My cellphone's alarm suddenly went off at exactly twelve midnight, snapping me awake from the sweet sensation of literally falling asleep; something that I worked hard for after hours of tossing and turning on my bed. My hands blindly groped across the bedsheets for the infernal source of a tinny music clip, taken from a song that sounded catchy a couple of years ago. I had to endure the irritating sound for almost a full minute,  until the fingers of one of my hands managed to touch my candybar phone, silencing it with one press of my thumb.

I then willed my sleep-addled eyes to focus on the text that flashed on my phone's LED screen: Second anniversary.

Second anniversary. The very thought pretty much undid all the hard work that I put into falling asleep that night, as I did most other nights since that day. Not even the man who contentedly snored on the same bed that I slept in was of much use in wearing me out enough to help me to Slumberland. Second anniversary.

I dialled my sister's number. It was already late, but I knew that my sister - half-sister, I corrected myself - was probably staying up late playing her video games or doing whatever it was that fancied her in the Internet. True enough, Lilian picked up on the second ring. Just enough time for her to pause the game and pull out her mobile phone, I'll bet.

A woozy voice greeted me. "Mao?" I was actually surprised; Lilian usually slept around two in the morning or thereabouts. I knew because she always kept me awake when we once shared an apartment during our college years. "What's wrong? It's already...oh."

I could hear a muffled, faint voice of a man in the background. She most likely worked late hours with someone and somehow got carried away during break time, but I quelled the urge to confirm my suspicion. "It's already the second anniversary, Lili," I said, cutting to the chase, not willing to spill any information just to jog her memory.

She paused for a moment, stuttered a bit, and finally whispered her answer. "All right then," she said, her voice strangled, as if resigned to something that was tantamount to getting the death sentence. "The papers will be done by noon."

Without any farewells, I put down the phone and carefully burrowed underneath the sheets, taking care not to disturb my fiancé. I decided that there was no need to wake him up and inform him of things of which he absolutely had no say.

Realizing that sleep was already next to impossible, I turned on my side and laid my eyes on Lawrence's sleeping figure. The way he peacefully slept, as if he was already my husband and had all the necessary rights and privileges to share the same bed with me, made me wish that I were planning something for our second anniversary as a couple. Unfortunately, that was not the case; our fathers - business partners - arranged our engagement only a month ago, and we barely talked with each other before that. We probably wouldn't even last enough to merit a second anniversary. No, this second anniversary was about something else altogether.

Why did we end up on the same bed again? A Latin text that I frequently encounter at work gave me the likeliest answer: Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences? Lawrence probably thought something along the lines of not delaying something that he deemed inevitable.
posted by Mai at 9:10 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Prologue: Beyond the Black Door
A lone ray of sunlight was the only thing that managed to slip inside the boarded-up studio apartment. Its scant light shone through one of the gaps between the decayed wooden planks that blocked every possible entrance, illuminating the cold cheek of a man sprawled across the floor of the almost pitch-black room.

Traces of how the man had lived within that very space - the way he slept, the way he read his interior design books, the way he clipped articles from the local newspaper - remained vivid. 

The bed was unmade, with bread crumbs carelessly sprinkled all over the sheets. Ants have already created a food trail across the bedsheets and slowly made off with the remaining remnants of raisin bread. A folder stuffed full of newspaper clippings perched unobstrusively on one corner of the bed, as if the project that it held with its binders was already finished and ready for review. 

The desk placed conveniently beside the bed was cluttered with pens, highlighters, and pieces of newspaper clippings. Several books of interior design and architecture were reverently arranged according to size on the desk's shelf, each hardbound volume of considerable size and thickness enough to make them viable tools for self-defense.

The entire studio was a place of study and mental toil; there were no television sets, no means of communication save for a mobile phone whose battery has run dry, no portable gaming devices to balance out the highly skewed ratio between work and relaxation that had transpired within the place.

The apartment was a perfectly ordinary college student's apartment, if it weren't for the fact that its occupant was already in an advanced state of decomposition - a pile of rotting meat - with the wood parquet floor underneath already steeped in the cadaver's foul, thickened blood. The man's face looked as if he were merely sleeping, totally oblivious to the maggots that have already infested his slowly decaying body and the flies that swarmed and laid eggs onto the festering flesh.

Papers lay scattered all across the floor, each piece colored a deep, crimson red with blood that clotted and darkened into a rich red brown around the edges. Upon closer inspection, the papers reveal prints and diagrams of what looked like various kinds of doors: bifold, French, pocket, among many others.

The presence of reddened sheets of paper made up for the absence of roses - a fitting funeral for a person whose existence was never fully acknowledged by the rest of the world. At least, the world other than the one that lay beyond the black door in the far corner of the room that, mysteriously enough, was the only door left unopened.
posted by Mai at 7:56 PM | 0 comments