They'd both carried their suitcases to the terminal, and stared at each other for what could be their last time. There are moments in life, Paz thought, that God gives you, large and just enough to fill the palm of your hand, significant and tangible enough to leave you breathless at the touch of a memory. As she stood breathing, staring at Lawrence, who stood against the backdrop of the bright airport runway, the rest of the world blurred for a moment, enclosing her in the space of timelessness.
"It would be a lot easier if you pinched me," she said.
He'd started at her parting comment. "I'm not the kind of person who would make this easier for you," he replied.
"Just this once?"
"Never," he quietly said, and he stepped closer, and gazed into her, with dark, penetrating eyes.
"If I was the one who pinched you?" she offered.
He frowned. "I'll just grab you before you land it and kiss the hell out of you, tell you how much I'm going to miss you, tell you how much I want to drag you with me on the next fucking plane to God knows fucking where, so that I can, you know, do you."
She felt the moistness gather in her eyes. Always the asshole. "How could you?" she whispered.
He gazed down at her. "I'm not going to let you leave without fighting you and forcing you to remember this for the rest of your damned life."
"I have enough to remember," she countered, her voice trembling, "and they're not all good, you jerk."
"Life's a bitch, ma'am," he replied, his voice dropping even lower. "You come into my life, in the middle of a jungle, looking like a man. Make me want you anyway."
The tears started to form. "And here I thought other women did the same thing."
"Close your eyes," he said.
"Close them. Let me do something."
She closed them, and then suddenly she felt his hands on her waist and felt herself being lifted up in his arms, with them chest to chest, and she only had half a second to breathe the heady cologne on his collar before he breathed her into his mouth, parted her lips into what became the most tender, sensual kiss she had ever received. His warm breath spread over her lips and she grabbed onto the lapels of his jacket, paying him back for all it was worth.
She vaguely felt her body float through the air but thought it must have been the kiss. They continued to hold on to each other, both reeling in their violent emotions, only allowing themselves this one small passion that no one else in the world would ever come to understand. She didn't know how long the kiss lasted, only that her chest tightened and that her entire body was centered in that connection. But then suddenly their kiss broke and his hands settled her back down on the ground.
He leaned his forehead against hers, and whispered, "You've destroyed me."
She smiled but her mouth trembled. "You deserve it."
She looked up into his eyes and a tear streaked down her cheeks. "I can't say the words," she broke out.
"Keep it. Don't wanna hear it."
"I'd go back again," she suddenly said, and she made a valiant effort to control her voice before she'd start to break down, "Go back to the jungle, pretend to be a man again. Like old times, huh?"
He grinned. "I know," he said, and sighed. "Turn around."
She turned around and saw the airplane ramp immediately before her. "You...?"
He chuckled, but it was soft, and his eyes seemed moist. "Go, before I do you in front of the flight attendant."
"Christ, you never stop, do you ---?"
He grabbed her ticket and gave it to the airport personnel, who ran it through the machine and gave it back to her. His hands settled on her arms and he turned her around to face the ramp. "Never," he breathed into her ear, and he kissed her neck, right below her right ear, before he gave her a push. "Go on. You're giving me a hard-on," he said.
As she began to walk, she turned around and showed him the middle finger.
He laughed and winked at her.
Paz slowly turned back to face the ramp and pushed her luggage behind her. Nothing had ever felt heavier. Their story was made for the books, Paz knew, but no one would ever know how the two of them had once met and connected. No marriage certificate, no photographs, no letters. Only the memories she'd have to fight for to remain in her mind, of the only man in her life who had destroyed her body and soul, and then picked up the pieces for her renewal.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Inspired by Tampuhan (Lover's Quarrel) by Juan Luna [above], Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere, and the song "Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang?" by Pops & Martin.
His eyes forced a spark as the light from the balcony reached into his pupils. The dark intensity within them hid the uncontrollable ambiguity of his emotions. And by that light, emerged a familiar face from his childhood, yet made beautiful with age.
"Josephine," he managed while stepping up towards that light.
The woman, upon hearing his voice froze in place. On her face, from what could be seen, was contorted in some form of emotion, irrefutable by the sight of him. He, who has been her childhood friend of so many years, who left her when she was ten, who has left to break her heart. They wrote letters when he was in Spain, England and Germany; through them he showed his excitement of fulfilling his dream of seeing new lands, through his vivid descriptions of the wonderful European terrain, and through them, she was able to dream of the closeness they could have shared.
She turned to leave and close the door behind that dream, when his hand graced across her soft skin to stop her. What was then not seen was evident now, on her face was irreplaceable sorrow.
"Bakit ngayon ka lang?" She said quietly, refusing to look up at him.
"¿Es verdad? Totoo bang ikakasal ka na?" The young man's voice was uncertainly calm, but trembling.
The young woman couldn't answer but tried to break free, only to be gently pressed against the door as the man in front of her stepped closer. She suppressed a shudder of indignation when she saw him smile lightly.
"¿Pero, su letra? Anong ibig sabihin nito?"
The man held up a piece of folded paper: the letter she last sent him, the letter when she told him she loved him (too). It must have reached him much later, much later when it was already too late for her. For them.
"Lumipas na ang madaming panahon, Jose," she began as she dared to look at him, "madaming mga gabi ng ikaw lang ang aking iniisip at nais kong makita..."
With her words, she removed his grip on her arm and stepped away.
"Ngayon, ibig kong itanong sa iyo: Bakit ngayon ka lang?"
Also with that, and she was gone and closed the door in front of the young man behind her. The symbolic closure to her beloved memories of him and him altogether.
Posted by L. D. at 12:57 AM