Days without paracetamol*

Days without paracetamol*

I.

Sadness creeps in every time you leave. I welcome him, fix him coffee at three in the morning, and sing him sad songs. In your absence, I find clarity. No questions, no doubts. Sadness is addictive. While I wait for you, I cradle solitude to no end. I type away, bruised, but that’s fine for writing is meant to hurt. I end this paragraph with a period, and after that, I will bleed some more.

II.

Before pulling to a halt, your friend reminds you, for the third time, to never order the fried dumplings. This is one of the things you like and envy about her, aside from still being able to drive after six bottles of beer: she is someone you would call imposing, until, of course, she corrects you. Then you would resort to suggestive. Unlike her, you fear being construed as rude. You are that kind of person who always feels the need to pass everyone else’s jeepney fare. You are too apologetic you even say sorry for not giving the exact change. Remember that one time a guy made you drink a White Russian just after you told him you’re lactose intolerant? You still saw him after that night. You were easily swayed, pushed, and pulled, and the next time someone tells you to jump for no reason, you will jump. But unlike those nights when familiar strangers had told you to unzip their pants or scream their name at three in the morning or spit or swallow or bark, you held your breath for a moment before telling the waiter that you’ll have the fried dumplings. You breathed out, smiling.

III.

From afar I can already smell the usual perfume you wear on Tuesdays. You didn’t notice it, but there was many a time in the elevator when I would fade into the background and I would sniff your back like a mad dog. It was a Tuesday, and you smelled of humility, especially when you apologized upon pressing the close button as I was about to get off my floor. You were running late yet you still managed to stretch those lips to a thin, confident smile. But after many Tuesdays of secretly standing at your back to catch the slightest hint of shampoo you used that day or whatever detergent and softener your laundromat put on your shirt, weirdly enough, you smell differently today. My senses tell me it’s something close to love. But I no longer trust them these days. ■

*Apologies to Snow Patrol