“She’s not answering my calls… she’s not picking up!”
For the nth time, I dialed her number. I’ve already lost count. Images of her crying like burning arrows pierced my heart, inch by agonizing inch. I can’t ignore it. I have to do something.
“Bro, relax!” my brother blurted out, watching me in amusement as I mindlessly paced the floor to and fro the living room to the door. “At pwede ba maupo ka muna? Ako ang nahihilo sa ‘yo, eh!”
“I know her. She wouldn’t take it lightly this time,” I stroked my head in exasperation. “Aalis pa naman ako bukas…”
“Eh ‘di puntahan na natin. Tara na!” He stood up and grabbed the keys to my car. I took it from his hand.
“No. Ako na lang. Tapusin mo ang pag-iimpake mo at matulog ka na…”
He shook his head. “Bahala ka. But aren’t you overreacting? I mean you should be used to that kind of rubbish—,”
“I am. But I have to explain myself to her. Sa kanya lang. At hindi ako papayag na hindi kami mag-usap bago tayo umalis bukas.” I put on my jacket and hurried to the garage.
While I’m on my way to her house I can’t help but curse silently. So much for wishing that days will pass by smoothly as it was. After our meeting that night at the rooftop, the following days have been steady for us, though unbelievably slow. I got to see her again before she left for Japan and the day before I left for Australia. We had a show in Singapore just recently, and I got to visit her again when I arrived home. Roughly, we meet after every two weeks. Sa ngayon, I can only be thankful for that.
I sighed. The limelight I thought will be removed from us after the interview I did during the magazine press conference, but the privacy I was expecting was short-lived. No matter how our managements try to make it appear that we don’t have anything to do with each other’s affairs anymore, the bloodsuckers seem to have hungered for more, prodding us for more; keep pushing and pushing until they just come up with fables and fabricated stories. This time, they’ve used my past against me again. Now I understand what my old folks were saying: Na matatakpan ng isang pagkakamali ang mga kabutihang ginawa ng isang tao; at iyon ang matatanim sa isip nila, iyon ang laging maaalaala nila. I as a player. Not I as a Peace Ambassador. Not I as a volunteer. Not I as the grown-up actor. Not I as a changed person…
‘Good or bad, publicity is publicity. You all need it to survive in this industry.’ That’s what Big Boss said years back. He’s damn right. We all just to let it be, he added. Like right now, I have a new movie and teleserye coming up so all I have to do is just go with the flow. But it’s one hell of a painful process every time, like riding roller coaster with multiple loops; makes one mentally and emotionally unstable. The seniors in the business are right. Kung hindi ka magpapakatatag sa industriyang ito, mababaliw ka nang husto…
I took a deep breath and slowed down when I entered their subdivision. I tried calling her again.
“Finally…you picked up!” I feel like jumping out of my car and run around in circles. At last!
“I didn’t know you were calling… I left my phone in my room.”
“Okay lang,” It is really, after twenty-four missed calls to be exact. “Is now a good time? I really need to talk to you…”
She didn’t answer for a few seconds. It seemed she was talking to someone else though I can’t really hear what they’re saying.
“I’m already outside your house,” I followed when I couldn’t hear her anymore. “Pero kung magpapahinga ka na babalik na lang ako—,”
“It’s okay. Just give me a minute…” that and she ended the call.
I got off my car the same time she opened the door. She looks so alluring and sexy in her sweatpants and gray tank top. I tried to smile but she wouldn’t look at me. When I was about to kiss her she avoided me and opened the door wider. Turning her back on me, she headed to the pantry.
“Gusto mo ng milk tea?”
“That’s fine.” I followed her and embraced her from behind while she prepared two cups for us. Lord, how I missed her…
“Maupo ka na… hintayin mo na lang ‘to.” She removed my hands from her waist and pointed me to the breakfast table.
I sighed and obeyed her. I pulled a seat for her but she didn’t take it. She leaned on the table instead, facing me as she handed me my cup.
“Do you—” we uttered at the same time after quietly sipping our tea. I laughed. “Can I go first?”
“Have you heard about it? I mean… have you seen it?”
She nodded. “We all did…”
I inhaled a few times. She’s still avoiding my gaze. It’s difficult to figure out what she’s feeling. “And?”
I moved my seat in front of her, trapping her knees in between my legs. I held her hand. “This happened before, remember? When I was in the U. S. and that picture came out…”
She frowned as she tried to recall what I was talking about.
“That article… the blind item with that picture where I was dancing with some random girl… naalala mo?”
I saw a fleeting pain crossing her eyes when she nodded. She kept her eyes away from me.
“Kahit ‘di mo aminin alam kong naapektuhan ka ng picture na ‘yon. You didn’t speak to me for a week… kahit isang text wala. If I hadn’t call home hindi ko pa malalaman ang dahilan.”
Standing up, I imprisoned her in between my arms. “Alam ko na kapag nagtatampo ka sa ‘kin… kapag galit ka, kapag nagseselos ka…”
She still wouldn’t look at me even when I held her face. “Look at me… please, Love, look at me. I want you to tell me how you really feel. You used to open up to me. Bago pa maging tayo, you were my closest ‘gal pal’. I tell you almost everything. Sana ganoon ka rin sa akin. Be honest with me…”
“Be honest with you?” It was an above whisper. She finally raised her head, her eyes glinting with unshed tears. “Gusto mo ba talagang malaman kung ano’ng nararamdaman ko?”
I swallowed. My heart just beat faster and it’s deafening me. I took my seat again, holding her hand at the same time.
She laughed but her tears started falling. I sharply took my breath.
“I suddenly felt so tired… I feel like getting away from all of these…”
“Those voices in my head…” she shook her head repeatedly. “…telling me they were right all along; telling me I shouldn’t be with you, telling me you’re a liar, a cheater… manggagamit, babaero…”
There’s a sudden unbearable pain in my chest. I held her hand tighter and kissed it.
“I don’t want to hear them anymore,” she continued sobbing. “I feel like running away from all this; from you, from everyone else…”
I embraced her, burying my face on her belly. I cried with her… dahil siya ang mas higit na nasasaktan sa mga nangyayari…
“I’m beginning to ask why…” her fingers started caressing my hair, lovingly… making me cry some more. “Why does it have to be like this? Love’s supposed to make us happy, to set us free…
“But whether we tell them the truth or not they’ll keep judging you… they’ll keep judging me,” she inhaled a few times before continuing. “How long do we have to endure this? It’s tiring…”
“Oh, Love,” I said in a hoarse voice. I can’t stop crying. “I’m sorry… I’m really sorry,” I looked up to her, the pain in her eyes reflected in mine. “I know it wouldn’t change a thing but I want you to know that I really am…”
“Hindi na ako sigurado kung hanggang kailan ko kakayanin ‘to…” She raised her hand and wiped away my tears. I held it on my face.
“Pero sa dami ng iniisip ko… at the end of the day I realize… we’re always left with only two choices— hold on or let go…”
My eyes grew wide as I looked at her. I’ve waited for more but she just continued sobbing quietly. After what I thought the longest moment of my life she put her arms around me.
“Sa tingin mo ba, ngayon pa ba ako bibitaw?” she whispered in between sniffs and sobs. “Ang dami ko nang hirap sa ‘yo, no!”
With tears still in my eyes, I burst out into laughing as I pulled her to sit on my lap. Heto na naman kaming dalawa, like what she said, bipolar mode na naman…
“Nagsisimula pa lang tayo pero ang dami na nating napagdaanan… at nalampasan. There’s just no way I’m giving you up now…”
I kissed away her tears and enfolded her in my arms once again. Tonight, I want to drown in this moment, in this secret realm we’ve created for ourselves— where our dreams are truths, where our realities are of no consequence; where there’s just the two of us, where there’s no one telling us what to say or what to do… where the whole world around us fades into black and all that matters is SHE and I…
“What time is it? I think you should go.” she said after a long while, but still embracing me. “Kailangan ko na ring matulog…”
I kissed her forehead and smiled. “I can’t leave yet… not while I’m holding you like this. Isa pa, hindi ko pa nasabi ang side ko… ”
“You really don’t have to explain.” She lets go and sat on the breakfast table, her feet hanging.
“But I want to. Ayaw ko na aalis ako na hindi ko nililinaw sa ‘yo ang mga bagay…”
She nodded. “Okay… I’m listening.”
I felt she became uncomfortable. I moved my seat an inch closer and leaned my arms on her lap.
“You were so mad at me, when I first told you I like you. I will never forget that day…” I held her hand and intertwined my fingers with hers. “Sabi mo baka nadadala lang ako sa closeness natin, and that you didn’t want to lose our friendship…”
“Natatandaan ko. Bakit mo naman nabanggit ngayon ‘yan?”
“I just want to tell you that I might have strayed back then for some time… but before I decided courting you formally nagawa ko na ang mga sinabi mo sa akin noon…”
“Mga sinabi ko?”
“Yeah. You said you want me to figure out first what I really want in life… what I really want to pursue, what I’ll do to achieve my dreams…”
“…to not depend on other people to make me happy but to find happiness within myself first…”
“A man can change, Love. You made me a better man. Back then, I was already sure of what I want… I want to be with you.” I firmly kissed her hand. “Ikaw ang gusto ko… ikaw lang talaga.”
“But in those pictures…” she swallowed and bowed her head. “You and that girl… you were very intimate…”
“We were. But nothing happened, believe me. We were just following rules, all because my team and I wanted to win. It was all part of the game…”
She pouted. “Yes. And you’re a real player.”
I almost ignored what she said. I’m distracted. What those pretty lips can do! For seconds I just stared at her, marveling on how cute and sexy she was. How can this woman do this to me? I’m trying to explain myself here. It’s kinda difficult to keep up. Just a few minutes ago, she’s crying; now she’s fuming. She’s putting my emotions in a swirl and she’s the only one who can do that. Honestly, I’m loving every minute of it…
She shrugged. “Sabagay, boys will always be boys. Sabi nga nila, ‘Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who—,”
“Hey, hey! Sandali lang!” I stood up and put my forefinger on her lips. “Magkaiba kami ng ex mo. Mag-best friend nga kami but I’m different from him!”
“Talaga lang, ha?” she raised an eyebrow. Her voice was stern but her eyes were smiling.
“Alam mo naman ‘yan, e…”
“Well… you have a point,” she wrapped her arms on her chest. “For one, you’re a better kisser…”
My jaw dropped as I gape at her in shock. “I can’t believe you just said that! Since when have you been comparing notes?!”
She shrieked, tilting her head backward a little bit. I shook my head, feeling relieved at the same time. She’s like a little girl and trying to please her warms my heart. Like right now, I’d rather see her like this—playful, innocent, so pure like a child than see her crying or hurt, just like a few minutes ago.
“I’m joking! And I’m not comparing you with him. There’s nothing to compare,” She put her arms around my neck.
“We never had the chance… I mean, you know. Kiss and all that…”
“So you were wishing for a chance, ganoon ba?” Damn it, why am I so jealous?
“No,” she rolled her eyes heavenward. “Truth is, I’m glad we never had…”
“Does that mean ako ang first kiss mo?”
“There’ve been a few…” she started enumerating her dogs’ names. I shook my head and laughed, feeling weak on my knees at the same time that I have to sit again. She laughed aloud. My God, this girl is driving me crazy…
“Teka… bakit nga pala sa akin bigla napunta ang usapan?” she inhaled and exhaled before turning her serious face on me. “Talaga bang… walang nangyari sa inyo ng mga babaeng ‘yon sa pictures?”
“I swear to God, wala. Please believe me, Love,” I put my arms around her hips. “Ano pa ba’ng gusto mong gawin at sabihin ko para mapanatag ang loob mo? Tell me… I’ll do anything.”
She didn’t speak for a while and gave me one lingering look. There’s uncertainty in her eyes and I really can’t blame her for still having doubts about me.
“It’s all in the past now… you’re my NOW and my future. Please, trust me on this, Baby Girl.”
“You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep…”
“That’s a declaration, not a promise. Because that’s what I want to happen; and it will, kung ‘yon din ang gusto mo…”
Her face lit up a bit when she smiled. “I don’t want anything else in the world but that…”
She stood up. My hands were on her waist again and I pulled her closer to kiss her belly. “Do you feel better now, Mommy?”
“Yes, thank you, Daddy.”
“Good.” I looked at her. Her eyes were glowing with so much love for me. How can a man ask for more? “Na-miss ko ang pagtawag mo sa ‘kin niyan…”
She giggled. “Talaga? Ako rin…”
Our teas gone cold and she offered me another cup. I stayed for I guess fifteen minutes more before she stood up and offered her hand to me to help me stand up.
“It’s getting late. You have to go for now, Love…”
I groaned in disappointment. After we kissed goodnight she walked me out to my car.
“Magpahinga ka na. Ingat ka doon. And don’t get sick, okay? Nagkasakit ka while you were in Singapore…”
“Yes, Mommy, I’ll take good care of myself.” I grinned, my eyes teasing. “Ano’ng gusto mong gawin natin pagbalik ko? Saan mo gustong pumunta?”
She laughed softly. “Hindi ka pa nga umaalis, pagbalik na agad ang iniisip mo. Just have fun while you’re there…”
I sighed and nodded. Before I get in my car I held her in my arms one last time. I’ll never get enough of her embrace… of her kiss, of HER. Lord, I want this woman so much I can no longer picture myself without her…
She walked back to the door and waved me goodbye. When I got home I remembered the small blue box in my glove compartment. I took it out. I always carry it to have it reset but I can’t find the time yet. It’s the other pair of the ring I gave her weeks ago. I wore it on my ring finger, though still loose.
“I’ll hold on until that day, Love,” I whispered as if saying a prayer, staring at my hand for a while. It will come. That time will come.
“Someday, Baby Girl… someday…”
“Bru, confirmed na… may ibang jowa talaga si boylet! Kaya naman pala galit na galit si mudra!”
“Ssshh! Ano ba, bakla? Baka may makarinig sa ‘yo! Hindi pa rin ako naniniwala… isa pa, matagal na ang picture na ‘yon, no!”
I smiled shaking my head. Hindi siguro nila napansin na hindi nakalapat ang pinto ng dressing room ko. I can’t recognize their voices, though. Mga bagong interns siguro.
“Totoo ‘yon, girl!” The other guy (or gay) continued, his voice lower but still loud enough for me to hear. “At ‘di mo ba napansin ang aura ng Prinsesa? She’s having a hard time moving on… Lungkut-lungkutan ang peg ng lola mo!”
I laughed to myself at the mirror when I heard that. Hay, ang mga taong ‘to talaga!
Standing up, I peeked outside but they were gone. I closed my dressing room’s door but didn’t lock it. Anytime now, Mom will be here. I’m having my break before the last set of rehearsals for the show tomorrow.
“Ako, malungkot?” I whispered to myself while I stared at the mirror. “’Di ba pwedeng pagod lang?”
I laughed and took my seat again. Heto na naman ako sa monologue portion ko…
“Having a hard time moving on? Hindi ba pwedeng may nami-miss lang?!”
Seriously… what do they know? Personally, I don’t believe everything I read or see. Now who are they calling gullible?
“Oh, well…” Rolling my eyes, I put on my headsets and turned up the volume of my iPod. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, as Taylor Swift’s and B.o.B.’s voice filled my ears.
“I wish I was strong enough to lift not one but both of us…
Someday I will be strong enough to lift not one but both of us…”
The door flew open suddenly that I almost fell off my chair.
“Hi, anak. Are you okay?”
Mommy kissed my cheek. “Opo, ‘my. Half an hour na lang po pack up na rin kami…”
She stroked my hair and stared at me. “You look beat. May film shoot ka pa mamaya… ano kaya kung i-miss mo muna ang shooting ngayon? Baka kasi—,”
“Mommy, stop worrying. Kaya ko pa naman po…” I held her hand and pressed it. “Kayo ang dapat kong tanungin kung okay kayo. High blood po kayo lately, eh…”
“Anak,” uh-oh, that tone… “You know your Mr. Guardian Angel still has A LOT of convincing to do… hindi mo maiaalis sa akin ang ‘di magalit.”
“Alam ko po, ‘my… but you really have no reason to. Sinabi ko pong ‘di naman na kailangan pero balak pa rin po niyang kausapin ulit kayo ni Daddy pagbalik niya…”
I leaned my head on her shoulder. “At saka hindi na kayo nasanay sa media; kahit nga kayo ‘di nakaligtas, ‘di ba po?”
She shrugged and caressed my back. “Tama ka naman diyan… mahirap lang kasi lalo na sa akin na makitang ang taong mahal na mahal mo, siya ring sobrang mananakit sa ‘yo. Mahirap ‘yon para sa isang magulang, anak…”
Oh, Mom… I suddenly feel like crying. “Pero kayo na rin po ang nagsabi sa akin na hindi ‘yon maiiwasan. Lalo na po kapag bago pa lang kami sa relasyon…”
We heard a warning knock and Kuya’s face appeared when I opened the door. “It’s time, Bunso. Hi, Mommy!” he kissed Mommy’s cheek. “Let’s go?”
“Sige po, Kuya. Susunod na po ako.” He nodded and left.
“Dito niyo na lang po ba ako hihintayin?” I asked Mom as I turned to her. She simply nodded.
“Okay po,” I thought of teasing her before I leave. “Baka naman po pagbalik ko, makita ko na naman kayong umiiyak…”
“Hay, naku! Ang batang ‘to,” she waved her hand that I giggled. “Doon ka na sa stage, hinihintay ka na nila.”
One particular write-up made her cry. I can’t remember well but I think it was almost a month ago when I saw her crying in their room. I was shocked. Si Mommy ang pinakamatatag sa amin lalo na kapag inuulan ako, kami ng intriga. Daddy and I took a while consoling her. I think she just had enough…
Rehearsals ended soon and we drove off to our location shoot. I should be sleeping on the way but I just couldn’t. This by far has been my busiest week. The only break I had was when I sang and bonded with my Sister during and after her concert, and when I attended Big Daddy’s birthday party. I didn’t know how I missed catching up with my sisters and the rest of our ‘family’.
I need a long break, a real one. Like him, I’ll be busy perhaps until the end of the year. Maybe this Christmas I’ll have the chance. But I’m hoping I could spend it with him. Oh, I miss him so…
I ended up browsing his pictures taken during the fashion show he had days ago. Ilang beses ko na ‘tong nakita but I can’t get enough yet of his rugged-edgy, sexy-boyish look. He sends me pictures every now and then most of all when he’s away. I think he’s also getting the hang of using his IG.
My phone pinged. I smiled when I saw his name and text message.
I can’t stop thinking about her…
And I wonder if she’s thinking about me, too.
Going crazy here, Love…
I miss you… :(
I replied, my smile never leaving my face.
Of course she’s always thinking about you…
She longs to see you, even in her dreams.
Missing you more, Love…
Take care, okay?
I love you…
I sighed, finally feeling at peace. We’ll be driving for twenty minutes more. I still have time to take a nap.
Grabbing my pillow, I closed my eyes and instantly drifted to sleep with his face as the last thing on my mind…
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.
A/N: Hello, readers! Please, please don’t forget to give proper credit to the author/writer (me, jynkitty) if you wish to copy/paste, share this to your page/blog. Thank you! ♥