Saturday, December 31, 2011

it's just another new year's eve

The text message came at almost seven this morning. "Happy new year," it said.

I knew who sent it. My mind went back to that last morning that Benjamin and I went jogging by the seaside, the sunrise shining on Manila Bay whose waters sparkle under the blue sky.

We were sitting at one of the restaurant tables one morning after our jog. He was well aware that it was my last day and we sat and chat a lot longer that day.

"What if it had been us?" he said, lips smiling, but his eyes almost seemed sad.

"You would have left me after a few years," I replied.

He turned, the disappointment evident in his face. "Why do you say that?"

"Because I could never have children. And you men want to have children." I stretched a leg to another chair nearby, avoiding his gaze.

"You know I am not like that."

Did I hurt his feelings? I thought not. He was simply declaring.

"I know you're not. But your life wouldn't be complete without children," I said, briefly glancing at him.

"When you love someone," I heard him say, then he corrected himself, "When I loved you, it was unconditional."

I straightened up, leaned across the table from him and looked at him square in the eye. "Do you still love me?"

He made a brief chuckle and joked about the seriousness of my face. I eased back into my chair. We laughed together while he fiddled with his Blackberry, put on a song that was part of a file I gave him the day before, then placed the Blackberry between us on the table, Eydie Gorme blaring, competing with the sounds of the waves and the drone of the people around, along with helicopter sound above and the traffic behind us.

"I'm constantly thinking about you." He mumbled something else.

Our eyes locked for a moment before we burst into another giggling fit.

"I heard that. Rockin' solid, man! I heard that!" I said in between giggling and breathing.

His face suddenly became serious.

"Is that true, what you just said?" I asked, my voice uncharacteristically softer and lower.

He looked at me and smiled, a sad smile, I reckoned.

"What does your wife say about that?" I asked.

He stretched his legs as he relaxed, took the Blackberry and put on a Lani Hall song. I Don't Want You To Go blared between us.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Why is it that you do not make my heart beat faster now that we're together?

I swear we are two different people from last spring - when I was so excited to hear your voice, when I missed you when you didn't call or text me, when just the mere ringing of the phone filled me with anticipation and imagining it was you calling.

You touch me and I shiver - from disgust. I force myself to reach out and touch you, caress you, but inside my senses are revolting.

You're not who I have built up to be in my mind. You do not sound like him. You do not smell like him. You do not speak like him. You do not feel like him. Him. The you who I thought I love.

When I take my clothes off, I feel shame. My body looks good, my skin feels smooth, but I feel shame when you touch me. When you kiss me, I want to vomit. When I down the cocktail, it is to cleanse my mouth and to blur my senses so I could have physical contact with you.

So when you have said that it would make things difficult for both of us, inside I rejoice. When I withdraw my hands from your neck, I rejoice. When I grab my clothes and cover my body, I rejoice. You are still holding my arm as I walk away to put my clothes on. You think you may have offended me, but fireworks go inside my head. I feel the elation that the protesters showed on TV upon learning that Ghadaffi has died. That is how bad it is being with you. That is my measuring stick being there alone with you.

I laugh so loud after I get out of the room and close the door. Good thing the pool is only a few feet away. I am still laughing when I dive into the water, and water enters my mouth and nose, my head aches but I am happy. Ghadaffi's dead, and I don't love you.

I feel so happy that after two laps, I jump and pump my fist up in the air!

"Yes! Yesssss!!"

I think that you know how I feel. But you don't want to admit it to yourself or to me. I love you in my own distorted way, only I want that thirty thousand miles between us. I love the idea of loving you, the you I knew forty years ago. You are no longer that you. And it is that you that I hold dear and won't forget. I'm sorry that I came for you but instead found somebody new.

Thank you for setting me free. Please don't call me anymore.

Monday, August 15, 2011

how it should be

You're standing on the other side of the street, smoking your nth cigarette. You look up at the balcony of the big white house when you sense the french doors open. Someone walks out and the clothes lines criss-crossing the balcony move. You see a pair of hands picking out the clothespins and you hear the sound they make as they hit what you suspect is a plastic pail, little thuds. A clothes pin is gathered then thrown on the pail. You see one hand now, holding a rag and running it through the length of the clotheslines, one at a time. Your heart flutters as you see the top of the person's head, black hair clipped into a tiny pony tail. You only see the back of the head, the clip is black, plastic. You hear a voice, you relax, it's not HER.

The gate below opens and you hear chatter of female voices. Your heart flutters some more, you inhale the last of the cigarette stick you hold in your hand. You adjust your wrap-around sunglasses and pretend you're not looking, that you're looking to your left, at the oncoming traffic, but your eyes are actually looking at the gate.

Then you see HER. Deep red blouse, loose enough that it sways in the gentle morning breeze. Long skinny black skirt. Bare white legs. Silver coloured flat shoes. She comes out of the gate, one hand clutching her shoulder purse, the other holding a large bag with a famous logo. Large sunglasses that reflects everything around her. You cannot see her eyes. For a while you thought she was looking or staring at you. She stops right outside. You see her lips stretch into a shy smile.

You pretend to look away and ask yourself, can she see me? Is she smiling at me? Then you look again. She is still standing there, on the other side of the street, just outside the property's gate. Your heart flutters once again. You know she's looking at you.

She crosses the street, towards you. A taxi passes by, then another. She stops in the middle of the road when she thinks a vehicle is not about to let her through. She finishes crossing the street and walks towards you. You slowly put your hand inside your jacket, pull your gun and before she could say a word, you pull the trigger. Shoot her. Right through the heart. You see her slowly fall, down on her knees, hand clutching her chest, the purse still on her shoulder, the large bag on the pavement.

You walk away, dial a number on your cellphone. You hear it ringing. A voice answers. "She's out of the way." Then you hit the off button. A passing bus slows down and you get in. You relax.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

facing my demons - 8

We all have demons that at some point in our lives we must face.

"There's no couch!" I say, jokingly, to Dr. Allery, a rotund woman in her late fifties.

"No. No couch," she smiles. "I don't want my patients falling asleep on me."

She motions me to a leather swivel chair. It feels soft and smells new and I see the reason for the absence of a couch. The cold air and the comfortable chair make me want to fall asleep.

She pulls a thin dossier from her side drawer and opens it. She adjusts her reading glasses so that they sit atop her nose. "Hmmm." She smiles. "This is very interesting," she says as she taps her well-manicured fingernail on the paper in front of her. I had sent her a long e-mail, three pages of single spaced text with small font, explaining the circumstances around which I would like to see her for a consultation.

"Tell me about your father," she says after a while, taking off her glasses and putting them on top of the dossier and leaned back on her high-backed leather chair.

I squint my eyes, not understanding why she would want to know about my father when I needed to understand why I had buried Richard's memories and get upset over them after thirty-some years.

"I don't have a problem with my father." I am telling her the truth in the context of my present problem.

Dr. Allery nods and smiles, but says, "What was he like and what was your relationship with him like?"

Monday, July 25, 2011

facing my demons - 7

We all have demons that at some point in our lives we must face.

I had a recurring dream since I was seven.

In the dream, I am swimming in a large swimming pool with very blue and clear water. Once in a while I would stop and I could see, beyond the trees lush with green leaves and their fruits, the blue waters of Laguna de Bay. The pool slopes down the hill and I wonder how the pool water does not flow out at this sharp slope. Someone jumps on the pool and I am in the middle of an endless sea. There is no land in sight and despite the calming blueness of the water I panic. I try to swim until I get tired but I do not give up. The sky changes from blue to gray as dark clouds gather and a fierce wind blows. I panic some more. Sometimes I feel a force pulling me under but I fight it because I know I must keep my head above water. The force gets stronger. I see Richard swimming calmly a few feet away. I try to call him but no sound comes out of my mouth. When finally he looks at me, his eyes look angry and he swims away. I swim, too, frantically now, but towards the opposite direction. Now I could see the outline of mountains and trees. And an island. I swim towards it but no matter how hard I swim the island just seems to move away. Suddenly, I hear a voice.

"Here," and I see a large white hand.

Just as I am about to grab it, I see Richard, now on a small boat but he is not looking at me.

The force underneath me swirls and I feel myself sinking. I call Richard's name but he turns his head away. I desperately grab at nothingness and the water starts to pull me down.

"Take my hand," I hear the voice again. The voice belongs to an old man with fair skin and a beautiful, engaging smile.

"I can't," I say, but I grabbed his hand anyway.

I forgot about that dream until one day when Richard and I had just finished making love and I remembered it. Richard did not appear in the dream until we started dating. In my culture, we had the belief that dreams were the harbinger of the opposite things to come. He told me he did not believe in dreams and he attributed it to my strained relationship with my father. The conversation was forgotten promptly. It would be months before I would have met Dave and the dream would come back two more times.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

facing my demons - 5

We all have demons that at some point in our lives we must face.

Richard had called earlier during the day wanting to meet that night. Dave was out of the country on a business trip. Richard sounded reasonable and reconciliatory over the phone. I already knew from one of his friends that he was leaving for the States in a few months. I agreed to meet him after my Law class and he came to pick me up at the university. He drove a white Volkswagen Beetle, his brother's, he said. Was I hungry, he had asked. Let's go somewhere special, he said, not waiting for my reply. We drove in silence, the radio blared some dancey tune. I felt tired, working full time and studying with a full load in law. I looked out the car window seeing the city in a different view from the low passenger seat of the Beetle.

I was not expecting it but at the same time I was not surprised when Richard drove the car through the open gates of one of the middle class motels that we used to frequent. The food there was good and the rooms were immaculately clean, and each suite had its own carport. Up to that point, I still had a soft spot in my heart for Richard. And the guilt I felt for being unfaithful to him was very strong. I had been blaming myself for everything. I thought that was how things should be.

"Why do we have to come here?" I asked, not moving from my seat.

"Because you like the food here, remember?" he said, and there was a tinge of tenderness in his usually impatient voice. I thought it strange. He got out of the car and said, "Come on."

I stayed put, trying to think. I had cheated on him with Dave, if something happened to us that night, would I be cheating on Dave? I did not hear the passenger door open, all I felt was the abrupt pulling of my arm.

His face was grave, he wasn't smiling. "Come on! Let's go inside!"

Although hesitant, I got out of the car. He was holding my right upper arm rather tightly and I asked him to let go. He started to kiss my neck, his one arm around my waist. "I love you," he said. "I love you. Don't you love me anymore?" I started to cry, from the guilt. From confusion. From fear.

I went with him inside the motel suite. I sat on a chair by the formica topped dining table in the ante room of the suite. The air conditioning cold and darkness of the room seemed ominous. My fears were alleviated, temporarily, when he sat down beside me, put his arm around my shoulders and rubbed my arm comfortingly while he browsed the menu card and gave the waiter our order.

While we waited for the food to arrive, he made a small talk about the people at the office, what they've been up to, some sending me their regards, etc. The food arrived after fifteen minutes. He told the room boy he would take care of things. The room boy left and Richard was quick to lock the door. I picked on my food while he talked in between bites. I waited until there was a lull in the conversation.

"Sonia told me you're leaving for the States. How come you never told me anything about this?"

"I have mentioned that to you quite a few times," he said, his eyes on the food.

"No, you never have. If Sonia didn't slip about it, I wouldn't have known." I stabbed a piece of the meat I had cut and examined it. "All these times, you never had any intention of..." I let my sentence trail.

"I didn't want you to stick it out with me just for that," he said, in what I thought was a most casual way. I felt my ears and my face redden.

"Just for what? The chance to live in the States?" His head jerked when I raised my voice. "How many times did we talk about that topic? I meant it when I said I never want to go to the States. How dare you think that I am just hanging around just so I could have that opportunity."

"I plan on coming back for you."

"I have means of going to the States, but I refuse to use those means, because I don't want to use those means. I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO THE STATES! Why can you not believe that?"

I stood up and grabbed my bags. In an instant he was on his feet, tightly gripping my arms. I was too hurt, inside and outside, to resist.

"You insulted me by thinking I am here just so you can take me to the States. Hah! Take somebody else, take Sonia maybe. Something's happening between the two of you, I know."
I felt a slap in my face. I broke down trying to brave the pain. I tried to pull my arm away from his grip. He put his arms around me and tried to kiss me, at the same time half-dragging me to the bedroom. From the strain of work, school, home and relationship problems, I passed out. When I came to, I was naked, Richard was putting on his pants and then threw my clothes at me. I felt exhausted and my whole body hurt. I felt sticky in my groin and throbbed inside. When I realized what happened, I sat up on the bed.

"You didn't use a condom?"

"Do you let Dave use a condom?"

I stormed out of the bedroom into the bathroom, and washed myself until my skin hurt and the little soap bar broke into pieces. He came in and pulled me up from the tub, gently this time and wrapped me with the thick motel towel. I didn't say anything. I wasn't thinking of anything. All I wanted was to put my clothes back on and leave. He even helped me put on my clothes, but made a remark: "You're no longer as tight as you used to be, you know." I ignored him. He slipped his hand underneath my skirt but I pushed him away.

I asked him to have someone call for a taxi for me. He needn't bring me home. He called the operator and asked for a taxi.

The next day, he called me at the office when I was about to leave for school. He asked how I was feeling. I said I was fine.

In Criminal Law that night, the class deliberated on the topic of "Rape, What Constitutes Rape and What is Statutory Rape." The irony was that I got top marks in the discussion period.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

facing my demons - 4

We all have demons that at some point in our lives we must face.

“Will you please stop crying?” he said after a few minutes. “He might think I'm doing something bad to you.”

He jerked his head in the direction of the waiter who peeked at us from his POS machine. I also noticed that a man wearing a necktie, sort of an office manager type person, came around and had a hushed conversation with the waiter.

Still sobbing, but calmer, I gave a small laugh. “I know,” I said, “if something happens to me later on, they’ll be giving your description to the cops. That's how it is around here.”

We sat at the table silently for a long time, I tried to stop my sobbing and Richard kept staring at me.

“Did you ever get married?” he asked after a while. “Sam said he couldn’t figure out whether you are or not. Sutherland wasn’t Dave’s name, if I remember it right.”

“I never believed in marriage. I only allowed myself to believe in it when we were dating. Before we started dating, I had two minds about marriage. Seen too many bad ones. And with Dave, I figured it’s much easier to leave when there are no ties or binds. So I can go when I want to go.” I put emphasis on the ‘when I’ by articulating it a tad louder.

“May I ask you something?” he said quietly.

I looked at him, trying to guess what he might want to ask me.

“Are you hungry?” he asked and smiled. I chuckled.

I thought about it for a long while before I gave him a shrug of my shoulders. He looked around.

“But maybe we should just stay here, there’s not a lot of people. It’s more quiet.”

Another shrug.

He called the waiter and told him we were going to order. We decided on a vegetarian pizza. All the while, Richard stared at me. I knew he was searching for something in the way he stared. Whenever I met his gaze, I would only smile.

Then when we were almost finished eating, he cleared his throat and asked, “Did you have any children?”

It was not an unusual question for people to ask after not seeing one another for thirty years. But the question felt loaded. Somehow I knew there was more to it than what I was hearing - something I could not quite put my finger on.

I drew a deep sigh, looked at him then looked around. He was waiting for an answer.

I sipped my iced tea. The answer wasn't a hard one, but there was something in the back of my mind that was screaming at me and I couldn't understand why.

"Why do you ask?" I finally asked back. "Why do you want to know?"

He started to say something, I could hear him clearly, but I couldn't understand. Something in my mind exploded. What came out of my mouth sounded too strange for me.

"You son of a bitch," I said. "You fucking raped me!"

Richard sat frozen, his jaws rigid and his eyes went dark.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

facing my demons - 3

We all have demons that at some point in our lives we must face.

I recognized Richard right away. His hairline receded a bit and he gained weight on his waistline. He still wore glasses.

I pretended to be busy working on my laptop on a table at the farthest end of the restaurant. I wore my Jackie Onassis sunglasses and I had my hair up. I had my hair curled so the stray strands not caught by the large clip fell on my face. The sun shone brightly and sunlight flooded the restaurant. Richard looked in my direction, hesitated before settling on the table at the opposite end of the room. I doubt he could see my eyes looking at him as my head was slightly bowed looking at my laptop.

I had my cellphone on vibrate so that when it rang, the water in my drinking glass stirred. I picked it up as I looked outside. It was Richard.

“Is that you?” he asked not waiting for me to say hello.

“It depends,” I said. “Is that you?” then I smiled and lifted my head so that my face was facing towards him. “Are you here? I’m at the very end of the restaurant, on the corner. Right outside me is a fountain.”

He hang up without saying anything. Then he stood up and walked towards me. He wasn’t smiling. I was.

“Hi,” I tried to put some cheer in my voice, although I almost swallowed my tongue from nervousness.

“How are you?” he asked in Tagalog when he was almost near my table.

I stood up and held out my hand to shake his. I was determined for a tight grip but his was tighter and I said “Ouch!” as I pressed my hand onto my left hand. “Aw!”

“I was fine before you crushed my finger bones,” I said smiling and wincing at the same time. “How are you?” I said as we sat down.

“You still look the same, although you’ve gained just a little bit of weight. You haven’t aged much.”

“Thank you,” I said, sing-songing the ‘you’.

The waiter showed up and I asked him what he would like to drink. He replied still in Tagalog, “a little bit later on”. He was looking at me intently, at my eyes through my dark glasses. “Can you take off your sunglasses?”

“It’s too bright in here. And I'm prone to migraine...” I said as I slid my sunglasses up my hair. I felt naked as he stared at my face. When he didn’t say anything, I said, “Please don’t look at me like I am the ugliest person on earth.” I heard my voice crack just a little bit. I swallowed.

“You’re still pretty,” he said. He pushed himself on the backrest of the chair, his eyes never leaving my face.

I stretched my lips and raised my eyebrows in a playful manner before I thanked him for the compliment. I closed my laptop and put it in my briefcase.

“So why did you want to see me?” he asked.

“I want to mend fences with you, Richard.” I took my glass of iced tea and sipped at it. “I may not have long to live and I don’t want to die knowing someone is angry with me.”

“Why, are you sick or something? Sam said you were okay.”

“Of course I’m okay. And I’m not sick. I’m just thinking, I am old and I can’t wage any more wars with anyone. So I want to call a truce with you.”

“I came back for you. I was looking for you.” His voice was grave.

I stretched my mouth again and drew a deep sigh.

“I lived in the same place all my life before I left for Canada. When I moved, my brother and my father were left there. If you had gone to Malibay, you would have known where I was.” I shook my head a little bit. “Maybe you didn’t look hard enough.”

His face became dark, his eyes burning. “I did, I went back to the office twice and no one could tell me where you were. Maybe you told them not to tell your whereabouts.”

“I never asked anyone to do that.” My voice was now flat and quiet.

It was a relief when the waiter came and asked if we are ready to order. I smiled at Richard and asked him, “Are we going to have dinner or do we want just drinks?”

He hesitated. “I’m okay,” he said to the waiter.

“Beer?” I asked him. “Do you not drink beer anymore?”


“Give me another glass of iced tea, please.” The waiter nodded and went off.

“Sam told me you’re now happily married with two daughters. I’m so glad for you…”

“Are you?” he cut me off. “Are you really glad for me?”

I met his gaze and I leaned slightly across the table and told him, “Yes, I am. And I expected you to be happy. That’s all I ever wanted for you. To find the woman who would make you a happy man. Why is that so hard for you to believe? Do you really think that I am so evil that I can’t wish that for you?”

He pushed himself back, maybe surprised at my display of aggressiveness. When we were young, I would never have dreamed of doing such a thing. I was subservient to all his wishes. But we were no longer young now, and I obviously had grown out of the subservient shell.

“Well, do you?” I said as I slowly leaned back on my own chair.

I suddenly felt very emotional and almost on the verge of crying. My face felt flushed. I drew another deep sigh and took another sip of the iced tea. My hands shook, as evidenced by the tiny clinking of the ice cubes in my glass.

“I know I did something very wrong and I’m ready to ask for forgiveness. But you must be big enough to admit that all of that wasn’t my fault. I didn’t set out to be unfaithful to you, but have you ever asked yourself that maybe you did something that made me act that way? I say I am not perfect, I wasn’t perfect. But did we do enough to correct whatever was wrong with that relationship?”

He didn’t say anything. He sat there, staring at me and like the old times, I could not tell nor read what was in his mind. Maybe that was what was wrong with us then.

“In any case,” I said now with a much calmer voice, “all I want is to be friends with you. You can tell me now, how horrible a person I was. But when you go back home, I want you to think how you can forgive me for whatever sin I had committed, and I would do the same, because, Richard, you did some horrible things to me, too. You probably don’t remember, but you did.”

“Like what?” he said quietly.

“I won’t enumerate them now, because I tried and succeeded in forgetting them. All I want is for you to say, you’re okay, and you can forgive me for whatever it was I had done, and we can be friends again. We don’t have to be chummy-chummy friends, but friends nonetheless.”

“I loved you. I loved you with all my heart.”

I thought he said “loved”. After all it was in the past.

“I loved you then, too, with all my heart. I gave myself to you unconditionally. For God’s sakes, I almost gave up my life for you.”

He looked at me, his eyes inquiring. I held up my left hand and pointed at my wrist. I jabbed my wrist twice. “I didn’t want to live anymore if you didn’t want me anymore. Do you remember that?” His hands moved to grab my hand which I withdrew and placed on my lap, rubbing my wrist.

I looked away. “You know, I had buried that episode so deep in my mind that I never recalled it until after I talked to Sam. I have never told anyone about it. Maybe that was why I never came back to the office. Maybe if I went back there, I would remember what I did that time. It was a horrible thing to do – trying to take my life for a man. A person should never have to do that. I know when I die, that would be the number one thing on St. Peter’s list of my lifetime offences. If there’s a hell, I’m pretty sure that that is where I'm headed because of that.”

It was too late for me to realize my tears were falling down my cheeks.

“I proved myself to you so many times. I gave myself to you. I always believed then that the man I gave myself to was the man I would marry. But I saw no sign of that from you. I felt cheap, used and abused. And yet you thought that I would only hang on to you for the chance of going to the States. You never had the nerve to tell me you were going to leave me. You never paid me the attention you gave your friends. You never gave me the importance I deserved. You said you loved me, but aside from getting me to bed, you didn’t really show it. If I had strayed, did you think I did it on my own? Did you think I planned it?”

Our waiter came. Seeing my face, he tried to sound cheerful. “Folks, anymore drinks? You guys ready to order?”

Richard asked for a beer, any kind he said. The waiter hastily left.

He stared at me for a long time without saying anything while I tried to stop from crying and fixed my face with the linen napkin. But the tears just kept flowing. Tears that have been kept back from thirty years ago. I did not expect it. I honestly thought I would just ask for forgiveness, be told we can be friends, have a decent meal and then part ways. I wasn’t even expecting for him to pay for the meal. I would not even expect him to call me back to ratify us being friends again. All I wanted was to make peace. For my own peace of mind, and probably his.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

facing my demons - 2

We all have demons that at some point in our lives we must face.

I have forgotten this part of my life. I am shocked having just remembered this incident and I could not even recall what year it happened. But I know it happened. I remember having examined my wrist once and wondered if the scars would disappear. Most of them are gone. I look at my wrist now and see that there is one remaining - one very thin line of scar blending in with the lines of my skin, that was the first cut I made. I shudder.

I am a suck at physical pain. I can't even deal with a paper cut without a lot of drama, and Band-aid! But my agony at the time was so overwhelming and I do not have any explanation why I did what I did. All I know is this is how it feels when your heart gets broken. It is true: you suddenly lose your desire to live.

But after that incident, I have learned to keep my heartaches and any emotional suffering inside. I have built this wall that no one can penetrate, not even me. And I have kept this incident at the very back of my mind, I surprised myself even now that I remember.

I have forgotten that there was a point in my life when I actually held the belief that having sex with the man you are in love with had to be given with a lot of thought and consideration. I believed then that when you do give yourself to that man, it was because you know it's forever. And that's how it was when I gave myself to Richard. I had thought then that he was "the one". But when he said we were over and that he didn't want me anymore in his life, only because of one very trivial thing, my young mind could not accept it. And so I thought my life was over.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

facing my demons - 1

We all have demons that at some point in our lives we must face.

Blood oozes out as the little shaving blade slides across my wrist. My head reels and everything else seems to blur and move away from me. I make a second cut, but the blade is too dull to go any deeper. So I cut my wrist a third time. And again. And again. Each cut feels more painful than the last. I don't want to live anymore, what is the point! This is the thought that runs through my mind but even that thought becomes blurry as the pain manifests itself more.

Something seemed to spark somewhere and I was afraid to look. I imagine this Almighty God that I worship looming over me, His hands crossed against his chest, His eyes seemingly angry. The look in His face seems to say "What are you doing?". And I know I don't want to look at Him. I feel so ashamed for what I have done and for what I am doing right now.

Finally the tears come, maybe from the pain, maybe from the guilt, maybe from the fear of this imagined image of God. But as I make one final cut, the pain becomes so unbearable, it makes me shriek. At the same time, Edna enters the washroom and hears me. Earlier, I have asked to borrow her blade, the one we use to sharpen our eyebrow pencils and eyeliners. As she looked at my puffy eyes, she has asked if I was okay and has been hesitant to give me the blade, but she did anyway.

"What are you doing?" I hear her say. I sob uncontrollably. I hear the dragging of a chair. Standing on the chair, Edna's face shows up at the top of the door of the stall I am in, her face in horror as she sees the blood in my hands and arm. "Oh, my God!" she yells and bends down to open the latch, kicks the chair aside and grabs the blade from my hand. I am too tired to resist. She hastily wipes the blade on her skirt and carefully places it in her pocket. She takes her handkerchief and uses it to wrap my wrist. She pulls me towards the door, opens it, and pokes her head out making sure no one was around in the hallway to see us. We walk the few yards to our office and once inside, she ushers me towards her boss' private office.

Mr. T stands up looking confused. Edna pushes me, gently, to sit on one of the chairs. She grabs Mr. T's handkerchief to augment the wrapping of my wrist.

"Richard?" Mr. T asks. Edna nods, her eyes and nose red as she tries to control her tears.

Mr. T picks up the telephone and dials a number. "You come up here; bring your first aid, don't send her. I want YOU to come up...there's an accident, there's blood and I want YOU to take care of it...okay." He puts the phone back to its cradle and watches as Edna wipes my face with Kleenex. "Doctora is on her way." After a while, he walks towards the door. "I'm going to talk to him." I start to get up to protest but Edna holds me down.

As Mr. T opens the door, the company doctor, an elderly lady we call Doctora, enters. My boss, Althea, a large, tall woman slips inside with Doctora. She looks at me, her eyebrows furrowed, mouth open.

"What...?" Althea starts to say then stops and slumps herself on Mr. T's office chair. She sits there staring at me, her face ashen. She fishes out a cigarette from the pack that Mr. T has left on his desk and lights it, not taking her eyes off me. I couldn't look at anyone's eyes.

Edna quietly leaves the room still crying.

Doctora examines my wrist, shaking her head as she does. She brushes my wrist with iodine and I cringe from the stinging pain. With alcohol soaked cotton, she cleans my arm. She takes a small syringe, squirts the liquid through the needle and stabs my arm with it.

"That's to make you relax." She places a bandage around my wrist and hand. "I am not going to ask you why you did this," she says, her voice low but firm and deliberate, "but I want you to think hard about this and explain this to yourself." Her voice cracks.

Althea, silently sitting in front of me, sniffs then blows her nose on a piece of Kleenex.

"Here," Doctora says to her as she gives Althea a tiny yellow pill: Valium. "I figured you might need this."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

i miss...

i miss the sound of your voice.
i miss the echo of your laughter.
i miss the quiet sighs you make when we talk.
i miss the sweet way you say "i love you" to me.
i miss hearing you say you miss me.
i miss you, my irog.
and i miss telling you i love you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

it's spring but the nights are still long

today wasn't so bad, unlike the last few days. today i actually had done a lot of things in the office, things i had left for when i have more time to do trivial things. of course, it helped that i spoke to you this morning. my sleep wasn't as restful as i wanted it to be, but it wasn't so bad. i even dreamed about you again.

my world is so different now, my life is so different now, than they were more than two and a half months ago. in the dead of winter, i finally came off a bad relationship that i've been wanting to get out of for a long time. and just when i was ready to go it alone, you called and my life hasn't been the same since then. two and a half months ago, i didn't think it was possible for me to still fall in love. at my age, i should be done with it. i have started to accept the fact that there was really no one for me. but you changed it. now i want you, because i love you. and i have never wanted anyone so badly the way i feel this want for you. i never believed it was possible to go back and find your true love, but you changed all my beliefs. suddenly the rules got changed because of you.

but i am so afraid that this is the love that would break me. maybe when i buried this feeling for you forty years ago, it was because i was afraid it would break me. no, not that you would hurt me, it's the love. that is probably why i couldn't really forget you all these years. i fought my destiny so hard and yet no matter, it has brought me back to you. and i learned that one can't fight destiny because it's a formidable enemy.

all these years, whether i was happy or sad, i would remember you and those few times you spoke to me. or the few times you looked and smiled at me; the out-of-nowhere conversations. i knew there was something in your eyes that i wanted to see but i was so afraid to know. all these i regret not having done anything about it. there was even a time i had let myself get lost in the imagination of what could have been had we been together. i sometimes wish i was more gustsy then. but then high grades were easy to accomplish than getting the varsity team's star. at the time, getting a heartbreak was not an option for me.

but i know all that is in the past. i know what matters now is the here and now. the here and now that raised more questions. aren't our lives exciting? we find each other again at this crossroad and we are still uncertain as to where we are going.

but i know one thing for sure. i love you and i'm so happy everytime you say you love me. it makes my life complete.

take care of yourself and i'll do the same here, for us. i love you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

DWP: ending prompt

"...from dust thou cometh, to dust thou returneth..." the priest sprinkled the casket with the holy water, muttered a prayer in Latin, then made the sign of the cross.

It signaled the end of the rite and as the few people shook each other's hands and parted, Deanna remained standing at the foot of the casket.

"Deanna, come, please." Harvey Brownstein tenderly nudged his niece by the elbow. When Deanna didn't move, he placed his arm around her shoulders and pulled her towards him. She started to cry.

"I feel so alone," she said. "I lost the woman who wasn't really my mother, I have never known my real mother, I found my real father but I lost my husband." She balled her hands into fists and wedged them between herself and Harvey and continued to cry.

"Deanna, I am here. We are family." His palm rubbed the top of her shoulders but his grief was also undeniable.

It seemed that when Ruth died three years ago, the proverbial can of worms opened and revealed all the nasty secrets of a family that was a lie from the very beginning.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DWP: silence prompt

not a word nor sound
my most powerful weapon
i'm gonna break you.


sit by the fountain
and hear the sound of quiet:
the trickling water.

Friday, March 11, 2011

DWP: disaster prompt

Chelsea sits on the bed beside her sleeping daughter, listening for the sound of disaster that she was told will be coming anytime now. In the eerie silence of the suddenly cold evening, she waits to hear that sound and she is determined to protect her child at any cost, even if she has to fight the will of God to keep her alive.

Two thousand miles away, the sound of disaster still rings in Kasuko's ears, the eerie humming sound that accompanied the earthquake which shattered everything in her home, including the crystal frame of her son's photograph she now holds in her hand. They have found his ravaged body, swept by the mighty waters and pinned down between large debris still clutching the body of a little child he had attempted to save.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

DWP: random book prompt

Time Traveler by Dr. Ronald Mallett with Bruce Henderson

Time stopped for me in the middle of the night on May 22, 1955. Mama had given birth to Jackson and even as the umbilical cord was being severed, Papa celebrated with my uncles with Cuban cigars and Cianti wine that he had been hoarding during the last few months. Auntie Elizabeth and Auntie Rebecca, Mama’s older sisters, were ecstatic, running back and forth invariably holding a basin of hot water or a large stack of thick towels.

"It's a boy! It's a boy!"

I heard the faint sound of a baby’s cry, which sounded like a hungry kitten’s, and I briefly saw Jackson’s head, his face all red and gooey. Mrs. Hammill, our neighbour the midwife, saw me and promptly shoved me outside of Mama’s room before closing the door shut. I stood just outside the door and waited for one of my aunts to take me to Mama. I can hear Papa and my uncles talking and laughing loudly, the smell of tobacco smoke permeating the air inside the house.

After a long time, the door to Mama’s room opened and Auntie Rebecca poked her head out and called my Papa.

"Daniel! You can come in now."

I tugged at Auntie Rebecca’s skirt but without even looking at me, she unclasped my fingers from the fabric of her skirt and went back inside Mama’s room. In haste, Papa bumped and stepped on my foot but barely looked at me despite the loud shriek I made. When the door closed, I was left again outside, alone, cold and confused.

"Jackson was the most beautiful baby. Mama had the easiest birth," Mrs. Hammill said so. Jackson was a quiet baby. Jackson has a big head which means he will be a smart boy when he grows up. Jackson this and Jackson that. It seemed that I had died and my spirit was left floating. Nobody seemed to notice me, nobody seemed to care about me anymore. Suddenly I became invisible. Suddenly nobody seemed to love me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DWP: fear prompt

the four-letter word
that no one dares admit to
but the face shows it.


a stray snake slithers
bunks inside my living room
this is my great fear.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

DWP: the restaurant

the restaurant

After a frustrating afternoon looking for a decent restaurant that's open, we arrive at the "Lick-a-chick". Despite its name, the place looks clean and they have a patio that overlooks the Bay of Fundy. We had to go down quite a few steps to get to the restaurant. There is a sign just outside its doors that says "Home-made Blueberry Pie - to die for!"

Waiter: Sorry, we're not open.

Us: But the doors are open.

Waiter: We don't close. But we're not open right now. Chef is still baking. We open in a little while.

Us: Can we stick around?

Waiter: (shrugs shoulders and waves hand as if to say, "suit yourself"

Us: Is the blueberry pie really good?

Waiter: Oh, yeah! freshly baked. It's the chef's specialty.

Presently, we are startled by a loud scream, a loud thud and the sound of heavy things falling down on the concrete steps. We stand up to look. And there it is: a woman, wearing chef's hat and uniform, down on the ground, screaming and swearing profanities, and scattered all over the steps, are about twenty boxes of frozen President's Choice Blueberry Pie.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

DWP: the originals

He pulled her towards him, grabbing her waist with both hands, and gently sat her down on his lap. Her eyes darted about the large living room, the stereo in one corner and a large mural, his own handiwork, on a wall. He felt her unease and whispered in her ear, "It's okay, you're not hurting me this way. It's okay." and that made her relax. She rested her cheek on his forehead and closed her eyes. She imagined them dancing and unconsciously she made a humming sound.

"Hmmmm..." Alessandro said. "Yes, I think I would like us to dance."

He pressed a button on the right hand pad of his wheelchair and the living room lights became the soft glow of a hundred candlelights. He placed her arm around his shoulders while his one hand held the small of her back.

"We want music, right?" he asked and she nodded.

Alessandro pressed another button and the stereo made a small hissing sound before it clicked to the soft sound of bells, the intro to "Baby I"m for Real" by The Originals .

Portia sat still not wanting for the moment to end, but she knew, he would be gone soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

DWP: beauty

you see the surface
not the intrinsic value
at times we're shallow


i see beauty in
the aftermath of snowstorm
to you it's nuisance

Veronica's story: Jealous

Exam week, especially on its last day, was one of the best days in high school. Some students had hurriedly finished their exams because they planned to go to the park with their friends, or see a movie, or just stay out of school grounds with their friends.

Veronica mostly stayed around the school after helping out her teachers mark the other classes' papers. She had seen Jason earlier practicing with his team mates. She had watched him from the library window and hoped he didn't see her. She felt regret that nothing has come out of his invitation to see his game. He was painfully shy and she was awkward at taking the first step.

This afternoon, Veronica was in front of the canteen, in her school uniform, together with her friend Cynthia, the one who always spoke to Jason, the one who would talk to him like they knew each other forever. Veronica would just stay a few feet back, and even when he spoke to her, she would smile and Cynthia would reply. Today, the two girls were talking to a young boy, a well-dressed mestizo whose body language made it known that he was interested in Veronica. Veronica looked around as she spoke to him, and from the corner of her eyes, saw Jason looking down at them from the third floor hallway. She turned away so that all he could see of her was her back.

He watched them talking animatedly, sometimes bursting out laughing. It was obvious the boy adored Veronica. And Veronica seemed to enjoy the attention. He wondered who this boy was; he wanted to know. Cynthia's gaze found Jason and waved at him, which made the boy look up, too, and for a long while he thought they were looking at each other’s eyes. The boy seemed to tell him: I'm talking to her, you're not. Jason didn't like that smug smile on his face. Veronica turned her head halfway but immediately turned her head back.

“Veronica!” someone called from the end of the second floor hallway. Veronica looked up and waved, briefly looking at the caller. Then she made a move that made Jason angry inside and he didn’t know why. Veronica cocked her head nearer the boy’s face, nodded her head softly then laughed out loud, throwing her head back, her long pony tail swaying as she laughed. The boy laughed, too, and they both turned around to look up at him and they continued laughing.

“Veronica!” Jason suddenly yelled, his voice echoing as he did so. “Veronica!” he yelled again when she didn’t look right away. He turned on his feet and ran down the stairs as fast as he could. He didn’t see that she had turned around to look up at him, her eyes searching for him as she heard his voice calling her name, but he had disappeared.

She looked surprised when she found Jason standing right next to her.

“Hi, Jason,” she said smiling, a happy smile he had not seen before. “This is Jesse Jurado..." she paused, unable to control her laughter. "It’s so funny,” she laughed again, one hand cupping her mouth, her eyes disappearing as she did. “He wants to play basketball, too, like you.”

She tapped Jesse’s shoulders and Jason must've felt a tinge of envy for he had a serious look in his face.

“I told him he can be a guard!” and Veronica burst out laughing louder, stomping her feet on the ground, clutching her stomach.

Jesse Jurado, although obviously embarrassed, joined in her laughter and Jason understood what she tried to say and what they were laughing about. The boy Jesse was only a few inches taller than Veronica and would not have even qualified to join the school's basketball team.

A teacher called Veronica and asked her to go see her at the faculty room. Jesse walked with Veronica and Jason and Cynthia were left talking in front of the canteen. His eyes followed them as they walked towards the faculty, their shoulders almost touching. He saw Jesse touch Veronica's elbow as he let her go inside the faculty door first. Veronica looked back at Jason and Cynthia before she entered the door.

The next day, Veronica was watching the goings-on in the quadrangle from the second-floor hallway. Jason pretended he was passing by. Veronica pretended she didn't see him right away even though she was very much aware of his presence. Jason stopped and leaned on the ledge about three feet away from her where she could no longer pretend and ignore him. She turned her head and shyly said "Hi".

"Where's your friend?" he asked, his voice barely audible.

"Cynthia? She's gone home," she replied.

"No, your boyfriend from yesterday."

"Oh, Jesse? I don't know." Then she turned her head to look at him, "he's not my boyfriend. I have no boyfriend." Looking at Jason's face, her voice quivered and she felt her face flushing so she quickly returned her gaze at the quadrangle below. She didn't want him to know how she felt for him. "I have no time for boyfriends."

Jason stood near her while Veronica's heart fluttered. She wished she had something to say to him so that he would talk and he would stay longer. Jason didn't know what to say either.

The painful awkwardness and shyness that both were trying to endure ended when a friend of Jason's appeared from nowhere. Jason followed the friend without saying anything more to Veronica.

That night, Veronica found herself writing his name on her notebook. Jason Alexander. Jason Alexander.

Friday, February 25, 2011

DWP: the roadside stall

(prequel to inside the fort )


Portia took a step back as the old gypsy woman pointed at her. She knew the faces of most of the vendors in the roadside market just outside the gate of the old Spanish fort. But this one must be new.

"Hello to you," the gypsy said, now smiling. Portia gave her a once over and continued to walk.

"Clarita!" the woman called out. Portia turned around and saw that the woman was looking at her. She walked back.

"Why did you call me Clarita?" Portia asked.

The woman stood in front of her, searching her eyes. Portia felt her heart skipped a beat.

"Clarita," she said, "that was your name. I knew you from your past life."

Oh, great, Portia thought, another nut!

"You were the most beautiful woman in that lifetime. You have the same eyes now as you had then. Many men wanted you, but you wanted only one."

Portia didn't know what to make of it. She smiled and said her goodbye, but the old woman grabbed her by the wrist.

"Come! I show you something."

They walked past the rows of roadside stalls and entered the open gates of the fort. Portia felt surprised at her willingness to hear the gypsy's story. However, she was not prepared to trek the steep steps towards the main building - she had an unexplained aversion towards stairs. She had never seen the inside of the fort except in pictures, even though she had lived within a few kilometres of it her whole life.

But the old woman kept walking, still holding her by her wrist, almost dragging her.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DWP: inside the fort

Portia followed the gypsy woman with a bit of curiosity and annoyance. She was wearing her two-inch heels and a walk along the grounds of the old Spanish fort was not in her mind when the gypsy told her that she had seen her in another lifetime a long time ago, and uncermoniously told Portia to follow her. She's always passed by the fort but never had the inclination to go in and look. She's from here, not a tourist, she always thought.

The gypsy, no more than sixty, Portia reckoned, had very dark skin, and the lines on her face told the hardship she had gone through. Her large silver earrings gave small jingling sounds as she turned her head side to side, up and down, as if looking for something in the mossy walls of the musty fort cells they passed. They reached a non-descript corner where the smell of death seemed to still hang in the musty air. Her ragged hands touched the walls as she murmured something that resembled a prayer although Portia was sure it wasn't.

A large brick moved and fell on the ground in crumbly pieces. Portia felt a damp air in her chest and for a while she thought she was going to faint. She thought it was just the smell but there was a gentle breeze that came from the bay beyond the fort.

"You," the gypsy told her, "was standin' here. Beautiful silk dress...and your hair...flowing. The sun..." she pointed to the direction of the bay, "red, sinking in water." She bent down and took a handful of the brick's pieces, took out a large piece that was strangely dark and held it up. "Your blood!"

The gypsy grabbed Portia's arm and forced her to stand up beside the wall where the brick fell from. Portia's chest felt tight and she couldn't understand it. She had no obvious sickness, but it felt like she was choking now. She put a hand on her chest and started to massage herself, as her eyes welled with tears.

"Yes, that's where you's standing," the gypsy said, her voice calmer now. She had a look of regret in her eyes as she told Portia, "I was the soldier with the live bullet that struck your chest. You died instantly."

Portia suddenly felt better.

"I'm sorry, but it was an order. A soldier always obeyed orders." She put her face in her ravaged hands and sobbed.

Portia asked her, "What are you talking about?"

"You were executed here for adultery. Your husband the son of the Governor-General. Your paramour, a soldier. Your son, he died during childbirth."

"They killed me for adultery? And who was the soldier, do you know?" Portia asked, both indulging and curious.

"I was the soldier, and they chose me to kill you." She looked at the snippet of red sunset glow slowly fading. "I love you...but a soldier always obeys orders."

"Well," Portia said but only she could hear, "that explains the chest pains I've been having since I was young."

A stronger breeze blew and the small hush of the palm trees seemed to have blown the smell of death in that little corner. Portia took the small piece of brick with her "blood", wrapped it in her handkerchief and followed the gypsy back to the gate.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

DWP: the doctor

"is the doctor in?"
"away, on assylum round."
"is the doc in-sane?"


take one black bird's egg
drink with goat's urine at night
quack doctor's advice?

Friday, February 18, 2011

DWP: wrong turns

They have come back to haunt her at last, those series of wrong turns she made in her life. She had the incredible knack for attracting emotionally deficient men, lovers with whom she held on for too long thinking that what she felt was love. Each time it felt the same and different simultaneously, a déja vu of crumpled emotions.

Staying in this hospice, lying in this narrow bed all alone, discarded by society, the past comes back like those bad reruns on TV.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Veronica: A Date with a Star

Richard looked at her, surprised she was so tiny, next to his tall frame.

She tried to stand tall, despite being only five feet. Stomach in, chest out, back straight, shoulders a little back, chin up, and smile. That was what the personality coach always told her to do.

Even when they sat next to each other she still had to look up at him. She was initially thrilled at the thought of having a date with him, a basketball star. Someone whom people get to see on TV. After all, he's handsome, he's popular, and rich. Not that it mattered. All she wanted was a picture with him that she can show off to her friends at the office.

They talked about many things: current events (good thing she liked to read the newspapers), music (Killing me Softly by Roberta Flack was the hit of the day, and they both liked classical music), movies, ambitions, school.

"So, who's your favourite basketball player?" he asked her as the waitress set their dessert plates.

"I don't know," she said shrugging her shoulders.

"Girls are agog over Francis or Atoy or Bobby."

"Nah, not me."

Then he asked her, "Tell me, do you like me enough to want me to be your boyfriend?"

The cheesecake was halfway to her mouth and she had to put her fork down.

"Are we being frank here?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied, and she saw that his eyes were full of honesty.

She smiled, no longer shy, and dabbed her lips with the linen napkin from her lap.

"You're nice and everything..." she started to say.

"You've never been out of the country," he cut in, the deep set eyes glinting in the candle light, "and yet where did you say you learned to speak English this good? I swear you grew up either in the States or in Britain."

She furrowed her eyebrows. "In high school," she said, rather hesitatingly. "I was the oratorical champion. We had a subject called 'Speech 1' and my teacher taught us how to pronounce properly. We used the IPA, that's the International Phoenetic Alphabet."

"Is that in a lab with all those gadgets, headphones, what-have-you?" He looked at her through the rim of his wine glass.

She shook her head. "Just in the class, my teacher would just produce the sound herself. She was very good. We studied the symbols."

He nodded as he placed his glass down.

"So you were saying I am nice and everything. Sorry to have interrupted, I just had to ask."

"You're nice and everything, but you're not my type." She sheepishly covered her mouth with the napkin. "Sorry."

"Why am I not your type? You don't like basketball players?" He feigned hurt, putting his hand over his chest, but he was smiling.

"It's not that you're a basketball player. It is that you have so much..." she hesitated.

"What?" She got him curious.

"I don't like men with too much hair!" She brought her shoulders an inch up not knowing how else to react after her statement.

He bursted out laughing. "You mean I'm getting rejected for my body hair?"

"Nobody's getting rejected here," she said, "but..."

He reached out and placed his one long hairy arm around her shoulders, pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. He let his face linger for a brief while as he took on the scent of her long black hair and kissed her again.

"Thank you for being honest, V," he said as he let go of her, but his arm stayed on her shoulders a while longer. "I like you, I like your honesty. I think we can be friends."

She nodded. The cheesecake was good though, so she picked up her fork again and finished it.

"There was a boy in high school who was the basketball star of the varsity. I heard he's gone professional." She told Richard over coffee.

"He was your boyfriend?" he asked, his eyes teasing her.

"Almost, but not quite."

"Why almost? What's his name?"

"Jason. Apart from him asking me to watch him play, nothing ever came out of it. I wasn't really the most attractive girl in high school."

"High school is always different. But, believe me, you are a very attractive girl."

"But I'm not your type either, huh?" she said, her face blushing.

"Well, I haven't gone out with anyone as short as you. But I like you very much. I'd like to go on another date, if you would agree."

She gave him a look of shock. "You mean this is a date?!"

They both laughed and gave each other a high five.

A week later, a large bouquet of beautiful red and white roses arrived at her desk. She dialed Richard's number and told him she's allergic to flowers, did he mind if she gave it to the girls in the office? The next day, he sent her a big box of imported chocolates. She never dated Richard again nor seen him again in person, but every Christmas time, for the next seven years, he would send her gift baskets. There was always the same message: "To the unforgettable girl with the most beautifully scented hair. Love, Richard, your hairy admirer".

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Veronica's point of view

I saw Jason at the school today, but he didn't see me.

I'm in college now, and he's in his last year in high school. He belongs there. He probably has forgotten about me by now. Boys move on quite easily. They forget easily. I am thankful for the memories I have of him, no matter how brief, no matter how flitting. I can't dwell on what was not there for too long, although I wish I had been bolder, that there have been more to remember.

Secretarial school is such a bore. Why can't these people learn how to type fast? But I'm thinking, if the school hires me right now, then I'd get to see Jason everyday. I can watch him play, and maybe we can re-start where we left off. But maybe it's not such a good idea to have a boyfriend who is in high school. I'd look like a cradle snatcher, although he's only a year younger than me, and that's not really a big gap.

I think the right thing to do is forget about him.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

DWP: the flight attendant

In Lufthansa's business class, he hovers around me,
hands a blanket while topping up my lemonade.
Then he slips a little card, with his phone number in it;
I look at his handsome face and I'm thinking "AIDS"?


Note: When I came to Canada in 1988, I flew from Frankfurt on Lufthansa's business class to Toronto. The flight attendant was a handsome young thing, sweet talker, too. He treated me like I was a real VIP, so I could say it was worth the money I paid for (the plane ticket, that is). Halfway through the trip, I realized he was actually flirting with me. Not knowing anyone in Toronto, I kept his business card and thought, yes, hook up with a flight attendant sometime. Next day, the newspapers carried a news item about how a number of Lufthansa flight attendants were found to have the AIDS virus. It was enough reason to "lose" his business card.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Tear for the Unknown

July 3, 1971

The wind tears through the neighbourhood, sending anything in its path into the air. Trees bend with the whirling wind, as if by doing the wind's bidding, they shall be spared their lives. The few fragile ones give in and their roots are pulled away, and are unkindly thrown and discarded. The heavy downpour lends havoc to the scenery, even the waves on the breakwater from the Bay make known they are ready to devastate. The streets are deserted, save for a few cars and jitneys, as even the vagabonds have taken cover.

Yet, Jason runs to the basketball court with his ball, defying the winds, defying the rain, defying the strange feelings and fighting to keep them within. At first a few tentative dribbling, then as the rain pelts his face, he drives the ball hard on the watery concrete. This court is his, his territory, his kingdom. He rules here. He does not care whether there is rain or wind or hurling trees, this is where he is most at home. His skills are honed here, his presence revered by the unquestioning grounds that happily welcome his weight.

He drops the ball on the ground and unbuttons his shirt, throwing it to the side of the court. Then he pulls his pants down, struggling for a moment to get them off his legs without undoing his sneakers, now soaked with the water that had accumulated on the ground. The pants end on the other side of the court, disappearing into a puddle.

He picks up his basketball once again and dribbles it for a long time. The cold makes him shiver, but he does not care. No, if he does not want to feel cold, here in his court, he will not feel the cold. The anger, the emotions he has been stifling, these he channels to the ball. The more anger he feels, the harder the ball hits the ground in a watery splash. The harder the wind blows, the harder the rain fell, the angrier Jason gets, the ball hits the ground harder, and the water splashes strongly, sometimes even hitting his face.

He stands in front of the basket and sends the ball through. He stands farther back each time until he reaches mid-court. He knows, if he concentrates enough he can shoot the ball from that distance. He raises the ball, his eyes, despite the rain pelting his face, intensely focused on the basket.

But if one looks closer, one does not see just a young man stripped down to his underwear shooting baskets on the basketball court in the middle of a typhoon. As Jason thrusts the ball forward, tears blur his vision. And when the ball does not go through, he yells as loud as he can and the tears keep coming. And he yells some more, bidding the tears away, sending them with the wind as it blows devastation around the city.

Veronica. Veronica!

Several months ago, she was within his grasp. She had smiled at him. She talked to him. She came when he had asked her to see him play. She was there. Didn't he do that impossible layup just for her? Didn't he play his hardest so the team would win the game, for her?

She wasn't like the girls who ogled and giggled. She was so together, so calm, so mysterious. When she smiled, it was hard to guess what she was thinking. But he had watched her from the hallway of his third floor classroom as she walked across the quadrangle - she walked with purpose; the A to B, the here to there, no nonesense purpose. And yet he has seen her as playful. The few times he had seen her laugh, she threw her head back without a care, she laughed without pretensions. Her laugh was genuine and he longed to share laughs with her.

But he has never overcome his shyness. Even when he decided he'd be man enough to have a shot of rhum so he would not be shy. She just held him tongue-tied. He thought her piercing gaze can stop a train in its tracks. He could never guess what was in her mind.

And yet somehow he knew, there was something in there for him. And he wanted to know what it was.

But now she's gone, and he is left with the questions he didn't know how to ask. She has moved on. And somehow he knows he, too, must.

Friday, February 11, 2011

DWP: the last night

The last night that Veronica was in Manila, she had promised herself it would be the last time she would visit. Even though she had reconnected with a lot of her friends, Manila is still hellishly hot, her relatives painfully unbearable, and money gets spent like it was going out of style. But four years later, the phone call came.

Now, she's on the plane back.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The First Time

The first time he approached her, he smelled of rhum.

She had seen him hanging around with his friends at the store just outside the school's massive gates. He was wearing his basketball uniform, white with light blue trimmings. It was the first time she had seen him and she didn't know who he was.

"Psssst! Psssst!" he said, but she pretended she didn't hear, and she tried not to look at him. She entered the gates and just before the guard closed the door shut, she glanced back to see him looking at her.

Two hours later, after she had finished practicing her oratorical piece, she saw him again with three boys including her boisterous classmate Vicente. She was crossing the almost empty quadrangle to the canteen when he took a few strides towards her.

"What's your name?"

She didn't know if it was a friendly question because she thought he wasn't even smiling. But boys had already started to notice and took interest in her and she thought it was just one of those boys. She felt her heart racing for no apparent reason. She started to say her name when she noticed the smell of rhum. Just a trace, but she was familiar with the smell: her father always had a shot of rhum in the evening.

"Why?" was all she managed to say, she herself not knowing if the why was for "why are you asking?" or "why did you drink?"

"Jason! Let's go." It was one of the boys he was with. And he walked away from her. She made a mental note to ask Vicente about him the next day.

DWP: the photograph

The Secret Photograph

She first saw it when she was seven, old enough to understand. It was tucked away underneath yellowed papers and frayed cards, locked away in her father's bureau. She found out where her father hid the key quite by accident, when one morning she had gone down early and sat unseen underneath the stairs, the morning darkness aiding in the camouflage.

She vomited when she saw it then became sick, the mere sight traumatizing her and she knew it would be for life.

It was the photograph of a woman giving birth, the head of the baby coming out from between the woman's legs. The image got stuck in her mind, and, combined with the memory of her own mother's agony whenever she gave birth, she had understood at such a young age that having a child was painful. She promised herself she would not have children.

When she was thirty, on a visit to her father's house, she went directly to the bureau, turned the key dangling from the lock, pulled the photograph and asked her father, "Who is this woman?"

Her father grabbed the photograph from her hand and threw it inside the drawer. "A friend paid so much money so that that photograph would not be seen by anyone. I am an honourable man so I am not about to tell you who she is. I was entrusted with a secret and I will pretend until the day I die that you never saw it."

"Tell me who that woman is. I want to know."

"If it will allay your doubts, it is not your mother."

When her father died ten years later, her stepmother handed her an envelope. Inside, among a few other photographs, faded and mildewy, was the photograph. She winced then as she had the first time she saw it. But this time she didn't vomit. There was a short note addressed to her.

And that's how she became the keeper of his secret.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

DWP: the bartender

the bartender

i'm your bartender
fixing drinks for sad egos
and the lonely souls


hand me your car keys
can't give you anymore booze
let's call you a cab

Tuesday, February 1, 2011



walk along the shore
fine white sands stretch beyond
blue waters beckon


oiled bodies abound
burn under the blazing sun
palm leaves swaying

Monday, January 31, 2011

in the tropics

She lies alone in bed, stares in the darkness of the room and listens unwillingly to the howl of the snowstorm outside. She pulls the thick blanket over her neck as she feels a tad shivery. It is the middle of winter, and yet Ronnie's mind is in the tropics. Jason has been in her mind a lot.

She remembers him from forty years ago. He was the only one who looked her way, the handsome basketball player of the school team. He was tall and lithe and when he played he was so agile that his image is forever ingrained in her memory. Over the years, she has come to love watching basketball and it never failed that one or two players would remind her of him, the way he moved and sometimes even his looks. Tall men had been attracted to her even when she only stood at a little bit over 5 feet. Once, she dated one of the more popular basketball stars from the national league, but, however handsome and rich he was, he never measured up to what her perception of Jason was. She had heard that he had gone professional and longed to see him on television, remembering how he looked like when they were young: the soft soulful gaze of his eyes, the shy smile of his red lips, the awkward way he waved "hello" at her that day.

She has always wondered, as she still does, how it would have been. Why, when finding these old friends and classmates, it is him she longs to see again. Maybe now she won't be as shy to talk to him, unlike in high school. Maybe now she can make him laugh; maybe now she can find out what he is like right now.

And then there are the what if's. What if she was the go-getter that she had become? What if she had been bold enough and encouraged him more? What would it have been like to hold his hands. To gaze into his eyes. To kiss his lips. To feel his skin next to hers. To make love with him. There were so many possibilities that she would never know. And she longs to be back, so she would find out. All these years, it was Jason. The torch she thought was forgotten, a product of a brief flirting, a brief smile, a brief invitation. What if?

She lies in bed every night, thinking how it might have been with him. Was Jason the one that really got away?

Saturday, January 29, 2011



and the judge in disdain sees the verdict,
that is decided by the tired jury.
so the charge has now been dropped
and the criminal goes free.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

PROMPT: write about someone from the past

November, 2008:

I received an e-mail today. The sender, ST, wrote: "ASF is asking about you, can I give him your e-mail?"

This was rather unexpected and I asked myself where this was coming from. Now, ST is a glib kind of person, meaning he talked big, in a rather boastful way. I tried to think back: did I in any way let out anything about ASF? As far as I knew, I had not discussed him with anyone, other than saying he was the star of the basketball team when I was graduating from high school. Of course, everybody, especially the girls knew ASF, and who wouldn't.

There's a signal from Sanny on the YM messenger. I logged on.

Me: What's this bullshit you're playing with me about ASF?

ST: It's true, he e-mailed me. He said "Can I have VMM's e-mail?"

Me: How did he know about me? My screen name does not indicate anything about my real name.

ST: Well, I sort of asked him if he knew you.

Me: Why would you do that?

ST: Just to find out if he knew you. Why? Are you hiding from him?

Me: No.

ST: Were you his girlfriend in high school?

Me: What kind of stupid question is that? I didn't have a boyfriend in high school. Did you personally know ASF when you were in high school?

ST: We knew the same people.

Me: Did you know who his girlfriend was back then?

ST: Yes.

Me: Who was it?

ST: You!

Me: ST, you are full of bullshit!

ST: hahahahaha. It wasn't you? Well, I didn't really know who his girlfriend was that time. But he was very popular, he had to have a girlfriend.

Me: Well, then?

Several weeks after that, I stopped communicating with ST nor did I want to have anything to do with the alumni group he had established. To my surprise, he sent me an e-mail, wherein attached was an e-mail from ASF, asking him for my e-mail address.

ASF and I did not as much talk in high school. The encounters I had with him could be counted with the fingers in my one hand.

First encounter:

Cynthia, Aida, Neri, Lourdes and I were in a vacant room on the second floor, singing. The school athletes were practicing downstairs in the quadrangle, as well as the PMT's and the boy scouts. VA took a break from their PMT routine and came up with RC. We were talking about our Physics assignments. Then some students came up to use the other vacant rooms. ASF passed by with his team mates, saw VA and Cynthia and they talked. He was standing by the door when I decided to leave the room to see if the canteen was busy.

I paused right beside ASF, looked up at his face and said: "My, you're very tall!"

I remembered that he smiled at me and said, rather shyly, "Hi!"

Second encounter:

A few weeks later, one afternoon, my classmate ZM and I were walking past the registrar's office and ASF was with some of his classmates. He ran and stopped right in front of me, effectively blocking my way.

"Hi," he said.

"Hi," I said while he started walking backwards.

"Are you coming to see the game?" he asked mentioning the name of a school that I didn't catch. He was talking about a basketball tournament that the school team was competing in.

I would have wanted to come with some of my girlfriends but the pressure of doing well in school had a lot of constraints on me. Plus I would need extra money for bus fare which I knew I couldn't have, so I shook my head.

"Can't." I continued to walk, ZM in tow.

"Will you pray that we'll win?" he asked, he's behind me now.

I looked back, and looked at ZM. I smiled at ASF and I said "Sure!" Suddenly he was gone.

"He likes you," ZM said.

Third encounter:

Three days later. The basketball court was being prepped for a game with a school from out of town. We were having recess and Cynthia and I were in the hallway passing time. ASF, holding a notebook, approached us. Cynthia gave him a big smile and they talked.

After a few minutes, he turned to me.

"Vikki, are you going to watch the game this afternoon?" he asked. This surprised Cynthia, her eyes round in amazement.

"Yes, we're going to watch," Cynthia said to him and was about to say more when ASF said to me:

"I promise my first basket will be for you."

I pointed a finger at me, my eyes inquiring, Me?

"Yes, you."

"Just the first?" I had to make light of the situation. Cynthia's jaws dropped on the ground and needed picking up.

"The first five," he said smiling. That's when I noticed his eyes. Looking at me. Me! And I noted the uneven lower front teeth. And his lips were red. And he was slim. And he had fair skin, well, compared to mine.

Cynthia recovered from this surprise. "Why not all?"

He laughed and said "see you". As he walked up the stairs, he looked back and smiled.

Cynthia turned to me: "What was that all about?"

"You heard him, first five baskets for me." I strutted back towards the classroom, like a peacock showing its plumes.

Cynthia, dear Cynthia, told the first girl who passed by.

That afternoon, at the game, Cynthia and I stood on the second floor hallway just above the canteen, where we had the perfect view of the west end basket. Our school's team scored first. It was him. He was looking up scanning the building until he saw me. And he shot another basket. And I cheered. For the team. Until I got my five baskets.

And Cynthia said, "I didn't know you're his girlfriend."

"I'm not. I hardly ever talked to him."

We went downstairs to buy Coke. Some girls from third year afternoon section, gave me a snide look and whispered loud enough for me to hear, "ASF's girlfriend."

And I thought: I am?. Hah! My plumes just got more colours!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


the seeds of hatred
they can grow like a wildfire
nip the bud right now!
plant the seeds of love
let it grow and fill your heart
and let peace rule us.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Megan feels a tad playful tonight. And giddy.

On her shopping spree on the weekend, upset that Larry wouldn't see her, guess who she saw at the classy jewelry store at the mall? Yes, Larry himself. And he was looking at engagement rings. She had been feeling both ecstatic and nervous since.

When Larry calls her that morning to say they were going for dinner that night, she sort of plays it cool, making him wait while she checks her Outlook calendar. Of course she is free, and she even makes a hesitant "Uhm...ahh..." before she says "Okay."

She and Larry have been dating for several months now. Dating as in having sex, either in his apartment or her condo. They go out for fancy dinners, why, they even went on a weekend trip to one of his friends' cottage.

As Megan twirls around before the floor-to-ceiling mirror in her bathroom, (checking to see if her pantyhose was perfect, no creases on her dress, the like (why, she even went to the salon to have her hair done as well as her make up!), she has visions of Larry kneeling down, in front of all the patrons at Truffles, and asking her to marry him. She looks at herself in the mirror, tries out again her "shy, cute smile" and places her right hand over her cheek.

"Oh, Lar," she says, raising her eyebrows just so. She places her hand now over her chest as she imagines Larry taking out the diamond ring he had purchased for her, "Oh, my God! This is so unexpected!" But she couldn't say it without the grin on the corners of her mouth. Megan is extremely excited.

The door bell rings. Larry is at the door, holding a bunch of pink roses, her favourite. He compliments her, "That's a beautiful dress, but of course, it's beautiful because you're wearing it." Megan giggles, nervously, as she has practiced all day.

At dinner, Larry rarely speaks, but would occasionally touch her cheek with the back of his hand. When they were having their main course, he reminds her of that new position they tried the last time "we had sex" and how much he enjoyed having her "that way", then he looks at her like he is ready to do her right then and there. Megan starts to feel horny and wishes Larry would already drop on his knee and propose. If he keeps this any longer, she might have an orgasm by the end of the meal.

Larry orders port for their dessert. Then he takes Megan's hand.

"Meg," he says and Megan thinks, Okay, here it is.

"Meg, I'm getting married." Megan smiles. Wow! this is a different approach to a proposal.

"I've proposed to my girlfriend last night and she said yes." Larry says this with a smile.

"What?" Megan says. "I thought I am your girlfriend." She almost couldn't hear herself.

"Well, you're my girlfriend, sort of. But I think of us more like lovers. I enjoy having sex with you, you're so game at everything."

Megan is stunned.

"What I'm driving at is, I hope we can still... you know...get together once in a while even when I'm married."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

in the donut shop

For the fourth time, this time with the Tim Horton's store manager as witness, Olivia repeated her order, "Cinnamon-raisin bagel, lightly toasted, double butter, please."

"Anything else?" the cashier asked, also for the fourth time, then looked at the manager who nodded in approval.

"Large green tea, bag on the side, please," says Olivia, rolling her eyes at the exercise.

When her order came, for the fourth time she received a small cup of green tea with the bag in it, and milk, and a maple glazed donut with a slice of cheese.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

laundry day

angora sweater:
does it go in the dyer?
that is the question.
socks, drawers and such
towels, bed sheets and what’s this?
yuk! smelly sneakers!

Monday, January 17, 2011


My fear

When suddenly the flow of words stops and
Runs dry not the inkwell but the ideas;
It lurks around
This unwelcome friend who
Empties your mind and
Renders your vision

Be glad when you can
Lick and
Overcome this menace by just
Continuing to write and
Kick its butt once and for all.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

in the casino

Percie, my secretary, is both nervous and ecstatic. She’s never been to a casino before. The casinos set up at fundraising galas don’t qualify as casino. This one here today is the real one, where you sink real big money in that goes in the pockets of the owners or the government officials. This casino has waitresses clad in skimpy clothing. This casino has cameras all over the ceiling and walls and security men rounding the floors periodically, like every ten minutes. This casino has security men checking patron’s ID’s and purses.

“Ma’am,” the burly looking security guard slightly bows his head upon recognizing me. I open my purse for him to inspect it, but he smiles and says, “It’s okay, ma’am. I know you.”

Percie clutches her shoulder bag close to her body, a skinny security guard motions for her to place it on the table for inspection. She looks at me. The first security guard tells him it’s okay, “She’s with Ma’am.” Percie turns her nose up at the skinny guy.

“Well, that was nice. Who are you, Ma’am?” Percie says mockingly.

“I worked at the Front Desk before they had the casino. The secu’s know me,” I tell her.

“Oh, my God, there’s so many people!” she exclaims.

“Yes, and it’s only three o’clock in the afternoon.” I walk ahead of her and she follows me. I show her where the slot machines are.

“A dollar? Who comes here, millionaires?”

“Chinese, mostly, and businessmen,” I say eyeing a half empty Black Jack table.

“Are you going to play?”

“Of course, that’s why we came, isn’t it?”

“Well, I just wanted to see what a casino looks like.” Percie’s eyes follow a passing waitress with a large tray loaded with beer, wine and other drinks. “Wow, you’d think she’s going to bed with those clothes. Why didn’t she just take everything off.” I laugh.

“Pers,” I say as I fish out a $50 bill from my purse. “Here, sit and play this machine here.” She sits on the stool in front of the slot machine that has pictures of cherries and variations of the casino logo.

I show her how to work the slot machine, explaining how the winning, or losing, works. She puts in a token and presses the button for one token plays. On her tenth token, she wins a few more tokens which she immediately puts in her little bucket. She smiles. This goes on for a few minutes before she tells me, “Go, don’t watch me.”

I walk over to the Black Jack table where there are now only two patrons, all with less than a hundred dollar worth of chips and the dealer starting to deal a new set of cards. I sit on the centre stool, hand the dealer a $50 bill and he gives me ten pieces five-dollar chips. I place three of them as my bet. The patron on my left bets all his chips, the man on my right bets only some of his. The dealer deals the card. I get two aces and place them face up on the table. I split my bet and the man on my right place a bet on my one card. It wins black jack, the other got an eight of diamonds. I motion “stay”. When the dealer opens his cards he has 24. All bets win. The dealer deals again.

On the fifth deal, Percie sits beside me. The dealer asks her if she’s playing. She shakes her head and tells the dealer she’s with me. He looks about and seeing not many people around us, lets her stay.

“How much did you start with?” she asks.

“Fifty,” I answer without looking at her.

“And you have now, wait…" she counts my chips, "$350?”

“Yes, please be quiet.”

“Wow, you’re good.”

I get fourteen on this deal and scratch the surface with my fingers for him to give me another card. I get a five of spades. Percie watches intently as the dealer opens his cards. He has eighteen. He promptly gives me my winnings.

“Let’s go, Cynne. We’ve won already,” she says.

“Why,” I look at her briefly, “did you win in there?” I jerk my head to the direction of the slot machine.

“No,” she says. I know what she has done. She would’ve cashed in whatever token is left before I have left for the Black Jack table. “Can we go.”

“Okay,” I say, “one last bet.” I place all but one of my chips in front of me as the dealer prepares to deal again. Percie’s eyes widen in horror.

“Are you nuts? You’re already ahead and you’re betting all your money?”

I show her the remaining chip worth $50 and hand it to her. “Go cash it and wait for me at the door.”

She takes the chip, stands behind me and says, “I’ll wait for you.” She looks sad, sorry for me wasting the money that I didn't have in the first place.

The dealer waits for me to open my cards. They were an ace of spade and a Jack of Hearts. Black Jack. The dealer promptly gives me twice the equivalent of my bet. I get up as I gather my chips, all but for one which I push towards the dealer. He smiles and say “Thank you.” It was a $100 chip.

“Stay, you’re on a winning streak,” the man on my right says. “Lady luck’s going to get mad at you if you leave.”

“It’s just beginner’s luck,” I say. “I always quit when I’m ahead. ‘Tis the same with gambling.”

I hand Percie the chips and she merrily dashes away to cash them in.

I meet Percie at the door. She looks upset. “Do you know that you gave the dealer $100 for a tip?”


“But that is just too much!” She says as she hands me my $850. I hand her $300 and very discreetly hand a $50 bill to the burly security guard at the door as we leave. He smiles and slightly bows his head.

“Who are you,” Percie says between her teeth. “Mrs. Santa Claus?”

“Pers, it’s not my money. I only invested $50 in that game. At least I got my money back. That money I gave away, and this with me, it's not mine.”

“I just think you are too generous.” She pouts. I chuckle.

I give the doorman $20 as he whistles at a cab for us. A woman, in her late thirties, seemingly nervous and upset, approaches us and talks to Percie.

“Ma’am, do you think I can hitch a ride with you to the bus stop?” The bus stop is about a ten-minute walk.

Percie looks at the woman from head to toe. “Why?” she asks.

“I just had a bad day. I lost all my money on the roulette and I don’t have money for taxi.”

“Well, that’s what you get for gambling,” Percie tells the woman. “I don’t know, ask her, she’s the boss.” She motions to me.

The woman looks at me, her eyes pleading. I see her earlobes bearing the marks of her earrings. Her wrist has a white line around it, where her watch would have been normally. Her left ring finger has the same mark. Only a simple band remains in one of the fingers in her right hand.

“Sure,” I say. I motion for the woman to sit beside the taxi driver.

Percie rolls her eyes and waves her arms in exasperation. "Why don't we just let her shoot us right here?"

Inside the cab, Percie tells the driver that the woman is getting off at the corner. I ask the woman where she lives and before she can answer, we reach the bus stop and Percie promptly tells the driver to stop. The woman scrambles to get off without thanking us. Percie rolls down her window and yells at her, "Thank you very much, ha?"

"Gheez, Pers, let go. The woman's already down on her luck."

She rolls her window up and laughs. "How ungrateful, couldn't even say a simple thank you."

"Ma'am," the driver says shaking his head. "That lady is a professional gambler. I give her a ride almost everyday. Some days my passenger wouldn't let me because they're afraid she's a hold-upper. But I know her, she's addicted to the casino."

Saturday, January 15, 2011


There are things in my garden that you can't touch
First the roses and wisterias, the dahlias and irises
The ivies and impatience, as well as the costas
And in the sweet peas, you'll find the viper's nest.

Friday, January 14, 2011

the dinner guests

Elizabeth wakes up from her long nap on the sofa; she must have been really tired to have had napped for more than three hours and had it not been for the doorbell, she probably would have slept until morning. She looks at the clock, walks towards the door, stretches her arms as she lets out a big yawn at the same time as she opens the door. It is her good friend Leah, holding a bottle of wine, and her husband Bobby, holding a bunch of store-bought flowers.

As the two visitors say "Hi", Elizabeth suddenly remembers that this is the night she's having them for dinner and that there's virtually nothing in the fridge.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


The frozen snow on the fields along Lynden Road sparkled in the light of the full moon. It seemed the stars were scattered along the fields instead of being in the sky above. It was after midnight and although tired from an entire day at her photo studio, Jemma tried to concentrate on the hilly road. The minus twenty-five windchill made for treacherous driving on the highway and she knew this slopy farm road would be more treacherous. Large patches of black ice had formed and she still had three kilometers to drive before she reached the farmhouse.

She gripped the stirring wheel when, going down a slope, her tires slid and the car made two full turns as it reached the valley. Thankful when the car righted itself, she continued driving. It would be a long and slow drive but she knew she had to be very careful and patient.

At the top of the next incline, she saw right away the glitter of a pair of eyes ahead. She expected a deer, as they were wont to wander this road but she was surprised to find a coyote standing in the middle of the road.

"Come on, Wiley," she moaned as the car neared the coyote, "get the hell out of there, please!" Amusing herself, she said with a chuckle, "Beep! Beep!"

Jemma put the car gear on neutral so that it slowly approached the coyote who wouldn't budge. When she thought the car would hit the animal, it slowly walked to the side, its eyes still fixed on her. Jemma breathed a sigh of relief. The wind blew and flecks of snow fell down from the bald trees.

She kept her high beams on and spotted a family of raccoons up ahead. Two large ones and three smaller ones were feeding on the remains of a squirrel. They didn't move a muscle as she neared and only did so when Jemma pressed the car horn. She continued driving thinking all the critters had moved to the side but she winced when she felt a slight bump in her rear tire as she drove past. She felt a shiver in her spine knowing it could be one of the small ones. She dared not look back lest her car ended up in the ditch.

At the same time that she heard the scratching noise, the angry faces of two large raccoons appeared in front of her and could hear their wailing. In confusion, she hit the brakes but the car jerked and the motor died. Luckily, she had reached the part of the road where there was no black ice. The animals kept scratching at her windshield. Turning on the wipers did not faze them. Suddenly the coyote jumped on the hood of her car and snapped one of the raccoons and in a flash it was gone. The other raccoon jumped off and Jemma immediately restarted her car.

The rest of the drive, although patched here and there with the dreaded black ice, was now uneventful and Jemma started to relax, although the image of the angry raccoons still gave her some chills. But she was thankful for "Wiley" for rescuing her and she promised herself to be more sympathetic to the cartoon character next time she joined her children in watching cartoons.

At the turn on Jerseyville Road to her farmhouse, she glanced at the open field to her right, covered with thick ice that took on the colour of bluish gray as they glistened in the moonlight. The coyote sat atop a tall mound on the icy field, its sillhoutte, with its prey by its feet, exactly in the centre of the moon that loomed large in the sky. Jemma stopped her car, awed by the beautiful image. Her exhaustion suddenly gone, she grabbed her camera and, lowering the passenger side window a few inches, snapped pictures of the precious scenery.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the newspaper boy

"I don't want to do this anymore, Dad," Billy says as he pushes his mom's shopping cart down the pavement.

"But I thought you said you wanted to do what I do for a living," his dad says back to him.

"Yeah, but you're making me do all the work! And I don't get paid."

"I'm teaching you," his dad fishes out a paper from the cart, rolls it up and throws it at the porch of the house, "how money is earned, so you'd learn to spend wisely."

Billy continues to push the shopping cart, its little wheels wobbly from the weight of the thick dailies. Two boys, in hockey uniforms, walk past them, lugging their large hockey bags and hockey sticks that make them almost trip. The end of one hockey stick hits Billy's cart and then his leg.

"Look at those bastards," his dad says. "All they know is play hockey, they wouldn't know how hard life is because their parents protect them by sending them to hockey camps." He throws another paper at another house's balcony. He misses and the paper scatters about on the steps. He continues to walk while Billy pauses, torn between going back and put the paper properly or just continue on.

Then his dad walks back and puts his arm around Billy's neck and musses his hair with his other hand. "But us, we're going camping in three days time, how's that, huh?"

Billy looks back at the two boys with their hockey gears as they blended in the darkness behind them.

"I'd rather go play hockey," he mutters under his breath.