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  • Yes.
  • Did you meet…her?
  • Yes.
  • Are you Liza?
  • Nothing much. She told me who she was.
  • What did she tell you?
  • I kept picking tomatoes for the sinigang we'd be having for dinner. I wasn't always the one to provide a hand in the kitchen to my aunt. She favored my younger sister, Meg, because I was significantly less knowledgeable in this area—I presume because I lacked the capacity or interest to recall recipes. Today, however, none of that mattered. Tita Loleng was looking for more than just an extra pair of hands in the kitchen this time.
  • Everyone makes mistakes, Liza.
  • I am Sylvia.
  • In Bulacan, I remembered sitting in one of the smaller narra sofas in the main room. I stood in front of a smooth white casket with gold-plated cherub images bordered by intricate swirls that looked like thick, curling vines. I could see into the next room through an open doorway, where a few strange individuals had muttered discussions over their coffee cups.
  • I am glad you came.
  • I gently spilled out all the tomatoes into the sink and turned on the tap. The water, like agua bendita, cleansed each tomato of the grime from its origins.
  • Her pointed nose and deep-set eyes, thickly fringed by long lashes, gave her an Indian appearance. She suddenly snatched my hand off the arm of the sofa where it had been resting. Her own hands were very wet and sticky with perspiration. She knelt in front of me, a sinner confessing to a priest in order for him to cleanse her of the dirt of her past.
  • I recall experiencing it as soon as my Dad exited the room, much like an animal does when it is in danger. I had been examining the face of my deceased half-brother, looking for any similarities. Chemotherapy had made his cheeks sag and his hair fall out, yet even in this state, I could see how attractive he had been before the treatment. This was confirmed by his framed image atop the coffin's glass cover.
  • As Lem's casket was being put into the freshly dug grave, I remembered my two sisters and I throwing flower petals into it, mouthful by fistful. My father was grieving alongside me, and I remember thinking to myself, "Would he be the same if I had died?" I looked up to see whether he was looking at me and was astonished to see that he was. His hand fell on my shoulder, heavy with sadness.
  • I’m sorry.
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