About a flower boy

Sitting on a bench while waiting for the 10:00 am mass to end, I saw the frequent flower boy; the plastic-wrapped bundles of daffodils he was sheepishly cradling were the only sight of vibrancy on his grubby get-up. He must have been a boy of eight, oil-skinned and skinny, clad on a graying white shirt and red shorts painted with soot. He pallidly stood, his back against the postern, and waited for potential and empathetic buyers. But despite the direly pleading filth for a much-needed bath, his eyes were starkly clear and brimming of stoic luminosity. Hoping to better grasp the dull radiance of his windows, I stared at him but he did not meet my gaze. Instead, he was watching a family of four beside me.

The mother piously stood behind her children. Her eldest was sidled by his two younger brothers, relentlessly tugging for them to be hoisted in midair. It was a good kind of distracting to see how playful and close they were to each other. I looked back at the flower boy and he just gawked at them. I can tell he was not simply ogling on their immaculate garments and squeaking rubber shoes.  I pondered on what he might be thinking at that moment and as the words condensed from my mind, they threaten to precipitate from my eyes.

He would have wondered on having a brother; to have someone enthusiastically lift him up and ready his arms for the assured nest to fall. He would have marveled at the tingling echoes of their laughter as they play along, definitely deafening his whizzing stomach. He would have reminded himself on how comfort feels like, as this unfair penury had left him numb. He would have wished for a mother; not exactly knowing if he came into existence through one. He would have fantasized on how it was like to have a family or he will continue dreaming of it as he lulled to sleep on cold pavements…

 

I snapped out of my thoughts and recoiled to myself, “How could I complain?”

The Shop

I remember the first time I entered Lourd’s Lucky Sweet Shop. I was young and like other kids, chocolates were simply heaven to me. While father and I were on our way to the store, I asked him why we had to go there when grandfather was already making me chocolates. Father just replied that we had to know the taste. “For business’ sake,” he said. I didn’t understand him until now that I am the new owner of my family’s sweet shop – I waited for a lifetime for a customer to bustle the wind chimes in our shop.

Villagers and tourists come to and fro the store, carrying with them bags of rich and luscious chocolates –sprinkled with frosting, made more delectable with pistachios, cashews, raisins, and berries –ready to be undressed in its golden foil and melt lustfully in their mouths. An instant taste of pleasure is worth a dollar.

My teeth mated with the first piece of Lourd’s chocolate I had. It was not heaven that I felt –but a new world where my fantasy came true – Ariana. My admiration for her was the secret ingredient of the chocolates I create. I sent her a box every week to show her my sincerity until one day, eating the front page of the newspaper was the wedding picture of her and the man who stole the glorious days of my family’s chocolates.

A stranger might wonder on such publicity Mr. Lourd has been enjoying, even overshadowing the bewildering series of disappearances of young women in the town. But for the people of St. Wilshire, the arrival of Mr. Lourd was a new chapter in their lives as he provided them with jobs, food, and other necessities the government failed to do so.

However, Mr. Lourd is barely seen on the streets. His photograph with Ariana on the newspaper was one of the rare shots of him. He would rather dwell inside his shop to see the satisfied faces of his customers. My picture of him was still clear – deep, almond-shaped eyes with a crooked nose. His jawed face curtained by graying hair; his lips thin and voice hoarse. Judging by his looks, I would have been a better, more handsome husband and the sulkiness still lingers as I pass his shop everyday on my way to my store. One morning, I saw Mr. Lourd waving goodbye to a bunch of sweet-toothed children. To my delight, I caught a glimpse of Ariana from the window. Her beauty didn’t fade away but when she caught my eyes, my soul trembled on the terror reflecting her gaze.

Tonight, I decided free her from captivity of the man she never loved. True, Mr. Lourd’s chocolates were far better but he will never taste Ariana’s love I shall be the only one to consume. On my way, I passed by the old woman wailing for days in search of her daughter. Finally, I stood in front of Mr. Lourd’s Sweet Shop and devised the escape plan. I crept to the backdoor and decided to break the glass on the door but it was already ajar. I sneaked inside.

Hundreds of jars of chocolates welcomed me in the storage room. Burglars are fortunate tonight to steal Mr. Lourd’s creations. I fumbled inside until I grasped rising wooden steps that might lead me to Ariana’s room. Cautiously, I fled to the second storey where, to my humble surprise, Mr. Lourd makes his concoctions. There was a large fire place on the north; the fire crackling and illuminating my way. Bags of cocoa stood on the floor. Wooden tables are parallel to each other and I slithered in the middle, curious. The tables on the left were heavily laden by kitchen utensils: pots, pan, trays, sifters, measuring cups and spoons while on the other, there was none. I was about to look for another flight of stairs until I smelled something pungent.

Already nauseated, I tripped on the floor and some utensils followed my fall. Goosebumps rose and even chilled when before me, a knife with red spots shot my gazed. I immediately stood up and my vision was right. I wondered where it came from. Tomato juice?

I followed the cat inside of me and filled the curiosity. I lit the candle I fortunately found on one of the tables and its dark glow occupied the room. I found myself fidgeting in the large room only to be horrified of what I saw.

Beside the right lane of tables were the bodies of young, immovable women that the newspapers had been long looking for. They were still fully-clothed, except a girl whose blouse was unbuttoned were a deep, dark slash on her neck was carved. The table was not vacant as newly-created chocolates were waiting to be chilled. To get a grip of myself together, I took a piece and shove it in my mouth. It was then that I discovered the secret to Mr. Lourd’s chocolates.

It was still fresh.

Nausea finally gushed from my mouth. One of the bodies was cringing and as I slowly peered to its location, I cried in anguish as Ariana’s body shook, blood tainting her midnight clothes. She stared at me pleadingly, not to ask help but for me to run.

 

______

This story was inspired from the “Deep Dark Secrets” theme in the last issue of The Hub. Since most writers would opt to write about obsession, murder, gore, or any the likes, I choose to write about chocolates because I love dark chocolates — thus, the story. I hope you’ll like it. 🙂

Lessons after class

Next week, I am back to waking up early. Not for school but for the new ‘house’ I’m moving in to… the office. And before I’ll be officially one of the millions strutting along the concrete jungles of Makati, here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned during my unemployed days. My teacher? Who else but the so-called LIFE.

 

The world is unfair. This is an overstatement and it seemed selfish for me. For the past months, I felt that the world was against me because I still haven’t got THE job. It may seem overdramatic but you can’t blame a fresh graduate from feeling so. The feeling of getting left behind while your colleagues are finally saying yes to job offers… makes you bitter. I was, too. There are times that I am sullen and almost becoming hopeless. You unconsciously compare yourself towards others. You then, tend to question yourself, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ ‘How come I never get offers?’ When you get to hear a colleague finally having a job, you smile for them but at the end of the day, you get to ask, ‘What about me?’

 

Good things come to those who wait. My mom, who seems to be irritated when seeing me so down, calmly assured me that the right one will come. I just have to WAIT. At first, I felt that those words are just too easy to say because ‘waiting’ is a difficult task to perform. Human nature pulls us to the other side of waiting — to be impatient and rush things. But then I realized impatience will lead me nowhere and that I have to simply TRUST that something is finally on its way for me. (I hope you will too.)

 

Finding the perfect versus the right job. (adapted from a Yahoo! article) Once you get invites for job interviews and exams, you’ll have the tendency to be choosy if pursuing such company or industry will get you somewhere. Would I work for a small, medium, large, multinational, outsourcing, or domestic company? Day, mid, or night shift? Makati, Taguig, Ortigas, Quezon City? Below my minimum salary expectation? All these choices are mixed, matched, and packaged on the perfect and the right job.            

So what’s the difference between the two? Some would rather enter a company just for experience and later on move to another. On the other hand, some would stay and earn their tenure while others will just go with the flow on their career. But it’s important that in whatever job you’re getting into, make sure you really, really want the position and you can live every day of your life going to the office and doing your work.

 

Enjoy your unemployed days… you deserve the break! Rather than being remorseful of your situation, turn them into precious, memorable, and the numbered moments you’ll have before starting your work. It’s time to execute the long-delayed escapades. Hang out and catch up with friends. Bond with your family. School has many demands, including the time we could have spent with the people we love and on the activities we enjoy doing. Sixteen years of schooling just deserves a break before starting your career. It’s not wrong to be bum, but just make sure you’re doing your part in the job hunting process.

 

You can read helpful job hunting advices on: http://career-services.monster.com/yahooarticle/ten-jobsearch-mistakes-of-new-college-grads#WT.mc_n=yta_fpt_article_new_grad_job_search_mistakes.

When I look at the galaxy…

When I look at the galaxies on a clear night — when I look at the incredible brilliance of creation, and think that this is what God is like, then instead of feeling intimidated and diminished by it, I am enlarged — I rejoice that I am part of it.

From one of the greatest storytellers, Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle In Time). This quote always reminds me that we are part of something great, something BIG and never should we feel inferior and take pity of ourselves because God has laid His plans for us. I am part of his magnificent creation and I bring beauty in it in my own way.

Pag-iisang Dibdib (The Union)

Pag-iisang Dibdib

Ilang beses nang nag-krus ang landas ng mga kamay ng orasan. Patuloy ang paglipas ng mga minuto sa kabila ng pagkawala ni Leo Reyes.

Tulad ng kalawakan, hindi masukat at mabilang ang ilang beses na paghahanap sa kanya ng kaniyang pamilya sa loob ng isang taon. Sa bawat pagdaan ng bulalakaw sa kalangitan, ang tanging hiling nila ay makita ang nawawalang kapamilya.

Nabuhayan ng loob ang pamilya ni Leo nang malaman nilang nagbalik ang dati niyang kasintahang si Elsa. Isang taon din ang nagdaan nang maaksidente ang dalaga. Bakas sa kaniyang mukha ang tindi ng mga tinamong sugat at sakit dulot ng madugong bangungot.

Nadagdagan pa ang pasakit ni Elsa nang malaman niya mula kay Gng. Reyes na nawawala si Leo. Bagamat tutol kasi ito sa pagmamahalan nila, hindi pa rin nito napigilang itanong sa dalaga kung ano ang tunay na nangyari sa kanyang anak.

“Nasaan man siya ngayon, lagi siyang nasa puso ko.” ang tanging naging tugon ni Elsa sabay huminga ng malalim at napaluha. Pinatong niya ang kaniyang kanang kamay sa dibdib at naramdaman ang mabilis na pagtibok ng kaniyang puso.

Lingid sa kanilang kaalaman, ang pusong nagbibigay buhay sa kanya ay ang puso ni Leo.

*****

Pag-iisang Dibdib is my third short story and the first to be published in The Hub last 2010. I got inspired by the Korean video about a photographer who fell in love with a woman but she got into an accident that impaired her eyes. Months later she recovered with her new eyes only to meet again the photographer who can’t see anymore because he donated his eyes for her. I was moved by the story and tried making my own version. As for the characters, I got the name Elsa from an Eraserheads song, Torpe, which was revived into a rap by Gloc 9. I’m a big fan of Leonardo Di Caprio (for Leo) while Reyes since it’s a typical Filipino surname.

In search of a new reading

Every time I happen to be in a mall, I make it a point to visit the bookstore to check (of course), books. Slowly my eyes examine every title in the Bestsellers section, Classics, Sci-Fi, Thriller… (name your genre). Admittedly, I am an impulsive buyer of books. The last book I bought was the drama-suspense The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (We were just hanging out in a mall and we stepped inside the store. When we came out, I already had the book with me.) While my bibliographic cravings are yet to be satisfied once again, here’s what’s happening: I am in the verge of buying a book but my conscience always stops me. Why? Here are my reasons:

a. The book is pricy. Let’s admit it. Reading is an expensive hobby. That’s why only few people read books. True story.

b. The book is not worth it. People say that the inflow of something should be compensated by the monetary outflow. In the end, it’s all about money and the value you receive from it. I don’t want to be disappointed with something I bought. Unfortunately, it happened when I bought I Am Number Four and I swear I should have just watched the film than reading it because the storytelling did not match my reading level. I don’t want it to happen again.

c. The book can’t hurdle the standard of the previously read book. I may have been suffering from post-novel series, the inability to move on from a resident page to a foreign one. It’s like clinging too much on a storyline that has already ended. You refuse to close a book and open a new one. Instead, you keep on comparing even if you are not credible enough on your piece. Here’s what happened to me:

Like most Potter fans, I have grown with the characters of the book. J.K. Rowling inspired me to pursue my writing and not to give up living my imagination and creativity through words. After the series wrapped up, I thought that it would be over for me as well. I opened my eyes to new readings but they just can’t give me the same degree of impact Harry had left me. Later on, I exposed myself to a different genre offered by Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. I became more excited as I had gone deeper into Lisbeth Salander’s life. That’s also why I bought The Shadow of the Wind because it’s a rip-off of The Angel’s Game. From then on, I realized that the cure for this ‘sickness’ is ‘to stick to the series’. But I guess it’s not exactly a cure because it will just delay my search for the new book I’ll immerse myself into. (I told myself I’d buy The Hunger Games series but the future of it being played in the silver screen stops me.)

So, what now? While I plan on rereading my Finance books, I’ll still be looking for the next book of my life. I have some prospects and maybe on my next visit to the store, I’ll end up buying one. You may wonder why I talk about books this much. Let’s just say that if other girls fancy the beach, fashion, cute artists, and girly stuff, I’d rather stay in one corner with my book. Fair enough?

** You can comment your book suggestions. They are highly appreciated. 🙂

Detour

Detour

The heart is a defective traffic light,

confusing lovers with its ever changing

red,

yellow, and

green

projections.

Nevertheless, the traffic clog should end.

I have to move on.

 

So, I kick hard on the brake,

break my initial course,

step on the gas pedal

and make a U-turn –

to you, my alternative route.

 

 

*********

This poem was published in The Hub (2011), the literary-arts folio of the Commerce JournalThe story behind this poem? I was on my way home and it was raining cats and dogs. It was evening and the jeepney way stuck along the busy streets of Juan Luna and Tayuman. The raindrops and car lights seem to flicker the idea of this poem in my mind. As for the persona, the Editor-In-Chief at that time (Kuya Art) noted on how I was able to create a poem in a man’s perspective. I was not even aware of it, really. But then another writer once said that good writers have the canny ability to write something they have not yet even experienced.

This poem is just one of the few love poems I have made. I promised myself I won’t create another again (or will I.)

Detour is dedicated to the people who were ‘used’ as rebounds by the person they like. At some point in our lives, we may have been in that course but the journey is long enough. Sooner or later, we’ll find someone we might tailgate or better yet, park on that corner and enjoy life.