Chapter 8 – Snooping

Cyndi went right to work the next day, considering how her father’s work schedule was always so busy. She made sure to call him, letting him know what was going on and that she was home early. She even asked for any changes in his schedule, stressing that she needed to know when she should start making dinner.
Cyndi started in the living room. She knew her father kept things all over the place – and at the most random spot. She knew she could say that she was cleaning up the house since she had some time – if he had walked in. She always had the habit of cleaning his room last so she wanted to keep that consistency. One thing out of place, the whole plan would fall over.
It took her over two hours to finish the living room. She was really cleaning. It was an unbreakable habit. She forced herself not to clean her father’s room when she finally entered it after replacing the dirty water bucket with a clean one. She only left the bucket and the mop outside his room for prop purposes. Pulling off her cleaning gloves, she went to work right away. Flicking on the light, she searched the desk at the far corner first. She was only able to search the right side since the left side was all locked up. Making a trip to the front door to do a routine check, she returned with a hairpin in her hand. Resorting to that kind of trick was definitely low. Yet she wanted to know. And she finally stroke gold with the last desk. Her father’s contacts were locked away in a book. Using her cell phone, she snapped a few pictures before shutting it up. She had to make sure it was really in the same place she found it. Being on the verge of OCD made her job easier because she would know if it was at the wrong angle from which she found it in the first place. Hearing sounds coming from the front hall, she jumped up from the ground and shut the last drawer. Glancing around the room once, she marched out of the room to greet her father. However, the person coming face to face with her wasn’t her father but…
“What in the world are you doing here?” Cyndi exclaimed, almost jumping up from fright. No, she was not afraid, she told herself. It was from nerves.
“I was wondering if you needed any help,” The other person answered. “You know how nervous you sounded the other day. I thought I might bring a teddy bear.”
Yes, Cynthia, who else? She was tapping on her handbag at that moment, indicating that the bear was in her bag.
“Haha,” Cyndi mocked, her expression an annoyed one. “I got it done already.”
“You searched the whole place?” Cynthia asked, staring at Cyndi in shock.
Cyndi was still annoyed. “Of course.” Then she realized something wasn’t right. “How did you get in anyway?”
Cynthia did not reply right away. She had on that cunning smile. The same one when she mentioned about the rats. Cyndi was about to strike but she stopped when Cynthia raised a hand in front of her. Not a pose that said she was going to strike. Cynthia had a hairpin in her hand.
“Works every time,” Cynthia said, waving the hairpin in her hand proudly.
Cyndi was still speechless but she was reaching into her jeans to retrieve an item also. She had stuck her hairpin there earlier when she was searching the last drawer.
“Whoa!”
“I know!”
They were holding the exact same hairpin. Their shock state only lasted a few seconds.
“Nice outfit,” Cynthia remarked, studying her sister again. The t-shirt was dark blue. Okay, leaning over to purple. The only color she did not have in her wardrobe.
“I was doing some cleaning earlier,” Cyndi explained.
Cynthia turned back to the living room and studied it. It was almost like how she remembered it since she and her mother moved out.
“You want to search or something?” Cyndi asked, alarmed that her hard work would be undone.
“Nah. Just trying to see how you did. Looks like you’ll be a good housewife in the future.” She was circling the living room.
Cyndi followed closely, not trusting her sister’s words.
“That Jiro guy is lucky,” Cynthia continued. She was still pacing. “But if you take on the housewife role, it might allow him even more time to go out and find other girls on the side without you realizing it.”
“Hey!” Cyndi did not know that was coming. “Jiro’s not like that.”
Cynthia turned to face an angered Cyndi. “Who knows? He’s too friendly. Too, too friendly. He allows every other girl to call him Da Dong. It’s like a magnet. Girl magnet thing.”
“He helped us a lot, trying patch things up between us. How could you say that?”
Cynthia shrugged. “Just covering all bases. And you should be glad I don’t like him because that just means one less thing for us to worry about.”
“What?” Cyndi was just asking for the sake of asking. Routine. Monotone. She was still offended that her boyfriend was being bad-mouthed. Insulted even. How could Cynthia be so ungrateful?
“We won’t have the problem with fighting over the same guy, hello.”
Cyndi was still scowling. “Hello yourself.”
Cynthia shrugged, her bright smile on. But that was not her attempt to make peace with Cyndi. It was just a partial charming one mixed in with some mischievousness.
“Hello, Princess!” A familiar voice rang out at that time.
Both girls turned around to stare at their father. The door was still ajar.
“Ba!” Cyndi exclaimed. Her excitement contained more of surprised than nervousness.
Cynthia had to bite back her word before she broke her promise to her mother.
“Cynthia!” Mr. Wang exclaimed, his face full of happiness. It was apparent he had no problem with seeing her. In fact, he was more than glad to see her. He turned to Cyndi briefly. “You two are getting together for a little party?”
Was their father kidding? Was he too oblivious to their constant fights? They only lived across town, not across a universe.
“How have you been?” Their father continued, his attention on Cynthia again.
Cynthia was still quiet, not knowing how to react.
“Hey, Dad’s asking you,” Cyndi snapped at her sister.
Then Cynthia suddenly remembered. She gestured her hand wildly at her father, forming different types of lines in the air. Then there were attempts to draw circles or it seemed that way.
“What are you doing?” Cyndi asked, still annoyed that Cynthia was being rude to their father. She had at least answered to him in the past. “Are you playing the guessing game? At this time of the day?”
It was still bright outside.
“Got it,” Their father said, oblivious to Cyndi’s words. His eyes were on Cynthia and her weird moves.
“Ba!” Cyndi jumped in.
“Just a minute, Princess,” Mr. Wang soothed, his eyes still on Cynthia.
Cyndi could not guess because the gestures were too weird. And random. And did not even make sense. And it was driving her insane because it was not an attempt to draw strokes that would eventually form words either. AND her father was ignoring her. Like really ignoring her.
Cynthia finally moved from her spot and tapped on Cyndi’s shoulder. “I’ll see you later, sis.” She had placed a strong emphasis on ‘sis.’
Cyndi did not want to lose out. She responded with her famous glare. It was enough to get Cynthia out of her sight. Yet Cynthia was still smiling. It was that frustrating. If her father wasn’t the one holding the door, she would’ve slammed the door in her evil sister’s face already.
“Ba!” Cyndi yelled out. She did not want to sound that whiny. But she was fed up at him for ignoring her.
“Yes, Princess?” Mr. Wang responded, finally directing his attention to her. Though he was still displaying that distractive glint in his eyes. That familiar feeling when Cynthia was standing there, gesturing like a maniac.
“What was she doing?” Her hands were on her hips now. She did not want to direct that frustration – or anger – on her father. But he was the only one around.
“It’s our sign language.” He was still smiling like some psycho.
Cyndi did not care to ask more. Her glare was enough for him to continue.
“You know the sign language Cynthia and I created when she was little? Well, you both were little.”
“Oh.” She did not remember. But like it matter. She did not understand anyway. “What was she saying then?”
“She said that she promised her mother not to talk to me so she couldn’t speak up.”
“Hmp.”
“Good news,” Mr. Wang said, changing the topic on purpose. He never knew his daughter could be so scary. The rumors around town might be true after all. “I got this project that I have been waiting for weeks now. Let’s eat out tonight! Our little celebration.”
“Okay then,” Cyndi said. She was glad her father got what he wanted. But her anger still did not subside.
“I’ll go change out to more comfortable clothes then.”
She followed him down the hall and made sure to warn him about the water bucket. She blamed it on Cynthia for coming so abruptly so she did not have time to scrub the tiles in his room yet. It was not a lie. She was going to scrub his room anyway. After she transferred all the pictures to her laptop.

*****

Cynthia had to wait for Friday to arrive before carrying out her plans. Though she was always in control of her emotions at the right time, she was having trouble that week. She was itching to carry out her plan. She was more than glad when her mother had to work overtime on Friday. It was not something to be glad about but she was that day.
She started at the night stand next to her mother’s bed first. It was the safest because she knew her mother would never leave stuffs in a mess – unlike her father. And her. The easiest part was knowing that her mother never kept anything locked. Her mother trusted her. Too much. Contacts book in the second drawer, check. Pictures album under the book, check. Some snapping minutes later, she was done. Then it was the rest of the room. It only took her half an hour. Her mother was that neat. It made her search much easier. Yet she did not want to be arrogant. It was her mother after all. The mold from which her sister came from. She almost laughed out loud remembering how Cyndi had followed her around the living room the other day. It was too amusing. She had detected traces of her mother’s nervousness through Cyndi. Cyndi had inherited the OCD gene after all. The more reason why Cynthia had to make sure the angle was just right when she placed everything back in place. Being good at math made it much easier. She did not want to risk it, even an inch.
Her cell phone vibrated just when she was stopping for a rest. She was on her way to the door. Until her handbag almost knocked over the picture frame on her mother’s night stand. A careless move that almost turned into a mistake because she had settled down on her mother’s bed to rest. Lucky her reflex was good. She caught it in time. Then she felt like the frame was too heavy. Especially for its kind. Ignoring her incoming call, she reached to remove the backcover. There was a set of pictures hidden inside. She sorted through it one by one, snapping a picture for reference as she went.
“So she still kept it,” Cynthia mumbled.
The last picture was of her parents’ wedding. She quickly put everything back and placed the picture frame on the night stand again. It was then that her mother opened the door and stepped in.
“Cynthia!” Her mother exclaimed, shocked.
“Mom!” Cynthia called out about the same time. “What are you doing home so early? I thought you said…”
“Someone took over for me,” Her mother answered. “What are you doing here?”
“I was looking for some headache meds,” Cynthia replied. “But I ended up knocking over the picture frame and had to place it on the table again before I could search for the meds.” She kneeled down and reached for the bottom drawer. “Is it in here?”
“NO!” Her mother was fast.
Cynthia stopped her hand and turned to her mother.
“It’s not there,” Her mother said, recovering. “I put everything in the meds cabinet. If it’s not there, then we ran out of it.”
“Oh…” Cynthia got up from the ground, having pushed the drawer in already. She scratched her head as she walked. “I always forget. I meant I thought you would at least keep a backup here or something.”
“You and your father are so alike,” Her mother chided. “Always putting things all over the place.”
“Ugh…” She was not offended. That was her charade to get her mother’s attention off her suspicious actions. She was only shocked that her mother mentioned about her father at all. “I have to go out later, Mom. But I’ll be back before 9.”
“Okay.”
She headed back to her room, making sure to lock her door before loading all the information to her laptop. Then locking the files in a safe place – in case her mother had to borrow her laptop later. She only printed out her parents’ wedding picture. It was the only one that she didn’t have in her album. She printed two.
Twenty minutes later, she was at a café across town with Cyndi. The guys did not have to come. Not yet.
“Is this an emergency?” Cyndi asked, staring at Cynthia with cautious eyes.
“Not exactly,” Cynthia admitted, unzipping her handbag.
“Then why are we here?”
“I miss my precious sister,” Cynthia rattled out, retrieving something from her bag. A pocketbook.
Cyndi rolled her eyes. She knew Cynthia was mocking her again. She got up from her seat. “I don’t have to deal with this. Not right now.” She was still mad at Cynthia for walking all over the house the other day. She remembered spending an amount of time making sure it was clean again. Shoes weren’t allowed in the house and Cynthia had trampled all over. Her father even forgot to take off his shoes at the door and exchanged it with slippers. How could he? She had to do double work.
“Here,” Cynthia said, handing Cyndi something. She had gotten up also.
Cyndi turned the piece of paper over and studied it. Then she realized it was a picture of their parents’ wedding. A picture not seen before. In fact, no wedding pictures were found around the house. Not even when she was searching her father’s room. She turned to her sister again. “Where did you find this?”
“Behind Mom’s picture frame,” Cynthia answered, smiling. “She kept a picture of herself by her night stand. But I didn’t realize she hid some stuffs inside it too. Some pictures are just old ones of us when we were younger.”
“Oh.”
Cynthia checked her watch at that time. It was a habit she inherited from Nic. He was always prompt. Something she had come to like because she hated people who were late. “Anyway, I have to get back or Mom would worry. You should go back too and don’t give Dad such a hard time. He was just excited that I remember the sign language. I couldn’t break Mom’s promise, you know. So I didn’t know what to do. Then I remember it.”
“That’s communicating too, you know,” Cyndi pointed out. She did not want to let Cynthia off that easily. Not when Cynthia had spoken up on behalf of their father. Her father. The one that stayed with her all these years. No, she had stuck through thick and thin with him.
“She said ‘talk’,” Cynthia returned. “Not communicate.”
“That’s a sign language. And you’re talking to him through it.”
“Those are just gestures, it doesn’t count.”
“Hmp.” Her hands were crossed.
“Come on. I have to get back.”
“Okay, whatever.”
Cynthia stepped out of their booth and paid at the front counter. She did not look back. She did not see the annoyed expression Cyndi still carried. She was too excited to care if she were to see it anyway.
© Sunday, December 12th, 2010
Posted: Saturday, February 5th, 2011