‘The day has come’
Richard is already at the cafe, one hour before his and Maya’s agreed upon time. He chose the most secluded part of the cafe. He was too excited and too nervous to concentrate on his job so he decided to leave early after giving his secretary Liza the last contract he managed to review after several tries. He forgot to get Maya or Emman’s mobile number last Monday, but even so, he know deep in his heart that Maya will show up. He has a good feeling that after two years of despair, his life will be full of colors again.
Every time the door opens, Richard looks up, expecting Maya, though he knows he is too early for their meeting! To calm his nerves, he ordered his favorite coffee. But even his favorite brew failed to calm him. He tried distracting himself with the new game on his iPad, but he can’t concentrate on it, either.
The door opened again, and finally, it’s Maya. She is wearing a purple, sleeveless, classically cut, dress. She looks lovelier than the last time I saw her, Richard thought!
“Hi Richard! Have you been waiting long?” She greeted her with a smile that transformed her already lovely and serene face. “Ang aga mo. I thought, maaga na ako. Mas maaga ka pa pala sa akin!”
“Hi, Maya, good to see you! I can’t cocentrate na on work, kaya heto, I am early. Kumusta ka na, nakapagpahinga ka na ba ng maayos?” Richard said, as he stood up with a huge grin on his face. He is just so happy that she is finally here. “What would you like to have, still the same, americano? How about something to go with your coffee?”
“Yes, naku, nagtulog the past two days, iyan ang ginawa ko. Nagbabawi talaga sa pagod and whacked out body clock. And yes, it is still americano, and just that, no pastries, please. Thank you very much.” Maya replied as she tried to overcome her sudden nervousness. This is it, their moment of truth. Good thing the coffee shop is not full and most of the customers are glued to their gadgets as they sipped their favorite brew.
“Have a seat here, please.” Richard said as he pulled the chair opposite his for Maya. “Sandali lang, I will get your coffee, and a new one for me, as well.”
Richard returned after a couple of minutes with their steaming cups of coffee. Maya noticed that like her, his favorite has not changed, still americano. At first, they both quietly sipped their coffee. Richard broke the silence.
“Maya, how have you been the past two years?” He started as he look at her intently. “There was no news about your whereabouts. Even our classmates at the graduate school who also knew you quite well, and your old colleagues, I have talked to in my desperation, had no idea where you have been.”
“I’m okay Richard. I’m good. So much better than that day we last saw each other, and I guess, wiser and more mature. I have been to places I never thought I would see. I experienced things I never thought I would ever experience in my life. These places, and the people I met helped me grow and deal with the fact that you are not mine to have and that I should be thankful instead for the time we have spent together, of the special friendship. Some people never experiene it all. I know that now and I accepted that you belong to Alexandra.” Maya told Richard earnestly while unconsciously touching his arm.
“But Maya, there is something you should now, I’m not married! The wedding didn’t push through!” Richard revealed to Maya. He wanted her to know right away. He had been dying to tell her. “I wanted to tell you at the airport. But I felt that it is not something I should just blurt out, and it requires a lot of explanation. The airport was not the place to do so.”
“W-w-what, you’re not!!!!” Maya blurted out. At first she had hard time processing what Richard said as her heart jumped upon hearing the words that he is not married! “What happened?”
“I cant! After our meeting at the coffee shop, I just can’t go through it. But, you were already miles away when I realized it.” Richard said as he looked at Maya with an expression that made her heart beat faster and made her dizzy with feelings of anticipation she can’t fully described.
“Richard!” Maya said with so much feelings.”Why, what, how, please tell me?”
Richard took a deep breath, sipped his coffee to gather his thoughts while staring at Maya. Maya on the other hand, told Richard to go on and she will listen, unlike the last time they were together in this coffee shop.
“Maya, bear with me on this ha, please, mahaba-haba ito. I think I better start at the beginning and I just hope that you will understand and forgive my actions. First, the fact that I failed to tell you about Alexandra in all the time we have known each other. I did mention her but only in the context of being one of my long time friends. Remember me mentioning Alex and Jeff, one or two times? Well, you see, ‘Alex’ is short for Alexandra!” He continued and started to tell her things she thought she wouldn’t have a chance to hear anymore when they parted two years ago.
“Rafi and I knew Alex and her brother Jeff since we were kids. We were neighbors in Makati. We were inseparable during our childhood. My parents, Rafi’s mom and dad, Tito Patrick and Tita Helen, and the Trinidads were very good friends, and also business partners. As we grew up, us kids, remained the best of friends. We all went to the same grade school and high school. Jeff is same age as me and Rafi and Alex, a year younger than us. After we finished college, Jeff entered the seminary. He always wanted to be a priest and he prevailed over his parents’ objections – him being the only son that will carry the family name and the one who will run their business eventually. Jeff is now a priest, based in Cagayan de Oro City.
During college, Alex and I were thrown together a lot as she and I both went to the same university. Rafi went to a different one since she wanted to take up architecture. Jeff went to a university run by the religious order he wanted to join. Since Alex is a bit younger than me, I also look after her in school. Madalas din, we just carpooled. She wanted to take up law and took A.B. Political Science as her pre-law. Me, I was still stuck in the business course my father wanted for me. She knew I wanted to go to law school and encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a lawyer din. I did, in the end,, like I told you before. Alex and I developed feelings for each other, which at that time, we thought was romantic love. We have been together since my last year of law school. I thought that she and I are destined to be together. We thought we were in love and ready to settle down as we also have our law careers in common. Life, I thought was perfect, until one afternoon when this beautiful lady approached me and Ryan! And since then, my life shifted to a different, wonderful direction.”
Richard paused and took a sip of his coffee, while gauging Maya’s reaction to his explanation so far. She seems to be taking it well, he observed.
While Richard was saying his piece, Maya was listening intently to what Richard is unraveling to her, her coffee getting cold without her noticing it. For her, the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fit, but still not enough yet to get the whole picture of what really happened after she left to years ago.
“Maya,” Richard continued, “I was drawn to you from the start. You made my heart beat faster from the moment you smiled at me when we met, when you asked if the seat beside me was taken and introduced yourself. Then, when we were at the cafe after class, there were just times, without you noticing, but I think Ryan did, that I just stared at you and watched the emotions fleeting from your very expressive face, as you talked. You were so beautful, full of life, and innocent with your doe-shaped eyes and ready smile that reached your eyes and lit up your face! I didn’t want the day, and the night to end. I didn’t sleep well that night, at hindi dahil sa dami ng kapeng nainom natin!
“My feelings for you grew in the weeks that followed! At first, I tried to ignore it, deny it, and fight it as I know I already had an understanding with someone else, but it was stronger than my will. I found myself thinking about you even when I am busy with work. I looked forward to Saturdays and graduate school. Ryan knew, I think, but even if we are close friends, he didn’t ask me, probably he was waiting for the time I will tell him. Then suddenly, I realized I am in love you, hopelessly in love with you! It hit me when you were telling me a story about your very interesting interview with this old movie queen and the love of her life. Your face was so caught in their extraordinary love story, you glowed, your face animated, and it seemed like you ‘fell in love’ with their story too. I was so captivated by you!”
Maya is getting overwhelmed with emotions as she heard Richard’s confession. Richard loved her too! But she didn’t want to interrupt him. She wants to know eveything. She is also starting to hope that after this, there is a future for them.
“The day we went to the arcade? Remember that? I was struggling with my feelings, confused on what to do, but I just wanted to be with you, so I went to your house out of the blue. And the song I sang, I wanted to convey to you the state of my heart. I was so happy that afternoon with you, and then sa iba pa nating moments together. Iba talaga kapag ikaw ang kasama ko.
You see, even when Alex and I’s relationship is doing good, smooth sailing, there was something missing. It felt like we were the most compatible couple, but there was no spark! It felt like we were the best of friends instead of two people in a romantic relationship. Coupled with this, we got so busy with our successful careers, that we barely see each other. She flew to Mindanao and the Visayas regularly to see clients as her firm has offices there and also to visit Jeff. And me, I got so engrossed with my cases too. Still, we started planning for our wedding which our families approved of, expected of. For once, I wanted to do something my father will approve of. He is old and I didn’t want to upset the status quo. There were many times, I was really torn. I wanted to tell you but I can’t find the courage and the opportunity. I was also afraid that you might just think of me as a very good friend, anyway! I had those self-doubts! I was afraid to risk and find out if you feel the same for me, and what I can do about the complicated situation I was in. Me, who had taken risks with my professional life, didn’t want to take one with my personal life! I decided to escape my reality, buried myself in the sand, so to speak and just be with you in whatever capacity, sort of a parallel universe with you. I decided to hide my feelings and tried very hard to act as just a very good friend to you. I feel this is the least I could do as I don’t have anything to offer you. I didn’t want to take advantage of you. At the same time, I didn’t to be unfair to Alex too, and then, there’s my family. I just wanted to be with you. I am always very happy when I’m with you, so that’s what I did. I knew that there were moments that my feelings showed and you might have noticed, or maybe the people with us, sometimes, like Emman. I think, like Ryan, he knew what was happening. Please forgive me! I know I have not been fair to you, and to Alex too. I have been selfish and indecisive, and it boomeranged at me in the end.”
Richard stopped for a while, took a sip of his now cold coffee and continued, wanting to finish pouring his heart out to Maya, and hoping that they can still take it from there. Judging by Maya’s bare hands, she seems still unattached, like him. He really, really hope that they can have a future together after this.
“My heart was breaking when I brought you that save the date wedding card, wishing I could talk to you and we can deal with this together and that you can give me signs, answers, whatever that would just end the desolation I was feeling. When I looked at that invitation, I felt hemmed in and I needed to get out while I still can. Of course, you were not in your house, hence my call to you while in Camiguin, and everything went downhill from there.”