He died and no one ever knew him.
Fifty thousand people attended the funeral. Their head tilted down as they approached his open casket, the sea of black veils and groomed hair moved in quiet formation, all choosing to speak in hushed tones and whispers. The heavy scent of flowers clung over the gathering like a violet veil.
"He liked Shebets," a voice remarked and Margaret turned her head to see an old man nearly six feet in height. His face were marred by small red dots, like freckles, though Margaret assumed they were more likely to be pimples. Still, even pimples seemed strange considering the man's age. "He liked them Shebets from Pampanga. None of the milky slop they sell in convenience stores. The real sherbet."
"You knew him," Margaret asked, though her voice rarely rose above a whisper. Perhaps in truth she never intended him to hear.
"All these people respected him for who he was, Margaret. I was one of the few who knew him personally," he replied. Margaret found herself staring at his dry skin as he spoke. It looked so feeble she actually thought it might tear if he spoke too much. The man seemed too old to be a friend of her father's. A business associate possibly. An uncle?
"No, we aren't related," he replied, as if reading her thoughts, "Nor was I someone your father grew up with. Or looked up to. In truth, I doubt your father would have even remembered me. But yes, I knew him."
She felt a world of questions swirl around her. So thick her queries were that she she could simply reach out her arm and randomly grab the air and find four or five of them in her grasp. But she held back. She tossed her gaze back at the throngs of visitors who had come to pay their respects to the man who paid their salaries. To the man who gave them careers.
And she suddenly smiled. She looked back at the man with the red freckles and offered him her hand. "Margaret. Margaret De Salazar. I am Julio's daughter."
The man smiled an odd and knowing smile. And somehow, Margaret didn't suddenly feel too happy to find someone who actually kner her father. She herself rarely saw him each day, with him being far too obssessed with work, never stepping out during the day. Never joining her for dinner. Never speaking of her dead mother who supposedly died in her sleep many years ago.
"I know," he replied, "I know."
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos