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What Am I To You: Episode 15

BY KATH C. EUSTAQUIO-DERLA
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Image from Tookapic

Last night was a complete disaster.

After the play, Collin and Matthew invited Denver and me to a round of drinks at some restobar along Jupiter Street. I politely declined after way too much urging from Collin. In the end, I had to say that I’m meeting someone else after the event, which got them to shut up. A meetup after 11 p.m. obviously mean one thing and one thing alone—booty call.

Denver probably saw right through me and offer to drop me off at my condo, after all it was already past 11 p.m. And despite the lively Makati night life, it can get pretty dangerous for a young woman. I told him he didn’t have to and that I’d just get Uber. They finally gave up and let me go.

All the while, Matthew never looked at me.

Of course, the whole booty call was a ploy. The moment I reached the lobby, I removed my 4-inch nude pumps, slipped into my pair of walking flats and made my way back to my condo. I was half hoping Matthew would run down to the lobby and explain what the heck just happened up there. But he didn’t. And this time, I didn’t wait.

I probably cried last night. How much? I don’t remember. But I do remember drinking, heck, finishing an entire bottle of cheap wine I had stashed somewhere in my small kitchenette. I remember turning off my phone because I didn’t want to talk to anyone, not even Matthew. I remember watching “Moulin Rouge” until I fell asleep. I remember feeling such a loser.

I woke up this morning to the sound of someone knocking on my door. I reach for my phone, opened it and see it was already 1 p.m. The knocking stops for a while. Maybe it’s all in my head. I go back to sleep. A few seconds later, the knocking continues and I can hear someone call my name from the door and forcefully trying to unlock the door knob.

I get out of bed and walk to the door. If it’s Matthew, I can always pretend I’m not home and let him knock until he gives up. But when I look through the peep hole, I see Tristan’s face looking straight at me. Normally, I wouldn’t let anyone see me in this haggard state so early in the morning. But it’s just Tristan and he had seen me at my worst (high school). A sliver of bashfulness remains and I meticulously smell my armpits to check if I’m decent before opening the door and letting him inside.

“I thought you died or something,” he says angrily as he barged into the small hallway. He looks like he’s about to hug me but stops shortly when he realizes I had slept in my office clothes from last night. The bathroom door was open and I can see that the mascara from last night’s makeup had run down my cheeks, probably from all the crying I did last night, I really don’t remember.

“Did someone die?” he asks quietly.

“My pride,” I reply.

He looks more confused than I am. So I spend the next hour getting myself back into decent mode so Tristan can take me out to eat at Bonifacio Global City. He drives us to this all-day breakfast place and over a plate of American-size, overpriced but ridiculously delicious tapsilog, I told him the whole fiasco last night.

He ends up giving me his plate of fancy pancakes and just settles for coffee. I figure he ate already but decided to take me out anyway because of the state I’m in.

Matthew. After all these years I’ve known him and after all the years I spent unconsciously pinning away for him, I still can’t figure him out. It is only today I realize that, despite the months we’ve spend rekindling whatever we had back then, he—we—never defined what we were/are. Not then, not now.

“Run away,” Tristan says.

“What?”

“I think you should run away,” Tristan replies. “Not run away from your troubles, God knows that will only cause bigger problems. I mean, take a vacation. Leave the city. Go to the beach. You know, go somewhere or do something that will take your mind away from the guy and your issues.”

“I just don’t know where to go from here, you know,” I reply, taking a bite from his plate of pancakes. “I don’t know what to do.”

“What do you really feel about this guy?” Tristan asks and when I didn’t reply immediately, he adds, “Do you really love him?”

“That’s the thing, Tristan. I don’t know. I like Matthew. I like him very much. At least up to that point, I am very sure. He…he has this power over me, you know. Like, when I’m with him, nothing else matters. It’s not really a happy feeling. It’s not sad either. It’s just somewhere in between. It’s like I feel happy and crazy and sad all at the same time.

“When I’m with him, every inch of me is alive,” I touch my arm and trace an invisible line from my elbow all the way down to my palm. “It feels like someone inside of me is ready to jump out of my skin anytime. And when we’re apart, I can feel his sadness. It’s crazy right? I mean, how can you feel someone else’s sadness when you’re miles away but I do.”

I probably spent a good five minutes in die-hard monologue and Tristan listened to it all. When I finished, he places his cup down and he stares out the window for a while. There are kids playing football in the open field, just beyond the small parking lot. Tristan looks like he’s editing himself internally, probably sugarcoating a response that could break the fragile state I am in right now, but when he speaks again, the words still shatter me.

“Do you think Matthew feels the same for you?”

My mouth drops to his unfinished plate of pancakes and my heart, my poor heart, breaks into a million pieces after I tried to patch it up from last night’s beating. It was the question I’ve never answered since college because I am afraid that it would end the hideously intoxicating spell I am in, like a junkie running out of stash when he finally confronts his actions.

“Sorry,” Tristan says after a long quiet moment. “I know that must hurt but based on everything you told me, I don’t think you’re on the same page. Maybe not yet, but he seems like he’s on a different ride all together, you know?

“This guys is obviously hung up on a girl who dumped him, the same girl he chose in college. And you said he tried to propose. I haven’t really tried that but it’s not something you quickly recover from, I guess.

“He seems like he’s on a different kind of high, whatever it is he’s getting from you is fueling his ego. While you, on the other hand, is falling way too fast and way too deep. And you’re not even sure if you love him or not.”

I sit there, cutting the tiny pancakes into smaller pieces until they become a pile of mush. I should be crying at this point and I actually might cry anytime. But survival tells me to sniff back the urge to bawl or maybe I am all cried out.

“Okay,” I say finally. “So I take a break?”

“I think you should create distance,” he replies. “You know, to see if he cares enough to pull you back.”

“But where do I go?”

“I may have a solution for that.”

To be continued…

This serialized fiction follows Kit Castille and her chase for love before Before I Do. Read more here.

***

Edits: Jacquie Bamba S. Zamora
What Am I To You is the prequel to Before I Do by Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla. Before I Do is available at National Bookstore, Powerbooks and Uniqube.
What Am I To You
Philippine Copyright © 2016 by Katherine C. Eustaquio-Derla
Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any written, electronic, recording, or photocopying without written permission of the publisher or author. The exception would be in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews and pages where permission is specifically granted by the publisher or author.
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