• Cram session

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    Lykah was getting bored and hungry,
    and starting to see syringe-pierced sandwiches
    in the NCLEX-RN reviewer when her cellphone,
    then in radio mode
    cracked news that Jesse Robredo’s plane crashed
    somewhere in the sea of Masbate,
    just a few miles short of the runway.
    The name was familiar:
    DILG, Naga City mayor, Ramon Magsaysay Award,
    good governance.
    Though her thoughts wandered
    somewhere in her closet
    where she kept the thong she planned to wear
    for a post-cram session with a masseur
    after a swim at the now open
    Survivor Philippines location,
    Gota Beach.

    Munching a 711 hotdog sandwich,
    she read item 71 of the multiple choice reviewer
    asking something about the presence of live flea
    on the victim’s clothing in drowning cases.
    She heard the radio reporter say
    that Robredo’s aide named Abrazado survived the crash
    but could not be interviewed since he went back to sea
    to join the search party.
    She picked letter C because it had a strange answer:
    Flea can survive 24 hours submerged in water
    and can no longer be revived more than 24 hours.

    Feeling numb and sore,
    after finishing the long pre-test,
    she got up. Stretch. She told herself,
    looking at the mirror (she likes
    to study in her underwear),
    noticing a kissmark near her nipple.
    She grabbed her netbook, went online,
    turned the TV on.
    But over the radio was Mar Roxas,
    explaining the intricacies of technical diving,
    and on TV were the generals,
    giving accounts of how
    Abrazado swam his way out of the plane.
    P-Noy rushed over too,
    quickly coming out on YouTube
    with an incomplete video clip
    of him and Abrazado
    talking almost in whispers.

    She heard that Robredo’s pilot was a pastor,
    a local hero in Cebu, and his co-pilot, a Nepalese,
    although something tells her,
    looking at his picture,
    a quick post by a friend on Facebook:
    “What if he were a terrorist
    disguised as a pilot
    like in the movies?”

    She shrugged the thoughts off,
    looking now at Abrazado.
    So the media says he has a newborn child.

    When it was the turn of a local numerologist
    to muse with the radio anchor
    that Robredo’s crash was a “tipping off”
    in Philippine political history,
    and that it was no sheer coincidence
    that the Piper Seneca’s body number—4431
    meant “Messenger,”
    Lykah was still online
    looking at the face of Abrazado,
    admiring his looks, his odd silence
    and survivor’s instinct.

    Planes do crash.
    Lykah felt a shiver,
    her mind doing rounds
    in some Los Angeles hospital,
    not hearing one radio reporter saying
    that Robredo was so stressed that day,
    was in a hurry, and when snatched
    for an interview, could only gasp:
    “Sorry, I have a flight to catch.”

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