Ricky sighed and looked at Maya, putting the journal on his lap, as he took a big gulp of his now, very cold coffee. His heart felt very heavy.
“You don’t have to say a word! I know the feeling! It was like that the first time I read it too.” Maya softly said, seeing Ricky’s expression.
“I know the ending of this, Maya. We are living proof of that. But reading it, it made me feel very sad. Nandoon pa nga lang ako sa first part.” Richard made a helpless gesture with his hand. “It felt like I was living his pain all over again, also his happiness at meeting your grandmother. And at the back of my mind, I knew the ending, and it was not a happy one nga. Mixed emotions talaga.”
“Until what part have you read, so far?” Maya asked. It seems like she and Ricky are kindred spirits. He also felt what she felt the first time she had read that journal.
“Hanggang doon sa first day ng meeting nila. Hanggang doon sa inihatid niya sa bahay ang grandmother mo.” Ricky said. “I will just read the rest tomorrow, if that is okay with you, to come back and bring the journal again? Medyo gabi na rin. Please stay for dinner, then I will take you home. I insists, Maya, please.”
“Okay, I will stay for dinner. But you don’t have to take me home. Diyan lang naman ako, maglalakad lang ako sa beach.” Maya said. “Saka, if you want, I can just leave the journal. I know you will also take care of it, now that I know you.” She added smiling. “Para you can read it later, if you want. I’m sure, parang ako ikaw. Hindi rin ako napakali hanggang hindi ko natatapos. I was drawn to it from the start.”
“Thank you, Maya. I appreciate that. Promise, I will take very good care of our grandparents’ journal. Hindi ko itatakas, promise!” Ricky gave Maya a lopsided smile that sent her heart aflutter. “But I would also take you home. Gabi na. I will worry rin about you if I let you go home alone.”
“Okay. But one condition. Can I help with our dinner?” Maya offered with a smile.
Ricky smiled. “Okay. Pero, we just need to heat food naman. May mga iniwan na food ang caretakers nitong place before I arrived. Microwave food ang dinner natin ha! I hope it is okay.”
“Sure, no worries.” Maya assured Ricky.
Ricky discovered that Manang Auring and Manong Tunying left him is favorite kare-kare, also adobo and bistek. The caretakers texted him while he was on his way to the beach house to tell him that they have left food for him, that the house is in order and should he need something from Laoag, just text them. They will be back the day after as they needed to go to the wake of Manang Auring’s uncle. They will stay there until the funeral.
“Wow, kare-kare!” Maya exclaimed, seeing what was in the bowl that Ricky was holding. “My favorite! Manang Fe, my mom’s yaya and my Lola Maya’s old kasambahay cooks that very well!”
“Ikaw din! Ako rin. I love kare-kare!” Ricky said as he put the bowl of kare-kare in the microwave. “Siguro, sinabi ni Mama kay Manang Auring na favorite ko ito.”
Maya set the table. Several minutes after, Ricky pulled the chair for her. They chatted and got to know each other more while they enjoyed their kare-kare.
“How long are you staying here, Maya?” Ricky asked as he offered Maya more rice.
“I’m not sure yet. Maybe, two to three weeks.” Maya replied after thanking Ricky, and handing him the bowl of kare-kare. “I was at a loose end. I felt restless and also sad. The house in Manila is a bit lonesome. I missed my Lolo Jaime. He died more than a month ago. Siya kasi ang kasama ko sa bahay. Iyong house na pinuntahan ng Lola mo noong ibigay niya ang journal na iyan sa Lola ko. My parents naman are in the US. Eventually, I have to return as I have responsibilities in Manila.”
“My condolences, Maya.” Ricky said softly. “Kamamatay lang pala ng Lolo mo! You must missed him a lot.”
“Yes, I do. He was a guy who didn’t say much. But he is one the kindest person I know. Lolo and I, we understood each other.”
“Do you think he knew about the journal?” Richard asked all of a sudden.
“My mother was not so sure. But I think he did kasi naka-safety siya ng husto sa aparador ni Lola.” Maya said. “My Lolo Jaime loved my Lola a lot, even though, I think he had an idea that he was not my lola’s great love, and theirs were not a love match, either, I think.”
“It is a bit sad, isn’t it? To find your great love when it is too late!” Ricky suddenly said, gazing at Maya intently, then stared off, seemingly deep in thought.
“I agree! Kaya ako, I will wait.” Maya suddenly said, just wanting to pull Ricky from whatever melancholy thought he was having. “Pero, come to think of it, how would you know if that person is the one na or hindi pa?” Maya mused.
“You mean, wala ka pang boyfriend?” Ricky asked before he could stopped himself. He flushed. “Sorry, that was too personal.”
Maya smiled, Ricky is cute, flustered. “I don’t mind answering. I don’t have one. But I’m not in a hurry! Maybe, the one and only guy for me is coming soon. Malay natin, di ba.” She said, making light of the situation.
“Thank you for telling me, Maya.” Richard suddenly felt glad that she didn’t have a boyfriend. “So, do you paint also like your grandmother?” He asked, changing the topic.
“No, not like her. I do dabble in painting, but it was just a hobby. I’m not as good as her. Instead of creating works of art, I just display and curate them. I have an art gallery beside the cafe I own with a friend.”
“Really? Where is it?” Ricky asked. “Maybe, I can visit it when I return to Manila.”
“It’s in Makati. Sure, I would be happy if you would. I’ll give you the address. Besides, you should try our coffee and my partner Emman’s pastries, to die for. Kailan ka pala babalik ng Maynila?”
“I’m not yet sure. I’m on vacation.” Ricky said, then he seemed to change his mind and added more. “I decided to go here actually as I needed to work something in my head. But never mind that, I’ll figure it out, eventually. I think know what to do, anyway.” He finished cryptically.
Maya didn’t ask anymore. She felt that Ricky needed to resolve whatever he was thinking of, by himself. Besides, they just met each other. Even if it felt like she has known him for a long time, the fact is they just met each other that afternoon. “Basta, if you need someone to talk to, I’m just here.” She offered before she could stop herself. Then added, “I know that we just met each other but I felt like I have known you a long time. Maybe, because of our grandparents and their shared past. “Maya finished.
“I feel the same way, Maya. And thank you.” Ricky said, gazing at Maya. “Coffee?”
“No thanks a lot, Ricky. I should get going. Medyo late na rin. Mag-isa si Manang Miring sa bahay and hindi iyon matutulog kapag wala pa ako. I’ll help you with the dishes, first.” Maya started gathering the plates. Maya had informed Manang Miring where she was earlier, borrowing Ricky’s phone, but still, the old lady will wait up for her.
“No, leave it, Maya. I can take care of that later.” Ricky stopped Maya by holding on to her arm. Ricky felt a tingle with that touch, so did Maya. She looked at him. They gazed at each other.
Maya recovered after several long seconds. “S-sure?” She asked with a voice that was not so steady.
Ricky nodded and Maya didn’t insist. She needed air and to make sense of that touch. Several minutes after, they were out in the beach, walking towards Maya’s house. They chatted and laughed at each other’s anecdotes. They were halfway to the house when Maya stumbled.
“Maya, are you hurt?” Ricky asked solicitously.
“No, I’m okay, Ricky. Natapilok lang ako.” Maya assured Ricky.
“I think it would be better if you hold on to me. Madilim and hindi natin kabisado itong beach sa gabi.” Richard suggested, then took hold of Maya’s hand and interlaced it with his.
Maya let it be, liking the feel of it. She blushed in the dark. Several minutes after, they arrived at the entrance of Maya’s family’s beach house. “Pasok ka muna, Ricky.”
“Next time na lang, Maya. Gabi na rin.” Ricky said, then said softly, “Thank you for a wonderful afternoon and evening. I’m glad to have met you.”
“Thank you also, Ricky. I had a wonderful time. I’m glad I have you to share our grandparents’ journal.” Maya smiled at Ricky. “I’m glad to have met you too.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Ricky asked, still holding Maya’s hand, and gazing at her intently.
Maya realized it and got a bit self-conscious. “Errr, yes, around 10am! Ricky, ang kamay ko please.”
That was the only time Ricky let go of Maya’s hand. “Oh, sorry.” He said, sheepishly. “Good night, Maya. Sleep well.”
“Good night, Ricky. Sweet dreams.” Maya gave Ricky a smile that lit up her whole face, before turning towards the direction of the veranda. She looked back when she reached it. She saw Ricky waiting until she gets into the house before walking back to his place. She smiled and waved at him. She was humming when she entered the house.
Ricky smiled and waved back before walking back to his house. He felt very happy. His steps felt lighter. He suddenly stopped as the whole thing felt like it has happened to him before! But he shook off the thought. How could it be? This was the first time he met Maya, and it was his first time at his family’s beach house!
Note: This used to be part of Chapter 2. Comments on the above post are in Chapter 2! This is part of the revision and reuploading that I’m doing. Please click on my ‘Thought Process’ post on this. 🙂 Likewise, please see the Richard and Maya index under Library for the revised chapters!