Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Writing Challenge: Spirit of the Glass

It was a summer night and the year was 1968. The half moon was grinning in the night sky and the coconut trees were swaying slightly in the evening breeze as they towered over a small Nipa house whose windows flickered with faint candlelight. It was already past bedtime for the family that lived in the house; the father had taken his spot in the papag near the door and the mother had already fallen asleep in the room with the baby.

But for the three girls, the night was far from over.

“Put it here,” Nellie whispered to her sisters as she put down the candle she was holding on to a big Narra table. “And be quiet. If Tatay wakes up, we’re in big trouble.”

Delia walked to the table, making her sister cringe with her heavy footsteps, and laid down a piece of worn-out carton on it.

“You brought the wrong piece,” Nellie scolded Delia, raising her voice as high as a whisper could go.

Tatay threw away the board you made last time so we’re making a new one,” Delia answered, hardly trying to keep her voice down. “And will you stop whispering? There’s no need to; Tatay is like a log when he sleeps.”

Elsie, the youngest of the three, followed her sisters to the table and handed them a pencil that was barely long enough to be held properly. Delia took it and started tracing circles on the carton using the brim of a glass. Meanwhile, Nellie kept glancing nervously at their father who was sleeping on a banig on the floor just a few feet away from them. She had to squint as it was hard to tell if the man was already asleep under the mosquito net, the light barely piercing through it.

“Ate, stop worrying,” Elsie assured her although she, too, was whispering. “Ate Delia is right, Tatay won’t be woken up easily.”

Nellie ignored her and instead propped up a knee on the wooden bench beside the table and raised herself to look over to her father’s corner.

“I’m finished,” Delia finally announced after a few minutes. She set the pencil aside and placed the glass brim-down over the circle she drew at the center of the carton.

“Okay. Let’s begin,” Nellie said as she climbed on the table, her sisters doing the same. She gestured the sign of the cross, took out a piece of paper from her pocket and read the words written on it.

“Wait, we’re not supposed to pray, right? We’ll end up calling the bad spirits,” Elsie whispered to Delia as Nellie chanted unfamiliar words, but Delia only shushed her in reply.

Nellie finished the prayer soon after. She folded the paper and placed it back in her pocket. Then she extended her hand and placed her forefinger on the glass. Delia did the same immediately after. Elsie hesitated for a while before putting her finger on the glass as well. They stayed that way, as if they were waiting for something. Seconds passed, then minutes, but they did not let go. They hardly moved at all.

Suddenly, the glass started to rotate under their fingers.

“Is there a spirit in the glass now?” Nellie asked.

The glass moved to a circle marked YES, then went back to the circle in the center.

“Where are you from?” It was Elsie who asked this time. The glass moved to a circle with PURGATORY written in it.

“What is your name?”

The glass moved around in the circles lined along the sides of the board, each one marked with a letter.


“Can you answer our questions about our future?” Nellie asked eagerly.


Nellie’s eyes lit up at the answer. She was about to ask another question when Delia interrupted, “I’m more interested with the present. For instance, does Ate Nellie have a boyfriend right now?”

The glass moved to YES.

The candlelight was enough to reveal that Nellie had blushed. Delia smirked at her while Elsie laughed, “Ate, why didn’t you tell us?”

“I’m already fourteen. I’m old enough to have a boyfriend without telling anyone,” Nellie reasoned out, raising her eyebrows at the younger girls.

“Even Tatay?” Delia retorted, still smirking.

“Especially him. And will you two keep your voices down?” Nellie said anxiously, glancing once again to where their father was.

“So, is he good-looking?” Elsie asked, grinning at Nellie.

The glass suddenly moved to NO.

Nellie’s mouth fell open while Delia and Elsie started laughing so hard they were shaking.

“This is not fair,” Nellie complained. She had a determined look on her face; she was going to get even with the other girls.

“Did Delia and Elsie really have a group study last night like they told Tatay?”

The two girls’ laughter was promptly silenced and their smiles were replaced with horrified looks as Nellie brandished a triumphant smile.

More secrets were revealed by the spirit of the glass as the night went on. The girls asked about each other’s secret lovers, about which suitor had truly pure intentions, and about which girls at school were telling stories about them behind their backs. After over an hour of asking, they started to run out of questions and the pauses in between started to get longer. They eventually decided to end the game.

“Renato, thank you for answering our questions. We hereby release you,” Delia declared as she tipped the glass to its side.

“Elsie, come with me to the bathroom,” Nellie said to Elsie. They climbed down the table and left Delia to tidy up.

Delia stared at the glass curiously when the other two had left. She held it, tossed it back and forth between her hands a few times, then placed it back on the center circle. Then she slowly extended a finger on top of it.

The glass started to rotate again.

“Elsie! Ate!” she called out in panic as she withdrew her hand.

“The glass moved!” she told them when they came back. They climbed on the table again.

“Renato, you can go now," Elsie said as she pushed the glass down on its side.

The glass sprung back up.

Elsie clasped her hand to her mouth.

“What do you want us to do?” Delia shouted at the glass. She slowly reached out to it. It spun wildly the moment her finger hovered over it.


“No, please just leave,” Nellie sobbed. She pushed the glass down but it sprung right back up again.

The table shook violently. The girls screamed and bent down, trying to hold on to the edges of the table as it seemingly tried to throw them off. The house echoed with the sound of breaking glass as the water jugs and condiment bottles on the edge of the table fell and crashed to the floor.

Then it stopped. The girls slowly rose back up. They looked at one another and started sobbing hysterically.

But they were silenced as they felt the table slowly getting raised. The glass started spinning on its own. It started to move around the board wildly.

Then the light of the candle was put out.

The girls screamed and jumped off the table. Nellie’s foot got caught in the bench and she plunged to the floor face-first. Delia hit her shoulder on the nearby post and Elsie arm ran over a nail on a broken wooden plank on the floor, leaving her with a long gash. They hurriedly got up, sore and bleeding, and ran out of the house, stumbling on the mosquito net and trampling on their father who cursed at them as they scrambled for the door. They huddled in a corner of their small terrace, hugging and sobbing.

Inside the house, their father’s curses muffled the sound of a glass breaking.

This is based on my mother's story. She was one of those three girls. Every time we have a reunion, she and my aunts would always tell this story at one point.


Other entries for this challenge:

The Case of the Abandoned Hotel by Will
Casaroro by Claudiopoi
Joshua by Louie
The Horror Story Challenge by Glentot
Si Adora by Fox


  1. Galing! Story can be made into a short film. We once tried it, pero nothing happened. Guess lahat kami mga skeptics nung panahon na yun. :|

  2. sheeeet! akala ko kaluluwa na ng tatay nila si renato. katakot lang.


    hehe. nice one, jap!

  3. ay, this one i heard in person :)

  4. I thought it was fiction, and it was scary enough, but when you said this was based on your mother's experiences, I got scared even more! Haha kwela pa si Renato, nilait pa yung BF ni Ate Nellie.

  5. Badtrip naman! Dapat binasa ko ito ng gabi! Hehehe. First written entry, galing ng imagery.

  6. Nai-imagine ko talaga siya hababg binabasa ko! scary.. kaya ako sa bote na lang naglalaro! :))

  7. Dapat minsan, mag spirit of the glass tau! Waaaaahhh!

  8. Ookay. Akala ko fiction, totoo pala.. siguro sing-skeptic lang ako ng unang nagcomment nung nagbabasa pero nung mabasa ko ang dulo ay kinilabutan ako

  9. Nice. Di mo pa toh nakukwento sa min Jap...