The Presence

The Presence

Because the dogs in that alley are blind, they can see. They can see that there are no neighbors this time of the year. They can see that the landlord of this apartment building is a misanthrope, an honorable man, and that the rent is due in two days. They can see that there are no fields beyond these fields because everything is exhaustible. They can also see that there is no city outside this city. There is no country, too.

Don’t you know that this seasonal sloughing of skin is painless? It only means we are reverting to our portable forms. It only means we can choose to side with the truth, even if it will hurt us—and because it will hurt us. So don’t ride the pale horse just yet. Don’t choose between the bottle and the rope just yet. There should still be a little bit of wildness left in your jaded heart. Because: who has hurt you this time, why can’t you see enough to unsee, why do you insist that this world belongs to people, why can’t you stop consuming more of all the things you do not need, why can’t you just walk out of the wide open door of your makeshift cage.

The only man I ever loved is still dead. I miss him so much. I should have told him then, I should have told him before he went away, I should have told him where I was in this darkness so he could find his way back home to me.

In memory of J

Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of nine books, including the fiction collections Age of Blight (Unnamed Press, 2016), Butterfly Dream (Snuggly Books, 2016), and The Drone Outside (Eibonvale Press, 2017), as well as the poetry collections Lifeboat (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2015), Meditations of a Beast (Cornerstone Press, 2016), and Black Arcadia (University of the Philippines Press, 2017). She is co-editor of two anthologies: with Nalo Hopkinson for the British Fantasy Award-winning People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction and with Paolo Enrico Melendez and Mia Tijam for Sigwa: A Climate Fiction Anthology from the Philippines (Polytechnic University of the Philippines Press, forthcoming 2018). Her short stories have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Tin House, Weird Fiction Review, and World Literature Today. She grew up and continues to live in a rural town in southern Philippines.

One comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *