This week had been hectic.
Darryl and I were scheduled to practice our piece for the project tomorrow, but the music room where we could use different instruments, were booked until next week. Ang ending? We had to practice in their house.
It was hard to convince Dad that Darryl was just my partner for a project when I told him I needed to go to a classmate’s house and it wasn’t Alice’s or Yna’s.
“Who’s this Darryl? Can he be trusted?”
“Oh, please, Dad, it’s just for a project.”
“Dad, you’re getting older,” Ven chimed in. “Family niya ‘yung nagligtas sa amin during that incident.”
Realization hit him quite hard, and almost slapped himself for forgetting what they did. Well, at least, hindi ko na kailangang mag-effort pa.
He gave me his address during one of our classes at ni-relay ko naman ‘yon kay Dad noong papunta na kami ro’n. Gusto nga rin sanang sumama ni Ven at ng tatlo pero buti na lang at may mga klase sila dahil for sure ay puro pang-aasar lang ang makukuha ko.
Their house was inside one of the richest villages in the city. The three-story luxurious house was reminiscent of a European mansion, with an aesthetic garden landscaping in front. Before I could even press the doorbell, Darryl had already appeared behind the gate.
Agad naman akong nagpaalam kay Dad at sinabihan siya na tatawag na lang ako if magpapasundo na ako.
“Pasok,” he said as he guided me toward the main door.
I just realized I hadn’t visited any of my classmates’ house during high school since Alice, Yna, and I were always automatically a group when there were group projects. Kahit sa bahay ni Jess ay hindi pa ako nakakapunta.
Pagkapasok ko ay napanganga ako dahil sa interior. Everything was white and wood, with touches of gold. Ang linis tingnan at ang ganda rin ng pagkaka-design. I was in the middle of admiring the chandeliers when a voice caught my attention.
Turning around, I saw a boy about ten years old running toward Darryl. Was this his younger brother?
“Warren, I told you I have a guest,” he said as the kid stopped right in front of him.”
“You said we’re going to play video games,” the kid pouted.
Warren’s gaze shifted to me and he shyly bowed at me. He was the cuter version of Darryl and his curly hair made him look fluffier.
His younger brother opted to stay in the living room watching tv shows while the two of us went to the second floor. Apparently, he was into music, and his parents made him a soundproof room so he could just enjoy playing instruments and singing to his heart’s content without bothering anyone.
“Hindi halata,” I commented after he told me that.
Natawa naman siya. “Baka ‘pag narinig mo akong kumanta . . .”
“Ano?” paghahamon ko.
He smugly shrugged in return. “Well, let’s just see what will happen.”
“You really can’t stop being conceited even just for a day, can you?”
Pagpasok namin sa music room niya ay halos mapahinto pa ako. He had the complete instruments for a whole band, and I suddenly wondered if he could play them all. I wasn’t able to ask about that since he was already on his serious mode the moment we entered the room.
Dahil meron siyang piano at keyboard ay pumuwesto kung saan ako mas sanay—sa piano. I started pressing the keys and it seemed like they were regularly tuned and maintained.
The piece I chose for the project was a song from Taylor Swift’s album, Speak No, that was released last year: The Story of Us. I just like how it sounded and how she narrated the plot through the lyrics. I remembered listening to this song over and over again when it was released, and became my instant favorite from the album.
“Parang naririnig ko ang kanta na ‘yan sa radyo pero hindi ko kabisado,” he said after I told him I’d be playing that song.
Pinarinig ko naman sa kanya ng ilang beses ang kanta at after a few minutes ay sinasabayan na niya ng pags-strum sa gitara niya.
“Should we slow down the tempo a little bit?” tanong niya.
“Yeah, I think that’ll sound better on piano, too.”
“Sige, aralin ko lang ulit saglit tapos try natin tugtugin.”
He wore his headphone and listened to the song again while strumming with such a focused expression. Dahil nakukuha na niya ang melody ay hindi ko napigilang hindi siya sabayan. Hesitantly, I started playing the song on the piano, which earned a surprise expression from him, but turned into a smile a few seconds later.
Suddenly, we were already practicing for my piece.
“Nice entrance,” he commented.
Pagkatapos ng chorus ay pareho rin kaming tumigil at doon ko naramdaman ang hiya. “Sorry, I couldn’t help it.”
“Maganda naman ang kinalabasan ng impromptu performance natin,” he snickered.
We tried practicing it again, this time, more prepared. Dahil may additional points kapag kinanta namin ang lyrics ay naghati rin kami ng parts.
“I used to think one day, we’d tell the story of us,” I sang and immediately got conscious when I saw Darryl staring curiously at me. Thank goodness I managed to finish the first verse without any mistakes.
Siya naman ang kumanta ng second and wow. He did have a nice voice, that I would have mistaken him as a band vocalist if I was only listening.
After finishing the song, we tweaked some verses that might have sounded better and parts that might have been performed better. Nang matapos namin ang piece ko ay sa kanya naman ang inaral namin. I already printed a piano sheet for his song, Just a Dream, version of Christina Grimmie and Sam Tsui.
Just like what we did earlier, we adjusted the parts where our current skills could take advantage of.
“Hmm, I think okay naman na ang piece natin in general,” I remarked after practicing for both our pieces a number of times.
“Agreed. Kailangan lang i-polish ang ilang transitions, but overall, I think we’re okay. We’re going to ace this.”
“I hope so.”
“You’re already good at playing the piano. No need to worry.”
Hindi ko alam kung dapat ba akong matuwa o mag-alala lalo dahil sa sinabi niya. But either way, we were already done for today,
“Thanks. Kailan pala next practice?”
“Thursday, same time,” he replied.
“Alright. Sige, papasundo na ako sa dad ko.”
After kong tawagan si Dad ay nagsimula na kaming magligpit. Medyo hindi ko nga namalayan na inabot na kami ng 8:30 p.m. I was planning to wait in the living room, but was surprised when we were greeted by his parents after coming down to the first floor.
“Hija, dito ka na mag-dinner. It’s already late,” Mrs. Garcia said.
“Oh, okay lang po. Paalis naman na si Dad sa bahay.”
“May I have your father’s number?” she asked. “I’ll call him. For sure, gutom ka na.”
Hindi ako makatanggi dahil ayaw kong lumabas na rude. And honestly, I was starving, but it would be embarrassing to eat with them.
I called Dad again and Mrs. Garcia took over after he answered the call. Hindi ko alam kung ano na ang pinag-uusapan nila pero ibinalik din agad niya ang phone ko after a few minutes.
“Okay na, hija. Dito ka na raw kumain,” she announced.
“Uhm, thank you po.”
The dinner was not as uncomfortable as I thought it would be.
Mr. and Mrs. Garcia only asked me questions about our project, with Warren occasionally asking if I could play games, too, to which I respectfully said no. Buti na lang at hindi mapang-asar si Darryl dahil nasa harap kami ng parents niya kaya naging maayos naman ang flow ng conversations.
Around 9:30 p.m. ay tumawag ulit si Dad para sabihing nasa village na siya. Hinatid ako ni Darryl sa labas ng bahay nila kahit na sabi ko ay kaya ko na. Minutes later, I could already see Dad’s car from a distance.
“Bye,” paalam ko habang palabas sa gate nila pero napatigil ako nang marinig ko siyang magsalita.
“Steff,” he called, prompting me to turn my head at his direction.
He thought for a moment and sighed right after. “Nevermind. Ingat,” sabay kaway niya sa akin.
Confused, I doubtfully nodded, and entered our car.
Okay, what was that?