23:59:57

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It was a few minutes before midnight. You can see smoke rising up and some crackle of light coming from a small store here, a two-storey house there. The excitement is so heavy in the air. So heavy that I can feel it weighing down on my cranium. Outside, all lights are lit in anticipation of the final countdown. The old year is almost walking past behind everyone, forgotten and maybe forgiven for all its troubles, maybe thanked with joyful hearts or pursed lips.

I used to love the New Year. But not that evening. Not when the fireworks feel like they are all simultaneously bursting in my head, I can see them like electricity behind my eyelids. Not when the heat of so many busy calderos and stoves are inside my body cooking me up to a weak, sweaty mush of a human being. It physically broke my heart to know my family is a 3-hr flight and drive away while I was there hating every passing second as I hear the neighbors counting down to the New Year. I tried to count myself down to sleep amidst the all-too-familiar noise and confusion outside.

In the darkness, behind closed doors, I promised myself that never will I feel so alone as I did that night.

3…2…1. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Cut Off.”

Changes

She passes by without her knowing that i am following her with a peripheral stare. And as she walked away, while my eyes catch the last billowing folds of her gentle skirt flowing in the wind, I know things have changed. I do not recognize her anymore. And she probably does not recognize me. All we have are snatches of our past life together. They are only months ago. But now they seem like an entire lifetime away. We have grown apart. That is sad. I would have liked to be her friend more. To talk to her about life at school, life at home, life with ourselves. There would have been many things to talk about and rant about and laugh about while waiting for class, on the way to the comfort room, or while standing in line at the canteen. But I guess things are too awkward now. I could have followed her. Run to her, even. But I didn’t. Because I didn’t know what to say after the first hi-hello is said. So all I did was fold my arms on the table and bury my face in them as the world around me detaches and the sound of everything is distorted by my memories of the day we first met.

I know this is a photo challenge. But when I read “Gone, But Not Forgotten“, I remembered my past friendships and this image formed in my mind. There was no way to show it but through words.

Second star to the right

At 12 noon today, while lazily scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw this article and chanced upon two new sobriquets for millennials such as myself: ADULTESCENTS and PETER PAN GENERATION.

Although I am still in my early twenties, I find myself nodding to the 34-year-old writer who, like myself, still do not have a house or family to call my own. Although, I am happy to say that I do have a job which I can call a “career”, I cringe every time I hear “10 Years Service Award”. At the back of my mind and under the soles of my feet, I still feel this need to be elsewhere. Do you know that mixed feeling of content and discontent? Contented at what I have here and now, but equally discontented about my overall state of life. There is this nagging, gnawing restlessness that I am not living up to my potential, or there should be something else “more fulfilling” that I should be doing, or that in general I should just throw caution to the wind, quit my job, and travel. Who the fuck cares about being broke? There is nothing quite like the lessons of travel. Money can be earned again, so be broke and explore. Yes, I read those inspirational quotes between IG posts of gourmet pastas and dressed up dogs.

A decade back, I have been invited to birthday parties and debutante balls and sleepovers. Now at my quarterlife, I have close friends who are already married. One of whom is already an expectant mother. And I still don’t know how to make up my own bed and pick up after myself! Geez, I know we’d get to this point, but wow that was fast. Where did all the years whiz by?

I have been hugely independent ever since I left home to go work in places where you need to buy a plane ticket first. I have taken steps into securing the future with a mutual funds/insurance account and a small condo unit investment I share with my dad. But in terms of settling down and having a family, can we talk about that next year?

So there. I planned this weekend to be a perfectly silent one beside my book and movies. But here I am, brows furrowed, seriously thinking about the future. And to be honest, it’s so easy to put off. Like my laundry that I promised to do last weekend. But I decided to write this instead so I can have an official post that I can look back and slap myself with after 10 years and I haven’t done anything for myself. HEY, now that’s long-term planning for you!

So for all my millennial peers and kindred spirits, for now it’s the second star to the right. Keep partying straight on ’til morning.

Perishable Commodities

Tara is in the convenience store to buy some canned laughs. There was a news flash this afternoon and the grim reporter said a storm is coming to town and will stay for at least a week. Best be prepared, she thinks out loud, surveying the variety of colorful cans laid like a feast in front of her.

She picks up a neon pink can (Girly Giggles Guaranteed), gets three more of the variety and chucks the contents into the cart. Her hand swipes two electric blue cans (Goofy Guffaws Galore) and drops them to the pile. I need five more of these stuff, she murmurs and grabs five glittery orange cans (Gorgeous Glorious Grins). That should do it. She transfers to the next aisle to pick up some toiletries, candles and mixed nuts before proceeding to the cashier counter.

Tara’s mouth maintains a straight line, slightly pulled down at the edges in a permanent display of displeasure. She impatiently waits for the old stooped lady in front of her to move along. Finally. The cashier punches in Sarah’s grocery items like an automaton and asks “cash or credit?” without looking at her. Tara whips out her credit card in response. She couldn’t help but notice the cashier’s over-the-top bright red lipstick lined way over the outline of where her lips should be. Clown. “I’m sorry, what did you say?” snaps the cashier. “Nothing, hurry up,” she bites back. Sarah chews on her lips in silence and thinks of the orange cans.

Back home, Tara triple locks the door before organizing her groceries. Unpacking her items, she noticed that one of the blue cans was expiring today! Fuck. She slaps herself and fishes out the can opener, her expletives further drowned by angry peals of thunder. Storm’s coming. Laughter uncanned, she sniffed at the blue goo inside and drank it all in one go, clumsily spilling some of the liquid laughter over her drab gray dress. 

The effects started 10 seconds after. Her chest began to heave and her shoulders began to shake.

HAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHHAHHA! Ohyes. HAHAHHAHAA! Ahhhh… HAHAHA!

Tara’s knees weaken and she slips slowly to the floor, guffawing, her eyes rolling to the back of her head.

HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

But Tara knew the laughter was going bad.

HEHEHEHE! HEHEHHEHE!

Oh no, no no..

HEHE… HE… HEHEHE… HEHE… HU… HU HU HUUU..

Canned laughter promises at least 10 minutes of “uncontrollable belly-aching euphoria”. Tara has only been laughing for two minutes. But her cheeks are sore, shoulders involuntarily shaking with quiet chuckles. Her thin lips are stretched too tight, upturned into a wide tooth-baring smile. But she is no longer laughing. Dammit. 

As she spent the next six hours, miserably lying in the cold floor waiting for the convulsions to stop, the storm came howling into town. BOOHOOOOOOO.