Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stalling

Last week's post was no easy feat to complete. I began it in fits and starts, the writing encumbered and stalling whenever I attempted to write in my usual voice. It seemed to lack the necessary gravitas for the quick and tragic turn of events that I was to tell. So then that borrowed voice, and the post almost wrote itself. 

In the days that followed, Uno had to go back to his life as if tragedy had not struck him. Silly how the earth persists to turn on its own axis as it revolves around the sun, stalling for not one bit. I remember those days clearly, for though seven years had gone by since then, the past has an extraordinary clarity that only looking back can offer. 

It wasn't our Saturday together, but pressing matters had to be discussed and soon, and where else to go but in the familiar interiors of Kitchen in Greenbelt 3. We were prepared to go to Uno's house if need be, get him out of his room to come with us, but it was unnecessary, for he assured us that he was coming. 

None of us expected him to be so normal, so composed. Yet in the air of him something unhinged seemed to linger, floating and coalescing: dark, leaden circles that gave him heaviness of appearance. It fluttered and flitted as though pixie dust, but unlike pixie dust was of sinister nature. The three of us avoided each other's eyes as though our thoughts would pass between us by mere glance. 

The waiter descended upon us, brown menus in hand, and all of us were briefly afforded respite by our pretend perusal. Names of dishes were thrown into the air in the form of questions, waiting for each other's assent as though our orders were decided collectively. We lingered on our menus more than usual, each of us hesitant to begin the conversation we came to do. 

“Mike's going abroad,” Dan said.

We all looked towards Dan in utter surprise. Though I knew this was not the conversation we were expecting to start, I saw through the ruse. He was reestablishing an air of normalcy, going through the motions of what we had often done on these lunches, part priest's confessional, part psychiatrist's table. 

“It's an evasive tactic,” I said.

“That's what I thought,” Dan said.

“So he's going abroad instead of making a choice between going back to Davao and staying with you,” Adam said.

“It's a fair choice,” Uno said. 

“How exactly is it a fair choice?” I asked.

“He doesn't want to disappoint his mom by saying no and he doesn't want to disappoint Dan by saying yes to his mom,” Uno said.

“But that doesn't resolve anything,” Adam said.

“He's stalling for time,” I said. 

“And what did you think?” Uno asked.

“I don't like it. But it's better than the alternative,” Dan said.

“There is another solution,” Uno said.

“It's clear he isn't ready for that,” Dan said.

“He's nearly forty. He isn't exactly a teenager anymore,” Adam said.

“Not the point. You know how it is. She is still his mom,” Uno said. 

“I know. But it's still unfair,” Adam said. 

“Where is he exactly going?” I asked.

“Dubai,” Dan said. 

“Well this is it. You can finally be a housewife. And not just any housewife, but an OFW wife,” Adam said. 

“It sounds better than it is. I'd rather have him here,” Dan said. 

“But even if he's far away, at least he's all yours,” Adam said. 

May pinaghuhugutan,” I said. 

“You haven't smartened up yet?” Dan asked.

“Nope. And I'm not the only one,” Adam said.

They all looked at me. 

“And why does everyone assume that that's me?” I asked.

“Who else?” Dan asked. 

“Have you told them yet?” I asked Adam.

“I'm waiting for you to do the honors,” Adam said. 

“It's Adam's fault. He keeps pushing me to Lyndon,” I said. 

“Sweetie, you're not 12,” Dan said. 

“What exactly happened?” Uno asked.

“Don't tell me you told me so. I didn't delete Lyndon's number. And in a moment of weakness, I texted him,” I said. 

“Why do you keep doing this to yourself?” Dan asked.

“Because I don't know any better,” I said. “But that's not all. I let him do it without a condom.”

“And how did this happen?” Dan asked.

“I ran out and he didn't have any and it's been so long and we were caught up in the heat of the moment. But he didn't come inside,” I said. 

“Still,” Dan said. 

“It won't happen again,” I said.

“It better not,” Dan said. “Are you going to get tested?”

“Yes. But don't I have to wait six months?” I asked.

“Anytime between three to six,” Dan said.

“Would you come with me?” I asked Uno.

“Aris and I always had safe sex,” Uno said.

“Don't you want to be sure?” I asked.

“I'm sure. We were always safe. I didn't even have to ask. He made sure. But okay I'll come with you,” Uno said.

Mission accomplished. 

*

I wish I could say that what I said about what happened between Lyndon and I was merely a ruse to get Uno into taking the test. It wasn't. And I still didn't know about PEP then, Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, and even if I did I didn't know if it was available here and how was I to get it. As I learned later it was too late anyway, because it had to start within 72 hours after a possible exposure. All that was left to do was to bid my time, and until then there was only hope. But more than my worry for myself, we all worried about Uno; the pneumonia that killed Aris was too sudden and debilitating to have been the sole reason for his death. Though none of us had articulated it, we all knew what it really was, and evidently, Uno did too, and though it was still three months from now, at least we had made him agree to take the test, despite his claim that they always played it safe. 

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