Antonio took one last lingering glance at the yellowing pages of the book before closing it with a loud sigh. He noticed the newest addition of coffee-mug stains on his light wooden desk. That has been his tenth coffee of the night. He slowly stood up; feeling drained after yet another fruitless attempt to find inspiration for his next project. His editor will nag the living daylights out of him again, he thought.
It was a never-ending cycle like this: he is given a deadline, which he doesn’t pay much attention to. Regina Santos, his editor, barges into his abode, weeks before his supposed deadline is up, demanding that he start writing, and him ignoring her. It is only a month before his deadline before he actually tries to squeeze his brains forcing the creative juices to flow out. Inspiration hits him; he starts writing and finishes his work. Regina, Gina for short, praises him for a job well done, the publisher congratulates him for producing a satisfactory turn-out, and all is well in his career world again. To them, he is a genius, albeit a bit lazy; a virtuoso without even trying.
Such was not the case for Antonio this time around. The supposed cycle seemed to have halted. Half a month already passed before he was required to give his manuscript to Gina and he still didn’t have an inkling of what should be his next take on the narrative he was working on. He managed to get three chapters done but that was nowhere near even the half of the entirety of his work. He walked over to his bed and sat on the edge, contemplating things. He had just celebrated his coral year of existence on earth just a few months back and he was getting tired of the mundane and boring life he was leading. He sighed for the nth time and turned to his pillows, fluffed them profusely, smoothed the sheets of his bed and lay on his side with his back on the cold wall, leaving the other side of his bed untouched and longing for a human’s warmth again. How long has it been? He pondered for a while before he finally drifted into dreamland.In an attempt to get away from the predictable and busy streets of Manila, Antonio absent-mindedly boarded a provincial bus. He didn’t know his destination; all he knew was that he needed to get away. Amidst all the passengers on the bus, he looked like an outsider, like a tree planted in concrete, a garish entity in a black and white photograph. He was seated at the far end of the bus looking out the window, examining the view. Hours later he could see a mountain range stretching towards the horizon from where he sat. He was vaguely familiar with the landscape of the area but then again he wasn’t so sure. He could have asked, but he didn’t. Weirdly enough, he suddenly became the only passenger left inside the bus and the driver asked him to get off. He then dragged himself out of the bus without bothering to question the driver’s quirk. The bus took off and Antonio looked to see where the bus was headed and he was confused that the bus quickly disappeared. He looked around. He was freaked out by the fact that there were no people present whom he could ask for directions or information. The only prominent thing he saw was the mountain range in front of him. Out of nowhere, he saw a church-like structure in the distance. Thinking he had nothing better to do, he approached the structure and went inside. There he saw an altar with two lit candles on it. He drew near, examined it, and finally decided that there was nothing more to see and so he started to leave. On his way out, he noticed something glistening on the ground in one corner of the place. He turned towards it and picked it up. It was a gold ring band, on it says…
“Antonio! Antonio! Open the door!” Antonio was suddenly jarred awake by the incessant knocking and screaming by his door.
“Atonio! Are you oka –“, Gina was cut off when a disheveled Antonio Marasigan showed up in front of her. “Oh there you are! What in the world are you up to young man? I’ve been knocking on this door for freakin’ ten minutes now! How should I know if you are still alive? Are you even going to wake up at all? What about your work? Are you fin—“, Gina was once again cut off her aimless rambling when Antonio slammed the door on her face.
“HEY! What the hell?!”, Gina retorted.
“Can you stop nagging at this early hour?”, Antonio re-opened the door and let Gina in.
“Early? You call 12 noon early? What are you, a vampire?”
“Look, can you just…please not aggravate my migraine? I haven’t slept a wink at all for the last few days.”
“…Sorry. Just, the publishing house has been pestering me relentlessly for your manuscript already.”
“I know. I’ve been stressing over that deadline weeks ago. Drinks?”
“Just water please.”
“Hey, ever thought that there must be more to life than just this?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Hmm. Anyway, I’ll be back the day after tomorrow. I hope you’ve had some progress by then. I know you can do it. You always do.”, with one last sip from the glass, Gina got up and left Antonio’s house.
Antonio sighed and sat down on the couch. He was tired of this, perhaps his dream was right, he needed to get away, he thought, and what was up with that dream anyway? He took the glass and put it on the counter and proceeded to take a long-due bath. He slowly took his self-image in the mirror. There were heavy circles under his eyes, stubbles were here and there, and sebaceous glands being overly active giving him an oily and grubby face. He sighed for probably the nth time that day and finally got inside the shower.
After eating his usual breakfast, bread, bacon, cheese and milk, Antonio decided to go out of the house to people-watch, still in hopes of finding something relevant and striking that could hit him like an ice cold bucket thrown on his face — a muse, an inspiration for his ongoing work of fiction. He walked through the streets of the populated and pollution-filled Manila without a particular destination in mind until a certain park caught his attention. The place emitted a surreal aura, and as if hypnotized, he was lured into walking through the ethereal façade of the park.
Antonio saw a vacated seat on one side of the park near an oak tree. He eased himself on the bench and made himself comfortable. He just sat there and watched his surroundings and the happenings unfold before his eyes: the children playing on the swings, a father and son playing catch, two toddlers walking while eating ice creams, he just took all of it in. He started to come up with short stories in his head, connecting all of the happenings and contextualized them to make it as one chain of events. The girl in ponytails fell down and cried; his dad who was playing catch with her brother turned to help her but was beaten to her by the boy with a cap and Band-Aid on his cheek. The boy kissed the knee of the girl, who chuckled and giggled at the sweet act. Ah what a romantic child, he mused. He remembered having his own childhood sweetheart way back when he still refused to sleep without his blue baby blanket with him. He was just as sweet as the capped boy, if not sweeter. He was brought out of his reverie when a flying soccer ball hit his forehead making him fall out of his seat. He scrambled to stand up but was surprised when a strangely familiar pair of shoes came into his view. He looked up and was even more taken aback when he saw the face of the shoes’ owner. There stood in front of him was his first love, Lara Madrigal.
– Written By – Mic Villamayor
About the Author
(Milcielo Claire S. Villamayor)
Bachelor of Laws
San Beda University
Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Communication
University of the Philippines Diliman
Author’s Blog :
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