Today is the last day of classes before the Christmas break, as well as the university's foundation day and the qualifying exam for our batch's campus princes and princesses. Since most professors wouldn't be attending their classes, students were just walking around the campus, enjoying their free time and talking about what they would do during the Christmas break.
I looked at my phone to see if Alice replied to my message but I received none. We were supposed to meet here in the garden and wait for Steff and Jess, who were taking the qualifying exam. I tried calling her because she was already twenty minutes late but she wasn't picking it up. I wonder what happened to her. Did something go wrong with their dinner with Kevin last night?
My worry was pushed at the back of my mind when the group chat popped on my screen.
moonlight: omg sobrang daming articles guys, marereview ba natin 'to lahat?
cafemocha: syempre pa-christmas break na
cafemocha: for sure maraming magsisilabasang issue
mugiwara: grabe 150 pending articles?!
kingtrex: i'm sure most will get rejected
mugiwara: parang pagod na agad ako lol
yeoshin: hehe I'll start reviewing them
Since I was bored and got nothing to do, I started reading and reviewing some of the articles and most of them were just about the activities of campus princes and princesses. Thank god there were no negative articles about Steff, Jess and Alice.
After a while, I went to the library to update my stories. Usually, I prefer to write behind the Arts and Letters building but there were too many students roaming around that it felt unsafe. Ironically, since today's the last day, the library was almost empty and that made it the best place to update.
I started writing the story based on Alice and it became easier when I thought about what could've happened yesterday. A conflict was needed and I made her disappointed at his actions. I was too focused that I finished typing three chapters in no time.
Hi, readers! Ah, finally, it's Christmas break tomorrow! So here's a treat for you! Double update today! Xxx
I posted two of three chapters I wrote today and they immediately commented how grateful they were. I couldn't help but smile upon reading those messages. A simple appreciation could really make any writer happy.
Scrolling through the comments lifted up my spirit but I halted when I saw his username.
iamaroyalty: After all that stress, I immediately came here. I never thought that this has become my stress-reliever. Haha.
Several readers replied to his post, saying they feel the same and somehow it felt weird. I wonder how would they react if they learned that that person is Calvin Gisel Villanueva.
It looked like the qualifying exam was finished since he was already online. Steff and Jess must be on their way to the garden so I packed my things and left the library. I was walking on the corridor when I received a message from Jess.
Sorry! Mukhang hindi na kami makakapunta. Napaaga ang meeting namin para sa activities sa Foundation day huhu. Sunod ka na lang sa open field mamaya.
It took me a minute to fully understand her text. She really did what she said last time and started talking to me in Filipino. Good thing she just used words that were easy to comprehend.
Since they couldn't come, I went to the open field and roamed around. The Foundation Day celebration is roughly similar to Feb Fair. There were stalls and kiosks all over the field, a huge stage was setup for performances and students and visitors leisurely walked around to enjoy the event. But there were no were no sheds and I couldn't stand the heat of the sun so I went back and decided to rest in one of my favorite places: at the back of the Arts and Letters building. Students were already hanging around the open field so there were less people in the inner campus.
I plopped on the grass and leaned on the wall, thankful that there was a shade and it wasn't that hot. My gaze drifted onto the window beside me where I saw Gisel before. As if on cue, his face came into view and we stared at each other for a few seconds.
Why do I always encounter him here?
"Oh," he reacted and he suddenly crossed the window to go to this side.
I was still surprised by what he did when he sat right beside me. Wait, wasn't he supposed to be with the other campus princes?
"I read your latest updates," he softly said and I got anxious because someone might hear him. "I got stressed," he chuckled.
That made me look at him. Did I make another mistake? "W-why? Are there wrong usage of words—"
"Oh, that's not what I meant. The situation between the characters was stressful," he explained. "Misunderstandings can really destroy everything."
Ah. So he was talking about the situation and plot, not the technicality of it. But I didn't think he would be that invested with that kind of story.
"Uhm, don't you have a practice?" I asked, trying to change the topic.
He smiled. "I ditched it."
"We just finished taking the exam. I want to relax for a bit. Besides, Kevin also looks distraught and Patrick seems worried about him so I don't think we can really practice in that state. We've been practicing last week so I think that's already enough."
Kevin? Oh god then something must have really happened to them last night. I hope Alice is okay.
He suddenly heaved a deep sigh and leaned against the wall. When I looked at him, his eyes were already close and it looked like he was already asleep.
I know that students envy these campus elites because they have the beauty, brains, fame and wealth to put them on the pedestal. I don't really feel envious of them since I prefer to live a quiet life but I do feel sorry because they are forced to live in the spotlight and look perfect in everything even though they are not.
Even when they are struggling and so close to breaking, they have to perform well because people look up to them and the expectations for them are high. One mistake and they will be criticized. It must have been hard to be in that position.
I tried texting Alice again after what I learned from him but I flinched when I felt something on my shoulder. The next thing I knew, he was already leaning on me and he was still sleeping soundly.
My heart pounded loudly and I felt uneasy because someone might see him with me. I hastily pulled my cap out of my bag and covered his face with it. After what Alice went through when she was seen with Kevin, I had been anxious whenever I'm with him. I don't want to be the center of rumors and I'm sure he'd hate that, too.
Papasok ka? I texted in Filipino and it felt weird when I read that in my head.
After a few minutes, she finally replied.
Hindi haha sakit ulo ko. Pasabi na lang din kina Jess at Steff. Sorry.
Tawag ako. Okay lang?
I was waiting for her reply when her name popped on my screen. She was already calling me.
"Are you okay?" I asked in whispers while checking Gisel.
She laughed but I knew from her voice that she was so close to crying.
"Hmm ikukwento ko na lang kapag pumunta kayo sa bahay," she said, her voice slightly cracking. "Just enjoy the event for now."
Alice and I always tease each other but she seemed really down and I'm worried. For sure this has something to do with Kevin and thinking about him made me a bit annoyed.
"How can we enjoy it knowing that you're not okay?"
Upon saying that, I heard her sob on the other side of the line.
Alice seldom cries. She doesn't really want anyone seeing her vulnerable and tries hard to be strong for Steff and I, but among the four of us, she's the one who can't really hide her sadness well.
"Do you want to talk about it?" I asked.
"No. No . . . not yet," she sobbed.
I'm sure she also doesn't want us to see her right now.
"Okay. Then get some rest. We will be there tomorrow."
She ended the call and I sighed dejectedly right after. I guess the latest chapter I wrote just came true.
The crowd was getting larger and I couldn't even get in the front of the stage. In the end, I gave up and decided to listen from afar.
I didn't realize I also fell asleep a while ago and Gisel and I were both startled when we heard a collective yelling from the open field. We woke up and panicked when we checked the time. It was already 6 P.M.
He hurriedly get up and dashed into the open field while I was still disoriented. That was when I realized that he ran off with my cap. After a few minutes, I went to the open field and the MCs already started the event.
I checked my phone when it vibrated and opened the group chat.
mugiwara: hey, nasa event ba kayo? hahaha baka di natin alam nagkakabanggaan na tayo
moonlight: hahaha baka nga magkakatabi na tayo lol
I had to search what nagkakabanggaan means while keeping up with the conversation.
kingtrex: you're all here?
cafemocha: omg seryoso? ikaw shin?
yeoshin: haha yeah
Strange. I was nervous yet interested when I learned that all of us were here among the huge crowd. I wonder if we would see each other.
mugiwara: sige nga taas nyo nga kamay nyo hahaha
mugiwara: as if we can see each other haha
moonlight: nagtaas ako pero saglit lang haha scary
yeoshin: me too haha
I did shyly raise my hand, just at my face-level and immediately put it down because I got nervous that they might see me.
cafemocha: hoy ako rin hahaha katakot
kingtrex: we all look like idiots
cafemocha: well at least walang nakakita
mugiwara: parang may nakita ako hahaha
yeoshin: eh? for real?
cafemocha: weh di nga?
cafemocha: wag kang nananakot leche ka
kingtrex: sinong nakita mo?
mugiwara: haha secret
His message made me a lot anxious and I was hoping that I wasn't the one that he saw. King already saw me. I didn't want anyone else to know my identity.
cafemocha: peste ka ikaw ba yung tumatawa sa gilid?!
cafemocha: tumakbo na ako my god feeling ko lahat ng nakatingin sa phone ay isa sa inyo
yeoshin: omg you saw each other?
mugiwara: hoy so ikaw nga yung kanina?!
kingtrex: this is interesting lol
My attention shifted to the stage when I heard the instruments being setup. Few seconds later, the four princes of our batch walked on the stage and students screamed like crazy.
They started introducing themselves and I almost choked when I saw him still wearing my cap. They all smiled, melting the hearts of the female students, and started playing the first song.
Darryl was the vocalist for this one and I really never get tired of listening to his voice. No wonder Steff fell in love with him.
"♫Please don't see just a boy caught up in dreams and fantasies
Please see me reaching out for someone I can't see
Take my hand let's see where we wake up tomorrow♫"
The crowd started singing with them until the song ended.
"Okay, guys, para maiba naman, I want to know if you want someone else to be the lead vocal," Darryl said and the students simultaneously screamed their names.
Whoa. They could really rival famous artists with this level of craziness.
Darryl laughed heartily and looked at Gisel who was clearly avoiding to be picked.
"Guess it's your turn, dude."
Gisel wasn't able to do anything because the three of them were on the same side. After heaving a sigh while still smiling, he finally agreed to be the vocalist for the next song.
"I'm sorry in advanced if I disappoint you later. My voice isn't that good compared to them," he said but the crowd assured him that they wouldn't be disappointed.
They started playing their instruments but all eyes were on him.
"♫And I'd give up forever to touch you
'Cause I know that you feel me somehow♫"
A single line from a song made the girls from the crowd squealing. He was right. His voice was different from the three. It wasn't as great as Darryl but it could still tug your heartstrings.
"♫And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's meant to be broken
I just want you to know who I am ♫"
I don't know why but I felt every word from the song, as if he was telling everything from his point of view.
On top of being a campus prince, he's also a good pianist and singer. I could see why girls like and admire him, just like any campus prince out there.
For a few seconds, I was attracted. He was shining and he looked cool.
But watching him from afar, I realized he belongs there. With the princes and princesses. In the spotlight.
Not here. Not with someone like me.