So far, the worst thing that happened to me was realizing that everything was not a dream.
Gusto ko na lang mag-evaporate sa hiya. Good thing the library was a safe space for me . . . for now. But really . . . I knew it was my idea, but that freak used it against me. Mas marami rin ang nakarinig kaysa noong tinawag ko siyang bebe boy.
I grumbled in frustration as I tried to reassess the situation. Right. I need their help.
Kukunin ko na sana ang phone ko pero bigla akong napatigil. “Oh my god!” I gasped, realizing that I hadn’t gotten my phone back from that guy. He picked it up, but I was so overwhelmed that I immediately ran away.
Agad akong napatayo at tumakbo pabalik sa garden. Buti na lang at wala nang crowd doon sa hallway ngayon pero hindi ko pa rin maiangat ang ulo ko sa hiya.
Fortunately, they were still there even though it has been half an hour since I left.
“You left your readings,” salubong ni Yna.
“Akala namin hindi mo na babalikan. I was calling you earlier—”
“Phone!” I interjected.
“Pahiram ng phone.”
They looked at me, confused. “Bakit ba parang ang restless mo? Anong nangyari—”
“Heol . . .”
Pareho kaming napatingin kay Yna. She was staring at her phone with a shocked expression on her face.
“Why?” tanong ko.
She showed as her screen and my mouth hang open upon seeing a photo of me and Darryl on the hallway. Nagsitayuan ang mga balahibo ko nang mabasa ko ang title ng article.
This year’s freshmen couple from the Elite class has a cute( or corny, your pick) nicknames for each other!
I plopped on the seat, dumbfounded at how fast these writers publish an article even with an incident like this. Wala pang isang oras ay nandoon na agad kami sa portal na ‘yon.
Alice started laughing as soon as she read the article from Yna’s phone. Maging si Jess ay nagpipigil ng tawa kaya gusto ko na lang lumubog sa lupa.
“Bebe boy?” sabay halakhak ni Alice. “Oh my god, Steff, ikaw ba talaga ‘yan?”
“Sorry Steff, pero ang corny,” dagdag ni Jess.
“Uhm, I kind of agree,” mumbled Yna.
I could feel my face blushing hard as I recalled the incident a while ago. That was such a stupid move, and stupid was something I did not want to be associated with.
Huminga ako nang malalim at muling nagsalita. I told them what happened and Alice finally lent me her phone.
“Pero seriously? Parang ngayon ka lang naging ganito ka-careless,” pang-aasar ni Alice.
“Omo . . . is that because of—”
“No, Yna, don’t mention his name,” I sternly said.
She sulked in return. “Fine.”
Agad ko namang tinawagan ang number ko pero walang sumasagot. Then I remembered I set it on silent mode. Nakakainis naman!
My hands were trembling in worry. Sa lahat naman ng pwede kong maiwala, bakit ‘yong phone ko pa? I would die if someone read the stuff in it.
You see, my phone has no password. Gusto ko kasi accessible agad ‘yon. Now I regret leaving my phone unprotected.
“Ipanalangin mo na lang na hindi siya pakialamero,” komento ni Alice.
I rolled my eyes in return. “Please. He’s the nosiest person I’ve ever met.”
“Wala bang password ang phone mo?” tanong ni Jess.
Yna chuckled. “None. She said it’s too much effort.”
“That’s Steff for you.”
Sinubukan ko ulit tawagan pero hindi talaga sinasagot. My god! Kung kailan naman kailangan ko ang pagiging papansin niya ay saka siya hindi nagpaparamdam!
Napabuntong-hininga na lang ako dahil mukhang hopeless na makuha ko ‘yon ngayon. Babawiin na sana ni Alice ang phone niya pero sabi ko ay tatawagan ko muna si Venice dahil may appointment kami mamaya.
“Sira ka ba? May klase siya ‘di ba? Akin na nga at ako na ang magte-text.”
“Fine. Just tell her na sabay kaming umuwi dahil may schedule kami later.”
“Schedule?” tanong ni Jess.
Agad kong pinandilatan sina Alice at Yna para manahimik. Good thing they understood.
“Wala,” I answered, forcing a smile. “Personal matters.”
Matapos kong makuha ang attache case ko ay pumunta na ako sa class ko. It was so hard to focus dahil iniisip ko pa rin ang phone ko. I just hope he did not see anything.
I almost got scolded because I was lost in thoughts during one of my electives. Mabuti na lang at nasagot ko ang tanong ni Ma’am kaya kahit papaano ay nakaligtas ako. Noong vacant period ko na ay dumiretso agad ako sa cafeteria dahil sabi ni Alice ay doon siya tatambay before ako magpaalam sa kanila kanina.
“Here!” kaway niya.
Nagmadali ako papunta sa table at pinatry ko ulit sa kanya patawagan ang phone ko.
She shook her head. “Ring lang nang ring.”
I sighed in return. Paano ko ba maco-contact ang lalaking ‘yon? We don’t even have a common friend to ask for his number.
Nanlulumo na ako nang biglang tumahimik ang paligid. There were simultaneous gasps behind me and even Alice looked like she just saw a ghost. Agad naman iyong napalitan ng nagpipigil na ngiti kaya kinutuban ako.
Suddenly, an arm appeared beside me and placed a familiar thing on the table. It was my phone.
I turned my head and his teasing smile came into view. “You dropped this earlier, Tiffany.”
My blood ran cold. I’m sure he saw something.
Before he could turn the situation in his favor, I grabbed his arm, much to everyone’s surprise, and dragged him out of the cafeteria.
I had never dragged a guy in my life . . . until now.
That was such an impulsive move that I only realized what I was doing when we were already walking on the hallway. Dahil lunchtime ay ang daming nakakita sa amin kaya halos gusto ko nang lumubog sa hiya. Halfway ay parang siya na ang humahatak sa akin dahil nakayuko na lang ako. Few minutes later, we ended up behind Math building.
Agad ko siyang sinamaan ng tingin noong kaming dalawa na lang ang magkaharap.
“What did you see?” I asked, with a hint of threat.
He shrugged in response. “Just a couple of notifications dahil kanina pa vibrate nang vibrate ‘yong phone mo. Hindi ko agad nasagot ‘yung tawag ng Alice kasi nasa class ako.”
I drew a deep breath to calm myself. Kapag kasi nagagalit ako ay naiiyak din ako at ayaw kong makita iyon ng lalaking ‘to.
“If you have seen anything, just keep it to yourself,” I said in a controlled tone. “And don’t bother me again.”
Bago pa siya makapagsalita ay naglakad na ako palayo. My eyes were getting misty, and I didn’t want anyone to see me getting vulnerable, especially my friends.
You see, my phone was my life. Nandoon lahat ng mga bagay na hindi ko kayang sabihin o ipakita sa mundo. It became my diary where I would usually type rants and musings. Kahit ang pictures ko sa part-time work ko.
Truth was, Venice and I were models. That was the work I was talking about earlier and only Alice and Yna knew about it. Our model personas were very different from our normal appearances, thanks to the wonders of makeup and styling. It was a secret as we did not want to be known publicly, lalo na at students pa lang kami, and most of our employers were just our parents’ friends anyway.
And now, he probably knew all my secrets, my vulnerabilities, already.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I hadn’t realized I was already on the open field. Tapos naman na ang classes ko ngayong araw pero ayaw ko munang puntahan si Venice sa school niya. She would surely notice something was bothering me. That was why I decided to waste time here. I settled under the shade of a nearby building and just stared vacantly at some students playing outdoor sports in the field.
The fresh air somehow soothed the unpleasant feelings in my chest, but the peace I felt was short-lived.
“This is my place,” a voice said. Pagtingin ko ay may lalaki nang nakatayo sa tabi ko. His brows furrowed when our gazes met. “Tiffany Damian?”
Napakunot din ang noo ko nang sabihin niya ang pangalan ko. Who was this guy?
Handsome was the first thing that came into my mind when I saw his face. Chinito na mukhang masungit. Wait, Alice said the remaining two Campus Prince had those features. Maybe . . .
“Patrick Reyes?” I asked and he nodded in response.
“Would you mind if I sleep here?” tanong niya pero nilalatag na niya ang suot niyang jacket sa damuhan. “I always sleep here.”
“Oh. No, go ahead.”
I was taken aback by his words that I just let him do whatever he wanted. At ang bilis niyang nakatulog kaya medyo nainggit ako.
Might as well rest for a bit before I pick up my sister.
My dream, which I could not remember any longer, was interrupted by some buzzing noise. I opened my eyes and stifled a gasp as Patrick’s face came into view. Napabangon agad ako at doon ko lang na-realize na tuluyan pala akong nakatulog kanina. Sabi ko, nap lang ang gagawin ko.
But what made my blood ran cold was the crowd that had gathered around us. Siguro ay nasa sampu sila at lahat ay nagbubulungan tungkol sa amin ni Patrick.
“Isn’t Darryl his boyfriend?”
“Patrick? Is that Patrick Reyes?”
“Oh no, she’s looking at us!”
Agad kong kinuha ang cardigan na nilatag ko at maglalakad na sana palayo pero natigilan ako sa nakita ko. Among the crowd was a familiar face and he was staring right at me.