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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.

R-E-N-A-T-O

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

YES

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.

LARO PA TAYO

“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.

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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

Friday, May 27, 2011

PLU Blog List Update


New blogs in the list this month:

Cigarette Butts and Senseless Tangenialities
by: ron.angitawagmosaakin

Confessions of a Pretend Artista
I am not an actor, nor am i connected to any show/network. But my work/life resembles that of showbiz, and hence, will use that. So read between the lines.
by: magnum


***********


I'm still trying to think of ways to improve the list. Right now, I'm thinking of adding labels to the items, like "English", "Humor" or "Literary", to give readers a better idea of what they are about.

If you have any suggestions, please do tell me.


***********


To those who linked or promoted the page, thank you so much. I really really appreciate it.

To those who haven't, I still hope you can link back to the page. I had Kraehe make a badge of sorts. You can use that. Or you can link it however you want. The page is doing great, but I still hope it can reach more people.


View the page HERE.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nishiboy Is Dating A Closeted Guy

I met John through one of my instructors from college. My instructor gave him my facebook, he viewed my profile and sent me a message. We met in a mall a few days after that. I guess you can call that a date since we had dinner and we talked about random stuff. He wasn’t really my type. He was five inches shorter than me, a bit too masculine for my taste and two thirds of our conversation was just me talking. But we clicked. The chemistry was definitely there. The night ended with us agreeing to meet again, which we did a couple of days later. It was obvious that we liked each other and the circumstances were promising.

There was just one small glitch: he’s not out.

This is my first time to date a closeted guy. Whenever we go out, I have to be careful to stay far enough from him to not arouse suspicion from other people. I don’t really think anyone would notice if I put my arm around his shoulder or if I bump my arm against his while walking around the mall, but he seems to think so. He gets a little awkward whenever I get too close, which is a little difficult since I like getting close.

When we went out on our second date, I suggested that we watch a movie and hang out in a mall near my place, but he said that since it was my rest day, he’d rather we spend the day in my apartment so I could rest. I agreed. He told me later that he actually just felt awkward walking in a crowded place with a guy. He said he didn’t want to be judged.

But the awkwardness in public is not the biggest issue, it’s that we graduated from the same course in the same university and we’re only a couple of batches apart, which means that our worlds have large overlapping portions. I was already out when I was in college. I’m a member of an LGBT organization. I had a boyfriend and we never denied our relationship. I wasn’t a popular kid back then but there were enough people who knew about me for word to spread if ever any of them got wind of me and John.

Just take my team at work, for instance. Most of my teammates are also from the same university. I showed his picture to my boss accidentally and she recognized him. He freaked out when I told him about it. I had to calm him down. I apologized and promised to tell my boss not to tell anyone about him.

We thought of visiting our university together. We wanted to spend a weekend there or something because that’s our common ground. It’s a place where we can both really loosen up and be comfortable in, but we can’t go there without risking exposing him because his friends might see us and they might recognize me. There are also only two major gimik areas near our campus. One is frequented by a sorority in which I have many friends, and the other is owned by an ex-date’s friend and is the favorite hang-out of his crowd. If any of them sees me with a guy, they’ll know that the guy is my date.

It shouldn’t be an issue, I know. We could still be together even if I’m out of the closet and he’s still in. It’s just that I’ve been out for a few years already, but right now, I feel like I’m being dragged back in. That’s my problem, I suppose, and not his. I’m going to deal with it. I know things will get better. We’ve only been dating for a few weeks, after all. We’re both just still adjusting, and this is harder for him than it is for me.

And I think what really matters is that I like him. I really, really like him, enough to give this thing we have a shot. These past few weeks have been really great because of him. He’s doing his best, too. On one of our recent dates, I told him that I wanted to introduce him to a couple of my friends. He said okay. I asked him if he was nervous.

His reply:

“A bit. But I know I have to come out little by little if I want to be with you.”

That’s good enough for me.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Comfort Sex

We were in the terrace of my apartment that evening. The only strands of light that touched us came from the streetlights in the distance. I was leaning against the wall, further hidden from what little light there was. He was sitting on a chair in front of me, his face buried in his hands. I took a puff from my cigarette and spoke to him.

“Are you okay?”

He looked up at me, his eyes filled with sadness. Then he stood up and hugged me.  I put my arms around him and hugged him back. We stayed that way for a while until he pulled halfway back and looked at me. Then he started to lean in.

I pushed him back.

He looked at me, looking slightly surprised at what I did. “Why? I thought you told me that you wanted this.”

I took a deep breath, summoned every ounce of self-control I had and looked away. “Yes, I want to kiss you, but not tonight and not like this.”

“It’s just a kiss,” he whispered, moving back in until his face was inches mine. “Please, I need it. Besides, I never got to first base with you.”

I looked back at him. The sadness in his eyes had left. He had an unfamiliar grin in his face and his eyes now burned with something I’ve never seen in them before. My own eyes were held captive by his gaze.

“These are pent up feelings you have for your ex and right now you’re just channelling them to me,” I answered. “I’ve done that before and it doesn’t help at all.”

“You’re making me beg. Don’t.” he said. He leaned towards me again.

This time, I didn’t stop him. We kissed. It was tentative and I pulled back after a few seconds.

“I told you it wouldn’t help,” I said, controlling my voice to hide how I was already intoxicated by the taste of his lips.

“Yes, it did,” he answered. Then he pulled me back in. “Let’s try that again.”

I surrendered and leaned forward. The kiss was deep and passionate this time. I held his face and I felt his hands moving up my back.

I pulled back. “Let’s stop this. I’m starting to get turned on,” I laughed awkwardly while trying to use my hands to hide what my boxers couldn’t.

He grinned again. Then he reached down and pushed my hand aside

I gasped.

“Oh shit.”

He chuckled and pushed me down on the chair. Then he pulled another chair and sat in front of me. He looked around, surveying the place. “Do you think they can see us?” he asked, nodding towards our neighbor’s window. I shrugged and pushed my shorts down.

And he went down on me.


“Let’s just keep this between the two of us, okay?” he said when we were done. “I’m still not sure if I want him and me to break up, so I want to save it if I can.”

I felt a stab in my heart. “Of course.”

“Thanks,” he smiled.

“But you have to stop coming to me about him,” I said. “Because right now, I feel like shit.”

“Okay. I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

“I’m sorry. I know you need someone right now and I promised you that you can always count on me, but I can’t be that guy anymore. Not with you. I like you too much already.”

“I understand.”

I closed my eyes and sighed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Straight-acting

“Straight-acting”

That’s the term most people use to refer to PLU who act like the traditional straight guy instead of the stereotypical homosexual. It’s a term that has a couple of things wrong with it: first, it assumes that those PLU are only trying to imitate straight guys. Second, it claims that certain behaviors “belong” to straight-dom and thus they should be acknowledged. Therefore, it is a term that supports discrimination and stereotyping. Despite this, it is also a label that many PLU strive to be under.

Being labeled as “straight-acting” has its benefits. The biggest of these, of course, is the so-called market value. We are men who like men, after all, so it just follows that our desirability is directly proportional to our masculinity.  Another big benefit is lesser discrimination. The closer we are to the norm, the less hostile society appears to be. Heterosexuality is still the norm and, in our case, straight-acting is as close as we’ll get.

People always suspected me to be gay when I was still in the closet. There were telltale signs, like I was never into sports, I didn’t dig the fratman brand of humor and I used words rather than fists when in a fight. In the midst of all the suspicion and the pressure from my friends to come out, I tried harder to act like my straight friends. It was really to convince myself more than anyone else that I was really straight.

I eventually learned to accept who I was. Ironically, while people strongly suspected me to be gay when I was still in denial, a lot of people I met after I came out could not believe that I was gay. But I was already out; I no longer needed to act in any way for anyone. I loosened up and, since then, I allowed myself to act and speak in whatever way I chose. “Tol” and “pare” became replaced with “friend”, “astig” was replaced with “sosyal” and “panalo”, and my movements were no longer awkwardly stiff. However, even after dropping all the pretensions, I was still not “gay enough”. It seemed that many of the straight-ish aspects that I labored to acquire were already drilled too tightly onto my system that they had already become who I was. I must admit, it felt good to be told that I looked straight and that I was manly. It somehow felt as if all the hard work I spent trying to be acceptable have paid off.

It’s been several years since I came out. I’ve since come to fully accept that I’m gay. I no longer pretend to be someone I’m not. I have been in three relationships. I have come out to my mom. I even joined an LGBT organization. But I’m ashamed to admit that I still like it whenever someone tells me that I’m “hindi halata”. In all my claims of being proud of my sexuality, even going as far as joining in the fight against discrimination, I’m still not brave enough to hold that flag with my head held high. In the end, a part of me still just wants to fit in and be like everybody else. That is why I still can’t bring myself to correct those PLU who pretend to be someone their not just so they can have their own little share of acceptance.

But this has to stop. I am not straight. People may mistake me for one, but I’m not.  I should stop feeling pleased for being desired or accepted for who I am perceived to be instead of who I really am. If I keep doing that, then I will live a sad life where every day is a quest for validation and false acceptance. I am gay, and that’s what I should be proud of.