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28 MAY 2017
A Semester’s Worth of Short Story Writing

I want to write a story. That was probably the only reason I decided to postpone the

progress of my Biology course in UP Manila for one whole semester and enroll in a cross-

campus GE course in Creative Writing.

Just a plain old short story that has a character moving and talking in it – I badly

wanted myself to write one. But however much I had racked my brains, I cannot seem to

pass the enormous obstacle of putting pen into paper. In all fairness, I had had no dearth of

ideas swimming inside my head, then; I just cannot string them into words. So I thought

maybe enrolling in a basic CW course would at least give me the inspiration along with

some insights on how to draft a beginner’s short story.

Fiction was the last of the three genres to be introduced, but that is not to say that

my excitement and motivation was any less in Poetry and Non-fiction. The truth is I had

been dabbling as well in poetry before, and poems had been my primary medium for

artistic expression, as music is to others. The selection of poems we read was surprising to

me, though, for I expected some classics, Frost and the likes, instead of contemporary ones.

Nonetheless when it came to giving me insights, they did not disappoint. I read all the

poems and helped in the subsequent extraction of their meanings. I enjoyed the

interpretations, really, for in the sciences, subjective thinking were rarely engaged, and so

here I was given a chance to go beyond the terse language of science and tap into another

person’s feelings. I especially loved Conchitina Cruz’s Geography Lesson which made me

interested in trying the prose-poem style.

On the other hand, as we went to Non-fiction up to the last reading in Fiction, I took

mental notes of the various techniques and styles employed by the authors. I studied how

were they able to unfold a story, listened to their unique narrative voices, and in the
process, a too valuable insight that had been asserting itself in my mind for some time now,

have been reasserted and reinforced; that is, to be simple and as true to oneself as possible.

I know this was a cliché, but I was having a hard time accepting it. I grew up having an old-

fashion or ‘adult’ sense in almost everything, even in literature; and so, when I try to write,

not only fiction but also personal essays, I unconsciously try to mimic the complex

wordings of classical authors of foreign nationalities, only to fail miserably. In the end, I

almost always sound superficial and insincere. Having read the prose selections in the

course made me see the diversity of ways on how to be able to tell a story—not just any

story but one’s story. I learned that even with simple ordinary sentences, one can build an

entire story that is no less striking.

Most remarkable were the Filipino pieces. I heard in them a very unique Filipino

voice that is simple, undisguised and dealt with themes aimed to share a truly Filipino

experience. Before, I had this unreasonable preference to avoid works by Filipino authors,

thinking that they would not be able to give the same “richness” I find in foreign ones. But

now I think I am going to read more of them.

Finally, for my Final Creative Work, I opted for short fiction. To be honest, I did not

have an easy time. And I occasionally became harsh with myself for it. I have this

abominable demon inside me that always resurface whenever I write, saying harsh

personal words, always criticizing not giving even a single word of consolation. I kept

comparing myself to others who can almost write readily, and so I found myself once again

staring at the blinking cursor for hours with an almost white-blank page.

It is not an exaggeration to say that I pushed the limits of whatever writing skill I have. I

even consulted a few books on CW and advices in the internet. I lay on the floor for hours

exhausted, dreaming of plots and characters. But this time, unbelievably for me, it paid. I
have made a story with an actual conclusion. I even titled it “A Reasonable End”, partly

because of my current obsession to have a completed story.

Then, having my very first short story draft, I was thrilled by the workshop. Again, I

was equally amazed by the works of my fellow participants as with the selected readings in

class. I knew how valuable it is for a writer (professional or amateur) to receive comments

on his/her work, so I tried my best to give constructive criticisms, suggestions and credit as

well to my fellow participants. It was a nice experience, especially to hear personally

another person appreciating your work, though even if it was not a positive feedback, I

would still probably have been happy to know someone actually read my story. My story, of

course, as the instructor have said during the workshop, “…is still not perfect. It is still a

draft”, and I think that is true for all stories—that, however final and polished you think a

creative piece is, there is always room for improvement; there is no such thing as a final


But as of now, after one semester, I can say I achieved my goal. I have written a story

that may hopefully be a precursor for future ones. Even though I decided to pursue a career

in the sciences, somehow, secretly, I feel I would still be harboring the dream of becoming

an author, in the future.

What with Alcohol and Heartbreaks

It was the same night as the championship, the end of the week-long annual sports

meet held by private schools in our hometown, that I was first introduced to booze. I

remember the volleyball game was being played, rather intensely, in the quadrangle of our

sky-blue school, the host for the event. My two friends and I arrived during a serious

exchange, and the court was eerily quiet save for the hard slaps on the tired padded ball.

The gate opened at a side-corner, and we sat silently for a moment with some classmates

and acquaintances on the cold cemented floor. After exchanging casual greetings, sports

updates, and mandatory male quips, we three eventually decided to go upstairs, in the dark

corridors of the school building.

From the third-floor, where the fourth-year classroom was, the two continued to

watch the game, peering below, while I sat expectantly on the wide windowsill in front of

our classroom. Like to the people below (cheers erupted, now and then), that night was

somehow fateful and crucial to me. I had come there, on a Saturday night, instead of

preparing for the upcoming final exams, not for the noble cultivation of sportsmanship and

camaraderie, as the school admins would have loved to think; everybody knew that most

healthy high school students were cultivating a different kind of camaraderie at a huge

inter-school event like that one. And so, the only reason I was there was for this particular

girl, a badminton player from another school, whom I had been watching all those years, at

a distance. I wanted to see her for a last time – just a glimpse, a silhouette that I can burn in

my memory. Who knows, perhaps, if we pass each other, a real conversation, a casual

greeting, a smile may turn up – I thought. I was therefore looking for her the moment we

arrived, but it seemed that no one had seen her for some time now. Some of my athlete

friends below earlier, however, had insinuated that David, a junior badminton player of our
school, was also out of sight. I merely shrugged it; she’ll definitely turn out later, when the

game is over and it’s time to go, I assured myself. Just a glimpse...

The game was finally in its last minutes, a team will have brought home the trophy,

when someone emerged from the stairs to the even darker fourth-floor. It was her! First a

silhouette, then the angelic face, then—

No. There was another. What was I thinking? I should have expected it; almost everyone

was talking about them lately. But I had been refusing to accept. And even then I still

refused what I was seeing. David smiled and greeted my two friends (snickering, the

bastards!) like the victor he was, while he held the hands – the precious hands! – of her.

What came next after that really appeared to me as a dizzying gyration of space-

time. Somehow, time stopped while I sat there concentrating on the rough pebbled surface

of the floor, hoping for the gaping darkness of the corridor to swallow me; but it also sped

up, for I soon found myself abstractly walking meters away from school in the streets with

my two friends, the game apparently won, cheers and drumming everywhere. I noticed that

I was walking the wrong way following them. But no matter, as long as I kept walking, I’ll

be fine, I thought. Then, suddenly, one of my friends spoke the words, which did not make

sense back then to me, but which have surely shifted the course of my life,

“Red horse na ‘yan!”

Next thing I knew, they were giving me various cocktail shots, making me swallow

pony upon pony of cheap brandy, filling me with bottles of beer of every known brand:

they, like scientists observing the limits of a baboon’s alcohol tolerance; I, wailing like a

baby in the middle of the night shedding tears on the bosom of my friend’s mother.

Seriously, what is it in alcohol and heartbreaks?

Beautiful Scents

Rainy days.
Cold musky pillows and rumpled linens.
Steam of a brewing coffee,
someone’s making breakfast in the kitchen.

Afternoons in the month of May.

Sweat of a bemused lover.
Endless summer rains.
God Must Sure as Hell Be Lonely in the Clouds

My earliest memory dates back to four-year-old me. I was locked in a room, a

punishment for some wrong I had made, wailing. I had a terrible burn on my right knee at
that age too, from a hot iron. It left a crescent scar faintly visible until now. I was
mischievous as a child, fond of adventures, even if I was, most of the time, alone. I always
thought that I was born for something big, whether to be a basketball superstar or a mad
scientist. I remember trees, lots of trees, especially banana trees. Trees have undoubtedly
dominated my childhood. But I have never learned to climb one, unfortunately. Only the
nearest branches, the first floor of a skyscraper, so I would say back then. I am idealistic by
nature. I dream. My first crush was my cousin. I always wanted to kiss her then. But I was
aware, however vaguely, that it’s something wrong. I liked her nonetheless and gave her
flowers. I can never tell when I am being bullied until someone tells me. I learned to adapt
myself to every crowd, so that I let them laugh at me or abuse me in some way. Of course I
get angry, sad and irritated, but then I would still not call it bullying. I always rationalize,
both for me and the other side. I can tell when someone is being bullied but not if it is
happening to me. I am taciturn. I am a recluse. But I always wanted a companion. One to be
with in a companionable silence. As I grew, I became more and more silent, and became
louder and louder in my head. I love cheese. I love melted cheese. I love salty food. I do not
love chocolate the way most people do. I wanted to be a pharmacist. I wanted to be a
doctor, a professor, a researcher. There are also times when I want to be nothing. For now,
I want to be a writer. I want to be a poet, a fictionist. For now. I have fallen hopelessly in
love for a steady time now. To a girl once my classmate and group mate. She has struck me
like a thunderbolt ever since. This, I think, would last. I do not have a plan for my future.
Not a concrete one in particular. I just attend my classes, trying to earn units little by little,
scribble poems from time to time, and learn the art of fiction. But I do not have a long-term
plan like my former college comrades. I was (am?) a member of a fraternity. I remember
being distraught before, during and after the initiation. I thought my life was over then,
what with the ubiquitous hazing incidents back then. Time proved to be very rapid inside
it. Soon, I gave them up and vanished into thin air, like a popping bubble. I thought I was
never good enough for the likes of them. I have always been a lone wolf. I do not like being
depended on, and I do not like depending on someone also. Just left alone is what I prefer
most of the time. I love daydreaming. In fact, if you try to dissect my life, a huge chunk of it
would be staring into space.

I just got back from the bathroom.

From the square window, the sky was bright with the coming summer. Rays of light
leaned on my back and neck as I released a demoniac shit, and it made me feel alive for a
moment. I am scratching my head now, trying to find anything more about myself. Do
people nowadays still ask questions of identity? Since I have read something about the
Buddha and Humean philosophy, I think of identity as something fluid, constantly changing,
like water flushing from a water closet. Then, can anyone really give satisfactory answers
to “who am I?”. One can list as many likes and dislikes, memories and dreams,
disappointments and achievements, but it wouldn’t still be enough. I have changed a lot,
that’s for sure. I can now tolerate ketchup in my sandwich that would have been
inconceivable ten years ago. I have begun to reserve judgments, learned how to keep to
myself anything that would not sound neutral. Much like Nick Carraway, the
memoirist/narrator in The Great Gatsby. But I think I have yet to find my Jay Gatsby, that
friend who would from time to time keep my interest away from myself, and who would
introduce me to the hidden pleasures of life. I have friends though. I drink with them quite
often. But nothing deeper than that. And I don’t enjoy music as I did back in high school. I
listen now to relaxing ones more often like Chopin’s Nocturnes than thrashy music of
Slayer. I feel getting older in an accelerated pace. Both physically and in personal tastes. But
I STILL loathe vinegar, that’s more certain than anything. I guess that’s one defining feature
of me. Aside from spacing out, I spend another huge chunk of my life reading. I love to read
classics, but do not necessarily comprehend them. Time and again, though, I am able to
finish one, like, recently, Nabokov’s Lolita, Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees, and of course
Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Nothing beats the satisfaction from finishing a classic book.
You know, it gives an air of intelligence and sophistication, however illusory. I read short
stories, and recently I have been hooked by Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. I read poetry,
much as an aid to achieve a dreamy state than for serious literary interest. And though
frequently challenging for the brain, and harrowing for the soul, I love Edgar Allan Poe. He’s
an idol for my literary side. There is something in him that I am able to identify myself with.
Currently, I am reading Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Before, I have only read
his Norwegian Wood; but I can say he has good style. All these ramblings about myself,
honestly, have been making me think of Sigmund Freud, what with his theory of dreams
and free association. I have been constantly checking the word count at the bottom left of
the screen. I realize I already reached the limit, and I am going to stop typing any moment
now. Much as I like telling something about myself, exhausting everything about myself
leaves a bad aftertaste in my mouth. For over two decades, I have been fraternizing mainly
with myself, and so I wish to find my Jay Gatsby sooner. Solipsism is beginning to bore me;
God must sure as hell be lonely in the clouds.
A Reasonable End

The young man woke up to the usual whirring sound of the dusty fan, and far away,

as if from another world, dulled by the impervious concrete of his apartment room – the

incessant rumbling of the city.

It was actually barely past noon, somewhere in the middle of the week, but from the

inside, it was rather difficult to tell the time: the grimy moss-colored curtains covering the

windows were made of thick fabric as to suck out the passing daylights. It was dark, but

occasional slivers of light still seeped from the corners, enough to see the shadows and

outlines of a rickety wooden table, a Monobloc chair with a hanging damp bath towel, a

built-in closet with a gaping mirror near the bed, and, on the floor, aside from the pile of

dirty clothes – only weeks of accumulated trash. Garbage of mostly empty cans of beer and

cups of instant noodles were strewn all over the three-square-meter room, like ferns and

mushrooms, the trash bag tied to one handle of the closet had been long since filled.

As he opened his eyes once more, he found himself with a terrible hangover. He had

drunk a bit more than usual last night. Holding his temple with his left hand, what he saw

first was a face at once familiar and unrecognizable. He stared at the hollow mirror with a

gaunt expression, and though dimly lit, he thought he saw an awkwardly shaped head with

lifeless eyes staring back at him. Sallow cheeks, sharp edges of a jaw ridden with untidy

stubs of hair, dried lips with a shade of scraggly lines on top – a petty excuse for a mustache

– sunken eyes, oily skin, and a rough incorrigible hair all but told that his once

unexceptional but comely face had gone. He had lost considerable weight too. He was only

twenty three, but his appearance had dramatically aged, since exactly a year ago. When

everything for him seemed to fell apart.

Roberto Ordonez was the only son of his father, a doctor of average reputation in a

small town in Quezon province. His mother had left them when he was still an infant, and

so he had no memories nor any special affection whatsoever for her. Besides, his father

seldom talked of her, if he ever talked intimately to his son at all. In fact, since Robert had

learned to read and write, all his father cared about was how to mold him into an

outstanding student, one who was both exceptional in solving algebraic equations and

rules of English grammar, a morbidly studious teacher’s favorite who have a high chance of

being accepted to med school. Despite this, he reserved no deep spite for his father. He

studied hard enough and, in turn, his father never failed to provide his material needs. Not

that he ever shared the interest of his father of him becoming a doctor. Although he did not

know what really interested him – or perhaps because of this – he decided to better just go

with what his father wanted.

He soon entered a university in Manila, one that specialized in the health sciences.

But by his second year, he would have realized that all his pretensions would not hold on

for much longer. Life at the university sucked him dry; seeing the faces of the students

shining with real passions and aspirations gave him an inferiority complex; moreover, he

just could have not made himself interested to what they were studying. He felt gradually

repulsed by anything the professors discuss every day, the drab experiments in laboratory

classes were menial labor to him, leaving him beaten in his apartment room, every night.

Throughout the year, he found himself almost failing, which caught him not infrequently in

a fight with his father.

But then he met Sophia.

One sultry afternoon, in his Microbiology laboratory class, he had been rolling the

knobs of his microscope for a good half an hour now, one eye glued to the eyepiece, looking
for bacteria that seemed to conspire to evade him, while large beads of sweat had been

creeping from his forehead to navel. He was still vexed by another one of the violent rows

with his father over the phone last night. He was repeatedly, however half-seriously,

mulling over the thought of living by himself. But where would he go? Without a degree,

and with social skills of an iguana, he doubted whether he’ll survive for more than a year or


He sighed as he kept looking for bacterial cells in a smudge of dirt. Then, suddenly

his brows knitted, muttered, more loudly than he intended, “Fuck, you stupid shit eaters!”

The girl at his side was the only one who heard him. She turned to him, eyes

grinning through her thick-rimmed spectacles. She wore her brown-dyed hair in a bun, her

smooth forehead was charming with small beads of sweat. In her lab gown, unbuttoned,

showing a pink blouse with floral patterns, she evoked the relaxing breeze of summer.

He looked at her as well, slightly ashamed. Then, she asked if she could take a look at

his microscope for a sec. He took a small step aside, as she peered into his microscope,

slowly rolling the knobs with her reassuring fingers, and after only a minute or two,

snapped into a happy “There!”

He gave her a quizzical look. But she let him take a look for himself, and sure it was,

there lay, bright and clear, clusters of tiny spheres, with their darkly stained nuclei; there

were even rod shaped Clostridium and long staphylococcus, which looked like fragments of

a broken necklace. The awe in seeing a sudden burst of microscopic life in his eyes will

have never left Robert’s heart until the day he died—

“See? They are there,” she smiled to him.

—as well as the girl who made him see everything from nothing.
The young man did his best to brush off the memories that were bombarding his

mind with the force of an incoming train. A walking distance from his apartment complex,

the LRT 1 chugged along its way from Quirino Station into the calm afternoon sun; some of

its few passengers staring blankly at the sky outside witnessed a huge mass of clouds

approaching. Down below, an ambulance gave a sharp wail as it paved its way in the traffic.

Sounds from the outside reached his ears all too faintly. He closed his eyes and tried

to concentrate on these sounds to distract himself from the memories which only

worsened his hangover. The prospect of an outside world continuing to move forward –

oblivious of everything else save for the sheer passage of time – seemed enough to calm

him, and soon, he fell asleep, once more.

A life of a human, as may be learned from any basic Biology course, could be

observed beginning with the union of a sperm and an egg, forming a zygote that is no more

than the size of a needle point at its conception. From that single tiny dot, hundreds to

millions of cells that make up a person spring forth, transforming into specialized tissues,

organs – the brain, eyes, lungs and heart – all the while, the flesh and bones slowly gain

shape in the mother’s womb like a lump of clay, religiously following the unique blueprints

inside the DNA – a truly fascinating feat of nature.

Robert had of course undergone the very same complex processes of birth and

development as all people do, but if one had asked him personally, he would have said that

his life had truly started only a few moments after meeting Sophia. Working and chatting

with her, after that first encounter with the microscope, made him feel like a newborn

child, pulled from an oblivious sleep by veteran hands of a midwife. Suddenly, he was
inundated by a cascade of light, sounds and touch, all the people around him seemed to be

wearing celebratory expressions he had surely not seen before.

People who are skeptical of love may say that there was nothing special in what he

had felt; that it was more worldly and mundane than it seemed: Robert was just a late-

bloomer pubescent boy. And perhaps they are right. He had probably been struck by a

powerful spell of hormones. Nevertheless, the colors that Sophia had suddenly splashed his

world was undeniable to his own eyes. He was seeing the world for the first time in all its

vibrancy. He experienced a kick in his spirit that would sound ridiculous to anyone but

himself. This was a feeling so private to a man, and therefore so precious.

And so, it was not surprising that this newfound passion for life did only to improve

his academic standing. But excellent grades were but felicitous incentives for him

compared to when, in the same year, he found himself actually dating Sophia, the source of

this incredible joy pulsating in his heart. Theirs was a relationship that was to last even

after they graduated and they both entered med school. His feelings for her will have not

relented a bit, throughout those years. If anything, he always saw new reasons to fall in love

with her. He often thought that she was like the mother, the sister, the best friend he never

had. But more than anything and anyone else, he loved her as Sophia – the girl in a lab

gown, remindful of the relaxing breeze of summer.

The young man was dreaming again.

There was nothing to see. He knew he was lying on something like a cold marble

floor, but though his eyes were wide open, all he was seeing was palpable darkness. He

remained lying there, listening to the faint beating of his heart, and for a moment, he

thought he was actually dead. Maybe he had actually died in his sleep, and this place was a
chasm for dead souls. But he still felt his body, the cold marble floor burning on his back,

and his heart continued beating. Soon, he heard voices, out of nowhere, resounding in the

blackness – as if in a memory.

“What do you think of falling from high up above … say the sky?” asked a woman’s


“What d’you mean, like skydiving?” another man’s voice asked in reply. A short

silence followed.

“Yeah, like skydiving … but without the parachutes.”

“Well, wouldn’t that be crazy?”

The young man thought it crazy too. They, or their voices, continued chatting,

oblivious of him.

“Don’t think of the crashing,” she said. “just the act of falling …”

No one answered. For a moment, only the faint beating of his heart was all the young

man heard.

Then she continued, “… I believe that falling would be a liberating experience. A

freedom like no other, both physical and emotional…”

The man kept listening. So as the young man.

“You know, the Earth’s gravity pulls you so fast, and since there is no ground to

make you feel your weight, you effectively become weightless … you can let the air rushing

on you carry everything.

No burdens, no pain. Yet, your body tells you something’s wrong, so you end up still

feeling very excited. You may laugh, cry, or even shout; it’s all bliss. That’s why even if you

end up a splattered mess on the ground, the knowledge that you can’t resist something as
powerful as gravity – an absolute abandonment – is enough to fill your heart. For me at


Like falling in love, the young man thought.

“Like falling in love…,” the man muttered, almost in a whisper.

“Yeah…like that, I guess.”

Then, in an instant, the marble ground, on which the young man had been lying,

vanished along with everything else, and he himself took a rather long fall.

A clap of thunder pulled him abruptly out of the dream. His headache had finally

gone, but in its stead, his heart was now pounding violently inside his chest, as if having a

life of its own; not to mention, his lips and throat, so dry and screaming of thirst.

It was nighttime, a little past ten. He had been asleep for almost a day, but the

exhaustion he felt still made it difficult for him to get out of bed. He rose ever so slowly and

slumped on the floor leaning on the bedframe. He reached for a water bottle among the

litter. Emptying it in huge gulps, he threw the bottle back to the floor, then he rose and

floundered towards the thickly curtained windows, opening it.

The cold night air filled his lungs with the smell of earth. Directly across from him, a

television was left open in a dark room: a close up map of Luzon and a huge white spiral,

approaching from the Northwest.

He breathed in deeply, and letting out, he turned back to change his clothes. He was

going outside.

Robert was with Sophia in her condo unit for their usual night hangouts, one

October night. They had been together for a good four years now. He remembered her
being quite talkative that time. They talked about a lot of stuff, from bland topics of med

school and childhood, to completely random stuffs, like dreams, gravity and love. Sophia

asked him most of the time.

“What if this is all a dream?” she asked, another out-of-this-world question for


“What is?” he replied, while browsing at a sci-magazine.

“Everything,” she said. “Us, the world, the universe.”

He thought deeply for a while before asking again, “Someone must be dreaming for

something to be a dream, right?”

“Perhaps another person. Could be God himself,” she sounded really curious.

This time his answer was ready, “Right. Then I would have to be grateful for them.”

“And why’s that. You don’t mind being just another person’s fantasy?”

“Yep. Look…dream or not, it doesn’t matter. They could fantasize all they want, but

the fact remains that I feel very much alive in this world,” he said, still looking down on his

magazine. Then turning straight to her eyes, “and most importantly, I have you in here. I

would not, for any other world, regret it.”

The two remained silent for a few seconds. Then she said, laughing softly, “You’re

being too sappy. Come here…”

They made out gently that night.

The young man was now outside a ten-story building under renovation, wearing a

hooded cotton jacket, his unwashed jeans and tattered rubber shoes.

People near the area knew that the renovation in the site had been going on for

months now but with very little progress. The makeshift gate was made of recycled
corrugated metal that can be easily pushed aside, and there was only a few erected

scaffoldings, here and there. He knew the place was unmanned.

He ignored the “No Trespassing” sign on the gate, and just as he stepped inside the

building, a loud clap of thunder ripped the brooding sky apart, then –

A cloudburst from the heavens all at once wet the entire city of Manila.

Thousands, millions of raindrops darted straight for the earth like spears and

arrows – each one carrying the heaviness of tears. Inside the abandoned building, the

earthy scent of the storm mixed with the damp smell of concrete and dust. The young man

proceeded to take the first steps of the stairs, up.

He trudged each step ever so slowly, to the second floor, the third. Higher …


But he never once stopped nor thought of turning back. His steps were as decided as

a pouring rain.

Robert was right. The world he had been living in was real – too real, indeed, so that

his pain, when Sophia leaped off the veranda of her 11 th floor condo unit, a few hours after

he had left that one October night, felt nothing short of hell.

No one had ever actually known her reasons. Not even her family, who had been

kind enough to welcome Robert in the private burial. No suicide notes left. But Robert, by

this time, had lost the capacity for reason. His mind went blank; he wanted to cry and cry,

but the shock was simply too great for him. Until, one day, in their house at Quezon, his

father had remarked something that made him felt the brunt of the pain:

“Don’t worry too much,” he said, trying to break an awkward silence.

Robert remained silent. He did not want to talk to him; let alone, to talk about

Sophia, with him. But his father persisted on with his fatherly comforts.

“It’s just a girl,” he said. “you’ll find plenty after med school.”

What? Robert wanted to snap. He did not know that a person could be this stupid

and insensitive. But his father continued on with his thoughts on Sophia’s death, and –

“That’s why I—“ his father had not finished his sentence, when his glasses fell on the

floor, a small stream of blood flowing from his nose.

Robert’s punch was filled with rage. But it was as well filled with sorrow, so that the

impact was greatly hampered when it hit his father’s face. And the tears he had been

subduing in his heart began to surge like a broken dam.

Perhaps, he thought, months after that, he had to thank his father for making him

realize something so important – something so basic – in his life. But he had never once

seen him since, nor will he ever be.

The young man was at the roof deck of the ten-storey building. He had climbed the

four-foot high wall and was now standing on top of it, drenched with rain. Oddly, now that

he was only inches away from death, he was feeling relaxed. It was as if all his hatred, all his

sorrows had been blown by a strong gust of wind, and the millions of raindrops now falling

– floating – in midair, carried none of the heaviness below.

This must have been what you felt, right? he thought, smiling to himself. Then,

pushing his right foot lightly on the edge of the wall, he took the plunge, head first.

He knew his life was not a piece of fiction that could be resolved by a tweak of a

writer’s hands, and so, he had thought, it could only end this way. This was his decision. A

reasonable end.