Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Drabble: Madonna of the Jeepney

A/N: Freewriting time! My unconscious is really weird, and here's the thoughtless proof. LOL, I hope I can make a real story when I don't plan anything. I'd like to call this Murakami-inspired, but it's really not. XD

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It was at that moment that he discovered Stanilavski was right, after all: you can find fresh pain every time you discover what you pretty much already know.

He raked his fingers through his disheveled locks, worry surfacing on his skin as beads of sweat. Time and again his head would involuntarily dart towards the clock tower, and he would be unconsciously biting his fleshy lower lip so hard that it turned whitish. He clutched his canvas tightly to his side, and whenever he would close his eyes, swirling blobs of cadmium pigments would burn behind his eyelids. And then there’s this song: If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you?

He looked down and cringed at his shoes. Personalized, these little pieces of trash—he sloshed Van Gogh on them, the crazy blue and gray and yellow swirls of Starry Night, and now it’s caked with the brown mud of the puddle he accidentally landed on when he jumped over the rusting fence. Now that he thought about it, he’s pretty much like Van Gogh—sans the cut-the-ear tendency, of course. Oh, paint your palette blue and gray….


His life is a big joke.

And he just missed the punch line.

He inhaled the polluted air, grateful that he’s still breathing. The putrid smell of the city, the flies swarming on piles upon piles of garbage; the putrid smell of immorality, the maggots gnawing at piles upon piles of masks on a single human face, hiding its real ugliness just to be covered by another…well, he’s still thankful to be a part of this diorama. But say, what beauty can he paint from this scenario?

He walked thoughtlessly to the sidewalk and took one last glance at the clock tower. He chose a rusting jeep to ride, one that’s half empty—or half full?—and slumped on the patched seat nearest the entrance. He looked past his long fringes—outside, it drizzled, it rained, it stormed. He looked at the gray painting of chaos just an arm span away from him. What peaceful beauty can he paint from this scenario?

The clanking vehicle screeched to a stop. A girl in a yellow windbreaker leaped from the tumult outside and slouched on the dented seat in front of him, just an arm span away, and the wheels rolled again. Nothing special about that girl. Hair unfashionably bobbed, a few raven-colored wisps wafting over her eyes. Nothing special about the eyes. Hollow pools of canal water, that’s the best analogy he could make. Just an ordinary, humanoid cardboard cut-out in the diorama they call the city.

Then she spoke to him: “It’s still four o’clock, right?”

He stiffened and remembered the clock tower. “Yes. Maybe five past four.”

She smiled.

He didn’t know why he talked again, and it was stupid: “Why? Do you have an appointment or anything?”

Her smile widened, and she clutched her books closer to her chest. “No. I just thought’s the sky’s telling me it’s 6:00PM already. I’ve lost track of time.”

She tilted her head to the side and then suddenly, he knew what to paint.

The way she cradled her fraternal paperback triplets (a Green, a McCaffrey, and a Pratchett), the way she lovingly flicked dusts away from their covers, the way she protected them against the splashes of dirty water bouncing from the window, the way she looked so obliviously peaceful against the violent backdrop of the rain. She’s the Madonna of the Jeepney.

Maybe he’s the one who made his life a joke, and maybe he himself missed the punch line…but the upside of being not a very good comedian is that no one actually laughs when he fails.

He knew what to paint, so he threw the canvas outside the window and shook all the colors away from his eyes. This peace is what he is actually looking for, and no paintbrush can ever put that peace on canvas. Especially by his mediocre hands.

Stanilavski was right, after all: you can find fresh pain every time you discover what you pretty much already know.

The rain reduced to a drizzle. The girl prepared to alight the jeepney, arms folded on the books. He motioned to help her and he sketched plans on his mind: maybe to accompany her to her destination, maybe even to chat with her while walking, maybe to ask her out the next day, so maybe he can see this ordinary girl again, and again, and again, and again.

“No, thanks,” the girl said curtly with a smile, waving to stop him reaching for the books. Protective of her babies.

She went away. Gone.

He heaved a heartfelt sigh and stared at his dirty shoes. It’s not like in the movies, yes? But you know, there’s always something that inspired those movies. Right? He closed his eyes, and started to paint with his most trusted medium: his memory.

He hoped he will see her again.

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