The moon already appeared and could be perfectly seen through my window from where I was sitting. I could relate myself completely to its loneliness that night. An idea suddenly came into my thought. That the moon’s journey from rising to setting, from waxing to waning, from turning full to becoming new again, all seemed to me as its endless curse. It was like dying alone repeatedly. Another thought came into my mind, that if I were the moon, I would wish for another moon. It would be much easier for the moon to wax in, wane out, rise up, set down, go full, be new, and die every month. That wish might get the uniqueness out of it, but at least the moon won’t be so lonely anymore.
Thinking so much of the moon’s loneliness made my evening as if very boring in return. I hated it when I felt that way. It was always depressing in the end. When that time comes, I always end up as if sick, heavy-hearted, and ill-tempered. In order to avoid being drenched overhead in too much boredom and to distract myself from the negative emotions that were starting to creep over me, I turned my attention to my unfinished literary writings.
I read and reread some of my unfinished manuscripts and kept on editing and rewriting some parts which seemingly need repair. I planned to finish at least one of my short stories on queue but I just couldn’t think of a good part to add up to it. I already decided to give it several tries but the intense summer heat forced me to just leave my work for another day. I became deeply absorbed working on my short stories that evening. But sadly it didn’t last long for I felt sudden stress as a result of my over-thinking.
I shifted my attention to the television instead. However, nothing interesting enough from the cable channels that stirred my curiosity, so I decided to go to the terrace for some fresh air. I left my room and walked towards the terrace. Unfortunately, it was unoccupied which meant that no one there to talk to. The roof-covered half of the terrace had a wooden table surrounded by some easy chairs, while the roofless-designed half appeared wide empty. I always wanted to stay over the other half of the terrace, so I moved one of the chairs into one corner where I was directly opposite the evening sky. Thinking that the fresh air would clear my brain fogs, I started breathing long and deep. As the air filled my lungs, I felt as if the negativities inside me were slowly being puffed out of my ears and nostrils. From my seat, I could hear my parents talking down the living room. I considered the idea of going down to join them, but I chose not to because I thought that I might be taking some precious time for them to have a personal and serious talk. So, I didn’t stir from my seat anymore. Still, the idea that somebody other than me were still awake made me feel a little bit better because at least I wasn’t the only one who was still up in the house at that almost late hour.
The evening sky was so clear highlighting its waxing moon almost in its full and the countless stars which continuously twinkled above me. I didn’t bother to turn the lights on anymore because my sitting spot was completely illuminated. Birds chirped, frogs croaked, insects hum, and other creatures reverberated in chorus around, while a big mango tree beside a towering coconut tree at my side being silhouetted by the background sky slowly waved some of its leaves along with the gentle wind. It might sound and appear creepy, but this was just a typical barrio scene.
I began to feel the cooling effect of the evening fog. My perspiring stopped and my sweats were completely dried up. Eventually, I felt relaxed. After a while, I stood up and leaned my elbows on the metal railings of the terrace to observe some things around the place. A few vehicles and a few passersby that passed on the road were the only noise that shattered the deafening tranquility. The leashed dog on the front yard only scratched its side, played with anything it could grab, and barked time to time when it heard a disturbing sound. The street lamp, with different little insects flying around, steadily lighted the road. With that, still nothing on my mind to contribute to the development of my short stories, nothing but boredom bothered me inside. Boring it was, I accepted the thought and expected the whole night to be. I already thought of heading back to my room, but decided to stay a little longer. I reached out for my cell phone and texted “hi” to several people. Some replied and the texting went on for a while. Yet, it was not enough to drive my enthusiast to keep on doing that all night. I was about to get back to my room when I heard footsteps from the stairs below going up to my direction. My father noticed me and called my mother’s attention and told her that I was there in the terrace.
Ma asked me why I was there. I told her that I couldn’t stand the heat in my room and that there was nothing interesting featured on the television so I decided to come out and take a rest there for some time. Ma agreed about the heat but was reluctant about my TV-viewing habit. She would surely find something of interest on watching TV.
Pa pulled out another chair from the remaining set from where I took mine. Then, he positioned it near me. He sat in his usual position. His left foot curled up on the chair top on the edge of his own seat and his left arm either leaning on his knee or wrapped around his leg and thigh which were bent together. He later took a cigar from his pocket and lit it. Although he knew that he would receive a polite warning from me that his smoking is dangerous to both of us, he kept on forgetting it and still tend to light a cigar near me. Pa immediately pulled his chair away from me and transferred to the opposite corner after hearing my plea. Ma just stood near the railings, her hands folded behind her. She too, like what I was doing before they came, began to observe for something unusual over the surroundings. When she realized that everything around was normal, she began talking to Pa about the recent past harvest on our rice farm. I occasionally raised a question in the middle of their conversation about the things which had some difficulty to understand. A little later, they shifted topics, from gossips to simple happenings to any other things which their talk could go about. I kept on listening and did some courteous butt in whenever needed to clarify something out of their topic. I noticed my usually silenced phone vibrated twice or thrice but chose to ignore it because I became too engaged in the conversation.
The conversation was suddenly distracted by my two nephews. They came running from their room to ask me what they should do about an online game they were playing. My brother allowed his two kids to stay up until late night for it was still the summer vacation. I did some sort of stuff with them sometimes even reaching until after midnight while their father and their youngest sister Kia were already dreaming about the clouds. After telling them what to do on their gaming, Baki told his older brother Jake that it was better for them to transfer the laptop into the terrace for it was much “cooler” to play in there. Jake okayed the suggestion, so that in no time they were already back in the terrace carrying the laptop, charger, mouse, pad, and other electrical wires with them. They were able to assemble the appliance immediately and returned to their gaming after. From that time on, our conversation was added with background noise from the key tapping, mouse clicking, and the giggling of the two kids.
My attention that time was divided in two. Most of it was directed to the continued topic of an existing real enough arable farm which my parents were talking about, while the remaining of my consciousness was being bugged by the childish talking of my two nephews about their virtual farms. The latter seemed much more enjoyable and appealing to me.
Down the road, a motorbike stopped. On it were my sister Yaye and her son Troy, both were wearing a thick windbreaker jacket and a helmet. After came my brother-in-law’s white car. Out the front door came my other sister Vivien carrying her youngest son Xyhl. From the back seat out came her eldest son Xyron assisting his only sister Xyna. Troy started calling our names loudly, “Mama Belen, Papa Bien, (instead of grandma and grandpa) Tito Jep, Kuya Jake, Kuya Baki,” while waving his hand unto us from the gate. Upon hearing Troy’s voice, Jake ran down the semi-spiral wooden staircase and was immediately there before the gate to let the newcomers in. The cultural kissing of the hands (or the touching of the forefingers of the elderly to the forehead of the young ones, simply called “pagmamano”) and the never-ending exchange kissing on the cheeks for those belonging to the modern age followed the scene.
Ate Vivien’s maid Ate Lety laid the things she was carrying on the dining room counter. The kids’ pillows and bulky toys explained that they were having a sleepover. Pillows and toys were like our treasures when we were kids, irreplaceable indeed. The racketing from the living room below signaled that Troy and Xyna’s mischievous forces were already combined, while Xyron joined Jake and Baki on their online gaming. After settling their load into its proper places, my two sisters and my brother-in-law Kuya Biba settled themselves in the terrace with us by taking the remaining unoccupied seats.
“Did you get my message?” Yaye asked. “I told you that we were coming,” she added. I checked the messages on my phone. There it was, one of the messages which I ignored just a few minutes ago. “Yeah, I received the message. I just failed to notice it.” I lied.
Unexpectedly, as if telepathically sensing the gathering in our home, my sister abroad called and opened her account in one of the online applications that offered video chat. Afterwards, her face and of her son’s (Mickjay) were already being flashed on the computer screen. We talked to them over the choppy line and blurry reception. Xyhl who was still new to the technology kept on touching the screen with his hands wet with saliva. The scene was followed by the laughter from both line-connected parties.
After the chatting, Ate Vivien opened some potato chips and began to call the attention of the kids around to eat, while I was sent to prepare the juice drinks.
Webbing conversations, loud laughs, and mixed turmoil continued from all of us. Grown-ups saying and hearing words not knowing whom to answer first. Teens talking funny sorts of stuff. Children running to and fro. Aunts trying to figure out whom to scold first. Mothers pampering their sweating kids. I, the uncle, singing the rhyme “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to my youngest nephew Xyhl as he alternately closed and opened his palms with his arms outstretched upwards trying to reach for the twinkling bright lights in the sky, who after getting irritated from the repeated singing decided to find some comfort from his milk bottle.
As the night grew deep, both children and grown-ups one by one went to the bedrooms to retire. Two rooms were filled, although there was still a vacant one. The little ones chose to get jump-packed in these two rooms for the chance of having slept beside their favorite cousins, while the older ones to have the rare time spent with the immediate family members.
As to me, I checked first all the doors and lights. Then after that, it was time for me to visit the room where the little ones stayed to send them their last warnings for them to really go to sleep already. There I received a new set of kisses of their goodnights. On my way to Ma’s room where I was destined to sleep, I saw Yaye still facing the computer. I talked to her only for a while and said my goodnight to her since I know I couldn’t stand awake against her insomnia. I left her reaping the fruits of her own virtual farm.
I was lying beside Ma, while Pa for sure was already fast asleep in one of the rooms since he didn’t want anything disturbing that late hours. Ma was still talking to my sister Vivien, who was holding the camera reviewing the pictures she took during the night.
As the humidity dropped to a much colder temperature and as my warming blanket lulled me into sleep, the night’s final yet happy thought came into my mind. It was not a very bad night after all. No doubt, that night had a boring start, but at least it ended up with a sure finished story. That night was like the night and I… like the moon. At first the moon showed up all alone and then at the end, my little bright stars simply just joined in.
inspiration: the moon itself and my stars