“Yes, Mom, I’m already here. Sa may reserved section, right? Okay.”
Ibinaba ko ang phone ko matapos i-confirm kay Mom kung saang table nakapuwesto ang imi-meet ko. My knees were shaking when I entered the restaurant. Parang gusto ko na mag-backout. Maybe making decisions while my emotions were still overwhelming me was not a good idea.
Pero nandito na ako kaya wala na akong magagawa.
I drew a deep and long breath before heading to the table. In-assist din ako ng isang staff kung saan ako dapat pumunta nang sabihin ko ang pangalan ko. My heart was racing when I saw a figure patiently waiting on a reserved table. Nakatalikod ito sa direksyon ko kaya hindi ko nakita ang mukha niya. He was wearing a fine suit, the usual attire for a formal dinner.
Naglakad ako papunta sa harapan niya at akmang magpapakilala pero pareho kaming napatigil nang makita namin ang isa’t isa. I was so surprised that I gasped while pointing at him.
We just stared at each other in disbelief. I did not expect a familiar face at all. Besides, hindi ko rin akalain na pumapayag siya sa mga ganito.
Dahan-dahan akong umupo sa tapat niya at bigla akong na-awkward. Parang noong isang araw lang ay nag-open pa ako sa kanya tungkol kay Darryl, tapos ay magkikita kami sa ganitong sitwasyon.
“S-sorry,” I said with a lowered voice. “My mom forced me to be here,” dahilan ko.
Natawa naman si Patrick. “Same here.”
Natigilan naman kami dahil binigyan kami ng menu at kinuha rin ang order namin. We both ordered steak, and after that we continued our conversation.
“Since nandito naman na tayo, let’s just consider this as a friendly date,” he suggested.
I was grateful that he was trying to make the atmosphere comfortable, especially since this was supposed to be a meeting for our potential partner in the future.
“I honestly did not expect to see you here,” he remarked. “Akala ko next year pa tayo ulit magkikita.”
“Ako rin,” I snickered. “I guess pareho tayo ng problemang hinaharap.”
Instead of the usual introduction and small talks, we just started complaining about our parents. Kung bakit kailangan naming um-attend sa mga ganito kahit bata pa naman kami at mas importante pa ang college degree. O kung paanong lagi silang masusunod at wala kaming magagawa kung hindi gawin ang utos nila. We were at their mercy since we had to inherit our respective companies in the future.
Saglit na nahinto ang usapan namin nang mai-serve na ang food. The steak looked appetizing and it smelled good, too. I wasn’t planning on eating a lot, but it was so good that I couldn’t stop.
“Kumusta ka naman pala after . . . that?” tanong niya nang patapos na kaming kumain.
Was he talking about what happened last Friday?
“Oh, uhm, I’m okay right now, I guess?” I said.
A lot of things had distracted me from him this weekend kaya hindi ko siya gaanong naisip. Although, it was bad when I was about to go to sleep. Everything that happened that day kept on replaying in my head, and I would feel that stinging pain in my chest.
Patrick said everything would be alright in time, and he kept on cheering me up. Nagpasalamat naman ako sa kanya dahil kahit papaano ay gumaan ang loob ko.
I suddenly wondered why I couldn’t like Patrick as a guy. He was handsome and nice. He also took care of me, and he would attentively listen to whatever I was saying. Anyone would fall for that type of person, but I guess there were also people that we could only see as friends despite their charming nature.
“Gusto mo bang pumunta muna sa gazebo?” he asked. “Medyo ang dami nating nakain,” sabay tingin niya sa sarili niyang plato at natawa naman ako ro’n.
“Right. Magpababa muna tayo ng kinain.”
The staff guided us toward the gazebo, which was located at the garden area of the restaurant. Nakalabas na kami mula sa restaurant at halfway na sa gazebo nang ma-realize kong naiwan ko ang phone ko sa table.
“Omg, mauna ka na Pat,” sabi ko sa kanya. “I’ll just get my phone back. Naiwan ko yata sa table.”
“Alright. Hintayin kita ro’n.”
Nagmadali akong pumasok sa restaurant at nakahinga ako nang maluwag nang maabutan ko pa sa table ang phone ko. Nandito pa man din lahat ng private journals at entries ko.
Chineck ko ang phone ko habang naglalakad palabas sa restaurant. There was an unread message from Mom. I was about to open it when I suddenly bumped into someone.
The girl came from the right side hallway and we both yelped in surprise. She received most of the impact and she fell on her butt. Muntik na rin akong ma-out of balance pero buti na lang ay napahawak ako sa wall. Although parang medyo may uncomfortable pain sa bandang paa ko.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” I worriedly said while regaining my balance. “Are you okay?”
The fall must have been hard since she was grimacing in pain. I offered my hand, but she glared at me in return.
“Where are you even looking at?!” she hissed as she tried to get up by herself.
“I’m really sorry. Hindi ko sinasadya.”
“Sana tumitingin ka sa dinadaanan mo at hindi nagce-cellphone, ‘di ba?”
My eyebrow twitched in annoyance upon hearing her rude comment. Pareho lang naman kaming hindi nakatingin sa dinadaanan namin. Besides, nasa blindspot kami ng isa’t isa kaya hindi talaga maiiwasan lalo na kung pareho kaming distracted.
She groaned loud enough for me to hear. “You ruined my dress!”
The rude girl was wearing a white dress and there was a small spot of dirt on the side. Mukhang matatanggal naman kung papagpagan pero parang pinapalaki niya pa lalo. She was causing a scene and we were getting the attention of nearby customers, much to my discomfort.
“I’m really sorry,” ulit ko.
“Way to ruin my night,” she muttered.
Wow, this girl was already getting into my nerves. Ano bang problema niya at napaka-rude niya? Ni hindi pa nga siya nagso-sorry sa akin kahit kung tutuusin ay siya naman ang unang nakabangga. I was just lucky I managed to stop my momentum.
“Brat,” I murmured as I tried to control my anger.
“What did you say?!”
Oops. She heard that.
I was trying to be patient, but her attitude made me want to treat her like how she was treating me. Ayaw ko namang ako ang magmukhang masama.
“You heard that right, miss,” I retorted. “Ikaw ‘tong unang nakabangga pero ikaw pa ang galit na galit. If you do not want to accept my apology, then don’t.”
Her face contorted into an expression of outrage. Medyo natakot ako dahil wala akong kasama. Usually, si Alice ang humaharap sa ganito noong high school kami dahil wala naman kaming ginagawa ni Yna. I just realized how brave she was when standing up against this type of people.
I could tell that she was about to utter some nasty remarks, or perhaps even get physical, but she stopped short when someone called her name from behind.
“Andrea? What are you doing?”
Nakita ko ang panlalaki ng mga mata niya nang marinig iyon at maging ako ay napako sa kinatatayuan ko dahil pamilyar ang boses na iyon. In fact, it was too familiar that I already knew who he was even though I could not see him.
“I-Ian . . .”
I caught the girl stealing glances at me and back to him, as if she was nervous of what was to happen. I wanted to escape. I wanted to run away from here, but my feet seemed to have their own consciousness.
“Nothing!” she dismissed, as she hastily ran toward his direction.
Kasabay no’n ay lumingon ako sa direksyon nila . . . and I met his gaze.
His face was a mixture of shock and confusion. “Steff?”
Hah. What was this? A single call of my name and my heart summersaulted and sank at the same time. Honestly, this was the worst situation to be into . . . because I knew I would be hurt again.