wave.
Toni sees me smiling and asks, “The smile is for . . .”
“I am going to the restaurant now. Bye.”
Toni grabs a bit of my hair and asks again;”Don’t you want to meet your crush?”
“I met him just a few minutes ago. Bye Toni! I am late.”
“Call me!” Toni shouts and to my surprise, I hear another familiar voice.
“Wait! Ms. Jiu Jitsu!” Jay Diaz runs towards my way. And he calls me Ms. Jiu Jitsu?
I display a what-do-you-need stare. Jay catches his breath while saying, “Can I get your name?”
“Her name is Amelia. Do you need her number?” Toni smiles at me. I stop walking. A thought bubble seems to come out of my head: Is he interested to get my name? Or maybe he will get my name to report me to my boss?
I notice that he is an inch too close to me. I turn back to hide my smile. He immediately pronounces, “Amelia! Wait.”
“Yes.” When I turn, he is closer than half an inch and our eyes meet.
“Can you wait for me?”
I curiously glance at him with narrowed eyebrows. He clarifies, “I mean, can I do what I have to do and go with you. This won’t take too long, I promise.”
I want to ask why but my inner self appears and verbalizes aloud, “Sure.” What are you thinking Lia? Are you sure about this?
I wait for him at the lobby. Mr. Villar sees me and asks, “Are you not going to the restaurant today?”
“I am waiting for Mr. Jay Diaz. He might feature our restaurant.”
“Hidden motives huh.”
“Yes sir.” I laugh.
“I’ll go ahead. See you on Monday!” Mr. Villar salutes me first before going upstairs.
At last, I spot Jay Diaz with his crew after 30 minutes of roaming the whole place. It is exactly 12:30 in the afternoon when we leave the national library. His crew, however, will take their lunch before going back to the place for another set of interviews.
I am about to get a cab when he shouted, “Hoy! Di ba sa akin ka sasabay.”
“Maka-hoy naman to. Sundan mo na lang yung taxi.” I get in the cab and wave farewell. While I can see him get in the car and follow the cab, I instruct the driver to take me to our restaurant.
When I arrive, I run as fast as I can. A staff greets me, “Good afternoon ma’am!” He probably observes my nervous-me-what-will-I-do glances and asks,”Ma’am Lia, sinu po tinataguan nyo?”
“Yung crush ko, kakain dito.”
“Si Jay Diaz, Ma’am?” He curiously says.
“Oo.” I intensely say with so much excitement on my voice. I ask, “Okay ba yung itsura ko?” I don’t have the time to wonder why one of my staff knows who my crush is.
“Yes. You look gorgeous.” My dad says while he and his business partner come and I pay respect to them by pagmamano.
Jay comes to me and says, “Huli ka!” He laughs and my dad clears his throat.