“Hey, beware of the rainy weather. You might catch feelings.”

It’s raining in Manila.

From the 34th floor of this apartment, Manila looks as if it were a city built on the heavens, but of course, every citizen of Manila knows better than to get a closer view. You might just wind up getting disappointed.

She rummages around the cupboards, looking for something to drink, hoping to do anything to keep the black dread away from her, the one sitting at the bottom of her stomach. This black dread always came by to crawl through her chest, especially when the cold rainy weather begins to hit.

This Black dread, gripping her heart tightly in its fist like a mad lover.
This black dread, never faltering.
It's tiring.

“Beware of the rainy weather”.
It's not easy. The days haven’t been easy.

On the kitchen counter, a 2020 new year headpiece sits quietly, its purpose spent and done. She never really minded it. Now, she grabs the glittery, tacky thing and throws it in the trash can.

She settles with black coffee and sits down on the couch, TV on. She likes the background noise of the TV. Hates black coffee. If it were an option available to her, she’d take lumps of sugar with it. But the sugar is gone, and It's too wet outside to leave and buy some, so she settles into her couch and does the art of simply existing.

  • laughed as if something wasn’t about to edge towards its downfall. * still had her long hair at that time. “I can’t think of anything bad about you,”

She sighs. She looks to her right and notices the rainwater that started to reach the floor of her apartment. she curses under her breath. She forgot to close the balcony doors, and now the rain puddles paid her an uninvited visit.

It begins to smell like dirt after a heavy rainstorm; thick petrichor floats up to the ceilings, and it gets a little bit harder to breathe in this tight crevice of an apartment. Despite not wanting to have to uproot herself from the couch, she goes over to the balcony, careful not to break the spell of soundlessness she’s managed to make for herself.

Closes the glass doors. Cleans the floor. Now even the floorboards smell like damp earth. Everything feels like there's a weight to it.

Still, this black dread, slithering in her chest. Its grip on her heart does not dare loosen.
How can something so dreadful be this determined? She shivers, a spikey coolness tickling up both her arms. It hasn’t rained quite like this in awhile. The world outside turns grey, and the white fog shelters her from the world.

  • ‘s face suddenly softened a little. No, soften is the wrong word for it. It was as if she finally realized the gravity of the situation. “So, what are you gonna do?” she said slowly, every word and letter small and fragile. For the first time in her life, she sounded serious. “You can’t just meet someone then abandon them. They’ll think they’ve done something wrong their entire life.” She sounded hurt, a thousand cuts bleeding.

She stands in front of the TV now, pretending to be interested in a cooking show. Barefoot Contessa is slicing some carrots and other unnameable veggies. She instructs her to sautee them in a pan and put a gracious amount of salt and pepper. “Can you smell that warm aroma? Almost enough to make you drool!”. She cannot smell the food, nor does she drool over a few chopped vegetables.

She blows at her drink. It's starting to get cold. For some time, she finds herself staring at the black swirl of the coffee, small bubbles here and there, appearing and then disappearing. Black bitter liquid, nothing more, nothing less. Outside, the rain pours in loud faucets.

Her phone rings. It almost startles her. She puts her coffee aside. It's from *.

Time stops its slow but gradual descent into its extinction for an impossible minute.

Two messages. She hasn’t heard from *. It's been months. “Hey” and “I don’t know, I just feel like we have to talk about this”.

Her hands tremble, trying to hold the phone up until she gives up and places it down on the table. Her hands do not stop shaking.

Black dread. This time it begins to crawl deeper into her skin. It clutches her throat now. It’s dragging her down, down. She flops back down on the couch, surrendering to the pull of gravity.
Barefoot Contessa starts to sound unintelligible to her.

Sips her coffee. Winces. The sugar is gone, what can she do? She doesn’t look at her phone. Rests her head on her hands as the world caves in.

She doesn't look at her phone.

Then eventually when she does bring herself to, she tries explaining as best as she could. Is it possible to explain something you don’t even understand yet?

They talk. Incoherent messages. But to her, they all sounded like excuses to walk away.
“Hey beware of the rainy weather. You might catch feelings.” It was meant to be a joke, but * doesn’t reply.

Tomorrow she will read their conversation again.
Again, until every syllable and curve of each letter is embedded on the very walls of her mind. She can't decide if that gave her closure or if it ripped further into her paper-thin heart, leaving her needing more than ever before.

Time will eventually decide that this will be the last conversation they’ll have with each other.
Then at some point next week she’ll have to buy sugar for her black coffee, and * wouldn’t need to hear about it.

It will almost sadden her.

They were both cold not because they were alone in an empty room in July, but because it was Christmas in December, back when they thought they could spend the rest of the new years together. “Don’t open it until you get home,” She said, handing * the present, but of course she doesn’t listen. She ripped out the tape as instantly as she received it and pulled out a stuffed bear holding a carrot in its arms.* Laughed, then looked at her. “I hate you.” but * is smiling and it was so beautiful, it made it hard for her to breathe but in the best most brilliant and confusing way possible.

“You said you liked carrots!”
“Maybe you should have given me just the raw carrot then,” * said, putting an arm around her shoulders, her head on the crook of her neck. Her voice was soft, gentle, and kind. “I love it. Thank you. For everything.”
She said, “I didn't know you liked carrots that much”. * Jokingly pushed her away. “Yeah, but I like you more”. They laugh at the joke not because of its sheer stupidity. They laugh because they want a reason to smile, knowing the other person was there, watching.

Black dread sitting at the bottom of her stomach, never leaving, never faltering.
It's not easy. The days haven’t been easy.

She grabs the remote control and changes the channel.
She should have just loved her.