Mar 25, 2009

The Other Side (Part 2)

(Read the first part here.)

The sight of the full moon gave Christan respite. He had just ordered his driver and household help to take the rest of the weekend off. Manang had precooked his dinner but he left them unwanted. He hungered for something else, something the moon could possibly give.

He sat on a chaise longue strategically positioned near the fireplace – probably the only one in winterless Ayala Alabang. A life-size painting of a woman dressed in a slim black gown hung over the mantel that held mementoes, like the vintage porcelain doll his mother used to play with and the little uninteresting antique treasure chest. With the glow from the fire, he noticed how the balance of light and shadow seemed to make the image of his mother relive the chiaroscuro of a woman she truly was. This portrait of her, with fingers flared and a half-smile, was potent enough to replace all other images he had of her, including the balding look she gracefully carried during her last days.

He was sixteen when they spent her last winter, comforted by a fireplace and the stories of myth and magic her mother has conjured. She was taking a chance with an experimental treatment offered by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Other than providing solace for a dying woman and her child, the fireplace witnessed how Christan’s mother cast a lasting impression on him.

Does it hurt?

Not as much as when I see you cry. Christan, dear, will you please bring me the wooden box by the bed?

Christian opened the box and in it was an old book he saw for the first time. The words on the book were hand-written, including some illustrations. The yellowing leaves were fastened between two boards covered with velvet by a ribbon laced through the holes on the pages. The antiquity of the artifact gave Christan the hope that some things could withstand time.

What’s this mom? Some sort of diary?

Well, this is a family treasure. It has been passed on from generation to generation. Since I feel I don’t have much time…

Shhh… don’t say that. We have the best doctors on our case.

Your optimism warms me better than the fire, my child. Now will you please help me remove this necklace, dear?

I’ve never seen you without this gold crucifix, mom. What are you going to do with it?

Take them. They are all yours. I’ll teach you how they will serve you but you must keep it a secret. Promise?

And serve him, they did. Whenever he wanted something, and he could not wait for the proverbial perfect timing, he resorted to the book. More often than not, he got what he wanted, like when he asked manang to buy him a fresh pig’s heart placed in an ice box, which the lady obeyed without hesitation nor suspicion. The book and the charm had been a tangible memory of his mother’s love, and a good provider like a father he never knew.


He held the book contemplating on the consequences of the act he was about to commit. Apart from the instructions, the pages of the book came with a warning. He deemed the costs and risks manageable. He took it as a sign seeing the required full moon. Plus time was running out. He had to set aside other worries for later. His concentration was required.

The lawn by the pool whose sole lighting was lunar would have to be the venue. All the elements were in place including his privacy, the full moon, and the light breeze caressing his bareness. He tied his cross-shaped amulet on the yellow candle. He began with silent wail as he lit up the candle on the metal table, designed as a make-shift shrine holding the book, another candle, and a fresh heart of a pig placed on a stainless plate. He then slowly moved around it with a wavy gait. He cried inarticulate sounds of pure emotion while moving around as if in a stupefied dance. He picked up a wooden mallet and hit the fresh pig’s heart with an accompanying loud cry like a shameless scream of supplication. The remaining blood of the animal squirted on his skin. Still in a circular half-random motion around the table, he picked up the yellow candle and lit the red candle and danced.

It has been an hour. His body, matured yet still enviable, continued with alternate back-arching and chest-falling motion, his hands waved as if he had more arms and elbows, his shoulder blade seemed rocked by a soft current while his legs crossed, then stepped, then raised, then lunged carrying his body around the table – all this done with fluidity synchronized to the silent beat of his instinct. His body was an instrument to get what he wants – just like when he got Henry’s attention the first time in bar. Christan imagined attracting Henry this time before the latter was irreversibly attracted to the light.

Another hour passed. His body was ready to stop but he wouldn’t let it. His commune with the elements was not done until a decision has been reached – the approval or denial of his request. The light cool wind has dried his sweat even before it formed but he knew it was not enough. He did not show any decline in intent by maintaining the vigor in his continuous motion for at least two hours. His movements were no longer free but forced by his own resolve. The flame of the candles danced with him but not with the same exertion. The date has changed and above, the moon was still and its light seemed dimmer to Christan. His arms moving in a windmill motion gave an afflicting tug on his shoulders which were becoming tensed. A gust blew sending quivers in his weakening joints, blowing out the flame in the yellow candle.

Christan fell to the ground. He saw the red candle still burning. He smiled and closed his eyes. The wish had been sent to the other side.

to be continued...


Herbs D. said...

nice. i like this

:: cb :: said...

"Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center"

-- ooh social. hehe tinuturo ko to as a famous american institution. hehe nagulat ako nung nakita ko.

wow, i didn't expect the wiccan twist. galing!

wanderingcommuter said...

i miss reading you neil...

gentle said...

at anong kakultuhan ito, ha? :) hehehe. i love it. reminds me of one of clive's short stories in the books of blood.

Niel Camhalla said...

Thanks guys.

@gentle, nag-google pa ako kung ano yun. hehehe.

the geek said...

ewan ko bakit biglang pumasok sa isip ko that he's doing yoga..hehehe

(just got home from a yoga class a while ago..that must be the reason...hehehe)

winur ka talaga, niel...

Niel Camhalla said...

asan premyo ko? asan? hehehe. salamat.

the geek said...

ano ba gusto mong prize? hehehe

Niel Camhalla said...

House and lot pwede? Kung hindi, pwede na siguro ang pangkabuhayan showcase. LOL.

the geek said...

how about a house and lot in one sixth scale? hahaha

Niel Camhalla said...

pwede! Hehehe

katcarneo said...

Aba, may kahiwagaan pala to.....Bilang isang nagmula sa pamilyang may pagka-mangkukulam (sa province lang naman) eh matindi ang interes ko sa kwento na to.

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