23:11

 
 
 

23:11 extra


Translator’s note: This chapter’s link has been posted on 11/23 Chapter 13 so I only saw it now but anyway, here’s an extra chapter for 23:11 which lies between and .

Pilosopotasya’s note: Heads!Up! This one shot took place a few months after the Rico Dirham account deletion. This is their Day 213, a hidden chapter (when Jhing and ‘Rico’ (that time) met… which Jhing actually knows they met and not him just stalking), before the  time skip *continuation.

Re-read  -  to refresh memory.

Key phrase: ‘Eye to eye.’


Day 213

To Fill A Missing Day

~~*~

“Series of unfortunate events are not enough reasons to not smile.”

~*~~

JHING BLANCO woke up with her heart pounding hard in her chest. While walking towards the washroom to take a bath and get dressed, she was hitting herself. She couldn’t calm down. Why? Even after changing her outfit for countless of times (which ended up with a simple shirt and jeans like usual), Jhing’s heart was still beating like crazy.

What’s wrong? She asked her heart.

Of course, she didn’t get an answer.

Still, something was not right.

Jhing arrived at the Cool Beans Café fifteen minutes earlier than the expected time. She was expecting that no one will show up today. After all, she’s not an author that makes readers scream, always gets invited to events, and has her own fan club. Not that she’s a fan of fan clubs especially when she’s an author and not a celebrity.  Jhing is actually curious why the other authors have a huge fanbase…

Not that she was jealous, no.

Just wondering.

She’s also curious why most people in the cafe they rented for the meet and greet were smiling.

It wasn’t even the time; the meet and greetis supposed to happen!

Why are there so many people here?

More than… fifty? Sixty? Oh god, and there is still a lot more coming?

How—why—ha—what?

Really?

At first, Jhing rejected the thought of this meet and greet event. However, a reader has sponsored this mini event and begged her, “Please, Jhing? I’ll be flying out of the country next week. To show my appreciation to your writings, this is the only thing I can do for you. Heck, if only I can just publish all your works then I would ah. Your stories are my go-to whenever I feel homesick. You’re the reason why I kept on going through life. Please do the meet and greet for me. This will be the last.”

Who would dare reject this sincere request?

Her heart melted, of course.

There was no way she could say a firm no. 

She said yes. . . ish?

Her plan was to meet Ate Tin, and only her, and hang-out while chatting and drinking coffee… But the word came out like a wildfire and the next Jhing knew—she posted on Facebook:

Meet and Greet. March 3, 2015. Cool Beans Café.

And now this: So many people!

Her brain finally finished processing something important…

Oh, right. She’s scared of the crowd.

Ate Tin greeted her and started discussing together with her admins. Jhing was sitting at the end of the seat, beside the window with a phrase, ‘Let’s make love, coffee, and magic.’ which made Jhing smile.

“What would you like to order? Drinks? Pasta? Muffin?”

There were so many choices on the menu but Jhing only answered, “Water.”

“Ate! You can’t do that!” one of her admins complained, “Ate Tin told you to order anything you want. You don’t have to be polite.”

But. . . but . . . but. . . she feels embarrassed! And felt like laughing? With pure joy? Overwhelming positive feelings?

She felt scared.

“I feel shy.”

“Jhing, please,” said Ate Tin. “Why don’t I order for you instead? And thank you!” Tin held Jhing’s freezing hand. “Thank you for granting my request. I hope you’ll have fun with this meet and greet.”

I hope so too.

A few minutes after, that frightening and uneasy feeling she felt that morning? Gone.

Jhing thought that they will all just stare at each other, but the admins had surprises, that even her, the author, got surprised. They admins even organized some games to play. There were even prizes, sponsored by Ate Tin.

The smile and laugh were contagious.

This wasn’t as bad as she thought it will be.

The signing started almost an hour after. Jhing got used to writing a dedication, and sign her name. She’s also got used to smiling … somehow, at the camera. And the gifts! The letters! The little efforts! From her beloved readers.

Those were her favorite part.

Then, her phone started ringing.

Jhing and the reader who’s currently waiting for her to sign her book looked at each other. In the background, she heard her admins’ voices chatting with other readers who were still waiting in line, and likewise those who already got their book signed. This was more like it, —not too many, not too little—enough to make everyone happy and not go home only to say, ‘I just wasted my time.’

Jhing had no plans to answer the call but the ringing doesn’t seem to have any plans to stop either. She apologetically smiled to the reader before answering the call… which quickly dropped. When Jhing and the reader were in the midst of taking a selfie, her phone started ringing once again.

After taking their picture, Jhing stared at her phone blankly.

Unregistered Number calling. . .

Prank call? A reader who got lost and want to ask for direction to Maginhawa street? Or maybe her mom, or siblings— asking for needs. . .

She started to hesitate.

Jhing glanced at her phone a few times before finally deciding to answer it. She excused herself from the crowd and clicked her screen the second she got close to the counter. The staff’s smile made her felt awkward, so she looked away and even lowered her head.

Her heart started pounding again, thinking: I hope today will be filled with positive vibes. I hope that the karma of the negative aura won’t show up, as she spoke to the phone.

“Hello?”

Please, no. No bad karma. Not now. I feel happy right now. Can’t we just do this tomor

“Hi.”

Not a bad karma, right?

Yet, one word.

Fuck.

Why is she feeling like this? Jhing has no idea who the caller is, but to hear a guy’s voice from her phone? Really… weird. She wasn’t really the friendliest of all people, especially towards men. So what’s up with a guy… calling her… on her phone?

“Who’s this?”

“Guess.”

Irritation started creeping over her body. One of the things she hates is wasting her time on childish games like “guessing.” Jhing doesn’t have the leisure to fool around especially when all the system of her body is getting affected by the voice of this man when she doesn’t even know who he is.

“I don’t have time to guess. I’m busy, bye!”

Not even a second had passed after dropping the call, another ring from the unregistered number came through.

She heaved a sigh before answering it again. “Who are you ha?”

That’s a minus one on Jhing’s Nice Meter for 2015 - a resolution of hers. She was planning to be kind all throughout the year but… sigh, will her name be on the naughty list once again, Santa? Not that Santa’s real… but… oh gods.

This is pissing her off!

“Awtsu, you’re angry now?”

The guts! Of this guy! Calling her!

He even dared to laugh?!

“If you don’t have anything to do—”

“Seen queen.”

Ay, fucking… Just a mere two words sent hurricane in Jhing’s thoughts. She kept on reminding herself, no, Jhing. It’s not him. . . but shit. Shit. SHIT.

Seen Queen?

Who the hell had the nerve to call her seen queen?!

She closed her eyes, breathed, and opened it again. Jhing started distracting herself by reading the words written on the wall—a bit of sugar needs to be grinned for ice cream to shiver. . .what?! - It didn’t make any sense! She tried reading it again…. uh, it kind of make sense… but thinking of it deeply made her dizzy.

Ah whatever.

“Who’s this?” She felt lucky that she can still talk at this moment.

“You still don’t know who I am?”

The man’s voice was starting to bury deep in Jhing’s brain. It was not soft, nope; not husky, nor bedroom voice like. Definitely not!

The voice was boyish. Not too low, yet not too high. Jhing can also hear the laugh in his voice. He sounds happy. It was a perfect voice for a grown-up man that loves to joke and fool around.

A certain person, yes. . . No? Or maybe she just doesn’t want to accept that maybe . . . the voice was from that familiar guy?

Jhing suddenly felt conscious of her own voice. But because she is Jhing Blanco, she didn’t let the guy from the other line hear her anxiousness. She leaned on the counter to stop her knees from weakening and dropping down to the floor.

“Where did you get my number?”

Jhing heard his laugh from the other side. She couldn’t help but close her eyes because shit the more he speaks, the more he proved his existence in this world… in her world.

“You know me?” the guy asked, ignoring Jhing’s question.

“Why did you call?”

“So you do know me?”

“The hell, Rico—”

Jhing stopped herself before she could even start ranting her life to him. Rico. That name kept repeating in her mind. It has been a long time since she has read or saw that name.

After the dummy account deletion, even though Jhing hates to admit it, she expected him to add her on Facebook the next day, or night, using the real account.

But of course, knowing that guy for almost a hundred days, she knew he’s good with keeping some of his words.

Whether his name is Rico or not, he was still the guy she knew who will do anything he considered a good thing…. even if it hurts him.

That was how that guy was.

That’s why they haven’t spoken… chat each other anymore—not that she’s waiting. After all, he has his own ways to make her remember that he’s still here ei: manga version of her story. Then this. . . happened. A phone call.

“Wow,” the man exclaimed over the phone. She heard amusement from his tone. “Hearing your voice feels really good ah.”

Jhing had so many things to say, but for some reason, they all got stuck in her throat. She could shout at him for being an asshole but she didn’t. And it’s not because her readers were there… they all know that she’s not the nicest person so she can curse this man all she wants. But no. She can’t say anything. The witty Jhing from the chatbox disappeared like a smoke.

“You seem busy?” The words weren’t sinking in Jhing’s head. She couldn’t understand a thing especially when the voice continued, “Should I end the call?”

“No.” She automatically said. The laugh from the other line made her facepalm herself mentally. “N-No, I mean— don’t call again, stalker.”

“There are still people lining up for your book. Sorry for disturbing you.” He then continued, “And it looks like your legs are hurting from standing too long? Why don’t you rest for a bit?”

Jhing looked at her feet. She is standing.

And he… knew.

He fucking knew it.

Can this man see her right now!?

“Where are you?”

“Your voice is so gentle,” he said, laughing. “Like what I expected.”

“Where are you?” she asked again.

“Okay, I’ll stop disturbing y—”

“The hell!” Jhing finally couldn’t stop her raising voice. “Where the hell are you?”

A manly laughter was what she heard. That’s when she realized that the noise on the background— both hers and on the line, fuck, sounds the same! It was echoing! 

Jhing was about to end the call when she felt her body stiffened the second Rico said…

“‘Don’t look back.”

Jhing unconsciously turned around… only to see the counter, some readers buying their coffees, and the creatively written menu blackboard. She got angry at her heart jumping out of her chest.

“I told you not to look back. What a rebel.”

Oh god.

“Where are you?”

Earphones on, volumes up— the world will automatically stop. But when she looked at the entrance of the café, everything stopped even without her earphones nor song playing in her ears.

She didn’t believe in sparks but the moment their eyes met each other’s gaze, fireworks started flying from everywhere.

Staring is rude, but Jhing couldn’t help herself from staring at his lips mouthing the exact same words the voice on the phone said.

“Hi Jhing.”

The laugh on the man’s voice was clearer than before because she can see it with her own eyes.

He sat on a place near the entrance. Smiling. Staring at her. He’s only wearing a simple shirt and jeans, but a mysterious aura embraced him. Maybe it’s because he’s the only one sitting at the corner? Or maybe because of the truth…. that Jhing has absolutely no idea who he really is.

They said that when you meet your soulmate, everything will be in slow motion— but how come everything stops? Jhing couldn’t move. Her heart was going crazy.

She was going crazy.

The call ended with his smile still on hers but Jhing, on the other hand, was in a daze.

Her hands were trembling. She let her body lean on the counter to stop herself from falling. Hell. She couldn’t walk! Shit. Her knees felt weak!

Jhing broke away from the vacancy she was in for staring at his eyes when a reader came to her and asked for a groufie with a bunch of friends. She obliged.

She smiled before focusing her attention on the man who stood up from his seat and smiled at her before walking out of the coffee shop.

Jhing thought everything was just an illusion…. until a waitress, who cleaned the table where Rico went to, walked closer to her. She gave Jhing a tissue paper which made the latter confused.

“I think it’s for you, Ma’am,” the crew said.

Jhing thought that the man was fooling around once again because he dared to give his trash to her. But the butterflies on her stomach - not even sure if it was just butterflies - told her otherwise as it churned in a good and exciting way just like a rollercoaster ride…. when she saw a rough sketch of her face, smiling.

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On the side, a messily written note said: I hope you smile a lot in chat just like in person, My Seen Queen.

Jhing couldn’t stop her heart from pounding so hard, could she?

She tried not to smile too wide.

But of course, she failed miserably.


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