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?”

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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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