Gigil

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘gigil’ or ‘uncontrollable urge to pinch or squeeze someone’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

“Ow! Stop with the – the pinching thing! You’re a grown woman!”

“Oh have some fun Jo!” Irene laughed and prodded him again, the younger man squeaked pleasingly and Irene decided that she liked the sound very much. “Besides, this is exciting! My first trip to England and for a science seminar of all things!”

Jo tutted and dodged Irene’s questing fingers at the last minute. She huffed at the disappointment and tried to calm her heart a little. It was strange to be so excited, but the life she’d promised to start leading again was a strange road filled with new opportunities. It bubbled under her skin until she itched with energy from the soles of her feet and up to the tips of her fingers, where it emerged in the urge to nip and tickle.

“Get away! Look, it’s not far now to the Science Museum, just keep your hands to yourself until then. Deal?” Jo asked.

She nodded and tucked her hands into her pockets. The weather in London was surprisingly warm, Irene had expected dreary rain and packed accordingly but her sweater was a touch too thick. The greenery was a surprise too, the park they’d cut across was beautiful and the trees reminded her of her mountain home just enough for a spike of apprehension to sneak through her excitement.

“Tell me again what’s happening today? Den got really excited when I told him where I was going but I haven’t followed it all that closely if I’m honest,” she said, hurrying to match Jo’s stride.

“It’s the first review of the UK submissions for the response signal,” he explained. “The contest won’t close globally until next year, but there’s such a massive response rate that they decided to start thinning the numbers out by holding national heats.”

“Well, I guess its sink or swim time then,” Irene said, and, unable to resist, snuck another quick pinch.

“Ow! Irene!”

“Sorry Jo, I just can’t seem to resist. Its nerves, I feel terrible,” she apologised and tried to cover the insincerity in her voice by tucking her hands away once more. Jo was just so damned pinch-able.

“Whatever, we’re here anyway,” Jo pointed to an enormous building with a queue that stretched half way down the street. He stopped and unhooked his backpack, fishing inside for something. “Here we, invitations. Let’s see if these work as a queue jump, if not we might not make it inside in time!”

He handed Irene a thick piece of card with her name typed in fine black copperplate lettering and hurried towards a very official looking security guard. Irene followed a little slower, admiring the building and enjoying the buzz of people chattering. There was so much life in the city; there was in the bush too but she felt like she was reclaiming a piece of herself she’d forgotten when Adam passed. And there it was, there first time in nearly a day since she’d thought about Adam at all.

“I’m choosing life, Adam. I hope that’s ok, but even if it isn’t; I’m doing it.”

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Halakhak

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘halakhak’ or ‘loud, uninhibited laughter’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

The fine sheen of sweat on Yuna’s body dried slowly, bringing a comforting chill as her heartbeat slowed. Shima peppered soft kisses across the top of her shoulder, shorting panting breaths deepening as he too recovered. Her bedroom was a mess, the bed sheets tangled around them, pillows strewn far and wide with a trail of clothing lay scattered across the floor; a treasure trail leading from the living room where Shima had finally made his move.

She traced a hand over Shima’s belly and up to his chest, tapping in time to the heavy rhythm of his heart pound under her fingers and felt a broad smile split her face.

“You’re looking very satisfied all of a sudden, I think that should be my job!” Shima huffed, adding a nip of teeth to his next kiss.

It startled a half giggle from Yuna and it was as if a dam had broken on the cautious joy she’d held back over the past weeks. The giggle changed to a loud, happy laugh and she pounced on Shima, running her fingers along his sides until he was laughing too.

“Ah! Yuna!” he yelped as she found a spot that appeared particularly sensitive. “I knew there was a wild side lurking somewhere but I didn’t expect – ah! Not there! – I didn’t expect this!”

Collapsing against him, Yuna buried her face in Shima’s neck.

“I think I may be truly happy,” she admitted. The words felt like an acknowledgment of the truth that had been lurking on the tip of her tongue since answering the door that evening. A hollow place she hadn’t even really known existed felt a little fuller, and it was as exhilarating as it was terrifying.

“Hey, it’s very demoralising as a man when a woman laughs after sex you know!” Shima said, poking her in the side. There was a smile in his voice and she nipped at his earlobe, revelling in the way he shuddered at the sensation. “Ah! Starting me up again, you’ll be worn out for that big meeting tomorrow.”

“I don’t care about work or meetings right now,” she replied and realised it was the truth. “And I’ll laugh whenever I want.”

Shima rolled, pinning Yuna beneath him. His smile answered her own and he lay propped on one arm, eyes surveying her in a way that might have once left her feeling uncomfortable or exposed.

“You’re right, you should absolutely laugh whenever you want but especially when you’re with me,” he said and laid a gentle kiss on her forehead.

It was a revelation that laughter could be free and joyful and Yuna felt that, no matter what the future held, that moment of happiness would live with her for the rest of her life.

Pahimakas

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘pahimakas’ or ‘last fairwell’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

“Are you sure about this? You and Adam loved this place, Irene.”

Irene rolled her eyes and carried on packing up a box of kitchen utensils. Sarah meant well, but the little apartment in Sydney should have been emptied and sold a long time ago. Irene hadn’t been able to face it since Adam passed, but it felt right to move on and to let go of a place that she would never share with him again.

“I’m sure and the memories we made here were enough to last a lifetime, it’s time someone else has the same opportunity,” she replied, examining a novelty corkscrew she couldn’t remember buying. “I think I need to have a junk sale or something, I don’t even know why we owned half this stuff! Maybe when I’m back from my trip?”

She tossed the corkscrew into a large box of random items and dug back into the draw of implements. Having been without so many of the items for so long she began to seriously consider the practicality of trucking it all back to her home in the Blue Mountains.

“So you’re still going then?” Sarah asked, her voiced sounded a little off and Irene glanced from her task to find Sarah staring at an old photo of everyone at the beach.

“Sarah?”

Her friend looked up at Irene and smiled sadly.

“I loved him too you know,” Sarah said. “Not like you, of course. But in my own way, as friends, and I miss what we all had. I thought we’d been so lucky to have the chance to grow old together, old people moaning about bloody kids getting on our nerves.”

Irene sighed, her chest tightening the same way it had a thousand times over the past year. But she’d done a great deal of soul searching since she’d begun to come alive again and thought she had a little wisdom to share with her friend.

“I wasn’t sure I could be anything but a shell of a person after Adam died,” she admitted. “Oh sure, I went about my day, I saw people. And I felt nothing. But I realised recently that there’s still so much life out there, the world will keep turning whether I’m part of it or not. And I do want to be part of it, because as long as I’m really living then it feels a little bit like Adam is living too.”

Sarah nodded but kept her face turned from Irene, just as she had when they were teenagers and argued. Setting aside the box of utensils, Irene took her friend by the shoulders and pulled her into a firm hug. She felt Sarah shudder against her, body tense and was pushed away.

“I’m sorry, it just feels so final. Like selling this place is a last goodbye,” her friend explained and gave a watery smile. “Let me pull myself together, no more bloody drama. I promise.”

The sentiment hit close to home but Irene nodded and waved Sarah out of the room. She looked around the apartment, memorising the moment and the chapter of her life that selling it would close. It took a moment to remind herself that it wasn’t the end of her story, just another beginning.

Dalisay

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘dalisay’ or ‘pure’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

The lights were dimmed for the movie, but Yuna hadn’t bothered to turn them up again when it finished. She and Shima were comfortable in the artificial twilight, the DVD menu looping in the background as they talked.

It was such simple conversation; their day, people at work, plans to buy a car. And yet Yuna found herself relaxed, happy even. The first date at her home had always been a stage in the game, an invitation to intimacy on the promise of maintaining a socially acceptable and therefore mutually beneficial relationship.

But when Shima had mentioned his desire to share an old movie with her, it seemed completely natural to extend an invitation for a casual Sunday together. The panic afterwards to plan a meal and select a suitably casual outfit had rendered Yuna almost unrecognisable even to herself, but her practiced dinner, nabe followed by flan, and the standard black dress felt wrong when she imagined Shima. He liked colour and spice and relaxation, and Yuna found herself wanting the same things.

“Ah, it’s getting late and I have to get the train,” Shima said, glancing at his watch. “I wish I could spend every Sunday like this, your curry making skills are incredible!”

“So soon? I have dessert too… you seemed to like the green tea cake from Super Sweet very much when we visited,” Yuna replied. Her chest felt tight at the idea that Shima might leave, and she’d deliberately hidden dessert when she’d gone to fetch drinks from the kitchen earlier with the intention of extending the evening as along as possible. “Shall I fetch it? The trains will run for another hour.”

“Yuna! You are a devil woman, but I can’t say no!” Shima declared, grinning as he threw himself back onto the cushions.

Hiding a secret smile, Yuna collected the two plates of cake from the fridge. A glimpse of her reflection in the window gave her a moment of pause and she glanced at the doorway to the living room. After a moment of hesitation she put down the plates and let down her hair, ruffling it slightly, before she bit at her bottom lip to make it a little fuller. Maybe they weren’t playing by the rules of the game but that didn’t mean Yuna wasn’t ready for a little seduction.

“Please enjoy,” she announced as she returned, passing Shima’s portion of cake into his eager hands.

“Still so delicious!” he exclaimed after the first bite, although Yuna noticed the way his eyes slid over the changes in her appearance. He was too clever a man not to notice or to understand what it meant. “Your hair looks very pretty, I think this is the first time I’ve seen it loose.”

“I thought I should relax a little,” Yuna said. She felt her heart begin to beat a little quicker and put down her plate. Nervousness was a new sensation and she couldn’t help the way she tucked her hair behind her ears or dropped her gaze to Shima’s mouth.

“Hey, Yuna… I-I have a question,” he said, setting his own plate aside and leaning closer until Yuna could almost feel the heat of his body radiating in the inches that separated them. “Well, not a question maybe, but I would like very much to kiss you, if you don’t mind?”

The smile that crept over the corners of her lips was unstoppable but rather than answer in words, Yuna lifted a hand pressed it to the side of Shima’s face to draw him near. The kiss was gentle, not a great deal more than the damp press of lips together, but the sensation spread like the sun through her flesh and settled bone deep. The coldness that Yuna so carefully preserved around her heart was warmed, if not quite melted, and she wondered what it would be like to feel Shima’s heart beating in rhythm with her own.

When he withdrew the warmth lingered and he smiled at her so softly that Yuna wasn’t sure where to look. “Now I really must go, a perfect evening should be ended at the right moment I think.”

As much as she would have liked to protest, Yuna appreciated the sentiment. Besides, it gave her time to plan another evening, one meant for seduction.

“If you’re free next week, I’d like to see the sequel?”

Humaling

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘humaling’ or ‘extreme fondness’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

“You must try Kitahara-san’s umeshu, Sato-san,” Shima said, presenting Yuna with short earthenware cup.

“Please, I keep asking you to call me Yuna,” she replied, sipping delicately at the plum liquor. It was delicious, cold and sweet with a slight after burn. “Delicious!”

A reddened flush spread across Shima’s cheeks and he ducked his head. Yuna felt a twinge of pleasure at the sight and feigned interest in fish on her plate, toying with her chopsticks. This was their second date in almost as many days and Yuna, for the first time in her life, was already having to bite back the suggestion of a third.

Shima Takahashi was nothing like the men Yuna usually dated, he’d been raised in a little town between Kobe and Osaka and sometimes slipped into Kansai dialect. He was tall, and still somewhat awkward despite the deliberate and thoughtful way he moved; he dressed for comfort rather than fashion and wore the most terrible shoes. But he was also witty and intelligent rather than charming, the force of his personality transforming the relative plainness of his features until Yuna found she couldn’t look away.

“I am still a little surprised you agreed to see me again…Yuna,” Shima admitted, the flush in his cheeks growing a little darker.

An involuntary smile twitched the edges of Yuna’s lips and for once she let it grow, the skin of her cheeks stretched. She couldn’t have predicted when she attended the news event that she might be successful in meeting a few of the scientists presenting afterwards, and she would never have dreamed that someone like Shima would be amongst them. The lesson on planning and procrastination had been well learned and Shima might well be her reward.

“I confess, I was a little interested in the prospect of meeting some of the scientists involved in such a momentous occasion,” she explained, refusing to disguise her manipulations. It was important Shima did not mistake her intentions or how they had changed. “Life in outer space; it will change the nature of the world that we know. But I find you to be…an unexpected benefit.”

Shima stared at her a moment, dark eyes searching her face, and Yuna felt a quiver of uncertainty before he gave a sudden snort of laughter and smiled.

“I think you must be a very interesting woman, Yuna.”