Saturday, April 30, 2011

Confessions, Part 3

Confessions (A Work of Fiction)

by Jani Domawa on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 11:54pm
*This is a work of fiction. jdomawa © 2010* All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: All persons/events here are products of a writer's imagination. Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is purely coincidental.

"People doubt themselves. Life is an endless roller coaster ride that attempts to make sense of the things that happen. I couldn't make sense of what I did and sometimes I wonder if it even happened. You've left my mind in a tattered mess..."


Part 3 of 7

              People often say that when important decisions are made, they are made by half-mad minds. I probably agree. I don’t know what possessed me to say what I did that time. I was sane, yes. I had full grasp of my faculties then and anyone can fault me later if I backtrack and say that I was coerced into saying it.
              It is a decision that will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life.
              I am a traditionalist (I don’t even know what that truly means). For lack of a better word, I am a man that has to make sure that when I build something or engage in something, that I am standing on solid ground. I believe that a strong foundation as opposed to relying on the vagaries of fate is a far better basis for any kind of human undertaking.
              I grew up believing this and to this end, I lived my life to achieve a solid foundation upon which I can build the rest of my life. I didn’t really participate in the fiery rebellion of youth (which I regret) knowing that I will probably regret the consequences later. I looked at them as immature actions that led to too many variables that often destroyed lives. I didn’t really look for love (thank God, that in those rare cases when raging adolescent hormones got the better of me, I was always rejected). I wonder where I’d be now if those adolescent hormones got the better of me. I felt that as a young jobless student, I was not really qualified to love (though sometimes I wish that I could’ve done something). I was content to admire from a distance telling myself that when I am ready in the future, I’d come back and woo the women I fell in love with.
              Then I graduated and immediately got a job. It is a good job which gave me a middle class life (at least I thought so then). That would have given me the big ticket but again I thought that it wasn’t solid yet. I was to be a probationary employee for a good four years and with the economic crunch holding the world hostage, I couldn’t really commit. Fast forward a few years and I got my final employment contract that made me a full time employee. My career was on the rise, I have decent compensation, decent job hours. I felt ready.
               Then the state of real estate prices hit me. Before I could embark and have a family, I told myself to buy myself a house. Well, I thought that with what I had in the bank then, I could probably afford even a small lot with a bungalow. The reality was a hard slap to the face. To get a house, I will have to surrender 70% of my monthly salary for the next twenty years. TWENTY YEARS!! Are you kidding me? What about food for a family, dinner with the wife even once a month, tuition money for a kid or two? I never realized it was this bad.
               If there was one thing I learned from my observing people, it was that the roots of all things, both evil and good are based on monetary stability. People would rage about love, religion, laughter and other s***, but when it comes down to it, it boils down to how stable your bank account is. Sure, people can stay married and somehow support themselves until they call it quits later in the twilight of their years and I admire them for that but give them a chance to really say what’s on their minds and they will say that if they had the chance to start over again, that they’d do better.
              Job: ok; compensation: ok; house: poof!
              Everything that follows then becomes poof!
              Marriage, kids, they all went down the drain.
              People can say later on when the years finally pile on that the reason I live a solitary life is because I couldn’t buy a house. They’d be right. The joke would definitely be on me.
              I saw the women I once saw as prospective brides go to lesser men. I suffered definitely as I watched them walk the aisles. I once thought that I’d go back and maybe get a chance to be that man waiting at the altar.
              Some have happy marriages which may stand the tests of time. Others are in limbo and sometimes there is a certain twinge of regret in their eyes when we meet. Those are instances I feel like a coward and gets me to wonder what would’ve happened if like all the men out there, I gave everything to chance and made the plunge.
              There are regrets but I still stand by my decision. I’ll probably earn enough to buy a house after fifteen years and by then I would be in my early forties, way too late to get into the dating game (I won’t marry then, despite the prevalence of May-December affairs, I am not a fan of it for many reasons I will not go into). If I reach the age of 38 and I am still homeless, you can take it to the bank that I will end up a bachelor for life.
               But I love children. I’ve always been close to children. I feel that they are the vindication of a life. One’s own flesh and blood, no matter what happens is the exoneration of one’s existence. I want to have someone continue my bloodline. And this need to father an offspring continues to rage against my indecision about marrying. Sometimes I am tempted to just marry and be done with it and deal with the consequences later. Always though, the unfailing logic of my convictions win out.
               I even convinced myself that it wouldn’t matter if I get to raise the child as long as I know that I have a child somewhere that is carrying me within him. It was a preposterous hope borne out of desperation.
               Then this situation comes up.
               Perhaps due to alcohol or probably the need to vent, I told her of my frustrations. She empathized and even shared that like me, she shared the same thoughts, except that in her case, she didn’t dig the marriage thing because of the apparent stupidity of the male sex. But like me she wanted a child.
               Now, the scenario I once thought impossible is dropped like a lead weight in my arms.
               She is offering me the chance to fulfill a dream: to father a child.
               I know that it comes with strings attached. She is a stunningly beautiful woman and I would be lying if I told you that I am not like other men out there. Even if I try to suppress it, she does comes unbidden in my dreams and a part of my mind nurtures the sick illusion of getting into her skirt. But unlike other men, I know my boundaries. I know that she and I will never be a couple. Not in this reality at least.
                With our numerous exchanges regarding the matter, I know that she doesn’t want the father in the picture. She just wants the kid, no more, no less. When we dissected the men of her life for a possible candidate, she made it clear that she wanted to be the one in control. The man would merely be there for just the sole purpose of providing a seed. What happens afterwards, whether conception does happen would be her sole decision to make.
                I never thought that that man would be me. After all, compared to her pick of possible donors, I am a distant candidate in nearly all areas of contention.
                I am heavy. I am a member of a cultural minority. I am short and balding. I am bad in the looks department. The only thing going for me is that I am rumored to be above average in the mental department (though I would contest that since I can probably peg my IQ in the high 90s if I want to).

                I am a nobody.

to be continued...

Confessions, Part 2

*This is a work of fiction. jdomawa © 2010* All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: All persons/events here are products of a writer's imagination. Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is purely coincidental.

"A promise is meant to be broken. A promise is meant to be kept. You laughed at me when i said those words once. You said I contradict myself. Well, there are two kinds of promises: a promise that is meant to be broken and a promise that is meant to be kept"


Part 2 of 7

              I closed my eyes. There are some things in this world that are meant to be savored. There is a building emotion inside me, a fear that if I continued to look, I’d lose the courage to look away. I heard her soft steps as she walked towards the door, heard the rustle of the robe as she put it on. If she saw my closed eyes, mercifully she kept silent. The ache in my heart grew.
              I heard her open the door and only then did I muster the courage to open my eyes. She was framed by the doorway, all five foot eight inches of her. She was barefooted with the robe daintily wrapped around her. Beyond the doorway, the bellboy was struck dumb, his mouth open and his eyes rooted at her. I couldn’t blame him. She was that kind of woman.
              After a few confused blabbering from the boy, she closed it on his flabbergasted face and wheeled the food cart in. She smiled at me, then crinkled her nose at the rich aroma of the freshly baked macaroons that topped the servings. I looked away.
              Kids would say that it is casual but I tell you now that there is no such thing casual about it. That’s why kids get drunk first or get high first to give themselves an excuse when the inevitable fallout happens. But for adults who get to realize how the world works, it is a complicated thing. Even if it’s simply the result of a mental exercise as in our case, there are changes that inevitably follow. And it is often a sad and painful thing.
              She sat down beside me. I could feel her warmth. The rich bouquet of her perfume wafted gently to engulf my soul. Wordlessly, she leaned back and placed her head on my bosom and gazed at the ceiling. I traced the silhouette of her face just before me, aware of the minute details of it. The small dimple hidden inside her right eyelid, the mole beside her lips, the moistness of her fading lipstick that tastes faintly of strawberries…
              I tore my gaze away. She sighed. I sighed.
              We stayed thus. How long, I don’t know. I couldn’t remember what I was thinking back then. It was both a blissful eternity and a torturous infinity. My hand came up lots of times in order to touch her, but every time, I withdrew them in hesitation. Somehow, I knew that the spell would be broken if I touched her.
              How I wish then that I could read her mind. What possessed her to choose me? What does it all mean? Do I take her for her words or must I read in between the lines? A part of me wonders if she is simply waiting for me to breach the boundary we’ve set but I fear that if I did, that it would be the wrong move that sends this whole illusion tumbling into oblivion.
              After all, I still don’t know what we are to each other. Or how I feel about her, or how she feels about me. Am I a mere tool to her, the means to an end or am I more? Do I love her? I don’t know.
              It’s unfair, this thing. With her head cradled in my stomach, she could hear the mad cadence of my confused heart but I couldn’t feel hers. I wonder what she makes of it. That she remains cradled there in contemplation complicates things. My mind is turning into a hopeless jumble of thoughts.
              People say that I am an expert in relationships. I’ve lost count of people who’ve come asking me for advice about their complicated lives. What they don’t know is that I am merely an observant student of life. I’ve never had a relationship with anyone where I could base my answers to but I see the things that happen around me and I form conclusions and opinions that often ring true. Wisdom, they say is gleaned when one truly uses all of one’s senses. Most people merely insist on their own understanding of the world that often gives them a narrow viewpoint, which blinds them. Since I see beyond their limitations, I can give advices which they consider meaningful, which for me are no more than logical conjectures based on what I see.
              Now, however, I am the one blind. All the wisdom I thought I had is gone. All I’m left are the confusing arguments that threaten to give me a splitting headache.
              No man can probably ever get to understand what goes on a woman’s head. There is madness there that could not be untangled. But if there ever was a time, I wanted to know what a woman was thinking of, it would be this time.

              “Are you free on Friday” she asked.
               This conversation was a week ago. The phone rang as I was about to go to sleep. I was probably half asleep then and I picked up the phone with a groggy mind. We rarely call each other as we both prefer the more detached communication of text messages. We both believe that voice conversations are better made during face to face interactions rather than thru the rather impersonal conduit of telecommunication lines.
              But she called.
              The school year was ending then. I had just finished polishing the exams I will administer the day after.
              “Yeah, I think I can.”
              We usually met for dinner during Saturdays as my budget for high priced meals are rather limited by my middle class salary.
              The dinner came about ever since we met. She works as a interior design consultant for some of the high end hotels in the city and the metro. She usually splits her week here and the lowlands. By her own words, it was hard to find an intellectual dinner partner that is not after her body. She wanted a break from the rat race of perverts and clueless jocks that populated her social life, so she made me keep an appointment to meet with her for three hours every Saturday. We spent it talking about various things, debating about social events, and sometimes just talking. I grew to love it. It was fun to find someone who was interested in conversations for conversations sake. We both felt the same way.
                 There was a pause at the other end of the line. She was breathing heavily which snapped me out of my drowsiness. A warning bell rang inside my mind but I didn’t know yet what it meant.
                  “You remember your promise?” She asked in even tones.
                  I felt like I swallowed a lump of stone that somehow lodged itself in my throat. My mouth felt dry.
                  The promise.
                  A week ago, she downed five Black Widows in one sitting the moment we sat down. She was obviously agitated then. It seemed that even before dinner, she had been drinking. I didn’t ask her why. One of the reasons we stayed friends is because we knew when it was time to ask and to keep silent.
                  We ate in silence and only after the Angus steak remnants have been cleared away did she speak.
                  “Remember when I said that I have no intention of getting married?” she asked with a bitter twist of her mouth.
                   I nodded. One of our conversations months before was about marriage. We had skewed the disadvantages of traditional marriage. It was then that I found out that she had the same view of marriage as myself: that is most marriages end up doing more harm than good.
                 “…and about kids?” she asked again, a bit on edge. I pulled her next glass away from her. She was drunk, the first time, I saw her so.
                 I nodded again. She was motioning for the waiter again. I mouthed no to the waiter. Thankfully he obeyed me. She smirked.
                 She wanted to mother a child. She was thirty years old now. It would seem that no matter the social status of women, the big 3 – 0 was a dreaded milestone. She confided in me once that despite her rather high social life, the allure of motherhood tugged at her every time. But she didn’t want to get hitched to attain it. It would seem that she knows much of men to know that most of my gender think with their little brains between their legs. From what she told me, she believed men to be either pigs, mama’s boys or immature kids playing grown up. There was no way, she said that she would get married with one of those. But she wanted a kid. If only to avoid the uncertainty of grappling with the issue when menopause comes. She wanted one while she was sure that she could.
                  I playfully suggested that her problem was easy. Look for a man suitable enough and have one. It was a woman’s advantage, I told her. It was said in jest, a mental suggestion not meant to be taken seriously. We even pondered on what kind of man she should chose if she was to go with it. We shared a lot of laughs analyzing the different types of men, breaking everything down to pros and cons.
                  “I thought a lot about it…” she grew pensive. Her eyes held a sparkle that was a disconcerting. It made me lower my gaze. She grabbed my arm and pulled me close which made me look at her soulful eyes.
                  “You also want a child, yes?” she stated. My heart started to hammer. I didn’t like where this conversation was going to.
                  “Yes?” she squeezed my arms.
                  I nodded.
                  “Even if you will not raise it, you want to know that a part of you remains when you disappear from this world….” She asked in earnest, holding my gaze in her.
                  What did I get myself into, I wondered. Its true, I said those words but they were theoretical statements, a psychological game with a little bit of truth. I do want a child. There is an emptiness in life when one looks at the solitary road that awaits me.        
                  Everyone wants to leave something of his life behind and that’s true for me. I may never get married, but it would be nice to leave a genetic offspring behind. It was a mental exercise.
                  I nodded, despite my misgivings.
                  “If someone asks you…” All traces of her being drunk seemed to disappear. There was the hint of tears in her eyes as she looked at me. “… would you do it?”
                   My body felt numb.
                   “Can you promise…” she continued, gripping me tighter. “…will you promise?”
                    Tears began to stream down her face. I felt some eyes on us. I felt embarrassed and tried to deflect her but she didn’t release her grip.
                    I didn’t know what possessed me then but I nodded.
                    She released her grip, a big smile on her face and quickly dabbed her eyes.
                    I felt as if I had just been doused with cold water.
                    The dinner ended as usual. I sent her to her hotel sharing light banter about the impending rainy season as if nothing happened. I surmised it had something to do with her state of mind then, though I was bothered by it for days to come.
                    And now this call.
                    I felt cold shivers on my spine again.
                    For a long moment, I kept silent. Only the sound of our breathing covered the phone receivers. As far as I can determine, she wasn’t drunk. Her voice was normal. She seemed serious. She is serious…
                    I was shaking. I couldn’t answer.
                    She really was serious.
                    “Mm…” Why I said that, I don’t know. What possessed me to say it, I probably won’t ever know. It would be one of the greatest mysteries of my life.
                     There was a long silence at the end of the line.
                     Then I heard a sob.
                     She was crying.
                     “I’ll call again…” she whispered between sobs. “Thanks…”
                      Then there was a click.
                      I spent the night staring into the murky darkness of my room, counting the number of cars that passed outside on the street. I had to open my call list every thirty minutes to prove that she indeed called. I drank half of my soju store in one sitting. I couldn't sleep.

To be continued...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ode to Youth


The wind whistles as it blows gently the leaves of autumn
The bright yellow rays of the explodes in a riotous display
I stand in awe at it’s raw beauty…
Yet for all of their impressive splendor, this I say
None can ever compare to thee.

The flower of youth remains forever
Fleeting in an instant but etched in memories
Ne’er forgotten, ne’er lost in images gone by
Time rolls forever more but this I’ll say
Yours shall never be…

Life moves on, it's pages turn with time
The winter chill shall come, the frost remain
In cold abodes, in front of campfires lit
Thy memory and face shall keep the warmth
Forever lit…

Age will creep and steal the kiss of gods
A flower will wither with the seasons past
Leaves shall fall and the years shall crawl
But none shall ever snuff the flames of thought
Nor thy memories…

‘Shall I compare thee to a summers day
Thou art more lovely and more beautiful’
Shakespeare’s verse is apt for thee
Not e’en the ravages of wear nor tear
Shall ever pull you down…

There will be troubles in the road you pass
The smooth path can go askew
Yet never shall the travails of hardships fall
As you hold steadfast your course and gaze
Troubles all, shall come to pass…

Fear not what tomorrow brings
And fear not the dragon’s fiery breath
So long as you remember the strength you’ve always had
Not serpent nor rabid man shall ever stray
Nor ever hold you back…

The world remains steadfast in its course
The path of ruin goes hand in hand with all the good
Choose your journey well and never fear
For e’en though those obstacles shall come
You shall prevail…

Outward beauty fades in time
Like how autumn draws the color of spring’s great blooms
Yet e’en if that is true, the truth remains
Your heart, your soul, where your true beauty lies
Shall always blossom and endure…

Smile, dear princess and always do
Fill your heart with wonder and laughter
Enjoy your life, fall in love, love and fall out of love
For that is life, its ups and downs
That will make us who we are…

Never be afraid to fail- (but do not expect to fail)
Strive for what you want, follow your dreams
Never let others pull you down (but let them help you up)
The world might quash some of your desires
But some, it gives with open arms

Never fall upon the pitfalls of self-reproach
And never let doubt eat what you know in your heart
‘Fear is the mind killer’ as Fremen say
Stand tall and steel your mind –
The whole wide world is yours.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jack Daniels

Jack Daniels…

You are the first one ever to make me tipsy. I’ve had my share of Mr. Johnny Walker, Jose Cuervo, Chivas, J & B and the Captain but they never made me tipsy. You did though so my hat’s off to you.

Now, before anything else, I am not a drunk. In fact, I am what you would call a selective drinker. My limit is two full bottles of beer, three shots of hard liquor and one for every other kind of spirit. I have seen firsthand through my father the bad effects of alcohol and since then, I have resolved to never ever be under its influence. Though alcohol greases the stories and the laughter, it also has its bad side… a very ugly side.

First things first though. I will admit that I am writing this after getting tipsy with Mr. Jack. And tomorrow is Easter. Call it what you will.

The circumstances are the following. After going to the pool (which had artificial waves, however which really gave a great impression of a beach sans the sand), four of us got together to open a bottle brewed by Mister Jack. I have a high tolerance for alcohol. In the few instances I partook in social drinking sessions, I was always the last sober man standing. It is perhaps due to a calculative method of imbibing the spirits or maybe just because I have a high physical threshold.

Anyway, the first round was good. Bitter and repulsive as always (which is also one of the reasons I hate drinking), I gulped it down. 

Second round, a friend mistakenly added more to my glass. And being a member of the male species, I had to man up and drink it. I am guessing now that this is the culprit. Since I usually ration my drink, perhaps the added volume created the undesired effect I feel now. The moment I stood up after draining my glass, I had to sidestep. My head was woozy and I felt light headed. 

I still had my mind though, and part of me was incredulous and surprised by the effect. It was the first time (and hopefully the last time) that I felt that way.

Still, trusting in my own judgment, I partook of the third to the fifth round. My judgment was still there (though I have to admit that my laughter was getting more lubricated). By that time, my buddies were obviously hit with alcoholic stupor. I kinda breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the bottle was emptied at last.

And then we had to troop up the stairs to eat.

Well, let me tell you. I had a hard time steadying my gait. And there was a moment of panic and morbid glee at the realization that I might just have been intoxicated enough to wobble. Since it was the first time, I was astounded. There is denial in your mind when that happens. After all, your mind is working clearly but your body seems to have a mind of its own.

Well, to make the story short, my buddies are passed out now and I am here in front of my laptop to chronicle this event. 

It is a once in a lifetime event (I hope) and quite frankly, it is funny. It makes me sleepy and I am fighting the desire to go under the covers. 


I’m gonna post this on my blog. Perhaps as a reminder or as an anecdote to be shared. I don’t know.
And for you dear reader, I won’t tell you not to drink coz we all have to at some point in our lives (the wine on the mass still qualifies as liquor, you know, as is the root beer you drink). Spirits are the lubricant of social conversation, for most instances after all. 

So my advice is this: stay away from Mr. Jack. (It makes me wonder though, how I would describe its effect on me now. Technically I am not drunk, ain’t I? Since I still have my mental faculties and I can still control my gait and I don’t think I’ll be drooling any time soon. I am just too sleepy and my head feels very light.)

I think that I’m going to sleep now.

Our Best...

© 2011 Johnny Domawa
All Rights Reserved
v. 1.1


Do your best!

We always give this advice to people who ask us of it. “Do your best!” “Kaya mo yan!” “You can do it!” “Kayam dayta, sika pay” “Ganbatte!” “Lo mejor de ti!” “Faites de votre mieux ! ‘ and we mean it.
“If you do your best at something, something good will happen!”

But we all know it is not true, not all the time, not even for most of the time. It is one of the hard truths that this world teaches. I am an adult in my thirties and it is one of life’s harshest lessons. It is painful to realize this but even when you put in your best effort, there are things in this world that just wouldn’t work out that way you want them to be. 

Like, a man can spend most of his lifetime striving for something and have nothing to show for it at the end. A man will sweat and bleed for his family and it will crumble in time: the kids will rebel, the wife finds another man... Another would sacrifice everything for his career and find out that it was never worth it. And another can turn his back on the promise of something great to reach his dreams only to realize that it was never worth pursuing to begin with.

Life sucks.... most of time. Beyond the smiles presented in images we take liberally from our cameras and phones, behind the achievements we have which draw the envy of others, beyond the exasperated exultation of tweets and facebook posts we liberally create.... there is always the underlying line of anxiety that cloaks our existence.

Life was never a mathematical equation. Effort and persistence rarely equals success. Politics and human biases as well as minute details which remain uncontrollable often have a greater say on the state of our lives. We all get to know this ugly truth… and we all coat it in candy wrappers.

So is this advice moot?

If it is, this world will stop moving. 

We all need the factory worker in the third world to do his best to give us those designer clothes. We need the hardworking farmer to till his land to give us our food. We need that patient clerk to make sure our records remain consistent. We need the janitor to keep making our workplace decent. We need our househelps and nannies to mind the kids. Hell, we even need the best of our celebrities to keep the gossip mill going or else we’ll run out of conversations.


Most of people’s best go unnoticed. That laborer striving to finish his quota for the day, the driver guzzling cup after cup of coffee to cope with the long drive to deliver his goods, that crazy supervisor who is always on our case to make us work more, that nurse enduring a long shift to make sure IVs and medicine are delivered properly to patients, you and countless others… we all do our best for nothing more than the paycheck we get at the end of the week. We often don’t receive pats in the back or plaques on the wall. Meeting quotas only makes our boss happy; drinking coffee make us caffeine addicted; the supervisor gets even crazier the more we meet his ever increasing demands; and that nurse rarely gets to enjoy life or the result of her hard work. We go home, sleep, then rise up again to another similar day…

This is life…

It’s f***d up (pardon the expletive)…

I won’t sugar coat it. Only for this time. 

Do your best!

Let’s all do that…

We should all do that…………..

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Love Affair

jdomawa © 2011* All Rights Reserved

I want to sleep. 

My body feels too heavy from the long travel. The long line that snaked ahead of me towards the Customs booth is starting to look like a mirage to my tired eyes as it struggled between lucidity and stupor. For a moment, I entertained the idea of bolting towards the exit but the prospect of having myself manhandled by airport security quashed that thought up.

Might as well try to catch a few winks, I thought and closed my eyes.

The flight from Melbourne was punishing to say the least and the time lag will be hell to pay once I manage to get out of this line. Deciding to join my friends' invite to the Sydney Opera House festival now seemed to be a bad idea in retrospect. It has left me sleep deprived and jet lagged. Even for me, used to traveling a lot, the combination it created is hellish. And the prospect of spending the rest of the day shuttling into downtown LA and attending another book signing didn't help either. I wondered if I can somehow manage to convince my agent to postpone that engagement.

It would be futile.

If there is one thing that I both loved and hated about Anna, my agent, it was the fact that she considers each appointment and book signing engagement as a code writ in stone. There would be no way I could weasel her out of it. My hopes rested in the possibility of a traffic jam along the way. It just might give me a few minutes of rest before the rest of the gruelling day comes knocking.

My reverie was abruptly broken. I felt a hard nudge behind me which nearly toppled me over. I staggered at the impact. Groggily, I turned around not really welcoming a confrontation with the soul who did it. I am short on patience when I'm tired like this. The combination of the lack of sleep and the exasperation of waiting in line can bring out the worst in me.

I whipped around and stopped..

It was a kid.

Brown plaintive eyes stared inquisitively at me as I locked eyes with the culprit. My irritation subsided as I managed to return a weak smile. Despite my irritable state, there are social lines I will never cross no matter what. I will always be respectful of the elderly and the young.

She was about four or five years in age, her long curly hair tied behind her in a dainty pink bow. She was pushing a small trolley which was the offending object that nearly toppled me over. She seemed proud of her feat and her smile was contagious.

"Sorry, mister." She apologized, a dimple forming in her right cheek.

I felt a sudden jolt of pain in my heart as she smiled. A nearly forgotten memory surfaced. Years ago, I knew someone who had a dimple in nearly the same place as hers. I have buried that memory or at least tried to. It's a part of my life which held so many painful things I have resolved to forget.

I looked beyond her. Save for an elderly couple who are way too different-looking to be her grandparents and a pair of returning mountaineers, nobody seemed to be with her. Concerned that she would be on her own at such a large airport, my grogginess was replaced by the sharpness of concern even as I tried to ignore the memories her dimples dredged from my mind.

"Who's with you, honey?" I asked. At least my weariness left me, replaced by an adrenaline surge which awakened my spent muscles. I glanced around. The elderly couple shrugged off my unspoken question and the two mountaineers shared my concern. The little girl merely looked at us, oblivious to the conundrum she posed.

"She's mine!" A voice came over from the crowd coming in from the gates. I saw a woman frantically pulling a trolley filled to the brim with luggage coming towards us. The little girl beamed at her direction. I gave a sigh of relief.

Little girls are never meant to be left alone in the company of strangers.

I made a mental note to give her mom a tart comment when she arrived. I'm not normally verbally critical of other people but lack of sleep can make me a bit abrasive. And it will be for good reason. Moms should never let go of their daughters in airports.

Buried under a brown scarf and her mountain of luggage, the woman was formless at the distance. She was petite. That I can discern but as I continued to stare at her direction, there was something about her which awakened something inside of me arousing more of the memories awakened by her kid's dimples. I mentally ignored it and reasoned that it probably was another side effect of my weariness. I debated whether to go and help her and was saved from that decision by one of the mountaineers who approached her offering his help. The man exchanged places and she bowed to him, expressing her thanks. Her scarf fell off revealing a crop of silky black hair -

I froze.

I know that hair. I felt my breath catch in my throat. As she straightened, more of her face was revealed. A soft, gentle face untouched by make-up; eyes which crinkle when she smiles; a nose that twitches when she's angry. Gentle cheeks which blush colorfully at the slightest provocation and a dimple right just beside her mouth.

I know her.

I remained frozen. My eyes reflexively went to the little girl who held my right hand without me realizing it.  

The resemblance was strong. I felt my pulse race. There was no mistaking it.

This cannot be happening, part of my mind was saying...

I turned to her mom again. This time, she was likewise rooted to her spot. She had seen me and was likewise frozen.

Around us, the world simply dissolved to a motley mass of grayness.

Emotions warred inside me. Happiness grappled with anger; fear with joy; doubt with certainty. I didn't know what to act. I felt suffocated by the sudden wash of emotions that drowned me. Unable to come up with anything, I merely nodded at her direction and shifted my eyes away, the hubbub of the airport returning as the spell was forcefully broken.

I realized that I had been holding on to the little girls hands with a shaking grip. She looked at me quizzically. I reluctantly let her go and watched her scamper free towards her mom. Now I knew why I thought she was familiar. The resemblance was strong.

My eyes were drawn to the label on top of her small trolley. Written in a child's squiggly hand was the name I once gave her mother. NYSSA...

It took all my strength to stop the tears that threatened to fall.  I knelt towards the trolley and made a show as if to dust something off it. But my hands were touching it as a poor substitute to something I should have done years ago.

My daughter is all grown up... I struggled to wrap my thoughts around that fact.

I desperately held the tears at bay. A pair of legs materialized before me. I know those legs. Tears dropped, defying my stoic attempt to hold them back.

"Mister, you are crying." I shifted my sight to the little girl. The brown eyes I inherited from my mom stared back at me. She was grabbing on to her mom's skirt and was looking at me with a mixture of wonder and pity. I brushed the tears and smiled at her, reaching out to crumple her hair.

"Something got in my eyes, honey." I bent over and willed my tears to stop. It seemed like an eternity and I felt her head squirm beneath my hands. I looked at her again and let go of my hands, smiling.

"What's your name?" I asked, knowing the answer but wanting to hear her speak it.

She seemed to be a bit fearful now and she partially hid herself behind her mom. I saw her mom's hands caress her. I didn't dare look up.

"Tell him, honey" I heard her mom whisper. Judging from her voice, she was also holding back tears.
She looked up at her mom then at me. She seemed confused for a bit and then she answered.

"Nyssa." She said, softly.

It took all my will to suppress the desire to just grab her and give her a hug. This was just too much.

To be continued...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Fairy Tale

Copyright 2011 Johnny Domawa
All Rights Reserved

The wind howls outside the window. Outside the sleet buffeted by the raging wind pummeled everything in its path with reckless abandon. The birch trees in front of the yard swayed with the juvenile winds, their slender branches groaning with the undeserved punishment. Sofia watched it all from the safety of her room in the attic.

With Teddy tucked neatly in his bed and the girls Sanya and Breda cozy in their dollhouse, there was no one left to play with and she found herself gravitating towards the mayhem that raged outside her house. This being a Saturday, there were no classes to attend and though she wanted to do her homework for Monday, she found out that she was out of paper. And Teddy and the girls have grown tired of their play session and after tea, they had begged off to rest despite her plaintive requests.

So here, she was, quite rather bored and alone in her room.

She had pressed her nose against the window but the sudden jolt of cold had made her jerk away. And Neil across the street wouldn’t have seen her funny face with all the rain anyway, she surmised. She could only barely make his window from her vantage point and right now, when the window cleared enough for her to see across, she could see that his room was dark and the Buzz Lighyear curtains drawn shut.

For a few moments, she watched the leaves buffeted by the wind and wondered where they all went. The birch tree where her Pa had placed the tire swing last summer had nearly lost all its foliage and she giggled at the thought that perhaps it is how trees get bald. Like Grandpa Luke. The thought brought a smile to her lips and at least while the vision of her grandpa played on her mind’s eye, her boredom was momentarily forgotten.

That thought was banished, however, by the blurriness that continually obscured her view of the outside. She had to continually wipe the window with her hankie which she didn’t like at all since even through the cloth, the windows were cold and she couldn’t find her mittens. She thought they were puffs of cloud caught in the window. During cold days like this, if she breathed, puffs of clouds came out of her mouth and once, she tried to catch one to show Neil but she never succeeded, only getting a bag of empty air which made her older brother Brad poke fun at her. Brad was only two years older than her but he considered her fascinations childish, always looking for instances to point out those to her. Brad always picked on her, taking pride in his grown up skills as opposed to her actions. She didn’t like Brad much.

Maybe, the window was the magic object used to trap clouds. That knowledge however, was not that welcome for the moment. Her attention was more engrossed with what was happening outside than cloud catching. She wiped the window again when suddenly, she heard a small sneeze.

She turned around. It was too small to be Brad’s who always sneezed loudly like the Grinch on Christmas. But there was no one. The girl’s dollhouse was silent and Teddy still snoozed in his bed. It must be her maji…majina..majination as Brad would have put it, grappling with the word. She returned to the window, irritated that the clouds continued to stick with it despite her continuously driving them away.

There.. another sneeze. She turned around again. Again there was no one but this time, she knew it was not her majination. She heard it alright. She kept still and waited. 

There was nothing and her neck started to ache from not moving. Maybe it was indeed her majination. She felt dejected and started to relax.

There! Her eyes widened as the sound emerged. Still, she couldn’t see anyone. But it was there, alright. This time, there was another spell of silence. She tiptoed silently to where she suspected the sound was coming from, keeping her sounds to a minimum. It had come near her dresser, just below the awning that looked into the small window that looked at the sky. Her red parka was crumpled there where she dumped it yesterday. Her mom hadn’t had the time yet to come collect it. 

Reaching it, she sat down to her heels, ears strained to catch the sound if it came.

As before, there was only silence. But she was patient. Like how she was when waiting for Santa. A few minutes passed in silence.

There… It was nearer this time and obviously stifled. Like what you do when hiding from Mom to avoid the foul tasting medicine when one has the flu. She smiled. 

Gotcha. She whispered wordlessly as her hands gingerly approached her parka. There was a moment of silence and then she heard some scuffling inside it. With one quick motion and victorious at her confirmation, she pulled it away.

She surveyed the empty space revealed with falling spirits, her smile waning. She shook her parka but save for an empty bottle Neil had probably placed there, nothing else came out. The bottle dropped from her shaking and it made a dull sound upon the carpet, bounced once then quietly rolled away towards the dresser.

She watched it in dejection, her young mind blaming her majination for the mess, tracing the movement of the bottle with detached indifference. It would strike the left leg, probably she thought and looked forward to it for lack of a better diversion.

Suddenly it stopped as if stopped by something and a small flash of color emerged where it struck it, whatever it was. Her attention was now rapt. The bottle had fully stopped just a few inches from the dresser leg. She knew that something was there. The brief flare of bright colors told her that. She bent down to her knees, her eyes focused where the bottle teetered. It was laid down on the carpet at a funny angle, she thought. She wanted to poke it but something stayed her. 

The bottle twitched, gingerly at first which stopped as suddenly as it began. She stifled her giggle with her hands. Then with another flare of color that momentarily blinded her, the bottle rolled away on the opposite direction. She knew better than to leave her eyes where it was originally, however. She was not totally blinded by the color which she didn’t really recognize as it was a mixture, like the rainbows they drew on art class. She continued to glue her sight on the spot.

Slowly, she was rewarded by a shimmer. At first it was brief, like the shimmer that often surrounded one of her Pa’s machines in the driveway. She briefly saw the silhouette of a small girl but it was very small, smaller than Breda who was the smaller of the two girls slumbering in their house. She was lying on her side at the carpet. 

Then the shimmer became more pronounced. Her eyes widened in glee as her initial observation was reinforced. It was that of a girl, a wee girl. Almost like a Barbie doll. The contours of its body briefly appeared in a glittery silhouette. She couldn’t make her out entirely since the silhouette faded as it appeared but she was sure of it. She peered closer.

Sneeze. It was a dainty sneeze and a small cloud of brightly colored clouds wafted to her, much like she would if she sneezed during a cold, except hers were white. 

‘Bless you’ she whispered.

In answer, the shimmering silhouette appeared again but this time instead of fading, it slowly became clearer. She watched entranced as a pair of dainty Barbie legs appeared, then a body, wearing funny clothes. It was a dress, that much she can see but on closer inspection, it was simply a series of leaves sewn together to form a short dress. 

Very nice she thought, funny but nice.

Quietly she watched the rest of the body materialize. Reaching the head, the process seemed to linger but as she crossed her forehead in impatience, it was instantly revealed. She squealed in delight as the face materialized. It was not quite like the Barbie head she was expecting. But it was more beautiful. Large aquamarine butterfly eyes blinked at her while a dainty mouth quickly breathed in large draughts of air. It was obvious that she had been holding her breath. Her cheeks had the gossamer color of a cicada’s which changed color with each breath. She had no visible ears, which were probably covered by the rich tuft of hair which looked more like those of a young corn ear, the smooth variety which she sees in her grandpa’s farm. She was staring up at her.

‘Hello’ she whispered. She made a motion to reach for her hand to shake it but realized that they wouldn’t be able to do it. Slowly, a new shimmer appeared behind her back and silently a pair of gossamer wings appeared.

Fairy, the word came to her mind. The fairy girl was on her side on the carpet like she had tripped and was hard up to stand. Probably the bottle, Sofia thought and regretted shaking her parka, hating Neil a bit for placing it there on the first place.

The fairy girl was staring intently at her. She looked scared.

‘You look scared.’ She whispered, smiling at her to ease her fears, much like her mom would for her. The fairy girl seemed to lighten a bit. Her breathing had mellowed down and the change in color of her cheeks had stabilized to a faint peach hue. 

Sofia sat up on her haunches, her eyes steel peeled on the fairy girl. The girl followed her moves and for a moment, they just stared at one another.

Silently, the fairy girl picked herself up to mimic her sitting position but Sofia noticed that she was favoring her right leg. The fairy girl flapped her freed wings and Sofia was happy to note that she didn’t fly away. Each flap, however, produced a flutter of glitter around the fairy girl. She marveled at the color, watching them disappear into nothingness. 

The fairy girl sneezed again, sending more colorful glitters before her.

‘Bless you’ Sofia whispered, wanting to tap the fairy girl’s back but conscious of their size difference. Another sneeze followed that then another. It was not held back anymore, reminding Sofia of herself when she couldn’t hide from mom anymore and the itch in her throat could no longer be stifled. 

A thought appeared in Sofia’s mind. She beamed. She knew just the right medicine for her new found friend. She made a start to stand up, then another thought made her sit back down. 

‘Will you wait for me?’ she asked the fairy girl softly. The fairy stopped her sneezing and looked at her. There no longer was any fear in her face. Instead it was replaced by a calmness which belied a bit of concern. The fairy seemed not to understand her and for a moment Sofie wondered if fairies couldn’t understand English. She doesn’t speak French yet since Miss Balard only taught second graders and not first graders like her. She tried to think of a French word but realized she couldn’t.

The fairy continued to look at her, neither nodding or shaking her head. Sofie’s mind warred between curing her friend and risking her friend disappearing while she went for the medicine. She pondered on this for a bit then her eyes settled on her discarded parka. An idea came to her mind. She grabbed her jacket and gently approached the fairy. For a moment, the fairy seemed consider sliding away. Sofie stopped and smiled.

‘I’ll just make you warm, ok?’ she whispered. She bunched her parka to form a protective ring in the middle and slowly encircled the fairy girl. The girl watched her every move but her initial consideration to flee seemed to have passed. Sofie took care not to touch the fairy although there was a moment when she was tempted to let her hand accidentally touch the wings which upon close inspection was very beautiful. She knew her manners however. Satisfied of her work, she stood up and stepped back to her door, taking care to turn every now and then to see if the fairy stayed. 

She might have told the fairy that she wanted to make her warm with her parka around her but Sofie just wanted to make sure also that she couldn’t fly away with the cramped space. It was a lie but she prayed that it was a white lie, a small lie that Jesus wouldn’t hold against her. Closing the door softly, she hesitated then made a quick peek through the cracks. The fairy was covered by her parka but she can make out the shimmer of her wings. 

Secure in the knowledge that the fairy understood her, Sofie rushed downstairs, her footfalls sounding awfully strong for her. She reached the second floor without incident. Her older brother Sean seemed to have gone out as the sign in front of his room said KEEP OUT just below the grinning skull instead of the DON’T DISTURB sign with the frowning pig head. She tiptoed in front just in case. After all, she didn’t want anyone investigating her room. Sean wouldn’t venture to her room at any time but it would pay to be extra careful.

She peered into the stairs leading downstairs. The smell of muffins meant that her mom was in the kitchen and the hubbub from the TV meant that Brad and her Pa are in front of the TV. Satisfied that the coast is clear, she went softly down. Reaching the floor, she examined the den. Her Pa was watching a hockey game and Brad was nodding off at his side. More than anything she didn’t want to wake Brad who would pester her and so even if she wanted to give her Pa a kiss, she stifled that desire. 

Remembering her goal, she tiptoed towards the medicine cabinet. It was near the kitchen so she had to be extra careful. As she approached, she could see her mother before the oven. She was glad that she had her back on her. She reached the medicine cabinet without being noticed, only to find a new problem. The medicine cabinet was beyond her reach. 

Looking around nervously, she found a solution. One of Brad’s large building blocks was near the entrance to the den. She tiptoed to it and tugged gently. It was heavy. With a few shoves, she was able to dislodge it from its corner. She had to strain hard to push it over the floor however, and she was lucky that over the din of the TV, the sound was muffled. 

It took her awhile to get it to its desired position. After giving it a few pokes and satisfied by its stability, she gingerly peered around to see her mom. Her mom seemed engrossed on something which made her feel good about herself. Cautiously, she pulled herself up the building block, her stubby legs a little short but she remedied it by falling on her stomach then pulling herself up. 

Again, she looked at her mom. Save for a little movement, there was no indication that she was noticed. Focusing her attention to the task at hand, she reached for the medicine cabinet. Lucky for her, it was not locked and it opened with barely a squeak.

Vials and boxes presented themselves to her and she unconsciously twitched her nose at the memory some of them brought up. She didn’t like any of them and would rather not be in their company but she had a purpose now which drowned her reservations. Scanning the contents, she saw what she was looking for. The box had a picture of a boy her age wearing a strange yellow hat that very much looked like an orange half. She started to giggle but controlled herself just in time. She grabbed it.

“Whatcha doing?” the sudden interruption jolted her. She jerked around, placing the box behind her. 

Brad was staring up at her from the door leading to the den.

She balked, her mind trying to conjure an excuse, but nothing cohesive came up. She decided to ignore him. She half turned closing the medicine cabinet and then nonchalantly hopped down from her perch, taking care to hide her hands from her brother.

Brad continued to stare at her, obviously still groggy. He was fighting sleep. She took a big breathe and walked towards the stairwell. Brad looked menacing and she wondered if he will grab at her hands when she passes her. But she was determined to pass him and her hands dug into the medicine carton she held.

“What are you hiding?” Brad pointed at her. He was regaining full consciousness, a rather dangerous prospect. Sofia quickened her pace and ran the last few paces to get out of the reach of her brother. She continued up, not daring to look down.

“Mom, Sofie’s got something.” She heard Brad cry out. By then she was by Sean’s door. Another floor and she would be safe. There… she slammed the door behind her and only then did she exhale the breath she was holding in. Her legs ached so she sat down and she took big draughts of air. 

Her throat felt sore but at least, she raised her hands, she’s got her price. The medicine carton had been crumpled where she had held it tightly but in the middle, protected from the force peeked the orange head of the medicine dropper. She smiled.

Her victory, however, was tempered by the knowledge that Brad might come up. She cupped her head into her door and listened, her breath held in check both out of fear and anticipation.

There was nothing. Save for the sound of the wind that travelled through the walls, the telltale signs of impatient footsteps coming her way were exhilaratingly absent. After a few more moments listening to the pounding of her heart and holding a breath, she relaxed and turned her attention to the most pressing matter at hand.

Her attention was drawn towards her carefully laid out nest. For a moment, she wondered if her fairy friend had gone away and the lack of any telltale signs at first glance lowered her spirits and then there was that sneeze again, and slowly against the stark redness of her parka, the concealed form of the fairy materialized for her. Her friend had chosen to be invisible for a while.

Reverently, she tiptoed towards her. Her young mind could grasp at least inwardly that there was something very wrong with her friend. The fairy girl lay panting on her back in the middle of the nest. Her tiny chest strained with each draught of air and the former riotous colors of her wings have faded to be replaced by the dull gray sheen of aluminum foil. The fairy’s eyes followed her every move but the luster in them has likewise faded.

There. There... she wanted to say but found the unuttered words wanting. Instead she knelt in front of the heap and gingerly appraised the situation. She felt sadness inside her; an emotion which befuddled her because it tried to make her cry when her young mind strived for calmness. The warring inside her made her pause for a bit and for a moment, she was frozen in place.

Then the weight of the medicine bottle she carried and the painful breathing of her friend chose for her. Stifling her welling tears, she unscrewed the dropper. Her hands were a bit shaky and at first it was a hard thing to do and for a moment, the desire to call her mom for help was strong. With a few well placed bursts of strength, however, she felt it loosen. Warmed by the small triumph, she carefully withdrew the dropper and as she lifted it up with its contents, she smiled and crinkled her nose at the unpleasant memories it drew up for her.

A few drops dribbled away from her inexperienced grasp but she got the hang of it before she had it over her friend. Where she faced the newest conundrum.

The fairy merely stared at the dropper held above it. While is breathing was ragged, its teeny mouth remained closed.

“Open your mouth.” She whispered.

The fairy merely shifted its sight to her in response. Her mouth remained closed.

Sofia’s young mind reeled with that fact. How would she speak it? Like before, she regretted the fact that she was too little to learn French. For the first time in her young life, she wondered if Brad’s fascination with growing up had its merits. She wondered inwardly with a certain tinge of regret about her being a child and at that moment though she didn’t know it, merely by that thought a part of her childhood was gone.

The thinking, however, formed a solution in her mind. Her moms face loomed. She smiled.

“Aaah” She intoned opening her mouth wide. For a moment, however the fairy seemed ignorant of her intentions but as she accepted its failure, the fairy opened its mouth in imitation. She smiled approvingly and with a tiny squeeze, a drop of the brownish liquid dropped down and landed smack center on the fairy’s wide mouth.

The reaction was sudden but for Sofia, expected. The fairy gulped in the liquid. Her small body had a brief lull of calmness and then the coughing came. Sofia giggled. The fairy doubled up to a sitting position and for a brief moment, color returned to her wings as she coughed wildly. Sofia empathized with that feeling well. This particular medicine made her gag. 

Then the coughing was gone and the fairy, now seated looked at her quizzically. 

“You’re gonna be okay.” She intoned in response and nodded knowingly. The fairy merely continued to stare at her. She did not go back to lying down. As the moment passed, the rapid heaving of its tiny chest slowed down. Color gradually returned to her parched cheeks.

Sofia giggled.

Medicine might be awful but it works wonders.

For a long moment, they both looked at each other. Sofia wanted to reach out and touch her new found friend. Its wings in particular begged to be touched but something stayed her: a feeling she found new and exhilarating. This fairy girl was not like her dolls still lying asleep in their house nor like her friends from school nor like Neil from across the street. Her mind could not muster the words to explain what she feels but the clarity of the emotions they invoked were strong.

The fairy’s aquiline eyes watched her. Their depths invoked wonders and for a few brief moments, Sofia wondered if she was dreaming it all.

She knew she was not, however. There comes moments in a child’s life when the mind starts to wonder about the distinction of what is real and what is not. This was not one of those moments.

Slowly, the fairy picked herself up. She gave her wings a flutter which sent a shower of bright shining dust in its wake. Sofia smiled though she realized with a sinking feeling what it meant. Her friend had healed and though her young mind could not fully grasp it yet, she knew that the time of parting is near at hand. 

Her fairy friend stretched her legs, gingerly at first then with confidence as she found her strength. Sofia watched the movements with a sad smile. Color had returned to the patient and as she flexed her tiny body, the bright aura around her grew stronger. 

Finally, the fairy stopped and returned he gaze at Sofia. There was a twinkle in the aquiline eyes and though the small mouth beneath it remained unmoving, Sofia knew that it was a smile. Her melancholy was banished.

“Hello…” she whispered and instinctively reached a hand out, then feeling a bit foolish as she realized their hands large size disparity but she didn’t take it back. The fairy looked at it then at her. She seemed to be confused then slowly, she fluttered her wings, the twinkle of its eyes grew brighter and then a small arm was lifted and touched Sofia’s extended hand lightly.

Outside, the wind howled.

Somewhere down at the house, the TV blared as a Dad watched his team rally from a huge deficit, a little boy sulked and a mom was idly waiting for an oven to finish its work. In the attic, a friendship was confirmed.

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