Extempore: I Am His

shoulder-kiss_Fotor

 

“He kissed you…”

 

I nodded and bit my lip, forcing myself to look into his eyes.  They were scrutinizing, and I’m scared of what he’d say once I tell him.

 

“And?” he added.

 

“And what?”

 

“What else happened?  I need details,”

 

I moaned.  “Ano’ng details?  Isn’t that enough?  Hindi ka man lang ba nagagalit?  Aren’t you even mad some other guy kissed me?”

 

He shrugged.  “Did you like it?”

 

My jaw dropped.  “What?  No!  God, no!” did I have to like it?

 

“Then why would I be angry?” he smiled and held my shoulders.  “Shouldn’t I feel proud my woman’s ex is still drooling over her?”

 

I pinched his side and he made an exaggerated whimper.  He’s making light of this, pero alam kong nagseselos siya.

 

“I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have let it happen.  Sinabi ko sa ‘yo agad kasi ayokong maglihim sa ‘yo.  At ayokong magalit ka sa akin pero—,”

 

“Mahal,” he held my face with both hands.  “Hindi ako galit.  Jealous, maybe a little but I can’t be angry with you,”

 

“Talaga?”

 

He nodded and gave me his boyish, irresistible smile.  His fingers caressed my cheeks gently, his eyes on my lips.

 

“But right now, I want you to…” his thumb finger lightly grazed my lower lip.  “…let me disinfect you,”

 

My brows lifted and I opened my mouth to ask what he meant when he lowered his head and kissed me.  His lips claimed mine in a gentle but possessive way, a bit different from his kisses before.

 

“Disinfect talaga?” I laughed and wrapped my hands around his neck as I kissed him back.  Both his arms were on my waist, holding me firmly.

 

Right there and then, he completely erased that blurred image forcing its way in my mind for hours before he came.

 

For how long our kiss lasted, I didn’t know.  We were both breathless when he let me go.  He embraced me, held me so tight; and I reveled in that moment where I felt safe, loved; cherished in his arms.

 

I called him when I got home that night, telling him something happened and that he needed to know.  He has an out of town trip in the morning and I told him we could talk once he came back, but my tone must have gutted him he came by after dinner.

 

“Can you do something for me?” he whispered, his lips on my temple.

 

“Anything…”

 

His embrace loosened, but his arms still enfolding me.  “Talk to him.  Settle things with him once and for all,”

 

“Mahal—,”

 

“Please?” he pleaded.  “Para hindi na maulit ang nangyari,”

 

I sighed, uncertain if I could do it.  But he’s right.  It’s been long overdue.  Para na rin matahimik kami pare-pareho…

 

“Gusto mo ba, ako ang kumausap sa kanya?  I can’t promise it would be good, though,”

 

“Hey,” I patted his shoulder gently.

 

“Just kidding,” he countered but his face was serious.  “He once had your heart… but I’ll try not to worry,”

 

I smiled as I put my arms around him.  Ang mahal ko… he really is jealous and angry but not with me but him.

 

“Siguro nga.  He had.  But you have not just my heart but all of me…”

 

He smiled and rubbed his nose against mine.  “’That so?”

 

“Absolutely,”

 

“Prove it.”

 

I felt my cheeks heating up as I shyly pulled the collar of his sports shirt and kissed him.  He grunted, embracing me so tight his arms almost lifted me from the floor.

 

“O—Okay na ba ‘yon?” I asked, releasing short breaths when I pulled away.  The night was so quiet and from the lighted porch of our backyard garden we couldn’t hear anything but both our ragged breathing.

 

His beautiful eyes bored into mine, dark and filled with desire.  I swallowed.  Though it was there when we kissed earlier, it felt different this time that I initiated the kiss.  If we kissed again I’m not sure how far we could both hold back…

 

“It will never be enough,” he whispered gruffly.  He pulled down the sleeve of my loose knitted sweater blouse, exposing my shoulder.

 

“Mahal—!” I gasped when he bowed and pressed his lips near my collarbone, his teeth gently biting my soft flesh.

 

I trembled.  I knew in the way he holds me especially whenever we’re in public how he is so protective of me, but that’s not half of what he’s like when we’re alone together, like right now.  He’s so… intense; controlling— I never felt anything like this before, from anyone…

 

“You’re mine,” he said in a low but firm voice as his fingers traced the red mark he left.

 

“Yes,” I responded as if hypnotized. My heart beat louder against my chest I could hear it more than my own voice.  I fell for all the things he is, for what he made me feel— that I’m the only woman for him, his one and only dream.  But there’s something about what I feel for him right now I can’t control or define.  Perhaps wanting to please him… I want to make him happy the way he makes me happy.

 

He held me once again in his arms, my head pressed on his broad chest.  I could feel his breath on my hair, his arm wrapped around my shoulders while the other snaked on my waist.

 

“I love you… I love you so much I am never letting you go,” he whispered as he trailed kisses from where he bit me to my neck, to my chin, my jaw…

 

I closed my eyes, taking his every word into my heart, feeling his light kisses burning my skin.  It scares me how he makes me melt into his arms.  I fear he’s becoming obsessed with me now that I realized how possessive he is, but I really don’t mind.  I actually… like it…

 

“I love you, too,” I whispered into his mouth when he finally reached my lips.  “And I’m not going anywhere,”

 

He cupped my face with both hands as he gave me one final kiss.  The light in the kitchen switched on that he had to let me go.  Someone must have wanted to check on us; must be Mom or Dad.

 

“I guess you have to go somewhere for now— you’re room,” he laughed and walked me to the backdoor to the kitchen.  He touched my shoulder one last time.  “And don’t let your mother see that.  She’ll kill me,”

 

Blushing, I pulled my sweater up to my neck.  Mamaya lang, mamumula na ng husto ‘yon.  Mom wouldn’t buy a mosquito bite for a reason, unless she has eyesight as good as Pocahontas’ Mrs. Jenkins.  “She definitely would,”

 

He laughed.  “And no halter or off-shoulder or sleeveless for you for now, my dear,”

 

God, he’s right, I groaned inwardly.  That was his idea in the first place.  “You sure are territorial,”

 

“I am very protective of what’s mine,” he held my nape and brushed my lower lip with his thumb finger.  “And I’ll claim my territory again once I get back.  Go in before I go Edward Cullen on you again,” 

 

I smiled.  I wouldn’t complain if he did.

 

Goodnight, Mahal,”

 

“Goodnight,” I watched as he headed out to his car before going in through the backdoor.

 

~oOo~

Disclaimer:  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Postlude: Closure (Part I)

day-night

 

 

“Oh, my God!  Have you seen them?  Hinatid siya dito and I saw him kissing her!  Ang sweet!”

 

“Talaga?  Sila na kaya?  Lagi silang spotted together.  Gosh, I am so rooting for them! Hintayin natin kung kailan sila aamin,”

 

Then I heard the girls giggling.  I recognized their voices but I don’t have the slightest idea who they’re talking about.

 

Who am I kidding?  Of course, I have.  Baby Girl.  And the new guy.  Well, the not-so new guy.  He was second lead in our first movie and had this longtime crush on her, and recently been with her in her several tours abroad.  Now rumors that they’re already an item began circulating, and pictures of them so sweet together went viral it irritates me for some reason.

 

So the second lead gets the girl in real life, eh?  No way.  I battled it out with my mind as if it could change what’s happening.  Irritated isn’t the right term for me but jealous.  Burning, bleeding,  infuriated, frustrated jealous.

 

You had the chance and you freakin’ lost it, I mused in pathetic resignation.  I put this upon myself which makes it harder to accept; a harsh reality I have to live with because I made it happen.

 

I carried my duffel bag and headed to our dressing room.  General rehearsals for our Sunday show’s anniversary were since this morning and I already missed out on a lot.

 

My phone in my pocket rang.  Probably Little Miss Pudding trying to check up on me again.  Sheesh… bakit pa, eh tinext ko na nga siya na nandito na ako?  I ignored the call and headed to the dressing room.

 

As I passed by, I heard their voices.  The frontrunners are on their last set of rehearsals.  I peeked from backstage.  There she was, on stage—My Queen— smiling, having fun with her friends, her fellow singers; always with that refreshing aura that one can’t help but smile too when around her.

 

A few weeks have quickly passed since that last time I saw her.  Somehow I found a way to get over the nostalgia, because I have to.  Whenever I see her, I’ll feel it over and over again and it had to stop.  I’ve been telling myself guilt was all I’m feeling but it’s deeper than that.  It hurts.  It hurts I couldn’t be by her side like I used to be.  It hurts every time I see her like this.  But right now… I wonder why I just couldn’t look away…

 

I watched in the dark as the music director discussed adjustments on the arrangement.  The stage was overly lit that I know they wouldn’t even notice me.  Suddenly she turned and looked at my direction, her eyebrows curled, on her face a little unease.

 

My heart started beating faster.  She must have felt I was there! 

 

Of course she couldn’t.  I answered myself feeling a little stupid.  Asa pa ako…

 

“Ano’ng ginagawa mo dito?  Kanina ka pa nila hinihintay, ah,”

 

I quickly turned around and found Little Miss Pudding behind me.

 

I glanced sideward at the stage.  “Nanood lang ako saglit,”

 

Her eyebrows almost met.  She stepped and peeked and I watched as her expression turned sour.

 

“Pinanood mo sila habang nag-uusap-usap?” her voice was pained.  “Tayo na ang susunod diyan.  Halika na,”

 

“I’ll go to the john first.  Susunod ako agad,”

 

She eyed me with suspicion.

 

“I’ll follow you right away, I promise,”

 

“Just hurry.  Late ka na nga, nagawa mo pang tumambay dito,” she turned around flipping her hair and trudged back, her tower-high heels making an annoying noise on the floor.

 

I sighed.  I just came from a game and my body still ached I still need a few hours to rest.  And there goes my girlfriend welcoming me jealous and irate.  But I have to be here.  I want to be here.  It’s always been a joy to me being a part of this show, this family.  I may have created a lot of issues, got involved in endless intrigues and controversies but they still kept me and I’m forever grateful for that.

 

After changing into my shirt and jeans, I went out of the john the same time my phone chimed again.  I took it out of my pocket and saw Little Miss Pudding sent me a message.

 

———-

I told them you arrived pero bakit wala ka pa rin daw.  Bilisan mo naman…

———-

 

Blowing out air, I typed my reply:

 

———-

Papunta na.

———-

 

I turned from the men’s washroom to the corridor heading back to the stage.  I was still deleting Little Miss Pudding’s message when I bumped into someone.  We were both in a hurry my phone fell and we were both knocked down on the floor.

 

“Ouch!” she groaned in pain, holding her right ankle.  I looked at her.  No wonder her scent, the sound of her voice was so familiar.  This feeling when we collided, when our bodies touched no matter how brief it was, sent ripples of emotions consuming me it was unstoppable.

 

“Baby Girl…”

 

~oOo~

 

I’m trying to stop myself from crying.  My ankle hurts I think it really broke.  I should have worn my flats before I went through with the rehearsals but I was late.  We finished practicing for a number but I still have my solo performance to go through.

 

My bag was on the floor but good thing I found my belongings still intact.  I reached for it.  I was hurrying and checking my phone at the same time on my way to the ladies’ room.

 

“I’m really sorry… are you okay?”

 

The gentle words halted me when I tried to stand up.  I looked up and saw him.

 

He offered me his hand.  There was a worried frown on his face and I didn’t want to look into his eyes but I had no choice.

 

Ignoring his help, I wobbled when I tried to stand up on my own.  His hand instantly held my arm and he helped me stand up.  As if burned from his touch, I quickly freed myself from him.

 

“I’m alright.  Thank you,”

 

“Are you sure?  Should I call one of the medics?  You look—,”

 

“I said I’m fine,” Good heavens… it could have been the janitor.  Or Manong Guard or one of the lights men… why of all people, him?

 

Forgetting I needed a retouch, I turned around to go back to my dressing room.

 

“Baby Girl, wait!” he called when I tried to walk but couldn’t.  I groaned in pain.

 

He grunted in frustration, in worry.  “You’re hurt!  I knew it!  Let me see—,”

 

“I’ll be alright!” my voice was a notch higher.  He tried to touch me again and I don’t want that.  But I can barely walk…

 

I couldn’t say anything when he held my arm and put it on his shoulder.  His hand went to my waist, his chest pressing against mine as he walked me to my dressing room.

 

“Almost there,” he whispered, his breath I could feel on my hair covering my face.  His cool, sexy, manly scent assaulted my senses, the same scent he had during the time we were together.

 

“Oh, Bunso, ano’ng nangyari?” Kuya was in my dressing room waiting for me. Pinaglipat-lipat niya ang tingin sa aming dalawa.

 

“Na-sprain, Kuya,” he answered and pulled the seat of my dresser.  “Sit down.  I’ll massage your ankle para mabawasan ang sakit,”

 

“N— No, you don’t have to.  I’m okay, really,” I looked at Kuya, my eyes pleading, ‘Don’t go!  Don’t leave me here with him!’

 

“Sorry, Bunso,” he answered, getting my message.  “Boss is calling for me I really have to go… but don’t worry, I’ll send someone.  Bandage?  Pain reliever?  Ano’ng kailangan?”

 

“She’ll be fine, Kuya.  Ako na’ng bahala sa kanya,” he replied with mild amusement.

 

Kuya shrugged, his smile apologetic.  “Maiwan ko muna kayo,” he went out and closed the door.

 

I groaned inwardly, feeling my head swirl.  He and I… in my dressing room… the last time we were alone in my dressing room, I was… he was…

 

He sighed and put his duffel bag on the floor before kneeling in front of me, stopping my thoughts before it goes back to somewhere long forgotten, long forbidden.  He held my leg and folded the hem of my jeans up before unstrapping my wedge sandals.

 

“You don’t really have to do this.  I just have to wear something more comfortable—,”

 

“Sshh.  Just let me,” he cut me off gently.  “This is my fault.  Sorry ulit,”

 

I shook my head.  I winced when he twisted my ankle and tugged my foot gently.  He looked at me, in his eyes tenderness and worry.

 

“Does that hurt?” he asked, holding my foot with both his hands.

 

“Not at all…”

 

He smiled and kept pressing and massaging my foot.  My muscles relaxed, softening into the warmth of his hands.

 

I stared at him, at his hands, at his handsome face.  He seemed so focus, so serious about what he’s doing I can’t help but smile.  I remembered the scene in our first movie where he did the same thing…

 

His head rose up, his eyes meeting mine.  He was smiling too, and I could tell we were thinking about the same thing.

 

Both our smiles widened, the worried look in his eyes softened.  I don’t know how long we stared at each other that way; as if the world stopped for a moment, when his phone chimed; breaking the magic between us.

 

He looked at it and after a while rejected whoever it is who was calling.  He groaned and shook his head, holding his nape as if he forgot something important.

 

I cleared my throat and pretended checking my wristwatch.  “Pupunta nga pala ako sa kabilang studio… papasadahan ko pa ang solo number ko,”

 

He stood up the same time I did.  I could feel his eyes on me as I searched for my flats in the drawers.  After wearing one on, I walked carefully to the door and opened it.  “I’ll go ahead.  Thank you,”

 

I halted in surprise when he called my name.  It was as if it was foreign, like he called a stranger.  All this time he was calling me Baby Girl.  I wasn’t used to him calling me by my name…

 

I turned around.  He wasn’t looking at me but at the seat I vacated.

 

“Kayo na ba?”

 

My eyes narrowed.  Did I hear that right?

 

There was silence between us for a moment before he asked again, this time, his eyes on me.  “Kayo na ba?”

 

My hand tightened on the strap of my bag on my shoulder.  And this guy had the gall to ask.

 

“Is that, in any case, your business?”

 

“I have the right to know.”

 

I laughed, my tone mocking.  “Oh, you do,”

 

Pain crossed his eyes but only for a second.  “Just tell me,”

 

Get a grip, girl, get a grip, I whispered to myself.  I could feel my whole body shaking.  After a few deep breaths I answered.

 

“Paano kung ganoon nga?”

 

He swallowed, the muscles in his jaw flexed.  “Don’t you think it’s awkward?”

 

“What?”

 

 “She and I.  You and him,” I stepped backward when he walked closer.

 

I laughed again.  “Who made it awkward?”

 

He bowed but didn’t stop until we’re just inches away from each other.  His eyes bored into mine.  Pain, guilt, remorse… longing… and love were all there…

 

“Do you love him?”

 

For a while I was taken aback he asked it so bluntly.  I raised my chin, meeting his gaze as I answered without blinking.

 

“I do.  I truly do.”

 

He sucked his breath harshly and nodded.  When he finally didn’t say anything, I turned for the door again.

 

I felt him on my back.  I gasped when he grabbed my arm and forced me to face him.  He closed the door behind me; his hands fixed over my head.

 

“What are you doing—,”

 

“Liar,” his eyes were misty as he muttered.

 

I drew a sharp breath, feeling my anger shoot up.  “Isang tao lang ang marunong magsinungaling dito at hindi ako ‘yon!”

 

The pain in his eyes doubled.  He bowed, closing his eyes.  He clenched his fist over my head and punched the door gently.

 

I didn’t budge.  Pero ang pag-iyak ko ang baka hindi ko mapigilan…

 

“Let me go,” I pushed his chest with both hands when I felt tears warming my eyes.  He didn’t move even one bit.  I tried again, pushing him harder.

 

Wrong move, I scolded myself when his hands gripped my wrists.  He pushed me not-so gently on the door, our faces almost touching.  He drew his breath sharply, his voice hoarse when he spoke.

 

“My Queen…”

 

And in a flash his lips found mine.

 

No, no!  I screamed inside my head, my eyes wide in shock.  Hindi na dapat ako nagpapadala sa ganito.  Hindi ko dapat hinayaang mangyari ito…

 

He put my hands around his neck.  His lips left mine for a while as he possessively held my waist.

 

I closed my eyes.  He angled his head to kiss me again but his breath was held mid-air.

 

He wiped a tear that fell on my cheek.  He looked confused, troubled and shocked as I was.

 

My hands fell on my sides.  He took his time letting me go, his hands sliding slowly off my waist.

 

“I— I wasn’t thinking…” his voice was rough when he spoke.  “Sorry I just can’t help it.  I’m so sorry—,”

 

He tried to reach for me again but I pushed him, in anger, in embarrassment.  “Don’t touch me, and stop saying you’re sorry.  I’m getting sick and tired of those words,”

 

“My Queen—,”

 

“Stop— calling me that!” I yelled and turned around, hoping I could finally go out.  But he pulled me, embracing me from behind, his face buried in between my neck and shoulder.

 

“I wasn’t sorry for kissing you, for wanting to hold you again… for missing you so bad, for being in pure hell because I know I deserve it…”

His arms around me went tighter, his lips I could feel on my neck as he whispered.  “I’m sorry because I’ve hurt you, for putting you all through the pain… but most of all, I feel sorry for myself,”

  

I swallowed, trying to find my voice.  When I spoke again I couldn’t even hear myself.

 

“What… are you saying?”

 

He didn’t answer and loosened his embrace.  He sniffed, and I felt a tear fell on my shoulder.  He’s… crying.

 

I felt our distance widened.  I turned around slowly and saw him picking up his bag.  I moved aside when he opened the door and went out of the dressing room. 

 

It’s been minutes since he left but I stood there, stiff like a statue.  Nakabalik na rin si Kuya’t lahat pero hindi pa rin ako makagalaw.

 

I’m in a daze, perturbed and shaken; weighed with questions and confusion much more now than I have ever been.

 

~oOo~

 

Disclaimer:  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Mémoires II: Wonderful, Bittersweet

feelings

 

Ang sabi nila, darating ang panahon na tatawanan na lang daw natin lahat ng masasakit na nangyari sa atin sa nakaraan… pero bago naman tawanan ang mga iyon, matagal muna nating iiyakan.  Iiyakan nang iiyakan nang iiyakan…

 

Here I am inside my walk-in closet, in ‘the shoes section’ as my girl-friends call it. I still have an hour and thirty before my commercial shoot so I decided to tweak a few minutes sorting out my shoes according to kind, and to particularly look for one of my A. Mc’s.

 

There I saw it— on the upper left side of one of the shelves— the huge ‘Ex Box’.

 

I pulled my footstool under my accessories’ table and reached for it.

 

“To the left, to the left.  Everything you own in the box to the left…” I laughed at myself while singing.  I carried it with both hands and was surprised at how heavy it was.

 

“Anu-ano ba ang mga ipinaglalagay ko dito?” sabay bukas sa kahon.  Painstakingly arranged and enclosed in cloth bags all gifts that came from him.  As in LAHAT.

 

I took them all out.  The shoes— the Tributes, the custom-made wedges, sneakers, flats… shirts, jeans, designer dresses, sunglasses, bags. (oh, the bags!) His stuff— his shirt, denim jacket, ballers, couple bracelets, our couple watches; the necklace, the rings and THE ring.

 

My smile turned poignant as I rummaged the tiny casket from the bottom of the box.  Slowly, I opened it.

 

The ruby ring… hindi kumupas ang kinang nito simula nang una kong isuot, kahit pa maraming buwan na ang dumaan.  I took it and held it between my thumb and forefinger.  My birthstone.  My engagement ring.  The last gift I received from him, his symbol of love and promise of forever…

 

“I promise you I will love and cherish you forever… I will protect you with my life.  I promise…”

 

I don’t know why, but I wore it.  And I’m sad it didn’t fit my ring finger anymore.  Maluwag na dahil pumayat ako…

 

My tablet pinged that I almost jumped.  I forgot I brought it with me expecting my sister would call any moment.

 

“Salut, Chéri!  How are you?”

 

I smiled, moving the Ex Box aside.  “I’m doing good, Ate.  It’s been a while…”

 

Her eyebrow rose.  “Where are you?  Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe?”

 

I tilted my head back while laughing.  “Ano ka ba?  I sent you a picture of this, remember?  Noong bagong pina-renovate ni Daddy,”

 

“Oh, ‘yan ba ‘yon?  Eh wala kasing laman no’n, eh,” I could tell her eyes shimmered.  “Magnifique!  I like it.  I can’t wait to get home,”

 

“I can’t wait for you to get home.  I missed you, ‘te.  Have lots to tell you…”

 

“I know,” She sighed and took a long look at me.  “The last time we talked you looked like a disaster.  Thank God now you look… très chic.  Welcome back,”

 

I laughed and Indian-sat in front of my accessories table.  I’ve waited a while until I could talk to her again.  We got so busy the past months.  “It’s all thanks to you and everyone.  How are you?  At nasaan ka nga pala?  Hindi ‘yan ang pad mo…”

 

Ate laughed sweetly.  “I’m at a friend’s house.  Well, it’s her birthday and she invited us for her party and to sleep over.  I couldn’t say no,” she yawned.  “Don’t worry, walang boys dito.  Hindi mo ako kailangang isumbong kay Mommy,”

 

“Hindi naman kita isusumbong.  In fact, I’ll be happier if I knew na may kasama ka ngang boyfriend diyan,”

 

She gasped and faked a shock.  “Sis!”

 

“I’m kidding,” I grinned.  “But really, wala pa ba talaga?”

 

“Hmm… well, there’s this guy who’s been so nice to me since I came here.  He’s Fil-American… I don’t know, sometimes I could catch him staring at me.  He sends me gifts during special occasions but other than that…” she shook her head.  “He’s friendly, he’s caring… but he never said he likes me, nor asks me to go out with him.  I don’t know,”

 

“I see…”

 

“At ayoko naman na ako ang unang magtanong.  Maybe he’s still waiting for the perfect time,” she shrugged and held her chin with her elbow on her pillow.

 

“Enough about me.  So I just heard they’re officially ON.  Ayoko na’ng makakarinig ng tungkol sa kanya but I found out by accident,”

 

Uh-oh, here we go, I thought.  I just nodded and smiled.  “Yup, matagal na rin,”

 

She rolled her eyes.  “Like when?  Right after he broke up with you?  He kept her at bay but couldn’t stand the guilt and in the end, chose her?”

 

I kept my smile.  I want to tell her I don’t want to talk about them anymore but there’s no stopping my sister once she began talking.

 

“Nagtataka nga ako sa ‘yo, eh.  Kung nandiyan ako, nabatukan na kita.  Ang dali mong napatawad ang dalawang ‘yon…”

 

“’Yun kasi ang pinakamadaling gawin,” I shrugged.  “Ang sabi nga, the best revenge is not to get mad or get even… it’s to forgive and be happy.  Move on na lang kaming lahat para masaya,”

 

“Hay, ewan ko sa ‘yo,”

 

I chuckled.  “Ano ba ‘te?  Get over it!  Okay na ako; kayo na lang ang hindi pa,”

 

“Talaga!  I’m still seething so bear with it.  And that girl?” she said the last two words as if she tasted bile in her tongue. “Isn’t it an unwritten rule between girl-friends na walang talu-talo ng ex?  Sa totoo lang ha, mas naaawa ako do’n sa best friend niya kaysa sa ‘yo,”

 

Sighing, I held my tablet and fell with my back on the carpeted floor.  “Well, I guess that rule doesn’t apply to everyone…”

 

There was a short pause while she intently stared at me. “Yeah, you’re one to talk.  Mom told me you and that girl’s ex are getting extra close.  And now he’s courting you…”

 

I bit my lip.  By the tone in her voice I could tell she didn’t like the idea.  I know some of my close friends too, and even some of my fans.

 

“You went out a few days ago with Mom and Dad and his parents, at ipinakilala ka na raw niya.  Tell me, Chéri … do you like him, too?” she inquired gently with that tone she uses on me since we were kids whenever she saw me crying.

 

I nodded, staring at my tablet’s small screen as if we were face to face.  “He makes me happy… he’s nice to me ever since.  He’s sweet, kind, gentle, cheerful and smart.  And you know how Mom and Dad are like with our suitors.  He’s not scared of them.  Kahit noong sabihin kong ayaw kong parang ayaw ko na muna uling magpaligaw, nagpilit pa rin,”

 

I smiled remembering how he asked for Mom and Dad’s consent.  “He said he’ll never give up on me… that he’ll wait.  At ‘no retreat, no surrender’ daw siya pagdating sa ‘kin…”

 

“Sœur, how many times have we heard that?  Syempre, ‘yon ang sasabihin niya, tulad din ng iba.  Pero… oh, well…” my sister waved her hand in resignation.

 

“You know I just want you to be careful.  By this time, alam kong natuto ka na.  We love you too much we don’t want you getting hurt again.  Alam mo ‘yan, ‘di ba?” 

 

“Yeah… I know, that,” I answered, trying to hold my tears.  That’s when the door opened and Mom came in.

 

“Hanap ako nang hanap sa ‘yo kanina pa,” her eyes darted my tablet and then lingered on the Ex Box.  She carefully looked at me but didn’t say anything.  “We’ll leave at thirty.  Get up and get dressed already,”

 

She closed the door but opened it again.  “And oh, sabihin mo sa ate mo tawagan din ako,”

 

I got up and dusted off my pants once the door’s shut.  “Narinig mo ‘yon?  Tawagan mo raw siya,”

 

There goes the eye-rolling again.  “Kanina lang kami nag-usap.  May nakalimutan na naman sigurong sabihin,”

 

“Si Mommy pa,” I laughed.  “’Have to go, ‘te.  Talk to you again, okay?”

 

“You bet.  Take care.  And I love you,”

 

“I love you, too,” I blew her a kiss and ended the call.

 

By this time, alam kong natuto ka na, her voice replayed in my years and I suddenly remembered Mom saying the same thing.

 

That time, when I told them we got engaged before we broke up, but only after Dad saw his vacation pictures with someone very familiar.  I’ve never seen Daddy that angry before I thought he’s going to have a heart attack.

 

“’Yan ba?  ‘Yan ba ang lalaking pilit mong ipinaglalaban sa amin?” he yelled, his face red in anger.

 

“Ang sabi mo, okay ang lahat… ang sabi mo huwag ka naming alalahanin.  Tapos ganyan ang makikita namin?” I flinched when he threw his iPad beside me on the couch.

 

“At kailan mo ito balak sabihin?  Kung hindi pa nakita ng Mommy mo, magugulat na lang kami isang araw na bigla ka na namang magbe-breakdown sa harap namin!”

 

I sobbed silently and looked at Mom standing in the middle of the living room, her arms crossed on her chest, her face void of any emotion.  She has always been so strict and straightforward when it comes to disciplining me, but now she’s so quiet it scares me more.

 

“Pinagkatiwalaan namin siya… kayong dalawa na aalagaan niyo ang isa’t-isa…” Dad continued, stroking his nape.  There was still anger in his voice but it mellowed down a bit.

 

Standing up, I made him sit down and held his hand.  “Sorry po, Dad, Mom.  Ayoko lang po na magalit pa kayo lalo sa kanya.  May pagkukulang din naman po ako kung bakit kami—,”

 

“Huwag mo na siyang ipagtanggol sa amin, anak.  Kahit sa paanong paraan pa namin malaman, alam mong magagalit kami sa kanya.  Hindi mo ‘yon mapipigilan.  At hindi mo kami masisisi,”

 

I kept on sobbing, now feeling more than ever the weight of things and how I tried to bear them all alone.  I couldn’t.  I never could…

 

“Mom,” I went to her, holding her arm.  “Please say something.  You’re scaring me…”

 

Only then that she looked at me.  Tears were about to fall from her eyes as she pulled me for an embrace, surprising me.

 

I cried all the more.  She held me to her chest, her hand gentle as it stroked my hair.

 

“Wala kaming ibang hinangad at ipinagdasal ng Daddy mo kundi ang kaligayahan at kabutihan ninyong magkakapatid… ano sa tingin mo ang nararamdaman namin sa tuwing nasasaktan ka tulad ngayon?”

 

She sniffed and embraced me tighter.  “Wala na akong ibang sasabihin dahil pagkatapos ng mga nangyaring ito’y may tiwala akong alam mo na ang gagawin.  And we’re here for you.  Alam mong susuportahan ka namin; tutulungang bumangon sa bawat pagkakadapa.  You know that.  Iyon ang tatandaan mo, okay?”

 

I nodded, my cries louder but my heart lighter.  My mother has always been my citadel.  Where I run to first when I get hurt, when I fail, when things get difficult for me…

 

I heard Mom’s voice again reminding me I only have less than twenty minutes to get ready.  I put the huge box’s lid back and carried it, staring at it for a while before putting it back in place.

 

My Angel… I sighed deeply, ignoring the slight piercing in my chest.  Kung tulad lang sana ng pagtanggal ng mga apps sa mobile phones ang pagtanggal sa feelings ginawa ko na… I couldn’t tell my sister earlier that when I saw him a few days ago everything went back to me.

 

With that fleeting moment when our eyes met, all the wonderful, bittersweet memories flooded my thoughts in a surge.  The questions left unanswered… all the confusion, pain and anger…  ‘yung pakiramdam na kung gaano niya kadaling naiwanan at binalewala ang lahat sa amin, ganoon naman katagal at kahirap para sa akin ang mag-move on…

 

“Stop it!  Stop it!” I poked myself angrily.  “Time to get ready!  Wala ka pang isusuot!”

 

Skimming through my wardrobe real quick, I grabbed the first pair of jeans and blouse my eyes had lain on.  And too bad, I couldn’t find those pair of shoes I’m looking for.

 

In five minutes flat I went out of my room and headed straight to the car.

 

“Ano ba ‘yung malaking box sa closet mo?” Mom inquired casually once I sat down.

 

Pasimple pa ‘to si Mommy, kunwari ‘di alam, I laughed inwardly.  “Old stuff, Mom.  Mga ilang buwan ko nang hindi nagagamit…”

 

“Eh, bakit ‘di mo pa ilagay sa bodega?  O kaya i-donate na natin.  Para may mailagay ka pa sa top shelf.  Ang laking bulk no’n doon,”

 

“S— Sige po,” I answered hesitantly.  I don’t know what’s the better option.  Sa totoo lang, nanghihinayang ako…

 

Half an hour later we arrived at the shoot’s venue.  Everyone’s getting ready when we arrived.  I went straight to the commercial’s production team and beamed upon seeing someone I didn’t expect to be there.

 

“Hey, Loveliest,” my dashing and ever-resolute suitor greeted me with a smile.  “Surprised?”

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

He shrugged.  “Just wanna watch you.  Okay lang ba?  Kung ayaw mo, wala ka namang magagawa.  I’m staying,”

 

I laughed aloud, walking closer to shoulder-slap him.  But he held my hand and took it to his lips, giving it a gentle kiss.

 

My heart raced.  The background fades into the set and all unnecessary thoughts left me in an instant.

 

~oOo~

 

 Disclaimer:  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Mémoires I: Remorse and Pain

a betrayal_

 

 

“H—Hi,”

 

She turned around from looking at her dresser’s mirror.  The surprise in her eyes mirrored my own, and her sexy parted lips broke into her sweetest smile.

 

“Hello,”

 

I swallowed, trying to hold myself up for a while.  When did she become this beautiful?  I mean I always knew she’s beautiful but looking at her now…

I couldn’t help myself gazing at her from head to toe. Her hair’s cut short and she rocks it, she looked younger but sexier and it fits her perfectly it accentuated her doll-like face and innocent eyes.

 

How long has it been?  It feels like eons since I saw her like this.  True, we still meet at every turn and we’re still at the same Sunday show but it felt like a millennium since… well, since I talked to her that day I left her…

 

“Are you looking for Ate?  Nasa kabilang dressing room siya,” she asked, interrupting my thoughts.  She looked around before giving me an apologetic smile.  “Nandito kami lahat kanina but we were asked to transfer.  May aayusin yata.  Nagkataon naman na paalis na ako…”

 

“Ah,” why am I disappointed that she’s leaving? And I wasn’t really looking for her ‘Ate’.  “Ganoon ba?”

 

She grabbed her bag and phone on the dresser.  “Mauna na ako.  See you,” she said gently, ending the longest conversation we had ever since.  She walked past me and I had a whiff of her sweet perfume; different from the one she had on when we were together, but it suited her and still left the same an enchanting effect on me.

 

I followed her and closed the door behind me.  I was about to call her; offer her that I’d walk her outside when someone grabbed my arm and hooked it with hers.

 

“There you are,” Little Miss Pudding looked up and smiled sweetly at me like she always does.  Then she turned to her, still wearing her smile. “Alis ka na, Sis?”

 

She nodded.  “Practice pa for my album tour…”

 

“Talaga lang?  Kailangan mo pa ba ng practice?” her ‘Ate’ laughed teasing, with a medyo-fangirl, medyo-inggit tone in her voice.  She partly released me to give her cheek an air-kiss.  “Well, ingat ka…”

 

“Kayo rin,” she looked at me for a while before turning her back on us.

 

I watched her silently as she walked away.  Did I just saw a flicker of pain in her eyes when she looked at me?

 

Impossible, I shook my head inwardly.  I must be imagining things.

 

“Let’s go,” Little Miss Pudding tugged at my sleeve.  “I’m hungry,”

 

I grinned.  “Late lunch?  Saan mo gustong kumain?”

 

She looked at her wristwatch.  “More like early dinner.  There’s a new place near our house!  Try natin,” she said enthusiastically, and I know what she’s trying to imply with the ‘near our house’ part.

 

My head shook as I laughed, my hand slipping at the small of her back.  “Your call, princess…”

 

~oOo~

 

“Hey… okay ka lang ba?  Kanina ka pa tahimik,”

 

“Hm?” I barely heard her.  “Yeah.  Masarap ‘to, ah,”

 

She snorted.  “I’m asking you kung okay ka lang.  Parang ang lalim ng iniisip mo kanina pa habang nagda-drive ka…”

 

I leaned back on my seat, putting down my spoon and fork on my almost empty plate.  “I’m just feeling really tired.  Kakagaling ko from shooting kaninang madaling araw and I have to be at the studio for the dance practice…”

 

“Oh,” she stood up and moved to the seat right next to me.  She embraced me, resting her face on my chest.  “I’m sorry… nagpahatid na dapat ako sa ‘yo sa bahay para nakauwi ka na agad at nakapagpahinga…”

 

“Okay lang.  Sabi mo nga, malapit na ito sa inyo.  I’ll drop you off when we’re done.  Uuwi na lang ako agad…”

 

Her face moved from my chest to my neck.  “You’re really that tired?  Pwede namang sa bahay ka magpahinga…”

 

But I didn’t hear her.  From the entrance and to the reserved table near it, I saw HER coming.  With her parents.  With ‘The Tax Collector’.  With HIS parents.  My throat tightened.

 

They were on their backs as they took a seat each.  He sat beside her; putting his arm at the backrest of her chair, uncaring of her parents’ watchful eyes.  He whispered something to her, kissing her hair a little and she laughed, patting his shoulder.

 

My whole body tensed.  She did that a lot to me, the face and shoulder pat thing when she’s being giddy.  It felt like heaven whenever I made her laugh.  I know I shouldn’t be feeling like this, but seeing her now with him… it’s killing me that I’m not the reason for her laughter anymore…

 

Looking at the direction where my eyes went, Little Miss Pudding pulled away from me, her whole body stiffening the instant she saw them.  She grabbed her drink almost frantically and emptied it in one go.  The waiter who served us attended our table and she asked for our bill, her foot tapping impatiently under our table until he came back.

 

“Tara na,” she took her purse and went ahead towards the door.  I stood up, plucking a few bills from my wallet and quickly followed her.

 

“Ate!  Andito rin pala kayo,” I didn’t expect Baby Girl will be the first to greet us.

 

Little Miss Pudding forced a smile, keeping her distance from the table, from everyone.  “Paalis na rin kami,”

 

“Tito, Tita…” I greeted her parents who both gave me a slight nod, then him.  “Bro,”

 

‘Musta, bro?” ‘The Tax Collector’ smiled at me, his arm sliding down possessively on Baby’s Girl’s waist that got me lifting an eyebrow.  Deliberate or not, I want to kick his Italian a** for once and tell him to stay away from her.

 

As if I have every right to…

 

“Nice to see you again, Tito, Tita…” mimicking me, Little Miss Pudding paid respects to her ex’s parents before pulling my arm and almost shoved me to the door.  “We’ll go ahead po…”

 

~oOo~

 

“I didn’t know he’d actually go for it… nililigawan niya na nga talaga siya,”

 

Just when I thought I’d enjoy the quiet while driving her home, Little Miss Pudding broke the silence between us.

 

“Sabagay… ganoon talaga ‘yon, eh.  Kapag nai-set ang isip sa isang bagay, hindi titigil ‘yon hanggat ‘di niya ‘yon naa-achieve.  Isa pa, he’s always been fond of her, kahit noong time na kami pa,”

 

My jaw clenched as I grasped the steering wheel tighter.  What suddenly ticked me off wasn’t her blabbing about her ex but the ‘he’s always been fond of her’ part, specifically.  I knew from the start the guy’s got a thing for Baby Girl, even before our first movie.

 

She shifted from her seatbelt and put her head on my shoulder.  “Hmm… baka nga sila na.  Kung ganyang kasama na nilang lumabas ang mga parents nila.  Okay lang naman sa ‘kin.  Kapag nakikita ko nga sila, kahit papaano nawawala ang guilt ko na pinili mo ako… they look happy.  Tulad natin.  Masaya rin tayo, ‘di ba?”

 

I sighed and smiled but kept my eyes on the road.  “Oo naman,”

 

Masaya ba ako?  I suddenly found asking myself.  She was right— I chose her.  I chose her over her friend who’s close to her as a sister.  I chose to spend time with her instead, be with her and love and take care of her.

 

All this time, this is what I made myself believe— that Little Miss Pudding and I are happy.  For a gazillion and a hundredth time I tried to convince myself I made the right choice, but deep down, I’ve been lying to myself.

 

I regret leaving and hurting her…

 

My Queen…

 

Seeing her now, with just that one moment our eyes met again, I realized it.  Time has passed— days, weeks, month, years… but her face, her smile; everything about her, have always been etched in my mind.  There she stays.  In my heart she’ll stay.  She will always be My Queen…

 

I straightened my back, steering my thoughts off of her at the same time.  I’m being such an a**.  Here I am with my new girl while I’m thinking of someone else who the whole world believed I’ve fallen out of love with.

 

“Hindi na ako bababa.  Send my regards to Tita,” I told her when we finally reached their house.

 

She pouted.  “Bakit hindi ikaw mismo ang bumati?  Sige na, and at least walk me to my room.  Please?”

 

I just shook my head and sighed.  Not when she begged like this.  Not with that seductive sweet voice.

 

It turned out her mother wasn’t home and went out shopping.  I walked her to her room like she wanted.

 

“Did you enjoy today?”

 

“Like always,” I smiled and gave her lips a quick peck.  “Gotta go, I—,”

 

I turned around but she grabbed the lapel of my shirt and pulled me, prolonging our kiss.  She giggled and pulled me in to her room, closing the door behind me.

 

“Stay the night… please?” she begged again in an above whisper and that’s all it took.

 

Every time seems like the first time we did it.  She made me feel I needed it; that I needed her.  And right at this moment, tulad din noong unang pagkakataon, I needed to forget…

 

~oOo~

 

The moon rose above us, shining through the glass wall over her small, soft body covered with nothing but her sheets.  Once again, she had me losing myself and had me spending the night with her when I tried and insisted to leave.

 

I sighed, removing the strands of hair that fell on her face as she sleeps.  In the beginning we both know what happened between us after that one night was a mistake.  We were together in an out of town tour and had one too many few drinks.  It’s the same ol’ ‘one thing led to another’ cliché.  She wanted us to forget what happened and she tried to avoid me.

 

But I was drawn to her.  I couldn’t stay away and so did she.  Kaya nasundan pa ng nasundan ang isang gabi na ‘yon…

 

Why did I choose her?  Why did I think I needed her more than I needed my Baby Girl?

 

“Bakit siya?” some reporter’s voice suddenly took over my memory while I stared at her.  I overheard them talking after my interview, when I made it known to the whole world that I want to court her.

 

“Ewan ko nga ba,” the other one answered.  “Ang akala ko okay na okay pa rin sila ni Popstariray… tapos biglang may kasamang iba sa bakasyon…”

 

The older reporter sighed.  “Well, we’re in showbiz, darling.  Alam mo ang kalakaran dito— palipat-lipat, papalit-palit lalo na ang mga bagets na in demand at promising.  Sana lang, in love nga siya talaga dito sa isa.  Hindi ‘yung pinili niya lang for instant gratification— if you know what I mean, at dahil magiging less complicated ang mga bagay para sa kanya…”

 

I held my head and combed my hair with my fingers. Those reporters were right…

 

We’ve been together for months now and it’s all thanks to her.  She loved me the best way she can.  Pero ako…

 

I know I cared for her, I chose to be with her— but have I ever loved her back the way I should?

 

Treading mindlessly into her bathroom, I grabbed a towel before switching her showers from warm to cold.  I have to hurry and leave before she wakes up.  It’s difficult for me to sort this out by myself right now; this agitating, confusing feeling I had ever since I saw Baby Girl at the dressing room.

 

“Mahal kita.  I love you…”

 

I want nothing and no one else in my life but you.  Only you.  Always…”

 

“At least you’ve been honest with me.  Goodbye, Angel…”

 

I let the water furiously hit my face as I tried to drown the thoughts.  Why now?  Why are these memories haunting me, making me feel that everything happened just yesterday?

 

“You’re nothing but a fool!  A big fool!”

 

Suddenly, there was my best friend’s voice ringing in my ears, the last thing I want to remember.

 

“You let go of a good woman— a very good woman for a… for a—!”

 

I could’ve punched him if he ever said the word but he didn’t.  He obviously held his temper well.

 

“Hindi ka talaga nag-iisip.  Your ex’s best friend?”

 

I sneered.  “We’re history!  Umiikot lang ang buhay.  Hindi na kami mga bata para ma-stuck sa nakaraan!”

 

We were all expecting that.  My involvement with Little Miss Pudding would create a rift between her and the best friend, my ex-flame.  In return their show’s ratings unimaginably skyrocketed.  People had the impression that their exchange of bi*ch-slapping scenes were so real and I wanted to believe I did them a favor.  I’m f—king flattered.

 

“Not only that,” he continued as if he didn’t hear me.  “They ARE friends.  Her so-called sister was your fiancée, for christssake!”  He shook his head.  “You used to think things through pero sa ginawa mong ito… I don’t know, bro.  Hindi na kita kilala…”

 

I couldn’t say anymore to that.  Up until now it isn’t the same between us.  He still is with me, protecting and supporting me but that’s just for our friendship, not for me personally…

 

He knew everything.  He knew what I’ve been through to win My Queen’s heart.  He vouched for her.  He carried her torch.  He was one of the very few people who knew we got engaged.  And he knew when things got heated up between me and Little Miss Pudding.  He was my voice of reason, saying I should cut it off with her and the sooner, the better.  But he didn’t see my decision coming…

 

I swallowed an imaginary lump in my throat.  Their voices were stuck in my head, haunting me.  They’re all right— I took the easier way out.  I gave up what I want most for what I think I needed now…

 

I went out of the bathroom, my thoughts messed up some more than they already had.  I picked my clothes on the floor and put them on before leaving her room quietly.

 

The drive home seemed longer than it was before.  I turned the radio on but turned it off as quickly when I heard one of her songs playing.

 

The ache in my head would pale in comparison with the throbbing pain in my heart. All it took was for us to see each other again, for me to look into those beautiful bright eyes again and it all came back.  Those eyes revealed me my soul.  It took me a while to face the truth but I admit it now.  I’m an idiot, I’m a coward. 

 

My Queen… she was my answered prayer.  No, she was more than I wished for, much more than I prayed for.  She’s my lifelong dream.  The night I proposed to her was the moment that dream became a reality.  It was the start of a new phase in my life, our lives.  Knowing she’s by my side, I could take on anything.  With her beside me, I am king.  I promised her I will always be with her, be there for her; spend every waking moment with her.  I wanted to be by her side to watch over her as she grows more and more beautiful before my eyes.

 

She was mine.  I wanted to dedicate my whole life loving her, protecting her; making her happy… together we will make our dreams come true…

 

But I ruined it.  The king that I was in our fairy tale turned up to be a villain destroying everything…

 

I blew my horn furiously when someone tried to overtake me on the road.  Seriously, if someone wants to mess up with me right now that I’m all f—ked up, it wouldn’t be pretty.

 

“Kuya!  You’re… late,” I ignored Baby Brother when I arrived home and went straight to my bedroom.  He sure got the picture; I want to be left alone.

 

I fell on my bed face down.  When I closed my eyes, it’s My Queen’s smiling face earlier that I see.

 

“Damn it,” I lied down on my back and pressed my forehead.  Thoughts of her will keep me all night again, taking me back to those wonderful but bittersweet memories I shared with her.

 

Those moments when all I could do was to steal glances from afar while on shoot.

 

Our moments of laughter and banter behind the scenes…

 

The songs, shows and performances we shared where we had a lot of fun together.

 

Lunch outs, dinners… exchanges of messages; and the day I felt I want to be more than just her friend.

 

The day when I told her I like her and I like to court her,

 

The day I started we were both nervous I could cry.

 

The moment when she sang to me on her birthday concert…

 

The day I first say goodbye to her…

 

That stormy night she became mine.

 

Those times she sang to me over the phone whenever we’re not together,

 

Her smile, her voice, her scent; her touch, her kiss… everything about her.

 

The night I proposed to her and she said yes I felt like king of the world;

 

And the day I became I total suck up when I left her…

 

I covered my face with my arm, as if it could stop my tears from flowing.  No matter how I tried to justify my actions, hurting her will never be right.  Leaving her was never the right decision.

 

Now there’s someone new in her life as well; someone who makes her happy.  And people see me as a guy so in love I’m not sure how long I could keep them believing that.

 

“My Queen…” I murmured under my breath.  If I could, I would make things right; if I could, I’ll trade everything I have to turn back time; to get us back where we’re meant to be; to our rightful place— in each other’s arms…

 

But I know it’s too late.  Now it’s just too late…

 

~oOo~

Disclaimer:  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Was it all just a bad dream?

the_blue_forest_by_scared_princess-d6egnz6

I breathed as if it was my first.  In a slow, painstaking move, I raised my head and opened my eyes.  They hurt.  I might have been crying in my sleep but finally, I woke up from what seemed a very long slumber.

 

Was it all just a bad dream?

 

It wasn’t.  It wasn’t a dream at all.  My Angel… he left me.  He flew away from me and he’s never coming back…

 

I got up, blinking a few times.  I can’t see anything.  Why am I still in this darkness?  I know I’ve been here before… or perhaps I’ve always been here and didn’t get out; couldn’t get out; or maybe I chose not to get out.

 

“I love you so much, My Queen. And I promise you I will love and cherish you forever…”

 

I held back my tears as memories flashed through my mind.  He left me alone in this darkness crying, lost, heartbroken…

 

“Goodbye, Baby Girl…”

 

I shook my head.  Why am I hearing his voice as if it was just yesterday?  I don’t want to dwell on that again.  Not again, ever.  Not anymore…

 

I looked around and all that has hovered around me is pitch black.  I got up and knelt down.  I closed my eyes again hoping that when I open them I’ll find a path to guide me away from this place.

 

“Please take me away from here.  I don’t want to cry anymore.  I don’t want to bear this kind of pain anymore…” I prayed, barely hearing my own voice.  I can’t hear anything; no sound at all; there’s just bleak and numbing nothingness.  I couldn’t help it; my tears began falling.  I really want to get out but… how?

 

“Asher…”

 

I gasped.  Did someone call my name?

 

“Asher…”

 

Slowly, I opened my eyes.  I saw a flickering light and it was drawing closer and closer to me.

 

I tried to stand up but I couldn’t.  I heard footstep heading towards me as the light approached me.  My Angel, is it him?  No.  It can’t be… I know he’s not coming back to me.

 

“Asher,”

 

That gentle voice called my name again.  I lifted my head and there he was standing a few footsteps away from me.  He walked towards me and that flicker of light suddenly exploded, so bright that it’s almost blinding. I tried to cover my face but I want to see him.  I want to know who he is.

 

“Come,” he said as he offered his hand to me.  I just looked at it dumbfounded.  Who is he?

 

As if hearing my thoughts, he laughed— the kind of laugh that is almost musical, mild and pleasing to the ears.

 

He held my shoulders and helped me stand up.  Gently, he placed his hands on my face.  His fingers trailed on my cheeks, wiping away my tears.

 

“Stop crying, Asher.  I’m here now…”

 

I gasped.  What does he mean by that?

 

“Let’s go.  You’ve been here for far too long,”

 

“Who… who are you?”  I asked looking up at him.   As if in a slow motion, the bright clouds parted and his face became clearer and clearer to me.

 

I stared at him wide-eyed.  He was looking at me with fondness in his eyes and his hand was gentle and warm when he clasped mine.  He guided me as we tread away from that vast coldness.

 

“Where are we going?”  I asked again.

 

“You’ll see,” he answered, his eyes never leaving my face.  I should be worried but it’s strange that when he said that, I never felt a doubt in my chest.

 

He held my hand tighter and gave me a smile that reached his beautiful eyes.  I held my breath for a while. I realized it was him and his smile that changed this darkness into bright morning.

 

…will he be able to change the beat of my heart, too?

DEAR FRIEND

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I’ve been thinking about you a lot

All this time I have kept you in my heart.

I try to ignore what I feel inside

Because you’re my friend and with that I can’t fight.

 

I tried to avoid you every time we get close,

Because I’m always hurting and that’s the only cause.

But I kept on loving you and wanting you instead

In spite that I can’t have you and my heart went dead.

 

You’ve been dear to me ever since you came

Yes, I’ve been fond of you the day I knew your name.

I knew you were someone I can get along with ease,

I thought you have the charm to make everybody pleased.

 

And now I love you but it’s just too late

I know you don’t want me and you’ve found your fate.

It’s wrong for me to think that one day I’ll hold your hand

Because I know you don’t love me and I know where I stand.

 

You always ask me favors for you to please your girl

And every time we speak we always talk about her.

I can’t say that I’m jealous but I’m always hurt

But as long as you’re happy, I can bear every ache.

 

Isn’t it funny that when true love hits you,

It hits you so bad and you’re left with no clue.

How come you have found it but can never have it?

And when you finally get serious you’re bound to lose your wit.

 

One thing’s clear though, and that’s what I believe

But I don’t know what it can make me, in pain or relieved?

Whatever happens, everything is well planned,

It is all written and in the Master’s hand.

 

So what I’m ought to do is leave it all behind

To God’s will and plan, my heart and my mind.

All the dreams and love that you finally made me see,

I’ll forget it and the hope that one day you will love me.

~~~~~

(to ‘the one that got away’, 2006)

:)

~JK

IRIS — Chapter One

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Chapter One:  The Stranger’s Touch

           

She slowly opened her eyes and for a moment wondered where she is as she stared blankly at the white ceiling.  She feels woozy and there’s piercing pain on her forehead and left hand.

 

Muli siyang pumikit at inalala ang mga nangyari.  Pinuntahan niya ang nobyo sa bahay ng mga magulang nito sa Tagaytay para sana sorpresahin ito.  Dalawang linggong mahigit na mula nang huli silang magkita ni Railey.  He was always with his teammates practicing and preparing for another basketball season while she was busy shooting for her new project, a TV series.  Ang alam ni Railey ay nasa location shoot siya.  He was indeed surprised but not as surprised as she was.  Ang totoo, surprise is an understatement.

 

Ano nga ba ang dapat niyang maramdaman gayong nakita niya ang boyfriend niya na may kasamang ibang babae sa kuwarto nito?  Worse, she caught them in the act.  Railey tried to go after her when she ran, guilt written all over his face.  Pero tuluy-tuloy siya sa kotse niya at mabilis na umalis sa lugar na iyon.

           

Nakagat niya ang labi sa pagpipigil na muling maiyak.  He’s not worth a single tear.  Her friends were right all along that Railey would just hurt her.  She knows about his reputation of being a playboy but she was blinded.  Pinaniwalaan niya ito na nagbago na ito.  Now after four months of being together, she had to find out for herself that the things he said were all lies— and she had to learn that truth the hard way.

           

Maingat siyang bumangon at naupo.  Naka-cast ang kaliwang binti niya hanggang tuhod.  Puro galos siya bukod pa sa sugat sa kamay at ulo.  Pero maliban sa mga iyon ay wala na siyang nararamdamang sakit sa iba pang bahagi ng katawan niya.

           

She thought she wouldn’t get to see the light of day again.  At kung mabuhay man siya ay tiyak na baldado siya kung hindi man malagay sa coma ng ilang buwan.

 

Sa pagmamadali niya para maiwasan si Railey ay hindi na niya nailagay ang seatbelt niya.  She was crying so hard that her tears clouded her vision.  Bigla na lang may sumulpot na truck sa harapan niya nang malapit na siya sa intersection at naiwasan niya ito, pero hindi niya alam na mas malala pa ang mangyayari sa kanya nang mawala siya sa kalsada at magtuluy-tuloy sa gilid, sa kasukalan.  She hit the brakes with all her strength but it was too late.

 

Closing her eyes tightly, she anticipated the inevitable.  But to her surprise, she was able to survive the impact.

 

May lalaking bigla na lang lumitaw mula sa kung saan at tumayo sa harapan ng kotse niya.

 

Ang lalaking iyon… ang lalaking iyon ang nagligtas sa kanya!

 

“Anak!” bulalas ni Sophia pagbukas nito ng pinto ng hospital room at niyakap siya.  “Thank God, you’re awake!  Halos himatayin ako nang may tumawag at sabihing naaksidente ka!”

 

Gumanti siya ng yakap sa ina.  “Sorry po, Mama.  Pinag-alala ko na naman kayo,”

 

Pinakawalan siya nito at hinaplos ang benda sa ulo niya.  “Ano’ng nararamdaman mo?  May sumasakit ba?  Nagugutom ka ba?  Ano’ng gusto mong kainin?”

 

Napangiti siya sa sunud-sunod na tanong nito.  “Nauuhaw lang po ako,” sagot niya at agad naman siya nitong binigyan ng bottled water.  She drank it up to the last drop.

 

“Mamaya lang ay narito na ang kuya mo,” her mother informed her, insinuating that she should come up with a good explanation why the accident happened.  Ang kuya Adrian niya ang  nagbigay ng nayuping BMW 528iniya  two months ago as an advance birthday gift for her.

 

“Tinawagan ko na nga rin pala ang manager mo.  She’s worried sick about you.  Sinabi kong okay ka na pero baka hindi ka makapag-taping ng ilang linggo,” Sophia combed her hair with her fingers.  “What happened, sweetie?  Nag-away ba kayo ni Railey?”

 

“Sasabihin ko sa inyo lahat pag-uwi natin,” she sighed and smiled at her mother.  “Nasaan ang lalaking nagligtas sa akin, Mama?  Gusto ko siyang makita,”

           

Sandaling  kumunot ang noo nito.  “Ah, ang lalaking kasama mo.  Sino nga pala siya?  Was he the one driving?  The police said they found you lying on top of him.  At nakayakap naman siya sa ‘yo,”

 

She felt her cheeks flushed.  Of course she wouldn’t know that.

 

“No, Ma.  I don’t even know him, at hindi kami magkasama.  He was the one who saved me.  Siya ang—,” pumigil sa kotse ko para hindi ako mahulog sa bangin, she could have said it but stopped on time, or else her mother would insist that she’d undergo a head scan.

 

She shook her head inwardly.  Siguro nga dahil muntik na siyang mamatay ay kung anu-ano na ang nakita niya.

 

“Ang sabi nga pala ni Doctor Arguelles ay nailipat na siya sa kabilang kuwarto mula sa OR.  Ligtas na siya kaya wala ka nang dapat ipag-alala,”

 

“I want to see him, Mom!” she exclaimed, forcing herself out of her bed.  Nakalimutan niya sandali na naka-cast ang isang binti niya.  Hindi naman na siya mapigilan ng ina kahit anong pilit nito na manatili siya sa kama niya.  Tinawag nito ang isang nurse at pinagdala ito ng wheelchair para magamit niya.

 

Paglabas nila ay nakita nila ang isang nurse at dalawang trainees sa tapat ng pinto ng katabing kuwarto na pilit hinihinaan ang boses habang nagkukwentuhan, pero rinig na rinig pa rin naman nila.

 

Oh, my God, totoo nga!” bulalas ng isa sa mga trainees.

 

“Sabi sa inyo, eh.  Sobrang guwapo niya, ‘di ba?” kinikilig namang sagot ng nurse.

           

“Sino kaya siya?  Kasama raw siya noong artista sa kabilang kuwarto…”

           

“Oo, ‘yung singer na bagong girlfriend ni Railey Oballe,” sabat naman ng isa.  Dahil nakatalikod ang mga ito sa kanila ay hindi pa rin sila napapansin ng mga ito.

 

She sighed.  It really is no surprise that her boyfriend— or ex-boyfriend’s pretty famous with the ladies dahil isa ito sa mga power player ng National Team. Still for her, it was a lot of getting used to.

           

“Hmm… iba ang kasama?  Baka break na sila,” patuloy ng nurse.  “Ang hot din ng kapalit, ha?  Pero ‘di-hamak na mas bet ko ang isang ‘to,”

           

“Nurse Victorino!”

           

Biglang sulpot ni Doctor Arguelles mula sa likuran nila.  Napaigtad sa gulat ang tatlo at lalong namula nang makita at makilala siya ng mga ito.

 

Pinamaywangan ng doktor ang tatlo at pinaglipat-lipat sa mga ito ang tingin.  “Hindi ba’t tapos na ang duty ninyo?  Ano pang ginagawa niyo rito, nagtu-tour?  Sa lahat naman ng lugar, dito niyo pa napiling magtsismisan!”

           

“Sorry po, Doctor Arguelles.  Sinilip lang po namin ang bagong pasyente,”

           

Tinaasan nito ng isang kilay ang mga nakababatang babae.  “Dahil nabalitaan niyong guwapo, ganoon ba?”

           

Nahihiyang napatungo na lang ang mga ito at umalis na doon.

 

“I’m sorry about that,” the doctor apologized sincerely.

 

“It’s okay, Doc.  Sanay na po ako.”

 

The doctor nodded and sighed.  Ito na mismo ang nagbukas para sa kanila ng pinto ng kuwarto.  Saglit nitong tiningnan ang lagay ng pasyente.

           

“Kumusta na po siya?”

 

“He’s out of danger, Miss Deogracias.  His body responded well to the operation.  Pero kailangan ko pa rin siyang obserbahan.  Kung magising siya ngayong gabi, I can assure you na magtutuluy-tuloy na ang recovery niya,” 

 

“Thank God,” she whispered, pushing the wheelchair closer to the hospital bed.

 

“Ang sabi niyo ay hindi niyo siya kakilala.  Unfortunately, wala rin kaming nakuhang anumang gamit niya na maaari naming mapagkakilanlan sa kanya…”

           

“Ako na po ang bahala sa hospital bills niya, Doktor,” sagot niya sa gustong ipahiwatig nito habang matamang nakatitig sa lalaki.

 

His upper body was covered with bandages, so is his right hand and head.  There were bruises on his arms and all over his face and she saw a few stitches on his knee when the doctor was checking him. Nevertheless, he’s outright beautiful that she couldn’t help but reach for him and touch his face.

 

His jaw and his nose were perfect as if a famous sculptor made them.  Thick eyebrows framed his deep-set eyes and she’s certain his eyelashes are longer than hers.  Day-old stubbles were starting to grow on his face but it surprisingly suits him.  Her eyes moved down to his well-built body.  He’s tall, maybe even taller than Railey who is 5’11.  But what makes him more handsome is his peaceful, innocent but mysterious aura.

 

She sighed as fondness started welling up inside her.  Hindi pa rin niya maisip kung paano, pero itinuturing niyang isang milagro ang pagkakaligtas ng estrangherong ito sa kanya.

           

She held his hand and clasped it firmly against her palms.  “Maraming salamat… utang ko sa ‘yo ang buhay ko…”

 

Naramdaman niya ang bahagyang paggalaw ng mga daliri nito.  At nang tingnan niya ito ay unti-unti nitong iminulat ang mga mata.

 

“Doktor, gising na po siya!” baling niya kay Doctor Arguelles na agad naman itong dinaluhan.

           

“I—ris…”

 

Pareho silang natigilan at napatingin dito.  It reached her ears though it was barely a whisper and despite the breathing apparatus covering half of his face.

 

“Iris…”

 

He turned around and called her name for the second time.  Itinaas nito ang kamay at banayad na hinaplos ang pisngi niya.  “Salamat at… ligtas ka,”

 

Unconsciously, she held his hand on her face.  Ngumiti ito bago muling ipinikit ang mga mata.

 

“Doktor—,”

 

“He’ll be alright.  Epekto lang ito ng mga gamot na ibinigay ko sa kanya,” she gave her a reassuring smile.  “Puwede niyo ulit siyang silipin mamaya.  For now, I suggest you get more rest as well, Miss Deogracias,”

           

She wanted to protest.  Gusto pa sana niyang bantayan ito kahit ilang minuto pa pero nagpilit na rin ang ina na ibalik siya sa kuwarto niya.

 

She tried to rest just as the doctor ordered.  Pero sa tuwing ipipikit niya ang mga mata ay ang mukha ng estranghero ang nakikita niya; ang maamo at nag-aalalang mukha nito bago siya mawalan ng malay… ang maganda nitong mga mata…

 

Tinakpan niya ng unan ang mukha.  Hindi niya alam kung matutuwa siya o maiinis sa sarili niya.  Other times she’d be crying her heart out because of Railey.  Pero heto siya at walang ibang umookupa sa isip niya kundi ang misteryosong lalaki sa kabilang kuwarto.  Ni hindi pa nga niya alam kung ano ang pangalan nito.

 

She got up and parted the curtain covering her window.  Her room’s on the top floor of the hospital building that it seems the moon was shining over her, and though it was cloudy there were a few stars.

 

Niyakap niya ang sarili at matagal na pinagmasdan ang kalangitan.  She couldn’t help but think that the stranger must have really come from there.

Really Iris, she shook her head and laughed at herself.  That’s just way too crazy.

 

Pero sino nga ba talaga ito?  He called her name as if he’d known her for a lifetime.  And when he touched her; just that one touch— she knows in her heart that her life is changed forever.

 

She breathed deeply and uttered a short prayer to put herself at ease.  Kailangan na niyang matulog at bukas na lang uli niya iisipin ang estranghero.  At hindi pwedeng hindi niya uli puntahan ito.

That’s right.  She’s looking forward to seeing the stranger again…

~oOo~

Disclaimer:  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

:)