In Another Universe
by Guia Galvez
Disclaimer and Claimer: This storyline is a pitch for a story I will be presenting in my Writing for Film class tomorrow. I was inspired by the essay of Gaby Dunn that you can read here. This storyline, though, is entirely mine. You are free to express your approval and disapproval as a post/reply, provided you do it with courtesy and respect.
Rafael Panatuan or “Pael” establishes himself in narrative form and takes us briefly through his life. We first see him in his upper middle class childhood. His parents were quick to buy television cable so he was able to watch countless shows growing up. He explains his fascination with sci-fi and fantasy that he would sometimes play out with his lower middle class neighbour, Celia Lakmatan or “Che”. When he was around eight, his father bought a VHS Collection of Star Wars and watched it with him, a fond memory he has, that began his “What Ifs”, or versions of the movies he thought he would like to see.
Pael grows up and through high school, we see him do okay in school, concentrating his time in writing fan fiction and experimenting in writing his own material. Che, whose single parent scrapes by to send her to private school becomes distant with Pael, especially when their interests began to really differ. She joins the volleyball team in hopes to get a scholarship for college. We see some disappointing moments with Pael and Che. Pael does not realize that Che has been trying to make him ask her to the prom, or when Che attends a house party thrown by a friend, Pael does not understand why Che becomes upset. Che confronts Pael, telling him he has never appreciated her, also asking if it’s because of their background (Pael’s parents are happily married while Che’s mother is bitter and callous from being left by her husband and raising Che alone), or because he truly did not care for her. When Pael cannot answer, Che leaves. Despite Pael’s efforts to see her, Che remains distant, needing time to think.
When summer rolls in, Pael spends most of his time writing. He begins to have odd pains in his left abdomen. He urinates blood from time to time. A month goes by full of tests and finally, Pael is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. His parents are distraught and with a feeling of trepidation, Pael fears the end of his writing career before it has even begun.
In the next month that he is confined in the hospital, Pael seems dismissive of his sickness and continues to write. Che would come by to keep him company after her summer volleyball training in the college she was given a scholarship in. But in the first two weeks, Pael shuts others down. He busies himself in creating his ‘Multiverse’, a series of universes he imagines versions of him live in. He explains to Che that he goes through this pain because he is living in the darkest timeline, and perhaps this is the only timeline wherein he is not happy. In his versions of the universe, he writes five different selves: one as a fiction writer, a screenplay writer, and three others he does not mention. What is consistent is that in all of them, he and Che end up together. Pael waves Che away in one of his lapses and mood swings, he tells Che that they have to be apart in this universe so that they can be together in all others. Frustrated with Pael and very upset, Che leaves him.
A few months after that, Pael’s kidney is removed, because of the tumours that have taken over and the kidney has failed. Pael dreams of Che and a life they lead in this world. In it, he confesses that it is much easier to write his multiverse than live with his regrets about them in this universe. In this dream Che convinces Pael to face his illness, to fight for his life and then fight for her. He wakes up and hears his parents talking. It is revealed that they are barely scraping by and despite the many efforts to get funds (from dinner parties that serve as cancer fund drives as well as arguments about Pael’s health insurance) and extra hours of work, Pael’s parents fear the continuing costs of his chemotherapy. Pael then decides to finish his work and publish his book in hopes to help fund his chemotherapy. Feeling he has nothing to lose, he sends copies of the book to different publishers and his sci-fi and fantasy idols.
When the book is published, he sends Che a copy. Che is startled to read that it has been dedicated to her. It reads, “For Che. Maybe in another universe, I deserve you. But in this universe, I hope you’ll still be with me.” Che reads it, and finds that the Multiverse that Pael writes about contain many missed moments between them, set in different universes. It is more telling and honest about who Pael is and what he has gone through than she expected a work of fiction would be. Che rushes to Pael. She finds him in the hospital, watching a rerun of a volleyball varsity game she plays in. Pael turns to Che. He has been waiting for her all along.