“And that’s it!” Our director clapped a few times. “Time for some beauty rest, everyone!”
I blew air as I smiled at my dancers and my music team. One by one they disappeared and headed backstage with relief and satisfaction on their faces, considering we’ve spent almost all day practicing. I waved at them. I’m blessed to be surrounded by these people. We all love what we’re doing. Rehearsals can be strenuous but the sense of fulfillment is there all the time. If there’s another thing I love about long dry runs like we had today, it’s how it requires all my attention and focus. Every part of me I put on the performance— my mind, body, heart and soul. And when it’s time for the show I just let go. I let myself be lost in the moment. I don’t know if it’s true but as my fans aptly say it, the result every Sunday is ‘explosive’.
When I went to my dressing room I avoided looking at my phone and went through our song lineup again. I smiled. I don’t know how many Sundays it has been that we’re playing old songs, so now for my final song I’ll be bringing the audience something more current and something that I really like.
I knew the song and its lyrics by heart, just like all of my favorite songs. But I had it a go a couple of times and adjust the arrangement just so to add up some ME vibe into it. I don’t want it to sound as just another rendition. I always want to give my viewers something different every week. Even if they say I can take on any song or I can sing the phone-book I’m not taking it easy. I don’t want to disappoint them; I don’t want to disappoint myself.
Putting on my headset, I listened to it one more time. Somehow it really is timely. A lot has been happening lately in my life, in and outside showbiz. Ngayon, mas malinaw na sa akin kung bakit dapat mangyari ang mga nangyari…
Life and its realities… totoo pala talaga na hindi lang umiikot ang buhay ko sa pagkanta at sa stage. As I go along there will still be so many ups and downs. It’s true, real life lessons are never learnt in school. Life in general is a nonstop learning process and I continue learning; I’m a work in progress.
A few weeks ago, I was surprised to receive a letter from one of my dear friends whom I haven’t seen for a long time. A part of the letter was something he took from his favorite book:
“Does teaching mean talking or a lecture? That’s how they teach you in school. But that is not how life teaches you, and I would say that life is the best teacher of all. Most of the time, life does not talk to you. It just sort of pushes you around. Each push is life saying, ‘Wake up! There’s something I want you to learn.’”
Life pushes all of us around. Some give up. Others fight. A few learn the lesson and move on. They welcome life pushing them around. To these few people, it means they need and want to learn something. They learn and move on. Most quit, and a few like you fight…
…if you’re the kind of person who has no guts, you just give up every time life pushes you. If you’re that kind of person, you’ll live all your life playing it safe, doing the right things, saving yourself from some event that never happens. The truth is you let life push you into submission. Deep down you were terrified of taking risks. You really wanted to win, but the fear of losing was greater than the excitement of winning. Deep inside you and only you will know you didn’t go for it. You chose to play it safe…”
I smiled and closed my eyes. Since I read it has always been a reminder for me. I’ve always chose to play it safe. I’ve always been scared of taking risks. Now I wouldn’t be afraid anymore. Yes, Life. I’m wide awake now. I’ll be ready whenever you push me. Magsama pa kayo ni Time kung gusto mo.
Hmm… I still have less than two hours to rest. Maybe I should take a nap. Pero hindi na siguro. That will only make me feel heavier when I wake up. I stretched my arms and back instead.
“Ouch…” I groaned as I feel pain on my lower back. I think I can even hear my bones crack. Slowly, I leaned at the backrest of my makeup chair. I wish someone’s here massaging my fatigued shoulders and back. Or perhaps while I’m resting I have a cup of vanilla macchiato beside me. Or rather I would want to be somewhere else, perhaps on the veranda outside my room or at the rooftop, with someone I can really to talk to and share all my sentiments with… and I couldn’t think of anyone else but that guy with that megawatt happy smile whenever he sees me… the one who owns the number one spot on my list of stress relievers; that guy who carries my most favorite place in the whole world all the time— his arms…
“Oh, Lord… what am I doing?” I scolded myself and stood up, stomping at the same time. I walked back and forth and all corners of my cozy dressing room. I haven’t seen him since he got back from their US tour. But I don’t want to think about him right now. I don’t want to think about what he’s doing, where he is, who’s with him and what he’s saying during their interviews together. I don’t want to be stressed out. I don’t want to be jealous. I don’t want to, I don’t want to…!
I sighed and sat again. Who am I kidding? I’m doing exactly all that…
“Bunso… you there?”
Kuya knocked twice before he opened the door. “Puntahan mo raw saglit si Direk. May instructions lang siya for you…”
“Oh, okay,” I took off my headset and went to the director’s booth. Buti na ring may makausap akong iba kaysa sa sarili ko.
“Direk, you called for me?” I exclaimed when I enter but didn’t find him. Maybe he went to the john. I took one of the swivel chairs and decided to wait for him. A few minutes after, the door opened. I turned around.
“You have instructions for me, Dir—,” I gasped aloud. I think I almost had a heart attack. It’s him! Ang suki ng director’s booth.
“Bakit ka nandito?!” I said in a controlled voice. The booth’s door closed on its own. He didn’t answer and just stood there, staring keenly at me for a while.
When he walked near me I quickly stood up and get to the door.
“Hey, saan ka pupunta? Dito ka lang!”
“You shouldn’t be here!” I almost screamed, not looking or wanting to talk to him. I could feel his smoldering eyes on my back.
“The obedient daughter as always,” he laughed. “Come on, pag-aawayan na naman ba natin ‘to?”
I took a deep breath and tightly closed my eyes. Bakit ba kasi ang kulit niya? At sino kaya sa amin ang madalas magsimula ng away?
“Masama bang bisitahin ko ang girlfriend ko? At puwede ba, humarap ka sa akin? I hate talking to your back… no matter how sexy it is.” he teased.
Slowly, I turned around. I have a strong reason why I don’t want to look at him. It’s his effect on me. The effect of those eyes… those lips… and when he makes that irresistible puppy face. Those were enough to make my bad mood disappear, kahit ang pagtatampo ko sa kanya o ang sama ng loob ko sa mga nangyayari…
As I walked towards him, he flashed me that knee-buckling smile that only he owns and all the bones in my body melted on the spot. That’s it. That’s all it takes. Once again, I’m trapped— trapped in this voltage-filled temporary heaven with that i-so-damn-missed-you-so atmosphere and I feel like I don’t ever want to get out.
“I just thought you might be hungry… I brought you something,” he put down the brown bag and the styro-cup on the knee-high file drawer beside him. I didn’t even notice that when he came in.
“Vanilla macchiato and croissant,” he shrugged. “Not too heavy para hindi mabigat ang feeling sa performance mo mamaya…”
“How— how did you…” I didn’t know what to say. Coincidence lang ba talaga ‘to? It’s freaky in so many levels! I wanted to see him. I was craving for vanilla macchiato just a while ago at ngayon, pareho na silang nandito… at may bonus pang croissant! At hindi lang basta croissant, it has the size of a serving plate. It’s Croissant for the Hungry.
For seconds I just gawked at him. I think this is what one of my sisters has been saying to me. I told her that often we wear the same color of clothes on the same day, same accessories on separate events, fan meetings, etc… Ang sabi niya, couple’s instinct daw ang tawag doon.
“You okay? You look really tired,” he gently touched my cheek with his knuckle and pulled a seat for me.
“I’m fine. And thank you… Mamaya pa kasi ako magdi-dinner after ng show. Pero sana ipinadala mo na lang uli ‘to sa best friend mo…” I sat down and took the coffee cup and started eating.
He shrugged. “Actually, siya pa rin naman ang bumili niyan. I just thought of bringing that myself. Nasa kabilang studio lang naman ako…” he took the assistant director’s chair and faced me, watching me as I eat.
“You know they wouldn’t like this. If they find out you’re here papagalitan ka na naman ng mga ‘yon.”
“Like I give a shit about what they say. Sorry,” He laughed when I wrinkled my nose at his expression. “Wala nang pakialam ang mga ‘yon kahit ano pa’ng gawin ko. What matters most to them now is the money we bring them. And I’m used to their scolding, anyway.”
“Ayan ka na naman, e,” I reprimanded gently while sipping my coffee. “Nagkita naman na tayo kanina noong dumaan ako during your rehearsals. You don’t need to do this—,”
“But I want to. And you see? That’s the point. Nandoon ka nga kanina pero ‘di naman kita malapitan. It’s as if we have a temporary restraining order or something…”
“Alam mo naman ang gusto nila, ‘di ba? For them, wala na dapat tayong pakialam sa isa’t-isa…” I took a piece of the croissant and fed him. I gasped when his mouth caught my fingers. I pretended I ignored it.
“I think even the slightest idea that we’re in the same vicinity worries them.” I shrugged. “Naiintindihan ko naman. I mean, they’re trying to bring back both of you; you and your ex-flame and your ‘beautiful history together.’” he frowned when I said it with hand motions. “Once they know you’re here, baka ilipat na nila ako ng studio sa buwan at doon na ako mag-show.”
He laughed aloud. “Eksaherada ka naman!” Moving his seat closer, he started tickling me. “And you’re jealous! Nagseselos ka, ano? You can’t deny it!”
Duh! Stressing the obvious much?! I almost rolled my eyes at him. “Hindi ako nagseselos! I’m just reminding you.” I fed him again just so he would stop tickling me. “This wouldn’t be good for the promo— stop biting me!” I shrieked when he bit my fingers again.
He grabbed my hand and suckled my forefinger. I fought my hardest to pull it back. He laughed. He’s seducing me! Hindi ba niya alam na para akong tinatamaan ng kidlat sa ginagawa niya? His lips… his tongue on my fingertips—
“Your eyes can’t lie, Love,” he took the coffee on my hand; interrupting sweet, sweet thoughts I’m beginning to have.
“But you said the operative word: ‘history’. Meaning, kung ano man ‘yung nangyari sa amin noon, no matter when or how they try to bring us back… no matter how beautiful it was what we had, it still is history. Nakaraan na. Tapos na. Wala na…”
“History repeats itself, baka hindi mo alam,” I countered, wanting to pull my hair at the same time. Ako rin ang nasaktan sa sinabi ko.
“Maybe so,” he looked at me fondly. “But I intend to keep history where it’s at. I’m all set for my present and my future.”
I sighed and said nothing. What can I really say about that? Whenever he mentions the word ‘future’ I can’t help but feel anxious…
“I wish I know what’s running through that beautiful head of yours…” he said while he watched me silently, giving me back my coffee after he drank some. “Please, huwag ka nang magalit sa akin…”
“Hindi ako nagagalit. Alam mo naman kasi dito. Parang may landmine kahit saan tayo humakbang…”
He inhaled deeply and held my face, rubbing his nose against mine. “Balak ko pa namang ihatid ka mamaya…”
“Sige na,” he pleaded. “Nandito na ako before your show ends. Dito lang uli ako sa booth. Hindi ako aalis dito unless you tell me to,”
“Pero… hindi ako sure mamaya kung—,”
“If you don’t want me here then let’s have dinner. Yayain mo sila. Kahit mauna na kayo. Kung hindi ako makaabot, at least let me pick you up. Just wait for me.”
“Oh, my,” I frustratingly held my forehead with both hands. “What am I gonna do with you? Hindi ko na alam kung ano’ng gusto mong mangyari…”
He tilted his head to one side. His voice became a little lower and I thought his eyes turned a shade darker. “I may be asking for too much… but now more than ever, all I want is to be your everything, Baby Girl.”
I swallowed. How many times he made me stop and stare I don’t know anymore. My heartbeat won’t slow down. And I totally forgot our argument just seconds ago.
I finally gave him a smile, raising an eyebrow at the same time. “Ambisyoso!”
He chuckled and stroked his hair, blushing in embarrassment. Quietly, he watched me as I tidied up the brown paper bag and the coffee cup.
“Tara na,” I offered him my hand. He took it and stood up.
“Wait,” he stopped and pulled me when I was about to go out. “There’s cream on your…” he pointed at the right side of his mouth. Instinctively, I licked my upper lip.
“Let me…” He held my face. His thumb finger traced my upper lip and before I knew it, he kissed me. I closed my eyes and kissed him back. When I held his face he unhurriedly let me go.
“There,” he whispered. I don’t want to, but I have to admit I wanted the kiss to last longer…
Like every time we see each other, he embraced me so tight and warm. “Time is hard on us, not giving us enough chance. So I’d steal even a fraction of a second just to be with you.”
He released me and raised my chin. “I’ll see you later, okay? Huwag ka nang tumanggi…”
I nodded. Makakatanggi pa ba ako? Hindi na nga ako makapagsalita man lang…
With our fingers intertwined, we left the director’s booth. He wanted to walk me to my dressing room but I refused. Hindi naman na siya nagpilit pa. He left. I think they’ll have a meeting again regarding their movie’s promotion.
I held my chest. Nagseselos pa rin ba ako? Natural lang naman siguro. At hindi ko alam kung bakit, pero may nararamdaman akong konting kaba… But more than that, I’m happy to see they’re okay. I’m glad to know they are friends and that now they have a good working relationship.
On my way to the dressing room, I don’t know how many times I turned around. Why do I feel like someone’s following me? Actually, kanina pa while we were in the director’s booth. I feel like someone’s watching us…
Am I just being paranoid? I shrugged. Imagination ko nga lang siguro…
In less than an hour we’ll be preparing for the opening number. I said a little prayer for guidance for the show tonight. I pushed all my worries aside to the farthest side of my brain. My performance tonight is all that matters.
They’re almost done setting up the stage. My stylist and my makeup artist came in. As always, I’m nervous and thrilled at the same time. Hindi na siguro mawawala ‘yon.
It seemed everything was ready in a flash and now only five minutes left before we start.
I got on stage. It’s party time!
I’m dead tired. I feel like anytime I’m gonna collapse on the floor. When I reached my room I couldn’t even move a finger to take my shoes off. It’s been a long, long day…
I drove her home and I chose not to stay though I really want to. She needs to rest and so am I. I couldn’t stay at the studio but I watched her. Her performance tonight was the bomb as always. She’s getting better and better every Sunday; and everyday she gets more and more beautiful, too.
Earlier at the director’s booth, I can’t help but be playful around her again. I feel like a child whenever I’m with her. I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of how she treats me, take care of me… how she loves me.
I don’t see her often that every time we’re apart my yearning for her grows. Kaya ganoon ako kapag nagkikita kami. I won’t let a single moment pass by without me holding her; feel her skin on mine… kissing her, embracing her…
I moaned and hugged my pillow. Damn. Inaantok na ako pero may mga bahagi ng katawan ko ang gising na gising pa rin.
When I arrived at the ramen house she was already waiting outside. I didn’t make it to dinner. I thought she’ll get mad at me but she didn’t. Pinag-take out pa niya ako.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know how I could make it up to you,” she said in an apologetic tone while we were on the way to home. “You always find time to see me. Gusto kong makabawi sa ‘yo kahit papaano…”
I kissed her hand while I kept my eyes on the road. “I’m not expecting something in return, Love. Ginagawa ko ‘yon dahil gusto ko at dahil ‘yon naman ang dapat. But thank you…” I glanced at her and smiled. “Being with you now is enough of a breather for me…”
My eyebrows creased. “Bakit parang may nase-sense akong pagdududa sa tono mo?”
“Tinatanong ko lang naman. Baka kasi… ‘di ba?” she shrugged and pouted her pretty lips again. I get so distracted when she does that.
I grinned. After a few minutes we arrived and I parked in front of their house.
“Halika nga rito,” removing my seatbelt, I pulled her shoulder to embrace her. I kissed her hair.
“As you can see, your scent is enough to put me at ease. I’m not myself when I don’t see you for too long, and you’re the only one who ever made me feel this way…”
She raised her head and looked at me. I pressed my lips on her forehead. “Isa pa, sa ‘yo lang ako nagpaalipin ng ganito…”
Her eyes widen as she got out from my embrace. “Ganyan ba ang nararamdaman mo? Inaalipin ba kita?!”
“Figure of speech, Love.” I giggled and spread my arms wide. “But am I not your slave? I’ll be anything you want me to. Sabi ko sa ‘yo ‘di ba? I want to be your everything…”
“You already are and I don’t think it’s a good thing! I mean…”
My smile broadened. It isn’t bad to be selfish once in a while, isn’t it? Sa kanya lang naman… and all because she’s my everything, too.
“Tell me… ‘yung totoo,” She looked at me, in her eyes was uncertainty. “Sobrang demanding ko ba? Pakiramdam mo ba binabalewala ko ang lahat ng effort mo—,”
I held her nape and pulled her for a kiss. Longer, fervent, deeper this time… that rendered her silent.
My phone beeped. That broke my thoughts of our kiss before I left. I smiled as I sleepily reached for it. This is something new. Una siyang nag-text sa akin!
I frowned. Hindi sa kanya galing.
Hello! Um, tulog ka na siguro…
Gusto ko lang mag-thank you for today.
My finger automatically pushed delete. That’s her second goodnight and thank you text for today. Oh well… I threw my phone beside me. I shook it off. It’s not right for me to think I gave her the wrong signals when I followed her IG. Or did she think…? I shrugged. I won’t even bother to know. Things are okay between us and we’re friends. We’re both cool with that. And I see to it since the first day of our shoot that I made that very clear.
In seconds, I fell asleep, face down.
Hindi ko alam kung bakit ko siya sinundan. Alam kong masasaktan lang ako sa ginagawa ko pero ano pa ba ang bago doon? Walang namang ibang makakaalam. Lalong hindi niya kailangang malaman.
Ang sabi nila, napaghihilom ng panahon ang mga sugat. Akala ko’y ganoon ang nangyari sa akin. Pero paano kung natakpan lang pala ang mga sugat at muli ‘yong nabuksan? Mas masakit; mas makirot. Ito ang natuklasan ko sa sarili ko nitong mga nagdaang araw simula nang makasama ko siyang muli…
Marahil ay totoo ang kasabihang ‘yon pero para sa kanya lang. Nakikita ko kung gaano siya kasaya ngayon. Pareho sila ng bagong babae sa buhay niya. Laging nakangiti. Masaya ang mga mata. Nakita ko kung paano nila tingnan ang isa’t-isa. Iyon lang ang kailangan kong masaksihan para mapatunayang sobrang nagmamahalan sila…
Bakit ganoon? Wala akong natatandaan na tiningnan niya ako ng ganoon, maliban na lang kapag kaharap namin ang camera. Siguro nga ay hindi ko pa matukoy iyon noon dahil sobrang mga bata pa kami. Pero iba talaga ang mga mata niya tuwing kaharap niya ang bago niyang Prinsesa… hindi nga prinsesa lang ang turing niya dito: Reyna. Reyna na ito ng puso niya.
Sumilip ako sa pinto kung saan siya pumasok. Naroon silang dalawa. Ganoon na lamang nila alagaan ang isa’t-isa. Totoong naranasan ko rin ang pag-aalaga niya; kung paano mahalin ng isang tulad niya. Masaya kami noon. Akala ko’y sapat na na sobrang mahalin ko siya. Bigla ko ulit naisip kung ano ang naging pagkukulang ko. Sa tingin ko’y alam ko na ngayon. Mas karapat-dapat sa kanya ang isang babaeng aalagaan din siya, at hindi siya lang ang palaging mag-aalaga rito…
Humakbang ako palayo nang makita kong papalabas na sila. Ngunit hindi tulad ng inaasahan ko’y nanatiling nakasara ang pinto. Pagsilip kong muli, nakita kong hinalikan niya ang mga labi ng babaeng mahal niya…
Bakit? Bakit masakit pa rin? Dapat ay natutuwa ako at maging masaya para sa kanya. Hindi ba’t masaya na rin ako? Ang alam ng lahat ngayon ay may bagong lalaki na rin sa buhay ko. Totoo, masaya siyang kasama. Maligaya ako kapag nariyan siya… ngunit ang pagiging magkaibigan at malapit namin ay hindi sapat na batayan para masabi kong mahal ko na nga siya; kung tunay ang pag-ibig ko para sa kanya. At sa nararamdaman ko ngayon, hindi na ako sigurado kung kailan ba talaga magbubukas muli ang puso ko para sa bagong pagkakataon… para sa bagong pag-ibig.
Halos tumakbo ako palayo sa lugar na iyon. Papalabas na ako nang makita ko siyang umalis, habang ang Reyna niya ay naglakad pabalik sa kuwarto nito. Sinundan ko siya. Gusto ko sana siyang kausapin. Babae sa babae. Pero… ano naman ang sasabihin ko sa kanya?
Nagkubli ako sa pader nang bigla siyang lumingon. Muntik na niya akong makita. Nang masigurado kong nakabalik na siya sa kuwarto niya ay nagmadali akong lumabas.
Dumiretso ako sa banyo. Ilang minuto ring tinitigan ko ang sarili ko. Gusto kong umasa. Gusto kong isiping may isa pang pagkakataon para sa aming dalawa. Malaman ko lamang na may natitira pa siyang pagtingin sa akin, ipaglalaban ko siya. Sasamantalahin ko ang pagkakataong magkasama kaming muli para muling paibigin siya at subukang ibalik ang pagtingin niya sa akin. Papatunayan ko sa kanyang nagbago na ako, na karapat-dapat akong muli niyang mahalin; na hindi na ako ang batang babaeng nakilala niya noon…
Pero hindi… Hindi na. Kailangan ko na itong tanggapin. Malinaw na sa akin kung ano at sino ang gusto niya sa buhay niya.
Sana’y nadadaan na lang ang lahat sa pag-iyak… gusto kong umiyak ng umiyak hanggang mawala nang lahat ang natitira kong damdamin para sa kanya. Ayaw ko na’ng magmukhang tanga sa sarili kong paningin. Ayaw ko na’ng saktan ang sarili ko. Ayaw ko na’ng umasa pa sa pag-ibig na hindi na kailanman babalik…
Ito na ang huli. Hindi ko na hahayaan ang sarili kong makulong na naman sa kabaliwang ito.
Tatanggapin ko na na hindi sa kanya nakasalalay ang tunay kong kaligayahan. Hindi noon, hindi ngayon. At hindi na kailanman…
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: Lovely readers! I just want to thank you in advance for reading this and the next ones! ♥ BTW, If you wish to copy/ share/ post this on your FB/ blog, just don’t forget to leave credit where it’s due. Thank you! :)