When we went back to the rest house, Tricia had already gathered everyone in the common room and announced her departure.
“What?! Like, ngayon na?” gulat na tanong ni Jess.
“Yup. I’m taking the flight tonight.”
“So, that’s why you agreed to come with me here,” Patrick remarked.
Alice stood up, her face in a complete shock. “Bakit ngayon mo lang sinabi?”
Tricia chuckled. “I didn’t want to spoil the mood yesterday since everybody was in high spirits.”
“Can’t you just extend for one more night?” I pleaded. “Bukas naman ay uuwi na rin tayo.”
“Sorry, everything has been set. And sorry for being selfish regarding this matter. I wanted to make my last few days here memorable, so I decided to come here with everyone. I never thought I’d enjoy it much more than I have expected. To be honest, I purposely didn’t make friends in college because I knew I’d leave sooner but spending time with you guys made me feel like I have gained some friends even if it was just for a day and a half.”
Mukhang na-touch naman ang karamihan sa sinabi niya habang pinipigilan ko naman ang sarili kong maluha. It had just been a day, but I got to know her in such a short period. Gusto ko pa siyang makilala at maging kaibigan pero ang hindi na kami magkakaroon ng iba pang memories together dahil aalis na siya.
Yna asked if it was okay to know her reason for leaving, so she told us her story. She said she already had a fiancé in the States and their parents wanted them to enroll in the same university. Jess thought she was being forced, but she said it was also her choice, and that she liked the guy because he was nice and would always listen to her stories even if some of them were just rants and nonsense.
Gusto sanang mag-organize ni Alice ng mabilisang farewell party pero sinabi ni Tricia na papunta na raw ang susundo sa kanya. Their driver was around the area, and he would arrive within five minutes.
True enough, her driver arrived after three minutes. Dahil wala na rin naman kaming magagawa ay isa-isa kaming yumakap at nagpaalam sa kanya.
She smiled as soon as she hugged me. “Thanks for listening to me yesterday,” she whispered. “Please take care of Ian.”
She winked at me after the hug and picked up her bag. Tinulungan siya ni Patrick at sumunod naman kami sa kanya palabas. She waved one last time and said goodbye getting inside the car. Tahimik naming pinanood ang paglayo nito sa amin hanggang sa hindi na namin ito nakita.
And that was the last time we saw Tricia.
The mood had plummeted an hour after Tricia left the rest house. Although we were only with her for almost two days, the girls looked sad without her presence. Plano sana naming lumabas at maglibot sa city ngayong hapon pero nauwi na lang iyon sa panonood ulit ng movies dahil wala na sa mood umalis ang iba.
“Nasaan pala si Darryl?” tanong ni Jess kaya napatingin ako sa paligid.
“Is he okay?” added Yna. “S-she’s her ex, right?”
The mention of the word “ex” made the air heavier, and Yna looked regretful after what she had said. Although nobody had said a word about it, everyone seemed curious and worried about him. He must be having a hard time right now.
Tumayo ako at napatingin sila sa akin. “I’ll find him,” I offered. “I think I know where he is.”
If it were a normal day, those three would have been throwing teasing comments at me. Fortunately, they were feeling considerate this time.
Lumabas ako sa rest house at naglakad patungo sa lugar kung saan ko sila nakita ni Tricia kaninang umaga. My steps felt heavy as I got nearer to the woodland, but I wanted to see him right now. A minute later, I saw him sitting dejectedly under a tree’s shade while vacantly looking at the sky.
I drew a deep breath before approaching him, but my heart skipped a bit when he met my gaze halfway.
“H-hey,” I nervously greeted. “May I?” sabay turo ko sa space sa tabi niya.
He scooted over and made space for me. “Sure.”
Umupo ako sa tabi niya at tahimik na tumingin sa langit. A cold breeze blew and the only thing we could hear amid the silence were the rustling of the leaves.
“Uhm, a-are you okay?” mahina kong tanong.
Darryl gave me a tender smile. “Yes, I think.”
“There are a lot of emotions in my head right now, but strangely, I feel at peace.”
“Maybe because your head can’t comprehend it yet. And you said you have yet to move on from her.”
A light snicker escaped his lips. “Probably.”
There was that stinging pain in my chest again, but I tried not to mind it.
He took a deep breath and fumbled with his fingers. “She told me everything,” he said. “She told me how her parents set up her future without telling her, but she went with it anyway. That someone is already waiting for her, and how he treats her nicely even if they knew their future marriage was for the sake of their companies. And how she broke up with me because she knew I’d take a stand against it.”
Nakinig lang ako habang sinasabi niya ang saloobin niya. I already knew the story since Tricia told me about it yesterday but hearing it from him was a different kind of torment. Was he relieving their moments together in the past? Did his feelings for her deepen after knowing she was going to go far away? Would he be able to move on after hugging her earlier?
“Mukhang hindi ka nagulat sa nalaman mo,” he remarked.
“Oh. Uhm . . .”
“Did she tell you about us?”
It was hard to break from his gaze, and I thought he’d know if I lied. Huminga ako nang malalim at saka marahang tumango. “Yeah. Kahapon.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to—”
“No, actually I’m relieved that you know.”
“Maybe she knew about it, too,” he mumbled.
I wanted to ask what he meant by that, but he looked lost in his thoughts.
“Nang niyakap niya ako kanina, para akong bumalik sa high school,” he said.
“Because you still like her?” I blurted out, and it was already too late when I realized what I had just said.
He raised a brow at me while suppressing a grin. “Bakit, bebe girl? Selos ka?”
“Ew, stop calling me that. At asa ka naman,” I retorted while subtly scooting back as I was afraid, he’d hear my heart pounding a little too loud.
He crossed his arms, rested them on top of his knees, and leaned his left cheek against his arms while giving me a hearty laugh. I felt my stomach churning and getting goosebumps all over my body.
“I did like her, but I guess it’s different now,” he said in a soft voice. “Maybe that hug was what I needed to make sense of what I was feeling for the past year. Maybe it was the closure we both needed for us to start over.”
Hindi ko alam kung dahil ba ‘yon sa hanging dumaan pero parang saglit na gumaan ang pakiramdam ko. Why did I feel relieved with his answer? Was it because of my own feelings for him?
“Does that mean you have already moved on?” I nervously asked.
He was staring for far too long that it was making me too conscious. “You said you’d help me with that.”
“I didn’t even say yes—”
“Steff . . .”
I let out an inaudible gasp when I saw his tantalizing expression. My rationality was slowly slipping away from me and I had to clear my throat loudly to pull myself back to the plane of reason.
“Uhm, a-anyway, gusto ko lang mag-thank you sa ginawa mo kahapon kaya ako nandito,” I said, trying to divert the topic into something else.
Bigla namang naging seryoso ang mukha niya nang sabihin ko ‘yon. “That was really scary,” he murmured. “Akala ko hindi ka na gigising.”
“Hindi ko in-expect na accident-prone ka pala. You need to be more careful.”
“I know,” I muttered.
“Pero okay ka na ba talaga?”
“Parang ang pula ng mukha mo,” sabi niya sabay lapit sa akin pero hindi agad ako nakaatras. “May sinat ka ba?”
He suddenly put his hand on my forehead. “Ang init mo, ah?”
My head was flooded with too many emotions that I could hear it fizzling. Kaunti na lang ay pakiramdam ko, mag-e-evaporate na ako sa sobrang init ng mukha ko. And I didn’t want that my emotions were completely taking over me.
I stood up with much difficulty to put some distance between us. “I-I’m going back!”
He stared at me in confusion. “Why?”
“They’re looking for us!” sabay talikod ko.
Nagsimula na akong maglakad palayo habang sinusubukang huminga nang malalim para kumalma.
“Saglit, hintayin mo na ako!” sigaw niya habang naririnig ko siyang tumatayo pero hindi na ako lumingon pa. I felt like I would get swayed again if I did that. “Bebe girl!”
“Stop calling me that!” sigaw ko habang patuloy pa ring naglalakad at narinig ko ang pagtawa niya habang tumatakbo papunta sa akin.
“Hintayin mo nga kasi ako!”
I initially thought this vacation would help me get over my feelings, but it totally backfired on me. I had been completely lured by his charms, and I wasn’t sure if I could get out of it again.