Seven Christian Sabado When there is pain, here is the immediate thought: end it. No matter the degree of hurt, my body, in its frailty and sensitivity, always yearns for a stop. An end to an unease. A sudden but momentary jolt of pain is much preferred than a pain that is less in its affliction but endures longer. Do not prolong the agony. A scrape on the knee, a toothache, a broken heart. Betadine, Ibuprofen, sleep. The mind always seeks for a cure. No matter how brief the relief it gives. When one is in pain, one must look at its causes. I often do not. The duration of looking and seeing only makes the hurt more felt. The act of looking away is a kindness to the self. But writing demands seeing. I look for the wounds within; wounds which I had hidden; wounds I did not know even existed. I seek them out. Wring out the blood. Piece them together. Make something out of it. Some ink. Some words. Sentences. Stories. * Three Angela Sucaldito I was brought to the hospital once during home quarantine as I was feeling faint. The doctor asked how I felt, as the nurses checked my blood pressure. I really don’t know what to say; how to describe what I was feeling. Was I in pain? Not really, but I couldn’t breathe. But no, my lungs didn’t hurt. There was a dull pain in my chest but it was not painful. It was tolerable. I was dizzy, but no, my head didn’t hurt either. What if he thinks I am bluffing? Was I wasting the doctor’s precious time? “On the scale of ten, I think it was three.” Other people have much more pain compared to mine. Much, much more than mine that I wondered if I had the right to talk about pain. To write about? It was tolerable, the pain. I may have cried about it for weeks but I was still able to sleep—more or less. “You’re okay, you’re just over-fatigued,” the doctor said. So how can I pour myself out on these pages when I am an empty vessel? * Zero Nixie Serna The house is a powder keg. Any sound or any movement is a source of heat – a spark. If I make myself as quiet as possible, there is one less chance for an explosion. If I make myself as small as possible, I will get through unscathed until tomorrow. Reduce myself. Take up less space. Nullify the need to want because there is only so much that we can afford with a paper bill in my parents’ pocket. I am a well-behaved girl. I neither drag my feet nor point a finger when we pass by the candies on the cashier’s counter. Rip pages from my journal. Delete photos and messages. Forgetting means there is nothing to relive. And when there is nothing to relive, there is nothing to feel. Numbness is not an absence of pain but a side effect of unfeeling. _____________________ Christian Sabado, Angela Sucaldito, and Nixie Serna are 4th year BA English (Creative Writing) students of UP Mindanao. These lyric fragments are responses to the essay “The Pain Scale” by Eula Biss.