Friday, March 29, 2013


The first time she noticed it, it was the space on her back, right below her nape.

She was peeling carrots then, using a big knife that wasn't designed for the task but it was the only knife she could find that was sharp enough. It was blistering in the kitchen. She had her hair up in a bun some recalcitrant strands too stubborn to be restrained. It itched in places where they fell on her bare shoulders, except for that spot on her back, below her nape. There, it felt strangely empty, lacking--like a limb had been severed and it haunted her still.

Another time, she was in a cafe, under a big green umbrella that offered no real shade. Her coffee lay neglected on the small table in front of her; a brew of watered down battery acid. She took a long drag from her cigarette, shifting her gaze from the book in her hand to the chair to her left. For an instant, it surprised her that it was empty, though she came alone and was expecting no company. What affected her was not so much the empty seat but the consciousness that the space next to her arm was cooler than anywhere else around her body, as if a warmth had occupied that space until that moment, had shielded her and vanished, leaving her unprotected and vulnerable.

She became more aware of these sensate impressions--in the car with her kids, out on the porch waiting for her morning coffee to kick in, at her desk while she worked--rifts in the synapses of her routine. Oddly, she did not question the existence of these sensations. They were familiar, somehow; recent memories whose images had faded beyond recognition.

Until that evening.

She was in a cab, stuck in rush-hour traffic. She closed her eyes, trying to drown out the horrid music being spewed out by the cab's radio with mindless musings. Then, she felt it. Real. Intimate. Comforting. The void took the form of a familiar hand, warm around her own, and on her cheek, stroking it.

She wept.

(photo by Julie De Leon)

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