For my fiction class this sem. I really think it’s less fiction and more poetry but whatever.
She thought the ceiling of the cathedral was so high, there was no way it could stay that way for long. She thought of how exhausted it must be to fight against the vicelike grip of gravity. Any minute, any second, it’s bound to give in.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sudden start of the keyboard playing the Wedding March. On cue, she started marching along.
In a space this wide, the walls so far apart, echoes are loudest. She thought of how amusing it would be if she had the chance to be alone in this cathedral, she would laugh as loud as she can, like a child shouting “hello” over and over in a wide vacant room—discovering an echo for the first time. She would laugh just to be laughed back at; she didn’t mind. To be laughed back at meant that someone was listening, even if it were just these cathedral walls.
Her father marched with her, his arms gripped around hers and his footsteps heavy against the cathedral tiles. She was afraid it looked so fragile, it might break under his father’s weight. She didn’t notice she was looking at the floor until her father put his hand under her chin and lightly raised her head. He didn’t say anything; he just raised his eyebrows and smiled. She knew the only right answer was for her to smile back.
They reached the end of the aisle, her father took his grip away from her only to be replaced by someone else’s. She looked from her father to the man whose barong sleeves were grazing, itchy on her bare skin. He looked at her with his eyebrows raised and for the first time she noticed how much he looked like her father.
Again, the only right answer was for her to smile. He smiled back and nodded, and they faced the altar where the priest stood with his arms wide open.
Any minute, any second now. She waited, she wished.
She can’t remember particularly when. She remembers though: they were sitting around a table. She remembers even more: how when she saw Him the voices around her seemed to dissipate, how she was suddenly aware of the grease sticking to her face, of the sweat on her forehead, of the feel of the table against her fingers as she tapped; trying to transcribe her rapid heartbeats like Morse code onto the wooden surface, believing that transcription gave her control (she thought, whenever emotions are written down, they loose their hold). It didn’t matter if the dots and dashes and the letters and words they formed didn’t make sense, because she never intended for anyone to read them. She never wanted anyone to read them. But He read them anyway.
Their eyes met. His, meeting her gaze. Her, meeting His. It was glaring. Like how you could look at the sun for half a second; the sunlight too intense, too much to bear, it would seem that half a second was a minute an hour a lifetime, too much. She looked away.
If you stared at the sun too long and you looked away, it stays in your eyes and tints your vision white. And even after you’ve stopped looking, you would know it is there, engulfing everything in light. Its presence unshakable like a persistent thought at the back of your head.
She felt like a baby floating in a mother’s womb. She thought, if she was given the choice before she was born, she’d never leave her mother’s womb. She’d stay there where she’d be fed, lulled to sleep by her mother’s warmth.
Liquid pressure pressed on her body from all sides, but she had never felt so light. It was intoxicating, the water filling her up. If she could take in a bit more, she would. If only I could take in a bit more, she thought. It’s a shame that her body was a vessel already filled up to the brim.
She thought it felt like home there, underneath the currents. She thought it felt like home because she was coming back. She was only becoming, who she was at the beginning.
She floated there, at the belly of the sea, a baby in her mother’s womb.