Square One

by Gisella Gianina

(There are bits of him scattered everywhere in her head, always leading her back to square one.)

The woman writes lyrics.

About her love for music, a passerby’s baby crying with all its might, the continuous flickering of the broken streetlight just across her balcony, her lover’s laugh, low and calming—her demons, sometimes. She writes about anything that lingers in her mind longer than necessary, things that arouse an emotion within her, no matter how undesirable.

Fall is just around the corner, and the sun’s insistent glare is slowly softening into a warm stare, as if it’s looking after her, carding its invisible fingers through her hair with gleeful beams. It makes her think of her lover, all soft eyes and chestnut brown hair, a wonderland of playful remarks and teasing smiles. She closes her eyes and allows her body, long-limbed and sprawled on the floor messily, to relax.

It’s been a while since her lover’s last visit. The last time he made himself at home at her apartment, he promised he’d come back with his hometown’s signature dishes and her favorite red bean ice cream in tow. Frankly, the woman doesn’t care about all that.

She just wants to have him in her arms once again, to faceplant into his hair, feeling the silky strands glide softly against her cheek. She misses his drug-like scent.

Eyes still closed, she reaches out to the space next to her, grabbing some random junk among all the things scattered on the floor—she hasn’t cleaned up for three days, her lover will surely make a fuss if he finds out—and letting them go once she realizes they’re not what she’s searching for, until finally, she feels something thin and long between her fingers. The black pen.

It’s something cheap with a humble design, but the ink is dark and clear and possesses quite the longevity. She bought three boxes of it last month; each containing thirteen pens. The woman has thirty nine black pens and she’s still using the very first one.

She’s concluded that the firsts last longer.

First impressions, first day of school, first lyrics she memorized, first love. The memory of her first meeting with the love of her life is still fresh on her mind; vivid and sticking out like a red rose rested in a sea of blue daisies, a song from childhood that her whole body recognizes from the opening notes.

She hums under her breath as she tears out a page off her journal. Rolling lazily onto her stomach, she starts scribbling. Every few minutes her wrist would stop and her eyes would wander elsewhere, staring absently into the distance as her ears strain to pick up the wind’s soft whistles.

She likes the wind, finds it enchanting. Like a child, it prances around and is full of mischief. Yet its caresses stay tender like a loving mother’s. An enigma.

Her lover too, is an enigma. Once, the woman thought she had learned all of him, that she knew every nook and cranny like the back of her hand. She was a fool who overestimated herself. She later learned, she hadn’t even peeled the first layer—one that hid a million galaxies within. Even now, she hasn’t completely figured him out.

It’s okay, though. She’ll take her time. They have plenty.

The woman draws two lines through some of the words she’s jotted down, writing something next to them, tiny and barely legible. She scans through the verses one more time and circles the end of the sentences. Sometimes they rhyme, sometimes they don’t. She leaves them be.

She sits up and taps a finger on her knee, muttering under her breath.

It continues on until early evening. Pink-tinted sky spills, messy floors remain, the paper in her hand a little bit wrinkled; filled with loops and scrawls that mean nothing to the world but the world to her. It’s a candid confession, a melody only she could hear, a strange sense of satisfaction dancing around a full heart. She can’t wait to make it come to life.

The woman smiles. Two more days until he’s back to her side.

For now, she’ll watch the wind sail.



Alternatively titled “I’ll Learn All Your Favorite Songs”, this story was written almost two and a half years ago on a sunny day in August. It lacks depth and a coherent plot, but I like how it carries a sense of nostalgia, even as I chanced upon it a few days ago. Me and my sister used to write songs inspired by our love stories and I kind of miss the lighthearted sound of her piano tangled with the sunny breeze that sent the curtains flying.

Also, prompt fill for Jolly.