Summer Breeze in Fall

Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces

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In the cold autumn breeze, he pulls his coat together. The cloth barely covers him from the external chill and deep inside the ice spreads. That day was the exact opposite of the present. He continues his walk against the cobblestone path, not thinking of anything in particular. The blank thoughts weren’t signs of uneventful strides but clear effort to block out the happenings of that day. Blank. Blank. Blank. Summer. Sea. Sunshine.

It was one of the most beautiful days. One of those rare occasions when the sun shines through the sullen, little town of theirs. They took the chance to make the most of their weekend. She made some easy sandwiches, packed several other snacks and a jug of cold lemonade, even if the day wasn’t that hot. It was just for the sake of the pseudo-summer they have that day. He took the keys to their trusty truck and made that twenty-minute ride to the coasts.

Thankfully, they were the only ones who have thought of going to the sea. Thinking back, it should have been a tell-tale sign. They took the emptiness of the beach as an invitation to have their sudden escape in an imagined private resort. She changed into her bright pink bikini, with a thin shawl over. She was happily running along the sand, playing catch with the waves. He was sitting down the blanket, smiling contently over the picture perfect scene playing along. She invited him to come over and teased him when he turned her down. In the end, both of them were running along in circles and in a bubble of their own glee.

It was her idea that they take photo on that cliff nearby. To commemorate this wonderful day of momentary sunshine. He got the camera and tripod from the truck and off they go, up, up the rocks. They posed like all the typical couple do, arms around each other smiling at the camera, against the bright lights of glittering sea. And just as the camera flashed, she kissed him on the cheeks. He was taken by surprise, but was very glad, anyways. She laughed at her sudden boldness and he kissed her, this time on the lips. When they broke apart, smiling at each other, a breeze blew and took with it her shawl. He bravely ran after the thin cloth, narrowly missing it thrice before finally catching it quite a good distance away from her. When he turned back, smiling again, she was gone. His fingers relieved it grasp around the techni-colored linen and off it went, up, up the sky.

He finally reached the old block of marble, dusted with loose grains of earth and some sand. He took off this black, overused hat. The cold breeze blew on his gray hairs. He brought with him lavender wreaths, the one she particularly likes. He sat down on blanket he brought with him and smiled sadly at the picture perfect scene he is in. He was talked about nothing in particular, just mentioning a few happenings recently. He also took with him a book he read aloud sometimes. Without notice, a strong, warmer wind arrived, making him close his eyes. When he open them, a tattered but still recognizable techni-colored shawl was casually draped on the tombstone. Tears rolled down his aged face, while he said, “Always.”

Bibliophile: From the World of Papers and Inks

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The library was a wonder to me back in kindergarten. It was located on the second floor of our building, next to the first grade classrooms. But to get there I had to go up the ominous, large staircase. And I was also scared that I would miss the person who was going to fetch me and leave me alone. Back then, I swore that when I get to first grade, I would enter the library triumphantly.

First grade came and I made sure to look for the library. I was ecstatic when I found out that my classroom was right next to library. At lunchtime that day, I was the first inside the room. The librarian was kind enough to show me how to use the library card, filling the blanks, and the kinds of books they have. Being a six-year-old kid, I was led to the easy books section. I can still remember the first ever book I borrowed, Tom Thumb.

I spent the whole night reading and re-reading the short adventure of Tom Thumb. I marveled by the thought of reading. I only had two story books at home and having a new book, reliving another tale, was an eye opener. Tom was taking me over his father’s garden. I was with him through the curious stares of strangers. He said goodbye to me when the last page was turned.

Ever since that day, I found a new hobby. Over the years, I have read many stories and books. When I read books, it feels like I am inside the pages. The smell of pages and ink of brand new books, the rough texture of aged binds and the gentle crimpling sound when the chapters unfold encapsulate me in a bubble where anything is possible. Words seep into my brain and move into my heart. Sometimes when I am reading alone, I even act out some lines and gestures. I empathize with characters, I feel the way they feel, and at some point I become them. It isn’t just an escape from the clutches of boredom but a life of its own.

But there came a time when I became too involved with other things. It was the advent of advancing technology, where a lot of teenagers do not appreciate reading as a hobby. Most are busy surfing in the internet, playing computer games, dallying in social network sites and whatnot. I’ve met people who find it boring just by looking at the toll of words in a page. For them, a tiresome activity is no hobby at all. I admit I was also entranced by the allure of technology. It was shiny, shimmery, splendid break in our mundane life. But the fast pace recreation was a trap. It kept us there all for the wrong reasons and all for the wrong intentions. Reading became just a sideline. It was something to do when the internet is unavailable, which is not that often. I forgot the joys I had with simply sitting back and reading.

It was a phase in my life when I was still discovering other outlets available but in the end nothing still beats a good book. My passion for reading reignited when I met new people who also read with much fervor. I was reawakened from the cruel hiatus. But the sad thing is that books of my interest are not as accessible as before. Back in grade school and high school, our library had a wide array of books that are annually updated. The setting in UP is highly different. Academic readings were highly prioritized over fiction. Saving my own allowance was the only option to indulge my fix, but being a mere student, it was a challenge. The good thing though, was that my sisters were also very encouraging with my hobby. They occasionally treat me to “book shopping”. I also thank some second hand bookstores for the affordable and unique titles they offer. Yet, these measures were not enough. The latest releases were difficult to find in thrift stores and are way too expensive in conventional bookstores. I realized that it was getting tougher to keep up with my reading hobby. And then I found the perfect alternative.

My past temptation gave me an opportunity to sustain my fires of passion. Technology was the answer. Advancements in the computer generation made books become readily available in PDF and epub formats, which allowed readers to download the files and read them using their laptops, smart phones and the like for free, if you know where to look. There were also networking sites that made book reviews and sharing possible. The virtual dimension was no longer a distraction; on the contrary it was the fuel that kept my enthusiasm for reading possible.

It was a breakthrough for me, having the best of both worlds and enjoying two of man’s greatest achievements: books and technology. It made my mundane life an exciting experience. There are days that I would devote to reading alone, while some days I would search for new interesting stories for me to relive. A raw prose. A polished fiction. A sensational epic. A dramatic novel. A national best seller. A secret hit.

It might sound unnerving and odd to some people that such ardor would be given to such unassuming and quiet leisure but to the heart of a bookworm, who has found, lost and redeemed her passions, reading is an art. It is the meeting of minds. The book itself is just a black and white canvas but your imagination colors the painting and makes it uniquely yours. There are instances when you find yourself too engrossed to the works of fiction that the reality seems surreal. Unlike other forms of expression, written accounts are strange binds that make each letter and word more meaningful.

Nowadays, I can’t always address the call to read for there are also responsibilities waiting to be answered. There are reports to be made. There are papers to be written. There are exams to prepare for. Sometimes weeks pass by before I get the opportunity to enjoy the moment of unadulterated reading. Reality always finds its way back and at the end of the day we all know what our priorities are.

But even if I don’t always have the time to read, I am not saddened. The happiness that I get from reading stays with me. The way I see the world is shaped by the narratives of hundreds of personalities made of thin sheets from pulps of wood. They taught me countless of lessons, from family ties to heartbreaks. It gave me a glimpse of life that is waiting for me to happen, a tale waiting for me to create. It was no longer just a simple hobby; it is a way of life. It wasn’t a boring activity; it is burst of sparks. It was never just papers and ink or words on a page; it is a world of its own.

SHE

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how do you know if you have crossed the line?

this question remained in her as the minutes passed by. serene and peaceful is all she is if you look, but beneath it is a  storm that chills her to the bone, weakens her grip of sanity and brings rain of tears to flood her soul.

she knew from the beginning that all she had was her love for that person and no more. she couldn’t also blame her him for the ordinary and plain girl she is that caused his disinterest, as she had thought. all throughout she tried her best to make him see her differently. someone who could make him feel the slightest way she feels for him. he never did, or moreover, he never could.

there was also the distance between them that could never be filled. he was one, she was another. only ill-fated stars wished her to fall for the very person who was her polar opposite. and the only thing worst than that is that she loved him so much, she wished she never did. he was her  strength as well as her kryptonite. what else could happen when he was everything but everything was over, right from the very start?

outside it might never show. she hid her scars well and wore the mask as if there wasn’t any but  inside, all alone, all of the feelings begin to explode. frustration, sadness, loneliness, anger, a mixture of feelings clamouring for release at the depths of her very core. she wanted to scream, but also to shut out; to smile but also to cry, for all the reasons she chose to love him to destruction.

it might have been years since it all began, but to her it was an eternity of expectating, believing and hoping. at first, she had all the excuse for the hurt and rejections, then she ignored the pain she felt, until it came to the point that she had all but let go of the single hope she could create. the notion of  “what if?” still hangs and acts as the anchor that sinks her deeper into what most of us calls stupidity, and technically, insanity. all those times, she was torn between bitter pretentions and tears. she wanted to stop, her mind was ready, but her heart was nowhere to be found, shattered, broken beyond repair.

now that she had realized she way way beyond the border, left with nothing to hold on, she called and tried to compose her maimed self. recalled all bitter memories, emptied her heart out from everything but still it wasn’t enough. the question was answered but the solution was not right. she still continues to watch from afar, smiles at every mention of his name and feels the same, if not greater, for him.

she went past the point of no return. she was still trapped in that unrequited love, but somehow, somewhere, someone will bring her back, rescue her from all the pain she had caused herself. but until that day she will still endure all the hurt he did even without meaning to. there was nothing left to do but wait until that fateful it was her turn to be love in return.