Criselda finds Mateo for the fifth time, 40 years after the death of the fourth.
He is younger, 21, with vibrant eyes and tattooed pores and skin when he enters the museum that she works in. His hair is combed again and he wears denims which are too tight for his legs. His snort is just too loud and his face is clean-shaven.
This Mateo is called Manuel.
“I feel like I’ve seen you before.” He teases, makes use of the generic line to get her consideration and fish a smile.
Criselda has heard this line for much too many occasions to rely, from books, to televisions, to films—and shouldn’t these writers have give you a brand new one already?
But, it nonetheless breaks her aged coronary heart to listen to it from the person carrying her beloved’s pores and skin.
She doesn’t search for any signal of recognition in his eyes— she’d study from the primary time—as an alternative, Criselda smiles, turns and leads him across the museum. She tries to imagine that he’s nothing however a stranger carrying a well-recognized face.
The subsequent day, he asks her out on a date.
Criselda counts the variations this Mateo (Manuel) had from her the previous Mateo(s).
When he holds her hand, Criselda is aware of; this Mateo doesn’t know the way to toil the land, has not identified the humiliation for being referred to as indio or estupido by a person who took his ancestor’s land. His hand is just too tender and his pores and skin is just too pale to know the load of the midday solar in opposition to his again, or the texture of bolo in his grip.
When he pushes a plate of unfinished meals away, Criselda is aware of; this Mateo doesn’t know the ache of going hungry. Has by no means identified what it’s prefer to beg for stale bread, to cover underground for days, praying that the troopers with too pale pores and skin and straw coloured hair will go away.
When he laughs, Criselda is aware of; this Mateo doesn’t know feeling of betrayal from his personal folks. Has not misplaced his brother to males exercising self-discipline, has not misplaced his mom to males preaching nationalism (idolatry). His snort is just too gentle, too simply given to be mistaken for one thing aside from the results of happiness.
And when he kisses her, Criselda is aware of; this Mateo has by no means had his coronary heart damaged.
(And he by no means will, not this time, she’ll make sure that of it.)
He could be very completely different from the previous Mateo(s)—however so alike too.
(Because regardless of the softness of his palms, he is aware of the load of placards, holding phrases that will change the world.
Because regardless of not ending his meals, the meals he pushes away, he pushes it towards the youngsters knocking on glass doorways of eating places.
Because regardless of his free snort, he is aware of when to rage and shout in opposition to the injustices on the planet.
He fights and lives the best way he is aware of how.)
And so, Criselda falls in love another time.
(It makes her marvel, how a lot of her Mateo(s) was Mateo due to the circumstances of the occasions he was born in. Had her first Mateo lived longer if he lived throughout the time of skyscrapers and cellphones? Could he have been kinder? Would he have smiled extra? Would he have stayed?)
They marry a yr after they met—(And if Manuel notices the occasions when Criselda’s tongue slips and calls him by one other title? He doesn’t present it.)—and she or he loses him a yr after.
“It has always been that soul’s destiny to die young. He’s always had too much fire.”
From the shadows, a type emerges. It can’t be stated whether or not it’s a person or a girl. Although, actually, it by no means actually issues as a result of generally it’s a youngster, crawling and helpless, and generally, it’s younger girl with sharp smiles and even sharper eyes. It glides throughout the wood flooring and stands beside Criselda.
This time, Criselda loses him by means of a person in a bike, two bullets to his head and a placard hanging round his neck, resting on his chest.
“There will be others.”
The entity runs his fingers by means of Criselda’s hair, twisting and pulling. “I don’t know whether to call you blessed or cursed by the gods.”
Criselda smiles, immortal eyes turned to the window as gentle from the sinking solar because it paints her pores and skin with orange gold. There is weariness in her youthful face, a resignation in her proud posture.
“Aren’t they the same thing?”
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Super publishes poetry and fiction. Please ship a chunk of quick fiction (or an excerpt from an extended work that’s 500-800 phrases) or three poems to [email protected] or to Ruel S. De Vera, Literary Editor, Super, c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City 1204 Metro Manila.