Monday, July 17, 2017

At The Corner Bookshelf

Addie stepped out of the tall building, where the workshop she attended was held. She pushed up the long sleeves of her black and cream striped top as the afternoon sun baked the city. Hurriedly, she crossed the pedestrian lane of the busy street.

Wind chimes sounded over her head as she pushed open the glass door of the corner bookstore. Relief at the blast of cold air flooded through her. On one side and covering the wall were art supplies. Shelves occupied the center and another long wall to the right, filled to the brim with books. Addie picked up a pack of colored markers, looked at the price, then walked over to the counter and paid.

When she placed her change inside her wallet and her package inside her large bag, she walked over to the books and tilted her head to read the titles. She picked up one book, looked at the cover then flipped it to see the back description. She returned it to its slot. She picked up another book, did the same, put it back and picked up another.

Flicking her wrist to check the time, Addie pouted thoughtfully and felt she should be getting home before the sun sets. But, she also felt drawn to be in the bookstore, loitering... Perhaps waiting. For what? She shrugged in answer to her own question.

There was another tinkling sound and Addie's pulse quickened. Someone she couldn't see walked into the bookstore and her heart raced. Time seemed to freeze except for a girl in the corner who sat cross legged on the floor. An assortment of notebooks was arranged in front of her and she was placing more. The sound of her beating heart in her ears was so loud that Addie was sure others could hear it too. Addie looked at the girl's face to check for confirmation, but the girl kept her gaze on the items on the floor.

Addie's head snapped back in the direction of the door. An invisible force was pulling her towards it with each measured step she took. A lifetime seemed to pass until she stood in front of the stranger with wavy black hair and rich chocolate brown eyes framed by black rim eyeglasses. A guy version of herself.

Silently, Addie inhaled. Then, she breathed out words that make absolutely no sense. "I have been waiting for you all along."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Mourning After

He awoke suddenly, panting, with sweat running down his face. It was the same dream for the past three years. It was so vivid that he had to shake his head hard. The blinding headlights, the sound of the car connecting with her body, which was crushed and sandwiched between the dilapidated fruit stand and the bloody car, flashed before his mind's eye as he stood to get a glass of water. He glanced at the calendar cum alarm clock on his nightstand. Today is her death anniversary.
He decided to shower even if it's just five in the morning. Every year since the accident, he would file for a leave from the office for the day her death anniversary falls on. Each year is the same. He would sit in front of her tombstone, praying to God and asking for permission to speak to her, if ever He has her on His side. He'd tell her stories about people he saw on the street and on his trips to the provinces. He'd describe his dream wedding to her as if they were going to be married soon. As usual, the one-way conversation ended with him asking her what he should do without her. A sudden very cold breeze blew on him, giving him goosebumps. It seemed like she was embracing him and speaking softly into his ear like she used to do. He instantly had the urge to visit places she loved, which he did not dare to go.

"One tall Caffe Latte for Mike!" He took the cup from the barista and sighed with relief as Hannah's favorite spot by the window was empty. He settled his bum on the sofa chair. Amazingly, he felt no sharp pain, just nostalgia. Is she telling him to move on? He thought that this was the first time he appreciated coffee, being alone and thoughts.
After a reunion with himself in the coffee shop, he crossed the street where his love was taken away from him. The last vision of her was beautiful: Hannah looked back at him while the fruit stand lady put her apples in a brown bag, she was smiling that angelic smile with a dimple showing, she waved at him in a childlike manner. Now all he wanted to remember were the wonderful memories and moments they had. He prayed to God to change his dreams.
Mike arrived at the park where Hannah and he used to have weekend picnics. She loved the bridge that led to the other side of the stream. He marveled at how man-made things could blend so beautifully with God's creations.
He climbed the slatted wooden steps to the peak of the bridge's arc and looked down at the steadily flowing water below. That's when he thought he was hallucinating. He saw Hannah's reflection on the water's surface and blinked thrice. It was still there! She was there! He couldn't help but stare at the girl on the bank. She looked a lot like Hannah except for her nose that was shaped a bit different. Is God telling him to love again?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Outside, Inside

"I see people differently, literally." He shifted in his seat, "Most of them, actually. There are very few who are the same inside and outside." She hoped she could witness what he means. She looked at Alex questioningly. He smiled at her, "Would you like to know if I see another person inside of you?" Liza shook her head. It's a creepy thought. "Walk with me." He invited.

The afternoons sun's rays bounced off a hotdog stand. A man in a dark suit was squeezing a bottle of mustard on his snack. "That guy," Alex pointed out, "you see as an ordinary customer. Yet, I see him with a translucent figure of a woman facing the other way, sadness and longing etched on her face." Liza's hair stood at attention, a shiver ran down her spine. "Why is that?" She wondered out loud. Alex crossed his arms and continued walking.

"Well," he said when they arrived at an outdoor cafe, "each person has a dream for his life, right? He has a choice whether to cultivate this dream, or not. That guy back there..." Alex pointed his thumb behind him. "Let's just say, he grew up. He has bills to pay, he has responsibilities, he has to take an 8-5 day job. It could be a boring job. He could start to resent working at that company. His creativity was not flowing. His reality now is very different from his dream. His outside does not match with his inside."

The dark descended on the sky like a gigantic blanket. Liza switched on the floor lamp beside the armchair with one hand, while holding a bowl of instant mac & cheese in the other. She sat chewing thoughtfully. Is she cultivating her dream? Is being a reporter really her dream? Does she find fulfillment in interviewing special people like Alex? Will he see another person inside of her?

CRASH! The bowl fell on the tiled floor as Liza fell asleep; pumping her fists, swaying her hips and stepping side ways to the beat of hip-hop music playing... In her dream.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Help Not Wanted

I was quietly reading a magazine when she approached me. The bride-to-be asked me to help her shop for bridesmaid dresses. I wanted to be of assistance. So, I took out my binder with notes of the shops and suppliers I visited when I got married years ago. 

We met up at the old mall. Thinking she would be alone, I was surprised to see her with a couple of girls. Shrugging, I pulled my binder from my bag and scanned the pages. I found the list of the shops and looked up to see the smiling face of the soon-to-wed poking out one of the stores. She was clutching a shiny magenta silk dress. Magenta? Was that her motif? 

Wait! That's not one of the stores on my list! I looked from the first item on the lined paper to the signages of the shops. Where was it? I called to her to come round the corner with me and look for the same name. But, with her ponytail swaying behind her and giggles floating in the air, she ducked into yet another store with the girls.

Where was that boutique? Had so much changed in seven years? Seemed like the stores I sourced before disappeared and in their places were shops I have never seen before. Do these even sell bridesmaid dresses? The whole place still looked a bit grey and dull. Certainly, no major renovations took place.

Anyway. I just wanted to help her but she didn't even give me five minutes. Feeling rejected, I rode the taxi home then plopped down on our cream-colored sofa with a huff! 

Friday, September 19, 2014


I knew I was already married. But somehow, all that was left of that marriage was a toddler child. Everything was arranged for me and soon, I was married to another guy I barely knew. Maybe my family knew him.

My heart was pounding at the thought of lying down with a strange man that night. My little one kept distracting me, though. She was wide awake and active, climbing on top of me and rolling beside me. I felt confused.

Little did I know that I was going to be confused even further. I received a telephone call. The voice at the other end told me that this man I married had a girlfriend. She was deeply troubled and heartbroken upon learning that he married me.

I felt so weak I reached out to the wall to steady myself. Suddenly, splotches of ink appeared on the white textured surface and started to spread gradually.

"This was all a mistake!" I thought. The next three words chilled me and confirmed that my soul is as black as the splatters almost covering the wall.

"She committed suicide."

Friday, March 28, 2014

Frantic Mom Escapes

Questions and objectives clung to her mind like the mud and dried leaves did to her shoes. She needed to get to her children as fast as was possible. Who were taking care of them while she's away? Why was she away in the first place? There's a metal footbridge ahead that she knew she needed to cross. Time was of the essence. Power walking, she got sidetracked by something off to the side. There was a stone table and on top of it lay a balding pale man with lots of black patches on his appendages. She realized with a jolt that he was decaying.

She felt like vomiting but she couldn't have that luxury now. Dashing into the warehouse, her strides became longer as she navigated the maze of huge crates. A faceless lady handed her a wrapped baby that she held tightly to her chest. She began to run and dazedly looked for the exit. With a toddler in tow.

Something metallic buzzed past her face. Was that a mosquito? To the right were several college students in lab gowns fussing over a machine. They were making something that destroys the mosquitoes. How she knew they were college students and that they were protecting people from these metallic pests were beyond her. But she's grateful that there are those who care enough for others, especially the children. That's what occupied her mind as she got nearer an opening.

Once her shoe hit the dried-leaf-strewn dirt floor outside, a wave of relief washed over her. She fell on her knees and hugged her baby to her chest.