It’s not that difficult to figure out which rock I’ve been snuggling under. Although, ye be warned — if you don’t like books, this all won’t make that much sense to you. Come to think of it, I chose to snuggle under that rock precisely because I can’t seem to find anyone to talk to (at ridiculous length) about books, about reading. Huh.
Ponkan. Christmas. Nick Hornby. Bob Dylan. Blah blah blah.
Pancho’s* sister will be undergoing brain surgery this coming Monday. We need blood donations. We really really really need blood donations.
Donors must be healthy, weighing at least 110 lbs., no current sickness like coughing or a cold, not taking any antibiotics, no alcohol intake in the 24 hours preceding the blood donation. If you are able (or know someone who is) (or if you want to help us with this), please donate under Ate Eva’s name — Eva Ma. Villanueva Desiderio — over at the second floor of Manila Doctors Hospital, UN Ave., Manila. B-positive is priority, but, of course, other types are very much appreciated. The blood bank is open tomorrow Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 8AM until 8PM.
You can contact me at 09278374855 for more information, or Pancho at 09155705388.
If you can’t, for some reason or the other, the Villanueva family appreciate your prayers for her swift recovery. Thank you.
PS – Please disseminate this if you can. Thank you.
* Pancho is my boyfriend. It seemed prudent to inform you how I’m connected to all this
This is “The Catherine Theory” — unlike “This Fleet of Shadows,” I wouldn’t hug this story. No, I won’t. I like this story. It came from my figurative loins. I have an odd relationship with this piece. Really odd. On one hand, it, along with its “partner” story “You Know I Love You” (Alice’s story), began a slew of interconnected projects. Yes, I want to be a schmaltzier Joan Silber. But. But. Hm. Buy me a beer [UGH I DRINK BEER NOW BYE MARGARITAS] and we’ll talk about it. Let’s. [Story first published in December 06, 2008 issue of Philippines Free Press. And it was instrumental in letting me meet Gregorio Brillantes, who is my new mancrush because he is so swabeh.]
* * *
The Catherine Theory
Michelle took her overnight bag, and put what she could inside it. Always, what was necessary: the toiletries she wasn’t allowed to leave no matter how frequently she went there, some underwear advertised as decadent, a change of clothes, a packet of mints.
It was Friday night. In a couple of minutes, she would go out the door, and hail a taxi. In less than an hour, she would be at Jim’s house, where he would be waiting for her with a glass of wine, because it set the mood for what would happen the whole weekend. On Sunday morning, she’d be back in her apartment again, her overnight bag would hold what she was wearing now, the panties she had gone through, shampoo bottles that were lighter. On Sunday nights, Jim always had dinner with his girlfriend, whose name Michelle always seemed to forget.
It didn’t bother her, that he had a girlfriend, it didn’t bother her now the way it did before. Things like that happened. She supposed she loved Jim, and perhaps Jim loved her back, but that wasn’t important, hadn’t been lately. Jim would always say, usually after they made love, “You’re beautiful, Shell,” and she supposed she was. She was pretty enough, with her long dark hair, her full lips, her light skin. Her sister Alice always said she’d give anything to look like Michelle, then she could be taken seriously.
Seriousness, did she inspire this? Did it matter? Commitment, a voice in her head chided, and Michelle thought of how she’d never felt the urge to ask Jim, “Who’s more beautiful then, me or her?” She felt noble for this; it somehow made her seem admirable. She had no desire to know, beyond what she already knew: a girlfriend, Jim’s, who had him most of the week, and especially on special occasions.
At least he wasn’t married. She never dallied with married men. Her mother would never forgive her if she did, if she somehow knew.
Hello, all. This is a story I wrote more than a year ago. Was it a year ago, really? It seems like it’s from so long ago. From someone I only vaguely recognize. Is it frightening, how we grow up without us noticing? ["This Fleet of Shadows" was published in Philippines Graphic on September 29, 2008, and it is a happy dappy blessing.]
* * *
This Fleet of Shadows
It is quiet again. Ever since you realized what exactly silence was, you know that is what weights the house in the hours before noon. The arms of clocks move slowly, dust courses through the air without displacing anything. Always that silence, as the day grows from the gauzy rays of dawn to the stark heat of midday.
Your mom is somewhere within the house, straightening pillows and blankets, watering plants, steadying vases; she is most probably humming a song you will never recognize. Your father is at work. Down the road, the old people with their rolled tobacco and nganga are talking about the snow that fell on the town of Rosario for exactly seven and a half minutes, some eleven years ago, the day you were born. Outside, the sun is relentless. Today is the hottest day of May.
From the short story, “Eros” — began a long time ago, stunted right about fifteen minutes after a long time ago. (Need to write more, yes, I know. Hay. I don’t believe in writer’s block, though. Boredom, sure; disinterest, perhaps.) It frustrates me, how this reads. Existential Dread / Matrimonial Boredom Word Vomit. Oh well. I blame the poets.
She was a child. And so, perhaps, this made it permissible for her to come home to an apartment that was currently empty, with the imprint of another person’s lips on hers. As little as a couple of months ago, she would have fretted at the possibility of lingering strange scents, of the welcome unfamiliarity of new and longed-for tastes. She would have spent as long as she could under the shower, until the shrill beeping of the shower’s heating system drove her away—and even then she’d bow her head to turn the secreted shadows of her nape against the scalding water. And then. And then, with her body mottled pink, she’d brush her teeth in front of the dresser mirror, her pruned fingertips peeking with every up-down-up-down motion of the toothbrush. She would only stop when the foam turned pink, when her gums felt sore when she’d touch the tip of her tongue to them. And then she would wait. Sometimes, she’d read a book as she did so, but mostly she would just sit cross-legged across the bed, leaning against the headboard and simply wait.
But she was a child, she’d been thought of as one, and called a child too many times—and this is what children do, regardless that another man had kissed her and whispered her name in a tone that too many people have been carrying around blithely. This is what children do: she took her jeans off and left them in a heap on the floor. She climbed into bed in the blouse she’d been wearing all day, and her underwear. She slept.
Later—she did not know when exactly, only that the room was still illumined only by the fluorescents—she woke up. Woke up for just a few moments, the world blurred at the edges, more memory than actual experience. She saw Tom walking into the room, and she saw him in one of his gray shirts, and she saw him look at her form on the rumpled bed. And she didn’t understand that look, couldn’t. She slept.
She woke up during the night a few more times, with the same listlessness as she had before, the momentary snatches of how the world—how Tom—moved on as she lay sleeping. Saw Tom in front of the desktop. Saw Tom climbing into bed. Saw Tom’s back turned away from her. And when she reached over to pull him back that his heat may press against hers, she felt him resist. She drew her hand back, let it fall to the bedspread. She was curled up behind him, not touching him. Her last thought before she finally succumbed to a deep sleep was that if anyone leaned over them, some divinity, some brownnoser from above, they would look to be in pursuit: him steadfastly distancing himself, her in flight. It was her last whimsy of the day.
Give me something to write about.
It’s that time of the year. Notebook needs to retire. And so I’m feeling sentimental.
I usually burn through a notebook in two months, but this time, I was writing in two simultaneously, and a couple of days ago, the pages of the last one just ran out. Poof. The last two notebooks are square-ruled Moleskines — yes, they look like Math notebooks, get over it. Anyhoo, I started writing on one about mid-February, stopped a while to go to the other, returned to the first on the last days of March, stopped, didn’t return to it for a really long time, went back May-June-ish, hopped and skipped and juggled.
The notebooks have, I guess, a record number of false starts for stories, and some daydreams/fantasies because I’m O.C.-creepy that way. Here are a couple of G-rated excerpts from the two notebooks, and I’ve kept the mushy stuff to a minimum. Maybe. I dunno.
So. Indulge me.