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Bliss (Part 3 added–6/17/22)


SamErgule
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Hey guys! I've written stories before but I never got to finish them. I was not satisfied with my every attempt. But I intend to finish this one. I already have the general flow in mind. Hope you like it. 

__________

BLISS

Part 1

It was only two months after my eighteenth birthday when I learned about my real father. His name is David Calderon. I was in my messy room one afternoon packing my bags for college when I heard my mother knock. She had to tell me before I start the rest of my life away from her. That talk finally shed light on some of the memories that did not quite fit my present life. It relieved me in some way like any child would upon knowing the whereabouts of his real family. Make no mistake. Kevin was a good father, the only father I had ever known.

It was already evening when our talk ended. She led me to her bedroom where she showed me some photographs of David before and shortly after I was born. I saw how he changed as my mother shuffled through these pictures. In each turn of her fingers, I was overwrought, excited. I stood between my past and future. All my anxiety over college suddenly disappeared and gave way way to questions about my very existence, about what it means to live a normal life. 

We heard the car arrive. Kevin entered the house carrying bags of Italian takeout. Jamie, my fourteen-year-old brother, also went in from the backyard carrying a basketball ball. He ran to greet his father, one he could really call his own. 

Kevin and we boys silently chowed down our dinner of cheap lasagna and spaghetti. My mother reheated the fried chicken from last night. She did not want to waste food. As she sat down, she mentioned our talk again. Kevin already knew, of course, but he looked at me with concerned eyes. He is going to miss me so much. All of them will. 

I still could not sleep after a nice cold shower. I was trying to remember when exactly David left us. Perhaps I was so young then, still learning how to crawl on our carpet. Or I was having too much fun with the neighboring kids when we were still living in our old house. I would cry to my mother, she said, whenever he tried to get near me. I was scared of him. He overwhelmed all of us. But his progressing image in the photographs had just simmered an unhealthy desire in the depths of my soul. It drew me to what humanity can only dream of, to what I could become.

I ran to the bathroom to relieve myself. When I came, I felt a hunger like never before, a dissatisfaction with life and with the limits of reality as I knew then. I was in a brink of something but I admit I was scared to think of pursuing something that lacked certainty. I came back to my room. I looked at Jamie now asleep in his own bed by the moonlit window. Our bodies do not look that much different. Indeed, before the full length mirror behind the doorway, I only saw a scrawny, five-foot-six tall young boy still finding his way around the world of men. I prayed that the reflection will soon become a memory.

The next morning, I told my parents that I will be driving to college. We said our goodbyes as we exited the house. My mother hugged me for hours. She then handed me a Tupperware of my favorite pork adobo. At the last minute, Jamie went out of the porch door and embraced me as well. I patted his back and left him some brotherly words of wisdom. I have forgotten what they were exactly. 

I got into my car and saw the three them in my side-view mirror quietly entering the house. I thought then that it would be the last time I would ever see them. And I believe they thought so too. 

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Part 2

The car drove through C-5, one of Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare and where I faced a horrendous traffic jam. Stuck, I just opened my mother’s Tupperware that had been heated in the sunlit passenger’s seat. I helped myself with some chunks of pork, my fingers dripping with oil. I then washed the food down with a bottle of water I bought earlier from the road vendor, a thirty-year old woman carrying her sleepy toddler. 

I imagined how it was like for my mother nineteen years ago. She was still called Nicole Macalinao, but she was already living with David in a small apartment in Quezon City. It was one hot Saturday morning of April. Sleep was departing from her eyes, when she found the sheets beside her empty. Too early, she thought. She heard the bathroom door open. Out stepped a man, slightly more muscular than a gymnast. A towel was wrapped around his hips, his ebony hair still wet. He went straight to the plastic drawer to look for underwear. 

“It’s the weekend,” Nicole said, now fully awake. 

“It’ll only be a moment.” 

“You said the same thing last time.” 

David remained silent as he scoured the bottom drawer for sports clothes. Now fully dressed, he picked up his gym bag. He walked toward the bed and kissed her cheeks before heading out. Nicole tried to fall asleep again, but she could not let go of the impression of last night’s wild sex, only one of the many they had this month. She would have gotten used to their new level of intimacy if not for the brief time than David changed. 

She recalled a very different man on their first date at a cheap beef stew stand across the university’s gates. He looked like a teenage boy. His arms were thinner than her own. Only slightly taller than her, he stood at 5 feet and 7 inches. He had mid-length, wavy hair and a large pair of wire glasses that shrunk his face. His flannel shirt hung from his spindly frame which reminded her of the scarecrows in her father’s rice fields. 

Anybody would have judged him average—anybody else. What drew her was his dedication, ambition, and depth beneath his plainness. He was still finishing his dissertation on biochemistry and genetics. The human body, he explained, can repair itself in the shortest time possible. It can enhance parts that are beneficial for survival. No! It can push itself beyond survival to the very pursuit of pleasure. David was talking with noodles still hanging from his mouth, his eyes opened wide. He had just disclosed his passion as soon as he noticed her mildest interest in science. She never thought at that time that his mere intellectual musings will become his very obsession later on. 

A month ago, after a long holiday in her family’s ancestral home in Legazpi, she returned home to a different man. He was sitting on their little couch devouring a whole box of pizza for himself. He stood up to greet her. She could not mistake the new bulges that graced his arms. His chest now pushed the tank top she gave him last Christmas. She remembered buying it a size larger. Now, it hugged his emerging V-taper. It failed to keep this burgeoning meat of a man.  

“I’ve been working out.”

“I can tell,” she smiled. 

“I didn’t have anything else to do, you know, without you here.”

He shrugged his globe-like shoulders. He sounded apologetic, but she was more than eager to lift the tank top. She gasped. He had indulged her eyes with a six pack. The playful cuts and curves excited her. Her genitals felt starved and were screaming to be filled. 

Ever since, she filled her evenings with a celebration of David’s body. She could not count the times her hands caressed his pecs that became rounder and denser later on. Sometimes, she swore that they pushed her further and further from his face. She would sink deeper and deeper into the bed, his titanic legs restraining her lower body. Her belly would feel every bulge of his abs. Her delicate fingers would rejoice to trace them every now and then. And never had his dick filled her insides. Many times, she heard it yearn to tear her body apart. She would hold on to his back which became wider and wider every week. It was her favorite part. In fact, she loved to lotion it every night. As soon as she smeared her hands over them, her eyes would wander over its mounds and valleys glistening under a warm white light. My mother eventually got exhausted doing so later in their relationship. She said her arms could not keep up with David’s expanding breadth. 

His body demanded a lot from her. She noticed the increasing grocery list and the decreasing space in their mini fridge. Stacks of canned tuna and sardines and expensive jars of whey overcrowded their pantry. They would not have been a problem if they were more financially comfortable. They were supposed to save money until they could settle down in a more permanent house before they could get married and have kids. And then, she also had to allot some of their monthly budget to his wardrobe. He was getting larger every week, and she already bought him two sets of clothes this month. 

The time finally came when that gifted tank top gave away. One night, she found it in tatters on the bedroom floor. David was standing by the plastic cabinet naked except for his left hand covering his crotch with a pair of boxer briefs. Were they torn too? He was sweating and out of breath. He looked as if he did something wrong. He smiled. He needs bigger clothes, he said. Nicole swore he looked bigger than an hour ago. 

During those days, he always left too early every morning to go to the gym before heading to the university. He made up for his absence by cooking her breakfast. He would leave her a plate of garlic rice, sunny side ups, and longaniza, after he himself had crammed his mouth with a whole roasted chicken, about a dozen eggs, and a gallon of milk. But she always came to the table alone, and he returned home so late at night. He reasoned that he only had mornings for his workouts and there were always some crucial experiments at the lab. 

But David leaving early that Saturday morning left her anxious like never before. Nicole naturally suspected him of cheating. Perhaps she will be forced to share his improved self with other women from now on. Perhaps the once awkward man she had fallen in love with found his confidence in the gym and was now testing his limits within the social hierarchy. Or maybe he was just going through something, as her mother once said when Nicole accompanied her to Mass last Sunday. Her mother’s words rang truer when Nicole was brushing her teeth that morning. She opened the medicine cabinet and there, she spotted David’s stack of pills. Perhaps, early into living together, she had failed to sense a void eating up her once enthusiastic partner. One night, while they were watching Friends, David clasped her hands. She smiled and looked at him. She found a troubled face. 

“I went to the doctor,” he said.

“Oh? You feeling okay, babe?”

David remained silent. Nicole stared back at the television now reduced to background noise. “Why didn’t you tell me anything?” She leaned her head against his hard shoulders. 

“I didn’t know what to tell you. I didn’t know what it is. I–I didn’t plan any of this. I just—I just felt I needed to see a doctor.”

Since then, Nicole saw everything more clearly. She now understood why she always woke up beside an exhausted David begging that she use the shower first, why he sometimes stared at his laptop for hours before blaming himself at dinnertime for being unproductive. He would sink into solitude. She thought then that it was only a quirky part of his personality. She had learned over the years to better leave him alone. This allowed him a bit of freedom that he needed. And Nicole knew she could briefly unburden herself of relationship demands until he is ready to open up. But he never did this time. The waiting period became longer and longer. Nevertheless, when she found a muscled David waiting in that living room, she could not help but be happy. She thought he has found a hobby to help him overcome himself, give him something to look forward to every day. 

“It feels like I’m in control, you know,” David said once in one of their increasingly rare TV nights. He was turning his wrists, his fists clenched. He watched his forearm muscles ripple. Veins popped out of an otherwise blank limb. Meanwhile, an animated Bruce Banner screamed behind the television screen. David’s eyes turned toward it. The two-dimensional scientist was ripping out of his clothes and allowing his muscles grow beyond human proportions. He transformed into the Incredible Hulk who emerged from the rubble and jumped toward his enemies, crashing cars and concrete debris along the way. The whole time, Nicole was watching the unfolding scene capture her boyfriend’s gaze. 

“It’s kinda weird,” David whispered, “but the more I let myself go, the more I feel in control.”

My mother concluded later on that my father was using his workouts as a sort of coping mechanism. He was avoiding himself and the banality of his life, including her part in it. Even now, she believed that everything was somehow her fault. She said it could have been the movie trailer or the showbiz article. But her reaction definitely triggered something in him. 

Hype was then brewing around telenovela actor Isagani Rosario having signed to play Doktor Astig, a larger-than-life superhero that was supposed to embody the fantasies of manhood. Isagani, however, showed none of such qualities. He pretty much owed his fame to his pretty boy looks, even more than to his acting. For the public, he looked “too clean.” He may have been perfect to play the lead in a romantic comedy but not in an action-adventure flick. 

Isagani left the spotlight for a while. Then photos of him began to circulate online. It captured a well-lit gym where two figures stood proudly. On the left is celebrity trainer Lito Herrera. On the right was a beast of a man whose only remaining proof that he was still the mestizo actor was his face. Nowadays, many have forgotten Doktor Astig, a mere cash grab for the Christmas season. But few still remember how Isagani’s transformation was unlike that of Hollywood stars of today who, at best, are only able to achieve a fitness model’s physique. Isagani, however, had reached Olympian proportions. Every muscle was exaggerated. Every bulge almost spilled out of his frame. Every line crisscrossed the topography that was his body, creating networks of insertions and striations. Every vein popped like the road networks across a vast, progressive country. It did not help that the actor maintained his youthful face, albeit roughened up by his dark beard.

“Damn!” Nicole said. She and David were eating popcorn in the couch. “He never looked so manly, did he? And has he gotten taller?”

“A trick of the light, babe.”

“You’ll look good in that body. You bet I’d love you even more.” 

Nicole realized it too late when she sensed that her boyfriend was slightly taken aback. She feared she might have dampened his sense of self-worth, at the very time that he was fighting for it. She blamed her standards. Her own father used to lift makeshift weights in their backyard. Her two older brothers soon followed him, and the three ate a lot. They would scoop into their plates five cups of rice which fueled their bodies more energy and growth. They were the strongmen in their village, a label that they readily accepted. After all, the Macalinaos have always been tough and big. Thus she found it difficult when she finally introduced David to the family. Her father was warm to him, but his brothers would taunt him for his size or absence thereof. They would punch him in the shoulders, a kind of brotherly bonding that David was not used to. They joked how he should load buckets with water from the pump and carry them as a test of his worth to their only sister. To the whole family’s surprise, David did so while he looked at the brothers straight in the eye. 

“Really?” David chuckled on the subject of the swollen actor. “You’re not afraid I might love myself more than you’ll ever love me?” He never took a kernel from the bowl again. 

They were in a mall one Sunday afternoon. He had left her in the shoe section of the department store where she was trying on some low-cost espadrilles. Later, he arrived with many pairs of gym clothes, already stuffed inside paper bags. 

“You already paid for them?” she asked. 

“Yes.” David remained silent. Nicole then instructed the salesclerk to look for a smaller size when her boyfriend finally budged. “I’ll go ahead to the grocery store. Just text me.”

“Okay.”

“Food,” he muttered to himself as he was leaving. “I need food.”

My mother recalled how, at that time, she was busy preparing to set out for Legazpi the following morning. All her errands denied her the time to think about what was going on around her, especially with David. But looking back, she realized how ominous his words were about loving himself—and how right she was about the actor getting taller. 

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  • SamErgule changed the title to Bliss (Part 2 added–5/28/22)

Great set-up! You have captured my interest and I look forward to reading more.  As the story develops, I hope you will add a few illustrations.

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1 hour ago, FallenAway said:

Great set-up! You have captured my interest and I look forward to reading more.  As the story develops, I hope you will add a few illustrations.

Thanks! I was really thinking of adding some illustrations for the story but I worry that they might detract from the readers’ imagination somehow. I might reconsider though. 

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This is a inetresting setting. Im loving the pace and how you are building the story. I need moar

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64F29EE8-CCA8-423D-9319-42126803884E.thumb.jpeg.45ef22f207520d3942e648f91b98cf82.jpeg

My parents, David and Nicole, at Mines View Park in Baguio City, September 8, 1996. Image by Nicole Macalinao-Suarez. 

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  • SamErgule changed the title to Bliss (Part 3 added–6/17/22)

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