Friday, August 12, 2011

Where the Mound Is

[Part 2 of "The Messiahs" series]

At three in the morning, I was still awake. For a whole day, I dug a deep pit in our backyard. I was tired. Outside, the garden light flickered throughout the unholy hour, forcing shadows to dance on my bed sheet as if they had artificial life. Through the window in my room, I could see the silhouette of the acacia leaves moving with the wind. I turned to my right side as I grabbed the blanket at my feet and covered my body with it. It offered little comfort in its warmth. With the walls barely visible in the darkness, I kept my eyes still. There was nothing much to see but everything to hear. The door facing the veranda creaked open and was immediately shut close. Soon, the sound of gentle thuds on the floor followed. I knew who it was.

Father has returned. I do not know exactly where he went but I know what he did. He reeks of liquor even without tracing his scent from where I was. He usually comes home a few hours before sunrise, a ritual he has never outgrown through the years.

My name is Alfred Messiah. Most people in my school make fun of the cleft on my upper lip. I’ve had a girlfriend once. I was a college sophomore at the time and Stephanie was a high school senior. We broke-up shortly. She frankly said she could no longer bear the humiliation she has been getting from her family and friends. It seems they do not want someone with twin defects—oral and, therefore, facial—for her. I understand. I do not want a slut either, although it was only much later when I found out. I thought I could tolerate her ways. Early on, father gave a stern warning. Stubborn as I was then, I refused to listen. After we broke-up, I was left with a wounded spirit to nurse and an inborn cleft to blame. I still struggle in dealing with both.

People never know when my smile is genuine. With this fissure on my lip, it’s impossible to tell. To be safe, they always assume that my smiles are sincere. They have no idea. I have studied the mouth more than any other part of the human body. I can recognize happiness simply by observing the movement of that delicate flesh, for it is where stories waiting to be spoken find their escape. A kiss dry of feelings is the easiest to recognize. Perhaps, it’s a gift intended to ameliorate my fate of being born with this labial curse.

Father switched the lights on. My back was against where he stood but I can imagine him staring, his face a blank tablet inciting anyone with a scalpel to etch an emotion onto it. I smiled. The patriarch patrolled his dominion even in his drunken haze.

People say I look a lot like my father. They are right with only half of what they see. They must have already forgotten that I also had a mother once. I was born two months too early and five minutes too late. My mom died in the delivery room twenty years ago, right before I was finally out of her womb. Father said she bled profusely. It was the last time I’ve heard him talk about her.

Father and mother, too, looked very much alike. No surprise there. They are siblings. I cannot begin to imagine how painful it is to give birth to a mortal sin, one whose claim to infamy is a cleft upper lip, a genetic aberration that goes deeper than the flesh. Not once did I blame them upfront.

“I will be at the kitchen,” father said before turning the lights off. He knew I was still awake. He walked away before I got up. Today is the day he has been waiting for.

Father sat at the edge of the table. I slowly approached him. His smile was real, a genuine sign of happiness. He pointed his finger where the cleaver lay without getting his sight off of my eyes. It felt a bit unusual, as though I was staring back at my own eyes for the first time. It was only after I picked up the blade when he fixed his gaze on the old photograph before him. He held it with both hands.

I walked the short distance toward him as my right hand firmly gripped the wooden handle. He did not notice a thing for we both already knew what was coming. Although he was smiling while he held the picture frame, I sensed that his consciousness was elsewhere. Perhaps his was at a remote place where only fathers with dwindling resilience can go. I did not bother to rouse him from his contemplation. It was enough that I already had the cleaver in my hand.

“I loved her too much,” he mumbled twice. His voice thawed the cold silence of the early morning. Light from the yellow shaded lamp reflected on the sharp metal. Sunrise was still two hours away and I found no refuge in sleep.

All it took was one full swing and father spoke no further. Drops of fresh crimson trickled on the framed image. Mother was sullied with father’s blood. It is true after all. There is a hefty sum to be paid for a lifetime of unspoken remorse.

Just before sunrise, my job was done. Later that day, only a mound of clay was left as a passing reminder of where father's corpse will rest for the many months ahead. He and mother are together again in death.

I slept the sleep I have never had before.

Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5


Anonymous said...

whoo!it reminds me of VC Andrews and Mary Higgins Clark combined (if it pale in comparison, pasensya kana sila lang kasi nabasa ko)

Galing,pramis!if this is in a book version already, I'm sure it will be "unputdownable" hindi ako matutulog gat di ko to natatapos!

Lupet! Handsdown!

Red Baron said...

I felt a little uncomfortable and was left in that uneasy state till the very end. Kelan kasunod nito? Haha. Can't wait.

SPLICE said...

Thanks Gayla! Ano na balita? Text! Hindi ka naman nagrereply sakin eh hehe :)

@Red Baron
Hindi ko pa alam kung kelan lalabas ang kasunod, siguro pagkatapos pa ng isang basyo ng beer sa Sarah's haha! Naks, Red Baron talaga ang nom de plume hehehe at sa wakas may bago ka na palang post! :)

Carl said...

God, revelations, oh revelations.

I like this "There was nothing much to see but everything to hear. "

Cleft pallet, mother died at his birth, fruit of an incest, parricide, and the surname "Messiah".

What more? Very stuffed with mysteries of life, of love, of hatred, of regrets, of vengeance.

I like this so far.

Carl said...