January 11, 2014 ~ Saturday
I found myself, a week later, trudging the very familiar road towards Ace's house. With more than 3 years of using that road, I have already memorized all of its bends, corners, as well as cracks. The concrete was as rough as before and the shaded parts where trees are abundant felt as cool as ever. Oddly, however, it seemed much longer than the usual. Or maybe it was just me.
The past week had been extremely nerve-racking. I had more stress and less sleep; I ate poorly and I ignored my usual grooming habits; I was often quiet, resigned; I looked like someone who's suffering from a terminal illness. It was not a very easy decision, the one Ace asked me to make exactly a week ago. I received not a single call and text from him. He gave me the space and time I need to think. But I misused them.
Choosing between two people means having no interaction with both parties until you have made a sound decision. I failed when it comes to that though. As Ace remained silent the whole week, I had continuous conversations with Uno through phone. As the days passed by, I got more and more determined to choose the latter. It reinforced the idea in my mind that I no longer love Ace, and that it is Uno who I should focus from then onwards. I know I had been unfair. The fight had been totally one-sided.
There's nothing more I wanted at that moment than to run away and
eternally seclude myself in a dark cave, where I can never hurt anyone
again. The burden of my decision continued to cut into me like a
well-sharpened knife, slicing me into a hundred unmanageable pieces. My
heartbeat got stronger and more pronounced with each step until I can
already feel every beat. My steps felt extremely heavy; lifting my feet
one by one was like an impossible task. My lungs refused to function properly. My eyesight seemed much more blurred than what it used to be. I
felt like fainting.
Several grueling minutes later, I found myself face to face with Ace's front door, too anxious to immediately knock. My knees felt weak, like they could betray me at any given moment. My mouth and throat felt dry as I managed to shout, "Ace? Ako to," after I was able to summon the courage I need. I have no idea how long I'd been standing there before I decided to call out. Everything was hazy as fuck.
When Ace greeted me, he had on his face his signature warm smile. It burned through me like an intense heat ray, melting my insides and turning them into a sloppy mush. He was still on his usual sleepwear: a plain white shirt and a pair of boxer shorts. He looked quite sexy that morning. But I put the notion out of my mind; I didn't go there for that. He invited me in after giving me a quick hug.
"Breakfast?" he asked. I nodded.
By the time I reached the table, everything was already set. His signature fried rice topped with omelet and bacon bits looked delicious as ever. My favorite Taho (courtesy of our regular vendor) was on my favorite bowl, still warm and fresh. We began to dig in. I ate as much as I can, thinking that this would probably be the last time that I will have a taste of his cooking. In my mind, I know that I'm going to miss all of that.
"So how's your week?" I asked.
"Okay naman. Tahimik, as you know," he said. "Gumawa ako ulit ng PR account..."
I felt my eyebrows raised in surprise. "Why? Anong ginagawa mo dun?"
"Wala lang. Naghahanap ng mga kausap..."
"Baka naman may napapunta ka na dito ha," I joked.
"Honestly, meron na nga..." he said nonchalantly.
I stopped chewing and said, "What? Seryoso ka?"
"Oo, kagabi... Pero wala namang nangyari sa amin. Dinner lang dito tapos nagkwentuhan lang kami..."
Oddly, I felt no pain nor jealousy with what I just heard. It seemed that the idea of him inviting a stranger over does not bother me anymore. I was only surprised with how fast that action of his had been.
"Pero 'di ba binigyan mo pa ko ng one week para magdesisyon? Bakit naman nakipag-date ka agad?"
"Kasi alam ko na kung ano ang desisyon mo..."
I was taken aback. "Paano mo naman nasabi 'yan?"
"Sep, kilala kita," he said, smiling. "Kung ako ang pipiliin mo, hindi ka makakatagal ng ilang araw na hindi ako nagpaparamdam. After a day or two, nag-text o tumawag ka na agad sa akin. Eh kaso wala eh, wala akong narinig sa'yo for a full week... And that's when I knew."
I froze, astonished with what he said. My mind was in a storm after that sudden realization. I remained silent for several minutes, finishing my plate. Ace did the same.
"Kumusta naman yung bisita mo kagabi?" I continued.
"Okay naman. 18 years old—"
"What? Disiotso anyos? Ang bata naman yata nun, Ace."
"Alam mo naman ang mga type ko di ba? Parang hindi mo naman ako kilala."
"Hulaan ko. Maputi, payatot, matangkad... Mukhang member ng Chicser?"
I chuckled. He did too. I shook my head.
"Ibang klase ka talaga... Ikaw na."
"I'm lonely, Sep. I have to do something about it..."
"Don't worry. I'm not taking it against you. Naintindihan ko naman... Sabi mo naman, walang nangyari di ba?"
Ace has a weakness for twinks, and I know he's lying about that; I saw it in the way he moved when he answered my question. I didn't mind though, so I let it pass.
"So this is it, huh? This is the end..." I asked. "How do you feel?"
"Medyo shit, if we're being honest. Pero I think I can manage... How about you?"
"Hindi ko alam exactly. Parang surreal na ewan. Eto na ang isa sa pinakamahirap na desisyon na ginawa ko, Ace..."
"I know, I know... But you have to deal with it, Sep... You are brave when it comes to being honest, but you must be braver when facing the consequences of your actions..."
"Ace, for the last time, I am asking for your forgiveness. For us ending like this. For hurting you. For everything..."
"Sabi ko naman sa'yo dati, di ba? Hindi ka pa humihingi ng sorry, napatawad na kita," he said, smiling. "Tandaan mo Sep, we are breaking up not because of Uno. We are breaking up because you no longer love me like you used to before. And we both know na if I still decide to fight for you, surely, matatalo lang ako, dahil hindi na talaga ako ang laman ng puso mo..."
I nodded. "Maraming salamat, Ace. Thank you for being so understanding. I owe you so much more than I could be thankful for. Ibang klase ka... Kaya naman ako na-in love sa'yo ng sobra... Pero this proves that you only deserve someone better. Someone na hinding-hindi ko mapapantayan. Cliché man, pero totoo..."
And just like that, I experienced the healthiest break-up in my life (so far). The moment was quite calm: no bouts of angry shouting, finger-pointing, and throwing of things; no violent outbursts and no more awkward tears. It was followed by a pretty lengthy conversation, which I had written earlier this year in the form of an allegory.
Because of these, I thought things would be smooth sailing from then onwards. Little did I know that it was only the beginning of an incredibly harrowing year. If only I could turn back time.
To be continued...