“She’s here,” says the man outside.
In your mind you see her lay on the narrow table the food she always brings. Until now it escapes you why she does this when she knows you have stopped eating it since the incident. Is it her way of letting you exorcise your demons?
You met her father on this generation’s luckiest day: 8-8-88. You were at your favorite restaurant when he asked if he could join you. You were actually done but good manners aside, you didn’t want to foist bad luck on him by leaving just when he was about to eat. And so you broke into a half smile and nodded.
His tray carried only spaghetti.
Outside, the dragon dance that you came to watch had begun. But then he spoke and time lost its sense.
Soon after that, you dated. And because you hated spaghetti, he made you learn to love it. A year later, you named your daughter after it.
“You hear me? Spaghetti’s waiting for you outside,” the man says.
You glance at the cracked mirror, tuck a wisp of gray hair behind your ear, and head for the hall.
She’s a sight in a white sundress and you wonder if she would wear white to her debut in September. Or if she would finally wear, after a long while, the smile that reminds you of him.
As you sit she opens a Tupperware that contains the pasta and another that contains the sauce. Something grumbles in the pit of your stomach.
She mixes the pasta and the sauce just as he taught her. Spurts hit you; but you do not bother to wipe them as they blend well with the orange dress you’re wearing.
She fills two plates with spaghetti. “Here,” she pushes one towards you.
You pick the fork, jab the spaghetti, and twist it. Then as always, you stop and close your eyes: The knife felt cold in your hand as you watched furtively in the dark. As orgasm gripped him, you raised the knife. But then he turned as though he knew, and the knife brushed past his shoulder, into the mouth of the girl under him.
He rolled out of bed. But the sheets tangled at his feet and he fell to the floor. You lunged and straddled him. Then you stabbed him everywhere, twisting the knife each time. Blood squirted onto your face. But your hand went up, down, up, and down again until you could no longer see.
“Ma, are you alright?”
You open your eyes and see that your knuckles have turned white from gripping the fork.
“It’s been three years,” she says, reaching for your hand.
You look at her. And all you can see is the scar on her lips.
Romel lives in that part of Surigao del Sur where crab is a delicacy and not a mentality; where waterfalls are spaced within a kilometer from each other.