My head was spinning and I felt lightheaded because I couldn't sleep last night. Kung anu-ano ang naglaro sa isip ko na pwedeng mangyari ngayon.
I was nervously waiting for you here in the coffee shop. My heart was pounding painfully to the point that every beat hurt. It was kind of ironic because this was also how I felt when we first met. Funny how we started as strangers, and we might end like that as well.
I started watching the time.
One minute . . .
Two minutes . . .
Ten minutes . . .
It took you twelve minutes to show up, and for a second, I didn't know what to do. Seeing you walking toward the door made it hard to breathe. Your presence was suffocating.
"Hi," you greeted shortly.
"Hi," I replied awkwardly.
Umupo ka sa tapat ko habang hinawakan ko naman ang order kong kape. I wanted to ease the tension between us so I casually asked you if you wanted to order a cup of coffee.
"Uhm, hindi ka ba oorder—"
"No," you said as you play with your fingers. "Not right now."
"Oh. I see."
Of course. You must be waiting for her.
We were silent for a few minutes. We didn't know how to start. Maybe because we didn't know when to start.
"Kumusta?" you suddenly asked.
Your question triggered the feelings I had bottled up inside for a year but I kept my expression under control. Isang simpleng tanong mula sa'yo pero hindi ko alam kung ano ang isasagot ko.
"I'm . . ." I hesitated but looking at your expectant expression made me utter that word. " . . . fine."
Trying to be, I wanted to clear up but I decided not to. I lied because it would be better for us if we both hear those words from me.
"I see," you said with a subtle smile on your face.
Sa wakas, umaliwalas din ang mukha mo. Gusto kong makita ang ngiti sa mga labi mo. Kahit hindi na ako ang dahilan nito.
"And you?" tanong ko pabalik.
"I'm doing good."
Another wave of silence.
Somehow, it was hard to look at you and talk to you. Pakiramdam ko, ibang tao ka na. Siguro nga, nagbago ka na. I could only remember the past you and I guess I wouldn't be able to know the present and future you.
"Sorry," bigla mong sabi kaya nagulat ako.
It was just a single word, but it stirred a thousand feelings inside me. I didn't know it before, but maybe, that was the word I was waiting for you to say. The word that I wanted to hear before I end these feelings.
I tried to smile despite the pain. "For what?"
You looked at me with apologetic eyes and my eyes started to well up.
"For everything," you replied. "We shared a lot of memories, even though the world didn't know that. You were a part of my life . . . and . . ."
"Sa totoo lang, I liked you back then."
My fissured walls that I was trying to keep together started crumbling down after hearing that.
I couldn't hold back my tears anymore. The words I was waiting to hear before . . . I couldn't believe I'd hear them right at this moment . . . when it was already too late.
"Why?" I sobbed. "Why didn't you tell me that before?"
"I was really happy when I was talking to you. You made my heart flutter a lot of times. But we became comfortable with that kind of setup. We were pulling each other out of our comfort zone, but we didn't really get out of it."
Kahit na may idea na ako sa sagot mo ay lumubog pa rin ang puso ko nang manggaling mismo sa bibig mo ang mga salitang 'yon.
"So you just stopped talking to me," I muttered. "Because you got tired of that kind of setup."
"No," you retorted. "Because we were in an unknown place. Because I couldn't define us. And because I am a coward."
Your words felt like a stab of knife in my heart. I expected this kind of pain, but it still hurt.
"Then I met her," you continued. "I realized I have to be honest with myself. That something between us . . . the feelings I had for you . . . they were slowly disappearing."
Napayuko na lang ako habang nakatingin sa kapeng hawak ko. I couldn't listen anymore.
"I liked you, but maybe, not to the point where I wanted to be with you. That's why I'm sorry for—"
"I liked you, too," I said, cutting you off.
The expression on your face was a mix of surprise and guilt. It was hard to look at.
Maybe I, too, became too complacent with our setup. Siguro kung umamin ako sa'yo noon, iba ang sitwasyon natin ngayon. Siguro kung naglakas-loob akong sabihin ang nararamdaman ko sa'yo noong hindi pa huli ang lahat, ako ang nasa tabi mo ngayon.
But those maybes, what ifs and could have been, only exist in my fantasies. Hanggang dito na lang tayo. Hanggang dito na lang ako. At tanggap ko na, na hindi pa nga nagsisimula ang laro, ipinamukha na agad na ako ang talo.
"But don't worry, it was already in the past," I said, smiling. I wiped my tears and looked straight at you. "Thank you for clearing up everything. Maybe this is the closure we needed."
"Yeah . . . I'm really sorry . . ."
"Again?" I asked. "For what?"
You couldn't answer.
"It was nobody's fault. It just happened like that. Feelings change, and so do people. We can't apologize for something that we can't control."
"But I still hurt you in the process."
"You're right. To be honest, I almost lost myself because I didn't know what happened. I didn't have any idea and that made me anxious and scared. You have hurt me, but I'm glad I finally heard your reason. This way, I can finally breathe. I can finally move forward. So . . . thank you. Thank you for finally putting a period in our story."
Tumayo naman ako habang hawak pa rin ang kape ko. I started walking away from you but I halted after a few steps. Turning around, I looked at you for the last time.
"Don't hurt her," I said. "And I hope you stay happy."
Tumayo ka at humarap rin sa akin. "I hope you will find happiness, too."
I smiled. "Yeah. Someday."