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Super Fiction

Universe

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Waking up to the sound of her phone ringing, Erin lazily glances at the clock on her desk. 6:54 AM. Nobody ever calls me this early, not even my mom, she thinks to herself. Who might this be? It’s a Saturday, for crying out loud.

She puts her phone to her ear, but she doesn’t say a word.

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“Erin.” It is Mika, her longtime best friend. “Iñigo’s dad just passed away.”

Her annoyance quickly turned into dismay. The news broke her heart. She wanted to run back to Iñigo. She wanted to tell him that things would get better, that the good Lord had plans for him, that she was there for him—and that, in the midst of all the chaos he was in, she was still willing—even more willing to give him solace.

“Should we go?” Erin asks weakly.

“Well, what do you think? Maybe the universe wants you two to get back together again.”

Maybe seeing him would fix my heart and vice versa, she thinks.

The hours go by and it’s a little past nine in the evening. Erin is standing by the chapel’s entrance. She is dressed in white, her hair falling to one side of her neck. Her heart is anxious, but she tries not to show it. She takes Mika’s hand and holds it tightly.

Iñigo emerges from the chapel doors. He is in black, his hair longer than the last time she’d seen him. His cheeks, still the same, were as pink as roses—a look too beautiful for any boy to sport.

She sees him right away, and she remembers everything.

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She remembers his eyes and the way they light up each time he talked about the things he was passionate about—Japanese cuisine and business. She remembers all her futsal games and practices, and how he was always there—to pick her up, to bring her food or to bring her home. She remembers the time he opened his first restaurant and how she failed to show up. She remembers seeing him cry at the airport when she left for Taiwan.

He sees her. Even at a distance, he knows it is her. He still has her memorized. He knows that she bites her lip when she is nervous. He remembers that her eyes blink in the middle of her sentences, the way she sings off-key each time they went for karaoke, and the way she kisses him three to five times before they parted ways. He remembers how she wanted everything to be perfect.

He remembers loving her wildly—more than anything in the world. More than himself.

Iñigo sees her, but he doesn’t take a step closer. He just stands there. His heart is pounding inside his chest. Erin attempts to take a step forward, but when an unfamiliar face hugs him from behind, she already knows. Iñigo puts up a small smile and aims it at her as if to say “I am okay, I am happy now.”

“The universe did not want us back together,” Erin smiles at her best friend. “I guess, sometimes, the universe allows people to meet only to say goodbye.”

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Super publishes poetry and fiction. Please send a piece of short fiction (or an excerpt from a longer work that is 500-800 words) or three poems in English or Filipino to super@inquirer.com.ph or to Ruel S. De Vera, Literary Editor, Super, c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City 1204 Metro Manila.

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