First came the Sexy-Sexygate scandal. Then an impeachment trial. Finally, a battle royale for the presidency. At the center of this political typhoon is Vita Nova, the most famous movie star in the Philippines and a former paramour of the country’s most powerful man. Now, for the first time ever, she bares herself completely in a tell-all memoir that puts the sensational in sensationalistic.
The setting: a sweating, heaving country. The time: right now. The plot: a drug war rages, an assassin brandishes a pistol, a damsel rises from ashes to power, and a government teeters on the brink. Among the players: a dreamer who boxed and acted his way to the presidency, his Koran-toting nemesis in the senate, a horny bishop, a cowboy turned warlord, a poor little rich boy dying with his dynasty, a washed-up reporter redeemed by one last scoop, a high-school sweetheart driven mad by decades of disappointment, and an American naval officer tempting our heroine with a way out. As Vita warns, viewer discretion is advised.
In this masterful and audacious novel, Miguel Syjuco’s signature style—hilarious, insightful, playful, provocative—animates thirteen indelible voices whose stories present a cross-section of a complicated society. I Was the President’s Mistress!! hurtles headlong into love, politics, faith, history, memory, and the ongoing war over who will tell the stories the world shall know as truth.
OCT 11, 11:23 P.M.
Vita Nova Transcript: 1 of 13.
I know you’re wondering—yes, it’s true: his birdie is thick, as he’s always saying, but like a thumb is to a finger, and hard to find beneath the paunch and hair that make a nest for it to rest on its two eggs—or repose, if metaphor’s more politically correct re: the pitutoys of powerful men. His is bigger than you’d guess, smaller than he thinks—and would prove his downfall, obviously. On his lap I’d lay my head and talk to it: Hello there, little sir, you look noble, endearing—why do you quiver with such rage? At attention it resembled a speechifying Mussolini, like in the photos in the biographies the president left by the toilet in my CR. Did you know that we spend a life’s total of ninety days on the can? He admired men so great we know them by their initials: JFK, LKY, FDR—the kind you’d never imagine on a porcelain throne—though most of all he respected Hitler, the brilliant and tragic, he said, whose one name was enough. But it was in my lover’s that I believed truly, coz he believed in me, and let me lead. Between two fingers I’d make little FVE march, and dance, and sing the national anthem—falsetto, vibrato—and peck it on the head, declaring: Viva il Duce! When the president laughed he looked like his dashing old self from the Technicolor screen. “Vita,” he’d whisper, “my life”—touching my face with fingers smelling of Marlboros and Brylcreem, caressing my closed eyes like a blind lover wishing a final farewell. And I’d sing: Viva President Fernando Valdes Estregan!
(Lighter click. Exhalation)
Sorry—TMI? Just thought you’d want me to start at the most intimate. Guys are the biggest gossips, don’t deny. Coz knowledge is power. Time the world knew every juicy detail—especially myside, instead of all that cyberbullying by the Nandotards, with their fake news: that I’m a tool of the Liberty Party, that I’m the lesbian lover of the lady senator Lucy Lontok, that we’re all in cahoots, adding oil to her old corruption accusations, orchestrating this impeachment together, because of course. I’ve never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but we all know I’m the shiniest—and that triggers them. Li’l ol’ me and my twenty-point-two million Instagram followers. If politics is showbiz for ugly people, then in politics my imperial beauty will change the motherlovin’ world. In a couple of weeks I, oh, you know, testify. And from the closet the skeletons will sashay. So keep that recorder pointed my way, coz here we go: Vita Nova, hashtag-no-filter. Welcome to her celebrity tell-all memoir. Our setting: a sweating, heaving country, where the future’s always promised, and men act like boys, and women are punished for not putting up with it. The time: ever now. The plot: a lost lass rises from the ashes; a desperate assassin brandishes a pistol; a government is set to fall to a scandal everyone calls Sexy-Sexygate. Among the players: a flawed dreamer who boxed and acted his way to the presidency; his Koran-toting nemesis in the Senate; a horny bishop; a cowboy turned warlord; an American naval officer offering a way out; a washed-up reporter redeemed by one last scoop; a poor little rich boy dying with his dynasty; and, of course, a high school sweetheart gone cray from decades of disappointment. Juicy enough for you? It’s got legs, right? Viewer discretion is advised. TBH, our nation’s dramedy started long before the lady senator Lontok pushed this latest impeachment, and even super before Mister President Nando caught me recording his conversations—about withdrawing police protection from certain troublesome you-know-whos. In fact, we could say it started thirtysomething years ago, when my father abandoned my pregnant mother and gave the world a new heroine for me to emulate. But history will write that the real unraveling started the first day of this month, on what the media’s dubbed Sizzle Saturday, the hottest date ever recorded, at the launch of my expanded Mustard Seed Foundation, in a covered basketball court slash multipurpose town hall in my old hood in Angeles—city of angels!—with Nando deciding it was too hot to wear his bulletproof vest, because anyway the crowd consisted mostly of battered women—“And what harm can they do?” he said, in that way I actually once found attractive. About men like him, Mama had warned me—but my beshie Jojie says I have a father complex, coz Daddy Dearest was actually Daddy Deadest. (And beshies know besh.) According to Jojie’s proven wisdom—from the University of Life and reality TV—I tend to romanticize my father’s absence, which makes me fall for dangerous dudes. But that afternoon, when my first love, Loy, stepped through the audience to point that shining pistol, and the presidential guard piled on Nando—leaving me and Loy the last ones standing among the cowering crowd—the first thought I thought was, maybe Jojie’s right, maybe I should rethink my terrible taste in men. Coz obviously.
Then came the Fart that Shook the Nation. When Furio—good ol’ Furio, back in my life and back on the beat—when Furio encouraged me to use my responsibility as a social media influencer to bust that story wide open, and connected me to his old colleagues in mainstream media, and put me in touch with you to help ghostwrite my autobiography, there was no way for the president, and his Estregan’s Everlasting Supporters, to put this Pandora back in her box. Those ’Tards were always too baduy—as in, capital B-A-D-U-Y, which spells: totally tacky to death. Like, who thought it would be so fetch to adopt the same initials as the Estregan Elimination Squads? Shameless, kinda; baduy, totally. And aren’t they all just überfugly? I was never one of them—they rode his coattails. Me, I actually loved the guy. Since before this presidential term, before even his first one he got ousted from, and way before he was even mayor. Loved him since those Betamax tapes my mother brought home from Tita Henny’s corner store slash beauty parlor slash video rental shop. Tita Henny was such a fan, back since Nando’s boxing days, which I’m too young to remember, naturellement. Back when Henny, the local entrepreneuse, was still Henry the regional welterweight champion, which I only discovered after being sent out to pay for her taxi one afternoon—she came to lunch, all in a huff of tattooed eyebrows raised like pleas to heaven, “Horribly insulted!” she declared, by the cabbie, who I found, head back and snoring, in the driver’s seat, a red bump on his forehead expanding like in the cartoons. That was my mother’s BFF—towering Tita Henny, her huge hugs all lavender, baby powder, and batik muumuu. “Hello, dear…,” she’d say, dabbing her brow with a lacy handkerchief, her voice a sultry baritone, just like this: “help me carry these to my shop”—bags of sample sachets of hair dye (Provençal Violet, Terra-Cotta Warrior, Angel’s Gold), which she’d take the bus to the city for every week. To me her ropy arms and monumental knuckles were normal, just who she was. At least until RJ, our neighborhood ngongo—since no community’s complete without a harelipped rumormonger; just saying—till he pointed at the knocked-out taxi driver and whispered in my ear, deadnaming Tita Henny, like an inside joke, though to me it was more like a superhero’s origin story. Apparently everyone knew, and nobody cared, coz why should they?
Sorry—lapel mic almost fell. So, Tita Henny: such a fan of the great Nando Estregan that she’d send Mama home under tottering stacks of Betamax tapes, after my mother rescued a junked player from the U.S. air base, where she worked in the canteen, and fixed it with her trusty Swiss Army knife, though the tracking was always annoying, fuzzing out at the best parts like the most unfun video game ever. (No Nintendo for me, just dirty tape heads.) Watching together became our ritual, after dinner, when I’d clean the table so Mama could roll out the fabric she was cutting—she dressed all the women in the neighborhood, to pay for the materials for my pageant gowns. Yup—I went all the way to runner-up in the regional Snow White Lightening Soap’s Little Queencess finals. So anyways, our first Nando Estregan movie, my gateway drug, was, of course, A Pocketful of Bullets—because: classic—then Robbing Hood, then The Copabanana Republic—still my fave out of all his musicals. Oh, em, gee, could Nando ever mambo, which makes sense: his boxing nickname was Sweet Mr. Suavé. Eventually, when I was old enough, he went from childhood idol to teenage crush, thanks to that trilogy that made him everyone’s avenging guardian angel: My Brother’s Keeper; My Brother, Cain; and Dear Brother, Dead Brother. Not only did Nando produce them, with his championship winnings, he did his own stunts and sang his own songs. Hubba-hubba, right? As Tita Henny always said: Talent is the most attractive talent. You know that famous duet Nando did with Winkee, the iconic unano action star—now the party-list congressman for the Midgets’ Alliance of the Philippines? You must’ve caught their viral vid last year—ancient archival footage on d’YouTubes—Frankenstein and Igor out to see the world, duetting: With a big heart walk tall. No matter if you’re small … That’s Nando’s real voice—a capella, no auto-tuner. Quite the crooner, despite his pronounciations. Sweet Mr. Suavé, the southpaw gangster with a castrato tenor’s wounded soul. No way would I get in the way of him singing “My Way” at karaoke; rumor has it he’s killed three men for singing it ahead of him, which people say happens in the Philippines with that song—don’t know why, it’s just a song, and anyways nobody sings it better than me (forget bel canto, I can belt-o). Seriously, the motherlovin’ best: I do it my way … But that’s the thing with urban legends: people love believing them, and Nando’s made him mayor of Korpus Kristi—the famous left hook turned infamous iron fist, prowling the moonless streets on his vintage Lambretta, apprehending sex manyaks who surrender the instant they recognize his signature wristbands, his unlit cigar, his broken-nosed backlit profile, as he pulls up under a stuttering streetlight and approaches with a fatherly sigh and shake of the head. Who cares whether it’s true. Which brings us back to his penis—want to know his nickname for it? Yes, nickname. Surely yours must have one—but please don’t tell, we’re not there yet, and never will be, thanks. Don’t know why men nickname their privates; mine doesn’t have her own name, she just is. But his was Rabbi Tickle. As in: “Don’t you dare wake Rabbi Tickle!” And: “Here comes Rabbi Tickle, out to get you!” Yes, Rabbi Tickle—I don’t know why, since both he and it are Asian and not remotely Jewish. Probably from his favorite joke, about the inventor of circumcision—the Hasidic surgeon, Doctor Katzurkackov. Chaboom!
Puns: the beating heart of Filipino humor—coz life’s too hard for complicated jokes. Unless, of course, it’s a cosmic one. When everything went down on Sizzle Saturday, when the presidential guards wrestled Loy to the floor, in that instant of silence which felt like forever, I looked at Loy, then I looked at Nando, as he pushed himself up from his own pile of bodyguards—staggering to his feet, still holding the huge golden scissors, untangling himself from the red, yellow, and royal blue ribbons he was supposed to cut. Somehow, right then and there, my life having flashed before my eyes—from my first love to possibly my last—I realized I had to make my choice: betray poor Nando or betray our poor nation. Coz our years together, I’d convinced myself I could make up for his sins, in my role as his latest lover—well, technically, no longer latest, but still his fave—compensating for him, and his good intentions that went bad. So while others Zoom-schooled or made sourdough, I spent my pandemic adapting my philanthropic projects: psychosocial counseling teams (for families of drug-war victims); online training for girls in my shelters (to sew and sell masks and other PPEs); and even one of those community pantries to help the hungry during EWANQ lockdown (which I had to close when the EES started red-tagging them, which was kind of a turning point for me, honestly)—all that, work I’m mighty proud of; not to mention my latest hit album and three blockbuster movies after the world opened up again. But that morning, on Sizzle Saturday, in that covered basketball court, something clicked. I didn’t feel guilty anymore about making secret recordings, and I wasn’t afraid anymore of getting caught. Which is probably why I did get caught, come to think of it. Everything happens for a reason. That afternoon, after we got home, Nando wanted to console me. I was hiding in bed, in the dark (an amethyst on my third-eye chakra), not answering when anyone knocked, and he was so concerned he unlocked the door and let himself in—never mind that it’s my house, he gave it to me, my name’s on the deed. I hated that, the lack of privacy—my entry fee to his inner circle—his fawning flunkies and crony crones lingering like an underage gang outside a liquor store: the chinless wonder Uranus Jupiter Kayatanimo-Uy, once House Speaker, currently sports commissioner; Senate houseboy Bingo Bobot, who looks like a stubbed toe; General Rustom “Rusty” Batlog, once leg-humping police director, now ejaculating solon; and spokesperson Hari Pukeh, the anti–human rights former human rights lawyer; plus Bang Rebolvar, the actor turned senator turned detained alleged plunderer turned senator; and Bingbong Changco, of the Changco brothers media empire, one of our country’s preeminent thieves. Oh, and Kingsley Belli, obviously, which was hella awks, since he was forever around—press secretary and special assistant to the president (aka Lucky Lackey Numero Uno). Despite being the one to introduce us, he never got over my moving on with Nando—though come on, seriously, me and King went out for like literally two seconds—and on some level he must understand. Nobody’s as ambitious as he is. He might look dumb—the way his steely eyes gaze longingly at each other—but actually he’s smart, relatively. Once a noble journalist, according to Furio (they used to be close). Eventually he’ll even be Senator Kingsley Belli—mark my words.
(Knuckles rap the table)
Watch what happens at the impeachment next week, when he’s called to testify. So anyways, that afternoon of Sizzle Saturday, I just wanted to be left alone, without Nando beside my bed, mansplaining why it was unlikely that an old, made-in-the-Philippines revolver—at that distance of twelve meters, with a compromised shooting stance, on a day with more than sixty percent humidity, with the chaos of panicking women, and the sunlight in the shooter’s eyes, and bodyguards forming a human shield on a stage four feet above the ground—no way it could hit its target, much less prove fatal, because yadda yadda yadda … Nando can be such an Orion, if you know what I mean. But there he was, ignoring my protests, his dominance his love language, opening my bedroom lamps, declaring: “That son of a whore will hang in the plaza till he stops kicking.” Then, with his signature smile: “I eat assassination attempts for breakfast…” Then, seated by my side: “And fart bullets the rest of the day.” Coz fart humor between lovers never fails, right?—unless it’s truly over, and you’re dug in and aiming at each other across an ever-widening bed, emptied of gas and filled with resentment, till death do you fart. Which is how I finally knew, then and there, that we really were kaput. Even if I appreciated his effort, sweetly playing the clown to make me feel better, the way he does for those he loves, which of course the public never sees, though we’re all familiar with his famous flatulence—the definition of impunity: his trumpet of macho defiance, his trombone of honest authenticity, his stamp of humanity that he unashamedly unleashes in cabinet meetings, press conferences, campaign events, getting into the car, state dinners, leaving elevators, because, gods darn it, you hypocritical sons of Bs, he’s OG, a working-class savior, toughened by the streets, in touch with his inner self, including, especially, his gas. For that, Germany had Hitler, but we have him, as Nando once said, and his happiness to slaughter three-point-two million druggies (sorry, suspected drug users) to save our country from perdition. That’s his word, perdition. The savior who could care less what you think of his baggy jeans and suspenders under his barong with rolled up sleeves, who picks his ears to hear you better, and mines his nose, and flicks any findings behind him—a man’s man, and a bona fide ladies’ lover, too, as he’s always quick to say, treasuring women, protecting women from themselves, placing women on the mantelpiece—for all to admire their beauty and shine. His gas must be a side effect of the painkillers he’s addicted to, for his colorectal cancer, though it’s in remission, coz even tumors ain’t tough enough to deflate the great Fernando V. Estregan, the Louis Armstrong of flatulence, boasting such a repertoire—some just punctuation, others with personality: the thunderclap, the wilting rosebud, the razz, the stutter, the silent but violent, the punctured trike muffler, the concerning squish (which brings up another bit of Tita Henny wisdom: “Never trust a fart”—a lesson, she said, you need only learn once).
(Burst of simulated flatulence)
Now the one that would shake our nation had quite a story to tell, with a beginning, middle, and end; a heinous crime against humanity, launching Nando and I into silly laughter, like old times, till we were rolling on top of the bed, shaking it so much that the Scotch Tape on this little digital recording thingamajig under my box spring gave way, and this little recording digital thingamajig fell on the floor with a plasticky clack, and this little digital thingamajig recording rolled out in front of us, its red light blinking like a siren in slo-mo, for dramatic effect. Nando released me from his embrace and sat up and sighed that sigh your mom will sigh to let you know she’s disappointed in you for doing what you did—disappointed, but not really surprised. Typical Virgo. He could hardly look at me. That’s when I shoved him aside and split in like literally two seconds—grabbing the recorder, my phone, my stuff, fleeing into the night. And that’s how I found myself at Furio’s front door, not knowing where else to go, not knowing what to do, knowing only that the one secure place was where I’d always been safest: in full view of the world. By next morning, we released the first recording, the nation now shookt, and Nur and Lucy’s struggling impeachment effort suddenly saved, starting us all down this cray road that’s scary AF, if I’m honest—and I can only be honest; it’s the only way I know. Honestly, all those years, I never believed the accusations. Fake news, I thought—like the rumors his opponents threw at him when he was mayor of Korpus Kristi. And yeah, okay, sure, we all saw the footage of that kid, Albeo Cruz, returning to his seminary, grabbed by cops just minutes past EWANQ curfew—the neighbor livestreaming the shooting on Facebook. But Nando didn’t order that, so why would he need to threaten the dead kid’s mom? A president’s immune from prosecution. And how could he not hate on my idol, Rita Rajah, who took up that case for free, and was also the one who investigated Nando’s children some years ago, as human rights commissioner? But for Fernando to suspend the mother’s police security, in this age of corrupt ninja cops and drive-by scalawags, to scare her into silence—I mean, seriously? That’s not the man I love. Loved. Though in fairness, people never understood the toll it took on him, not having enough power to fix things. If he went all bleeding heart, the Commies would take over, and the Abu Sayyad would take more heads—like what’s probably gonna happen to that Aussie and his American husband, hijacked while sailing in the North. Our country is so broken, and honestly this impeachment by lady senator Lucy Lontok was at first just another attempt to stop Nando’s new Constitutional Assembly from revising our Constitution—just leverage to save her father from his corruption charges. The Liberty Party, led by former president Respeto Reyes, is so afraid a new Constitution will freeze them out forever—the chilling effects of Estreganism, they call it. Those Fuchsias never got over Nando winning this second term after being ousted, in the fourth People Power Revolution—which, tada!, the Liberty Party orchestrated. Look it up; it’s true. Tons of YouTube videos …
Are you serious right now? Maybe you should also have a mic, to listen later to what you’re saying. Like, really, what did the Fuchsias accomplish during Reyes’s six years? Our country was a hot mess. Our renowned runaway economy only benefiting the rich—the rest of us locked in traffic, corruption, hostage crises, terrorism, families shattered and shipped around the world. Reyes’s clowning glory was impeaching Arriola Makapal Glorioso, all because, as chief justice, she led the Supreme Court in acquitting Nando that time he was ousted and jailed, for plunder—the same old, same old allegations they’re now accusing him of again: this time, hidden bank accounts and trunkloads of Château Pétrus flowing into the wee hours at mah-jongg, gambling away our resources with the Chinese ambassador. Fligga, please— I thought—fliggas just green with jelly. But I had to know. You know? So one night, in my house, when Nando and his lackeys went again into the bedroom to discuss, I’m cleaning up in the kitchen—by myself, coz privacy’s priceless and maids are hassle—when I get a total brain wave: Why not just prove that my faith in him’s not misguided? Just record a few conversations to confirm my truth’s the truth? Bishop Baccante—formerly my spiritual advisor, before he got all creepy gentlemanyak—he once told me the surest way to affirm our faith is to journey through doubt. So I grabbed my recorder, which I use for song ideas, and is actually like the one you’re using—voice-activated’s handy, right?—and I taped it under the box spring. Since it was my bedroom, since I hated how Nando and his men would go inside with their shoes—ugh!—and sit on my bed wearing their outside clothes—so gross!—as if they’re white people who don’t know any better—and Kingsley would give me the eye—crookedly, of course—and shut the door, and lock me out, of my bedroom, in my house. Guess they’d never read A Room of One’s Own. Like, why must the world act as if it’s impossible for a mistress to be a feminist? You know, at first, that was the toughest thing about mistresshood—there were no role models or self-help manuals about such love. No stars to help you navigate that tumultuous ocean. It’s unfair, honestly. In everyone’s first romances, when we’re lovesick teens, there are rom-coms and ballads to guide us from heartache to heartbreak. Of my twelve “relationships,” quote unquote, the most conventional were the most comforting. You knew what to expect. But a mistress—as common as it is, as understandable as it can be—hers is less a life of dependence than independence. Believe it or don’t. Being second—or third, or fourth—means you’re often alone, which also means you’re more free. But it takes time to understand that. And love’s about timing. As Dr. Deepak Chopra writes: “Whatever relationships you have attracted in your life at this moment are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment. There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.” I think about that a lot, actually—especially my first love, Loy. So many years after. First cut is the deepest … I gave him all of my heart, I guess, coz he promised me a better life—away from Angeles City, my mother’s expectations, and the uncertainty that comes with not winning the birth lottery. Romance is all about making plans, right? Especially if your suitor’s a real macho gwapito—with quiet intensity, and hair like jagged obsidian—valiantly offering to save me. I remember, like yesterday: him climbing through my window, during yet another brownout, soaking wet and dripping bits of plastic garbage from the canal, asking—with his surrendering smile—asking me to run away. And I’m standing there like I’d dreamt of the future and it’s now coming true. All like: “Yes”—no question, no hesitation. Kissing him in the dimming light and telling him to hurry back, and not be seen. Then cue packing montage: rushing out of my school uniform, filling my bag, stealing my mother’s Swiss Army knife, unsticking photos from my wall and leaving one on her pillow—of me and her at the main gate of the air base where she worked, where my father had flown away from—so that she’ll never forget me, and always understand why I had to go. Without looking back, I rush out into the silver hour—pass Tita Henny’s salon, pass the local canteen, pass the familiar houses with lanterns flickering on, pass the roaming vendor singing out his snacks, pass our parish church, pass the kids playing one last round of patintero, pass Joe’s corner store, then turn and down the road there’s Loy, slouching in the driver’s seat of a stolen taxi. Quickly, quietly, we drive off, a boxing Nando bobblehead figure nodding his approval from the dashboard, me and Loy checking behind us, past the line of stuffed animals in the rear window, just in case. Heading forward, of course, to our future. Coz tramps like us, baby, we were born to run … And just as we’re leaving our neighborhood, soon as the streets become unfamiliar, right when the electricity comes back to cheers in the houses, a motorcycle shrieks around a corner, with two guys in full helmets—one pointing at us, drawing a gun from his jacket. I see him. So does Loy, and our car jumps to go faster, and faster, the world blurring, streetlights streaking, corners coming then bending, stuffed animals flying everywhere, dogs on the street jolting out of the way, the Nando bobblehead suddenly headless, the crucifix stretching this way then that way from the rearview mirror—and in that mirror, the motorcycle’s headlight getting closer and closer, and up ahead a stoplight so red and an intersection so busy with cars and buses and gaps closing and opening and closing that I grab Loy’s hand and I look at him and he looks at me like I’m the last good thing he’ll ever see and far behind a siren screams and a cop car’s lights flash the world blue, then red, then blue, the motorcycle’s headlight bigger and bigger till it’s almost hot on my neck and up ahead the gaps close and open and close and I hold my breath and shut my eyes …
After a lifetime, I opened them again, and there was Loy, at the front of the crowd of women, on that fateful sizzling afternoon, the hottest on record—as if all I’d ever lived had flashed before me and all I’d seen was what could have been. It felt like that, but I knew it wasn’t. I couldn’t help but smile. I was glad he’d see how far I’ve come, standing in front of huge Styrofoam letters covered in glitter, spelling my name. He steps out of the crowd just as Nando mambos across the stage towards the ribbons. That scar on Loy’s cheek, that was from me, when he told me he was leaving for the Middle East, and I slapped him with our engagement ring in the palm of my hand, before the first time he changed his mind, then changed it again coz he had to go make a living somehow. Years later, that scar was how I recognized him—like I’d been engraved into who we’ll always be—and from across that crowded distance he gazes straight at me, raising his arm like pointing a finger—then I see the gun, and everyone sees the gun, and the world falls down, and for an endless instant the gun is all there is—silent, heavy, like a bell waiting to be rung. But for some reason it never was. I don’t know why.
I don’t know why. So, um—that’s all. Let’s continue next time.
Copyright © 2022 by Miguel Syjuco
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