Categories > Original > Drama > The View from Sta. Rita Street

One

by Moira 0 Reviews

The Day You Came

Category: Drama - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Romance - Characters:  - Published: 2005/09/14 - Updated: 2005/09/15 - 855 words

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Cultural Notes:

Congressional Village
- yes, there IS an actual place called Congressional Village. It's in Quezon City, within Metro Manila, Philippines.

Ate - (AH-te) older sister, an honorific, also applied to single females older than yourself

Kuya - (KU-yah) older brother, same principle

Mang - an honorific, too, something like Mister

Aling - same as above, for older married females (AH-ling)

Sta. - it's an abbreviation for "Santa", so it's Santa Rita

puto (POO-toh), kutchinta (kutchin-TAH) - little rice cakes

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There are shadows on Sta. Rita Street.

It's funny, because nobody else seems to see them except me. On the outside, our street looks like any other street here in Congressional Village. Black gates, maroon gates, concrete fences, fences that consist mostly of metal wires with a latch attached somewhere. Squat, dullf{colored houses with windows that look like dead eyes staring at you, sitting side by side with spanking new houses gleaming bright in the sun, with brownf{tinted bay windows smiling cheerfully upon the street. Neatly trimmed hedges and manicured lawns thrown in with cars rotting in garages and garbage bins puking their contents all over the sidewalk.

Yes, it's that kind of neighborhood.

Most streets have their own shadows, but they're usually smart enough to stay huddled underneath rocks or behind the trees until they are driven out again by the need to expose the light for what it is. But the shadows of Sta. Rita are stupid, fearless things. They sit at the corner stores or linger around the kiddie playground, watching people move among them with wide grins and vacant eyes. Sometimes, they even leap at you as you walk down the street, absorbed in your own tiny universe, and they laugh at you while you reel about in shock, witnessing the death of yet another one of your complacent certainties.

You understand.

You didn't, two years ago. You had just moved into the house opposite ours. You, your mom and dad, your older brother, and your baby sister. The truck came to deliver your furniture and your expectations to this new place, and you were all smiling as you went about the business of moving in, calling out "this is my room" and "don't put the TV there" and "it's my turn to take a bath." The neighbors came out to watch you, and you shook their hands and passed around puto and /kutchinta/, and soon you had them smiling and offering to help you, just like that.

I thought it was kind of funny at the time, seeing the neighbors look so nice and amiable. It was like watching a TV show through my window. There was Ate Charo, who I often saw slapping and hitting her baby because she didn't like the watered-down condensed milk she'd give her. And Kuya Boyet, who had once nearly burned his house to the ground because he'd been careless with a burner during a drug session. And Mang Narding, the accountant who'd been caught embezzling hundreds of thousands of bucks from his employer, who still hadn't gotten around to having him arrested. I watched that scene intently, because I wanted to remember seeing the neighbors that way. Just for laughs, you know.

The shadows were there, but you didn't see them. You couldn't. Not yet.

And I watched you that first afternoon you took your bike out for a ride around the neighborhood. You didn't look any different from Jake and Kuya Boyet and the other boys on the street. But I sat completely still as I watched you, listening to the pounding of my heart in my ears. The way you smiled at Ate Charo, the way you spoke to your mom, telling her where you were going, the way you picked up your sister for a hug. It was--it was like nothing I'd ever seen before.

I was watching you, too, the day you saw the shadows of Sta. Rita for the first time. Mang Ago, the plump tabloid writer who¡¦d given your dad a bottle of Fundador brandy, had shot his live-in girlfriend and her two sons before running out into the street waving the gun about. Then he turned the gun on himself and blew his brains out. Triple murder, and a suicide as well. The cops were all over the place. They carried the bodies out, and days later you could still see the stains on the sidewalk where Mang Ago¡¦s body had fallen after he shot himself. It was all over the papers the next day, a perverse source of pride for the inhabitants of Sta. Rita. Look, we made the headlines again.

I saw the look on your face that day. White and shivering, you found yourself pressing forward to get a better view, as full of morbid curiosity as the others. Then you glanced back at where your family was standing, and I could almost read the thoughts running frantically through your head. What if it had happened to you? To yours? What if it had been your father who was shot? What if it had been you?

Welcome to the neighborhood, and all that jazz.
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