Mind Over Matter

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I admit, I feel as if I am only deluding myself to think that you would ever read this. After all, you have disappeared without a word nor a trace. Your existence itself remains a mere possibility, and yet I hold onto it like a drowning man would onto his last breath. 
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Astray

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I was going home. After track after track of rhythm and blues, I found myself unconsciously agreeing with the driver’s choice of music. Usually the jeepney drivers would be playing old love songs that had wailing choruses of devotion or party music that didn’t seem to agree with the city traffic’s own music consisting of curses and impatient beeps, along with the afternoon heat. This one was almost soothing, going well with the vehicle’s dim interior, covering the rumbles of the engine and the noise outside. If I closed my eyes I wouldn’t have known where I was – I would only know that I was moving, mercifully moving, and it would be enough. There need not be any destination, nor fear that I was going into the unknown.

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In Memoriam

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Today, I took the road we once walked together alone. It’s definitely not the first time, but it was a first for me to notice that something had changed. Back then, each second passed by overflowing with so much nostalgia I was in disbelief of its vividness. Now, I don’t even remember why they did.

To constantly remind yourself of all the memories you claim to hold sacred – and inevitably forget – is like storing all of your prized possessions behind a glass window you can never open. You no longer experience what it is like to be able to be in close contact with them – you can only gaze in affection, and in pain. The more you remember, the more you gaze, the more you hurt yourself with the knowledge of what you lost. With the human instinct to survive and not wallow in misery for years on end; with piles and piles of responsibilities we all get; we go from gazing in affection to minute glances. Until the time comes we don’t even remember to look.

When we do, it’s no longer in pain but in wonder that they exist; that they actually happened. I heard the most accurate metaphor for the fact that though we will forget, these memories are still beloved – the same way that stuffed purple bear was your favorite toy ever since you were five, but you no longer carry it around when you’re nineteen. Perhaps you’ve even lost it. And yet the fact it was beloved still stands true.

Our hands misplace and our minds forget, but our hearts never do.

Love Letters

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Love letters were one thing I never saw myself writing. Cliche. Overdone. Count in the fact that I didn’t have a spectrum of emotions to begin with. That, of course, was before you came into the picture.

The first time I wrote you one, the letter was gibberish. It had all the marks of infatuation. I rambled and told you that I loved you over and over. I had scribbled our initials – tied together with a heart – at the borders. It was carefully printed by hand.

I never sent you that one. For that matter, I never sent you most of them. In fact, you might be surprised if you knew how many letters I saved. It felt too much, anyway. It felt too cheesy. And, also… it made me feel… too vulnerable.

Maybe I should have sent all of them from the very start. Maybe I should have faced the fear of being genuine, being real, head-on.

Maybe then you’d still be here with me.

When I first gave you a love letter, a year and a half after the first time that I wrote the very first, you didn’t know how to respond. I told you, in spirals and swirls of ink, that I chose you. Of all other people, of all other options: I chose you. We’re all messed up, and this could be temporary and the odds are against us – but I chose you. You saw it as surprising, and as we were not exactly okay at that time, and seeing how I was, I could tell why. You appreciated it, at least – or so you said – so I breathed a sigh of relief and sent you more and more.

The final wall I’d put up came down.

I soon found out it was a bad mistake to.

You knew that when it came to relationships in general, with anyone, even family and friends, I was inexperienced. You knew I was always at a loss on how I could say that I loved you. You knew I hardly spoke. You knew I was withdrawn. You knew I wrote to say everything. And okay, you knew I grew up and was always short on money, so giving material things was hard for me, and I never had anyone to give anything to in the first place.

You loved me nevertheless.

But that night, you took it all against me. I still remember what you said, word-for-word. What, after all, did you get in return? Just a bunch of letters of my love that I wrote and never showed.

 I understood, and I still do. You gave much, and I so little – but being the way I was, being the way I am; I was hoping that you’d remember that it was all I’ve got.

We ended not long after.

There were many reasons. If I go over them right now, if I explained the whole thing, how each one interconnected and led to our downfall, I would never end.

I heard and read a lot of things after. I kept my head down, maintained what we were to myself, while you did the exact opposite. And what was that that you told them?

It was never enough for me. Everything you did, was never enough for me. I never gave anything back.

You knew there was more to it than that. I gave you everything I could, love letters or no.

After, I wrote you letters. Too many to count. I was shocked and in grief, and the only other way to deal with the pain besides crying the angst out was to write it all down.

I know you’ve read them. It all seems like a waste now.

But here’s a last one, in light of the month of love.

Dearest, 

I still choose you. 

Conscience

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His fingers gripped the edge of the small wooden chair he was sitting on, his forehead breaking out into cold sweat. He let his eyes close, trying to calm himself down. The box that he was in felt like it was closing in around him. He was suffocating, wanting to gasp for air, but the dead weight of his heart was pounding against his chest painfully – every shallow breath hurt like a knife to his chest; every shallow breath a hurtful reminder.

How long had it been? He had lost track of the seconds that ticked by, loud and clear, echoing behind him. He had never dared to look. It seemed like he couldn’t bear to move. He shivered and straightened. His eyes opened slowly as he let out a small breath. Each inhale felt like a stab in his chest.

He nearly shut his eyes again. He forced them open, forced them to glare right back at the accusing stares, at the fearful, bloodied faces, all of their mouths curled into the same mocking sneer, their fingers pointed with their hands down, their mouths closed with their voices screaming, sobbing – how dare you? How could you? The noise flooded his ears, the taunts and the snarls giving way to pleading cries. They were running and they were sitting, and then they were still, their silence thundering; deafening.

He didn’t know what he was doing. He didn’t know what came over him. He didn’t know anything, now, except that he was guilty, and that he deserved to wallow in it, after he watched in idle fascination at how the blood was smeared on his hands and shirt and chest – 

The gavel struck as he struggled to breathe through another stab of pain. When he looked up, he beared down upon himself, bloodied cheeks and frowning lips; the accusation clear in the mingled look of fear and disgust etched into his face. There were bits of gravel stuck on his chin, and he remembered the burning pain in his arms. He remembered the smell of earth, the contrast of her pale skin against the dark soil – the paradoxical contrast, he thought, of life and death. He had smiled to himself, appreciating the delicate grace of her lithe body against the uneven ground, before retching to his side.

How could you? the walls wailed, flickering in bright yellow and dark brown and green, and he wailed along with them, sobbing and laughing, one hand stuck to cold glass and the other over his eyes, avoiding himself, avoiding accusation, avoiding guilt – sinking down to a kneel, hands slipping, intertwining, begging for absolution.