11/23 Chapter 5
Good luck, Jhing. You need it.
“That awkward moment when you’re the only one who feels awkward.”
Out of all the words the can describe Jhing, she prefers to accept 'prude' instead of 'assuming.' She's the type to go with the flow even though she has a lot of things she wants to do and a lot of goals to reach. After all, Jhing doesn't like expectations.
Assuming hurts, and hurting was what she wanted to avoid.
Not that she’ll be hurt by him, right?
But it doesn’t make any sense! That Miko? Working in the same publishing company for her sake? God, no. It's just a coincidence.
Yup. A mere coincidence.
However, when her right foot stepped into the 7th-floor lobby, Jhing almost ran back to the elevator again when she heard that familiar voice.
She doesn't need to turn her head to find out who owns that voice… Miko. He's sitting on the red sofa, right ankle on top of his left knee which he's swinging leisurely.
When she sets her eyes at Miko…. Two words came into her mind.
Jhing saw his crooked smile.
No…. He definitely wasn't waiting for her. Miko just really loves to hang around this place. Yup.
Before something happens, whatever it is, Jhing tightened her hold on her ID lace and walked straight to the office. She tapped her ID to clock in while not minding Miko, or any other eyes, that watched her with a weird look.
Monday morning. Because Miko greeted her at the pantry last Friday as if they were comrades since birth, no matter how Jhing explained 'I think I remember him. We bumped into each other last time. Yeah. That's all it is,' most of them didn't believe her.
She felt paranoid, but Jhing didn’t show it on her face. But the smile she saw from Miss Mary Zue when their path crossed? Jhing's struggled to convince herself that it was just a normal smile and not an ‘I know your secret’ smile.
Not that she has a secret, okay?
For a few minutes, Jhing was in a daze staring at her computer screen. She’s contemplating whether what’s happening to her was real or just her imagination. Maybe it really was just a hangover for writing that novella all night….?
Hangover? One week has already passed ah!
But again, her thoughts of bubbles burst when she heard Miko’s voice getting near from the lobby. As if it was her cue, Jhing quickly ducked her head thinking she could hide in her cubicle.
Jhing was like a child who covered her face with a thought of 'If I can't see you then you can't see me either.'
She focused on her emails. She was so focused that she cannot hear the voices of Miss Zue, Miko, and Facio talking about illustration related works.
Jhing stared at her emails.
She just… stared.
As if they were in a staring contest…
The first one to blink loses!
'Ah shit,' she felt stupid.
Jhing's not sure if she was too sensitive to Miko's voice and to the people who were laughing at his jokes, or their voices are really just loud that's why it keeps reaching her ears.
In the end, she decided to put her earphones in. She played her playlist to the max volume which banged her eardrums to deafness.
Music was better than to hear his voice.
That's why even if her ears bled, Jhing felt relaxed as she listened to her music. She could finally start editing the new manuscript without any distractions.
For about 30 pages or so; so far, so good.
Not until the song became mellow, and she heard a voice call her name.
And because she’s the paranoid girl she was, Jhing's heartbeat went faster. She almost dropped her phone from her fingers that were changing the music to a rock song when someone poked her.
July got her attention. She told her that the publisher has an announcement so she removed her earphones and turned to Miss Zue.
Which was not really a good idea for her.
Jhing sat on the right side cubicles that's why she needed to turn her head to the left…. Where she met Miko's eyes, who was sitting in his new cubicle, looking at her.
Thankfully, they weren't directly across from each other. He’s a few cubicles away, at the corner near the hallway…. which was, unfortunately, the path they take to walk out of the office.
That’s where July pointed. Miss Zue was standing beside Miko's cubicle.
Before Jhing could see Miko’s smile again, 'and shit, he keeps on smiling!' Jhing quickly sets her eyes on Miss Zue.
“We talked about that story…. Uh, that has a very long title. Jhing, you're the one who edits it, right?”
Jhing's hand went cold because everyone in the book department is now looking at her, including that man. She doesn't like the feeling of pairs of eyes focusing on her so she just nodded.
“We can't do anything anymore. The author already signed and got paid." You can clearly see the disappointment on Miss Zue's face as she sighed. “Let’s just edit it as much as we can to make it book worthy.”
July raised her hand. “Ma’am, what about the illogical scenes?”
Jhing stopped herself from looking to and fro towards July and Miss Zue because her vision will swim by Miko's figure. She decided to just stare at an empty space beside Miss Zue as if it was the most interesting thing to look at……..
The trash can.
“What illogical scenes?”
“For example, Jhing sent a complaint about it Jhing last time.” July looked at Jhing and continued. “The male lead is a gangster. Whenever he fights, he wears an eyeliner. The female protagonist is not able to recognize who he is with that look so the big plot twist of the story is that the gangster is actually her childhood savior."
A lot of them couldn't help but laugh when they heard her words, even the people from the other department chimes. As for Jhing, she was regretting that she was the one who received that book project. Look, all her attention is focused on her now.
And she doesn’t want to know if that Miko’s looking at her, too.
“The male lead only wore an eyeliner, and she already can't recognize him?"
“Maybe it was outlined like a panda,” an editor said, laughing. “Don’t judge.”
“Or maybe he drew his eyelids a pair of huge eyes? Have you ever seen one of those makeup tutorials?" one of them said even gesturing his finger on his eyelids as if he was drawing something. "Anime eyes!"
“What?” another one added. “He's a gangster wearing anime eyes makeup?”
Jhing's heart almost jumped out of her chest when she heard Miko's voice.
The trash can became even more interesting for her.
“That's so kawaii ah,” he said with hints of laughter.
The people who heard his words almost got teary-eyed from laughing too much.
On the other hand, Jhing is…
'Shit, this trash can is so interesting.'
Miss Zue was massaging her forehead. She doesn't know whether to cry or laugh but her head is definitely aching.
“Let’s edit, or re-write it to lessen the damage to our name and of course, for the author's sake,” Miss Zue said. “But if we can’t push her to fix her story’s problem… what will happen, will happen. Let’s just think this will be over after a few months, and we’ll be more careful with the stories we’re going to get after.”
“No more gangsters?” July asked.
“No more gangsters with makeup,” Miss Zue said with finality. “No matter how many the readers are.”
“Thank you!” July screamed which made them laugh once again.
When Jhing was still not an editor for this company, she didn’t know a lot of things. She thought before that the publisher only like the money. Yes, that's still true, this is a business after all; but she noticed the company still care for the books, the stories, and the authors.
Most of the problem lies with the author. She didn’t budge when they asked her to fix the gangster problem who is wearing an eyeliner, and the idea that the girl can't figure out his identity.
She simply replied, ‘Is what the readers liked about my story…. If i change it then doesn't that mean i’m not respecting their likes???? They said that it's the biggest plot twist ehhhh….. as is, okay????? Thankie!! ^__^v'
Respect her ass.
And Jhing… really…. really… want…. to edit… the author’s reply!
If only she could rewrite the whole story to make it logical, everyone would be happy.
Silenced overtook the office once again, a few chatters, but everyone turned serious. Jhing was actually surprised that Miko was busy too. There are times that Facio, his co-illustrator who is sitting beside him, asks him questions but most of the time, Miko's focused.
Focused on working?
Uh… Not so sure especially when Jhing saw his screen.
It was an accident.
She went to the washroom. When Jhing accidentally swept her eyes towards Miko's cubicle because of his laughter…… she saw the man scrolling at 9gag website.
It was not on purpose!
A few hours after, it was already dark outside. Everyone's already tired at this point, and a few of them are panicking because of the deadlines.
Jhing was idling because she doesn't want to go home yet. She has nothing to do at home anyway and… she likewise doesn't want to face her novella manuscript for a moment.
Especially when that Mikong is sitting a few cubicles away from her.
This is seriously the reality.
Jhing was playing Candy Crush on Facebook when an email popped up.
And her heart wanted to pop out the second she saw it.
An email from MJ Crux.
Jhing looked at Miko with hesitation but he was not looking at her way. His head was lowered so she couldn't see his expression. She looked back at her screen and Jhing became even more nervous because the subject was simply:Riona Jayne Blanco, Hi!
And the most annoying part?
The message.Hi. :)
Her eyes turned dangerous.
Jhing doesn't want any expectations but…. Fuck.
That man really has nothing to do.
She ignored the email.
Jhing was replying to other emails from the authors when she felt a presence. She was wondering if that person is going to walk away or not but after a few seconds, that person was still standing behind her.
She spun her computer chair around before hearing an 'Oomph!' coming from that person. Jhing felt sorry…. not until she saw that the person she hit was actually Miko.
She just looked at him, lips twitching, as Miko held his stomach as if he was in a great pain.
“E-Email," he grunted.
She did not say anything.
What does this guy want? Reply to his 'Hi'? With what? Was it his intention to make this workplace his playroom or something? What the hell does this guy actually want to do with her?
“Hey, Miko.” Miss Vams walked closer to their direction. She frowned when she saw the man clutching his stomach, “What happened to you?”
Jhing did not even flinch. On one side, Miko just shook his head and even tried to smile… Tried to… because what formed his lips was a grimace.
“Anyway, Jhing? Did you send it to Miko?”
Jhing was confused. “Po?”
“Manuscript?” Jhing turned to the manuscript that she was editing earlier. Why would she give it to Miko? Is he also an Editor? “Do I need to—”
“Yes. He'll be the one illustrating it.”
Jhing nodded at her words, still quite unsure.
During the months she has been in the company, Jhing knows that the cover will be required early… but not this early. She's still in the initial editing so why are they asking for the manuscript already?
“Okay po, I'll send him an email." Jhing looks at Miko. She still gets anxious from his eyes, but it's a bit better than before.
She even wanted to laugh because that man is still holding his stomach.
“That's good, we can finish your novella early.”
“Your novella,” Miss Vams said. “The manuscript?”
“What do you—”
“Miko, did you not ask for her novella? You need to read it so you can get the gist of what to illustrate.”
… Jhing's heart exploded.
“I did, ah, but she didn't reply to my email so I just spoke to her directly."
Jhing’s eyes widened. So that was the purpose of that weird ‘Hi’?! She wanted to complain: Why did you only put a ‘Hi’ on your message then!? You should’ve told me directly!!!!!!
But… but… the novella? Miko will read… the novella…. she wrote?
“Ha?” She screamed in disbelief which made the two who was standing in front of her shock.
Jhing's neck started aching from looking up at the both of them, but that was the least of her worries for now. Her novella? To be read by….him?!
If Miko was offended, he did not show it.
“It's me ah,” he said with a smile. “Unfortunately?”
Jhing wants to run and hide in a cave or something. “Miss Vams, why not Facio—”
“Facio has a lot of work to do. He and Miko split the work amongst them—”
“I can't—” Vams looks at her in confusion while Jhing's heart was pounding and it’s not helping her a lot. “I mean, it's not—I'm not yet done,” Jhing said.
She looks at Miko and saw the man staring at her…. His smile was slowly but surely starting to bloom… Jhing looked away.
“I still need to fix the ending. You told me to change it, right?”
Miss Vam’s face brightened which is a horror for Jhing. “You mean, they will get a happy ending? They will end up togeth—”
Jhing cut Miss Vams when she stood up and almost shouted, “Ah!” which made a few heads turn to her direction.
Jhing even wanted to faint because she also saw Miko smiling at her, his hands are leisurely inside his pocket.
Vams, on the other hand, felt strange from her reaction.
“I-I'm not sure,” Jhing said.
She abruptly sat back down and quickly saved what she needed to save before shutting the computer down. Jhing hurriedly grabbed her bag. She was in a panic as if a bear was chasing her so she almost hit the jar that was filled with pens on her table.
"I'm going home.” Jhing looks at her phone as if she was busy.
She ignored him and walked away. Jhing' two feet didn't even pause for a bit as she shouted towards Miss Vams, "Don't read it! Bye!"
She ran to the elevator, repeatedly pushing the down button while her head was spinning and her heart was pounding. 'Pathetic, Jhing. Pathetic.'
When the door opened, she quickly entered and pushed the close button.
Jhing doesn't want Miko to be with her on the elevator. Alone.
She almost broke the button when she heard the voice of Miko shouting, "Elevator!"
But when the man reached the elevator, he did not try to open the door. He simply stood in front of Jhing, giving her a smile as the elevator door closed between the two of them.
The second Miko disappeared from her vision, Jhing leaned on the wall with closed eyes.
Oh boy, what the hell should she do?