05 Feb 2009

“What is his problem, anyway?”

Paula glanced at Marianne from the driver’s seat. “Who?”

“Your brother,” Marianne replied simply. She looked out to the window, feeling her cheeks warm up. She didn’t really want to talk about it, but it just came out.  To her surprise, Paula laughed.

“My brother has a lot of problems,” Paula said, still chuckling. “He’s like, the king of all things uptight.”

“Well, I know he’s uptight…but seriously.” Marianne paused and tried to think of words to explain what she wanted to say. Paula looked at her and gave her a sympathetic smile.

“Hay, Kuya,” Paula said thoughtfully, steering the car to enter SM Mall of Asia’s huge parking lot. “Well he’s definitely stressed from the work in the coffee shop. Plus the entire Brooke thing is making him even more crabby than the usual.”

“Oh,” Marianne said. “So is he normally grouchy?”

“Nah, he’s actually a pretty sweet guy,” Paula shook her head. “I mean, for siblings, we’re really close. Sometimes he can be overprotective of the people around him, but he’s really nice. He’s got a lot of things on his mind right now…I don’t even know what he’s thinking of now.” Paula paused as she eased her car into a parking slot. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, yesterday we had this particularly good practice,” Marianne explained. “As in we got the song right. It was a really great performance, if I do say so myself. They even included my piano part, so I’m really thrilled.”

“That’s great!” Paula said, turning off the engine. “What happened next?”

“I got this bottle of wine from work in my bag yesterday, from…someone at work. I got it out to celebrate, and then your brother started looking like he’s seen a ghost,” Marianne could remember it well. It was the first time she felt comfortable with the entire band, and she was really happy about their practice. “I thought he would freak out, but then he left without saying goodbye. Rex followed him and Nathan stayed with me for a while, to assure me it’s okay and that we’d see each other tomorrow and then followed them out.”

“Ah, you brought wine,” Paula said knowingly. The two of them got out of the car and made their way to the mall. “Kuya’s kind of…iffy about wine. Or any alcoholic drink for that matter.”

Marianne looked at her, confused. “Why? I mean, I know he’s a devout Catholic and all, but does the church stop you from drinking even that? You guys have wine in your Mass, right?”

Paula laughed. “Yeah we do. But it’s not that. I mean, I drink occasionally, depends on who the company is. If I was there when you brought that out, I’d join you. Kuya Nathan too. Kuya’s just…different.”

“Why?” The two of them entered the air-conditioned mall.

“Well, how do we say this,” Paula said thoughtfully. “Our mom died from a drunk driving accident.”

[494 words]

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