Apple, Where are You?
Apple and I first met each other in grade one, and since then we'd been best friends. For many years, Apple and I played and studied together. We often had sleep-overs in each other's houses, and never ran out of fun things to do.
When we finished grade seven, Apple's mother met a man, and later, got married to him. Naturally, Apple and her mom moved in with him. His house was far away from mine. I was sad. I missed Apple dearly. The best thing we had then was phone calls, and we'd talked everyday for hours on end.
One day, Apple called me up sounding sad. I asked her why, and she said that her mother was leaving for Singapore; her company was locating her there. Because her stepfather refused to join her mother, Apple had to stay in the Philippines with him. Her stepfather cited that Apple would be better off in the Philippines because of school. Apple's mother agreed.
I was actually glad that Apple didn't join her mother in Singapore. I would have died being deprived of my best friend.
Apple and I talked everyday since her mother left. Then, one day, Apple stopped calling. I was suspicious and called her house often. Sometimes, no one would answer, and at times, her stepfather would. He made it clear to me that he did not like Apple using the phone so often. He said it affected her studies. I was angry with him, but still pled with him to let me talk to Apple for just awhile. Reluctantly, he relented and Apple came to the phone. When we talked, I sensed that there was something she wanted to tell me but was afraid.
I became suspicious and called Gilbert, Apple's boyfriend. I asked him if he had spoken to Apple recently. He said he hadn't. Her stepfather had expressed his disapproval of her phone habit, so Gilbert had not called her for two days.
A week before my birthday, together with Gilbert, I went to visit Apple at her house. Apple was delighted to see us. Her stepfather was surprised to see us, but he treated us well. We got to know him and realized that he wasn't such a bad person after all. My suspicions of him mistreating Apple waned. I resolved that Apple was just depressed because she missed her mother, and the fact that Apple and I were far apart could have added to her depression too.
I wanted to cheer Apple up, so before leaving her house, I planned for the three of us to go to the mall at Santa Lucia East the week after. Also, it would be my birthday then, and I wanted to spend the entire day with my two best friends, Apple and Gilbert. It was a perfect plan, I thought.
The entire week leading to the eve of my birthday, Apple and I didn't speak. I missed her dearly. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of our date on my birthday.
At exactly 1:30 A.M. in the morning of my birthday, the phone rang. It was Apple. She sounded as if she had a sore throat, and she coughed a lot. It was difficult to understand her. Through difficulty, I made out what she was trying to say. She said that she loved me a lot but would not go out with Gilbert and me later. Apparently, she had to go somewhere. She then made me promise to come by the house after my outing with Gilbert. I tried to find out more about where she was going but she interrupted me, and said that she really missed Gilbert and me very much, and that we should take care of ourselves. She wished us all the best and then she hung up. I became very disturbed by the call, but it was too late for me to do anything, so I went back to bed.
At dawn, I was awoken by a commotion in the living room. I rushed out to find Gilbert crying in my mother's arms.
"What happened?" I asked.
"Apple's mother called me. She's here in Philippines, at home," Gilbert said, sobbing.
"But why are you crying? Isn't that great news? Now, Apple must be happy," I replied excitedly.
Gilbert stared at me and could not say another word. He began to cry even more. Then out of a sudden, he yelled out hysterically, "APPLE IS DEAD! HER FATHER KILLED HER!"
Shocked beyond words, I staggered back and fell to the floor. I began to cry uncontrollably. But in my mind I was wondering how could it have happen? When did it happen? I spoke to her just this morning at 1:30 A.M. It's impossible!
Together with my mother, sisters, and Gilbert, I rushed to Apple's house. Apple's mother was seated on a couch. Her eyes were red and puffy, and her head rested on the shoulder of a relative. We walked up to her, and I hugged her. I began to cry myself.
"Is it true? Is it true?" I kept asking, refusing to believe Apple was gone.
When all had simmered, we learnt that Apple's stepfather had been raping her ever since her mother was posted to Singapore . Her stepfather had stopped her from using the phone because he was afraid she would tell someone about the rape.
At around 9 P.M. on the eve of my birthday, Apple's mother had called her house and Apple answered the phone. Her father was in the shower then. It was just after he had raped Apple. Apple started to cry, so her mother insisted to know why. It was then that Apple broke her silence.
Apple's mother took the first flight she could get and rushed to the Philippines . But she was too late, Apple was already dead.
According to the police report, Apple was strangled, and the time of death was around 10:30 PM. I could not believe it when I heard it. I became hysterical and insisted the coroner was wrong because I had spoken with her at 1:30 AM that morning.
Things have a way of settling, and the tragedy of her passing also settled, and life moved on.
But one thing went on for five years—every year, on the mornings of my birthday, at exactly 1:30 AM, Apple would call. The phone would ring without fail and Apple would say to me all the things she said on the night she was murdered, as if I was listening to a recorded message. I tried to speak but she would just ramble on. I began to believe someone was playing a cruel joke on me. But why?
One day, the old telephone took a hard fall and broke. My mother bought a new one, and since then, Apple's calls stopped.
I miss you, Apple. Where are you?
Erika, 15. Student