To Time a World’s Etude; For Stagnance of Being

Several months have passed since my last post in this blog. And I have no reason for this cease save for my being a procrastinating bitch.

I can honestly say, that thought I have long started my novel, I have not made any progress whatsoever even after summer classes are over, and have been stuck at the meagre chapter 5 of my story, with the prologue still roughly written and needing polishing to fit the rest novel since it was made at an odd happenstance.

It’s not that it was written in first person when I needed it to be in third person. It’s just that it… It sounds different. The writing style of it is chopped. Fragmented. Like flashes of random images on a projector. And while this totally works since the prologue is about the protagonist’s reappearing vague dream, its voice just doesn’t fit the constant sudden oscillations of the overall oceanic influxes of the main narrative. Instead of being composed of a watery-like tone, the prologue is composed more of light, blinking. Lightning. Car lights racing off the distance. Cityscape advertisements reflected on the rough mirror of black asphalt after rain.

I know what you’re thinking. But isn’t that better? You get to show off your easily adaptable writing style. I guess so. But the thing is, I’m not all for showmanship. If I want to show off, I can just write other different pieces on the fly with a Stephen King’s voice, or Patrick Ness’s or Neil Gaiman’s. It’s easy for me to adapt writing styles, and I’m sure a couple of writers that have a similar skill can sympathize. The thing is, it just won’t sound cohesive and connected with the rest of the story, and it feels more as if it’s just an excerpt of another story and not a part of the current piece being written. And no one wants an inconsistent novel.

As for the rest of the story, why I got significantly stuck with chapter 5, it’s not because I don’t know what specific scenario I should write next, but more like how should I write the next scenario while still staying true to the overall voice of the narrative? Maybe I read too much books in this interlude that I’ve strayed from it?

Well, surprise-surprise. I haven’t been reading actually, or drawing, which used to be my vent and past time, now faintly echoing in my iced hands in a form of a phantom itch. I’ve suddenly stopped painting too, and here I thought I wanted to try acrylics next after learning watercolour. The chords of my guitar rusting from un-use and the keys of my piano dusting from inactivity.

I’ve finally graduated by the way. After my summer classes, my diploma is now available for release. And ever since she heard the news, my mother’s been pushing me to find a job but I just can’t find the determination to become a useful citizen for the country yet. I’ve been having this quiet yearning for my friends and at the same time, not wanting to see them in fear of opening my mouth to talk. And when that happens, what will I talk about? My crippling writer’s block? My novel that’s going nowhere? My unemployment and dependency burden status to the government?

I have not done anything productive for the past couple of weeks that even I’ve admitted to myself that maybe this strange numbing body paralysis is actually a result of subtle depression creeping in slowly from the dark corners, waiting for my mind to take its guard down and attack at the right moment.

I’ve been counting the things that ticks me off in my room: the wrong wall colour, the slanting ceiling, the huge cabinet mum placed in here for her stuff and her stuff only, her empty shoe boxes, my too-small desk, too-small cork board, thin wooden walls, the claustrophobic arrangement of my room. All of which elicits constant internal screaming and urge to punch and kick the low ceilings and cry from the pressure that the one place I should feel most comfort and privacy in is the most hellish uncomfortable cell I’ve never had the pleasure of sleeping and staying in.

It’s just a matter of preference, really. And no matter how much I downgrade my high-maintenance creative juice, I still find myself wishing to have never agreed living here despite the house and lot itself being quite costly. And I know I should be grateful that I have my own room while most of my peers are sharing beds with their siblings for lack of space, but really. It’s not that I’m not happy for this gift. But more like having that gift blasphemed by the giver herself as if it’s still hers when she already gave it to you for safekeeping. And in the end, you wonder why you even received such a gift when most of the time it’s not even in your hands but in the giver’s.

And I don’t’ like that. I don’t like the fact that people act like they own my stuff when they just borrowed it. Well yeah, I guess I should  just be thankful that I’ve been bought such a gift, but the argument repeats itself yet again. Why give it to me when you’re the one who’ll be using it most of the time? What ‘s the point?

Many times I tried to go back to our previous home, but I have no place there any more because it’s now populated with my relatives and cousins who need it more than I do. I’d be more of a burden there than I am here in my current house.

I find myself always lost. Unrooted. Floating. Falling. My feet excitedly walk out with no destination, only to return back heavy-hearted to the cramped room that forcefully encloses my imagination.

Now that I’ve mentioned it, this room was also where my constant headache started. A dull pain in my forehead that no sleep can ever remove. In all honesty, if I didn’t have dreams and aspirations, I would’ve gladly committed suicide just to be rid of this cumbersome lifestyle.

You can tell, right? How selfish I am. Well, I am. I was always taking care of my open mind, always doing what’s best for it, unspooling every tangled thread of thought so that it won’t clutter. But now that it’s constantly being crushed by this headache for four years, I’m not surprised that I’m starting to loose my colour. My enthusiasm to continue living is fading, my determination to keep aspiring for my dreams withering ever so slightly by each day that passes. It’s getting harder to be happy when you’re not constantly getting what you want, always giving way to others in good heart, delaying gratification, further greying your existence in the process.

I don’t know. Mum said they plan to renovate the house, even asking me what I wanted for it. Being the immaterialistic child I am known, I only requested for the walls to be made concrete instead of wood, because the noise of the TV in their bedroom and my step-grandma’s are too loud. Then I asked what they want to do with the house. In between I nonchalantly ask if they plan to raise the ceiling, and she said it would cost thousands, but they can if they save enough. Just hoping it would actually come true.

I’m just really tired of them making plans and then telling me about it at the last minute, or a plan that’s been set for days now only to be cancelled by the last minute. It’s so disheartening, and it somehow affects my trust with them. How so unreliable they are. How disappointing they are.

Right now I must be blabbing nonsense just to post something. Disconnected paragraphs of thought stitched clumsily with a wrong colour of thread.

It’s just that lately, the more I put pressure on myself to finish my writing, the more I become frozen, debilitated, hesitant of continuing it. My mind became a loud radio without a dial to tune in to other stations, and it becomes louder the more I feel pressured. I just want it to stop, because I can’t sleep properly with it constantly talking to me.

I just want to rest for a while. To stop. I want to not do anything, to wake up, and stare at the ceiling for hours. To not eat when I’m hungry, to eat when I feel full. I want to sit with a good book and wear for myself the words and the worlds in paper. I want to envelop myself with the unreality of my existence. I want to distort the universe with my impurities, my curiosity, my innocence. I want them to show me the death of creation, the hurtling doom of everything’s implosion.

I want to be bathed in the singing warmth of the vacuumed nothingness, warped in the absoluteness of omnipotent illusions that illuminates the majestic mortality of my inhuman humanness.

from The Artidote

artwork by Lili Racz (from The Artidote)

Advertisements

A Writer’s Psychoneurosis and Her Sporadic Logic Towards Blogs

Maybe I should be apologizing for not posting daily or, at least, frequently when I should, but then again, should I still keep posting when no one’s even following me right now?

Well, for one, I did just made this blog because I felt pressured to put myself on a platform in the eyes of the world first before I proudly (and maybe a bit vainly) proclaim myself to be an official writer. I mean, I do understand the logic of it that if you do proclaim yourself a writer, you’ve got to show evidence. But as a very sporadic person, I feel as though that pressure is heavier than it should, and having a schedule to write something about myself everyday while dealing with college homework and research… Well, let’s just say I like to cram too much that I forget my priorities ’till the last minute. 😛

Anyways, the point is, I have writer’s block. There. You have me. And I’m really not the kind of person that keeps journals, that’s why I’ve warned you last time that I may write too randomly with a bit of an essay-ish tone because I tend (and like) to spiel about things I couldn’t talk about with others everyday in real life. Having said that, yes, this venture is a bit self-fulfilling, and maybe because of that my posts may not sound very orderly or ‘journal-ly’, but still, maybe this kind of unconventional blogging may actually be my ticket to success?

Hahahahahahahahaha! Who am I kidding? The reason why I only put this little personal yet not-so-personal space up in the internet is because a certain famous book guide to becoming a writer told me that nowadays, readers want a personal connection with their stars, and the more personal stuff I plot out in the open, the more people are gonna like and support me and my works (see The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published). But, just like any starting writer with a cocoon mentality, I am struggling with that.

Especially when I just started to know how to open up in a little less than 4 years ago thanks my very diligent and dedicated friends in college, I was never really a fan of this ‘opening up’. I don’t like to reveal myself so readily until I’ve thoroughly sorted out what and what not to reveal to the public. I’ve always read in various book guides that I should always keep a journal in handy because you never know when inspiration will strike you to write, and a diary might also help you from exploding due to bottled imaginativeness. Well yeah, I guess to an untamed and compulsive artist that might work, but I still beg to differ.

First of all, as an unnecessarily logical and irrelevantly practical person, my logic does not permit me to write very intimately, and every thought and word written and spoken into existence is calculated and evaluated with much pertinacity that less than half of them leave my lips and fingers. I find myself always thinking, my mind always whirring in full-throttle when I am faced with a situation involving interactions with human beings or even them as mere spectators to my actions (also why I tire myself out without doing anything in a crowded place). I’m always modifying myself to fit the frames of their conscious and unconscious expectations so that I may be generally accepted by the public.

Well, no, I’m not trying to be a hypocrite or a faker, but being a psychology major, you’ll get what I mean. There’s a reason why psych majors are regarded as the most flexible and adaptable beings in our college, and it’s mostly because we judge you (not really in a good or bad way though, but more of a neutral, unintentional, doctor-like kind of way) by your words and actions so that we may approximately guess what things may or may not tick you off. Thus, we can act accordingly to your convenience. And that’s what kind of made me like psychology, because I was already (you can even say ‘genetically’) wired to think that way, and I just wanted to know how (not ‘why’, because we all know that science can’t always answer that question) I’ve become this way.

So, journalling? My answer is ‘no’. I mean, what’s the point of writing things about myself that no one will ever read? And why would I create such a brimming weak point or treasure chest for certain malicious elements to target upon with such ease? And how can I write a biased entry about a certain topic when I’m not that biased in the first space?

Though nowadays, I’ve been entertaining the Westernized thinking of not giving a fuck, so I guess now you could say that that logic may have been diminished to a certain understandable level (thus, enabling me to overcome my anxieties about blogging). But I’m still afraid of ‘flaunting’ too much about myself. People might think I’m self-centred when in reality I’m just trying to put enough good content on my posts to be good enough to the readers. And yes, I am and will be as honest as shit about that.

Second is my schedule. Currently I have summer classes, and, despite my subjects being just minors, they are very demanding and always have some kind of work to take home almost every day. Living independently from my parents also takes a toll from my time since I need to do the necessary household chores myself or else I’ll run out of plates to eat on or clothes to wear the next day. It’s a good thing I live with my working cousins, so I can just pass the cooking to them since all I can ever cook are ready-to-fry foods (which are not quite healthy for a young and budding adult such as myself).

Also, I’m not good with schedules because I can never really follow them even if I tried. Sometimes it can be the reason why I procrastinated, because me and my passive-rebellious nature are looking for just about any restrictions I’ve applied on myself and shatter it to bits with guilty pleasure. Well, as a passive, self-inflicting person would say, it is easier to rebel against oneself than to rebel against others. The point is, I don’t like being caged or tied down. Maybe because I’ve been whipped to shape so much by my strict mum back then that the overwhelming curiosity of bending the rules has finally ended me in this disposition. Though I don’t know how I should feel about that.

And last but not the least, I am a perfectionist. And just like any other perfectionists, I like to torment myself for being not good enough when perfection, like beauty and art, is quite subjective. Yes, I am aware of human subjectivity, but I still struggle to tear myself off that insanely enslaving tick to check and clean and polish everything, and this is probably why my cousins constantly point out my ‘sluggishness’ in washing dishes and clothes and arranging stuff, because I like to be thorough and sure that I’ve soaped and utilized every nook and cranny before moving on to my next victim.

I don’t write a check list of things I need to do or buy or correct, but rather, they’re just neatly fastened in my brain. It’s not that I’m too lazy to list them into reality, but it’s just my way of keeping my memory sharp and ready all the time. Or maybe I’m just really really anxious that my obsession of keeping countless check lists relating to various matters in my life from the ingredients I need to buy for tonight’s dinner up to my plan when I grow old with or without children will scare the fuck out of everyone. I like to think of the many circumstances and possibilities about the future that I tend to unconsciously disconnect from reality while walking down the street or even while conversing with someone, yet still be able to maintain the same outward composure.

So to relate my perfectionism to my chagrin in keeping a blog, I revise too much. So much that I keep too many unfinished drafts and never be able to post them because I think they suck balls. WordPress keeps count of the number of revises in a post, and they always exceed that 25+ status even on my unposted drafts. I always recite my works in my head as if I’m reading them aloud, and if anything, and I mean anything, sounds a bit off, that’s a strike off the revision counter again.

But, because I like to procrastinate and laze around and anxietize on almost everything, I tend to just ditch the whole thing and let blogging sit for awhile until I feel like writing for it again because I keep coming up short on my stories/almost-novels. I revise and think too much on writing my posts that I exhaust myself enough to think about quitting it altogether.

I know this is a bad habit of mine, that’s why I have a lot of stories pending and unfinished artworks and half-read books on my lists, but I do want this to change. I do want this to work out, that’s why I still post shit even though I’m so inconsistent and unreliable and self-degrading about it. I want to finish something, even if it’s just a mere post like this, because I’ve been so deprived of that feeling of gratification that I don’t know how to make myself feel that way again.

That’s why I’ll try my best to make this work, so these small bites of satisfaction from posting here might build me enough courage to actually finish reading a whole book again, down to the copyright page, or complete an artwork with proper inking and colouring, or at most, turn a pending story of mine into a legit full-fledged novel, ready for publishing. And yeah, I get that a lot of writers fail because they focused more on journalling than actually writing stuff, but I have my own reasons too why I’ve tried this thing that’s my last resort in breaking my writer’s block.

I want to become what I dreamed to be, and I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve my dream, even if it means trying the conventional.

from berlin-artparasites

painting by Chloe Early (from berlin-artparasites)

 

A Quite Late and Not-So-Much-of-An-Introduction Introduction

I’m not graduating.

So well, yeah, I guess I lied being a fresh graduate on my description, but that doesn’t mean I’ll spend another semester in college! Just until this summer. Yeah, until summer only. Hopefully.

In my place, classes start in June and end in March, whether be preschool, high school, or even post-grad school. We have three vacations: a two-week sem break that starts mid-October to early November, a Christmas vacation from mid-December ending in early January, and the most-awaited summer vacation starting after the end of a school year in April first week up to the start of the rainy season and another school year in mid-June. Though lately, especially in the top 4 prestigious schools of our country, we’ve started adapting a more Americanized academic schedule. I guess the only reason everyone is anxious about this change is because in May, we hold a lot of festivals for our saints and heroes, celebrations of village specialities and origins, etc. And adapting the American calendar of schooling meant bulldozing through those centuries-old traditions, which will probably lead to a more Americanized thinking and the extinction of local beliefs and culture.

So that aside, when one reads summer class, that means you’ll be redeeming yourself of your past mistakes and failures. Literally. If you failed a subject that holds you back a sem, you take it in summer class. In my case, I have two minors to clear. And I know you must be wondering why I didn’t take it last summer, right? One answer: Laziness. Yes, I was too lazy to take summer class. I mean, who’d want to study all by yourself when the rest of your friends and batch mates are on vacation? Yeah, and now I paid the price by not graduating. Curiously, I’m not the least bit regretful about it. Don’t ask why, I don’t know either. I tend to feel inappropriate feelings most of the time, and I don’t really bang my skull on the wall any more asking why I don’t feel like everyone else.

Of course, a change in the academic calendar also has its advantages. In a year, our place gets hit by typhoons an average of 30. Meaning in a month, we get two to three typhoons traipsing through our lands. Floods are a natural occurrence to us, especially in the big cities because of the poor drainage system our government seems to be too stupid to notice. Landslides are the same because, yet again, everyone seems to wonder why this happens all the time when they don’t even make any moves on strictly stopping illegal logging and mining operated by the Chinese syndicates. Death is a dear friend and unless you live in the heavily-guarded posh residential districts, here the week is never over until someone in your neighbourhood dies out of drugs or dispute. Strangely, suicide is a rare event here, and its mortality rate only rises when the media sensationalises one.

In a nutshell, our educational system’s debate on changing the academic calendar is basically just republicans versus democrats.

———-

If you already think I live in the ghetto, then maybe you should re-evaluate that because you must be thinking my whole country is a freaking ghetto. Well I won’t argue with that. That is generally true, in a way. So, have you guessed what country I’m from? You don’t have to spill it though, because even I, its own proud citizen, has a bit of shame when I mention my origins. I’m also doing this out of neutrality, so in the comments (IF I ever get comments… *insert crying happy face here*) there’ll be no “Yeah! I’m so proud to be ********!”. Haha, I bet you thought of a curse word there when you saw the censors… *lol face right here*

First off, I live in a tropical country. Yeah, in those hot countries near the equator with perpetually tanned people white people so very much adore. Sorry, I have a slight racism because of my mum’s bad influence. Though I promise I’m not one of those crazy nazi-like fanatics who wants everyone to burn because they’re not their race. Don’t worry, my level of racism will depend on how racist you are to me or everyone.

Uhm, let’s just say I’m one of those cynical people that goes, “They’re racists, so why can’t we be racists too?” You get me, right? I mean, let’s be honest here. No one’s a complete non-racist. Even if you say you aren’t, don’t lie that you don’t have a bit of assumption when you see four-eyed Asian kids, black swag masters, and arrogant white businessmen because of the media’s mass hypnosis. You just happen to be good at hiding these thoughts because you don’t openly talk about them to anyone. People even lie just to fit in, which is quite pitiful of them. I do hope you aren’t one of them.

So let’s just also say that I’m not going to be one of those well-mannered goody-two shoes when it comes to my writing (though I do act like one in real life). There’s a study that shows the more homophobic a person is, the more likely they’ll become homosexuals themselves, and I think that also goes for hypocrites and racists. The more anti-racist and anti-hypocrite one is, the more they are likely to become or be one. So you can assume I’m working on this principle when I write my entries.

———-

I’m almost 20, but I still feel that I’m not ready rebel to yet. In truth, I haven’t really rebelled against anyone before (including parents). But after all the angst and betrayal and fallacy of the teenage banality, one tends to get worn down so much that you just don’t want to speak any more because, for sure, another word out of your mouth will only mean you’re asking for more trouble. And that’s kinda what happened to me.

The silence is rewarding though. It was my sanctuary before my parents and I moved in another place when I started college. Along with my writing and drawing and love of music, my own head is the only haven I get to have in this world. Well, yeah, when we moved I finally got my own room, but is it really mine when inside there are stuff like stacks of plastic boxes and shoe boxes and a cabinet full of mum’s things, and the ceiling slants too much it eats too much space to stand in and the walls aren’t even the shade of orange I like much to my chagrin? No. When the walls are paper-thin you can hear the loud TV of your deaf grandmother on one side and your parents having sex on the other, you might as well just break the walls because it’s probably better that way than faking non-existent courtesies on privacy in the first place.

So where do I get my silence lately? I don’t. And that’s why I’m not in my usual kind and genteel demeanour nowadays because, and I know you know the feeling, I’m not getting what I want. I’m not in my element, I don’t have time for my endeavours and I certainly don’t have time to unwind myself from all the stress and hassle and negativity of this world.

It’s so bottled up inside me that, if the law doesn’t exist any more, I’d bite the throat off the next person I see and scoop out their eyeballs and put it in their mouth and fist their asses and pull out their innards and wrap their bodies with them and perforate them with a chair or something even if they’re someone I treasure the most. Reading this, I should now warn you that in my following posts, you’d probably read me cussing my way to heaven-knows-where.

———-

Also, the word racism has a broader meaning in my dictionary. Because I’m too lazy to thoroughly research on different terms regarding many subjects, I’m just going to assume that it means any belief or doctrine that inherent differences among various racial, religious, educational, and cultural groups determine individual achievement, either with or without the premise superiority or inferiority amongst them.

So you might read me using the word in different, often sensitive topics, and you might also read me using other words that should only be used within a certain theme in a different one; but you see, I’m not really the kind to restrict myself with such rules that won’t get me jailed if I break them.

For example, “Belligerence”. Belligerence is the act of war-like hostility, a kind of violent aggression in conflicts. But when you read, “Everyday Belligerence”, what does that mean? Do I always pick a fight with everyone or go berserk at the slightest irk? Not so much. It’s still aggression in a way, yes, but more toned down. Like everyday you do something that’s out of the norm, whether be small or big, that will get you raised eyebrows and mixed opinions from strangers and even friends alike. Like going against a particular social decorum as an act of rebellion. A “belligerence“. So yeah, I guess I’m a rebel in my own little ways. If you read the dictionary though, belligerence does sound exaggerated compared to mine. Or rather, maybe I’m just not using the word properly.

Well tough luck for you, love, because English isn’t my first language. I don’t have the racial obligation to know thy language damn good because I’m not even freaking English! HA.

So I guess you can forgive my belligerence and lack of tact for today? 😛

———-

And as a thank you for putting up with me and my train-wreck of a multi-subjected essay, here’s a random doodle of mine: “Skinny Fuck”~ ❤

"Skinny Fuck"

The Final Graduation of Their Lives

Seeing my friends up there on the stage made me happily hollow.

It was both emotionally draining and satisfying. I was happy for them, so much that I unintentionally gave away more than half of my energy reserved for the day. I became so happy that I emptied myself of the feeling. It was like seeing my happiness sever completely from me, and become the dancing sparkles in the eyes of my friends, like famous actors from another shore, so very entertaining and beyond my reach.

Maybe I should be sadder than this, or maybe I shouldn’t have attended the event, because at the end of the day, after all the hugs and kisses and commemorative photos, I found myself walking alone the road I always tread after class. Not a single backward glance, a call, or a ‘thank you for coming’ text, from the closest people that I just gave most of my happiness to. Like it was just another day, just another event to attend, and it was indeed as hundreds of more schools conducted their commencement exercises that very same day.

But I was not. Yes, I was exhausted, numb, and hollow, but I was still happy. Like being void, but none of the heaviness and depression. I felt strangely light and satisfied from becoming empty. Like the swaying wind, I was a happy nothing.

I guess that only reminded me that in the longest run of our lives, you’ll be the only one crossing the finish line. Friends and family may be cheering you on by the sidelines, but they couldn’t run with you, couldn’t take your place instead; couldn’t feel what it’s like to run your race.

Well, yeah, maybe I should be more bitter and sour than what I am now, but what can being bitter and sour really do to you in a race? I wasn’t the kind to take such a serious event seriously, and sometimes vice versa. I always tend to look for the goodest meaning of everything, and even if it’s just plain absurd, it still means something. My friends can attest to that.

God must be telling me something, but all I can hear are the echoes of His distant voice, and not a single word registers in my ears. And that’s okay for me. I’ll hum my own tune as I go, and just knowing that He’s there, and all the people that shoved themselves in to fill my vacuous life, all the people that took a part of myself in a positive or negative way, the first or last time, I know everything’s going to be all right.

Alone or with everyone, a step is still a step. And I can honestly tell that I feel all in the world is right and good. 🙂

Their final graduation

Spectrum Drive

I was rushing. It was raining. My blasted Japanese boss kept phoning me, yapping on and on about this year’s big project. He’s a perfectionist. He’s so perfect it’s annoying. And I’m not the kind who does well with someone always looking over my shoulder.

I wasn’t surprised he kept sending back my designs for rechecking. I made around 11 legit gas plant designs, and all of them got rejected. And I couldn’t understand what he wanted to do because of the damn language barrier. He was like: “No, no! This, no good! Need more methane pipes. Too long. Make this, harder.” I imagined him pointing at my crappy draft flashed on his screen, while on the other end of the line I was thinking of… something completely unrelated and stupid. He’s in Japan anyway, so he’ll never know, right? Unless he’s a mind reader. Hopefully not.

When I reach the main lobby, it’s already midnight. The two guards chatting by the reception desk glance at me, then back to tomorrow’s Basketball Championships. Apparently, it’s endangered of being postponed because of the typhoon tonight. The lens of the CCTV glower red.

The tinted glass doors slide open, and a blast of cold, wet wind greets me too excitedly. The rain screams at me as I step out. My brain immediately searches for a cab in the terminal far across. There, a singular white silhouette with blinking hazard lights at the very front. What luck.

Looking from left to right, I run across the almost-deserted business avenue, my backpack a meager shield from the rain. I could barely look up beyond my feet. I read the cab’s plate number painted on the side before reaching for the handle. The door clops open, and I shove my skinny but first into the back seat then close it. I look onto the driver’s seat. It’s empty. I sigh. I just want to go home.

I think of waiting for a bus instead, but then I couldn’t bear the thought of facing that deathly downpour again. Maybe the driver just jingled elsewhere. I decide to wait for him. I take off my bag, when my elbow nudges on something. I look to my left, and a curled-up little girl is staring right at me.

“What in the…?” I couldn’t finish my sentence. I’m paralyzed. My brain couldn’t process what my eyes are seeing. A rumble of a bus engine zooms past, the headlights swaying the shadows in the cab. The tip of a knife glints crimson between her knees and chest, then I realize she’s naked.

Her silver eyes are wide open, and a cascade of blonde hair flows down to her buttocks. I notice the color of my arms are far darker compared to her skin. And the angles of her face… she’s definitely a foreigner.

I’m about to say something, when the young foreigner brings a finger to her lips, and “Shush.” I shut my mouth.

A dark figure suddenly appears by the driver’s door, one hand in his pocket and the other fumbling on the handle. It opens, and another pair of foreign eyes peers at me. They flash a violent expression, his other hand pulling out a gun, when the girl leaps, brings the knife to his neck, and swipes it back up.

Blood splatters on the driver’s seat. The dark figure clasps his open neck with a free hand. He brings out his gun-wielding hand on his chin, only to pull the trigger, lodging the bullet deep into his brain. The deafening rainstorm muffles the gunshot to oblivion. He falls on the sidewalk, a pitiful accident suicide.

Blonde murderess girl transfers up front as quick as a cat, takes the dead guy’s gun and keys. She kicks his head out and closes the door. She straps herself, puts the gun between her thighs and starts the car. She pulls the hand brake, pushes to second gear and steps on the gas, the back wheel rolling over the poor dead guy’s skull. I think I heard a horrid crack of bone underneath.

“What’s your name?” she starts shortly after. Her words don’t register quickly. I’m still shaken by the events that just happened. Did that really just happen? I couldn’t tell. My mind’s still stuck in office brooding over my next design fail.

“My name is Celah,” Blondie girl starts again, this time, slowly. “What is your name?”

I’m staring at her from the back seat. Her accent doesn’t sound American. Maybe she’s from Scandinavia or something, I don’t know. Her naked lower body sits on a dead guy’s blood, the red soaking into her long, ashy hair. I look at the rear-view mirror, and she’s looking at me. I imagine her small bare feet barely touching the pedals. I say my name.

She smirks. “That’s a very old-fashioned name, mister.”

“We’re very traditional.”

“I noticed.” She says, as she slowly grinds to a halt, minding the stoplight. “Filipinos have very close family ties. It sometimes annoys me.”

“How come?”

“I couldn’t bear taking care of my old nagging mother and minding my idiot siblings. I can’t imagine living in a house I bought myself with them inside it.”

The familiar intersection feels so alien. The big screen outside flashes a new car model advertisement. I find it blinding for some reason.

“How old are you?”

Silver eyes look at me in the mirror. “How old are you?” She smiles.

I honestly couldn’t tell. By the way she spoke, she seems older. But her voice, her stature, her body; it says another. Maybe it’s just the night playing tricks with my mind. I remember a weather report forecasting a blood moon tonight. Full moon makes normal people feel crazy and crazy people feel crazier. Is this the effect of it?

The sudden pull of the engine snaps me back. She turns left to main road.

“You’re quite the asker, mister. I think you forget your position here. You just witnessed a gruesome murder.” Her eyes turn sharp in the reflection, and I turn the blurred window. There was fog forming on the corners. There’s no vehicles outside at this hour. A woman is walking with a red umbrella outside by the row of different car showrooms. She is alone.

I try to impose a long silence after that. I don’t like where the conversation is going. I don’t like where this whole trip is going. But her stare is piercing and ungodly; eyes of a sinner. Suddenly it doesn’t matter what she looks like. Maybe she really is older, and the longer this silence continues, longer I’d be kept here without a doubt. There’s no lights open in local orphanage, the asyIum behind it looming ever so constantly. “I’ve seen worse.”

I sneak a peek at her expression. She’s now trained on the road. I couldn’t see half her face on the mirror, and the dark makes it worse. “Really? Like what?” She’s so devoid of anything I couldn’t help but feel anger. Why is she prying anyway? What’s she got to do with my past? How could she say that without thinking how I’d feel? A thought passes my mind that maybe-

Then soon enough it just as quickly subsides into numbness. This is useless. I’m such an easy target.

“My house was robbed. I was robbed of my wife and daughter.”

My voice sounds detached, far removed from my being. I close my eyes. Bursts of blood on the floor. On the bed. The open drawers. The bodies of two twisted and contorted, like blasphemous art.

I open my eyes. I sold a house long ago.

“I see.” The way she dismisses the matter somewhat relieves me.

The car takes a familiar turn down a minor street, and I know we’re going to my house. I don’t say anything.

“I bet you had a beautiful house, once,” she comments.

“It’s not beautiful if it attracted flies.”

She giggles at the mirror. There must be something in poor countries that makes everything a twisted irony. I couldn’t help but smile either. We’re nearing my house.

The car stops in front of a run-down apartment. The skanky owner is still awake, her silhouette illuminated against the thin curtains by the shallow teledramas she watches.

I scoot over to the back of the driver’s seat to open the door, when I kick on a severed leg on the carpets, piled with all other body parts of its owner.

“Don’t worry, the stains won’t stick long. And make sure you scrub it with body soap so there’s no blacklight trace.”

I jump out of the car. The rain’s just a mere drizzle now. Sometimes I regret getting a shrink after the incident. Now I’m just dull and jaded, desensitized from everything.

“Don’t thank me.” Murderess foreigner girl smiles. “It’s not my car anyway.”

I glance wayside. “Okay.” Everything looks so unreal; the cab, the shrill voice, the innocence and violence, sitting on a bloodstained seat of another man’s car.

“I like you. You should call us sometime.” She looks down at my crotch. It feels extremely uncomfortable when a child looks at you down below. I slight my stance a bit, and she laughs.

“Goodbye, mister.”

I shut the door and the car rolls away.

I look down, brooding over the night’s events. I had no idea how she knew where I lived. Or how she seemingly knows about me. Maybe I’m being monitored. Maybe what I thought was right. Maybe she really was-

Then I notice a white corner poking out of my pocket, and pull it to reveal a blank card. A phone number scrawls itself in pencil on the surface, and nothing more. It seems like a phone number of another country, though I don’t know which.

The rain has stopped. Clouds swirl at the corners of the sky, and I know I’m at the eye of the storm. The sparkle of stars are dulled by the blood moon, dyeing everything like a special spotlight just for me. My watch ticks a quarter before one. It’s already tomorrow.

I still can’t get over the fact that I’m going to work only to get another 13 plant designs rejected.

 

Big screen flashes advertisements

(Adventures in Spectrum Drive, #1)