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The best thing about writing is molding life to characters you find interesting. The worst about it is having these characters crowd your head, unable to get out because you haven't written down the pages for them. Continue writing? Hell, yes. This blog is a way of letting these characters out for a gulp of air. I love creating them. They remind me that there's a nutjob in all of us. Some are in for a brief appearance via short stories. Others are in for the long haul, peppering a novel I have written. Enjoy these stories. After all, life is more fantastic than we imagine it to be.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Midalin's Saga

Whenever I watch a movie, I imagine scenes from the novel I'm writing. How will my characters look like when they finally jump out of my head? Will their clothes appear like how I intended these to look like? Dear God, I hope the entire thing doesn't look like a B movie.

In any case, there won't be a movie at all if I don't finish the rest of the books in my series.

We think that the world we live in is reality. Maybe this is only part of what is real. What if there is a world out there that is so different from ours yet intertwined with each of our fates? Here's a preview of my first book.


The faerie’s golden hair cut through the dark mist of early dawn. She was oblivious to the hungry jackals trailing her.

“I know she’s here. She will not escape this time.” Her red velvet cape rustled softly with the chilly wind. Why will a young faerie be out at this time? She moved stealthily in between the thorny shrubs, their thorns clawing at the rich fabric of her cape. Then she saw her target, a hooded figure standing by an oak tree.

“Is she waiting for me?” thought the fairie. She took out a silver dagger from its sheath tied to her waist. “Somebody should stop her. She already got me into a lot of trouble. Father will get mad if I embarrass him.”

Before the moon hid behind its minion clouds, the fairie saw her target. It surprised her that she did not have any trouble getting close. Even the jackals crept nearby.

The figure remained still, unmindful to the danger behind her. Only her black cape moved. “You have to be stopped.” The fairie looked around. “Nobody has to know.” The dagger felt cool and unfeeling in the fairie’s hands, strangely mimicking her emotions. As she thrust it into the target’s back, the paradox of time came into effect. Everything happened so fast yet she was watched the scene unfold slowly as if time eerily dragged its feet. No sound emitted from the target even as her body hit the ground.

“There is no blood,” was the fairie’s first thought. Until she saw the first trickle touch the ground underneath the target’s hood. “Why is her blood so bright?” The moon peeked out of its hiding, shining into the murderer and her victim. “Why is her blood so bright? What does she look like?”

Instead of fleeing the scene, her curiosity got the better of her. She knelt down beside her victim, not pained by even the slightest morsel of remorse. Part of the hood hid the lifeless figure’s face.

“Father doesn’t have to know.” When her hand lifted the fabric covering the dead person’s face, she momentarily got puzzled. “She looks familiar’. Time again played its trick. She felt the moment freeze yet things seemed to happen in whirlwind. The fairie let out a fearful scream. How could this happen? “No, NO! AAAAHHHHHH!”

Lying there with glassy dead eyes, in an expanding pool of blood, was a figure with her face. She could not be mistaken. The pointed nose, the violet eyes on an oval face. She killed someone who was her.


“Beleau! Child wake up! WAKE UP!”

The fairie woke up in her bed, flushed with the relief of knowing it all was not true. It was seconds after that she realized her hair pasted flat on her skull with sweat. Her father usually spoke in whispers. But now, he spoke as loudly as someone asking for the sugar to be passed. This was the loudest she had heard him. He stopped shaking her then turned to someone in the room.

“What happened? Did anybody get inside?”

She was surprised that another being was in her room. The tall fairie clad in dark vestments shook his head. There was something about him that made it difficult to see him even with the candles already ablaze in the room. His entire persona seemed to retreat into the shadows. She peered at him yet could not clearly distinguish his features.

“Your daughter had her recurring nightmare. But this is the worse I’ve seen her react. There is no danger from outside. I will go back to my post.” With a bow, he jumped out the window in one fluid motion to wherever his post was.

“You have me guarded by night fairies? Since when, Father?” Beleau straightened her hair.

“Since birth, my dear. Even during daytime. You haven’t noticed them? Well, then they’re as good as they say they are. Pricey but effective. Your father is an important man in the palace. And with the palace under siege from evil elements at all times, I have to make sure you are protected.”

“Why? Are we being attacked?” She grew fearful. The remnants of her dream trailing down at her.

“Not now. Who knows? We have to be prepared at all times.” He got up and patted her head. “Change your clothes. I’ll have the maids change your bedding. Your bed is so wet with sweat you might as well have swum there. Join me for hot chocolate.”

Cool night wind streamed from the veranda. They lived in an apartment within the palace. When Beleau stepped into her father’s study, the familiar aroma of hot chocolate wafted to the door. Whenever she felt down, her father’s hot chocolate had comforted her since she was a child. It was the thing she needed tonight.

Her father poured her a cup as soon as she sat down. “What was your nightmare?”

“It..it’s about a girl. She always appeared in my dreams. But I don’t know her.”

“Do you have the same dreams every time?”

“No. But it’s the same girl. She…she is bad.”


“In my dreams, she gets me into trouble even if I don’t want to. People get mad at me. They say I steal things. I create mischief. But it’s her. I can’t stop her because she is always running away from me. I can’t even see her face.”

“Her this and her that. Does she have a name?”

“I don’t know. Do you dream of strangers and know their names?” hers was an innocent question.

Her father seemed slightly annoyed at the deviation from the topic. He shook his head impatiently. “This has happened for years? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Ever since Mother died, you told me to be good and to make you proud,” thought Beleau.

“In my opinion, I think you should know something lest you hear this from other people. Everybody has his over version of what I’m going to tell you. I don’t want you to be confused about this important thing about our history.”

“History? Father, we’re talking about my dreams now. Not my grades in school!” Beleau stomped her foot.

“My child, history affects everything. That’s why I have given my life to studying it and making sure the palace respects its lessons.”

Beleau sighed. She talked to herself, “More talk about work. Father, I’ve heard this a million times. Yes, yes, your department in the palace makes up all these stupid rules that have to be followed. And your people report to you everything that’s going on. Maybe even about me? Oh no, does he know what happened in school today?”

“Have you heard about Tolkurs?” asked her father.

“Tolkurs? Uummm…They lived in ancient Midalin, right? Aren’t they extinct?”

“Beleau, only the giant reptiles are extinct. Not them. What have you been reading, child?” was the exasperated reply. “They ruled Midalin way before humans and other creatures did. We who are born in the present time have not seen the power of a Tolkur. They range from the useless grubelf, you know, the common grubelf that steals food, to the magnificent Vernild that can command elements and whatnot. I myself have never seen a Vernild,” he shrugged his shoulders in disappointment.

“So Father, what does this have to do with my dream?”

“I’ll get to that. You have to understand the back story.”

“How far back is the back story? I need to get up early to wash my hair. It’s still sticky,” Beleau touched her scalp, one of her ears still tuned to her father’s whispery, droning voice. “Or should I wash it before going back to bed? It needs to dry properly,” she thought. Her mind drifted back to her father.

“…don’t know what’s happening with young people these days? Going back to our history, there came a time when Tolkurs decided to let other creatures rule Midalin. I am not sure why this lapse in judgment occurred. But Tolkurs were close to the seat of power. They had great influence over the reigning ruler. Then, as with most alliances, came the disagreement. Somebody’s bound to get greedy. In this case, the Tolkurs became the evil lot.”

“They became bad?”

“That I’m not sure of. If they were bad all along or if they suddenly transformed into something sinister. Moving along, they were not content with mere Midalin. They coveted a land far, far away.”

“Something’s farther than Midalin? Won’t we fall off if we reach the Midalin’s edge?”

Her father looked at her intently. “I think I should hire you a tutor.” Shaking his head, he continued, “Going back to my story, yes, there’s something farther than Midalin. No, we won’t fall off the edge. No, I have never been there. But Tolkurs wanted so badly to visit this place, sniff around, get to know the people there and rule over it. That’s how simple the predicament was. That was how the Ancient War started.”

“Where’s my dream in this?”

“The girl in your dream, what does she look like? You never saw her?”

“Uumm… only tonight.”

“So, what did you see?”

“Father, it is so frightening. I saw myself!” Beleau exclaimed in a whisper, such a difficult act to do.

Her father sat straight and nodded his head. As when he is in deep thought, he unconsciously unfurled his wings. “The inhabitants of this place that the Tolkurs wanted for their own are like this girl in your dream. As you have her, I also have mine. So does everyone else in Midalin, from faeries, humans, dwarves, gnomes, witches to elves. They are called our salmings.”

Beleau’s eyes widened. “So she is real? Oh no.”

“Why the terror?”

“F-Father, this girl in my dream is bad. Even when I’m awake, I feel she causes me to get into lots of trouble.”

“Not one, but lots of trouble? Like what? I never hear anything from you? Or your guards.”

“See! You have me watched. Father, we talked about this!”

“Only for your own protection. Your father is an important man. But going back to your troubles, what are these? Do I have reason to worry?”

“Oh, not really serious stuff. Just a lot of teasing from my classmates. They’re bullies. There’s this one group who make me miserable. They make fun of my nose, my hair. They call me a teacher’s pet. What’s wrong with bring sweet cakes for our professors? I usually shrug them off even when they mimic my voice. But I found a way to get back at them. I hid one of the professor’s examination answer sheets in their leader’s bag. Ha! They got into trouble because of that. Serves them right,” Beleau replied smugly, losing control over her mouth.

“Beleau! How could you do such a thing! That is stooping so low. I didn’t raise you up to be like that!” her father’s voice rose up to a level she had never heard before, much louder than how he was earlier.

“But..but.. they have been so mean to me. Really mean, Father. There have been times I did not want to go to school anymore. Except that I remember I have promises to keep.”


“Like when I promised Madame Brightchild that I would bring her our family’s special apple pie.”

“Oh, those kinds of promises. Did I teach you that?”

“No, is it wrong?”

“Well, we faeries really are excellent cooks. So I can truly understand why our family’s apple pie should be craved for even by your teachers. So why not use it to our advantage?” beamed her father, distracted by this discovery about his daughter.

“I got into a fight the previous day with a classmate. She drew on my wings. So I snipped off part of her hair.” She heard her father gasp. “Just the edges, Father. I didn’t want to go to class after that. But I remembered I told Madame that she’ll have a taste of our apple pie. So I went to school.”

“Whatever motivates you to step into school, child. But going back to that dreadful thing you did with the examination answer sheets. Do you know that you dug yourself a deeper hole, Beleau?”

Her father paused. “Remember the girl in your dream. She is your salming. I also have my salming. They along with the salmings of every creature here in Midalin live in the place that Tolkurs wanted to take possession of. They call this place earth. I’m sure that your salming is the bad one. Not you. Because you’re my daughter. No child of mine can be evil.”

“Why are you so sure she’s bad?”

“This is how it works. Or what they say. They depending on who you are talking to. Whatever we do affects our salming.”

"Whatever one does affect the other? Like cheating?"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"Like if I cheated in class, she gets bad grades?" Beleau regretted her words once she blurted them out.

"Dear child, did you also do that? You really have dug yourself into a very deep hole. When one of you does something bad, something bad also befalls the other one. Now, you say you have a terrible time in school. That's most likely because of your salming's less than exemplary behavior. If you do something bad yourself like all the naughty things I am hearing now, the bad things that will happen to your salming will make her crazier. So you should expect more backlashes from her evil ways. And the cycle goes on. I wish your mother were alive. This business of helping you grow up is something that confuses me at times.”

“So she can guide me?”

“Well..yes. And your mother also makes the best, the moistest chocolate cake. I’ve never tasted anything like it. But she never divulged the recipe so our cooks cannot replicate it. She used morning dew or something, I think. Your teachers would have loved it. It will easier to get you out of trouble.”


"Oh. That is all that my foolish daughter can say. Take some more hot chocolate."

"Father, are you kidding me?"

"Why should I?"

"You know, parents make up monster stories to scare their children.”

“Did I ever tell you one?”

“Uhm, no. Maybe this is the first time?”

“How can I not have noticed all these years how impertinent you can be?” her father showed a hint of a smile.

“All my nannies knew about it. I bet even my secret bodyguards,” thought Beleau.

“So, the lesson is, do good always. It will benefit you in the long run.”

“How sure are you that salmings exist? Have you gone to that place already?”

“No, but legends exist.”

“Are there court documents about this?” Beleau was not particularly bright, but when her curiosity was aroused, she could be quite difficult to shake off like lint on a wool cape.

“I am not in the position to neither confirm nor deny,” was her father’s terse answer.

“Always the stickler for rules his office mostly made up,” thought Beleau.

“Why did Tolkurs want to get to this place?”

“They wanted a bigger playground? Who knows? I haven’t exactly asked them personally, you know.”

“Have you ever been to that place?”


“No one in the palace has been there?”

“I don’t know.”

“Not even the king?”

“It’s not as if you can take a swiftfoot and ride to that place.” A swiftfoot was a winged horse that inhabitants of Midalin, specifically the wealthier ones, use for transportation. Other types of animals were also used, if wings could be grown on them.

“So how can the Tolkurs get there? A magic pill? Can I go see my salming to tell her off?”

“If anybody knew that, somebody would be really rich. Some say that there are ancient passages from Midalin to that world. If there is truth to those stories, nobody has ever come forward to claim they were able to cross to that place.”

“If nobody knows, maybe it’s all made up?” sighed Beleau.

“What’s important is to remember to do good. We determine our own fate. That -.” A loud crashing sound stopped her father in mid-sentence. Both of them stood up in anxiety. No night faeries appeared so there must be no intruder. But a voice croaked from the balcony.

“Ephraim, why don’t you put decent lights in your balcony? It’s difficult to land in here,” someone complained.

Her father rushed outside. She could see him helping up someone small. As he led that someone inside the study, a tiny witch with a pixie’s cherubic face smiled widely at her. She was missing several teeth.

“Oooh, I meet your daughter at last. Hello there, dear. I’m Sylvivia. You are normally asleep when I come over. The palace guards already know me.”

Beleau shook the old witch’s gnarly hand. “I’m pleased to meet you.”

Even before taking her seat, the witch explained, “I’m your father’s professional informant. Never been good with spells and potions. But I found out that I’m good with digging out secrets and stuff like that. If you find any information that’s remotely interesting, let me know. Just tell your ferrier to look for Sylvivia, the witch.” A ferrier was any winged animal that was used to transmit letters.

“Sylvivia, do you have to recruit even my daughter as an informant?” Ephraim laughingly scolded. “Here, take a seat and have hot chocolate. Beleau, you may sleep now. You still have school tomorrow.”

“Oh, do stay child. It will do you good to know these things. At least you will learn what types of things interest me,” winked Sylvivia.

“Alright. What do you have for me that made you rush and crash here at this time?”

The witch propped herself comfortably, her feet not touching the plush carpet. After sipping some hot chocolate, she began, “On my way to see a client late this afternoon, a creature flagged me while I was whizzing by on my broom. It was caped, very tall and sounded like an old man, though I could barely see his face. He asked for directions going to Ildemas. Yes, I was that far away from Livingbrook. I like to take long rides even at my age. I pointed him to the direction of the forests of Ildemas. It did not bother me that time. Then this afternoon, I heard a report that made me think really, really deeply.”

“What is it?”

“Do you know that there’s a Tolkur that was being held a prisoner somewhere in the palace?”

Ephraim glanced undecidedly at his daughter, then nodded slowly.

“It’s gone. It escaped today.”


“If I were you, I should ask the head of palace security why you were not informed of this delicate matter,” the witch suggested sagely.

Beleau could see her father’s face line up with worry. He got up and paced the room. The witch continued to sip her hot drink.

“How sure are you that the creature you saw was the Tolkur? And how can you be so sure that the prisoner escaped?”

“You know me, Ephraim, I have the best sources in Midalin. I’m a professional,” she shrugged. “As for the creature I saw, there was something about it that felt unsettling when I was in its presence. I felt like I was talking to something ancient, something I have never seen before. Trust me, at my age, I have come across a wide variety of creatures, from the most insignificant, dumbest, and silliest to the big rollers in Midalin. But this one was different.”

A knock came at the study’s door. A servant called out from outside, “Master Ephraim, the head of security is at the foyer. He requests to see you.”

See?” The witch plastered a grin of triumph.

“Let him in.” Ephraim turned to his daughter and to the witch. “Sylvivia, you may go now. Beleau, back to your room. Enough new things for you tonight.”

As the door started to open, the witch jumped out of the chair and pulled Beleau to the balcony. “Let’s hang around.”

Before Ephraim could scold the two and shoo them out of the room, the door opened. An important-looking man entered.

“I apologize Ephraim if I have come at a late hour. But there is news that you have to know. But before I proceed, may I request that we be alone?”

“Darn, how could he know we are here? I already sprayed an invisibility spell,” whispered the witch to Beleau, as they crouched near the curtains by the balcony.

“You said you were bad at spells,” whispered back Beleau.

“To make it worse, your father talks in whispers. What kind of man talks like that? The flies on the wall could barely hear him.”

“It might be better if we talk outside the study,” offered Ephraim. He led the head of security out of the room and they talked by the main door of the apartment.

The door was left ajar so the witch and Beleau sneaked peeks at the two men. “This man is really cunning. I’m trying to read his lips but I suspect he has a spell that prevents anyone from decoding what he is telling your father. I should get that spell…hhhmmm.”

“Wait…Tolkur..what else is he saying? Darn, my eyesight is also failing me from doing this properly. Escape….king…..danger…secret….now he’s leaving. What good will those senseless words do to me?”

“Why don’t ask Father?” suggested Beleau.

“Dear, I am your father’s informant. It’s a one-way street. I don’t get anything from him.” Then the witch looked at Beleau. “But you can ask him. I will consider it a big favor on my part.”

“Re-really? I’ll try.” Beleau felt honored to be trusted by the old witch for an important task. “Uhm, do you want to stay longer for a slice of apple pie? It’s a secret family recipe. You’ll love it,” she smiled with pride.

But before Sylvivia could answer Beleau, Ephraim opened the door to the study. He looked visibly shaken.

“Sylvivia, get your connections get as much information about the Tolkur. Any news. On any Tolkur.”

“Is something nasty about to happen?” was the witch’s curious reply.

“If I am reading this right, Midalin is about to be overrun by enemies, some of which have long been buried in our memories. We need to brace ourselves for another war. After centuries of peace, we are ill-prepared for this.”

“I am not so sure if that is good or bad for business,” the witch woefully said to herself.

He turned to his daughter. “Go to sleep now, child. There may come a time when there won’t be rest for any of us. Sylvivia, I need your help more than ever. The palace needs all the help it can get against the coming evil.”


So we leave these three characters to mull over this piece of troubling news. Eventful as their lives seem to be, they are not even the main characters of the story. Till my next post on Midalin’s saga.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Gut Feel

I finally understood my mother's fascination with the home furnishings section of any department store. It was not a problem for me to tag along during these excursions. But it was not somewhere I would make a beeline for when I am alone.

Recently, I moved into a new place. I had to start from ground zero since it was empty. Boy, did I go crazy. For the past 2 months, wandering into home furnishing outlets, thrift shops, and appliance stores were my version of other people's regular pilgrimage to Starbucks and H&M. I think even the security guards already knew me by face. But picking furniture is not something you force. It is not a hasty exchange of I do's. I would visit, look, meander, touch, scrutinize, but more specifically, feel if a piece is talking to me.

I have to be happy with my purchase. This is not about buying the best deal. It should feel like home, like lying down into a hotel room pillow and pleasantly finding out it's the right height, size and softness.

Being myself, I started out with a list of things the new place needed and proceeded with mechanical efficiency to get as many ticked off as quickly as possible. Then I realized that it should be done in its own pace. On some shopping days, I could not find anything that felt right for me. On fortunate expeditions, some pieces would pop out in the most unexpected places and called out at me.

Like in one instance when I was looking for a coffee table. Hours of scrounging in several shops left me with no promising find. At the last shop, I saw it. Not a table. But a chandelier. I did not even have a chandelier in my list! I wasn't even sure if it would look gargantuan in my living room. But it called me nonetheless. I'm still mulling over a price I will offer the owner. If it's still there next week, I know it's mine.

There was also the painting I discovered at the last minute. I am not sure why I seem to have luck on the last shops I enter. I had almost given up that day of finding a painting that would suit any of my rooms. Most of the creations I saw merely produced a feeling of detachment on my part. Before heading home, I decided to stop by one last shop. I asked for floral paintings, as that was the one on my list that day. In the process of checking the stacked paintings, I caught a glimpse of a still life. "Wait, what's that? Can you take it out?" Again, not on my list but it felt like I had to own it. It's also not within my budget so I'm still negotiating for it. But when I remember that one, my heart starts to race and I have to stop myself from running back to the shop. I'm sure that even if I think it's way over my budget, I'd still be grinning like a fool once I get it.

Completing my house project is still far off. I will eventually find the pieces that will fit. Or more truthfully, I'm sure the pieces will find me.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Travel Agent

I’ve changed jobs without conscience before. I’m staying with my current one for a variety of reasons, though I was told I lacked passion for it. I wonder if there are other-wordly careers open for career-challenged people like me. This story may be one of them. I wanted to imagine that even the dreariest jobs can be fun. Cheers to all of us, servants of our cubicle kingdoms.


A big fat drop of rain splat on Diego's immaculately chic Marc Jacob wool jacket. "Why can't these weather people ever get anything right? One week of rainy forecast and I ended up lugging around my Burberry umbrella under the scorching sun. Now, the first day of sunny guesstimate and what do I get? This jacket is supposed to be dry clean only, you idiots!"

He darted to the nearest shop with a canopy long enough to shield him, more specifically his 'fresh from a designer paper bag' jacket. He couldn't run to the nearest Starbucks. Two blocks away meant too many raindrops would ruin his current prized possession. "It's the Day One curse, but of course," Diego shook his head in amazement. "It never misses. It never forgets. Like my boss." He was not particularly superstitious. His line of work made it difficult to believe otherwise. But for some strange reason, a persistent fate befell his new stuff. Like when he wore his strappy Gucci shoes for the first time. In the midst of pursuing a client, he ran aground a Japanese rock garden, leaving an ugly gash across the left toe. On another occasion, his crisp Hugo Boss white shirt suffered a horrendous stain after a barista failed to seal his 'to go' latte cup correctly. His boss had to calm him down after he threatened to slug the barista.

And today, the rain taunted him. He cooled his heels beneath the canopy, tapping his Ferragamo to a beat inside his head. Thoughts about his next assignment preoccupied him, but apparently not enough for him not to notice a platinum blonde built like Barbie circa 1960s, complete with fake mink coat. She eyed him like a lioness would check out a tasty gazelle. Her female companion of slightly more modest measurements gave him a flirty smile as well.

Diego mused that a slight draft would tip them over. Alas, his grin on this joke was mistaken for interest. To his horror, they were both coming towards him. "Not another cougar encounter, please!" The blonde huntress was about to say her drawling 'Hello' when a taxi stopped by the curb, honking its horn twice.

"Thank God for my taxi angel." Diego leapt from under the canopy to the yellow door in one fluid movement, even before the annoyed Barbarella could open her mouth for a second try at contact. He gave a quick examination over his jacket. "Great, just a few drops. Hello, Vincent. I don't know how the hell you manage to pick me up when I most desperately need a ride. We're going uptown."

The driver let out a deep laugh. "Those two looked ready to pounce on you. Dangerous streets in this city."

"Peroxide blondes and hideous platform shoes should be outlawed. Style has never been a strong suit for newbies in this city. I can spot a tourist from a mile away. By God, you're a rock star compared to most people I meet," Diego chatted up his driver. And true enough, the driver had the rock star vibe. From the full crown of blinding white hair worn like Billy Idol, the fur-lined black leather jacket he wore even during the height of summer sizzle that made him look like he had his own weather around him, to the black boots with the sharpest toe Diego had ever seen. The tiniest of lines were hardly visible on his square-jawed face. He looked around forty. He was two hundred forty nine.

"I try to add flair to whatever I do. For vampires like me, we need to be interested always. Otherwise, it will be one boring fucked up hell of a time to spend your ad infinitum."

Diego met Vincent a few years ago, when he rode his cab for a long trip up the state to meet with a client. Friendship was easily forged. Diego was surprised that Vincent easily opened up to being a vampire.

"How's Miranda, by the way?" She was Vincent's wife, also a vampire. From Diego's recollection of their conversations, they had been together right after Vincent became one.

"Oh, off to save lions or something. She joined this group of conservationists who are out to save a bunch of nocturnal animal.”

"Have you ever wanted to join her?"

"It's not my thing. Look, it can get really lonely for us. So why should I hang out in the wilderness by myself, waiting for some animal to sniff out my tracking device? No, I'm a city boy. Humans are funny enough to humor me, while away my time," Vincent smoothly maneuvered the night traffic, almost as if gliding in between vehicles, in between checking his hair in the rearview mirror.

"True. You're not exactly like the brooding vampires in movies."

"Please, they don't have half as much of my coolness," grinned Vincent.

"You're right, my friend. And definitely none of your style. I'll get off in front of that building with the green doorman."

"Swanky neighborhood."

"Swanky client. New rich. See you around, my friend." After paying and getting off, Diego watched his friend roar off in the taxi that he drove like a sports car.

"Now, back to my business." He went up the elevator to the 11th floor. "Nice place. I bet a lot of snooty neighbors." He got off and looked for Unit 1104.

He had to ring the bell thrice to get a response. The lock clicked before he could press the fourth time.

"Who are you?" A tall, teenaged Asian-looking girl looked down at him from the open door. She stood a good 4 inches above him.

"I have been sent by your father."

"Really? You know I'm dead, do you?"

"Of course, dearie. You already know you're dead? Great. That is half the battle won."

"Alright then. Come in. Are you sure Dad sent you? For what?" She walked him through a tastefully-designed living room to what may be her room.

"To help you in the transition. By the way, I’m Diego." She was not quite like his other clients. Obviously more aware of her current state, she had a confident, settled air about her, which surprised him a bit considering her youth.

Upon reaching her room, she turned around and shook his hand. She squeezed hard. Not content with this, she pointed a finger and poked his arm. "I can feel you. Are you also dead?"

Diego almost let out a guffaw. The child in her came out. "Technically, no."

"So, you're alive?"

"Not in the strictest sense."

"Are you human?"

"Oh no, thank God, no."

"Can humans see you?"

"Yes. If I want them to."

"That's interesting. They can't see me. Mom can't see or hear me either." She looked at him curiously. She was about to poke him again but he managed to dodge her by walking around the room."

"Hhmmm...This room is...Are you a nerd?"

"I like to read. Some girls collect bags, I collect books." She sat down on the bed. "You know Dad? Did he really ask you to come help me? For what?"

Diego grinned and wagged his finger, “For someone who likes books, you lack a wide vocabulary. You used almost the same words a while ago. Yes, I know your Dad. He was a former client. I'm the business of making travel arrangements from this life to the next."

"Is he in a good place?"

"I would think so. My part of work is to help in the transfer from this life to the waiting room for the next life, which is referred to as the Airport. From there, a counterpart of mine will take care of you. We assist you every step of the way."

"Is Dad still at the Airport? To where? How about me?"

"For what? To where? Again, you like to ask the same questions, do you?" he smiled. "Your Dad left the Airport already. I heard he's happy.. As for you, we don't know where you're bound to go. Nobody knows until you leave for your destination."

"Do I need to pay you or something?"

"No, we do this pro bono."

"You seem to earn a lot." Nancy eyed his clothes as if examining a book's cover.

"For a nerd, you have the capacity to recognize style. Though you don't have the capacity to practice it." He examined her get-up in return. She laughed. "My boss gives us all the support we need to help us live with humans."

"You have a good boss then."

"Demanding at times but not the boss from hell others have. Now dearie, back to you. What have you been doing all this time? Aren't you bored? Don't you miss your friends?"

"I don't have that many friends. I prefer to be alone, reading, surfing the net, stuff like that. It may sound weird, but I sort of like being....being dead."

"Dear god, you didn't kill yourself, did you?"

"No, no. I was hit by a bus who tried to beat a red light. Didn't you get a brief about me before coming here?

Diego brushed his hand through the air. "We do get those briefings but I'm not into details. I like to go with the flow."

Nancy sighed. "Silly way to go, isn't it? But what can I do?"
"True, it's not the most glamorous exit but better than being poisoned or hanging yourself. That's grotesque, believe me. So, are you ready to go to the Airport?"

"I want to go to Paris before I go."

"Paris? Sweetie, just surf the net. Google Paris and you will feel like you're there already."

"I'm serious."

"Alright, alright. I'll ask my boss how we can arrange that. I don't have the authority for those things yet. For the meantime, what are you going to do?"

"I shuffle between this house and my Mom's home. We used to live here when my Dad was alive. When he died when I was nine, we stayed here until my Mom remarried. She never sold this house saying I'll get this someday."

"Do you want anything else to do? Unfinished business? Revenge? Stuff like the Grudge, you know?"

She laughed. "You're funny. No, I'm not that kind of client. I'm kind of...boring. There's this book I'm trying to finish but I can't seem to get past the page I was reading before I died." She showed him the book. "Do you know the ending?

He patted her hand. "Heavy stuff. I'm not the reading type. I'm more visual. Maybe my counterpart at the Airport can help you with that."

"Alright then. Maybe you can help me with something. I'm trying to pick up a picture that's stuck in a hole on the floor. I looked for years for that. I just found out it's there a few days ago."

Diego walked to the portion of the floor where Nancy pointed the hole to be. He took off his Marc Jacob jacket first before crouching to stick his hand inside. He successfully pulled out an old picture. It was a little Nancy with her parents.

"You looked like a cute Asian doll," he mused.

"I thought I lost this. Just place it on my study table. Thanks Diego." She paused. "I'm getting kind of tired. Can we meet again tomorrow? At my Mom's house?"


"You know where that is?"


She laughed. "Aren't you supposed to have powers of something?"

"Don't believe too much in propaganda, dearie. Write down the address and see you there tomorrow."

The address was in a rich suburban village. The following day, Nancy opened the door for him. "Hi Diego."

"Hi sweetie. Is anyboody home?"

"Apart from me?"

"Yeah, smartass. I was referring to humans."

"Mom's home. She's cooking for her birthday tomorrow. She's making my favorite stuffed chicken with her special sauce. My stepdad is out doing the groceries with my half brothers."

They walked upstairs to her bedroom. Diego could hear sounds from the kitchen. "Can you hear them all the time?"

"Not always. Today, I seem to be able to hear them more clearly. Even their conversations. But they still can't sense me."

"Why don't you hang out with your mother? At least you can be with her today."

Nancy gave him a timid smile. "She'll be okay."

They entered her room, looking much like her old room at the previous house. "You really are a very consistent person." He looked around the room. "Books...again."

"My stepdad and Mom encouraged my hobby."

"Hobbies? Oh, books." He peered at the titles lining up the walls.

"Diego, can you move that gold picture frame to the right?"

"What an OC spirit. You're dead now, you know. You can relax." The golden frame featured Nancy and her father, playing with a golden retriever puppy on the floor.

"What a fashion victim you are, undead man. You're not even human, you know. You can skip the designer labels." She grinned mischievously.

"I'll forgive you for your ignorance about fashion. This.." he motioned to his flamboyant trench coat. "is a statement. I should teach you a thing or two before letting you off to the Airport."

"Has your boss decided on my Paris trip yet?"

"Not yet, dearie. He can be full of red tape sometimes. Let us wait on our asses for the meantime."

They whiled away the time talking about themselves. The hours turned to days, spent at the suburban house or at the city residence.

One day, while they were discussing Nancy's lack of love life at her bedroom in the city, Diego heard the front door open.

"Are you expecting someone?"

Nancy shrugged her shoulders. "I can hear the person."

The door to the room opened. It was Nancy's Mom. She looked like she was scanning the room, expecting something. But she could not sense the man in a red coat and her daughter seated on the bed. She walked around, touching Nancy's stuff.

"I miss you, Nancy," she whispered. Then she stopped as if hit by a spell, her hand lay motionless upon touching an object on her daughter's table. "Oh, why? How did this get here?" She picked up the picture that Diego fished out of the hole. Then came the uncontrollable sobbing. "I know it's you, Nancy. You moved that picture in your room to tell me to come here. I love you. We all miss you so much. I just hope you are okay, darling."

Diego held Nancy's hand while she watched her mother kneel to the floor, clutching the picture to her breasts. "Have I worried you? I'm sorry if I have missed you so much. You worry about me. I know it was painful for you to see me go through depression after your Dad died. Have I caused you to be restless? I'm sorry, Nancy. Your mother is just silly not to let you go completely. I love you. Wherever you are, I hope you're happy. I hope you're with your Dad." She kissed the picture. "Don't worry about me. I'll be strong. I love you, my daughter."

Diego could feel Nancy's hand tighten its hold of his hand. They silently witnessed Nancy's mother spend time in her daughter's room. When she left, Diego announced. "I have a piece of good news for you. Your Paris trip has been approved. You may go anytime."

"Really? How?"

"Just follow that white light...not yet there…where the hell is that?..that will appear in a few...yes... that one by the window. Just step into that and you'll get your wish."

"Will you accompany me?"

"I'm afraid not, sweetie. My part of the work is here. I wish you luck," he gave her a tight hug. Nancy walked towards the light.

Before stepping into it, she turned, "Diego, Paris won't be on the other side, right?"

Diego smiled sheepishly. "No, sweetie. But it will be much more vibrant than Paris."

Nancy grinned. "You trickster. Thank you, Diego." Then she disappeared into the light.

With the smug satisfaction of accomplishing his latest job, Diego felt he could ask for a few days off from his boss. He hailed the first taxi he saw. Voila, his taxi angel, stopped and offered him a ride.

"Nice to see you, Vincent." He greeted as he seated himself.

"Was passing by the neighborhood. Your checkered jacket was hard to miss," the vampire teased. "How's work?

"I feel good. My latest client crossed over."

"Can you do something for me?"

"Sure, what's up?" Diego's interest picked up.

"Can you ask your boss if creatures like me can commission your services?" It sounded like Vincent was undead serious.

"Wha-. You mean to go to the Airport and all the works?" Diego could not believe what he was hearing.

"The works." Came the vampire's terse but certain reply.

Diego mulled over his answer. "You know you people have no souls, right?"

"So they say."

"What makes you think you can cross over?"

"There's no harm in exploring. If it doesn't work, I'll be one pile of ash."
"Does Miranda know this?"

"Yes. We talked. We've been talking for a couple hundred years. She understands."

"I'll see what my boss says. No promises, Vincent. This may be the one of the toughest projects we've had."

"See what you can do. You guys are good. I would like a different kind of travel of this point."

"Cheers to you, old friend. Let's see how we can get a vampire to cross over."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Chill

The past days have been unusually marked with good mood on my part. Absent were the worries about tomorrow's pack of work challenges and office politics, anxiety over my fledgling business and just about all the small bits of paranoia that bother me daily. A good part is due to the holidays I'm enjoying now. Temporary respite as I go back to work tomorrow then take a break again for the New Year celebrations.

The calm is also brought by acceptance on my part. I've been struggling these years to change my fortune, to desperately go for the dream I had in my mind. Peace never settled in me because I hated it that I was not enjoying the achievement of goals I feel I had worked hard for.

But things do happen for a reason, arriving in their own good time. I look back at the times I've gone against the tide of the moment and repeatedly became faced with growing frustration, desperation and sadly, anger. I'm fortunate though that love and kindness from loved ones and acquaintances have been shown to me. And when one is faced with that, one cannot help but realize what matters most in life. The chance to love and to be loved back is reason enough for happiness.

In this light, everything else in my life is clarified. The goals I have been running after are not my life's Holy Grail anymore. Oftentimes, when I am not forcing my way, opportunities arrive unexpectedly. And everything becomes a cinch as if the time for these have come to fruition and did not need any push on my part to make these a reality.

I am teaching myself that the experiences on the path to one's dreams are the source of life's beautiful tapestry. As someone advised me before, "Take sometime to smell the flowers."

So this is my wish for everyone. May life be a beautiful journey, lined up with kindness, paved with love and moved forward with hope. Happiness is not at the end of the road but a constant companion along the way. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Walls Have Ears

It has been difficult to cast a net over my thoughts this past week. They have their own trajectory, fueled by unrelated incidents that seem to have decided among themselves to have a joint visit. I had a short story plot already in mind. But it did not reflect the blender of emotions I have been sloshing through. So as a tribute to that, I figured a different story is more apt for my mood these days.

They say change is good. But nobody accompanies you in the jump off the cliff. Life is a journey you take with yourself. Enjoy reading.


"Can somebody help me up?" mumbled the mobile phone, which lay face down on the carpet.

"Would like to, buddy. But we all know we can't help you. The last time vacuum cleaner tried, you almost choked to death," answered the coffee table.

"Let's hope the dog doesn't carry you off again. He's been frisky these days. I got brand-new scratches and bites," the door complained.

"At least he's not as bad-tempered as his mistress. What happened just now? It's like a volcano erupted! I got a kick from nowhere," grumbled the couch.

The phone started to relay why he went airborne from the bedroom door to the living room carpet.

"Hey, hey, slow down. You're choppy!" shouted the window.

"I'll help him out. This is what happened guys," offered the wall. "She found out that her problem assistant failed to follow up an important client. She called him up and the 34th war in middle earth ensued. Godzilla versus a dim-witted, scatterbrained elf."

"She's not always Godzilla. She should get rid of him. The guy's an idiot of the worst kind. An idiot who thinks he's doing nothing wrong. And I can't stand another barrage of slamming. My hinges are creaking in protest already," complained the bedroom door.

"It's her fault. She knows what's wrong with her employee yet takes pity on him after the whiplash is over. Then we brace ourselves for another shout down," said the coffee table.

"It's not technically a shout down when only one party is shouting," corrected the window.

"I agree. Remember when her old boyfriend was around? The insecure, control freak?" contributed the main door.

"It took her years to realize they were wrong for each other. Their last months were more stressful than a Black Friday sale," said the television.

"Humans don't get stressed with Sale. They love it! Look at us," said the couch.

"They don't. We do. I was praying I wouldn't get ripped apart by two women fighting over me," the curtain replied.

"Anyway, back to the old boyfriend, you didn't get to meet him, did you Vase?" asked the main door.

"No. I heard my predecessor met her end after being thrown along with a bunch of flowers the ex gave her," answered the vase timidly.

"Oh yes. I still have my pockmarks due to that incident," said the wall. "Gone are the days that lovers only tore letters. Now they have a lot of objects at their disposal. Case in point, our friend the phone. And back in the bedroom, the laptop."

"My keyboard is still recovering from the angry email she sent her staff," came the laptop's feeble reply.

"Should I worry?" the vase seemed more nervous than usual.

"Oh, don't. She won't destroy house stuff for an employee. For boyfriends, yes. But her current love is a total sweetheart," gushed the window.

"He's good for her. Calms her when the Godzilla and the 50-foot woman in her go crazy," chimed in the bed.

"She's back," whispered the main door.

"There you are," the young woman uttered upon opening the door. She immediately picked up her phone. While dialing, she walks to the bedroom, "Hey baby, I had an outburst again. Yes, I know. I should have kept my cool. But Jerry is an unteachable moron! Yeah, yeah, he's hopeless. I had a long walk after shouting at him. Will talk to him tomorrow. Yes, calmly. I threw just my phone today, nothing else. And pounded on the keyboard. But nothing else..."

"And she's sane again," announced the bed.

"You're safe," whispered the coffee table to the vase.

"Ah, those are our masters and mistresses. They're crazier than they think they are," said the door.

"True. None of us should get caught up with their drama. They usually get over it and move on to the next. You'll just go insane if you take everything they do seriously," advised the wall. "As our ancestors have done, let's do our jobs, sit back and enjoy their dysfunctional show."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Three Witches and a Birthday

I love witch stories. These characters are bitchy, vile, accidentally funny but oftentimes misunderstood. I would like to be one. It has always been a guilty fantasy. How exhilarating would it be to vamp one's way around without any tip toeing on other people's or creatures' feelings? Pretty good life if you think of all the potions thrown in for your use.


This story is about three witches, long believed to be sisters as they had lived together for hundreds of years. It did not matter that they did not look alike at all. Maybe witches were born or made that way. They were Grishel, Clara and Ekaterina. Our story opens with Grishel and Clara busy preparing for Grishel's birthday party.

"Did you invite Mother?" Clara swung around a humongous ladle in an equally gigantic cistern, the contents of which expelled a powerfully pungent odor. In a strange way, the strong smell was intoxicating.

"I did. At least to get back the hat she borrowed from me." Grishel was busy decorating the living room with yellow cherry blossoms.

"You actually lent her something?"

"No, she stole it during her last visit. The weasel."

"How could you think she'll give it back?" Violet liquid gurgled to the brim of Clara's cistern.

"Of course not. I'll steal hers. Once she gets brain-dead drunk," Grishel guffawed out loud then cast a sharp eye towards her younger sister. "Haven't I told you to let the ladle mix by itself? You're huffing and puffing there. If somebody sees you, they'll think you're stupid for exerting the effort. And worse, they'll think I'm stupid to let you."

"I, Clara Of Heistglow, make the best booze in this county. I cannot risk falling short of perfection if I let the ladle mix on its own. My arms are part of the secret ingredient."

"I won't be surprised if your arm sweat creates the difference. But I heard there is a wizard six counties away from here who is starting to be known for his concoctions." Grishel had managed to fill the room with festive floral arrangements, the flowers twisting themselves into bows around furniture, across windows and on doors, while she sat reading a potion book.

"That is untrue and irresponsible word-of-mouth. I am disgusted at how reality pales in comparison to the reputation unworthily bestowed unto this wizard," Clara stirred the ladle faster.

"You have proof?"

"Of course. I needed to check out competition."

"You were able to buy his booze?"

"Why waste my money in buying his stuff? No, I went to his house."

"You did? You stooped below your pedestal to ask for a taste of his preparation?"

"No, I offered him something."

"Offered him what?"

"I offered to clean his house. Told him it's a token gift from the homeowner's association for new residents."

"He believed that?"

"You bet. Not the sharpest knife in that area. He even asked me to go up the roof the yank out dirt from his chimney."

"You really cleaned his house?" Grishel began to seriously listen to her sister.

"But of course. I gave my word to him. That would have been misrepresentation."

"Then you snuck in to take a sip of his booze?"

"No. I took a bottle."

"SO why didn't you just fly off? You did not have to do the actual cleaning, Clara."

"As I've mentioned, that would have been disrespectful, Grishel." Clara mimicked her sister's glare and big voice.

"Whatever. Oh, look at what you've done. My flowers have decorated themselves everywhere."

"Where did you get those, anyway?"

"A witch from the far east sent them as a gift. We're letter friends." Grishel fussed over her floral masterpiece.

"I wish you would write as often to Mother."

"After our falling out and even after we kissed and made up, it has never been quite the same way."

"You two fought over something silly."

"Did not! False claims are a disgrace to our honor. To think that she will do it to me? Me, her eldest daughter!"

"Maybe you both are right."

"I am the witch referred to in that popular story. You know, about the very pale, dark-haired girl and some little creatures."

"Weren't they dwarves?"

"Ah yes, dwarves they were. They sounded goofy the way they were written I totally forget they were supposed to be dwarves."

"Mother claims she created that spell of the speaking mirror. Didn't she use up hundreds of mirrors to perfect that?"

"Fool, fool! Those mirrors she broke were for another spell. The speaking spell she experimented on used smoke. After learning of my lead character in that story of the insipid, apple-chomping girl, she made up this fabricated yarn that she was the basis for MY character."

"Lead? Wasn't the witch there the villainess?"

"Do you think I will accept a villain's part? That's a matter of perspective. Ask werewolves or vampires."

"What makes you so sure that you were the basis for the character?"

"I perfected that apple potion gimmick mentioned in the book, stupid. Didn't I lend you one of those to steal rare herbs from the hermit for your liquor?"

"Oh, yes. How could I forget? Thank you, Grishel. I think I was drunk during that time."

The front door suddenly opened, the third witch, Ekaterina, entered holding a large gift-wrapped box.

"Your favorite neighbor sends her birthday wishes." She handed the box covered in beautiful autumn leaves to Grishel.

"Oh, oh, my, if this is from my most favorite neighbor to throw into my cauldron, I am so touched." She grinned widely at the precious-looking gift. She shook it. "Do you think it's expensive? I would hope so since she's obviously bribing me not to complain to the homeowner's association about her noisy fairy parties."

"Ever since that Tiffin wide-eyed fairy settled in our neighborhood, peace left. Those fairies are really annoying. Don't they have work to do? Somebody should tell them they party a bit too hard." Ekaterina began arranging plates for the party.

"They're quite nice, actually," Clara chimed in from her cistern.

"Only because they buy booze from you." Grishel finally opened the box, took out the contents and pulled at her hair in frustration. "She's dumb. Who gives winter coats made of rose petals? Wait, is she planning to kill me by hypothermia?"

"Grishel, you are so paranoid. Look at it, it's so pretty!" exclaimed Clara.

"Do you want me to sell it for you?" Ekaterina offered.

"Yes, we split, 60-40. I'm sure you will find a dumber creature among your customers to wear that during winter," replied Grishel.

"I'll offer it to the elves. They're crazy for fairy stuff."

A knock interrupted their conversation. Before they could answer, it swung open to reveal a tall witch with whitish blond locks.

"Mother! You're early," Ekaterina greeted her with a flying kiss. Clara waved timidly, looking as if she was about to jump into her cauldron. Grishel flashed a wide smile at her mother then announced languidly, "Mother, it is so very kind of you to attend my party. Have the first drink of Clara's liquor." She turned and glared at her sister who stood motionless back in the kitchen. "Clara! Stop standing there like a retard and serve our dear Mother."

"Dear children, I miss you so much." Complete and utter silence in the room. "But not as much as you miss me. Tsk, visiting has become such a pain. Your neighborhood is not the same anymore since those fairies moved in. Such a noisy, trouble-making bunch. I almost ran over one with my broom."

"Maybe you were flying over their property, Mother," Grishel pointed out.

"I was along their fence. Then somebody jumped from a tree! They were playing this silly game of landing on a heap of autumn leaves. Such lazy creatures!" Their mother continued her rant while looking around the house.

"They were not bothering you, Mother. You were snooping on them. Just as you did with all our neighbors before," Clara managed to blurt out in between two short breaths.

“Mother can't help but be curious. The fairies can be quite weird, if you ask me," chimed in Ekaterina. "I've attempted to sell them all sorts of things but they stubbornly use only fairy-approved material, even for their house cleaning stuff."

"Doesn't Clara sell them booze?" asked their mother.

"They made an exception. And they do it in secret," whispered Clara.

"Yes, Clara's liquor is really worth being banned as a fairy. Give Mother a second bottle, Clara," urged Grishel.

"What a bunch of hypocrites! I don't want to have anything to do with them. Moving on to more important topics. I have good news for the three of you. This is my birthday present for you, my dear Grishel," beamed Mother.

"What is it?" Grishel asked suspiciously.

"There is a potion-making competition being organized by the wizards in the far north. You know, those old fogies rarely socialize so this is a big deal, girls!"

"What's in it for us?" asked Grishel.

"The four of us will join as a group."

"Four? Don't these competitions require groups of three's?" Clara shouted above the gurgling liquor.

"I will be your coach," grinned Mother.

"What's the prize?" asked Ekaterina.

"Our profiles will be on pots, cauldrons, mugs, plates and whatever those wizards will produce for the competition. This is the first time they are doing this. Think of it. My daughters, we will be immortalized!" Mother started a queer dance of glee.

"Even the coach?" asked Ekaterina.

"Of course! Why do you think I even informed all three of you? If the coach won't be part of the prize, I would have dragged two of you and left one in the dark."

"Who are the two?" Clara asked sharply.

"Oh, forget it, dear. It doesn't matter anymore. All the four of us will beat the hell out of them."

"What do we need coaching on?" Grishel looked suspicious.

"Two words. Fake death," was Mother's quick reply.

"Oh yes, Grishel. Remember when you tried that fake death potion on our cousin Vinkel? And he almost died until Aunt Vilma rescued him?" Ekaterina pointed an accusing finger to her elder sister.

"True. It was good he lived or else the entire clan would have cursed silly old me. He wasn't quite the same though. He has talked to trees ever since," sighed Grishel.

"So, are we all in agreement that Mother will be our coach?" asked Ekaterina, already eager at the competition prizes she can sell.

"Anything and everything about killing, you can count on me," said Mother.

"Alright," said Clara and Grishel.

"Wait, that's your gift? You did not bring even a recycled gift someone gave you? At least you do that to other creatures!" Grishel was indignant.

Before Mother could defend herself, a voice called out from outside, "Hello....hello, is anybody home?"

"One of the annoying types of guests. The really, really early bird. Some creatures have nothing to do. We haven't finished preparing," grumbled Grishel. When she opened the door, there was a farmer outside with a cartful of huge pumpkins.

"May I speak with Grishel?" the young farmer's face was white with anxiety he looked ready to faint especially when the four witches went out the front door to look at him.

"I am Grishel. What do you want? You're not selling me anything, are you?"

"Oh, no. No. I came here to give these as birthday presents," he gestured towards the humongous pumpkins.

"Do I know you?" Grishel asked.

"Who cares? Take them. We can sell them for thrice the price of ordinary pumpkins," whispered Ekaterina.

"No, no, umm..you don't know me. I..I am not worthy of that honor. I happened to pass by your house the other week..." his voice trailed off.

"AND?" asked Mother.

"And forgive me, I just thought my pregnant wife will love your flowers. Really, I have never seen anything as beautiful."

"So?" asked Clara.

"So...so..I picked a few flowers. Only the ones that were over the fence." The farmer's voice shook.

"So what?" Grishel was beginning to be impatient. They had to finish the preparations before her guests arrived.

"My wife loved them. She is having a difficult pregnancy and is mostly bad-tempered nowadays. But when she saw your flowers, she was so happy."

"You stole my flowers, your wife loved them, and you’re giving me pumpkins I don't know where to store. Story finished. Good day."

"Oh, you won't get my child? The pumpkins are enough for you?" the farmer looked relieved.

"What did you say?" the four witches asked.

"M-my wife said you might get angry and ask for our child."

"Your wife is a sissy. Where did she get that idea?" asked Grishel.

"Yes, that's so silly," agreed the other three.

"I don't know. Some people warned us about it."

"Look, the last thing I want is to have a bawling baby in my house. Where do you people get your stories? At the very least, get them straight," scolded Grishel.

"But we'll still take the pumpkins," grinned Ekaterina.

"Yes, please, would you want me to stack them near your door?" asked the farmer.

"No, near the gate. I want people to see them," instructed Ekaterina.

As they stood to watch the pumpkins being stacked, Grishel urged Clara, "Mother's bottle is empty. What kind of party is this? Let's give her another one."

"Alright. Mother, you should come in and sit. You're doing your crazy dance already. You're already drunk even before the party has started," said Clara.

"I'm not drunk. Oh, this hat keeps falling into my eyes. Grishel, can you place this on the rack for me? I want to dance unobstructed," Mother slurred and gave her a drunken grin.

"Of course, let me take your hat, Mother. Mmmmm…what a pretty hat. You liar. You brought me a birthday present, after all. What a sweet witch."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Peanut Gallery

I had a ‘Wish I had the money to tell everybody to fuck off’ day at work yesterday. Here’s my version of reclaiming my center using a dartboard with the bosses’ pictures as targets. Of course, all characters are fictional. Any resemblance to a real person, living or dead, is merely a figment of your paranoia.


John waited for a few minutes before entering the room. Being an early bird this time made him uncomfortable. The others might think he was too eager. Besides, he should not be in this important meeting. He was only filling in for his boss.

“Darn, of all days for her car to be run over by a garbage truck. Her timing astounds me. Someday, I will use her excuses on her.”

He sat at the back, chose the seat closest to the door. A few people nodded at him. He gave a shy smile, minding not to look gleeful that at least somebody acknowledged him. The last thing he wanted to happen was to be asked why he was there.

In a couple of minutes, they were complete - the high-flying company vice-presidents who will battle it out this afternoon. And then there was him. And the note-taker.

“What the hell am I doing here? I should be happily enjoying my ignored existence in my cubicle,” he muttered between gritted teeth, taking out his pen and notebook. “The least I can do is to pretend I understand what is going on. Hhmmm.. everybody else seems to have touch-screen gadget to take notes on. Shit, even the note-taker.”

The complex dance began. The polite professional discussion mired with undercurrents of aggression, reminders of supremacy and subtle exchange of favors.

“This VP should know that outtalking everyone else does not make him sound any smarter than an annoying salesman.” John decided it was a waste of ink and the environment to note whatever this VP was saying.

“Oh, thank heavens. Somebody interjected.” John squinted in pain. “Oh, Lord help us all. This guy is a kiss-ass. Press button to eject.”

Another one raised a point. “At least that made sense. Wow, they seem to be really into what their doing. Do you guys have a life? I still watch television. And don’t bet you’ll all be here to watch the five-year corporate plan come to life. You might be dead tomorrow. Ask my boss. She almost got waffled by the jaws of a garbage truck.”

There were a couple who cleverly tooted their horns. A few ignored them. John nodded his head to signal he admired their announced accomplishments, whatever those were. As he did this, he noticed that one VP was not saying anything at all. No, not just one. There were two, three, four. About four of them had not said anything at all. Merely nodded their heads sagely to signify they were still part of the meeting. But nothing was really happening in that great beyond.

This was interesting, like watching a movie with less physically-gifted actors. “I could chomp on some junk food now.” The meeting dragged on after it took a few wrong turns when somebody muddled up the flow. He seemed to be lost in translation. “He’s American. And we’re…no, they’re speaking in English. How the hell can he not understand what’s going on?”

Then it came. “How can you explain the slump in sales this quarter, John?”

For a split second, a thought crossed his mind which he never thought was possible. Despite being much-derided and much-ridiculed, it offered the safest, closest haven at this moment. “I’d love to go to my cubicle.”

Of course, he did not utter that statement out loud. He still had rent to pay. “I have figures from our field team, which I can share with the group.”

Five minutes into his monologue, he got beaten up by the corporate gladiators in the room. After the bloody, dressing-down that he received in proxy for his boss, John retreated to the obscurity he enjoyed before the carnage.

“I need a drink. Fuck these idiots.”

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I'm watching Julie & Julia now, the movie about Julia Child and a modern-day fan/student. It’s a refreshing to know that a culinary legend like Julia Child only knew how to boil an egg by the time she was forty. By the way, she got married at this age. Hope comes in unexpected ways!

For years, Julia Child searched for a career in vain yet never lost her unabashed embrace for the joys of life. It seems she always had time to smell the flowers even if direction about her life was not clear until her later years.

I admire her serenity as opposed to the pressure I put on myself because I have not achieved my dreams yet. Or what I think my dreams are.

I feel a kinship with Julie, her fan. I’ve gone through the same cycles of experiences – the highs of hope, fiery outbursts and lonely walks of pessimism. How can Julia Child be consistently buoyed by optimism despite advancing years and obstacles? Mixture of serendipitous connections, lucky breaks, fortitude and the mother of all secret ingredients – passion.

Oh, to have readers. Like what is happening to Julie’s character now. I will do a triple somersault if I can reach that. Or something like it.

Life throws in curve balls along with lifelines. I just have to find joy whether I’m crawling through a rough patch or gliding along a smooth wave. This movie is a shot of hope in my arm.

And may I say this, thank God for the joy of seeing Meryl Streep act.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Small Pond

I have begun to feel listless again. These periods of restlessness come and go, never really disappeared, merely abated by token instances of joy or clouded by frequent eruptions of everyday life's small pains.

I've been stuck for years. I think I know what I want to do with my life. Or what I hope to do but never really getting there. It seems so sensible to go on making a living the way I've been doing. I've been badly burned by jumping ship before. Yet the pull of dreams cannot be silenced. Movies have been made about topics like this. It's cliché already. Yet the human spirit is fueled by passion. Every person with this struggle feels the icy wasteland that this lack of fire brings.

I'm a dreamer, yet disappointments have blunted that part of me. I feel comfortable already in my small pond. I'm safe here. Yet more and more cold.

Maybe I should take a chance. I'm not young anymore to have years to waste on the rational. Will I ever reach a big pond? Possibly. If the universe allows it, I’ll touch the open sea. Each person should have that chance.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Gods Are Like Us

Image courtesy of dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Loss lazily twisted her fiery red curls around her long, candle-like fingers. She tried to enjoy the soft breeze in the balcony. The cloud goddess gifted her with a caftan. She marveled at how soft if felt.
Her brother Ecstasy was late as usual. "Busy spreading joy. One couple at a time," she
whispered to herself. She was about to raise her hand when a servant magically appeared with a hand mirror for her. "Thank you, Matilda."

"Your bath of morning dew is ready."

"That could wait. I need to talk to Ecstasy." She examined her oval-shaped face, not a single line visible on her ancient face.

"He works a lot. That boy should ease up and take it easy."

"Are you saying I'm a slacker? My job is much more taxing. Separating lovebirds. It's the sewer cleaning job for us gods. I tried bribing other gods to do it for me. No takers. They say waging a war is much easier. Nobody else can take all the hysterics!. Too much shouting and crying. These humans love drama! I have to make sure poison letters get to the intended party. Through the ages, I have learned to dodge clothes, glass furniture and crazy things thrown out along with an unwanted lover. Nobody appreciates that. All everybody notices is what dear brother is doing. Don't they realize that I have to fix things when he accidentally hits a couple I previously broke up? Batting average, they split up again!" Her red hair loomed large around her head, framing her now angry face.

"Sister, cut Matilda some slack. Thank you Matilda.
You may leave me to deal with my twin." The servant heaved a sigh of relief and bowed down before making an exit.

Ecstasy bounced down Loss' side. "Another bad breakup? Haven't you learned to cope? You have that almost every single day. PMS? You're not human. New boyfriend? Not another loser, Loss?" He tussled her hair.

"I'm quitting.

"How many times have you told me about that?"

"Oh, Ecstasy. I really do mean it this time. I'm so fed up with breaking up."

"Have you talked to Father and Mother?"

She curled up beside her older brother. "I will. After my trip with Rage."

"You're going out with him? Isn't it too much bad vibes with the two of you together?" he laughed.

"Misery loves company," she moped. "He is good for my work."

"You said that about your previous boyfriends, Pride and Paranoia? Do you realize what was wrong with them?"

"Their names both start with P?"

"Yes, and you skipped S when you hooked up with Rage." He pulled her ear. "Won't my little sister ever learn? These gods are beneath you! They are not even good at what they do. Pride could barely show himself to us. I'm bewildered at how embarrassed he was about he does to humans. Paranoia was a classic example of how a god should not operate. He got eaten up by what he does! He made me so jumpy after I talk to him I would not be able to hook up a single couple for days."

"Rage is different."


"He is assured, confident and good at what he does."

"Is he the reason why you're thinking of quitting?"

"No. I'm tired."

"Who'll take up your work?"

"Father can do it while snoozing. He is not Pain for nothing."

"You do realize that what you do is important?"

"Yes. But it's a bitch of a job. Nobody likes me. I always have a cloud over me, complete with rains and thunderstorms." Upon uttering those words, a small clump of clouds stopped on top of her and let out a cold shower.

"WHAT?!"Loss screamed curses while being drenched.
Ecstasy was torn between laughing and shooing away the cloud that apparently only targeted his sister.
"Why are you laughing, you moron! Help me find the culprit! Oh, it is already such an effort to maintain my extraordinary looks by being Mother's daughter. And I still have to deal with inanities like this!"

Then suddenly the rains stopped and the cloud dissipated. From afar, the sorely drenched Loss and the choking Ecstasy saw their new neighbor, Nature, scold her young son. She called out her apologies. "My deepest apologies Loss. My son Water is so playful. I will send new vestments to you. I'm really sorry."

"But Mother, she said she always had a cloud with rains over her. She did not have one so I made her one."

Before Loss can hurl curses at the mother and son, Ecstasy accepted her apology. Nature called on her other sons, Fire and Air, to dry out Loss before she called on her father Pain to exact revenge for the childish prank.

"Sweetheart, what happened to you?" A thin, young man entered the balcony.

"Young deviants." Came the terse reply while shooting sharp glances at Fire and Air, who managed to stay farthest from Loss while drying her.

Rage planted a kiss on her forehead. "Laugh, my love. They are children." He turned to Ecstasy and shook his hand. "How are you, Ecstasy?"

"Business has been interesting but difficult. How about you?"

"Humans remain to be the simple creatures that they are. But they complicate their lives in ways that baffle me. Who am I to complain? They make my job easier." Rage presents a calm aura. Quite unexpected from a god with a fiery goal.

"Those same complications compete for their attention. I have lesser good hits now than centuries ago. I try so hard, tried every trick I can think of, yet more and more humans are jaded."

"Woe to me. My load increased hundredfold," Loss interjected dramatically.

"I try to consult with other gods on how they're doing. Might help my hits get better. I hear you're going on a trip with my sister?"

"Yes, we'll visit humans."

"What's special about this trip then? We do that all the time?"

"I have been able to persuade her to go as a human."

"Finally able to get over your trauma, Loss?" Ecstasy's boyish face betrayed his concern. "The first and only time she visited as a human was with our father. She never went back in human form."

"You were fortunate. Mother was with you in your first visit."

"I could understand why Ecstasy did not become scarred like you. Your mother, Love, would have shown the best side of humans."

"I only felt their hurt. It was too much to bear given their fragile existence. I never felt that helpless again."

"How will you cope this time?" asked Ecstasy.

"Rage will be with me. He is far more aware how humans survive their flimsy lives. Father opened me up to their pain, the magnitude of which I was not ready for that time," explained Loss.

"Take time off then. The world can do with a breather from breakups," smiled her brother.

"Oh, you thought I will stop performing my duties while I'm away?"

"Shouldn't you take a break? You always worry."

"Ever since that goddess Envy said that she felt she worked harder than me, I cannot allow myself to relax. What will other gods say? That I am slacking off?"

"Dear, dear, calm down. Let's plan our visit first. Shall we? Breathe. Unclench your fists. Stop staring at those two boys. They're already petrified of you."

"You two go ahead. Is that your fiery chariot over there?"

"Yes. I changed that fire color to blue so it won't steal attention from Loss' hair." Rage smiled. "I'll get it ready. Good to see you, Ecstasy."

"We'll leave you here, brother."

"You and Rage seem to be good for each other. I wish I can work my magic on you, Loss. Just to seal the deal a bit more," he laughed.

"Your magic doesn't work on gods, Ecstasy." She kissed him goodbye. "There's a price to being one of us. See you sometime."

Nicolas & Catherine

We've seen incarnations of Romeo and Juliet throughout generations. I have wished that the two lovers were a bit smarter, funnier and definitely lesser on the mushy side. Here's my own version of the star-crossed lovers with a crazier family thrown in for good measure.


Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

"Do you, Catherine of Rothsguile, take Nicolas of MonteSievert?"

"Excuse me?" Catherine could not believe Professor Hamlin uttered such a sacrilege.

"I asked you if you will take Nicolas as your duel partner today? Your pairing is up." She was not quite sure if she saw a smirk flash across the haughty professor's usually scowling demeanor. She glanced at her prospective partner for today, heir to the Sievert fortune and symbol of that family's new blood. Their families' fortunes had run parallel for centuries, the violent animosity never been quenched. Nicolas chatted animatedly with fellow VladSieverts, cousins and allies. They did not seem to have any want for an interesting topic to discuss.

"Why should I refuse? We'll see how the MonteSievert boy holds up," came Catherine's defiant reply.

"Very well. I haven't had this chance at entertainment since your great grand uncle dueled with his great grand aunt." The professor motioned Nicolas to join him and Catherine.

"Hhmmm...Stuff of childhood stories. Great uncle Silvanos lost an arm. They had to bring him to Morocco to grow it out. Centuries of family connections at the Marrakesh Market helped. I can still hear the curses thrown at the MonteSieverts whenever this story is told. "

"Silvanos was a fool. A blundering idiot trying to show off against the MonteSievert girl. She blasted him to bits. I haven't seen that kind of stupid behavior again in your family. Please don't be a repeat of it. Show him no mercy." Professor Hamlin turned to the dark-haired young man by his side, his white skin a beautiful contrast to his raven-black hair. He looked very masculine, the lines of his beard accented his strong jaw.

"Nicolas, you are to duel with Catherine this afternoon. Since you are both in your highly advanced levels, you may use everything in your arsenal. In short, you can do everything except kill each other." This was the first time anybody in their class saw Professor Hamlin break out into a wide grin, like he finally discovered Christmas.

"Where'the fun in that? I'm sure the class has already place their bets, including you." Nicolas laughed. "I daresay you've placed me in a dilemna, fighting with a girl."

"Such an ass," muttered Catherine, which didn't escape Nicolas.

Nicolas glanced at Catherine's backside, "Such an ass."

She glared at him, red waves of infuriation crept up from her neck, making her head seem on fire. Nicolas barely contained his grin. "Do you want to start now?"
Catherine took a deep breath to regain composure, unconciously giving her skirt a slight tug downwards."We'll start at the professor's bidding. Professor, let me know when the duel begins."

While watching her walk away, Professor Hamlin warned Nicolas, "The Rothsguiles are not to be underestimated. They are known to be a deceitful lot. Do not let your guard down."

To which Nicolas replied, "She's cute when she blushes."

Cute was not included in Catherine's mind when she let out a bolt of energy that landed right above Nicolas' head, showering him with a ton of ashes from the burnt tree leaves. Her right rib dug at her skin. Nicolas' smashed her against a brick wall. He was not looking smashing himself. His shoulders and left leg were bloodied from daggers of fiery light that Catherine chased him down with.

"By God, I'm a god. Look at these two. They're way better trained than they should be." Professor Hamlin watched in glee, bringing out the entire class to watch the two heirs of the oldest families he had ever known. Both lineages rose in wealth and in power through the centuries, their survival assured with their supernatural powers. He should know. Generations of MonteSieverts and Rothsguiles had trained before him.

Catherine hid behind a dense stretch of shruberry, trying to control her breath lest Nicolas sensed where she was. "How could I miss that last blast? I had him squarely in my vision. He must have used a reflective defense. Nicolas seems a bit off today. He should have hit me big time by now. He's not the best in class for nothing." She kept still, trying to decipher where he was. "But I have more A's than him. And I, Catherine Rothsguile, intend to be on top of the class."

Suddenly, a deathly silence enveloped her, a white fog appeared, confusing her senses. Catherine slid down to the wet grass, keeping her ear to the ground, letting minute sounds guide her out of the fog. "Ha! He thinks I'm still by the shrub. Am I that good? Or he's being kind. How sweet of...." BLAM! A ball of fire blazed in front of her, barely missing her by a foot. "The fucking bastard is trying to kill me!" She quickly gathered her composure and concentrated on locating Nicolas.

"By the shrub. Nice. Eat this, asshole!" The humongous shrub uprooted itself and torpedoed down Nicolas.

"What the fu-?" It took Nicolas a few seconds to realize what was on top of him. And another few to notice the fire racing through the shrub. "The bitch is trying to put me on fire."

From the corner of his eye, he saw Catherine rising from the grass. For a split second, she was open for target. He raised his hand, the only thing he could freely move now, aimed then released.

"Burn, bastard." Catherine muttered from where she was sprawled. "Wait, the fire is moving quickly. He's not doing anything!" She shouted, "Nicolas, move!". Her mind was raising, "Fuck, he passed out! Because of the shrub? That wasn't so heavy. Weird." She got up, "Nicolas!" The something stirred under the bushes. His hand.

"Fuck! He's going to hit me. Catherine, you brainless idiot." She braced for the oncoming pain. It was cold. Then came the large spatters. It was raining.

The shrub moved away from Nicolas, revealing him lying on the grass, seemingly enjoying the cool drops.

"Is this a joke?" She stood beside him. "Did you make it rain?" Catherine remained intensely alert lest it was all part of a ruse.

"No, blame the old man in the sky." His eyes remained closed on his upturned face. He did not show any signs of getting up. "Or the old woman, whatever your family believes in. Better choose just one so you won’t be confused. My family did once. Become confused, I mean."

She sensed the game ended for him already. "You were not yourself today," her voice sounded relaxed, even concerned.

Nicolas took a sharp breath. "Had a bit trouble focusing today." He opened his eyes and smiled at her. She could not help but notice that his acorn blue eyes looked at her in their usual mischievous way. He bounded up with slight difficulty. "You are good. I got hit a lot. You could have killed me. Though you should really learn not to show concern for me."

"What? What are you talking about?" Catherine's voice could not believe his smugness.

"Really, it could get you in trouble. You should have seen your face when you saw me under the fiery shrub. I did not really get the full look with all those leaves but man, you looked heartbroken. Come on, let's get ourselves healed." Nicolas ambled ahead of her.

She threw her arms up in the air in exasperation. This guy was really an asshole. The freaking nerve! Under the continuous drizzle, MonteSievert and Rothsguile medical teams appeared from the crowd of students to assist their master and mistress.

While lying inside the healing room that looked much too luxurious for healing, Catherine could not help but rant to her long-time nurse, Gertrude. "Isn't the family tired of this....this stupid war?"

"I would gladly ask your parents that the next time we have a heart-to-heart," came the snappish answer. "Stupid? The hell, yes. Personal? To the day they die. When did your father go off on a hunting binge and even took shots at poor bystanders?"

"When he lost the auction bid to Nicolas' father for a Picasso."

"When did your family hold the mother-of-all parties with all the Rothsguiles in full force?"

"When the family took over a company the MonteSieverts were eyeing to acquire."

"And when did your mother last have one of her near-nervous breakdowns?"

"Ah, such silliness. When Nicolas' mother was featured on the front page of the annual list of best-dressed women instead of her. It didn't help that mother dropped from number 1 to number 4."

"And that will go on and on until someone in your silly families grows up. But better not mention that last adjective to your parents. They do take it seriously." She rolled up her eyes.

"Since when did Professor have a taste for designer furnishings?" Nicolas walked in casually into the room.

Gertrude eyed him curiously, amused to see a MonteSievert up close. Catherine was a bit taken back by his entrance but managed to grin. "Mother spruced up the place when she heard I have a duel this week. Maybe the healing is faster in the company of designer labels."

"How are you? Everything healed?" Surprising, he sounded concerned.

"I think so. You?"

"Good enough for a cup of coffee. You want to grab some? And of course, we'd love you to join us, Madame Gertrude. By the way, I am Nicolas MonteSievert." He extended his hand to the blushing nurse. Catherine wanted to throw a pillow at her.

"Oh, oh...don't mind me. You, young people, enjoy yourselves." Catherine raised an eyebrow. Her mother was totally going to kill Gertrude.

"I would have loved to be in a company of a Rothsguile nurse. We can swap stories," Nicolas teased.

"We can do that some other time," was the nurse' gushing reply. Her father would join her mother in killing Gertrude.

"Do you want to meet there?" Nicolas turned his attention to her.

"How about your bodyguards?"

"I can tell them to keep themselves busy. Yours?"

"Gertrude can take care of the boys."

"Let's have some coffee then."

"No. Let's have a drink. After all that banging, I need to relax."

Nicolas laughed, took her hand and led her out. "You're not such a stuck-up, after all."

As they were about to board his Porshe, Professor Hamlin went out to his office balcony. Upon seeing them together, he stopped in his tracks, raised both his arms, yelled something incomprehensible then went back casually to his office.

"What the hell was that?" Nicolas laughed.

"He's insane." Catherine laughed back.

"Just like our families. Your phone's ringing."

Without glacing at her phone, Catherine shrugged her shoulders. "My mother. 17th missed call. Let's go."