I opened my bag and reached for the piece of photo I got from the event earlier. When I got a hold of it, I grabbed my camera using my other hand and pushed the preview button. I turned the photo around and saw Richard’s name on it. I flipped it over and saw the picture of me he took. I pushed the navigation button on my camera and stopped on the picture of Richard that I took. My eyes shifted between those two photos.
Well, whatever it is, you should hold unto it. It makes you happy, right?
Richard’s words got stuck into me. I stared at the photo he took and he’s right – I am happy, though the thing is, I’m smiling because I was looking at his photo that I took. Yes, he makes me happy but .. what now? Gee, I’m now sitting on a couch, in Richard’s office in his site visit, with two photos on my lap, a sprained ankle and with a very confused mind and heart.
The thing is, I’m starting to like him. But how can I like someone who’s obviously still in love with this woman in his life even if she’s long gone? And if he can’t really forget her, then probably no other woman can come in his life and let him love her the way he did when Sunshine was still around.
I want to help Richard move on – the same thing that he helped me to do. I know that it’s still early for me to be saying this but I’m already over Simon. Yes, I cried a lot yesterday but it’s because of the sight that I saw. But when I woke up this morning, I can’t feel the pain I felt. It’s like I really cried all the pain inside of me. But then, maybe it’s because our relationship is only a label and never a commitment since we’re always away from each other.
I looked back at my picture that he took. I wonder, was there a time that I looked at Simon the way that I’m looking at Richard in this photo? Was there a time that I’m just completely happy and I don’t care what lies ahead of me?
I placed the photo and the camera on the table in front of me. Then I saw the envelope on my lap. I already opened it earlier but I still hadn’t taken the contents out. I slipped my hands inside and I took out a folded piece of paper. There’s a note attached to it. It was all printed out and I don’t know to whom it belonged.
I thought you might need these. I’m for real. I’m here to help you.
What a weird note. I placed it beside me and I unfolded the paper I took out. On that side of the paper, an outline of a house is drawn with a chimney on top. I chuckled at the poor drawing then I noticed two small papers on my lap. I turned it over and a picture of the Ferris wheel and me sitting on a horse ride, in a .. carousel?
These photos are mine!
I could somehow remember that I went in an amusement park. Wait, or was it ‘we’? Then w-we tried out different rides. The carousel and the Ferris wheel is just a few of them.
We went there during my birthday.
What the – When did I start to recover my memory? Since when are these thoughts inside my head? And I know for a fact that it’s just new because I always try to think back to what happened on that blank part in my memory and this .. this part just showed up today.
I took a look at the paper I first opened. The crooked lines are so familiar. Did a kid draw this? It’s so below average –
O damn hell. This is my drawing.
“Ah, isa pang motivation.” I said as I placed the paper on the table with my finger pointed at it.“O diba? Malay natin architect din pala ako. Ipakita mo na rin yan sa client mo bukas. Ang ganda-ganda kaya ng design ko –“ I stopped abruptly when someone laughed so hard and then it was followed by some words I couldn’t make out. Then I started laughing. “Maganda naman ah!”
“Yeah. Maybe you have a chance of winning if you compete with the other children’s version of their houses.” A voice said. “And seriously, Maya. A chimney? Ang init init na nga dito sa Pilipinas tapos maglalagay ka pa ng chimey? Dapat aircon na lang!” And then he burst out laughing again.
I can feel my head spinning. A part of my memory started playing automatically. Was that the truth? Is that really a part of my blank memory? I need something to drink. A water bottle is on the desk a few feet away from me. I stood up but my sprained ankle prevented me to. I ended up feeling the pain and falling forwards.
I heard the door opened and two hands are immediately trying to lift me up. I sat back on the couch and that’s when I saw Richard in front of me. His hand is on my shoulder while the other one is on my neck. “Maya, are you okay? What happened? Are you hurt?”
I swallowed. “K-Kukunin ko lang sana ‘yung tubig dun sa table mo. Nalimutan kong may sprain nga pala ako.” I softly said.
I heard him mutter something and I bet he was cursing under his breath. He stood up and grabbed the bottle on his table and stopped halfway from me. His gaze shifted to something not far from me and I turned my head to follow his gaze but I couldn’t really see what he’s actually looking at. “Bakit?” I dared to ask.
He pursed his lips before opening his mouth to speak. “Y-You already saw what’s inside of the envelope?” He asked.
I nodded. “Richard, alam mo ba kung sinong nagbigay no’n?” I asked. “Importante kasi sa’kin ‘yung laman.”
He shrugged and started walking again. He opened the bottle and gave it to me. “No, sorry. I just saw it outside your house.” He replied. “A-Ano bang laman?”
I reached for the content of the envelope and placed it on his lap. “Alam ko drawing ko ‘to eh.” I said as I pointed at the typewriting. “Sabi ko sa’yo ‘di ba, mahilig akong manloko kahit arki ako. Sure akong drawing ko ‘to. Tapos ito namang pictures, ‘yung sa Ferris wheel, ako ‘yung kumuha tapos tignan mo ‘tong picture ko. Ako ‘to oh.” I said.
Richard examined it and raised his head but only met my gaze for a fraction of a second. “Bakit ‘yung tono mo, parang hindi makapaniwala dun sa laman? Is there something wrong?” He asked.
My eyes widened and I, too, looked away. “W-Wala. Wala naman.” I replied. I haven’t really told Richard about my amnesia thing. There are only a few people who knew about it, namely me, Kute, Simon and Emman. I don’t really like to talk about it. I don’t want them to treat me differently because of it. If somebody asks where I’ve been during that time, I just tell them that I’m in the States and they would buy it without the analyzing thing that I do. I think the reason why I analyze things is because I have trust issues. “Nandyan na si Emman?” I asked.
Richard nodded but still didn’t look at me. “He’s on his car. Parang ayaw akong lapitan eh. Maybe I should’ve taken a shower back at the hospital. Mabaho pa ata ako eh.” He said.
“Ang bango mo kaya.” I blurted out and when his amused gaze met mine that is the only time when I realized what I’ve said. I quickly broke our contact and looked away as I bit my lower lip. Gee, Maya! What a good way to embarrass yourself!
I heard Richard laugh and I just buried my face on my hands. “Well, thank you very much for the nice compliment. It’s nice to know that even after I’m soaked in sweat, I still smell good.” He said and continued laughing.
“Richard naman eh!” I exclaimed. What else could I say? I just blurted out what’s supposed to be in my thoughts forever. It’s the truth after all. I do bet it’s his perfume. It has this musk that seemed to stick to him.
“Let’s go before you could even make a bigger embarrassment of yourself.” He said with a laugh and stood up. My head is bowed down as I put the papers inside my bag and Richard took it, placing the strap on his shoulder. He assisted me with his other arm and together, we walked until we’re only a few feet before Emman’s car. “You know, it’ll be much easier if I carry you.” He said and I was about to say no when he ducked and carried me in his arms again.
“Richard!” I yelled but quickly closed my mouth when I saw that there are many people around us. “Richard! Ibaba mo ko! Ang lapit na ni Emman eh!” I muttered.
Richard just laughed. “I know. Eh nahihirapan ako sa pwesto natin eh. And you were walking so slowly. Baka pasko na bago pa tayo makarating sa kotse ni Emman.” He teased and then laughed. I saw Emman with his mouth gaped when we we’re closer. When Richard is about to bring me down, it turned into a smile that was teasing me. “Emman, pabukas naman ng pinto, isasakay ko na si Maya.” Richard said.
“Naku, Richard, hindi na bababa –“
“My pleasure Mr. Lim.” Emman said and quickly opened the passenger’s door of his car. Richard ushered me in and stood up to talk to Emman.
“Thank you. The doctor said that she needs to rest kaya kung pwede, light works lang ‘yung ibigay niyo kay Maya. Pwede na siguro ‘yung pipirma lang sa papel.” He said and I pinched his side since I can reach it. Richard bent a bit and laughed. “Richard! Ano ako, accountant?” I said and he just continued to laugh.
“Ayaw mo nun? Pipirma lang, may sweldo na?” He said and continued to laugh, making me laugh too. Emman was just eyeing us. “Sige na, sige na. Ako na lang bahalang mag-edit sa photos.”I finally said.
“There. Papayag ka naman pala eh.” Richard said with a smile and turned back to Emman. “Basta if something happened with Maya, just give me a call. Ingat sa pagmamaneho. Thanks again.” Emman just nodded and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at him. He’s completely mesmerized by Richard’s charm. “Maya, remember what Jerry said, okay?” Richard said as he bent down to level with my eyes. “Dadaan ako sa bahay niyo mamaya. Bye.” He said with this smile on his face and before I could argue, he stood up and left us.
Emman slid in the driver’s seat and gave me a teasing look. “O? Bakit?” I quickly asked with a straight face but my reddened cheeks might be a give away.
Emman rolled his eyes at me. “Asuuus, bakit daw. Kung alam ko lang, binili ko na ang buong kettle corn para marami tayong popcorn. Mukhang ang dami mong ikukwento sa’kin eh.” He said and drove off. “May popcorn na ako dyan sa backseat. Wala nga lang tissue.”
“Hmm.” I pouted my lips before I spoke. “Emman, hindi na ata kailangan ng tissue.” I said and before Emman could react, I spoke again. “Mamaya na kita kukwentuhan. Papuntahin mo muna tayo dun sa venue nung prenup.”
“Ay, oo nga pala. Tumakas ako eh. Ang sabi ko kailangan kitang puntahan, ewan ko kung maayos ‘yung pag-eexplain ko. Si Papa Richard kasi eh, nakakaloka, biglang tumawag. Hindi naman ready ang beauty ko.” He said.
I laughed. “Kaya pala nagtaka si Richard kasi hindi ka daw sumasagot. Sabi ko nga natense ka eh.” I said. We arrived shortly at a hangar where Emman would do some of the last photos. I was sitting on one of the chairs where Emman’s things are placed on the table in front of it. The couple was really cute as they posed the way Emman instructed them to do. Emman told me during the ride that the couple met in an airport. The guy, Edward, is a CEO of an airline industry while the girl, Joy, is a flight stewardess.
When I returned back home with a blank memory, I had a ring on my finger, indicating I was engaged. Did we also have a prenup photo shoot like this? Was my fiancé and I this sweet? And do we also have this kind of love story? And if so, where is he? If he truly loved me then he would’ve searched heaven and hell just to find me, right?
When the shoot ended and we’re back inside the car, Emman shifted in his seat and faced me. He reached for something at the backseat and sure enough there’s a whole bag filled with popcorn. He placed it between us and started munching with a smile on his face. “Now that the job’s done, magkuwento ka na!” He exclaimed.
I shrugged. I don’t really know where to start. “Break na kami ni Simon. Nahuli namin siya ni Kute sa airport na may kasamang babae. Tinu-two-time pala niya ako. Three months na sila nung babae niya. So ayun, kinompronta ko siya sa parking lot ng airport, nasampal ko siya, umuwi kami ni Kute tapos umiyak ako sa kwarto hanggang sa nakatulog na ako.” I said. I was expecting Emman to react like he really cared but instead, he squealed.
“Ayy! Dali na. Fast forward na dun sa part kung nasaan si Papa Richard!” He exclaimed. “Don’t get me wrong pero hindi ko talaga gusto para sa’yo si Simon, gurl, sinasabi ko na ‘to dati diba?. Kasi lagi siyang wala, ni hindi man lang nag-day off para sa birthday mo! Anong klaseng boyfriend ‘yon? Buti nga siya, sampal lang ang inabot niya mula sa’yo. Kung ako ‘yun, jinombag ko na. O sya, sige, tuloy ang kwento.” He said.
That wasn’t the first time that Emman told me that he doesn’t like Simon for me. But I kept insisting that we’re meant for each other so in the end, he supported me with him. I guess I should’ve listened to his advice a long time ago. If I did, then maybe I could’ve avoided this whole heartache.
But then, I would also miss the part where Richard came into my life.
“So nung naiyak ako, natawagan ko pala si Richard pero hindi sya sumagot. Pumunta siya sa bahay kasi hindi daw ako nasagot sa text at tawag niya and he doesn’t have any idea to what happened to me. Emman, he was there when I cried even more when I woke up. SIya yung naging sandalan ko. Hanggang sa kumalma na ko, gawa niya. Ang sabi kasi niya, iiyak ko na daw lahat, after no’n, I will cry no more. And that’s exactly what I did.” I said and Emman just continued to munch his popcorn.
“And then and then?” He excitedly said and I grabbed some popcorn to eat too.
“Nung tumawag ka, nasa bahay siya non. Iniwan kami ni Kute. Nung nalaman niya na may event akong pupuntahan kinabukasan, ang sabi niya susunduin niya ako. Kaya hinatid niya ako kanina. Tapos sumali pa siya dun sa contest.”
“Wait, wait, si Mr. Lim, nagjogging?” Emman asked with his eyes wide. I just nodded. “Omaygad, Maya! Dapat kinuhanan mo ng litrato. OMG, ang hot hot siguro niya.” He said.
“Actually Emman, I did.” I said and pulled out my camera from its bag and showed him the picture. Emman’s mouth gaped. “The contestants need to submit a photo di ba? And guess what Richard submitted?” I asked and Emman just stared confusedly at me. I pulled out the piece of photo inside my bag and showed it to him the photo of mine that Richard took. Emman’s mouth gaped. “I know. Are you ready for more? Kita mo ‘yung ngiti ko? Ang sabi ni Richard, I should hold unto what I’m looking at because it makes me happy. And .. and I was looking at the photo of him that I took.”
“Ahhhhh!” Emman squealed. “Diyos ko mahabagin! Pak na pak ang love life natin! Bakit ba hindi ako pinagpala nang ganito! Tapos kanina buhat buhat ka pa ni Papa Richard! Ay nako, Maya, ikaw na, ikaw na talaga!” He said and I just giggled. “So ano na? Nanliligaw na ba?”
“H-Ha?” I stammered.
Emman rolled his eyes again at me. “Maya, he’s obviously sweet to you. Alam mo bang hindi nangiti ‘yong si Papa Richard? And I think you just changed that. Natawa na nga kanina eh. At marunong pang magjoke! You changed him like this.” He said and snapped his fingers. “At sure ako, sasagutin mo agad ‘yon kapag nanligaw.”
I shook my head frantically. “Hinde, hindi Emman, hindi siya nanliligaw. Ano, may, argh, patay ako kay Richard nito. Okay. Tanda mo ‘yung tanong ni Simon na kung may nang-iwan daw sa kanya sa araw ng wedding day niya? Well, totoo ‘yon. Sinabi sa’kin ni Richard and unfortunately, after years, mahal niya pa rin ‘yung babae. As in sobra. Hinanap na daw niya kung saan-saan, hindi niya nakita. Mahal niya pa rin kahit na sobrang sakit nung naramdaman niya. Hindi ko nga alam kung nagkagirlfriend ulit ‘yon ngayon eh.”
Emman sighed. “Ay mahirap nga ‘yan. Pero girl, bakit parang naiirita ka? Selos ka no?” He pried and I remained mum. “Bakit Maya? In love ka na kay Richard, ano?”
I bit my lower lip. Is that the reason why I’m like this? Why I’m always jealous of the love Richard gives Sunshine? Why I feel that I’m completely happy with him? I thought I just liked him? Yet, I couldn’t answer Emman’s question.
“O? Ano na, natulala ka na dyan? Hindi ka makasagot ano?” Emman said and I just continued to be quiet. “Hay, nako, Maya dela Rosa. Confirmed. In love na kay Richard Lim.” He said and I felt the car move.