(Who gets to choose which one leaves and which one stays?)

She went back to the apartment the way she had left it: books on the floor, unwashed dishes in the sink, piles of laundries from last week, and scent of melancholia emanating from her room down to the kitchen and into the sala. It was as if a madman went to her apartment, uninvited, and left the door open.

The madman, too, forgot to say goodbye.

She unpacked her luggage: clothes, shoes, clothes for her brother, pre-cooked lumpia her mother made, supplies she bought from last week, a book, and some more clothes. She opened her wooden cabinet, put all her clothes in it, took one old shirt, and changed. If only she could unpack her memories, too, she would. It would be locked in the cabinet and the rage of the river would swallow the key to it.

Forty days after her father’s death, she went back into her new apartment in the middle of the bustling metropolis. Her neighbors played the same karaoke songs. Her younger brother still went home late after school.

But nothing will ever, ever be the same, she knew.


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