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Chapter 20

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Thursday, July 27, 2017

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“Busy ka?”

“Obvious ba?”

Inirapan ko siya dahil nanggugulo na naman ang lalaking ‘to. Palibhasa tapos na ang exams niya last week. Tss.

“Pahiram naman ako ng notes kahapon sa 121,” he requested and I looked daggers at him. Napabuntong-hininga na lang ako dahil alam ko naman ang nangyari kahapon.

Czanelle was sick and their teacher called her guardian. Apparently, I was the guardian, but I was taking our midterm exam so I forwarded the message to Jazer. Buti na lang at pinayagan ako ng prof na gamitin ang phone dahil sabi ko naman ay emergency. Pag-text ko sa kanya ay nag-okay naman siya at sinabi niyang aabsent na lang siya sa Math class namin after nito.

“O,” I said, shoving my notebook to his hands. “Ibalik mo kaagad. Hindi pa ako nagrereview.”

“Okay,” sabay ngiti niya nang malawak.

Nandito kami ngayon sa library dahil pareho naming vacant period. Tahimik lang siyang kumokopya ng notes at ako naman ay nag-aaral para sa History exam namin bukas. Wala na kasi akong time mamaya dahil gagawin ko ang research paper sa Comm class ko.

I glanced at him since I heard him humming. At least, nasa tono naman siya ngayon at medyo mahina lang kaya hindi nakakahiya. Bigla ko tuloy naalala ang nangyari last week at naiinis ako kapag sumasagi ‘yon sa isip ko. I couldn’t believe I let him mock me like that. He used one of my weaknesses against me and now every time he looks at the ground, I’d get nervous because there might be a frog or a toad.

“Talaga? Wow naman.”

“Ganda mo kasi.”

Napalingon naman ako dahil biglang umingay sa likuran ko pero napatigil naman ako nang magkatinginan kami ni Katrina. Ngumiti naman siya sa akin at lumipat ang tingin niya kay Jazer pero nakafocus lang siya sa pagsusulat. I was about to call her but she turned around and went with her buddies. Sakto namang pag-angat ni Jazer ng ulo niya ay nakaalis na sila at hindi ko alam kung coincidence ba ‘yon o ano.

“Ano ‘to—bakit ganyan ka makatingin?” tanong niya at doon ko lang narealize na nakakunot na ang noo ko sa kanya.

“I always look at people like this. Akala mo naman special ka,” I retorted and he laughed in return.

“Dami mong nasabi,” sabay iling niya.

“Epal ka kasi. Hindi na lang magsulat, eh,” sabi ko naman at saka ulit ako nagbasa.

Napalingon naman ulit ako pero hindi ko na nakita si Katrina. Ewan ko ba pero simula nang kumalat ang confession video na ‘yon ay hindi na kami masyadong nakakapag-usap. Siguro dahil na rin marami nang kumakausap sa kanya at meron na rin siyang mga kaibigan sa class namin. Well, that was okay. At least, tahimik na ulit ang mundo ko.

“Uhm, seven ba ‘to o one?”

Binabawi ko na. Hindi pa pala tahimik ang mundo ko hangga’t nandito pa ang isang ‘to.

“Duh? Mukha bang one ‘yan?”

“Medyo.”

Sinamaan ko ulit siya ng tingin at bago pa ako tuluyang mainis ay hinayaan ko na lang siya sa buhay niya. Nag-review na rin ako habang may oras pa pero bigla na namang umingay sa paligid. Paglingon ko ay nakita ko si Queenie kaya tumaas agad ang kilay ko. Hindi naman siya ang tipo ng taong tumatambay sa library para mag-aral kaya alam kong may iba siyang pakay.

She strutted her way towards the right wing and I realized that was where Katrina and her friends went a while ago. Bigla naman akong na-curious kaya tumayo ako.

“Saan ka pupunta?” tanong naman ni Jazer.

“May kukunin akong libro,” sagot ko at saka ko siya iniwan.

Dumaan ako sa gilid para wala masyadong makakita sa akin at naglakad ako sa pagitan ng shelves. Slowly, I approached them until I was within earshot. I hid myself between the shelves and pretended to read books about World War II.

Are you Katrina Mendoza?” rinig kong tanong ni Queenie.

“Y-yeah. Why?”

Mukhang silang dalawa na lang ang nandoon dahil hindi ko marinig ang boses ng mga kasama ni Katrina. I have a bad feeling about this. Why would the two of them talk to each other?

“Explain this.”

Nagulat naman ako nang marinig ko ‘yon. She just talked to her with her real attitude, without pretense or her usual ‘angel’ façade. Somehow, this has become interesting.

Dahan-dahan naman akong sumilip sa pagitan ng mga libro para makita kung anuman ang nangyayari at pagtingin ko ay nakaharap kay Katrina ang phone ni Queenie. Her face was a mix of shock and embarassment and I could tell that Queenie was expecting that from her.

“I . . . I just sent that message as a fan,” Katrina said in defense.

“I see. You’re his fan, huh? It seems like a confession to me.”

Naalala ko naman bigla ang kilos ni Katrina dati. Alam kong may crush siya kay Iñigo pero hindi ko naman akalain na aabot sa confession, o baka naman OA lang ‘tong si Queenie.

“I-is it wrong to say my feelings as a fan?”

“Yes, especially since he has a girlfriend. And don’t use the fan card to me. He’s not active in volleyball anymore.”

Katrina couldn’t say anything and the atmosphere between them just turned unbearable. I could feel the tension even though I was a few meters away from them. It was like the calm before the storm and waiting for them to break the silence was kind of thrilling. Ganito pala ang feeling ng mga nanonood sa mga eksena ko dati.

“Anong ginagawa—”

Halos mamatay naman ako sa gulat nang may narinig akong boses sa likuran ko pero agad ko ring tinakpan ang bibig niya dahil baka marinig nila kami. I gave him a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here look but he just gave me a baffled expression.

“Shh,” I gestured, with my index fingers on my lips. Tinanggal ko ang kamay ko sa bibig niya pagkatapos niyang tumango. Lumingon ako sa direksyon nina Queenie at nang makita kong tumingin sila rito ay agad kong hinatak paupo si Jazer para magtago.

Para naman akong tanga na biglang kinabahan dahil akala ko ay mahuhuli kami. My back was against the shelf and I couldn’t move because of our position.

“Anyway, just stay away from Iñigo,” sabi ni Queenie.

“What if I don’t?”

Hindi ko alam kung sino ang mas nagulat sa sagot ni Katrina—Queenie, Jazer or me. Napatingin ako kay Jazer at nag-iba ang expression niya. He was looking at me but his eyes were reminiscing something . . . or maybe someone.

“W-what did you say?” Queenie demanded and the slight hesitation in her voice proved that she was quite shaken by Katrina’s declaration.

“Fine. You’re right. I like him,” Katrina announced and I felt the change in Jazer’s breathing. “I like him!” she yelled. “Saka hindi kayo bagay.”

After that, I heard the sound of a slap and it resonated through the place because of the silence. Jazer was ready to come out to be Katrina’s knight in shining armor but he was stopped by her response.

“I’ll make Iñigo mine,” she said and I heard her walking out.

“That bitch. Hey!”

Mukhang sinundan na rin ni Queenie si Katrina pero hindi ko na marinig ang mga boses nila. In fairness, exciting palang makinig at manood ng ganitong eksena. I was always the one in the spotlight so I didn’t know that being on the sidelines was actually interesting.

Napatingin naman ako kay Jazer dahil alam kong concerned siya sa kanyang childhood “friend”.

“Puntahan mo na,” mahina kong sabi habang nakaupo pa rin kami at tumingin naman siya sa akin.

“Bakit?” Tss. Deny-deny pa ‘tong isang ‘to, eh halata namang gusto niyang pumunta sa kanya.

“Kunwari ka pa. Just go and be her Prince Charming or something.”

“Alam mo naman na ang nangyari ‘di ba?” sabay lapit niya sa akin. “Ayaw ko ring guluhin ang buhay niya ngayon. At isa pa, mukhang may iba na rin siyang gusto.”

“Lumayo ka nga,” saka ko siya tinulak. “Emo mo. Kadiri ka.”

“Wow. Sakit mong magsalita, ah.”

Tumayo naman siya at may pailing-iling pa siyang nalalaman. Akala mo naman affected talaga siya. Tumayo na rin ako pero napahawak ako sa shelf dahil biglang namanhid ang binti ko at ang malala ay namulikat din ang kaliwang paa ko. Ang sakit!

“Shit,” I cursed as I stomped my foot but it didn’t help.

“Bakit? Anong nangyari sa’yo?”

“Ouch ouch ouch!”

Napaupo na ako para hilutin ang binti at paa ko pero parang nawawalan na rin ako ng lakas dahil sobrang sakit. I was about to punch my leg but he suddenly pulled it and took off my shoes.

“What the heck are you—”

“I-relax mo lang ang paa mo. Lalong mamamanhid kung ina-applyan mo ng pressure sa binti mo. Relax,” he chanted and I felt really embarrassed because he was touching my foot.

Ginawa ko naman ang sinabi niya at nag-relax ako. He then applied pressure to my toes by pushing it for a few times. Nagulat naman ako nang biglang nawala ang cramps doon at hindi ko akalaing magiging effective ang ginawa niya.

"Okay na ba?" tanong niya habang ginagawa pa rin 'yon.

"Oo," sabay hila ko sa paa ko at saka ko sinuot ang sapatos ko.

Pagkatapos no'n ay bumalik kami sa pwesto namin at doon ko lang  narealize na magsisimula na ang next class ko kaya agad kong niligpit ang mga gamit ko. I ran to the next building and luckily, my prof wasn't there yet when I arrived.

Nag-discuss lang siya tungkol sa literary works during Middle Ages and after that ay dinismiss niya na rin kami. Papunta na sana ako sa bench area pero napahinto ako nang mabasa ko ang text ni Jazer.

Mauna ka na. May gagawin pa pala ako.

Napataas naman ang kilay ko sa nabasa ko. Sus, if I know, makikipag-usap lang siya kay Katrina. Gagawa na nga lang ng dahilan, palpak pa. Hindi na ako nag-reply sa kanya at dumiretso ako sa parking area dahil nandoon na si Kuya Larry.

"O, nasaan si Jazer?" tanong niya pagpasok ko.

"Lumalandi."

"Uy, selos," sabi niya kaya tinignan ko siya nang masama.

"Yuck."

"Grabe naman 'to. Sa lahat kaya ng ka-edad mo, si Jazer lang ang nakakatagal sa'yo," he said and that made me glare at him, "at saka ikaw lang din naman ang nakakasama niya."

"Of course. We're stuck with each other because of his freaking job," I scorned.

Pinaandar naman niya ang kotse at tahimik lang ako hanggang makarating kami sa bahay. Pagpasok ko, medyo nanibago ako dahil walang maingay sa sala at saka ko naalala na may sakit pala ang isang bubwit at pinapatulog naman ni Nanay Meling ang isa. Umakyat ako sa kwarto ko at agad na nagpalit para makagawa na ako ng research paper.

I spent three hours researching and drafting my paper and another hour writing it. Halos 10 PM na ako natapos at bumaba naman ako para kumain dahil kumakalam na ang sikmura ko pero naabutan ko na ang bwisit na kumakain doon.

"Kain," bati niya at dumiretso naman ako sa mesa.

"Kumusta pakikipagkita mo kay Katrina?" I asked and he almost choked. Sayang.

"Paano mo nalaman?" gulat niyang tanong. "Teka, sinundan mo ba ako kanina?"

"Asa ka. Bakit kita susundan? People like you are just easy to read."

Pinagpatuloy ko naman ang pagkain ko at hindi pa rin siya makapaniwala na alam ko kung bakit siya nagpaiwan kanina. Halatang-halata naman kasi, idedeny pa.

Bigla ko namang naisip si Iñigo. Lecheng lalaki 'yon, bakit ba lahat na lang ng babae, nahuhumaling sa kanya? What's worse is, he doesn't have any idea. Maybe that's one of his charms? Wait, kinilabutan ako ro'n.

Pagkatapos kong kumain ay iniwan ko siya ro'n at umakyat na ako sa kwarto pero napahinto ako sa tapat ng kwarto ng mga bubwit. Hindi ko alam kung anong pumasok sa utak ko at pumasok ako ro'n.

Czanelle and Clark were both sleeping. I approached the bed where she was sleeping and her expression looked like she was about to cry. Umupo naman ako sa gilid at nilagay ko ang daliri ko sa pagitan ng mga kilay niya, tulad ng ginagawa ni Jazer kapag nakakunot ang noo ko.

"Mommy . . ." she murmured in her sleep.

Bigla naman siyang gumalaw at ang alam ko na lang ay nakayakap na siya sa bewang ko. I've forgotten how to breathe and couldn't move for a few seconds.

“Ate . . .”

Para namang lumubog ang puso ko nang marinig ko ‘yon at pagtingin ko ay tulog pa rin siya. I reached for her head and caressed her hair, just like how Mom did it to me when I was Czanelle’s age. Medyo mainit pa rin siya kaya naman itinaas ko ang comforter niya. Nilabas ko naman ang phone ko at bigla kong naalala ang pagtawag ni Mommy noong nagkasakit ako. Call me immature or whatever but I don’t want to inform her about Czanelle’s condition because I know she’s going to be worried about her, maybe more than what she felt when I was sick, and thinking about that made me jealous.

Balak ko na sanang umalis pero ang higpit ng hawak sa akin ni Czanelle at ang weird ng expression niya. Hindi ko alam kung bakit pero biglang bumilis ang tibok ng puso ko. I never really know how to be a sister or how it feels to have siblings since I grew up alone but looking at her tiny body made me want to take care of her. Both of them were trying to get close to me but I was scared to be part of their lives. My hatred to my parents and jealousy towards them were also factors.

“Damn it,” I muttered as I dialed Mom’s number. Hindi ko na rin napigilan ang sarili ko dahil alam kong lalo lang siyang mapaparanoid kung malalaman niya pa sa iba.

“Hello? Chloe?” Hindi naman ako nakasagot agad nang marinig ko ang boses niya. She called my name again and I had to breathe deeply before I could reply.

“Hey, uhm, Czanelle’s sick. I just want to inform you—”

“Czanelle? Oh, God. How’s my baby? Is she okay now? What happened?”

“She has a fever a while ago pero pawala na rin. You don’t have to worry—”

“Why? What did she do? Tell me.”

Napatigil ako sa pagsasalita at parang may kung ano nang umaakyat sa lalamunan ko. I knew her reaction would be like this but I didn’t like her tone. I didn’t like the fact that she was paranoid about Czanelle being sick.

“I told you not to worry anymore. She’s going to—”

“I want to know what happened to my daughter!” she demanded.

My daughter, huh. That was the last straw.

“Then come here!” sigaw ko sa phone. “Be a responsible parent and take care of your children!”

“Chloe—”

“Tumawag ako kahit labag sa loob ko dahil alam kong nag-aalala ka sa kanila pero ganito mo ako kakausapin? You told me not to hate them but you’re making me, Mom.”

“I-I’m s—”

“I don’t need your sorry. Ilang beses ko na ‘yang narinig. I was willing to give you a chance after you called me last time but you threw it away. Sana hindi ka na lang tumawag. At sana huwag ka nang tumawag. I hate you, Mom,” I said and I immediately ended the call.

Tumayo ako at agad na lumabas sa kwarto nila pero pagbukas ko ng pinto ay may nabunggo ako. I saw his feet and I couldn’t raise my head because my tears were about to fall. Gusto kong sabihin na umalis siya sa harapan ko pero pakiramdam ko ay magb-breakdown ako oras na magsalita ako kaya nanatili lang akong nakayuko.

“Bakit ba lagi ka na lang umiiyak tuwing makikita kita rito sa bahay?” mahina niyang sabi habang pinipigilan ko ang mga luha ko.

“I’m not—” Napahinto naman ako nang bigla niya akong tinalukbungan ng dala niyang kumot at doon na nagtuluy-tuloy ang luha ko. Sinarado niya ang pinto at nakatayo lang kami ro’n sa harap ng kwarto habang tahimik akong umiiyak.

“Huwag kang mag-alala. Ako lang ang makakaalam at makakakita kaya iiyak mo lang lahat,” sabi niya kaya lalo lang akong naiyak. Of all people, bakit siya pa?

“B-bwisit ka,” I sobbed and I heard him giggle.

“Alam ko,” he softly said and somehow, I felt like my stomach was in knots.

And this is why I hate getting close to people and getting out of my comfort zone. I fear these unfamiliar feelings and how stepping beyond that line could change everything. I guess I need to build my walls again.



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