Non-fiction, Vignettes

The Two-Year Stand

It’s the ways we fell asleep that I think I’ll always remember.

Sometimes I would close my eyes and press my ear to his chest to hear his heart beating, just a minute or two, before turning over and away. There was a part of me that always understood all too well: I could have it in that moment, but only for a moment. It was never really something I would ever possess.

For a time, that was enough.

Beyond the fire, the little tenderness that always followed. Sleepy kisses on my forehead, on my bare shoulder, along my spine. The gentle graze of fingertips back and forth on my arm, draped across him, as I fell in and out of slumber. The featherlike brush of hands as they traced the curve of my hip, the dip of my side. Memorising with his skin the texture of my own skin. His touch is seared into my memory.

Sometimes he would pull me close, an arm slung over my waist, his hand on my chest, or holding my hand, so close I could feel his breath on the back of my neck. A soft kiss, a whisper.

Sometimes we were face to face, with foreheads pressed together, hands clasped between us.

Sometimes, apart, our fingers twined across the small gap that separated us, holding on to each other as we both slipped away into dreams.

Sometimes I would wake in the middle of the night, or whatever hour of morning or midday passed for night with us, and gaze briefly upon his sleeping face. Lips pursed, brow knit ever so slightly, hair tousled, eyes shut under long lashes, peaceful. Then I would close my own eyes again.

It will always be impossibly strange to me, that in those moments I felt like I had never been so close to — but also so very far away from — another person. So comfortable, but so tense. So safe, but so afraid. So warm, but so cold.

He would plant three kisses on my lips before leaving me in the mornings. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

I knew I would always be saying goodbye from the first time that I kissed him and felt it in my chest, in my belly. Every kiss started to mean something after that. Every kiss I gave him was a farewell.

I would sleep in the remnants of his warmth for as long as I wanted to. And when I woke, I would make his bed. I would gather my things. I would gather myself. I would lock his front door behind me, and then I would be gone. Like I’d never been there at all.

It’s the ways we fell asleep that I think I’ll always remember.

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Attempts at Poetry, Vignettes

Unhinged

Oh
I could ask you a million questions
All these words
That can never again be a conversation
Because I don’t talk to strangers

I would still struggle against the reflex
To call you
Love
I can’t
Because love is enough

The only thing that ever closes
Is the door


I found this buried in my archives. I’ve always been partial to paragraphs, but I guess on this one occasion in 2017, fewer words conveyed the feelings better.

It’s been rather hard to find words, if you couldn’t tell from the silence here. I write a fair bit of them on my Instagram, but haven’t really found a way to make them happen here, where I like to think I put my ‘better’ writing. There are all manner of things — good and bad — that I have wanted to write about seriously for a long time now. The question has always been how, or perhaps more accurately, how much. But I think this is going to be the year that I actually start trying again.

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Non-fiction, Vignettes

Vicarious

(Note: This was written in April of last year. It still applies today.)

“I’m worried about him,” my mother says of my youngest brother, fourteen and taller than all of us, but so young for his age, innocent. She and I sit at the dining table, running the gamut of conversational topics like we do every day. We’ve discussed interior decoration, local showbiz, her friends, mine, the state of our extended family. As is always the case with us, the subject matter grows closer and closer to home until we get down to business: analyses of my brothers, of me.

Neither of us thinks my youngest brother is equipped for the real world, a place of which he and I have always had a more limited understanding because of our limited interaction with it. He attends a small school with a handful of equally oblivious classmates who are probably out of touch with reality. I am the only daughter. Sheltered as we have been all our lives, and sheltered as I still am even in my late twenties, our ignorance of human nature, of people and their darkness, comes up regularly in these conversations between my mother and I. He and I, we are too soft for this world.

“Maybe it will help if he reads more books. It helped me,” I tell her. And it’s true; what I lacked in real life experience, I made up for by living vicariously through people in pages, fictional and non-fictional alike, living less comfortable but more colorful lives than mine. I’ve always believed that reading teaches empathy. I lived hundreds of lives before I even began to live my own.

“I think it helped you too much,” replies my mother in Filipino. “You’ve always been so sad.”

She switches gears. “I got his grades today. They’re outstanding. His lowest grades are in English, but I can’t even complain about them because they’re still good,” she informs me. This is not a surprise; my youngest brother has always gravitated towards maths and sciences. “He has the vocabulary of a writer. He just isn’t one because he doesn’t use it to embellish. All he sees is what’s there, and he will use the barest minimum of words to tell you exactly what that is,” I explain.

In this family, the realm of seeing everything except what’s right in front of my face belongs to me.

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Non-fiction, Vignettes

Aural history

I am stirred from sleep by what I think is the sound of rain, which is among my favorite of Earth’s songs, if not my most favorite. (Rain is a sad thing, just like me.) I drag my eyelids open, and then the blinds, to watch the water pour from my window like I always do on blustery days, only to discover that it is not rain at all. It is the rustling of the wind through the thousands of leaves that grow on the many, many trees whose boughs surround my windows. I am blinded for a moment by the sunlight that suddenly streams into my bedroom and greets me hello.

I think to myself that maybe this is a good thing, despite my affinity for rain. That the trees’ and wind’s clever mimicry of rainfall, that the pleasant surprise of most unexpected sunshine will slowly, morning by morning, teach my heart to expect more joy in the world instead of turning straight to melancholy. That, over time, I will come to expect sunlight, and on gray days that I do not find it waiting for me there, that the mere sound of it will help me find a touch of happiness in rainfall, too.

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