Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What I've Become

I’ve become a man who knows his songs but lost his music somewhere along the way. And so, day after night after day, I, a man burdened by this preternatural solitude, I labor to rediscover the forgotten melodies that sing to me the sound of her voice, she whose presence alone has been enough to convince me that the most beautiful things in life are yet to happen, grand as they truly are, like unborn promises awaiting their birth on her lips. This desire is the yoke I bear, inseparable — ceteris paribus — from who I have become and who I will be for as long as she remains the blues to my jazz, and because I want her today more than yesterday I will play every song I know in search of my lost music. I might find it.

Or I might not, for her absence has somehow nullified that possibility, muffling and muting whatever sound there is left to listen to in the corners of my mind, like the echo of a hymn so solemn and dignified it makes no sense why it has to struggle finding a wall in a place where there is none. You hear it once, the beauty of the song, and then never again, try hard as you might with your effort to remember, because it is not in the nature of memories to be true to form. They tend to take their own sound, and another, then another, which is probably why sometimes I mistake someone else’s voice as hers.

I have always wanted to sing her name.

Or I’ve become a man who understands his fiction like the back of his hand, whose arteries and veins extend until the point where the tip of the pen meets the paper, fluid and unrestrained in consummating their union; a man whose phrases could bleed the life out of him were it not for his calm resolve to stop when the stories have become too believable they start to mock reality; a man vulnerable to his own prose, every word like a dagger ready to stab him and pry him open so that, at last, the world may see that he, too, is of mortal bearing, that there has always been a heart where a heart should have been, contrary to what some people have said about him, and so it must be said that here is a man before you who could have been just as heartless as those who abandoned him with the flimsiest of reasons, a man who could have done so but decided not to, not because nothing more is left to be said, only acted upon, but rather because his life begs to be told, daggers and all. One day she will listen, and when I have uttered my last word she will never be the same again.

Or I could write that final word — no, sentence, or question — across the sky because god knows how often she turns to heaven to find the answers to questions she barely comprehends, and by then she will have to decide for herself once and for all what must be done: “What am I to you?”

Perhaps I’ve also become a man who trusts that the color palette can help him recreate the world on a small canvas with brush strokes as controlled as his breathing, slathering paint like streaks of stains intended to portray something familiar into something so alien it deserves its own name. And if it were to become the way in which illustrations are to be understood, my room would be a dictionary of labels unheard of, for where the walls stand there too are my drawings, lined up and down, left and right, returning my gaze with the irreverent coldness of the bluest shade I have yet to use on any one of my sketches, probably her eyes, for though they are nowhere near blue they are cold and unfeeling just the same. Or perhaps that is how I remember her the last time I saw her looking at me. Through me. And then she was gone, gone all of a sudden it makes no difference that she was there for a minute or so. Her momentary presence was worth a thousand absences.

I am just another man, someone that the world can live without, but what I have become has been beyond my volition, willed unto me under duress, forced by the circumstances of my time, the girl notwithstanding. Yet it seems to me now that I no longer want things any different. What I could have become other than this, I do not know. The permutations can extend infinitely, and where the possibilities are endless I refrain to venture no further and farther than where my compunction will allow me to tread. It is an error, my error, and rightly so.

Mea culpa.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Terminal Date

This should not have happened, but it did anyway, which was a long time ago, all because we thought it was fun, college students that we were. I knew her only by her first name, and I met her by chance in, of all places, National Bookstore. That’s another story. The long and short of it is that I asked her out, so I did. She had something in mind. Mary said that it must be the first and last, no communication thereafter whatsoever. I thought about it for a while. Having no other choice, I agreed, so we went on a date at the train station the following week. Or something like a date.

I gave her my landline number. She didn’t give hers. “Just in case I change my mind,” she said, “if not, I will call you.”

Before we left the bookstore and parted ways, she handed over a book she bought. “Have you read this one?” I looked at the cover and said, “No. Not yet.” I lied, of course. She said, “Read it for me, then bring it next week at the station,” she paused, “if things turn out according to plan.” I nodded and said, “Bring a Kundera, too.” She smiled. “Sure.” Then we went our separate ways.

Six days later, she called. We were to meet Sunday, the next day.

The place was not too crowded. We were there at around ten in the morning, as planned, though I was earlier by about a minute or so. I wore what she wanted me to wear. She wore what I asked her to wear, and when I saw her emerge from the stairs I thought she looked lovely I can look at her all day. I brought the book with me. She brought her own, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which was the first Kundera I’ve read. She held her book against her chest as she looked at me. I looked at her, too. It was probably the longest five minutes of our lives. We waited for the train, perhaps hoping somewhere in the back of our minds that it won’t arrive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never again. We could have just stayed there forever, two strangers almost in transit, caught in a place where everyone leaves and arrives. We could have stayed.

But that’s impossible because there’s something else you should know.

We were waiting for the train, that is true, but we were waiting on opposite sides. You see, we both agreed to meet at the northbound platform. I was there. She was not.

So there she was, standing on the southbound platform, I northbound. No words. I just looked at her, she just looked at me, and the empty railway was all the space our eyes needed to scale. From me to her. From where she was to where I was. If the human gaze has an invisible hook at the end of an invisible rope, we would have snagged ourselves toward each other quite easily. We’d end up together halfway, entangled and stuck right smack on the railway, the train to run us over into a gazillion sorry slices. We were smiling. I knew. She knew. In that state of waiting and wanting, there was an embrace waiting and wanting to happen, too. Maybe that was how she wanted it. I liked the idea as well.

And then the train. Southbound. Strange that we didn’t notice it humming as it neared, announcing its inevitable arrival. I didn’t notice. Perhaps she did and simply pretended not to care. In the end, the train stopped to claim the only casualty in our terminal date. I’m sure it wasn’t, isn’t her. The train came between us like a blade, and then for a while it stood like a wall. A coup de grace. An inescapable certainty almost eight feet high and a lifetime long.

When the train left, she was gone. Gone too soon I could almost die. The train disappeared in the distance. Like a promise.

I glanced at the cover of my book, Milan Kundera’s Immortality. I couldn’t help but smile. She got me there.

I searched the southbound platform, looking left and right, thinking that, maybe, just maybe, she opted to stay and watch me leave instead. But she was not there. I looked south, far south, as far as my eyes allowed me to see, until the northbound train arrived. I took the stairs instead and left the station. There was no more use riding that train.

On my way home, I stopped by a thrift shop. I slid Immortality beneath a short pile of used paperbacks. I no longer needed it.

And so, Mary and I went out on a date at the train station. Or something like that. I never saw her again. Where she is now, I do not know. Somewhere south, perhaps. Which reminds me: in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare wrote that parting is such sweet sorrow. I wasn’t expecting that going the other way too soon was Mary’s idea of ending something that barely even began. To this day, she lives in me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

There Is No Appropriate Title for This Experiment

In the setting sun, the house stood like

Stopstopstop. We’ve agreed on this many times in the past, Splice. Don’t begin with another weather report. The sun, the clouds, the wind, the sky blah blah blah. No. Just no. Go straight to the point. Start where you must start. Make her move.

Well, OK Dice. So, how about this: As she laughed and stared him in the eyes, Anne pulled the knife from Mark’s chest and slit his throat, then his penis, until, finally, his scrotum. “I love you,” she whispered to his ears. She walked out of the room.

That’s a bit better. Just a bit. Still needs rewording, rephrasing, the basic stuff, but it’s good enough to start this last chapter.

And then? What do I do now?

Kill her, too.

As in right now? But there’s no one else left to kill her. All the others are dead.

You’re kidding.

No, Dice. I’m not.

You’re the one with the pen. You know what to do.


Hurry up, she’s about to escape.


The house. She’s out. She’s approaching the gate.

Are you sure?

Yes! Now write something!

Anne stopped at the gate. She looked back. She thought she heard footsteps behind her.

Good. Continue.

She picked a rock and held it tight. Eyes at the door, ajar. Slowly, she retraced her steps. She could hear someone mumbling behind the door. She was certain: it wasn’t Mark’s voice.

Don’t show yourself yet. Keep hiding.

I hid behind the door, the bloody knife on my hand. For a while, I heard her footsteps across the lawn. She was closing in. I slowly rose to my feet. But then the sound of her footsteps vanished. Everything went silent. I listened closely.

What? What did you just do? Make her walk!

Something in my mind wanted me to take a peek at the space underneath the door, but I decided to stand and continue hiding. I heard Anne say, “Whoever you are, you will not kill me.” I figured she was standing at the other side. I pissed in my pants.

Ha ha ha! What a douche!

“Whoever you are, you will not kill me,” she kept saying. I stepped aside, held the knob, and swung the door open. Anne was gone.

You let her escape Splice. Fool! Let’s finish this tomorrow instead. Get back here. Someone's outside.

This is impossible, I thought. Anne should have been standing still by the door. Something is terribly amiss. This is not the story I wanted to write. I don’t understand. I’m holding this knife instead of my pen. I should be holding my pen. “Anne?” I said, “where are you? You should be here.”

I am.


Here, with your pen.

“Where’s Dice?”

Dead. I still had the rock in my hand, how quick you forget.

I shook my head. “No, Anne. You will not write me off. You will not kill me.”

Watch me.

Please, Anne. Don’t do this t