Wednesday, June 12, 2013

She Who Lived Forever

I remember her as the girl who, with her brown eyes, would bid the clouds to hide the moon, like a hand drawing the curtain shut, so that she can be at peace in her home that is the darkness around her. On a night like this when the fireflies skim here and there, a night when the crickets sing the ancient mysteries of the earth, our lady would be sitting at the top of the hill — her throne of clay and stones, the bluegrass beneath her toes. Her lips would slightly part but not even a whisper would issue from those tender devices meant for unfettered displays of affection. Arms to her sides and face to the Southern Cross, she would slowly rest her back on the ground, herself surrendering to a force unseen, like gravity. In that moment, she is as free as the fallen leaves of the first day of autumn, which is something that this tropical country will never have.

Each day before sunset I’d find her there, sitting silently, as though she’s an irreplaceable fixture in that cycle of the sun, a stoic superimposed against the backdrop of a borderless black about to veil the sky. I would pass her by and she would remain still. There were times when I was tempted to look back, to find out if she does anything else other than marveling at something in the distance. But nothing could probably stir her. Even when under the rain, she’d do nothing. Maybe it’s her intention to shelter herself under these fragile drops that fall by the millions, turning her invulnerable because, after all, water is the stuff of life. Or perhaps she just doesn’t care.

Except that day when, in a way, she did. It was the fifth of September. I was on my way home from the city. The alcohol in my bloodstream slowed my pace, and I moved about as if I was dragging my head with my feet. In the distance, lightning cut across. It began to rain when I reached the foot of the hill. I looked ahead and there she was. I stopped and stood as straight as I can. She was sitting the way she used to, like the subject of a Renaissance portrait, her neck exposed, the stranger of a woman who projected her face to a hidden moon at the cost of hoisting it like a cushion for a thousand liquid needles. And then something happened. She slowly lowered her face from the direction of the sky to where I was. For the first time, she looked at me, as though she was staring at an unexpected presence, a disturbance in her solitary ritual.

She had something on her lap. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was from where I stood. It looked like a box, perhaps a square frame. Suddenly, she took whatever it was and hid it behind her, placing both hands with it the way one would stow away from view that which must be kept concealed when confronted by guilt, one that was brought on by the untimely discovery of a secret. All the while, she kept her eyes on me.

By the time I lifted my eyes from our mutual gaze, my feet were already moving me closer to where she was, as if someone willed them to life. I stopped, looked ahead again, and she was gone. I ran up the slope of the hill, dazed and confused, until I was standing at the top. I was alone. It was the first time I broke into her world like a thief in the dark, and it would also be the last, for the nights that followed she was no longer there.

I returned to the hill two days after. I learned that it was neither a box nor a frame that she had with her the last time she was there. It was a book. It was mine, a novella I wrote, literally, two years earlier. It was a distraction I forced myself to author back when I was stranded between love and life, something to help me make sense out of all the tragedies flailing my conscience, a book with more spaces than words, like a sac of air wedged in the middle of a cluster of rocks. When I found the book at the top of the hill, it was still almost intact, except for the prologue. The page was ripped out, and what remained of it was the creased length that refused to be taken away by brute force. Maybe it was her way of saying that she had to take with her the birth of a story written for the sake of finding reasons when there are none. I cannot remember now what I wrote in the prologue.

Once I sat beside the spot where I would often see her immersed in that vision of the Southern Cross floating in the tranquil dusk. Somehow I could feel her, though to my eyes she is never there. If only she’d reappear from the wisp of cloud lining the eastern front, I wouldn’t let her vanish easily the way sunsets do.

Years later, I realized who she could have been. She’s a nomad, a restless wanderer, but not the ordinary kind. I imagined her warping through space and time in pursuit of something, or someone, travelling through all the years gone and those that are yet to be because that is all there will ever be to her eternity. And yet, for her, something is terribly amiss. There can only be one reason: although she is the girl who lived forever, she’s perpetually condemned to live outside of her own time, the generation to which she was born, for reasons only she will know — if at all there is any.

May the Fates favor their beloved daughter.


kae said...

im not sure if i must take this literally, but im trying to read between the lines. the third paragraph broke my heart. alcohol running in my veins, dragging my feet through the ground. there was one point in my life when i was so hopeless, giving everyone a hard time, (but not necessarily drunk). i remember someone i loved. and still love. dead and buried six feet under the ground. theres so many things i shouldve asked, so many things i shouldve said and done..

SPLICE said...

I feel you Kae. Regrets, missed chances. We take these things with us to the grave.

citybuoy said...

I've been delaying reading this (and the others) kasi I want to read it in the perfect mood (with matching lighting, music, etc.) and the wait def. paid off. Galing!

Phioxee said...

the people we love always live forever in our hearts. their memories will last forever.