Heights Ateneo — The Official Literary and Artistic Publication and Organization of the Ateneo de Manila University
kara buenaventura was thirteen when she woke up to find a damp crimson stain which clung to her shorts and bedsheet.
“Is it supposed to hurt this much?” she asked her mother as she lay in bed.
“Wait until you give birth, those cramps will feel like nothing.” That night, Kara dreamt of her mother positioning a knife near her abdomen while whistling to the tune of Doris Day’s “Que Sera Sera,” cutting through her soft skin like butter.
Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months; months that waited for blood to hasten the years. A ripping sound of the napkin being pulled from her underwear, and the sour stench of natural death. Possibilities that never found beginnings, shed alongside red tissue linings.
“Hey, did you hear?” her seatmate Kelsey whispered to the rest of their tablemates in class, “Yna got pregnant. That’s why she hasn’t been in school the past week.” It was their senior year of high school, and a post-entrance exam lethargy hung in the air as they waited with bated breath for their acceptance letters. Kara was scribbling down notes and trying to concentrate on the lecture.
“Oh my god, Yna? Seriously? That girl can’t even take care of herself. Have you seen how haggard she looks on a daily? Now she’s going to have kids? Fucking irresponsible if you ask me,” Sophia, their class president, replied in a hurried whisper. “And you won’t believe it, but the father’s supposed to be an older
man. Like, waaaaay older. Nearing his thirties, ata.” Kelsey shook her head with a smirk.
“Damn, do you think she’ll get an abortion or something? I honestly feel bad for her baby...Yna’s way too immature to give him or her a good life. Besides, how could she throw away her future like this?” Clarissa, the girl running for batch valedictorian, added.
Kara gripped her ballpen hard, her palms sweaty. Kelsey was Yna’s friend for years, but friendship was a fact that became fiction at the mention of pregnancy. Kara knew this because it wasn’t the first time a girl in their batch had been turned against. Pregnancy was like a plague that people like Kelsey used to feel good about themselves.
Despite this, Kara found herself feeling relieved that it wasn’t her. Somehow, she found a part of herself agreeing with Clarissa. How could a child raise children?
Kara was now twenty, and though the early days of blood on the sheets had both shocked and disgusted her, they couldn’t compare to this. “This” being the two clay babies that were sitting on her desk, both no bigger than the size of her palm. The baby girl was putting her fist in her mouth, looking at her with shiny eyes while a string of drool dribbled down her chin. The boy had fallen asleep, his chest rising and falling to the beat of his steady breathing.
Her predicament started two nights ago: clad in her white nightgown, she had gone to bed early to remedy a blunt but persistent stomach pain that appeared out of nowhere. Beforehand, she had received the news that Yna’s two year old drowned in the bathtub of their small apartment. “Yna went to pick up something from the kitchen, but she forgot to turn the water faucet off. Reckless and irresponsible, as expected,” Kelsey had said in their batch’s group chat—which Kara thought she muted once it no longer served its use for an-
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