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***San Martin. The Safe Zone. December 1. Day 32 as a volunteer. 12: 27 a.m.

***Althea's POV


I lie awake catching my breath. Chills run down my spine like wildfire burning down everything in its path. I sat up and wiped the sweat off my face. 

"It's just a dream..just a dream." I reassure myself while I took a couple deep breaths.

A subtle breeze reached through the open window, setting the curtains into motion. I watched the light fabric dance in the wind to calm my heart beat.

"Relax, I'm in my room." I hear myself thinking.

I have a secret...

I am haunted by a dream. 

A dream that feels so real.

Why do I have the same dream everynight?... Stress maybe?

My job as a volunteer can be challenging sometimes. More and more people flee the Capital everyday after the enemy stormed the city with bombs. Survivors travel long hours, sometimes crossing mountains to get to San Martin. Some of them reach the Safe Zone injured, wounded or sick. Within the last four weeks of service, I've met people with stories to tell. They tell me stories of home and how they got here while I dress their wounds. 

A happy memory uninvitingly entered my train of thought...

My little brother Migoy and I used to play in our backyard. I made "mudcakes" out of real mud with mango leaves from a neighbor's tree and told my brother it would make him taller. While I protected him from school bullies, I also liked playing pranks on him at home. I still remember my mother's worried - angry look when she saw my brother about to take a bite of my "Special Mango-Chocolate Cake" while I cheer him on. We were on dewormers the next day.

"Nay, It was just a joke. Promise, we didn't eat any!"  She gave me a "Don't mess with me Althea!" look, so I shut my mouth and took the bitter liquid in front of her.

How I miss my mother... 

I miss home. Now that I'm a volunteer, I don't get to see my family that often. We're always busy at the hospital (not that I'm complaining ). It's just that there's a war going on and even if this town is supposed to be a "Safe Zone", I'm not that naive to know that in wartime safety can never be guaranteed. 

"Treasure every moment you have with your loved ones." an old man at the hospital once told me while I dress his wounds. I visit my family whenever I get the chance. 

I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep. Random images immediately flash through my mind.

Right now I see..

a Dove.


a necklace? 


And a...

Gold and white smoke? 





Just a thought of the ghost-like image sent chills all over my body. 

I opened my eyes.

"Great! Now it's back to you." 

I hugged my pillow and cleared my throat. 

"Are you a ghost?" 

"Is that you Nanay?"

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