I wasn’t able to celebrate my birthday properly.
Dahil maaga akong umuwi ay hindi natuloy ang supposedly surprise din nina Ven at Dad sa akin dahil naabutan nila ako sa bahay. Sinabi ko na lang din na masakit ang ulo ko kaya hindi ako makakasabay sa dinner at i-celebrate na lang namin ang birthday ko sa weekend. Last week na rin naman ngayon ng pasok dahil Christmas break na next week.
But as expected, this week was hell.
Tinanong agad ako ng tatlo kung bakit ang aga ko raw umuwi kahapon. I told them I felt sick yesterday, so I went home without telling them. Mukhang tinanggap naman nila ‘yon pero alam ko rin na gusto nilang magtanong.
I also hadn’t seen Darryl at all. Good, because honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do. I blocked all his social media accounts and his number so I could sort out my feelings again. Fortunately, marami ring last-minute activities ang halos lahat ng subjects ko ngayon kaya distracted ang utak ko mula sa kanya. Strangely, hindi rin talaga siya nagpakita, and that made me feel relieved and concerned at the same time.
Noong dumating ang Friday ay para akong nabunutan ng tinik dahil sa wakas ay bakasyon na bukas. Still, most profs gave a lot of reading assignments and homeworks that we needed to do during the break.
Around 5 p.m. pa raw ako masusundo ni kuya Ronald kaya balak kong mag-stay muna sa library. Unfortunately, it was packed, so I went to the open field. Tumambay ako sa likod ng CAL building at nagbasa ng ilang reading assignments para kahit papaano ay mabawasan ang gagawin ko sa break.
“Nandito ka pala.”
Hindi ko alam kung ilang minuto na ang nakalipas simula nang umupo ako rito at natanggal lang ang tingin ko mula sa phone ko nang marinig ko ang boses ni Patrick. Ni hindi k orin siya nakita o napansing dumating.
“Oh. Tapos na classes mo?” tanong ko.
“Yup. But I can’t go home because I forgot my phone at home.”
Tinanong ko naman siya tungkol doon at apparently, hindi niya ma-text ang driver nila. He already had a student license so he sometimes drove the car himself, but since today was hectic, he opted to be fetched. Kaso naiwan niya raw ang phone niya sa kuwarto niya kanina at nasa campus na siya nang ma-realize niya iyon. Kanina niya pa rin daw hinahanap ang pinsan niyang si Kevin kaso hindi niya mahagilap.
“Here,” sabay abot ko sa phone ko.
He called Kevin first since he also had the contact number of their driver. Nang maibigay niya iyon ay ito naman ang sunod niyang tinawagan at mukhang masusundo na rin siya after a while.
He heaved a sigh after. “Finally.”
Natawa naman ako sa expression niya. He must have been so worried for hours.
“Kumusta ka pala? You just disappeared yesterday.”
“Oh, uhm, I’m fine,” sabi ko pero agad kong iniwasan ang tingin niya.
He looked at me curiously. “Did something happen between you and Darryl?”
My shoulders tensed upon hearing his name. “Uhh, w-wala naman.”
Sinundan iyon ng ilang segundong katahimikan. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking about, and I couldn’t even look at him since I was afraid he’d figure it out.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to say anything,” he said. “It’s just that it’s quite obvious.”
Isang malalim na buntonghininga ang pinakawalan ko. I knew I was a terrible liar, but I couldn’t believe that even him could see right through my lie.
Dahil naisip ko na naman si Darryl ay bumalik na naman ang sakit. I thought I was doing a good job distracting myself from my own feelings these past few days, but the mere mention of his name was enough to pull me back to my abyss of misery.
I hadn’t told the girls about it because I knew they be overly worried, but with Patrick, I guess it would be okay.
Sinabi ko sa kanya ang nangyari at hindi ko napigilan muling maluha. Relieving that scene again made me feel so pathetic. I already knew that Darryl was just using me to move on from Tricia, but here I was, stupidly falling for him.
Naiyak ako nang ilang minuto pero agad ko ring sinubukang kumalma. I didn’t want to show my pitiful self to Patrick any longer. But I was thankful that he listened to my story, and didn’t say anything. Bigla tuloy akong na-guilty. He just expressed his feelings for me a month ago, and here I was, telling him my own heartbreak.
“I’m sorry,” I lamentably said. “I feel like I’m too inconsiderate about this—“
“No, it’s okay,” he said. “I’m actually relieved that you’re still comfortable sharing stories with me.”
“Pat . . .”
“If you need someone to listen to, just call me. Alright?”
I was grateful for his presence, but I still felt I was taking advantage of him. Still, I told him that he was a great help.
Makalipas ang ilang minuto ay nag-text sa number ko ang driver nila at sinabi ko sa kanyang naghihintay na sa may parking lot ang sundo niya.
“‘Sige, Steff, una na ako,” he said with a gentle smile. “See you next year.”
Sinuklian ko rin siya ng isang ngiti. “Yeah, see you next year, Pat.”
Nag-stay pa ako ng ilang minuto ro’n hanggang sa tumawag na rin si kuya Ronald sa akin.
I was already listing the things I would like to do during break in my head when I felt something strange upon stepping inside the house.
“Oh, you’re here already.”
Halos manlaki naman ang mga mata ko nang makita ko si Mom sa living room. She already arrived? Akala ko sa 23 pa siya makakabalik.
“Mom!” I greeted. “I thought next week pa ang balik mo?”
She gracefully placed the cup of tea she was drinking back to the table. “Change of plans, I guess? I want to surprise the three of you, but no one was here when I arrived.”
Well, maybe because you arrived unannounced, I mentally retorted. Ni hindi man lang niya rin ni-check kung ano ang schedule ng pag-uwi namin ngayong araw.
“And I also need to personally turn down another engagement appointment for you,” she added.
She raised her eyebrow. “Are you that surprised? There are a lot, Steff. Anyway, since you said you already have someone you like, I want to meet him, too.”
Napatigil naman ako nang marinig ko ‘yon. True, I told her about that, so she would stop pestering me about these engagement appointments, but talk about timing.
“Uhh . . .”
Her sharp and intuitive eyes studied me closely. If my friends could tell that I was lying, I was sure Mom could, too, even if I hadn’t said any words yet.
“Was that a lie?” she asked.
“No, it’s not!” I interjected. “It’s just that . . .”
Muli akong napatingin sa kanya. Mom maintained an impassive expression, but I could tell that she was already thinking about the consequences, and how this conversation would affect our future and the future of the company. There was no escaping once she made her decision. Before that, I needed to do something.
I heaved a resigned sigh. “Fine, I’ll go to that engagement appointment.”
She must have not expected my answer because her face subtly showed confusion. Siguro ay akala niya gagawa na naman ako ng excuse o magmamakaawa. Honestly, I thought about that, too, but that would not give any kind of leverage.
“Are you sure?”
I nodded in response. “I just need to meet him, right? But this will be the first and last time.”
“That, I cannot promise.”
She sighed in a controlled breath, a sign that she was losing her patience. “Alright, this will be the last for the next two years. After all, I cannot guarantee that nobody will offer another one since you still don’t have anyone, do you?”
Okay, that might be the better result I was hoping for, especially when it comes to topics like this.
“Okay. Deal,” I said.
And maybe this way, I could further distract myself from him and this heartbreak.