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Chapter 8

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Thursday, July 13, 2017

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“Yes, Ma’am. Yes, I’ll send it tonight. Okay, thank you, Ma’am.”

Natapos din ang tawag ng boss ko kaya nakahinga na ako nang maluwag. She told me her opinions about my designs and two of them were selected for the fashion week. However, I still need to revise the other drafts since she said I should have at least five approved designs by the end of my leave.

Nagtimpla muna ako ng kape dahil inaantok na ako. It’s almost 3 AM and I have so much work to do. Tinignan ko naman ang phone ko at nag-chat sa akin si Miley, na kasalukuyan ding nagpupuyat dahil sa technical report ng project niya sa work.

Coffee?

Napangiti naman ako dahil may picture pa talaga siyang in-attach. Nagreply naman ako at ginaya ko siya.

Cheers!

Pinagpatuloy ko naman ang portfolio ko at buti na lang at lahat ng atensyon ko ay nandoon kaya natapos ko ang designs na sinet kong tapusin ngayon. Pagtingin ko sa oras, 5:30 AM na. Chineck ko ulit ang phone ko at chinat ko si Miley pero hindi na siya nagreply. Mukhang ‘di pa rin siya tapos dahil online pa rin siya. Balak ko pa sanang mag-stay hanggang 6 AM pero nang humiga ako sa kama ay parang naramdaman ko bigla ang pagod at ‘di ko namalayan na nakatulog na ako.


***


Nagising naman ako dahil sa naramdaman kong nakahawak sa mukha ko at pagtingin ko ay nasa gilid ko si Kyle. He was caressing my face and his eyes found mine.

“You’re finally awake,” he said.

Panaginip na naman ‘to, sa isip ko at parang lumubog ang puso ko dahil kahit papaano ay umaasa akong totoo. Umaasa akong nandito talaga siya sa tabi ko. Nakatitig lang ako sa kanya dahil natatakot akong maglaho siya na parang bula. Kung panaginip man ‘to, ayaw ko nang magising.

“Wala ka bang sasabihin sa akin?” tanong niya habang nakangiti at para akong sinampal dahil sa tanong niya. I knew it wasn’t right but Andrew’s face flashed through my mind, breaking my heart even more.

“Kyle . . .” I whispered and tears immediately fell from my eyes.

“Why are you crying, Sab?” he asked while wiping off my tears, his eyes filled with concern.

“Because I’m an awful person," sabi ko naman at hinawakan ko ang kamay niya. “Please help me, Kyle. I don’t want to feel like this.”

Dahan-dahan niya naman akong hinatak papunta sa kanya kaya magkaharap na kami. He smiled at me again, the same smile he gave me during his last moments, and it felt like someone just punched me in the gut.

“I told you before, right? Live and love again,” sabi niya habang nakatitig sa akin. “Masakit man para sa akin pero hindi ako ang taong makakatulong sa’yo, Sab. Masaya ako dahil kahit papaano ay naging parte ako ng buhay mo at minahal mo ako pero hanggang dito na lang ang mga pahina ko.”

“Kyle . . .” Lalo lang sumasakit ang puso ko sa mga sinasabi niya at mas nagsisisi ako sa mga nangyari.

“You’re confused because I’m holding you back. Gusto kitang maging masaya, Sab. Gusto kong makita ulit ang ngiti mo. Don’t let your past ruin your future.”

“But how about you?” I sobbed.

“I will always be by your side,” he said, “but I can’t be there physically. You need someone who can love and protect you, maybe more than I could,” sabay hawak niya ulit sa mukha ko. “Bakit kung kailan ka tumanda, saka ka naman naging iyakin?” he joked and that smile on his face was enough to shatter my heart into pieces.

Niyakap ko siya at doon na ako tuluyang umiyak na parang bata. I missed him so much. Gusto ko na lang tumigil ang oras para makasama ko pa siya nang matagal . . . para mayakap ko pa siya nang matagal.

He caressed my hair while gently tapping my shoulders and I felt secured. It felt like home, a sanctuary.

“I love you,” I whispered and I could feel how his breathing changed its pace. He pulled away from the hug and cupped my face, looking intensely at me. I closed my eyes and after a few seconds, his warm lips touched my forehead, stirring up different kinds of emotions within me at once.

“I love you too, Sab,” he breathed and those were the most comforting and at the same time most painful words he said to me. “And now it’s time to let me go,” he said while pulling his hands away from me. “Goodbye, Sab. You are now free.”


***


My eyes fluttered open with tears streaming down my face. Nanatili lang akong nakahiga at tulala habang inaalala ang panaginip ko. Kyle bid his goodbye and I felt empty, as if something was removed inside me. I remembered Kyle’s face, his words, and how he let go of my hand.

My tormenting train of thoughts was stopped by a call from my phone. Bumangon naman agad ako at kinuha ‘yon sa desk. Pagtingin ko, nag-message si Nigel at gusto niyang mag-meet kaming lima bago ako umalis sa isang araw. Nag-reply naman ako at sinabi kong ngayon na lang ako available kaya nag-set na siya ng place at time. Mamayang 4 PM kami magmi-meet sa favorite naming lugar dati noong high school.

Siguro mas maganda na rin na malapit na akong bumalik sa States dahil lalo lang akong nasasaktan sa lugar na ‘to. My dreams about Kyle were so vivid, as if those were fragments of reality.

Nag-prepare naman ako kahit 1 PM pa lang dahil balak kong kumain na lang sa labas. Dahil Friday ngayon, medyo maraming tao sa mall kahit tanghali pa lang kaya pumunta ako sa hindi masyadong matao. Napatigil naman ako nang madaanan ko ang Wingstop at bigla kong naalala si Andrew.

Bukas nga pala kami magkikita.

Napailing na lang ako at dumiretso sa katabing restaurant. Nag-order ako at habang naghihintay ay kinuha ko ang phone ko.

Wala na kaming sumunod na pag-uusap pagkatapos ng conversation namin few days ago. Hindi na ako nag-text dahil ayaw kong maapektuhan lalo ang magiging desisyon ko. Buti nga at hindi rin siya nagparamdam kaya nakapag-focus ako sa mga gawain ko.

Nang dumating ang order ko ay kumain ako agad at doon ko lang naramdaman ang gutom. Sobrang stressed din kasi ako nitong mga nakaraang araw kaya hindi ako gaanong nakakakain.

Nagpalipas naman ako ng oras sa mall at tumingin na rin ako ng mga pwedeng mabili. Napahinto naman ako sa tapat ng National Bookstore at bigla kong naisip na bigyan sina Nigel ng letters. I bought several blank cards and went to the food court. As a fashion designer, I decided to draw their future selves with their respective uniforms—Nigel as a professor, Miley as a researcher, Rissa as a scientist and Chell as an engineer. I also wrote short messages for them and I had to choke back my tears because I was getting emotional while reminiscing our friendship.

Halos 3:30 PM na ako natapos kaya naman umalis na ako at pumunta sa meeting place namin—ang carinderia sa tapat ng high school namin.

I was the first one to arrive and I just stood in front of the eatery, smiling. It has changed a lot but the ambiance was still the same after nine years. Pumasok ako at mas lumaki na ang loob. May aircon na rin kaya presko sa pakiramdam. Umupo ako sa gilid at sakto namang may narinig akong boses sa likuran.

“Hoy, nandito ka na pala!” sigaw ni Chelle at tumakbo siya papunta rito.

“Bakit ang aga mo? Akala ko male-late ka?” tanong ko naman dahil ‘yon ang sabi niya sa group chat.

“Absent kasi ang prof namin sa last subject kaya ayon, free cut,” sagot naman niya.

After a few minutes ay isa-isa nang nagdatingan ang iba pero bigla akong napatingin sa isang bakanteng upuan sa tabi ni Nigel. I suddenly remembered my dream a while ago and I had to push it at the back of my mind because I might end up crying again.

“Grabe ang bilis ng oras,” sabi ni Rissa. “Aalis ka na kaagad sa Sunday.”

“Oo nga. Hindi man lang tayo nakapag-bonding nang matagal,” dagdag ni Miley.

“Well, busy na kasi tayong lahat sa trabaho,” sabi naman ni Nigel.

“Except for Chelle,” sabay tingin ni Rissa kay Chelle at natawa naman kami.

“Excuse me, gagraduate na ako next sem!”

Nagtawanan naman kami at nag-order si Nigel ng halo-halo, ang pinakamabentang tinda ng eatery na ‘to. Habang naghihintay ay nagkwentuhan ulit kami tungkol sa mga buhay namin.

“Ikaw, Sab?” tanong ni Nigel at ngumiti na lang ako.

“Mukhang alam n’yo naman na,” I murmured as their concerned eyes looked at me.

“So ano nang plano mo?”

Pagkatanong no’n ni Rissa ay kinuwento ko sa kanila ang napanaginipan ko kanina at kung ano ang mga sinabi ni Kyle sa akin. Ewan ko ba pero simula noong umuwi ako sa Pilipinas ay lagi ko na lang nakikita si Kyle sa panaginip ko. I've dreamed of him for many times during those five years but not like this—as if he was really there as a spirit.

“Maybe it was really him,” sabi ni Nigel. “Siguro ay ito na ang panahon para patawarin mo ang sarili mo, Sab.”

“Pero ang hirap. How can I let him go that easily? Pakiramdam ko ang sama-sama kong tao.”

“Mahirap ba talaga o natatakot ka lang?” Miley chimed in and it felt like she just saw right through me.

Maybe she was right. Siguro nga ay natatakot ako sa pwedeng mangyari lalo na’t may kasama nang ibang tao. Mahal ko si Kyle at kahit kailan ay hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan ang pakiramdam na ‘yon. I promised him that he’ll be the only guy in my life but I couldn’t keep that vow because Andrew, a stranger that I met in some stroke of serendipity, came along.

For five years, I was walking through the endless darkness, unable to see anything around me. I was getting used to it but I suddenly found a ray of light, something I had forgotten during those times, and got drawn to it. Meeting Andrew confused me because I felt the same feelings I felt with Kyle and that was frightening. I realized I was already developing some sort of attraction and connection to him.

“Alam mo, sa tingin ko, kailangan ninyong mag-usap ni Andrew,” Chelle suggested. Hindi ko pa sinasabi sa kanila na magkikita kami ni Andrew bukas at wala rin akong balak sabihin dahil baka may magbago sa desisyon ko.

“Chelle’s right,” dagdag ni Nigel. “Mukhang gusto n’yo ang isa’t isa pero hindi n’yo magawang sabihin dahil sa past n’yo.”

“Kaya nga mahirap,” sagot ko naman, “and at the same time, nakakatakot.”

I’m scared to risk my heart again because the first time I did, it got broken. I don’t think I can take another heartbreak that’s why I need to put an end to this confusing feeling.

“You have love once and lost him but that doesn’t mean you can’t love again,” biglang sabi ni Rissa kaya napatingin kaming lahat sa kanya. “Don’t close off your heart this early, Sab. You deserve to love and to be loved.”

Her last words stirred up something inside me and I suddenly felt a lump in my throat. Pinigilan ko ang nagbabadyang luha at ngumiti sa kanila. Iba rin pala talaga kapag tumatanda na. Dati ay puro acads lang ang lumalabas sa bibig ni Rissa pero ngayon ay nagagawa na niyang magsabi ng mga ganitong bagay. Somehow, I felt proud that she has become a matured woman.

“Kainis kayo, tama na nga. Ayoko nang umiyak,” sabi ko naman at saka sila tumawa. Dahil doon ay iniba na nila ang topic at napunta kami kay Chelle kaya lalo lang kaming natawa.

Pagkatapos no’n ay nagpaalam na kami sa isa’t isa pero bago sila tuluyang umalis ay binigay ko sa kanila ang ginawa kong letters. Dahil ayokong mabasa nila ‘yon habang nando’n ako ay sinabi kong sa bahay na lang nila basahin. Nag-thank you sila sa akin at doon pa lang ay naluluha na ako kaya nagpaalam na rin agad ako.

Pumara ako ng taxi at nagpahatid sa sementeryo. May araw pa naman kaya hindi pa ako gaanong natatakot. Mas kinakabahan pa ako dahil dadalawin ko ulit si Kyle at this time, para magpaalam na nang tuluyan. I approached his grave but immediately halted when I saw a familiar figure sitting beside him. My heart pounded heavily against my chest and for a second, I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what to do so I just stood frozen behind him.

“Sorry, Lei. I’m sorry.”

Nagulat naman ako nang marinig ko ang boses niya . . . at ang pag-iyak niya. Lalo akong hindi nakagalaw sa kinatatayuan ko at hindi ko na alam ang dapat kong gawin. It felt like I was invading his privacy and personal space by listening.

“Hindi ko na alam kung ano ang gagawin ko. Hindi ko alam kung tama ba ‘tong nararamdaman ko,” he sobbed and the tears I was trying to hold back streamed down my face. We’re on the same situation and I could feel his pain.

Ang hirap. Para sa iba, madaling sabihin ang salitang move on pero sa mga taong nawalan ng minamahal sa buhay, para ‘yong parusa. It’s hard to get over someone who just left without any warning.

“I’m really a bad guy,” he murmured. “You loved me with all your heart and stayed by my side even if I pushed you away. I told you that as long as I’m alive, you’ll be the only one, but here I am with my muddled thoughts and feelings.”

Hindi ko alam kung saan ko kinuha ang lakas ng loob ko pero nagawa kong maglakad papunta roon at umupo ako sa harapan ni Kyle, dahilan para mapatingin siya sa akin.

“I didn’t expect you to be here,” mahina kong sabi habang nakatingin sa puntod ni Kyle, “but I guess we both feel the same way,” saka ako lumingon sa kanya. He was still bewildered but his eyes searched mine.

“Sab . . .”

In that moment of silence, we both realized we couldn’t wait for tomorrow anymore. It’s time to face the key.



***