11/23 Chapter 22
Oh, yes!Let's end this today! Are you ready kids!?
“When one learned from mistakes, the inside will lift from drowning.”10
It was some sort of a guilty wish that Jhing wanted to be a protagonist of a drama in TV or movie. She was jealous because they seem like they don't have any responsibilities so they have lots of time for dramas, revenge, love-life, and emo.
Unfortunately, Jhing couldn’t do that.
She has bills to pay, attend to family needs, and to live her own life.
Good thing though, she didn't get any headaches from the manuscripts she was editing. So far, the stories were great. It only needed a bit of polishing.But the thing is, even though the manuscripts are turning better, her works are just getting increased.
When Miko's birthday came… Jhing could only send a text.Happy Birthday, Miko! :)
Jhing doesn't know which one hurts the most: the friend request that hasn't been accepted, the seen, or the cold reply.Thanks.
Anyway, because he already replied… she'll take the chance to add more lines.I heard you helped Tatay to choose a laptop for me? It's late but, thanks! I've been using it for these past few weeks. Thank you.
The excitement Jhing felt vanished when she read his reply.Welcome.
She ignored the pain.
But how can she ignore the pain when Halloween came?
Jhing was clad in a red hood to imitate red riding hood. July felt gloomy. It was the first time Jhing attended Halloween party, and there she was, looking as if she only grabbed a red curtain to cover herself. Ah, the effort.
The Baymax in their party reminded Jhing of Miko so instead of getting excited, she sat still while her office mates rushed to hug the mascot. He looked cute and round and ready to be hugged.
“Jhing!” Yayo called as she pointed toward the Baymax she was hugging. "It's Baymax! Don't you like him? Come on!"
She didn't move. She heard the other department's amazement from the person who wore the huge Baymax costume. In the end, Yayo pulled her closer and she didn't bother to argue.
Jhing stared at Baymax’s eyes while her heart pounded in her chest. Her mind started to work again—maybe… maybe the person inside the costume may be him but here she goes again… expecting something impossible.
“Hug him!” July insisted. “Maybe you'll feel better!”
She even pulled Baymax himself. “Come on, hug her!” she said to Baymax.
The person inside Baymax didn’t speak or even made a noise.
The others who wanted to hug Baymax gave them space. It opened its arms, wide enough for Jhing to fit in the embrace. Jhing clutched her hands before walking towards Baymax and embraced it—round, soft and warm.
She suddenly had the urge to cry.
She wanted to hug him tighter, depend on him, say sorry over and over again, but the hug she expected to last longer didn’t happen.
The person inside Baymax was the first one to let go before taking few steps back and went out of the function room.
The Baymax and the hug didn’t sit well for Jhing.
"Star V CineFilms have chosen their top three novella finalist. The winner will be chosen via trend voting on Twitter and will get the movie deal that will be released next year.”
Even though everyone became hyped as Miss Mary Zue announced the finalist— “You Had Me At Seenzoned by Jhing Blanco,” and her novella was one of them, Jhing couldn't make herself laugh or cry in happiness.
It's just the Finals. She is still one of the options.
But Jhing didn’t mind as she went out to look for the Baymax.
Unfortunately, he was long gone already.
She should have said no in the first place. Jhing should've just turned emo in her apartment alone or think about how to promote her Novella to win—instead of joining Anawangin escapade when November came.
Jhing accepted Fall’s offer to forget the problems at hand for a day or two—not knowing that Miko was there too.
The first time she saw him after a few months, the bags under his eyes were evident and the stubbles were still there. There’s familiarity but yet a stranger in his eyes.
Miko was smiling at everyone but her.
And so, the ride in the van was really awkward.
Jhing pretended to be asleep even though she wanted to join her co-authors' conversation. The two also couldn't make any eye contacts when they rode the boat. Jhing wanted to sit closer to Fall but her crazy friend is always sticking to Miko like a glue so Jhing didn't dare to take a step.
Even when they reached their site and fixed their tents, Miko and Jhing's pair of eyes never met.
Oh, fuck this.
When lunch came, they prepared all their cooking utensils. Miko was with Fall, discussing what to eat for lunch. It was at that moment when Jhing saw Fall glanced at her direction and smile. That smile made her nervous. Miko also turned his head but his sight didn't stay even for a second before hitting Fall on her head.
Fall was laughing when she called Jhing. “Come here!”
Jhing’s heart wanted to explode. Miko stopped Fall but the woman was so pushy, she pushed Miko and walked towards Jhing.
Before Jhing could complain, Fall shouted, “JHING AND MIKO TOLD ME THAT THEY'RE GOING TO COOK OUR LUNCH!”
Everybody shouted their “Yehey!” except for Miko and Jhing. Both of them looked pale as if they heard a horrible news.
Fall practically dragged Jhing near the kitchen where Miko was. She even pushed Jhing which made her stumble and hit the table.
Fall clicked her tongue as she helps Jhing pick up the utensils that fell. “Don't fall for the table, Jhing."
Jhing glared at Fall and mentally talked to her, shut up, Fall but the rolling of eyes did the trick. It was a good thing Fall left her, but the bad thing is—she was with Miko. Not alone, no, but it felt like everyone else disappeared as her system panicked.
"W-what are we cooking?” she asked. And by looking at the ingredients, she mentally facepalmed herself—common sense, Jhing: barbecue. “Nevermind.”
Jhing started piercing the wooden stick through the meat and some vegetables while Miko was starting the fire on the grill. When he was done, he helped Jhing without a word.
Maybe it was the lack of concentration or the pure stupidity that her finger bled. Jhing accidentally pricked her finger from the wooden stick's sharp end. She started sucking on the blood before glancing at Miko who suddenly walked away. Jhing tensed muscles gradually relaxed. She wanted to go home already if he won’t talk to her again.
And he wasn’t talking to her.
After washing her bleeding finger… Jhing's eyes widened when Miko appeared behind her like a ghost. Before she could react, the man gave her a band-aid before going back to check the grill.
She stared for a long time without her knowing. When Jhing snapped out of her daze, she finally noticed that her finger started bleeding once again so she opened the band-aid and stuck it on her wound.
When they started eating, Fall noticed the band-aid and the blood stain. “What happened?”
Fall nodded. “Oh, it's good you got a band-aid,” and smiled.
Jhing felt Miko who was sitting at the other end of the table looked at her, but when she turned her head, he was only looking at his own food.
They took a lot of group shots before spending their day at the sea. Because a lot of them join the escapade, a chaos started—fun chaos, of course. Jhing had enjoyed it, especially when Miko almost drowned because the others treated him like a lifebuoy. Miko was good at swimming but if so many people started putting their weight on his body… of course, he—they will start sinking. On the other hand, Jhing stayed near the shore, enjoying the view of nature.
Everyone only stopped swimming when the rain started pouring.
“Who suggested Anawangin in November?!” Fall asked for everyone.
“You,” Miko answered. “You're really a fall-lure.”
“Ah, was it me? I wasn't aware.”
Some of their bags got wet while most of their stuff was saved by their tent. Unfortunately, they failed to save the supposed to be a bonfire. Because they were wet in the first place from the sea, everyone started taking pictures and enjoyed the pouring rain. They also tried to remove the sand sticking to their clothes and body.
When the rain stopped, they ignored the coldness of the night and played instead.
“Let's play a game—a scandalous game where I can flirt!” Fall suggested that everyone laughed about.
Sadly, some of them rejected the drinking session. Their playing cards also got wet. In the end, while the others were drinking and singing, Jhing's group started playing Nanay-Tatay¹. The group looked silly and childish.
But who would have thought it was hard to play Nanay-Tatay?
“CHEATER!” Fall shouted because she already lost in the third round of clapping. “You're all laughing! It's making me laugh too and lose my concentration ah!”
But no one gave her attention because they started their childish game once again.
They clapped and counted and laughed until the person next to Jhing got distracted at clapping for the 34th time. The other author was out. Three players were remaining, and Jhing looked at her side to see Miko who was still in the game.
As the counting and clapping continued, Jhing felt bolts of electricity everytime her hand and Miko’s touched during the game. Her nerves tingled but Miko was the one who got distracted.
If he did this on purpose in order to lose, then that goes for the both of them.
Instead of the winner, Fall was the one who suggested what Jhing should do: massage Miko’s hand.
Jhing quickly rejected that though but her group forced her to do it. Her eyes avoided Miko's and stared at his palm. The moment she touched his hand and massaged it with care, her heart jumped out of her chest.
Jhing popped his knuckles, bent his wrists backward and forwards, turned it from side-to-side, and pushed her thumb on his palm.
After she finished massaging his hands, she was taken aback when she realized Miko was staring at her.
“Your turn, Miko,” Fall started. “Truth or dare.”
Miko said, “Dare.”
Jhing wanted to shout at him to choose truth but who was she to tell him what to do when even she herself would avoid choosing truth.
“Jhing, he chose dare. What do you want Miko to do?”
It was a spur of the moment when their eyes met and she blurted “Tell me the truth—are you mad at me?"
Her question made everyone, even Miko, held their breaths.
Miko quickly answered "No" which made her confused.
“No? But why—”
Miko smiled. “I already did my dare.”
It felt like freezing cold water was poured over her body when she heard his words so Jhing went silent while the rest of the players who lost was asked for dares and truths. Because Fall was the first one who lost the game, her punishment was the most difficult one. Everyone gave her a dare which she obliged.
Then Facio asked, “One event that changed you in a bad way.”
Fall’s story started with a laugh and a few jokes until her voice croaked and her eyes gleamed. “I learned not to ask. I don't want to ask anyone's story anymore because the last time I did for a person who was depressed, all my friends thought I was being goody-two-shoes. They told me that I love to poke into other peoples' business—that I only asked because I love gossip and I needed the inside scoop."
“What the,” an author commented.
Fall was all smile but the tears that fell were saying otherwise. “It's okay. We made up already. Past is past… but that experience scarred me. I only wanted to help but my friends, who I thought was close to my heart, thought of me as nosy.”
She blew her nose on her shirt before laughing, “So yeah. I stopped caring about other people. About everything. I tried to return to who I was before—someone who's like an advice corner, but—I don't know. I also got scared of making friends because of all the drama I experienced. It may seem small to others but to me, it was a huge impact that changed my life."
Jhing wanted to hug Fall. She never knew that. They often talk but she never realized that her friend went through something terrible.
It was amazing that Fall moved on from crying as if nothing happened a few minutes later.
After showering, drying, and eating their meals, Fall invited Jhing for a chat near the shore.
They both got scared on crossing the wooden bridge but it was worth it. The view on the other side made them gasped in amazement. Fall and Jhing stayed there with silence as they listen to the crashing of waves.
After a while, they started talking about random topics. Jhing noticed that Fall didn't mention Miko—maybe to lessen the tension.
After a few topics, Jhing suddenly asked, “How did you do it?"
“Ha? Do what?”
“Cry in front of other people?”
Fall smirked. “Staying true and honest. I couldn't stop it ah. It fell before I knew it.”
The two of them both stared at the horizon. It was such a beauty to see the sky and sea blended like they were a part of each other.
“I'm amazed,” Jhing commented silently.
Fall got surprised by her words. “You can do it too ah,” her friend said. “You know, it's just like writing on Wattpad. Even though you feel like it's a trash, you will show your first draft—your weakest form— to other people. You will ask for their opinions and comments so you can improve—so you can find out if your trash is actually a beautiful art."
"I don't think that's it."
“It's the same.” Fall laughed. “The difference is, in our stories, we choose our characters to explain ourselves.”
Jhing looked at the starless night sky. She sighed and laughed. “But it's so difficult to explain myself," she admitted. “Are they going to believe me? They’ll still judge everything, even my emotions.”
She crouched and started playing with the sand. "I prefer to be judged when they don't know anything about me, instead of getting judged even though I've already explained myself. It's a waste of emotion.”
“Is it because of a waste of emotion or because it hurts?”
Wow. The right question punched her in the gut.
“Both.” She sighed.
Jhing stood up and grabbed a branch to use as a pen to draw. "Maybe that's why I seem like a bitch because the others think of me as a bitch. Might as well hug that perception of others. It's better than trying to prove myself but get rejected in the end. It's exhausting.”
“That's why you don't want to cry in front of others?” Fall asked while looking at her.
“Revealing myself scares me,” she finally admitted to herself.
“You're not really a bitch. You're just cold." Fall laughed and Jhing rolled her eyes. “Let them see what they see. Unfortunately, they can't see what we can see on you."
“What can you see on me anyway?”
Fall sat up and brushed the sand on her. “You want the truth?”
She wasn’t ready for the truth but when will she?
So she nodded.
“Miko see you as his happiness.”
“Oh please—you see him as your happiness too.”
The words from Fall’s lips made Jhing stopped from what she was doing. They both stared at each other before Fall smiled.
“I don't really understand what's happening because I only heard Miko's rants, but Jhing," Fall walked closer to Jhing. “It's tiring when people judge you but remember—those who care about you won’t judge you. We won’t. We're friends and we won't even care if you fuck in front of us. So, girl, if not now—when?"
Fall shook her head. “Everyone has scars—it may not be as deep or painful as others but of course, real talk, even Ironman can get rusty!
Jhing wanted to bawl her eyes out but Fall’s goofy face as she spoke with seriousness in her tone made her smile.
“This might be contradicting because I told you last time that I don't like giving advice and caring about people, but I am trying to change myself little by little. I'm healing my own wounds, I hope you two can do it too… or else I'll bang your heads against each other!"
All Jhing could do was to nod and bid her thanks as they went back to their camping site while Fall continues to rant about life in general.
Jhing didn’t want to prolong the agony but then again, she wasn’t a protagonist in some drama. The Anawangin escapade ended with her still not talking to Miko.
It's so easy to say but very hard to put into actions.
So for the first time, she planned her action before talking to Miko.
Days and weeks passed before she went to Coffee ArtStudio without anyone’s notice. To her dismay, the staff told her their boss wasn’t there. Even though she didn't want to ask for help, Jhing texted Fall if she could ask where Miko was and got a reply immediately.
He's in KapeLibro, negotiation with their boss.
My little bro is getting business minded! Haha!
All Jhing could do was smile at the text and got nervous as she journeyed to KapeLibro. When she reached the place, she took a peek first and saw Miko talking to some guy inside. Jhing decided to sit on the bench outside to wait.
She's getting anxious.
She kept glancing from here to there. Her brain also kept filling with thoughts of should I just go home? And why the hell am I here in the first place? Of course, the words what if I fail? Kept repeating on her head as if it was in reply.
Jhing wants to blame Fall… but blame her for what? That she told her where Miko is? But she was the one who asked! This is making her insane.
She got dizzy from panicking so much. She stared at the cars passing by while the sky was getting darker by the minute. Jhing wanted to cry but she remained calm on the outside.
After doing countless of breathing exercises, she heard the door from behind her opened and closed. She heard silence before faint footsteps gradually went closer to her.
It was Miko.
Jhing closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She unconsciously tensed as her body sat straight up on the bench. Her heartbeat got faster than she could imagine— and stopped… when Miko sat beside her.
She felt like fainting.
Miko and Jhing were quiet.
Jhing felt the awkwardness but as the night grew dimmer and her heart got calmer, the atmosphere did too. If someone might look at them across the street, the scene looked picturesque. The window of the KapeLibro at their back and the books and people and the café inside in view served as their background while the Christmas lights gave a happy aura around them.
Jhing knew Miko won’t talk, so she started it—without making eye contact.
“It's so difficult to be happy." She clutched her hands in her lap, her voice shaking. “It's scary because I know that in the end, they will take it from me."
Her heart felt like it was being chased by a demon as she took a deep breath. "I'm scared of experiencing what Nanay has experienced. Oh sure… they love each other but—to the point that they hurt each other? Then Nanay will cry so hard that it almost kills her?"
The wind blew. The cars honked. People went in and out of the KapeLibro. Jhing’s hands got colder as she spoke the words without thinking. "I became happy when I met you—maybe that's the reason why my problem with Tatay got worse. When I blocked you, I thought everything will be okay… because I gave my happiness up ah."
"All I have to do is move on while you—you will hate me… supposed to hate me. It was better if you ignored and forget about me."
Jhing bit her lip and gasped for air. “But then you appeared in front of me, smiling as if nothing happened? As if I didn't hurt you? Why…"
The tears burst before Jhing could stop it. She also couldn't stop the words from coming out of her lips.
“You’re too good for me.” It was a good thing Jhing brought a handkerchief. “You're so kind and sweet despite being pushed away for countless of times because of… of what? Because I was scared? Because I don't want you to get involved with my problems? Because of my insecurities and my beliefs that doesn't really make any sense?"
"I was fighting my own demons—a never-ending battle.”
Jhing covered her whole face using her handkerchief. "And I think of love as a deep feeling—simple petty and half-hearted feelings will never be enough.”
She forced herself to calm down but her croaked and velvety voice betrayed her. “And then all this comfortability, frustrations, happiness—they will end up with nothing a few years after. That's why I'm scared of getting used to your presence… I'll end up ruined if you left. And this all started on the internet…?"
"I never signed up for this.”
Jhing laughed while wiping her tears away. "And here I am, sitting here like an idiot while telling you all this for who knows why."
"But please," Jhing finally looked at Miko was still staring forward. "You should probably just tell me that you don't want this anymore—that you're tired and we have to end this so I can move on like what I’ve always planned,” she begged, her tears falling but she didn’t mind.
For the first time at that night, Miko looked at her with eyes that shimmered.
“Are you done?”
Jhing didn’t respond.
Her heart broke into pieces when Miko stood up and went back to the café as if she never talked about her bottled feelings.
Jhing breathed heavily. It felt like the oxygen wasn’t enough for her that night. She stayed still as she became a sobbing mess in a public place. She wanted to go home but her whole being lost its strength.
She didn’t know if revealing herself lifted her feelings—or if Miko’s respond sank her heart so deep without knowing if she could resurface.
"Drink first," a voice that saved her from drowning said.
Jhing lifted her head and saw Miko who was already sitting beside her on the bench. He was holding a cup of coffee which he offered to Jhing.
"On the house."
Jhing closed her eyes as the scene sank into her scattered brain. She suddenly felt embarrassed for all the words and tears she couldn't take back any longer. The coffee was tempting her to pour it over her head, but telling the truth made her lose all her strength.
Then Miko started to talk.
Jhing’s heart flipped.
"Your Tatay and I had a talk," Miko continued. "He told me that he was wrong… that he wanted to regain what he lost—especially from you. He want to change.”
"That's when I felt embarrassed. I thought Bee was the reason why you blocked me—something so small destroyed us. We talked about it, right? I thought you couldn't move on from her… and I was wrong. You have your family—you have a huge problem on your shoulders… ah, I really felt bad."
Jhing’s tears fell on the coffee. But as she drank the coffee, all she could taste was the sweetness - not the bitter tears.
Miko sighed. “Fuck, it hurts, you know? I wanted an answer but at the same time, I didn't want to know because it was my mistake for starting our story online." He laughed. "I also didn't think properly that I would hurt you if I continued forcing us. I pitied myself and acted as if you were the villain."
"I never thought that you didn't want to tell me the truth because you wanted to enter my life as yourself and whole—that you're also doing it for me because you didn't want to hurt me."
He leaned his back before taking a deep breath. "What's funny is—everything started with a simple chat." Miko looked at Jhing with glistening eyes. "But this thing that started on chat… this you had me at seenzoned,” he smiled.
Jhing choked. She couldn’t meet Miko's eyes.
So he knew the title of the novella… their novella.
“It taught me how to think first before acting. I got hurt, I got pissed… I got tired—but I couldn't get mad because when I left you before to become a superhero for Bee… you didn't get mad at me."
Miko laughed as his voice broke, “You even told me I was kind. Haha, are you insane?”
Jhing let out a smile while her tears continue to fall. She remembered that night when she cried herself to sleep asking if she had done the right thing. To let him go—not knowing if there will be another chance for them.
And the universe gave them a lot of trials and chances.
Though they still didn't end up together even now.
“I really admire you," Miko said and smiled while looking at her.
Their eyes met. Jhing’s face was tainted with tears while the tears were forming in Miko’s eyes.
“You don't need others to save you."
The tears from his eyes fell.
“I became a coward. I couldn't talk to you for this past month, and I don't understand why. I felt dumb for thinking I can become a Superman or Batman or Prince Charming and save you from whatever your problem is."
Jhing set the coffee mug on her side before shaking her head. "I don't need a Superhero," she said. "What I need is you staying by my side and turn into a Baymax for me to hug—even though you're a shit. It hurts when you left me on seen!"
They both laughed at Jhing’s joke.
“Baymax,” Miko muttered as he smiled. “Sorry I ignored you ah. My courage disappeared into smoke. I also think that you're too good for me but fuck, we're both not a perfect person anyway."
“I'm sorry too. And thank you.” When Jhing saw Miko's confusion, she continued "Because you didn't tell me to move on… it'll be really difficult, you know?"
The tears that were dropping from Miko's eyes one by one turned into a river. He kept on wiping his tears, but his stupid tears were as stubborn as the two of them.
Miko laughed stupidly out of nowhere.
“What?” Jhing asked.
“We both realized a lot of things,” he snorted. “It suddenly felt heavy.”
She shook her head and bit her lip. “And lighter at the same time.”
Miko thought for a moment before finally holding Jhing’s hand. He started drawing circles on her skin using his fingers. After a while, he pressed her hand to his cheek and felt the warmth only her hold can give him.
Jhing couldn’t smile even if her inside felt… secured, because she felt light-headed.
Miko continued to caress her hand with his thumb before clearing his throat.
“I'll tell your fortune,” he said.
Jhing raised her brows as her heart starts to calm down.
“You will meet a man…”
Those words made Jhing smile already.
“Handsome,” Miko added which made her roll her eyes. “He'll be stubborn as a mule to make you fall for him. Even though you're cold and ill-tempered, he will persist because he's understanding."
“What the—” Jhing wanted to pull her hand off Miko but she couldn't help but laugh when Miko tightened his hold.
"But that's what he thought. He actually doesn't understand the whole you, and because of cowardice and shamelessness—even though he's really handsome—he can still make mistakes. Nobody is perfect, right?”
Jhing rolled her eyes as Miko spoke. “But when he saw you outside KapeLibro, all his tantrums and cowardice disappeared in a blink. He felt embarrassed for his childishness but don't worry, you two will make up in the end."
Jhing turned her hand to hold Miko's hand this time. She caressed his hand like a fortuneteller just like what he did to hers.
“There's a woman who's cold and ill-tempered that will make your life difficult because she's fussy," Jhing said.
When Miko laughed, she glared at him so he pursed his lips. “As time goes on, you two will become closer… until one day, you turned into a fucking shit! but it's okay— you're both shits anyway so she'll just block you.
"Despite that, you will persist and enter her life to start over again. And you know what?”
“I can see in your future—the two of you will succeed the trials, but…”
Miko frowned when she paused. “But? But what?”
“That woman…” Jhing breathed, trying to calm herself and just go with the flow without thinking too much. “She will start taking responsibility."
Miko arched a brow. “For what now?”
She heaved a sigh before massaging Miko's hand and whispering, “Your feelings to each other.”
Miko suddenly laughed but his tears continued flowing. He held Jhing’s hand and intertwined it with his. “Now? Was this planned?"
"November 23?" He said while smirking, “Do you have an idea who that woman is? I feel like I know her. Are we both thinking about the same person?"
She shrugged. It was cringey but she was forcing herself not to smile. “Who knows?”
“Is it Jhing?” he asked as he couldn’t stop himself from smiling.
Both of them looked pathetic with their puffy eyes, red nose, and blushed cheeks in this evening. And Gods, they were outside—crying at a public palce with goofy smiles! In front of KapeLibro, they let the passer bys see them at their raw, weakest and truest form.
Like some lovesick fools.
But who the hell cares, anyway?
Jhing squeezed Miko’s hand as Miko gripped hers tighter.
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