It's been a month since we last met. Naging busy rin kasi ako sa work kaya lagi na akong dumidiretso sa office pero dahil natapos ko ang paperworks ngayon ay naglakad ako papunta rito.
I stood outside and smiled. I kinda missed this place.
Pumasok ako sa loob at agad na umupo sa bakanteng table. I suddenly remembered the time we finally ended everything between us. There were still fragments of pain but it didn't hurt that much anymore. Maybe because I finally accepted our fate.
That we would be happier without each other.
Tumayo ako at pumunta sa counter. I was about to say my regular order but the barista looked surprised, and moments later, delighted when he saw me.
"Good morning, Ma'am. You're back," he warmly greeted.
I smiled at him. "Yeah."
"That guy has been secretly looking for you these past few weeks."
Napakunot naman ang noo ko. "That guy?"
"You know, the one who ordered for you last time."
I tried recalling what he was saying and remembered the guy who saw me crying.
"Ah. The smiley," I muttered.
I instinctively looked around the cafe but he wasn't there. The barista chuckled and looked at me with a teasing smile.
"Looking for him?"
"I'm not . . . I didn't . . ." Napabuntong-hininga na lang ako. "May I just have my order, please?"
"Of course, Ma'am."
Bumalik ako sa upuan ko at sakto namang kapapasok n'yo pa lang. Our eyes met, but I didn't avert your gaze. Because this time, I wasn't holding on to the what ifs and could haves anymore. This time, I knew that we were just mere chapters in each other's story, but not the epilogue. And that we should continue with our lives, even if it meant walking into different paths.
We subtly smiled at each other and I nodded before returning to my seat. The aroma of the coffee calmed me down and all I could think was how lighter my heart was compared before. I didn't know a simple closure could turn everything better.
Nag-browse na lang ako sa phone ko habang iniinom ang coffee na in-order ko nang biglang may umupo sa harapan ko. His familiar face welcomed me with a smile.
"Ah, Miss," he beamed. "You're back."
Naalala ko naman ang sinabi ng barista kanina. The coffee-slash-smiley guy glanced at your direction and back at me. His lips curved upward and gave me a curious look.
"Seems like you're already moving forward."
I snickered and looked at my coffee. "I have to," I replied. Muli akong tumingin sa kanya. "Ah, right. Thank you for the coffee before."
"Ah. That. No worries."
Tumayo siya at pumunta sa counter habang niligpit ko naman ang mga gamit ko. Malapit na rin kasing matapos ang break ko kaya kailangan ko nang bumalik. I almost looked at your direction and I was glad I didn't. Sapat nang nagkatinginan tayo kanina at iyon na rin ang huling pagkakataon na titingnan kita.
Now, I am finally closing your chapter in my story.
Pagkalabas ko sa cafe ay narinig ko ang pagbukas ng pintuan at nagulat na lang ako nang nasa gilid ko na siya. Ito ang unang beses na magkasama kami sa labas ng cafe at hindi ko alam kung ano ang dapat gawin.
"You know what, you're kinda cool," he commented and that made me glance at his direction.
"When I was in that state, I was really pathetic," he scoffed and looked at me. "Falling out of love and then naturally drifting away from each other is the most painful thing that could happen in a relationship."
I agreed in silence.
Napatingin ulit ako sa kanya at hindi ko akalaing parehas kami ng naging sitwasyon. I was suddenly curious but it would be rude to ask him about it.
"But you seem fine now," I remarked. "And I think that's what matter most: being fine and happy with yourself."
He chuckled in return as he sipped from his cup of coffee. "You're right. You'll get there, too."
"I hope so," I replied.
There were a few seconds of silence between us but I broke it when I finally asked him a question.
"What did you do?" I mumbled. "I mean, during that time . . . what did you do to finally move on?"
"Ah. I just kept myself busy. I surrounded myself with things that I love. I spent more time with my family and friends."
"Did it work?"
He smiled but I could see a hint of melancholy in his eyes. "I think," he said. "It's a long and arduous process but it will help you get better."
"So it didn't."
Bigla naman siyang natawa kaya nagulat ako.
"Moving on isn't really freeing yourself from the people who caused you pain and from the feelings that drowned you before," he explained. "It's more like staying afloat in the ocean no matter what happens. Some days, it's just calm and you can just enjoy the soothing feeling it brings. But there are also times where the raging ocean gives you waves and storms of yearning, false hopes and memories. Moving on means slowly adapting to these kinds of situations until you can finally swim again."
He suddenly stopped walking so I halted, too. Tumingin siya sa akin at ngumiti.
"I hope you heal and grow for yourself, Miss," he smiled and before I could respond, he started walking away from me until he disappeared from my sight.
Naglakad na rin ako papunta sa building namin at napangiti.
Even if I had no idea who he was, his words made me realize a lot of things. Maybe sometimes, what we need is an outside perspective to give you a better view in life.
"I will," I muttered. "Thank you."
For this past year, I stayed despite you leaving. I already said my goodbye to you. Now, it's time to walk away.
It's time to choose myself over you.