Ghosts from the pastBy John Thomas Miranda
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I am looking for something to read in Booksale but I’ve been sifting through titles for an hour and I haven’t found an interesting one. I am deciding to leave when I notice a woman wearing a low-cut dress allowing a peek at her breasts. She looks like Rose but I’m not really sure if she is my ex-girlfriend because she is a lot thinner than the last time I saw Rose. I don’t approach the woman because I may be wrong and may embarrass myself, and she may mistake me for a pervert trying to pick up someone.
I stand in front of the shelf the woman is reading something on, and I wait for her to see me while pretending to inspect a title. When she does, she smiles and I smile back. I ask, “How are you?” And she answers, “Fine. You?” And I say, “I’m okay. Trying to be okay.”
I walk to her holding Carol Shields’ “The Stone Diaries” and I say this is an award-winning novel. I ask her at the same time if she is already a nurse and she says she is reviewing. I want to talk to her about more things but she is not engaging in conversation, so I leave her alone. If I push myself she may think she is excessively beautiful and I am head over heels on her. Indeed, she is beautiful, even hot and gorgeous.
I continue looking for a book but cannot concentrate anymore because I can’t take my mind off her boobs and her face. I argue with myself as to whether I will ask her to dinner, and when I do decide to take a shot, I approach her one more time, smiling. But she doesn’t smile back this time, and she is holding her phone and she looks like she is waiting for someone.
I leave the bookstore immediately, feeling stupid. I feel like smoking but I do not have my cigarettes and lighter with me. I keep walking, convincing myself there is no pain, but there is sting in subtle rejection. I don’t have feelings for her anymore but I am still attracted to her. I am feeling tired and lonely and I can use some company. And when I see her I think we can be together for a while, and I miss being intimate with someone, but I am being very cocky to think she is still interested in me.
I see a Timezone and I go inside and start shooting basketballs. I move on to car racing and I swipe my card and I choose my car and race track and I start driving and speeding up, hoping that changing the course of my life is as easy as changing gears in this video game. I stand up to leave the amusement center and head to the bus station.
I am tapping the sole of my sneakers on the concrete while waiting for the bus. I get my phone and I dial a friend’s number to ask if he wants to drink, but the number is out of coverage. I dial another number and this time it is busy. I decide to just go home.
The bus comes, I get in, sit in the middle of two-seaters, and pay the fare.
Then I remember Anna. I remember how I used to pick her up at HM Transport terminal in Cubao, Quezon City, coming from UP Los Baños. Going home, we enjoy heavy traffic together inside a Fairview-bound bus. We are having a lot of time to talk and she is kissing me and I am holding her hand and wishing the night will never end.
And I remember how I discovered her complexities and faulty traits and how she discovered my bipolar mood disorder and received the blow of its swings. And I remember the night I told her I hate her because she is insensitive and cannot appreciate things, and she started pushing me away and telling me we’re not yet ready, this is not healthy.
On the bus, the rush of memories makes me dizzy and nauseous and there’s a drilling in my head. And I fall asleep. I dream I am back in high school with my classmates and we are having a swimming class. I am walking naked and I can’t find my clothes, then suddenly I am on fire but I am not feeling any heat. I am just burning until I turn into ashes. Then I wake up.
I wonder what year I am now in school and I realize I am a college dropout. And I become confused: What is reality and what is dream?
I am already at my stop. I get off the bus and I ponder over my dream, and I remember that walking naked means embarrassment or shame, and fire means starting anew.
I keep wondering about the significance of this dream until I get home. I fish the keys out of my pocket and I turn the doorknob and I switch on the lights. I enter the bedroom and I get my journal and I write down what I dreamt. I read my past journal entries and I see: “Quantum physicists assumed that the way we experience time is an illusion. Time doesn’t happen in a linear way, and past and present events have no difference.”
My sense of reality is challenged. It’s been a long time but I still haven’t regained my footing.
John Thomas Miranda, 21, is a former online editor of Avalon Edunet Plus, a Korean company. He’s devoting his time to writing his first novel and he says he’s dreaming of becoming as sensational as Bret Easton Ellis when “Less Than Zero” was published.
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