Friday, April 27, 2012

An Immortal’s Epitaph

     One afternoon, I’m done washing the clothes when I saw my younger sister seating in our monoblock chair. With her, there were two books down so I picked it up; The LATHE Literary Folio 2010-2011 edition. The LATHE is the official student publication of our University. In fact, I have four copy of this book intended to be given to some of my friends who are fond of reading such. 
     As in my usual way, I started reading the articles from the back part of the book. It’s my strange habit when reading novels or pocketbooks at home, swapping the last pages before the prologue at the front pages. At first glance, I am hesitant to read this article for I have no idea what “Epitaph” is, but it looks like the west wind pushed me not to lift that page (page 153 to be specific).
     I almost cry while reading this story of Reese and Karl. I posted it in my blog coz it will always be my favorite article from The Lathe written by an immortal Ms. Lorenz Aimee D. Mutia, editor in chief.

An Immortal’s Epitaph

          The gentle wind blew as I entered Nordham Cemetery. As expected, the place was quite. I easily found my way to his tomb. As I placed the dozen of white roses at the foot of the cherub that seems to guard his final resting place, hot tears fell down my cheeks. Then it started to drizzle.

          I first met Karl when I was in college. He was a writer for the college paper. At first, I could not believe that – that airhead was the editor in chief. He was a year ahead of me, taking up mechanical engineering. Honestly judging by the looks, I thought I was better than him.
          I enter the student publication with the hope of becoming an editor in chief .Yup, you read it right. Even though I am a psychology student, I wish to pursue my fashion in writing. That made me sign up for the annual qualifying exams during the start of my second year. As expected, I passed the written exam and interview.
          The first time we set eyes, well, there was no spark, nothing at all. He was too stern, a perfectionist. Everyone partly hates him because of that. Even his friends can’t stand him.
          It was not in his nature to mingle with us. But since I was tasked by his Associate Editor, JC, to stay at the publication office to finish all the news articles needed for the next edition, I was stuck there with him.
          Those endless stays in the publication office paid off. I was promoted as the Sports Editor. He was furious when he found out about it. Aside from the fact that I have been a reporter for only almost five months, he could not accept the thought that I was the first girl who occupied the position.        
          But since he cannot change anything about that, he thought that I might be fit for it. Then, he became nicer. Eugh, that was creepy.
          I was in my second semester in third year when he asked me out.
          After that, we became friends. I shared him my hopes and fears, by dream of becoming a well-known author while taking up my master’s degree to become a licensed psychologist. He would stare at me, smiling, saying that all of them will come true if I wished for it and work hard for it. He is the type of person that never opens thoughts to anyone but he opened up when we became friends. He tells me that he feels so alone, since his parents separated when he was a lad. I pity him every time he would share those he holds dear to him was gone.
          At times he would talk about immortality. Sounds weird, but he was too keen to achieve it. It was too creepy, because who in his right mind would talk about that nowadays? Immortality cannot be achieved, even though there are great advancements in science and medicine, I always tell him.
          It was Christmastime when I felt something for him. Time quickly passed. It was the graduation ball when he had the chance to talk to me for the last time, because I was busy about the graduation rites and stuff.

          “Sheesh! You sent chills down to my spine Karl!” I said as he came out of the bushes.
          “I just want to talk to you.”
          “You could have called, or sent me a text message!”
          “Anyway, why are you here? You’re not supposed to be here, Karl.”
          “When I graduate and become an engineer, can I ask you out again?”
          “We always go out, Karl.”
          “No…I mean, not the friendly date. The other one…you know.”He said with a grin.
          “But why?”
          “I love you.”

          I graduate that summer and worked as a human resource staff in an engineering firm. Since both of us were busy, we’ve lost in touch. I have never heard anything from him for almost two years.

          “Reese, breakfast is ready.” Mom’s voice woke me up. I was on my way to the kitchen when I heard that the television is on. I snatched the remote from the couch and as I faced the television to turn it off, a familiar face appeared.
          “Karl Aeron Hall, author of C’est la vie”, finally released his second book, “Beneath the Ice” this morning. The novel tells the story of Reese… Aside from being a writer; Hall is also a licensed engineer.

          “Reese, Engr. Hall will be coming today for an interview.” Engr. Jet, the head of the firm told me as I settled down to my work station.
          “Ok, sir.” I tried my best to act as if I don’t know the Engr. Hall he was talking about.
          It was my 22nd birthday when I decided to eat out at one of the fanciest restaurants in town. Unfortunately, it was full. So much disappointment for my birthday. I was about to leave when someone called me. Engr. Hall was there.
          “Hey, how are you? Would you like to join me?”
          “Uh, ok. What brings you here? I mean, will your girlfriend get angry if she sees you with another girl here?”
          “No. She won’t, because I don’t have any.”
          “I’m here because every year, I come here, hoping that the person who celebrates her birthday today will come here.”
          “I remember that you always wanted to eat here for your birthday. Remember when I promised you that when I become an engineer, I will take you out on a date?”
          He pulled out something from his bag. It was a copy of his book, “Beneath the Ice.”
          “I thought you would get my hints from this one.” He said as he but it within my reach.
          I took the book, opened it. I read the first page.

          “Sheesh! You sent chills down to my spine Karl!” I said as he came out of the bushes.
          “I just want to talk to you.”
          “You could have called, or sent me a text message!”
          “Anyway, why are you here? You’re not supposed to be here, Karl.”
          “When I graduate and become an engineer, can I ask you out again?”
          “We always go out, Karl.”
          “No…I mean, not the friendly date. The other one…you know.”He said with a grin.
          “But why?”
          “I love you.”
          “You know, I was waiting for this moment.” He said as I snapped the book shut.
          “What moment?”
          “Will you marry me?”
          “I let out a gasp. Then I smiled.

          I know that our marriage came from a whirlwind courtship. But we did not care. We happily settled two blocks away from my parents’ house. Karl still kept on writing (that time he became interested in writing children’s books) while I went back to school to finish my master’s degree.
          It was our second year anniversary when I found Karl lying unconscious in the kitchen. I called up 911 and paramedics took him to the hospital. I was shocked to find out that he was suffering from leukemia.
          “Hey, happy anniversary.” He said as he wiped a tear off my cheek.
          “Why didn’t you tell me?”
          “That will take the fun off my life.”
          “You’re dying.”
          “No. Reese. Remember when I told you that I will achieve immortality?”
          “Poe, Hemmingway, Hans Christian Andersen… they’re all immortals…”
          “I don’t get it.”
          “The pen is the only way to achieve immortality, Reese…”

          Three weeks after, Karl died. I was 26 that time. It was raining when we brought him to his final resting place. There was a marble cherub that seems to guard the tomb. It was holding a slab, where one of Karl’s last poems before he passed away was engraved.
          Five years have passed, but the pain still remains inside me, as if what happened was only yesterday. I was still crying when I read what is written on the cherub’s slab.

Do not stand here and weep;
My body’s not here, I do not sleep,
I am summer humid winds that blow,
The winter glints on snow.

When you awaken in the morning,
I am the first ray of light
That passes through your window.
Fell that I am just near.

And when you feel alone at night,
Just stare at the stars that shine
That’s why do not stand by my grave and cry
For I am not here, I did not die.

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