Tag Archive | letting go

Goodbye Girl

“Why are you giving me a feather?” she asked.

“Not just any feather, that’s a phoenix feather.” When she laughed, he hastened to explain. “It’s disguised like it’s from a boring old chicken, but that’s a phoenix feather, trust me.”

“Okay,” she agreed easily. Her imagination was capable. Besides, it was the first conversation they’d had in weeks, and she wanted to keep talking. She missed him. The razor-sharp loss of their easy friendship pierced her chest, but she ignored it. “Why are you giving me a phoenix feather?”

“Because I’m letting you walk away from me.”

Just like that, the tears in her throat rushed into her eyes. She knew it, had known that it would come to this, but had childishly kept wishing they could go back to the way they’d been for four years: high school friends, misfits fitting in perfectly together. Then he admitted his love, asking her to stay in the town she’d wanted to escape all her life.

His apology was in the hand brushing her tears away. The first touch between them in three weeks, five days, and 18 hours. Since when had she started counting the times he touched her?

“You know I’m in love with you,” he said gently. “But I’m no longer asking you to stay, or holding you back. I’m letting you go. We’ll let each other go.  Completely.”

“But…but,” she was really crying now,  sobbing like a child, knowing she was being hideously unfair, but too stricken to stop. “I don’t want to lose you. I don’t, Jay, I can’t. Please….”

He gripped her hand, crushing the feather, betraying how she was tearing him apart. But dammit, she loved him, too. She loved him, enough to hurt them both, but not enough to stay. The selfishness of it silenced her, while a dim, pathetic part of her mind registered his hands touching hers. That’s twice today.

“That’s where this phoenix feather comes in,” he soothed, smoothing it out on her palm. “You’ll return someday, or maybe I’ll find you. When the things we want no longer stand between us, we’ll start again.”

“A new beginning from the ashes?” It should’ve been corny, but she couldn’t laugh.

“Yes. Someday.”

“Don’t hate me.” Her greatest fear slipped out, and the look on his face told her he heard.

Oh, baby. Never,” he cried, pulling her close. “We have someday,” he promised, but the only important thing was that he was finally holding her, and his arms were tight, so tight that it was suddenly alright, it was perfect, but just for a moment, just enough to remember until someday. So she held on, carefully holding the feather, and believed him.

I wrote this in response to the “phoenixRed Writing Hood prompt from Write on Edge. It’s my first time to join this challenge, and the prompt was just too perfect to resist. This is a fictionalized account following the 450-word limit, but there really was a boy, a promise, and a feather that even now is tucked inside my wallet. It’s been almost ten years, and the promise has been kept, perhaps not in the manner of a Hollywood happy ending, but it’s our story, and we like our ever after the way it turned out. 🙂



You know what I found this morning, in a long-unopened compartment of my wallet? It was a letter from you, dated several years and a lifetime ago. Tucked into the folds were three balayong blossoms, dry and fragile from being pressed for so long. You loved me then, I remember. You recorded these promises for posterity, so that I can read them over and over again and know what I meant to you. And then you changed your mind.

Dammit, David. How can I still be hurting over this now? People’s hearts get broken every day. People get left behind, and people move on. So why the heck am I here, plenty of time and plenty of adventures later, crying over sheets of paper that no longer hold anything real? It’s not like I spent my days wallowing in heartbreak. Eventually, I stopped missing you or even thinking about you. I loved, I laughed, I engaged. I did things that matter. I grew up a little every day, and I stopped wanting you back. You are no longer a part of my life — most of the time.

But some days just catch me off guard. It could be the little details, like the sight of my own palm, messy with squiggles and lines whenever I write with a ballpoint pen. I can almost hear your exasperated laugh,  almost see you trying to figure out why the ink that should have landed on paper ended up on my hand instead.  Or it could be the big things, David, the wounds received in the process of living.  Somehow, every goodbye is still an echo of yours, every person walking away steps in your footprints until they are out of sight. And suddenly there would be tears flooding my throat all over again. After all this freaking time.

So here I am today, writing on tear-soaked paper, thinking that’s enough. That’s more than enough. I want to love again like I loved you, in spite of risk, in spite of fear. Loving you taught me just how much I could give and how far I can go, and I don’t want to lose that. I want to offer myself again to someone, the right someone. You didn’t stay, David, but someone else will. Someone else deserves this misguided intensity of emotion that I wasted on you, long after you didn’t want it anymore.

I’ve always been the one who remembers. In a way, I’ve come to accept that, the inability to really forget what was once important. The memories will remind me to be careful, but I could stand to let go of the souvenirs. It’s been over for so long. This is the part, I think, where I stop letting it hurt.

Of doppelgangers, accidental meetings, and letting go

It’s insane how much you look like my first love. You walked up to me on the seashore early one morning, and the shock of recognition was followed by a strong sense of disorientation. What are you doing here, Alex? I thought. Here, of all places, in my somewhere else. When you said something (it was about the sunrise, I think, but I was still too unsettled to remember), I realized that you weren’t him, just someone who looked remarkably similar. Several days of running into each other, and sort of becoming friends, haven’t dulled the resemblance. You even move like him, for goodness’ sake.

You made me surprise myself, you know. There was a time, long ago, when any reminder of him would have hurt, or felt bittersweet. Not anymore. I take pleasure in your smile, that wonderfully familiar grin that automatically makes me want to smile back, and it takes me back to the laughter that made me fall in love. There’s a feeling of being in two places when I’m with you: one in which I’m enjoying your company, and another where I’m wandering in the past. None of this is painful, just odd and funny and surprisingly easy. Twice, I almost called you by his name, just luckily catching myself in time. It’s a double world I’m living in, and meeting you has taken me there.

This isn’t really about you, I’m sorry. I don’t truly know who you are beneath your likeness to another man. There isn’t enough time to find out, because you’re leaving the island soon. We’re both transients here, you and I, and it’s a funny twist of fate that brought us together that day under the sunrise.

I think it’s okay, that we won’t really get to know each other. Perhaps our meeting is a gift, one that I needed more than I realized. You showed me that I have what it takes to move on. I have a problem with that, you see, with moving on. I linger at the spot of every important goodbye, watching the person walk away until the final glimpse is gone, hoping for one last backwards glance. I’m never the first to turn away; I’m always the one who’s haunted. Meeting you, enjoying the ease of looking into eyes that take me back to a different time, have reminded me that even if it takes longer than most, I do move on. Maybe I never forget, but I can eventually remember without pain. And that gives me hope.

When you go, I won’t ever see you again. You’ll be one of those significant strangers, the ones who stay just a little while but leave a lasting imprint. In this case, I think you’ll take away something, too, the fear that I have a heart that doesn’t heal. It’s enough. It’s more than I thought a stranger can give, but that’s what you did, even if you didn’t know it. Thank you. I won’t ever get to say this out loud, but thank you.

The Long Way Home

She felt unbearably fragile.

The words hung in the air between them, and she couldn’t bear to look up and see him. Or let him see her.

They were true, she knew, the words she had spoken. And so it shouldn’t have mattered what he replied, because that truth came with a numbness, a protection of its own. She waited longingly for that numbness to come, but it didn’t. For the first time, it didn’t. She couldn’t escape what that meant.

He could hurt her. Even now, by just leaving, he could hurt her. Because she needed him. And she had rejected him with her words that were true.

“I can’t. I know you want me to be brave again, but I can’t.”

She had to make him understand. Before he gave her more than she could ever return. Before it became more unfair to him than it already was. She owed him the truth.

It must have been only a few seconds, but his silence seemed to stretch through the night. She turned her head, away from him, towards the empty street and the sidewalk she would have to walk alone later. The city lights glowed on the pavement. She felt cold.

Then his hands were on her face, turning her back to him. Gently.

“Hey,” he said, his tone as tender as his touch. One fingertip traced the trail of moisture from the teardrop she had tried to hide from him. Slowly, hesitantly, she met his gaze.

His eyes were direct, intense. His voice was low, but clear and compelling in the cold air. “You don’t have to be anything you don’t want to be. Not for me.”

The words slammed into her heart, pounded on the walls that had been necessary for so long. She couldn’t say anything past the tightness in her throat.

“Come on,” he said after a few moments. He was smiling. “I’ll walk you home.”

Day 20 — The one that broke your heart the hardest

I can’t wait all my life on a street of broken dreams.  It could have been you. ~Journey

To someone I used to believe in,

Did you ever really see me? There are so many questions, so many things left unsaid. But in the end, it all comes down to this: Did I ever mean anything more to you than the girl who was always there?

“Trust me,” you said. And I did. Oh, how I did. It was the greatest gamble of my life, and I lost.

I wonder how long it will take before I heal. I wonder how long before I can hear those words without my thoughts turning to how you betrayed them. You promised to stay and asked me to have faith, and I took the risk without question. Did I make it  too easy for you to walk away? Did I make it too easy to break your promise?

I can’t even feel anything for you now. There’s a new kind of numbness inside me that’s never been there before, and I welcome it gladly — anything that can take the place of that gut wrenching grief is a blessing. I remember it all too well, and even now something in me cringes at the memory of that anguish. Despite everything, I still never expected anything could hurt that much.

But it’s over now. Those two words, there is such a chaos of emotion inside them. It’s over. Disbelief. Shock. Loss. Longing. And, finally, resignation. Heartbreak has so many names,  and I learned them all from you.

You have to know how hard I tried to hold on. Now I’m going to try just as hard to let you go. There is no reason left to fight for us. Maybe there never was, and I just couldn’t see it. I don’t know what’s real anymore.

Except this. This, I know, is real: It’s over.




Losing Faith

It’s over. Finally, I can breathe. I can have a life again, something apart from always trying to be there for you. I can stop trying to understand, trying to make you see that we can work through this, that our love is worth fighting for. All the uncertainty, all the confusion, all the pain of not knowing where I went wrong, is finally over.

D*mn you for putting me through all that. D*mn you for taking my belief in love, my belief in forever, my belief in you, and handing them back to me broken, saying you can’t deal with them anymore. You will never know how much you hurt me by just giving up, you will never know how much you scared me from loving as much as I loved you ever again.

I did not deserve to be hurt that way. And you didn’t deserve my trust.

So much wasted emotion. I had so much more tenderness to give, I could have stayed with you longer, but you didn’t think it would be worth our while. I know you still love me, as I know that you were too d*mned scared to be vulnerable. And I was stupid enough to hope I can help you conquer that fear, or live with it, so that you can take the risk of letting me into your heart. Not anymore. You would rather hurt me than let down your guard.

I loved you. Honestly, bravely, intensely I loved you. But it wasn’t enough. Or maybe it was too much.

I hate the fact that we could have saved us, but we didn’t. We simply gave up something rare, something that doesn’t come along everyday. I hate the emptiness. I hate the regrets.

But the worst thing about all this is the simple, stupid, and pathetic truth that I miss you. I miss you. I knew losing you would be painful, but pain, I can deal with. I can cope with the sharp, intense rush of emotion that cuts like a knife, but is relieved somehow by tears and is dulled by the passage of time. What I didn’t expect was the sadness – the steady, lingering hurt that comes with the realization that you will never again look at me as if I’m precious, special, and infinitely cherished, you will never again call me “mahal ko” with the tender amazement that I really am yours. It’s the constant heaviness that haunts me and makes me wonder if I’ll ever be whole again without you, of if I’ll always mourn the part of me that died with our love. I miss you. And I’m to be totally honest with myself, I’ll have to admit that I’d do anything, give everything even go through all the confusion again, just to find a way for you to keep believing in us. But there’s no chance of that.

Some goodbyes are final. I have a feeling this one is.

Plagiarism has its benefits. I was trying to retrieve some of  my published articles (with the  pseudonym garnet_fire) that were lost when peyups.com changed its format, so I googled a few phrases that I remembered.  Well, whaddayaknow, it turned up on several blogs, without the byline. But at least I got a copy. So thanks, I  guess. Haha.

(Btw, this is an old article. People I know in real life, don’t panic that I’m experiencing this emotional turmoil at present. Yes, I’m talking to you, Ma. I know you read my blog. ;))