“Mommy, mommy!” he exclaimed. “Lights, lights!”
“What’s wrong, Leo?” his mommy asked. She sat up, turned on the table lamp, and took him in her arms. “It’s okay. There, there. Did you have a bad dream?”
He cried even louder, “Outside, outside!”
“But it’s dark outside, baby. Everyone’s asleep,” she said.
The Mother engkanto held her daughter’s wrist and led her outside the room. They passed through the wall.
“He saw me, mama,” the little engkanto said.
“Yes, he did, inday,” her mother said.
“I didn’t think he’d see me,” the little engkanto said.
“Sometimes they do, anak, especially the children,” her mother said. They stopped walking and the Mother engkanto gazed at her daughter tenderly. Then she bent down with one knee, held her daughter’s shoulders, and looked her straight in the eye. “Now, inday, how many times have I told you not to enter that house? I said before that it’s not polite to stare at humans in the privacy of their own homes.”
“I’m sorry, mama,” the little engkanto said.
The Mother engkanto stood up and they resumed their walk. “They have their world, and we have ours. They belong in their house, and we belong here in the garden. We must respect our own boundaries. Otherwise, think of the chaos that will result.”
“Yes, mama,” the little engkanto said.
“Now, we must go back to your papa. He must be awake by now.”
“The little boy is so very cute. That’s why I love to look at him. He’s like a doll.”
“Yes he is.”
“His mama reads him bedtime stories every night. After that, she sings him songs and he falls asleep.”
“Do you want me to read you tales, too? But you’re too old for that.”
The little engkanto nodded. Then she went on, “Sometimes, the stories and songs are not enough, so his mama carries him and cradles him in her arms, rocking him to sleep.”
“He’s still a baby, after all, inday,” the Mother engkanto said.
The little engkanto giggled. “Yes, he is. He’s like a big baby and he is oh so very cute. He’s like a living doll. I love his curly black hair and his dimples. I love his short arms and legs. I love the sound of his voice. And he has so many toys. I wish I could play with them. I wish I could play with him.”
“That you cannot do, pangga,” the Mother engkanto said.
“I wish I had a brother,” the little engkanto said.
The little boy inside the house stopped crying. After a while, the light was switched off and the room was dark again.
“We are not alike, inday. We cannot interact with them. We can live near them, but we must never live among them. That’s how it’s been from the beginning, and that’s how it will be until the end.”
“I saw his papa, mama,” the little engkanto said.
“Did you?” the mother engkanto said.
“Yes, he was in the room, too, but they couldn’t see him. Didn’t you see him, mama?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“But he was right there, sitting at the edge of the bed.”
“I didn’t notice him. I was looking for you.”
“He was crying. He was talking to them and he was crying. They couldn’t hear nor see him.”
The mother engkanto didn’t answer.
“How come they couldn’t see nor hear him?”
The mother engkanto was silent.
“The little boy’s mama is always crying. In the bathroom, when the little boy is asleep, she cries.”
“Have you entered their bathroom, as well?” The mother engkanto look displeased.
“But, mama, I didn’t realize I was already in the bathroom. The wall was so thin.”
The mother engkanto shook her head.
“I’ve befriended their dogs,” the little engkanto said, proudly.
“Ah. No wonder they’ve been so quiet these past few days,” the Mother engkanto said.
“I fed them liver.”
“Where did you get the liver?”
“Papa gave them to me. He taught me how to tame humans’ pets.”
“There you are!” A big voice boomed from the mango tree above them. The terriers looked up from their cage, but they didn’t make any sound. Standing on top of one of the main branches of the tree was a huge shadowy creature holding a wooden staff. The mother engkanto and her daughter looked up and smiled. “I have been waiting for the two of you,” said the voice. “Where did you go to?”
“I have just fetched Tasia, Tonyo,” the mother engkanto said.
“Has she been to that house again?” the voice said.
“Yes, she has.”
The voice laughed aloud. The terriers looked up from their cage again. One of them whimpered. “I think she has a crush on that little boy,” the voice said.
“I do not!” protested the little engkanto.
The voice laughed even louder.
“Hush, you two be quiet. Let us not disturb the humans,” the mother engkanto said.
“They can’t hear us,” the voice said.
“But the dogs can. They will make a racket,” the mother engkanto said.
“Not unless they’ve had liver for dinner,” the voice said. “I just heaped liver on their plates.”
“I fed them liver, too, papa,” the little engkanto said.
“Ay, did you?” the voice said. “Then we must have overfed them.”
“That explains why they look so bloated,” the mother engkanto said.
“It’s better to be overfed than underfed,” said the voice. “Either way, we have now tamed them. From now on, they will not bark at us. Tasia can visit her crush as often as she likes.”
“He is not my crush!” the little engkanto exclaimed.
“Tonyo, please stop teasing her,” the mother engkanto said.
“But it’s true,” the voice said, chuckling.
“It’s not true,” little Tasia said, tears beginning to well up in her eyes.
“Now, now, Tasia, don’t cry. Don’t listen to your papa. He is just teasing you.”
The little engkanto buried her face in her hands and began sobbing.
The mother engkanto wrapped her arm around her daughter but she drew back and ran off.
“Tasia!” her mother said.
The little engkanto didn’t listen and she ran as fast as she could back into the house.
“Tasia, no!” her mother shouted.
But it was too late. The little engkanto has disappeared into the wall of the room where the little boy and his mother were sleeping and shortly afterwards a loud piercing scream was heard shattering the silence of the night.