“Mahal mo ba ako?”
I gently looked up at him. Puzzled. The words registered in my ears like lightning and thunder. But I’m confused. Why would he ask that?”
I can’t take my eyes off the framed painting at the wall. It seems to have a magnet drawing me to it. Pero mas malakas pa rin yata talaga ang tama ko sa lalaking nasa harap ko. That, even if my head told me not to look at him because of the pain he just inflicted, my heart refused and did the opposite,
He was teary eyed and was gazing at me with that hurt look I’ve never seen in him before. I bowed my head. I can’t bear to look at him this way. Mahirap panoorin ang isang lalaking nasasaktan lalo pa kung mahal mo. I don’t want to remember him like this. This might be our last chance to be together. Ayokong baunin ang alaalang ito na ganito ang hitsura niya.
Minutes passed without any of us saying a word. He was busy texting while glimpsing at me from time to time. I tried hard not to talk. Ayokong magsalita dahil baka may masabi lang ako na pagsisihan ko pa. I just wanted to savor this moment with him even though I’m hurting.
We were on our way to Figaro at Baywalk. Katatapos lang naming magkape pero sa coffee shop na naman ang punta namin. Sayang di na namin maabutan ang sunset. Kunsabagay, di naman kasi yun ang ipupunta namin dun. We are meeting Chynna and Audrey. Their reactions will tell if we should continue with what we have. Meaning, we have to talk to them, especially to Audrey, and asked for their blessing.
“Di yata tumalab yung kape,” I said in an attempt to break the awkwardness between us.
He gave me a puzzled look.
“Inaantok ako eh”
“Lika nga dito, idlip ka muna” he pulled me closer to him and gently placed my head on his shoulder.
I know I’m blushing so I just closed my eyes.
“Meme na Ai ko…” he whispered as he brushed his fingers at my hair.
Nauna kaming dumating ni X sa Baywalk so we waited for them for almost half an hour. Okay lang kasi magkasama naman kami.
Chynna came along with Audrey. Sa hitsura pa lang ni Audrey, alam ko nang hindi magiging maganda ang the rest ng gabi ko. Chynna greeted me and gave me a beso. Audrey did the same but was quite hesitant to kiss my cheek. Though, she still did, her coldness almost burned me. Nakakapaso ang awkwardness.
Lumipat kami ni Chynna ng table para sana makapag-usap yung magpinsan. But they didn’t talk. Para ngang di sila magkakilala kahit magkaharap na sila. So, umalis ako and I felt their eyes following me. Surprised at my sudden walk-out.
Bumili ako ng two cans of San Mig Light. Sinundan pala ako ni Chynna. On our way back to X and Audrey, we talked about what X and I have discussed. She was furious and losing her temper. Mother figure kasi namin siya and very protective. She then started counting from ten, backwards. When we reached the other two, she was finished counting. I was waiting for her to explode. Alam ko namang di ko siya mapipigilan.
She snatched a beer in can from my hand. Opened it and drank its content, bottoms-up. I was shocked a bit. I was watching her control her temper, unaware that I was already opening my beer too and even drinking it.
When Chynna finished her beer, she roughly threw the can at the nearest bin. Then, she harshly excused herself that she needs to leave and go to the hospital to care for her brother. Akala ko maiiwan na si Audrey pero humabol ito kay Chynna at di man lang nagpaalam sa’min.
Naiwan kaming tulala ni X. Di ko masisisi kung bakit ganoon ang reaction ni Chynna. She admired and loved X kaya di niya inakala na di ako kayang panindigan nito. That he can’t commit because of Audrey.
I kept on drinking my beer. I paused a while then inagaw ni X ang can from me. He finished it and drank straight. Then, niyaya na niya akong umalis.
Naglalakad na kami sa kahabaan ng Baywalk. Walang pansinan. Parang di magkakilala. Maliwanang at maingay sa paligid pero dama ko ang mas matinding ingay sa loob-loob ko. Nagrerebelde ang utak ko. Gustong sumabog. hanggang sa bigla akong tumawid na para bang walang kasama at walang pakialam sa mabibilis na sasakyan.
“Mag-ingat ka naman” medyo inis na sabi ni X.
I didn’t reply. I feel so defeated. I want to cry out loud na para bang batang paslit na inagawan ng kendi. Kaso, nagpatuloy lang ako sa paglalakad at sa pag-iisip na di pa man pala nagsisimula love story namin ni X, tapos na agad.
Finally, I had the guts to break the silence.
“X, pwede bang… ako na lang mag-decide para sa’tin? Pwedeng… huwag na lang?” I asked with the last three words almost like a whisper
There was a long pause. And…
“Yun din nga sana sasabihin ko”