She was walking the streets on her way home, one day.
“Yo. musta?”, someone snuck through her back, grinning widely.
Expressionless, thinking who could the idiot be, and she was surprised and said, “You’re alive?”
“Of course, what do you expect?”, he winked.
“Still a big flirt, I see.” She remembers how he was always surrounded by girls back in their school days.
“Yeah, still pretty much the same old me. And what about you? What happened to you?”
“What, what happened to me?”
He started to stare at her from head to foot, stopped, and goes around looking at her.
“Stop staring at me like that, idiot.”, she punched him in the arms.
“Gosh, your attitude never fades. You’re still flat chested as it was. But what the heck’s wrong with your taste, nowadays? You’ve become… geeky.”
“What the~!”, in an angry voice, she said, as she glared at him.
He was frightened by the look in her eyes and replied, “Wooww… Easy, girl.”
She turned around and starts leaving.
Catches up, running, “Wait up! Is that how you are to treat someone after not seeing each other for years?”
“Seriously… you’ve changed a lot.”
“Alam mo, you’re always the type who never leaves the house without accessories. Christmas tree kung baga. Not to mention, you’re a cross-freak. Every time we see something with a cross, binibili mo kaagad, without even any hesitation. Good thing ankh never interest you, but your heck scary of buying all those crosses. Aside from that, you never leave your house without wearing at least one. Now I’m seeing you without any accessories, without even a cross-earing, and on top of that, in a yellow colored shirt? I’m getting sick.”
“For how long have you been this way?”
“I couldn’t quite remember, sorry.”
“This is not you.”
“Is it because of them, that you changed this much?”
“No, I wanted to change my image. I wanted to be someone who can be easily approached by people. Someone who is friendlier. Someone who smiles everyday. Someone who is loved by all. Someone…”
“… not you.” He intercepted.
She was shocked sudden reply and can’t utter a word for a while. Still she pushed, saying it in a angry manner, “How can you say that? You don’t even know how I feel.”
“Putang ina! Stop living in lies!” He yelled.
“…” She was totally unable to speak and just bowed down her head.
“I know perfectly how you feel. Of all people, it is I who knows you best.”
“Do you still wear your boots?”, a sudden change of topic.
“Of course. I even bought one recently.”
“I see…” he said in a sigh.
She continued on to change their topic, “By the way, I love those eyeliners your wearing.”
“It’s Revion, you know. And I got a new set of earings too.” Pointing to his pierced ears. He said boastfully as if without a care.
“Rich as ever.”
And there was a long silence between them.
Out of the blue, “Hindi ko na pakikialaman ang bago mong lifestyle.”, he was staring at a rock, looking serious, and suddenly kicks it. “Gusto mo yan eh.”, he stopped and kicks another rock, “I just want you to stop wearing that mask. Be yourself. Do this not for me, but for yourself.”
She shook her head down again to the floor, somehow feeling a bit of shame to realize what she had been doing and replied, “Yes.”
“…” He stares up the sky as if he was day dreaming, still in a serious face.
She stopped, sits on the edge of the road, “Honestly…”, still staring at the floor, “nagising ako ng isang umagang may kulang sa sarili ko. Tagal ko ring nakatulala’t iniisip ko kung ano nga ba yung bagay na yun na kulang sakin. ‘Putang-ina, ano ba to?’, sabi ko. Narealized ko na lang isang araw, habang nag-aayos ako ng mga gamit ko, na hindi na ako ito. Tinitigan ko yung sarili ko sa salamin ng matagal. At sabay tanong ko sa sarili ko kung sino ba ‘tong taong ‘tong nakaktitig sakin mula sa salamin. Hindi ko na kilala kung sino ako. Hindi ko alam kung alin nga ba dito sa mga ito ang totoong ako. I felt so unreal. I felt so sad to know that of all things I have to lose, I have to lose my real self. Then, I started to wonder kung san ako magsisimulang maghanap. Where would I start looking for myself. With just the thought of it, I tremble in fear. Fear na hindi ko na mahanap ang sarili ko.”
“At some point, I’m thankful to have seen you here, randomly.”, smiles with tears forming in her eyes, “You made me realize who I was. And I could start from there. Maybe eventually, I could find my true self. In time, maybe…”
“And when you do, you are to treat me with a luxurious meal.” He tried to change the mood to a brighter one.
And she bit it and went with the flow. “Are you planning to get me broke? For so you know, I’m jobless.”
“For hell I care. Gumawa ka ng paraan.”, he smiles, “Well, gotta go, mom’s waiting! See ya!”
“Bye!” She shouted while seeing him waved his hand while walking further away, and softly whispered, “And thank you…”
She started walking her way back again. And reminisce their past together. She went pass the sari-sari store that they were use to bystand back then. She stared at the sari-sari store bench and remembered stupid pranks they made together.
“That stupid guy.” she thought while smiling.
When she was a few corners away from home…
“Text? Now who could be texting me? It’s seldom I received text messages.” She thought.
It was a text message from him, her best friend, “Huh? We were just talking a while ago. Now what does he want? Kulit talaga.”
“Sweetheart, this is your tita. My son, he just died of a car accident.”
The instant she read the message there was no other thing in her mind but to hurry to their house, “This is not a good joke”, she thought. Immediately, stopped and road a jeepney to their house. As she worriedly barged in, she saw his mother, crying in the living room.
His mother approached her and said crying, “He just arrived from the airport and was on his way to your house to surprise you that he’s back. But the taxi he was riding hit a bus. He was rushed to the hospital but he died before he even arrived. I just got a call from the hospital when I text you.”
She just stared at the woman in front of her in shock. It’s as if her world stopped. Her body became numbed. And her strength were drained away from her as if some force is sucking it up. His mother’s voice is slowly fading. Until she can no longer hear anything. Not a teardrop fell from her eyes. Even until the burial was over, she remained in shock and still, not crying.
His mother felt pity on her and embraced her tight. She knew not what to do to bring her back to herself and make her finally realize he was gone. All she could do is embraced her silently that whole afternoon. The sun finally sets slowly, as the people were leaving one after another. His mother in her embrace, caresses her hair softly as she leaned her had over her chest, finally whispered words on which, after hearing, her tears finally fell.
The one sentence she heard clearly and was engraved to her mind and soul. The words, “Sweetheart, it’s okay to cry…”