A GREETING TOO LATE
February 9, 2006 § Leave a comment
A short story i conceptualized a year or so ago, first time i ever wrote one as a matter of fact. and thanks to miss vivar on improving it by the way, cause i so suck when it comes to words. one day, im gonna make this into a short film, and all of you are gonna watch it, then all of you will cry, cause it’s so moving and shit like that! one day! one day! warning, this short story is long. ironic ain’t it?
Its not all fun and games you know, sometimes things just don’t work out the way it should be, the way we planned it to be. In reality, nothing seems to be what they are. I mean, who would have guessed that dark secrets are hidden in plain view, ready to consume you when you least expect it.
Take this story for example, It happened in this very university, disguised in green pants and checkered skirts, a tragedy that happened once upon a semester.
This story, my story, starts with the routine salutations the guards give me every time I walk in this university, “Ba’t alang patch yang polo mo?!” he asked me, again, in an expected tone. We’ve been doing this for the past 3 years. And this, may I add will only end up with me, walking around campus… still without a patch.
I am the average student kind’ a guy- in my institute’s standards. A common hard headed IARFA stud trying to advocate my own style amidst this school of green and gold fishes. I’m trying to shade my shadow a different hue- don’t hate me for that.
Heck. I’m just trying to express my self. I’m just putting into practice what they teach. But manong guard would not listen to that, or to any excuse. And I was right, once again; he confiscated my ID…for the, umm? Nth time. I never learn. Really.
All that has no effect on me anymore or any less. All of it is just a déjà vu, a record playing over and over and over again. And the next track of this record is the sound of the bell screaming its gears out begging the majority of the university’s studs to go to their classes on time.
But I have a better plan ahead. Nevertheless I can’t find them, what’s new, they’re late. I’m waiting for Ram and Claire, my two best friends in the whole wide world. Gay, i know.
We agreed meeting in the “nursing’s” pavilion thirty minutes ago… and they’re still not here, I have a class to attend to, and just when I was about to decide to show up in my class and do my nocturnal practice- sleeping during the day, I heard my name repeatedly shouted in unison. “NEMO” At last they arrive and only forty minutes late. Sigh.
The reason I waited was because Claire sent me a text message asking me if we could meet and I was intrigued. I was in a hurry, since I was close to an hour late for my 90-minute class, so I asked them why we met up earlier than the usual. “Ewan ko, nandito ka daw sabi ni Claire eh…” said Ram. I turned to Claire and she answered me with her usual- “wala lang”.
That conversation was going to nowhere, a place I’m fed up arriving at when the three of us chat. So, instead I asked another stupid question… “Bakit ngayon lang kayo?”
My mind spoke asking what was wrong with me. I asked a no-brainer question-Ram. He barely, and more often, never arrives on time. So I guess it must’ve rubbed on Claire. I can’t blame her; being with Ram for four years isn’t a joke.
Ram turned to me and said “Sorry pare ha? Si Claire kasi eh, ang harot harot!” immediately after, his cheeks were pinched by Claire, I smiled. She frowned with a “Ako pa ngayon ha!” line to accompany her torture for Ram.
He quickly apologized sweetly and jokingly. And it never fails. “Mukang alam ko na kung bakit kayo late” I said while exchanging winks with Ram. Claire flared up again, and I found myself holding my poor red cheeks laughing devilishly with ram.
“Pare wag ka na pumasok, sama ka nalang samin… minsan lang naman eh” Ram convinced “Miss na kita pare” he added laughing. This is Ram. What-happens-will-happen-and-the-heck-with-that kind’ a guy. He almost flunked our fourth year in highschool, which almost cost him the much awaited March graduation. That guy was everything but scared of what’s ahead. Nonetheless a great kuya-image…and persuader.
And sure enough, I retreated and went with them, without much convincing i might add. I guess I’ll never know what my professor lectured that day, what’s sure though is that it’s boring.
As soon as the three of us were at the freedom park, I lived the life I have always wanted. Having a chat about anything with the both of them, sitting around, eating and sleeping. It’s such a nice, nice day, its true friends makes a bad day into a worse one… I mean, to a better one.
I’ve known Ram since we were just little kids, running around the streets without our pants on. We’ve been really good friends right from the start. Ram and I are like twins and nothing could separate us. Well except… Except for this one time. The day when Claire came into our lives- the adhesive me and ram had… she removed in an instant.
We met Claire when we were still freshmen in college. She was a nursing student but loves everything about art, so she comes by our building often. She was as beautiful as she was smart. And the first time that Ram and I laid eyes on her, we were immediately head over heels attracted to her.
The friendship Ram and I shared were all flushed down to the drain. The friendship that took years to build seemed like it never happened. We we’re sneering, fighting, trying to out do one another in the hopes that Claire would fall for one of us. It got really ugly, and at one point it became tiresome and lonely. Ram was the only real friend i had. i just couldn’t let it like this, he’s like a brother to me, my own flesh and blood. I value him, I value our friendship, I realized what we were becoming. So, in the end, I gave up. I let him have her- for friendship. Well, it seems that she’s happier with him anyway. It was my ultimate sacrifice.
It was tough going through all that, and I think I’ve convinced myself that I’ve gotten over her… well, kinda. You see, it’s hard to just throw away a feeling like that, especially when it’s first time that you’ve felt it in your whole life, and it is, for me, with Claire.
But still, sometimes, i get to show Claire how i care for her and of course for Ram. You see, Ram isn’t as cheery as he might seem to be, he’s never serious about anything, except for one thing, his relationships. He’s such a suspicious guy when it comes to Claire, he hates every man that comes near her, even me sometimes. This, most often than not, leads to him, and her, fighting over petty things. Every time she and Ram gets into a fight, their usual and regular L.Qs, Claire runs to me for help.
But in the long run, the two of us grew close and developed a certain bond, a relationship of not being friends but not lovers… something in between, something we disguised as a sibling relationship. I know, it’s pathetic. But it’s better that, than nothing at all.
Two days later, Claire sent me another message, same as the one before. Asking if I could meet her at the freedom park. I tried to decline; I typed a three-paged reply, but I didn’t send it to her. I know it’s gonna be the same as before, with me ending up cutting my classes again. But why let myself fall for the same trick they played just two days ago? Well because my damsel waits. I cut my classes anyway and headed straight to her.
Everything was in suspended animation when I arrived, I saw Claire, sitting, crying under the second tree to where i was standing, without a Ram beside her.
When I regained my sense of time, I walked closer to where she was, my steps took a faster pace as if they want to catch the tears that are falling from her eyes.
Alas I was beside my fragile friend, I asked, “Asan si Ram? What did he do this time?” when just sobbed louder than before. I touched her face and leaned her head on my shoulder, and her ebony black eyes welled up. Her tears soaked my polo, but I didn’t mind, it’s all I could do at the moment.
After a few seconds of complete silence, no students chatting, no birds chirping, not even a janitor sweeping- it was just the two of us, one crying and the other consoling… in silence. I broke that stillness and I asked again what was wrong. She hesitated. I persuaded. And a few seconds more, she told me.
I didn’t know what to say or what to do. I was sorry for her but what I did next wasn’t even near to show her how sorry I was. I stood up. She looked at me… I took her head and embraced her tightly. I wanted her to feel safe; to feel loved… to feel that everything’s going to be alright. Though now, I know that only one thing is right for the three of us.
I caught a whiff of her hair as I kissed her head. My heart beated as it had before I gave her up, the one that beats her name over and over again. A crazy beat. Claire. Claire. Claire.
But my heartbeat stopped as an ice-cold stare hits my back. His piercing eyes went right through my guts. Everything was wrong, that night at the freedom park, Claire was crying, Ram was shocked and angry and me? Confused.
A few seconds after, I turned to see those eyes filled with hate and disgust, I wondered if he read what my eyes are telling him, asking him- to understand.
Claire took distance feeling the tension rapidly building up. The longest fifteen seconds of my life was cut by a sounding “Ram!”. Claire called out to him but he turned and walked away.
I told Claire I’ll go after him, that she should just relax. What a stupid thing to say. But it’s all i could say, I immediately ran after Ram. I caught up with him just before he steps in to a drinking den.
I wanted to explain, to tell him what was wrong, but just as I opened my mouth; he introduced his fist to my face. I heard him shout in anger “How could you do this to me pare?! Bakit ikaw pa?!” I can’t remember if I had already been lying on the pavement as he said that, but sure enough I fell on that cold cement.
When I finally remembered that I should stand up, he was already inside the bar. It’s no use. I should have concluded that a little earlier so I didn’t have to catch that punch. I walked back to see if Claire is any better, deciding to let Ram release the steam off, for now.
I was hoping that Claire was just alright, but i realized that how could she be. Stupid. As i returned, i saw her eyes, they were still as beautiful as ever, but I like it better without those pesky water dripping down her cheeks. I wanted her to stop… she was so vulnerable.
She was lost and it’s not me she needs but Ram, now more than ever. I sat beside her talked her into sobbing and eventually stopping. I told her we’d go to ram’s flat to explain. She agreed. Bad move. A very bad one.
At Ram’s house, we waited. We sat there, in silence. We waited and waited. She fell asleep on Ram’s bed. It already was 1 o’ clock in the morning as I sat beside her. I tried to stay awake… to out awaken the owls.
A little later I was feeling drowsy too. The moment I had closed my eyes, the door swung open. My eyes opened in surprise. It was Ram and he was drunk. He staggered for a while, and then his eyes fixed on mine. “Punyeta! Talaga bang iniinsulto mo ako! Gago ka talaga e no?!” he shouted, he barely made one word clear.
I opened my mouth, I wanted to defend my self, but I saw him take his eyes off me… moving to my sleeping maiden. “At dito pa kayo nagkuyangyangan! Putangina! Claire!” He continued screaming. He walked closer to Claire, good thing Claire was woken up with all the shouting.
I know he was going to hit her. I was sure. I held ram back, clutching his arms to his back. He turned around and hit me instead; he threw a straight punch to my face. I think he broke my nose.
I fought back, trying not to hit him hard. I just wanted to put sense to his drunken mind. We moved around the flat, bumping on everything. We broke his TV, the lampshade, the table. the three of us made fell and broke into pieces… next thing we know, we were in the kitchen.
I was able to push him back. He hit his back to the kitchen sink, he stared at me maliciously. I braced myself for his next move. I looked back to see if Claire was alright. She was still on the floor where we fell. Her ebony eyes were crying again… it widened- I felt Ram hit my stomach. It was a searing, sharp pain. I held on it… hoping it will go away if i did, but it was wet. I moved my hands to my face and I saw this crimson liquid dripping to my arms. I looked down, a knife handle was sticking out my stomach.
I looked at Ram, trying to will this moment from never happening. Ram was shocked too. I know he was. I know him, we’re friends. I looked at him, his eyes, teary. He can’t belive with what he had just done. I looked back dropping to my knees. I saw Claire, she fainted, I almost did too… I wish I did, but instead- I died
From what I heard up here, Ram couldn’t believe what he did. So, hours later, his name too, was written in the book of the dead, beside mine.
We were placed side by side, cause I know our folks knows how close we were to each other, that they thought that this was how we wanted it to be.
A semster and months later, Claire visited our marble prison. She stood in front of our sarcophagus and lit a lone a candle, placed some flowers beside it and kneeled. As beautiful as ever. She was cradling something in her arms, I knew exactly what it was, That was the big problem that caused all of this. That problem is now named Dan, a handsome young boy, just a few weeks old. He has his mother ‘s eyes, beautiful, dazzling, ebony. God, I certainly hope he doesn’t have his father’s temper.
She raised the baby’s face to hers, smiles, and said, “Dan, say hi to your Daddy… and to your uncle Nemo…”