Accomplice of a Murder

Fiction by | July 13, 2020

The rain fell upon the earth like light snow. It looked like dust when seen through a ray of light as it made its descent from the sky.

Her arms and legs were restrained. I made great effort to make sure she did not move too much, or else she would break free and escape. She could not speak to us; it was no use. She spoke in a different tongue. Her pleas for freedom, to us, sounded like nothing but monotonous shrills. But her eyes showed the fear that she could not otherwise articulate.

“She’s a native girl,” my partner said, stroking the girl’s dark brown back.

She was born and raised in the farmland where she and her many siblings only ate corn, often once a day, sometimes twice – when the landlord was generous enough. Corn was the only food her father – a fierce amateur boxer whose landlord managed all the winnings – could afford.

We knew the landlord very well. He was a “family friend,” one could say. We came to his estate one day and my partner grew so interested in this native girl that she asked the landlord if she could take her home with us. The landlord was hesitant at first, but my partner was able to convince him, even offering him a modest amount for the trouble.

Without warning, we took her away, as an eagle swoops down on its prey. We kept her in a cell that was too strong to break out of.

“Hold her still,” my partner said as she held the girl by her chin, exposing her pale neck.

My partner lifted the steel knife and drew it near the large artery of the girl’s neck. Though I had done this numerous times, I still could not bear to look. So, I diverted my attention to the girl’s widening eyes. She must have felt the cold metal against her flesh. She inhaled sharply and red fluid started dripping in the basin underneath her. Her body became warmer, her muscle tensed, and she started jerking, struggling, but I tightened my grip. I watched as the life was slowly draining from her eyes with every drop of blood. I watched as her eyelids started to weaken and – slowly, ever so slowly, as though still fighting the inevitable – close.

The deed was done.

“Wash your hands, now,” my partner commanded. “I’ll take it from here.”

I left the scene and washed my hands, but no amount of soap and water could ever wash away the guilt of the sin I had just committed. I reminded myself that it was a cruel world and we must adapt to it or face certain death; that it was death that placed food on our table and filled our stomachs each and every day. But only now again, after quite some time, did I experience it hands-on to kill, to murder for the preservation of life.

The raindrops were hitting hard against the roof. It was far from light snow now. It was a blizzard.

I brought the bowl of steamed rice from the kitchen to the dinner table, where my father sat, watching television. I then took my seat at the kabisera, my usual place at the table.

“Where’s your mother?” my father asked, turning over his overturned plate, ready for eating.

“She’s still in the kitchen,” I replied.

“Which one did you cook?”

“The native one.”

Then, approaching us with a steaming bowl of tinolang manok smothered with malunggay leaves was my partner – the mastermind of great cooking. She placed the bowl on the table.

It was horrifying and burdening to think that this tender meat, drowned in a thin, savory soup was once a living being. I dipped the serving spoon in the soup and filled my own bowl with the cloudy, yellowish broth.

The smell was so delightful that it made our mouths water.

Liane Carlo Suelan is a HUMSS graduate of the Ateneo de Davao University – Senior High School and was also a fellow at the Davao Writers Workshop 2019.

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