“Ethan?” Pippa called from the entrance of the cottage where Ethan staying. She forgot to ask him whether they will meet there or the beach. Since the cottage is on the way, she decided to check there first. The cottage looks empty. The door was not locked so she took a peek inside. She called again and when she got no reply she walked back to the path beside the main house that leads to the beach.
Pippa passed by her mother’s beautifully-tended garden, then walked downwards until she reached a wooden gate wtih an archway adorned by all kinds of bougainvilleas. The view she can see from there is picture-perfect! She wished she had a camera with her. Then she remembered her iPhone. She put down the picnic basket she was carrying and took several pictures.
She saw Ethan right away after she opened the gate. He was lying on a beach mat, wearing only a pair of board shorts, his t-shirt discarded on the mat. He was also wearing shades while glued to the book he was reading. He looked like he was posing for the summer edition of a fashion magazine!
“Hi Ethan! What are you reading?” Pippa said by way of a greeting, trying to control her physical reaction to Ethan’s male beauty. “I brought snacks.”
Ethan looked at Pippa from his shades and admired the picture she presents. Pippa is wearing a thin halter maxi dress over her swimsuit. She looks very lovely. The dress showed in silhouette her long shapely legs and curves.
“Hi Pippa, great that you made it!” Ethan said with a big smile, sitting up, then inviting Pippa to sit with him on the mat. “I’m reading the first of the books in Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy.”
“‘Fall of Giants’!” Pippa read as she sat down on the space Ethan made for her. “I haven’t read that one. I have only managed to finish his ‘Pillars of the Earth’. Then I’m planning to read ‘World Without End’ next, tapos I will move na to the Century Trilogy books. Minsan kasi ang hirap humanap ng time to read.”
“I agree. I have been meaning to read all of these for a while, but only managed to read a page here and a page there. Now, I have all the time in the world to read.” Ethan said. “I’m almost done with this one. I have the next one too, ’Winter of the World’. The third one, ‘Edge of Eternity’ came out when I already left home so I didn’t manage to get that one.”
Pippa handed Ethan a cold can of Coke, then opened one for herself too. “Sandwich? Manang Doray prepared it.”
“Oh, yes please! I’m famished. Thanks a million, Pippa.” Ethan said, smiling.
They ate while chatting about books that they have read, movies that they have seen, and places they have been to.
“So, when did you exactly leave home?” Pippa asked after a while.
“I left England about six months ago. I have been to Bali and stayed for a while in Ubod, then I moved on to Vietnam and Cambodia, took a trip to Singapore too, crossed to Malaysia, then off to Beijing, Macau, Hongkong, then moved around Thailand a bit then here in Puerto Galera more than a month ago. I stopped traveling na since I felt like I have found a home here.”
“Wow, so many different places in six months!” Pippa exclaimed, wondering if there was more then seeing those places that compelled Ethan to move around that much in such a short time. “But I’m glad you feel at home here at Puerto Galera.”
“Yes, I needed to keep myself occupied so I traveled a lot. I moved when I got restless.” Ethan simply said, sipping his Coke and looking at the horizon. “I needed to forget too.” He whispered, almost to himself.
“What did you say, Ethan?” Pippa asked, puzzled and she was not sure if she heard correctly.
“Wala, Pippa.” Ethan said, then change the direction of the conversation. “If you don’t have this book yet and the next one, you can have them after I finish. Iwan ko na lang sa iyo, and my other books na baka you would like to read din. I can just carry my Kindle around.”
“Oh, are you planning on leaving soon? I thought you will stay pa?” Pippa asked, surprised at the same time, for some reason she can’t explain, she feels sad and lost already with just the thought of Ethan leaving.
“Not in the near future! Wala pa naman akong plans. I like it here, really. I found peace. Pero siguro para makumpleto iyon, I need to go back to England and confront the past.” Ethan said all of a sudden.
Pippa was quiet. She wanted to ask Ethan for details. But maybe, it is better to let him tell her about it. But she wants to comfort him somehow without really prying into his affairs, so she decided to say something to him.
“Ethan, all I know is what you told me that Claudia died seven months ago. I don’t know what happened and what it is that is haunting you, and you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to or if you are not ready to share it, pero all I can say is sometimes, the only way we can move on with our lives is to accept that things had happened, maybe for a reason we can accept, maybe not, or maybe we will never know at all. Hindi na rin natin kasi maibabalik ang mga nangyari na. The only way to go is to live in the present and move towards the future.” Pippa said eloquently. “Have a closure of some sort, and move on!”
“I realized that too, Pippa. But thank you for telling me too, put things in perspective somehow.” Ethan said, looking at Pippa.”I want to lay the past to rest and at some point I have to do it. I think I needed to go back to where it all started when I’m ready. Baka enough na ang six months of running away from it!”
“Minsan, masakit tanggapin when you lost a loved one, pero there’s nothing we can do about it eh. It is beyond our control. Wala naman tayong magagawa kundi tanggapin ang mga pangyayari and live with it.” Pippa continued. “It happened when I lost my Dad suddenly five years ago. He was so young to be taken away from Mom and I, but we can’t do anything about it.”
“Tita Marianne told me that your father died at sea while saving some kids.” Ethan said, realizing that Pippa have known lost too and at a younger age. He can’t imagine losing his Mum or Dad like that, so abruptly.
“Yes, after that, there was a time that I didn’t want to see Puerto Galera at all. I didn’t want to take the boat to go here since it reminded me of my lost.” Pippa said. “But eventually, you learned how to accept that the person you love is gone and it is better to just remember the wonderful memories you had with them.”
“Pippa, but how do you move on when you not only lost someone dear to you but that her passing left a lot of unanswered questions.” Ethan suddenly said, deciding to tell Pippa more of what happened to Claudia.
“What do you mean, Ethan?” Pippa asked looking at Ethan closely. She can see his pain. He was tapping on the empty can of Coke he was holding, unconsciously.
“Pippa, Claudia killed herself and our baby.” Ethan finally said. “She committed suicide. I found out after she died that she was pregnant.”
“What? Why?” Pippa was so surprised at Ethan’s revelation. “How far along was she when she died?”
“She was two months pregnant. On why did she do it, that I don’t know Pippa. She didn’t leave a suicide note. So I don’t have answers. I have been searching for those before I left. I was going crazy so I decided to just travel as far away from England as I could.” Ethan said pensively. “Did I drive her to it like her parents are accusing me!”
“Why would they believe that?” Pippa asked. Yes, she had known Ethan for a short time, but she feels like he is not capable of that. Why would he get affected this way if he was?
“I don’t know. But I have been thinking lately, that maybe, I have not search enough for answers.” Ethan said. “One of these days, I will go and see what I could find so I can finally move on. I have reasons to move on. Sorry, that is all I can tell for now.”
“Thank you for telling me Ethan and that is the spirit!” Pippa said, touching Ethan’s arm to comfort him. “I’m just here if you need someone to talk to.”
“Thank you, Pippa.” Ethan said, feeling lighter now by just talking to Pippa about it. She was able to do what his Mum and Ally were not able to do, him talking about his feelings. He just wished he can also tell Pippa about the guilt that has been eating him. Maybe, Claudia’s parents were right, he was also to blame for Claudia’s suicide to a certain extent!
Pippa and Ethan both stared at the horizon and watched the setting sun in companionable silence. Both were comforted by the other’s presence as they got lost in their own thoughts.
“By the way, I forgot to mention earlier, Tris called before I left the house.” Pippa said after a while. “He said all the passengers are safe, may mga injury pero hindi naman grabe. Iyong sa driver lang ang medyo grabe pero out of danger na rin siya.”
“That’s good to know.” Ethan said. “So makakabalik na si Tristan sa house later?”
“Hindi pa siya sure eh!” Pippa replied. “Sayang nga. Matutuwa pa naman ng husto si Belle kapag nakita si Tristan. Feeling ko may crush ang pinsan ko sa kanya.”
Ethan smiled and then remarked, “I think he likes you, though!”
“Ha, what do you mean?” Pippa asked, looking at Ethan closely. “Tris like me, as in like?”
“Errrr, yes, kasi I also noticed the way he was looking at you when you are not looking.” Ethan replied. “He likes you, you know a lot.”
“Naku, Ethan, for me, Tris is like the big brother I haven’t had. Growing up, siya ang protector namin ni Belle.” Pippa said. “Hanggang doon lang talaga ang feelings ko sa kanya. Saka, I’m off relationship muna.”
“Off relationship? And why is that, if I may ask?” Ethan said. “You know, I’m also just here if you want to unburden yourself. Sometimes, it is not so bad when you talk about it with someone.”
“I have a question for you, sige, since you are a guy.” Pippa said, deciding to find answers of her own. Questions that she can’t ask her mother. “Why do guys cheat? Why can’t they stay faithful? I mean, if they are not happy in a relationship, then bow out before they hook up with another person. And last question, do you guys think of sex all the time? Go to the first girl who is willing to give it to you?”
“Hmmm, I think I now have an idea what happened with that Martin guy. Sorry, I overheard you calling him by name when you answered the phone last night.” Ethan said, then thinking a bit before he replied.
“Number one, Pippa, you will not cheat if you really love the other person and you are committed to that relationship. You will not even think about it. My personal view is that if you are not happy in your relationship, then make a clean break before you hook up with someone else. It is a coward’s way to try to have both worlds. Not all guys cheat. Many don’t. Some are just born cads.”
Then he continues, “Well as for the last question, well yes, men were set up like that or wired that way by nature. We react physically when we see a beautiful woman that attracts us very, very much, for instance. But it does not mean you will act on it all the time. We are humans and not animals. And there is such thing as control and reason. Also, if you really love a person, you will wait until that other person is ready, and not pressure her into doing something she is not ready.”
“Wow, you really hit things right in the eye. Are sure you are computer geek and not a psychologist.” Pippa said, smiling. “Thanks a lot Ethan.”
“Hahaha, I wish I am. Hindi sana, I’m done with my issues na.” Ethan said giving Pippa an answering smile. He really feels so happy being with her, chatting like this. He forgot all his troubles.
“Thank you, talaga, Ethan.” Pippa said. “And fair is fair, since you told me a bit about Claudia. Yes, Martin was my boyfriend who cheated on me. I caught him with another girl the other night. Come to think of it, the other night lang pala iyon, parang a lifetime ago na. So after I saw what I saw, I broke up with him and packed my bags. And here I am. He had been calling and texting me asking for my forgiveness dahil wala lang raw iyong nakita ko, would you believe!”
“Oh Pippa, someday, you will find a guy who deserves your love. I gathered also that he was pressuring you to go to bed with him?” Ethan asked directly.
“Yes, he did try to talk me into it, several times. But to be honest, Ethan, it is not that I’m waiting for a ring on my finger before making love to someone I love very much. It is just that, I was not ready, I was not so sure I want to do it with him.” Pippa replied honestly. “I didn’t feel with him the feelings I imagine I will feel when we kiss, that sort thing, you know.”
“Then don’t do it, when you are not ready Pippa. You should make love with the guy you love when you are sure and not because you want to please him or is feeling pressured. It should be something beautiful, a physical expression of your love for each other.” Ethan said, gathering that Pippa is innocent in the ways of love even if she had a boyfriend already.“You will know when you are ready. And you are talking about passion, which you apparently didn’t feel with him. With the right person, you will. And yes, for guys it could be less than that, but after a while, meaningless sex is just like that, meaningless.”
“Hmmm, about knowing when the time comes, that’s similar to what Mom told me earlier, when I asked her how would I know when I find the one for me.” Pippa smiled. “She said I will know. Same meaning, different context, huh!”
“I think your Mum is right.” Ethan replied. “The mysteries of love and how it moves us, difficult to fathom, isn’t it?”
“So true. Thank you again, Ethan for listening.” Pippa said, giving Ethan a smile that lit up her beautiful face.
“You’re welcome, Pippa, anytime. Thank you very much as well for your insights and for listening.” Ethan gave Pippa a big smile too.
Pippa and Ethan gazed at each other, a silent communion and communication between them. It was broken when there was a gush of strong wind and Pippa shivered.
“Pippa, you are cold again.” Ethan remarked. “Come, put this on.” He said, giving Pippa his shirt which was lying on the mat beside him. “I’m good.”
“Thanks, Ethan. Yes, I’m a bit cold. But it is nice out here.” Pippa said, putting Ethan’s shirt which smelled a bit of him, mixed with the soap he uses.
Ethan also moved a little bit, then put his arms around Pippa to keep her warm fast. Pippa let him as it felt nice, very nice. They stayed liked that for a while, chatting about all kinds of stuffs and enjoying the beautiful view before them until it got very dark to see anything. Only then, they returned to the house, hand in hand.