In Good Fate

When I was in college, only one guy hit on me that I know of. (And a lot of other imaginary dudes, probably personal demons, who were too shy to say a word.)

I was a Junior back then taking up a communication class, if I remember correctly. We were part of the same group for a report, which is how we got to talking. I remembered having no clue about his intentions. He was nowhere near my radar.

One day, he asked me which way I’m headed and I said I have a class in a nearby building. Or did he ask me to go get food first. The memory’s hazy. Anyway, he walked with me saying that his class is on the way. It wasn’t. He just wanted to talk to me, though, I think.

He started sending messages. As anyone who knows me will know, I am thrilled with a good conversation. I guess he felt that and tried to make things interesting, only, not in a way I imagined. He told me up front that he has a girlfriend studying in one of the oldest universities in the belt. He also told me he likes me. I guess that was my first icky foray into the confusing world of romance and third parties. My gut reaction was a mixture of amusement at his candor, anger at his poor judgement, and discomfort at being put in the middle of a crazy circumstance. I have no amorous feelings for this guy at all and wish to be no part of his sexual fantasies. And yet, I indulged my curiosity and asked him about how he thinks I should react. This is one hell of a juicy story to tell my block mates, I thought.

He asked, “Do you believe in fate?”

I said we make our own fate. Really, dude, fate? That’s all you have in your ammo?

“I think each of us has our own fate, but the ending changes depending on our decisions.”

To be honest, I have always been closed off to the idea of fate.Having someone whom I have poor confidence in tell me certain possibilities about it caught me off guard. I guess I wasn’t prepared for that question.

Anyway, it didn’t work, mostly because I detest him. I told him to take care of his girlfriend. He told me he just wants to have fun. I never talked to him again and I didn’t even remember his name after that semester.

In his head, I guess he expected me to run off with him because we talked that one time and had the same class that one time. This idea of fate is how he must have planned to convince me that it’s going to be worth it. Too bad, he is of no consequence to me. I guess he tried that gig on others, who, I expect would also see through the bullshit. We study in a state university, damn it. We’re not stupid ladies.

He was a nobody and yet his question remains. Fate, huh.

Subliminal

If you want to be remembered, hum them a song. Should there come a time when they have forgotten details of your moments together, trust that they will remember you with that song.

They may be quietly reading some cerebral book while sipping a creamy blend of iced latte in a mall cafe nook out of town totally lost in the book`s message in the foreground while stressing about some ongoing dilemma in the background before the song suddenly plays. That ought to give them a start.

If they were me, they would look up from their book in recognition of the slow warmth emanating from their stomach to their chest just like how kids react when they hear the tune of their favorite ice cream truck.

As this fondly remembered song plays, they will laugh rather loudly while listening to the lyrics. They will remember the person that they were then, probably someone naive and idealistic, and then they will laugh again. At that exact moment, the song will interrupt their train of thoughts, singing, “Cinderella said to Snow White `How does love get so off course?`” They will then wonder why certain parts of the song stick more than others. Why do some memories stick more than others?

At this moment, know that they will remember you. Before they drink all of their coffee and walk out into the dazzling light outside, they will pause to wait for their favorite part to play before they walk outside, singing.

That exact moment you allowed them to enjoy, that bit of nostalgia your song caused, imagine that exponentially multiplying into the various lives you have touched. Now that is your legacy.

Always make it a good song.

Total Recall

Recently, I have been rewatching a television series about a mentalist who helps the police solve crimes. As with the first time I watched it, I became intrigued with the idea of building a memory palace to remember details. It`s a technique similar to the mnemonic device with the way that it uses hooks to remind us of what we’re forgetting.

What I like about the memory palace is how each of us can choose our own place, one that we are very familiar with. Imagining its nooks and crannies should be second nature. In my case, the first thing that came to mind is an apartment.

I tried memorizing a short grocery list using the details of the apartment where I first lived alone. It was funny imagining eggs dropping on my face, finding a turkey breast in the closet, smelling bread as its fragrace wafted through the window, hearing the Magnolia ice cream man’s jingle on the street, and seeing a mouse eating cheese strings on the floor. It was amusing and perhaps that’s why it worked.

I realized how easy it was to take this big chunk of skull-protected meat for granted. Our brains are so powerful, it can move our bodies on autopilot. It’s so powerful, yet we never really use it for what is important. It`s so easy to forget.

I keep on wondering how many memories I have suppressed, why certain smells and sights seem so familiar yet hard to associate with anything. Sometimes, I wake up dreaming about scenes I have experienced in the past. As with many of my dreams, I let them affect my waking thoughts knowing full well that I’ll eventually forget them again. Why do our brains push them to our conscious thoughts? Are we bound to remember? Why is it, that despite knowing they’ll be forgotten, we just let them drift away? Again?

I wish I can hold on a bit longer to what matters, even if I don’t know them yet. If I have to build a town or a country in my head, I would. I don’t want to forget again. To be forgotten is one of the worst things that can happen to anything. Or anyone.

Owner of the Sky

Daily Prompt | Day 3 | Sky


On that Saturday, we both wore gray. It was unplanned, as with all of it. If I were to go back, I would probably blame that clear day with its blue skies and fluffy clouds. I would wish for it to be raining, if only to help warn the version of me who was staring straight in your eyes, laughing at the instant she saw both of us wearing gray.

How soon the sky changed its mind. It turned gray, that one morning we were together. Cloudless, it blew heavy winds our way, almost pleading. Careful, now. Our only response was to hug each other closer, unaware of the damage that the skies are causing or the ones caused by our own internal storms.

During the early morning of your first goodbye, I can’t quite see the sky. My eyes, which had glinted every time your silhouette passed, were almost shut in pain. Tired, they were from accommodating endless streams to pass their way. I only had one glance of that sky at first light. I have always loved mornings before that.

Fast forward to the time a common friend brought me to the mountains, aware of the grief I would carry. As I was climbing the concrete pavement, the temperature dropping with each step, I can’t help but look back at the sky. One minute, it boasted a shade of sweet salmon, the next it was gone. Darkness engulfed us long before we ever got to the top. At night, the sky have always been clear or perhaps that’s just how I imagined it. The sky have always been filled with uncertainties.

For whatever happened, I can’t blame the sky nor its owner, if there be any. It was just a witness. Or was I the witness? Were we? Under the sky, I feel helpless. Under something so vast, I feel as though I’m nothing but a speck, save for that one sunset. In the summer of my life, I witnessed the most beautiful arrangement of the skies, one cradled by a backdrop of ancient mountains and a calm sea. If I were to remain only a speck, let it be under this beautiful sunset that I can witness for the rest of my life. I will wait to see it again, hopefully, before the storms arrive.

Flight Risk

Brushing the hair off someone’s face then stroking the stray strands behind their ears is, for me, one of the most comforting gestures in the world. It was always my favorite thing to do when she tells me, “If you leave me, I would understand.” It was my way of easing her mind without promising anything I can’t fulfill.

I have been in this moment countless times. I have it on repeat in my mind. Sometimes the statement is not a statement but a question that changes from “why do you love me” to “until when.” Sometimes I hear a man’s voice, these days I just focus on hers. Every time, I am back, in that same moment greeting the silence and standing in the precipice of a cliff where I let her go.

I have been on the edge of this cliff and have pushed many off it, but not without letting them hang on for a while. This is the edge where need and malice resides, taunting me to keep holding on.

Until when? 

***

For one and a half hours, they grilled me. They asked questions about my expertise, limited to be honest. They got me guessing about their process just to check if I can catch up, petty to be honest. They were thorough, though, that’s for sure. Toward the end, the lady said that she was wondering about something: “We are going to spend a lot to get you settled here. We saw getting your degree is one reason you left. What assures us that you are not a flight risk?”

Silence.

Lost Count

Daily Prompt | Day 2 | Countless


“Physical Education classes don’t count,” Alyanna teased.

“But why not, you can’t graduate without them!”

“You mean, they’re the only ones where you got grades higher than a 90?”

Daniel laughed at the trap. She had been winning the game the whole night.

“All right next,” Alyanna challenged, “Craziest lies you said to get someone in bed?”

You mean like this, he thought. “I built a time machine,” he said out loud.

“Hmmm, I..I said I was the dean’s daughter,” she giggled.

“Captain of the football team.”

Alyanna raised her brows.

“And yes, we don’t have a football team,” he continued.

Both laughed. They already lost count of how many questions were answered or how many hours they have spent lying on the grass figuring out what makes the other tick.

He liked the exercise. He likes knowing their deepest secrets, their desires, their whole person. She was the one who suggested to play the game, some habit she got from old boyfriends. He was pleased. It felt like having a real girlfriend. Although, he did have girlfriends before. Countless. Only, he never took them to lounge at a grassy patch by the mountain while laughing at absurd truths– was it lies–they each spew out. She seemed to like the grass, though. He was pleased.

“Hey, I have an idea,” Alyanna exclaimed, her voice a pitch higher than usual. She stood over him, her eyes gleaming with excitement and reflecting the full summer moon.

“Let’s put those P.E. classes to good use.” She stood up, backed up into a tree, and whispered in the night, “Come find me.”

Daniel smiled a half-moon smile and felt his pulse race upwards. He almost wanted to dance. Then he started singing, “One, two, three, four. Come out here and tell me more.” The forest echoed with his voice as it combined with the sound of crickets mating and a distant howl.

“Five, six, seven, eight, ” Daniel continued, then pulled a short dagger from his coat.

“I turn naughty when I wait,” he slashed at a thick shrub that has leaves dancing with the wind. He ran around, hacking at tree trunks.

“Nine, ten,” he continued, eyebrows furrowed and nostrils flaring. He never got to ten before. “Eleven, twelve. Maybe, I will let you..” he paused, looking at the shadow that just crossed the meadow.

“Live,” he whispered, smiling as he walked to the open space lit by the bright sky.

“Thirt–” He saw the blood before he felt the arrow in his lungs as he tried to breathe.

 

Whoosh. Whoosh. Two arrows hit his kneecaps. He fell on his side, propped up only by the wooden weapon on his chest. He looked up to see the nearest tree and started crawling to it. He took his dagger out and tried to cut off the arrows impaled in his legs, coughing out blood with every deep breath.

“Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen,” sang a nearby voice.

Daniel strained to see as his vision started to blur. It wasn’t Alyanna. Or not just Alyanna.

Antoine. Therese. Nancy. Beryl. He wanted to count them, but his eyes kept closing.

“OPEN YOUR EYES!” Alyanna shouted. He did and saw she was alone, a crossbow in her hand.

“You will never see again,” she sang as she pierced his open eyes with two arrows at once.

She stopped counting. She stopped way before Daniel. She lay down with him on the grass,  enjoying the gurgling sound coming from his mouth.

“Look, our only witnesses are the stars.”

Ingrained

Daily Prompt | Day 1 | Grain


All of life’s biggest gains and losses always start with something small, Baguinda thought. A few months ago, Aling Pawan had loaned him another kilo of rice. He was relieved; Salek and Ricky can eat for another two weeks. Before they consumed the rice, however, Salek had complained of stomachaches. The local manggagamot or healer initially tried to ward of evil dwendes or dwarves that were usually blamed for causing pain to humans. Salek’s stomach, however, kept on hurting. The manggagamot concluded she simply was not eating enough. Baguinda’s left hand held Salek’s right hand as they walked back to their hut, their simple but trustworthy kubo. Baguinda balled his right hand, opened it, and felt its callouses as they walked. He has never longed for more callouses as he did on that walk. More callouses meant fields were tilled and sacks of rice were harvested. More callouses meant more food.

Baguinda stares at the grains that fell on the dirt from the sack of rice upturned by people fighting. How small, how meager these grains seem. He wanted but a few of them. He wanted just enough to fill a cup or more to mix with some fresh river water and boil so that the children he is raising would complain less of stomachaches. That was why he joined the protests.

Instead, he now feels an extreme pain in his stomach from something a bit bigger than a grain of rice. How small, how meager these bullets seem. He never wanted any of them. He wanted just enough rice to fill a cup not bullets to graze his stomach and spill his blood, which is now flowing into the nearby fresh river water. His children cry from afar, complaining less of stomachaches and more of heartache from seeing their Tatay blankly staring into an empty sack of rice.