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Chapter 28

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Saturday, November 18, 2017

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“Oh gosh, ‘di pa ako nag-aaral sa Comm.”

“May Bio elective pa nga ako, eh.”

“I’m tired. Ayoko na.”

Na-feel ko naman ang mga pinagsasabi ng mga nadaanan kong estudyante dahil Finals week na ngayon. Malas pa dahil sabay-sabay ang dalawang major subject at isang elective ko sa isang araw. Buti na lang at walang class ngayon at makakapag-aral ako nang maayos. Ayaw ko rin namang sa bahay mag-aral dahil paniguradong maraming distractions at ang pinakamalala, matutulog lang ako.

Papunta na sana ako sa library pero may nakita akong ikinataas ng kilay ko. Iñigo and Katrina were together and people were looking at them. I was watching them as they walked towards my direction but Katrina headed to the right wing. Mukhang hindi niya ako nakita.

Nagsimula naman akong maglakad at nang makita ako ni Iñigo ay hinilig ko ang leeg ko sa tagong hallway. After a few seconds ay pareho na kaming nandoon sa sulok.

“What’s the real score between the two of you?” tanong ko kaagad at hindi ko rin alam kung bakit nakikialam ako.

“Ni Katrina?”

“Sino pa bang kasama mo kanina?”

“She’s just a classmate. Nagtanong siya tungkol sa isang lecture na hindi niya na-attend-an last time. Bakit?”

Naalala ko naman ang sinabi niya sa akin noong umamin siya. I smirked at him and he gave me a curious look.

“Hindi ko akalaing masyado kang dense,” I said, returning his words years ago. Mukhang naalala niya pa ‘yon dahil sa expression niya ngayon.

That Katrina . . . she really wanted to get him. Bahala nga siya. I already warned her before. It was her choice and I couldn’t do anything about that anymore. Ito namang lalaking ‘to, ang lakas ng loob na sabihing dense ako dati samantalang siya nga ang hindi makaramdam. He couldn’t see the real intention of Katrina and his cordial personality made it worse.
“Continue doing that and you’ll really lose Queenie,” sabi ko at saka naglakad palayo.

“Wait, Chloe. Alam mo ba kung nasaan siya? Ayaw niya pa rin talagang magpakita sa akin,” seryoso niyang tanong. Mukhang hindi pa rin sila nagkakaayos at nagmamatigas talaga ang babaeng ‘yon.

“Mukha ba akong hanapan ng nawawalang tao?” I said, raising my brow. “Find her yourself. You’re her boyfriend, aren’t you?”

Pagkasabi ko no’n ay tuluyan na akong umalis. Dumiretso ako sa library pero nairita ako dahil ang daming tao ngayon. Buti na lang at nasa dulo ang favorite place ko at—damn. May umagaw ng pwesto ko!

I marched towards ‘my’ place but I halted when I saw who was sitting there. Our eyes met each other and my face turned sour in an instant.

“What an eyesore,” she said.

“Talking to yourself, I see,” sabay bagsak ko ng gamit ko sa upuan katapat niya.

“Go away, witch,” dagdag niya pa habang nakasimangot.

“This is my place,” I retorted while knocking on the table. “Leave, bitch.”

“May pangalan mo?”

Tinuro ko naman ang side ng table at nakasulat doon ang maliit na ‘Chloe’ kaya sinamaan niya ako ng tingin. Good thing I wrote that months ago though it could be erased using alcohol since it wasn’t a permanent ink.

“Huh. I’ll report you to the librarian. Nag-vandal ka,” she threatened but I just snickered.

“Go,” sabi ko naman. “I don’t really care.”

Pwede ko namang burahin ‘yon kapag umalis na siya pero dahil magagamit ko ‘to ngayon, bahala siya sa buhay niya.

Umupo ako sa tapat niya at nagsimulang mag-aral pero hindi natinag ang babaeng ‘to. She didn’t even budge and continued reading her handouts. Badtrip.

Her reputation has been badly damaged because of the confrontation photo of her and Katrina, as well as the consecutive confessions about her being a two-faced. Her so-called friends and some of her followers abandoned her, and they were the first to call her names. Kaya ayaw kong napupunta sa limelight. Once you did something that they don’t like, even a little mistake, people you thought who would believe and be there for you, would be the first to leave.

Suddenly, several crumpled papers flew at her direction and some hit her. Naging masama naman ang timpla ng mukha niya—malayong-malayo sa angel image niya. Lumingon siya para tignan ang nambato at dalawang babae sa kabilang table ang nag-smirk sa kanya.

“Oops. Sorry,” mahinang sabi ng isa at nagtawanan naman ang ilan sa kanila. Others were glancing at my direction and it seemed like they were wary of my presence. I remembered some of them during the cafeteria incident and that might be the reason.

“It seems like the Queen has fallen,” I said, looking at Queenie.

“A real queen never falls,” she replied and held her head high. “I just removed my veil and it’s their fault for expecting someone that I am not. Sorry nga lang sila, hindi ako santa.”

Bigla naman siyang tumayo at pinulot lahat ng papel na ibinato sa direksyon niya. Natahimik naman ang mga nasa kabilang lamesa. Ngayon, natatakot sila? Why do something like that if they couldn’t handle the consequence? Pathetic.

Naglakad siya papunta sa kabilang table at itinigil ko ang pagbabasa para panoorin ang gagawin niya. The two girls who threw the papers at her glared at her but it was obvious that they were rattled.

“Hindi ba kayo tinuruan ng mga magulang n’yo na itapon ang kalat sa basurahan?” sabi niya at bigla naman niyang hinagis sa mukha nila ang mga lukot na papel. Napaatras ang ibang nasa table at hindi naman nakagalaw ang dalawa. “Oops. Sorry, akala ko basurahan, mukha n’yo pala,” she mocked and a smirk escaped my lips.

That was a smooth clapback.

Bumalik siya sa table namin at walang nagawa ang mga babae ro’n kundi magparinig kaya napagalitan sila ng librarian. Tinignan ko naman siya at mukhang mas kalmado na siya ngayon.

“What?” tanong niya dahil nakatitig ako sa kanya.

“Lame,” sabi ko naman habang nililigpit ang gamit ko.

She was about to speak but Jazer suddenly appeared in front of us. Ni hindi ko siya napansin habang naglalakad. Nagkatinginan sila ni Queenie at tumingin naman silang pareho sa akin.

“Huh. So the witch attracted a prince,” she said while smirking at me.

“Shut up, fallen Queen,” I retorted and I looked at Jazer, gesturing him to come with me. Napatigil naman ako sa paglalakad at lumingon ulit kay Queenie. “By the way, Iñigo is looking for you. Not that I want to tell you. I just don’t want to burden myself with unnecessary information.”

Pagkasabi ko no’n ay tuluyan na akong umalis sa library habang nakasunod naman si Jazer. Nang makarating kami sa hallway ay sinabayan niya ako sa paglalakad at nairita agad ako dahil nakangiti na naman siya nang nakakaloko.

“Friends na pala kayo,” sabi niya kaya sinamaan ko siya ng tingin.

“Ew. No way.”

Dumiretso naman kami sa bench at sabay na kumain habang pareho rin kaming nagre-review.

Naalala ko naman ang nangyari last time. Hindi ko na siya masyadong pinapansin at sinungitan ko siya lalo dahil ayokong maramdaman ulit ‘yon. Nagsisimula nang magbago ang tingin ko sa kanya at hindi pwedeng mangyari ang gano’n. He’s just my siblings’ babysitter, my confidant, my friend and that should be the limit.

Ever since my parents left me here, I’ve closed off my heart to any feelings that could make me vulnerable. However, I learned to open my heart because of my siblings. Honestly, it was a difficult decision for me since I already got hurt by my own parents. In exchange of getting close to them, to let me experience what family means, I am allowing them to see the vulnerable part of me.

Ganoon din ang nararamdaman ko kay Jazer ngayon. I thought it was just because I found someone who could understand me but I realized he was turning into someone I want to depend on. I vowed to be an independent woman, someone who could stand on her own ground and be herself despite of others might think, but for some reason, his presence made me want to be protected. All these years, I protected myself and I had to put on a strong façade even though I was hurting because nobody was there for me . . . until him and those two kids.

That feeling was new to me and my defense mechanism against unfamiliarity was rejection.

“Okay ka lang ba?” bigla niyang tanong at kumunot naman ang noo ko sa kanya.

“Paki mo ba? Mag-aral ka na nga lang diyan,” sagot ko.

“Sungit mo na naman.”

Inirapan ko siya at nagpatuloy na lang sa pagkain.

Mas mabuti na rin ang ganito. Isa pa, may gusto siya kay Katrina. Kung hindi ko pipigilan ang sarili ko, mas masasaktan lang ako. Ang nakakainis lang, masyado siyang mabait. Just like Iñigo, his personality could attract people even though he didn’t mean to. I was just misunderstanding his intentions and that was my mistake.

Pagkatapos naming kumain ay napagdesisyunan na naming umuwi. Sinubukan kasi naming bumalik sa library pero masyado nang maraming tao at ang ingay na sa loob kaya hindi na namin tinuloy. Pag-uwi ay naabutan namin ang dalawang bubwit na naghahabulan habang pinapanood sila ni Mommy. Nabaling naman ang atensyon niya sa akin nang pumasok kami.

“Chloe,” she called and I looked at her. However, she just stared at me for a few seconds and subtlely smiled, as if she found something quite funny. “Nothing.”

“You’re weird,” I muttered while averting her gaze.

Dumiretso agad ako sa kwarto dahil sa nangyari at maghapon akong nagkulong para mag-review pero maya’t maya ay naaalala ko ‘yon.

Noong araw na dumating si Dr. Reyes sa bahay, tinanong ko kaagad si Nanay Meling kung anong meron. Ang rinig daw niya, nag-consult si Mommy about stress at mukhang wala naman daw sila masyadong pinag-usapan dahil saglit lang din ang pagpunta ni Doc. I wasn’t convinced by that so I contacted Dr. Reyes but he told me that he just visited her as a long-time friend and did some checkup, as well as advice about coping up with stress, as a token of appreciation.

Dahil na-i-stress na rin ako sa mga pinag-iisip ko ay nag-shower muna ako para kahit papaano ay ma-relax ako. Halos isang oras ako ro’n at pagkatapos ay bumalik ulit ako sa pag-aaral. Nagulat naman ako nang biglang may kumatok.

“Sino ‘yan?” tanong ko.

“I-It’s me.” It was Mom.

Hindi ako sumagot dahil hindi ko rin alam ang sasabihin. Ilang minuto pa ang lumipas bago ako tuluyang lumapit sa pinto. Ilang beses din akong huminga nang malalim at saka ko binuksan ang pinto.

Naabutan ko siyang nilalagay sa sahig ang tray ng pagkain at napatingala naman siya nang makita niyang bukas na ang pinto. She picked up the tray and stood in front of me.

“Uhm, baka nagugutom ka na,” mahina niyang sabi. “I don’t know your favorite flavor so I hope this would do. You like chocolate, right?”

Napatingin naman ako sa slice ng chocolate cake na nasa plato at isang tasa ng kape. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang dapat maramdaman pero pinili ko na lang tanggapin ‘yon.

“Yeah,” I answered while taking the tray from her.

“Really?” she beamed. “I’m glad. Sige, baka nakakaistorbo na ako,” saka siya naglakad palayo.

“M-Mom,” tawag ko at napahinto naman siya. Lumingon siya sa akin habang nakangiti kaya kumabog nang malakas ang dibdib ko. “Thank you,” I muttered and I immediately shut the door.

Pagkasarang-pagkasara ko ng pinto ay agad na bumagsak ang luha ko habang nakatingin sa dinala niya.

“This was Dad’s favorite, not mine,” bulong ko sa sarili ko.

I wanted to tell that to her a while ago but seeing her expectant look made me hesitate. She looked so happy that I couldn’t bring that up because she might get embarrassed and hurt, so I chose to lie. Kaysa pareho kaming masaktan, ako na lang.

And that was one of the risks of opening my heart to her.



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