The markings on the chest of the old man lying on the ground glowed brighter than the moon that night. Light blue. The light crawled throughout his already pasty skin. When the last drop of blood fell from his head, which was hanging above the rest of his body, he finally spoke.
He asked me what I was doing there and why I was just staring blankly on a dead headless body. I told him I was hurting and that the body, headless, reminded me of my own. He seems to have tried tilting his head in confusion, but failed. He realized he could not tilt his head without his neck. He stifled a laugh, and said, “Sometimes I forget that I do not have a body.”
I wondered if sometimes the body forgets that he does not have a head, but of course it cannot. It cannot even think. Without the head the body could not even function.
“So you told me that my headless body reminded you of your own?” he asked, breaking my train of thought.
I looked him in the eye and I asked him.
“What is that glowing thing in your body?”
He was disappointed when I answered his question with another inquiry, but he still answered my question. Although, he was hesitant at first.
“I don’t know,” he began. “When I was decapitated it was not there. Or maybe it was, but it started out very small, I think,” he continued, his eyebrows joining. “Now it is all over my body but I don’t complain. It seems like it is the only thing keeping my body alive. I have been headless, or body-less for a very long time already.”
“For how long? How long have you been dead?”
“Dead?” he seemed offended. “Who said anything about being dead? I am just…”
“I’m sorry. Let me rephrase. How long have you been headless?”
He was quiet for a time. He did not look at me or his body.
And then he spoke.
“I do not remember really. I do not even remember or know where I am. I could not lean to look at any direction aside from the one I am facing now and all I could see from here is an infinite whiteness and a very thin horizon where the sun rose at dawn.” He smiled at that thought. Maybe the rising of the sun meant so much to him.
“At first I counted days. Then I lost count, so I counted the seasons. But then, I also lost count…” He continued slowly with every word quieter than the last. I wondered what seasons he was talking about if all there was here was whiteness.
He looked as if he was about to cry. I really hope he does not; I cannot reach his face to wipe his tears. Isn’t that what people do, wipe their tears and pretend they did not cry? I think this is the part where people feel sad. I do not know. I am not sure.
“So.” he broke the silence again.
“So, what?” I replied.
“You did not answer my question.”
Right. His question. Why did his headless body remind me of my own?
“Because I too have something separated from me. It is something I always held dear but now we are apart. And now I am dead.” Holding something dear—I wonder how it felt like. I was not lying to the old man, no. I knew it was something dear, I just could not remember the feeling of it being so.
Dead. I did not believe I was until I said it.
“You are dead too, you know. You should not deny it,” I told him. I felt the heat of the sun slowly creeping up my back. It was not there yet. Almost.
“Hmmm.” The old man said. He seemed to be using an invisible hand to rub his chin in contemplation.
“Why are you pitch black?” he asked another question. He sounded worried and eager. That is what it’s called, right? Worried? Eager—what does that word even mean?
I did not feel the need to stay anymore. I gave a last look at his body, still headless, the markings already a faint glow.
I looked over my body and saw the rays of sun starting to peek through. I was pitch black. I only noticed it then.
“I need to go now,” I said. “Good bye.”
I tried to smile but I could not. I did not know how.
“I am sorry. I really need to go. Good bye.”
I began to walk away, slowly. I could hear him mumbling in confusion. I could not make anything up with his gibberish until one word finally came into recognition.
David Jayson Oquendo is a nineteen-year-old fourth year student of the Mindanao State University-General Santos City, taking Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.