Today would be another tiring day, I suppose.
It was just the second day, but at the same time, Valentine’s Day, too, so the fair would surely be packed. Umaga pa nga lang ay ang dami ko nang nakikitang couples. Kahit sa classes ko ay may mga nag-i-invite sa mga crush nila at sige naman ang pang-aasar ng iba,
Napalingon ako at nakita kong kumakaway sa akin si Alice habang nakasunod naman sa kanya si Yna. We decided to eat our lunch in the garden. Wala nga lang si Jess dahil may class pa siya.
I narrowed my eyes when I noticed that Alice couldn’t stop smiling. “Did something good happen?” tanong ko.
“Hmm? What do you mean?”
“Grabe kasi ‘yang ngiti mo. Did Kevin ask you out?”
She gasped in surprise. “I can only wish!”
“Then why are you smiling like that?”
She gave me a teasing look. “Secret. Pero gusto mo ba ng clue—”
“Ya,” (Hey,) warned Yna in a lowered voice.
They exchanged suspicious looks, and I could tell that something was going on. Pilit namang iniba ni Yna ang topic at mukhang hindi ko rin naman sila mapapaamin sa kung anong meron kaya hinayaan ko na lang.
After that ay naghiwa-hiwalay na rin kami at pagpatak ng 5 p.m. ay pumunta na ako sa fair. I went straight to the dating café and wore a sailor uniform since that was our theme today. I quite liked it, too, since it had been a while since I last wore a uniform.
Dahil Valentine’s ngayon ay ang dagsa ang customers namin. Buti na lang talaga at marami kaming kinuhang katulong, kung hindi ay magsa-suffer kami ni Lalaine.
“Daming couples, medyo nakakainggit na,” bulong ni Lalaine sa akin nang kunin niya ang order ng bagong dating na couple.
Natawa na lang ako sa patuloy niyang pagrereklamo. Meanwhile, I continued getting orders and serving them. Medyo nakakahiya nga lang kapag nagre-request na magpa-picture sa akin ang ilang couples. Ganoon din kay Lalaine. Siguro dahil campus princess kami o ‘di kaya ay dahil nakasuot kami ng sailor uniform.
Around 7 p.m., I noticed the customers murmuring while stealing glances at one table when I got out from the kitchen. Agad ko naman silang pinuntahan dahil mukhang bagong customers pero napahinto ako nang makita ko kung sino ang mga iyon.
“Oorder po kami!” natatawang sabi ni Jess habang kumakaway sa direksyon ko.
She was with two guys, and despite their backs facing me, I could tell that they were Patrick . . . and Darryl.
I drew a deep breath and walked toward their direction. Halos samaan ko naman ng tingin si Jess dahil halatang nang-aasar ang pagngiti-ngiti niya. Nang kukunin ko na ang order nila ay bigla namang tumayo sina Jess at Patrick at lumipat sa kabilang table. Suddenly, I was left with him, and he was staring at me.
Gusto kong sigawan si Jess dahil sa trip niya at hindi ako makapaniwalang pati si Patrick ay sumakay roon. I cleared my throat and tried to maintain my composure even if I wanted to collapse already.
“G-good evening,” I nervously greeted. “What’s your order, sir?”
He remained silent for a few seconds, and my heart continued pounding loudly against my chest because he wasn’t breaking the eye contact.
“Steff,” he tenderly called. “Puwede ba tayong mag-usap?”
God, I missed his voice. Sa totoo lang, gusto ko rin siyang makausap para linawin ang lahat pero hindi ito ang tamang lugar. Everyone’s eyes were on us, and I couldn’t help but feel conscious. Besides, hindi pa ako ready, lalo na at may hinanda ako para sa kanya.
“Later,” mahina kong sagot. “Let’s talk later.”
He grinned as soon as he heard my answer. “Really?”
I nodded. “Yes. I need to talk to you, too.”
“So, what’s your order, sir?” muli kong tanong dahil naka-focus na ang lahat sa amin.
“Oh, then, whatever you recommend,” he smiled.
I ran toward the kitchen and practically stayed there until the three left. Napahawak ako sa dibdib ko at sinubukang kumalma. He wanted to talk to me, but before that, I had to do something.
This time, I would express my feelings clearly.
Around 9 p.m., Lalaine and I clocked out from café duties since we would be performing in a while. We left the café to our head staff and ran toward the backstage.
Spongecola was currently performing, and everyone was jamming to their songs. Halos magwala ang mga tao nang kantahin nila ang Pare Ko at maging kami ay nakikanta rin habang nasa backstage.
Dinedicate naman nila ang last song nila para sa couples.
“Para sa mga may kasamang jowa, at sa magkakaroon ng girlfriend o boyfriend ngayong gabi, para sa inyo ‘to!” sigaw ng lead singer nila at muling naghiyawan ang lahat.
“Hey, there's a look in your eyes, must be love at first sight.”
Unang line pa lang ay sumabay na agad sa pagkanta ang karamihan. It was quite fun to watch everyone singing along Closer You and I while showing off their partners. Paano ay pinataas nila ang kamay ng mga in a relationship habang magka-holding hands.
After that passionate performance ay tinawag na kami ng emcee at doon ako nakaramdam ng kaba.
“Let’s all welcome four of our campus elites and also part of the organizing committee for this event!”
Nang isa-isang tawagin ang pangalan namin ay umakyat kami sa stage. Dahil naka-set up na rin ang instruments ay pumuwesto sila sa kanya-kanya nilang tutugtugin habang tumayo naman ako sa gitna.
“Uhh, good evening, everyone,” I nervously greeted, but was greeted back with an excited crowd. Kahit papaano ay medyo nabawasan ang kaba ko dahil sa enthusiasm nila.
“Happy Valentine’s! I hope you’re all enjoying the night,” I continued. Huminga naman ako nang malalim at saka muling tumapat sa mic. “Also, happy birthday, Darryl.”
Pagkasabi ko no’n ay naghiyawan ang mga tao at maging ang mga kasama ko sa stage ay binigyan ako ng mapang-asar na tawanan.
Some were confused since I had already revealed weeks ago that our relationship was fake, yet here I was, greeting him in front of everyone. It took me a lot of courage to do that, and I did not regret it.
“This song is for you,” I said, and the crowd erupted in cheers.
Kevin led the counting with his drumsticks, and Lalaine and Gisel started the tune.
“I have loved you only in my mind,
But I know that there will come a time,
You'll feel this feeling I have inside.”
I sang one of the songs I had written on the scrapbook, and the crowd sang with me. I was a bundle of nerves earlier, but this time, my heart was calm. If I couldn’t tell him about my feelings through words, might as well use music to convey it.
“Don't know what to do whenever you are near,
Don't know what to say, my heart is floating in tears,
When you pass by, I could fly.”
Gisel sang with me as part of the harmony. Sabay-sabay namang tinaas ng mga nanonood ang mga kamay nila at napangiti ako ro’n. They were enjoying it, and I hope he did, too.
“I have loved you and I always will,
Call it crazy but I know someday you'll feel
This feeling I have for you inside.”
The words I wanted to tell him, the feelings I bottled up, all of it were summarized into the song. Gusto kong malaman niya kung ano ang tingin ko sa kanya. Gusto kong ipagsigawan na ito ang nararamdaman ko.
I was about to sing the next line when suddenly, the lights on the crowd went off. Instead, a single spotlight was focused on someone. My eyes widened when I saw Darryl holding a mic, looking and smiling at my direction.
“I'm a hopeless romantic, I know I am,
Memorized all the lines and here I am,
Struggling for words, I still don't know what to say,
What to say.”
He sang the next lines while coming up the stage and everyone was already screaming. They were chanting our names, but all I could focus on was him. Nang makaakyat siya sa stage ay tumayo siya sa tabi ko.
I didn’t expect him to be right here, so I struggled for words. Siya na rin ang tumapos ng kanta dahil halos hindi na ako makahinga sa kaba at hiya.
Ibinaba niya ang mic at binigyan ako ng isang malambing na ngiti. “Inunahan mo naman ako sa surprise,” he chuckled. “Now, it’s my turn to tell you my feelings.”
Tumingin siya kina Kevin at agad na tumugtog ang tatlo. Oh my god, wait, did he plan this, too?
Nagsimula siyang kumanta ng Way Back into Love habang nakatitig sa akin.
“Please sing with me,” he murmured after singing the first verse.
Despite my heartbeat getting erratic, I heeded his request, and he harmonized with me.
“All I want to do is find a way back into love,
I can't make it through without a way back into love.”
Everyone was still cheering for us, but all I could hear was his voice. All I could see was his face. That moment, nothing mattered anymore.
He gently held my hand and I his warmth immediately spread in mine. Gusto kong maiyak dahil hindi ko akalaing mangyayari ‘to. We had a lot to talk about and yet here we were, singing our hearts out instead.
Ang dami ring misunderstandings sa pagitan namin at kasalanan ko rin kung bakit kami nagkaganito in the first place pero wala siyang sinabi at tinanggap lang niya ang ginawa ko ngayon.
He stopped singing, but my group continued playing the instrumental. He squeezed my hand as a wistful expression appeared on his face. Suddenly, the crowd got quiet, as if they were waiting for our next move.
“I’m sure everyone already know that we were in a fake relationship,” simula niya. “I admit I was a jerk for pulling you into that childish gimmick, but I enjoyed spending time with you. And despite being in a pretend relationship, know that my feelings for you are real.”
The crowd broke their silence and erupted in screams and cheers.
“Darryl . . .”
I choked back the lump of emotions forming in my throat, as well as the tears welling up in my eyes. Seeing him nervously telling me his feelings was making me emotional, and I wasn’t sure if I could hold the tears back any longer.
“Steff, this time, let’s stop running away and pretending.” He drew in a deep breath, his hands shaking. “Will you be my real girlfriend?”
My tears fell as soon as I heard his question. Pero imbes na tuluyang maiyak ay natawa pa ako dahil ang crowd na mismo ang sumagot para sa akin.
“Yes na yes!”
“Bebe boy! Bebe girl!”
“Omg finally real na!”
“You guys were so obvious from the start!”
“Say yes, Tiffany!”
“Yes daw sabi ni bebe girl!”
I pulled him into a hug and whispered yes on his right ear.
“Really?” tanong niya at kahit hindi ko nakikita ang mukha niya ay na-i-imagine ko ang expression niya.
I chuckled. “Really.”
He hugged me tighter after that and spun me around. Halos magwala na rin ang mga nanonood at doon ko lang nakita ang friends ko, maging ang ibang campus princes at princesses ng batch namin na nag-ce-celebrate din sa harapan.
“Wala bang kiss d’yan?” Kevin suddenly said on the mic kaya nag-chant ang lahat ng ‘kiss!’
I was flustered by the sudden request, but my gaze landed on his lips. He curled his lips into a playful smile as he stepped closer to me.
Napalunok ako nang marinig ko ‘yon. It was embarrassing to have our first kiss as a couple in front of everyone, but I was waiting for this, too. Dahan-dahan akong tumango at ngumiti siya matapos ‘yon.
He inched closer, his right hand gently holding my right cheek. The tips of our noses were already touching each other, and it felt like the air in my lungs was being sucked. I closed my eyes the moment his lips brushed onto mine.
“I love you,” he whispered after our kiss, and before I could comprehend his words, he planted another light kiss on my lips.
That night, everyone celebrated our first moment as a couple.
That night, I was the happiest, and it was because of him.