The storm was dissolved through the night. She woke up with the sweet sunlight pressing against her eyelids and her cat’s soft, cool paw on her nose. Somebody was pacing loudly down the hall. Downstairs, the telephone rang.
A blue and orange tolda rose to meet the afternoon and revealed a dog and cat napping on a worn bench. A crowd was beginning to form at the market for tonight’s festivities. He pressed his camera firmly to his side. Puffy baby chicks, dyed bright green and pink, cried in a cage. A band of ragged children were on their way to play the Color Game.
Whiskey began to do its work. She was getting warmer. Not that she needed to get any warmer in this climate; the cold that needed to be addressed endured in the interior. Inexplicable and unfathomable. Across the street, a family was engaged in a joint effort to hang a parol over their door. Behind the window in the second floor, a woman in an apple green dress watched. She knew this woman was no longer among the living.
Two pale hands held a green bowl filled with small, smooth white pebbles. Her legs were submerged in the river, icy water gripped every strand of muscle. But she was not in pain. Her eyes were turned to the mountain shrouded in mist. Some of the tree tops shook. Something, or someone, was making its way down.
Setting is a dense, old city, full of dead energy. Evening. A grimy street with some character. Signs in floresent and neon, peeling paint and layers of ad and campaign posters. Closed up shops turned into gallery spaces, cloning centers, and expensive hole-in-the-wall eateries. The place has a good color palette, vintage. Good for instagram photos or unbearable author photographs. Few people on the street. From the center of the frame, a flamingo pink wall, the phantom couple emerges. X and J out in search of the apocryphal, ninth Shrek movie in Blu-Ray.
Cut to still shot of a fluourescent sign that reads: IDIOSYNKRETIK EKSPERYENSE.
X: What is that supposed to mean?
J: The hologram of
MC Ride said the ninth Shrek movie can be found here.
X: We’re in a funny part of town.
J: The writer of this story does not know how to spell ‘flourescent’. There, she did it again!
Ah. Finally, I did it!
X: Who said that?!
J: Who said that?!
It is I, the all-speaking I.
Semana Santa heat brought tears into one’s eyes. She mouthed her prayers as she lit a green candle. Though a cool breeze swept past the chapel, the flame was not diminished. Footsteps sounded on the marble floor. She turned. It was him.
Blue light spilled onto the street. The heels of her shoes sounded smart on the pavement. Three floors up the building, two people were shouting. Whether it was out of spite or joy, she could not tell. Night was unfolding at each step and her heartbeat became quicker when out of nowhere, the air became saturated with the scent of cadena de amor.
Light of the moon, heal me, she said as she held a bunch of white lilies. In her heart, felt a little knot undo itself. The black sea rolled like silk and about the mangroves, fireflies lingered. To heal was to give in to the indulgent visions. Tomorrow, the boat will dock on the island to take her back to the city. For now, she drew in the warmth of the bonfire and the moonlight and that waning song somewhere among the trees.
Casa Alameda, a sprawling one-storey building, had once been a pancit factory. In her mind, she conjured the sound of the machines rolling and refining the flour to make noodles. Something like, tu-ga-taka tu-ga-taka tu-ga-taka tak tu-ga-taka tu-ga-taka tu-ga-taka tuk tak. And so on. On the floor, detritus from all the years. Detritus, as if time had crashed and fallen as shards of glass, pieces of wood, and metal on the ground. Each moment lay there around her. Without rhyme or rhythm, only senseless metaphor for time and personal histories.
An unexpected thing happened that afternoon. A maya landed outside her window, holding a small, folded piece of yellow paper in its beak. “Hello,” she humored herself by talking to the bird, “what do you have there?” The bird cocked its head sideways and dropped the piece of paper, as if to say, ‘this is for you, really yours.’ As soon as she picked it up, the bird flew away. She unfolded it. On it was written: Tonight, the world will be crushed by a rain of stars.
Her studio was on the third floor of a building built in the 1920s. Light from the street lamps fell through the window. The room was an eclectic assemblage of the things she liked or the things that caught her eye. Perhaps the same could be said about the rooms of certain people. But hers was distinct in a way that some of the objects in her room only made half-sense. For instance, a sculpture that looked like a plate and a pot cover at the same time, but was neither. A skirt hung on the wall as if a tapestry. When asked what informed her work, what the core was, she responded with a curt nod and said it was hunger. Then she rose from her seat and produced a dozen sculptures of socks, stacked as if it were a pile of laundry.
The city is a spiral that grew through years of private disuse and public mistrust. Still, she found pockets of light and warmth in it, especially with him. It was in this city where they met. Where, under the light of a green lamp on a parking ramp near a bar called Boni’s, they first professed enduring love for each other. The couple had known difficult times. Both felt wistful as they boarded a plane to a different country. Both also knew that they could keep running but the collapse will always catch up.
She thought, as she looked out the window on the tiny lights, she could utter a spell that could change things.
The bells were bunched like grapes and hung from the ceiling. She noticed how the space smelled like roses. It was an overcast afternoon, the air thick. She walked in, no expectations, only drawn in by shimmering flash of the tiny metal bells.
Bells bunched up. She read the text on the pamphlet. Seduction Devices. Devices for Sedition. She thinks to herself in the hollowed room. Interesting how such a thing had served a double purpose in the past. In espionage, Seduction and Sedition were twin sisters joined at the shoulder. Yesterday’s weapons were today’s art pieces. And tomorrow, everything will be moved into the basement. The space will turn into a shrine for a statue of somebody’s mother dressed like a saint. Mother does not look happy.
Spring rain came. The roads shimmered, dead stars that had gently fallen from the sky, meaning no harm to anyone or thing, and scattered. Everything was unfolding. Flowers holding their tight buds through the last minute. A child standing on tip-toes reaching up to something, perhaps a bug hovering in the air, taut and focused. A couple huddled on a street corner, now, reading a message on a cellphone. One that will change their lives forever. How ghostly were their faces, now, like the moon. But smiles are breaking, even on the cracked asphalt that released heat. When the city wakes up, she knows she will vanish.
Note: These writings were prompted by a game on Twitter where I had to write ways of introducing my friends as though they were characters in the stories I write. I still have several friends without intros and there is still the intention to produce something for them. The post will be added to, soon.