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Remembering Cebu

Short story By: Jan Gabriel

I was actually surprised to have stumbled upon this particular piece while I was rummaging through my files. This was written nearly three years ago, when our professor in Basic English class asked us to write a kind of poetic memoir of a particular place from our childhood. I wrote about Cebu--or rather, one of its beaches that I visited--and this story is my attempt at piecing together the broken fragments of what remains of my memories of it.

Submitted:Apr 27, 2012    Reads: 18    Comments: 2    Likes: 2   

The dull rain this morning seems to call to mind a strange myriad of memories, of times long past that seem only to live on in scattered fragments that flutter in the mad splashing colors of my imagination. My thoughts wander about, trying to find stable ground in the rush of ideas, like angry rivers running in all directions at once.

I concentrate harder this time, and the waters calm for a moment, giving me enough time to gather myself. The rain outside has calmed as well, as if obliged to be still by the sheer force of will; that is impossible of course, but the idea does amuse me.

There is a moment of quiet, though brief, and I once again turn my attention inwards.

My mind's eyes shift and focus, and now I see before me a vast orange sky. The sun is setting now, it seems. I also feel shorter, and I raise my hands to my face… they are stubby, smooth, baby-like. I know I am a child now, and it is interesting to see that I can still recall something as trivial as my palms so vividly.

I wiggle my feet, and looking down I see bits of sand wedged between my toes. Sand, sky, breeze-my mind paints a portrait of the beach. But what beach? Which beach? I have been to many, but this one in particular… it feels special.

The vision is becoming hazy again, and my mind's eye strain to keep its focus. Looking up, I see that the sky has changed little. Time has stopped here, apparently. And yet the wind continues to blow and caress my gentle skin, and the water too continues to lap at the shore. Perhaps they are not subject to the standstill of time? Either way, now is not the time to ponder.

I turn my attention once more to the sand beneath me. I ask myself, "Which beach is this?" I look around and see a vast stretch of sparkling white sand. I also see trees here and there-banana trees maybe-their huge leaves wading lazily with the whistling of the breeze. Again I ask, "Where am I?" But slowly I grew tired. I lay there, looking around again; to the right was a single wooden hut, and to the left were the mountains looming over the horizon. But how odd: why did I not see these a while ago? Maybe mind is still putting the pieces together?

I take in a deep breath and smile to myself. Ah, the mind is such a strange mechanism.

I am no longer tired. I pick myself up, and the energy slowly returns to my legs. "Where am I?" I ask myself once more. I take a few steps forward, towards the beach line. The water reflects a dreamy orange color, mimicking the sky above it. And there, under wet sand and rock, I see a shell… a large one at that. Suddenly it occurs to me. The breeze, the sunset, the trees-it finally dawns to me. I remember now.

I snap back to reality. The rain has resumed its brutal downpour. I look out the window: no sand, no sunset. I stare at my hands for a while, but they are no longer stubby or smooth or baby-like… I am no longer the child in my dreams. Wiping away the tears that began to trickle down my face without warning-I am far too sentimental for my age-I gather my thoughts once more to prepare for the rest of the day. No time to dream now. No time to ponder.

The past is behind me, but perhaps one day I can visit that place again. Maybe then it will not be just a dream.

But the image of that shell refuses to leave me be, and in my thoughts I see the same orange sky. And the clouds, they seem to spell something out… a word… a name.

"Ah, Cebu, how I miss you."


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