They say the night is for the lovers and I guess, some part of me recognized that. The bar was packed from wall to wall with people dancing, enticing, trying to make sense of the world outside the corners of that room. And while I myself had a different purpose for coming here, we all moved to the same rhythm, to the same beat of a heart seeking another.
I guess you could say at the end of everything that I got everything I deserved. I knew he was dangerous. I knew what power he had over me and yet there I was, at the time and place we agreed to meet, heart firmly up my sleeve. From the thinning crowd, he walked towards me and kissed me lightly on the cheek.
“Miss me?” he asked, sly and inviting.
“Of course,” I replied. His was a power I knew long ago not to question. He took my hand and led me to his car.
That night, marinating in sweat and sex, I told him I was in love with him. I looked to him with questioning eyes, waiting for a response.
“I’d love you, I mean really love you but…” he paused, the ellipsis thick and imposing in the air. “But I can’t. I’d tell you it’s because I’m dying but then baby, aren’t we all?”
I felt at one with the rhythm. The bar smelled like trapped smoke, sweat, and desire. A man brushes up from behind me. I turn around and he smiles. A Top 40 song starts to play. The whole bar was hooting in unison as I got lost in the eyes of my beautiful stranger.
“Aris,” he says.
“You come here often?”
“Not really. I’m not from around here.”
“Well, it’s great to meet you,” he says, extending his hand. I shake it mildly then bring him closer for an embrace.
Denial is the strongest force in the universe. I tried to ignore the signs even though they were blatantly emblazoned throughout the day – a weakening body, a defeated spirit, a bit of blood in my spit. It took all the courage in me to answer the questions in my head. The lab technician stabbed a needle in me one day to get blood, truth, and clarification. As the counselor handed me a frail sheet of white paper, I knew that though my lover had gone and left me, there was always going to be something he left behind that would remind me of the gamble I took and lost.
Reactive. What a cruel word. The counselor told me I shouldn’t let it control my life. I feared that since my lover left, there was no life left to control.
We dance as though it were foreplay. My hands roam the many districts of his body – his ample chest, his muscular arms, his broad shoulders. My fervent lips were busy claiming his as my own. As the crowd blurs away like an overexposed photograph, I remark at how wonderful it feels to be with him, how at peace I was with this warm body, this beating heart, this thrilling feeling of love blossoming in one night.
“Can you be my boyfriend?” I ask. He smiles at me tentatively, like he was expecting a different question altogether. The song that was playing slowly fades into silence as the DJ flips a new record to play.
“Let’s get out of here.”
The days after my visit to the clinic were long and painful. I took it all in quietly, knowing not to stir too much hysterics on an already hysterical life. For days, I got lost in confusion and despair. I wanted to blame him, wanted to cast him as the villain who took over my life. But then I remember that I was the one who fell for him. I was the one who took his hand and got in his car. When one loses their face down a well, there is little left to do but fall in after it.
Despite everything, I could not hate him. I couldn’t bring myself to despise all that he did to me. When the dust settled, I saw everything with painful clarity. I knew what I had to do to be set free.
I would visit him one last time at the place where we first met. It was the only way to keep him, to keep his memory alive and burning in my mind. Maybe then, I would find peace.
Over breakfast with his friends, we are a picture of a perfect couple. My arms rest naturally on his side and every now and then, I rest my head on his shoulder. His friends interrogated us into the wee hours of the morning. Their faces are welcoming but their tones betray bitter pangs of jealousy and judgment. Not another one, they seem to say. How long will this one stick around? I steal light, feather kisses whenever I can in between spoonfuls of beef tapa and fried rice.
He looks at me, or rather through me. His gaze jars my very soul. My head was telling me that this could work. That maybe he’d find a way to fix me, to put my broken pieces together. But my heart would not let go. He will never understand. He will run when he knows who you really are. There’s only room for one in here. I close my eyes and feel his lips on mine, all the while my lover’s face shines through the darkness.
We settle the bill and get ready to leave. He asks if I want to come over to his place. I say I’ve got stuff to do, people to see, a life I need to get back to. He hails a cab for me and right before I get in, I kiss him one last time on the cheek.
“Text text,” he says, even though we didn’t exchange digits.
“Yup,” I answer. As we drove away, the woman on the radio sings the story of my life. I close my eyes and imagine her words filling my head.
At ngayon, ‘di pa rin alam
Kung ba’t tayo nandito
Pwede bang itigil muna
Ang pag-ikot ng mundo?
Kung ba’t tayo nandito
Pwede bang itigil muna
Ang pag-ikot ng mundo?
“Boss? Boss…” the driver wakes me. I open my eyes and the 8AM sunlight blinds me. “Saan po tayo?”
I hesitate for a second. “Sa Guadalupe,” I tell him and as we made our way through the city, I realize that for the first time in a long time, it feels like I’m finding my way back to free.
POSTCRIPT: Man commits suicide inside MRT station
Posted at 05/08/2013 12:09 PM
MANILA - Operations of Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) were disrupted after a passenger allegedly committed suicide by jumping in front of a train Wednesday morning.
Makati police chief Col. Manuel Lucban said the man appeared to have committed suicide, and that he did not accidentally fall onto the tracks. The incident occurred at 8:18 a.m.
MRT general manager Al Vitangcol said the train station's closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage shows that the man indeed jumped onto the tracks.
The man's body was mangled after being dragged by the train for about 30 meters. He was already dead when the rescue team arrived.
The MRT management had to suspend the operations of the train system due to the incident.
The DOTC said that "MRT is on provisional operations from North Ave. to Shaw stations and vice versa until further notice. Please bear with us. Thank you."
Due to the incident, some passengers were forced to get off the train even before it could reach the station.
Passengers had no choice but to take other means of transportation following the disruption of operations.
♫: Imago | Spolarium (2005)
Post: Oh Boy!, DZMM
DON’T DO IT! I thought twice about posting this because I was afraid of the message I was sending. This post is a work of fiction. In no way am I encouraging suicide or mongering fear/hatred for those living with HIV. I highly encourage everybody to check out Love Yourself and get tested today. Also, the Philippines recently launched a suicide hotline. If you feel lost or hopeless, contact 0917 588 HOPE.