Chapter 5 – The Confession – Pages 30 – 31

It was a few years ago in the Philippines. A lively lad of fourteen was vigorously chasing a twelve-year-old girl as she fled down the steps alongside a gushing waterfall that showered its invigorating freshness upon the evergreen ferns and abundant shrubbery. The trees were tall and crowned with thick foliage, making it hard for the sun to take a peek at this enchanting paradise. The youngsters ran untiringly, lost in the exhilaration of the moment. They felt the coolness of the drenched ground beneath their feet, but such sensation simply made them run faster, their carefree laughter cutting through the woodsy atmosphere, rivaling the vibrant sounds of the waterfall. They turned around a curve to follow the path of the water whose vigor had now mellowed into the sweeter-sounding ripples of a calmer stream. As the girl slowed down to cross the shallow stream, she stepped on and crushed some stalks, which emitted a fresh scent that mingled with the fragrance of some sweet white flowers that grew wild in this wet terrain.

Chapter 15 – Fingers of Fate – Page 101 - 102 

The ride was very quiet. Neither of them spoke, afraid to expose their vulnerability. They drove up a long, smooth, winding road leading to a beautiful restaurant perched on top of a hill. The road was rimmed with Hawaiian palm trees. Twilight colored the skies, and its red-orange tinge softly painted a radiant blush on Bella’s cheeks. They climbed steadily up the smooth, graceful road, which took them farther and farther away from the noise of the city. The pervasive tranquility seeped through them as they watched the birds fly home to the hills at the closing of the day.

The golden sun had now begun to descend, yet, it was reluctant to hide its jovial face behind the mountains. Bella, seated at one of the outdoor tables with Derek, gazed at it until its crowning rays left nothing but a pale orange glow against the graying skies. Overlooking the valley, Bella saw the awakening of nightlife. Neon lights that lined the streets lit up, a row at a time, as though a whimsical Fairy Godmother had softly wafted her magic wand to breathe life into them. One by one, other lights followed to flaunt their own beauty. Soon, it became a visual concert of lights. As the night gently laid its dark, velvet mantle upon the earth, these faint lights grew in incandescence to consort with the twinkling stars in the skies.

 Chapter 16 – Borrowed Moment of Joy – Pages 107 - 108

Bella heard Daniel’s car start. She got up and walked slowly toward the window to see him off . A white Cadillac Seville pulled out of the carport. It looked immaculate in the moonlight. At first, Daniel left the headlights off ; besides not being necessary under the radiance of the moon, they could even detract from the natural beauty of the night with its perfect contrast of colors. The car crawled slowly down the sloping driveway, and in a little while, the driveway looked bare except for some shadows cast by the Italian cypresses that lined it. The clock struck midnight. Outside, the air was a little chilly for autumn.

The atmosphere seemed perfectly quiet except for the faint sound of cars occasionally passing along a distant boulevard. The silhouette of Bella’s feminine figure appeared dark against the glass window, which was lit by the reflection of the moonlight. She gazed about the wooded hills that surrounded the house. There was peace and tranquility in the night, a perfect antidote to the harrowing restlessness of her spirit. The moon was full and bright. Like a mother, it gave its glow—its only riches— lavishly, unselfishly. It bestowed great beauty on everything it touched: every shrub, every tree, and every flower. White flowers put on an added glow. Even the raw earth—though rendered barren, ugly, and lifeless by the sun—when bathed by the moon’s pale, soft, silvery shine, and moistened by the early morning dew, still showed some promise to breed life.

Bella entertained herself by scanning the undisturbed horizon in the moonlight. She looked to her left and gazed upon the numerous mountain ranges and the partly barren slopes of the hills. The more distant ones appeared gray against the clear blue skies, while the closer ones looked vivid and insidiously deserted. Against this bright horizon in the background, a huge cedar of Lebanon stood reverently before Bella. Though it looked strong and noble, for some strange reason its silhouette created in Bella’s mind the configuration of a man with a load too heavy to carry.

 Chapter 23 – Look Homeward, Angel – Page 155

Springtime always lends brightness to the atmosphere and the beauty of nature, felt even more during this gay season, brought solace to Bella’s troubled spirit. The hillside was covered with green, luscious grass, specked by colorful flowers in full bloom. The white and yellow daffodils swayed their long, fragile stems as the soft breeze wafted through them. They gracefully moved their slender bodies with beaming faces as they flirted with the sun. Allured by this colorful, concerted movement in nature, Bella felt transported into ethereal space, leaving painful realities behind.

Chapter 26 – The Crossroad – Page 182 

The glow of morning was just beginning to give luster to the ocean when a huge wave roared in. As though racing with the tiny ripples, it increased its momentum until it rose high against the morning sky, hurling itself like a gigantic whip upon the shore. The tumultuous wave created a powerful splash that woke Derek up. He opened his eyes and looked at his watch. It was six-thirty. He lay there, listening to the ocean, reluctant to face the practical issues of the day.

A little while later, he walked to the all-glass sliding door that looked out onto the sea. The day was hazy. Gray clouds loomed over the water. Sea gulls squealed as they glided about smoothly and gracefully. Long-legged sandpipers roamed along the shoreline to look for crustaceans buried in the sand. Each time the water dashed onto the shore, their
long, slender limbs hurried away. Derek slid the door open. A gush of wild sea breeze rushed in to fill the room with fresh, salty air. Derek took a few deep breaths.
Then, he walked slowly to a chair by a writing table, where he sat down aimlessly and gazed at the infinite ocean and open space before him.
The atmosphere was one of tranquility, of complete freedom from all cares. Nevertheless, he felt very alone. He took out a pen and scribbled a few lines for Bella. His inner thoughts fl owed freely. When he had finished, his eyes went through every line. The words popped up from the page and sizzled in his mind because they were impregnated with the deepest stirrings of his heart. After reading what he had written, he heaved a deep sigh, releasing the pressures cooped up inside his chest. He gazed into the vast horizon and remained still for quite some time. He pulled himself together, walked a few steps to the sliding door, and sluggishly followed the stony
trail down to the beach. The morning breeze was cold and crisp, and it played wildly with the curls of his hair. He watched the restless waves as they rushed and
broke against the shore, creating white foam that crept onto the sand.

Chapter 29 – The Untrodden Path – Pages 211 - 212 

The August moon was full, and its luminescence lent an enchanting glow on everything around Eagle’s Nest Manor. Bella stood by the window for a while scanning the peaceful horizon. Her attention was drawn to the old cedar of Lebanon tree standing in front of her. Onceagain, she felt haunted by its silhouette, which cast upon the brightly lit asphalt road the mysterious image of a man painstakingly carrying a heavy load. But this time the figure had come to life. She gazed at the shadow of the real man as Derek trudged down the road to catch the bus at the corner.

Chapter 31 – The Grapes of Agony – Page 227 

The red-orange twilight reflected on Bella’s peach-colored dress, casting an enticing glow upon her cheeks. Daniel couldn’t help but notice Bella’s beauty as he saw her face against the twilight skies. She looked up, waiting to hear what else he was going to say. Once again, Daniel saw in her eyes the pristine innocence he had always seen in her since they were children—uncorrupted by the pressures and passions of the world. It warmed his heart. He yearned to touch that face once again, but mindful of the forbidding reality, he simply withdrew his gaze and looked away.

The gentle summer breeze blew, and the soft clouds made their quiet formation under the twilight skies. They looked like shreds of cotton, rich in their purplish tinge, draping the earth to soften the harsh orange tinge of sunset. The sun’s glow persisted, lining the edges of every cloud with a bright orange rim. Soon, the sun gave up on the day and cradled itself between the mountain ranges before it inched away for the night. The trees cast a somber shadow against the skies that were quickly turning pallid and gloomy as the evening fell. A silhouette of two people standing face to face on top of a lonely hill also cast against the evening skies. Next to them was another silhouette—a pile of debris that spoke of their broken past. The burned incense from the relics of the past rode on the breeze that wafted gently during this final twilight hour.

 Chapter 31 – The Grapes of Agony – Pages 231 – 232

Summer was reluctant to give up its glory; however, autumn had eventually taken root. It cast its veil upon the day, toning down the brightness of the dying summer. Nonetheless, summer still heaved its final breath upon the trees, setting their crowns to a fiery glow of red and yellow. The trees, in turn, expressed their melancholy over the dying pleasures of summertime, shredding leaves that looked like teardrops falling upon the sun-baked earth.

It was alluring to watch the autumn leaves fall. Yellow-brown in color, they sparkled in the orange glow of twilight. As they fell, they turned about and flirted with the breeze that wafted gently to cuddle them and lay them softly upon the grass. They formed a golden mantle that draped the earth. During the day, these fallen leaves were toasted in the sun. A lone jogger, who roamed the parks to nourish his soul with tranquility, found inexplicable joy in feeling the leaves underneath his feet. With every step he made, the dried leaves crackled, breaking the silence and monotony of the lazy afternoons.

 Chapter 32 – Black Veil Over Tinseled Lights – Pages 242 – 243

The gray, December morning of the funeral was kept cool by a mild trickle of passing rain. But this rain was gentle, seeming to whisper love, unlike the previous rains that had spoken more of fervid anger. Soon, the rain had completely stopped. The air was crisp, clear, and invigorating. Christmas carols sounded everywhere.
A slow procession sadly crawled on the road toward the Lord’s Sanctuary Cemetery in Glendale. As the hearse neared, the haunting funeral music became clearer, mingling with the Christmas carols that pervaded the air. Tiny tinsel decorations trimmed the windows of houses, twinkling with every breeze that fl owed. But the plaintive notes of the funeral chimes took over, lamenting the death of Bella’s childhood love. Tinseled lights, which had been left on overnight, still glittered in the day. But the black veil of mourning loomed over them, imparting sorrow to the atmosphere.

Chapter 33 – The Foreboding – Page 251 - 252 

Outside, the rain poured incessantly. Feeling that sleep wouldn’t come, Bella got up and drew near the altar to light a candle. Lightheaded, she dropped to her knees in prayer. She prayed emptily until a wild draft that seeped through the crevices of the window blew out the candle’s glow, bathing her in darkness. Bella ended her prayer. To discard a mysterious fear that suddenly clutched at her heart, she walked toward a large window. Th e home where she and her family lived stood at an elevation high enough that she could see the lights of Glendale. And although the scenery was beautiful on a clear evening, the heavy downpour had created a mysterious cloud cover that had taken away the luster of the city lights.

As she looked around her surroundings, she was taken by surprise to realize that, just like at the Eagle’s Nest Manor, there was a huge cedar of Lebanon tree in front of the window. It resembled the old cedar tree. She looked at it and saw in her mind the old tree, still mystically standing in its usual place—loyal, unchanged, and undaunted by the storm. Now, before her eyes, she saw its replica, as though it had followed her to watch over her vigilantly. It was now taking a great beating from the tempestuous wind. Behind it, the glow of early morn hopelessly fought the thick, heavy thunderclouds that hovered threateningly in the dark gray skies. Bella gazed at the mighty tree with awe and compassion. It also bore the configuration of a man laden with a heavy weight upon his shoulder. On the drooping branch of this mystical tree, a tiny nightingale perched.

With plumage drenched from the rain, the poor bird planted its claws firmly on the branch to withstand the fierce winds. Feeling its life ending, it sang its most beautiful song that cut through the darkness, lending, for even just a moment, an unforgettable sweetness to the harsh and frightful atmosphere. Nature stilled to listen, quieting even the loudest roar of thunder for a brief moment, until the nightingale heaved from its heart its final note. Then, as its song ended, a solid bolt of lightning suddenly struck the drooping branch on which it perched, producing a frightening, deafening sound. C-R-A-C-K! And down came the branch in a big thump! There was absolute silence—a silence that was the holiest ode to this gentle nightingale, which lay lifeless on the cold, damp earth.