Half-baked characters from my half-written stories have this habit of lingering precariously on the peripheries of my undemanding days. Not always, of course, but they are frequent visitors at hours they think they are most welcome. With their sinews and bones molded from printer ink and several unfinished drafts several folders deep in the corner of my laptop, they would say hello when a certain scene in my day would trigger their presence.
For instance, when a shaft of sunlight poured from the blinds straight through my clear mug of coffee one morning, it reminded me of the color I gave the eyes of a Little Prince-sque kid in a fairy tale I abandoned. I took a sip of the beverage and he was there, slumped on the chair beside me.
“Have you ever thought of coming back?” he asked, cradling his face in his cupped hand. “You know… of opening my story again and giving it a happy-ever-after?”
akin to the shade that has incarnadined the bruises
of a lone oceanid choking at the rocks of Manila Bay—
she of soiled fingers combing through seaweed-tresses
matted with oil, excrement, with a balm of something
foreign, like a smear of leftover hope
or was it vermillion, the splash that punctuated
a cough of a barrel in an alley lit only
by the unblind eye of a gas lamp? Bespattered
little Totoy’s frail pallor until he is no longer
as white as the stones he did not know he carried
tantamount even to the carmine dark that dripped
from our fountain pens one November in the South,
ebbing, flooding headlines and *58 shallow
graves (32 of whom are of our brothers), drenching
the faded mourning clothes we still wear a decade later
a hue to drown out lazuli Rosco in our flag
to be one solid blood, crib of great men in the Song—
its notes we can still exhale audibly with our fallible
mouths; for as long as we are breathing
there are grieving and living for the aggrieved to be done
When I was a little kid and no one would answer when I asked this question, I simply imagined angels playing in heaven, with one clumsy cherub accidentally spilling a can of blue paint right between the clouds. This was enough of an explanation for me back then.
Today, witnessing sunsets that douse the skies with an array of color, both warm and cool, makes me want to curl back into those innocent thoughts.
Science may have taught me Rayleigh scattering and atmospheric optics, but in a world that has unfolded to be so complex before my growing eyes, I would sometimes like to revisit the vision of little me: that girl whose tickled mind made her so curious that she poured all contents of a paint box onto paper to imitate the skies. That girl who then wrote about them with all the words she knew, which eventually made her decide that her heart was for the arts.
Title: Bone Gap Author: Laura Ruby Genre: Magical realism, contemporary, young adult My Rating: ★★★★ Get the book!
“The face that the world sees is never the sum of who we are.” I was thumbing the blurb’s print on the roughish dust jacket of Bone Gap when my fingertips stopped at this line, the last one dangling at the end. It struck a chord with me. Lately I was contemplating about appearances, about the metaphorical masks we put on when we bottle up feelings or when we don’t want the society to judge us for who we really are. With its ambiguous synopsis, would the book be able to quench my curiosity?
Title: The Song of Achilles Author: Madeline Miller Genre: Mythology, revisionism, fantasy My Rating: ★★★★ Get the book!
The true brand of a good tale, I once heard, lies in a string of four words signifying the storyteller’s power over his audience: “And then what happened?” These words indicate a sliver of magic in the middle of action, wedged between this or that plot point; it is a question posed as a half-baked sterling review, an evidence that the truly gifted tale-spinners can prod readers to continue thumbing through the pages for answers.