Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Unbeliever

By Sonia B. SyGaco

The motorcycle skidded over the narrow dirt road’s potholes.
 If she hadn’t been on the gas tank’s side saddle, she’d be hanging between the bushes, like her companions she could now hear screaming from the branches, where they’d been thrown. She knew that would happen.
 She’d just come from town.


“Will you Ms Mary buy these things for us until Felix recovers from pneumonia?”
 Unable to decline the request, she took the first morning trip at 5, on this modified motorcycle the highlanders called  habal-habal. It could squeeze six passengers onto its wooden plank at the rear. She hoped to return by mid afternoon.

Others muttered about having to teach their first assignment in the hinterlands, but she took this in her stride. Anyway it made a perfect alibi for not going home on weekdays and evading Albert. His stories always ran in circles around “I”. Her family adored him and sadly she hadn’t been able drive him away. Was it because Albert’s family was influential in town that her parents favored him?
What will I do with you Mary?” Father kept repeating.
Don’t tell me you will be among the long list of old maids in town.” Mother added.
Maybe you should open your eyes and give Albert youryes’.” Her elder sister Clarisse suggested.
She was completely Clarisse’s opposite; she turned a deaf ear to their every word. Was something wrong with her that she couldn’t help finding flaws: his face, his clothes, down to his shoes, the way he spoke, as well as the discussion. She knew his family and friends, and finding errors, like this, would eventually lead to dislike.
During college all of her male friends were fools rushing in for advice on love from someone as inappropriate as her with such counselling. They would ask to craft love letters while the girls would seek help on farewell notes. Their love and heart breaking tales -  love was the least she could think of.
A heart’s content : that’s how she described her simple life in the mountains. During harvest season, the students brought her some things and in return, she gave remedial lessons after class.

Today, she felt lighthearted, promising to arrive in town before sundown. As soon as the habal-habal came into view, eager, she didn’t hesitate to hop in. Along the trip it began to drizzle, until the steep terrain made riding difficult.


The motorcycle skidded over the potholes of the narrow dirt road.
She raised her long wet disheveled hair from the man’s face. She looked but did not notice him. All this time she had taken for granted this habal-habal driver in many of her travels. He’d always asked her to take a seat on the gas tank side saddle. At every bump in the ride his hands on the accelerator handle and his arms would touch her skin.
Brushing down dirt from her clothes, she stood up without a word.
She thought: Thomas. That’s his name. Thomas.

© 2010 Sonia B. Sygaco

Sonia B. SyGaco is a fiction writer. She holds a master’s degree in creative writing at Silliman University in the Philippines. Her creative works have appeared in Philippine Free Press and Philippine Graphic Magazine.

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