I MET her when I was younger. She would play by the river near the hut where I used to live. Her hair was black and luscious, her skin as clear as the river that flowed between us, and her eyes sparkled in the morning light. I would catch her giggling and merrily humming while enjoying the lull the day had to offer.
There were times when our eyes would meet and she would smile, but I was too shy to acknowledge it. Her presence reminded me of the diwatas my grandmother would tell stories about. Sometimes, I could not tell if she was real or not.
I met her once again when I was older. The cigarette between my lips was warm. I puffed out a cloud of smoke into the city’s night air while I leaned on the concrete that separated me from the garbage-filled river.
I lift my head and I was greeted with two clouded eyes. My hands shook and I almost dropped the cigarette on the already polluted river. I would instantly recognize her face anywhere.
I could tell the years were not good to her; soot covered every aspect of her body, her hair was as disheveled as a bird’s nest, and her once youthful glow was dimmed, yet somehow, she remained as majestic as the bright moon above us.
She looked at me pleadingly, grabbed onto my shirt, and said: “It is only a matter of time before I end—before everything ends.” Her voice wailed while her form faded into the night sky. F MARIA PAMELA S. REYES