The Literary Jewels
Vol. 2, Issue 3
by Kristofferson Soriano
He couldn’t concentrate on what his professor in current issues was discussing. He understood the word posthumous only because his ears caught the word death. He heard him mentioned Dolphy and the National Artist Award more than three times. He looked at the professor then thought about the fact that he only got interested with Dolphy after his death; that he never actually watched a movie with the so called King of Comedy in it. Then he looked intently at the vacant chair near the door.
He raised his hand. “Sir, may I go out?”
“Why, Mr. Ilagan?”
“My stomach is aching sir.” He lied.
“Sure.” The teacher prompted him to leave.
Once outside, he was certain that he wouldn’t be able to go back to the room. Anyway, the professor had already checked the attendance. He couldn’t wait to confront her. She had to pay for what she had done to him and to Junior.
He couldn’t believe that she could afford to do such a selfish thing.
“Are you gay Dan?” His father had asked him.
It was exactly three months, one morning before he went to school, when his father had thrown him that tasteless question. Well, it’s not that he hadn’t been expecting him to ask that. He was already eighteen, but he had never introduced anyone to him as a girlfriend. He knew that his father had his first girlfriend at twelve years old and that he had expected him to break that record.
“No.” He had almost shouted.
That was when he had to start paying attention to Gina. She was the girl whose lips were always ready to smile at him everywhere at school or anywhere she just could just suddenly appear. He could never be surer that he would earn his father’s respect, because she was pretty and tall enough.
“Let’s go to the canteen.” Dan had said.
He had seen how she almost looked like she would cry when he had invited her for snacks. They had gone to the canteen without saying anything. He had been feeling totally uncomfortable while she had been playing a refrain of at long lasts in her head.
She had agreed to become his girlfriend before the snack time ended. He had to kiss her cheek before they had said their good byes. He could still remember how he had smiled sweetly at her that night, because he had been thinking of his plan to show his father his proof, but he had to wait for a few more days.
What was more vivid to his memory was what he had found after that required kiss. It was a dead cat just a block away from his house. Somebody’s car had surely rolled on it. He had inspected the cat remains. It’s either he had never seen the poor creature in the neighborhood or he had never paid as much attention. He had tried constructing the cat’s living image in his head. He had tried visualizing its bloodied eye sockets with the green eyes still in place.
“It will take time.” He had finally uttered.
He had to act fast. He remembered that with one swift motion, he had scooped it off the road with a white towel from his knapsack. He had carefully wrapped the thing and placed it in his bag. He had excitedly traced his way home. He had to skip most steps of the stairs on the way to his room.
He had entered his private space with that look on his face that could tell anyone that he would have a long sleepless night ahead of him. He had clicked the lock and only he may describe what he had been doing with those that he found—those that he had been keeping in a chest under his bed since he turned twelve.
He had seen him smiling. They had just finished eating dinner. His father had not said anything while he and Gina were going upstairs to his room. She had agreed to sleep in his house that night. He had convinced himself more.
Many first had happened that night. He had experienced first torrid kissing and beyond that. She was his first. That night didn’t last long though. They did the deed once. It was fine, but it was not as thrilling as imagining the cat’s broken bones in the right places and the clean white and brown fur covering its entire body.
“What’s that smell?” She had asked.
“Maybe a dead rat somewhere.” He had managed to reply casually.
It was also the first time that someone violated his privacy.
“I’ll bring you home.” He didn’t have any intention of prolonging that violation. She didn’t have to stay.
“I want to stay. I’ll sleep here.” She had insisted.
“No. Dress up.” He had thrown her clothes to her.
She had dressed up.
“Maybe, that’s the reason.” He started to find reason for what she had done. She had tried to follow him for days. Of course he had managed to avoid her. He felt allergic to whatever he would have to do if he had kept that connection. He just couldn’t. He clenched his fist.
That morning that hand was a lot more careful. Tears had rolled down his cheeks upon finding out what the LBC package that had arrived earlier contained.
I’m returning this to you. I hope you are happy now.
It was too brief—angry! Remorseless!
He hadn’t known she got something from him that night.
That bottle stood out among the others that she sent. Her note was wrapped around it to obviously conceal it from the courier staff inspection.
“She will see how angry I can be!” Again, told to his self. He was walking auto-mode.
He stopped at the front of her door.
“Gina!” He shouted while knocking.
“We need to talk…” He lowered his volume. He turned the door knob. It’s open.
He went in only to be greeted by a familiar smell.
His heart beat raced.
He rushed to where the stench was coming from. The room was dark but he could trace her silhouette. He turned the light on. She was there alright. She was about a meter from her room’s ceiling.
She hanged herself.
He took her from the rope.
It was the first time he ever felt so much loss.
Tears rolled down again on his cheeks. He never knew that they had that much connection. Just that morning, she had received from her his child. He felt so much love for the baby from one of the peanut butter bottles. He felt loss too, but not as much now that he was staring at her lifelessness. For the first time, he was not thinking about reconstructing her pink cheekbones in his head. He didn’t have a hard time remembering how attentive she had always looked despite his not saying a single word to her while they were having their snack at the school cafeteria.
He blamed himself. It was his fault.
For the first time, a roll of what ifs ran in his head. For the first time, he constructed a future with her. He envisioned a happy house—him providing for his family, him kissing Gina’s lips after work, him telling moral stories to his kid, his whole imaginary family kneeling at the front of the crucifix on the altar—when it was already very late.