Eye.Speak.

Total Eclipse

Total Eclipse

A Short Story by Maria Espie Vidal


Heavy breathing. It is chilling yet the sheets slid away. And yet I didn’t chase them. Let them run.

“hah…”

“hoo…”

(kiss)

“do you love me?”

(silence)

(kiss)

 


It was a midsummer night’s dream..in December.. when i woke up in the arms of Leo. He was fast asleep. Eyes wide shut. Heavy breathing. I could hear the air slowly come out of him. It was warm. Of barley juice and grilled innards. No different from mine.

From this spot, I could see his face clearly. It was not of an angel. Not handsome. Nor cute. It was imperfect. Full of carved flaws by adolescence. Nose, wide and flat. Manly cheek bones. Chinky eyes. Short straight hair. All presented in a complexion, burned by the sun yet the porcelain origin still pops up.

“Hey, time for me to go.”

“Okey.”

“You?”

(silence)

CHAPTER1: THE WINTER SOLSTICE


It’s wrong. But it did feel right. Leo and I had something special. HAD.

I am so not desperate. And I am not a love junkie. I am a hopeless romantic. SLLUUUTTT.

As I pulled my black skimpy shorts up, and gulp in my aromatic saliva, I looked myself in the mirror. Smiled. I too am full of flaws. My body covered with flaws. My personality is staggered with flaws. My perception is erroneous and my philosophy is crooked. Who am I to judge Leo?

We heard a knock on the door and we knew it’s time to leave. Leo wasn’t quick. But neither was he clingy. His stone face glanced at me, but it no longer want me. It is but a blank stare.

We rode the cab. It’s dark and yet I feel a gush of heat burning my cold skin. The freezing stopped. Sweat is pouring out my forehead. And Leo? Well he’s calm. Staring outside and watching the trees passing by.

The convenience store. It’s time to drop him off so I could head home.

“Are you sure you’re gonna be okey?”

The door slammed.

LUNAR ECLIPSE

“Ara!”

“Yoah!”

“Where you heading?”

“I think my friends and I would grab a bite in some fastfood down the block.”

“Could I come?”

I smiled.

 


Yes, I was once prime of the pack. The heartthrob. The popular one. The “cheerleader”. The influential. The BITCH.

They all hated me for having admirers. Although these dudes were not my type, and some of them are really…well let me say, so so so so so not anybody’s immediate type…but I had them behind my tail and offering me flowers like I was a goddess. Valentines, prom, my birthday, Christmas or New Year, name it and you’ll see my closet’s jammed with roses, stuffed toys, and letters of love and care.

Ah. Young love. It still amazes me how guys, I mean boys, do and say anything to please a girl and have her wrapping her tiny arms to his tiny waist, walk together in canteens or malls or hang out places, as if both bragging their relationship. How “mature”.

In spite the endless followers, the dozens of suitors, and the popular spotlight, would you believe me if I say there are but three men in my life?

Every single one of them tells a love story. We all, individually, had a love story. Yes, individual yet intertwined.

First is Horice. A little Greek in the name? Yeah I know. Sounds history of something I’ve forgotten. Don’t blame me, I’ve graduated for about three years!

Horice was my neighbor. My mom thinks he’s my childhood sweetheart. She said he was my first love. Although we did a lot of firsts, I wouldn’t grant him that marvelous title, for I did have intense crushes and 2 boyfriends before him. But still, you couldn’t deny the fact that he was my first kiss. My first touch. My first hug. And my first. . .taste of passion.I was 14.

I remember the first time I’ve met Horice. It started with a mysterious phone call. What a gorgeous voice I thought. He described his facial feature and height. But then, i wasn’t convinced. I really wasn’t interested.

One night, I walked out in our balcony when I noticed a guy, in the exact same description Horice told me he was, outside and sitting near the basketball court. Adrenaline gushed forth my veins and up my body. I felt my heart literally leaped out. My blood rose up my cheeks.

I ran to my room. Banged the door. It was silent and yet I hear a slight drumming.

A telephone ring broke the silence. Chills, it crawled up my fingers. I lifted the phone and heard that gorgeous familiar voice. I never hanged up again.

Me and Horice had a long journey. Just as you thought it was something romantic and sweet and full of young adventures, the truth is, it wasn’t. We are a forbidden couple. We cannot be seen in public or my parents will file a complaint. It was a true soap opera. For I am..well we aren’t rich, but known in our community..and he is considered a bug nonetheless.

Love is not the right term, but if 14-year-old Ara would hear this, she’ll slap me and lock up in her room saying curses. As if she’s a witch. Our relationship was static. He never really told me anything beyond his home and some of his friends who I also know. Beyond that, like friends in other neighborhoods or his job, it was a secrecy more prioritized than insurgency battle plans.

Let me say, our relationship was strictly pleasure. I was virgin and he was at the verge of turning into a man. He was  16. Tiny rubber coats are not his friends though. And fear was the last word in my head feeling his skillful vicious hands work my neck down to my breasts and voluptuous ass. He knew his way while I explore paths.

But I guess our relationship wasn’t that long enough for Horice and me to take everything up a notch, at least emotionally. Olivia Newton John’s  summer loving. And summer had indeed ended as school resumed in June.


“Ara, are you going to join LLC?”

“Of course!”


LLC was that one exclusive club only the seniors and juniors are privileged to join. And I was a junior this school-year 1996.

It was the day of the orientation when Conrad arrived at the door. He was a senior. An officer.

I’ve seen this dude a thousand times. In my first high school year, his room was right next to ours. He was the meekest guy amongst his rowdy friends with a pair of sad eyes making anyone wonder once they stare into it. But once he smiles, all the pain seem to disappear. The mystery unfolds.

When he talks, everybody listens. Including the ladies. Especially the ladies. He was no Adonis. But his physique is of Apollo’s. He’s not the tallest guy but neither is he short. His gel fixed hair is what attracted me the most. His cute face of fair complexion pops up in that do. And yet, at times, well..most of the time, he keeps it messy. I like it still. I like everything about him.

Whether it’s a small world or merely fate, I always bump into Conrad Smith whenever. The stairs, the canteen, the grounds, or even at the gates, he was always there with his friends and being boys.

My freshman year is swift but it didn’t let me pass without seeing Conrad.

Me and my peers were at school. It was noon but our adviser wouldn’t let us leave without completing and compiling our requirements. Just sign the freaking clearance I wanna get out of this freaking classroom.

A few staples. A few make up quizzes and ma’am decided to free me. At least me. Some of my friends are still detained, waiting for the bitch’s three-character signature. I walked out to the hallway. Conrad was there. No surprise. I paid a little homage and gazed at his silhouette. But my eyes wanted more. I wanted more.  The light humid breeze was caressing his messy hair. His sad eyes squinted. His hands were kept in his pockets. His medium-sized polo danced with the wind bulging his flat brawny abs. What perfect chests and shoulders. He sensed my presence and looked my way.

Dead air. The silence brings out the serenity of the campus. It brings out Conrad. I felt his presence as I reached the girl’s room. The pouring water was cold. It crept on my skin, penetrating each pore. But it was not powerful enough to numb my hands. I looked up. Silence. And I could no longer stand the scent of unflushed pee and a-day-old sanitary napkin.

My feeble hands wrapped itself on the knob. I hear the door screeched and the slightly rusted wheels hindered. Still, it wasn’t powerful enough to stop me from escaping the school’s hell room. Satan’s cologne is clinging onto my uniform.

The thought of us alone in this damn school during the break of summer is dreadful. But I have no choice. We have no choice. The grade cards will be given any time and I couldn’t enroll without it. Here I go again at the halls. Hearing nothing but my heels pounding the tiled floor. Of floor wax and polish. Conrad was still there staring at the grounds by the balcony. Ann Marie was with him.

I looked pass and Ann Marie screamed my name. In this dead school, a yell would sound like a scream. I’m not rude. I looked up and smiled. We live in the same community, only her house is of few blocks away from mine. She was asking me about my classmate, Karen. She likes Karen. And I was her only hope.

As we talked, Conrad was still staring at the grounds. You’re no Brad Pitt but I can feel your presence strong within. Little by little, I turned deaf. It’s either Ann Marie was turning mute or I have gone deaf. I don’t know. The walls are caving in. Surprisingly, in this part of the building, it’s an open area. No walls to choke me. My eyes were immovable. And my brain malfunctioned. Am I suffering from cardiac arrest? Will I go paralyzed?

Ann Marie patted my arm. And it felt like I was awakened in the midst of a good night’s dream. Pissed.

And here I am now, three years after. Conrad entered the door and sat beside his always rowdy friends. He’s older now obviously as I am. Still, his hair is messy. When will I see that neatly fixed do again? They were teasing him to some girl. What? Is he in love with her?


CHAPTER2: THE CROSSING


Rosie was a former schoolmate. She’s older than me by 2 years. She’s an alumni of our school. She was in love with Conrad. I remember the time when she tell me stories about him and his “gentleman” ways.Sounds to me you’re obsessed. Like a sponge, I absorbed her stories. Politely smiling and nodding.

It was my sophomore year. Conrad and Rosie was in the same political party for the student council. She wasn’t running, Conrad is. And in the weeks they were spending after school hours together, and sometimes it reaches midnight, Rosie was stunned at Conrad’s difference amongst the boys of our school.

At the meeting de avance, her friends made Conrad do a little something special on stage as Rosie sang. He removed his name tag, which was a cardboard key laminated and tied into a lace necklace, and gave it to Rosie. The seniors cheered. The juniors cheered. The sophomores and freshmen just stared. And I was bleeding hell.

One day, Rosie came by our house. I didn’t know what to say to her or could I even look at her. All I know is this faint white dust blocks my eyes whenever I see Rosie. I could hear double peds beating. I turn deaf. I be numb.

Rosie wasn’t as jolly as she used to as she handed my book back. She wasn’t as blabbery about Conrad either. She knocked and left.


“So by next week, you’ll all be in jeans and white shirt until your uniforms arrive. We’ll schedule the measuring on Friday. Damn, where’s the eraser?”

“Conrad, Sarah’s looking for the eraser!”

“Yeah, Conrad get one!”

 

He went out to fetch one in the next room. Who is she? Do they have a relationship? Are they dating? Sam said they weren’t but they are an issue. Conrad is in love with Sarah, his classmate. Oh, okey.

He went back with one and everybody cheered. The juniors were smiling. I smiled. I forced myself to smile. It was as if I was looking for a hay in a needle stack. And I dived in the stack.

But Sarah didn’t like Conrad. For her, he was too much. She likes another. And Conrad paved the way. They are friends now; still, his classmates are a tease. You know how these high school teens are when it comes to love and courtship. Everyone’s vulnerable. He was vulnerable. I was vulnerable.

The bell rang. 3:15 p.m. time to go home. The wind was mild yet it blew my pony-tailed hair.

At our street I say Horice waiting. Playing basketball at the court a few blocks before our house. Why do I feel like I want to change my route? I want to turn away. Wait at the corner for a while until they finish playing. Too late, he already saw me. I smiled. He smiled. His cute dimples pierced his cheeks. He was topless.

Maybe that’s what I loved in Horice. He has a physique of my size. He was short. But no shorter than me. His broad shoulders and chests are so manly. Sweat always get to damp his skin. And he has strong arms, oh trust me he has. In our playful nights, I could say he was quite a performer. He’s inspired? Maybe. I don’t know. All I care about is fulfilling my carnal desires overflowing of lust. It was morphine. It was opium. It was met. It was bliss. I was addicted to it. And he was just right there, at the right time, to give it.

Now, I didn’t want it. Summer loving is over. I am back to the real world. And I know who I want but he likes another.

Days passed and my time at LLC was becoming a little more fun than expected. Conrad and Sarah were there. I never get the chance to talk to him though; but to Sarah, I have. She’s a nice meek girl. Her long locks were jet black. Her cute round face glows with her attractive smile. Her height is same as mine. And her voice was sweet like an angel.

Time for the school’s yearly election. LLC was in full support of the Blue party. The democrats. Me and my friends always helped out in the paraphernalia. We stayed late in the houses of the seniors. Of course, Conrad was there.

He was always at the corner. Silent.

But at times, he cracked jokes. This side, I never knew. His sad eyes glow every time he laughs. I wanted to stare at them, but I’m too afraid to get caught by his snoopy friends. I was scared to hear their murmurs. I didn’t want Conrad to know my 3 years of admiration for his smile, his hair, his physique and his weird intellect.

He wasn’t mean to me neither was he friendly. I was aloof to his presence, staying away as much as possible for him not to catch me staring with heart eyes to his face. God, is he perfect!

And God has indeed heard my prayers. The party needed a performance impact. Good thing I am a part of the Performance Club, like any other club I am part of. I put my skills to the test and do a little entertainment. My nervous hand grabbed on the mic stand and I closed my eyes and listened intently. He was sitting right in front of me. He was the only senior there. And I have to avoid mistakes.

The drum roll began. The keyboard in tune with the guitar. And the bass was just right. It’s time to open your mouth Ara. It’s time to perform.

I gave my all. I think it was my all. I looked at Conrad and he was smiling. I smiled and carefully, gently and graciously hit the notes. He’s still staring at me. He was still smiling. After, he applauded my rehearsal performance. It was a mere practice and yet it felt like I’m on stage! I was sweating intensely as he approached me. He was bragging about me.

Conrad knows my name.


“Hi.”

“Hello? Who’s this please?”

“Conrad.”

 


I almost jumped off a cliff after hearing that telephone call. Conrad is on the line. How did he know my number, I didn’t ask and I didn’t care. It was a perfect moment to ruin with my curiosity.

We talked for hours and hours. Daily, nightly and even at school. Everybody was surprised to see us together. Nobody predicted we’re gonna be a couple. And though we aren’t still, it might lead there. It will lead there. Everything is so right. What else could possibly destroy this moment? This is what I dreamed of in 3 years. My long wait is over. Gone are the days of merely staring at him behind my classroom window. No longer should I look down whenever we cross paths. He was with me and I am with him. I was ready. I was ready to leave Horice.

Of course, Horice wasn’t numb. He knew I have another dude clinging on to my arms. He sees us when I come home. He’s right there whenever I come home. He hears rumors of me. He knows its not just gossips.

At first, he was deaf to me confessing. I told him everything. I was honest. Though, not entirely. I ended the Summer’s dream with a simple I don’t think we’ll work out line. A cliche. No wonder he didn’t buy it.  He didn’t want to end everything we had. Whatever lustful pleasures we had. All those cold nights we’ve clung onto each other. Those scratches on his bare back. His hickeys on my neck. But he did paved the way, at least for a few months.

CHAPTER3: POLARITY


Conrad and me had a great relationship. He was what I have expected and I was always the unexpected. Whether the culprit are my hormones or I am just a bitch, I was always unpredictable. Sweet as sugar one day; the next, his worst nightmare.

I do admit, many raised their brows at me. Questioning. How come?Why her? We were different. I was different. He was different. And I don’t deserve such a great guy.

I stuck my nose up and clung onto his arms tighter. And he did the same way. His stares are magnificent. Those perfect eyes are no longer sad. It glistens. It sparkles. It glows each time we kiss. I have solved the mystery within. My perception of Conrad broaden.

Months passed and our relationship went up a notch. As young as we were, we were but another curious lovers exploring the wild world. What a joy it is to share movie seats with the one you love. Or grasp to his arms in a 3 loop roller coaster ride. Or ride the ferry boat, asleep on his chest. We explored with our eyes. We explored with our lips. We explored with our hands. We explored sexuality.

This Conrad I didn’t like. He was becoming Horice. He wanted more. Although occasional sex is no big deal for me, a frequent play with fire has a full blown impact on my femininity. I love Conrad. Don’t get me wrong. But I did not like his aggressiveness to pleasure.

When he graduated, the situation had gone worse. His testosterone was in an adrenaline rush to feel my flesh. His grips are tighter, more forceful. Wanting. Craving. Lustfully desiring. What, is this the sole thing binding us now?

And so we headed a rough patch. I headed a state of disgust. I want to breathe a cleaner air. I want to stay away. And Horice was just there to comfort me. He comforted me Horice style.

It was no different from Conrad. It was aggressive. It was longing. It was wanting. But at least he was no Conrad. He is Horice. And I regret the day I’ve let him in my life every time Conrad fails to meet my expectations. Slutt…


CHAPTER3.2: THE SHIFTING


“So what are you planning?”

“I don’t know, I’ll let the situation cool down a bit. It’s hard to think with anger in your heart.”

“Right. Let me ease you up.”

(kiss)


I felt the cold breeze wrap its arms around me. It is slowly penetrating me and I shivered.

Horice handed me the blanket and kissed my forehead. I felt his chest beating relentlessly. It was communicating with me. But I don’t want to listen. I don’t need to hear this. I don’t want to hear this. Sweat is dripping off his imperfect skin. I could smell his shampoo and toothpaste.

“When did you guys break up?”

“It’s not a break up. It’s cool off.”

“Oh. So till when does the ‘off’ last?”

“I don’t know. Maybe after a month? Not sure.”


And I’m already feeling guilty about my sin. Conrad has been good. He was courting me, trying to regain my trust that he would bring back the Conrad whom I loved. Everyday, he made it a point to fetch me after class for an afternoon snack. He calls every night to see if I’m fine. A little clingy, but not as clingy as sex.

He does that while I spread my legs to Horice. But instead of feeling guilty, I was proud. I blamed Conrad. I thought his ways made me cheat. He made me cheat. If he wasn’t such a dick, I wouldn’t be looking for some one else to turn to.

Then again, lust has its end. I started to disappear in Horice’s eyes and reappeared in Conrad’s. We were on, again. And Conrad has no clue of my putrid deeds. I am stained and he isn’t. I wasn’t mourning in those times that he was. I was enjoying a life of singleness of which I am not entitled to at the first place. Cool-off is no break up.

As much as Horice want to go after me, he knew his rightful place. Or at least that’s what I would want to think. I am vulnerable. He knew my weakness. And he knew when I needed it. He was always there waiting for me to open my door and sneak him in my room. But at most, he was not waiting. I am.

When Horice calls, he always asks me if we could see each other. I instantly know what he means. And I always feel this gush of excitement crawling in my veins. A little wicked smile is tattooed my cheeks. Yes.

Our playful nights continued on even if Conrad and me are going smoothly. I was serving two masters. And I cared less about it. What harm could it bring me?

But I guess every rose has its torn. You can’t play with fire and not get burned. I was selling my soul to the devil for a slice of cake to fill my ravenous tummy. Karma was quick to reply to my question.

Horice came in. From afar, I could smell liquor. His limbs could no longer carry his weight. His eyes almost shut. And a smile of non-sense was on his face. I held him up. I grabbed his arms and slowly led him to the bed. Nearly did I reach the water bottle when he placed his arms on my waist and chased my lips. It was good to feel the warmth of brandy lay on my tongue and get second-hand drunk. The night was young.

CHAPTER4: SOLAR ECLIPSE


heavy breathing. running. heavy breathing.

“Are you okey?”

“Yeah I’m..”

hurl

“Are you sure?”


It’s February 1998. I’m seeing the campus at a different sight. It’s as if the trees are moving at an incredible speed. The people are dancing. The ground is shaking. My stomach could no longer contain the virtual roller coaster ride and something yearns to escape my retched esophagus.

“Are you sure you’re okay, you look pale!”

“I am fine, Annie. I am fine.”


I am not fine. And I’ve been feeling this ailment for 2 weeks. Whether it’s flu or not. I want it gone. It makes me so weak, this illness. I easily get tired and my eyes are scared of the night. Recently, I don’t want to see the stars shine or the sun disappear reminding me that the day has ended. I cuddle my soft pillow and ride on sandman’s express.

My tongue’s also a bit snobbish lately. It doesn’t want to eat. I could smell the aroma. And yet. My tummy’s not in the mood for visitors. At times, like today, it just shuts its doors for any intruders. It’s a riot.

“Babe, are you okay? I heard you’ve been throwing up.”

“I’m fine. I don’t know but I think I have stomach flu or something.”

 


Conrad was becoming more worried. His eyes are saddening again. He gave me some pills and yet it seemed that things are just getting worse. Even outside of the campus, I was a little under the weather. My enthusiasm has escaped. I don’t want anything to do in anywhere. I want to go home.

And of course, my mom grew worried as well. I know she’s been sneaking in my room as I sleep. She stares. She observes. She knows I wouldn’t let her touch me in some parts I always turn away from her like my neck. My legs. My breasts. My tummy. At day, she always stares at them with questioning eyes. Interrogating every bump and curve. Wanting to know the answer to something I too do not know.

It’s the 15th. And my monthly period hasn’t arrived. I’ve already missed last month’s. No wonder my mom’s been so weird. She’s curious why I haven’t asked her for money to buy sanitary napkins. She’s curious why I always sort-of run whenever she throws the question of my mysterious delays. I don’t know. She’s curious why I’ve been late to arrive home, running up the stairs. Hiding.

A Tuesday. The only day Conrad couldn’t fetch me from school. I saw Horice from afar and an idea popped in my head. My heart beat ran double. No quadruple. I ran to the pharmacy. Sweat slowly formed on my forehead as I grabbed on to everything that I needed to purchase. The cashier stared at me as if I couldn’t pay. A few 10′s, 20′s and she placed back her smile. She could pay with dirty money.

As I reached our gates, I barged into the restroom for a pee. Dead air. My parents are out somewhere. Maybe at the Casino? I don’t know. I don’t care. I could still hear my heart trying to escape my ribs. Trying to unlock the gates. Forcing itself out.

One. Two. Three. Oh no.

CHAPTER5: THE COLLISION


“Where are we going?”

“If you’re not going to answer my questions, I know who will.”

 


A cab is waiting outside. My mom forced me to get in and I couldn’t stop her. And I didn’t stop myself either. She’s mad. I could feel her angst burst to my face as her eyes playfully wander around. She’s nervous I could tell.

We’re heading a familiar path downtown. My heart started to panic. Again.

“Babe, I’m serious.”

“But..but..but HOW?!?! We were off then and. and.”


A teary eyed Conrad. I couldn’t stand how he’s staring at me like this. His face lost its glow. I could feel his heart was ripped into pieces as I break the news. He’s at the verge of letting go a tear. And as I tried to answer his question, I felt my limbs shake. Gravity was acting on me. I want to faint. But I won’t. I can’t. And I know I shouldn’t.

“Horice.”


The elevator. My mom is in a state of anxiety. And I definitely know what she’s about to hear. I don’t want it to come from me. I don’t have the courage. Or am I ashamed? I don’t know. I don’t want to admit my mistakes. Never will my pride let me.

My jolly days are up. I needed to pay for the ride. Who says you can get away with pleasure and not pay? Karma is a two way process. Everything has its yin and yang.

She gazed at me one final time. Same teary eyes I saw in Conrad. She’s scared. I am too scared. I want to escape but my legs could not move. Time frozen. Time is up. My mom laid her hands on the knob. I could hear it squeak in every twist. I could hear it count. One. Two. Three.

“What?! Ho..How could…Oh my..”


Conrad knelt. The tear I saw finally drip on his flawless cheeks. But it wasn’t just one. He was wailing. Not sobbing. Not crying. But wailing. He’s hurt, I know. And I know I should not have faced him tonight. But I did. And I’ve hurt the one I loved. The one I truly loved. My selfishness has brought me to an insane situation I never imagined I could get myself into. A real life drama scene unfolds. And I am the star. Only this time, there’s no lights and camera. Just me and Conrad.Oh Conrad.


“Ma’am, I have some bad news.”

 


I just got out of the restroom. I was crying. I know my secret was divulged. Two months.

It was as if my mother’s not hearing what the doctor is saying. Her heart-broken eyes are staring at me. And I know exactly what she wants to say. I know exactly what she wants to hear. My graduation’s in 2 weeks time. No, three weeks. But the excitement was quickly shoved aside.

As we stepped out, I felt myself thrown to the restroom. I know my mom wants to choke me. I could see her hands curl and her nerves rise out of her aging flesh. Her eyes were bloodshot and wet. Her eyebrows are racing towards the middle. She rammed the door and shut it close. The restroom was ours. No windows. No more doors. No more stairs. And no more excuses. Time to face the music Ara.

And I was 16 years old.

“So what are we to do?”


I couldn’t look Conrad in the eye. I’ve been tearing up myself. I don’t know what kind of mess I’ve gotten myself into. Everything is a mixture of pain and panic. My head’s a blur. And  I couldn’t figure out what step I should take to save the relationship I killed with my own hands. What will become of us now?

I was looking at my unstable sole. I could feel Conrad staring at me. I nearly fainted but it seemed that my body’s not siding with me today. It wants me to answer every single question that comes out of his mouth. But I guess Conrad was too devastated to even utter any of it. He just sat and asked me so what are we to do.

We. Why does he have to burden the suffering when he’s not the culprit? Or did he realize that I’ve been blaming him for my cheating ways?

“I want an abortion.”


And the words came out of my mouth ice cold. Conrad lifted his head. His small eyes stared at me widening. Questioning. Reassuring that I would commit such a crime. I wasn’t ready. Nobody’s ready.

Horice may be the perfect ‘pleasuremate’ but he is never  a good lover. And with this I presume, he’ll never be a good father. He’s living in a shaky shanty near our house. He didn’t finish his secondary education. He has no job. He was addicted to marijuana. And he’s a womanizer.

In all our years, count those days we’ve stolen from Conrad, I didn’t get the chance to know Horice deeper and way beyond his cigarette charred lips. Whenever we’re together, he’d just ask me how I’m doing. And goes my blabber mouth narrating my oh so wonderful life. If he goes tired listening to my yapping, he’d wrap his arms around me. I shut up. And he gropes his way on my chilling skin. I smile.


“How?”


I practically do not know. I don’t know what to answer and I don’t know if I could. All I want to do is pack up this mess and trash it in the bin. Unsuspected and without my mom knowing.

Conrad and I did everything we could. We literally jumped up and down. But nothing seems to work. Of course, nothing will work. For a 16-year-old, abortion was a matter of shaking the tummy until the baby falls. Little Ara is clueless. Then again, it’s not. And we don’t have the money to buy some drugs or perhaps go to a doctor. I don’t want to go to a doctor. That would ruin the secrecy.

He knew everything’s not gonna work out. And neither did he leave my side. He took care of me. He took care of the seed growing in me. He made sure I eat. I don’t purge. Or anything. And I started to see that gorgeous eyes sparkle again. If he’s in love, I don’t know. My head’s still under anxiety.


“Until when are you planning to keep this from us Ara!”


I could hear the walls echoed every yell my mother makes. She’s furious. The fire in her eyes is an inferno. But then I kept my poker face though studded with tiny droplets coming from my deep within my soul.

I heard the car parked in our garage. Oh great, here’s dad. So the news had finally arrived to daddy. I’m surely in big trouble now. I could hear a giant’s foot steps banging the ground. It’s as if the floors are collapsing. It was fast yet heavy. It was in a hurry.

Dad barged right through the door. Shut it real close. His eyes ablazed. And I kept my poker face.

I turned numb and i went deaf. I couldn’t keep my concentration. My mind floated thinking whether they would agree to my idea. Killing the unborn is a mortal sin. And I am ready to risk my seat in heaven for eternal damnation.

Clearly my parents thought my innocent Conrad was the sperm donor. They were ready to get in the car and get to his place to make arrangements. And I was also ready to kill my beloved’s dreams. I should not be alone skinny dipping in this boiling water.

It’s 12 midnight. My tummy started to ache. The world surrounding me winds, twists and turns. I could hear the screech of the devil’s nails scratching deep in me. Pulling out what’s in me. Untying the bonds of lust and pleasure. To put stop to a mishap that shall bestow.

I woke up with my nostrils plugged. I could hardly open my eyes out. I was dizzy. And I didn’t think twice to doze off.

4AM. I heard my breathing became heavy. I couldn’t stand the sound of water trickling and dropping. Slowly, I opened my eyes and found myself wired on the index. I looked straight and I saw a white gown bitch walking towards me.

“You’re awake!”


Without adieu, she pulled the wires off and phoned. The others came. Held me up. And led me to another stiff white bed that I wished to be a coffin. I stared at the ceiling. Still dozing off. Until we turned left. I saw my mom waiting and my dad sitting. All eyes were staring at me. Questioning. Interrogating. Criticizing.

I didn’t wait for my mom to open her mouth when I finally succumb to sandman’s desires. But now, I can smile.


It is a Monday and graduation is a week’s time. I walked passed the guards smiling as my friends gladly welcomed me. Worried. They were asking too many questions and I could not find an answer to my one day of silence.

 

“A family affair. In the province. Cousin’s debut.”

The hours started to run. It’s chasing cars. Graduation came and went and it’s time to go to college. And I never saw or heard from Conrad again.

 

“Babe I’m sorry but I couldn’t carry that much responsibility when you know for a fact that that is not mine.”

And I could not believe it either that I would eagerly place him at the grill to answer to my misfortune. He was the good guy and I was just a kid who’s used to having somebody to turn to, or blame, for my every downfall. My mom advised me to never talked to him again. She said our relationship will never work out for the fact that I made the biggest mistake no one could ever forget. Conrad understood.

As for Horice, he never really knew. We never told him. My parents weren’t ready for such embarrassment that is me. My brothers from the States were stunned how their sister became such a disgrace. I couldn’t blame them. I really am. And I have to pay for it with Conrad; my dream, my life, my love.

I tried to break the rules to see him sometime. But my insecurity pushed him away. He was willing. I know he was if I have been insistent and sweet. But no. I was rude and jealous. I could not accept the fact that he is open to a new love. A love that I have craved and strive for a long time. And it took only one night of pleasure.


“Are you home?”

Leo did not reply. It’s 2 PM and the sun is way above my face. I had to wake up. I headed straight to the bathroom to wash off the morning glory. Oh Leo, you’re always leaving that goddamn mark. I looked in the mirror and I knew I needed to bathe.

 

 

 

The house is empty. My mom’s at the firm and dad’s with his friends. A gorgeous Sunday and yet I’m sitting in my room reminiscing of what happened the night before. Liquor’s pouring. Laughter’s all around. Puns. Jokes. Stories. When you’re under the influence, you’ll never really recall what or who said this and that. All that’s left in your head are memories of who puked. Who was the noisiest. And who was the stupidest.


Life without Conrad is hard. I drove further down the depths of hell with Horice. It sounds stupid, but he’s the only one that I’ve got. He never really knew then. I wasn’t ready to tell him what he had done. And I guess he’ll never be sorry for it.

But God’s hands are playful and He wove a trap for my broken soul.Neither He wants you to be with that dumbass Horice.

My friend invited me to attend a seminar for arts. Well, I was already there so I signed up for membership. It’s the new millennium. Time for something new in my life and I’ve got to step out of my room. My parents were hesitant and of course, scared for me to be out there again. But my siblings insist for me to go on with my life not as a prisoner in our home.

I love the arts. Not just performing, but doing it. I want to explore my visual and auditory senses. And as I harness my power back, I didn’t expect cupid’s arrow be hitting my bare back.

CHAPTER6: NEW MOON


“Hey, let me carry your bag ma’am.”

“Thanks.”

 


And Erik greeted me with a smile. God that smile killed me and his ‘borrowed’ shades reflected my inglorious face. He was not as stunning as Conrad though. He doesn’t have the physique of Apollo. He was the littlest boy amongst the crowd of youngsters. Damn, do I belong here? What am I doing in this crowd of high school students when I’m about to enter my freshman year as a Collegiate.

The seminar lasts for three days. So many unknown, familiar yet unknown, faces. My friend was so used to socializing and I was still in the midst of fear. But I had to. At least pretend to be okay. Pretend I am normal. Pretend I didn’t get pregnant and had an abortion. And I’m starting to adapt life on my own.

I held my cup. Stared at the individuals surrounding me. They’re so . . .jolly. A whirlwind of people kept drowning me into nothingness. I am numb but I have to act as if I am not. I couldn’t hold up a smile on my face. I tried the least.

It’s funny to think that they do not have any idea of what I’ve gone through. After a few months, I am normal again. I belong, again. And I could mingle, again. God I miss Conrad and his supportive aura. He’s my number one fan.

Time flew by. So fast. Seemed that three days of solitary confinement is not enough. Yeah, I learned a lot. But not enough to make me a new person. I saw Erik. And he gladly welcomed and thanked every participant there is. With that cute smile and those brown marble eyes.

Although I pledge to be a loyal member, I didn’t. I was still lost at sea. Every night I could feel the waves devouring my soul. And I am no longer in control. I yearn for somebody to caress my long wavy hair and say everything will be okay. I crave for those soft pink lips taking my fears away. I miss the only person I loved and hurt all at once.

The phone rang.

Horice is on the line.

This is one of those moments when I don’t need him. I don’t need pleasure now. I need affection. And I found that in Conrad. Thanks to libido, I ruined the greatest love story ever told.

I hanged up. He didn’t call back. Horice knew me so well, while him, I don’t.


“Are you going to the party tomorrow, Ara?”

“Maybe.”


As unstable as I am today, I don’t know if I really do want to go out and ‘party’. But my friend insisted. Why did I ever join that club anyway?Okay so I’ll attend.

 

“Care to dance?”

 


Erik was standing right in front of me. With a loose polo and fixed hair. Oh. He looks….nice. Cute but not Conrad. I really have to keep this guy off my mind! He noticed my insecure eyes wandering around the room staring blankly into the crowd as if searching for the escape button. He held me closer. I felt his fingers slowly curved around my waist and saw his huge marble eyes stare intently at me.

Silence filled the room. I could barely hear the bursting whoopers. I could barely hear myself breathe. TIME’S UP.


It’s the new year. Why do everybody cared so much about penetrating my life? Erik kept me company for a while. At least through the phone and texts. I didn’t notice how ‘attached’ we are lately. All I know, I want to paddle away from where I am standing in life now. I’ve lived a celibacy. At least that’s what I want to think that I am doing. Considering I still see Horice. And play around with Horice. I know someday I have to quit this ‘user friendly’ attitude of mine. Someday, I have to reveal what kept me and Conrad apart…at least to Horice.

 

 

“There you go again with your laughter.”

 


Erik thought I was a jolly, happy go lucky person. I don’t know how and why but whenever I talk to him, I feel so safe and accepted and free. I never felt this way recently. It’s as if I’m finally learning how to love again. Or if I am capable of loving. I fucked up before. What are the odds I wouldn’t be doing that now?


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