The World Keeps Spinning

By John Gied Calpotura
Fiction

Raindrops aren’t the only thing that’s falling this moment. Tears too. Vivien’s black dress is soaked from the rain as the priest says his final prayers before they lower down Beth and go home.

The funeral is not crowded, and it is really uneventful. Only fifteen people or so came. Three of them didn’t even bother wearing black. Some of them only came for the food after the funeral. But that’s not why Vivien is mad. She’s not mad that her uncle is dozing off while Beth is being buried down to be decomposed. She’s not even bothered that her cousins are actually glad for Beth to be gone. No. She’s mad because the world has kept spinning. She’s mad because the world has not even spared them a sun to shine, giving them gray clouds and wet grass to mourn with. She’s mad at the cars passing by, carrying on with their own businesses, while Vivien has just lost her only model, her only friend, while her mother and father scream at the top of their lungs, breaking everything that can be broken, including the innocence of their children.

But aside from being angry, deep down, Vivien pities the world. They have not gotten the chance to see Beth’s smile that beat the beauty of the moon or hear her diamond voice—sweet and soft but loud and clear at the same time. Beth never sang in front of anyone. She would only sing when she was in the shower, and Vivien would stick her ears to the door and close her eyes, letting her sister’s voice carry her to timeless lands. It’s sad that no one got to know her outgoing personality, how she would push Vivien when she was feeling unproductive, saying, “Tardiness only leads you to Strip Class!” with her best impression of Mrs. Herrera, their English teacher, but cried herself alone at night when she thought no one was watching. Because that was how she was; she didn’t want others to focus on her dramas, letting them focus on their achievements instead.

“Your dreams are more important than my tears,” she once said to Vivien. Beth was seventeen then, while Vivien was thirteen, it was the first time she caught her crying.

“Do you have dreams?” Vivien asked.

“Once,” Beth said, her eyes shining with wonder and loss. It was so strong that Vivien can actually feel the nostalgia. “But it’s useless. A dreamer does not live in a nightmare.”

Vivien didn’t understand what Beth said back then, but everything has been clear since Beth pulled the trigger.

Twenty-three. Beth was only twenty-three years old.

She still had so much to do, so many songs to sing, so many smiles to show.

But then, only Vivien knew these things. Only she paid attention. That’s why the world has kept spinning, the time kept ticking. People never knew her story.

For Beth is not worth remembering.

And the truth shatters Vivien more than anything.

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Editors and Contributors

GUEST EDITOR

Estrella Taño Golingay, of Surallah, South Cotabato, has a PhD in language education and is a retired professor of Notre Dame of Marbel University. In 1994, her poem “Si Nene at Ako sa Pagitan ng Gabi” won the first prize in the poetry contest of Home Life magazine.

REGULAR EDITORS

Eric Gerard H. Nebran is an educator and illustrator from General Santos City. He is currently a PhD Comparative Literature student at the University of the Philippines–Diliman. His research interests include orality, history, and literary productions of his hometown.

Jude Ortega is the author of the short story collection Seekers of Spirits (University of the Philippines Press, 2018) and has been a fellow for fiction at two regional and four national writers workshops. In 2015, his stories received honorable mention at the inaugural F. Sionil José Young Writers Awards and at the Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. He divides his time between Senator Ninoy Aquino and Isulan, both in Sultan Kudarat.

CONTRIBUTORS

Xaña Angel Eve M. Apolinar, 17, is a senior high school student (Humanities and Social Sciences strand) at Malalag National High School in Maitum, Sarangani Province. She was the champion of the spoken word poetry competition at the 2017 Munato Festival of Sarangani. She is also the president of the Supreme Student Government of her school and the junior governor of her province.

Adrian Arendon, 17, is from Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, and a senior high school student (Accountancy, Business, and Management strand) at Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City, South Cotabato. He has competed in five regional and one national schools press conferences.

Marianne Hazzale J. Bullos, 18, is from General Santos City and a senior high school student (Science and Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics strand) at the SOCCSKSARGEN Region campus of Philippine Science High School.

John Gied Calpotura, 17, finished junior high school at Sultan Kudarat State University in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, and is now in senior high school (Humanities and Social Sciences strand) at Malayan Colleges Mindanao in Davao City. At the 2017 Sultan Kudarat Fiction Contest, the three stories that were declared as finalists were all his. He won for “Shoebox,” a story about war.

Gerard Distor, 17, is from Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, and finished high school at Sultan Kudarat State University. He is now a first year BS in Agriculture and Biosystem Engineering student at Mindanao State University in General Santos City.

Jo-ed E. Evangelista, 17, is a senior high school student (Humanities and Social Sciences strand) at Lagao National High School in General Santos City.

Mary Antonette P. Fuentes, 18, is from Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and a senior high school student (Science and Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics strand) at Sultan Kudarat State University.

Erron Marc A. Hallarsis, 18, is a senior high school student (Science and Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics strand) at Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.

Yumi Ilagan, 18, is from Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, and finished high school at Isulan National High School, where she served as editor in chief of the student publication for three years. She is now a first year Bachelor of Arts in Psychology student at the University of the Philippines–Visayas, in Iloilo Province.

Mark Vincent M. Lao, 18, is a first year BS Accountancy student at Notre Dame of Tacurong College in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat. His piece for this issue was a finalist at the 2017 Sultan Kudarat Essay Contest.

Adrian Pete Medina, 16, is a senior high school student (Humanities and Social Sciences strand) at Banga National High School in Banga, South Cotabato. His mentors include visual poet Epitacio Tongohan and speech choir poet Pat Villafuerte.

Bryant Lee N. Morales, 15, is a grade 9 student at Isulan National High School in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. In 2016, he won the second prize at Hugot Isulan, a municipality-wide spoken word contest

Edzelyn Oñate, 16, is a senior high school student (Humanities and Social Sciences strand) at Systems Technology Institute (STI) in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

Reylan Gyll J. Padernilla, 18, is a senior high school student (Humanities and Social Sciences strand) at Lagao National High School in General Santos City.

Irish L. Petipit, 17, is a senior high school student (Humanities and Social Sciences strand) at Notre Dame of Marbel University.

Angelo Serrano, 16, is a senior high school student (Science and Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics strand) at Saint Lorenzo School of Polomolok in Polomolok, South Cotabato.

Sugarcoat

by John Gied Calpotura (Flash Fiction)

One
It was the first time Jordan walked. His feet felt like noodles, but his Father was smiling. His mother was so proud, it radiated in the room.

Three
Tears and laughter were shared as it was Jordan’s first class. His mother was proud while his father, beaming, wrapped his arms around Jordan.

Four
Jordan got the first rank. It was his first time walking up the stage too. The class was clapping for him while his father carried him, peppering Jordan’s cheeks with kisses. His mother put the medal around his neck. “I’m proud of you,” she said.

Six
Jordan had his first best day. Sure, he always had an awesome day, but it was the first time he realized how amazing his life was. He and his parents went to the city, bought different toys, and ate the best food they had ever tasted. They all shared the same bright smile.

Ten
The first pimple grew big on Jordan’s face when he was having lunch. His best friend laughed at how disgusting and funny it looked. He didn’t know what to do, so he went to the only place he knew where everything got answered: Google.

Twelve
Jordan was paying attention to everything that day when he noticed—for the first time—how his mother frowned after smiling at him, how her lips fell down every time she thought nobody was looking.

Thirteen
This was the first time Jordan realized that they were broke. That they had always been broke. He couldn’t understand why his parents were still buying things for him, or he didn’t know where they were getting the money to buy them. He started to refuse to use expensive things.

Fourteen
Jordan was about to grab a snack in the refrigerator when he heard his mother sob. It wasn’t the happy cry she did whenever she got too happy that she would suddenly cry. Jordan didn’t know what to do, so he went and knelt beside her, hugging her, whispering, “It’s okay, you’re okay.” Even if he didn’t know why she was crying.

Fifteen
Jordan was so scared, for it was the first time he heard his parents fight, let alone yell at each other. He was inside his bedroom, and outside his door he heard screams, smashing of plates, and muffled words like, “I hate you!” “Don’t you pull that excuse on me!” “Stop screaming, you bitch!”  The fight didn’t last long, but Jordan was sure their screams would echo inside his head for a long time.

Sixteen
Jordan is furious at his parents. Mad that they have not prepared him for such a change in life. They have sugarcoated them for him: the fights, the crying, everything. He should be thankful, but he’s mad. He has learned that they have always been like this, broken and not perfect. The change is still coming. But Jordan isn’t sure how to handle it. No one does.

10:33 AM

by John Gied Calpotura (Flash Fiction)

Marcus Fernandez fished out his phone from his pocket. It was 10:32 AM. Damn those jeepney drivers who had picked up pretty girls and ignored him. He was late. Might as well skip first period.

Clutching three books against his chest, Marcus continued walking, and when he passed by a coffee shop, he contemplated if he should go inside. He wasn’t thirsty or anything; he was just—

His brain stopped working for a moment. His breath shortened. He didn’t believe in love at first sight; God, that idea was ridiculous. What he felt right now was not love. It was just attraction. Inside the café, near a hanging flower pot, sat a boy with jet-black hair and piercing eyes behind a pair of glasses. Marcus couldn’t understand what it meant, but there was a click.

The boy behind the glass pane was with a pretty fair-skinned girl, and he was laughing at something she had said. Maybe it was his girlfriend. She had to be. Marcus’s brain was screaming for him to go inside, to make the other boy see him, but Marcus put the idea down.

He’d had enough of risking. He was broken enough from the risks he had taken before, false hopes he had clung to dearly, cut without hesitation. So he shook his head. He took a deep breath, took one last glance at the handsome boy, and walked away, forgetting the boy that might change his future.

Ten years since that day, sitting alone in the same café with a laptop on a table, Leo Rupert Romulo is exhausted. Leo looks outside the window, remembering a certain day. He was with his sister—they were having a sibling time—when he caught a boy staring at him for a second before walking away. The boy had curly black hair and deep-set eyes.

Leo wanted to follow the boy but put the idea down, not wanting to make a fool of himself for risking. But since that day, the boy has not faded away from Leo’s mind, haunting him from dream to dream, a face he would always remember. But it’s done, so Leo takes a deep breath, shakes his head, and begins typing the report he has to submit at work, done with remembering the boy that might have changed his past.