Sunday, August 17, 2014

Georgia Lost and Found (Excerpt and Sola Musica pre-order)

So here's the thing: all stories featured in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival happen on pretty much the same weekend, on a beach in Batangas. Authors Ines, Marla, Chinggay and I decided on the location, the event details, a bit of the program...and then we all went off to write our stories.

The resulting book is a snapshot of how a small group of people experience the same day. And how four writers take the same event and put their own spin on it. I decided to go back to my chick lit roots on this one and put together something sweeter than my recent work. Here's an excerpt!


Ken and I have to talk.
He knows this, but he’s being typical Ken, and he’s not saying anything. Because he’s like that. He’s thinking though, incredibly snarky, complex, and detailed thoughts, I’m sure. It shows in his face, in that glint in those dark brown eyes, the personality in his brow, that hint of a dimple in his right cheek.
“Spit it out,” I’d say, and sometimes he would. Rarely. Most times he’d flatly deny it. (“What? My mind is currently blank.”)
Blank, my ass. He has a million and one thoughts on littering, and monolingual people, and Game of Thrones. Of course he will have at least one thought on the topic of him and me. Me and him. He just isn’t keen on sharing.
It’s probably because of that one time, when he actually almost said something, and it didn’t turn out so well.
But whatever. I won’t let him mope forever. He’s going to be in an isolated place with me for a weekend. For work, so he can’t just run out on this—and me—even if he desperately wants to. The next time that cheek twitches and the half-dimple appears, I’m going to be right there, pulling words out.

We are both not really what we are, on this trip. Ken and I are freelancers, moonlighters. Usually Ken and I cover travel stories, sent together or separately to some hotel, some island, some mountain retreat. He takes photos, and I think of new ways to say “cozy” and “luxurious.” But this trip is not exactly a travel assignment. It’s an entertainment job, covering a music festival that just happens to be located on a beach cove in Batangas.
It’s almost a joke, because Ken and I are not “entertainment people.” In fact, this friendship (if that’s what we’re calling it) started because on our first trip together, we were riding a van with an Entertainment Person who was loudly making everyone aware that he was talking to some celebrity on his phone, and we kind of locked eyes, him near the front and me at the back row, and laughed silently.
“You’re reading again,” Ken says, and it’s actually the first thing he’s said to me all morning. He could have said something when he picked me up at the ungodly hour of seven AM, but it was all a series of grunts and head motions. A nod, when he first saw me. A thumbs-up sign, when I tried the passenger door to find it locked, and he unlocked it to let me in. A nod again, when I said good morning, what the hell am I doing up at this hour.
He is very much against reading in vehicles. It’s his own weakness, something that gives him instant headaches and motion sickness, and he is mistakenly trying to save everyone from it. I happen to be checking my phone because of a work-related thing, it’s always a work-related thing, so I keep going.
“Looking at the band list,” I explain. “I don’t know all of them. Do you know anyone? I’m so wrong for this.”
“I know a few of the acts,” he says. “Friends with some of the musicians.”
“Are they any good?”
And then, silence, again, for the rest of a long stretch of highway.
“So we should probably do this like La Union then,” I say, right after he pays the toll, and can’t use the highway driving or counting money as an excuse to ignore me anymore. “Because I don’t think I can cover everything, and I don’t know them that much anyway.”
We are on pause, idling right at the exit, and he still doesn’t look at me.
“Sure,” he finally says.

“Like La Union” means if he could kindly share his thoughts on the subject matter, because it’s probably something I don’t know much about. Which was precisely the case on our first trip to La Union together, because he had actually surfed before and I had never. I was a newbie on that trip, a bit naive, and while my more seasoned colleagues listened to briefings and enjoyed the sun, I actually insisted on going out there to surf.
Because I felt I couldn’t write about it if I hadn’t done it.
Ken was skeptical, not just of my wanting to surf, but my point of view in general. He was himself a “seasoned colleague” and he was on the water because he wanted to do it, while I seemed totally unprepared. He agreed to tell me what he knew about surfing, where he liked to do it, why this beach and this resort was great for it, but me trying it for myself?
“You’re not wearing a rash guard,” he said.
I couldn’t breathe in those things. I was wearing a black exercise tank top over a red bikini. “I don’t need it. You’re not wearing a rash guard.”
And then I wished I hadn’t said that, because I just looked at and pointed to his chest, all muscular and wet from having gone in the water. There was a necklace of beads around his neck that wasn’t there earlier, and I tried to look at that instead.
“If you fall wrong, you’ll lose your top.”
“I’m not going to lose my top.”
He laughed. “I didn’t say that to scare you. It’s going to happen.”
“I’m not going to lose my top.”
“Okay, but just wait here while I go get my camera…”
After a quick tutorial from Kuya Gerry, who spoke about the resort and the surf spots in the province, I went out into the water.
And promptly fell wrong, and lost my top.
Falling “wrong” is not new to me, by the way. I spoke so defiantly to Ken because I’m used to the not-so-graceful exit, and wasn’t expecting the water to hit me like a wall. A wall with arms, hands, and fingers, that not just pushed me up and down, but also got into my tank top, pulled it off my torso, and then loosened my bikini knot and liberated it from my body, all in a matter of seconds.
“I’m on it, don’t worry,” I heard him say as soon as I surfaced, arm covering certain parts of me.
He had retrieved the tank top, and I slipped the soaked item of clothing back on. The red bikini was sadly lost to the sea.
“Did you get a good photo at least?” I told him, as I tried to catch my breath.

Ken shook his head, but then tapped his temple. “It’s in here. Where it counts.”

Pre-order Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival (Kindle edition):


  1. I am so excited for this. (Hindi pa ba obvious?) I am such a sucker for short story collections that overlap into each other. Bakit ang tagal ng August 28?

  2. Can't wait to read all the stories :) - iryn