I couldn't focus anymore.
My arms were getting numb because I held my reading between us and tried to read with that kind of posture. It was especially hard for my left arm because he was on my left side.
This was our setup for a minute now. After that happened, the awkwardness between us skyrocketed and we couldn't look nor talk to each other . . . yet we didn't move an inch from our positions.
I wanted to take a glance at him, but I was afraid he'd catch me looking. It took me few more minutes of wavering before I find the resolve to do it. However, I was stunned to see him leaning over the table, already asleep.
I was too focused on my own that I didn't even notice that he had already drifted to sleep. He must have been too tired that he dozed off in such an uncomfortable position, but the good thing was I could stare at his face without getting too embarrassed.
A smile escaped my lips as I watched him closely. He looked like a puppy. A cute one. His soft and gentle features got accentuated while sleeping. In moments like this, I wish I could stop time and just enjoy this kind of peace.
The first article that was written about us came into my mind. It was when I was sleeping in the library and someone snapped a photo of him sitting across me. Fortunately, my face wasn’t seen on that angle and nobody knew who I was.
I quietly took a photo of him and slowly sank next to him, my head resting on my arms as I continued staring at his peaceful face. Sometimes, I wonder how we would be around each other if he weren’t a Campus Prince. Maybe I’d still end up liking him . . . and maybe it would be easier to convey my feelings. There would be no pressure and fear of being found because people wouldn’t care about us.
But this is reality. Just like Steff and Jess, he’s someone who lives in the light.
And I’m close to stepping into that world.
“Nado,” (Me, too,) I whispered, remembering the first time I confessed to him while he was also sleeping. “Nado naega joh-a.” (I like you, too.)
My head was spinning crazily and I regretted pulling an all-nighter last night. I couldn’t believe I survived two morning classes without dozing off, but right now, I’m close to collapsing.
“Huy, kamukha mo na sina Steff at Jess,” Alice commented as I slouched on the table. “Mukha ka na ring zombie. Anong pinaggagawa mo?”
I couldn’t tell her I just wrote several chapters of my story last night because I was burning with ardor after that happened. It had been three days since that incident in the café, yet his words were still echoing loudly in my head. It felt like everything had happened few minutes ago.
“Yna, ano na, may sakit ka ba?! Bakit ka namumula?” She leaned closer and gave me a suspicious look. “Wait, dapat namumutla ka kung may sakit ka. Don’t tell me you’re drunk?!”
I didn’t have the energy to respond and I just weakly shook my head.
“Please . . . let me sleep first.”
Before I could hear her reply, I had already drifted to sleep.
The moment I opened my eyes, Jess’ phone came into my view. It turned out they were taking photos of me because I was sleeping for about an hour already. They arrived few minutes ago while Alice was watching over me.
“Dami ko nang pictures mo,” she snickered. “Send ko kaya kay Gisel?”
Despite her hushed voice when she said his name, I still panicked because someone might hear it. I almost snatched her phone, too, but she was quicker. Worse, that stupid action had earned me impish looks from the three of them and I knew the teasing would start.
“Masyado kaming busy these past few days,” commented Jess. “So, anong nangyari sa date n’yo?”
I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks as I relived what happened that day. It was especially hard to contain the overwhelming and unfamiliar feelings and writing had been my only outlet for the past three days. Now that there were ears ready to listen, I started telling them the things that came about that day.
Alice had been stifling her squeals while I narrated the whole thing and my arms were already numb after Jess hit them several times to express her feelings. On the other hand, Steff was just chuckling and occasionally throwing some side comments.
“Wait, ang lala ng kilig ko,” Alice said while huffing. “Kailangan ko ng tubig.”
“Grabe pala ang isang Calvin Gisel,” added Jess. “Hindi ko akalaing may tinatago pala siyang ganoong side.”
“Buti nakaya mo,” Steff commented, a smirk pasted on her face. “I thought you’d run away again.”
Jess looked at her. “Ano ka ba, kahit papaano ay may tinatago rin namang katapangan at kakapalan ng mukha ‘yang si Yna.”
Alice laughed at her remark. “Shy girl no more.”
The teasing continued and it came to a point where I just wanted to disappear because it was already too embarrassing. I was glad they weren’t present in any of our moments because I wouldn’t know how to control them.
“So, what will you do?” Steff asked after the chaos had subsided for a bit.
“I mean, he already confessed to you. What’s next?”
“She confessed, too,” Jess chimed in. “Pero noong tulog ‘yung tao.”
I blushed upon hearing that but I didn’t say a thing. It took me a cup of strong coffee and days of contemplation to confess to him while he was asleep. How could I even directly tell him my feelings if an indirect confession made me want to bury myself in the ground, hoping that I could take back the words I said even though he didn’t even hear it? People like me who get easily overwhelmed need at least a couple of days, or even weeks, to sort out their feelings.
“Pero nanliligaw na ba siya?” Jess continued. “O kayo na?”
Alice smirked. “Getting to know each other daw muna.”
“Ayain mo ng date,” Steff suggested, as if that would be an easy thing to do.
They threw several suggestions on how I could tell my feelings and how I could ask him on a date, but everything was just too assertive. I was finally able to breathe when they had to leave because of their respective classes. Meanwhile, I stayed in the garden as I still have thirty minutes before my Fil 40 class.
Speaking of which, I had to peruse and bury myself in the reading assignment for two nights because I couldn’t understand what I had read in the café. What’s worse was every time I read phrases containing the word ‘gusto’, his face would instantly flash in my mind, and I’d end up getting flushed and distracted again.
As if on cue, my phone chimed, and displayed on my screen was a text message from him.
Long time no see :)
My brows furrowed upon reading his message. I hadn’t seen him after we met at the café and that was already three days ago. Just like Steff and Jess, he was also busy with his acads.
Something had definitely changed between us after that, but I was glad that we could still keep talking like this. I wouldn’t know what to do if there was a sudden shift on how we interact.
Eh? Ano ibig sabihin mo? I replied.
His reply came a few seconds after I sent the message.
Lingon ka. Third floor, Guillermo Building haha
I did what he said, and my heart thumped when I saw him leaning over the wall barrier of the corridor with a huge grin on his face as he looked at my direction. Immediately, I turned my head back, my cheeks blushing so hard that they were tingling. Despite that few-second glimpse, it was still nerve-wracking because there were several students walking on the corridor. What if someone saw him smiling by himself and decided to follow his line of sight?
My fingers trembled as I hurriedly type a reply.
Noooo what are you doing? ><
I started clearing the table since I would leave in a few minutes. My phone vibrated just as I was about to stand up.
Calvin: May class ka na?
Yna: Yes. Fil 40.
Calvin: Ah, ‘yung may reading assignment.
Yna: Yes. Sana hindi ako matawag ng recitation ><
I left the garden and started walking toward my next class. For a moment, I wanted to take a peek at him, but too afraid to see that smile again.
Calvin: You can do it. You’ve already improved, after all :)
Yna: Hehe salamat sa iyo po, tutor.
Calvin: Alam mo ang cute mo haha
His reply caught me off-guard and I almost tumbled since I wasn’t paying attention to where I was heading. I had to put my hand on my chest and breathe deeply to calm my heart down, but it started racing again when I realized he must have seen my clumsiness.
With embarrassment overwhelming me, I shoved my phone inside my bad and hurriedly walked away.
For the past few weeks, Alice and I had been together for most of our vacant periods. With our batch’s Campus Princes and Princesses getting overloaded with homeworks, projects, exams, and even extracurricular activities, we hardly saw Steff and Jess enjoying their breaks. Most of the time, they were in the library or too immersed in the books and journals they were reading.
“Grabe, akala ko sapat na matalino lang sila,” Alice commented while eating a burger. “Kailangan din pala talaga masipag sila.
I chuckled. “If we were in the same situation, we’d be dead during the first day.”
“Baka nga first hour pa lang, suko na ako. Itatapon ko na lang sa hangin lahat ng readings tapos tatanggapin ko na lang na babagsak ako.”
“That’s not what a student should say.”
Alice’s shoulders flinched as Kevin stood behind her. We didn’t even notice him approaching. He plopped next to her and rested his head on her left shoulder.
She let out a nervous laugh. “Joke lang naman. Sino bang may gustong bumagsak?”
“Right,” he muttered, his eyes slowly closing.
Kevin wrapped his arms around her waist, and I could see the sudden panic on Alice’s eyes as she tried to look around. Even though they were already a couple, she would still get conscious whenever they’re together inside the campus.
“Hoy,” she whispered. “Wait, what are you doing—ang dami nang nakatingin—”
“Recharging,” he softly said. “Hayaan mo sila.”
Alice, and even I, blushed at his reply. She cleared her throat and tried to compose herself.
She lightly slapped his right arm. “Napakalandi mo,” she retorted.
He chuckled in return. “Sa’yo lang naman.”
She couldn’t retaliate anymore and they stayed like that for several minutes. I was already used to this kind of situation since the three of them were in a relationship, but somehow, it still felt like I was invading their personal space.
Kevin got up after about fifteen minutes and started telling the highlights of his morning to Alice. I was quietly listening to them when suddenly, he mentioned Gisel and smirked at me.
“So . . . you and Gisel, huh?” he remarked.
I immediately looked at Alice but she started getting defensive. “Oy, hindi ako, ha! Wala akong sinabi!”
He snickered. “Ang obvious ni Gisel these past few weeks lalo na kapag kaming apat lang ang magkakasama. I feel stupid for not realizing it before.”
“See? Hindi ako,” Alice added.
He leaned closer as his smirk got wider. “Kayo na ba?”
“N-No!” I retorted, completely flustered.
He laughed heartily and pulled back. “Bagay nga kayo,” he commented. “Ah, gusto ka niya yatang ayaing mag-date, I mean lumabas, pero nahihiya siyang magtanong.”
“Wow, nahihiya pa siya sa lagay na ‘yon?” said Alice. “Nabasa ko kaya messages niya kay Yna.”
“He’s not aware that he’s blunt sometimes, but when it comes to things like this, he gets timid.”
“Pasahan mo nga ng kapal ng mukha,” Alice commented.
“Si Yna na lang mag-aya,” he suggested with a teasing smile on his face.
As I was heading to my last class, Kevin’s comment lingered in my head. He must be exhausted with the schedule he had and I wanted to do something for him, too.
I was fiddling with my phone for a moment and after a minute of pondering, I started typing a message for him.
Do you have a free day this week?
He sent a reply after a minute.
Calvin: Right now haha
Yna: I mean, after class.
Yna: I’m sorry, nevermind.
I tried typing ‘date’ but I couldn’t send it. In the end, I dismissed that idea and tried thinking of other ways to tell him that I wanted to see him. I was still in the middle of deliberating about what words should I use when I received a reply.
Calvin: Are you free this Saturday?
My thoughts dissipated as I read his message.
Calvin: May I ask you out on a date? I mean, if it’s okay with you.
He must have been nervous, too, because that was how I felt when I typed that word. The thought of getting turned down, may it be because of his packed schedule or something else, made my heart sting a bit, so I decided against it. But reading his message made me realize how important it was to be direct in this kind of situation. Because taking risks is what makes an interaction or a relationship move forward.
Okay, I replied. See you this Saturday :>
And now, little by little, I am allowing myself to take those risks. This time, I’d be willing to risk my heart, instead of a lifetime of fears, worries and what ifs.