Split ends!

By Jing Villamil


IN the midst of the pandemic, there is this story of love. It has nothing to do with the disease. It is a story that would have happened anyway, anyhow, any which time.

He was the youngest of three sons of farmers. He dropped out of school when he realized the soil can teach him more about life and how to eke a living from the rough, the tough. His brothers went on to acquire degrees to qualify as teacher, computer technician. Their parents, now with their bunso pitching in, were able to support their education. The older brothers’ hands and nails had since lost the smell and stain of the earth, and their skin had shed off the sunburnt tinge.

But this is not about escape from the tediousness of school or farm. This is about love.

Not anymore squirming from tight hand-me-down uniform, bunso grew huge in the chest and robust in his arms and legs. He turned more than one woman’s head his way; he simply glowed bronze!

He was not very smart, but he trusted his heart. And his heart chose to love this pretty but sad, abandoned wife whose husband left her, taking with him their only child. He claimed she was always too sad. She was in postnatal depression a long time past post.

They were not discreet with the conduct of their affair. Fields have no walls. His parents were really worried though. She still had a husband. She was also not so right in the head.

One day near dusk, she called him to fix her flickering houselights. When Nanay side-commented “it’s your girl’s head that needs fixing, not her lights”, bunso took offense. He packed his bag with what few possession he had. His parents could not hold him back. He was too headstrong, too in-love, too shirtless. They had no grip to hold on to, except his skintight cycling shorts!

The lovers ran to each other! It was bliss! The two of them homing at last! In her house, they got down to business at once. (Don’t think dirty!) They ripped out the wires, all the while teasing, laughing, reaching out to the other playfully. This was what he loved about her; together, all their cares disappear with the wind! Kids again! But they were! They were.

Till they dropped to the floor, rolling, tickling each other, crashing flat what he was fixing in the first place. He plopped right on top of a live wire. It sizzled! He grabbed the wire to keep it away from her. He could not; he cannot.

He felt the sizzle multiply to ten sharp rusty needles seemingly altogether jabbing into him, travelling excruciatingly slow and painfully underneath the flesh of his hand, arm, shoulder, across his chest to his heart, coursing a way through and out from him..

He tried to focus on her. Her eyes were wide with fear, her hands she stuffed in her mouth. He called out: “get a chair, whack the wire off me!” She did not understand his words. Rather, she heard a burst of staccato growls. She screamed to her highest decibel. She backed away from him. She scrambled on all fours. Finding her legs, she ran out the door, across the yard, to the fields, to the trees beyond. She was running, stumbling, screaming, flailing her arms until she was lost to the wilds.

She is still not found. His parents, though, found his body – toasted, twisted, mouth grotesquely curled shapeless in agony. The wire fused to his arm, his other arm stretched begging, reaching out to her. She could have saved him. He must have been still alive as she was scrambling away.

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