Sa Kanya – Chapter 13 to Chapter 15

013

 I wiped her tears and stood up to leave. When suddenly, she whispered, “Mahal kita.” Napatigil ako at napatingin kay Mariel.

I stroked her face and dahan-dahan ko siyang hinalikan sa labi. Isang luha ang kumawala sa kanyang mga mata. I squeezed her hand and wiped that tear again. Tiningnan ko ulit si Mariel. She was asleep – just like that. 

Lumabas ako ng kwarto niya at napaupo sa sofa. Lahat na masakit. Masakit ang mata ko, ang ulo ko, at ang puso ko. Ito na ba talaga yun? Ito na ba talaga yung katapusan? Pano umabot sa ganito?

Pumunta ako sa kitchen at ginawan sya ng honey-syrup. For sure, masama ang hangover niyan bukas. Hindi naman pwedeng hindi iyan pumunta sa kasal ko.

Then I drove home.

[Mariel]

I woke up at around 11am. Sobrang sakit ng ulo ko and sobrang weird ng pakiramdam ko. I slowly stood up and looked at my face sa harap ng mirror. OMG! Namamaga ang eyes ko. What happened? Did I cry?

Napaisip ako as to what happened to me. All I remembered was that I drunk lots last night. I don’t even  remember kung pano ako nakauwi. I tried to think hard.. pero mas lalong sumasakit yung ulo ko.

I looked for my phone and naka-anim na missed calls na si Clara.. and ten messages. I read those texts and just put my phone back sa bag.

I sat at the toilet. “I’m not gonna see him walk away from my life. No way.” I smiled to myself and pumunta na ako sa kitchen to get water, you know, baka maflush out yung alcohol. I feel like my stomach’s twitching eh.

And then there was a honey drink and a note.

“Drink”

“Aww, ang sweet naman nitong si Daniel.”  Ininom ko naman yung honey drink and umupo lang sa table. Napatingin ako sa kawalan.

Ngayon na pala talaga yung araw na ikakasal siya. What, ilang oras nalang ba? Apat? O lima? In five hours, that man will finally walk out of my life. Siguro its time narin for me to really move on. For real na talaga.

I walked to my room and just let myself fall on the bed. I took out his photo in my drawer and just stared at it.

Napahinga ako ng malalim to stop my tears from falling.

Then my phone rang again. This time, I had to answer it.

“Hi..”

“WHERE ARE YOU? GO HERE!”

“I can’t.”

“AT BAKET??”

“I have a bad headache.. and feeling ko, my stomach’s gonna turn upside down.”

“YOU HAD A BAD DRINK LAST NIGHT? DIBA I TOLD YOU NA MATULOG KA?”

“I couldn’t sleep eh!”

“SINO KASAMA MO?”

“Si Daniel.”

“DAMN IT. PUMUNTA KA DITO! HINDI MO SISIRAIN ANG PANGALAN MO JUST BECAUSE OF THAT.”

“But Clar-”

“PROFESSIONALISM DIBA?” And she hanged up on me. Ayos diba? She sounded like the boss.

I threw my phone at the bed and tumakbo ako papuntang bathroom and looked at myself through a mirror.

“I have a dark and big eye bags.. my face is all puffy.. I’m not really in my best condition.”  “But then, Clara’s right. I’m not gonna let emotions hinder my success. I am a professional. And I’m the best at my field.” I had a deep breathe and walked over the shower.

Sabay ng pagbukas ko ng shower ang pag-iyak ko ng todo-todo. Hindi ko maintindihan. Pakiramdam ko, my heart’s being squeezed.. my stomach’s swarmed with butterflies.. my knees are weakening.. and my head’s circling.. para akong magkakasakit.

I just hope, when this day’s over, I’m back on track again. Parang disturbance lang to e. Parang, check-point. After nito, balik na ako sa pagdadrive.. ng diretso. I WAS DOING FINE!

I took my dress from the shop.. drove my way to Tagaytay and arrived there like around 2pm.

“FINALLY! You’re here.”  Medyo pressured na ata si Clara. “OH MY GOD! What happened to your face? You need to get it fixed.”

“Makasalita to akala mo naman disfigured yung face ko.”

“Go, go, go!” She pushed me so I walked to the make up room and got my make up. They put a lot of concealer on my eyes and voila, wala na. Parang fresh na ulet ako. Around 4pm, ready na yung lahat. I went out and stood beside Clara.

“How are you feeling?” She asked.

“My head’s spinning and my tummy’s having a WW3.”

Tumawa naman siya. “Kalurky. Yan kase eh.”

We were at the side and I was looking at the set-up.

“This.. is what I have always dreamed of.”

“Is it worth it?” Clara asked. Napahawak ako sa puso ko.

“It’s better than what I’ve dreamed it to be.” I smiled at her. I was scanning the whole place, and I was at awe. “Look, its our friends.. way way back..” My tears started to well up in my eyes. I chuckled. “Thanks, Clar.” I looked at her.

“WHY?”

“For making this.. the best wedding we have ever handled.”  Clara looked at me and smiled sadly.

“Bottle it up. You can’t afford to face them with puffy eyes.”

“Right. Where’s Daniel pala?”

“Bakit?”

“I need to thank him kase. He made me a honey drink.”

“Really? How sweet of him.”

I scanned around to find him and suddenly, he was walking with Bevs. “Daniel!”

“O, hi, Yel! I can’t believe na hindi ikaw ang ikakasal..” Bigla ko silang hinila sa gilid.

“Ssshh. Tumahimik ka nga.”

Tumawa naman sila.

“Thank you pala kagabi.”

“Bakit?”

“You know.. for going out with me to drink.. and making me a honey drink-”

“WHAT?” Napatingin sakin si Daniel, Bevs and Clara.

“You know.. last night?”

“N-n-no, no no no no. I was with Bevs..”

“No. You were-”

“He was with me.. the whole night.”

“WHAT?”

“He was with me, the whole night.” Ulit ni Bevs.

“T-t-then.. s-sino yung?”

Clara looked at me and I looked at Clara.

“Thanks Bev and Daniel.. we’ll go ahead.” I heard Clara at hinila niya ako.

“Clar? Sino yung kasama ko last night?”

“I don’t know Yel.. but I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Oh gosh.”

[Ralph]

“Dad..”

“Bakit?”

“Pag pinasok ko to, makakalabas pa ba ako?”

“Ralph.. when you decide to marry a woman, you’ll promise to stay by her side even when you fall out of love someday. Kahit wala nang love, di ka makakalabas niyan. Kaya nga dapat may friendship din na mamuo e.”

I kept quiet at tiningnan lang yung beer ko.

“Anak.. you have to make sure of it. If there’s doubt, wag mong ituloy.” I looked at him. “Even if it’s just a little doubt. When you marry, dapat sure ka.. one hundred percent. Yung kahit babagyuhin yung wedding day niyo, go ka pa rin!” He laughed.

Napatingin ako kay Dad. “Little doubt..” I whispered.

[Kath]

“Awww, my baby’s gonna marry na..” Mom whispered and hugged me.

“Wag ka ngang umiyak.. diba dapat happy day ito?”

“Iwan mo samin ang apo ha?”

“Si Mommy talaga o..”

We drove up to Tagaytay and went to the hotel. Iba yung hotel na kinuha namin eh. 10 minutes away lang naman from the venue itself. Yung nasa venue is yung mga bridesmaids and all. Ayoko kasing nagsisiksikan kami. Tapos may picture taking pa, so gusto ko bongga talaga.

“Ang ganda-ganda.. ikaw na yata ang pinaka magandang bride na nakita ko..” sabi ng make-up artist.

“Nako, chinacharot mo lang ako e.”

“No, Kath. You are beautiful talaga. Very lucky ng groom.” I laughed. “But I heard, the groom’s gwapo din daw.. so I guess match made in heaven kayo.” I smiled.

“He’s very handsome.. and very caring.”

“Ano ba kwento niyo?”

“Well, we work at the same hospital. He’s very suplado ha. He doesn’t talk to us.. yung ganun. He keeps to himself. I liked him na even before. Parang mysterious kasi. Yung ganun. Then after a year, he called me up and asked me to dinner during Christmas time. So tama namang wala akong kasama, I went with him nalang. And we started dating na the next few weeks. Ang casual niya masyado. Sobrang funny..”

“That’s really great.”

“Pero alam mo.. may past siya eh. Di niya pa nakikwento sakin. Ang tagal-tagal ko na talagang tinatanong sa kanya pero ayaw magkwento.”

“Ayy! Baka may tinatago?”

“Tinatago talaga. Pero kungsabagay.. past narin naman yun.”

“But past molds you kaya..”

“Oo nga no.” Sabi ko sa sarili ko. After ng hair and make up,  kumaripas ako ng takbo papunta sa room niya.

Alam ko sabi nila pag nagkita kayo before the wedding itself, di matutuloy. Pero diba, kung gusto niyo namang ituloy, matutuloy yan? Kaya kiber lang.

*knock *knock *knock

Then he opened the door. Ang gwapo-gwapo ng groom ko!

“Hey.. why are you here? You’re not supposed to be here.”

I stepped in. “Diba sabi nila di matutuloy ang kasal pag nagkita tayo before the wedding? Let’s prove them wrong.” I kissed him.

He chuckled. “Are you scared?”

“No. If we’re gonna get married.. gusto ko open tayo.”

“We are. W-why?”

“Di mo pa nasasabi yung past mo sakin.”

“Hindi pa ba?”

I shook my head. “Now’s the time to talk about it.”

He took a deep breathe. “7 years. She was my first girlfriend. I.. I asked her for a wedding.. and she denied.” He smiled.

“Yun lang?”

“Yeah. Bakit?”

“Who is she? Where is she now? Hmm.. how was she? How did she make you feel?”

He laughed. “It’s past.. yaan na naten yun.” He hugged me.

I looked at him in the eyes.  Oh my god. It’s not “past”.

“No. No.”

“What?”

“You’re not over her.. are you?”

“I am..” I looked at him again.

“No..” My tears started falling and he held my hand. “You’re not.”

“I am.. okay? I’m marrying you.”

“Who is she? Nasan siya ngayon?”

“C-can you just go back to your room and let’s just get married?” He smiled.

“No. You’re telling me now.”

He looked at me and took a deep breathe again. “Mariel. Wedding coordinator.” He said in almost a whisper. Napaupo bigla ako sa kama. Umiyak ako.

Alam ko, that moment I saw his eyes sa practice.. may kutob na ako. Deep inside, alam kong bibihagin ko sya in case matutuloy ang kasal na to. He knelt down and held my hands.

“But we’ll be married, right?”

“Do you love her?”

“I LOVED her.”

“Do you love her?”

“Kath..”

“I just need a yes or no.” I looked at him. “Please, be honest.” He took a deep breathe again and looked at the ceiling then he looked at me. “Oh gosh..” I started crying again.

“Kath..”

“I can’t.. I can’t do this..”

“Kath-”

“I can’t.. marry you like this.”

“I’m sorry.” Then I started punching him and slapping him and I just cried. “I’m sorry..” He just kept repeating it until Mom came running down and hugged me.

[Mariel]

“OKAY! IT’S 4:30 PM, EVERYONE GATHER AROUND NA…” Clara ran to the crowd and isa-isa sila pinuwesto. When suddenly she asked, “WHERE IS THE GROOM?” Bigla naman akong napatingin sa kanila and tumakbo ako sa side niya.

“What’s the problem?”

“The groom.. the groom.. the groom.. and the bride.. the bride should be here any minute now..”

“Okay, I’ll get the.. the bride.”

“Sige, ako na kay Ralph.”

I dialed Kathleen’s number, pero di sumasagot. I called up the hotel but the same, di sinasagot yung phone. Clara was doing the same to Ralph’s.

“Madam.. can you contact Ralph? Di siya namin macontact. He should be here by now.” She said to Ralph’s parents. His mom checked her own phone and tried to contact Ralph’s number. When suddenly, his dad stepped forward.

“He’s not coming.” His dad said.

I dropped my phone and just looked at them. He’s not coming.

“They’re not coming.” He said again. They’re not coming.

Napatingin sakin si Clara. “No way..” I whispered to myself. “No way..”

“YOU! IKAW ANG MAY KASALANAN NG LAHAT-LAHAT!” His mom shouted and she walked over me. “KUNG HINDI KA MALANDI, DI SANA TINANGGIHAN MO NA ITONG KASAL NA ITO! IKAW! IKAW NA MALANDING BABAE KA..”

I was horrified. Ni hindi ako nakagalaw. I was shocked. My tears started to burst and my mom ran over and hindi ko alam, pinigilan ata ng family nila yung mom ni Ralph. I was hyperventilating. Mom was hugging me and they gave me water.

My hands were shaking.. my whole body was shaking and my face was wet with tears. Hindi ko alam kung anong naging reaction ng body ko. I’m not sure if this half-joy and half-guilty or what. Mom took me to the car and I was just sitting there buried in her shoulders.

I was just crying. I didn’t know what to say. I had nothing to say. I just wanted to cry. Dad drove back to our house and Mom assisted me to my room. Nahiga lang ako at naiyak ng naiyak.

The next morning, I went home and just sat at the couch. Hindi ko alam. Everything happened too fast. I didn’t try to call him. They didn’t try to call me. After, I decided to go the office just to check things out.

I was scanning some events when someone knocked.

“Yeah-?”

“Hi..” She smiled.

“Kath-.. come in.”

“Yeah. Hmm, well.. I just wanted to ask if you give refunds?” Umupo siya sa harap ko. “This?”

I looked at the paper bag and I knew what was in it. “Well-”

“I have.. no use of this.”

“Okay then..” I smiled.

“Yel?”

“Yeah?”

“Did.. he call you?”

I looked at her. “No.”

“Ahh.” She smiled. “Tarantado.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Nothing.” Tarantado?

I took the gown and gave her the money only with 10% less. “Is it good?”

“Yeah. Thanks. I’ll go ahead.” She smiled and kissed me on the cheek. “Yel.. I’ll move on. So.. don’t think about it too much. You didn’t do anything.. it was just.. not really meant.. and.. naisip ko, tama ito e. Kasi pag natuloy yun, for sure.. he wouldn’t really live the life he always wanted.”

Hindi ko maintindihan si Kathleen. I just awkwardly smiled. “Thanks.”

“Thank you.” She said and walked away.

014

Dahan-dahan akong napaupo at napatingin sa kawalan. Pumasok ulit si Kathleen sa office and looked at me. I knew what was gonna come.

“Honestly.. I hate you. I blame you for all of this.” She said in between gritted teeth. “Akala ko ba magkaibigan tayo? I considered you as a friend, Mariel. I did. Tinanong kita e. Ilang beses kitang tinanong.. sana.. sana di mo nalang tinanggap to. Sana wala nalang.” She burst into tears. Nakatingin lang ako sa kanya at dahan-dahan akong lumapit. “Ang sakit-sakit, Mariel. Ang sakit-sakit.”

Niyakap ko si Kathleen at napaupo kami. Wala na akong magagawa, kungdi ang humingi ng patawad.

“I’m sorry. Akala ko magiging okay ang lahat kapag tumahimik ako, Kath. I’m really really sorry.” Napaiyak na rin ako. “I know everything’s gonna change. I don’t expect you to be all nice with me. I’m really sorry, Kath. You have all the right para kamuhian ako.”

Kathleen just cried, and I just hugged her. Finally, she took control of her emotions, wiped her tears and stood up. She looked at me and smiled sadly. “When you see him again, don’t ever let go.” And she walked out of my office.

Napaupo lang ako sa couch and just looked at nowhere. Hindi ko alam kung nasan ngayon si Ralph. I’m not even sure if I’ll see him again.

But I know, if we’re really meant to be together, God will find a way to let us meet. And I’ll take it from there. I just need that chance. That one chance to see him again.

2 MONTHS LATER.

“OH MY GOOODDD!” I shrieked from my office. Claaarraaa! You have to see this!”

“What?”

“I just received an email from Monique Lhuillier!!”

“WHAT?!”

“MONIQUE LHUILLIER, my dear!!”

“What, what, what did it say?”

“You are invited as an intern of the Monique Lhuillier couture house for two years starting December 2008 to December 2010. We will be happy to train you and expand your knowledge regarding fashion designing. Yours truly, Monique Lhuillier.” I shrieked again. And Clara was like jumping for joy na.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.. you’re gonna go, right?”

“Of course! I need to go! It’s Monique Lhuillier, for Pete’s sake!”

“But wait~” Clara paused. “How about the shop?”

“Andyan ka naman e.. sa iyo na muna to for two years!” I grinned.

“Hindi ko kaya..”

“Ano ka ba, of course kaya mo! Just in case you need my help, you can always contact me naman e. There are a lot of communication medium nowadays! Now, we can try skype-ing each other! Hahaha.”

“You’re right. You can’t really say no to that, it’s MLhuillier after all.”

“Exactly. I can’t let this one pass me by like that.”

Pumunta ako sa bahay ng parents ko to break the news. Dad’s very supportive. Sabi pa nga, I should explore and learn daw.. Mom’s a little worried and doubtful.

“Dapat ba talaga, two years? How about the shop?” Mom asked habang tinutulungan ko siyang maghugas ng pinggan.

“Clara and I talked already. I know her capabilities. She can handle it. After all, two years ain’t that long.”

“I’m really gonna miss you.” Mom hugged me and I hugged back.

Ganito talaga kami ni Mommy, sobrang close kaya wala pa nga akong ticket, sobrang drama-efek na kami.

“Yel, can I ask something?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you have any news about Ralph?” Napatigil naman ako bigla. “It’s okay if-”

“Wala e. We never got to talk again. I think he just disappeared like that. Even the ex fiance was furious.”

“Ahh, okay.”

With the remaining two months I have here in Philippines, inasikaso ko lahat ng kailangang asikasohin sa shop. I designed futuristic gowns, prepared my portfolio for MLhuillier, and changed signatories. I was teaching Clara all that she needs to know in managing the shop. I introduced her to suppliers, florists, clients.. lahat na.

December 18, 2008

Mom, Dad, my siblings, and friends drove me to the airport. We all said our goodbyes and wishes. Mom, Clara and I started crying and hugging each other. As if naman no!  Before entering the pre-dep area, I looked at Manila’s towering buildings again.

“Hmm, I’ll miss you.” I smiled to myself, braced myself and started walking inside.

1 YEAR AND TWO MONTHS LATER

“Mariel, would you like to show them your designs?” I was starstruck. Who wouldn’t be? You’re talking to Gwyneth Paltrow. And Monique just asked me to show them my designs. Are you freaking kidding me?

“Yes, absolutely.” By the way, american accent na aketch ha!  I took out my new designs and handed it over to her.

“Oh, these are absolutely gorgeous!”

“T-thank you.”

“She’s my intern, but she’s a very good designer in the Philippines. She’s such a blessing.”

“That’s really.. overwhelming..” I said and smiled.

“I love this one!” It was a red flowy gown she pointed. “I’ll have this!” She looked at me then Monique.

“Yes, absolutely!” Monique answered. “I’ll hand it over to you, Mariel.”

“This is really perfection.”

I was so flattered and inspired. I mean, it’s not everyday you get to hear Gwyneth Paltrow’s admiration to your designs. But then, I was so used to stars coming here at MLhuillier’s couture house. From Taylor Swift to Reese Witherspoon. And I have pictures from all of them.

I dressed Carrie Underwood’s last FMA awards. I got a 4-star award from fashion critiques. Not bad at all.  I spent my first Christmas at Vegas, with some college friends. And also, thanksgiving and new year. But I haven’t heard anything from Ralph.

I wonder if he’s here in LA. After all, dito naman talaga yung work niya before he came back to Philippines. And we never crossed each other’s paths. My friends didn’t mention anything rin naman about him.. you know, if he’s here or not. Or if he’s got a new girlfriend.. or kung san sya nakatira. Not that I’m interested. Hmm, sige na nga, maybe I am.

At.. I spent my 27th birthday on Canada. I visited a good good friend out there. It was such a nice place. Hamakin mo, 10PM pa lang, sunset palang sa lugar na iyon? Kung sa Pinas, holdapan time na iyan, doon sunset palang, my gosh. Okay, sorry, culture shock lang.

March 27, 2009

I was rushed to the emergency room of LA General Hospital. I have a bad stomach ache. Yung tipong parang puputok yung tyan ko. And ang hapdi-hapdi. Same as what I had before nung college. Ashley was talking with the nurses..

“Ash, you can go ahead. I’ll be fine.”

“No, I’ll just stay with you.”

“No, you can’t. You have an appointment with Kim Kardashian. You can’t miss that for the world.”

She sighed. “You’re right. Are you sure you’ll be fine?”

“Yeah. But no operations?”

“Nahh, they said you’ll be fine. You just had a bad gastritis.”

“Oh, okay then. Go ahead. And thank you.”

“No problem, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I waved at her and just lied down there at the bed.

Then suddenly, someone opened the curtains and prepared some medicine for me. I looked around and I was..  ARE YOU FCKIN KIDDING ME?

“HEY!”

“H-hey..” I said. He smiled disbelievingly looking at me.

“Y-you’re here..”

“Y-yeah.”

“And.. you’re suffering from a bad gastritis.”

“Yeah.” I tugged my blanket a little tighter. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!

Then bigla nalang may pumasok na doctor and gave me a piece of paper for my medicine. I stood up and was feeling a little better.

“Where shall I pay?”

“I got it!” He said.

“Uhh, no.”

“No, really, I got it. We have a privilege free payment here.”

“No, no.”

“Please?” He gave that look and deep voice of his. And I was like “whatever”.

“Fine. And thank you.”

Then someone called him from another room and he excused himself and he told me to wait, but I didn’t and I scrammed down the entrance and just went ahead.

My heart was skipping a beat. It was racing fast. I couldn’t breathe properly. My hands were shaking and I felt like throwing up. I walked as fast as I could, rode on a bus and jumped on my bed.

Hindi ko alam kung ano yung dapat kong maramdaman. I was like lost. Yung parang I’m like this –>  but at the same time I’m like this –>

Sana naman wag na kaming magkita ulit. I’m not going in there again, PROMISE!

November 16, 2010

Autumn na, 2 more months to go and tapos na yung internship ko dito, balik Pinas na kaagad ako. I miss Philippines so much. Oo nga pala, medyo na discover na yung talent ko dito sa LA sa fashion designing. Sabi nila, I’m the next Monique Lhuillier. Syempre, haba ng hair ko, pero thankful parin talaga ako kay Monique kasi she lets me design gowns and dresses talaga. Yung she gives me the freedom to be known and learn things.

And autumn yung pinakamalungkot kong season sa States. Yung nalalagas na puno.. yung orange na leaves.. alam mo yun, basta ayoko ng ambience. Parang ang sad.

Mom called up pala, sabi niya, mag vevecation daw sila ni Daddy sa Singapore sa February. For sure by that time, andun na ako sa Pinas. And then Clara updated me about  Giselle Lacson’s wedding. Expected daw na wedding of the year, edi sabi ko, o sige, go! Gawin mong wedding of the year!

 

December 23, 2010

Christmas rush everywhere. Downtown LA. Kaloka. I was walking really fast when I saw this restaurant/bar sa 22nd street. They have this Christmas gifts outside na nakadisplay. And then there was this diamond ring. As in, super ganda and elegant talaga. Authentic daw. I looked at it from the glass and I can feel my eyes sparkling.

Wedding ring. Pwedeng-pwede. But then I sighed. Malamang, tatanda akong mag-isa. Haha.

I had one last look at it and started walking again.

“MARIEL!”

Did someone call me?

“MARIEL?!”

I turned around and saw Ralph running towards me. I froze. Pakiramdam ko yung snow umulan sa loob ng katawan ko.

“Hey!”

“Hi..”

“It’s been a long time!”

015

I smiled hesitantly. “Y-yeah, it’s been a long time.”  It also made me realized, bakit ako parang binuhusan ng snow, eh wala namang snow dito sa LA?

“So kumusta na? Are you fine? How about your stomach?”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m good.”

Awkward silence. People were passing us by. Christmas rush nga. And we were there, standing in the middle of the crowd, exchanging stares and awkward smiles.

“Christmas na ah.” He said while smiling.

“Oo nga eh.”

“Sino kasama mo?”

“Sa Christmas?”

“Yeah.”

“I haven’t planned anything yet. Pero I think.. I’ll be with myself.” It’s another way of saying, I’ll be alone.

“Ahhh.” He nodded.

I smiled. “So, I’ll see you around. It’s getting busy down here. And..”  “It’s cold.”

“Yeah, yeah. Uhmm, take care. And Merry Christmas!” He smiled again.

“Thanks. Merry Christmas too!” I turned around, bit my lip and walked as fast as I could. Then someone caught the plastic bag I was holding. Muntik na akong mapatalon. There he was, grinning.

“Since nagkita rin lang naman tayo.. can we at least.. go around the city?”

Napatingin lang ako kay Ralph. “I have-”

“Just this once.” In that deep voice again. My weakness.

I sighed. “Okay.” He took the grocery I was carrying and he lead the way. “Oh, you have a car.” I said flatly.

“Yeah.” He grinned. “So I’ll tour you around.. and.. introduce you to my world?”

“Why would you do that?” Tanong ko.

“Well, I bet you’re always at Beverly Hills. So, there’s a lot more to see here in LA.”

“Really?”

“Oo naman! Come on, loosen up.”

“You sound like an LA native.” Psh.

He stared at me and smiled. Binuksan niya yung pinto ng car niya and I hopped in. And we just drove around. Tapos he stopped on a “take-out” booth.

“Sandali lang ha. May kukunin lang ako.” He said. Naiwan ako sa kotse niya while he ran to the booth. Then he came back after around 10 minutes. “Sorry, natagalan.”

“Ano yan?” Turo ko sa plastic na hawak niya.

“Chicken buffalo wings.” He grinned.

Nanlaki ang mga mata ko! I know back in the Philippines, Pizza Hut has that.. but I was really wishing na someday I can eat an original buffalo wings.. yung tipong dito talaga sa States. But I was very busy with work, I didn’t have time to check out places.

“Really?”

“Yeah!” I took the food and he drove west. And we just parked and he opened the boxes and we were eating the wings with our fingers.

This was what I liked about Ralph. He’s so random, so casual and so real. Yung tipong di ka mahihiya pag nawalan ka ng poise. He can see you at your worse and he’ll just smile and hug you back. Yung ganun. Walang pretend-pretend. He accepts people for who they are. But sometimes, he’s just a little hard on himself. He can understand people, but he tries not to understand himself to avoid conflicts, though he knows what he wants. He’s rather a little complex.

“How I wanted to do this!” sabi ko bigla-bigla. “It’s so much yummier pag dito talaga sa States. Remember when we were eating this at Pizza Hut dati? Pakiramdam ko sobrang kulang yung kinakain natin noon.”

“I’m glad you liked it.”  “Kelan ka uuwi ng Pilipinas? Or since kailan ka pa nandito?”

“I have been here for almost two years na. By next month, I’ll be home.”

“Two years?”

“Yeah.. uhm-” Right after your supposed-to-be-wedding.

“Ah, okay. You didn’t even contact me.” He teased. “May galit ka ba sakin?”

“Ha-ha. Wala naman. I was just too busy and I thought maybe calling you up would stir..”

“Issues?”

“Kind of.” I put down my wings and nilagay sa gilid yung box then wiped my fingers with tissue. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry if it didn’t work out very well.”

“No, it’s okay.” He smiled. “But I haven’t told you why I didn’t go ahead, have I?”

Bigla akong napatahimik. “Yeah, why?” I asked.

Tiningnan niya ako and his smile faded. “Wala lang.” He laughed.

“That’s it? Wala lang?”

“Yeah.”

“Y-You’re weird.” I tried to force a laugh. “But seriously?”

“I don’t know. I just didn’t feel like getting into a lifetime commitment.” He grinned. “Or maybe I wasn’t really over you.” He was still grinning. “Or maybe I’m not really ready to give up my bachelor life?” He looked at me. “You choose.”

I’d like to choose the maybe he wasn’t really over me reason, but that’s just absurd.

“Heh.”

“Ikaw? Why.. aren’t you married yet?” He suddenly asked, his face turning serious.

“M-me?”

“Oo.”

“Haven’t found the right man yet.” I said.

“Really? Then what do you take me for?”

I looked at him. My jaw dropped.

“I-”

“Hahahaha. Just kidding.”

“Oh.”

After that, we just kept quiet and we drove back home and he walked me to my apartment door.

“So, here’s mine.” I said pointing to my unit.

“Yeeeaah. So I’ll see you soon?”

“Sure.” I smiled and opened my door. “And, thank you.”

“No problem.” He grinned. Then I closed the door.

I took a deep breath and leaned on the wall. “Lord, I told you I only need one chance.. and you gave it to me. And what the heck am I doing? I’m letting go of him again.. please tell me what to do..”

Days passed when I suddenly received a call from Clara.

“Clar? Hey, what’s up?”

“OH MY GOD. I have to tell you something.” Sobrang natakot ako kasi baka may nangyari kina Mommy or sa business or kay Clara.

“WHAT? What? Is something wrong?”

“Wag ka ngang panic diyan. This is chismax. Hahaha.”

“Chismax lang naman pala, tumawag ka pa ng overseas.”

“Hahaha. Chismax pero totoo. Malamang ikatutuwa mo ito. That is if nagkita na kayo diyan ni Ralph. Or pag wala pa, I’m sure hahanapin mo siya this instant.”

“Ano ba yan? Bilisan mo, mahal na yung bill mo.”

“Wag kang mag-alala, marami naman akong pera. Hahaha! Okay, okay. Remember that night na nalasing ka and pagkabukas kasal ni Ralph?”

“Yeah.. What about that?”

“Well, diba you thought it was Daniel? And then Daniel said hindi daw siya..”

“Okay?”

“Okay.. then kanina lang, I saw Marlyn sa SM. So we chatted for awhile. Remember her?”

“Yeah, yung college friend ko.. na pinakilala sa iyo.”

“Yeah.. so we were chatting and she suddenly asked about Ralph.”

“Okay?”

“Then sabi ko naman, bakit mo itatanong si Ralph? Bakit? Then she asked if natuloy ba yung kasal ni Ralph since nakita niya raw kayo na magkasama sa isang bar. You were so wasted daw that Ralph had to carry you papunta sa kotse niya. And that was the night before he gets married DAW.”

“WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?”

“So, it was Ralph who brought you home.. and it was him, who made you a honey drink and I guess it was the reason why he didn’t go ahead with the marriage.”

NO FUCKING WAY.

“You’re probably shocked right now. So here’s you gotta do. You have to find the guy and tell him what you really feel about him. OKAY?”

“N-n-no..”

“MARIEL! THIS IS 21ST CENTURY. MAYA-MAYA END OF THE WORLD NA. AT IKAW, NAKATUNGANGA KA PA DIYAN, THINKING WHETHER YOU SHOULD TELL HIM OR NOT. WHAT IF KAYA YOU MATERIALIZE IT NALANG. GO TO THE GUY AND BE REAL, EVEN JUST THIS ONCE. BYE.”

And she hanged up on me.

“You know what, he’s gonna get married tomorrow.” Her words were slurred yet clear. She was in fetal position, her hand held onto my shirt and her left hand clutching on her white blanket.

 

“Aren’t you gonna stop him? Tanong ko sa kanya.

 

She smiled. “No.” She said in almost a whisper. “If.. if.. he’s not happy, I know he won’t do it.” Her eyes were half-closed and her face was wet with tears. For sure, her vision’s blurred. But she managed to smile – a sad smile though. “Daniel.. I looked for him three years ago.”

 

Napatigil ako at napatingin sa kanya. “3 years ago? Why?”

 

“I was supposed to ask him.. if we could wait for each other.. and get married someday..” She cried harder. “But-“

 

“But what?”

 

“Siguro.. nasaktan ko sya masyado.. cuz he left for abroad.. and we never saw each other again..” Napatingin lang ako sakanya. Hindi ko alam kung anong dapat kong sabihin o maramdaman. Paghihinayang? O contentment?

 

“But.. it was three years ago. I’m sure you’ve moved on. Right, Rielle?”

 

“Rielle…” She cried again. “He calls me that.” She smiled then she laughed. Napasandal ako sa kama niya at napatingin sa kisame. “Pano ka makakamove on? If all your life, you’ve imagined it with that someone? Alam mo yun? Yung parang..” I gently wiped her tears. “Yung parang.. lahat na.. lahat na ng plano mo kasama siya? Tapos.. tapos biglang ganun? Yung aalis sya bigla?”

 

“Pero diba.. okay ka naman?” Bigla akong napaluha habang nakatingin sa kanya.

 

She chuckled. “3 years diba? Daniel, diba 3 years? Tapos.. sobrang busy ko.. sobrang.. busy-busyhan ako para lang makalimutan siya.. tapos.. tapos..”

 

“Biglang babalik?”

 

Humagulhol siya sa pag-iyak. “Magpapakasal pala..”

 

“Yel-“

 

“If only.. if you’ll see their wedding tomorrow.. lahat akin yun e. Dapat akin yun.. yung gown.. yung flowers.. pati bisita parehong-pareho.. pero ayos lang.. kasi lahat ng yun mapapalitan.. pero.. pero yung groom, hinde..”

 

“Yel..”

 

“Hindi ko kaya yun.. hinde ko kaya yun, Daniel..” Humagulhol siya ulet sa pag-iyak. Napasinghap ako ng hangin.

 

“He tried to forget you.. in three years. And then he met her. Alam mo yun, sa dalawang taon na yun, nakalimutan ka niya. Nakalimutan niya lahat. Pero sa pagtulog niya, ikaw parin yung nasa isip niya. Kahit-” Napatingin ako sa kanya. “Kahit.. kasama niya yung babaeng gusto niya, ikaw parin yung nakikita niya. Pero nakalimutan ka niya, sa dalawang taon na yun.” I smiled. “Pero sabi nga nila.. hindi mo malalaman kung mahal mo pa yung tao hangga’t hindi mo sila nakikita ulet.”

 

Bigla siyang natahimik and her tears were flowing. “Daniel-“

 

“When I saw you again.. my world stopped. Katulad lang nung 3rd year college ako. When I first saw you.. yung pinaghirapan ko sa tatlong taon na yun, biglang nawala.” Napaiyak na ako. “Ilang beses pumasok sa isipan ko na hindi ko itutuloy yung kasal.. pero.. alam kong mararamdaman niya.. dahil pinaramdam mo rin sakin yun Mariel.”

 

I held her hand. “Siguro tama ka.. tama yung sinabi mo noon. Hindi tayo para sa isa’t-isa.”

So I was talking to him? That night? I was.. talking to him?  Could it be.. that was the reason… why he didn’t? Oh gosh.

I took a deep breath while wiping my tears. I buried my face on my hands.. I didn’t know what to say. And I just stormed out from the office to the hospital.

I saw him outside the emergency chatting up another nurse. I walked at him and I excused him from his friend.

“A-anong problema?” He asked.

“I WAS THE REASON, right?”

“About?”

“WHY YOU DIDN’T GET MARRIED!”

“Really?”

I slapped him. “TWO YEARS AGO, I WAS DRUNK JUST BEFORE SOMEONE’S WEDDING THINKING I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO  ATTEND JUST SO I COULD AVOID CRYING OVER OR SEEING HIM WALK OUT FROM MY LIFE. AND SOMEONE BROUGHT ME HOME. AND I TALKED. I TOLD HIM ABOUT EVERYTHING… EVERYTHING I FEEL, FELT AND WILL FEEL ABOUT THIS GUY.”

He just stood there, quiet.

“H-HOW COME.. YOU JUST.. LEFT.. LIKE THAT.. AFTER..” I was crying and I was angry. “I LOVED YOU. NO, I LOVE YOU. WHY DID YOU HAVE TO PROPOSE TO SOMEONE AND HURT HER BECAUSE OF ME? WHY DO I HAVE TO CARRY THE GUILT ON MY SHOULDER? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE HONEST? AND FUCKING TELL ME YOU LOVE ME AND YOU WANT TO MARRY ME?!”

“Rielle-”

“You are such an ass, Ralph! I hate you!” I walked angrily away from him and hailed a cab. When suddenly, he caught my arm and hugged me from the back.

“I guess, that’s the problem with you. You never listen to my side. I was always leaving because I’ve always thought that would make you happy.” He said in almost a whisper. “If I’ll have it my way, I would never leave by your side. You keep pushing me away.. and we keep on.. running back to each other.. with rather, more complicated situations. And we do the cycle again. You push me away, we get pulled back again. And everytime we bump into each other, even after years, I still find myself feeling that same feeling I felt when I saw you for the first time 9 years ago. And I just keep on falling for you over and over again.”

I just stood there, wrapped in his arms. Frozen.

“You weren’t the reason why I didn’t marry Kath.” He turned me around and he smiled. “For once, I was being real. I was doing it for myself. If I marry her, I was asking myself, will she able to give me the life that I wanted? Will she able to play the wife that I would love forever? Yun yung mga bagay na gusto kong itanong sa sarili ko. Will I be happy, even after 50 years? And I had doubts. Small ones. That I know could grow bigger into something.. that I will regret forever. So it wasn’t really about you. It was about me..”

He wiped my tears and he smiled gently. “And you were asking, why couldn’t I just be honest? Maybe because I value your happiness more than mine. I’ve seen how happy you were with your achievements, and I didn’t.. you know.. ruin it or something. Deep inside me, I was always willing to wait. I could wait.”

“But I couldn’t.” He suddenly looked at me. “I couldn’t.. anymore.” I said and just hugged him and he hugged me back. “Bilis, itanong mo na..”

“Ha?”

“Bilis..”

“Uhh. There isn’t anything special right now.. uhm, but I’m gonna ask you..”

“Hm?”

“Will you marry me?”

[Sa Kanya – Now Playing]

“Ma’am, meron po pala akong dapat ibigay sa inyo two years ago.. pero nakalimutan ko po, tapos umalis din po kayo.”

“Two years ago pa?”

“Eto po..” Brown box. “May kasama po kayong lalaki dati ma’am, pinakuha niya po ito sa kotse niya pero nakalimutan kong iwan sa unit niyo.”

“Salamat.” I took the box and opened it. Everything I gave Ralph was there. And there was note, no, a letter.

I’m giving back everything. Not because I don’t want it. But because I am keeping a promise to give back to you whatever you gave me… when I decide to move on. Maybe this time, I want to try moving on.. for real.

I smiled and brought the box to my car. I drove to Ralph’s parent’s house and I saw Tricia.

“I have something for you.” I smiled.

“I think I know what it is. I think I asked for the same thing from Kuya e.” She laughed. I slumped my body in the couch.

“You are a psychic.” I gave her the brown box.

Well then, I guess you know what happened. Love is sweeter the second time around, but for us, it wasn’t just love, it was also the proposal. We waited and cared for each other’s happiness too much that we forgot our own happiness. But I guess, it was also for a good cause. Good trials, ika nga. Our bond was stronger than ever.

*FAMOUS WEDDING COORDINATOR GETS MARRIED TO LONGTIME BOYFRIEND

“Wait. Isn’t this the house-”

“That’s actually mine. No. Ours.”

“NO WAY? I thought-”

“It’s a surprise. I hope you like it.”

“Awww. Just the way I imagined it to be. Thank you.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

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