Who knew Richard Lim is actually nice? I just finished talking to him a couple of minutes ago. I was feeling sad but now it all changed. After the interview, Simon said he needs to go and poof, he’s gone. He haven’t even greeted me happy birthday! Imagine how pained I am. It’s the first time since a year that we’re meeting again and now, his job is more important than his girlfriend? What a guy. I was going to ask him to go with me at Pocholo’s later but it looks like it’ll be just Emman, Kute and me.
Great. My first birthday back here in the Philippines and it already sucks. On second thought this one is not really bad. I spent two birthdays back in the States and I would usually spend it with me buying something to reward myself. Nanay was also there to celebrate but I just don’t feel like it. When I’m with them, I feel like I’m a foreign organism. I do not belong.
As I was checking the settings on my camera, I saw Emman glaring at me. I narrowed my eyes at him. “Why are you glaring?” I asked.
“Hmp!” He reacted and stood beside me. “Ikaw ha, nang-aagaw ng love at first sight.” He said.
“Ha? Anong nag-aagaw ka dyan?” I asked again.
“Maya, kitang-kita ko, with my own two beautiful eyes, kausap mo si Mr. Lim kanina. Tapos nagtatawanan pa kayo tapos – Oh my pink walls, sinasabi ko na nga ba eh. Tignan mo, pinagmamasdan mo yang litrato niya na kinuha mo kanina.” He muttered as he pointed his finger on the screen of my camera.
I immediately pulled the camera back. “Emman! Baka masira!” I exclaimed. He withdrew his hand and I slowly put the camera back in front of me. My eyes lingered on the picture. He looks so happy here. I wonder what he’s thinking. Earlier, I learned that there’s a reason why he doesn’t smile. I wonder what it is. Maybe it’s the woman who left him? I really hate that person, no matter who she is. She doesn’t have the right to wipe the smile of this .. this man. Wait a second, why does he look familiar?
“Kita mo na, Maya! Nagpa-fangirl ka na. Naku naku naku, patay ka kay fafa Simon –“
“Pabayaan mo siya.” My mood shifted immediately. I pulled my head up and saw Richard fussing the collar of his polo. I smiled but quickly bit my lower lip so that Emman couldn’t see it. Without hesitation, I walked until I’m standing in front of him. I could tell by the look on his eyes that he was surprised to find me there. I lifted my hand and fixed his collar.
“Thank you.” He muttered. Sure he doesn’t smile but his eyes are the ones that smiles for him. I bit my lip again and nodded. I gave him a smile before I went back to my place. “Aba, aba, aba, Maya dela Rosa. Ano ‘yon? Paki-explain please.” Emman muttered.
I chuckled by my friend’s interrogation. He’s always like this. He gets too selfish with the guy he likes even if he doesn’t have any relationship with him.
“Emman, inayos ko lang yung collar ni Richard –“
“At first name basis na kayo ha. Nagdududa na talaga ako sa’yo.” He kept on muttering.
“Emman, eto na naman ba tayo? Ikaw naman yata ang may trust issues eh. Tapusin na natin ‘tong trabaho please para makapunta na tayo sa Pocholo’s.” I replied. I glanced back at Richard and saw that he’s texting someone.
I saw Emman’s mood shift. “O my gosh! Lafang ba mamaya? Libre ni Kute kasi birthday mo?” He asked with a smile on his face. And when I nodded, he jumped up and down. “Ay bongga! Sige na, roomie, sa’yo na si Mr. Lim. Basta akin na lang yung mga pagkain mamaya sa Pocholo’s.” He shrieked. Emman always had a thing with the foods that were served in our restaurant. He’s always willing to exchange everything just for it.He says that it’s the best food he ever tasted in his whole life. Maybe I should hook him up with Kute. They’re still a normal couple if that happens right? Despite of all the .. abnormalities between them.
“Excuse me, Maya, but can we please get started? I still have to meet up with James.” Richard said, bringing me back from my memory.
“O-Okay.” I politely replied. I was caught off guard when he mentioned my name. It’s the first time that he has mentioned it and his voice is different when he called me. I have this feeling inside of me that I can’t put my finger on. It feels like I heard someone called me the way he did. This is absurd because everybody calls my name and I feel the same. But with Richard, something is different.
I started directing the photo shoot. I could see that Richard was a little bit intimidated with the couple of shots but as the time passed by, he started to warm up. I would usually coach him with what pose he will do and he’s followed each one obediently.
Even though I was having fun at the photo shoot, I was still waiting for my phone to ring. Sadness fills me with every minute that passed without it ringing. I was hoping he would send a text or even call just to greet me. But I think Simon really forgot about me.
“Girl, restroom lang ako. I’ll be back.” Emman said and turned to Richard.
“Excuse me.” He said and then he left.
I was browsing the photos on my camera to drift my mind off of Simon. It’s just unfair you know? Is it too much to ask that he should leave all of his works behind just for this day to spend it with me? Is it selfishness or am I in the right position to demand something like that. I love him. Of course I love him. But I wonder if he loves me too, or his work is the one he truly loves?
I brought my head up and bumped something behind. I head a groan and when I looked on my right. I saw Richard with his hand brought up on his lower lip and one of his fingers kept wiping something on it. It took a while before I saw something red oozing out from his lower lip. I approached him and without a thought, I placed my hands on either side of his face to look at the wound.
“I’m sorry! Hindi ko kasi alam na nasa likod kita. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Masakit ba?” I quickly said as I scanned his lip. Some blood is still coming out so I reached for a tissue on the table beside us and sprinted back to him. I placed my hand on his chin while I used the other one to dab the blood.
“Ouch, ouch. Gently please.” He muttered as he jolted his head back.
“Sorry!” I replied. I lifted my hand and gently dabbed it. “Sorry talaga. Ano ba kasing ginagawa mo kanina don?”
“Y-You were looking at the photos and I thought I could sneak a peek. Eh hindi ko naman alam na tutunghay ka na pala.” He said.
“Sorry talaga!” I asked again. I’m the sorriest person it the world right now. When the blood stopped, I tiptoed a bit and blew on the wound. When I looked up, Richard was gazing at me. It was only then that I realized that what I’m doing is something that should not really be done between us. We’ve only met each other today yet I’m doing something this intimate with him?
“S-Sorry.” I stammered and quickly moved away, putting some distance between us. It took a couple of seconds before I found my tongue. I’m sure that he felt awkward, too because of what I did. “Ayos na yung labi mo?” I asked.
Richard wiped his lower lip again and looked at his finger. “Yeah, I think so. Pero mahapdi.” He said.
“Gusto mong lagyan natin ng alcohol?” I asked, trying to lift the tension between us.
I saw a hit of gladness in his eyes as his head jolted to my direction. “Are you crazy? Alcohol? Really? That’s the best you can come up with?” He asked.
I laughed. “Eh anong gusto mo? Band aid? Betadine? Agua oxinada?”
I saw him give a small smirk then opened his mouth to say something but he regretted it and closed it again. “Nah, I’m pretty sure my platelets will do their job.”
I chuckled. “Biologist ka rin? I thought you’re an architect.”
“It’s basic Bio, Maya. Kahit architect ako, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have the knowledge about other things too. Reading is very helpful.” He amusedly said.
“I hate reading.” I said as I looked at my camera again.
“I know.” I heard him say. My brows furrowed and I shot my head at him. “What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“Ah, I was uhm, referring to the .. the newspapers there earlier. Wala ka pa namang ginagawa and .. and you refused to look at it. Even to just read the headline.” He answered. Yes, I didn’t look at it because I already read one when I was in Limelight earlier. What does he mean by ‘I know’? Have we met before? Do we know each other? And how did he know that? Was he observing me since I arrived?
Before I could ask another question, Emman came back and we continued our photo shoot. There are only a couple of photos left and we finished right away. Richard headed straight to the back to change clothes and handed it to Emman when he was done.
“I need to go. Thank you so much for today.” He replied formally and I saw the formality in his eyes. I gave him a small smile and thanked him back, while Emman still swooned at him. I know that he wants to say something more but I bet he could see that I’m brushing him off. And then he’s gone.
“O, girl, kanila lang, close na close kayo ah. Bakit ngayong, ang distant mo na?” Emman curiously asked. I sighed and told him the story that led to Richard’s two mind-boggling words. Emman spoke after my story. “Maya, wag mong pangunahan yung tao. Malay mo naman, observant lang talaga siya. May mga tao kayang ganon. Wag mo na lang isipin. Maliit na bagay lang naman ‘yon. At saka gutom na ko. Pleaaaaaase. Kumain na tayo.” He said making me smile.
I sighed. Is he really like that? If he is, then I made a huge mistake. See? Trust issues. Not so very convenient. I tend to make people uncomfortable without knowing to myself that I’ve been doing it. I wonder if I could see him again. I want to apologize. I heard my phone beep and my hope died down when I saw that it was Kute, asking my whereabouts, instead of Simon, who should be the one asking it. I sighed again and turned back to Emman. “Tara na, hinahanap na ko ni Kute.” I said.
The whole ride was filled with Emman’s talking as he told me the tale of how he found his second love at first sight of the day when he went to the men’s room. He was telling the story comically, making me laugh at its wittiest parts. After a couple of minutes, he parked the car and off we went to enter the restaurant.
I was welcomed by my sister after entering, holding a blue cake with her hands and singing ‘Happy birthday’ while his trio strung the guitars behind her. This is my ever so loving Kute. She always knew the things that would make me happy, including this one. “Happy birthday bunso!” She greeted. I covered my face in embarrassment but I was smiling from ear to ear. The restaurant was almost full by this time and all their eyes are at me. “Make a wish!” Kute said.
I dipped my head lower and closed my eyes to make my wish.
I wish someone will come to remind me of who I was before.
Then I blew the candle. The restaurant was filled with claps and I gave my sister a hug, careful not to damage the cake. “Thank you Kute!” I said.
“You’re welcome bunso! Ikaw pa. Namiss kita eh! O sige na, may table pa dun sa may dulo. Umupo na kayo ni Emman, ako nang bahala sa pagkain.”
She said and I nodded. Surely, we found the seats she was talking about. Emman and I strode through the tables and settled ourselves on our table.
“Maya?” A voice said and when I looked on my right, James Ventura is sitting on the chair on Emman’s row. “What a coincidence! Happy birthday by the way.” He said with a smile.
“Thank you!” I happily replied. Then I heard another voice coming from someone the on someone in front of him. I heard his voice and figured out that he was talking to someone over the phone. His back was at me and my eyes almost widened when I felt that the angle of his back is almost close to the man in my dreams.. When the call ended, he placed his phone at the table and that’s when I saw who it is.
A/N : Naging busy lang po sa gala kahapon saka sa duty po sa simbahan kagabi. Malapit na po Holy week eh. Nawalan po ako ng time para magsulat. Thank you for those who waited!