I only wanted to be free from you, but it doesn’t have to be me killing me. Alas, I have no choice.
I only wanted to be free from you, but it doesn’t have to be me killing me. Alas, I have no choice.
It was a photo of you.
In it, you were standing in the middle of the fields. Yes, I remember the
place. It is that one place where we would always go together. It was our special secret hideout, no matter how open it actually was. It was sunny in the photo, but there was wind blowing because the daffodils were swaying. There were butterflies. It reminded me of how we used to run and catch them, only to catch none. You were standing in the middle of the photo, looking straight to the camera.
Far behind you is the big tree, our big tree of love, as we call it. Yes,
we did all the cheesy stuff. We engraved our names and enclosed them with a heart with an arrow, a promise of love that we said we would keep forever. We buried time capsules, each with our letters for each other. I never knew what was in your chest because we told each other that these capsules would be our gift for each other on our wedding day.
Remembering this, I used the phone’s light to open the drawer of my side table to get what you buried there for me. Without opening the lights, with just the phone light and the moon lending me some of her glow, I rummaged the chest and felt each item: your locket, the silver chopsticks from our first date, a snow globe, and a notebook. I sighed and laid the chest beside me, its contents scattered by the bed.
The wind blew from my open window, the curtains fluttering as if tickled by the gushing coldness from outside. I let out another sigh, and I looked at your photo again.
The screen shows just your face now, blood running from your eyes like tears. I suddenly felt blood running from my own eyes. I screamed until my heart stopped.
I’m out to attend my classmate’s burial, Mom. I am always bullied, so I had to make a wake-up call.
I was waiting but you didn’t come. You said you were on your way. By the time you came, I was already bathing on my own blood. It was too late.
I didn’t kill him, you know. I am innocent. Believe me. I was just trying to protect myself.
I have always liked that guy Sebastian, you know. For over a year now, I have always admired him. I mean, who wouldn’t? He got high grades, to think he had all the extra-curricular activities going on after every class, even during class. You see, he was also a dancer. He was part of the university dance troupe. He would enter some time in class holding an excuse letter because they would have to perform in some hotel. And when he’d come back, he would still get the highest score in the quizzes.
And he was the student publication’s Editor-in-Chief. Again, he would come one day in class with an excuse letter because they had to attend a press conference for a week in some faraway province. When he’d come back, he would still ace all the exams, and he would even have his name on tarpaulins because he won awards in the conference.
OK, OK. So it was an exaggeration that everybody would like him. He was not goodlooking, I know, but I admired his intelligence. He was not super genius, but everything made sense when we would talk to him about our math problems or our grammar confusions. He was not a walking encyclopedia, but he knew a lot of terms and trivias. He was a sucker for literature and mythology. He knew every classic poem, he knew Shakespearean and Spencerean sonnets, and he would even recite some poems sometimes.
And God, how good a writer he was! He had this way of entertaining people using his words. His writeups would lure you to fantasy. He had his own style of wordplay. My other classmates would imitate him, but they would fail anyway.
He was a kind person, too. He understood what we would feel. We would go to him for advice, and he felt for us, giving us just the right advice. He was logically seeing things, but he would put his heart to every situation. He saw through everything. He was like this all-knowing demigod who was human but has capabilities that only a god could muster. I am not building him up too much; I am just being truly honest, that’s all.
Who wouldn’t like him? He was not perfect. The physical was not his thing, but other than that, he was just right. He was perfectly right.
So one day, I took the risk. It is either this or I would lose forever, I told myself. It was worth the risk, I thought. Whatever happened after this, I would accept my fate. I was destined to one day put myself into a situation like this, and this was the right time.
That evening, I caught up with him after our last class. He was the last one to leave the class because he was apparently also layouting our class’ feature folio for our Feature Writing class. We left the class an hour earlier for the usual Friday videoke sessions that we do. I sang a couple of songs as my way of showing cooperation, and left, blabbing out the first excuse that I could think of. Which led me to that evening, where it was just Sebastian and I walking on the already dark walkways of the university.
“Thanks for waiting for me, Clarise. You don’t really have to do that, you know.”
“Well, what can I say? I want to wait for you. You told me before, when you want something, go for it.”
“Oh, that.” He sighed. “Well, thank you.”
“You know what, you’re so great.”
“Why say that?”
“You’re the best in class. You had all the glory a college student could ever wish for. You would even be this year’s model student of the year.”
“It could be anyone. It could be you, too. There are ten of us. And I can’t beat you with all your community work with the church. Community works would mean higher points. But don’t get me wrong, I would be happy for you.”
“You’re just saying that.”
“No, I mean it. I don’t want the award. I joined the dance troupe because I want to dance. I joined the publication because I want to write and serve. I try my best in class because I want to graduate with honors. Not because of having honors, but because I need a good job. We have been struggling in the family since forever.”
“You know what, that is the problem.” I stopped walking and faced him. “You are too great. You don’t want the honors but you get them anyway. And other who want it, what is left of them? Shame? Failure?”
“Hey wait, what is your problem?”
“You are my problem. And I just can’t take it anymore.”
And then I shot him straight to his head. The gunshot echoed. I scratched myself on the neck and hit myself with a rock until my head bled. I opened my blouse and undid my hair, making it appear as rugged as ever. I sat beside him, calling for all the tears that I could ever shed to come out.
“I didn’t kill him. I am innocent. Believe me. I was just trying to protect myself. He harassed me. He had this gun. We fought. Good thing I was able to take it from him. I had no choice. He was going to kill me. I was just trying to protect myself.” I told the police.
One down, eight to go, I told myself.
I don’t remember a lot, but I know it rained that day.
And also, I remember seeing her teardrops despite the rain, despite her makeup being washed away by the downpour of the sky’s own misery. I remember how she tried to hide her tears but failed anyway. I couldn’t see her tears at first, but when I noticed that she sobbed and her shoulders moved along, I looked at her eyes and saw a different kind of drop flowing. And that’s how I knew it.
And also, I remember saying goodbye to her. I don’t know where we were, and I can’t seem to recall everything. But I know we were talking about something really important. I can’t remember my lines. None of hers seems to get inculcated in my mind either. All I know is that I was saying goodbye. I don’t know why. I don’t wanna leave.
And also, I remember her not wanting to let go. Her hands holding mine, pleading for me to stay, the scene is still clear in my memory, only there were no voices inside my head. Only the scene. It is as if I am deaf. Her grip tightened as I tried to struggle.
And also, I remember seeing her finally let go. She was holding me, but I was stronger. In the end, she had no choice but to just loosen her grip and let me go away. I remember that I looked back, but I just glanced and continued walking. Then, I never looked again.
But also, before that, I remember something else. Oh yes, she didn’t loosen grip because she chose to finally let go. She stopped holding on because she became a lifeless being. I left because I couldn’t take her any longer. I left because she wasn’t the same person whom I used to know and love. I left because she led me into leaving and never coming back.
I remember the smell of blood that rainy day. I remember keeping a knife deep in my pocket. I remember a loud thud as I walked away, the sound of someone falling to the ground, lifeless and hopeless altogether.
I don’t remember a lot, but I know it rained that day. And I remember killing her, too.
I looked at her and found myself in a position that enables me to, once and for all, tell all.
I told her how I imagined us to be so well together. Well, we are not together at the moment, but I was hoping that we could enjoy this sense of togetherness without responsibility, just enjoying the moment. Anyway, when you love someone, you would do things for the person without your responsibility brought about your being in a romantic relationship being the motivation, that you are driven to do things because you are responsible for the person. With love, no matter what the relationship that you hold and tell the public to comply with the norms, you do things because you like doing them and because you love the person. So, I told her that. I know that not all girls would want that kind of setup, but I know that she would particularly like it, since we have a lot of family responsibilities at the moment.
At first, we are OK with that. We are happy. But things changed, I told her. She’s starting to demand more than what we have agreed upon (yes, she agreed with my proposal). She hated me for everything that I failed to do. She would post statuses that are not addressed to me but are definitely her messages of hate for me. It was becoming unhealthy for the both of us, I told her. We ended up at the situation we are wanting to escape, that is, being obliged to do things, failing to do them, and messing up our whole relationship.
I didn’t want to leave, I make it a point that she knows that. But then, sometimes, we end up letting go of some of our load because we can’t travel with too much burden. Without her, I am not better. I will be affected, for the worse maybe, but for the greater part, I would just be stagnant. It is as if my life would become monotonous, although some people would like it that way. But without me, she would be better. She can do greater things without me having to affect her every emotion. She can meet a lot of people who are better than me, who are ready to commit, who have less responsibilities, who can care for her more, who can give her what she wants, who can make her happy.
I still wish I can choose not to let go. I still wish that we can go back to enjoying the moment. I still wish we can end up together. But no, I know I can’t. It would be selfish of me to still keep her when, in fact, I could just set her free for her to find her own happiness, even if it doesn’t have to include me.
So, I left, I shed a tear, and I never looked back.
It was raining when we met that night.
She is still pretty, I can tell. Despite her stressed face, probably due to a lot of school work, I can still appreciate her beauty. Her curly long hair perfectly fits her feminine aura. Her smile always knocks me off my feet even though we have been together for a year now. Her eyes always bring this little sunshine that lights my whole day. The thing is, she is beautiful, just that.
However, more and more, I am starting to outgrow her. She has become a nagger. She started becoming this overpossessive grilfriend. At first, I thought it was OK. It is natural for girls, my girl friends would say, to be jealous over friends or basketball or computer games. So I understood. When she is with me, I don’t talk to my classmates. I part from my pack when she comes to pick me up during my last class everyday, since her professor always ends their classes earlier, while I was fated to be in this class where our instructor is the god of the overtime.
And then, it got worse. She became jealous of her friends that have become my friends, of my siblings, of my academics. She starts hating me for everything that I do and not do. She would hate me when I would become busy with organization activities that I should responsibly attend to. She would question every Facebook friend, whatever the gender (at first only the females), and even if I would say that some of my friends are my cousins, she would even investigate more. I got fed up and I deactivated my account, then she got mad even more. She would hate it when I don’t get to pick her up in the morning right away. She has become over-overpossessive, if I may use the term. She is starting to creep me out. I can’t take it any longer.
So, tonight, I am breaking up with her.
But how can I? Look at her. Despite all the suffocating things that she does to me, how can I let go of her? She still has that spark that she had when we first met. I must admit that it has deteriorated during our unfathomable list of arguments, but coming to this place now and watching her walk toward me, all the making-up-my-mind thing is now all messed up all over again.
She came close to me, hugged me tight, and whispered the words that tore me apart.
How is that even possible? It was just one time out of impulse. How can that one moment destroy everything? How am I gonna enroll to Law school after my Political Science course? How can I travel the world? How can I do what I like in the future? My parents are not going to like this. They will take away from me all the dreams that I have worked hard for.
I did my best and topped every class, and it all comes to this? And to this girl? To this girl whom I am still having a hard time deciding on? This is insane.
So there. It was raining when we met that night. It was raining when I killed her. Them.
Come to me, young one, and feed into my darkness. I am longing for company.
But why not shall you devour into my nothingness? I was the first Protogenoi. For the longest time, it was just me. I am the world. I am this vast immeasurable abyss. I was the promise of eternity. I might be outrageous and wild as they would brand me, but in my nothingness lies my longings for company. Come to me, young one. Let this sea of darkness consume you.
Before there was Nyx, to whom man has pour down all its woes, there was I. before Nyx became the refuge of those in passion, in weary, and in the mood for wondering, there was just I. Before there was Erebus, that unfathomable depth where death dwells, there was just I. Why not come to me then, you one, and let your system be succumbed into my nothingness?
Nyx and Erebus, I despise them, for it was from them that Eros came into shameful existence. Eros was my protégé, I used to believe. It was Eros whom I tasked to destroy what lies ahead, but no, Eros was more than that. From Eros came life.
Aither and Hemera, soon they came, and little by little, they started taking away from me my darkness, my sanctuary. Gaia and Tartaros lorded over, and soon enough, there was nothing left for me and my nothingness. I was forsaken by my descendants. I was forsaken by my faith.
Come to me, young one. I will take you to darkness. Darkness is sweet, as you might not know. It hides all the pain. It takes away from you a world full of sufferings. It clears your system. It bathes you and cleanses all the heartache. Come with me and be my prince, young one. We shall be lords of the vast nothingness, of this unbroken darkness, of eternal glory.
I woke up due to Ate Jovy’s hysteria. And then, everything is in chaos. Our boat is sinking.
I searched for my friends. Loreen is starting to cry while Allan was having a hard time untying the life vests. KM already had hers, and she is helping out Ate Anne with hers. People are shouting and crying. Others would tell them to calm down, but it was no use. Everything is starting to get blurry. My fear happened. I can’t believe that this is happening. There was an explosion. I don’t know where it started. The waves were getting bigger. The floor of the boat was flooded with water. People are throwing their big bags into the ocean. Lovers were hugging goodbye, the boy comforting the girl. Some were panicking. Things were happening too fast. I am getting dizzy. I can’t move.
I searched for my bag. My gadgets, I shouted. KM told me to put my life vest on first. I realized that I don’t have one.
What I thought was a joyous trip becomes a tragedy right in front of my eyes. I think of what went wrong. While securing myself with a life vest, which is challenging because everybody is getting theirs, I think back.
Just yesterday, when we reached the port in Mauban, where the boat ride to Cagbalete Island starts, fear rushed to my system. I have always found the sea uninviting. My fear is half because I don’t know how to swim and half because I fear that my gadgets would sink into the ocean in case something bad happens. A week ago, during the boat ride on our trip to Anawangin with high school friends, I prayed really hard that nothing bad would transpire, and nothing did. This time, I prayed harder.
My fear subsided because I figured that we would be riding a bigger boat. There are around 70 of us, so the boat has to be bigger. I find it safe, too, with comfortable seats, complete sets of life vest, and friendly seafarers. I found myself enjoying the waters. I even sat on the bamboo support on the side of it. I don’t know what it’s called. I also let my feet dangle into the waters. I laughed every time they hit the sea because splash of water would make us wet.
The two-day extravaganza in Cagbalete went on and I was really enjoying it. We met a bunch of funny roommates. I also swam in the beach, which is just my second try of it my whole life. I played frisbee, the first sport I ever played, and our team won. It was a wonderful moment.
On our way back home, as the boat sped off back to Mauban, I wasn’t afraid of the waters anymore. I somehow realized that the sea is a friend. It takes you gently and guides you through its waves. The waves that afternoon are getting stronger, but the captain of that boat told us that we could still make it. The sea is a friend, yes; you just have to embrace it the way it does in every splash of water.
I marveled at the sea and the views I wasn’t able to enjoy the day before. Everybody was enjoying their last piece of our adventure. We were all silent, looking to the horizon, thankful for the day, lulled by the sea. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
I reached for the life vest. I can’t untie it. I tried hard. People are shouting. Nausea is starting to consume me. I don’t know what to do. I’m shaking. I started to cry. My head is spinning. People are crying and shouting. The fire is getting bigger. I don’t want to die slowly. I saw a a bamboo pole with one side sharp. Sharp enough. I reached for it. I stabbed myself.
And then, I woke up due to Ate Jovy’s hysteria. Everything is in chaos. Our boat is sinking.
Valerie, my friend of 10 years, talked to me one after noon about her problem. She would like to confess that she loves this certain guy. You see, she never had a formal relationship. She is pretty and smart, but she focused too much on her studies that love has come and gone in front of her without her noticing.
It was a difficult question. How would girls confess what they feel toward guys without sounding desperate? There has been an unfair judgment nowadays between man and woman despite the thresholds of equality that have been set by history. If a man would admit that he loves a woman, the woman would either accept or dump him. Just that. If a woman would admit the same emotion, she would not only be given any of the two answers but would also be branded with names unfit for her. She would be judged desperate because the society, modern and liberated as it may seem, would still have something to say about that.
So I told her that she would be judged on different bases. First, it would be up to whether the feeling is mutual or not. If a girl confesses and the boy feels the same, the judgment will not be thought of, and the boy would instead proceed into telling the girl that he feels the same. Then, they would perhaps be together. If the boy does not love the girl the way the girl would like to be loved, he might judge the girl as desperate because the understanding that should have been there had love been present was not there to make things work. If we don’t like someone, we tend to notice the bad points, the reason why the boy would probably conclude that this girl is too desperate to say what she feels. It could also be his way of getting out of the situation. Well, guys have always been known for putting the blame to someone or something else just so they could escape, right?
Another concern would be if they know each other that well. Of course, if a girl would say she has already fallen to someone who she knew just a few weeks ago, for example, she might be taken negatively by a guy. Sure, this could be possible, but to be very much sure about it in just a short span of time, sure enough that the girl is ready to confess about it, it could be taken by the guy on an exactly different plane.
I also told Valerie that it could also depend on the guy to whom she would be confessing what she feels. If a guy is not open-minded enough to accept things like this an to understand how love and all the other emotions work, then she might receive a negative response. If a guy would be open to understand that girls could also feel this way, then he could weigh things out without having to judge the girl as desperate.
The delivery of the confession is also a factor. Just like any other messages communicated from a source to a receiver, how you say it should matter. Your manner of addressing it shall be subject to various interpretations that you can no longer control. Thus, say what you want to say clearly. Explain well. Consider your words and your tone. If something has been misinterpreted, clear it out. Communicate what you feel in the best way possible.
I had to clear it to her that my explanation is on a guy’s perspective. I told her to ask a girl, too, and she told me that she already did before she asked me. At the end of our conversation, she was convinced that it was high time that she express her heart out. She thanked me and walked away.
The next day, I received a letter. It was from her.