Reader #4

A lady wears a black top, maong. Looks like everyday clothing. Reading the last few chapters of a stiff paperback of Fifty Shades of Grey, without any earmark, looks good as new. Wristwatch is plain black. Pedicure just two days ago, but without the shine of nail polish. Her hair tied all the way back, but mundane. No earrings, not that I recall some twenty minutes later, on my bed, tired from work. She concentrates as the jeep waited for ten more passengers, and the prospect of waiting for fifteen more minutes is about to get on my nerves.

The woman who sat beside her has these unnecessary wrinkles on her face, like it was some kid's scribble on a magazine cover. I have this hunch she did some kind of meth at one point in her life. Almost a hundred percent positive, she did meth.

The jeep sped, the woman reads in a bumpy ride. What shocked me was her seatmate's wrinkles as undoubtedly recent, as she winced at the broad ten o-clock sunlight with the barker calling in some more. The wrinkles looked like graves on her face. We who noticed her must have felt sorry. I spent more minutes staring past the grandmother across me ((floral dress and weak-kneed) when the woman with the wrinkled face warned her grandmother--maybe her mother--to keep away from someone else's fish from the market, on a plastic smeared with blood, lying on the jeepney floor, gills moving) at this couple loitering near a buko juice stand, watching the vendor scraping the white flesh from the shell. Two policemen sitting nearby on monobloc chairs, smoking. More people filled the jeepney. The entire time I was holding nothing but my baptismal certificate printed in onion skin from a church for fifty pesos.

I wrote this 65 days ago, September 26. I'm having a hard time to write things, especially when my workmates are taking so much time deciphering instructions from my boss, reiterating each sentence, reading it slower than usual. "This week's ads..." one said. "Is there a meeting today?" "Are there ads next week?" We were very scared to miss out something from the instructions, as if a garrote was waiting for us on the storage room next door.