How I Remember Us

By Gian Carlo Licanda

I can no longer remember who fell asleep first. All I remember was how I lay there, burying my face into him, taking him in, everything about him—his warmth, his scent, the feel of his shirt on my face. I remember how he wrapped me in his arms, cautiously, as if I was a fragile butterfly which, in a way, I was. I remember his fingers gently stroking the back of my head, entangling with my hair that was beginning to feel sweaty.

“Everything’s going to be okay,” he whispered.

I didn’t say anything. I just stayed still, sobbing, my chest heaving with the effort of not letting a sound of hurt and despair out from my mouth. I just nestled into him, my tears flowing fast and silent, cascading in a perfect stealth. I clung into him in what seemed to be my last gesture of holding on, of fighting for us, for the love I had always believed to be true.

And with the last of my strength, I finally managed to say in a broken whisper, “Please, don’t leave me.”

He didn’t answer. But I knew he heard me because his stroking had stopped, and he held me into him closer, tighter, and by then he was crying, too.

We stayed like that for minutes, hours, I could not remember anymore. We were silent and just let the open air hung awkwardly around us because what else was there to say?

I can no longer remember who fell asleep first. All I remember was when I woke up, he was no longer there. I was left with a pillow wet from the tears we cried in the night, and a sheet that had turned cold in his absence.

And for all the memories we shared together, that was what lasted in my mind. That was how I remember us— two broken things, one was holding on, while the other was already letting go.


Stars in the Ceiling

by Gian Carlo Cagaanan Licanda (Flash Fiction)

He turned out the light and a hundred or so glow-in-the-dark stars in the ceiling subtly lit his room, emanating a soft, greenish light. In the darkness, I smiled, because I know he wanted me to see this. I scanned the sky— the ceiling— looking for the meteor shower he’d promised me earlier that we’d watch together. We lied there side by side in the dark, silent, as if waiting for the shooting stars, those fleeting flash amid the myriad of dots. But of course, they never came.

“There’s one!” I said, pointlessly pointing to a certain patch in our artificial night sky. “There’s another one!” He laughed. For a moment, I wanted to believe it’s true. I wanted to believe that nothing went wrong between us. But I knew better now. We were no longer those same people from the past. We broke and we fell apart, our night sky exploding.

“I made this for you.” He said.

I did not say anything. We just laid there in the darkness, holding each other until he fell asleep, and I once again allowed myself to cry silently, for the chances I didn’t take, the choices I didn’t make, for the love that I lost.

“I’ve missed you,” I said in a broken whisper, and when I thought that he’s already asleep, he stirred. He searched for my face in the darkness, and planted a kiss on my forehead, on my nose. I snuggled closer to him, pretending that in that moment, the stars in the ceiling weren’t tearing me apart, that I wasn’t breaking apart, that I wasn’t aching with the thought that I cannot have him again.