Waiting for Summer (short story) 1
Two months before the summer vacation.
Boring na sa school.
Boring pa rin sa bahay.
Boring ang buhay.
Term papers, drawing plates, final quizzes and exams, championship game, at graduation. In two months napakaraming gagagawin at tatapusin, pero hindi naman nakakaexcite. Kahit ang gumradweyt hindi rin nakakaexcite. Sana summer na.
Bakasyon sa California ang promise ni papa sa ‘min ng kapatid ko, at kung pwde ko lang kontrolin ang oras, ipoforward ko na dahil hindi na ko makapaghintay.
Mga plans ko after graduation? Plantsado na lahat, for five years yun na ang ginagawa ko kaya di na ko nagwo-worry. Sure na ko sa pinili kong career at buti na lang supportive sina mama at papa.
Friends? Natural mami-miss ko sila, ilan sa kanila mga kaibigan ko na since grade school pa. Nakakalungkot din pero ganun talaga. Time will come when we have to choose to take different paths. May crossroads naman eh so for sure makakasama ko pa rin naman sila saan man kami mapunta.
Girls? Three years na kaming break ni Lia, at mukhang okay naman sila ni Raymond. Since we broke up, hindi na ko naging interisado sa mga girls. Siguro dahil iba na ang gusto ko, iba na yung mga bagay gusto kong iuna. Ganun nga talaga siguro when you’re g growing up, kahit hindi mo pinlano, your priorities eventually change.
Two months na lang, summer na. School will be over and another chapter will begin. And syempre, before I finally step out of my comfort zone, of course I still want to make most out of whatever my comfort zone could offer, kahit na wala namang masyado.
Boring pa rin sa school. Boring din sa bahay. Boring ang maghintay sa pagdating ng summer.
I’m literally counting the minutes, hours and days whenever I’m at school or at home or with my friends. Nakakalimutan kong i-enjoy at sulitin ang mga natitirang araw ng school life ko, ng pagiging dependent ko. Hinahayaan ko na lang na lumipas ang panahon without making memories and saying goodbye to people and places I’ll be leaving very soon.
It was alright at first. I wanted time to fly as fast as it can even without letting create and have more moments with my soon-to-be-old life. Until a familiar stranger suddenly made me remember her existence and made me wish to have more than two months before the summer.
“Twenty pesos per ticket.”
Si Julie. We were in the same class for two years at kapitbahay lang sya ng tita ko. She was my classmate until she realized mas gusto nya ang Music, Art and Literature kaysa sa Engineering. Wala naman talaga sa ayos at personality nya ang maging engineer.
She looks like a nerd except she’s not a nerd, not in a way na tatawagin mo syang baduy at boring. Nakasalamin na sya nang maging magkaklase kami at isa sya sa mga top students sa klase. She’s smart, she dresses weird but in a cute way, she has some friends (with whom she shares the same fashion beliefs), she can sing and play instruments, and she’s pretty. I find her okay, my guy friends think she’s funny but with substance, my girl friends say she’s annoying (maybe because inspite of how she looks and how different she is from the rest of campus crushes, she’s the popular guys’ number one dream girl).
Yes, totoo iyon. And what makes her more annoying is that she seems to not care…about being every guy’s crush, about being too smart and even about everything that she is. I sometimes find her annoying pero dahil hindi naman kami close, I end up ignoring her.
For three years, nawala na sa isip ko na sa parehong university pa rin kami nag-aaral at bawat hapon pa rin syang nakikipaglaro sa boring na boarhound dog ng tita ko. Hanggang sa nilapitan nya ako isang araw para magbenta ng tickets.
“Para saan iyan?”
“Para sa grad ball.” sagot niya. May inililista sya sa isang papel habang kausap ako. Grad ball, shoot! Oo nga pala, may grad ball pa at required mag-attend lahat ng mga graduation candidates.
“May raffle sa grad ball?” tanong ko. Member nga pala si Julie ng student organization.
“Nope.” Nagsusulat pa rin sya. Doon ko napansin na humaba na pala ang buhok nya. nakatirintas iyon sa mag gilid at kulay orange pa rin ang frame ng salamin nya. “Para iyan sa iboboto mong female sweetheart of the night.”
Female Sweetheart of the Night? Ayun! Naalala ko na. Mga lalaki lang ang puwedeng bumoto sa mga babae at vice versa. Kelan nga ba ang grad ball? Sino nga ba ang mga kasali? Lahat ba ng girls?
“Kahit sino’ng gusto mo, puwede mong i-vote. Kahit sa mismong grad ball night na, pero puwede ka nang bumili ng tickets. Next week na iyon.” sagot ni Julie, na parang nabasa ang naisip ko.
“Ah…sige. Five pieces.” That’s when she looked at me. She still looks the same, pero mas gumanda sya.
“Oo. Bakit? May minimum number of tickets ba na dapat bilhin?”
“Wala naman.” Kumuha sya ng tickets sa maliit nyang bag at binigyan ako ng limang piraso. Inabot ko sa kanya ang one hundred bill mula sa bulsa ko. I expected her to leave and not say thank you (isa pa pala, medyo masungit sya pero maraming nagsasabi na mabait sya..we never became close so..) soon as I paid the tickets pero hindi pa sya umalis. May kinuha syang dalawang pirasong tickets na iba ang hitsura mula sa bag nyat inabot sakin.
“Ano ‘to?” Two tickets for the joint concert of MYMP, Freestlye and Side A. The first thing that came to my mind that time was IS SHE GONNA ASK ME OUT??!!! And I turned out to be a total ‘asyumero’ and ‘feelingero’.
“Pinabibigay ng tita mo, mamayang gabi na raw kasi iyan hindi na raw sya makakadaan sa inyo.”
“Ah talaga?” MYMP? Freestyle? Side A? Ano ‘ko old-fashioned? Kung Linkin Park or kahit Parokya ni Edgar na lang sana iyon. “Sige thank you.”
“Okay.” Tumalikod si Julie at naglakad na palayo sa ‘min. Wala akong planong manood ng concert na iyon at kung ibibigay ko naman sa mga girls iyon, pag-aawayan lang nila.
“Ahm, sandali Julie!” hinabol ko sya’t sinabayan sa paglakad. “Mahilig ka ba sa concerts?”
“Sa iyo na lang ‘to.” Huminto sya’t tinignan ako. Hindi sya nagulat o ano, basta tumingin lang sya. “May gagawin din naman kasi ako mamaya.”
“Talaga?” Tumango ako. Kinuha nya ang tickets at saka ulit tumingin sa ‘kin at ibinalik ang isa. “Isa na lang ang ibigay mo sa ‘kin, sayang naman ‘tong isa.”
“Hindi okay lang. Para na lang yan sa boyfriend mo.” Doon sya nagulat at halatang hindi nya inasahan ang sinabi kong iyon. Boyfriend? May boyfriend na ba sya? Naku baka isipin pa nya niloloko ko sya. babawiin ko na sana iyong sinabi ko nang bigla syang ngumiti. And man, I can tell you, that smile can make me convince to go to that concert and stand hearing MYMP and even feel happy about it. I’d never thought Julie’s smile can have that kind of effect on me.
“Kung isasama ko man ang boyfriend ko, hindi sa ‘kin manggagaling ang tickets. Isa pa, wala akong boyfriend, sa iyo na iyang isa.”
Whew. Akala ko maiinis sya sa ‘kin. Kinuha ko ang isa and before she left me, she said “Thank you ah.” and she smiled again. And there I was, standing in the middle of the school grounds, with my mouth slightly open, unaware that I was smiling and looking stupid just because a cute nerdy girl smiled at me.
I didn’t see Julie after that. She’s a Lit student so her building is four buildings away from mine. And for three years, that was actually my first encounter with her. And it wasn’t bad.
I was at the waiting shed with the other students waiting for the bus or a taxi or a jeep when I saw her walking towards the shed. She’s reading a book and she was about to reach the shed without hitting someone or bumping with something.
Obvious na hindi nya ‘ko napansin dahil magkatabi lang kami at parang wala lang. She smells like soap and shampoo, yung parang katatapos lang nya maligo. She smells fresh, and I wondered if that was her cologne or she really smells like that. She’s reading Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember (I’ve never met a girl who didn’t love that book or the movie, I haven’t seen it yet) and she looked serious. Hindi ko alam kung ano’ng pumasok sa utak ko’t pinagmasdan ko sya mula ulo hanggang paa.
She’s wearing a white polo and an orange skirt, I suddenly remember how she used to wear skirts a lot at hindi ko alam na napapansin ko pala iyon dati. She matched her outfit with a lowcut brown boots and she’s till wearing the same bracelet she used to wear before (grabe, pati pala iyon napapansin ko dati.. may letter ‘J’ na pendant ang braclet nya). Her skin is so white and looks so soft and then I couldn’t help but stare at her face. I didn’t know she has such a pretty side profile, I’ve never stares at her before. Her lips are so red, her nose is so cute and her eyelashes.. I wanted to touch them. And then all of a sudden, I was never prepared to what happened next.
She turned to me and caught me staring! (I’m a guy who was standing a few inches away from this strange girl and I was secretly staring at her and after a few moments, she found out. If you’re a girl, wouldn’t you think it’s kind of creepy?! I’m a guy and I think it is!).
“Oh, Elmo. Nandyan ka pala.” And she was smiling again. How could this girl smile at me three times and I wasn’t even aware that she’s still existing for 3 years! Na-guilty ako, pero natuwa rin.
“Kanina pa.” I smiled back. A girl like her deserve all the smiles in the world. Tumango-tango sya’t umiwas na ng tingin. She finally put her book down and waited for the bus just like the rest of us. I finally felt she’s back in the real world.
We’re not friends and we don’t normally talk. We’re classmate for 2 years but we never exchanged more than 50 words to one another. But standing right to her in silence felt awkward and I didn’t know why. I felt like sa sobrang tahimik (kahit na napakaingay ng mga estudyanteng nag-uusap, nagbubusinang mga sasakyan at iba pa) I felt like I could hear her breathing and she could hear my abnormal heartbeat (and why am I having abnormal heartbeats???!!! God, it’s so weird standing beside her without talking).
And then, there I was. The nice guy who started a awkwardness-killing-small-talk. “So, didiretso ka na sa MOA nyan?” tanong ko.
“Ha? Ah, oo.”
“So bet mo pala ang MYMP.”
“Oo naman, pati Side A at Freestyle.” She loves music and of course, bet nya lahat. Such a stupid question. “Ikaw?”
“Ha?” NO, I DON’T! I wanted to be honest her for a reason I do not completely comprehend. Why am I trying to be cool, nice and cute around her?! I’m weird. “Okay lang. More on rock or alternative rock kasi bet ko, and R&B rin.” Tumango-tango sya.
“Nagra-rap ka diba?”
I was surprised she knew that. How did she know? “Ahh. oo. Paano mo alam?”
“Narinig and nakita na kita before, sa bahay ng tita mo. Katapat lang ng room ko yung room kung nasaan ka nun.” What??!! She saw me? God, nakakahiya! Sa banyo, sa harap ng salamin at sa kuwarto ko lang ako nagra-rap. Hay, sinara ko sana iyong bintana nun kung alam ko lang. “Bakit hindi ka nagra-rap sa school?”
“Ha? Ah, wala lang iyon. Kapag wala lang akong magawa-”
“Paanong wala lang? Galing mo nga eh.” Seryoso sya, meaning, totoo sinasabi nya. Kung nakikita ko lang ang sarili ko nun na nagblush ako, I will never look at my self at the mirror again. And once again, she made me smile.
“Kanino ka natuto?”
“Nag-try lang ako minsan tapos ayun medyo nagustuhan ko na.”
And there we were, from me knowing how to rap, our topic led to another to another to another. We talked about so many things on my very first ‘waiting shed moment’ with her, we talked about her learning how to play the violin, me finally graduating, Gustav (my tita’s hoarbound dog), how it’s more comfortable to ride a bus than a jip, how many times she’s read AWTR, how many times I’ve watched Matrix trilogy and Lord of the Rings, how the clouds seem to have funny shapes in the morning and in the afternoon, how much we still believe that ants actually talk to each other whenever they bump into each other, and many more other things.
Nakalimutan na naming nasa shed kami na iyon para mag-abang ng masasakyan pauwi hindi para magkwentuhan like we’re old friends. But it was fun talking to her, I liked talking to her. It was my very first real conversation with her (I’m not sure about what’s a fake conversation but…basta) and we were laughing and smiling and forgetting the rest of the world.
I’ve always agreed that she’s smart and pagka-dork, but she’s funny, too. Not the kind of funny who cracks a joke and makes you convince she has a great sense of humor, she’s the kind of funny that makes you think and wonder and realize. She’s not annoying, not at all. And she’s very different from the other girls I’ve met, she could make me smile even without saying anything, even by just standing right next to me.
And then, bigla syang pumara ng bus. If it wasn’t to pathetic to ask her to stay, di ko muna sya hahayaang umalis. But she has a concert to go to and I have a life outside the ‘world I felt I just created and shared with her’ to go back to.
“Pasensya ka na ha, baka ma-late ako sa concert.”
“Ayos lang. Enjoy!”
Sinundan ko sya ng tingin habang sumasakay sya until she found a seat. At may iba pang mga sumakay na kasunod nya.
Then I saw another bus approaching, iyon ang bus na sasakyan ko. And then I turned to Julie’s bus, malapit nang umalis.
The universe, and even destiny, did not dare to make me meet Julie again after she left our class. We’re walking on the same grounds, looking at the same spot of the sky and waiting on the same shed everyday for 3 years but we never crossed paths. At ng araw na iyon, perhaps there was a crazy moon at the other side of Earth at nadamay lang kami ni Julie. I may never see her again, I may never talk to her again. And that didn’t feel good.
And then, there I was. Sumakay ako sa bus, nakipagunahan sa upuan at umupo sa tabi nya.
“Oh, eto din pala sinasakyan mo?” tanong nya sa ‘kin.
“Hindi. Pupunta din kasi ako ng MOA.”
“Ah, dun din ang lakad mo?”
“Anong gagawin mo dun?”
Sigurado ako, I gave a shy smile. “Manonood ng concert.” Sabay taas ng ticket ko.
Tinignan nya ako and then she smiled at me. And then we talked again.
I told you what that smile did to me.