Visit – A Short Story of Small Suspensions

The streets were beginning to smell of barbecue by the time I got out. It is the familiar smell of coal-cooked everything I associated with the markets of my home, and I held on to its comforts. I need all the comfort I can get.
It was not particularly hard to get a trike at this point, although I was hard-pressed to find one that will take me to the precise place I had specified. In the end I chose a more palatable corner to get off at, a spot that wouldn’t be hard to walk from.

This place smelled of spoiled spillage and hopeless dogs, with some sulfur thrown in. I grit my teeth and pressed on; I had no choice.

The house is patchwork-tall, with scrapyard wood holding up stolen concrete blocks – I can tell because they are broken and mis-matched.

The door—if you can call it that – is made of cardboard and curtain. I nevertheless knocked.

She answered the door. We studied each other’s necks, unwilling to face each other.

“Mama,” I began.

She cut me off. “If you start with pleasantries, Isyang, I will slap you as hard as I done when you were fifteen.” Without another word, she retreated further into the house. It was the way she always used to invite me in. I stepped over a short wall that protected her home from flooding, sidestepping Sandwich the dog’s enthusiastic welcome. It wouldn’t do me any good to be distracted by the sweet little Chihuahua mix mongrel.

There’s no avoiding it now. I took a deep breath.

“Mama, come live with me. Stay with me, where it’s safe.”

My mother said nothing for a long time. She busied herself with pouring water and opening a packet of soda crackers. She slapped at deflated throwpillows on the hard wooden bench that served as her couch. She made me wait while she changed into less sweaty clothes. Then she responded as I had expected her to. “No.”

I clenched my fists at the hem of my shirt. “There’s no need to stay here! I have a job and an apartment in a decent neighborhood. You don’t need to worry about rats like your so-called landlord, and you can have food you like! I don’t understand…” I choked. “Why can’t I take care of you?”

Her mouth pressed into a hard, unforgiving line. “Because you pity me, Isyang.”

I said nothing.

She finally looked straight into my eyes. “If there is nothing else…”

“I have to go,” I responded.

She nodded and finished her glass of water. As I was stepping out, she stopped me. Wordlessly, she handed Sandwich over.

When I got back to my street, the dog and I shared barbecued intestines and crispy-fried chicken skin.

I held him close as I walked through my own door, painted a pale blue and modest white, into my spartan apartment.
I still smell the sulfur. I gave Sandwich a bath and instantly felt better.

Writing: Above

This post is based on a prompt shared on the comments section of my Writing Challenge Recap post – because I couldn’t stop thinking of it, no matter how much it scared me.

Prompt: “What was up there? Think of an interesting ceiling you once stared at and thought about. Write about you staring…and what it was that caused you to stare.”

Above

Eye death
(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

There’s an eye on the ceiling right above my bed – which happens to be the top bunk of a double-decker bed. In daylight, I could see nothing of that oddity but a small row of pale gray lashes fanning out into the corner. At night, however…

It watches me. I know because watch it right back, tracing the marbled lines on its whites, studying the exact shade of its irises as it falls into the pupils like water. We just stare at each other, that eye and I; sometimes, I wonder if either of us even blink in the presence of the other. It’s been six months since I first noticed it, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it close before the sun comes up. Meanwhile, I always greet the mornings with dry, sandy eyes.

Why am I only writing about this now? I…don’t know. Maybe it’s because I had this crazy idea that when I start writing about it, then I’ll be forcing myself to think about it. And when I think about it, I’ll have to start asking questions I don’t really want to answer.

Questions like: Why do we watch each other?

It’s not that it’s particularly beautiful. It looks like a regular eye. It’s the size of a regular eye, and doesn’t even have one of those interesting colors – it’s brown. A plain, muddy brown. And I’m no vision either – at least not at that time of the night, when I’ve just dragged myself through a twenty-hour work day. My eyes are red-rimmed, and gray-purple-ringed by that point, and I’m sure I do a very good impression of a fresh (but only slightly) corpse. I don’t know what it finds so interesting about me, and I’m not sure what I find so fascinating about it. Maybe I just find it…familiar.

So, if I don’t want questions answered, then why am I writing this and sharing this with you? Well. It’s because there’s ONE question I want answered.

Three hours ago, at around noon, the eye opened and started dripping tears on my mattress. It’s blinking rapidly, moving its pupil from side to side. I’m not on the bed. I’m sitting at the doorway to the room, trying not to look at it. It hasn’t stopped. My brother called the plumber, complaining about the leak; he couldn’t see the eye, couldn’t smell the salt. I can’t move. I don’t know if it can see me. But I know it can feel me. I sure as hell can feel it. It makes me want to turn my head. I feel like I won’t be able to breathe if I don’t.

Just now, the eye started to open wider – it’s as if its corners are being torn open by a violent force. From MY eye’s corner, I can see the iris rolling around violently, like a roulette wheel. What was once brown is turning scarlet. Within the next few minutes, I know that it will catch my eyes. I don’t know if it will ever close again, or if it will ever let me look away.

What I want to ask, is this: will you let me watch you from the corners of your room?

The Plans and Other Random Pimping

Whoops, this was supposed to go live sometime yesterday – except I forgot to press the “schedule button”.  That being said, I think it’s a little lucky that it happened that way – I can add a few more things to this post.  So without further delay…

It’s April, and that basically means a few things:

  • I have a new task goal at work, which means I will be extra busy again
  • I really have to work on that Apocalypse short story if I want to reach the deadline (at the end of the month)
  • I also have to seriously tinker with that poem if I want to at least honor Poetry Writing Month
  • Which means that I’ll be posting less on this blog and doing less blog reading (because I’ll be putting more hours into writing for both my job and my “literary” pursuits)

So I do apologize if there are comments that don’t get answered in the meantime, or it seems like I’ve dropped off the face of the earth.  That being said, I’ll try to post at least once or twice a week here, and catch up with blog reading some other times.

But before I go, I’m going to shamelessly pimp Literary Wonderland – that beautiful official site is finally up!  Now, as some of you may have figured out based on that one post about my nephew’s birthday, I’m really into getting people of all ages to read.  Given that Bryon Cahill, the awesome person running the LW site, has extensive experience in creating literature for the young and the young at heart, it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m really excited about this great new website. 🙂  I insist that you guys check it out (and if you like it, subscribe via the blog).

So I’m off to face April!  I hope you guys have a productive April too. 😀

What Are You Working on Right Now?

I’ve had a lot of time to think lately, if only because it’s near the end of the month/quarter at work and that generally means that I have the fortune of having a fairly relaxed schedule.  And what I realized is that I’ve got a LOT of writing plans this year.  Among other things:

  • I’m working on what you might call a gaslamp fantasy novel (it MIGHT become a series somewhere down the road); I’m plotting it out right now and wondering if I should start writing it now or wait for NaNoWriMo.
  • I’m trying to improve my poetry, and (I am warning you right now) I’m contemplating participating in NaPoWriMo.  It’s probably ill-advised that I try it, but I can try.
  • At the same time, I’m tinkering with a short story idea for and end of the world anthology here in the Philippines.  Basically involving a love story and a library.
  • I realize I’m in way over my head, considering I have a day job (which I love so very much).
  • At which point, I barely resist crying because I want to do EVERYTHING I PLANNED, on time.
Written in Blood
I haven’t written anything yet and the paper’s ALREADY bloodied.

With that done, I’ve re-prioritized my goals based on urgency (advice of my poetically-inclined friend P).  So basically, I’m putting emphasis on that apocalypse story (because that one actually has a deadline) and celebrating NaPoWriMo by revising the one poem I posted so far in this blog.  Save for the one or two last tweaks I’m doing in the plotting of the novel, which I can finish in about two hours, I’ll work on nothing but that one story and that one poem this April.

But enough about me.  What are YOU guys working on right now?  A poem?  A short story?  A novel?  Are you writing within a genre or are you going for something more general?

And if you’re allowed to write that with any author or poet you want, who will it be?  (I’d like to write poems with Sylvia Plath and short stories with Jim Butcher, in case you’re wondering.)  I’d like to hear from you guys. 🙂

The LitReactor Short Shorts Contest

And just when I thought I’d be pathetically unproductive today due to a dearth of (publishable) ideas, I ran across a LitReactor Short Shorts contest that basically challenges people to:

  • Write a 10-word fiction or non-fiction story
  • In TWO SENTENCES
  • With a plot that has a protagonist, conflict, obstacles, and a resolution.

There’s no way I’m going to win this thing, but I thought I might as well give it a shot because apart from sounding fun, this also pushes me out of my comfort zone (which is NOT participating in this kind of thing).

So this is the fictional story I came up with and submitted:  Alone, she flicked up a thumb.  Hours later, she’s feeding.

Too trite?  Too obvious?  Is it okay?  Drop me a line to tell me how much it sucks/how much it doesn’t suck.

In case you’re interested in joining, the contest is open until Wednesday, March 29, 2012.  Even if you don’t I’d love to see what you guys can come up with.