Saturday, September 26, 2009
the tides, part 7
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
Theo was suddenly roused from sleep by a tingling wamth, luxuriating in his muscles. It felt like those rare times when he actually made use of his tub instead of the shower in their small city apartment, immersing himself in a warm bath; the water feels just right on the skin, engaging his senses. He opened his eyes to see that thin shafts of sunlight are passing through the dome, as he’s been calling that delicate overhead mesh of leaves and branches that enclose the shack in a perpetual rain of green; he saw it a year ago, with the person he’s now running away from. Running away from? He’s not chasing you, for chrissakes, Theo. Stop this nonsense at once. Fully awake by now, he realized that the sunlight reaching him is falling through an open window, impaling him at precise points in his body—his cheeks, his chest, his tummy—each part resplendent in their hue of light pink. How could that be? I closed every single one last night on account of the storm.
A clink of teaspoon touching porcelain. He turned around to see Manong Gerry with a fresh cup of coffee on hand, greeting him a good morning. Manong Gerry is a next door neighbor who lives in the clearing, about two hundred meters from the shack; he was one of the residents who took an immediate liking of Clem and Theo, enough to offer them this abandoned shack. It had already been a year ago, to this day when they wandered into the island, alongside some others sharing their boat.
They were tourists, lodged on a nearby island, and were hopping from one island to another as part of the day tour package they availed, when they spotted the island’s rugged cliffs and lush greens from afar, floating like a dream in the blue waters. Seeing the group’s excitement, the guide was quick to point out that it’s not an official stopover in their tour and would not be the one answering to his bosses should they be spotted by other tour boats wandering off into the island. The adventurous group insisted that they won’t take long; that they’d just take pictures in front of the rock formations once they land on the beach. Overruled, the tour guide steered them into the island’s direction.
Upon reaching the shore, the excited bunch got off immediately, finding spots to have their pictures taken. It didn’t take long, however, for them to notice that local children were playing some distance away; and that a handful of makeshift establishments made of wood and rusted corrugated iron were sprouting like mushrooms at the cliffsides, complete with improvised verandas to accommodate breathtaking views of the sea and the nearby islands. Mesmerized by the strange allure of these renegade coffee shops, drinking bars, and a quaint little marketplace not far away from the cluster selling the day’s fresh catch, half of the group asked the guide to just fetch them at the end of the day; adding that they’ll just pay him extra for the fuel and his efforts. Seeing that it’s a good bargain on his part, the guide finally agreed.
As the boat left to continue touring the remaining passengers aboard, the small group that remained explored to their heart’s content. The shack called to them from its perch. High atop the faded red and green awnings of the shops, sitting at the highest part of the cliff, Clem and Theo saw a shack flanked by big trees on all its sides except the one looking down at them, facing the sea. It looked rustic, and grand at the same time, recalling scenes conjured from childhood fantasies, of green-domed castles resting by the cliff, jutting out to sea. Like two explorers excited with their new find, they made a dash for the remaining slope to reach their prize.
Reaching the top, they found the shack to be abandoned and in a state of disrepair. A bunch of local children were playing at a nearby swing, its ropes tied to a branch of a mango tree. Soon, two adults were rushing into their direction, alongside some more children who obviously told them of the tourists’ arrival. The elderly man with the graying beard introduced himself as Manong Gerry, and his wife by his side, Manang Linda.
“It’s good that you came here,” Manong Gerry said, after a few niceties were exchanged. “In the past two years, more and more tourists are gradually discovering our island. It’s good for the local tourism”.
“You must excuse us for the lack of electricity, though. Electricity cables haven’t reached us yet. The shops below are only good for day trips from the nearby islands. We are horrible hosts at night,” quipped Manang Linda.
“So you don’t have inns around, should we decide to stay for the night?” Theo asked, smiling, thinking of nights lit by gas lamps.
“Sadly we don’t have those things yet. But should you and your friend would want to stay, you can stay here,” Manong Gerry said, pointing to the shack. “It’s been abandoned for years now. My neighbor Tomas relocated to the town proper when he struck luck with his seaman son’s good fortunes.”
“Will it be any trouble if we actually did?” asked Clem. “We were looking for an adventure when we came here, seems we really found what we're looking for”.
“Oh no, please, help yourselves. We’re actually going to have a fluvial parade tomorrow, for the Blessed Virgin. That should be a sight to see for city dwellers like yourselves,” Manang Linda said smilingly.
At the end of the day, when the boat came back for the group, Theo and Clem already had a ready line made for the tour guide, and asked to be picked up the next day instead; thankful that they haven’t checked-in yet at one of the fancy inns of the bigger island like most in their group did upon arriving in the morning. After sharing dinner with Manong Gerry’s family and exchanging a few laughs, they headed back to the shack where they made love under the light of the gas lamp.
“I opened the windows to let some sunshine in,” Manong Gerry’s voice pulled Theo away from his reverie. He was beside an open window, holding his cup of coffee. “You came back at a terrible time, we’re being assaulted by heavy rains for almost two weeks already. It’s good to see the sun finally shining again though, in time for the procession later. I was surprised to see you yesterday. I haven’t really thought you’d remember the date of our fiesta. Your friend really should have come, the procession will be extra special this year”.
Theo smiled. He didn’t mean to come at such a precise a time. He just needed refuge; some solitude to thinks things through. But now he feels his past is closing in on him, more than ever.
In a wooden jetty at the end of a dirt road somewhere, Clem contracts a boatman to take him to the island.
<to be continued>
image source http://southofthegnatline.blogspot.com/2007/06/youre-never-too-old.html