That was you, right?
My skin crawled when I remembered that incident earlier. I kept myself busy by reading journals and doing my homework while I was staying at the library so that I wouldn’t think of that but it was hard to dismiss.
I really met one of my co-administrators. I met King.
Even though the five of us seem close when talking to each other in the group chat, I don’t think we can act like that in real life. Besides, we already agreed not to delve into our personal lives. But now, those two worlds have collided.
I couldn’t reply to him because I was embarrassed and scared.
Come to think of it, he seemed familiar but I wasn’t able to look at him clearly because I was rattled when I saw his phone.
“It’s okay,” I mumbled, trying to calm myself. “It’ll be Christmas break after this week.”
Maybe I wouldn’t see him around. I’d reply to him later and just be casual. That would be the right thing to do.
“Oh. You’re here.”
My eyes drifted to the guy who sat beside me and I almost yelped when Gisel’s face came into view. He smiled as he placed a bunch of books on the table and I had to flip my phone because there were notifications from the portal that were displayed.
He’s also one of the people I’m trying to avoid yet here he is, right in front of me.
When I saw the references he just brought with him, I realized it must have been for the qualifying exam tomorrow. Steff and Jess were busy reading and reviewing these past few days because of it.
“Q-qualifying exam?” I asked, trying to distract myself from what happened earlier.
“Yup,” he sighed. “Such a bothersome requirement.”
I scanned the area and thank god we were the only ones here. Getting close with a Campus Prince or Princess these days would surely get you into the portal’s front page so everyone’s careful of their actions.
While he was busy skimming through the pages of the book, I peeked at my phone and opened our group chat.
cafemocha: pero sino kaya yung blind item ni lissawrites? curious ako lol
mugiwara: *tsismosa ako
mugiwara: typo ka
cafemocha: funny ka na nyan?
mugiwara: moon laughed so yes
kingtrex: you can check the comments once it’s posted
kingtrex: students become great detectives when it comes to issues like this
moonlight: sabagay. for sure may mga hula na agad sila
Seeing his username made me remember our collision earlier. I opened his message a while ago and contemplated what I should reply.
kingtrex: that was you, right?
yeoshin: yeah but please don’t tell anyone
After a few seconds, his name popped up and I opened it immediately.
kingtrex: besides, those three will not shut up if they learned about it
yeoshin: haha you’re right
yeoshin: thank you, king
kingtrex: no worries, angel
I sighed in relief. Fortunately, King wasn’t the type who would get excited with this kind of incident.
Reading the articles and journals for Aral Pil became stressful because I had resolved one of my problems. However, the words in this article were kind of deep and I couldn’t get their meaning from the context.
Slowly, I glanced at Gisel’s direction but I was lost for words when I saw him sleeping. His head was resting on the open book while the pen was still on his hand. For a second, I didn’t know what to do or react. It was funny and cute at the same time.
Surely, he was tired. Tomorrow would be the 50th anniversary of the university as well as the qualifying exam for the advanced courses so the Campus Princes and Princesses were probably getting consumed by the pressure and expectations of the professors and students.
For someone who’s not fond of attention, being a Campus Prince probably feels like a burden rather than a privilege.
“I saw Patrick Reyes here a while ago.”
The mention of Patrick’s name caught my attention.
“Yup. Nag-aaral yata sila for the advanced courses. Cool niya kapag seryoso.”
“Eh. I prefer Darryl, though. He’s really cute when he smiles.”
Their voices were getting louder and that meant they were near.
I was unsure of what to do. I didn’t want to wake him up but they might cause some commotion if they saw him here.
My hands were trembling as I covered his face with my handkerchief. The girls who were talking about the Campus Princes of our batch passed by our table and glanced at him. One of them raised an eyebrow but she didn’t look back and continued walking.
Since I couldn’t focus with my readings anymore, I pulled out my phone and went to Kingdom Nook. Whenever I’m stressed with acads and my friends’ problems, I would always go here and type updates. One of my ongoing stories is based from Jess and Patrick’s interactions but I only get to update this when I’m feeling good or when I see them teasing each other. On the other hand, my latest story is inspired by Alice’s feelings for Kevin but I’m not in the mood to write about them right now.
Should I post a new one? But I still have two ongoing stories. What should I do?
My gaze shifted from my phone to Gisel who was still asleep. I suddenly thought of a plot but I shook my head when I realized I was about to base my main character from him. Woah. That was close.
I got distracted when the group chat notification appeared on my screen.
moonlight: omg posted na ‘yung kay lissawrites!
cafemocha: I just checked it, ang dami agad comments!
mugiwara: here comes the tsismosa
Following their conversation, I went to the portal and checked the article. As expected, the blind item was about a second year and a freshman campus princess. The comments were full of guesses and I was a bit relieved that nobody got it right. I thought they would be exposed once the article was posted but it looked like they were careful not to get caught by anyone.
Somehow, I felt guilty because I approved of that article. Well, it would still get approved since the four of them already gave their go-signal but it still didn’t feel right.
My worry was replaced by shock when Gisel suddenly squirmed. It was already too late when I realized that my handkerchief was still covering his head. He took it off and stared at it in confusion.
“Is this yours?” he asked while rubbing his eyes.
“Y-yeah,” I grabbed my handkerchief in embarrassment. “S-sorry, it’s just . . . uhm . . . there was—”
My voice faltered when I heard him chuckling. “It’s okay. I’m sure you did it with a good intention. So, thank you.”
His eyes disappeared into squints when he smiled widely and that made me realize why he was chosen as a Campus Prince.
“Hmm? Another Filipino article?” he asked as he leaned closer to me to see my readings.
I was taken aback by his action but he seemed not bothered by it. The closeness of his face to mine and the smell of his perfume were enough to make me dizzy.
“Mukhang mahirap ang readings n’yo ngayon, ah?” he said while turning his head to my direction.
I immediately averted his gaze. “U-uhm, yeah.”
“Do you need help?”
“N-no!” I exclaimed. “I mean, you should be preparing for the qualifying exam, right? You should focus on that.”
He stared at me for a few seconds and smiled. I suddenly felt guilty for dismissing his help but I don’t want to be a burden to him.
He went back to reading the references in front of him and I did the same. We were quiet for several minutes as we both focused on our own readings.
The article I was reading was about the early and modern literature of the different regions in the Philippines but it was too much for my brain. I was getting frustrated by the choices of words that I ended up pulling my hair every second.
I heaved a sigh of despair and I heard someone chuckling. When I looked at Gisel, he was trying his best not to laugh and I don’t know if I should feel angry or flustered.
“Stop laughing,” I muttered.
“Sorry,” he said, still suppressing his laughter. “Do you need help?”
I had been struggling with this article from the moment I read it and I didn’t want to embarrass myself further so I finally gave in.
“Mm,” I nodded.
“Akala ko hindi ka pa rin susuko,” he said while moving his seat closer to me. “But you’re surprisingly stubborn, Miss Yna,” he teased.
“I’m not,” I mumbled.
“See?” he snickered.
We spent the whole afternoon reading and reviewing in that corner of the library, away from the eyes of everyone. Away from their attention.