Cloud 8.999…, Albert

Right before I left for college, my phone dinged. It was him.

Two conversations ran parallel in my head: one weaving what I wanted to say to him, and one with myself trying to understand what I was feeling. I thought of the subtle winks and the smiles, the times I felt his head resting on my back, his breath causing a wave of goosebumps across my body. It only made sense in hindsight.

Maybe this time, there’d be no more cryptic messages that would take me hours to decipher. Maybe we can finally hold hands at night—my last night here.

The last message he sent brought me back to Earth.

“So, when are you going to ask her out?” he asked.

Where the heart is, Glenielle

Home, for her, would always be her brother greeting her at the door with a guitar and a Beatles song.

It’s her mom handing her a warm cup of tea. It’s the leather couch she sinks into for a few hours on Netflix. It’s her dad, saving her some of his scrambled eggs in the morning.

If she closes her eyes long enough, she could almost smell her mother’s perfume of grapefruit and rosemary. She could almost hear the strains of In My Life in the distance. In a few seconds, she’ll have to open her eyes and come back to reality.

But for now, she is home.

Your support, John

It was 2014.

I was a high school student who slacked around, she was an honor student. When she confessed, she ripped a page from her notebook and wrote, “I like you because I know you can be better than this.”

Her unwavering support changed me. It took three years, but eventually I could be proud of my academic performance.

We are no longer together, but I am thankful for her still.

A car ride home, Westin

“I like you.”

The car hummed softly, its headlights beaming on the coarse, sidewalk pavement. The car door didn’t open. He couldn’t bring himself to look at her, ready to slam his foot down on the gas pedal and launch himself to China.

He dared to glance over at her—her face was blank. Her eyebrows furrowed, she gazed ahead at the grey asphalt as if not wanting to meet his eyes either.

“I don’t know,” she said. The two simmered in silence for far too long, before she left the car, shutting the door softly behind her.

Hands, Sebastian

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m holding your left hand tightly. I could feel its warmth as we walked the streets of Manila.

You took me to the cinemas. “Tickets for two,” you said. We watched one of those corny films that you love. My head rested on your shoulders while you enjoyed the movie. My hand, still holding yours.

The night continued, and we rode on the Ferris wheel at a nearby carnival. The moment couldn’t be better as we reached the top: a beautiful view, the cold fresh air, and the warmth of your hand, still holding mine.

“I love you,” you whispered to me. I whispered it back.

I’m in my house, alone. There was no movie, no carnival—only my cold hand.

Good morning, Gab

Usually, nothing occurs at five in the morning.

He—struggling to keep his eyes open against the harsh glow of his phone—found himself cornered. Twix prodded, her messages trying to uncover who it was he held close to his heart.

He forced his thumb down on the send button, sending a picture of a single Twix bar.

No reply. The three dots on the screen tormented him.

Ding. A response.

He breathed a sigh as rays of dawn began to creep through the window. Warm, golden hues invited the new day.

this time last year, Erinne

I listen to a song I haven’t heard in a while, the sting purging my chest; I couldn’t help but know that the lyrics were directing my thoughts toward someone.

I’m trying to pinpoint if that someone is you.

Now, everything I think of and reflect on is with respect to you. Before you. With you. After you.

You’ve become like a reference point, a specific dot in the timeline of my life. It takes a lot to not think of you in every situation, pondering how we’d bounce ideas back and forth—understanding the world, understanding ourselves.

Even though you’ve gone, I think about the past and wonder where you were—if you were—in each scene replayed.

I think about the present and I miss where you are not. I think about the future and my hand hovers to pause the song.

Confession, Frank

Confessions of love are painful.

I still remember mine. It was raining that Friday afternoon.

“Do you like me?” she asked, her eyes—those beautiful eyes of hers—fixed on me. Of course. Our smiles could have lasted forever. But the moment passed.

It’s been seven years. I wonder what she’s up to these days.

Long night, Gershon

Twenty kilometers, two times a day, five times a week.

Everyone is fast asleep, except for one sharp-toothed devil, lightly awake, yawning almost mockingly. He was barely a fistful when we found him last summer. He curls into a ball right beside my feet.

Sleep on, little one—barely a worry in the world. Let us, the unfortunate sons, shoulder your burden into the long night.

A graveyard, Denise

The internet is a graveyard of people frozen in time.

Time machines don’t exist. We cannot go back and reclaim what was lost, they say. Yet, there exists a place where time has yet to smooth away what once was, excavating what was forgotten and left behind.

For a moment, you forget. You forget that time has moved forward without them and swept you away in its currents.

Algorithm or alignment of the universe, whatever, steered my fingers back to your words on my screen. Your old posts are still there—our messages too. Sometimes I go back to them when I begin to forget the conversations we had.

This space of liminality—static, unchanged.

Sometimes, I forget. I forget that you’re not here anymore. But the ghost of you remains.

Another Part of Me, Anakin

I never wanted another sibling. My parents kept asking whether I did want one, and I jokingly said yes.

Six years later, whenever I come from school I hear a “Kuya!” from across the house. She would charge at me, arms open for a hug. As she clutches my leg with a huge grin, I remember there is someone who is always waiting for me to come home.

She’s spoiled, bratty, rude, and a little too loud; she is everything I was, and still am.

She is a part of me, and I’ll be with her every step of the way.

By Albert Bofill

By Gabriel Cuaresma

By Gershon De La Cruz

By Anakin Loewes Garcia

By John Robert Lee

By Glenielle Geraldo Nanglihan

By Erinne Ong

By Westin Perez

By Enrico Sebastian Salazar

By Frank Santiago

By Denise Nicole Uy

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