“Is it over, are you really over him? Is it over, or will you take him back again? If it’s over, you can let his memory in. ”
– Ronnie Milsap
Richard waited patiently for Alex to arrive at the airport. He was carrying a bouquet of red roses to surprise the apple of his eye. When Alex was informed that Richard was there, she took a different path with her co-flight attendants. Unfortunately, Richard got a hold of her.
“Hey.” Richard reached her elbows. “I was waiting for you, kanina pa.”
Alex didn’t know whether to be glad to see him or not. “Sorry, we are in a rush.” She lied. They still have 3 hours to prepare for the flight.
Richard knew what Alex’s flight schedule was so he was sure she was lying. Nonetheless, he shrugged the idea and handed her the roses. “For you.”
Alex slightly smiled. “Thank you.” She sighed and looked at Richard seriously before pulling him aside. “Look, Richard. I really appreciate your efforts. Grabe, wala naman talaga akong masabi. But, hindi ba malinaw sa’yo?”
“Malinaw ang alin?” Richard frowned.
“Na… Hindi naman kita gusto.” There, she finally said it. “You see, I am sorry. I apologize for getting your hopes up. Believe me, it wasn’t really my intention. Akala ko kasi, gusto mo lang makipagkaibigan, given na close talaga kami ng kapatid mo. Saka, we’ve been classmates since elementary, so, akala ko talaga, wala kang ibang intention. But I am really sorry. I really am.”
Richard looked down and closed his eyes to breathe. “I see. Kaya pala, parang hangin lang ako sa’yo. Even though I know that I have been exerting a lot of effort, wala parin. Hindi parin kita mapasagot.”
“It is because I believe in the rules of femininity…” Alex replied.
“Rules?” Richard felt confused. “Anong rules?”
“Sa mga babae, hindi bino-boyfriend ang mga naging crush or past ng isang kaibigan. Bilang respeto, of course. And, I am sorry, kailangan kong ulitin, hindi talaga kita type. Sige. Sabihin na natin na, Carol, Sarah and I, we admired you during our high school days kasi ang galing mong mag-play ng musical instruments. Pero, hanggang duon na lang talaga ‘yon. Ika nga, no more, no less.”
Richard shook his head. “I still don’t get what you mean.”
Alex placed her hands over his shoulders. “Sabihin nalang natin na, may isang tao na nagmamahal sa’yo ng todo. And that person really means a lot to me. We’re more than best friends. In fact, she is my sister from another mother. No other woman is going to love you more than she ever does.” Alex paused. “It is for me to know and for you to find out, Chard.”
What is she talking about? I mean, who? Millions of questions were raised inside Richard’s head. Alex was quick to say goodbye that was why he wasn’t able to ask further questions. Who could that be?
Jerome was Maya’s persistent and loyal suitor. They met through common friends and their closeness was undeniable. There were times that Jerome would pick up Maya from work even if it was around ungodly hours. He does not mind. On the other hand, Maya kept on reiterating to Jerome that they couldn’t be more than friends. The latter, however, does not know the word ‘give up’.
“Hey, Maya. I brought you coffee.” Jerome never failed to show Maya how gentleman he is. He unlocked his car and let Maya in.
“Thank you, Jerome.” Upon entering the car, Maya noticed that it was just the two of them. “Nasaan nga pala sila Paul, Adrian, and Jenissa? Bakit hindi natin sila kasabay?”
“Nauna na sila.” was Jerome’s plain reply.
“Talaga? Akala ko ba sasabay sila?” Maya asked.
Jerome looked at Maya intently, then held her hands. “Hindi ko muna sila pinasabay sa atin ngayon.”
Maya glared at him. “Ha? Bakit? Anong meron?”
“Because I want to talk to you.” Jerome’s voice turned more serious.
Maya pouted. “About what?”
Jerome expelled a deep breath. “About us.” He paused. “Maya, I know, I keep on asking you this. Pero, you see, and I know that you feel how I treat you with extra care. How special and dear you are to me. Maya, will you be my girlfriend?”
Maya placed the coffee inside the black drink holder for car. “Jerome… Alam mo naman di ba…”
Jerome didn’t let Maya to finish her sentence. “What is your alibi again? Sige, noong una, sabi mo bata ka pa. Yes, totoo ‘yon, five, six, seven years ago… Pero, Maya, you are now in the right age to be in a relationship. Tapos, yung second reason mo, yung family mo. Maya, from what I can see, Tita Teresita and Tito Arturo are fine with you having a boyfriend. Then, yung career mo as a nurse. In that case, I would let you do anything you want. Hindi ako magiging hinder sa mga pangarap mo…”
“That’s not the issue, Jerome.” Maya was getting impatient. “I know that I have been clear with what my feelings are for you right from the very beginning. I did not send any wrong signals or whatever just to make you feel there is a chance between the two of us. I told you that we couldn’t be more than friends because I can never reciprocate the love you have for me. I am grateful to have met you, but I think you deserve someone who would love you unconditionally. Someone who would treat you right. Someone that you could lean on. I am not that person, Jerome. All I can offer is a genuine friendship. I am sorry.”
Jerome has nothing to say. Instead, he hugged her tight. “Ang kulit ko kasi, ano? Ayan tuloy, na-soplak ako.”
Maya slightly slapped his arms. “Jerome, ‘di ba, pinaliwanag ko naman na sa’yo… Friends lang talaga tayo.”
“Alam ko naman ‘yun, makulit lang talaga ako.” Jerome was feeling quite embarrassed.
Maya cleared her throat. “Ah, Jerome. May isa lang akong paki-usap sa’yo.”
“Sure, why not? Nag-bago na isip mo?” He said in jerk.
“Huwag mo na akong susunduin. ‘Wag mo na rin ako bibilhan ng kape. ‘Wag mo na akong tatawagan or kahit i-te-text. ‘Wag ka nang gagawa ng mga bagay na nagpapa-alala sa’yo sa akin. Divert your attention to somebody else.” It seemed like Maya was relentlessly giving him orders, not requests.
Jerome was perplexed, amazed, and shocked at the same time. “Ano? Grabe ‘to. Di ba pwedeng maging at ease tayo? I mean, kagaya ng dati before I confessed my feelings for you.”
“At kailan pa naging uso ang pagiging at ease with someone you used to like? Sige nga. How can you move on?” Maya raised an eyebrow. “I’m just being realistic.”
“Ang yabang naman nito. Akala mo naman di ako makaka-move on sa’yo.” Jerome started the engine. “Hatid na nga kita. Hindi na rin kita bibigyan ng kape, kasi hindi ka naman kinakabahan sa mga sinasabi mo.”
“Bakit, makaka-move on ka ba talaga?” She was trying to persuade and annoy him. Purposely.
Jerome became quiet. Moments later, he responded. “Ewan ko. Ang lakas kasi talaga ng tama ko sa’yo. Pero, sige. Whatever makes you feel comfortable. I am willing to do your orders, Madam.”
Maya laughed. “Mahahanap mo rin ang the one for you.”
With all sincerity, Jerome smiled. “Ayan, tumatawa ka na. At least, alam ko na, magiging okay tayo. Sure, may awkwardness, pero alam ko na mabait kang tao, Maya. Totoo nga, may mga tao na ginagawang boyfriend or girlfriend at meron din namang hanggang friends lang.”
Maya nodded. “Agree.”
“Friends lang talaga? Wala nang bawian? As in? Forever na ito? Friends lang?” Jerome was trying to annoy her in return.
“Ay, ang kulit.” Maya was playing around, too.
“May iba ba? Kilala ko ba? Nandito ba or nasa Pilipinas?” He was trying to squeeze something out of her.
Maya kept quiet and Jerome took it as an affirmation that someone definitely captured Maya’s heart, devotion, and attention. She noticed that Jerome was staring at her. “Sige ka, pag na-annoy ako sa’yo…”
“Hindi na, hindi na. Promise.” They both shared a good, friendly laugh.
That night, Maya couldn’t sleep so she grabbed some books to read. Few minutes after starting a new book, her mind wandered somewhere else. She couldn’t go a day without thinking about Richard and Alex. Oh, how lucky is she to be in that place. Yes, she couldn’t forget that Alex posted a picture with Richard and his sister and Alex’s frequent exchanges of tweets and wall-to-wall conversations. She browsed on Alex’s profile to find out that she has deleted that said photo. Why would she delete it? She wondered.
All of a sudden, she received a message from Alex.
Hi, Maya. How are you? It has been ages since we last talked. Alam mo ba, sobrang saya ko. FA na ako! Finally! Isa ka sa mga naisip ko na pag-share-an ng mga bagay na ganito kasi since mga bata pa tayo, alam na natin ang aspirations and goals natin sa buhay. I miss you Maya. Sana, umuwi ka ulit. Reunion tayo ha? I love you!
Maya was glad and relieved to hear from Alex. It has been a while. Friends are forever, boys are whatever. She thought.
Alexandra!!! You don’t know how happy and excited I am for you. We did it! Di ba, parang kailan lang naglalaro pa tayo sa school at kung ano-ano lang ‘yung mga pinag-uusapan natin, pero here we are, we are finally chasing our dreams. Na-miss na kita! Super!
Maya and Alex continuously exchanged messages every single day. They never ceased to update each other even in trivial matters. Until one day, their topic was about Richard. Alex was the first one to brought it up.
Buti na-mention mo si Richard. I’ve been waiting to tell you this, kaso, I don’t know how. First of all, we are not an item. Hindi ko naman siya gusto eh. And of course, alam ko ‘yung rules of femininity. To tell you honestly, hindi parin ako maka-move on kay Leo. First year high school palang tayo, alam mo na ‘yan. Kagaya din ng situation mo, hindi ko rin siya makalimutan. I am sorry kasi nag-post pa ako ng photo. Nung nilagay ko nga ‘yon, naisip kita. Inisip ko kung tama ba… I am really sorry, Maya, kung na-hurt kita… Please believe me when I say na hindi ko talaga siya gusto. Pushy lang talaga si Raffi, kaya ganoon. I have cut my communications with the both of them para wala nang aasa. I don’t want to hurt anyone further.
Maya knew her beloved childhood friend would never betray her. Once she said she never likes someone, it is true.
Wala ‘yon. Hindi naman natin mapipigilan ‘yung mga damdamin ng mga bawat tao. Saka, ang layo-layo ko kaya. Wala akong magagawa kung magkaroon siya ng feelings for you. I just want you to know that whatever happens, I am giving my blessing. Take good care of him. Please, love him more than I did. Ayoko naman maging sagabal sa kung ano man ‘yung mga possibilities. I am not closing my doors either. For now, let us just focus on what’s ahead of us. Thank you din for being honest.
Even though Maya was trying her very best to convince herself to move forward, she just couldn’t. There is some formidable force that engulfs her of Richard’s memories everywhere she goes and whatever she does. It all boils down to one question: Is she really over him?