Scintilla

9:30 a.m. I'm uncertain where I am right now pero ang nasisiguro ko lang ay mahaba pa yung magiging byahe ko. Hindi na kailangang i-remind ng Waze ni Kuya Uber na mabigat yung traffic dahil kita naman kahit sa kalayuan yung congestion ng halo-halong private vehicles, buses at iba pang pampasaherong sasakyan.

By the way, let me clear myself. When I said ‘uncertain’ earlier, I meant hindi ko alam yung specific na pangalan ng kahabaan ng highway or avenue that we’re currently passing. But still, I am all too familiar with the roads. Ilang beses ko naman na ‘to nadadaanan everytime na may lakad ako mag-isa or with my family or friends. I just don’t bother na alamin yung mga pangalan ng mga daan na tinatahak naming. Minsan nagiging pamilyar lang ako sa kanila dahil binabanggit sa balita.

Based on my estimate, it will take another hour para makarating ako sa National Museum. With what purpose? Hindi ko rin alam. I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately sa mga clichés na gawain every summer break and I wanted to end this vacation with productivity. Judge me all you want but I thought visiting a museum was a highly recreational activity. At least para sa akin.

I find it very remarkable when I observe stuff in exhibits. Not the kind of observe to the point where I decipher the meaning behind an artwork. Yung observe na iniisip ko how the artists came up with their pieces; how did they manage to craft their work from scratch. It’s surreal, isn’t it? Kasi ako kahit pumasok pa ako sa art class, I don’t think I can produce such things. I was not born for it.

And because of my uninterrupted thoughts, ‘di ko na napansin na nasa tapat na pala kami ng Wendy’s sa UN. Nagbayad at nagpasalamat ako kay Kuya Uber bago bumaba tapos naglakad na papunta sa museum. I kinda like walking. I get to see other people minding their own lives. Lagi kong iniisip, ano kaya yung balak nilang gawin at this very moment? What kind of lives do they have? Moments like this make me realize how bit of a weirdo I am. Natatawa na lang ako sa sarili ko.

May malaking park sa kanan ko na may playground which is unlike any other playgrounds. Hindi lang siya basta may seesaw or slide. Siya yung tipo na aabutin yung mga bata na maglaro for more than an hour. Then on my left is the National Museum of Natural History. Currently on renovation siya kaya tinawid ko na yung malaking Philippine Islands na parang garden na tanaw mo pag nakasakay ka sa LRT.

Me, the clumsy person that I am, slipped near the pavement. Buti na lang I regained my balance before I made a scene. Natanggal yung sintas ng sapatos ko sa nangyari kaya lumuhod ako saglit para magtali. Something caught my eye beside a tree na parang leather but I didn’t want to take long dahil may mga nagsisitinginan na.

I was in front of National Museum of Anthropology when I decided to take a picture of it para may maipost sa IG. I like maintaining my feed there, actually. There are lots of people for a weekday. May pila bago makapasok inside pero hindi naman sobrang haba. Mahigpit yung security sa pagpasok which I expected. Agad kong iniwan sa baggage counter yung bag ko after ma-inspect nung guards.

I was standing near the help desk when I realized na hindi ko alam gagawin ko. I am too shy too approach the staff kaya naghanap na lang ako ng mini map sa museum. The map showed sections that consisted the museum pero wala naman talagang ini-indicate where to start kaya naglakad na lang talaga ako papasok and started to cirlcle each sections.

It took me awhile para maisa-isa yung sections kasi minsan binabasa ko pa yung mga overviews ng ibang fossils at mga preserved items. Narealize ko na wala pang mga artwork dito kasi nasa National Museum of Fine Arts sila lahat. I am just too naïve sometimes so bear with me.

“Did you come here just to take pictures and post it on social media?” A random guy said to me.

Nilingon ko siya agad. Hindi ko alam isasagot ko. First of all, he just conversed with me in English. Wala akong problema in terms of written. Ngayon natin malalaman yung skills ko sa oral communication.

“Did you come here just to be a show off?” Pabalang kong sagot.

I usually don’t speak to strangers, especially not in a mean way but I was provoked in an instant. Napansin ko agad yung suot niya. Nakasando, shorts at nakasapatos but overall, classy tingnan. And of course nakasando. Why do people wear tank top these days? I think we all know the answer. Kulang na lang ipagsigawan nila na nagwowork-out sila. Hence, I came up with the response.

“I am not a show off.” Madiin niyang pagkakasabi. It’s as if every word had a period after it.

“And I am not a hipster.” I tried imitating his tone.

What’s his problem in the first place? He dropped the stare and walked away. Baka gusto niyang tumingin sa preserves na tinitingnan ko pero nakaharang ako. But can’t he ask politely for me to make a way?

I ended up looking blindly to other pieces because I was distracted and intrigued at the same time. Ganito talaga ako minsan. Even the slightest things can throw me off guard. Nevertheless, I decided to continue my journey to discover masterpieces in the museum.

Nakarating ako isang room where they keep antique vases, ceramics and the like. Medyo madilim; siguro to keep focus sa mga exhibit with matching dim lights. I kept observing and tried to read each caption, though I kept wondering why our ancestors are so fond of such things. Maybe they represented wealth in the past. I ended up with the realization na even after numerous eras, wealth is a relevant factor to human lives.

I was deep in thought when I accidentally bumped into someone. Guess who? It was just a random stranger also visiting the museum. (You thought!) I mouthed an apology and continued his own wandering. I was about to leave the section when a voice made me shudder.

“Sinusundan mo ba ako?” It was the show-off guy earlier. Ang lalim nu’ng boses niya. Well, it was dark and quiet kaya ganoon na lang yung gulat ko.

“Technically, this is a museum with various sections. We are bound to see each other kaya don’t flatter yourself with the reason of me following you.” My orals skills skyrocketed from the ground.

We are now on our second staring competition and I plan not to lose. This time, I was able to clearly see his face. Maputi. Show-off nga. Singkit. Oppa siguro tingin nito sa sarili niya. And don’t let me start on his hair. Hindi naman ako ganito ka-judgmental but he had pressed the trigger.

Maybe he’s judging me too in his own mind. Mission abort. I admit. My features are way average than him. Kulay pa lang ng balat, olats na. Kumbaga sa tall, dark, and handsome, dark lang ako. Walang tall at handsome. In terms of height, I am averaging to five feet and seven inches. Dahil volleyball player ako, such height is something to be anxious of. Let’s just skip the handsome part, shall we? I never believed the word fitted me in any way. At least, that’s what I think.

In other words, I’m digging my own graves here. So I dropped the stare this time and drifted away from the section.

It was already noon but I decided to let my feet cover all the possible inches of the museum before I wrap up and find something to eat. It took few closed doors of other sections before I was convinced to wrap up my amble. I set foot outside the museum and the summer heat fiercely greeted me. Heto yung rason kung bakit hindi nawawala yung payong sa bag ko.

Nasa kasalukuyan ako ng paghahanap ng fast food chain nang makita ko si show-off guy. He was walking alone with no umbrella to cover himself from the heat. Medyo nagdadalawang isip ako kung ishashare ko ba yung payong sa kanya o hindi. I am trying to be a good Roman Catholic as much as possible if it satisfies any curiosity and I think leaving him alone in this temperature would be so mean. And come to think of it, kung ako nahahapdian na sa init ng araw sa balat na ‘to, paano pa kaya siya? So I walked briskly towards him at tinaas ko yung kamay ko sa taas ng ulo niya para mapayungan ko siya.

“What are you doing?” tanong niya.

“Hmm. May payong ako. I’m raising my hand above your head. Pinapayungan siguro kita”, pambabara ko sa kanya.

Within a second, my umbrella went flying towards the road. Nag-gy-gym nga siya. Karma really tackled me fast this time. Ang masama pa, napunta na siya sa kabilang kalsada. I tried my best to stay calm and collected. Tumakbo na ko para kunin yung payong habang walang masyadong dumadaan na sasakyan.

By the time I crossed the road back again, malayo na yung narating niya kakalakad. Pawis na rin ako sa sobrang init. Should I bother helping him? Wala naman siyang ginawa but to provoke me simula nung nakita ko siya. But the heat is no joke. He could get dehydrated and sunburnt in no time. Pero baka naman may mapupuntahan siyang malapit kaya naglalakad na lang siya. Tinanaw ko siya sa malayo pero patuloy pa rin siyang naglalakad.

This time, my conscience got the better of me. I started running kahit alam kong hindi na ganoon katibay yung stamina ko. It’s been a year since I’ve been a varsity player in our university. I left the team kahit ayaw ko because I need to focus in my study. I prioritize my academics more than anything so I sacrificed my passion in playing. Before I go on another story, here I am panting few meters behind him. Ang bilis ko na mapagod. Naglakad na lang ako hanggang makalapit sa kanya. Itinaas ko ulit yung kamay ko para mapayungan ko siya. He immediately stopped and gave me the what-do you-want-I’m-so-friggin-tired-serious face.

This time, I got to look at his eyes. Nakikita pa ba niya ko? Singkit siya pero dahil sa nakakasilaw na sinag ng araw, parang sa dalawang horizontal line na lang ako nakatingin.

“Balak mo bang ikutin ang UN sa ganitong init? Daig mo pa nagbeach niya pag-uwi mo sa inyo”, daing ko sa kanya.

He started walking again but I didn’t let him get ahead of me and matched his pace.

“Saan ka ba pupunta?” tanong ko.

We are slowly walking away from the museum kaya tinanong ko na ulit siya.

“Pwede ko bang malaman kung saan ka pupunta? I’m trying to help here, you know. You seemed distraught and agitated since you talked to me earlier.”

Bigla ulit siyang tumigil sa paglalakad. Hindi nakasabay reflexes ko sa pagtigil ng lakad niya kaya nahampas ko siya sa batok gamit yung payong. A bit of me just died and I’m screaming internally.

Sorry lang ang agad kong nasabi.

“May tubig ka ba dyan?” Tanong niya.

“Wala eh. BIli na lang tayo dyan sa tabi.”

“Wag na.”

“Bakit?”

“Wala.”

“Bakit nga?”

“Wala nga.”

“Kung ayaw mo, ako gusto ko.” Hinatak ko siya sa sando kaya wala siyang magawa kung hindi sumama sa akin.

I bought two cold bottles of water. Trust me, mineral water can be as satisfying as any other soda or juices pag ganito kainit. Parehas naming naubos yung binili kong tubig. Ayaw pa niya daw sa lagay na ‘yon.

“Saan ka ba pupunta?” I asked for for the nth time.

“Uuwi.”

“Malapit lang ba bahay niyo dito?”

“Hindi.”

“Eh bakit naglalakad ka lang?”

“Eh bakit ang dami mong tanong?”

“Can you stop being mean even for a second?” Being a good Samaritan is not easy after all.

Silence existed for a few minutes. After I recovered from the heat, I thought about leaving dahil parang maglalakad lang sa buwan si show-off. I opened my umbrella but before I even took a single step, pinigilan niya sa paghawak sa braso ko. I nearly stumbled on the ground for the second time of the day.

“Saan ka pupunta?” Tanong niya.

I glared at him with my kanina-ko-pa-yan-tinanong-yan-pero-di-mo-sinasagot-pero-ngayon-ako-naman-yung-tinatanong-mo-ng-ganyan face and sighed deeply.

“Please don’t leave me.”

Ang lalim nung boses niya.

Mahina pero may bahid ng pag-aalala

Tila ang buong katawan ko’y nahila.

Sa panawagang huwag siyang iwanang nag-iisa.

I sensed a plea for help. I’m trying to be a good Samaritan. The pieces fit after all.

“Ano ba kasing nangyari?” I hope this will one will not be a rhetorical.

“I lost my wallet and my phone’s battery is drained.” Pagod niyang tugon.

May pagawa-gawa pa ako ng tula sa isip ko. Wallet lang pala at phone ang problema ng mokong. Kala ko makakarinig ako ng watak-watak ng life story.

“You could have ask people to lend you a phone and make a call”

“And who do you think could help me?”

“Yung pamilya mo syempre”

Wala siyang sinabi pagkatapos no’n. Baka heto na ‘yon. This is when he’ll reveal his heartbreaking story.

“They’re in Baguio. I don’t think calling them would solve the problem.” He’s good at making me realize how stupid I am.

“Oh.” Yan na lang yung naisagot ko.

I decided to brainstorm and think of a way to help him. But when you’re under the sun, starved and tired, you can’t think really produce a proper plan.

“Nasaan ka ba nung nalaman mong nawawala na yung wallet mo?

“Inside the museum. Just after I enter the very first section.” May first section pala sa museum, hindi ko manlang alam.

“Then there’s a good chance na nawala mo yung wallet just outside the museum. Eh baka naman you were a victim of pickpocket?”

“I think not.” And he showed me his pockets. May zipper.

“Ganito na lang. Let’s part ways para mas mabilis nating mahanap yung wallet mo. You go this way and I’ll go to the opposite. Tatawagan na lang kita as soon as I get a lead”

“You’re not as smart as you think. First of all, how could you call me when you don’t even know my number. Second, you can call all you want but I guarantee you na kahit isang ring wala kang maririnig.”

Winasiwas niya yung lowbat niyang phone.

“Three, what if nakita mo nga yung wallet, how can I be sure na hindi mo itatakbo ‘yan? Fourth, ang laki ng park bago makarating sa museum. We have the possibility of finding my wallet congruent with the possibility of snowing here in the Philippines.”

Sa bawat segundo na kasama ko ‘tong si show-off, nababawasan ang self-esteem ko.

Umupo na lang ako sa tabi dahil hindi ko rin alam yung gagawin ko. My money would not suffice to both of us dahil sa Berkley pa siya tumutuloy in front of Miriam College.

“Bakit hindi ka na lang mag-taxi then magpaalam ka na kukuha ka lang ng pera sa unit mo?”

“I usually don’t use tangible money. I only have –“

“Oo na bank cards lang meron ka.” Hindi ko na siya pinatapos. Parang pinagsakluban siya ng langit at lupa para mangyari sa kanya ‘to.

We ran out of choices. He also needs to contact his bank to report his lost cards. Wala pa naman akong load and mobile data.

“Magpapaload lang ako para makatawag ka if you ever need to contact someone.” Sabi ko sa kanya habang naghahanap ng paloadan.

When I am currently facing a problem, I usually whisper a prayer. People need to realize this. Someone from above do hear our pleas. Depende nga lang kung karapat-dapat ba tayong abutan ng tulong o hindi. Then it hit me. Leather. Beside the tree. Near the pavement where I stumbled.

I looked above and said mouthed thank you and ran towards show-off. I grabbed his hand and dragged him. Pagtataka yung maipipinta sa mukha niya pero I motion him forward at sinagot ko yung mga tanong niya habang naglalakad kami.

Yung init at pagod namin hindi basta-basta nawawala. Pero yung energy naming konting-konti na lang! Tanaw yung National Museum of Natural History from a distance but eyes can really be a bit deceiving. Malayo-layo din pala siya, lalo na kung naglalakad ka sa initan.

And true enough, it was his wallet that was sitting behind the tree when we got there. A worn-out wallet kaya hindi pansinin. Luckily, all valuable stuff were still present inside.

We both let out a sigh of relief. And for the first time, I got to see his smile.

Gwapo. Show-off nga talaga.

“I guess I’m your blessing in disguise, huh?” Pabiro kong sabi sa kanya habang sumisilong kami sa ilalim ng mga puno.

“You are.” He said with a hint of smile in his face. Cute.

I got my phone out of my pockets to check any notification when I saw the time. Lagpas ala-una na pala. Nagsimula na ring magreklamo yung tiyan ko sa nadaramang gutom. Gusto ko sana siyang ayain para mag-lunch but he might think na gusto kong magpalibre bilang kabayaran sa pagtulong ko sa kanya. I deliberately acted as if I received a message from someone as an excuse to leave. He noticed it right from the get-go.

“Aalis ka na agad?” Bigla niyang tanong sa akin.

“Oo eh. I have to meet someone.” Palusot ko.

Nagpout siya dahil sa sinabi ko. His wistful mood was instantly converted to an elated one simula nang makuha niya ulit yung wallet niya. At ngayon, nakukuha niya pang mag-pout.

“Bakit? Mamimiss mo ba ako?” Hindi ko alam kung saan ko nakukuha yung lakas ng loob para banatan siya ng mga ganito.

“Don’t leave just yet” His tone are once again serious. My heart skipped a beat when he said those words. Lakas makadramatic ng effect pag malalim ang boses.

“I’m feeling a bit unwell.” Sabi niya sakin.

“Baka gutom lang ‘yan saka pagod. You might want to find something to eat right now.”

Napansin ko yung balat niya. His arms are now covered with pinkish spots. Heat rash ‘to panigurado. He is also complaining of dizziness.

“You okay?” I asked him while convincing myself not to panic.

He nodded. Alam kong hindi na siya okay dahil ang init na kapa ko sa braso niya. I don’t know for sure but he may be experiencing heat exhaustion. I don’t know what to do. Emergency situation don’t come often kaya natural lang na mataranta ako. Would it look like I am over-reacting kung dadalhin ko siya sa ospital? Eh pano kung himatayin siya bigla dito? This is so pathetic of me, unable to handle this kinds of situation.

“May tubig ka ba dyan?”

“Wala eh pero bibili na lang ulit ako. May nakikita naman ako na malapit.” And so I rushed with all my might. Naisip ko din na hindi siya dapat magstay dito because of the temperature. Wala pang alas do-s kaya there’s a possibility na iinit pa. I am officially panicking.

What if ihatid ko siya sa condo niya? That would be much better dahil malamig dun and it will ease up his body temperature. But should I? He’s still a complete stranger. I can’t weave my thoughts anymore kaya tinawag ko agad yung taxi na paparating sa tindahan. Bahala na. I never knew that I would be trusting my instincts today.

Agad kong pinasakay sa taxi si show-off na wala namang atubiling sumakay. I guess wala na rin naman siyang choice but to follow my instructions dahil medyo wala na siya sa ulirat niya. Hinabilin ko sa drive na ihatid kami infront of Berkeley sa Katipunan. Pinatodo ko din yung aircon para ‘di ma lumala yung rashes niya.

Habang nasa biyahe kami, hindi ko mapigilang maisip how this well planned activity went off course in an instant. But at least, I’m the one who’s helping. It’s much, much better than you’re the one needing help. Kawawa naman tong si ano.

Wait! I don’t even know his name. How awkward. Paano pag bababa na kami? Kakalabitin ko na lang ba siya? Paano pag ‘di siya makapagsalita tapos ako yung kailangan kumausap sa front desk? I know nothing about him except nakita ko siya sa National Museum, he lost his wallet and now he’s suffering from heat exhaustion.

I tried to grasp his wallet from his pockets nang dahan-dahan para ‘di siya magising. Kanina pa siya nakatulog dahil nga sa pagod. I saw his I.D and figured out that he’s in Ateneo de Manila University. Ethan Ocampo. Ibang-iba yung ambiance na ramdam mo sa ngiti niya sa I.D. photo niya sa kalagayan niya ngayon.

I returned his wallet back into his pockets bago pa siya magising. Wala nang masyadong traffic dahil hindi naman rush hour kaya sumaglit lang yung biyahe naming. Inalog ko yung balikat nang marahan para magising siya at makababa na kami.

He recovered some of his energy kaya there’s no need for me na kumausap pa ng staff ng condo. But the real struggle was inside the elevator. Kailangan ng parang I.D na inii-scan before ka makapindot ng floor sa elevator. Nahihilo pa rin daw siya so ako na lang yung naghanap nung card sa wallet niya. I tapped the card near the scanner but no to avail. Natataranta nanaman ako. Baka may ibang pang pumasok sa elevator if I would not be hasty. Pilit ko pa rin siyang ini-iscan nang biglang hinawakan ni Ethan yung kamay ko kung nasan yung card at siya na yung nag-tap.

“Baligtad kasi.” His voice now hoarse dahil sa dinarama niyang pagod.

Napahiya ako ng 1% but hey, we’re now heading to his floor to our relief. Sa unit 315 daw siya kaya dali-dali kong siyang tinulungan para makapasok doon. I was in awe when we entered his unit because it was way too much for an individual college student. Mapagkakamalan mong pamilya yung nakatira sa unit dahil sa well-situated lahat simula sa furnitures hanggang sa displays.

Agad ko siyang hiniga sa king-sized bed niya para makapagpahinga na siya ng matiwasay. Basang basa yung damit niya ng pawis kaya naisipan kong ipaghanap siya ng damit para makapagpalit na siya. I went through his wardrobe na parang gateway papuntang Narnia at nakahanap ng isang plain white shirt.

“Ethan.” Bulong ko habang tinatapik ko siya sa kanyang balikat. Nakailan din akong tawag bago siya tumugon.

“Magpalit ka muna ng damit. Basan-basa na ‘yang suot mo.”

Sinagot niya lang ako sa pamamagitan ng pag-iling.

“Hindi mo ba kayang umupo?” Parang nag-aalaga ako ng bata.

He then lifted up his arms. Meaning, he wants me to change his clothes for him. Teka, ang alam ko pagod, hindi PWD. But still, tumutulong na lang din ako, might as well gawin ko na rin. So I lifted his tank top and boy, I’ll just leave it to your imagination to picture his upper body. (hehe) Agad ko namang isinuot sa kaynag yung shirt na nakuha sa wardrobe niya at hinayaan ko na siyang magpahinga.

Wow self, you just entered a stranger’s condo unit. Is there anything waiting for me to unveil? Napakaunpredictable lahat ng mga nangyayari. Maybe I’ll end up doing something crazy sooner or later? What can I say?

Naramdaman ko na ulit yung gutom kaya I helped myself in Ethan’s kitchen. He’s in his peaceful slumber so I bravely wandered throughout. Marami siyang stock ng ingredients for various recipes. Maybe he learned to cook by himself dahil wala namang magluluto para sa kanya. I also found snacks and other stuff sa cupboard but the boxes of pancake mixes caught my attention. Pancakes can be my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Walang akong exceptions pagdating sa comfort food ko.

I sneaked through his wares to prepare the pancakes. I also found bacon and eggs na pwede kong prituhin na rin. I decided to prepare a mushroom soup for him in case hindi pa niya kayang kumain paggising niya.

It took me one full hour bago matapos. Napakatime-consuming na pag-aralan nung mga gamit niya sa kusina. Hinugasan ko na rin yung mga pinaggamitan ko para matitira na lang linisin yung mga mismong pinagkainan.

I prepared the table pero I decided to check on my phone. My phone has been quiet ever since. Nakagawian ko lang na buksan maya’t maya dahil sa pagchecheck sa social media accounts ko. I left a message for my mom that I will come home a little late. I purposefully crossed out the specific details why.

I was on my way back to the kitchen when I saw Ethan already stuffing himself.

“Kanina ka pa nagising?”

“Oo. Tagal mong magcellphone eh. Nauna na kong kumain bago pa lumamig ‘tong niluto mo.”

I sat on the opposite side of table, wondering how is he so casual about this. Kaninang umaga he acted like he wanted me out of the museum, ngayon parang kaibigan niya ko na ayaw niyang paalisin.

“Hey, aren’t you gonna eat?” Tanong niya sa akin.

Hindi na lang ako sumagot at nagsimula nang kumain. Things started to get real awkward. Parehas naming hindi alam ‘yung sasabihin. Is there even something to talk about?

Nakayuko lang ako sa plato ko pero napapansin kong patingin-tingin siya sa akin.

“Are you feeling better?” Pagbasag ko sa katahimikan.

“Yes. A lot better. Thanks to you.” Tugon niya na may kasamang ngiti. I don’t know how can he be so pure and straightforward.

Gusto ko pa sana siyang pagsabihan sa padalos-dalos niyang mga kilos kanina pero inisip ko na wala ako sa posisyon para pagalitan siya.

“Bakit ka nga pala nasa loob ng museum kung nawawala na pala yung wallet mo?”

“I was supposed to have a meeting with my classmates regarding our project. Then I lost my wallet and my battery died. I think I spent a lot of time finding my wallet and since they can’t contact me, nauna na sila sa loob ng museum at umalis papunta sa next location nila.”

“Oh that’s why you were so irritated earlier. Mocking people out of frustration.” Pang-iinis ko sa kanya na ikinatawa naman niya.

“But you were so into the argument, aren’t you? Ayaw mo ring patalo eh.” I am seeing an Ethan in the I.D. picture.

“Of course. Lalo lang akong nainis dahil ang show-off mo.

And so the conversation went on and on. Natapos na kaming kumain and I volunteered to do the dishes dahil kakaunti na lang naman na at bilang pasasalamat na rin sa mga kinain ko.

Ethan contacted his friends and told them the news. Binalikan ko ulit yung phone ko na may isang message ni Mama na “Ok.” Ganyan lang siya lagi kaikli magreply pero once na tinawagan ako niyan, parang machine gun kausap ko.

I felt the damp feeling on my back. Pinagpawisan nga rin pala ako kanina pero medyo natuyo na siguro dahil nasa aircon kami kanina pa. Ilalagay ko pa sana yung panyo sa likod ko then a shirt went flying towards me.

“Please change. Baka ikaw naman ngayon yung magkasakit.O gusto mong bihisan din kita?” Pabiro niyang sabi. Naalala pala ng mokong.

“Macho ko ‘no?” Pagmamalaki niya with a funny look on his face.

“Show off.” Tugon ko.

Nagbihis ako sa cr niya dahil hindi ako komportableng naghuhubad kahit saan. Kahit sa bahay hindi ako kakikitaan na shirtless. As expected, medyo malaki yung shirt niya sa akin pero sinuot ko pa rin nevertheless dahil wala naman akong ibang pamalit.

“You can keep that.”Bilin niya sakin habang nakaupo siya sa sofa sa living room.

“As if naman na maibabalik ko pa sayo ‘to.” Sabi ko habang inaayos ko yung mga gamit sa drawstring bag ko.

Nag-iisip ako ng masasabi or gagawin but there’s nothing left para gawin. Oras na siguro para umalis.

“So, this is finally a goodbye.” Sabi ko na may kaunting ngiti.

“Yeah. I guess it is.” Sagot niya habang seryoso ang mukha.

I felt a pang in my heart. Parang ayoko pang umalis. I really enjoyed having him as company dahil madalas ako lang naman mag-isa. Pag-uwi ko, I will just face a computer screen, socialize with my so-called friends in social media and the routine goes on. I don’t want to leave just yet.

“Alex.” He called my name bago ko pa ma-twist yung doorknob. I didn’t know how he knew my name pero nilingon ko pa rin siya.

Before I knew it, his lips crashed into mine without any warning.

Remember what I said earlier about how things got so weird today? Let me change stuff a bit. Things got so weird but wonderful today.

I usually don’t speak to strangers, especially not in a mean way but I was provoked in an instant. Napansin ko agad yung suot niya.

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