“A hiver has entered my mind and it is taking over my mind and body making me do something without a sense of right and wrong.”
“What is a hiver?” Kevin asked.
“It is a strange bodiless mind organism that takes over the mind and body of other creature. It reinforces its host to do things they like without conscience,” explained Triste.
The creases on Kevin’s forehead deepened as he tried to grasp her reply.
Triste answered his inquiring look with a smile. She read about hiver in Terry Pratchett’s fantasy book, “A Hat Full of Sky”. She knew that Kevin did not have even the tiniest idea about it. She hoped that it would end his inquisition.
Triste was shaping that scene in her mind while waiting for the train in Magallanes Station. Kevin called her later that morning asking her to meet him in Glorietta. She knew the reason of his invitation. Rona probably called him and complained about her.
Rona was Kevin’s girlfriend for three years and Triste’s officemate in a small publishing house in Makati. Kevin requested Triste to back up Rona to get the vacant post in her company four months ago. Since Rona joined her company, she became closely attached to her. Anywhere Triste went, Rona trailed at her back.
Rona was a friendly person. Being a chatty and a pleaser, there were no dry moments with her. Maybe that was the reason why she and Kevin stayed together that long. It was the longest relationship that Kevin had.
In contrast, Triste was the kind of person who liked to be alone reading books or listening to epic songs. They sent chills down her spine every time she listened to those songs. She rarely made friends. Kevin was the only person she considered friend. They had been friends since college. They were classmate in one of her literature classes. He was assigned to be her partner in a book report. Triste was fascinated by his ready wit and profound personality while Kevin was captivated by her silence and very reserve nature.
By the end of the book report, they could not be separated. They met after class, ate their lunch together, and exchanged insights about almost everything. Their closeness did not change even after their graduation.
After three months of being with Rona, Triste started to feel suffocated with her presence. She began to fabricate excuses to avoid being with her. Rona noticed her detachment and started to ask questions.
“Do you have a problem?” Rona inquired.
“Nothing,” Triste replied without lifting her head from the article she was reading, “I am just busy these past days.”
“I feel that you are avoiding me. Are you upset with me? Did I do something that made you upset?”
“Nothing. Don’t worry about it.” Triste replied with a smile to assure her that she meant what she said.
“Yeah. Don’t worry, okay?” Triste replied again with a smile.
Oh, that’s good.” Rona said. “I thought we have a problem. I was planning to ask Kevin to speak to you about this. Speaking of Kevin, do you know what he did last night? He invited me to have a dinner in a fancy restaurant. The view was very nice. We really had a good night. He was so sweet...” Rona started her familiar litany of her escapades.
Triste stared at her drowned with her own thoughts. She began to study Rona’s face. There was nothing remarkable in her features. Her eyes grew big when she was engrossed in her conversation. Her nose was small. Her lips curled in variety of shapes when she was talking. What made Kevin fall in love with her?
Rona kept on talking. The sound that was coming out from her mouth seemed an ear-splitting tone from a microphone feedback and it was making Triste dizzy.
“Yes, we have a problem. I want you out of my life because I despise pleasing people that I despise. Off me!” Triste wanted to scream those words but she just kept staring at her.
The following days, she doubled her effort to avoid Rona and today she got a call from Kevin asking her to meet with him.
The sound and sight of the coming train cut her contemplation. The train was not crowded during that time; it was just quarter to three in the afternoon. She filed an under-time so he could meet Kevin. She didn’t even tell Rona that she was going to meet her boyfriend.
Sitting across the aisle from her were couples of boisterous college students. They were talking about a guy they met in the previous night party they attended.
The shrill-witch voices of the students seemed like a fingernails scraping down a blackboard and they were making her head ached.
“Shut your sour cabbage eating mouths up!” shouted Triste at the top of her voice.
The college students along with the other passengers turned their head to her place shocked.
One of the students, who first got by with her surprise gave a remark, “If you are envious with our noise, come and join us,” she said with a sneer.
The other students who by that moment already recovered from shock gave an annoying laugh.
“I wish I had a lower I.Q. so that I could enjoy your company,” Triste retorted.
Those scenes which were running in her head were stopped by the voice from the speaker announcing that the train had reached the Ayala Station.
Kevin was sitting in their favorite spot when she reached their meeting place. He smiled widely when he saw her.
“What kind of sickness entered your brain nowadays?” he asked teasingly.
Triste gave him a feigned confused look.
“Somebody told me that you are acting childish again, eh” he said putting a stress in the word ‘childish’.
“And who is that somebody, huh?”
“Xander told me that you are not answering his calls and you are refusing all his invitations.”
Triste smiled. It was not Rona who complained about her after all. It was Xander.
Kevin introduced Xander to her couple of weeks back. They dated and chatted on the phone but she got fed up of him. She had had enough of his flirtations.
“You promised me that you will try your best to be nice to him and you will give yourself a chance to know him.” Kevin continued.
“I did what I promised.”
Kevin raised an eyebrow.
“I knew him now and I have been nice to him by not telling him that he is a dolt whose only goal in life is to get inside women’s underwear.” There was a hint of annoyance in Triste’s voice.
“Okay, be cool, Bestie. I’ll talk to him tomorrow. I promise that he will not get on your nerves again starting tomorrow.” Kevin put his hand on his shoulder consolingly.
Kevin was fond of calling her Bestie (short for best friend). She hated that term of endearment. She pouted her lips in displeasure.
“How about a coffee, huh?” said Kevin. “My treat.”
They were halfway the nearest café when Kevin’s phone rang. It was Rona asking him to pick her up.
“Bestie, I am so sorry. I need to pick Rona up. I promised her that we will see a movie today.” Kevin explained.
“Can you stay for couple of minutes for our coffee?” Triste wished that Kevin did not notice the pleading in her voice.
Kevin looked at her uncomfortably.
Triste knew that there were clashes of thought going inside his mind whether to stay or to leave. He looked on his wristwatch. Triste knew by then that Rona won, again.
“Sorry, Bestie. Today is Friday. The road will be jammed with traffic. You know that Rona doesn’t have the patience to wait. I promise to make up with you some other time.” Kevin said.
Triste nodded and smiled.
Kevin smiled back apologetically.
She kept looking at him as he took strides away from her.
She kept on looking even she already lost him in the crowd. She forgot to tell him about the hiver. It would make him laugh when he came to know where she got that idea.
She forgot to tell him, too, that the person consumed by the hiver eventually dies insane. #
20th May 2010
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