It Wasn t im
I was expecting him. We got home late one evening, to a house we knew was haunted from the beginning. It was a beautiful house with a built- in midcentury chandelier, high ceilings, and marble ooring.
The ghost was kind. He was a tall, imposing gure, and he was kind. There were voices, unnerving dreams, and inexplicably moving objects, but never ill intent.
Once, he mimicked my mother’s voice, yelling at my sister to come inside before it got dark. Everyone heard it—my sister, her playmates, our maid, and our grandparents living across the street. Everyone except for my mother who was at her of ce in Makati. And me, who was inside the house.
Once, our maid, Ate Ai, dreamt of the man coming down to her room in the basement. He sat down and stared at her from the stairs with unseeing eyes.
Every time he made his presence known to everyone in my family but me, there was never malice. In fact, we started seeing him as an odd guardian. He wasn’t welcome per se, but he was there before us. That night, I had my turn with him. It was dark and quiet. Our village was going through a brownout. My mother went ahead of us to light candles at the altar, the one at the end of a narrow hallway, between my room and my parents’.
The candles shed a dim orange light on both of our rooms, casting shadows on every corner. I went in after my mother, going straight to my bed, lying on my side, and staring past my open door, through my parents’ doorway, and right into their full- body mirror standing by the corner of their room.
I started feeling...numb. Not quite awake, not quite asleep. I kept looking at the re ection of my parents’ empty bed, telling myself that I was asking for trouble. Something was going to show up, something that’d be scary.
But there was a coldness, a sudden lack of feeling shrouding me. Then, I felt a breath right above my ear.
The rasping voice of a woman whispered, “Sa’kin ka.”
I froze, spent a second convincing myself it was just my imagination, or my mom. Still, it was like my body had a mind of its own. It said run. So I went to my parents’ room. It said be terri ed, so I cried. I had been expecting a frightening happening. But whoever, whatever that was, it wasn’t him.