by Zeny May
Ms. D and Mr. F
Mr. F met Ms. D in the middle of a street party on New Year’s Eve. There were no firecrackers that year but music blared from the outdoor speakers. And when he wanted her to hear him out, they shut their mouths and listened to their eyes instead.
They knew two things: they liked each other very much and they will never be together. The latter they discovered by looking beyond each other’s shoulders.
After their meeting, Mr. F sat down on his desk and began writing stories, putting into print the essence of Ms. D. He constructed her entire (imagined) life out of inky ribbons and tree pulp. He never got up again for the next 40 years, much to his wife’s dismay.
Ms. D sat down too, and began taking in clothes with tears in them from her brothers, uncles, her father, and later on, from her husband and her children. Sewing those tears she wished it was Mr. F’s.
She also knew of Mr. F’s writings and how he became famous with it. But she would never believe it was about her. She never made anyone, not even herself, famous for anything. Even then, she bought all his books and leafed through the newspapers. She followed his life,
Until much, much later she reached the author’s profile, the obituaries. She would never have enough of him (in print form).
But he’d departed very quietly, on his desk, working through her entire imagined life. She missed it the way most of us missed the sunset that came through our windows.
Irene and Michael
She entered the cool, musty bookshop to hide from the heat. Upon the threshold, a book very familiar caught her eye. Of course, she said to herself, of course. Upon the threshold, in the coolness, the confidence in her disappeared.
Hello, said a woman from behind the counter covered in books. How may I help you? She had such warm eyes.
How much is this one?
The woman stood up and said, 220. She added: You know I know the author and I think he’ll be back in a few. He can give you a note if you want.
She looked at the first page. There, on the corner, he signed his name in a script she didn’t know he could do. No, thank you, she replied. He signed his name, you see, and that’s enough for me.
The one who stayed smiled at her and nodded. She paid then walked out, took a conscious effort not to look up or look back. She concentrated on her shoes, size five, brown leather. She had such small feet. In the heat, tiny drops of rain (so tiny they could only fall on her) fell on her shoes.
Back at the bookshop, the author came back to his wife with a bag of take-out lunch. Together, they ate.
Ray and Kay
As far as the shaky hand of Fate was concerned, the fact that their names rhymed was enough reason for them to be together and never part.
Shaky Fate will tell you that he paired people for the littlest and stupidest reasons. Live with it, child.
But what He won’t tell us (and what we probably wouldn’t be able to live with) is this: even without Chance or Fate’s hand, we can go for rhyming souls.
Ray and Kay went for full rhymes, no less. But
Ray went ahead into the dark. Kay, who was left behind, offered full meals, boiled eggs, and beer to his picture, believing that Ray was only on a ride to the after-life. What kind of vehicle he took, she wasn’t quite sure.
She used to write him long letters and she did so even after his death. Feeling lonely, she wrote to him while he slept in his grave. And sometimes—though she wished it didn’t happen at all—he would respond and happily write about the neighborhood underground. I can’t wait to have you here, he wrote. And she responded: yes, yes.
Joseph and Candy
St. Louis Blues’ Sol Hoopii played inside their room. Joseph knelt before his wife Candy, whose right leg had recently been amputated due to gangrene—it began as a wound infection. They were on vacation when Candy met an accident. They didn’t blame anyone or each other for the neglect done to her body. And tonight, he was dressing her wound.
Candy remarked that their sheets, the curtains, their room smelled like pastries. Joseph replied: It’s your wound. They smiled.
She had her eyes closed as her husband attended to her. She touched his head, rumpled his hair. You remind me so much of daddy, she said. He didn’t say anything; he poured hydrogen peroxide on the wound. They could hear, beneath Sol Hoopii, the sizzling, crackling sounds her wound made. The drone to the melody.
Your father’s left foot got amputated in an accident too, he said. His brow was furrowed. She smoothed the creases on her husband’s face with her thumb. Yes, she said, come to think of it, with my right leg gone we’re more of a family than we’ve ever been.
He nodded, continued to dress her wound. The music stopped and nothing followed.
Penny and Turnip
She was Penny and she called him Turnip because he was bone-white as white as a mother’s newly washed blankets drying under summer. How would it be if he could cover and embrace her like those blankets, and fill her with a kind of warmth she hadn’t known before.
He was Turnip and he called her Penny because she worked at her father’s store, behind the cash register and she had eyes like coin slots. Many nights he lay under a water-stained ceiling, thinking of her: a body of coin slots ready to take in pieces of himself.
Turnip and Penny were spent waiting for the right moment. Nights were spent looking into the mirror, telling oneself: It will never happen. A proclamation that weighed heavy on the tongue, heavier than the names they gave each other.
(c) Zeny May Dy Recidoro