Chapter 8

[A story from]

“Hey, Sai! I knew it was you! I saw you coming out of the convenience store and asked my driver to stop. Are you on your way home? Halika, we’ll take you there.”

Great. Another person I really don’t want to see now. I mean Melody’s really nice and she’s not really at fault with what’s happening dahil katulad ko, she’s just probably a victim here who doesn’t even have any clue what’s happening around her. Pero I still can’t stop feeling uncomfortable and awkward especially after what happened yesterday.

“Ah, it’s okay Melody. Malapit lang bahay ko, walking distance lang. Thank you na lang.”

“It’s fine! We’ll still take you there regardless. Halika na, hop in.” She actually opened the door and moved to her left side to give me space to sit. I had no choice but to actually accept her invitation dahil ang kulit niya.

“Diyan lang talaga ang bahay ko, wala pang 5 minutes na lakaran. Hindi na need talaga mag kotse pa.”

“Actually,” ngumiti siya ng malawak, “gusto sana kita yayain mag-coffee! I’m really bored at home and Cedric’s too busy to spend the weekend with me. Nagsa-shopping lang talaga ako around the area when I spot you going out the convenience store.”

“Hala, kakabili ko lang kasi ng ice cream.” Iniangat ko sa kanya ang ice cream na nabuksan ko na sabay kagat dito dahil baka matunaw na.

“It’s fine! Finish mo muna ang ice cream mo then let’s go for coffee. There’s this café that sells good pasta, I’ll treat you.”

“Naku, hindi pa talaga ako gutom. Actually, I was doing my research project. Nag-quick break lang ako to buy ice cream.”

I saw her smile fade in disappointment. “Oh, is that so?”

“Well, if wala ka talaga magawa today, pwede ka naman mag-stay sa house namin. Are you done with your research project na ba? We can study together.” As soon as I said that, I gave myself a mental smack in the head. Bakit ko ba siya niyaya pa? Ewan ko ba, naawa ako nang makita kong na-disappoint siya na hindi ko siya masasamahan. I mean she just got back here and as she mentioned before na she didn’t really have any friends. Ang hirap maging maawain.

“Ah! That would be great! I’m almost done with my research project actually but I would like to come over to your house!” Her eyes lit up and her lips curved to a smile. She’s like a kid who’s excited to go to an amusement park.

“Sorry, medyo makalat.” I excused myself as I picked up a random book lying on the floor of my room and placed it right back on my shelf.

“No, it’s fine. I like your room, it looks cute and cozy at the same time.”

“Well, thanks. I bet yours is twice as big as mine.” I smiled as I directed her to my bed, “You can sit sa bed ko if you like. Sorry, I don’t have another chair for you.”

“It’s okay, stop apologizing for nothing.” Umupo na siya sa bed ko and took out her laptop from her bag. I handed her a foldable table para hindi siya mahirapan sa pagla-laptop.

We didn’t really talk much as we both started to do our research papers. Around 20 minutes have passed, I heard her put down her laptop.

“I’m done.”

“Wait, tapos ka na agad?” I was shocked with how fast she accomplished her papers, habang ako halos nangangalahati pa lang.

“Yup, I actually started a few of them last night pa.” Tumayo na siya and looked at my laptop. “Do you need help?”

She actually helped me in finishing my paper and I was amazed how smart Melody is. Napaisip tuloy ako kung hindi niya ba talaga alam ang tungkol sa amin ni Cedric? Is she the type na matalino with everything but becomes dumb with love?

“Uy, you went to the same school pala as Cedric before?” Napalingon agad ako sa direksyon niya nang makita kong hawak niya ang picture frame kung saan nakasuot ako ng uniporme ko sa dati kong paaralan kasama ang mga kaibigan ko doon. Buti na lang tinapon ko na ang mga larawang magkasama kami ni Cedric.

“Ah, yeah. I had to transfer due to financial reasons.”

“I see. Hindi mo siya naging classmate before? I wanted to be in the same university as him since we’re taking the same course kaso they weren’t accepting transferees mid semester. I only got lucky with our school since my aunt was able to pull off some strings to get me in.”

“Ah, hindi ko siya naging classmate.” I tucked a hair behind my ear and tried not to meet her gaze. It’s so hard to lie to someone who’s done nothing wrong to me.

After niya mag ikot-ikot sa room ko, bumalik siya sa kama ko at nag-cellphone. Mayamaya ay nagsalita ulit siya. “Hey Sai, are you free next weekend?”

“Wala naman ako ibang plans. Why?”

“We’re having a weekend getaway sa vacation house namin in Tagaytay. It’s going to be with Cedric and his friends. So, mostly boys although some of them will bring their girlfriends but I don’t really know them. I was hoping I could invite you and Kyla para I have friends there too. I think Brian’s going to be there na as he’s Cedric’s friend, Kyla can also invite her partner if she wants.”

“Hala, I’m not sure pa.” I didn’t want to go to that weekend getaway knowing Cedric’s going to be there. Melody didn’t really have any idea what she’s doing. I was trying to avoid her fiancé na nga for both our sake, pero she’s unconsciously trying to open a pandora box.

“Why? I thought you’re free next Saturday.” I saw the disappointment in her eyes.

“Ah yes, free naman ako kaso . . . “

“Kaso?” She’s still waiting for me to complete my thoughts. I tried to rack my brain looking for an excuse pero I couldn’t come up with anything good. “Ayaw mo ba akong kasama?”

Not really you. “Hindi naman sa ganoon, pero . . . “

Ano ba Sai, bakit ayaw gumana ng utak mo for an excuse now.

“Pero?” Naghihintay pa rin siya ng sagot ko kaya napabuntong-hininga na lang ako at hindi na nakaiwas.

“Pero . . . Ah, wala. Sige, I’ll also let Kyla know.” Pumayag na lang muna ako for now with the thought na I can make up an excuse at the last minute.

“Yay! I’m so excited!” Melody jumped to me and hugged me so tight. “I love you, Sai! I feel like I’ve found a sister in you already!”

I tried not to smile awkwardly while I wished Melody would not feel too comfortable with me. I might end up breaking her heart if she learns the truth.

[A story from]

“Sure ka na ba na sasama ka sa Tagaytay?” Days have passed since Melody asked me about it and I’m still undecided if I should really just make up an excuse and not go. It’s happening tomorrow already. I was thinking of faking an illness at the last minute para lang hindi na ako makasama. “I can also not go if you want and we can just go somewhere else on the weekend.”

“It’s okay, Brian. Sumama ka na sa kanila kahit wala ako doon. I don’t want to deprive you of your time with your friends just because I have issues with one of them.” 

Brian already knows about my dilemma and he also doesn’t agree with me going there especially after what Cedric did during the swimming competition.

“I would rather spend my weekend with you.” He held my hand and looked into my eyes with all sincerity. I avoided it right away and looked around the gym instead. We’re sitting in one of the benches as we wait for Brian’s swimming practice to start. There weren’t many people in the gym, just the coaches and varsities preparing for their training.

“Thank you, Brian.” It’s almost a week since we started ‘dating’. Nothing out of the ordinary has actually happened so far. We just started talking and meeting more often than before. Brian is a big gentleman. He respected my time and didn’t demand anything from me. He always asks first to make sure I’m comfortable before doing anything. He considered my feelings first before anything else. He was too good for me and I felt guilty most of the time for not being able to reciprocate his feelings yet.

“Brian, mag-start na raw sabi ni coach!” One of his teammates called for him to get ready. He responded to him saying he’ll be ready in a minute. Hinatid muna ako ni Brian sa pinto ng gym.

“Sorry hindi kita ma ihahatid pauwi. Mamayang seven pa kasi tapos ng training namin.”

“Okay lang, ‘wag ka mag-alala. Good luck sa training at ingat ka pag-uwi mo.”

“Salamat. Ikaw rin ha, please text me when you get home.” I nodded to agree. He took my hands again and gave it a peck.  “I’ll see you tomorrow, Sai.”

Ngumiti lang ako at nag-wave sa kanya bago umalis ng gym. Pauwi na ako nang may isang puting Lexus ang biglang tumigil sa harap ko. Hindi ko sana papansinin at iiwasan ko na lang sana dahil hindi ko naman alam kung kaninong sasakyan ito. Laking gulat ko nang biglang magbukas ang pinto sa driver’s seat at lumabas si Cedric.

“Come with me, Sai.” He grabbed my arm and I wanted to protest, but I looked around and there were some students looking curiously in our direction. I didn’t really want to cause a commotion as I was afraid rumors may reach Melody’s attention, so I just went quietly with Cedric. As soon as I got into the passenger seat, Cedric drove off quickly. 

Hindi ko alam kung saan niya ako dadalhin. He was quiet for about 10 minutes before he finally spoke.

“Don’t go to the weekend getaway in Tagaytay. I don’t want you to be there.”

I really can’t believe this guy. I could only gawk at him while I tried to find the right response.

“It’s not good for you.” He added another salty line without even batting an eye as he continued to drive to wherever the heck we’re going.

“Excuse me? How would you know if it’s good for me or not? Sino ka ba para mag-decide?”

“I just know that you shouldn’t go there. Trust me.”

“Trust you? Big word ‘yan, Cedric. I’ve trusted you for a long time and where did that get me?”

“Please lang, Sai. Just don’t go there, for your sake . . .  for our sake.”

“I don’t understand you, Cedric.”

It took me by surprise when he suddenly pulled over causing a loud screeching sound. He removed his hands from the steering wheel and unbuckled. He closed his eyes for a second and put pressure on the bridge of his nose.

“I don’t want you to be there because I don’t want to see you, I don’t want to be in the same place as you for more than a day.”

That was the last string. Nag-panting na talaga ang mga tainga ko at hindi ko na napigilang tumaas ang boses ko. 

“Ha? Sa tingin mo pupunta ako sa Tagaytay para sa ‘yo? Sa tingin mo gusto kong makita ka at makasama ka? Pwede ba Cedric! Can you stop being such a selfish *sshole? I’m done with you. Don’t bother me anymore. Let’s live our separate lives. At kung magkaroon man ng mga pagkakataong magku-krus na naman ang mga landas natin, ‘wag na lang tayo mag-usap o mag-interact sa isa’t isa. I accepted the invitation to go to Tagaytay for Melody, not for you. She’s a good friend to me and I don’t want to drag her with our issues. Sana isipin mo rin ang mararamdaman ng fiancée mo, You already hurt me and that’s enough, ‘wag ka ng manakit pa ng iba. You don’t want to see me? Same goes.”

I didn’t wait for a response, I unbuckled my seatbelt and attempted to leave. I had barely opened the door when he darted towards the door and closed it right away. I suddenly felt a rapid car passing by. If hindi niya siguro napigilan ang pagbukas ko ng pinto, baka nasagasaan na ako ng kotseng iyon.

I suddenly felt conscious of our position. He was in front of me while holding the door next to me, his long arms entrapping me in my seat. His serious but handsome face was just a few inches from mine and my breath hitched when his gaze met mine. I felt the heat of his breath touch my lips as he spoke. “Careful. Look before you go.”

He opened the door for me and went back to his seat. It took me a bit before I actually got out of the car and that’s when I realized we were already around my neighbourhood. He was actually driving me home. I heard him turning on his car engine and it fled away in a matter of seconds.

[A story from]

I barely got any sleep that night. I replayed everything that happened in his car. My emotions were a mix of sadness, confusion and anger. Noong una, he said to forget about him. After that, he comes running to me saying he couldn’t forget about me? Tapos ngayon sasabihin niyang ayaw niya akong makita o makasama sa isang lugar? I don’t really understand him. I don’t know if he’s playing a prank on me. Is he enjoying this?

“I’ll go to sleep na, Sai. I hope you’re okay because I feel like you’re not. Just let me know anytime, call me regardless if alas tres pa ‘yan ng umaga. I’ll answer it for you, always. Goodnight, Sai. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

I read the text I just received from Brian. I haven’t told him about what happened but since I wasn’t really in the mood to reply, he might’ve sensed there’s something wrong based on how I responded to his messages earlier.

I tried to send him a proper reply to at least reciprocate a bit of his efforts.

“Thank you, Brian. Goodnight.”

Should I really go to Tagaytay?

If I do, I’ll see Cedric again and God knows what unpredictable thing he’ll do again.

If I don’t, it will feel like I’m just letting what he wants to happen.

I want to rebel. I want to show him that I don’t care what he feels. He can’t dictate what I should feel or do.

I’ll go to Tagaytay and show him that he does not affect me anymore.

“Ugh.” Sometimes I feel like the stars hate me so much and won’t ever play in my favor. I woke up in the morning feeling really ill. My muscles ached and I felt a bit lightheaded, probably because I was only able to sleep for an hour.

“Are you okay, Sai?” Brian noticed how quiet I was during the whole trip. He fetched me first before going to Kyla’s house next.

“Yeah, just feeling a bit lightheaded. I didn’t really have much sleep.”

“Do you want to sleep? I’ll help you recline your chair para makapahinga ka muna sa biyahe.”

“Nah, I’m fine. I just drank some meds before going out, mag-effect na rin ‘to mayamaya.”

“Sigurado ka ha? Let me know during the trip if it gets worse. Hatid kita pabalik.”

“Okay lang ako, Brian. Don’t worry.”

We reached Kyla’s house in a few minutes and as soon as she got in the car, she didn’t look like her usual energetic self. Usually, she’ll be really excited for a trip like this and would talk nonstop, but she’s been really quiet while glued to her phone. She only said a quick ‘morning’ to us.

“Okay ka lang ba, Kyla?” Nilingon ko siya sa back seat, she’s still looking at her phone screen while typing furiously. “Sasabay ba si Mark sa atin or doon na natin siya ime-meet sa Tagaytay?”

As soon as she heard Mark’s name, she looked really upset. “Huwag na huwag niyo ng babanggitin ang kasumpa-sumpang pangalan na ‘yan sa akin!”

Nagulat kami pareho ni Brian.

“Nag-away ba kayo?”

“That motherfu —” I felt like my ears were damaged with all the cursed words she shouted consecutively while she punched the neck pillow she brought along with her. When she was done shouting, I began to ask again.

“So . . . anong nangyari?”

[A story from]

Lie About Love

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