Chapter I.iv

I Guess that’s Love!

© Ayana Mikain


I.iv

[ONE WEEK AFTER]
[INT. – RIBBONLANDIA – LATE AFTERNOON]

“Layla!”

Napatingin ako sa tumawag sa pangalan ko at nakita si Extra na nakangiting lumapit sakin. Nasa Ribbonlandia ako ngayon at kasama ko sya sa buong shift. Napatigil ako sa pagrerefill ko ng coffee beans at humarap sa kanya.

“Sino yung gwapong kausap mo nung isang araw?”

Napakunot ako.

“Yung kausap mo sa table nung isang araw. Yung may hikaw at singsing. Yung nakasuot ng lab coat! Boyfriend mo ba yun?”

Napaisip ako and it took me a couple of minutes para mafigure out kung sino ang tinutukoy nya. Ah, but of course. Isa lang naman ang tinutukoy nya. One week ago, nawala ko ang susi ko at nakakita ako ng scandal. Tinignan ko sya at nakita kong parang kumikinang ang mga mata nya habang hinihintay ang sagot ko. Excited lang?

“Cyan.” I answered nonchalantly at tinalikuran sya para bumalik sa pagrerefill ng coffee beans. “Juste Cyan Requiem.”

“Juste Cyan Requiem? Kakaibang pangalan. Pero bet ‘ko, ah! Ke-gwapong pangalan!” Kahit nakatalikod ako, nakikita ko sya na halos maglulupasay sa tuwa at kilig. “Nakuha mo ba ang number nya, Layl? Penge naman! Para text mates kami.”

“Wala akong number nya.”

“Che! Ibang klase ka talaga, Layl,” padabog nyang sabi sakin with matching cross arms pa. Humaba din ang nguso nya. “Ah basta. Kapag bumalik sya dito, sabihin mo sakin para ako na mismo ang humingi ng number nya.”

Natawa ako at nainis sya sa reaksyon ko. Umiling nalang ako at di parin mapigilan ang hindi matawa. Umaasa pa sya na babalik si Cyan dito? Hindi na babalik yun.

“Ah, ewan ko talaga sayo. Bahala ka nga sa buhay mo dyan! Che!” sabay walk out nya.

I heaved out a sigh. Buti naman at tinigilan na nya ‘ko. Wala na syang ibang bukang bibig kundi si Cyan. 

“Iniisip mo ba si Cyan?”

Napatingin ako sa gilid ko at nagulat ako ng makita ko si Ryoko. Ngumiti sya sakin.

“Bakit ko naman sya iisipin?”

Lumapit sya sakin at tinulunggan akong magayos ng cake showcase. “I dunno,” she shrugged. “Why not, right?”

I looked at her dully.

“Don’t look at me like that!” natatawang sabi ni Ryoko. “Since we’re already on that topic… have you decided whether to go out on a date with Cyan?”

Natigilan ako sa tanong nya at bigla kong naalala yung nangyari nung gabing yon.


[FLASHBACK]

“Let’s go out on a date!”

Nagulat ako sa sinabi ni Cyan. Did he just ask me out on a date?

“Layla?”

Tinignan ko sya ng diretso at chineck ang itsura nya; malay ko ba kung seryoso sya o ginu-good time lang ako. Why would he even ask me out for a date in the first place?

“Layla?” He waved a hand in front of my face.

May girlfriend sya, diba? Yung babaeng kasama nya sa park. Ah, hindi nga pala nya girlfriend yon.

“Sorry. This must be all too sudden for you,” sabi nya sabay kamot sa ulo. “You must think that I’m being pushy or overbearing,” dagdag nya sabay iwas ng tingin sakin. Nahihiya ba sya?

“You don’t have to answer now. I can give you time to think about it,” tumingin sya sakin at medyo ngumiti. Hindi yung typical na ngiti nya na punong – puno ng confidence, ah. But rather, it was a small, hopeful smile.

“But I’m hoping you’ll say yes. I really want to get to know you, Layla.”

[END FLASHBACK]


“Come on, Layl,” tawag ni Ryoko sakin na nagpabalik sakin sa present. “There’s nothing wrong with going out on a date. Normal lang yon. And besides, you’re both single.”

“Ry, may girlfriend yon. May kasama nga sya sa park nung araw na una ko syang nakita, diba?”

“But I thought he said that it was the girl who kissed him?”

“Ry, dahil sinabi nya yon, kailangan na nating maniwala?” I laughed. Hindi naman ako ganon kagullible para maniwala nalang sa sinabi nya. “Hindi ako interesado.”

Okay, I may sound conceited considering na gwapo sya, pero hindi ako interesado at wala akong balak maassociate any further kay Cyan.

“I’m sure marami ng naging babae yon at marami nang napaiyak na babae. Ayokong umasa dahil allergic nga ‘ko sa pain, diba?”

“Aha!” She exclaimed in delight and pointed at me. “Edi lumabas din ang totoo. You thought about going out on that date!”

“Huh? Kelan ko sinabi yon?”

“Kilala kita, Layl. The fact na hindi ka kaagad tumanggi sa kanya nung gabing yon only means that somewhere in your subconsciousness, you are interested in him.”

“What?” Napasinghap ako sa sinabi nya. I can’t believe I’m hearing this. “No, no. Hindi ako nakasagot no’n kasi hindi ako makapaniwala sa tanong nya.”

“Exactly my point! Kasi kung hindi ka interesado sa kanya, you would flat out say no and reject the invite. Naalala mo yung Alex na nanligaw sayo noon? Yung kwinento mo sakin na kaklase mo nung high school na nanligaw sayo last year.”

Ahh… that guy.


[ANOTHER FLASHBACK]

Pagkalabas ko ng grocery store noon, I bumped into someone. Turns out he was Alex, who was notoriously known as a bully nung high school kami.

“Layla?” nagulat sya nung nakita nya ako. Hindi parin sya nagbabago; brusko padin. “Sorry, hindi kita napansin.”

“No worries,” matipid kong sagot sa kanya. Never kaming nagusap nung high school kaya no need for small talks. Aalis na sana ako ng bigla nya ‘kong tawagin.

“L – Layl!”

Napatigil ako and I couldn’t believe he just called me by my nickname. Close friends ko lang ang tumatawag sakin ng ganon. And Alex? Hindi kami close. Heck, I barely know him.

Naglakad sya palapit sakin. “Pauwi ka na ba?” he asked as he extended a hand out and gestured for my shopping bag. “Ihahatid na kita, kung gusto mo.”

“No, I’m good.” I replied in a heartbeat. Not only did he called me Layl, and now he’s offering to take me home? Why?

“Teka, Layl,” Again, he called me by that name. He was fidgeting a bit and he averted his gaze away from me. Parang may gusto syang sabihin pero hindi nya magawa. “Alam ko, weird pakinggan pero…”

I couldn’t agree more. This whole conversation is getting weirder by the minute.

“Ang totoo nyan, matagal na kitang iniisip,” then he looked at me directly in the eye. “Matagal na kitang gusto, Layl. Nahihiya lang akong magsabi sayo.”

Gusto?

“Pwede bang…. Pwede ba tayong magdate?”

“No.”

[END OF FLASHBACK]


 

I shook my head from the memory and shrugged. That was one of the weirdest things that happened to me.

“You immediately rejected the guy,” sabi ni Ryoko. “No pause, no pondering. You flat out rejected the guy.”

“Kasi alam ko na nangtritrip lang sya. Paano sya magkakagusto sakin, eh, never naman kaming nagusap nung high school?”

“Exactly! And then there was that Waray guy.”

I heaved out a sigh. Talaga bang uungkatin ni Ry ang mga nangyari sakin sa nakaraan?

“First time nyong magkakilala nung Waray and he asked you out on a date. Anong sagot mo? N-O.”

“…That was because I was not interested.”

“… And then that Robert guy who proposed to you on the very first day you met,” sabi nya.

That was a rather desperate move, so of course, I’ll say no,”  sagot ko naman.

“Exactly, Layl. The fact that Cyan even had the chance to say na pagisipan mo yung invitation nya means na napaisip ka pa. He asked you out on a date and gave you time to think about it. He’s different.”

I rolled my eyes at nagpatuloy sa pagaayos ng cakes. “He’s no different.”

“No, he’s different,” she answered in her as-a-matter-of-fact tone. “Hindi sya katulad nung mga lalaking interesado sayo non.”

“No, no. Cyan is the worst of them all,” sagot ko.

“Why are you so quick to judge him? I beg to differ,”  sagot uli nya.

Basang – basa ko na si Cyan; sya ang tipo ng lalaki na hindi mageffort sa isang babae, specially if the women are the ones throwing themselves at him. He is the epitome of all the things I hate in guys: mataas ang tingin sa sarili at feeling God’s gift to women. Sya yung tipo ng lalaki na akala nya, sya ang sagot sa lahat ng problema ng babae. Well, sorry sya. I don’t need a man to take care of me. I am more than capable of taking care of myself.

“You’re just saying you hate Cyan because he was making out with a girl when you first met him. But in reality? You’re just scared of him.”

“Bakit naman ako matatakot?” tanong ko. Kung ano – ano na ang naiisip ni Ryoko.

“You’re not listening! Kasi iba sya sa lahat ng nakilala mo. You’re scared to open up to him and get to know him. You’re scared to fall in love with someone like him!” sagot nya, her eyes beaming with excitement.

I laughed. Hindi ako takot mainlove; hindi lang talaga ako naiinlove. Magkaiba yon. Wala na ‘kong capability na mainlove. Hindi ako naattract sa kahit na sino. Imposibleng mainlove ako. Alien ako, eh.

Alien.

Biglang nagchime yung store bell namin sa pinto. Masayang binati ni Ryoko ang customer na pumasok and I stopped on my tracks ng marinig ko ang pamilyar na boses ng customer.

“Hi!”  Masayang bati nya kay Ryoko. “Ryoko, right?”

Pamilyar sakin ang boses na yon. Dahan – dahan akong humarap sa customer.

I saw Ry nod her head in agreement. “Yes, that’s me! And you’re Cyan, right?” she smiled back at him. “We’re glad to see you again!”

Cyan nodded at her. Then he turned to me and smiled.

“Hi Layla.”

Tinignan ko sya ng dahan – dahan mula ulo hanggang paa. Sabi ni Ry, takot ako? Bakit ako matatakot sa lalaking ‘to?

“…. Hi,” matipid kong sagot sa kanya.

Anong ginagawa nya dito? Pagkatapos nyang hindi magpakita ng isang linggo, bigla nalang syang susulpot? Ano sya, kabute?

“7 days.”

“7 days…?”

Mamamatay na ba ‘ko in 7 days? Insert The Ring reference here.

“Have you thought about my invitation?”

“Invitation?” I iterated.

“Uulitin mo ba lahat ng sinabi ko?” Tumawa sya. Napakunot ang noo ko. ” But, yes. I asked if we can go out on a date.”

Napatingin ako kay Ryoko at nakita ko syang nakatingin sakin with a grin on her face. Naalala ko yung sinabi nya sakin kanina na somewhere in my subconsciousness, I am interested in Cyan. Napatingin ulit ako kay Cyan.

I just have to reject him. That would prove Ryoko’s theories and assumptions wrong.

“Layla?” I saw him walked closer to me at yung cake showcase lang ang nagseseparate samin.

I am not interested with Cyan.

“Sorry… –”

At nakita ko ang gulat sa mukha nya nang marinig nya ang sagot ko.

 

I Guess that’s Love: I.iii


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