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They immediately began calling her by her name, Eyla, though
she was conceived and born in a false year. It is customary to keep infants
unnamed until the shroud is lifted. Some districts do not even register births
during false years. Yet the couple named her, and called her by her name
proudly. In their hearts, despite the possibility of losing Eyla, despite the
stigma, despite the threat of war, their first child was going to survive.

“The false year’s eve is upon us dearly beloved. Let us open
our hearts not only to our Lord’s blessings, but also to His judgements.” The
choir sings a homily. The bishop gazes beamingly unto his flock. Among those at
the front are Eyla and her mother. Eyla is sleeping. That baby is too
adorned to be unnamed.
The bishop observes. Surely they already named
it. The way the mother holds it, the laces on its sackcloth, how neatly it’s
hair is parted. They have loved this child in foolishness.

Eyla is wearing a small white sack. In reverence to God’s
impending decision, unnamed children are to wear nothing more than a white
sackcloth; with holes for small arms and legs to poke out of. The mother, in
contrast, is wearing a black veil over a black dress. The veil signifies her
loss because Eyla’s father, a lieutenant in the Army, is recently lost in the
war.

“We are gathered tonight as one, but in our minds we are
broken.” The bishop says. His amplified voice echoing, repeating itself inside
the century cathedral. “Some of you want time to proceed as merrily as it
passes today. While some of you want time to step back. Perhaps you want to
undo damages that you inflicted on yourself and on others. But beloved, we do
not know the mind of God. We are but ants in His magnificent kingdom.” His
voice slightly tensing. “Driven by ignorance, we build towers that may or may
not collapse. Driven by rage, we rush to wars that we may or may not lose.
Driven by love, we hold on to temporary things that in the end, could only
remain as faint memory. Let us pray for God’s forgiveness. Let us accept His
path.” The choir sings another homily.

It is also customary to light a candle on the cathedral’s
front steps to indicate one’s wishes; a black candle if one wished God to erase
the false year, or a white candle if one wished for events to remain the same.
The mother is a devout follower of the holy church. People in her predicament
are said to be ‘lighting two candles’.

He is dead now. She says to herself. The nights we
spent arguing about whose love is greater, and whose God is true, they are worth
nothing now. I would give up my own life for him to be here, but I would not
give up Eyla. Eyla has to live. Please God, I choose Eyla.

The father was not a follower of the holy church. As men
from the south tend to be, he swayed towards radicalism, the belief of many
worlds branching. The country’s history books, voluminous as they are, are
nothing if not a retelling of the wars between the holy church and the
radicals.

The new enemy, however, has made allies out of the north and
south. No one talks about the old wars anymore. Previously unthinkable inside
any holy cathedral, even more so inside the century cathedral, a digital
display counts down the remaining seconds of the false year.It is almost
over now.
God, please let it be Eyla. The mother pleads.

The century tower begins to chime. The sound of the old
bells, the bells that have rung for more than a hundred true years. They are
clear and questionless.

Come now thee, Time the bride of God,

Hereunder show one’s self in light.

All scars and pain, but with the slightest trace,

By grace, return to yesterday, or not.

The mother stands inside the century cathedral. She had
dragged her unbelieving husband to church tonight, to welcome the new year. She
is confused. She seems to have dropped something important from her arms, yet
she could not remember what it was. She looks at her husband. Tears are already
streaming from his eyes. Their legs become weak and powerless. They both
collapse from the weight of the sudden deluge of memories from the year that
never was.

…

In another place, the crowd’s joyous applause rouses Eyla.
She opens her eyes widely and begins to yawn.

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About the Author: 
I work in a small IT firm in Manila, Philippines. I became a father last 2014. My daughter's name is Eleanor, but I call her Bubut.