I was driving home from work. Another overtime. Another night I need to make up to my wife. I imagined her turning up the television volume just to drown out the silence in our small flat that I could already barely afford. I felt like there was a noose around my neck – tightening with each snide remark from my boss and tightening more with each dissatisfied comment from my wife.
She couldn’t work. Not with her belly getting larger every term. I told her she could work from home but she didn’t want to. Her qualifications would be wasted, she said. Your life is already wasting, I wanted to say.
Then I saw her. I’ve been seeing her for a long time already but the sight of her never failed to make my heart beat faster. She was standing by the road, signaling for a ride. I didn’t know what I was really thinking. I could have ignored her but instead, I slowed down my Nissan amidst the irritated honking of the cars behind me. I lowered my window.
“Seriously? I never thought I’d see you looking for a ride,” I said and I saw my breath form a small fog as if I’d been smoking again. It was cold outside.
She gave me the crooked smile I had been trying not to think of when I made love to my wife. “Well, here you are. Didn’t think you’d be the one to give me a ride either. You are going to give me a ride, aren’t you?”
I grunted and unlocked the other door. She got in beside me and I began driving again.
“Where you going?” I asked, trying not to look at her hypnotizing long white legs from the short black dress she was wearing.
“Wherever you’re going,” she said and I didn’t have to look to hear the smile in her voice.
“I’m going home,” I said, trying to summon up my old anger for her but failing.
“Really now? But you still picked me up. I’m beginning to think you’ve become confused, darling,” she laughed. Her laugh was so beautiful, so unlike the mocking laugh of my wife whenever she’d look at my salary – or what’s left of it.
“I don’t know why I picked you up, okay? I’ve been having a hard day and I’m tired. You looked like you needed a ride so I gave you one,” I said.
“You’ve been avoiding me for years. What changed?” She rested her hand on my shoulder and I fought the urge to turn my head to her and see her beautiful face up close. Damn her.
“I’m just tired,” I told her.
“I’m here. I’ve been giving you space because I like you and I don’t like to be hated by the only person who really sees me for who I am,” she said softly.
“I . . . like you too,” I said. Despite for what she was, I couldn’t fight the feeling of liking her. She was like a drug. Dangerous and addicting.
“I was starting to think you hate me,” she said, her hand like a burning furnace on my shoulder. I wanted to touch her.
“Are you really telling the truth? About liking me? No one likes me. My co-workers talk shit about me. My wife hates me. Hell, my own mother doesn’t even want to talk to me. Do you really like me or are you just buttering me up?” I asked her, breathing heavily.
“I really like you. You try to be a decent person but the world just keeps giving you a hard time. I like your honesty. I like how you talk to me like I’m just anyone else. It’s rare to find someone like you. So, yes, I really like you,” she said.
My vision blurred. My cheeks were wet. “You shouldn’t be allowed to say things like that. It’s not fair,” I sobbed.
“There, there. Darling, you know I’m here for you. Anyway, I can get off at the next gas station. I understand that you have a wife. You still have someone to get back home to,” she said.
I shook my head. “You’re being nice. You’re doing this reverse psychology thing to me and it’s working. Damn you.”
I took her hand from my shoulder and firmly held it. “I’m not letting you go this time.”
“Really?” She was surprised.
“I’m tired. We’ve been circling each other for years and I think it’s time,” I said.
“Are you absolutely sure?” She was being nice again. I tightened my grip on her.
“Damn hell, I am. Don’t make me change my mind,” I said and I felt myself smile a little. It had been so long. When was the last time I felt proud about my decision? When was the last time I smiled about it?
“Darling, I’m touched that you’ve finally chosen me,” she said.
I turned my head to look at her, taking in her kind face and eyes that seemed to see only me. I leaned in.
Death’s kiss was wickedly good.
Mary Claire is taking up B.S. Development Communication at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She likes watching anime, reading mangas, and painting in her spare time.
Sundays & Cybele is a band from Tokyo, Japan.