Monday, March 30, 2009

Ang Pinaka-Machong Lalaki sa Publicis

by Patrick Michael Balo

Demonyo. Satanas. Hudas.
Iyan ang ilan sa mga bansag sa kanya ng mga tao sa Publicis.

Di kasi s’ya masyadong palangiti. Tsaka medyo matalim ang dila niya, lalo na ‘pag nagkamali ka sa briefing mo sa kanya., o di kaya’y tatanga-tanga ka sa shoot o sa brainstorming.

Tsaka malas mo na lang ‘pag nabuyo ka niyang gumawa ng katarantaduhan. Walang katapusan ang kantyaw at pununukso na aabutin mo. Paulit-ulit pa niyang isasambulat sa mundo ng Publicis ang kahunghangan mo.

At pag nahanapan ka n’ya ng ka-love team, ‘wag ka na lang papalag. Isipin mo na lang na bagyo s’ya. Mas mabuti pang magtago ka na lang at manalangin na matapos na ito. Pag lumaban ka, lalo ka lang liliparin ng hangin.

Pero sa team namin, iba ang bansag namin sa kanya.
Sir. Pogi. BossTsip.
Kaibigan. Katuwang. Ka-agapay.
Karamay sa lungkot. Kabatak sa gulo. Kaakbay sa tuwa.

Ang kanyang mga ideya ay mas matalim pa sa espada ng samurai, ang kanyang mga mata ay parang mata ni Picasso pag dating sa komposisyon, ang kanyang pagmamahal sa trabaho ay mas mainit pa sa nagbabagang bulalakaw.

Dahil sa kanya, naging mas matatag kami bilang grupo. Dahil sa kanya, naging mas malalim kami bilang creatives. Dahil sa kanya, mas naging mapagmalasakit kami bilang mga nilalang ng Diyos.

Demonyo. Satanas. Hudas.
Kabarkada. Karamay. Kaibigan.
Marvs de Leon. Mami-miss ka namin, ‘pre.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Subic, a plastic bag and hell on earth

Patrick Michael Balo

It was 3AM and I was in the middle of nowhere. I clutched the foot-an-a-half long branch closer to my chest and got into my car. The whispered howling of the wind through drying leaves filled my ears. As I grabbed the vial of holy water from the glove compartment, I pondered on the series of unfortunate events that led me to this moment.

Alexa, my fiancée, was supposed to leave for Subic on the 9pm Victory Liner trip because she had an event at 7am the next day. Unfortunately, her last meeting ended at 11:30pm, which meant she had not only missed the last trip of the day but that her professional reputation is now in jeopardy.

Unwilling to let something like that happen, I immediately came up with a solution that was guaranteed to earn me major pogi pints.

“Hatid na lang kita sa Subic.” I said.
“Ha? Sigurado ka?” she asked.
“Oo naman.” I declared.
“Wag na, mahihirapan ka pang bumalik eh” she demurred.
“Don’t worry about me, basta umabot ka lang sa event mo.” I said.

She gave me a smile and a hug and we were off.

By 12midnight, we were hurtling along the NLEX, blowing by trucks and SUV’s like they were standing still, fueled by desperation and Lipovitan. We took the turn to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) at 120kph and never looked back.

By 3am, my fiancée was safely ensconced in her hotel. I watered the car, drank another bottle of Lipovitan and started on the long journey back.

And then, it happened. About 5 minutes past the Dinalupihan exit, I noticed a strange movement on my dashboard. My temperature gauge went from normal to hot-as-hell in under 5 seconds and my engine sputtered like the Marlboro Man’s last nicotine-filled gasp before finally quitting on me.

I wrestled with the wheel, trying to maneuver myself to safety. Finally, the car stopped. When the dust settled, I found myself in what should be officially dubbed as the loneliest stretch of gray asphalt on God’s green earth.

I popped the hood and tried to medic my car back to life with life-giving water. It was then that I heard it.

What did you hear, you may ask.
Nothing, you say?
Nothing. Nothing at all.
There was no sound except for the whispering of the wind, no light except for that of the moon, no other living creature except me.
And the shadows of the night.

It was the longest 45minutes of my life. My radiator was like Mt. Vesuvius, spewing steam and hot water like there was no tomorrow. I tried to water it again, only to have my car spit it back to me in like it was the devil’s own saliva. I grabbed a stick, hoping it would turn into Panday’s sword the moment I was in danger. But it was no use. The night seemed to be closing in on me.

Finally, I gave up and reached out for help. I grabbed my phone and called my fiancée, pleading with her to call in the cavalry. Yes, the rescuer has now turned into the rescuee. Two minutes later, she called back, saying an SCTEX patrol was on their way. I thanked her profusely. There was nothing to do now but wait.

Which brings us back to this moment. Me in a car, with a dirty stick and a vial of holy water for protection. It would have to be enough.

20 minutes later, the SCTEX patrol arrived. I have never been so happy to see a police car in my life. They cheerfully popped open the hood and inspected the damage. And there it was. The culprit. The cause of all this trouble.

A plain white plastic bag had entwined itself around my radiator fan, causing it to slow down. The plastic bag was entwined so tightly around the fan that the policeman had to cut it with a knife to get it off. I guess a non-functioning radiator fan at 120kph is not a good thing, not at all.

And, to make things worse, my car still would not start. A towing service came to lighten my wallet and bring me to a 24hour repair shop.

By 6:30am, I was in Mabalacat, where a mechanic was trying to resuscitate my car. It turns out I needed a thingamajig (or whatever it was) to get my car functioning properly again. Naturally, shops that had that thingamajig opened at 8am. So I settled down to a Mabalacat breakfast of really spicy meat in tomato sauce and waited for this sleepy old town to wake up.

By 8:30am I was ready to go on my way again. With a heavy heart and a lighter wallet, I bid my new friends adieu.

I arrived in Makati at 11:30am. I thought about taking a leave for the day when I received a text message from my teammate.

“Pre, saan ka na? May meeting tayo!” the text message said.

I groaned…and went to take a bath. It was going to be a long, long day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Off She Goes…

by Kaye

One of my favorite stories of hers was the one about the night she came home drunk. My mom recalls her holding on to the staircase for dear life, dragging herself up one stair at a time while wailing, “I’ll never drink again!” My mom was torn between laughing and being truly mad. I laughed my head off when I heard. That was two years ago, it earned her the nickname “Tipsy” from her now-kuya.

In a few months, she will graduate from high school. A few months after that, she will do what I didn’t and go to college abroad (“abroad” here meaning, “not in the Philippines”… because if you get technical about it, she does already live abroad with the rest of my family). That means more months away. Farther away than I was, not as easy to go to. Who will tell me more funny rite-of-passage stories about her? Facebook?

Yes, Aneka is 18 and will go off to college soon. It’s making even the most nonchalant of sisters (ie. me) sentimental. I already missed the majority of the last 10 years, and now I will miss even more. Be that as it may, I am proud that she has reached her first major goal – she worked her ass off in school for this.

So in May, we will be in the audience as she accepts her high school diploma in Jakarta. Then in August, while holding back sentimental tears (must-be-nonchalant!), say bye as she leaves this side of the world to go to college in the States.

I will miss the crazy, lovable mofo.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It was time to prove himself.

by Mondo

It was time to prove himself.

Righty wanted to prove that he can be brighter than Lefty. So, with all his might, he shone in brilliance. It was beautiful. It was magnificent. He felt ecstatic. Lefty got worried because it was too much. But righty didn't want to stop. He couldn't. Why would he now that he's brighter. No stopping now. He was so radiant, time would seem to slow down wanting to witness the gleaming beauty that righty was emitting. Lefty looked dull beside him. Perhaps pale. He was worried. He was scared. Righty pushed himself more. Until his glass body couldn't take the energy anymore. It was too much and it was too late. He cracked and bursted into shards of glass. The room dimmed. It was all afterglow for a moment.


Now righty is broken.

Insides exposed.

But he lives.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I almost forgot about My First Love.

by Lieza

I could pretty much attest to the fact that it is hard to raise an old man—my Father, in this case.

These past few months, my Dad has become intolerable. Every morning at 6:30 AM, I’ll hear him knock on my door, open it and say, “PAPASOK KA BA?!” and leaves the door open. Sometimes, at 5AM, he’ll visit me in my room and talk to me, expecting that I’m already up and damn attentive: “Grabe, si Cez Drilon! Nakidnap! Kilala mo yung anak ni Franklin Drilon diba?”

EVERY DAMN MORNING! He never gets tired. If only I could press the stop button.

Everyday I get at least 3 texts from him. The first one, probably around 12:30 in the afternoon, telling me how tired he is from cleaning the house or from doing something else, the second, around 3PM reminding me of either avoiding some route due to traffic and flood or a text reminding me to pick up my two other sisters from work. The last one, would either be, “what time ka?” or “Uwi ka ba?” Some days I get lucky with bonus texts like, “Don’t drink and drive. If you drive, don’t drink” or “Where are you? Who’s with you?” or some updates on our 45-year old neighbor who has a wife and kids, who turned out to be gay (secretly dating our water supply boy—but that’s a different story).

EVERY DAY! He never gets tired. He never runs out of pre-paid load.

On weekends, especially on a Sunday, my Dad would basically pull my siblings and I out of bed. See, he likes to see us “busy.” Ate Elyss, the oldest, would suck up and do some cleaning in the sala, Ate Eiselle would cook up breakfast or lunch, and I on the other hand just wait for whatever utos my Dad and Mom would think of.

I would rant about this madness to my sisters, my officemates, and my friends whenever it gets a little too irritating. But then again, I somehow understood why he began to be like that. My Dad didn’t want us to grow old—he knew we would grow up one day, just not this fast.

There’s this one moment that I clearly remember, back when I was still 5. I woke up from a bad dream, and so I woke up my Dad. He didn’t ask why I was awake; instead he just scooped me up and carried me through his arms. He sang a lullaby and swayed me until I fell asleep.

I remember at that same age how he would ask me to dance and put me on top of the table and sing “tira tira pak pak pak!” while clapping with glee (note: picture it when I was five, not 24).

Everyday until College he brought me to school, attended most of the PTA meetings, made sure I had enough money, and made sure I was always safe. Taught me how to drive, accompanies me in LTO whenever there’s a need to renew my license, and the best thing? I get to get my way out from a traffic violation in Makati whenever I tell them who my father is.

Some nights he’ll visit me in my room and check if I locked the windows, he’ll rub my forehead and tries his best not to wake me up.

Sometimes during dinner, he’ll tell me how to take care of the car, to always lock the doors, and never talk to suspicious-looking people. He’d always say, “Kung wala na kasi ako.”

My Dad is 63 years old, and aside from his enlarged heart, he has prostate cancer.

Our family is a happy one—I mean literally. We joke about anything. It’s not that we didn’t take his sickness seriously when we first found out about it--whenever I look at him, he doesn’t seem to be in pain or even be bothered by it. It’s just that, maybe, we didn’t want to dwell on it…yet.

Kung wala na ko rings in my head like I have a deadline to catch. It means no more reminders, no more do-you-know-my-tough-Dad, no more lullabies, no more I love you anak.

The other night, he went inside my room and thought I was already asleep. He rubbed by forehead, and whispered, “I love you anak.” As if on cue, a tear from my left eye dropped the moment he closed the door.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I Tried Not to Cry

by Charmaine M. Campañer

Day 1-2. My dog MIMI painfully gave birth to six puppies. I witnessed how each of the puppies died one by one during the course of reviving their mom, leaving me with just one pup, GENESIS. I prayed. I tried not to cry.

Day 3. While Mimi and Genesis were recuperating and under extreme care, my sister CHAT who had been living with me for twenty-six years left to permanently live in Florida. I prayed. I tried not to cry.

Day 4. While adjusting to Chat’s absence, I rushed my grandma MOMMY to the hospital due to difficulty of breathing. I thought we could go home after the emergency check-up but we were not allowed to leave. I took care of her alone as I was the only one available at that time. I prayed. I tried not to cry.

Day 5. While no one’s home, heavy rains caused major flood penetrating our ancestral home resulting to major damage. Someone who blocked the major drainage of the community caused the flood. I didn’t want to list down our loss as I prayed and tried not to cry.

Day 6. No one can replace me in the hospital because everyone’s fixing the damaged house. I tried not to cry as I decided to enjoy my time with Mommy for she loves to tell stories. I didn’t mind wiping poops in between my meals. I didn’t mind being awake all night for I enjoy our talks. Talking and singing with Mommy enriched and refreshed me. Around 1pm, Mommy suddenly experienced extreme pain but was able to overcome it. I held her hand as I always do but she could not understand me. She was hallucinating. She kept on removing the oxygen and dextrose tubes. She was not cooperating with me nor with the doctors treating her, causing more damage to her system. The doctors had to put a tube on her nose for food. I felt I was tired. I prayed. I tried not to cry.

Day 7. I miss my husband DENNIS. I miss my daughter TRISHA. I CRIED. And I was comforted as I prayed. I remember Job when he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I will depart. The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away, and may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Room 324

by Erika

I used to live alone alone at Blanco Center. It was this half a century-old (seemed like) residential condo in the heart of Salcedo Village. I worked at an office buidling a 7-minute walk away.

I had to work late for a particular project. So i went home at 4 am, took a quick shower and dived into bed.

I woke up at 7am to take a leak. It felt surreal as if it had just rained inside the room. As I was about to get back to bed, a dark hazy vignette began to close in on my eyes. My head felt light and cold. My hands & knees were heavy. I tried to reach for the couch, any soft landing, then BANG! My head hit the sharp edge of bathroom door. I crashed to the floor, face down. My last memory was of my hand trying to reach for the empty bed.

I woke up with my cheeks on the cold tiles. It was 1:30 in the afternoon. My forehead and right cheek were throbbing. I had huge bruises, circles of blue and yellow. I called the office that I was coming in half day.

I came to work the day after though. I was still a bit dazed. Staring at the computer I thought, what if I had not awaken at all? Would the neighbors smell my decaying body? Or dismiss the stench as just one of the many reeking through it's cracked walls? I remembered how the room smelled when I first inspected it before moving in. It was sour. Like an old man waiting for death. I had thought about urban legends of people dying alone, locked in their houses. The stench would get so potent that neighbors would have to force the door open only to discover unidentifiable remains. Or crimes of passion wherein a woman was killed and buried within the cement walls of her house. Or closer to home, like dying of fatigue doing overtime work. Bah. I should get more sleep.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Restroom Fiction

by Abi

It was the usual second floor bathroom –same leaky faucets and (unflushed) toilets, same Manang also, by the door as always, supplying the unarmed student with bluebooks, junk food and sanitary napkins. Same doors that won’t lock, same clogged bowls of waste and whatnot. By the mirror, a row of colegialas bury their faces underneath layers of make-up as if the next beauty pageant will begin any minute, while pretending like the smell of the lunch aftermath was not in the air. I noticed, that the usual angry squiggles on the ceramic walls are becoming more evident now.

The fact is that no matter how ridiculous the vandalisms may appear, a story will always be behind them (or so I would like to think, as I sometimes amuse myself by reading the cheap entertainment off the wall.) I would wonder about what would motivate a certain Miss Petra (not her real name) to amuse her fellow washroom users by writing:

here I sit / broken-hearted; / tried to shit / but only farted

I don’t know. Perhaps I’ve spent much a great deal of my time watching how people behave in this place. How many times have I skimmed through rows of endless cussing, to end them each with a new name, always unsigned. Sometimes there’d be hearts pierced with a name, looking like a high school crush hangover. “I crush you, Jordan!” would be a common thing amidst the sea of Paolos, of Jeffs and yes, this room’s hall of famer, a certain Amboy from MBB. I would be lucky to find entire scripts, from the most random things (“Ang buhay ay isang arinola..”) to entire dialogues on virginity, or politics.

Funny thing though, as it turns out to be one of the rather sad stories I’ve imagined – when you came all of a sudden and wrote poetry instead of usual gabble, that instead of writing “Ang mag-vandalize dito ay fanget”, you began with:

“Love comes to the dry soul like rain to a parched land…”

It looked odd, stood out from among the other scribbles – it was, on its own an oasis in a desert; a Popsicle on a hot summer’s day.

“Inlab ka ba ineng?” someone wrote next to your verse. For a while I had a break from the usual cuss words and imagined a story slowly unraveling itself on the ladies room bathroom. I especially liked the extended version of “If I were the clothes on his body, I shall weep every time he undresses, like it were my death…” And just the same, you came in day after day, writing poetry, or letters – and your face would look as though you have just heard the first joke on earth.

Save for one day.

“For the season of drought has brought nothing, Save the past outbursts of the storm, A torrent of bitter tears Cursing the ground…”

Indeed, it was a drought. It was the last I’ve heard from you.

I can think, perhaps, that you have simply ran out of permanent markers and felt-tip pens, or just a short episode of writers block rearing to you its ugly head. Maybe you have found a more convenient bathroom to deface. Or maybe, your words are no longer constrained to the wall, I can imagine you finally whispering them to the ears of a boy, and on both your faces, that same smile…

But I seriously need to work on being a better optimist.

I still keep amusing myself reading off the vandalisms. In all my years seeing the same second floor bathroom, watching it deteriorate into a dull gray, I remember being witness to countless lives unfold, simply by looking at the writings on the wall - even the most vulgar scribbles must have had some inspiration behind it, I constantly remind myself. Year after year, some janitor would scrub them off, paint over them - over and over and over. Some however, are much harder to forget than the others. Strange talk. Cuss words. Conversations. Euphemisms. Poetry. All I can do is watch. And wait.
And hope.

For that’s who I am, the silent arbiter. I stand watch to these short-lived outbursts of human honesty.

And you thought I was just a wall.

Encrypted File 102354

by tirabarook

Journal 18-3
August 8, 2453 a.d (Earth time)


I'm lost in space, in this silent yet annoying universe and I smell really bad. It’s been 3 days since I have taken a bath. All these stars i'm seeing, seems to be laughing at me, laughing at my misfortunes. I was supposed to help my planet from those scumbags, but now i'm lost in nothingness.

I am a complete failure. I was supposed to drop a hydragonite bomb to destroy that planet of Eonix. But as I was to enter their gravitational field, 5 fighter jets tried to disable me. One got lucky, and now i'm lost with little amount of food. What’s the use of my 7 years in applied physics and aeronautics, if I cant even able to dodge those scumbags? I guess they're just better species.

I miss my family... this invasion on my planet that's been going for 4 years now; I just hope it ends soon.

Journal 18-4
September 7, 2453 a.d (Earth time)

I’m seeing this great white horizon across this dark universe. For centuries, scientist believe that the universe is infinite, that it's continuously expanding... well I guess I prove them wrong.

It may take me one more earth week to get to that white horizon.

Journal 18-5
September 16, 2453 a.d (Earth time)

Its more than an earth week now, and the white horizon is getting bigger and bigger. Here, on my cockpit, the view is all white, I don’t know if I’m just getting crazier or I’m going to be blind, or this is the great white light most of those 'near-death experience people' are talking about... or probably this is just really the end of the universe.

I don’t know. Shit

If that white light is indeed the end, please make it soon, can’t take this hunger anymore.

Journal 18-6
September 17, 2453 a.d (Earth time)

I’m so stunned to where am I right nowwwww//||@@||\\ = FILE ERROR======================

The Price of Happiness

by Chris Martin

Despite its cliche name, I won't be talking much about how to attain true happiness and whatnot (well, I hope so).

I really wondered what happened to the 500 peso bill I had two days ago. One moment I had the luxury that could rival any lord or king on earth, the next moment, its as if a twisted turn of divinity, all that’s left is enough to feed some of the little digestive monsters inside. And then it hit me, only 6 pesos left. Three 1 peso coins, eight 25 cents, and some 10’s and 5 cents that I’m pretty sure makes up 1 peso just by looking. It’s already past lunch as I walked back to the office. Along the corporate titan called a ‘shopping mall,’ I went along as I ritually do, glancing around the stores and shops that has almost everything… I do not need. I pulled out my coin purse and took what’s left, trying to see if there’s possibly anything to eat with what I have. But unfortunately, the cheapest thing you could buy are the 10 peso ice cream cones from the local fast food joint.

I wonder sometimes if there’s a store where people sell things that you really need. Things like freedom or melancholy, anger or happiness. I even wonder what they would look like if they are actually being sold. Would they be in small bottles, each having a different color than the other. Or would they be sold in a more literal (or perhaps freaky) sense? Would ‘freedom’ embody the head of a dead national hero served on a silver platter, or maybe a cooked dove on which you can eat it to achieve its potency (Lord have mercy on them). Would ‘anguish’ be as simple as a late night television soap opera, or show itself in our world as the god of death himself? Now that would be an interesting bargain. ‘Anger’? I guess my former best friend would be the best thing to represent that (long story); but what about happiness then?

I started to become more conscious whenever I looked around the shops. Most of them sell ‘happiness’ for 1000 pesos, ecstasy (another form of happiness I suppose) for 300 (sometimes even 50, it really depends on the quality or brand that you want. But in the end, it’s how comfortable or how good you’d look in them that matters). Sadly enough, this kind of happiness or ecstasy lasts for only a few moments, years if you get a little lucky. There are some forms of ‘happiness’ that sells for about 70, a ‘value meal’ most would say, with little toys for the kids. None of them could actually give real happiness (or to be frank, none of them costs 6 bucks).

It was after work, I walked back home, it was fairly near (well at least to my understanding). A realization struck me like a bolt of lightning on a lightning rod. It was my mother’s birthday. I was a few blocks before I reach our place and quite far from the nearest mall. Other than that, I remembered I only have 6 left. I looked around checking out for a ‘sari sari store’ (no idea how you call that in english), as I was about to go to one, the sudden smell of fried peanuts drew me to a cart a few paces away.

She liked peanuts. When I was a kid, she always bought some home for the family to plunge in during the afternoons. Its smell was intoxicating (up to the point annoying). But the taste and texture just gives off an out of this world experience to the tongue. Every piece heating up the taste buds just right.

One small pack costs 6, so I bought some.

I arrived home a few minutes later with my mom was cooking fried ‘chicken’. Without putting down my shoulder bag, I walked to her and gave her the small gift. She smiled that sunshine smile of hers as she took it. She was radiating a surreal yet comforting glow. Even though at her age, time didn’t turn its hands on her, she was as pretty as a 20- year-old girl. ‘You’re so sweet,’ she said as she moved in to give me a hug, which felt frankly awkward yet heartwarming. I didn’t hug back, I don’t know why; but she knew that I was somehow hugging back; a hug that cut through time and space. I never knew a pack of peanuts would go this far.

After that, everything went back to normal. Or that’s what I thought. I sat down on the living room couch and turned on the television for some afternoon cartoons. But in some way, some how, I can still feel the hug she gave me.

Almost 2 years have already gone by, and still she couldn’t stop mentioning the friend peanuts I gave her. With that same radiating smile of hers, she tells the story of it to my little brother over and over as if it just happened an hour ago.

Never thought 6 pesos would go a long way, 2 years to be exact. I guess you can buy complex ideas after all. This one’s called ‘Happiness’.


by Carrie

Shadow was the name of our late Golden Retriever, taken from the name of the dog in the movie Homeward Bound. She was the “lesser” daughter of a champion breed owned by my friend, Jemboy. Shadow had a defect – a very long tongue she couldn’t keep in. It perpetually hung outside of her mouth and we would always bring a small wet towel with us whenever we would walk her so we could wipe the dirt off her tongue.

Shadow was a big dog and it was part of my weekend ritual to give her a bath. She always knew when it was time and when she sees me with her bath stuff kit, she would bark and wag her tail like crazy. She would put her head on my shoulders as I shampoo away. Either that or her two front paws. I always end up as soaked as she is, with dog hair all over me.

Two years ago, Shadow passed away. It was the day after my mom’s birthday. My mom and I were in my room chatting (can’t remember why she was there at 6 am on a drizzly Sunday morning) when our helper came in and told me to please check on Shadow because she wasn’t moving.

Shadow died in her sleep. They said it was a heart attack. Everyone was crying. Our neighbor rushed over, alarmed, thinking the worst. When she found out what happened, she could only stare speechless at all of us (you know how barrio folks are, a dog’s death is just that – a dog, dead. She couldn’t comprehend what the big sad deal was). Mom insisted to have her (Shadow, not the neighbor) buried at our back yard. And she stayed on until she was laid to her final rest and her grave covered. We placed flowers on top of the grave and lighted two candles.

Lunch was a sad meal. The drizzle turned to a downpour so I went out to take the candles and what I saw made me stop in surprise. I could feel goose bumps spreading from the top of my head to my entire body. The two cats that would always share Shadow’s meals (and most times would sleep beside her) were lying on top of his grave and they were making this sound, like they were crying. I tried to shoo them away but they just gave me this trademark cat look (they turned their heads, looked at me and then looked away dismissively) – if they could talk, they would have said “Can you please leave us alone? Can’t you see we’re in grief?”

Cats don’t like getting wet. But Shadow had been nice, tolerant and accommodating to them. Maybe, they could feel she was gone. Maybe, it was their way of paying their last respect – by enduring the rain.

The cats stayed until late afternoon. On top of the grave. They kept vigil for their beloved friend. And from that time on, my cat alienation has softened a bit. These cats, they have a heart after all.

When the Spirit Moved Me

by Carrie

11 pm. Just got home from a long workday. All I wanted was to take a shower then hit the sack and rest my weary body. My Ex decided to sleep over (it was too late to drive home) and we had to do a toss coin on who goes to the bathroom first. We were in the room across my friend’s (with whom I was sharing this up and down old apartment in Kamagong). And when I saw her light was still on, I knocked and said hello. She got up, opened the door and asked why I was still wearing office clothes. Told her we just got home. She looked surprised. Said she heard us talking earlier. Much earlier. I didn’t pay much attention to it. Said good night and went down for a shower.

Fast forward. Lights out. I was jolted awake by a strong floral scent. The motion was similar to what one does with a cotton ball soaked in ammonia. I sat up. Sniffed the side table, sniffed the pillows and blanket, sniffed my ex. I tried to dismiss it as a dream and lied back down. By this time I could feel goose bumps. I remembered what my psychic friend said that there are two spirits in the house – a couple from the 1800s – and they stay in my room. I tried to sleep. Then there it was again. Only it was stronger. I shook my ex awake and told him about it. He went through the motions of turning the pillows and sniffing around the room and under the bed. No floral scent anywhere.

I didn’t want to sleep in the room after that. We took the extra mattress, gathered pillows and blankets, and went down to sleep in the living room.

I woke to the smell of coffee brewing. As I sat down and stretched, my friend asked why we slept downstairs. My ex mumbled, half awake: “the spirit moved her.”