The Fallen Leaf


That night of Milenyo, the lovers were alone again under a common roof—lying on bed. As the wind screamed all its might outside, Ruel slowly freed his left arm and put it behind Catherine’s shoulders to appease her.

The lady thought her man was initiating a move, so she answered back by positioning her upper body above his and then, she rested her head on his torso.

“Hon, I hope time will come that I can already have your heart,” Catherine told Ruel. But his sole reply was just a sigh.

 Catherine felt Ruel’s chest rise and fall under her head when the latter exhaled deeply. She felt the blowing of his breath on her hair. Bothered by her man’s action, she asked, “Are you thinking about them again?”

Ruel smiled a bit and then, he slightly nodded. Catherine saw honesty in Ruel’s eyes that she felt perturbed by it. So she let out an intentional quiver to divert their conversation. Her shudder caught the man’s attention.

“Do you want another blanket,” he asked.

“Just embrace me tighter, hon. Please,” she replied.

Ruel obliged. He hugged Catherine closer and tighter. For a while, they both silently stared at the orange light while it swung on the ceiling.

“Shiela called me yesterday. She said that Junior was always looking for me,” Ruel interrupted. But Catherine seemed not to hear him.

“She wants to reconsider things in between us,” he continued.

Catherine blankly looked at Ruel.

“I thought that the only time you can hurt me is when you hug me too tight like this but you’re hurting me more than that right now,” she said as she continued to look at her boyfriend, who, this time, was already the one not looking back at her.

Catherine rested her head on the man’s chest once more. As she leaned her head back on his torso and felt the warmth of his body next to hers, she became more conscious that the whole length of their legs were touching and that her hip dug into the hard muscles at the side of his stomach. An impish thought settled in her mind. Although she new she might accidentally touch Ruel’s genitals if she straightens her hand because she was lying sideways, she still flattened it on top of Ruel’s body. The man jolted. Catherine, on the other hand, played as if she did not do it on purpose.

“Are you okay, hon,” she asked.

“Yes, of course,” replied Ruel.

Then, in the middle of the angry night, both of them lied together in silence. Catherine broke their stillness first.

“Have you always loved them more than you loved me,” she said.

Ruel turned his head towards Catherine. He was about to answer her question when he found out that the woman was also directly gazing at him. He accidentally put his hand on top of her head and twisted a finger around a strand of her hair. Catherine smiled. She exactly knew what that action implied. When she was about to reach for Ruel’s face to kiss him, the man got his nerves back that he withdrew twisting some strands of Catherine’s hair.

“I need to go back to them. I know you already understand that right from the start,” Ruel said. “Honey,” Ruel felt a constriction inside his mouth. His nostrils almost clogged inside. “I already need to…”

“I know,” Catherine nodded.

Noticing that her boyfriend was turning his body away from her, she asked Ruel, “Just continue playing with my hair please.”

So the man turned his face to Catherine and played with her hair again.

Although she was already filled with agony, Catherine was now conscious of her partner’s smell, a mixture of the same musky aftershave that he had been wearing since the day they met. Will this really be the last time she would lay this close to Ruel, she thought. Was Ruel trying to tell her that this would be the last time she would feel his touch in that proximity? Thrill and anxiety engulfed her as different thoughts continued to drift in her head. She palpitated every time she breathed in the pungency of Ruel’s musky smell. Her breathing started to ebb and flow.

“Hon, are you okay?” Ruel asked but Catherine did not pay him a reply.

Consciously, she brought her hand under the blanket and undid the buttons of her shirt. She took hold of Ruel’s hand and slowly pulled it down under the blanket, then, slipping it under her bra, she guided him to her right breast. She was teasing him. She felt his body tighten beside her.

“Honey, you don’t want—,”Ruel confusedly said but Catherine placed her index finger on his lips. “You always told me Shiela isn’t this good,” she said.

Ruel was silent, and she could hear his heart pounding like a mallet. As if mesmerized, his fingers began to move slowly, now on her left chest, and the crown on top of it responded immediately to his touch. He gradually moved his position, and she felt his arm below her back as it lifted her sideways on the bed. Catherine, on the other hand, clung her arms on Ruel’s neck. After their eyes had met, their lips slowly but fervently locked until he was above her.

When he finally positioned himself on top of Catherine’s body, obscuring the orange light on the ceiling from her sight, he remained motionless for a moment, staring down at her face.

“I am so—,” Ruel was about to tell Catherine but she kissed him again instead, interrupting what the man was trying to say.

Then, the lights flickered. Rainfall was now hitting the rooftop so hard. Wind whistled as if it hankered to pierce the window glass. Typhoon Milenyo blazed with anger. But the lovers seemed not to care.

Ruel slowly went down on Catherine’s body, kissing every inch of her flesh until she felt his lips kiss hers. Down there.

The electricity finally blacked out. Catherine reached for Ruel and put her arms around his neck to bring him back to her.

And when their mouths met and their legs entwined, Catherine, for the last time, felt the energy of a man flood her being while the gusty wind and heavy pouring of rain smashed into their whole place. She knew that Ruel would be with his family when Milenyo stops.



Photo Credits to Lamono Magazine and Amanda Zackem



 This short story is an excerpt in the thesis presented to the College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines in Los Baños, April 2008.


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