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From Creative Corner: One Hundred

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SHORT STORY Owen Lopez, PHOTO The CW

Every day, it was the same. She would wake up at  dawn to get ready for school. Eat her breakfast, take a trip to the shower, fix her hair, and put on a smile to hide the pain.

The alarm clock on her bedside table read a quarter before seven—just enough minutes left to get her to school. Reaching for the door, the calendar hanging on the adjacent wall caught her attention. It was the usual calendar with dates printed in black and red on a white background, but what's unusual about it were the big X marks she put on the dates that went by. Red ink circled the number 10, which happened to be the date today. She stared at it, and it stared back. She then swallowed the lump in her throat to fight back a sob.

Stepping outside, the sun greeted her with its early warmth and radiance. She walked the familiar grounds of the university, keeping her head down to avoid unnecessary conversations. Clutching her bag slumped on her back, her eyes aimlessly followed the steps she was taking—and bumped into someone. She started to say sorry, but stopped shortly after realizing who he was.

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He should be the one who's sorry, she thought to herself. For a moment there, they just looked at each other with undisclosed issues and unmistakable regrets and unspoken apologies.

"I'm sorry." His words rang through her ears, and her mind suggested that his apology was meant for something else that he did.

Looking at his eyes, the memories of the recent past flashed to her like a movie being played backward, then normal again.

She remembered how it felt so good just to talk to him, and how the mention of her name from his lips sent butterflies in her stomach. She remembered how his hands perfectly fit hers, the unexplainable warmth of his body next to hers. She remembered how he turned the worst days to great ones, the boring to exciting, and the awkward to comfortable and safe. She remembered how he told her that he loves her, and that he'll never leave her side. She remembered the day he kissed her, without hesitation nor nervousness. She remembered how he kissed her lightly at first—her lips trembled a little when his soft lips met hers—then became much more than what she expected. His hand cupped her face as the other found a way to the small of her back, drawing her closer to him. She breathed in his scent as he tasted the glory of her lips. She remembered how they both ended up gasping for air, smiling like they'd just won the world. She remembered how one week after, he broke up with her and told her he didn't feel the same way anymore. She remembered how she cried almost every night, suddenly waking up from a sleep she's often deprived of only to find herself crying again.

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And now that he's in front of her again, she felt the wound reopened, fresh as new like it hadn't healed, not even a bit. She didn't beg him to stay, because she didn't want to look pathetic, even if that's how she really felt. She was pathetic, and she still is. She wanted to tell him not to leave her because she wouldn't be able to live with that thought, but she didn't. Her pride ate her alive—and still was. But she knows that begging wouldn't do anything to change his mind about her, about them. He wouldn't take her back and start anew. Because, even how many times he had denied and continued to deny it, somebody else was there all along.

"Babe!" A new round of pain heated her heart as another voice broke in. Giving him a peck on the cheek, the other girl linked her arm with his as if he belonged to her—and only to her.

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The sight of them created another wound in her heart as she felt the tears well up in her eyes. She drew in a sharp breath and mustered the courage to smile, the smile she'd been putting on for the last one hundred days. She managed a little nod before walking away; the tears she was holding back now flowed freely down her cheeks.

Every day, it was the same.

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PRIMO.

First. Pixie dust and paper cuts – these are the first things Wendy knew about Peter Pan. Aurora first met Prince Philip when she was sixteen. Learning how to ride a bike was also a first while I was growing up, but you are probably the first of too many. The first collection of dust and stars; maybe Luna will try to ask, who was your first? I might answer and tell her that it was you.

The first of too many stars in the sky. You are the first of too many fallen leaves during fall – and you will be the most anticipated snowflake as winter comes. A dark path that you can’t see without any light, hence, you were once the moon and there are the stars that shine so bright at night. Are we too early? Or we just really want to be ahead of time? Even in a glimpse, I would like to see the two of us connect as if we can reach the sky. There are other parts of the heavens you have never saw and other oceans you haven’t laid your feet onto – but the constellations will always wait for you. Close your eyes, love, close your eyes. Start counting backward: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Count backward until you see the twinkling lights that will guide you to the right path. To the right satellite; to the right person. A first.

There are many firsts – first love, first heartbreak, first sport you played, the first thing you do in the morning, the first thing you remember about the person in front of you. There are a lot. It’s actually up to us how we will consider something as a first. So, Primo, you are already a first of too many.

Bea Alamis 10 hours ago

If you know me, and know me well, I am not the biggest fan of idyllic lifestyles. With a Type A personality, I act immediately upon whatever challenge that needs to be addressed. I actually enjoy keeping my mind preoccupied: doing university work in my favourite cafe then running errands around town, grocery shopping here, updating my accounts there, photocopying documents on the way down the street - all just in time before having a glass of champagne at the bar with my friends come evening.

And so, you could imagine my bewilderment when the next challenge to be faced was an extensive self-quarantine protocol. I didn’t know what to do when my greatest responsibility in this situation was to do nothing at all. My first few attempts to combat my consternation were very much rooted in distraction and imagination. My distractions involved conducting research, writing songs, calling family and friends, filming videos, and eating chocolate! My imaginations and fantasies were centred on travelling, shopping, even clubbing (which I rarely do) for when they find a cure to COVID-19. I did anything and everything that could be considered constructive in order to pass the time, mainly hoping I could just undertake the basic human necessities to survive - that is, eat and sleep the day through - until the next day comes, until the world is closer to becoming a better place, until quarantine ends, until my flight follows through, until I see my family and friends again.

Days in self-isolation and suspended flights turned to weeks and turned to months. By the third extension here in Spain where I study Fashion Business, I had to tell myself this shall be my new normal now, that I was blessed to be healthy, that I was tired of merely existing and missed what it was like to actually live - even if just within four walls. Little by little, I began to find significance in the simple occurrences of the day: the soft glare of the rising sun beaming golden streaks through my bedroom window upon waking up, the fragrance of freshly washed bed sheets that I had painstakingly hung to fit a relatively small clothes rack without crumpling them, the crunch and tanginess of warm toasted bread topped with raspberry marmalade, the buzzing sound of a phone call from home just waiting to be answered, to the caress of a fuzzy sweater to keep warm at night. I realised, “What pleasures to be enjoyed in the pause of slow living!” Through this continued pause, which I loathed at first, I began to appreciate each moment of the day rather than wish it would pass more swiftly, moments I had overlooked so often before the lockdown. I started to find that the challenge of self-isolation was never to pause both the regular routines of life as well as the positive emotions that came with these - as initially, I thought it meant to pause all happiness, so as to withstand a time of endurance in hopes for a better tomorrow, much like a form of delaying gratification. Life is just too fragile these days to delay gratification any further.

Life has paused, but it has not stopped. Believe that like any punctuation mark in a sentence, the pause will provide the right timing of things to take place. Till then, let us not waste our time waiting. Instead, we could be in the moment, seek substance in simplicity (that is, in what we already have), And enjoy the pleasure in pause. “Practice the Pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”

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