“Perhaps I should take the ferry out with you.”
The moment she hit “Send,” she regretted it. She realized how difficult it would be to coordinate their schedules. He was just going there to shoot some additional footage for a documentary a friend was making. But she convinced herself she could swing it; call in sick and stay sick for a few days. It was unlikely anyhow that she’d meet another malingering call center agent in Siquijor Island in July. But more than logistics, she realized how loaded that suggestion was – even reminding her of Charon and his boat. Reminded her too of her high school teacher who had pronounced it “Sharon” and how she had believed him until Wikipedia enlightened her.
Maybe that was why she had boldly thought of taking that trip. She needed to ferry her spirit across to an island of mysticism, where it is said remedies of many kinds can be found. That seemed to her a noble enough reason. After all, she was still reeling from the end of a marriage on which she had placed all her bets. She wished a wise mananambal would have the proper incantations and potions for the process of healing.
But really now.
What was obvious was she wanted to take that ferry out to a secluded island with someone she was deeply attracted to. That she was so suddenly forward with him now could be explained by the spring coil analogy. She had kept her feelings secret because she was not free to have those feelings (and neither was he, but she conveniently edited that out of her fantasy). She had obeyed the rules as best she could, not even writing him for a spell. But she thought about him all the time. She had so many conversations with him in her mind, she thought she was going crazy. She would write him letters then she’d tear them up so she wouldn’t be caught with those forbidden feelings again. Anyone would see that she had indeed gone mad.
After all, he had not pursued her. He made it clear that he was in a relationship. He did not tell her anything directly, nor asked her for anything. Except that in her lush imagination, every word, every gap between words from him meant the world. He did sign off one email, “love,” which was worlds away from “fondly,” which was even warmer than “sincerely.” She was sure she understood what he was trying to say. She was certain, somehow, that he was, well, in the same boat. What a leap of faith then when she made the suggestion.
There are several ways to continue this tale.
A. If you think the woman is crazy, then the man will say no. And she will knock herself on the head and finally learn her lesson about men and women. A cautionary tale, if there ever was one. She would, of course, have to live with the embarrassment her whole life, while assuring herself there will be other trips, and maybe other men.
B. If, on the other hand, you believe that the woman deserves a chance to cross the Tanon Strait and figure out the mystery, then the man will say yes. And they will sit on the deck and look out to sea, and maybe find the courage to ask the questions they’ve been waiting to ask the whole year. This way, the plot can get complicated.
C. But if you just don’t believe in the best-laid plans of mice and men, you could have the man say yes and then mix up the schedules so that they’d fail to meet. This would, of course, frustrate the woman no end; but she will later realize that what really mattered was he said yes.
The next day, she opened her email and found out.
Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz is the President of the Davao Writers Guild. She teaches literature and creative writing at UP Mindanao. Her book of stories, Women Loving, is available at National Bookstore.