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Literary

A knock at 3:15 a.m

The knocking grew louder. It is as if someone is trying to budge into a wooden platform and break in. The door was still wide open. No one is there.

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Artwork by Mark Jason Zambarrano/TomasinoWeb

Disclaimer: The events in this story are purely fictional. Any resemblance to actual scenarios is purely coincidental.

The tightness of my face woke me from slumber, my skin feels like rubber, and my eyelids refuse to open as I scrape off the crusts in between. The room is dark and the only light source is the glaring laptop screen on my table across from where the bed is. I check my phone to see what time it is and to my surprise, it’s already past 3:00 a.m.

It must have been a night of good sleep. The last thing I remember is my professor talking about some theory in my major. I scoff. Who conducts online classes until 10:00 p.m anyway? Let alone having that three-hour class that I slept through, making me feel groggy. Even standing up from bed becomes a chore.

“Maybe I should just sleep until the sun rises,” my rest-deprived brain thought, persuading me to get back to bed.

I was about to close my eyes again when I heard a knock on my door. It was fifteen minutes past 3. I wonder who it is. It wouldn’t be my parents because they’re probably asleep right now. Puzzled, I stand up and open my bedroom door only to be greeted by no one.

I closed the door in annoyance and went back to bed but then someone knocked again.

Deep sleep was finally coming to me until the knocking sound echoed in the room. I stood up and dragged my feet, reaching for the doorknob but still, no one was there. 

This time, I hurried towards the bed without closing the door but there it was again, but the door was hanging wide open.

The knocking grew louder. It is as if someone is trying to budge into a wooden platform and break in. 

The door was wide open. No one is there.

This atmosphere is surreal. It was so heavy that I almost couldn’t breathe. It feels like I am in reality but also drowned in mystery. Trembling, I turned away and looked at the ceiling. I saw something levitating above me, lying upside down. It looks like me, but with longer arms, paler skin, a stitched mouth, an almost decaying body, and a more depressed expression. It said words that hit home but they did not remove the trembling body from its blood-curdling look. I want to scream, I want this to end already.

“Help me,” the creature pleaded with its raspy and chilling voice.

It choked my neck with its decaying long hands and repeatedly said “Help me,” laughing at the vision of my misery. My breath is slowly fainting, agonizing from the pain.

I screamed at the top of my lungs in relief as I realized it was only a dream.

I checked the time, and it was 3:14 a.m. I hug my pillow, still shaking from the nightmare.

I thought everything would be fine. Sleep was approaching me and relief was making my eyes close, but there it is again, a knock coming from the plank of wood.

 

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Literary

Regain what has strayed

Tomorrow, your courage will glow. And that serenity will eventually flow.

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Artwork by Aliah Basbas/TomasinoWeb

Today, your braveness grows dim

and your sprouting fear goes grim

suffocating as the breathing shorten

praying in order to bargain,

the anguish to finally end.

 

days in the realm of the abyss,

while counting the dread of time

misty and cold, curled in isolation

waiting for nothing in absolute frustration.

 

the realization of your apprehension

governs your full comprehension

whispering that this is eternal 

a void within the internal.

 

but is this the culmination,

of your full determination?

undoubtedly there is more to contemplate

In this solitude, there’s an alternate.

 

despite all the anguish

there’s another you need to relish

the gleam of assurance

closing down the distance

 

a meaningful glance of desire

at the misery about to retire

go and treasure what’s valued,

and genuine delight would follow.

 

Tomorrow, your courage will glow

And that serenity will eventually flow,

Unshackled from the unease

As you go on your day, about to seize

Fluttering your wings in absolute bliss.

Bianca Labraque
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Literary

You and your remnants

He left parts of him scattered: an absent seat, a dust-sprinkled mug, sets of immobile shirts and basketball shorts, a sentence in a notebook without a period, and the half-empty cologne we bought at Divisoria.

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Artwork by Aliah Basbas/TomasinoWeb

At the dinner table, plates were passed as laughter was shared alongside steaming dinorado and mechado. Lowered heads whisper family gossip about who and what while the row of picture frames stayed on their usual spots. 

In our house, things are all over the place. A lonely sock nudged between the sofa throw pillows, a heap of phone chargers where no one bothered to untangle, and forgotten coffee mugs that stayed untouched for days.

You know there’s a big occasion when they start bringing out party packs of store-bought ice cream. The moment someone announces that their favorite dessert is out and open, a swarm of children bolts, leaving their phones, and sprints into the kitchen. Glasses disappear. A line forms. 

I sat by an unoccupied seat waiting for everyone’s turn. Behind Tita Eunice, I started to notice a glass, with a spoon stuck on generous scoops of Ube-flavored ice cream, placed in front of the unoccupied seat. 

“That’s his. Bring it to your Tito Albert,” Tita Eunice said. I stood up and went into the living room.

There he was, all smiling with a peace sign. We couldn’t find any formal picture of him. Only photographs in wacky poses and crumpled faces. He wasn’t all prim and proper, he’s just Tito Albert. He and his glistening head. No one dared to touch anything inside his house office. No one plans to. Not even Tita Eunice. We have to wait for forty days, she reminded us. And then for a year for his other things to be given to relatives who need them. 

I stayed with Tito Albert and Tita Eunice ever since when my mother went to Japan. The power couple housed me as if I’m their child. The two were unmatched. The other couldn’t live without an arm’s reach of the other. They were lovebirds all their lives. I seldom see them argue. 

But when they did, it was a strange and bizarre sight. Their recent fight turned out to be their last. I remember giving them a letter. Inside was a wish, hoping for them to get along. But their fight still lasted for weeks, and he brought the fight ‘till his last breath.

I stood in front of his room and opened its creaking door. The dust swirling in the enclosed dank air irritated my nostrils and made me sneeze. There, at the right side of the room, is a bookshelf with all his collectibles and books. On the opposite side is his desk, where he worked on hours on end for a company that barely gave him enough. 

He left parts of him scattered: an absent seat, a dust-sprinkled mug, sets of immobile shirts and basketball shorts, a sentence in a notebook without a period, and the half-empty cologne we bought at Divisoria. He was my bicycle guide, and my medic when I crashed into a neighbor’s metal gate. Every morning, Tito was my motorcycle hatid ever since I was in kindergarten. 

In the end, I became his hatid. I brought his ashen body to his tiny room, at the columbarium. My embrace around his flat-topped urn tightened. Everything wasn’t gray, and the sky wasn’t a blanket of clouds. It was a searing Monday morning when the coffee wasn’t too bitter and the eggs weren’t too runny. 

Today is his day. A few months from now, we could’ve been alongside one another as he accompanies me to my last day in school. I brought him his Ube, and he gave me tears. 

I hate you, Tito Albert, and your bald head. But you left a part—parts—of you with me. 

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Literary

Mirror

What she was never reminded of was how to act when she is the one being stared at.

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Artwork by Mark Jason Zambarrano/TomasinoWeb
Aliah Basbas
Stories Editor, Stories Writer | + posts

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