The darkness in the campus was what shocked Anna as soon as she stepped out of the brightly lit campus library. Normally, the pathway there was lit early, but tonight the lights seemed dimmer than usual, probably because some of them were out. She took a deep breath before walking down the steps, and noticed there was a hint of heaviness in the air, like it was going to rain any second.
Pulling at the straps of her backpack, she hurriedly made her way from the library to SJ walk, where there were still some students milling around. The sight of the dark chapel on her right creeped her out, more so today than any other day and she didn’t want to stay there any longer. But out of habit, Anna glanced inside the chapel as she passed by the front-most doors, and saw that the altar was lit with dim yellow lights, making it look almost lonely.
Suddenly, Anna had an overwhelming desire to come in the chapel and stay there for a while and just look at the altar and the huge figure of Mary carrying a golden pearl where the Blessed Sacrament was kept. Maybe she could even pray today, just like how she did in the old days.
But the desire was gone as soon as Anna took a hesitant step towards the chapel door. Anna blinked as she heard a low rumbling from the sky. Thunder, she noted. And if she didn’t hurry back to her dorm, she’s going to be caught in the rain without an umbrella.
Anna continued on her way, breathing a sigh of relief as soon as she stepped onto SJ walk. Students littered down the long stretch, lounging around on the benches. The booths that some of the orgs claimed as their official hangout were full with laughing and talking students, and their noise gave Anna a sense of security, of realness. She turned to the Central Plaza and then decided to take a quick comfort room break to pee before she leaves the campus.
A few minutes later, Anna got out of the small comfort room at the back area of the Yuchengco building. She was never the one to stay long in comfort rooms — she goes in to do her business and leaves. No time for useless chit-chat or fixing up, as Anna felt there was nothing to fix herself up for.
As she was walking back to the pebblewashed floors of Central Plaza, she heard an unmistakable sound of a guitar. She stopped walking and looked around, her eyes immediately zeroing in on the particular table along the plaza that she had always been avoiding ever since she ran into Nikki at the dorm. She expected to see the table full of people and one of them carrying a guitar but instead, it was empty, save for a few scraps of paper and stray cups.
There it was again. The sound of a continuously strumming guitar, playing a song. A song familiar to Anna, but she couldn’t place when or where she last heard it.
Anna knew she should head back to her dorm as she heard another rumble from the sky but her curiosity was piqued, and she knows she wouldn’t be able to sleep until she remembered what the song was and who is playing. She listened closely and realized that the sound was coming from above her. She turned to her left and saw a set of stairs, one that she has never seen before.
“Since when was there a set of stairs here?” She wondered out loud. She walked towards it and true enough, the sound of the guitar got louder. She also heard a couple of voices joining the guitar and a couple of claps, like there was some kind of jamming going on.
Anna started climbing the steps, keeping her feet quiet and straining her hears to hear the music. She didn’t want to intrude onto the people there so she was careful to keep her head low, but as she got nearer to the top and saw the people there for the first time, she realized that she didn’t need to as almost everyone had their eyes closed.
The scene was familiar to Anna. It was something that she had done years ago, back in her past life. The intimate circle, with one guitar player and another person at the center to lead them. People were either clapping, jumping or raising their hands up to the sky almost looking like a gesture of surrender, as they sang. There was always someone who is out of tune, but somehow their voiced melded together in a sweet, almost beautiful song.
You Lord, our sure foundation,
We will not be afraid.
When the storm comes we will not be shaken,
For by Your hands we are saved,
Oh, by Your hands we are saved.
There was another rumble from the sky, and, at the risk of sounding like it was a heavenly revelation, Anna remembered the song. She had heard and played and sung that song for how many years before everything happened. She also knew what she was looking at and was no stranger to it.
It was a worship session.
Anna froze in her position, eyes scanning the group, trying to see them all. She felt a pang deep inside her as she tried to remember the last time she got to sing in the same manner as they were doing so now. She remembered the heat, the voices, and the feeling of her arms raised into the sky, palms open. She could distantly remember the tears that streamed down her face, and lightness she felt in her heart as she sang with all she can, her voice scratching for almost three days straight of singing.
Then there was a flash of lightning, and for a moment, everything was illuminated. Anna got to see the group clearly, and she felt the desire again, same as she felt at the chapel earlier She almost took the last step up to join them.
However, as another flash of lightning came, Anna realized that she wasn’t as invisible to them as she thought she was. There was this guy at the far end of the circle, who had his eyes open and were trained on Anna. His eyes met hers and she saw a curious look in them, and he nodded slightly as if he knew her.
The song ended at that moment, and the entire group had started clapping, and Anna could make out the murmurs of praise coming from each person in the group, praise not to the guitar player but to the One they were singing to. Anna scanned the group one more time and saw that the guy was still looking at her. It wasn’t until he took a step towards her direction that Anna felt her face flush, and she quickly turned and ran back down to the Central Plaza, which seemed to welcome her with its brightness.
She stood there, breathing hard like she had ran a marathon. Now she knew where the people from the table she avoided disappeared to every six in the evening. That should give her comfort, as now she knew it was safe to pass by that place at that time without being noticed or called by someone who knows her. She should be relieved now.
Should. But she wasn’t. Instead, she remembered the look in the eyes of the guy who stared at her earlier, and the sounds of the group as they sang, and felt like somehow, she was missing something big.
Author’s Note: This is actually a part of the project I’m thinking of writing this November. Let’s see if the idea holds until then. 🙂 And yay, I’m on the 70th! 130 entries to go. 😛