Circa 1988

Everyone was busy in the unit upon arriving. I was watching the adults go into their respective rooms to unpack, while my younger sister took her nap on the sofa, with the hood of her blue sweater on her head. Mama came out of one of the rooms and carried my sister to the bed, as I had my eyes fixed on the spiral stairs. I have been to this place a year before, they call it Baguio- we stayed at a place with the word “Villa” even if it was a condominium type of structure. What I remember about this place were the trees, the horse back riding, the strawberries and the little girl with a pink ball inside at the courtyard.

“do you want to have a snack?” my thoughts were interrupted when one of my godfathers asked me. “No, thank you”, I replied with a meek smile. He pat my head as he went left me in the living room. My godfathers and my dad started preparing food inside the kitchen and I was getting bored. Yes, 7 year old me getting bored is natural. My dad and his friends have this yearly vacation and the only kids joining the trip are always just me and my sister.

Cartoon was on television when I noticed a kid sneaking out the unit. Thinking it was my sister, I ran outside and followed the kid without making a noise. But then, there was no one outside. It was awfully quiet, and a bit dark. “hello? Shobe!” I called, while scanning the hallway. I was about to turn around and head back inside the unit when I heard the sound of small little bells and giggling. The sound was coming downstairs, I was on the 3rd floor. My curiosity got the best of me, and I headed for the railings.

From the third floor, I saw her. The little girl I saw running out of our unit. She wore the same blue sweater my sister wore, similar to mine- mine was red though. She was playing with a pink ball, with little bells inside. The ball looked familiar, just wasn’t sure why it felt familiar. She handed me the ball and started to play with me. I realized she never spoke to me. She just gave me verbal nods and giggle the whole time.

The ball she threw bounced to a nearby unit. The door was open, someone must have checked out and housekeeping was probably doing their stuff. The little girl ran after the ball while I followed behind. The room was empty, no signs of housekeeping or guests. I tried to look for my playmate, she was pretty good at hiding.

I noticed one of the cabinets a bit open, and in my mind I thought she wanted to scare me or play hide and seek. To my surprise, the cabinet had clothes inside. We were in big trouble for entering an occupied unit, I was about to run when I heard the tiny bells inside the cabinet. “get out of there, we’ll get scolded if they find out we came in here!!!” I reached for my playmate inside the cabinet when I felt a hand grab my arm. As I tried to pull myself free, I hear a noise behind me. I look over my shoulder, and I saw my playmate!  “Couldn’t you find me?” screamed the voice in the cabinet.

Tears were running down my cheeks out of terror. I knew I was screaming, but no sound was coming out of me. My playmate was just staring at me until she suddenly helped me get my arm back. I ran out of the unit, straight to the 3rd floor where my parents are. I never looked back, I still couldn’t scream. I ran straight to my dad who was looking for me when he realized I was gone and the door was open. He knew something wasn’t right, but decided not to talk about it anymore. He said I was just imagining things.

The next day, we were waiting for everyone in the courtyard to head for Mines View Park. I clung to my father and tried to avoid looking at the room I entered the day before . I was looking at the ground when I heard the small bells again. I looked up and this time my dad heard it too.

We both looked at the direction of the little bells, only to see a pink ball rolling slowly towards our direction.