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The Diver - Tina Cuyugan

The Diver - Tina Cuyugan

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Published by Clara Buenconsejo

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Published by: Clara Buenconsejo on Jul 22, 2010
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08/03/2014

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uneasy, as though she walked on the edge of things; as thoughshe· were the one Without shadow. Her steps quickened.The trees thinned, and she came to the clearing whichmarked the end of the property. A narrow creek served asboundary; and bElyond that lay rice fields, like sheets of beatensilver, up to the horizon. Birds darted overhead; a carabao laymotionless in its wallow by the stream.The girl took off her slippers,an.d..w.adedintothe-ereek,
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the carabao watchL"1g her from the opposite bank, snortinggently and giving:anoccasional flickof its e~. The shockofcoolwat<!r and" the- round, sn.~k-stot:les underfoot made the girlSilUddol' a litHe. Her toes shone prettily through the sunlitwater, and she stared down at them with interest; they didn'tfeel as though t4ey belonged to her at all. -Only recently had she begun to disc~ver her body. Most timesit was just something"one didn't make .much of; a serviceablearrangement of skin and bone and.muscle that:ate well, carriedherthrollgh hoUrs of play, and unknitted itself instantly in sleep"at bddtime. But now and then she would
frod
hel:self tracing awhorl on har pink palm, round and round, or watching the lightcatch on the fine doWn of her arm, or rurini.ngher hand alongthe length of her thigh, fll'st 40wn then up, again and again, slowand.
1
.mthinking. In the household they had noticed only her fitsof lethargy.Wake up, get along, .L\ey'd. tell her, you're dreaming. Notknowing (now could they?) of the intensity with which she hadbeen foUowing a bead
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:Jwes.t as it inched slowly, invisibly,along the curve of her breast.On~p., she had tD.k~n a mirrcr, e.nd opedng h~r legs wide~hadgone exploring. Convoluted channels and grottoes, a young jungle s.h:,eadytangled. an unknown beasfs burrow. What did
it 
mean? What was it all for, this strange, endless, hiddencountry she carried? Baffled, she p~t away the mirror,As she stood ankle-deep in th~ middle of the c~eek, so sharpwas the girl'~ awareneS3 of her not-belonging, both within andwithout, that she wanted
t<)
weep in sudden, fierce irritation.Wordlessly she wished herself reduced to an element, like gold
Tina Cuyugan
THE DIVER
The girl h~d been taught: In the hour of greatest heat, oneshould shut onese,If up in a dim :roOD)to sleep. This was knownas common sense..But then, she was of an age during which all girls arepossessed by the devil of contradiction. So that when th~
0 1 & =
_woman lying beside her (a gi-andmother, perhaps, or some oth~form of keeper; it doesn't matter in this
zwry)
sta.rted. to snore,n-o",ning even as she slept because it was so hot, the girl rollednoiselessly off the mat and onto the floor.For a few seconds she lay on her stomach, her chin propp"enon her hands, inhaling'lhe smell of warm.ad wood and coconuthusk and oil. She saw how the smooth lines of the floor planksconverged at the far end of the room, where a strip of lightgleamed below the blinds.She got up, then, and padded out into the con-idol', down thestairs, past prone figures (it
WI\S
a household of sleepers), outthe door, and into a world slashed precisely into green and black and blazing white. A plantation at high noon.The girl had alse been taught: It didn't do to walk in the openwheu the
Bun 
was at its height.;· beings without sobls orsubstance oftan chose to be abroad at that hour, oocause onewould not· notice, until too late, that they cast nQ shadow.So the girl walked farther intv thE:trees, lookir.g about hp.r.But t1}ers was no one else.Only a world radiant in its (ever, hard-edged and disturbing.The light poured onto the crOwnll of trees, then cascaded fromleaf to stem to rock; it laid a hea'7 burning- finger on her napp..Grasse~ flashed metallic and ran the poinu. of their bladee idlyalong her ankles. The land had taken on more gravity) it ::leerned;the very hills hummed with their weight. It made the girl

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