Featured Writer: Ysabel Dungca
33 ⅓ RPMs - Prose
i still have your records next to my player: 33 ⅓ RPMs you never remembered to take back. you had the same taste i did, so i hope you don’t mind that i’m beginning to wear them out.
do you remember when we first went to the record store together? i watched as you gravitated towards the rock section, thumbing through crates of records with one hand and pulling some out with the other. once you made it to bowie and reed, you met my eyes from across the store and gave me a sort of mischievous look that disarmed my heart. i knew my wallet would never be the same.
i came out with one record. you came out with ten. i never listened to mine again.
in retrospect, listening to your music was not the panacea i was looking for. your being is so embedded in the chords of every song you shared that it’s impossible to listen to them without thinking of you; without seeing you tap your fingers to the opening strains of “moonage daydream”; without seeing you subconsciously twirl a strand of hair around your fingers as “satellite of love” comforted you after a long day; without seeing you tamping a cigarette on an ashtray while we talked over “life on mars?”; without seeing you move into a streak of light that spilled from an open window, asking me to take a photo of you just as “heavenly arms” wound to a slow, blue close.
above the earth, gilded with afternoon light, you never looked more beautiful.
losing myself in reminiscences seems to be the only way to survive this bright, unbearable reality without you. do you remember the times where we drove to the countryside so you could gaze at the stars, or when you would take me to your place on christmas days because i was tall enough to hang parols around your apartment?
do you remember buying sampaguitas at a nearby church before visiting your mother’s grave, or when we would sit under trees and watch as winged seeds fell to the ground with a twirl?
do you remember when we played pokemon and zelda on our game boys after we came home from work, buying fish balls and banana cues when we got hungry, or when we would try to cook sinigang and it always turned out a bit too sour, but that was how you liked it?
these memories, like the cadence and timbre of your voice, are pressed into my mind; a change in the weather, an upcoming deadline - that’s all it takes for the needle to drop, and my heart starts rending anew.
i wonder where you are now. have you returned to the stars you loved so much? have you seen a black hole up close? have you reunited with your mother? did she take you in her arms as i was fortunate enough to do for years on end? when you spoke to her, did she tell you that she was proud of everything you’ve accomplished?
if you were still here, would you have stayed by my side? if i were gone, would you have missed me? would you have thought of me fondly, or the time we spent together to be as brilliant as they were to me?
i don’t know.
all i know is that you still occupy a small piece of my heart; an anomalous tenant that stopped paying rent, but no part of me wants to evict.
what were we? were we music aficionados? were we losers? were we brazen dreamers who wouldn’t hesitate to go beyond what we knew in pursuit of the beautiful? were we way in over our heads?
were we lovers?
i never knew how you felt, and that’s okay. maybe you never needed to say anything when you could let lou’s haunting voice speak for you through “coney island baby” or “perfect day”. maybe i never needed to say anything when i could just give you the extra fish ball or tend to the flowers at your mother’s grave.
but i hope that in spite of the things we’ve left unsaid, you knew that i loved you, and that i always loved you.
i can only hope that you felt the same.
Ysabel Dungca is a 23-year old Filipino writer who is currently based in Australia. She has a passion for musical theatre, art, and exploring the liminal space between the two cultures she grew up in.