Entranced. Another memory blackout episode.
“Hi!” her voice drowned all sound inside the room. It was for Ino the only sound that mattered, his senses shutting everything out.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.” her eyes squinted, giving away a made up smile.
Ino’s heart jumped many places and his eyes widened involuntarily.
“Even if it is just a made up smile.” he told himself.
“May I ask why you seem to be all smiles today?” Joey curiously asked sounding cutely reprimanding.
“Nothing. I was just wondering how it would feel to hold your hand.”
Silence fell. It was the blanket they use to cover emotions they have yet to explore and feelings afraid to admit. For a moment, he was lost in her blank stare. She knows he is sitting in the quiet corner, beside the open window rushed by the light of the setting Sun, but somehow she fails to see.
She took her small steps pass the door to where Ino was sitting. Joey extended her small hands to Ino, smiling.
“My classes are over.”
“Let’s walk home?”
Ino reached for her hand touching her fingers first, and the divide between them closed in. Her small hand was warm to the touch, her skin smell nicely sweet.
He was happy as an empty glass being poured wine. A sucker for her sad puppy eyes and Ino felt it happening again, falling such great height and ending lost in her eyes.
“Is this too close to boundaries?” said Ino.
Joey turned her head away, her hands still held by Ino.
“I don’t know?” “What are the boundaries?” were the words uttered by her curved shy lips, before she let go of his hand. Again, it was silence that became their refuge from vague feelings. Knowing that the other is just close beside seem consoling and side by side they start to walk.
Eye candy billboards, industrial edifices and the occasional trees lined and littered the road as they pass by; Ino giving infrequent glances to Joey who is preoccupied with her own thoughts, her hands wrapped in tight to two bulky textbooks.
“There used to be more trees in this area.” said Ino as they come by an old church road arched by tall aged Acacia’s.
A light breath drift by, clearing fallen leaves and bringing an earthly aroma. Ray of light filtered by the canopy managed to pass through the leafy roof, reflecting in many directions.
“I thought so too.” replied Joey as she looked back to Ino.
“I caught them as they fall.” There were three buds of sunshine in Ino’s open palms.
“I know you love flowers.” “They maybe small and simple, but I think they are beautiful.” Ino’s words seem to make the small Acacia blossoms glow.
And it was certainly a meaningful smile. It became the definition of happiness. Maybe it was a dream and he is no longer sure if it was a mirage or just an imagined event he keeps to assure himself that he can still feel.
It was just the right amount of afternoon light falling in her face. It was the first time in a long time he existed in a perfect plane helplessly surrendered to unassuming beauty.
“Can you wait for me?” said Ino.
“I don’t know?” “Can you wait for me?” Joey asked back.
“You really look wonderful today.” replied Ino. It was not the answer she wanted to hear.
He saw a hint of disappointment in her eyes and only if they could stop pushing each other away.
It was the motions and the unsure conversation of that afternoon he would choose to keep and let eat the matter of his sanity, like a mold to bread. It is what’s playing in his head some years later while he walked the same old church road after the lost years; hoping to rekindle fragments of nostalgia, looking for the same fallen leaves of that day remembered.
They had now reached the end of their walk; the attachment was almost unbearable to both souls.
“This is my dormitory, remember?”
“So I guess this is goodbye for us?” Joey said plainly.
“Not goodbye for us, only goodbye for now.” Ino reassuringly smiled.
She saw the honesty in Ino’s eyes and how he meant the words he freed. The back of their hands are brushing, tips of their fingers almost touching. She remembered the warm security of Ino’s hands and how she turned off her defenses at the lightest press of his fingers to her soft palm.
“I don’t know what to say Ino?”
“I don’t know what your problem is?”
He reached for her hand, unable to contain meandering kept feelings that annexed his mind and moved him to have her hands.
“Sorry Joey if I don’t say much.”
It took enduring restraint to feign indifference and hide helplessness. To hold confessing insecurities and refrain from talking about little seedy creatures niching in the recess of his mind, abhorring the sunshine.
A wanting stare showing no apprehension. A quiet undertone of desire and hushed agreement. His fingers moved and in the slightest touch, traced her lips. Their stare closed in and their lips finally grazing. Both found a moment of honesty and for one brief instance became true to their sensibilities. He watched her close her eyes.
“Say it would always be like this.” said Ino.
She happily smiled and pinched his nose.
“You always seem to have the right words.” said Joey.
“All for your kiss!” and it was the naughtiest boyish grin that followed. A rehearsed line he always imagined to say.
The months have fallen of the calendar and they are on their last days. He wondered how the afternoon Sun got cold?
Picture cut outs of places they wish to get lost. Lazy days pretending to walk a somber beach side. Spending midsummer’s day looking out at shining mountains of golden hay.
The door creaked. Last glance and maybe the last goodbye. Last appeal to emotion and forgo binding apprehensions. Last chance to save their unsure and fibbing hearts from complications.
It did not happen as they say it would. It is the end of something beautiful and the beginning of limbo and of dog gone days thinking of fates and of things that could have been, but would never know. Of morning spent staring at the ceiling.
The door had closed and the barrel clicked in place. And such is the predicament of them whose tragedy is a celebrated romance.
“Here is something from an 80’s seminal band we haven’t heard for a while.”
The driver tuned to a station that plays songs from his generation. He adjusted the volume to gentler decibel. Just right to hear the jangling of fares being handed and passed around.
“Here is New Order playing “Leave me alone” right here in your all music station that plays the greatest and the latest.”
Entered the drum machine in unlikely intervals and builds up to the intro.
“On a thousand islands in the sea, I see a thousand people just like me.”
The Jeepney moved at a steady phase. Road lines appearing and disappearing in routine fashion. Impressive linear symmetry.
“A hundred unions in the snow, I watch them walking, falling in a row.”
The Jeep pulled to a stop at a curbside, whilst the song seemed to claw its way out of the old shackled transistor and manifest with ghoulish omnipresence.
“We live always underground, it’s going to be so quiet in here tonight.”
“The only exercise I would be getting.” Ino thought to himself opening the doors to his dormitory.
“This staircase and the usual nods and hello to acquaintances.”
So it began the labored climb and the forced nods and hello on his way to his 3rd floor room. The stairs as well as the halls were occupied in some parts by pails, reminding of last night’s downpour and the repairs needed to patch up the roof.
Whiff of Nicotine leaks out of open doors. The kasera is not happy of the tenants smoking habit considering the dated wooden furnishing the dormitory has. But it gave the place a Greenwich – Bohemian kick.
Next door to Ino is Karlo, a budding painter who always finds his pastel and charcoal best with a friendly bottle of Cerveza. Across is Pedro, a Philosophy Major with left leaning ideals, a friendly mien, and a reserve countenance.
He placed his key and turned the knob. He had forgotten to reset his radio alarm.
“Every time I watched the sky, for these past few days leave me alone.”
It was still the song from the Jeepney and the road side karaoke that was playing, possibly haunting him.
He unplugged the radio, closed the door, and pulled up the blinds. Darkness had encroached the city and on a night like this, one wonders what unsettling questions it would bring.
The train station is seen from a distance and tired eyes sees depth in things. Jovial shrieks of children playing in the streets can be heard. Running to and fro as if chasing their dreams or fleeing from the bondage of time. The Sun had sighed and beings of different perspectives had woken and emerged.
He sank deep in his only couch inside the sleepy room; listless while trying to make something out of ambient noises. A floating Orb fiery Orange burned in the room. Smoke hangs in the empty air, filling the room with the smell of dried burning leaves.
This room had been his altar and his lighted cigarette – an incense burning to obscurity. He chuckled thinking of Tita, his kasera and what she may say if she finds out about Ino’s combustible venerating ritual.
His room is his retreat to the center, Ino’s ethereal sanctum.
He felt the poison in his veins pass through the valves of his heart; riddling it once more with insecurities, worry and longing. A cavity moved into his chest, a rift developed. Ino’s feeling heart almost succumbing and failing to beat. He finished his cigarette and stood up, approaching a door that was not there before.
Through a glint of light passing through the window, he saw his name etched roughly in the door’s surface. The wooden door opened and a vast troubled ocean beckoned. A gust blew a salty mist to his face. A small stony isle was waiting for him and invited him in isolation. He dipped his feet in the damp sandy ground, mindless of the roaring tides and bellowing winds.
Just then, the door closed behind.
“I’ll be gone for a while.” Joey saw Ino walking away, his footsteps hushed and his silhouette fading. Half awake, she tried to ask where he was going. But all she can muster to say was, “I can’t wait for you Ino.” in that waking dream.
She saw him put up his sad smile as he always does, while trying to say something hushed she did not understand. Then he was gone.