Lawrence. PH. Ageless. Architect. Christian. Bosconian. Kapampangan. Bookworm. Writer. Music Junkie. Potterhead. RecluseAsk Submit
Where art thou, my Vena Amoris?
Ancient tradition had told me this:
It ran from the tip of the ring finger
But why do generations after
They say it really is from the pointer?
Oh, Vena Amoris, how long do you run?
Do you happen to have more than one
(or are you just a solitary) vein?
Do you have a much simpler name?
“Vein of Love”— Oh, that sounds sweetly the same!
My dear Vena Amoris, do you know some magic?
Can you make my life a little less tragic?
Please, I beg you, aid the forefinger
Help it locate my sweet lovely ‘Her’
So She and I would live in bliss forever
There was a time when
the pencil was the celebrity;
a huge sensation amongst artists
merchants and craftsmen
spawned by the era
of the Industrial Revolution.
There was also a time when
postal systems took charge
of the way people corresponded
from all corners of the planet.
And there was a time when
the world lived in black and white
and moved with the pace of days
that pursued nothing
but the broad horizon of knowledge
and of course, the future.
Today, we see the world
in a whole new different light.
Today is a time when
the pencil is nothing more
than a mere tool
made of graphite
and grooved slats of California Cedar;
A time when philately
becomes a long-forgotten
field of study
and people keep in touch
through space and time borders
without ever budging from their seats;
A time when the world bursts
in colorful, scenic moments
captured and framed
And a time when everything
travels in hertz and changes
at the swipe of a finger
or the tap of a button.
This is our world today:
A world that reaps
the bounty of times past
when brilliant minds thrived
and legacies were passed on
A world that seldom looks back
and always peeks forward;
A world that may not know
(or worse remember)
the names Charles Babbage
and Willie Munroe;
The former who laid out
the plans and origins
of the modern computer
with the latter’s pencil.
New Year’s eve, 21 minutes before the clock strikes twelve…
The cellphone bleeped, louder that it’s supposed to it seemed, going against decibels and decibels of cracks and pops and the bang-bang-booms driving all the evil spirits in the planet crazy that cold December night. I took another sip of the other spirit that had been separately haunting me early on from an almost-emptied glass, as I looked at the phone’s monitor winking incessantly at me from the granite countertop, wanting to be noticed. It sounded desperate. It needs to be answered.
T minus 17 minutes…
I finally picked it up, while sanity was still within the same reach, afraid it might blow up and spew unnecessary sparks of its own.
“Where the hell are you?!?” It was my mother’s voice, blaring from the other side of the line, adding up to the tumult.
“I’m fine.” I told her in all coolness, then hurriedly added ”The Budweisers in the fridge sucked and I needed a stronger fix and I’m in a bar somewhere.” I hung up and shushed the phone along with all the extra trouble it made. Then I checked my wristwatch.
It’s a quarter before midnight…
Exactly the words I said to the girl who approached me out of nowhere and casually occupied the lonely stool beside mine. At that distance, she looked as radiant as the flashes of neon inside the bar and she smelled of a mix of raspberry and a familiar variant of Sutter Home wine.
“Thanks!” she said with a smile. She’s not drunk. She gave the hand of mine that held the still unfinished glass a quick, gentle tap and that was when I saw a gleaming silver watch strapped around her slender wrist, accentuating her equally shiny skin. Hmmm…
“W-we got to get out.” I babbled, pointing to my own watch. “Show’s about to start, you know?” How stupid can I sound?
She didn’t laugh, though. She just gave a sweet, quiet nod which turned out to be the loudest thing that reached my ears so far that night.
“Alex, by the way, and you are…?”
Tick tock to 11:55 p.m. …
For ten interminable minutes, we haven’t spoken. We haven’t even swapped glances since that indelible smile of hers back in the bar, though I’ve been stealthtily stealing some from my left peripheral. All the while, we were just gazing up at the sky, intently watching the myriad of fireworks bursting in many a bright colors, mocking the stars.
“See that?” she finally said, breaking the eerie silence.
“Yeah!” I blurted out, trying to keep my eyes off of her and act less slightly startled.
“The white sparks are magnesium.” she went on saying, pointing accordingly. “The blue, strontium nitrate.”
I couldn’t tell whether I was in awe of the fireworks or the rubbish she was throwing my way or both. Likewise, I couldn’t tell if the fireworks I hear are the same ones I now see, for there’s more of them, it seemed, exploding right inside of me.
“Go on.” I urged.
The countdown commences…
The cold December night was fleeting. The chronos was turning over a new leaf and the next thing we knew, we were on the very first page with sparks flying above and around us, and our hands clasped tightly together.
There are nights when
you stay home
and you turn on the boob tube
and bore yourself
with doses of
the same old news
and depleted soap opera plots
over and over
until your eyes get all droopy
and everything becomes a blur
then you wake up 6 hours later
to a blank screen
and white noise
to set the auto-off function
on the remote control.
And then there are nights when
you don’t want to go home
and you try to rid yourself
of the world’s mediocrities
So you shell out a huge chunk
of your hard-earned money
for a concert ticket
then drown your ears again
in songs you’ve probably listened to
a thousand times before
blasting from giant speakers overhead
And you roar alongside the multitude
of other fans
packing the arena to the rafters
all in wild admiration
of your favorite singer
in a black shirt
and a gray Fedora
simply known as
And nights like these
are the ones that reverberate
in your head
on and on and on
till ad infinitum
never to fade
even as the encore
has long concluded
and the lights have gone out
and the last few ticks of applause
have died down.
It was written in the stars.
That’s how he had put it, that warm summer night at the beach. They were wandering by the shore, aimless, barefoot, foolishly counting and naming the stars anew. They never held hands; they couldn’t. One hand was preoccupied with pointing at the bejeweled sky, while the other carried their respective pairs of matching flip flops.
What a night it truly was! In fact, it didn’t feel like it was night at all, as the stars sparkled aplenty, like shattered pieces of diamonds against a vast, pitch black canvas, illuminating the world below. The moon was hiding somewhere, though he doubted it need be seen. The sky was radiant and beautiful enough, it reflected on the undulant surface of the ocean.
“We are headed north, aren’t we?” he said. She didn’t reply. She knew that this, again, was one of his many rhetorics and that he knew they’d always worked on her. She’d seen the answer when he pointed to the Polaris, gleaming yonder magnificently.
“We should rename it too, you know?.” she said. He smiled, by way of a reply. In seconds, he was able to coin a name —- their names, combined and smooshed together, Hollywood style —- and the term sounded so good that someone might actually be duped it was a real star’s name. She thought that Polaris sounded just a wee bit cooler than Eulex, though.
Then he said, “I’m going to add another star to the cluster, so people won’t ever mistake it again for the North Star. I’ll put it in a spot somewhere between the Little and Big Dippers where it will considerably distort their original spoonish shapes and no one will ever be able to locate any of these stars again.”
“And where will get that star of yours, eh?” she asked indulgingly and interestingly.
Again, he smiled. Then, he stopped walking, reached into the pocket of his surfboard shorts and fumbled for something inside. She didn’t see it when he took it out, as his fist was closed in a really tight clench. And when it finally opened, there it was! The worthy addition to the North Star family (or so he said) —- a diamond-studded ring, glistening in the palm of his hand like a fallen, newborn star, waiting to be reunited with all the rest.
Words had escaped her at that moment. It seemed much easier for her to count the stars in the horizon than to say something —- anything at all to him in return. But he wasn’t expecting her to do so, no. He just took her hand and slipped the ring into her left index finger, the very finger believed to be the only one having a set of veins connected directly to the heart.
“When I come back, I will marry you.” he said.
“With all the stars in the heavens above us.”
All those stars they’ve seen and who’ve stood witness to his sacred promise a year ago are all present, again, this moonless summer evening. There’s also the sea and the exact same clothes she’d worn back then. Everything is here, even the proverbial ring, which had been painfully choking her index finger for a couple of months now… everything except him.
He had told her over the phone he is not coming back —- never. He’s married now, to a woman he’d met at work and they’re anticipating their first baby in a few months. He said he was really, terribly sorry. It was a long story but… She hung up.
The waves approached her feet like heavy shackles trying knock her off-balance and drag her into the ocean and the deep. She resisted. “No, please.” she said, looking down for the first time. “Not me. I’m tougher than you think. Take this instead.” Then she took the ring off her finger and tossed it, rather nonchalantly, into the waters like it was the unwanted load weighing her down.
Then she gazed up again, to the star-laden skies and thought, “How long is a light year?” It was yet another rhetoric and this time, it was hers. “Ah, that’s why! He promised by the stars, whose distance are measured in light years, which is how long it takes for their light to reach the Earth, which is hundreds and hundreds of fuckin’ years, and the Polaris, yes, it’s Polaris, is more than 400 light years away and who knows it might have gone yesterday or last week or last year or the last century…”
Tears began welling in her eyes; They slid down her face as though wanting to drift away with the waves crashing to the shore and back.
“I was waiting for a promise that was light years away.”