Man in the Bleedin Mirror
I find Friday consciousness from the raindrops pounding the neighbor’s roof. Groggy on my bed, I am deafened by the rowdy winds— no, hurricanes—dancing outside. Perpetual downpour, what the fuck, is there a typhoon? “THE WRATH OF THE TYPHOON ISANG HITS THE NATIONAL! CAPITAL! REGION!” the broadcaster yells— even more deafening than the hurricanes— over the battery-operated radio. Oh, there is a typhoon, duh.
Typhoons are not uncommon in this two-seasoned country. Thunderstorms everywhere, ack, the crazy Third World experience. (Not that TWCs are generally cursed with bad weather but look at how the fat Americans sunbathe without getting burnt, or layer clothes like it’s autumn everyday.) The Philippines meanwhile attracts all kinds of disaster, as my geology professor said when I was a freshman. I, being a rain hater, only consider these tropical storms beneficial if it happens that school is paining me. Friday, the busiest day of my overwrought schedule with Chem115, Econ100.1 and MBB1, plus PE… Ahh, freedom from—
A text message. It’s Artie, my handler: “I heard clases got sspendd. Ms Sheng of the creatv team askd f we cn make the shoot earlier, eh now daw. Ill make u sundo in 30mins.” Make me sundo in thirty minutes? I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet!
—Swiftly, I then trudge to the bathroom. The morning chill snakes to my spine, pulling me out of the haze. I lean my arms on the sink and try to contemplate when will I ever attain complete freedom. I’m here living separately in a no-name condominium, financing myself for three years now. I am still haunted by my parents who wanted me to attend an international school. “I dislike it there!” I said in my high school graduation party at home. “Son, you cannot reject this. Your mum and I have worked hard for this, you have a great future waiting in business management. You’ll get to have a lot of money… and friends,” Papa affirmed. I bowed down in delay, “So I could be rich and prosperous like you guys…” I questioned, “You… you capitalists.” Before my father could ever retort Excuse me, I rushed to my room and ransacked my items. I exited our mansion looking like a hero and at the same time, a burglar in coat and tie.
I now look at the mirror. A good-looking face huh? Porcelain skin, chinky captivating eyes, jet-black hair, tall physique. Or so what they point out. I never really was into modeling until I cashed out and my parents refused kissing my hardheaded ass. I believe I’m not just a “good-looking” face. I am a chemical engineering student, a conflict theorist, a Greenpeace volunteer. I’m not just a beaming tarpaulin promoting some stupid toothpaste. I’m a man in the mirror who knows what he wants in life. A man in the mirror. More than a good-looking face… wait! What’s that red spot atop my left brow? An insect bite? I gently stroke it— Aaaah!!! An awful swelling! Must be a zit. A zit? A ZIT! I stroke it again, it fuckin bursts! It bleeds!
I gush out of the john and rummage my first aid kit for a band-aid. Band-aids, band-aids… Dammit, I can’t find any! I begin shivering, not from the weather but from the impending doom. Now, Artie will kill me. “Make u sundo in 30 minutes,” I glance at the digital clock on the wall— 23 more minutes. I cannot show up in the studio with a bleeding zit. Miss Sheng will stop having me as an endorser. She’d speak badly about my unprofessionalism to the next advertising agencies I will beg next to. I’d be damn broke. Papa will find out and would holler I-told-you-so and tow me out of my pad, my school, my work, my dreams! I’d better be dead! Now where is that damn band aid? Nothing.
Ugh, I plod to the bathroom again, look at the mirror. The zit never stops bleeding. I twist the faucet’s knob and splash a little water on my forehead, like how the female facial cleanser models do. Splash on my left brow! Bleeding still! The fuck, what do I do? My friends say I should get the pus out. But if I press it harder, it’ll ooze more blood, or worse create an ineffable pockmark! A man in the mirror! A man with a bleeding forehead! Typhoons visiting this country, hurricanes dancing outside, Artie getting furious, Miss Sheng dropping me off, my savings shriveling, Papa scheming my own life!
“SURELY, ISANG’S WRATH IS INDESCRIBABLE! FLASH FLOODS EVERYWHERE! OFFICIALS USE A LOT OF MONEY TO TAKE CARE OF THIS BUT IT’S LIKE NOTHING’S EVER IMPROVING IN THIS CITY!” the broadcaster continuously bellows. Why are typhoons named after old nannies’ nicknames anyway? Why are government officials all crooks? And why does this stupid announcer keep on shouting? Is he challenging the forces of nature? I eventually ignore my bleeding boil, hold the puny radio in my hands, go to the bathroom once more and throw it madly at the man in the mirror.