Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Benjamin series: mid-term exams

Benjamin and I sat facing each other, studying for our mid-term exams due in an hour, his in Taxation, mine in Spanish. The way he shifted so often in his seat, I knew he could not concentrate on his studies. I couldn't, too, but I pretended otherwise. Sometimes, I'd glance at him and I'd catch him stealing a glance at me.

"That's enough bullshit," he said after a while.


"We both know we can't concentrate. I just want to look at you. That's all I want to do." He laughed, his eyes glistened as he did. He winked at me and I giggled.

"Please," I said. "I need to perfect this exam. I had one mistake during the first term exams. I've got to perfect this test!" I distorted my face and regretted it immediately. How could I show an ugly face to my new boyfriend who thought I was the prettiest girl in the world?

"You're okay," Benjamin said. He stood up from his chair, slapped his study notes on one hand and stood beside me, stroking my long hair. "You'll ace the test."

I closed my eyes and recited in my mind the conjugation of the verb "tenir". I felt his warm breath in my ears as he whispered "I love you, Cyn."

There went "tenir" up in air.

At eight thirty, Benjamin found me sitting on a concrete bench in the volleyball court. I had finished my exams in less than thirty minutes, about an hour ago. I hung around waiting for him.

"Hey," he said even though he was about ten metres away from me. "I just saw Professor Garcia." Two male students passed by him and they exchanged pleasantries even as he walked towards me. "You did it!"

"I did what?" I asked.

"He saw me coming out of my Tax class and he said he'd checked your exam and you were perfecto!"

"I don't believe you," I said. "He couldn't have checked my paper right away."

"I saw you when you left your room. You were there for less than thirty minutes." He was saying this rather cooly. He sat beside me on the bench. "I think I might have failed my exam, because all I wanted was to finish it to catch up with you." He stroked my back. "I didn't want your admirers talking to you lest they steal you from me."

"Really, you didn't do well?" I said as I put on a dismayed look on my face.

Professor Garcia passed by and saw us.

"Did you tell her?" he motioned to Benjamin.

"Yes, and she wouldn't believe it!"

"Well," Professor Garcia said turning to me, "You aced your exam. Very well done." He tapped my shoulder, then let his hand linger.

"Sir! Sir," Benjamin said, playfully, "That's my girl's shoulder you're holding."

They both laughed. Professor Garcia said his goodbye after congratulating me one last time.

"Te amo," Benjamin whispered. I smiled and looked at him and he winked at me.

"Your Spanish isn't so bad either," I said.

Monday, August 23, 2010

PROMPT - comatose

You wake up not feeling anything. You see the sun shining through the window blinds. You hear the sounds of cars outside, the footsteps of the people in the apartment above, the creaking of the floors, and water from the taps running from somewhere in the building. You try to move but your body feels heavy, like a building rests on top of you and prevents you from moving. You open your mouth and say something, but no sound comes out. You try to clear your throat but you only felt the pain, constricting the muscles inside your mouth, your throat, your chest. You wonder, “What’s going on?” You try to raise your arm to look at your hands, but it feels like you are pinned down. Then it seems a heavy cloud is blanketing the sky and the sunshine fades, the vertical shadows of the blinds on the walls vanishes. In fact the walls seem to fade themselves, moving away from you, from your body.

A dark shadow, the shape of a man, enters the room. It’s Andrew and you open your mouth and call his name. He looks worried as he talks on the cordless phone. You can’t understand what he is saying. Once again, you call him but he ignores you, even as he sits next to you on the bed, holds your hand and caresses your fingers. Everything is moving away, fading. You start to scream and only then do you notice that you can’t hear yourself. No sound emanates from you. And everything is fading away. Fast.

Once again you wake up. It's a cold snowy day. The ice that has formed around the glass windows indicates it's cold outside. You see snow flakes falling. At first you don’t know where you are but you are pretty sure this is not your bedroom, you are not lying on your bed. The air is filled with sterile smell, like alcohol or some cleaning stuff. You cannot smell it, but you know. You just know. There are flowers, most of them wilted in vases that you are pretty sure are not yours either. You are confused and start to get up, but you find you cannot move. You hear sounds, beeping, hissing, ticking and then see tubes and wires. You ask yourself are those connected to my body or is my body connected to them? And then you realize you are in a hospital room.

You hear footsteps, like the sound your rubber shoes used to make on cement floors, with an annoying squeal. A young woman appears. She holds a clipboard and a stethoscope dangles from her neck. She hums a melody you’ve never heard before, but pleasant to the ear. You smile but she does not acknowledge it. Instead she grabs your wrist and takes your pulse. She listens for a few seconds then jots something down on her clipboard. She looks at your face, then shakes her head.

Another woman, much older, arrives.

"This is the new patient?" she asks the younger woman who answers Yes.

"Goodness, how old is she?"


"Do you think she will recover?"

The young woman shrugs her shoulders. "Who knows? What are you doing here?"

"Nothing. I just wanted to see this new patient. I want to pray for her. I want to thank God that at least it's not me."

They both stand there on either side of you.

"Do you think she can hear or understand what's going on?" the older woman asks.

The younger woman shakes her head, "I don't think so. She's in a total coma."