What if Saturday: First Lady

Julieta, Julieta, wherefore art thou, Julieta? Check thy watch and refuse to be late — arggg.

Where is she?

Where oh where has my little sis gone? Oh where oh where could she be?

She said she’d meet me here for her lunch break. Things must be pretty busy at the health centre for her to be this late.

Gosh, I wish she’d hurry up. I’ve got crazy weird news to tell her, you see.

Come on, Julie. Show up already. Or else I’m going to burst like a can of pop that has been all shook up.

Tap, tap, tap, tap. Ugh. This isn’t doing me any good.

Fine, I’ll let it out already.

Here goes —

I’m married.

To the president. Of the Philippines.

I.

Know.

It’s so unbelievable, right? I’m not even sure how it happened. All I know is that a strange person dropped by my house this morning, introducing herself as the president’s PA. She showed me a marriage contract — one that has apparently materialized out of nowhere, since I have no recollection of having gotten married to anyone — proving that I was the president’s — gasp — first lady.

I told her she had the wrong person, but there it was in black and white. The contract had my full name — Aleksandra Elisabeth Salarson de Guzman — down to all the eccentric spelling nuances. It had my undecipherable signature as well.

So what did it all mean? What did it all imply? I asked the PA those questions and all she said was that I had to be in Malacañang that evening.

That’s seven hours away. Oh, I hope Julieta would get here soon. She’s always been the sane and level-headed one. She’d tell me what to do.

Suppose this was all real? Suppose I had perhaps gotten a bit tipsy and had maybe flung myself into a Vegas-like ceremony with the most powerful man in the Pearl of the Orient? Suppose I’m not dreaming up this wacky, far-fetched nightmare?

Suppose —

Well, I suppose I should get my act together, then. Would it take a lot of work to become a president’s wife? He’ll need me for support. He’ll need me to give him nuggets of wisdom, too, from time to time, I guess. He’ll need me to flutter like a social butterfly during classy engagements, to be the people’s lady during community events, to be a witty speaker during press conferences. He’ll need me to stand forever by his side.

Gosh, I don’t know if I’m up for it.

Julieta, please get here fast.

I need all the words of wisdom and encouragement that I can get.

via https://mariscribbles.com/2013/01/25/new-project-10-what-ifs/

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What if Saturday: The Woman

“Miss Mendoza? Dr. Gonzales will see you now. He’ll be giving out your test results.”

“Alright, nurse. Thank you very much.”

She saunters into my office, head held high, hips swinging cockily from side to side. She exudes confidence, arrogance even. But as she takes her place in the seat in front of me, my trained eye catches a brief, faltering gaze. I sift through her records. “Hello, Miss Mendoza.”

“Dr. Gonzales. The nurse tells me my results are ready.”

I observe her more for a moment or two. Cream coloured skin covered by layers of makeup. Hair in tight ringlets, pulled back to reveal her large hoop earrings. Cherry red lips. I can only shoot a guess at her profession but I decide to let go of any preconceived notion.

My lips tighten, yet I try to give her a warm, assuring smile. This news might break her heart. I had hoped to give a less dramatic report, but I seem to be on the roll, breaking hearts this pain-filled Saturday.

“Miss Mendoza, I’m afraid I have bad news. Your tests show that you are positive. HIV positive.”

Tension makes its way into the girl’s face. Her eyes darken, her lips set into a pencil-thin line. She leans forward, clasping a frantic grip around my wrist. “Are you sure, Doctor? There must be a mistake. You’ve switched my papers with someone else. You’ve — “

“Calm down, Miss Mendoza. Yes, I am certain. I’m sorry. There’s nothing we can do.”

She blinks rapidly, fighting back bitter tears. But in a few seconds they start to pour over.

“This can’t be happening. What will happen to Toto and Ineng? They need food. They need tuition. They — I should have known this was going to happen though. They warned me. They did.”

“Miss Mendoza?”

She continues, apparently forgetting that I am there. “It was HIM,” she says, her eyes suddenly blazing in anger. “I told him to use protection. All the others did. But no. He insisted.”

She lets out a bitter laugh. “He should get tested, too. Well. There goes my career. There goes my life. There goes my brother and my sister’s lives.”

“Miss Mendoza…”

She shakes her head, becoming aware of my existence once again. “Forgive me, Doctor. I know you are only doing your job. And I was only doing mine. I had no choice. I guess it’s all just going to come to this then.”

She gets up. She wipes the remainder of her tears before she shakes my hand. “Well. I must say goodbye then. Have a good life, Doctor.”

She walks away, hips still swinging from side to side.

“You too, Miss Mendoza. You too.”

via https://mariscribbles.com/2013/01/25/new-project-10-what-ifs/

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What if Saturday: Heartbreak

Deep breaths and stifled tears. These shall serve as my lunch today, along with this consoling cup of hot coffee.

I feel as if the world is playing a big joke on me. I feel as if I have just woken up from a bad dream — empty and surreal. But really, I don’t know what to feel because sorrow, anger, bitterness, blame, and every heart-wrenching emotion imaginable are all waging a terrible war inside me.

It’s strange how two hours can change everything. An hour of tests, an hour of diagnosis — 120 minutes of battling through every possible fear. Those two hours have turned my whole world upside down in an instant.

He’s still with Dr. Gonzales, there, in that hateful health centre across the street. I know I should be there with him, I know I should be holding his hand, but first I need time to think, I need time to breathe, I need — I need someone to hold me and tell me it’s all going to be okay before I could face him — before I could face them — again.

The coffee cup appears to be looking at me sympathetically. I wrap my cold hands against the warm porcelain and I imagine it giving me a consoling hug in return.

How can I go back to them? How can I go back to him? How can I look back into the eyes my love now that I know —

Now that I know that he is dying?

My breath catches as I again try to make sense of it all.

Lung cancer. And he doesn’t even smoke.

He’s going to call off the engagement for sure. I know him well enough to know of his heart to protect me. But I can’t bear the thought of living without him. I can’t bear the thought of not marrying him. I can’t bear —

I can’t bear it, no. I won’t let him break it off. I won’t.

He deserves to live the final moments of his life with the woman he loves. We deserve to at least be together, no matter how short time allows.

I drown the rest of my coffee, rise up, open the door, and make my way back to the health centre once more.

via https://mariscribbles.com/2013/01/25/new-project-10-what-ifs/

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What if Saturday: Wonderland

I should have known that I’d be the person most likely to fall down a rabbit hole. As a kid I would give lollipops out to strangers. I would give some out to Aling Nida, the frazzled lady who sold kikiam and fishball a skip and a leap past my elementary school. I would tuck strawberry flavoured ones into the back pockets of Kuya Ernesto, the jovial guard who stood watch over our subdivision’s wide iron gates. And I would carefully place chocolate and grape flavoured ones into the rusty tin cans the grubby street urchins held out to our car windows whenever our vehicle passed by the busy Bonifacio Street.

Inay would always scold me. She would raise her voice to ask me why on earth I would waste such precious candy. I would smile at her, saying that it just seemed like the nice thing to do. Ate Ella, who was ten years older than me, would usually come to my defence, asking Inay to forgive me because I was simply born naive and unsuspecting.

I don’t really think of myself as naive and unsuspecting. But I figure that’s what I must be, being under the predicament that I’m in now.

You see, I have never lost my lollipop-giving habit. A mere four hours ago — well, I think it was four hours, I can never be really sure — I saw an eight-or-nine-year-old boy wearing freshly pressed maroon waistcoat and fluffy white bunny ears zipping across my office’s half-empty parking lot. I had two extra sweets packed inside my daisy-patterned purse so I decided to chase him, thinking that he might have a younger sister donning similar ears, assuming that he and she might want the pieces of candy, too.

He was an energetic kid. I’d say he was quick as a rabbit, but that might be redundant because it was as if he was already a rabbit anyway.

I lost track of him, though I did try my hardest to run in my wobbly stilettos. But as I was about to give up and head back to the parking lot, I spotted a blur of white and maroon from a distance. I broke back into a run.

The next thing I knew, one of my heels snapped and I found myself whirling down a dark, humid, seemingly endless hole.

via https://mariscribbles.com/2013/01/25/new-project-10-what-ifs/

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New Project: 10 What If’s

While the question “What-If” sometimes creates anxiety and paranoia, it can also be a source of thrill, and in the story making, plot idea. If your “What-If” question is strong enough, it can render you a plot proposal.

The Daily Somersault

So. 2013. We’re already one month in. I do believe it’s timely to take on a new writing challenge, wouldn’t you agree?

If you’ve been following this month’s entries, you’ll notice that I’m trying to stick to a more or less predictable pattern. Scripture Scribbles, Thoughts-slash-Impressions, Post A Week prompt replies, an occasional DP Challenge — hey, you could start tuning in to my entries the way you stay tuned to your favourite TV shows! I shall try to write as much as I can and will give you the assurance that you can expect those regular posts like a regular series. At least for a certain season.

While I am starting to love writing on end on a regular basis, there’s still a different sense of accomplishment when you take on and finish a semi-time-bound challenge. What I mean is, things are always different when you have a goal in mind. Because I can post, post, post, post in this blog forever but where’s the accomplishment in that?

I’m not sure if I’m making any sense. But it’s much more fun running in race with a finish line at the end than it is to run on a treadmill without end, right?

On that note, let me introduce you to this new project of mine: 10 What If’s. I started playing around with the idea after reading the blogpost (see blockquote above) by Miss Daily Somersault

It might even make a good short story anthology if you readers deem it worthy enough. ;)

Well, let’s do this. Here are my 10 What If’s:

  1. What if you, like Alice, fell down a rabbit hole?
  2. What if you woke up next to a complete stranger?
  3. What if the fly on the wall suddenly started talking to you?
  4. What if you turned into a coffee cup?
  5. What if the person you are engaged to suddenly found out that he/she was dying?
  6. What if you were given a chance to talk to a prostitute?
  7. What if you were able to revisit any moment in your childhood and live it out again?
  8. What if you found yourself married to the President of the Philippines?
  9. What if the Internet suddenly came to a complete shutdown?
  10. What if you fell down the rabbit hole, but had to come back up again?

Let’s see if we can answer them in the weeks to come.

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