Monday, January 7, 2013

The Eponine Complex

By now a lot of people may be even a little bit knowledgeable of the plot of Victor Hugo’s classic, “Les Miserables.” However, I am not going to be talking about the story’s contribution to classic literature or its contribution to the success of most Broadway productions (Yes, Lea Salonga, I hear you girl). I want to talk about the second most popular female character of this story, right after Fantine and that is Eponine. I don’t really have to describe Eponine or even narrate her background, what I want people to know is how a lot of girls in the whole world kind of relate to this seemingly proverbial character whose fate ends up literally dead.
Eponine is essentially part of the bitter end of the love triangle. In my own opinion, this thing between her, Marius and Cosette does not really resemble a love triangle, rather it resembles something like this:

It’s plainly obvious how every single girl in this world thinks she is Eponine because each one of them thinks that the man (or woman) that they are in love with will never love them back. Consequentially, these girls who think themselves as social pariahs end up crying over this predicament and sing their emotions out right out in the silent streets, at midnight while every drop of rain is hitting their faces. The last bit may hold not true to some accounts—I, myself, sing “On My Own” in the bathroom while the water from the shower is poorly substituting what is supposed to be actual raindrops. But the bottom line is—we all do this, maybe not the singing part but the self pity part. Admit it, you think you’re Eponine, I feel like Eponine, we all feel like Eponine. It is like all our menstrual cycles are in sync, our Estrogen-ridden brains always hit that Eponine note and activate it like a highly sensitive nerve synapse whenever we feel like this guy (or girl, I have no problem with gayhood) is not noticing us and hell, will never ever notice us. EVER. Story of our lives.
 It is a global phenomenon-- why are we so susceptible to self pity to the point that we immediately resort to this conclusion whenever we are friendzoned? I don’t blame people who feel like this because I, too, torture myself sometimes with questions like,

 “Am I too ugly?”
“Am I too loud?”
“Am I too hideous?”
“Am I too fat?”
“Do I sound dumb?”
“What’s wrong with me?”

But this was years ago and no, there was nothing wrong with me it’s just that I lacked a bit of honesty and determination. The problem with that situation was that I never really told the guy that I fancied him, like, immensely! I only dropped him subtle hints and told all my friends about my supposedly heartbreak. Why the lack of romantic cheesy declarations of love in my life? I had no idea at that time but I guess now, looking back, it was an amalgamation of the fear of rejection, my overflowing pride and (surprise, surprise) my teenage shyness. I mean, can you really blame me? I was seventeen! Being honest is never easy for those people who are not accustomed in putting their figurative hearts in their respective sleeves. Honesty is a bare-all action, something that a lot of us are afraid of because this makes us vulnerable human beings that a mere slight exposure could actually sting us. The things that bring the honesty out from underneath us will sting like sunburn-- it will hurt and that is what we are all afraid of.

However, we must not always blame ourselves when we are loveless, sometimes the many Marius-es in our lives should make an effort to look the other way and notice us for a change. DANG IT. However, maybe Marius just needs a push, maybe he just needs to know how we feel minus the subtlety. Maybe, just maybe, Marius is just too oblivious and he needs to see the light (spoiler alert: the light is us, yes we’re fabulous like that). Maybe the fact that everybody hates Cosette could actually boost your confidence (Yey!).

I don’t really know much about love and relationships, it is something that will perpetually remain a mystery to me. It is normal to pity ourselves once in a while but we must not reach the point of no return, in this case we must not become Eponine who martyred herself by taking a bullet for Marius. When we get sad, the whole world never really stops for us and that is the way that the universe is trying to tell us something—go on, move on and carry on. It is definitely okay to listen to the saddest songs, devour a pint of ice cream and drink bottle after bottle until our blood becomes alcohol when we feel left out from all this love business but we must never forget to promise ourselves that we will go on, move on and carry on tomorrow... or eventually.

As I sit here in my room, writing this bit of reflection, simultaneously scrolling past my facebook account’s newsfeed, the boy who I thought I was so in love with is online. And I thought, “You will never know how much alcohol I ingested because of you... and I hope to God you will never know.”

Cackles. Cackles everywhere.

I hope you all will drink not for heartbreak, but for happiness.

Happy 2013.


Friday, February 17, 2012

The Space Between

Cherik fic: The Space Between, Chapter 1
Summary: A year and half have passed without seeing Erik face-to-face.
A year has passed without hearing his voice.
Charles Xavier understood that it was over between them since Erik decided to go back to New York. But when a friend comes bearing the news that he was back in town, Charles must confront his own conflicting feelings towards the man who left him.

“Have you heard?”
“He’s back in town.”
“Who’s back in town?”
Charles was rather caught in shock by the news that Emma brought with her, rather tainting his lighter mood of finally settling in a cozy coffee shop with the hope of seeing progress in his thesis for his doctorate. The weather was a bit spectacular today with the sun’s rays beaming on people without a harsh sting to their skin, as far as he knows the coffee that he is sipping right now was not half bad and his thesis was well on its own. This day has been flawless. But then Emma Frost happened. Emma Frost, daughter and heir to a chain of luxury hotels and also Erik’s long time friend, has become attached to Charles Xavier: Oxford University graduate student, in the middle of getting his doctorate in Genetics and is juggling three part-time jobs to support his scholarship. Charles has always wondered why the likes of Emma and Erik would bother knowing him and befriending him when he was so different from them in both social and financial status. He was not shallow, he knew that money did not count in true friendship but time and time again there were people who have proven him wrong and have vindicated the fact that one’s social and financial status count in the dating criteria. It took Charles a long time to regard the fact that he has been silent for the past two minutes or so, not responding to Emma’s last word until she made the next move.
“What are you going to do about it, Charles?”
Charles shrugged and brought to his lips the remains of his English muffin. He was not really hungry, no, he just needed more time to process everything and although a momentary mastication of food would not really suffice, he had to take every chance there is to prolong his agony. At last he swallowed the muffin, wiped his lips with a table napkin and sipped his coffee. A burst of caffeine has suddenly given him courage to say whatever lie he can conjure.
“Nothing, Emma. What would you expect me to do? Sulk? Lash out? Drink until my liver gives in? I will do nothing. We moved on, or rather, he moved on even before I even had the chance to know that we were over. I haven’t seen the man for almost one and a half years, I haven’t heard from him for a year. I just can’t immerse myself in self-pity forever.” With that last note, Charles’ nostrils were flaring like it took all his oxygen supply to perfect such lie. Such a lie.
Emma sighed and her shoulders drooped. Her gaze was now fixed outside the coffee shop, faking an observation while she was trying her best to come up with a reply. However, a reply never came for a familiar black Mercedes just parked right outside the shop. Emma tore her gaze from the window and looked at her friend. She stood up, touched Charles’ knuckles with her palm, walked over to his side and kissed his cheeks- their usual sign for a goodbye. Charles grinned but Emma couldn’t really muster the strength to grin back and instead gripped his hand tighter and murmured,
“You know that I love you, right?”
Charles nodded.
With that, Emma grinned and continued, “And he still loves you.”
Charles chuckled. “Somehow, my friend, I really find that hard to believe.”
That response earned him a tighter grip in his hand. Emma leaned down and kissed his cheek again.
“Trust me.”
A year.
It has been a year since he has heard his voice-- his deep, baritone voice that never failed to shake into awakening all of what made Charles whole. Will he ever hear it again?
Almost a year and a half.
It has almost been a year and half since he has seen him face to face. He still remembers how his dark ginger hair would flare up like his it was made of fire when it catches the rays of the sun. He still remembers how his green eyes would gaze up on him with wonderment while he makes clever discussions about how especially groovy genetics is and how their pupils would dilate out of lust when he makes equally clever innuendos out of those discussions. He still remembers how his frown would turn into a grin and extend into a full-teeth smile when he purposely makes a fool of himself. He still remembers how his slender fingers and his rather big hands would touch him in all the right places and ignite all his senses.
Well, so much for moving on.
A year and a half-- nothing drastic has really changed in Charles’ life. He still lives in his too-small apartment, earning enough out of his part-time jobs just to make ends meet, working his very best in maintaining his scholarship and focusing all his energy in earning that three-letter extension at the end of his name. What did change was that he was near in finishing his thesis. He has allowed his hair to grow longer than usual, the bags under his eyes more noticeable and he has gone a bit thinner than what he was used to. The lost weight was good riddance, he would say. He also has a new mobile, its contacts filled with the people he knew albeit the one who he is still pining for.
A year and a half and Erik Lehnsherr was still the Erik Lehnsherr that Charles claimed he knew. Well, sort of. The only way he could see his face now was through tabloids and magazines featuring the handsome and well known adopted son of Sebastian Shaw: owner of the multi-billion company Shaw Industries, the maker of the latest in technology and known worldwide.
Charles and Erik has been together for a blissful year in England before the main branch, based in New York, had to call his attention and he was forced back to the States. Charles still remembers that day: he was buried in a dozen or so books in the library, in the middle of doing his thesis when Erik came in with all his six feet (and more) statuesque figure, caught Charles’s eyes, waved, walked towards him, leaned to plant a kiss on his cheek and sat himself opposite Charles’.
Charles pushed the book he was reading aside and looked Erik in the eyes. When he noticed that Erik looked a little bit uneasy, he asked,
“Erik, love, what’s wrong?”
Erik bit his lower lip and frowned.
“I have to go back to New York.”
Charles’ eyebrows shot up. “When will you be back?”
The look that Erik gave him was so heartbreaking that it was a miracle Charles did not give in to his primal instincts, walk over to his lover and kiss his frown away. But no, they were in the library and they were ‘civilized’ in a sense.
“I don’t know. They said they needed me urgently.”
“That’s okay, I understa--“
Erik shook his head frantically. “No, it’s not okay. I don’t want to leave.” He took Charles’ hands with his own and gripped it tightly. “I don’t want to leave you.”
They didn’t even have time for one last night together before he had to go overseas.  Charles accompanied Erik in his apartment, helped him pack his bags, made out in the sofa for five minutes and the next thing he knew he was in a fancy car with Erik on the way to the airport. Even without speaking to each other, Charles still understood how dreadful Erik felt about the whole ordeal by how he was holding Charles’ hand like it was the only thing keeping him alive. Every minute or so Erik would bring his knuckles to his lips and kiss it and bring it back down to his lap. Erik did it so many times that Charles, to release him from his agony, reached over Erik’s cheek so that green eyes would meet blue ones and kissed him soundly.
They promised to call each other as often as possible. Their only means of knowing each other’s day was through those wonderful phone calls that went on for six months. Until the calls suddenly stopped coming. Charles did not mind it at first thinking that Erik was busy with the company and that he needed space. But when he tried calling him, the operator always said that the number was no longer in use or was deactivated. Then Charles started to worry. The first person he confided on was Emma but Emma also had the same predicament as him, she had no idea what was going on with Erik. He got worried, he started having thoughts of Erik getting into an accident, of Erik being shot in any major part of his body or an accident that made him lose all his memories. That last one, Charles thought, sounded like some plot from some chick flick but he always insisted it was a possibility. Until one day while walking through the busy streets of the city, he saw a tabloid on one of the newsstands with Erik on the cover with the headline ‘Multi-billionaire Erik Lehnsherr attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art gala with business mogul James Howlett’.
The first thought that crossed Charles mind was a happy, ‘Erik is alive!’ but then it turned into a scowl, bearing the thought, ‘Who is this James Howlett? And why the fuck are they holding hands?’. Charles’ heart started pounding furiously and he couldn’t help it but turn to the page where Erik was featured. It was written in the tabloid that there were rumours saying that Erik and James were dating and beside the article were more smaller pictures of them together obviously shot in different occasions and on different days, walking side by side with their shoulders near each other, only just an inch shy to be considered intimate. Charles was angry and he tried contacting him over and over again even though his attempts were futile. He even considered flying to New York but he knew it was impossible, he was so broke that the only things he could afford were food and his rent. For days Emma tried calling him so many times everyday but he never had the courage to answer, obviously she saw the article. Thank the heavens that Emma did not know where he lived. Right after that, he made sure he would not pass by any newsstand, read any magazine or tabloid ever again.
For all those days, weeks and months that they were apart, Charles thought that if he ever meet Erik again he will not beg for him to get back together. The thing is, the only thing he needed was an explanation. Erik leaving him without a warning gave Charles thoughts that he was not adequate, that he was not enough, that he was too broke to be someone’s boyfriend, that he looked too shabby in his old clothes and that he will never ever measure up to the man that Erik was.
But that was a year and a half ago and Charles still demanded an explanation.
For the rest of the day after his conversation with Emma, Charles was still not at ease. Knowing Erik was back in town brought all the memories back to his forefront, ignoring it would prove to be futile. He wanted so much to confront it, to hunt down Lehnsherr (no longer Erik in his mind, just simple old Lehnsherr) and punch him in the face. And here he was, lying to his own thoughts. A very big part of him still wanted to talk to Erik, to understand where he went wrong and to hear his own explanation. He was lying to himself yet again. Web of lies, Charles, stop weaving them. All he wanted was to hear his voice once more.
By five in the afternoon, it started to rain and Charles decided to go home to his lonely apartment and make his own dinner out of anything there was in his possession.
Working seriously on his thesis was a productive venture, even more so making his own dinner. Charles was left to his own devices until it was near midnight. He propped himself to his bed ready for sleep but no matter what position he was in he can’t seem to fall asleep. He continued to stare at the ceiling. Thoughts of Lehnsherr were threatening to break his mental defences. ‘Stop it Charles, don’t let him get over your head, don’t let him rule you, don’t let him—‘
His mental soliloquy was cut short and he surprisingly found himself already motioning towards his drawer. He then retrieved his mobile and eyed it critically. He sat on his tiny bed with his head against the headboard and his knees brought up to near his chin. Before Charles knew it, he was already dialling Lehnsherr’s number which he knew by heart and pressed the call button. He then reluctantly brought the phone to his ear.
Then a familiar female voice started to say, “The number that you are calling is busy at this—“
He knew it was hopeless. He knew from the start that it was hopeless, why couldn’t he just accept it, roll it into a ball, swallow it whole and shove it up his throat.
Then suddenly—
“Hello?”, the voice said on the other end, the same baritone voice that had always filled his dreams.
For a moment Charles was speechless, that moment turned out to be long enough for Lehnsherr to speak again.
“Hello? Who’s this?”
Charles inhaled sharply and deeply. ‘Courage, Xavier, muster it all up.’
“Uhm.. ah...It’s me.”
Three seconds and then—
“Charles?”, Erik inquired.
Oh to hear his name said by that voice... that was enough for Charles to feel like surrendering. There was already water welling up in his lower eye lids. His tear ducts were obviously failing him. His eyes started to blink fast. He brought his free hand and touched his cheek. Wet. He could not help it, he started sobbing. His sharp inhales of air made it obvious to the person at the other end how he was trying his best to hold on to his very thin thread of composure.
“Are you crying?”
Charles shook his head dramatically and tried to smile as if Erik could see him, as if he was right in front of him. Erik. Not Lehnsherr. Erik. Just Erik.
“No.” His voice was obviously wavering.
It took a couple of breaths for Charles to compose himself and wipe away his tears. However, the attempt was useless for his ducts would not stop producing tears. He tried to smile again to fool Erik into believing that he stopped crying.
“We haven’t done this in a while haven’t we? Talking on the phone, that is.”
“I suppose... you’re right.” Charles heard Erik’s sharp inhalation of air.
“You know...” sniff. “You know what?” sniff. “This thing... this thing happening now... it’s amazing.”
Charles tried his very best to fight back the tears. He knew it was useless but he needed to say the things he wanted to say.
So he continued, “I never really thought that I would ever hear your voice again.”
It was too damn silent on the other end, Charles could only hear Erik breathing. Charles grew rather impatient and was quite angry of the fact that Erik can’t even rebut his little monologue.
“Charles, I—“
“I really do hate you.” Charles was even shocked with the conviction behind his own words. He figured that it was true, that was how he felt. He did not hate Erik Lehnsherr, the man; rather he hated how this ungrateful sod has treated him for the past year. He hated it thoroughly that he made sure that his next words would sting like hell.
“What did I ever do to you? Why would you leave me and still force me to believe that we were still together when halfway around the world you were with another man? You think I’m dumb? You think I couldn’t read a bloody tabloid? You think just because I read books exclusively that you could just go around town, paint it red knowing that pictures of you would end up on some tabloid and the odds of me finding it out would be one in a million?”
“Charles, It’s not what you thi—“
“Shut the fuck up!” Now Charles was shouting, he just couldn’t hold on to his anger any longer so he let the last thread holding on to it snap. Then he clenched his jaw and his hands so hard, he knew that if he continued in that manner, his phone would break. He just can’t afford that happening... literally. So he calmed himself and inhaled.
Charles, with all his hard-earned composure, decided that this call should end soon.
“I’m done. I never want to see you again.”
Then Charles pressed the end call button. The call has ended. Time to go back to reality. He checked the time on his phone: it was already ten minutes past midnight. Time to sleep, then. It was easier for Charles to fall asleep this time with all his energy drained. Before he knew it, he was already fast asleep.
Charles woke up with a start, the rain was pounding hard against his window but that was not the sound that woke him up. There was someone or something pounding against his apartment door. He checked his phone, it was thirty minutes past two in the morning. Then the pounding got louder. ‘Who the bloody fuck is that?’, he thought. He got up from the bed and walked towards his stack of books and grabbed the thickest hardcover he could find. If the person behind the door was a molester or whatever, it was best to come prepared and the book will be hard enough to knock the perpetrator senseless. He walked towards the entrance, with his left hand holding the book and held on to the knob. He counted mentally... 1... 2... 3. He unlocked the door, turned the knob and pulled the door towards him.
He had expected a couple of things happening when he opened the door but none of them actually came close to what was actually right in front of him.
Erik was wearing a black peacoat, dark gray bootleg jeans and black leather shoes. But his choice of clothes was not important upon Charles’ scrutiny. Erik was shivering, his hands were inside of his coat’s pockets, he looked somewhat pale with a faint flush in his cheeks, he had on this pleading look and most of all, he was soaking wet. Erik was staring at him, he didn’t know what else to do so he glared back at him.
“Erik, what in the bloody hell are you doing here? Do you know what time it is?”
Erik, still shivering, just shook his head. “I... honestly... don’t... know... Cha-Cha-Cha-Charles.” Erik’s voice wavered right at the end, his lips were shaking and his teeth were chattering against each other. Even though, Charles couldn’t give in that easily to emotions akin to pity.
“Go home, Erik.”
“Charles... please...”
Charles knew he had his stern face on. He knew that he was strong, he knew he had to be strong for this. “Didn’t I make it clear just hours ago? I don’t want to see you or talk to you. So please, Erik, go home.”
Erik moved so swiftly that Charles was not even fast enough to notice when Erik’s hand was gripping the wrist of his hand that held the book tightly. The book slammed against the floor, forgotten. Charles stared at the book, then at his wrist being held by Erik’s hand and then finally at Erik.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Charles wanted all his anger to be heard in that question but alas, he was still unbelievably not over this man. Instead his voice sounded faint. Erik’s hand slid down to interlace his fingers in between Charles’.  Charles did not fight it nor grasped back, he just remained still and unmoving.
“Charles, I love you”
Charles scoffed. “No, you don’t”
Now there was life in those green eyes. “Yes, I do”
“No. You. Don’t.” Charles spoke every word with much emphasis just to make sure that Erik knows that he was serious. “Now, let my hand go.”
Erik shook his head. “No, I will never let you go.”
With both eyebrows raised, Charles chuckled mockingly. “I think you just did, a year ago in fact.”
“Charles, you must know. The pictures you saw, the articles you read... they were all lies.”
“Well, the way Mr. Howlett held onto your hand proved otherwise.”
The grip on his hand grew tighter.  “Charles, listen to me. Please, just listen to me.”
Charles was looking everywhere except at Erik. He was trying his best to be hostile but it was a useless self-defence mechanism against Erik who knew him so much. Erik, noticing this, held Charles’ right cheek with a shivering hand and pushed it softly so that Charles was facing him.
Erik was crying.
“Charles, I love you. I love you still. You must know that. Surely you must know that.”
“Is a year of silence your way of showing that you love me, Erik? Because if you say so, then you have a twisted sense of humour, my friend, a twisted sense of what love is.”
Erik was sobbing now and his thumb was now actively caressing his cheek.
“I don’t know how to explain what happened, Charles. I can’t explain it now but trust me, please.”
Charles looked into Erik’s eyes. They looked too green and too sincere. He did not know what to say, so he responded through silence.
“I love you, Charles.”
“Please don’t say that.”
Erik brought his hands unto Charles’ shoulders and shook him lightly. “I’m going to say it because it is true. I’m going to say it because I want to.”
Erik brought his hands to Charles’ back and embraced him. With Erik being soaking wet, Charles’ sweatpants and shirt were now damp as well. He didn’t care about that for he was too shocked with what was actually transpiring. He didn’t embrace back, though.
“Erik, what do you want from me?” It sounded like a whisper but that seemed enough for Erik embraced him tighter.
“I want you, Charles. I never stopped wanting you. Please forgive me for how stupid I have been for the past year.”
Silence. When Charles did not respond, Erik leaned back, looked at Charles without letting go of his embrace. Charles was looking at the floor. ‘Lucky floor’, Erik thought.
“Charles, will you forgive me?”
Now, Charles held his gaze. “I don’t think I can do that.”
Erik looked so heartbroken that Charles wanted to take his response back. But no, he wanted to remain strong for himself. Only for himself.
“I don’t even know what I’m forgiving you for.”
“Charles, I can’t tell you the reason now.”
“Why not?”
“I don’t believe it’s the right time.”
Charles’ gaze went back to the floor. Erik, afraid of losing Charles’ attention, asked him, “Do you still love me, Charles?” Charles’ eyes opened wide and stared back at Erik.
“Erik, you need to go home.”
Charles started to push him away but Erik did not attempt to let go.
With a sigh, Charles said “Erik, please, let me go and go home.”
“Do you still love me? Please answer me, Charles, please.”
Charles did not do anything, he just stared at him blankly. He honestly did not know if what Erik did to him had completely eradicated the remains of his feelings. He was not sure if he trusted his voice this time. Erik may have mistaken the stare and the prolonged silence to be reprieve for the next thing he did surprised Charles. Erik sobbed, embraced him back and slowly slid down until he was kneeling and hugging Charles by his waist. His face was against Charles’ abdomen and he was sobbing and whimpering against it. Charles was fed up, it was too early in the morning to feel so many painful emotions that the only thing he wanted to do was go back to bed and just forget everything. It took him every single ounce of strength he had to remove the arms that held him slowly. Surprisingly, the owner of the arms obliged and soon he found Erik slowly standing up and facing him again. He looked wrecked. Charles was near sheer vulnerability but he held back. He slowly stepped backwards, took hold of the door’s knob and said, “Goodbye, Erik” and without looking back at him, he pushed the door to a close.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Xavier on Nai Cha and Surgery

((a little Cherik fic for Valentine's day where Charles is an O. R. nurse and Erik is a surgeon))

It was just another ordinary day for one Charles Xavier, or so it seemed. He had scrubbed-in in two herniorraphy cases that morning and just one more minor operation in the afternoon. Things were looking great, it seemed that he could get home early and maybe make some real dinner for himself, read a book and finally doze off earlier than what he’s used to. However, when he walked down the halls towards the Operating Room theatre, he could not shake the feeling that something was rather amiss and he swears that what he ate just minutes ago would put up a second appearance. He was feeling a little bit nervous and he haven’t got the foggiest why. He went quickly to the dressing room, changed into his scrubs and crocs and went to the O. R. lobby where he was met with Raven writing something on the schedule board.

“Hey, I’m back from my break!”

Raven did not even budge, so he asked, “Is there something wrong with the schedule?”

Now, Raven finally looked at him, with the tip of the covered whiteboard pen settling just under her chin and shook her head. “Nothing, but you might want to see this.”

Charles swiftly walked over to where Raven was and settled right behind her. When he saw what she wrote on the board, he nearly choked on his own spit. “Wha—When the bloody hell did this happen?”
With that reaction, Raven actually chuckled and turned to stand up beside him. She then placed her right hand over Charles’ right shoulder, faced him with a sly grin on her lips.

“Moira just told me minutes ago that there has been a slight change in the schedule and tomorrow’s thyroidectomy will be pushed today instead. Don’t worry, Charlie darling, I will be there standing right behind you as your Circulating Nurse and I’ll make sure you won’t make a fool of yourself.”
With that last least comforting message hanging on the air, she gestured towards Charles (who was still blankly staring at the board) and departed with a mock salute.

1 PM: Thyroidectomy; O. R. Table no. 1
Patient: Grey, Jean; 25 y. o.
Surgeon: Dr. Erik Lehnsherr
Anesthesiologist: Dr. Sean Cassidy
Scrub Nurse: Charles Xavier
Circulating Nurse: Raven Darkholme

Meanwhile, Charles (bless his soul) could not understand where he went wrong with today or maybe with his whole life. So far, he knows that he has been a good- nay- excellent O. R. nurse for the past two years that he has worked under one Moira McTaggert’s supervision. But, oh, he knows he’s still lying to himself. The first time he met Dr. Erik Lehnsherr was almost a year ago and right before he even met the man, he has heard rumours about his demeanor towards his colleagues. He can still hear the testimonials given by his friends in his head about the man running around his head like a tornado.

Moira McTaggert, O. R. Superviser: “Doctor Lehnsherr is a wonderful surgeon, kind of aloof but his level of dedication towards his work is just astounding.”
Raven Darkholme, O. R. Nurse: “Hot. Just hot. He has these beautiful green eyes that just give me all the awkward ladyboners. Strange, though, I haven’t seen his hair ever. He always wears a bonnet in the O. R. And he doesn’t take it off even in the theatre or in the lobby. I tried flirting with him once, it didn’t work out and trust me, you don’t want to know what happened.”
Dr. Sean Cassidy, Anesthesiologist: “Oh, Lehnsherr. The guy. The man. I heard some girl who was also his scrub nurse at that time tried to flirt with him while they were having a minor surgery, Lehnsherr ‘accidentally’ aimed the cautery wand in the poor scrub nurse’s gloved hand. She had to scrub out after that. Thankfully her hand did not get burned.”
Alex Summers, Surgical Ward Nurse: “Lehnsherr? Doctor Lehnsherr, you say? Let’s see... Unlike other doctors who have hieroglyphic penmanships, he actually writes legibly but he seldom gives orders verbally. Doesn’t talk much.”
Dr. Armando Muñoz, Resident Doctor: Surgical Ward: “We actually had a few classes together in our first year in med school. He’s really smart but he keeps to himself most of the time. I don’t even know if he has a girlfriend. But, when you get to know him he’s actually really good company.”
From the information he gathered, he could deduce that Dr. Erik Lehnsherr is not actually unpleasant but the air of seriousness and constant vigilance surrounding him should always be acknowledged. When he first met this enigmatic surgeon, Charles could not even begin to describe what he was looking at. His first scheduled operation with Lehnsherr was a Modified Radical Mastectomy that had the early on-call of eight in the morning. Charles decided to come in earlier to have everything prepared before Lehnsherr even arrived in the premises. He was very much confident that day, at least he could show this particular formidable surgeon the competent man that he is. However when he reached the O. R. dressing room he was greeted with the vision of a tall man, with dark ginger hair and eyes so green Charles almost got lost in this doctor’s stern stare. It took a few more seconds for Charles to come down from Valhalla to earth and realize that this man is definitely Dr. Lehnsherr. The man was an hour and a half early. Wow. Don’t people sleep anymore? Raven was wrong, this man was not hot, this man was gorgeous and all things beautiful.
Charles, knowing the awkward position they were in, fidgeted and finally broke the silence.
“Uhm, good morning Dr. Lehnsherr.”

Lehnsherr, in perfect mint green scrubs and white crocs, raised both his brows and simply nodded in response to the greeting. Charles had really no idea what to say next, so he fidgeted more.

“I assume you’ll be part of my team this morning?” Lehnsherr’s inquiry hung in the air while Charles changed into his scrubs.

After the mundane ordeal of changing clothes, Charles replied, “Yes, Doc” and raised his right hand forward gesturing a handshake. “I’m Charles Xavier, your scrub nurse this morning”. Erik firmly shook his hand. Charles was pretty sure that that was the moment he realized he was infatuated and it hit him hard. After the introductions, Charles proceeded on readying everything for the operation- the necessary tools and things needed taken out from the autoclave, the operating table in perfect shape, the cautery and the suction machines functioning and all the others that were required for the upcoming MRM operation. While doing his scrubbing, Charles could not shake off the warm feeling in his chest towards Lehnsherr, he was sure he was developing a crush for the handsome doctor but the question was, was he even gay?

Even though Charles was thoroughly prepared for the operation, luck apparently was not on his side at that time. In the middle of the operation things started to run to a rather ill-fated course:

·         First, he discovered that he was missing some retractors and forceps in the sterile table, so an orderly had to sterilize newly washed ones before they could proceed which took them quite some time. He tried his best not to look at Lehnsherr because he was afraid that his eyes would look disappointed, so he never really knew how the doctor felt about the minor delay.

·         Second, Lenhsherr asked if he could change the blade of the scalpel since it was beginning to turn blunt. It was an easy task and it didn’t really require much expertise for Charles to do it but when he tried to remove the blade with a forcep, it wouldn’t even retract itself. It took a few more tries before the blade surrendered and was snapped in two. He was deeply embarrassed with himself.

·         Third, when it was finally time to close the incision, Lehnsherr asked for a plain surgical gut suture. Now, Charles has no idea how he made a fool of himself with this simple, easy-peasy request but when he asked Raven for the requested suture through a subtle murmur in her ear, he said “Doc needs a chromic surgical gut”. When Lehnsherr spotted the mistake, he did not look disappointed or dismayed, he just looked at Charles with his squinted eyes. Charles was not sure if he was glaring or if he was smiling. But a rooky mistake like that wouldn’t really deserve a smile. A glare, it was.

That was a year ago and Charles now swears that he will not allow himself to be embarrassed anymore. And anyhow, he even had around four or five more operations with Lehnsherr in between that horrendous performance and at present and no drastic mistakes were made in those times. He wouldn’t let an emergency thyroidectomy, with Lehnsherr as his surgeon, get him down. No, he will not allow it. And besides, if it is any consolation, Lehnsherr does not even talk much, his eyes do the talking for him. Oh right, it was worse than verbal murder. It’s not that he finds Lehnsherr repulsive that he detests seeing him, on the contrary he finds him rather breathtaking but seeing him and working with him always reminded him that he could instantly turn into a helpless, clumsy little buffoon with just a gaze from those green eyes. He wants to block them with a pair of shades so much. (Oh right, there is a huge possibility that Lehnsherr may look dead sexier with shades, damn!)

The emergency thyroidectomy with Lehnsherr, surprisingly, went splendidly. No accidental cauterization of the scrub nurse, no scrub outs, no misheard suture orders and a certain infatuated scrub nurse. Charles was at the top of his game. Before he even knew it, they were already closing up the incision. Then the sudden sound of Lehnsherr clearing up his throat brought Charles out of his focus with the closing suturing and looked up to meet Lehnsherr’s too-green gems.

“Do you like coffee, Mr. Xavier?”

Charles felt his whole body flush, thank all the gods that his sterile gown and his mask hid his rather embarrassing trait. He blinked twice before he realized there was a question for him to answer.

“Not really, Doc. I prefer Nai Cha over potent caffeine.” Charles still could not get over the fact that Lehnsherr is doing small talk with him.

Nai Cha? As in milk tea?” This man is amazing, he can do small talk with Charles and at the same time suture an incision with drop dead precision.

“Yes, I like milk tea a lot.”

“50 percent sweetness?”

“I go all the way, Doc. Only a hundred percent for me.”



“Well, from your choice in beverage, sweetness and flavour I could probably conclude that you have quite a sweet tooth Mr. Xavier.” Was that... no, Charles could be wrong but he’s quite sure that what he just saw on Lehnsherr’s face (to be honest, just his eyes) was a smile.

After the end of the whole operation, Lehnsherr was left to attend to the Patient’s chart with Raven and Charles had to prepare for the next operation. For a moment there, Charles actually had a conversation with his *ahem* crush. Even though it was far from flirtation, that single moment was enough for him to keep on daydreaming until the end of his second and last operation for the afternoon. At last, he thought, he could finally go home and be left with daydreams of finally having a longer conversation with his dear Erik. ‘Really, Charles? Your dear Erik? And when did you even start calling the man by his first name? You have got to get over your head’. He knew he was hopeless when the daydreaming starts.

It was quite a bit of a surprise for him when he stumbled in the O. R. Lobby, ready to go home, and found Dr. Lehnsherr looking gorgeous in just jeans, a white V-neck shirt and a pair gray chucks sitting in one of the love seats with two take-out Nai Chas in both his hands cradled by his lap.
“Dr. Lehnsherr, you’re still here!”

At that, Lehnsherr looked up from his blank gaze on the floor and actually smiled. Charles suddenly had the feeling that the ligaments holding his knees up were giving in.
“Please, call me Erik. And yes, I’m still here.” Lehnsherr, uhm, Erik stood up and walked towards Charles and handed him one of the Nai Chas with his right hand. Too flabbergasted, Charles could not do anything clever but stare and stare some more.

Realizing that Charles may have not taken the hint to take the Nai Cha, Erik shook it with his reaching hand. “Nai Cha, for you. Wintermelon, 100 percent.”

Charles was doing his best to fight back a whimper threatening to escape from his vocal box. God, he realized, he must look rather stupid now because he was just staring. Well, bloody-effing-hell. So, he straightened up and took the Nai Cha from Erik’s hand. Erik flashed him that toothy smile again. Huh, Erik had too much teeth, Charles realized. He could not escape the momentary daydream of having those teeth graze his neck, his jaw, his everything. ‘Charles, get a hold of yourself.’

“Uhm... wow... uhm.” Splendid! And now he was an incoherent, babbling mess. Just perfect, Xavier. You just lost your dignity right there. “Thank you, Doc- I mean Erik. This is really thoughtful of you.” He sipped and tasted the sweet goodness that is 100 percent wintermelon. When he looked up, he realized that Erik is still staring at him. Or his lips. Maybe his lips. No, definitely his lips.
“Mr. Xavier-“

“Oh please, do call me Charles.”

With that, Erik smiled again (what’s with all the smiles lately?) and straightened himself up, with all his six feet two inches self towering over Charles’ five feet seven inches figure. He definitely felt like a hobbit.

“As you wish, Charles.” Erik said with much emphasis on the Charles. He took a sip from his Nai Cha without even breaking his gaze over Charles. Charles was then made aware of how he was holding his Nai Cha with both hands like it was precious china, too fragile to be held with only one. Erik grinned while sipping and Charles grinned back. It was a well meaning give-and-take situation from then on.

Erik then swept his free hand over his hair and finally regained his voice. “Since coffee is definitely out of the question... Charles, I was wondering if you would like to have another Nai Cha with me sometime.”

Charles was slightly gaping and he was aware of that. Surprised as he was, he couldn’t really find the right words to say. It was a war between “Yes, sure”, “Alright” or “Of course! Then we can get married, have cute little adopted Chinese kids, maybe a Labrador pup or two, a house in the suburbs and a station wagon. Anything, really. Anything for you, Erik”. So much for maintaining composure.

Meanwhile, Erik took Charles’ momentary unresponsiveness for reprieve.

Charles was sure Erik was talking but could not hear what he was really saying because he was trying his best to catch Erik’s eyes because they were going everywhere except to the direction of Charles’ own gaze.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to, Charles, just because I am your surgeon and you are my nurse doesn’t really oblige you—“ God, he was blushing! His self-salvation speech was halted due to the fact that Charles’ index and middle fingers were subtly touching his lips. ‘Wow, Charles, you’re rather courageous today, talking to and touching Erik on the same day!’

“I would love to have one or more Nai Chas with you, Erik.” The smile that he was rewarded with possibly blinded him.

Not being able to resist, Charles then smiled back, took Erik’s free hand and stood beside him. He looked up and saw a glimpse of what could be an expression of surprise in Erik’s eyes.

“I’m actually on my way home, fancy a walk with me then maybe take-out dimsum in my apartment?”
Erik lit up and nodded.

Charles knew it was going to be more than just a walk and take-out dimsum. Maybe a little flirting, maybe little kisses here and there and maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t be as clumsy in bed with him as he is in the operating room.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Musings and Memoirs Pt. 2


I find myself consumed on the situation I am in right now. I seem to be laying, dead-spread in the intimate sandy shore of this resort called “La Isla Bonita” somewhere in the French Polynesian islands. Brandon Boyd is singing in the background, more like singing directly to my ears through my Ipod. After shuffling and reshuffling my summer playlist I have finally found the perfect song for this wonderful affair, a breathtaking spread right in front of me. “I dig my toes into the sand, the ocean looks like a thousand diamonds strewn across a blue blanket.” Apparently I am, as of the time being, digging my toes unto the sand. The sand is glorious as much as how it feels; it’s as white as the clouds up in the sky. It’s so warm but it’s the kind of warmth you want to feel, it’s the odds are on me now. Sun shining, waves crashing, seems like a dream, huh? I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me. But I do believe this made you think of me even for just a little bit. “I lean against the wind, pretend that I am weightless, and in this moment I am happy.” I am happy… I am so happy that I even wrote this letter for you in my mind. Now, I’m finally letting you go, I am finally setting you free and now, I am finally and permanently erasing you from my memories. Ciao, gago! “I wish you were here…” no, I absolutely do NOT.

Six years ago I was the innocent, know-nothing-about-love girl. Naivety seemed to be my forte. But I was very much unaware of the fact that I was that gullible before. I was twenty and three years old and it was the first time I sat foot in the big city of Manila. Yes, you can call me the quintessential probinsyana, dalagang bukid or the female hillbilly from Bukidnon. I was offered a job in the big city as a features editor in an entertainment magazine. I had no idea in this industry, especially with the people comprising the Philippine show business. But why did I take the job? I took the job because I wanted an adventure, I wanted new experiences in a new place, meet new friends and seek opportunities for my talent. You see, I did have something in me that I was proud of and that was the fact that I was good in writing essays and insights about the worldly phenomenon, about real news and things that mattered to me. I wanted to have investigative work or maybe write the greatest exposé of the year. Being the features editor was a good start for me. Throughout my job I met famous socialites, celebrities, movie directors and all the who’s who of the Philippine show business. Still three months on the job and I was having a tremendous time. But I never foresaw the tragedy that came after. She became my friend. And now, she is nothing to me. But wait, we’re talking about me and you, right? You came, you saw, you conquered. But that was not the end of it--- you broke me and then you killed me, figuratively. Maybe even after that you tried to eat me alive. You were the perfect gentleman, you made me believe that you were actually crazy about me, and without a doubt I quickly fell for your tricks. You treated me like a queen—you took me to some fancy restaurants, sent me bunch of flowers at work and even found the time to text me during your busiest schedules. But I knew from the start that there was something wrong with this, what did you want me for? You were perfectly eligible and there are a lot of women in line for you, but why the hell me? I was too caught up in the thoughts of puppy love that I didn’t have the time to think about this perplexing thought. It was profound how quickly I fell for you; you were not difficult to love from the start. We had good times and even great times, at once I thought we were the happiest couple and I, the luckiest girl in the world. I finally had someone wrapped around my stout fingers. And now I think it was the other way around. Then you said you loved me, and I believed you and I still believe until now that you did… until you met her. I did not notice at that time that you were slowly, gradually changing and our sweet downfall was aggravated by our busy schedules and our contradicting personalities. She and I were the closest in the office and I was even excited to introduce her to you. Okay, I’ll cut the crap and say her name out loud. Sara was a very close friend to me; it was like whenever I was in distress she would be the one to fight for me. After all, isn’t her being palaban the quality that attracted you most to her? After all those weeks of being far from each other due to your business travel to Cebu, you called me up and told me you were arriving in Manila and that you’ll be in the last flight. You wanted to talk to me, so we decided to have dinner together that night. It was the fourteenth of February, Valentine’s Day, and I wondered what surprise you were going to give me. Since you sounded quite serious in the phone earlier, I had the wildest thought that you were actually going to propose to me that night. So I foolishly dressed myself up like a doll to look good for that moment. I made sure I was in my best appearance and in my best condition. We were already dating for eleven months after all, so don’t blame me if I thought things that way. We had dinner at our favorite restaurant and we had our usual. And then suddenly, while I was still chewing the last bits of my maki, you blurted in your most condescending manner that you were breaking up on me. BREAKING UP WITH ME? I lost all my senses, even my gag reflex, for one second and then I gained it back. That was when all of my senses went back to my body; unfortunately my gag reflex came in first. Do you know how humiliating it is to find yourself choking on a half share of maki in front of the posh-iest people in the city? You didn’t even understand why I couldn’t respond to your declaration, you even said “please say something” a few times before you comprehended the idea of me choking to death right in front of you. Lucky for me one of the people seated in the table behind us knew how to do the Heimlich. This is the exact moment where I decided I will never, ever forgive you in my entire life. For weeks after the break-up, I walked around in the city like a zombie from Resident Evil. I was clinically depressed to the point where I cried myself to sleep every night. Sara was there to the rescue, she was the one who took care of me and told me that I had to be strong. I didn’t know that at that moment she was lying to me, that you were already intimate with each other for four months in the making. Then, she mysteriously told me she was moving to a different magazine up north in the city and that she was moving. I was devastated, I lost you and I was about to lose my only close friend in the city. So for another six months at work I carried on like I did before and put all my heart into my writing. I submitted article after article about politics in the Inquirer, Newsweek and even Times but to no avail I was still not offered a job from the best of the best. But you know me, I still carried on and on and on… until I heard the strangest news from a friend of a friend—you were actually getting married. At first I couldn’t believe it but then I knew you, I understood you perfectly:  you were downright impulsive. In fact, your impulsivity just ran in your arteries and veins and it just hit you brain. I wanted to see this intriguing gesture right before my very eyes. I wanted to see the woman you fooled and was too naïve to have been fooled. So gate crashed your wedding but of course without you knowing. I slipped right into the bride’s room and to my greatest, unexpected surprise, your bride was none other than my ex-friend Sara. I was baffled, bewildered, confused and most of all astonished. I wanted clarity at that instant. Sara insincerely apologized and tried to explain why she ended up being your bride. She said that what you had for each other was love, that you were both sorry that I was a casualty in your account, that I was made foolish by both of you and that I did not know. Speechless, tears ran down my cheeks and anger roared inside me. I could not suppress it anymore, so I slapped her real hard. And I thought that wasn’t enough, so I slapped her again.

For the next months I vowed to myself that I must not think about you and Sara ever again. I threw myself into writing article after article, painstakingly submitting it to all the magazines that I know who published political articles. I even wrote an article about what a heartless bastard you were and it was even published in Cosmopolitan just days after. And then one day, salvation came like dust in the wind. It was Oprah in the telly and she was talking about complete reinvention after the hurricane Katrina. She was giving a chance of some of the devastated families to start over again, and maybe enhance what was then and bring it back to what was now. At the end of the episode I did not notice that I was crying so much that my handkerchief was soaked. After days of thinking about what Oprah said, I realized that her words were not only a message to those who were affected by the hurricane; it was also directed to me. I have to reinvent myself and start anew. I just could not continue living like a heartsick loner who’s caught up in the past, I had to be strong for myself and only for myself alone. And so the impossible mission commenced just three months after your marriage. I went into my very own self-improvement mission.  At first I did not know where to start, I knew what I had to do but I was confused on where to start first. My looks?  My brains? My career? Or in a bigger picture, my life? So, I went back to the basics: shopping. I have always loved shopping for new things even though I was not at all that trendy. I always felt good while shopping, it was like an orgasmic experience for me and that all of my good hormones were shooting the hoops like crazy. So I bought new clothes, bags and shoes… what’s next? I wrote new political articles in a personal point of view, that made them a little light-hearted compared to the angst-driven articles I wrote in the past. I did not lose hope, I submitted my articles to any magazine that would want my words to be published in their wonderful, insightful and glossy pages. I read new books and re-ignited the lost romantic in me by reading Shakespeare, Austen, Byron and Keats over again and at the same time feed the inner temples of my cognition by reading Clavell, Crichton and Rushdie. I cut my hair into a sharp bob and walked straight with my head held up high—just like an independent woman. It was hard for me to decide whether I should let go of my job in the entertainment magazine or to retain it. There was no definite future for me in entertainment and in all honesty I have little tolerance with it. I think it was fate that brought me to decide to find a new adventure. So, I quit my job and went back to my parents in Bukidnon. I think at that moment I didn’t know what I was doing, what I only knew was that it felt right, it felt so damn right.

I volunteered as a doctor’s assistant in Doctors without Borders in collaboration with the United Nations. Can you believe it? Me? Volunteering? Just when I was about to become a whole new polished woman, I detoured to being a volunteer. So for three months I was stationed at the jungles of Thailand and trained under the supervision of the head nurse of the unit. It was really a hard life. The living condition was less than the minimum and what’s worse was that there was always a threat to our lives since there was a war going on in the region. We moved from place to place, hours became days, days became weeks and weeks became months. After the training, I was given the ‘go’ signal to be a doctor’s assistant and they were going to fly me to Cambodia. I was to work under Dr. Caleb Desrouleux. At that time, I’ve always imagined him to be in his late forties, possibly balding and sporting a french accent. Little did I know I was going to be his assistant. After six months of working in the rural regions of untamed Cambodia, I discovered that Dr. Desrouleux was not a balding, forty-something year old French man, he was a thirty year old French-Canadian who, in fact, was not balding but has rich, thick chestnut hair. He was very much a great doctor who was as accommodating to his patients as he was to his colleagues. For the six months that the team was together, all six of us: Dr. Caleb, Dan: our statistics head, Lara: my very close friend and my fellow doctor’s assistant, Father Petrucci, Sister Maria and I became really close, almost like a real family. During the days when work wasn’t demanded as much and medical supplies were still awaited to be sent or dropped off, I resorted to writing memories of my experiences in Thailand and Cambodia in a cheap notebook and a pen that I borrowed from Dan. It was very much different from writing in my laptop, the words were raw and very much fresh and every single thought that passed through my mind ended up in the notebook. There was a time when the team was given the opportunity to go to Phnom Penh to reconnect to civilization for three days. We bought everything that we could buy through our allowances and I even had the opportunity to log on to the internet. It took me a couple of hours to type everything that was in my notebook in case I’d lose it and I hit ‘send’ to the magazines that I was vouching for future employment. I was really hoping people would be able to know how much suffering there is in this world, and that I was a part of it. I was hoping that more people would be aware of this project and help us in helping refugees in these devastated parts of several countries to own up to it and stand up again. The last month of our stay in Cambodia was quite heartrending for us since we knew we were each going our separate ways after that. And on our last week, Dr. Caleb and I grew closer through our conversations about our lives before this project and the probable future ahead of us, whether or not we’ll be able to come back and volunteer. I discovered that he was a graduate of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and graduated top of his class. His family was in business for which he vaguely gave description on. He has two older brothers-- one was an architect and the other a business tycoon. He was born in Canada but was raised in New York. Before he volunteered, he was a first year resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital and lived a pretty normal life. He has been with ‘DWB’ for the past two years and has been to Ethiopia, Colombia, Haiti, Nepal and Cambodia on refugee missions. He was nearly shot by a guerilla rebel back in Ethiopia.  Then I asked him what drove him to volunteer for Doctors without Borders, he told me it was because of a break-up. Ironic, huh? His response just made me laugh throughout our conversation. Apparently, he got his heart broken when his girlfriend left him for another man, and that man was a friend of his. His volunteerism was a way for him to start a new life and set the right priorities straight. Double ironic!

At our last day, Dr. Caleb told me he wanted to visit me in the Philippines and that he wanted me to join him and the team in the next project.

While I was still walking towards the little road leading to our house in Bukidnon, I couldn’t shake off the last words Dr. Caleb told me while we were in the international airport in Phnom Penh: “I like you very, very much and would like to court you properly.” Whaaaaaaaat? Ang haba ng hair mo, dai! Throughout my flight from Cambodia to Manila and Manila to Cagayan de Oro and my bus ride from Cagayan de Oro to Bukidnon, I tried to decipher what he meant by his words. Did he really mean it? Maybe I was just having the yips or maybe I was just having one of those auditory hallucinations that women get when their estrogen shoot up. Or maybe, just maybe, there were no hidden meanings, he meant what he said. He told me to email him with my decision. I just can’t wait to arrive home and go online, STAT! Amidst the terrible jetlag I was having, I still had the energy to entertain my parents and my younger brother through my stories and experiences in Thailand and Cambodia. I told them how I loved my work so much that maybe I would come back and volunteer again. I even had the strength to take a bath and freshen up. But by the time I was fully and freshly clothed; I could not resist the temptation of my bed and just snoozed off. By the time I woke up, it was already four in the morning. I was the only one who was awake. I took my laptop in the kitchen counter and turned it on and immediately started writing my reply to Dr. Caleb or Caleb or mutual admirer or future boyfriend or future husband… so yeah my mind trailed off for a while until a second later I regained my status and really started typing down the words that I have practiced reciting in my head for the whole travel from Cambodia to my home. I told him that yes, I really liked him too and that I would permit to court me if that was what he wanted. I even told him that he was welcome to come visit me in Bukidnon whenever he wanted. And if ever I was given the opportunity to renew my contract in the United Nations, I would very much oblige. After hitting the ‘send’ button, I went around our living room and spotted a stack of mail. Just checking, I flicked on each envelope until I saw the envelope I was waiting for my whole life.

So, why am I telling this to you? Well, this is just a way for me to put a closure on our pseudo-relationship in the past. I saw Sara just the other week in Manila and it seems that you have a beautiful daughter. When I saw her, I thought all the rage in the world was going to drop on me, but I was wrong. I was glad to see her and to know that somehow the both of you made the right choice of falling in love with each other. Sara was still apologetic about what happened but I shooed her words away. I was happy knowing that even though you both did excellent in hurting me in the past, at least we were in great places now—you and Sara have a daughter and me, well, still un-married but happy. Very, very happy indeed.

God knows how much I have changed for the past six years. My looks, my stance, my career, my love, my life. It’s like I took reinvention on a whole new level. I am here in an island in French Polynesia having my well-deserved vacation after all the hard work in India facing patients with venereal diseases and nutritional illnesses. It’s a hard life, yes, but I am deeply inspired by it every day. Nothing has affected me this much before. And in addition, my work is also deeply inspired by Dr. Caleb Desrouleux who said that I drove him ‘crazy as hell- in a good way.’ What’s more wonderful than this is the fact that I actually work for Times magazine now. Do you remember my little notebook in Cambodia? Times loved it so much that they’re paying me to travel with the DWB and UN and write insights about politics, healthcare and goodwill volunteerism through my work as a volunteer in depressed areas. It’s like I said, it’s not easy but I can’t live without it. I really just can’t. The view from here, I must say, is just spectacular. I am here with Caleb and we’re having a mini-holiday. Just three weeks from now we will go back to Cambodia to start another project. Oh, did I mention? Caleb finally told me what his family does and it has something to do with… uhm… a lot of things really. But one thing’s for certain: he does not have to work for his whole life with the money that his family’s got. And I already met his family. His parents were quite surprising. When he told me we were meeting his family in their home in the Upper East Side in Manhattan, I instantly thought of them as judgmental and posh socialites with high breeding. But I was wrong. His parents loved road tripping and everywhere in their home were pictures, souvenirs and memorabilia of their travels all over the world. His mother was overly enthusiastic in meeting me that she kept pinching my cheeks most of the time. His father was a stout man who talked nothing but food, fishing and football. When the famous Desrouleux brothers were together, they looked like models from the same agency or actors like the Baldwin brothers but at the same time they were like kids: they talk about who’s bigger than who and who’s got the better car.

This will be a farewell to you and my bitter memories of you. I would just like to think that it was fate that brought us together and broke us up. It was fate that I reinvented myself, volunteered for the UN, met Caleb and became a Times magazine writer. It was fate that I became who I’ve always wanted to be. And yeah, it took a measly six years to do it.

And I have only one thing left to say to you: THANK YOU FOR BREAKING UP WITH ME.

-your ex-girlfriend.