06 Mayo 2012

A Scene From the End of the World

When the Globe subscription messages flooded his inbox, they drowned the messages his wife left two hours previous and at no point on the long bus ride home did Kiko manage to stay awake long enough to read them, let alone reply. When he explained the predicament at home, during the cold dinner, his wife eyed him from behind two near-empty bottles of banana and tomato catsup and the squat container of patis, summarily displeased and shamefaced for having worried over nothing. She felt herself entitled to the sullen, heavy silence. Trina planned to dispel it with dessert: a slice of leche flan she managed to save because the persistent, slanting rain drove her customers to seek shelter underneath more solid roof than her road-side carinderia could offer. She offered it to her husband on a thin aluminum tray with a small smile that, she felt, more than made up for her nagging.

The couple enjoyed the frail minutes that bridged the haphazardly reconstructed intimacy between them until Kiko's phone rang with another message and Trina hauled herself off to wash the plates.     

GLOBE Subscribers, text "mysins" space "pangalan" space "mga kasalanan mo" to 2332; For SMART Subscribers, text "kasalananko" space "pangalan" space "mga kasalanan mo" to 2728. 
Lately, the messages had doubled. From twice a week, they came in droves almost hourly. Both companies had pointedly refused to address the issue, claiming they reported the news, as usual. No more, no less. Trina's own mobile tinkled in a corner. But they had talked about it for months, it was no longer worthy of any further conversation. It almost made her angry. Obediently, she texted:
MySins Trina Santiago galit sa asawa dahil hindi na kami nag-uusap.
The reply came almost immediately:
Thank you! Please pray 2 Hail Marys and 1 Glory Be.
When the first few messages arrived a month ago, Trina and Kiko talked of nothing else. Aside from an uneasy alliance against McDonald's deep fried chicken, they together shunned the occult, the terrifying, and everything that didn't fit with the morality they grew up with. They knew that what had pushed and kept them together was the gravitational pull of simple geography. Trina grew up three streets away, in the same subdivision in the same city and they blew into each other's lives effortlessly. Soon, they tangled their legs together underneath the same sheets, upon the same mattress, and felt their lives complete. Everything else was a roadblock, cheap entertainment they enjoyed, together, from a safe distance. So when, inevitably, Kiko's phone rang again, he ignored it completely, opting to enjoy the leche flan.

It was Trina, left at home to run her carinderia, who first tried Electronic Confession or TextConfess. It was easy. She texted everything: how she glowered, rustled, felt humiliated when her husband went to work without eating the breakfast she prepared him, although she knew he would be late; how she began flirting with the construction workers who regularly ate the soft rice she cooked fresh for lunch, who came back for merienda and her sweet kamote-que; how she sometimes wished her husband would feel uneasy -- even lonely -- if she didn't message him her loud little reminders like mag-uwi ka ng bigas, kulang na ako. After a few days, she even messaged the long-forgotten sins she buried and lost, that formed the core of her grave and honest dissatisfaction:
MySins Trina Santiago Ayokong kausap ang asawa ko at hindi niya alam.
The reply was swift and clear:
Thank you! Please pray 2 Hail Marys and 1 Glory Be.
By now she had prayed more than a hundred Hail Marys and had begun to question if God would doubt the sincerity of her confession if all she did for penance was pray. Trina felt relieved regardless of her misgivings. Once, she asked if everything she confessed had been grave sins, would she land in hell? The question mark must have thrown off the system because the reply was garbled and two hours late. Still, she enjoyed hearing her phone laugh, tinkle, and bray for her attention. If no one was listening out there, at least she felt a little thrill listening to the incoming message, encouraging the fire of hope that it was Kiko who would message, although he never did.

Kiko, on the other hand, had steadfastly ignored all the messages, deleting them one after the other as soon as they came. He didn't believe in them and he felt offended by reading them. Dalawang linggo, the messages all trilled, two weeks until the end of the world! They were advertising it like a concert or an event, the messages as pervasive as the rallying call for help during calamities. Convinced everything was an elaborate hoax, Kiko was quick to ridicule but when he came home one night, his wife's mobile alarmed thrice, the same beeping that he associated with the persistent subscriber texts. He read the same text calling for 2 Hail Marys from at least ten different messages sent throughout the long day. He felt betrayed and alone, exactly as Trina wanted but it passed when he read the messages she sent out. Each sin accounted for, each sin a little trophy gleaming, each sin made him smile at the silliness of his wife and the impossibly small life she led.

When she finally sat down opposite him, a plate of dinner perfectly set before him, Kiko could not suppress a laugh. Anong nakakatawa? Trina asked, surprised, her eyes narrowed into suspicious slits. They talked about everything, everything, everything until Trina was laughing, too. 

Rehashing the same concept as Half Asleep with different characters. I'm planning on rewriting Half Asleep later on, into longer fiction that doesn't feel as abrupt or as sex-centered.

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