“So, M, what do you do for a living?” Richard asked as he smiled lovingly at his partner. The two of them kept dancing with each other as the music already changed the third time. These two doesn’t seem to remember that they are part of the ‘Single’s Circle’ and that they completely disobeyed the instruction of the emcee. To keep the circle going, the woman who’s supposed to be Richard’s partner will be dancing with the man on his right instead.
“Akala ko ba walang personal questions, R?” Maya said and then she giggled. “Ikaw ha.” Maya was never expecting that she would actually have fun during the ball. It’s all because of her partner. Surprisingly, her partner made her worries go away. He made her forget that she’s avoiding the man next to them because of his witty jokes.
“No personal questions? Eh ikaw nga ‘tong tanong nang tanong dyan.” Richard teased. His smile doesn’t seem to disappear ever since he started dancing with Maya. At that moment, he knew that he doesn’t care on what’s happening around them. All he wanted is to dance with this lady in front of him.
“Hindi kaya! Ni hindi ko nga alam kung anong company ang pinaghaharian mo Sir eh.” Maya replied. Richard laughed. He shifted his hand so that both of his hands are lying on either sides of Maya’s waist. Maya’s cheeks grew warm when she saw what Richard did. And for her not to be in an awkward position, she put both of her hands on Richard’s shoulders.
“And why is that?” He said, looking straight into her eyes. Maya stared at Richard’s eyes a second longer. Maya got lost in them. “You called me Sir again. Do I have to repeat that I don’t want you calling me that?” Richard continued.
“A-ay sorry. Eh kasi naman, baka sabihin ng iba, hindi kita ginagalang.” Maya reasoned out, earning her another laugh from Richard. “Pero, ano ngang company mo?”
Richard just smiled at her. “You’re really amusing, you know that?” He said. He had never talked to a woman before who’s like the lady in front of him. And even though they just knew each others first-letter names, he felt like he knew her all his life. “But even if you’re amusing, I will not tell you what company I own.”
“Ay, ang daya mo R ha.” Maya said and pouted. Richard just chuckled. “M, if I told you what company I have, makikilala mo agad ako. Unlike you. There are thousands of People in Time Airways, and if I would like to find you, mahihirapan ako.” He said.
Maya nodded. “Point taken.” She said. The two of them remained silent after that and just enjoyed the waltz they are doing. Even if they were both strangers, they felt really comfortable having each other. They both felt that everything was right. Richard closed his eyes and so did Maya. A few minutes later, Maya felt someone pushed her from her back. They were about to fall but Richard quickly regained balance. He held Maya close and asked, “Okay ka lang?”. Maya nodded and immediately looked back and saw a black-silver masked lady standing before them and she looks like she’s ready to eat someone alive. Maya recognized her as the woman on her left before this dance started.
“Excuse me, Miss. Parang sinosolo mo naman ata ‘yang partner mo?” The lady said with her arms crossed. Maya didn’t like the tone in her voice so she left Richard’s arms and faced the lady. She was about to give the lady a piece of her mind when she felt a hand grip hers. Maya looked at her hand and saw Richard’s hand holding hers.
“Let’s go.” Richard whispered. Then he turned and head outside. Richard was aware of the eyes that followed them as he dragged Maya out of the circle. He saw the doors of the balcony open so he went straight there. The cold evening air welcomed them.
“R, sino ba yung babaeng ‘yun? Ex mo ba?” Maya asked as Richard continued to walk. She hadn’t noticed that the whole place has a balcony in it. Richard walked a few more until they reached the edge of the balcony.
Richard laughed when he heard Maya’s question. “No she’s not. We knew each other and parang nagkagusto siya sa’kin. And I think she’s obsessed.” He said. Maya’s eyes widened. “Oh?” she asked. Richard nodded. “Pogi kasi ako eh.” Richard continued.
Maya laughed. “Ang yabang eh!” she said as Richard laughed with her. “Pero seryoso, anong meron sa babaeng ‘yun?” Maya asked. She was aware of her hand that was still held by his.
“I don’t know. Pero feeling ko talaga obsessed siya.” Richard said. He doesn’t really want to say that Diana is his employee or else, he knew that Maya will finally find out who he is. Maya was about to say something when Richard tugged her and gestured her to sit on the bench. Maya gaped at the view in front of them. There was a lake outside and the fireflies lit up the whole place.
“Ayy! Ang ganda naman dito!” Maya squealed.
“Yes.” Richard replied but he was not talking about the view because his eyes never left Maya’s face as they sat down.
“Ay, R, wait lang ha. May kukunin lang ako sa loob. Babalik ako ha?” Maya said as she quickly stood up but Richard’s hand witg hers stopped her.
“Anong kukunin mo?” Richard asked.
“Yung pouch ko, nasa table namin.” Maya answered, then her eyes shifted to their hands. “Yung .. yung kamay mo, makikibitaw naman.”
Richard smirked and pulled Maya to him. The latter almost lost her balance but Richard caught her. “Ako na.” He said. “Stay here.” Richard assisted Maya to sit down and turned to leave. But Maya held his arm and unabling him to move further. “Your hand, M.” Richard said.
“Ako na kasi. Saka paano mo makukuha eh hindi mo nga ako kilala diba?” Maya said as she stood up. “Dito ka na lang. Ako na.”
“No. Ako na.” Richard said.
“Ako na.” Maya countered.
“Ako na nga kasi, R.”
Richard narrowed his eyes. “Fine.” He said raising both of his hands. He realized that what Maya said was true. He will be finding it difficult to ask for her pouch since he doesn’t know her name.
“Yess!” Maya exclaimed. “O sya, umupo ka na dyan.” She said. Richard sat down and stared at Maya as she walked away. When Maya was out of his sight, he turned his head back to the view of the lake. He took a deep breath and slouched so that he could rest his head on the back of the bench.
Richard smiled as he remembers the lady he was with. He blames everything to her because he knew that if it wasn’t for her, he would be home already. But it was also because of her that he felt this kind of happiness. He’s been all smiles since the two of them danced that even Diana didn’t ruin the moment. It felt all weird especially for a man like him who thought that he lost all hope in love after what Alex did.
The most peculiar part is that Richard feels those same feelings with the woman on the jeepney. Do I like another woman? Richard also wondered what’s under M’s mask. He’s picturing her having a beautiful face just like the picture of the woman in his phone.
If only they’re the same woman.
Maya made her way inside the room again and saw that the whole single’s ball thing is already over. An upbeat song was blasting through the speakers where people are dancing at the middle. She made her way to their table where Emman and the others are busy talking.
“Uy girl! San ka galing?” Emman said as Maya went near to her seat.
“Ah, ano, d-dun sa balcony.” Maya shyly answered.
“Maganda ba dun girl? Sama ako!” Emman said but she saw Maya’s face like she wants to say something. “Ay, may kasama ka roomie?”
Maya nodded. “O-oo eh.” Emman squealed after Maya confirmed it. “OMG Roomie! Sino itech?” Emman asked as he gestured Maya to sit down on her chair.
“Ay hindi na, Emman. Ang sabi ko kasi babalik agad ako.” Maya replied making Emman to squeal again. “Emman! Ano ka ba!” Maya said as she tried to hide her reddened cheeks.
“Sino nga siya Roomie?” Emman continued to ask. “Ay, anong kulay ng mask?”
Maya rolled her eyes. “Kailangan talaga, yung kulay ng mask yung alamin mo?”
“Oo naman no!” Emman quickly replied. “Ay teka Roomie. Ikaw yung kanina dun sa gitna diba? Yung hindi na umalis sa piling ni Mr. –“
“Hep hep!” Maya interrupted. “Kung kilala mo siya, please, wag mong sabihin yung pangalan kasi may kasunduan kami na bawal magsabi ng anything personal at ayokong sirain yung usapan namin.” Maya said in one breath. Emman just gaped at her. “At oo, ako yun Emman.”
Maya was expecting Emman to bombard another round of questions but she was surprised when Emman squealed more. “Ayyyyyy! Gorabels na Roomie! Wag mo na siyang paghintayin! Lakad na!” Emman said as he pushed Maya away.
“Lakad na Roomie! Dito lang ako don’t worry! Sige na!” Emman giddily said. And when he was sure Maya was out of sight, he muttered, “OMG! Ang swerte ni Roomie! Si Mr. Lim pa!”
While Maya was walking towards the balcony, she tried to asses her feelings. She felt really happy. And the strange thing was the last time she felt this way was when James was with her. At first, she thought that she would be scared because the person she was with was a complete stranger. But after the time she spent with him, she felt really comfortable and even enjoyed his company. Unlike Emman, she knew that she would still feel the same regardless of what color R’s mask is.
She really liked the way he introduced himself. Now, the letter R is not just a part of the alphabet for her. It was then when she remembered the handkerchief that the stranger inside the jeepney gave her. The letter R was embroidered on it. Maya remembered that the stranger has this chinky eyes almost the same when she stared at R’s eyes earlier.
I wonder if they’re the same person.
Maya saw Richard at the bench where she left him. Even though it’s quite dark, she can saw that his eyes are closed. Maya gently sat down next to him and stared at his face. She, too, was wondering what’s under his mask. Maya knew that his smiles make her feel like she’s melting, what more if he actually took the mask off?
Maya carefully took her phone out from her pouch and pressed her camera app. She pointed the lens at Richard’s face and pressed the capture button. She smiled when she saw that she successfully captured his photo. Even though it’s dark, the dim light from the lamp posts around them were already enough for his face to be seen.
As she stared at the photo, Richard eyes opened. He straightened from his seat and faced her. “I’m sorry. Nakaidlip ata ako.”
Maya just smiled at him and stood up. She lifted her phone and pointed it on the view of the lake and took a photo of it. Then she turned to Richard and said, “Tara, R. Selfie tayo.”
“What?” Richard asked. A smile was painted on his face again.
“Selfie. Yung mag-pipicture ka mag-isa?” Maya explained and sat down beside him again.
“If you’re going to include me, edi hindi na selfie ‘yun?” Richard amusedly asked. “Sabi mo mag-isa lang.”
“Edi groupie! Dali na.” Maya said as she sat beside him and pointed her phone on them.
“No. I’m sorry, M, but I don’t do .. uh, groupies.” Richard said, giving Maya an apologetic smile.
Maya raised her brows up. “Hay nako, R. If there’s one thing you have to know about me, mahilig akong magpicture-picture. Kaya, wag ka nang kumontra.” Maya said and pointed her phone again.
“No!” Richard said as he tried to stifle his laughter. “How about this? Kukuhanan kita ng picture sa phone ko, tapos kukuhanan mo ako ng picture sa phone mo.”
Maya paused for a bit to think. “Sige sige.” She said as she gave her phone to Richard.
“Bakit mo binigay sa’kin ang phone mo?” Richard asked.
“Ang gusto ko, selfie ang gagawin mo.” Maya said and then she laughed.
“Silly.” Richard muttered. “Ikaw muna.” He said. Maya stood before the railings of the balcony. Richard secretly smiled when Maya posed. But before Richard took a photo of Maya, he quickly pressed the home button of Maya’s phone, entered his phone number and dialled it. His phone rang but he quickly ended the call.
“Oh? Bakit mo pinatay? Baka importante ‘yun?” Maya asked when she saw what Richard did.
Richard smiled at him. “It’s okay.” Then he pointed his phone at Maya. When he already took the photo, he looked at it and felt the exact feeling he had when she took the lady’s photo on the jeepney.
“Ikaw naman!” Maya giddily said as she approached him.
“Do I really need to do the whole selfie thing?” Richard asked.
“Oo! Ito yung first time mong magse-selfie, kaya dapat may remembrance!” Maya continued.
Richard sighed. “Fine. But I’ll be doing this just for you, okay? Be thankful.” He teased.
“Ngayon pa lang, thankful na ko. Dali na R!” Maya said.
Left with no choice, he pressed the button that made Maya’s phone camera to shift to its front camera. He held it within arm’s length and pressed the capture button. Maya quickly grabbed her camera from him and looked at the gallery.
“Ang cute mo R, oh!” Maya exclaimed. Richard just rolled his eyes. “You owe me one.”
Maya nodded. “Sige. Kahit ano pa yan!”
It’s as if on cue, the slow music was played again that can be heard on the balcony. Without hesitation, Richard closed their gap and laid out his hand to Maya.
“May I have this last dance?”