It was so embarrassing that I had to take a long shower to clear my thoughts.
Going on a date was something I did not expect doing during my college life. Sure, I had watched a lot of romantic movies and series before, but I didn’t have any desire to pursue romance after. Madalas ay kinikilig lang ako dahil sa chemistry ng actors at sa plot. Even Alice thought I was weird for not having any crush during high school. But could I do? I was more interested in food and fashion than guys before . . . until that guy came into the picture.
Madalang lang akong makipag-interact sa guys noong high school dahil lagi kong kasama sina Alice at Yna. Madalas ay nag-e-entertain lang ako ng conversations kapag tungkol sa subjects o kaya naman kung kailangan. It’s not that I hate them or scared of them, I was just uninterested. However, after crossing paths with Darryl and annoying the heck out of me during the first few weeks of the semester, some unfamiliar feelings started surfacing.
I had always been known as a patient and calm person, but interacting with him made me realize I could get hot-tempered, too. Well, I guess it wasn’t that surprising knowing how that guy could easily get into someone’s nerves. I had been praised as a mature person, too, but there were times when I could get petty, especially toward him. And earlier, I got flustered, too because of his words.
Napabuntonghininga na lang ako dahil hindi ko alam ang dapat maramdaman. Perhaps I was just confused because he was the only guy around me for quite some time, so I guess not seeing him or speaking with him would help me sort out this confusion.
I went online to get my mind off that subject matter. Chineck ko lang ang social media accounts ko at wala naman masyadong nangyayari. I was about to put down my phone when I suddenly thought of the university portal.
Wala naman talaga akong madalas na pakialam sa university gossips, but somehow, I had the urge to see the trending articles. Ugh. Nahahawa na ako kay Yna.
My heart was beating fast as I visited the portal. Pakiramdam ko ay may ginagawa akong mali.
As I was scrolling through the site, one article caught my attention. The headline read, “A love triangle between campus elites.”
The article was a blind item about a current campus elite couple and a campus princess who was allegedly a girl from the campus prince’s past. It was insinuating that the guy was probably cheating since he was meeting both campus princess.
It felt like a fiction written by a nosy writer, but knowing how some absurd articles turned out to be true, this one could also have some truths in it.
I-e-exit ko na sana iyon nang bigla akong naka-receive ng message. It was from Darryl.
Let’s meet next week. This will be the last time, Tricia.
I was staring at the message for a few seconds. It looked like he sent it to the wrong person. But Tricia, huh? I wonder who that was?
Medyo gumaan naman ang course load ko after midterms dahil puro lectures na ulit kami sa bawat subject. The papers had also been returned and I was glad my scores were good. Medyo nagsisisi nga lang ako dahil 92% lang ang nakuha ko sa Philo 1 when I could have done better.
Dahil 11:30 a.m. pa naman ang next subject ko ay pumunta muna ako sa likod ng CAL building para magpahinga dahil puno ang garden ngayon. I didn’t want to stay in the library since I might fall asleep and miss my class.
I thought I could have the place all by myself since students don’t really go here, but someone was already comfortably lying on the grass. He was facing the other side, so I wasn’t sure if he was sleeping, but I only know one person who could sleep nonchalantly like this.
“Patrick?” mahina kong tawag pero hindi siya nag-react.
Approaching carefully, I peeked from the other side to confirm it was him, and I was right. Dahil siya lang naman ang nandito ay umupo na rin ako ilang metro mula sa kanya. Dahil August na rin ay hindi na ganoon kainit pero madalas ay umaambon sa hapon kaya sa umaga lang ako madalas nakakatambay rito.
I was just quietly watched the students playing on the open field while enjoying the cool breeze when something rustled behind me. When I turned around, I met Patrick’s gaze.
He still looked daze, but few seconds later, he was already staring at me.
“Uh, sorry, I was just looking for a place to chill out,” I hastily said as I stood up. “If it’s uncomfortable for you, I’ll leave—“
“No, it’s okay,” sagot naman niya kaya napatigil ako. “You can stay. Having you around is not uncomfortable at all.”
That was quite a shock. I heard Patrick was kinda unapproachable, but I guess that was just bad rumors. He seemed nice. And I liked how he wouldn’t initiate small talk. Somehow, it wasn’t awkward to be with him even in silence.
We were just minding our own business when it started getting hot. Kasasabi ko pa lang kanina na gusto kong tumambay rito dahil hindi maaraw kapag tanghali pero mukhang hindi uulan ngayon kaya biglang uminit. I guess pupunta na lang ako sa next class ko kahit may one hour pa akong vacant.
“Hey,” Patrick suddenly called and he was already holding his bag. “There’s a shaded area on the other corner,” sabay turo niya sa gilid.
Dahil ayaw ko namang maghintay sa classroom ng one hour ay sumunod ako sa kanya pero pareho kaming napahinto nang may makita kaming nag-uusap doon.
“Are you serious?”
My body stiffened upon hearing Darryl’s voice, and I wasn’t sure why, but I hid the moment I realized he was talking to someone in a serious way. Hindi ko rin agad na-realize na hinatak ko si Patrick para hindi siya makita.
“I am, Darryl,” the woman’s voice replied. “So, I hope you can start sorting out your feelings, too.”
No, but why was I eavesdropping? And why were we hiding when this was just a coincidence? But . . . was he talking to that certain Tricia he mentioned in his wrongly sent text? And then, realization suddenly kicked in. That article . . . it must have been talking about the three of us.
I wasn’t sure how long Patrick and I had been hiding, but when Tricia announced that she was leaving, I almost felt relieved.
Nagulat naman ako nang biglang naglakad papunta ro’n si Patrick. Before I could even call his name, he had already called mine.
“Tiffany,” he said as he waved at me. What was he even thinking?! “Mauna na ako.”
I had no choice but to show myself and I caught Darryl looking at me with a puzzled expression on his face. I forced a smile and waved back at Patrick. “Bye.”
Pinanood ko lang siyang maglakad palayo habang nakatingin si Darryl sa akin. Now that we were alone, it felt awkward, especially after what happened.
“Steff,” he called but I did not look at him.
It was just a few minutes of accidental eavesdropping, but I had realized a lot of things during that time. First, that Tricia was a girl from his past. Maybe his first love or an ex-girlfriend. And she must be the reason behind that wistful expression I would often see from him. Second, I didn’t want to meddle with their affairs. Nasali lang naman ako rito dahil sa kagagawan niya. If they wanted to get back together, the rumors between us would be in the way. And third, there was a slight stinging pain in my chest.
Bigla namang may mga estudyanteng napadaan at agad akong nakaisip ng paraan para mapadali ang lahat ng ito. We weren’t on speaking terms anymore, but everyone was still thinking that we were in a relationship. Sure, he started this pretend relationship to spite me before, but I was willing to end everything right here.
Naglakad ako papunta sa kanya at huminto sa harapan niya. It must be overwhelming for him to meet me after talking to Tricia, but I needed to do this.
“If you can’t get over your ex-girlfriend,” I said, loud enough for the students to hear, “maybe it’s better for us to break up. Let’s end this here, Darryl.”
At least, I wanted the narrative to be in my favor. I didn’t want to be the one getting dumped.
“What—? Wait, Steff—“
Nagmadali akong maglakad at nakita ko ang ilang estudyanteng nakatingin sa amin. I hope this would be the last time I’d be associated with him.
I didn’t want this unfamiliar feeling to grow any longer.