The heat was punishing. It was one of those days when the sun seemed especially merciless – the heat seeming to sear one’s skin to the bone and the humid air driving the strongest of men to weariness. In the cramped, cheerless room, the heat was even more intolerable. The sole fan attached to the ceiling provided no relief from the cruel heat; if possible, it seemed only to trap the dense air in the windowless box that served as the factory office.
Across the room, the woman sat stiffly on a padded bench. Her head was slightly bowed, her gaze fixed on an indistinct spot on the gray linoleum floor. The heat was almost suffocating, but she felt cold on the inside, her clammy hands gripping her knees tightly in an effort to steady her rioting nerves. Cold, sticky sweat was trickling down her spine in tiny rivulets and dark crescent stains had begun to form below her armpits. Beads of moisture, too, started to line her brows, and she had to swipe them off with her sleeve every so often to keep them from falling to her eyes.
Continue reading The Accused
Nag-away na pud si Anna ug ang iyang Mama, maong sa coffee shop siya nagtambay. Ang hinungdan ang iyang pseudo-stepfather. Nahibal-an man gud ni Anna na magpakasal na sila. Nagdagan-dagan pa sa utok ni Anna ang tubaganay nila sa iyang Mama samtang naga-order siya sa counter, hangtud paglingkod niya sa table dapit sa bintana sa shop.
“He makes me happy! Nganung dili man na nimu makita? Ug nganung dili man na nimu masabtan?”
“Happy? Happy ka na mabawasan imung love para sa akoa tungod sa iyaha?!”
“You know that’s not true anak!”
Continue reading Mga Mama ug Mga Papa
Because you are a chef, I must stuff my mouth with your cooking. Beat the eggs well, in the kitchen, on the bed, you always say. Even though you know I can’t cook.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Turn the button. That is all I know how to do.
The fat chicken you had marinated overnight with pineapple juice lacks poise lying in the pan. Good thing its head had been cut off. Just imagine if it was there, you might think it was still alive.
Continue reading Happy Meal Number One
On my left foot, the white sock with blue stripes is paired with a plain yellow sock. I’m wearing my favorite pair again. The left sock is made of a cool thin cloth, while the other one is heavy and warm.
I can still imagine my mother’s face when she first saw me wearing this pair when I was still in elementary. She was quite hysterical when I told her I wanted to go to school wearing them. My father was very strict about being organized. A perfectionist, you might say. I remember him pointing out that a young man must dress accordingly to earn the respect and trust of his peers. His deep solid voice and few words were enough to make me agree. I never showed them the pair again.
Continue reading My Favorite Pair
Hinaguros lamang ang agi ni Peter sa taliwala sa kamaisan samtang nagpadulong ngadto sa iyang lagkaw nga nahimutang sa iyang uma.
Ning-undang na lang gayod siya pagbungay bisan sayo pa ang kaudtohon kay ang iyang hunahuna kaganina pang ga-alindasay.
“Hidusdosan man lang ang kamot ta ning amol da! Karon ka gayod didto sa lantay kay hingpiton ta gayod ang pagsubay,” bagutbot ni Peter sa iyang kaugalingon.
Continue reading Kaanugon Da
Sunrise, this lone miracle by which night is transformed into day; a perpetual incarnation of beauty to a city that they think has stepped out from the pages of a fairy story.
Far from what seemed remote a land was a castle of cold shacks where two boys, dull and gray, awoke to the realm of men’s coats and women’s dresses moving in throngs. These spectacle of colors they never tire of seeing, yet sorely wish at harmonizing.
Across the castle was the Land the boys call Fairy in which they see people go as they break from the moving throng and then come back, still in harmony amidst the hubbub of such beauty. In their heads were the different wonders, marvels, and miracles dragged from the cupboards of the Fairy and certainly kept for these people, them so full of color.
Continue reading Why Doesn’t Gray Appear in the Kaleidoscope?
When I first met Charlie at a young writers’ summer conference in Baguio, he and Winston had already been the best of friends. This was not surprising, because both of them came from the same town in Pangasinan and had gone to school together – from elementary to college. Charlie’s mom and Winston’s mom were best friends in college. Charlie and Winston were both first-born. So it was sort of natural they would be close to each other.
Charlie was a poet, Winston a fictionist, and both had been hailed as “the newest stars in the literary firmament,” as a campus review would put it. Both of them belonged to the exclusive Inner Circle, a select group of campus writers in the university. Charlie looked like a young Dylan Thomas (who happened to be his favorite poet): somewhat pouting lips and curly locks tumbling down forehead and nape. He was lean, fair and frail-looking. His eyes were his best features: saucer-shaped and brooding, dark with secret passions and what he would quote as “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” Winston was completely different. He was dark and husky, his kinky hair close-cropped, a crystal stud sparkling on his left ear. He was almost a head taller than Charlie. From a distance, they would look like a man and a woman together: a striking pair.
Continue reading A Love (Triangle) Story
Father and I were in the purple car handed to him for the nth time; where n is equals to the infinity of the fathers who drove their daughters to the JS Prom. For years, the tinted windows of the car and the strangulating seatbelt have created an artificial intimacy—between me and the world outside the car, and him.
The suffocating airconditioner made the car windows misty, and I traced escape holes with my thin fingers. The traces made me recall my tongue, carefully parting the hairs of his stiffening chest that night we lay awake.
Continue reading In the Car that Straddled Me and Father