Note : The following is an original story by the author. While he believes in the idea of intertextuality, he is also a firm believer of the concept of intellectual property, and will invoke his rights under the Copyright Law to the full extent, should his story be subjected to acts of plagiarism.
The sun was up early this morning. It rose golden and majestic over the distant hills to the east; its rays melting away those delicate curtains of mist that hung like spider lace over the fields and the meadows, and the little brooks they passed by along the way. They have been travelling by bus, a rickety one, for almost two hours now; and each bump along the road is reminding Clem how hard it is, getting to the island.
He hasn’t had a decent sleep yet since setting out by himself at dawn, nor is he complaining about it. He has endured two transfers already: from an airconditioned bus, he took a ferry ride taking him to the main island; getting off from the main port, he had to fight a multitude of other passengers just to get in one of those old buses with open steel frames for windows and creaking wooden slats for floor, plying the route from the port to the far end of the island. He was lucky to get aboard one, and has been enjoying the ride since, despite a few patches of rough road they’ve been encountering, from time to time.
After the sudden flood of memories at the bar last night, he had to do something. He had to act. And this is it, the ultimate road trip. It didn’t surprise him at all to see himself going this length to get to Theo. He loved the guy for seven years, loves him still to this very day. Arriving at his apartment, feverish from the terrible rains, he tried for his cellular phone a number of times. No answer. Not the one to easily give up, he sent several short messages to friends, to no avail—within an hour, they all sent their answers in the negative—no, they haven’t seen Theo for awhile, and no, they do not know his whereabouts. Even Reema was vague in her answer—her brother didn’t exactly say where he was going, except to a retreat, a few days away from the city.
“Tis great, noh? That we found this island by accident, or that it found us. It’s like the perfect hideaway, when you’re hiding from the world and you don’t want to be found; or when you’re soul searching, or whatever. Imagine, there’s no electricity yet! How do people here survive?! Know what...we could set up a party here sometime...call all your friends in Manila, what do you think? We’ll have a gas lamp luau by the beach. Haha!”
He only had to close his eyes to see Theo’s face that day they set foot on the island: pure bliss. And there had been a religious procession too, a fluvial parade going the length of the rocky shore. It passed by the abandoned little shack they took shelter in, which the residents were kind enough to offer for the duration of their stay. Colorful, triangular pieces of paper shimmered in the water, adorning the boat that carried the image of the Blessed Virgin. Little girls clad in white dresses were throwing red and white confetti to the throng of believers that gathered along the shoreline, singing Ave Maria. Exhilarated from their vantage point at the edge of the cliff, Theo shouted, “Hah! The perfect retreat!”
It was the only clue Clem could follow; the only clue he’s desperately clinging to.
The bus stopped on a dirt road to unload its final set of passengers. Clem got out, stretching himself from the cramped way he’d been sitting for a good two hours. All of a sudden, a light breeze blew in from the south; he can smell the sea.
<to be continued>
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