F Chapter 5: Foreboding


Not everyone who comes to America does so for an American Dream.  There are those who come here to forget their past. And although the glitter and vastness of America could be interpreted as a reprieve, the truth is that our past never leaves us no matter where we go. No season, no government, no promise of freedom change how your past made who you are now.




It’s utterly romantic and markedly hopeful to hear someone pledge their disregard for your past and care only about your present. Especially for people shackled to the weight of their memories, starting over feels like a long drawn out breath. It’s inspiring and immensely kind.
It is also potentially deadass bullshit.
Almost any emotional and/or behavioral problem is traced back to one’s past, one’s childhood, or some event or moment that was powerful enough to reverberate through one’s lifetime. It’s the greatest oxymoron, a comedy for the ages.
I guess there’s always that long standing conflict… a confusion born from contradicting beliefs. We are constantly told that we have complete power over who we are but every established tenet dictates our past holds the key to whatever choice we make today.
‘The past doesn’t matter’ we are told but every explanation of the choices we make is traced back to our past.
I know that my past highly influences my present.
I was bullied in high school.
Having entered high school 4 years early, I found myself in a world too vast for my understanding. Sure, I was big… 20 pounds… okay maybe 30 pounds too big… but still. I forced myself to think and feel bigger, just as so I could belong.
It was too much too soon.
I managed to become friends with the most popular girls in the school. It was peculiar how it started. They were friends before I even met them, having been classmates since they were in grade school. One of them found out I was an accelerated student and invited me to be friends with them, like how you would recruit someone to a sorority.
I was new and 10 years old, I would have accepted an invitation from a wolf pack if a wolf invited me first. 
It didn’t take long for me to figure out why they were easily the most popular girls in school. One was the smartest, one was the prettiest, another was the second prettiest, the other one the most athletic and the other the most popular among boys.
Being the youngest in the school was my only added value but more importantly, I was the fat young friend. Having me around made their beauty and greatness even more pronounced. I was okay because while the whole school clamor at every achievement my friends were making, we were pretty chill with each other. We never talked about their big scholastic moments or “popular girl” moments. It was always about our lives, our families, our dreams, and how we want each other to be a part of that forever. We made a pact, a promise… a vow that we will always be friends, no matter what… not just forever but always.
It was my first experience of love, one that is not inspired by blood. It was freely given, freely shared. It was the first affirmation that I was worthy of someone’s time. To many, it’s juvenile, laughable but to a 10-year-old, it’s everything. 
Then it was taken away, slowly.
Something switched in my sophomore year. One moment I was surrounded by 5 soulmates who did everything with me, I was having lunch, walking the halls and doing group projects all alone the next.
Just like anybody else who experience lost, I was in denial.
Some of them became really close to some of our teachers and I thought they were just busy but they started ignoring me. I’d walk up to them and they would respond with a ‘hi’ and then ignore me the rest of the time. Eventually, they started avoiding me altogether, walking away when they see me approach.
Right when I thought everything was lost, they all invited me to go out for dinner and called me a cheat for copying answers from my seatmate during an exam. There were other issues they brought up, things they made me “admit” to doing. I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember anymore what those things were. All I remember was feeling I had to admit everything they wanted me to admit to because it was the only way they would consider me being their friend again.
Don’t get me wrong. I did copy answers from my seatmate just as much as he copied from me. It was not the first and it wasn’t the last. It doesn’t make it right but I am pretty sure It’s not an unprecedented event in high school by any measure but it sure felt like I committed the crime of the century not because I was being judged for cheating on an exam but because I was being judged for cheating on an exam by my sisters, my closest friends… the five people I was going to spend the rest of my life with.
I did admit to everything and apologized.
One of them hugged me at the end of dinner and told me I saved our friendship. I thought that if admitting to something was what it takes for them to have me back again, I’d gladly admit to killing Abraham Lincoln.
It didn’t change anything.
I would stand in the hallways and the five of them would be huddled together, laughing, being all clingy and shit. They wouldn’t even glance at me. I tried joining their table for lunch once, they all stood up and left.
I heard the whispers of other students about being the fat friend who fell from grace and how most of them think I never belonged anyway. I wasn’t the smartest or the prettiest or the most athletic. I was a disgrace to the group.
At one point, I remember going to church simply because I didn't know where else to go. I was not a religious person but I didn't know who else I can talk to. Somehow, I felt that my parents would think it juvenile if I tell them about it and maybe it was. They were having problems of their own, marital problems. That’s way more important than my struggles of friendship.
I walked into the church without knowing much about the different Saints, the ceremonies, and the tradition but I saw a statue of a female saint with hundreds of unopened letters at its foot. So, I wrote a letter asking for a friend. Just one friend. Any kind of friend because I was so lonely and so sad. I sobbed for what felt like forever as I stood in front of the statue and I must have looked like a lunatic to others who were passing by, a young fat girl in pigtails crying buckets in front of a sculpture. 
But I was a 10-year-old girl in high school without a friend.
There was one time when a teacher made us group ourselves for a project. Five of my friends immediately huddled together. The rest of the class formed their own groups and I was left alone in the middle of the class, sitting on my chair.
The teacher looked at me and offered no reprieve. She watched me. She watched the humiliation crawl through my veins and tear me apart. She watched me being watched by every student in my class.
More often, people who go through accidents or tragedies pull out of the situation. Maybe it’s their survival instincts but they tend to black out or shut off or get suspended into a space or get cloaked into a cocoon that removes their consciousness from the details of the moment. I was, unfortunately, fully present. I could feel the daggers in their eyes and the pleasure they feel at seeing me fall, seeing me get humiliated. I could feel every cut pierce through my skin and straight into my soul. I could hear every single one of them, every whisper, every snicker, every click of their tongue.
I also knew that if I allowed myself to hear, I would only end up looking more pathetic than I already was. So, I just ended up doing the only thing I knew how to do to stay sane, I shut everything off.
I willed myself to not care. I breathed in deep and held it until the clog in my throat went away. I stared at the chair in front of me until my hands stopped shaking. I imagined a black dot and willed it grow bigger until it covered everything around me. I kept my mouth shut until I was absolutely sure I won’t break. I remained still until I felt nothing.
“I would do the project alone,” I said finally. I remember seeing her lips twitch to a smile that painted nothing but insult and I shut it off immediately too.
Strangely enough, each of our teachers came up with projects and asked us to group ourselves, the sight of me remaining seated, alone in the middle of the class became more common. It also became easier and easier for me to say I would do the project by myself and it became easier for me to shut everything off.
I started not to care.
I breathed in and breathed out, went from class to class until the bell rings a final time. I pick up my bags and walk home… alone. The days went by in a blur.
Just as when I was about to feel comfortable in my new routine, one of them invited me to dinner with her family. She told me that her father was inviting me which isn’t exactly odd considering each of our families know each of us. What was odd is that she was talking to me and inviting me to her home.
My survival instincts was to say ‘no’... my naïveté made me say yes.
The food was good. I remember thinking her father was a really good cook. He was also a really good preacher. Halfway through dinner, he started discussing the Bible to me and how Jesus Christ's crucifixion and death wiped away our sins. He told me that God the Father gave us his only son so that our sins will be redeemed. He told me how man tortured and crucified the son of God and how God the father let it happen to prove to us all that he loves us.
He also told me that God's love for us is so grand and so vest and so deep and so pure that even my ambition of graduating as an honor student would be forgiven. At the end of dinner, he asked me if I wanted to accept Christ as my savior. I did because I thought… I hoped that accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior will bring me my friends back.
I was wrong. I remained alone until the end of the school year.
It wasn't until the junior year that I learned vaguely of what happened. Someone in the school concluded that I was gay. Every other issue ricochet from there. It is primarily a Christian school and still a predominantly conservative era. People still get shock at high school students kissing and holding hands.
I'm not gay. I was never gay but I don't think it is a big deal if I was or if I am. Even at a decade when gays were considered “fun” but not “moral”, I never saw what the big deal was. I look at humans and I see humans. I knew, even at 10 and way before that, that people are just going around living their lives trying to be happy and that one’s gender has never killed anyone. What they do or not do in the bedroom is not my business as long as they don’t force me to be on it.
To have your friends humiliate you in front of the whole school for something you think is immaterial... it changes the way you think.
I don't know what changed when junior year started but slowly they welcomed me back to the group. After they told me what happened in the sophomore year, I asked how they came to the conclusion that I was gay. They told me that someone made the conclusion and they believed that person but they refused to tell me who it was because they needed to protect the person and that it wasn't important. I didn't know if I felt confused or disappointed or betrayed or all of the above but I was sure it was useless to ask because they would never tell me.
Somehow, they made me feel like I should just be thankful that it's all over and that I have friends again. And a part of me agreed with them. After all, I was an 11-year old high school junior, a kid among kids and no kid deserves to be alone especially in high school.
Slowly, we returned to the old habits. We became one solid unit and became just as inseparable as we were before all the chaos started. It did bother me for weeks. There were moments when I just wanted to ask them why they didn’t or are not protecting me. I wanted to ask them why they don’t think I deserve an apology from the person who started all these and from them. I wanted to ask them why they think I should just brush it all away and just be thankful I am welcome in their group again.
I didn’t because I was scared that asking those questions will mean losing them again. I didn’t because I was scared to be called juvenile. I didn’t because I was scared they will never answer and I will be left to choose between my dignity and my friends. No 11-year-old should ever be faced with that question.
I moved on from it. I brushed it off and then eventually consciously forgive.
It wasn’t until a decade or so later that I realized how all the bruises healed but some of it left a scar so deep, it became a part of me.

==================================

“We have to take you to the hospital. Your hands are bleeding,” Shedry said. Kris, with her uncombed hair, sweat soaked shirt, and badly bruised hands, is now on one of my dining chairs and we are all surrounding her. 
“No,” Kris said.
“Why?” Uma asked.
“I don't have insurance and I don’t have money,” Kris said.
“But you're going to have a blood clot. Your pharmacist you know this is not good,” Shedry said.
“I know. okay? I know,” Kris said. “But it don't have the money. I literally have $50 left to the next payday. Ouch!”
“Sorry,” Shedry said. She slapped the ice pack on Kris’ hand a little too hard. 
“Do you have some Betadine?” Kris inquired. “We have to clean the bruises”.
“Go check the medicine cabinet,” I said.
Shedry rushes to the bathroom.
“Tell us what happened from the beginning,” I said.
“I punched Matthew,” Kris said.
“Well, that’s hell of a summary,” Uma said.
What followed was a confusing, non-linear storytelling of events that took some reverse engineering skill to be put together to form a picture that remotely resembles a logical story.
And it’s nothing short of surprising… and a little sappy.
Kris, as it turned out, care for Anthonia more than she lead on. When we told her Matthew told Anthonia that Matthew and his girlfriend broke up, we knew Kris heard it but we didn’t expect her to believe it. After all, we doubt even Anthonia believed it.
Kris, however, believed it so much that when she saw Matthew walk in on their family’s Sunday dinner (Matthew is Robbie’s cousin) with was supposed to be his ex-girlfriend, Kris lost it. It was as if Matthew lied to her, as if it is her pride and heart that just got broken.
“Kris, that’s your future husband’s cousin, the favorite nephew of your husband’s family matriarch. Have you lost your mind?” Shedry asked as she tries to be as gentle as possible in applying some betadine on Kris’ bruises.
“He is an asshole,” Kris said.
“What happened to Anthonia being the slut?” Uma asked, a tinge of teasing threatening to surface.
“Doesn’t give him the right to lie to her,” Kris said, head bowed, hands on her knees. Her gray oversized hoodie and black Uggs are making her look smaller than she really is. Unlike her usual elegantly simple ensemble, she looks like a lost girl.
It’s nothing to celebrate about. Although I don’t believe for a second that the wedding is indeed cancelled, it sure is a hitch… a pretty big one at that. She just punched the matriarch’s favorite nephew and for something she wasn’t even involved in but that is something. It fucks her up to the family of her future husband but it does bind her to us… to Anthonia and as selfish as it may seem, it does something to me inside. It makes me gooey and my heart flutter a little wildy… but fuck if I ever admit that. 
“Kris, you have to talk to Robbie,” I said.
“No,” she said. “They’re a family of assholes. I do not want to marry into a family of assholes.”
“Not now. Give it time,” I said. “But whatever Matthew and Anthonia have together.... Or not have together is theirs and theirs alone. Talk to Robbie. Cool down for now but don’t do or say anything more you may regret more than punching Matthew.”
Kris shakes her head, “I don’t know.”
“Not now,” I said. “Just… let it go for now. Just don’t text anybody. Don’t call anybody until you’ve cleared your head.”
“Since when did you become a Kris-Robbie advocate?” Kris asked, a tinge of sarcasm undeniably there.
“I was never against it,” I said.
“But you were never for it,” Kris retorted.
“I support you,” I said.
“You never supported us,” Kris said.
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. 
“Yeah, because I don’t care about my friends’ opinion, obviously,” Kris said. There's a bite in there, a sharp and painful one. 
“Kris,” I said. This is one fight I will never be willing to fight. “Rest.”
Shedry, god bless her intuitive soul, breaks the tension, “I have extra clothes if you need to change.”
Kris turns to face Shedry who is now in the kitchen, which is visible from the dining table, “Why are you here?”
“Oh yeah, what’s up?” Uma asked. “You and Vince had a fight?”
“Something like that,” Shedry said just before my phone rings.
“Must be Anthonia,” Uma said, watching me pick up my phone.
“Hello?” I greeted as I move to the balcony.
“Why would she call? She’s just in the laundry,” Shedry said.
“Anthonia is in the laundry?” Kris asked, stiffening.
“Yes,” Uma said. “She was here but she went back there when she learned you’re coming up.”
“What? Why didn’t you tell me?” Kris asked, standing up.
“Because… just… sit down. There’s nothing… she’s not ready to talk to you again,” Shedry said.
“You should have told me!” Kris said.
“We wanted to but you looked like you were… it wasn’t the priority,” Shedry said.
“I broke my engagement because of her!” Kris said.
“Don’t yell,” Shedry said.
“I am not yelling!” Kris said.
“You are,” Uma said.
“Why are you turning this on me?” Kris asked. She is yelling.
“There is… Kris, there is nothing to turn against you,” Uma said.
“Oh now you’re demeaning my emotions?” Kris said. “My wedding has just been cancelled!”
“Hey, Lady Gaga,” I said, putting Lady Gaga on speakers as I walk back into the dining table to join the rest. “Repeat what you said.”
Lady Gaga sniffles, “I think my roommate will kill me.”
And it’s only 9:30am… on a Saturday.

=================================
  
“You’re alive. That’s a good sign,” Uma said as soon as Lady Gaga opens the door of her apartment to us. It’s a one-bedroom in the middle of Koreatown, a mile away from mine. Hers sits on the ground floor, in the middle of an even more residential area than mine. She pays $950 per month so she decided to get a roommate, a 22-year-old Filipina from the same university Lady Gaga was from. Her name is Carol.
She doesn’t ask us to go in but leaves the door wide open before turning back to her bedroom. We go in one by one, taking off our shoes before following Lady Gaga to the bedroom. The apartment looks normal, exactly how it looks like in the numerous times we’ve been here.
“I need the kitchen cleared,” Lady Gaga said from the bedroom.
Her apartment is fully carpeted, with a floor to ceiling sliding door that leads to a small but empty balcony with a view of the wall of their neighbor’s house. The living room is big, big enough to be divided into two rooms and the open layout to the kitchen and dining table makes it even look bigger.
“Okay,” Shedry said. “Where are your boxes?”
“I don’t know,” Lady Gaga said. “Just put everything in a plastic bag or something.”
“Okay,” Shedry said. “Where are your plastic bags?”
“I don’t know. Find one,” Lady Gaga said as she folds her clothes, laying them neatly on her bed.
“Don’t you dare ask for anything else. Be self-sufficient,” Kris whispered.
“Hey,” Uma said, stepping inside, standing directly in front of Lady Gaga. “Stop that for a minute and tell us what’s going on?”
“I’ll tell you later. I just need to get out here now,” Lady Gaga said, flipping her still wet hair. At least she managed to shower. She hasn't combed. She’s is wearing a pair of leggings with tiger patterns and tight fitting shirt.
“Where are we taking you?” Shedry asked.
“To Xath’s apartment,” she said, not tearing her gaze away from her clothes.
Uma turns to me. Well that’s fuckin’ news to me.
“Where is Carol?” Anthonia asked all the way from the front door. She and Kris haven’t killed each other but they haven’t spoken to each other either.
“I don’t know,” Lady Gaga said.
“Why did you say she was going to kill you?” Kris asked.
“I should know. I’m her roommate,” Lady Gaga said.
Has she killed someone before and you learned about it? “Did she threaten you?” I asked.
“She didn’t have to,” Lady Gaga said.
So she didn’t threaten you. “Did she hurt you?” I asked.
“No,” Lady Gaga said. “I don’t have time for all these questions. Just help me pack. I need to be out of here before she gets back.”
“Okay, Lady Gaga,” Uma said, taking the clothes Lady Gaga was holding. “Tell us what happened.”
“She signed the lease!” Lady Gaga yelled, stomping her feet on the ground.
Shedry turns to me, “Did she say…”
“Carol signed the lease, yes,” I confirmed.
Shedry pauses for a bit before opening her mouth again, “How did that… didn’t she say her roommate is going to kill her?”
“I don’t know,” I said as I stare into nothingness, contemplating my life and all the choices I’ve made that lead me here. “I am waiting for the rest of the story. Maybe Carol’s signature comes to life and strangles people.” 

===================================
  
I now have three homeless, one laundry roomless, and one commitment phobic women in my apartment… on a Saturday… morning.
This is exactly how I envisioned my weekend when I was a kid. This is the weekend of my dreams. I’ll be the envy of all the women in the whole world. I should cherish this moment.
“You’re not even listening, oh my god,” Lady Gaga said, sniffling.
“I am,” I lied. I glanced at Anthonia who is sitting on the balcony. The sliding door is open, she can hear us and see us. We can also see her and how she’s shooting dagger looks at Kris.
“We’re listening and you will do us all a favor if you finish your story,” Uma said before taking a deep breath. She is patient but this is becoming irritating. She tries to wheel us back into the topic. “So, the apartment is actually under the name of your friend. Carol was referred by your auntie. Everything is going well until you went out of town last week and she was asking you to pay for groceries and you refused because you were out of town.”
“How did that lead to her wanting to kill you,” Kris asked.
Lady Gaga shifts in her chair before pulling her legs up so that it rests on the chair. She hugs her knees and rests her chin on it. Her favorite black and white striped shirt with long sleeves is a good contrast against the baby peach wall behind her.
“She was saying mean things to me on text so I told her I want her out of my apartment. She knows that I was already going to put the apartment under my name but she went to the manager and put the lease on her name and signed and took a picture and sent it to me!” Lady Gaga said, sobbing.
“Was she waiting with a gun when you walked in?” I asked because I still can’t see the part when Carol is going to kill her.
Uma shoots me a look that says she hates me for making her laugh because now she needs to hold it in and it’s not fuckin’ easy.
Mommy Shedry also shoots me a look, one that’s a little less impressed.
“So, what happened when you came back? Did she throw you out?” Shedry asked, once she turns her attention back to Lady Gaga.
“She told me to move out through text,” Lady Gaga explained. “She wasn’t there when I got there.”
Were there venomous snakes? Did she put rat poison in your water? Was there a hired killer waiting for you?
“So… uhm, was she violent before?” Kris asked. I know she’s just as puzzled as I am.
“She’s a brat. She’s an only child. She thinks everyone will spoil her the way her parents spoiled her. She even invites people over in my apartment without telling me,” Lady Gaga said, voice rising in every sentence. “Last month, she even offered her friend to live with us without telling me.”
How the fuck does that equate to her planning to kill you?
“Okay, I am trying to understand here but… I will just really have to ask,” Shedry said, voice calm, emotions going haywire. “What made you think she’ll murder you.”
“Oh my god,” Lady Gaga said, looking up at the ceiling. She actually has the nerve to look frustrated because we’re the stupid ones, right? “Don’t you see it? She has it in her!”
Kill me. Kill me now.

================================

“I just need a place to stay until I find an apartment,” Lady Gaga said.
“I cant have all three of you here at the same time,” I said. “It’s not good for my sanity.”
“Three people?” Lady Gaga asked.
“You, Kris and Shedry,” I said. 
“Wait, you’re staying here?” Lady Gaga asked Shedry.
“Yeah… for almost a month now,” Shedry said.
“Why?” Lady Gaga asked.
“Vince and I separated,” Shedry said.
Lady Gaga gasped.
“Oh my god,” Anthonia said, finally approaching us from the balcony. “What happened?”
“But Lady Gaga is about to get murdered. She takes priority,” I said.
“Thank you,” Lady Gaga said.
Of course sarcasm is too profound for you to comprehend.
“I can tell you about it later. It’s fine. Everything is fine. The worst is over,” Shedry addressed Anthonia.
“Shedry needs a place to stay the most and Lady Gaga is going to be murdered. Those are the two that should stay here,” Anthonia said.
“Anthonia, you have to stop,” Uma said, seeing Kris is getting pushed over the edge.
“Matthew hasn’t broken up with his girlfriend!” Kris blurted out.
For a moment, no one moves. Perhaps due to confusion, a sudden but seemingly irrelevant confession in the middle of what looks like a serious situation, everyone freezes, suddenly stares at nothingness but just as quickly, an even more confusions fact is blurted out.
“I know,” Anthonia said.
“You know?” Shedry asked.
“I know she lied, okay? I’m not stupid!” Anthonia said.
“Then why did you…” Uma si cut off.
“Because it’s the closest I can ever get to having him and all you had to do was leave me alone with my fantasy but you just had to ruin, didn’t you? You just had to shred it to pieces because you can’t stand seeing me happy. You can’t stand someone else getting what you wanted. You can’t stand seeing someone having a chance… just a chance to be happy because you’re so on your way to be miserable!” Anthonia said, looking straight at Kris. I’m not really sure if she’s aware she’s crying, i’m not really sure if she’s aware she’s talking.
“Anthonia,” Shedry tries.
“You’re marrying a guy who, at 30, is still a fuckin’ clerk. A clerk! A fuckin’ clerk and your talking about buying a house? You can’t even let a dime slide out of your hand and you’re marrying a clerk? Well, look at me. Take one good look at me because even though I am a slut, I still have a better chance of marrying the guy of my dreams than you. You? All you will have is a green card you had to rub your ass for to get!”
And then it happened.
The sound of a palm against a cheek, so loud it feels like we were the ones getting slapped.
And the next thing we know, Anthonia lunges on Kris, her momentum taking the both of them down on the floor. It happened so fast I didn’t even know how Kris managed to end up on top, sitting on Anthonia, her hand pinning Anthonia’s hands above the head. Anthonia is kicking and screaming.
“Stop it! Stop it!” Kris yelled.
“Holy fuck,” Umai whispered, as if saying it loud and clear will interrupt the event happening before our eyes.
“I hate you! I hate you!” Anthonia said, grabbing Kris’ hair when she managed to free her hands but Kris is fast. Kris pins both her hands above her head, her boobs hanging in front of Anthonia’s face.
“This is impressive,” Umai said.
“Oh my god, stop!” Shedry said.
Because that will make them stop.
“We need to make them stop!” Shedry said.
Only if they start breaking my furniture.
“Hey!” Shedry shakes me.
“What?” I asked, turning my head towards her, half hearing what she said.
“Stop that!” Shedry said.
“Stop what?” I asked.
“Imagining this in your story!” Shedry said.
“I wasn’t,” I lied.
She rolls her eyes, “Just help me stop them.”
“Let’s not,” Umai said.
“What? Why?” Shedry asked.
“I think you need to let them get their aggression out,” Umai said.
“The neighbors can hear them!” Shedry said.
“The sound will be muffled,” I said.
“They might hurt each other,” Shedry said.
“They haven’t yet,” I said.
“Oh my god!” Shedry said, as she hears the clanking of some furniture against the wall. Anthonia’s kicking is sliding the two of them towards the wall.
“Move that,” Umai said.
I promptly take the electric fan out of the way and expertly sidestep the kicking which gives the two more space to slug it out.
Shedry, however, just doesn't like the idea of seeing her children fight. So, she moves forward and tries to separate and Tanya and Kris. Now, for anybody who has gone through high school should know that stopping people that are fighting is never a good idea. One, you are going to interrupt their angry energy. Two, you're putting yourself in a situation you don't have to be in. Three, they do not really recognize anybody at the Heat of the Moment. So you are most likely the one that will receive all the stray punches.
That's exactly what happened.
She tries to pull Kris away and it sends Shedry flying across the room, landing near the sliding door leading to the balcony. Shedry yelps.
“You alright?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Shedry muttered.
Uma, mouth full with fresh cream bread from Paris Baguette, points to the shelf that’s banging against the wall.
I quickly move to pull the shelf out of danger without taking my eyes away from the two. The position hasn’t really progressed. Kris is still on top. Anthonia is still kicking and it’s sliding them closer and closer to the wall, with nothing to block her feet, it was only a matter of time.
“Help me! I can’t hold her anymore,” Kris said, panting.
“Hold on just a few more seconds,” I said, not really sure if Kris heard me.
Anthonia continues so scream, face, ears and neck are already tomato red. “I. HATE. YOU!” Anthonia continues to sputter. She continues to kick. She kicks. And kicks. And kicks. And kicks.
“Almost there,” Uma said.
Anthonia is still screaming… and kicking. “I.” Kicks. “Hate.” Kicks. “Ouch!!!”
Anthonia suddenly jerks up and twists, sending Kris to the floor with her leg stuck between Anthonia and the floor.
“Ouch!” Kris yelled when her shoulder hits the floor.
“Ouuuchhh!” Anthonia screamed as she sits up and holds her feet. “Mother fuckeeeeeerrrr!”
Kris wiggles her legs free before crawling towards Shedry.
“Ouuuucch!” Anthonia continues to yell, voice louder than before. Her feet are probably broken. She bangs the air with closed fists, face contorted in obvious pain.
Uma sighs beside me, “You have an ice pack?”
I nod and motions my head towards the fridge.
“Mother fu…. It fuckin’ hurts! Oh my god!” Anthonia wailed.
We watch her because there’s not much we can do. Her pain nerves are probably just starting to send pain signals to her brain and her stunt proves that it’s not really a good idea to be on her face when her emotions are spiked.
Anthonia rocks her body, still holding her feet up and I wanted to ask her to stop because I doubt she can hold…
A loud thud reverberates through the whole apartment when Anthonia accidentally drops her feet to the floor and if her feet weren’t broken when she hits the wall, they’re most certainly broken now.
“Oh my god,” Uma said, witnessing the aggravation of damage.
“Ouch,” Shedry said in empathy.
“That hurts,” Kris said in… probably, mockery.
It is me, the always calm and controlled Xath, who cracks first. I laugh, not loud and hard, it actually borders towards a snicker, but a laugh nonetheless. I even manage to stop myself before it progresses into a full blown laughter.
But it is enough, just enough, to send Shedry into a fit of laughter. Like me, her laughter is mild at first but soon, she’s kicking and shaking, sending her body in all directions.
Uma follows, sounding like a choking dog. She makes it to the dining table with the cold pack in hand but her laughter halts her right in front of me. And then finally, Kris, God bless her soul, manages to approach Uma to take the cold pack and sit in front of Anthonia, holding her leg in place to avoid aggravating the stupid injury.
“Stop, please stop,” Kris said calmly with a grin on her face and it’s so obvious she’s holding back a laughter.
Anthonia does stop… freezes… and for a several seconds… panics? Before she blurts out the most honest thought she has at the moment, “This is embarrassing.”
“In so many levels,” I said.
And then Kris gives in and laughs, “Oh my god.”
It took only a second for Anthonia to follow suit, covering her face with her hands, “I sounded like a lunatic, didn’t I?”
“You also looked like a lunatic,” Kris said.
“Please, please, please don’t tell anyone about that,” Anthonia begged.
“Okay but… I live tweeted it,” Uma said.
“Oh my god!”

====================================
  
There is something cathartic about just beating someone’s ass… or at least trying to. There’s something about just carelessly pouring your energy into something with complete disregard about decorum and common decency. There’s something about just letting it all out.
“I didn’t mean any of the things I said,” Anthonia said. Her feet is up on the table and her ass on the couch. Kris is on the other side of the sofa. They have since moved to the living room.
“Yeah, you did,” Kris said.
“I didn’t. I was just…”
“You did. You meant every word and you were right. You are right,” Kris said, softly.
“Kris…”
“I hate you because you still have a chance at having what I have always wanted to have,” Kris said. “You still have a chance at finding the man of your dreams.”
“You have Robbie,” Anthonia said but Kris doesn’t respond and her silence says everything. “Oh my god, Kris.”
Kris smiles, “It’s not that bad. I am attracted to him.”
“But you don’t love him?” Anthonia asked.
“I don’t know if I love him or not but I do know he isn’t the man of my dreams,” Kris said.
“Kris, the man of your dreams doesn’t exist,” Anthonia said.
“He isn’t even close,” Kris said. “He is a 30-year-old clerk with no ambition and pours the little he earns to his brother and mother. And I grew up adoring and idolizing my father who, for all of my life, took pride in being able to provide for his family.”
“Then why marry him?” Anthonia asked.
“Because I am scared of ending up alone. I am already 30. I need to get married already. I am desperate,” Kris said.
“Hey! Thirty is young,” Anthonia said, the eldest among us, 7 years older than Kris.
Kris manages to laugh at that, “Don’t go American on me. You know 30 is ancient in the Philippines and our eggs age with us.”
“You’re in America!” Anthonia said as they share a laugh… and understanding. 
“I am sorry about Matthew,” Kris said as soon as their laughter died down.
Anthonia shrugs, “I should thank you. Thank you for punching him. I always knew he was lying but… I was…”

Desperate. The word goes unsaid but fully understood. 
“You need to talk to him,” Anthonia said.
“I know,” Kris said in surrender.
“Or cancel the wedding for real,” Anthonia said.
“I already paid $4,000 the venue and reception,” Kris said.
“That’s nothing compared to a lifetime of regret,” Anthonia said.
“I can always get a divorce,” Kris said.
“Kris…”
“So, I get to stay here, right?” Lady Gaga said.
I totally forgot about her.

"F" Chapter Guide


Fairlane Raymundo

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