Chapter 18

[A story from haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

“Halos walang nagbago, it still looks the same as I remember it.” Saad ni Cedric habang iniikot ang tingin sa bahay namin. Nakaupo siya sa tabi ko sa aming dining table. I ended up getting a ride home from him. He insisted on going inside my house until he’s sure I’ve calmed down dahil I was crying the whole ride.

Ininom ko ang tsaang ginawa niya para sa akin. “Yeah, mom doesn’t really want to change anything here especially the things that will remind her of dad.”

“Why? Did something happen to tito?” I smile bitterly at him. Na-gets niya naman ito at napa-”oh” na lang siya. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It’s okay, it’s been 2 years na rin.”

“I see . . . ” He taps his fingers on the table, probably thinking of what to say next. “Si tita, kumusta? She’s probably asleep now.”

Tumango ako, “Ooperahan si mama this month.”

Naikwento ko sa kanya ang buong kalagayan ni mama pati na rin ang kakailanganing gastos sa pagpapaopera sa kanya. For some reason, I felt like letting it out to him. I even told him how I ended up in his company. How I was in my previous company, how badly I needed the money that made me stay in a toxic company.

“I’m really sorry to hear everything that you’re going through. I thought you were okay.” Ipinatong niya saglit ang kamay niya sa kamay ko ngunit tila ba napaso ay agad niya rin itong inalis kasabay ng pag-iwas niya sa mga mata ko. “Let me know if you need help.”

Umiling ako at nginitian siya, “Thanks, but I’m fine. Really.” 

“Hey Sai, I’d really want you to be happy. I’ve done such awful things to you before and know that I’ve never forgiven myself for treating you that way. If there’s anything I can do to help you, just know I’ll be here for you anytime.”

I play with the string of my tea bag as I watch the swirling of yellow liquid in my glass. “Thanks.”

“If it’s not too much to ask . . . ” He pauses as he hesitates to continue what he wants to say. Inangat ko pabalik ang tingin ko sa kanya upang mahuli syang nakatitig sa akin. “Can we still be friends? I’ll totally understand if you don’t want to. As I said earlier, wala akong balak guluhin ka, if you don’t want anything to do with me, just tell me and I’ll go.”

Rinig ko sa boses niya ang sinseridad sa lahat ng sinabi niya, sa lahat ng usapang naganap sa amin simula kanina pa. May kaba, pag aalinlangan at marahan palagi ang kanyang pananalita tuwing kami lang ang magkausap. Ibang iba sa tonong ginagamit niya tuwing kausap niya ang aming mga katrabaho. 

I wonder why I’ve always been so scared to see Cedric again after all these years? Habang nakaupo siya sa tabi ko ngayon, nawala lahat ng pag-aalala ko. Akala ko I’ll meet the same Cedric from 7 years ago but I forgot, people can change. I’m seeing a better version of him now and maybe, I should let go of that remaining negative feeling for him that I’ve kept for so long.

“Can you pass me one cigarette please?” Nagulat siya sa sinabi ko.

“Akala ko you don’t smoke? You denied my offer earlier.”

“I wasn’t comfortable with you earlier.” 

He handed me a cigarette and lit it for me. “Since when?”

“A few years after working, naimpluwensyahan ng katrabaho. I find it relieving and calming especially during my stressful moments. I actually stopped a few months ago na when Brian found out about it, he doesn’t like it when I smoke.”

“Hey, nag-stop ka na pala then why did you just ask one from me?”

“Because you smoked in front of me earlier, it made me crave especially after such a stressful day.” 

“Hey stop it, I feel guilty now.” Kinuha niya ang sigarilyo sa kamay ko at itinapon ito sa sink. Bigla naman tumunog ang phone kong naka-charge malapit sa sink. Nakita ito ni Cedric at lumingon sa akin. “Brian’s calling. I guess I should be going now.”

Inabot niya sa akin ang phone ko at nagpaalam na. “I’m really glad that we can start fresh again, Sairyl. Have a good night.”

Nang makaalis na siya ay saka ko lang sinagot ang tawag ni Brian. 

“Nakauwi ka na? Sorry I called, you weren’t responding to my texts earlier and I was worried something happened.”

“Okay lang ako, nakauwi na ako.” 

“I’m glad to hear that. Matutulog ka na ba?” 

“Mmm hmm.”

“Okay, goodnight. We’ll hopefully finish here in the next hour. I’ll see you later in the afternoon?” 

“Sure, see you.” Nang matapos ang tawag niya ay niligpit ko na rin ang basong pinaginuman ko ng tsaa. Nang ilalagay ko na ito sa sink, napansin ko ang sigarilyong itinapon doon ni Cedric. Pinulot ko ito at tinitigan. 

“Ang hirap mo namang tigilan.” Sabay tapon sa basurahan. 

[A story from haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

Naligo muna ako bago nahiga sa aking kama. Dahil hindi pa ako dinadapuan ng antok, napagdesisyunan kong mag-social media muna. Nang buksan ko ang aking Facebook account, nagulat ako nang makita ko ang pangalan ni Cedric sa friend requests ko. In-accept ko ito. 

Binuksan ko rin ang profile niya. Ang profile picture niya naman ay larawan niyang nakatalikod habang nakatayo sa kaparehong dagat mula sa cover photo niya. Isa siguro sa mga beaches ng Australia. Napansin kong wala siyang gaanong pinopost, may kaunting mga shineshare lang siyang news from business pages. Wala rin siyang iba pang pinost na larawan bukod sa profile picture at cover photo nya, ngunit may mga ilang larawan na naka-tag sa kanya. Binuksan ko iyon isa isa, mga larawan kung saan kasama niya ang mga kaibigan niya sa Australia. May isang series ng photos kung saan kasama niyang nagpa-party ang mga kaibigan niya sa isang yacht. Doon may napansin akong babaeng laging nakadikit sa kanya, may isang photo na nakayakap pa ito sa kanya at nakahalik sa pisngi niya. A certain Nicole Andrews is tagged in that photo. It was taken just a few months ago.

“Single daw, sus.” I mutter as I close his profile and continue to browse through my newsfeed, waiting for sleep to arrive. Mayamaya lang nakatanggap ako ng notification, Cedric Fontanilla liked a photo. Kinlick ko ang ni-like nyang photo, it’s a photo I posted 5 years ago! Is he stalking my profile? Before I could double check it again, the like notification from him disappeared. 
Binalikan ko ang profile niya and he still has the green light on in his profile. I dare to click the message button and I’m surprised to see three moving dots. He is typing a message!

[A story from haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

Lie About Love

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