Daniel disembarked from the train at Naga station, following a ten-hour journey from Manila. The sun pierced his bloodshot eyes, beneath his long dark hair, as he stumbled to the platform with a heavy leg, carrying his luggage and a knapsack. A cool morning welcomed him, but clueless what was in store for him. His heart throbbed as he contemplated on this summer break. After a quick dog walk, he hurried up to a calesa waiting for passengers. The driver whisked the horse, and the wheels of the carriage wriggled to a rutted road much narrower than he remembered. Four straight semesters and two summers of a full load of classes, subsisting on milk and ramen noodles, transformed him into a lean, but tall, young man. His calm demeanor projected a serious spirited student. The long absence made him a stranger to his hometown. Before the trotting enervated horse, the speeding cars of Manila juxtaposed in his mind. He traveled back in time, recollecting the street names, the faces of his high school classmates maturing over the years.
He surveyed the houses along the streets washed-out over the years. Its galvanized roofing, lashed by successive typhoons, rusted and bent. None of these houses underwent any facelift. Upon arriving, he stepped out from the calesa and navigated the potholes. His family had moved to a house bigger than the one they used to live across the street. The shimmering leaves of the mango tree foreshadowed a hot, humid afternoon, and a warm evening. He planned to stay home, sleep, and spend time with his brothers and sisters. In the meantime, his parents awaited his graduation announcement. They expected him, the eldest of five children, to finish his studies and find a job soon. So, he brought...
... middle of paper ...
...at was wrong. Rose kept silent, gasping for breath and continued weeping. Yet, Daniel remained naive. He pulled her and tried to embrace her until she settled. He led her to the street, uncertain where to go. They wandered around the neighborhood until late in the evening. The corner lamp flickered above the deserted street under a moonless night and a cloudy sky. Only the sight of stray dogs and cats chasing and disturbing the peace dominated the scene. Daniel and Rose kept on walking in silence until they completed a full circle, arriving at the empty front yard, and realized everyone had gone home. They looked at each other. He froze for a moment; then kissed her cheek good night.
It started to drizzle as Daniel ambled towards his house. The soft pitter-patter on the roof became louder, and he ran as fast as he could. The first rain of May ended the long summer.
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