Meet JAZMINE . . .


A month before Braden abandoned her, Jazmine went home to Legazpi on the eight-hour rail trip to the eastern end of Luzon. The day was hot and humid, and her hormones . . . The spicy dilis[1] her seatmate was eating reeked and made her want to throw up—it was not dried fish really; it smelled like bloody, dead fish. The chickens clucking among the belongings of another passenger smelled to her like what they were—poultry and their feces. Braden could not join her then; he had to work overtime, he had said. Looking back now, she was not sure he had been at the office at all.


“What? You’re pregnant? What’s going to happen to us?” Jazmine’s mother demanded, slapping her hand on the dining table. “Who will send your sister to school? She’s still in high school!” Her mother stood with a hand on her hip and a glare on her face.


Jazmine’s mouth dropped open, but she quickly closed it. No care, no courtesy. The selfishness laid bare.


“Well, I haven’t really thought about how much the baby will cost . . . not yet,” Jazmine mumbled.


“Does Braden have a good job? How much does he make a month?” her father added and stared at her from his seat. “I welcomed that shameless twit to our home, and this is what he does to me?”


“How can you do this to us?” Her mother threw her hands up in the air. “Can we still expect any help from you?”


She did not even notice that her daughter was sweating, her legs swollen from the trip, and her feet red since she walked the five hundred meters from the main road to the house.


Jazmine could only cringe as the implications of the pregnancy on her family dawned on her. Out of the corner of her eye, Jazmine saw her sister, Christine, peeking down at them from the top of the stairs.


What happens to Christine from now on . . . I can’t think of it.



[1] Dried anchovies with red coating, usually served spicy or sweet and spicy


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