I was reading the beginning and for some reason, I felt that something was lacking. Something just wasn't right, so I decided to revise chapter one for Rebirth. If you have read the first chapter of Rebirth on fictionpress, bookmato, booksie, soompi, or wattpad and you're reading this new version now, then please leave some feedback. I'm not even sure if I will use this revised version. I sincerely thank you beforehand!


Chapter 1: Routine
          I should have known that change was inevitable, that in the end, I would be by myself, that there was no one I could trust, but if I were to choose again, I would follow the same decisions . . . just so that I could meet you.
          I had awakened too many times like this: bursting in tears while screaming until I was sure that I was still in my room. Then, I would forget about that particular nightmare, yet somehow, it would trail back to my dreams, leaving me with a sense of familiarity. Wistfulness.
          “Honey? Is everything all right?” I could hear my mother’s voice echoing from the stairs. She must have been preparing breakfast already. Then, I must have been . . .
          “Yes, yes, everything’s fine!” I screamed. “I’m just running a bit late!”
          “Like always.” She had chuckled.
          Yes, like always, I had a habit of waking up late. Even with six alarms dispersed around my bedroom, I could never seem to arise from my slumber, coining me the name, Sleeping Beauty. Sleep had to have been my addiction even though I knew I could not be tardy today.

          “Honey, don’t you have to pick up Thayne from the airport?” My mother shouted with all her might.
          “I know, I know, that’s why I’m hurrying!” I was now digging through my closet, going through every drawer just to find the best set of clothing. After all, I would not want to look like a careless girlfriend, wouldn’t I?
          “Well, you better hurry.” My mother stood by my half-opened door with her palms to her hips. “At this rate, he’d probably take the taxi home.”
          “Home . . . Mom, you’re a genius! I can go straight to Thayne’s place and surprise him!”
          I almost tripped over my unbuttoned jeans, but luckily, I hugged my mother just in time and even managed to sneak in a peck on her cheek. One kiss on the cheek was the recipe for a good morning.  
          Scratching her nose with her index finger, she grinned. “Yes, and that’s why I have a sweet daughter like you.”
          “Thanks Mom, but did you tell Da—“
          “Yes, I told Dad already that you’d miss work. He said there was nothing for you to do anyways.”
          “Oh, that’s good . . . like usual.”
          I marched back to my coordinate my outfit, only to be questioned by my mother. “Say, when are you and Thayne . . . planning on getting married?”
          “Mom!” I glared at her while retrieving a grey, cashmere sweater from a drawer.
          “I’m just saying. You two have known each other since pre-school and you’ve been dating ever since your junior year and now, you two are . . . twenty-five?” She continued to justify her case with simple arithmetic. “It’s about time the two of you settled down.”
          “Mom, you’ve said this so many times,” I rolled my eyes and searched for a pair of socks, “but, seriously, don’t worry about it! He has been hinting about it . . .”
          “Really? How do you know if he’s serious?”
          “I found a ring box by his nightstand before he left for Shanghai.”
          I couldn’t resist beaming a grand smile. I remembered that exact moment and how widely I had smiled. I was helping him pack for his business trip and as I opened a drawer for his passport, I came across a small, white box. Although I knew I shouldn’t have peaked at his belongings, I had succumbed to temptation. Finally, I thought at that time, my clues of becoming a bride had reached him. To confirm my suspicion, I opened the box to discover a beautifully, crafted diamond ring. It was too unfortunate that I had not tried it on my finger. Thayne had fatefully walked into the room asking for his scarf, which he was already wearing on his neck. That silly boy.
          “Oh, congratulations!” Both of us were hugging each other and shrieking like young girls who had just met their favourite stars. I would have continued to celebrate if my mother had not reminded me, “You better hurry then. You wouldn’t want to disappoint him.”
          “Right, I’ll tell you all about the good news later. I have to give him a—“
          My phone was buzzing away, but I had no idea where it was exactly. I could feel the blood rushing through my veins; time was ticking away, yet I still could not find that annoying cell phone of mine. I was rummaging through every piece of clothing, scavenging my desk and hunting on the ground. It wasn’t until my mother had lifted my pillow up was I able to answer, “H-h-hello?”
          “Hey sweetie,” Thayne had greeted me.
          “Yeah?”
          “I’m really sorry babe, but my flight got delayed, and I won’t be back till early in the morning, so you don’t have to come and pick me up.”
          “Are you sure?”
          I heard his light laughter, probably thinking of how silly my question was. “Yes, I’m sure. Plus, you’re going to be cranky anyways in the early morning and—“
          “Hey! That’s not very nice.”
          “And you didn’t let me continue. As I was saying, I wouldn’t want you to get up just for me. We both know how terrible you are at waking up early, my Sleeping Beauty.”
          “All right, all right, you win.” I gently scoffed. “Then, I guess, I’ll see you later?”
          “Yeah, I’ll drop by your house the next day just to give my Sleeping Beauty her awakening kiss.”
          “So?” I turned to see my mother with her eyebrows furrowed.
          “Nothing,” I mumbled as I changed back to my pyjamas.
          “Then, why is your face all red?”
          “Well, it’s nothing. His plane got delayed, so I can go back to sleep now.” I lay on my bed and pulled the blankets over my head.
          Unfortunately, my cruel mother ripped what was keeping me warm away from me and urged, “No, you are not sleeping anymore. You are getting your bum to work!”
          “But, Daddy said there was nothing at work,” I moped and crossed my arms, “and you know all I do is, answer phone calls. It’s so boring!”
          Apparently, sulking had nothing to do with winning. My mother had grown immune to my complaining, and thankfully, she had fed me. Being a picky eater, I always expected a different response. She, too, knew of my eating habits, and complied with them. It was because of love, she used to say, that allowed her to tolerate all of my needs and wants. I was her child after all and that was what a mother did: love unconditionally.
          Right, love unconditionally.
          I snickered while driving my Porsche down the highway.
          “Hello?” I pressed the button to retrieve the call from my Bluetooth.
          “Are you free to hang out this afternoon?” I immediately recognized this voice to be Adriana’s.
          “Yeah, probably, if I sneak off work earlier, but you know, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
          “Good! We’ll meet at our favourite cafe. I can’t wait to tell you everything about last night!”
          “Wh-what, you found Mr. Right . . . at a night club?”
          “No, it’s more important than that.” I had never heard her speak in such a solemn tone before. In fact, out of all these years that I had known Adriana, she had never been so sure of herself. Usually, I’d hear more slurs coming from her mouth or I’d hear that tiny rise in her voice.
          “Okay, I’ll be there,” I replied before slamming the breaks, almost colliding with the car ahead of me. I had been too distracted by my call that I hadn’t noticed how congested traffic had become after a colossal accident ahead. “Hey, I’ll give you a call later once I get by this traffic jam, okay?”
          “Fine by me. Just be sure to meet me at around five.”
          I could have sworn that I had tried my utmost not to be behind schedule, but who knew that life liked to play games with me whenever I needed to be punctual? First, the full-blown accident delayed traffic by three hours, and by the time I arrived at the office, my father’s secretary had informed me that everything was under control and that I could leave earlier from work today. She had even patted my back for the first time and said, “I’m sure you’ll be fine. Your father is doing everything he can.”
          “Wh-what do you mean by that?” I had remembered asking her.
          “Oh . . . nothing,” she had murmured and escorted me to the front door.
          I should have known at that point that words of comfort were never good. Why would we need to be comforted when we were perfectly fine? If I had . . .
           It was too late for conditional tenses when encountering surprise attacks. I had heard of countries losing major wars due to the element of surprise. Then, surely, it must have not been unheard of for a family to collapse from an ambush. Happiness must, at some point, face its antagonist, sadness, which was ultimately catalyzed by misfortune.
          Misfortune was instigated by a series of trivial events, and in my case, it had already started with a phone call.
          “Ah! I’m so sorry that I’m . . .“
          I didn’t even know what to say or where to start. When he and I saw each other, I was jinxed like a statue. I blinked a few times and even rubbed my eyes, but the figure was approaching me and even calling my name, “Renelle . . . what are you doing here?”
          “Wh-what are you doing here?” I croaked and took a few steps backwards to avoid his hand that almost grasped my shoulder. Questions were bombarding my mind. Wasn’t he still away on a business trip? ? Didn’t she have something important to say to me? How long had this been going on? How did this happen? When did it start?
          “I-I can explain—“
          “Thayne and I are in love, Renelle.”
          If they were lovers, then what was I to them? A spectator? A friend? A fool?   
          “Adriana! I thought we said we’d take this slowly.”
          “You were never going to tell her, were you? You were always afraid to hurt her! Well, you’re hurting her even more by lying to her.” Adriana now walked in my direction. “Renelle, I’m so sorry, but—“
          “Don’t touch me!” I shrieked. “Don’t use your filthy hands to touch me!”
          I had no idea what I was saying. I just knew that whatever came from my throat was not what I had intended. I could not ask the questions when I was already in pain. I was unsure of what she said and frankly did not even want to remember, but what I was sure of was the tears rolling down my cheeks. They were cold, piercingly cold, making me realize that this was all real.
          “I’m sorry, Renelle. As much as I love you, I . . . fell in love with her,” he explained and coincidentally, Adriana had lifted her hand to try to calm me again. This time, I saw what was flashing from her finger, making me realize how much of a fool I had been.
          I believed I had run away, run off to my car. I had no clue why I was the one that ran. They were the culprits. I was the police officer. I should have been chasing after them. Instead, I let them go and they were the ones that were running after me. Starting my car, I took one last look at them through my rear view mirror and drove off.
          I kept driving and driving until somehow I arrived at home. Perhaps, whenever one felt weak and feeble, home was where one would eventually go. Home was a refuge, but when I entered the front door, I discovered that even home was nowhere to be found. I saw my mother on the floor weeping while my father’s corpse was hanging from the chandelier that used to welcome guests.
          This was my welcome home.   
          “What happened?” I begged to know after regaining my senses. “Have you called the police?”
          My mother shook her head and continued to sob. “He’s dead. He’s dead.”
          “Just tell me, what happened,” I urgently begged my mother.
          She only handed me a letter that she had stored in her pocket. Hoping that the letter would explain everything, I snatched it from her and skimmed the whole page. There were no paragraphs. Rather, there was only one simple sentence and a signature. The only sentence he had for us was: I’m sorry.
          I found myself unable to cry again. I could not understand why my father had decided to abandon us. It was so out of character that I could not feel anything at that time. Puzzlement and bewilderment replaced all sense of sorrow.
          Even when the police came to interrogate me, I had nothing to say. I knew nothing, yet they kept pressing for answers.
          “I don’t know,” I constantly repeated. “I don’t know.” Because of that one phrase I had said, they then looked at me as if I were the murderer.
          If I were the perpetrator, then what were they?
          My father, Thayne, Adriana . . .
          Why were they the ones that apologized? Why did people apologize so easily? Why did they assume that someone would always pardon them?
          Truthfully, I did not know. The only thing I knew at that time was that routine had been slain, the routine of my life.      
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