I miss you.
It’s been a while since I last saw you, since I last knew you. I wonder where you are, how you’ve been, who you’re with. I wonder…
So it’s been seven years since I wrote this note. Funny though, it was made for you, only that it was never sent…never finished.
I had forgotten you after I let it all out on that hospital bed. I had changed drastically to fit in the world I have created for myself, by myself.
So I went on to have a life of my own. Lots of happy hour, non-permanent friends, techie gadgets, wider knowledge and so-so of that stuff.
It’s been seven years after all, you know. It would be shameful and worse, unforgivable to still let that long dead a ghost still haunt me.
But everyday, I remember you.
It’s like a cycle. I love you, I hate you, I forget you, I remember you then I love you again and hate you and it just never seems to stop. I could only wish that by some random, natural cause – or even by brute force – I would stop at forgetting you…but obviously that wish has not been granted.
“Jane, MoA tayo! Nood tayo movie!”
I inserted the note inside as I closed my journal.
“Ano yan? Gumagawa ka ulit ng poem? Pabasa!” Marie shouted.
“Hindi poem to. Adik ka.”
“Kelan ka ba ulit gagawa? Natuwa kasi ako dun sa last na pinabasa mo saken. Gusto ko i-post sa FB.”
“Ayoko nga. Alam mo yung plagiarism?”
“Damot! Sige, gawa mo na lang ako.”
“Wala akong inspirasyon gumawa ng tula e.”
“Aynako… O ano, sama ka ba?”
“Ako, ikaw, si Hans, Eric, Angela.”
“Ayoko. Mag-double date na lang kayo.”
“Eto naman, sige na.”
“Ano ako, chaperone ng mga lovers?!”
“Sus, para namang di tayo barkada!”
“Barkada, bakit kulang? Si James, si Marvin, si Carla, si Mona? O?”
“Maya pa sila out ng 4. Pasunurin ko na lang.”
“Nyek. Edi di sila makakasama sa sine?”
“Hmm. Edi gala muna tayo habang wala pa sila dun.”
“Baka ma-op ako sa inyo.”
“Di yan, libre ka namin ni Hans!”
Quezon City to Pasay isn’t so far, if we take the train. So we did. I had already imagined how crowded it can be, not riding the first car. But there’s not much choice, so we pushed ourselves in when the door opened.
Things I hate most when on the train?
Uncomfortable public space.
Blade-odor, as we call people who do not have consideration for us who can smell them. Amoy blade – gumuguhit sa ilong.
So, after twenty minutes of holding my breath, we finally alighted the MRT at Taft Avenue so we can get on those tiny vehicles that stop at MoA.
“Magkano pamasahe?” Marie whispered.
“Siete.” I answered.
“Hon, siete daw.” as she nudged Hans.
Hans took out a twenty-peso bill and asked his girlfriend to pay for the remaining peso. And I looked out the window.
“Sobra, dikit tuhod.” Hans stretched as soon as we were out.
“Si Jane nga dalawa sakop e.”
“Ang sama mo, Eric.”
I had foreseen such scene, that’s why I almost always refuse going out with lovers.
“San tayo? Kain muna tayo. Gutom na ko.” frowned Eric.
“Kahit san. Kayo bahala.”
“Si Jane, san mo gusto?”
“Ewan ko sa inyo, kayo manlilibre e.”
Eventually, Angela and Eric went to get Japanese while I stayed with Hans and Marie. They ordered pizza, and I asked for a lasagna. Supreme.
It was twelve minutes before four when we met up again with the two.
“Mga anong oras pala sila makakarating dito?” I asked Hans.
“Ewan, mga 5. Bakit?”
“E late na. Anong oras pa ko makakauwi.”
“Tanda mo na takot ka pa magpa-gabi.”
“Bakit, nasa edad ba and disgrasya?”
“Laki-laki mo e, kaya mo na yan.”
“Tae. Uwi na nga ako.”
I rolled my eyes and turned to Marie.
“Uwi na nga ako. Sinama-sama mo pa kase ako dito.”
“Ano ka ba. Yaan mo na, lalake talagang mapang-asar.”
“Oo kaya ayoko sa kanila.”
“Bitter?” teased Gel.
“O papunta na daw sila dito.” said Hans, holding his phone.
“Hintayin mo na, Jane.” said Marie to me.
Because I didn’t want to seem immature, I dreadfully waited for the others to arrive.
I was like a guard dog following from behind. The girls were excitedly window-shopping and ‘dropping hints’.
“Hon, bagay ba? Sayang di ko mabili. Mahal e.”
“Sige, sa bday mo.”
“Ako, malapit na birthday ko, E.”
It struck me.
E. is for…
“Kinakausap kita ano ka ba.”
“Sorry, di ko narinig.”
I turned to Marie and she shook her head. I turned to Angela and she gave me a puzzled look.
“Jane!” I heard again.
“Ako ba yun?” I asked them.
“Dun, may kumakaway dun.” mouthed Hans.
I looked around and sighted someone waving.
“Jane! Dito!” she called again.
I looked again, almost staring.
She smiled from the distance and I walked to where she was.
“Ate Lei! Ano pong ginagawa niyo dito?” I asked, and glanced at her sides.
“Jane, si Meki, my son. Michael, say hi.”
“Hi!” The little boy said, waving obliviously.
“Hello!” I said with a smile.
Rachel. She instantly became familiar.
“Hi Jane.” The sweet smile on her face was unforgettable.
“Hi Rachel.” I forcibly smiled back.
“Rach-el.” she corrected.
“Oh, okay, Reych-el.”
“I’m glad I finally met you. Ikaw pala yan.”
I felt ugly, hideous like an abomination.
“What do you mean ako pala to?”
“I’ve heard so much about you.”
“Really? How? Why?”
“Oh, how’s he?”
“Well.” she smiled again and replied.
I felt my spine chill. And the frost was painful.
“Ay sige po, una na ko. I’m with friends.”
“Okay, dalaw ka naman minsan.”
“Opo, sige po, ingat.” I slightly bowed at Rachel and pat little Meki’s head to bid farewell.
“Sino ‘yun?” Gel asked as soon as I came back.
“Friends.” was all I could say.
“Asan na sila?” I quickly segued to avoid anymore questions.
“Jeep na. Hintayin natin sa may entrance.”
I was floating. But I was happy at the thought that he wasn’t here. We sat on those benches – if you can call them – infront of the east entrance. I was listening to Gel’s story when I caught sight of him on his way towards the door. I was so sure. I closed my eyes and looked down, praying he wouldn’t see me. I couldn’t stand and walk away, or else, I’d surely catch his attention. I counted to five, there was no one talking. I let out a deep breath, relieved at the thought of my successful escape.
“Hey.” Then it was game over.
I tucked my lips and looked up to face him.
“It’s not so nice to see you.” The man infront of me said.
“I’m not surprised.” I answered.
At my peripheral vision, I could see my friends’ reactions.
“Really? I was expecting you’d say you’re not happy to see me either…”
“…out of the hospital bed.”
The air suddenly became dense.
“Jane?” I could sense the worry on Marie’s voice.
“Huuy! Dito na us!”
But everything else besides him and me seemed like widgets.
“Serious? O sino to?” Carla pointed at him.
“What’s the matter? Why don’t YOU say something? It’s not like you have a filthy tube taped to your mouth.” he continued, not caring about my friends at all.
“Excuse me, do you have any problem?” Hans stood and faced Ethan.
“Do you have any problem about me having a problem?” Ethan asked back, but not taking his eyes off me.
“It’s okay, guys, you can just leave us alone for a while.”
“We can’t leave you here with someone who doesn’t know how to respect a woman.” Hans resisted.
“Sure, you can’t leave her here. In fact, I want you all to see how I trash this woman infront of me.”
At that very moment, Hans became agitated enough to attempt to land a fist on Ethan’s face, but my friends held him back.
“It’s okay. He can’t harm me.”
So they moved away, but not too far that they could not see me.
“So. Tell me how unhappy you are to see me well.”
“I don’t intend to do so.”
“Really? I thought you loved to see me suffer.”
“Say what you want.”
“You don’t know how good I feel to be here, looking down at you.”
I couldn’t be wrong, those were the exact words I told him while he laid on that bed seven years ago. And I have no answer to it.
“Why did you say that? Do you have any idea at all about what I felt when I heard you tell me that?”
I looked down again, unable to speak. But I could notice that the rudeness in his words lessened, yet he maintained an authoritative voice.
He sat down right beside me, stayed silent for a while before sighing.
“I was happy when I saw you then. I thought to myself, you really cared about me. After all, you’re the only person I thought would constantly do.”
Was he reprimanding me? Humiliating me? I could not anymore decipher.
“What turned you to that bitch who came to me that day?”
I didn’t say a word, although I knew he wasn’t expecting an answer.
“Well, I want you to know that I’m not mad at you. Just disappointed maybe. That attitude didn’t make sense to me at all.”
“I’m sorry.” but I am not, it’s just that there was no answer more perfect than that.
“Why did you leave me?”
“I figured I should. I didn’t want to cross the line I once drew.”
“That line again, huh? What is it that you really fear, Jane?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re afraid you’d fall in love with me again?”
“So why don’t you?” a follow-up question.
“There is no space for me in your life, Ethan.”
“There always has been. You are just too scared because you don’t want to get hurt.”
“And who wants to?”
“If you really love me, you should start by facing your fear of loving me.”
“It won’t work.”
“Because I have Rachel?”
Bingo. Why ask what’s obvious?
“You should go. They’re probably waiting for you.”
“I wish that just once, you’d fight for what you really want.”
I can’t fight for what I want, if what I want fights to get something else.
“On second thought, I’m actually happy to see you.” he squeezed my hand. And with that, he left me with a smile and went inside.
I breathed deeply, and swallowed repeatedly to draw back my tears. Not very long after he walked away, my friends came back to console me.
“Jane? Anong nangyari?”
I told them all to not ask me, because the moment I start telling, I would surely cry. They understood. But then…
“Why don’t you go after him?” James asked, as if indifferently. I looked at him with wonder and anger.
“Well, it seemed to me that you were supposed to be together.” he added.
“That’s not anymore possible.”
“Always someone else.”
“But he’s back.”
“And he will hurt me again if I let him.”
“Why look at the bad side? Don’t you want to be happy again?”
“Because, he broke my heart, James! He broke my heart so many times I lost count!”
“How can you break something that’s already broken?”
I didn’t get his point.
“Well. If he keeps breaking your heart everytime, that must probably mean he can always put the pieces back.”
I thought for a while before answering.
“I don’t want to risk it again.”
“So you’re ready to lose him forever?”
“I have nothing more to give him! I loved him so much! I gave him my trust, my time, my plans! I gave him everything I could ever give everyone in my life and still nothing was enough! I gave him everything, James, and I have nothing left!”
“So you have nothing left? Then… what have you got to lose?”
Dead-end. He was right. But I didn’t want to concede.
“You know, Jane. Everyone can have their hearts broken, but rarely by the same person. If you let this person is go, you can never find another one.”
“I know, but…”
“I think you owe it to yourself to at least try.”
And with that, my pride crumbled.
“Go after him. I’m sure he’s taking his time waiting.” James said with a smile.
I looked at each one of my friends’ faces, and I saw in them hope and support. I wiped my tears, stood and ran after the man I’ve always loved. And not very far from where he left me, I saw him, still walking away, but I was eager to tell him the words I saved.
“Ethan.” I said loud enough for him to hear me.
He stopped and turned around. I wet my lips and took a step forward, and immediately he took the remaining steps to close in.
And we were finally facing each other, close enough for me to smell his perfume and feel the warmth of his breath.
Then, our eyes met.