Yes. I would run. That is the answer that I gave Richard but I doubt that I’ll be doing it soon. There are still a lot of things that I want to do first, especially to know this huge gap in my memory. Richard dropped me off after our stroll at the bay walk yesterday. I’m now at home, on a Monday afternoon, processing the photos I got from the shoot with Hanna.
I’m in awe of Richard. After pleading him, I finally heard his story. Even if he just told me the outline of it, I could feel the pain he went through. But then, maybe the girl has her own reason. If I were on her position, I would call Richard or even left a short message of why I left and not leaving him suffering like that.
But still, Richard still loves her.
Words may still be words but you could easily tell if a person is honest in them. When Richard said that he’s still madly in love with her, I believed every word. She’s a very lucky girl. Not all men are like Richard. I suddenly hope Simon is more like him. If I broke up with him, would he still continue to love me? Would he run for me? Or he would just pretend like I’m a page in a book that was meant to be turned?
I sighed and leaned back on the couch. Richard and Hanna’s photo is shown on the screen of my laptop. It’s the second time I’ve captured Richard’s smile through my lens. It feels like the most natural thing I do. I often do stolen shots of people but whenever I capture Richard, it doesn’t feel like it’s the first time I’ve done it.
It’s always been an excellent question. Why. Then people would have to dig deep just to blabber some nonsense words so they can reason everything out. Or some questions would remain unanswered.
I put a hand on my head and closed my eyes. One of those unanswered one will be my memory. Why can’t I remember anything from the past two years? A lot of days and months already passed but I only have vivid images and none of them showed any faces or some clear stories. I closed my eyes.
I can only remember few things. There’s this crowd that I have to walk through but I can feel a hand entwined with mine. Then there’s an image in my head of a house I poorly drew with a chimney, a Polaroid camera and a Ferris wheel. Then there are these souvenirs: the man in my dreams, my DSLR camera, the white dress that I was wearing when I got home and a ring on my finger.
None of it makes any sense especially the ring on my finger. Does that mean I’m already married? But then again, I remembered that I ran away too, just like Richard’s love. I suddenly felt guilty. I wonder if the man I left is still suffering just like Richard or he moved on like a snap. I can’t really remember what he looked like since the rain was pouring hard, blurring my view from my window. But I felt that I really love him because my eyes cried for me.
I sighed and stared at the photo on my laptop again. Richard’s right. We’re both sad people. Though I am thankful that even though he hardly knew me, he still trusted me with his story. I was brought back from my thoughts when I heard Kute’s car outside. After a few seconds, she entered the house.
“Hi Kute.” I simply greeted. She sank on the other couch in front of me and closed her eyes for a bit. I could tell she’s really tired. “Kamusta trabaho?”
“Absent si Bugoy eh. Nagkulang tuloy ng tao. Balak ko ngang mag-hire pa ng tao.” She replied.
I nodded. “Tama ‘yan Kute. Lalo na ngayong na nagpapagawa ka pa ng isa pang branch.” I said.
“Eh ikaw? Kamusta ang shoot mo?” She asked. “Kinakamusta ka ni Emman sa’kin kanina. Wala ka raw kasama eh.”
A smile went on my face. “Kasama ko si Richard, Kute.”
Her eyes narrowed at me. “Richard? Sinong Richard?”
“Si Richard. ‘Yung kasama namin ni Emman nung isang araw sa Pocholo’s?”
“Richard .. Richard na kasama –“ She abruptly stopped and her eyes widened. “Si Richard Lim? Yung sa Vanguard?”
I nodded. “Oo Kute. Basta mahabang storya. Kasi namali ako ng tawag. Nagpakaon ako kay Ruby eh siya pala yung natawagan ko. Ayun, kinaon nya ko tapos tinulungan pa ko sa shoot ko.”
“Tinulungan ka? As in yung inuutus-utusan mo saka sinisigawan mo?”
“Oy Kute, OA naman. Hindi naman ako naninigaw.” I defended.
“Kay Richard siguro, pero sa’kin hinde. Naalala mo pa ba ‘yon nung unang sabak niyo ni Emman? Natrauma na ata ako nung sinigawan mo ako gawa dun sa reflector.” She said.
I laughed. I do remember that day. “Ibinababa mo agad kasi yung reflector eh kahit hindi pa ako nakakakuha ng shot!” I exclaimed. I couldn’t really help it. It was our first job and we have to make an impression. I think I scared our first client and the impression we made is that the photographer was always mad and shouting.
“Teka, teka. Ay bunso ha, may naaamoy ako sa pagitan niyo ni Richard. Pinapaalala ko lang sa’yo, may Simon ka –“
“Alam ko, Kute.” I interrupted. “Saka we’re not seeing each other in a romantic way. More of friends. Wala namang masama dun ‘diba? Saka broken ‘yung tao, Kute. Kailangan niya ng kausap.” I said but my mind was betraying me. It kept on replaying the scene where Richard was opening the bottle of water for me and those stares he gave me.
“Naku bunso, ayan na o, ngumingiti ka na naman ng walang dahilan.” I heard her say and sure enough, my lips are curved up in a smile. I quickly removed it. What a strange thing. It felt like I automatically smiled. Before I could even utter a word, Kute spoke again. “Ah, nagtext si Eds sa’kin kanina. Ang sabi niya pabalik na daw si Simon ngayong araw. Kaunin ko raw eh.” She said.
My eyes widened and I quickly placed the laptop on the coffee table and pulled Kute up. “Tara na Kute! Baka magkasalisi pa tayo nina Simon! Tara na!” I said.
She chuckled and slowly sat up. “Grabe naman oh. Bawal magpahinga? Siya siya, tara na nga.” She said and I quickly ran to her car.
“Ang pinagtataka ko, bakit si Eds pa yung nagsabi na kaunin siya. Dapat si Simon na lang. Pwede naman siyang tumawag eh, o kaya text. May nare-receive ka ba bunso?” She asked as she drove.
I shook my head. “Wala nga Kute eh. Basta mamaya, tatanungin ko agad siya. Nakakamiss na kaya ‘yung taong ‘yun. Walang tawag, walang text, walang kahit ano. Kaso imbes na mag-alala ako, parang nag-aalala pa ko. Tama ba ‘yun Kute?”
“Siguro. Mahal mo ‘yung tao eh. Gano’n naman ‘yun ‘di ba? Nauuna lagi ‘yung pag-aalala bago nagagalit.” She said. “Tawagan mo nga si Simon kung nakababa na siya ng eroplano.”
I nodded and fished for my phone in my pocket. I dialled his number but after a few rings, the operator’s voice spoke. I tried it again and got the same response. “Kute, out of coverage area eh. Baka nasa eroplano pa.” I said.
She nodded. “Edi masosorpresa pala siya kapag nakita niya tayo. Hindi naman binaggit ni Eds na alam ni Simon.” I smiled and nodded. I’m just excited. We barely spent time with each other when I got back in the Philippines.
I excitedly watched the faces of the people that passed by. I’m only looking for a certain face and I really have to look carefully in this sea of people. Kute is standing beside me looking hard for him too. Then I saw him. I grabbed Kute’s arm and pointed excitedly at Simon. I was going to shout for his name when I saw a lady approach him. A huge smile went on Simon’s face and he leaned in to give that girl a kiss on her lips.
I went still.
Simon is an only child, whoever that woman is not his sister. And I’m sure that there’s no friend that will kiss another friend on her lips like the one that I saw with my eyes. My ears are ringing and I couldn’t hear a thing. Everything’s in slow motion. I saw Simon and the woman embrace and then kiss again on the lips. My heart shattered at the sight. They are walking toward us because we’re near the exit. When Simon saw me, he stopped from walking. The woman beside her stopped too but she looked at Simon and I bet she was asking why he halted.
I couldn’t utter a single word. My eyes spoke for me instead and I’m pretty sure that he got the message. I saw him let go of the hand he’s been holding and walked fast to approach me. Kute stood before me as if she’s going to protect me from what’s going to happen.
“Maya, what are you doing here?” I heard Simon’s voice said. I remained passive as my tears continued to fall. I was not expecting him saying that. He should be more concerned why I’m crying and not why I’m here. Of course I’m here. I want to go wherever he is because I love him.
“Simon, ayokong .. ayokong gumawa ng eksena dito, okay? Edukado tayong pareho pero isa lang ang gusto kong malaman.” I heard Kute’s voice. “Sino ‘yung babaeng ‘yon?”
I can’t take looking at him so I turned around. “S-Si Viel.” His voice said. “G-Girlfriend ko.”
I sobbed even more and headed outside. I ran until I reached Kute’s Pajero. I leaned on the side and cried harder. I heard someone call my name from afar until it got nearer and nearer and suddenly, the voice is already on my side. “Maya?” A voice said and I’m sure that it’s Simon.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I was going to tell you sooner but I .. I was scared –“
“Natakot ka? Nakatakot ka na ano? Natakot kang mabisto kita ng ganito ano? Natakot kang malaman ng babae mo na may iba kang babae?” I said furiously.
“Maya, it’s not that. Let’s talk about this when you’re calmer okay?” He said and attempted to leave.
“Dahil ano? Naghihintay na ‘yung babae mo?” I exclaimed. Good thing the parking lot was deserted. I just couldn’t handle my outburst. I’m so mad at him. He turned around and but didn’t meet my gaze. “I’ve known you all my life, Simon. We’ve known each other since we were kids. Never did I envision that you’ll do this. That you did this. Ang kapal ng mukha mo! Ang buong akala ko nagtatrabaho ka –“
“Nagtatrabaho ako! Wala na kong ginawa kundi magtrabaho! And I was expecting that you’ll be supportive! But no, all you talk about is having a vacation before I left States. Ang sabi mo, lagi na lang akong nagtatrabaho. Tignan mo nga ‘yang sarili mo! Ikaw din naman puro trabaho ang inaatupag!” He yelled back.
I was astonished for a second and then I found my voice. “Nagtatrabaho ako Simon kasi gusto kong tulungan si Kute. Kahit kailan hindi ako naging selfish sa oras ko dahil alam ko kung kailan ako dapat tumigil. Ikaw ‘tong bawat minuto, trabaho lagi ang iniisip dahil sa ambisyon mo –“
“There’s nothing wrong with my ambition –“
“Wala ngang masama Simon! Pero dahil sa ambisyon mong yan, handa mong iwanan lahat, katulad ko. Sinnusuportahan naman kita ah! Nasa tabi mo ko through your ups and downs. Nung una akala ko kahit na lagi kang busy, kaya natin pero wala eh. Habang tumatagal, lalo ka lang nagiging busy hanggang sa nakakalimutan mo na ko. Kaya ko gusto ng bakasyon kasama ka dahil feeling ko wala na tayong oras para sa isa’t-isa.” I said as my tears flowed endlessly. “Simon, ayokong maging tayo dahil lang sa isang label. But I guess wala nang saysay ‘yon kasi naghanap ka na ng iba.”
“Maya ..” He trailed off.
“Tell me, Simon. Gaano na kayo katagal nung isa mong girlfriend?” I coldly asked.
I saw him gulp before he answered. “Almost three months.” He said.
I couldn’t help myself and I slapped him hard across his face. I’m so fumed with my anger. “Three months?! Three months?!” I exclaimed. Then realization slapped me across my face. That’s why he doesn’t text me anymore, why he seldom call and why he was acting coldly. I should’ve known something is wrong. But I guess I was just too afraid to find out that it was the truth.
“Bunso!” I heard my sister call me. She grabbed my arm to hold me back from further hurting Simon. “Bunso, tara na.” She said and opened the passenger’s door for me. “Simon, umalis ka na. Alis na!” She yelled.
Everything that happened next was all a blur. I can hear Kute’s voice asking me if I’m alright as she drove and when we got home, I went straight to my room. Pain. Everything hurts. I never expected him to do anything like that. I trusted him.
I reached for my phone and for no reason, I dialled Richard’s number but he didn’t answer. I tried another call but his line is still busy. After spending the day yesterday with him, I’m already expecting that he will be here with just a call from me? Who am I kidding? I’m such a fool. Maybe it’s true since Simon already proved it today. I could hear Kute knock from my door but I don’t want to open it. I just want to cry myself to sleep.
I want to sleep so that I could be with the man in my dreams.
I want to be happy. And I know I can only be happy when I’m with him.