Monday, December 13, 2004

vignette: sigbin

That night, I slept by the window of my grandmother's house, my feet tucked under the thick colorful sheets that I would forever associate with Negros. The yard beyond the window was illuminated by unbridled moonlight, the bougainville flowers transformed from fuchsia to blood silver, shivering at the occasional caress of breezes. Far away, I could hear a dog yelping, as if in pain. Perhaps in fear.

I thought about the quaint hotel room I abandoned at Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete - the security of its locks, the comfort of its bed, the sounds of the television bolted into the wall, the hot running water - and tried to sleep, telling myself that I wanted this experience, that I chose to be where I was.

I was awakened by the complete absence of sound, as if my body, so used to ambient noise, was in shock at the total lack of it. I sat up, afraid to breathe, afraid to break the spell of silence without understanding why. I realized that my thin arms were trembling.

"Grandma?" I tried to say, but my voice sounded timorous and small, a tiny sound emanating from across a vast gulf. I stood up and looked out the window.

What I saw paralyzed my heart, my lungs, my eyes, the incoherent sound that attempted to escape my lips.

Something was moving in the garden.

It was three times the size of a dog, covered with a shiny black coat of fur. It stood on all fours, but its hind legs were much longer than its front limbs. The lower half of its body belonged to an animal; I could see a long tail twitching behind it. The upper half was that of a man, broad shoulders matted with hair. Its head was too large to make sense of, dirty with earth and soil, baring teeth sharp as knives and stained with mystery. I realized that it was trembling like I was.

In an impossible moment, our gazes met and locked and I found myself staring into the eyes of something I was not meant to see, not meant to know.

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