Ask. Ask and thou shalt receive.
Assumpta est Maria, you sing every week in the auditorium.
Angels. Angelus. Angelic.
Admit. Admit, this was all your fault.
Against. Must you always — ?
Blood. Precious blood. You tell no one. You stare at the stains at the edges of your white cotton panties. Even the smell of it, faintly metallic, you like.
Blessed. Blessed in purity. Blessed be Thy name.
Better. To aspire always to better oneself.
It is essential.
Blot out. Blot out the blot.
Bring to me. Now!
Clandestine. It means “to creep.”
Chocolate is wonderful, especially on a warm night. You can lick it off your fingers.
Cry. Cry. Cry. Cry.
Creatures. The dog, your creature. Ido was its name. Ido means dog in Ilonggo.
Charity. The poor deserve our charity.
Call. Him. Call, over and over.
Define. Define needs.
Dreams : marriage, four children, evenly spaced, three years at the most.
Desire. Banish from your life.
Displeasure. Daughter. Dare not risk.
Do not, do not, do not!
Everyone. Everyone knows.
Enemy. He is an enemy now.
For. For whom? For everybody.
Free. Everybody wants some of you. Pleasure is free.
And fruit. Your breasts like nubs of hard, un-ripe starfruit.
Kissing them like tasting fruit, he said. Raise your blouse a little higher.
Forever and ever and ever.
God. Kneel. Ask His forgiveness.
Glory. Be glorified.
Grains of rice.
Garden. Blades of grass in your garden.
Give. Give. And give some more.
Heaven. Angelic hosts. Always above.
Holy. Holy Mass.
But not you, never you.
Here. Here is where it itches.
Humility. Must display, always.
Honor. Honored. So honored am I.
Hide from him.
Improve. How to — ?
I do not exist.
Jesus. Jesus, My Lord and My God. You the unchangeable. You constant.
And the journey.
Kindness. His need you mistook as kindness.
Knowledge. Involves kneeling.
Lord. My Lord.
Learn. Will you ever learn?
Later. Always later.
Love. No room.
Most holy. Most holy virginal convent girls.
Myself. I used to be.
Must. Always, must.
Mankind. Man. Men. Many.
May I — ?
Nine is magic.
When you’ve been with him nine times, he stops calling.
Never. I never.
Orchards of fruit.
Against his chest, you gave him your orchards of ripeness.
Probability. Probability of things happening.
Recollect. Recollect thy sins.
Required. Required reading. What you require.
Repent. Repent. Repent.
Receive. Ask and thou shalt receive.
See. Lift your chin.
Saints. San Isidro Labrador. San Sebastian pierced by arrows.
Soul is sin. And sin is soul.
Sacrament of Reconciliation is for such as thou.
Smile. There’s a good girl.
Sunrise. Still. Still there.
Sand. Tiny, tiny grains. Between your toes, between your lips. Between his teeth.
Touch is torment.
Torments. Thorns. Crown of thorns.
Trees. You climbed a mango tree and your uncle was waiting for you when you climbed down. Even at 10, you knew.
Those. Those who please God, please themselves.
Tomorrow — ?
Tongue. There. Therefore.
Until — ?
Vestige of virginal.
Wash. Wash away.
Words, words, words.
Who is speaking?
With — anyone with you? There?
While. Wait a while.
The place where he takes you.
You. Your Heart. Your Holiest Heart.
Your soul pours out. Against him, you are helpless.
Show how deep your zeal.
Let us all bow our heads now for the final blessing.
About the author:
Marianne Villanueva was born and raised in the Philippines. She is the author of the short story collections Mayor of the Roses, Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila, and The Lost Language. Her stories have been short-listed for the O. Henry Literature Prize as well as nominated for the Pushcart. Her most recent publications are in The Asian American Literary Review, Hyphen Magazine, LITnIMAGE and Our Own Voice. She divides her time between California and her father’s home island of Negros.