I never liked wearing heels.
This dress was comfortable, but my footwear wasn’t. I felt like I would tumble every time I stepped onto something uneven.
The sun was already setting, hues of red, orange and yellow cast down upon the open field, giving it a picturesque view. There was a photobooth set up near the entrance and thank goodness the photographers with busy with the arrival of some Campus Princes and Princesses that I was able to get in quietly.
I saw Jess and Patrick walking several meters in front of me but I didn’t call them because they wouldn’t hear my voice anyway. The people around us were talking excitedly and the music was too loud.
We passed through the castle’s garden and I saw Steff, Darryl, Kevin and Alice sitting around the table on the leftmost area. Following Jess and Pat, I heaved a sigh of relief when we arrived at the table.
Like Kevin, I was gaping at Alice. She looked like a princess and her dress accentuated her beauty and body. On the other hand, Steff looked regal as usual, and Jess looked like a fairy.
“Yna, oh my god bagay!” Jess squealed. “May pa-slit!”
“Kinda like a nymph,” Steff added.
Everyone was excited and watching them talk to their partners was amusing. They were too busy these past few weeks that they couldn’t even see each other despite being in the same space.
“Uhm, I’m just going to look around,” I said and Jess suddenly stood up.
“Sama!” she exclaimed. “Magiging busy na naman later. Walang time umikot.”
The two of us started walking around and I could see people stealing glances at Jess. We went to a nearby stall and they were selling mini cotton candies. Jess and I bought blue and pink cotton candies, respectively. I was about to get mine but the guy beside us reached for it, too.
I looked at the guy and almost gasped when I realized it was King. He also stared at me, maybe in disbelief, because we just ran into each other despite the size of this place.
“Ah!” Jess blurted while pointing at him and looking at me a second after. She pulled back her hand after realizing how rude it was. “Sorry.”
King looked different. He wasn’t wearing his eyeglasses and his slicked-back hair brought out his nice eyes, which were usually hidden by his fringe and eyeglasses. He was donning a knight attire, and he looked good at it.
“Ladies first,” he said while gesturing at the cotton candy and I felt Jess’ nails digging through my skin.
“Oh. Thank you,” I replied, getting the blue one. “Let’s go,” I whispered to Jess but she suddenly pulled me back.
“Wait,” she mumbled. “Uhm, ‘di ba ikaw ‘yung friend ni Stan? Anong name mo?”
I inhaled sharply, wishing Jess would just shut up, but she stared expectantly at King. He looked tensed but after a few seconds, he flashed a subtle smile.
“Jervin,” he replied. “Nice meeting you. Sorry, I have to go.”
“Oh, okay. Nice meeting you rin, Jervin.”
He glanced at me and nodded a little. I did the same and after that, he started walking away. When we couldn’t see him anymore, a teasing smile escaped from Jess’ lips.
“He’s handsome,” she giggled.
“I’m gonna tell that to Patrick.”
“Sira! Ang sinasabi ko, baka gwapo rin sa paningin mo.” She squinted her eyes. “You know what, he looks at you differently.”
“Basta! Feel ko lang!”
“We should head back,” I said, changing the topic. “My feet hurt.”
Invited bands started playing on the stage and thank heavens Jess finally agreed to go back to our table. However, I was worried as we got nearer. Jess would surely spill and twist everything that happened.
“Ngayon na?” asked Darryl to a staff when we got back.
Jess looked at them, confused. “Anong meron?”
“Sila raw ang next na tutugtog,” Steff answered.
The guys started checking themselves and we all glanced at Darry when he suddenly raised his hand, waving at someone.
“Gisel!” he yelled. “Here!”
My body froze upon hearing his name. All of them looked at his direction, but I couldn’t. My heart started racing after remembering what happened in the morning.
I saw him from my peripheral view and he stood beside Darryl.
“Tara na raw,” he said and the guys stood up, ready to go to the stage.
One of the staffs approached Jess and Steff this time and it looked like they have to prepare as well. All of them were preparing to leave and it was quite cute when the couples got busy with each other, telling words of encouragement and stuff before they perform.
While everyone was busy, I tried glancing at his direction and I panicked when our gaze met each other. He flashed a quick smile and I had to turn away, embarrassed that he had caught me looking. There was a second of silence and then he cleared his throat.
Quickly peeking, I saw him left with the rest, and only Alice and I remained seated.
That felt more unnerving than the spotlight and I had to take deep breaths to calm myself. After drinking a glass of water, I glanced at Alice and she seemed fretful.
“How’s the princess?” I asked.
She sighed and smiled. “Ayon, kaalis lang nila,” she replied while looking at Jess and Steff.
Good thing she looked less worried now than earlier. We stayed silent for a while but I almost yelped when my phone lit up. I opened it below the table and saw a direct message from him.
calvingisel: bagay sa’yo :)
My heart thumped upon reading his message. Watching him walk toward the stage as people cheered for them, I realized how famous he was in the campus.
They were given crowns, which made the cheers louder, and they all looked like real princes with their attire. We were already anticipating their performance when a staff suddenly approached us.
“Uhm, excuse me,” she murmured. “Sorry, for faculty members po pala ang side na ‘to.” She pointed at the right side of the garden. “Doon po ang side ng students.”
“Oh. Okay. Sorry po,” Alice said.
We stood up, got our friends’ things, and went to the assigned tables for students. However, some of the spotlights suddenly pointed at our direction, throwing us into an unwanted attention.
I immediately sidestepped, and almost sprained my ankle, to evade the avoid the spotlight. Fortunately, my heels weren’t as tall as Alice’s. She couldn’t steer clear of the sudden illumination and those who were near us stared at her.
People started murmuring about her and she looked really embarrassed, but I guess it turned out well. With lights shining on her white dress, she looked like a fairy tale princess.
After several seconds, which felt like forever, we finally found an empty table. Alice looked like she was about to pass out after what happened and her hardships didn’t end there. Students around us started talking about her in hushed voices, though we could still hear some of them.
A guy approached our table and sat beside Alice, but before he could say his intention, a loud sound from the stage made almost everyone look at that direction.
“Just checking the sound’s quality. Sorry,” Kevin said.
The guy tried talking to Alice again and Kevin hit the drums.
“This drum sounds good, too,” he added and students started laughing at his actions.
“♪ I’d be jealous, too, if she was with you ♪”
Darryl suddenly sang a line as he strummed his guitar. He gave a teasing look to Kevin and both Patrick and Gisel were trying to hold back their smiles.
“♪ If you felt the way it feels the way she looks at you
I'd be jealous too, I'd be jealous too ♪”
Patrick finished the line and Gisel started laughing.
“Looks like all the instruments are in tune,” he noted while they grinned at Kevin’s childish action. He was clearly jealous of the guy.
I started teasing Alice until Jon and Karla arrived. It seemed like Alice also knew about them but she looked a bit confused when I didn’t have the reaction she was expecting. Well, I knew it months ago. It was too obvious.
They sang With A Smile and everyone was singing along with Darryl and Patrick. It was fun watching them enjoying the stage as they entertain the crowd but my eyes would always drift at his direction.
He looked cool playing the piano, smiling at his bandmates and at the crowd, and nodding enthusiastically when someone yelled his name. He said he hated attention but I guess he, too, enjoyed singing and playing for the crowd.
“Good evening everyone!” Darryl greeted with a big smile pasted on his face. “Kumusta? Nag-e-enjoy naman ba kayo? I heard the food in the stalls are good.”
“What? Hungry already?” Patrick asked, receiving laughter from the crowd.
“Hungry? I’m not hungry. Someone else is,” Darryl retorted while looking at Kevin’s direction.
“Oh, Kevin’s angry?” Gisel teased. “I mean, hungry.”
“A little bit,” answered Kevin.
“Hungry or angry?” Patrick asked again.
“Maybe both,” Gisel said.
“Definitely angry,” added Darryl as he looked at our direction. “Right?”
Kevin getting teased by them was such a funny sight, especially when the cause was beside me, who was trying to be calm but her face was already as red as tomato.
They started talking about a lot of things but it ended up in relationships after someone yelled, asking Kevin and Gisel’s ideal type.
“Ayan. Tanungin natin ang aming resident single,” Darryl said while grinning at Gisel. “Did someone catch the most elusive prince’s attention tonight?”
Cheers erupted the moment he smiled. Girls started screaming, some raising their hands while others pointing at themselves.
“I think everyone looks beautiful—”
“Ah. A safe answer,” Patrick said, cutting him off. “Kinda expected it.”
“Right. Kumusta naman si Sleeping Beauty?”
Darryl and Patrick continued pressuring him, and in the end, he gave up. He heaved a sigh and for a moment, he looked serious.
“I just had a glimpse a while ago,” he started. “She looks like a fairy or a nymph instead of a princess.”
Someone shouted, “Ako ‘yon!” and the crowd erupted in laughter. Right at that moment, when everyone was busy laughing and trying to find who he was talking about, he looked at our direction and smiled.
“Yup. A fairy, indeed.”
For a second, I wondered if he was talking about me. But fear started creeping in and I wished he wasn’t. Because catching his attention meant being dragged into the spotlight. And I don’t want to be in that kind of place.