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Divide by Two - Francisco Arcellana

Divide by Two - Francisco Arcellana

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Published by ruby soho
Philippine Literature in English
Philippine Literature in English

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Published by: ruby soho on Feb 06, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/31/2013

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DIVIDE BY TWOBy Francisco Arcellana
God knows that I hate the sight of violence, But is it really violence I cannot stand? Isn't it rather truth?
"They have set down a line of adobe blocks, three blocks wide and two blocks deep,across the lawn between their cottage and ours," Belle said."Yes, I know" I said. I walked to the window and stood there, looking over at their cottage. The piano music from the cottage came strong and clear. "I was here thismorning when he brought those blocks home" I peeled my shirt; it was soggy withsweat…" He carried the blocks in the baggage compartment of their car. It took him allthree trips. He had three boys with him to help." I shook my shirt in the cooling air andwalked to my room. "And I know where he got those blocks too. There is a constructiongoing on right now at the engineering school. They have a pile of adobe blocks there ashigh as the Cheops. You can't miss it. You see it from the bus line every time." In myroom, the strains of piano music didn't reach sustainedly.Belle followed me into my room. "They have marked off boundaries" she said "Theyhave defined limits".I folded my shirt about the back of my armchair. "So they have", I said. "So they have".My undershirt was wet too, I yanked it off."It is as if they have put up a fence," Belle said."Fences make good neighbors," I said. I whipped the apple-green towel off the T-bar andrubbed myself briskly."It might as well be the great wall of China," Belle said."Well not really," I said. "It is not as bad as that." I returned the towel to the crossbar. Ilooked around for a dry undershirt but did not find any. I went to the bedroom where myclothes-closet was. Belle followed me. There was no light in the closet. The bulb hadn't been changed since it went bad shortly after we moved into the cottage. I fumbled in thedark feeling with my fingers. In the darkness in the closet the strains of the piano camesteadily, strong and clear."She is no Turk but she keeps playing the Turkish March," Belle said.
 
I knew where my undershirts would be and it didn't take me long to find them with myhands. I pulled one out and was putting it on while I walked back to the
 sala
between the book-closet and the bathroom, one arm through one armhole, half out of the
 sando
shirtthe neck of which I held open with my hands. I looked at Belle. "Come again, Belle?" Iasked.Belle said again the denunciatory words.I got my head through the other armhole, got into my shirt. I walked on to the
 sala
.Ididn't know how tired I was until I fell back on the lounging chair.Belle picked up the footstool, brought it near my chair and sat down. "The least thingthey could have done is to tell us first about it".I felt very tired and shut my eyes and didn't say anything."Don't you think they owed it to us?" Belle asked. "Out of regards for our feelingsshouldn't they have asked us how we feel about a fence?"The piano music threaded through the words like a leitmotif. "How is that again, Belle?"I asked."They have no regard for us", Belle said. "They don't care what we think. They don'tthink we feel. As far as they are concerned we are not human".The piano came jubilantly threading through the words."Is that right, Belle?" I asked."Don't you think they should have at least gone to us and said: Look here, you! We are putting up this boundary, see? You keep to your side of these markers and we will keepto ours, understand?" Belle said."Do you really think that?" I asked."Yes I do", Belle said distinctly. "Don't you?""I don't know", I said. "I haven't thought about it"."Well then", Belle said, "think about it. You can start thinking about it now".I wondered why the words came ringing clear to me. Then I felt and sensed that the pianohad been closed. Suddenly the night was silent. Suddenly the night was still.
 
I rose from the swinging chair. I walked to the globe traveler near the wall outlet, pluggedthe cord and snapped the lid open. Belle followed me. I was playing the range disk for music when Belle leaned forward and snapped the lid shut."What's the matter, Belle?" I said."There's nothing the matter", Belle said."Well, then get off", I said. "Get off them and get off me".Belle was silent for a moment. "It is she", she said."What about her?" I asked."I don't think she likes me", Belle said."She doesn't like anyone", I said. "What makes you think so?""I have given her things", Belle said. "They don't seem to make an impression on her. Igave her cheese on her last birthday. She didn't even thank me"."Why do you have to go around giving things for?" I asked. "Maybe she doesn't likecheese. Maybe cheese wasn't such a good idea"."She doesn't like me", Belle said, "and she doesn't like anyone to like me. When he gaveme flowers from her garden, I don't think she liked that"."Who would?" I asked. "Maybe the flower wasn't such a good idea either"."He was also being friendly as I was", Belle said."Oh, yes", I said""But she doesn't want to be and I don't think she believes in being", Belle said, "and Idon't think she wants him to be either"."Oh well, Belle", I said. "I don't really know them. It's you they really know"."O, you do, too", Belle said. "You ride with them too sometimes"."I did that only once", I said. "I rode with them in the front seat. She tapped him on thethigh when she got off at Pavilion Two. That was the last time"."Did that bother you?" Belle said.

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