I don’t go to too many places — the longest I’d stay at a place other than home, is about 3 days, 2 nights (This makes me a regular out-of-towner). At the end of the trip, I’d take a picture of the bed, where I slept. It’s my way of ending the trip and saying thank you to the place, where I rested my head, renewed my spirit and decided to move on again to the next adventure.
She was all of 5 years, but she seemed to have the wisdom of the old.
She thought that her favorite mug Muggy “died”, for it had lost its handle and could no longer be safe for use, or so said Mommy. She felt very sad — partly because it was Mommy’s fault. If only Mommy had taken good care of her mug, it would still be here today.
So she thought of burying it in their garden. It was after all broken, like some of the people whose wakes she had gone to with her mother. They were like dolls, you couldn’t play with anymore.
So off she went to their garden to find a nice spot for her mug and using her little plastic shovel, she started to dig a hole. Would Muggy like to be placed in a box or join Mother Earth as dust, she wondered? She decided that Muggy deserved a proper burial so she placed it in her old shoe box.
She decided that it was going to be a private ceremony, so she would have to play the role of the priest and the bereaved. No point in inviting Mommy to join as she wasn’t close to her mug.
Her eulogy went: If only Mommy had taken good care of you, Muggy … but I forgive her. I love you, Muggy. May you be taken to the Heaven along with all the other mugs Mommy and the rest of the mommies broke. If I broke you, you would know it was an accident. I will never ever, ever, ever forget you.
Three days later, Mommy got her a new mug. Muggy was forgotten. Forever.
Scene 9. The Reunion.
I traced the single C embossed on the flap of the cream linen envelope. Inside was an invitation for a dinner party she is hosting at a quiet little place, with a promise to be among very close friends and family. It even had a hand-written note: “Please do come, my birdie (she still calls me that after all these years)! You have always been my very best friend. – C”
It’s been 20 years since we’ve seen each other. I have been busy: I left the country without saying goodbye to her and have been away for so long, without replying to the many letters she sent when she got my address from my mother. Mama said C called her from time to time even if I was an absentee friend. I never replied to her long missives, stories about her work, getting married, being sad that she had no kids. Not even a single postcard from me — I sighed. I am surprised that she still considers me her “very best friend”.
I smiled remembering our good old days in high school — doing homework together, promising to get better grades (well, I did get better grades, she laughed at “the promise” — as if it was just a joke to get me to study harder), falling in and out of love. It has been a long, long time.
Busy? Well, I will have to find time, after all it’s been a long, long time since our graduation.
Need to buy me a nice evening dress —- it is after all our reunion of sorts.
I came in red, a color she has always loved. Everyone else seems to have decided to wear neutrals — shades of white, gray and cream. I felt a bit uneasy about my dress, more so, when I did not see anyone I know in the crowd. I looked for my name plate and smiled to everyone in my table with the number 2 (Could it be that she remembered my favorite number?), near the small stage they had in the center of the room.
Shortly after, a young lady came up to the stage to say that C could not make it to her own party but that she had prepared a video for such an eventuality. Everyone went “oh” and “awww” and someone from our table said: “She must be feeling weak again.”
I hesitated to ask the other guests, but one started to say, “I can almost imagine C saying, “Sorry to be the party pooper, guys. Just can’t make it — too weak, am dying, so don’t waste the food … have a good time.”
And another, “We’ve been praying together for her recovery but she said that she wasn’t counting on it.” She smiled at me and then added, “Oh, you didn’t know? Well, you see, ….” but her voice trailed off since the video has started.
And there she was on the screen, propped on a hospital bed, a frail version of my friend, speaking with a raspy but happy tone: “Hi, guys! Sorry about this — didn’t know I couldn’t make it. I hope you are all enjoying yourselves. Hey, Birdie! Don’t disappoint me now — are you in red at table 2? Everyone, please … a round of applause for my dearest friend since high school.”
I was so embarrassed with the introduction, but smiled to those who looked my way. (Oh, C! How could you? Why did you not tell me —- or mama?)
“Anyway, really sorry for this boo-boo. Kree, my secretary, did warn me that it may be a tad too late for this party …. but anyway, I’m still here, I think” —–” She paused for a smile directly to the camera. “Was dinner any good? I tried to get everyone’s favorite dish in the menu. Hope you appreciate the effort ....”.
The screen went blank and then there she was again, looking so much better than the first few scenes, giving instructions to her secretary: “OK, Kree, The whole idea is to have all of my dear ones at this party. Have dinner, maybe listen to some music and then have this talk —- I will tell them that they need to change one thing about themselves.”
She looked briefly at her secretary as if she had said something offensive: “No, no, no! Don’t give me that look. I’m not being mean here. I am giving each of them a gift — call it feedback —- or the truth about each of them. They still have time … I don’t so I am giving them a chance. Well, don’t worry. Some aren’t all that bad —- remember, the one who came here the other day — the one who brought her daughter. Yeah — yeah! You should know —- I’ll tell her about her halitosis. Well, lucky her … I just couldn’t stand her bad breath. One of them owes me money and he had not paid me yet. I am going to tell everyone about him. ” She chuckled.
The younger one said, “You know them better, some may feel hurt.”
“It’s the truth, Kree. Some will be hurt, but I am being a friend … I am just being me. They should know that about me by now. They are my friends.”
The lights went on again and Kree took the microphone and spoke: “Good evening, everyone. Sorry but she couldn’t make it. I will hand each everyone a goodbye note from her before you leave. She said that she does not expect a reply —- please do whatever it is that she has suggested in her letter. Thank you all for coming.”
There it was again, the C on the cream linen envelope. I dreaded opening the note as she may have hurtful words for me —- all those long, lost years.
It was in her handwriting and it read: I miss you, Birdie. I was just asking for your time.
Welcome back, Ground!
Maraming salamat sa ating tinatamasang kalayaan!
Maraming salamat sa inyong katapangan, kagalang-galang naming mga bayani.
Ang aking panata ay ang maging mabuting mamamayan.
Sukli sa inyong kabayanihan!
P.S. : Had to use last year’s picture. Have not gone out yet to look for a nice Philippine Flag scene for this post.
Scene 8. The Hand
“Hello, Grandma.” She extended her tiny hand to the old woman.
“Who are you?” the old woman replied.
“Why don’t you remember me, Grandma? You used to call me …”
“Angel,” the old woman completed the child’s statement.
They both smiled at the old woman’s recollection.
“You look tired, Grandma. Shouldn’t you be resting now? Take my hand now, I will help you.”
The old woman took the child’s hand. “You are cold, my child. Come, lie down here, I shall keep you warm under my blankets.”
“No, Grandma. Take my hand now, come with me. You shall be going home soon. Anytime now, really.”
“Oh, you mean …”
“Yes, Grandma, come leave with me now. You have done your part here, you should come rest and be with me.”
“But your mother shall be home soon. No one shall take care of her. I cannot leave her alone. She ….”
The old woman started to cry.
“Don’t cry, Grandma. Momma will be fine, she will have to learn to live by herself.”
“No, she can’t. She still needs me. She will get lonely, who knows what she will do next? She isn’t all that great with her life.”
“Oh, no. She has to learn that on her own. You have given her all the chances to do so. You told her that I was her last hope at being good at something and she did not want me. Remember how you asked her to keep me?”
“Yes. I do remember. I tried to save you. You know, I did. I called you Angel since I thought she would …”
“No, she didn’t, Grandma. Come now, hold my hand. I will help you up.”
The old woman smiled, took the child’s hand and breathed her last.
“Thank you, Grandma. I love you.”
Some notes before I present the next ones:
- If the previous set made you sad, it was unintentional. This is just a creative exercise.
- OK, so there are other topics. Cheery ones like (puke!) first love, but I only had one and I don’t want to write about it.
- My first love makes me sad. LOL! (Go figure!)
- Do you find this freaky? Again, this is just a creative exercise. If I run out of ideas, I will stop.
- Then start again, if and when I feel like it.
Which scene did you like from the first set? For some reason, I tend to forget the one entitled “The Checklist”. I don’t know why.
The first one in the first set seems to require some explanation on what happened. I thought “the big one” was common knowledge.
Here are two. The second one leaves you with something to think about.
Scene 6. The Fly
OK, old lady! What you doing looking at us? Haven’t seen flies doin’ it yet?
Yeah — yeah — this is how we do it? Fly-ly, I have not seen how you guys do it … am I missing much?
So, here it goes .. yes — yes — yes …
Old Lady: That’s what you get for overtime. Snicker – snicker – snicker.
Scene 7. The Request.
“Umbrellas — put your umbrellas here …. sorry, that’s the exit there. Yup, straight ahead. No need to open the door. You should know the drill by now”, the Doorman shouted. Looking at me, he said, “Oh, New One. Let me help you with your umbrella.”
“Do I get … “, I said, trying to think of the next word.
“A number?’ he smiled at me. “Oh, no. Your umbrella knows you. No need for numbers here. There is no number for the request line too. You know the joke here, right? Your number was up so … ?! Got it?”
The idiom is a joke here. They still speak English here.
“No, we don’t have a language here. I read your thoughts. Neat trick of the Doorman. Welcome to the Request Center.”
I was quiet.
“OK, not much of a talker and no thoughts up there either. Anyway, your Processor will step out of the Blue Request Room and you know when it’s your turn, OK? ”
I nodded and sat at the nearest available seat, very similar to the ones I saw at the ER when they brought me there — red with metal legs.
After what seems to be a few minutes (there are no clocks here, so I thought of minutes, more realistic than seconds and hours), my Processor was just there before me.
“Hello, New One! Let’s go our Blue Request Room for your One Big Question.” He led me there, waving a file folder.
In the room were two red chairs with a metal table in between. The scene looks vaguely familiar.
The Processor chuckled, “Yeah, I saw that movie, too. But we are here for the Big Question. Let me just read your file here ….”. He scanned a three-pager and said, “Hmmmm, interesting … oh, an accident. Too bad ….”. He then looked like he was mentally computing something and looked at me and said: “You got an AVERAGE Life Rating.”
“I don’t understand. What’s a Life Rating?” I said.
“You know that very well. Don’t say you don’t know how you did in Out There. So, you don’t agree with my evaluation? Anyway, in Out Here, we do not judge. You do that very well … well, Out There.”
“Well, that I understand. It cannot be avoided.”
“That’s OK, New One. Are you ready for the Big Question?” His eyes twinkled when he asked.
“I guess so. We seem to have nothing much to talk about. May I know what it is now?”
“ARE YOU READY? The question is : Do you want to go back to Out There?
I decided to be quiet. I needed a long time to think about it.
Out There. Again.
Bye for now. Busy here.
Scene 1. The Date
I don’t remember much before the lights went out … when the ceiling caved in … and the fall …
Wait … help me remember. Oh yes, you ordered chicken again … and wine … and asked the waiter what time they’d close shop.
Said that you had a surprise … and I was waiting the whole time. It was like forever ….
Then shortly before midnight, you kissed me and said, “Listen ….”. You paused, seemingly like you were waiting for the right time.
My eyes wandered over to the mirror behind you, just so you wouldn’t see how excited I was. I was there, just wating.
Still, you did not say anything but just smiled, looked around at the other guests. It was then that I noticed how pointy your right ear was.
Then, it happened. Everything was a frightful blur. Everything shook. They did say there was going to be a big one.
Help me remember the last few moments … there was just darkness. And that last embrace.
But you said nothing.
I am waiting, still.
Scene 2. The Ride
It was during that long, long trip back to the town where I was born, that we met. I was driving my car … listening to old songs in the radio.
And just like that, you were there. At the backseat of my car. Telling me to stop singing … to turn off the radio and to talk to you instead.
I adjusted the rear view mirror, to get a better look at you. I stared at you. This couldn’t be happening to me, my mind went.
And I saw you, mouthing “Oh, yes, it is. I am being creative today.”
Again, I thought to myself : “Oh, no. Death can’t be my rider.”
This time, you spoke: “Oh, yes, it’s me. As I’ve said I’m being creative today.”
“You do this all the time?”
And D (Feeling close to you this early, I gave you a nickname in my head. I felt scared and foolish at the same time.) smiled, “No. Just for today.” You sounded human. Or maybe it was a trick. So we’d go without much argument.
D continued: “You must be special. I don’t know. I was even given special instructions. Befriend him, make light talk. He can ask you one thing.”
“I am special. I can ask you one thing.”
“Will it hurt?”
“No. You are special, He said. I shall take you in your sleep.”
I heaved an audible sigh. D started singing my most favorite song in the whole wide world. Mama used to sing that to me.
I sang with him, crying and laughing at the same time — knowing that sometime later, I will be Home.
Scene 3. The Check List
Woke up early. Good!
Crisp white shirt. Gray slacks. 1 inch heels. Not bad!
No time from breakfast. Maybe later get a latte.
Change routine — walk to work instead of taking the bus. Good idea.
Ok … Check.
15 minutes ahead of sked. Great!
Keys in the pocket. Lock the door. Check.
Man, am I ready for this presentation. Check.
Smile at the cute barista. Will try to get his number tomorrow.
No today. No time!!!! Tomorrow. Listed —- with exclamation point for To Do List.
Oh my, here he comes. Leave in 5 minutes or you will be late.
I am late. Damn this stopping for a latte and a cute guy.
The operative word is cute.
Ok. Tomorrow? Again? Yes! Yes! Yes! …. now cross the street.
God, I forgot to look before I did.
Scene 4. The Visit
I hate the smell of flowers. I reminded my sister to let everyone know: Omit flowers. Give to my favorite charity.
Maaaaan —- I look bad. I have a bruise on my forehead … that must have been from the fall. The fall of no return.
Hahahahahaha! Not funny.
Oh, my. It’s my Suuuuuuuuuuuuuper Crush. Noooo, this can’t be happening to me.
I am so dead and he is here all cute and …. hey, whatcha doin’ here?
He’s crying … like WTF? Are you saying … hu-whaaaaat?
Too late. By the way, I hate the smell of flowers. Take them with you.
Scene 5. The Rain
I stood there. Could this be it? After death.
It’s raining here all the time. Well, it seems like it for the last. How long has it been?
It’s a good thing they gave us umbrellas.
“Excuse me, Sir. Hello?” No one was looking.
“Uhmmm, hello. You see, I am new here.” No one paid attention.
I sat down on the pavement — wet yet it felt dry. Amazing and yet I realized. Nothing much has changed.
I was ignored here. Just as I was, there.
The end. Pun intended.