The Unwanted Marriage
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Philie Amber was an introvert as a child. She faced years without socializing because she was labeled a "witch"for her differences. Nonetheless, she was satisfied with her auntie, Deni, who had rescued her when her own parents had dumped her years before. She needed to marry Xylde, who is recognized for being a woman's fantasy, one day. Nonetheless, she was the one who put up the effort, which she chose to embrace as long as she could see her husband living with her. Would she still be in love with him? Or would their union be doomed to fail?
"The witch is coming!"
Girls around me created chuckles, belittling me as they saw me being in this celebration. Trying to ignore them, I looked at my Auntie, whose eyes were directed into the old celebrant who was currently having her birthday speech.
I was surrounded by an enchanting place, many disco lights brightening the people's faces. Sweet music was playing to intensify the soothing vibes I was feeling. Truth be told, I was feeling cold, for my Auntie forced me to wear a dress that revealed my bare shoulders.
I even could not understand her. Why were we even here? Were we invited?
"Stop staring at me, Phillie. You are about to hear good news," Auntie warned me. But I just could not help it. I did not like any occasion all of my life. I did not like any event because Auntie was strict and introverted.
And somehow, the statement 'You are about to hear good news' she kept telling me for days sent shivers down my spine.
"The witches are here! I can't believe that the celebrant allowed someone like them to be here as guests!"
That insult was surely heard by my Auntie. But just as always, she just acted innocently. Deep inside, I was again disappointed at the people around me -- they were judgemental. How could they bear to say such awful words to us? We were not witches. That's the truth.
"If you keep looking at me, they will think you are affected. Focus, Philie, you don't need their useless opinions."
That was her most commonly used line.
"Why am I dressing so elegantly, though?" I again asked her. "And you told me not to come close to any Brooks, yet we're here, in their celebration."
Brooks was known for being rich. Most of their family members owned shipping lines, and the others had restaurants, hotels, resorts, and many more. They were intelligent in any aspect. Nevertheless, Auntie Dina did not like Brooks. I meant, she never did. I did not know the reason why, though -- that's the secret she was trying to hide from me.
"Your life is about to change. But please, just trust me; what I am doing is for your good." In just a blink of an eye, her eyes were already filled with visible tears, her hands cupping my chin. "I love you, you know that--
"Hey, what's wrong?" My heart pounded. I was getting nervous based on the words she had said. "Seems like we are going to be far from each other. No, Auntie, that is not gonna happen."
I forgot to maintain my class, causing some guests to look at us, wondering why Auntie and I were emotional.
"Oh, what are they doing here? I don't think someone like you wear nice clothes," a guest.
I stared at her. How dare her insult us like that?
"Oh, what's wrong?"
My muscles tensed as a beautiful old woman wearing a long gown went near us. Her beautiful eyes remained on me. "What's wrong, dear?"
God. I had just created a scene. She was supposed to be continuing her dramatic speech, but here she was stopping the little chaos I had caused.
"No offense, my friend, but who invited those people to be in here? Are you not afraid to be cursed by that witches?"
"I am sorry, Dina," the old woman apologized to Auntie, "and I am sorry, Philie. Please be comfortable." And she looked at the complaining guest. "My friend, I am the one who invited them. Besides, they are not witches -- witches are not true, so stop mentioning those words. Philip and Dina are here for a significant reason, so I am hoping for your kind treatment to them."
Some agreed, but many did not.
"So, since everyone is curious about them, let me tell you the reason why they are here..." the old woman spoke up, walking up to the stage with a helper assisting her. All I noticed about her was that she was kind and humble, that despite the wealth, she still treated poor people like me good. She's beautiful, inside and out. "I know most of you know that my oldest son had just arrived from Italy... And now, I want you all to know that tonight is not only for my birthday."
Their family was the talk of the town. And everyone knew that the celebrant today, Maricris Brooks, had two sons; the younger was studying business economics abroad while the oldest had just arrived to expand his business in the Philippines. I had no interest in any of Brooks' siblings; regardless they were women's fantasy.
They were known for being extremely hot and for being... Good in bed. They had good genes and body structure. The Brooks siblings were good at sports, too; that was what I heard from girls my age. They almost excelled in everything. To say that they were talented would be an understatement.
Above all, Auntie Dina kept warning me about those two men. She said they were dangerous, though she did need to be worried because I was not even interested in someone right now.
"He's currently resting. But I am too excited to keep this news all by myself!" Mrs. Brooks shouted in delight, and many whispered, curious for sure. "Xlyde Brooks, my oldest son, is now engaged with someone! And that's the most shocking news I have got!"
The whole place roared -- all girls, excluding me, shouted not because of happiness but because of jealousy. Beside me was Auntie Dina. She's crying again! And I hated it because she's not sharing the reason with me!
And to my surprise, the spotlight hit my face, and Auntie's cry sounded more audible, causing me to panic. I could not choose what to do first -- to ask Mrs. Brooks or calm my Auntie down. I came here thinking Auntie just needed a moment to enjoy this night, yet now everybody was gawking at me as though I was a big question mark in their eyes.
"Auntie, what's happening?" I got nervous more. "Explain this to me--"
"Yes, you are all thinking right. The lady under the spotlight is going to marry my son, Xlyde, as soon as possible!"
"Auntie, answer me!" I was so desperate to the core. I did not mind anymore if many eyes were on me, for I only needed to have Auntie's answer.
"This is for your own sake." She held me on both shoulders. "You will thank me someday. I am not always by your side, so you need someone who can take care of you--"
"No! No!" This could not be! We were okay earlier! We sometimes argued, but that was not enough reason for her to abandon me like this! She's my inspiration, my only one inspiration, why I chose to be single since birth to follow all her words! She was the one who made me realize that I did not need anyone to be happy! But now, she's being so hard to understand! She's forcing me to marry someone I did not even love!
"Excuse us, Mrs. Brooks, I need to talk to Philie first," Auntie talked to her, and the guests took pictures and videos of us. "Come on, I never tell you to be stubborn like this!" her voice thundered as soon as we were in the garden. "You will marry him, no matter what happens!'
"So you demanded me to wear this gown for that reason? Auntie, you're stealing my freedom away from me!'
Yes, she's the one who supported my everyday living; we were very poor to the point we experienced not eating for two days in lack of food; Still, I was already twenty years old to decide for myself. Marrying would be the least of my concern, and we both knew that, but now she was acting weird!
Auntie sobbed. "He's rich. He is the way for you to find your real parents."
That stunned me.
"Let's be practical, Philie. Money is what you need to find your family. You working hard is not enough. You need a Brook."
My heart clenched at the sight of her crying. "But, you hate Brooks."
"I am trapped... I am sorry."
What did she mean?
"Auntie, are they threatening you? Are they blackmailing you using their power?!"
If she would say 'yes,' I would punch all the Brooks I knew!
"No, they did not! I was the one who requested first."
"I am gonna live abroad."
Seemed like my world had just crashed. I was used to breathing with Auntie by my side all my life. She was the one who witnessed how I grew up.
When I was young, my parents abandoned me. Auntie saw me in the trash being covered by thin white clothing. She rescued me, gave me milk, and supported my needs even though we're not blood-related. She was like a mother to me. She even kept pointing out that my mother loved me. Auntie had the right to brainwash me, for me to hate my mother, but never did she do that. She might scold me all the time, but I knew she cared for me.
"For what, Auntie? Are you tired of being with me?"
She got frozen, as though that question hit her conscience. "You know that's not true. Just understand our situation."
"But I don't need money!"
"Grow up, Philie! Please do!"
I shook my head. "I can find a job, Auntie. I don't have any experience, but I can do great at work--"
"Be beautiful on your wedding day." Her eyes could not look straight at mine. "Do not find me. Love that man. You need his money."
Money, money, money! I hated that living meant also needing for mon
"I can't marry him! I don't even know him! I am not yet ready! I don't want to torture myself!"
"As your acting mother, it is not easy to see you being belittled by the soc!" A tear fell from her eye as if it were a kind of a beautiful warning. "You are poor because of me! Do you know how it feels to see you being judged?! If you become a Brook, everyone will love and respect you!"
I felt the lump in my throat. "But... You don't need to live abroad..."
"I need to. You're a woman, Philie, and this is time for you to live without me by your side. We will meet someday, and I am sure you will thank me... I know you have lots of questions in your head now -- and I can't blame you for that -- but please trust me again this time. Your soon-to-be husband will help you big-time. So please, when tomorrow comes, do not find me. You will be a Brook soon."
Sadly, after that night, I never saw Ausaw again. The woman I loved the most was gone. And I did not think I could move on fast.
"Hi, Philie. Good morning! How's your sleep?" Maricris Brooks welcomed me.
After the night she announced my marriage, she encouraged me to reside here. I had gotten nothing to choose but to follow her since Auntie's house was being demolished.
"I am okay. Thank you," I politely replied. She has been treating me well; there was no way I would disrespect her. Yes, I considered her one of the reasons I was not with Auntie anymore, but I somehow felt comfortable with her.
"Are you excited to meet Xlyde?" she teased me, but it did not affect me.
Regardless, I answered, "Yes. He must be kind as you."
Her smile faded.
Oh, God, what did it mean?
"I am sorry, but he's a beast, Philie. That's why I am talking to you right now to warn you that he is hard to understand; that's why I need your patience in being with your soon-to-be husband."
I smiled, and a random thought flashed in my mind.
"I am sorry for meddling, but I have heard the maids earlier talking about the visitor coming. I wonder... If he/she is your relative?"
For years of existing, meeting a visitor was uncommon to me. I felt shy every time one asked for my name and age and then praised my face.
I was still studying; I was called a 'nerd' because I liked wearing eyeglasses. I had lots of pimples -- even until now, I still had ones. Most of my classmates bullied me by naming me a 'witch.' I was academically brilliant, and maybe that triggered them to hate me more.
"Oh, she is. She's Pia. You'll meet her later." She winked at me. "She's friendly. You two will be friends."
I did not think so.
I did not have any friends. Many were afraid to be with me (only adults appreciated my beauty). I tried to socialize before, but what happened just worsened the situation.
One time, someone courted me, and I did reject him. And
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