“Bad day,” she muttered to herself. “Talk about waking up at the wrong side of the bed.”
Just then, the phone rang, and Ana got more irritated. “Who could that be? Calling me this early?”
She stomped her way to her bedside table, picked up the receiver and greeted the caller with an irritated hello.
“Good morning, honey,” said the voice from the other line. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, Louie,” Ana muttered lazily. “Just woke up at the wrong side of the bed.”
“Well,” Louie continued, his voice full of energy and delight. “How about a visit to St. Martin’s Cathedral? Let’s visit Father Miguel.”
Ana’s face lit up. “Alright. You’ll pick me up?”
“Say. . . at eight? Would that be fine?”
“Thumbs up! I’ll wait for you.”
Upon entering the Cathedral, goosebumps started to form on Ana’s arms. She shivered, and Louie felt that his fiancée was not feeling well.
“What’s wrong?” Louie asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t understand.”
“We’ve been here before, right?”
“Perhaps you’re just nervous about our wedding. That’s already next week.”
Ana nodded again. “Probably.”
They walked down the center aisle and genuflected when they reached the front. Just then, a white-haired priest appeared, and Louie approached him.
“Good morning, Father Miguel,” he greeted, and the two of them shook hands.
“Good day, Louie,” the priest replied happily. “I’m going to marry you on Sunday, but I haven’t seen your wife-to-be.”
“That’s why I brought her here, Father.” Then Louie turned to Ana and motioned for her to come. “Let me introduce to you Ana, my fiancée. And Ana, this is Father Miguel.”
Ana smiled. “Good morning, Father Miguel.”
All of a sudden, Father Miguel’s smile faded. Nevertheless, he greeted Ana. “Good morning.”
The priest looked at her from head to toe, then looked closely at her face. Ana felt cold, so she squeezed Louie’s hand tightly. Louie thought that Ana was acting so weird. She seemed so scared, yet there was nothing to be afraid of.
“You look familiar,” Father Miguel broke out, looking at Ana. “What’s your name again?”
“I’m Ana, Father,” Ana answered courteously. “This is the first time we’ve met.”
Father Miguel narrowed his eyes. “Yes. It’s just that . . . I thought you’re someone I know. You resemble her.”
“Who is she?” Louie asked.
“Oh, no need. That’s not important,” Father Miguel answered, changing the subject. “So, are you ready for your wedding?”
“Of course, Father!” Louie exclaimed matter-of-factly. “In fact, we’ll go to the jewelry shop later to get our rings.”
“That’s nice,” Father Miguel replied. “And I think you better do so now. Remember, time is gold.”
“Alright, Father. I think we better go,” Louie said, and shook hands with the priest. “Thank you for your time and have a nice day.”
“Have a nice day, Father,” Ana repeated. “Goodbye.”
“Goodbye. Louie, take care of your fiancée. And congratulations.” And with that, they bid each other goodbye.
Father Miguel watched them as they strode along the aisle. The priest felt his heart beat fast and he shivered in fear and nervousness. Then, in his mind, he uttered a short prayer. “God the Father in heaven, take care of this couple.”
Louie opened the car door for Ana. When they were both inside, Louie looked worriedly at his fiancée and held her hand.
“Honey, is there anything wrong?”
Ana shook her head. “I’m not sure, Louie. I don’t understand myself. When we entered the cathedral a while ago, I suddenly felt nervous. Louie, I’m scared.”
“Scared of what?”
Ana shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Louie brushed his fingers through her long, black hair. He touched her face and said, “Honey, listen. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Just relax.”
Ana showed him a sober smile. “I’m okay.”
When Louie started the car and began to drive, Ana glanced at her window and saw a lady in a bridal gown following her with her eyes. Ana freaked out, and let out a short but sharp scream. Louie was startled, so he asked her what was wrong.
“I…I saw a lady there, looking at me,” Ana answered in a trembling voice, and pointed at the yard where she saw the lady.
“There’s nobody there,” Louie replied after looking at the yard. “Ana, perhaps you’re just stressed out with the wedding arrangements. Let’s relax.”
Ana and Louie, after getting their rings from the jewelry shop, had lunch together, strolled in the mall and spent the day with each other. They enjoyed every single moment of their company, and thanks to this, Ana forgot about the lady she saw in the cathedral yard.
It was past dinnertime when Louie brought her to her apartment. Louie offered to take her to her place at the fourth floor, but Ana refused. She reasoned out that Louie needed to go home and rest, and that she could go to her room by herself. Louie no longer insisted, and with a good night kiss, he left his fiancée and drove off.
Ana pressed the number 4 button in the elevator. When the door opened, nobody and nothing was inside, except for a bouquet of white roses lying on the floor. Ana’s heart thumped, but she overcame her fear. She took a deep breath and calmed herself with the thought that someone may have left it there.
When she reached the fourth floor, the door opened and she saw a lady in a bridal gown trailing towards her room. In horror, Ana remained glued to where she was standing. She could not move; she could only stare in shock. She did not know what to do, whether she would go to her room or not. And out of this reverie, her cell phone rang. Her hands shook as she reached for it in her bag, and she answered the call with a trembling voice.
“Hello, Ana,” the caller said. It was Louie. “You’re in your room now?”
“Y… I’m on my way,” Ana answered. “I just got out of the elevator.”
“I just called to check if you’re okay. Good night, honey. Sleep well.”
“Thanks, honey. Good night.”
“Good night. I’ll hang up now.”
“Wait,” Ana broke in. “Louie, I…” Then she paused for a second and seemed to change what she was supposed to say. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Ana.”
Ana took out her keys and opened her door. Slowly and nervously, she entered her room, with her eyes on the lookout for the appearance of ghosts. After turning her lights on and removing her shoes, she stretched out her arms and threw herself on her bed. “I need to relax,” she thought. For a few minutes, she closed her eyes and took deep breaths, and eventually, she felt calm inside. But when she opened her eyes, she gasped in horror, for the bouquet of white roses, which she saw in the elevator, rested beside her. Like a bolt of lightning, she jumped from her bed and headed for the door. But when she opened it, the more she was terrified, because the lady wearing a bridal gown stood before her, looking at her straight in the eye. She had nowhere else to go, and she could not do anything, but to let out, at the top of her lungs, a shrill and horrified scream.
The next day, when she woke up, she was surprised to see herself lying on her bed. “How could that be?” she thought. “The last thing I remember was I was standing at the doorway, seeing the lady. I was screaming. How did I get on my bed?” However, she did not let these things linger in her mind. Instead, she set aside her mystified thoughts and got ready for the day.
During the days that came, everything was normal for Ana. She did her routine the way she was accustomed to do it. Also, she was so busy with the final details about her wedding – finalizing this, double-checking that, making sure that the invitations were already sent – that her mind had no more room for thoughts about the bride she saw lately. And everyday, Louie would call her to check if she was fine, and Ana would relate how excited she was with their nearing wedding.
Then on Thursday night, Ana arrived at her apartment, bringing her bridal gown which she picked up from the dressmaker on her way home. She was so anxious to see it, so she sat on her bed and opened the box. Just then, she felt a sudden need to go the bathroom. When she came back, she saw it on the floor and her wedding gown had got out of the box. She bent to pick it up, but the moment she set her hands on her gown, her eyes widened in terror, because the bouquet of roses was inside the box. Her heart thumped. Her hands shook as she quickly fixed her gown and put it in its container. She focused her eyes on what she was doing because she was afraid to see the lady the moment she turn her eyes. But when she stood up, she saw the last thing she wanted to see, because the lady wearing a bridal gown stood at the other side of her bed.
Ana panicked and screamed. She ran out of her bedroom to her living room and quickly dialed Louie’s number. Hot tears ran down her cheeks. She felt her knees weaken and her hands were so cold as she held the receiver tightly. At last, Louie answered the phone, and before he could even finish his hello, Ana broke out.
“Louie, take me. Take me away from here.”
Louie was bewildered from what he heard from his fiancée. “What? What’s happening to you?”
“Just take me away from here!” Ana blurted out. “Take me quick!”
Ana no longer heard what Louie said, nor she had the chance to put the receiver down, because when she turned her eyes, a beautiful lady, with a grave face, wearing a bridal gown, was sitting next to her.
“AAAAHH!” Ana cried.
She wanted to escape. She wanted to hide. But she did not know where to go. She tripped over the leg of the center table, and like a thin blanket dropping from the clothesline, Ana stumbled and fell to the floor. Her knees hit hard against the tiled floor, and went black-and-blue. She struggled to get up, but it was difficult. And then, things became worse, because the moment she raised her head, she saw the lady looking down at her. Ana kept on screaming and shouting, her heart pounding so hard that she found it hard to breathe. She held her chest and ran to her bedroom and paved her way to the bathroom for refuge. Ana hid in the shower area with the curtain as her shield. She prayed that the horror would stop, and that the lady would leave her alone. She closed her eyes tightly and drowned herself in prayer.
Ana did not know how long she stayed in the bathroom. She did not care, for the only thing she was thinking about was to stop the lady from going near her. Ana cried out of fear and hopelessness. Every minute seemed eternity, and every second brought her torture.
When she heard the bathroom door open, Ana’s prayer stopped and she trembled in fear. When the shower curtain was swung open, she screamed so loud that she did not realize that it was Louie.
“Ana! Ana!” Louie called, his voice filled with worry. “What’s going on?”
“The lady! The lady! She’s here!” Ana cried out.
Ana almost went out of her mind. Louie carried her out of her apartment to his car. This calmed her down, and little by little, Ana stopped crying.
Louie gave her a bottle of water. After drinking, her tension was a bit relieved, though she was still panting for air.
“Ana,” Louie began, looking at Ana straight in the eye. “Tell me what happened.”
Ana shook her head. “You won’t believe me.”
“No. Honey, I promise. I’ll listen. And believe.”
Ana took a deep breath. “Okay. Last Sunday, when we left the cathedral, I saw a lady wearing a bridal gown, standing in the cathedral yard. She was looking at me. That night, when I rode the elevator, I saw a bouquet of white roses. I just ignored it, thinking that someone may have left it there. But when the door opened at the fourth floor, I saw the same lady walking towards my room. When I lied down on my bed for a few minutes, and then I opened my eyes, I saw the same bouquet. I freaked out so I ran to the door. But when I opened it, she was there!”
Louie held her hand. “Ssshh. Everything’s okay now.”
“And then,” Ana continued. “That lady haunted me tonight… a while ago… that’s why I called you…”
“Ssshhhh. Honey, no more of that now. I’m already here.”
“What will we do now?” Ana asked, and she burst into tears. “I’m so scared, Louie. I’m so scared.”
“We’ll go to my place. And tomorrow morning, we’ll go to Father Miguel.”
“But…” Ana was hesitant.
“Ssshhh,” Louie said, and put his finger on her lips. “You’ll be fine.”
Louie drove to his place where Ana spent the night. She slept on Louie’s bed, and Louie slept on the couch. Ana could not sleep; the images of the lady in the bridal gown still haunted her. Nevertheless, she snuggled beneath the covers and dozed off.
The next morning, the two of them came to Father Miguel. The priest was still having breakfast when they arrived. Father Miguel, ever so warm and accommodating, invited them to join him at the breakfast table. Ana and Louie could not refuse, so they heeded the priest’s invitation and they drank coffee with him.
Ana told Father Miguel about the lady she had seen when they visited last Sunday, and how she haunted her in her apartment. Father Miguel listened very carefully, analyzing every single detail that Ana spoke about.
“What does she look like?” Father Miguel asked.
“She’s all made up for a wedding. She’s beautiful, but she has a very sober expression.”
“Does she look like someone you know?”
Ana paused for a moment. “Father, I know this might be weird and unbelievable, but she looks like… like…me.”
Father Miguel raised his face. He looked at Louie, and then shifted his gaze at Ana. “I knew it!” he exclaimed. Then, in a low voice, the priest told them a story.
“Five years ago, I was about to marry a couple. The bride’s name was Carmina. Her groom didn’t show up at the wedding. When Carmina arrived here, her groom called, telling her that he was about to leave with another girl. Carmina was dumbfounded, and she fainted in shock. And right then and there, her heart stopped beating; she probably had a heart attack. She died. And since that day, I know, I can feel it, that Carmina still lingers here in this Cathedral.”
After Father Miguel’s last statement, the breakfast table shook, the chandelier swung and the lights turned on and off. Ana’s heart raced.
“What’s going on?” she screamed.
Louie held her hand. “Don’t be afraid, honey. Just relax.” Then he turned to the priest. “Father, what’s going on?”
Father Miguel stayed put, and replied. “Probably, it is she. Carmina is coming.”
“What?” Ana and Louie gasped in unison.
Just then, there was a gush of cold wind, the door opened, and a lady wearing a bridal gown entered. Ana and Louie stared in horror, as the lady raised her head and stared gravely at Ana.
“What are you doing here?” Carmina asked. “I’m getting married.”
Louie ran to Ana’s side. “What are you talking about?”
But Carmina ignored her. She did not take her eyes off of Ana. “Why are you here?”
Ana did not know what to do. She gulped, and answered in a trembling voice. “I… I’m getting married.”
The ghost almost flared up. “You’re not going to get married!” Carmina snapped. “That face – it’s mine! I’m the one getting married!”
“No!” Ana cried.
The ghost walked to Ana’s back. She seemed to examine her physique, and in a snap, Carmina pulled Ana’s hair. Ana groaned in pain and begged Carmina to stop it. Louie wanted to protect Ana from the ghost. He shoved her, but his hands just ran through Carmina’s “body”. Louie kept on trying, but the ghost stood still and did not move an inch.
Father Miguel froze in terror upon witnessing the encounter between Carmina’s spirit and the couple. He had never seen anything like that before. He couldn’t think; he did not know what to do. But he held on to his faith, and in a snap, Father Miguel stood up and faced Carmina.
“In the name of Jesus, Carmina, please leave them alone.”
Carmina did not listen. She went on touching Ana’s hair, and then her face and shoulders. As her cold “hand” brushed on Ana’s smooth skin, goosebumps became even more evident on the arms of the bride-to-be.
Once again, Father Miguel tried to stop Carmina. “Carmina, rest in peace now.”
Upon hearing that, Carmina stopped what she was doing. “I’m not dead.”
Father Miguel shook his head. “You are. You died five years ago, in this cathedral, on your wedding day. Remember?”
Carmina paused for minutes. She could not believe what she had just heard. Turning out, she did not know that she was dead, and because Ana resembled her, she thought that she was still going to get married. Carmina was so bewildered with what the priest told her. Her previously grave face became a picture of confusion.
Then, Carmina realized that Father Miguel was right. She was already dead, and she was no longer going to get married. Crestfallen, Carmina fell to her knees and wept.
“I’m dead! I’m dead!”
Ana stood up. “I’m sorry.” Carmina did not answer. She just wept and wept.
Then, Father Miguel suggested that the three of them pray for Carmina, that her soul be quiet and that she may rest in peace. Holding each other’s hands, Ana, Louie and Father Miguel circled around Carmina and prayed. After that, a beam of light entered through the ceiling. Carmina looked up and slowly, she rose from the ground.
“Thank you,” she said softly to the three people in the room. “Ana and Louie, congratulations. And best wishes for you, Ana.”
After speaking her last words, Carmina vanished along with the beam of light. Ana and Louie embraced each other, and Father Miguel blessed them.
Sunday came. It was 9:50 a.m., and the guests had arrived in the cathedral. They were all enthusiastic with the wedding, and everyone could not wait for it to start. At last, the bridal car came into view, and the guests cheered as it approached the cathedral. Then, Ana came out, and like a flock of sheep being tended by a shepherd, the flower girls, the bridesmaids and all the other participants in the entourage formed their line.
Before Ana took her place at the back, she looked at the altar and saw Louie waiting for her. Ana smiled; her beauty radiated even more. When she went at the back of the line, her eyes wandered through the cathedral yard, and she saw Carmina standing under a tree. Carmina’s face was no longer grave, for it was full of joy and gratitude. She waved at Ana, and the bride waved back.
At last, when the clock stroked ten, the church bells rang, the organist started playing, and the bridal entourage strode to the rhythm of the “Bridal Chorus.”