1. Larra Vega- A Strange Evening



                      The sun starts to set. My eyes cringe as it was stung by the sun’s reflection on the bus window. My throat starting to get soar as we get near to their hotel, Lou Amore. I cough once trying to clear my exhausted throat. I grab my water bottle from my backpack and drink slowly. This is my 8th tour this month. It’s summer season, nothing to question about that. Some of my tourists guides are on leave (summer’s not actually the best time to take a leave from work, if only they understand that) that’s why I fill in for them. I’ve been talking all day, but as I look at my clients, they do not look tired, at all. I envy their vigor right now.  They watch eagerly outside the window. Their age bracket is from twenty-two to forty-eight years old. Most of them are from Japan. There are twenty-five of them. I lean my head on the window and close my eyes for a moment. I felt a finger on my shoulder. I look up. It is one of my Japanese clients. She’s a middle-aged woman, Mrs. Tanino, and smiling brightly at me. Then she started to talk in English that I barely understand. I ask to repeat what she said as I smile.

“Wou ju like to haf dinna wid us?” She says.

“Dinner? Now?” I ask. Maybe my face shows an emotion of possibly declining the offer because she didn’t wait for me to continue.

“It’z to tank you poh da wondaful three-deh tour in yoh byutiful city.” She’s determined. I smile sympathetically. I’m touched.

“Doumo arigatou gozaimasu!” I bow my head slightly and grin. My tiredness is gone and I feel better now that she affirms that my hard work has paid off.

“Come wid us in da howtel. Ower treat.” Her twenty-year-old nephew, Ken, appeared beside her, a good looking man indeed. The bus slowly parks in front of the entrance door. I look back at them. They’re waiting for my answer.

“Okay. I’d be glad to join you for dinner.” I smile.

Mrs. Tanino claps once and taps my shoulder. “We wir see you at da restoron, seven pee-em?” I nod. She quickly nods her head and waves her hand as they went off the bus. My clients, as they pass by, thank me and tell me that they had a wonderful time. I’m flattered. I thanked them back.

“Thank you, Larra.” Says the south-korean-girl, named Ja-eun. She just graduated from college and decided to tour with her friends. “We had a wonderful time. I’ll definitely contact you when we come back here, okay?” Her English is better that her friends. She told me it’s because she studied in the U.S for four years.

“Of course. I’m happy you enjoyed the tour Ja-eun. It would be really awesome if you come back here. Bring more of your friends.” She giggled.

“Yes, I will. Ah!” she opens her bag hastily and stirs the things in it. I think she’s looking for something. “Here.” She hands me key chain with Korean words on it. It’s dark blue and it’s round shape and covered with glass. I read it. It’s a Korean saying. One moment is worth more than a thousand gold pieces. My brows slightly wrinkles and I back at her, smiling.

“Thanks Ja-eun. It’s really nice. Thank you.” I smile. She spreads her arms offering a hug. I step closer to her and hug her. She hugs me tighter and then we let go. Her friends said their goodbyes and they left the bus.

I sit at the back of the bus driver and I give him money. I tell him to park the bus early because we’re not going anywhere anymore tonight. I go out the bus and waves at the taxi. I slide in and told the driver where I’m going. I’m going home to freshen up and to rest for a while. I look at my watch. It’s still five in the afternoon. I still have two hours to get back to the hotel.

I lay on my king-size bed with my arms and legs spreading across it. I close my eyes and try to clear my mind. I’ve been living alone for almost four years now. And I’m starting to forget how it feels to have someone cooks dinner for you when you get home. That when you enter the house you smell food being cooked and would feel better. I forgot how it is when someone takes care of you other than yourself. I miss that.

 I’m an orphan. My parents died when I was eighteen. We were in a car crash. Another car hit us and threw us into a shallow cliff. It was really bad. My right leg was broken and my other body parts were fractured. I was in a coma for two days. And when I woke up, they told me my parents were gone. I sometimes wish that I died with them. Both of them, just like that, were taken away from me. The man who hit us wasn’t arrested. He just paid all our hospital bills including my parents’ burial. I never saw him. I wanted to punch him and hurt him as much as I can but my body was not capable of doing such thing that time. And I realized that hurting him wouldn’t change the fact that my parents are dead. And it’s all because of him.

It was after two years when I fully recovered. I moved into a smaller condo in the city since our house outside the city was too big for me. And I didn’t want to stay there because I was just being reminded of those memories I had with my parents. Henry, our butler, with other house helpers are the only ones left there and I visit them once a month.

I decided to start a business to pay my bills on my own. I don’t want my entire life to depend on the money that my parents left me. I put up a travel agency and studied tourism and different languages so that I could personally be the guide of my clients and would be like a hands-on boss. My best friend, Matt, helps me sometimes especially in peak seasons. But he can’t help me full time because he has his own coffee shop himself.

I hear my phone ringing. I pull myself up and search my phone in my bag.

“Hi Matt.”

“Larra. Where are you?”

“In my condo. Why?”

“Oh. Nothing, I went to the office, your assistant said you’re on tour?”

“Ah. Yes. Today’s the last day. I just finished the tour.”

“Are you going out tonight?”

“Actually, I am. A client, with his nephew, invited me to dinner in the Lou Amore at seven.”

“Can I meet you after? Coffee?”

“I’m really exhausted right now, Matt….”

“Hey, hey. I just came back from London. And you don’t even miss me?”

I chuckle. “I do. I miss you. Ugh. Okay. I’ll meet you after.”

“I’ll wait for you outside the hotel. Call me okay?”

“Okay, Matt. Bye.” I smiled to myself. If I have no Matt as my friend, I wouldn’t have survived all these years. He’s the one that reminds me that I’m not alone. His family became my family. We became family.

I scan my closet to look for something I could wear. I pull out a night royal skin-fitting, above-the-knee-length dress with long sleeve lace. This would do. I say to myself. I put it on. I study myself in front of the mirror. I pull my hair up and tie it in a loose bun. I check the clock on the wall, thirty minutes left. I open my shoe cabinet and looked for my black pumps. I slide my feet in and look at the mirror one last time. I grab my purse on the couch and left. I decide to use my motorcycle because my car is at the shop.






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