Years ago I wrote this paragraph in a rush. Years later I still need to finish the last few pages to complete this story. I should, very soon; the suspense is killing me.

It was supposed to be funny, the way the invisible borderline officially cleaved the marble floor of their house, running obliquely from the corner window towards the staircase, and thrusting the dining area and kitchen from part of the living room. The house was riven between two governments: one portion lodged in a city and the other entrenched in a municipality. Eleanor’s stepfather, for instance, could have laughed at the fortuity and joshed her mother: “Where would you like to eat tonight, dear? Pateros or Taguig?”—the tone and endearment achieved perhaps after a bottle of pinot noir. And he would pronounce the names Pa-táy-ros and Tágweeg, the way Americans do, and Eleanor would see little value in correcting him; her stepfather wouldn’t think it as significant as her properly stressing the first syllable of inventory, the second syllable of guitarist,and the third syllable of mountaineer. Her mother, in a voice as small as her frame, would pretend to consider the question and then simper, “Tágweeg,” as if she too shared his ruddy cheeks and pale skin. And maybe her mother could take the banter a little further: say, if there would be someone who would call for Eleanor, her mother could say, “May I put you on hold? Lenlen is in Pa-táy-ros,” tittering as she would hand her the phone. (Enlightened, her mother no longer told callers if she could please “hold” them.)


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