11/23 Chapter 10
“Everything will be painful for someone who is cruel to oneself.”
Jhing envisioned things differently.
She was too sure that when destiny will try to play with their lives, the smiles will be forever gone. Jhing can imagine him not even saying any 'Good morning!' greetings after that embarrassing scene. No stare. No talk. Not even wanting to breathe the same air as hers.
And she was too sure once she pushed harder, he will back away.
That was what she wanted.
She was scared as fuck when he didn’t even budge.
As if there was no past, no heartbreak, or even blocking of accounts.
She was expecting bitterness! Anger! Questions of whys and hows! Even the sound of his voice, too dark and angry, was in her head every night before she sleeps- playing over and over again - as he should point out every single thing she had done to him. He needed an explanation from her, and a reasonable one on his part.
But he didn’t ask.
Not even bitterness.
Even mentioning about what happened, nada.
Negative was what she envisioned Miko to be.
If someone left her without any reason like what she did to him, Jhing will hate and burn that person into the pits of hell… But, duh. She forgot that everyone has different personalities. Same situations, different actions. Same feelings, different reactions.
Miko and Jhing are really different from each other.
It seems like Fall has already moved on asking 'Was I only dreaming when I saw you in the washroom? With Miko?' When Jhing didn’t respond, she laughed and followed, 'I'm not pregnant, am I!?'
Fall was so drunk that night, her appearance was Miko’s cue to get out of the scene and go home.
Miko was absent the next few days.
But every night, before going to sleep, Miko’s serious yet smiling face was vivid in Jhing's mind. She can still feel how he wiped her cheeks with a handkerchief. She could still remember him, her reaction to him and her heartbeat as he said, ‘I stay.’
The line was too familiar to her heart; she was so sure Miko knew it was from hers.
When Miko showed up in the office and smiled at her when they crossed the path in the pantry, Jhing just stared at nothing as she tries to stop her traitor heart from beating too fast.
Walls up. Poker face. Think like nothing happened. And go with the flow.
Like how she always planned from the start.
“I'll pass,” Jhing answered when asked, rather, when July said something about team building, weekend getaway, and Caliraya. “I'm not going.”
“Less headcount, less expense.” She sat in her cubicle and started editing the manuscripts, but July turned her around to face her.
July’s smile was scary. “I don’t think so. Writers need to go to.”
A triumphant smile of July. “News flash, Jhing. You’re our writer, and an editor, too.”
Her thoughts about being a writer and an editor for being a win-win situation? Jhing is starting to regret it.
“Is that true? Mac-Mac is visiting our home and asks for me?” I asked Jamaica, my sister.
“Uh, hahahaha [Describe the laugh. Not just type hahaha.]-err—oo, ate [1* Ate] That's why you should come back here in the Philippines often. It seems like you're enjoying your life in England with aunt [Aunt] Bee… [*3 Add actions!] Almost 13 years have passed since we last met, [I was 4 and you were 9. I'm 17 now,]< Too much info for her dialogue>, ate [Ate] Henna.”
1* Capitalize a title/codename when directed called to a person. Ate. Bro. Papa. Aunt. The Emotional Guy.
2* Put action in between a chunk of dialogue for no one in a daily convo say long paragraphs continuously as if memorized.
“This is why I'm here now, right? I want to spend the time I have lost with you. ” I miss speaking Tagalog. It's been years since I've spoken our dialect ah! "Uy let's use the elevator, Mai!" I pulled her and entered the elevator.
[Character facts can make a dialogue realistic.
Henna should say “lift” (English term) instead of “elevator” (American).
Note: If necessary, use slang words (but not too much).
Dialogues should move story forward (avoid boring conversation), reveal character personality/backstory (important only!) and provide (not redundant / too obvious) information.]
We slept after watching movies. Mai-Mai wasn't lying, when we woke up, Mac-Mac came and visited us.
[Actually, the whole scene can be shortened for it didn’t move the plot forward. Can be deleted too.
Note: Don’t let characters sound the same. If someone curses damn it, let the other curse shit, bloody hell, or fuckshit. Or give good reason why they talk the same (ex: because they talk to each other too much every day that's why they share the same expressions.)]
I was shocked when I found out the reason why Mac-Mac kept visiting our home. It's not because he wanted to ask how I was doing. He just wanted to see Mai-Mai and bring him their son that was staying at his house. Welcome back to me, said the both of them and their son.
Wow. That was one hell of a turn of events.
As for Jhing’s turn of event in hell, it was the team building. Her apartment, even lonely, was much more comfortable than a crowded area, thank you very much.
And the last but not the least of her concerns was….
But there wasn’t any other choice, were they?
Jhing basically dragged herself to join the Caliraya escapade. The writers, together with the book department, were on the same bus. Other departments are on the other buses.
Fortunately for Jhing, she was sitting beside Fall.
Unfortunately, Fall and Miko have a close relationship so the latter sat on Fall's other side while Facio followed Miko to sit on his side. Just one turn of Jhing's head, she will surely see him. Even if she sets her eyes on the windows, she can still see his reflection.
“Wow, Hulog¹, you're blooming today.”
Very unfortunately for Jhing, she can clearly hear the voice of Miko despite the noise inside the bus.
“I'm not going to give you my Lays so leave me alone.”
“Awtsu.” Miko laughed as he reached for the junk food in Fall's bag. “How about the Ruffles then, come on!”
The journey to Laguna was a mix of Jhing trying to get some sleep with earphones and music on, the noise of authors and book team chitchats, and Miko, Fall, and Facio’s horrible trio of Gangnam Style.
Few hours after, the second they got out of the bus, Jhing almost shouted, “Amen!” and jump with joy. She wanted to jump in the water when Fall shouted at Miko saying that they still need to ride a boat to reach Caliraya premise.
“Help us here ah!!” Fall cursed when Miko playfully pulled her back the moment she stepped on the boat.
When Jhing saw Miko look at her, she didn't say anything as she quickly stepped on the boat and directly went inside. She ignored Fall’s questioning eyes.
At the assembly, Jhing was supposed to help in unloading the luggage at the Duplex, but she was with Fall and was forced to come and join the activities.
She hated it when people call her. Because they were in the middle of taking a group picture, all attention was focused on hers, including his.
“Come on, Smile,” said Fall, holding five phones. “Or else you'll be the one taking the picture!”
But Fall didn't let her so Jhing went back to her position and tried to smile too wide, exposing almost all her teeth as if she was scaring a baby or herself.
Then she heard Miko laugh.
Did he just laugh at her? What the.
After the nerve-wracking sky bicycle experience, Jhing enjoyed every place they went even though it was tiring and awkward. Playing earth ball - writers vs book team - made them laugh hard. Even the mini zip line and bungee jumping, they jumped a few times until it got boring.
The adults become kids for the day.
Until they decided to do wall climbing, Jhing went back to her normal state. Fall was trying to force her but this time, Jhing didn't give in. Her knees felt numb because of the sky bicycle.
Fall finally gave up after few minutes. She then climbed the wall with Facio. Failed to clasp a rock, she shouted, “I'm tired, Kuya²! Can you just please pull me up to the top!?”
Miko was the one who pulled the rope suspending Fall in the air. He fooled around so Fall kept shrieking at the top of her lungs. “Fuck you! Fuck you, Miko! Shet! Help!”
A few curses after an unsteady rope, Fall finally reached the top with the help of Miko. “Yes! I finished climbing even though I didn't do anything! But still, fuck you, Miko!”
A set of laughter.
On the other hand, Miko was breathing heavily as he sat near Jhing. The silence and their arm’s inch distance felt awkward, so in the end, she stood up and went to the corner with her legs wiggling.
Miko stood up and went after her.
What the heck.
“Let's go?” he asked with a smile. “Wall climbing.”
No strength to look at his eyes, Jhing turned away.
Ugh, that voice calling her name.
In a heartbeat, she said, “I can't do it.”
“No, I can't.” She was annoyed.
But Miko was persistent. “I told you, you can.”
Jhing heaved a sigh. She looked at the climbing area and winced when Fall crashed on the bed-like landing area, laughing hard.
“No,” she said with finality.
But Miko doesn’t know what finality tone meant. “Yes.”
“Why are you so stubborn?” Her eyes straight at his. Her voice increased but she was too focused on Miko, not giving a care to people around who looked at them.
“Because I know you can,” he said. “You just don't believe in yourself.”
She unintentionally held her breath. Jhing wanted to get away, but she was standing at the corner where Miko was towering over her.
“You don't know me.” Instead of his eyes, she stared at his eye bags, darker than the usual. “I know myself that I can't do it.”
Still with a smile. “You're just scared.”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh then do it yourself.”
“That's why I'm trying.” Miko nodded at the area again. The staff was removing the harness from Fall's body.
“I hope you can be with me, I'll take care of you.”
Well, that was something more beyond the lines.
Her voice was too quick for Jhing to stop herself from saying, “I don't want to.” Her head lowered to the floor. She wanted to push him because he, again, was too physically close, but Jhing was scared of touching him.
She was too fucking obvious. Too vulnerable. She hated it.
“What are you afraid of?” All smiles were gone. “In climbing? In falling? Scared of where the destination is?” Miko asked as her cheeks gradually heated.
“Someone will catch you.”
“Enough,” Jhing whispered.
Miko also lowered his voice. “You're not going to get hurt…”
That made her system stopped functioning.
Jhing wanted to run, go back to Manila, enter her apartment, sit in the corner and stay there forever. At least at that place, she knew she’ll be safe. Her emotions will be okay. Her mind won’t think too much.
For to be near him, wasn’t safe. At all.
“So, let's go?”
Miko reached his slender hand. Her hands started to itch. Like it had a mind of its own. Jhing stared as if holding it would make every pain she inflicted to herself go away.
But she knew a single touch can ruin the wall she’d been building from inside out. So instead of reaching him, she walked away. With every step, a piece crumbled, trying to break the overall shield she had. But she needed to get the pieces intact to lessen the pain.
To get everything as normal as possible.
She’ll manage. She had to.
And her legs are tired and numb too, she can't do wall climbing at this state.
Dinner time, the photographer kept taking their pictures. She had seen him since the wall climbing like a stalker which made Jhing felt nervous. After the night swimming, everyone went to their own Duplex where they stay. Jhing was surprised when she went out of the bathroom, Miko, Facio, and the other co-authors were sitting around together.
She didn’t ask why he was here.
But she wanted to be away from him.
Fall won’t let her, of course.
A few horror and creepy stories after, Facio asked Miko, “Did something scary ever happened to you?”
Jhing’s heart went crazy and got crazier when Miko answered, “I guess so.”
Everyone cheered for him to tell the story.
Miko cleared his throat. “We all gathered here in the presence of the Crux—” That earned a laugh before he continued. “I was chatting with someone in the past.”
That made Jhing's heart the craziest.
“We chat until late at night. She was cold. Her scarcasm hurts me but at the same time, it makes me laugh. She became the reason why I enjoyed working until early morning.”
One of them felt strange, “That's horror?”
Miko laughed. Jhing did not.
“This might sound crazy but I fell in love with her even though we just met online. I didn't even care about the three months rule because she became really important to me.”
Shit. Shit. Shiiit.
Jhing’s throat dried; her hands and feet getting cold and lips quivered. The breathing got harder and her heart thumped like a wild animal.
“Then we had a love quarrel.” A laugh. “I deleted the account I was using to chat with her. We talked on the phone. We met in real life!” His lopsided smile was a face of reminiscing. “Then we went back to chatting. I thought everything was going great….. Until….”
“It was actually a ghost?!” Fall said. “Goosebumps!”
The laugh from Miko’s lips burned Jhing’s heart inside. This was the emotion she didn’t want to feel. That's why she ran away, she didn't want to worsen the wound inside her.
“Bro,” Facio commented. “That sounds like a love life."
"Where's the horror?”
A single word made Jhing felt like her heart just exploded, and the bits poisoned her entirely. His smile was too much for Jhing to see and closing her eyes weren’t enough.
“It was so scary when…” Miko breathed, closed his eyes, and opened it to stare at Jhing. “…when she blocked me. She disappeared into thin air and I have no idea why.”
“She really is a ghost?!” Fall asked.
Jhing felt the pain when she bit her lower lip too hard, but the pain inside made the physical pain much bearable.
“So.. this is your love life?” When everyone understood what Miko was saying, most of them felt sorry for him. But Fall’s reaction was different. “Ah no surprise, FB-FB! Why did you start online? Are you dumb?”
“I know, I was wrong ah.” His eyes went from Fall to Jhing.
“Back to zero. I'm going to start our new begging in real life now.” He said it like an assurance to himself and for her.
Jhing was not able to sleep no matter how long she closed her eyes. Midnight, she went out of the Duplex and sat on the gutter as she stared at the lighted tree.
Every inch of her hurts. Body. Head. Heart.
“O, you're awake?”
Fall playfully pushed Jhing to scoot her down and sat beside her. Jhing smacked her but she still managed to laugh.
“A question,” said Fall. Jhing listened. “It's not that I love to gossip ah.” She does. “But it wasn't a dream, no? It was really that I saw you and Mik—”
Before Fall could continue, both of them couldn't help but turn their heads when they heard a thud. Miko sat awkwardly on the stairs with wide eyes. It seems like he tripped. “Sorry,” he whispered before walking upstairs.
“The guy looks worried,” Fall laughed. “Seems like he was looking for you.”
“Fall. . .” Jhing’s voice was soft. Unsure of what to say or even what to feel.
“Just tell me when you're ready to do so.”
That was the problem. The self-inflicted torture implied she won’t be ready for anything connected to him. She said she was ready for she already knows what to tell him once they meet because she was too sure he’ll be mad.
Jhing wasn’t ready for his smile.
Not now. Not tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next and the next.
She didn’t even know if she will ever be. . . now that he was too close in drilling a hole on her wall again with that freaking smile of his.