Sunday, June 12, 2005

How many short stories?

Break-Up Stories
5 short shorts

by Lilledeshan Bose

I. Oh, what a night

The last time I saw trees shaping strips of moonlight into curves, I was ten.
We--my sisters, my yaya, bunches of kinchay, strawberries and jars and jars of peanut brittle--are bundled up in a car, parked outside my father's house.
My father is outside, reading a letter just handed to him by my mother, who is getting into the car.

She slams the door, adjusts the rearview mirror, and asks, "Who has to go to the bathroom?" My sister starts crying, but no one answers, so my mom starts to drive away.

When I look back at my father, he is tearing the letter up into tiny pieces. They're carried across the moonlit strips, until we turn into a curve, and then I can't see anymore.

II. Christine

Everybody has a girlfriend named Christine. Chris, Kristy, Tin-Tin, Ina Christina, Tina, Kat, Trina.

They’re freshly powdered and Nenucoed, long hair ponytailed, books held tightly to their chests. To pick things up they never bent down crassly by the waist but discreetly buckled at the knee, tucking the hair behind their ears.

These Christines have flowers and chocolates from you, teddy bears and pursed lip kisses are all you give. You practice enunciating your "I love you" s with a Christina.

You ride at the back of a pick-up to the beach, counting streetlights like stars as you whiz past with Chris. At a party, you get so drunk that Tin-tin has to take you home in a cab. Ina cuts class to bring you lunch if you are hungry in school. With Kat you ignore curfew and lie to your parents. With Tina, you learn to love.

In the times when you’re about to fall asleep, deep breathed and rested, a girl named Christina strokes your arm, smelling like cologne and bread.

But during the rainy season when the traffic at EDSA slows to a crawl, or when dusk gleams through night lights in pink and orange, you dream of a different woman.

Head thrown back, her laughter like dancing, asking you to join her in the rain.

III. Out to Sea

She took him out to sea, which was brown and curled up at the edges with seagrass. It wasn’t like she remembered; the sea looked less blue, the sky less infinite. His presence filled her vision so she could hardly see the view. The tide was receding and they walked in ankle-deep water. There were sea urchins and dead coral they had to watch out for.

When the water got deep enough they sat down facing each other, and he wrapped her legs around his body. He tried to fuck her in this position, but it didn’t work too well—it was noon, and it was as tight as the first time.

Facing the beach, she kept looking over his shoulder to watch out for people on the shore. When he finally cried out, "I love you, I love you," she stared at the twinkling waves, her eyes brimming with salt.

IV. Heartbeat

With other boys her heart would beat a fast drum pound dug-dug-dug-dug-dug not stopping for breaths in between. These boys she watched out for; looked for the tops of their heads in crowded rooms, waited for their calls.

She lived for their comings and goings—they made her heart beat-buzz through her veins like a telephone—ringing in her ears, the sound vibrating on her tongue.

Jose was different, though. When they were in bed together she hugged him to look over his shoulder, her heart resting against his. He said his "I love yous" a countless million times, and her heart slowed down with every declaration.

Some days he hugged her stomach, and tried to listen for her heartbeat. It was there—a slow thunk- thunk- thunk of hollow tin.

V. Questions.

My mother had her eyebrows tatooed on her face when it was uso, in the early eighties. They were perfectly placed, new moon thin above her eyes. As she grew older and her face started to droop, her eyebrows remained perfectly placed on her forehead—a few inches above her eyes that drooped down at the edges like an upside down smile, a few inches below the hairline that crept every year like higad.

With her eyebrows, she looked like she was always asking a question. Good morning, honey? She seemed to be wondering at me, when I woke up. Go fix your bed? Her mouth queried, in afternoons. I hate your father? She would exclaim after too much wine at night.

Leave me? She'd wail, when we were alone.

Copyright by Lilledeshan Bose. Previously published in The Philippine Free Press.


bml said...

Good day, Ma'am A.

I didn't get to jot down the PCIJ site for the tapes and transcript. Could you post that here for all of us students to check out?


mda said...

Hey, Blanche, you're not my student this sem, are you?

em said...

Wow, i have been searching for those! I only found Questions on the net (I googled it some months ago). Break-up stories is definitely one of the most unforgettable works that I have been able to read in my entire UP life.

em said...

thanks for posting it ma'am

mda said...

Hello, Em! How are you? You didn't enroll in my English 11, so you can't enjoy Break Up Stories this sem.

Nice new pic you have there. :)

em said...

I actually tried to be in your class, but I guess luck didn't side with me in the CRS wars. :) I was put in another English 11 class instead. So no, I guess I can't enjoy "Break-up Stories" this sem. (And that's really too bad, because Suzette Lim tells me how much fun she had last sem in English 11.)

PS: Nice new pic doesn't look like me in real life. I just happen to have a nice camera that takes nice pictures no matter what.

mda said...

So you know Suzette Lim, huh? When did you meet, and how? I'm glad she had fun. I hope my students this sem have fun too. They seem so serious. :)

Your picture makes you look more mestiza because it puffs up your nose. (That isn't bad at all, come to think of it.)

Anonymous said...

hi maam its aissa :) i really enjoyed the story on the "pristine christines"... i wonder how long ill last more like that. haha. got me thinking outside of class too. a lot, actually. haha.

mda said...

Aissa, hahaha! Yes, I could see it in your eyes as you sat there silently, and as you left the room. Don't worry, whatever happens, God will always be good. Count on Him to save you.

Hey, if you need some advice you can count on me too.

Anonymous said...

hi maam a its aissa again.. i was kind of spaced out in class when we were discussing about cesar vallejo's piece... i just thought about the time when my mom passed away too...

mda said...

You can talk to me anytime, Aissa. Just holler.

Ching said...

Hi Miss Mila! :) I'm just curious. The name "Lilledeshan Bose" sounds so familiar. I think she's a writer in Seventeen magazine, and author of the Break-up Diaries from Summit Media. I also saw two romance books today at the UP Press bookstore (at only P50!) with her name on the cover. Pretty interesting. :)

mda said...

Yes, Ching, I guess that's Lille. She happens to be a friend of my son and daughter-in-law, aside from being the daughter of Santi Bose, the painter, whom I also knew. Did you buy the books? You should have, if it was that cheap.

Anonymous said...

hi, I have been looking for stylistic analysis about this short story. Please help me. Thank you. - I'm Andrea from Palawan. :))

Anonymous said...

Good day, Ma'am. I'm a student from De La Salle Lipa and currently working on a poem based on Lilledeshan Bose's "What Is To Come". Could you help me understand what is its theme? Or maybe the story behind writing the piece? Thank you. :)