Do you still remember when we first met?
I can clearly remember the smile that you had that day. It was very early in the morning, I don’t think I was able to sleep at all the night before. It was a special day because we would be going on a trip and because it was the first time I would be seeing you. I never really knew you, but I already heard a lot about you. Everyone only had praises to say about you. I heard everything they had to say and because of it, I looked forward to finally meeting you. I guess they weren’t wrong. Every good thing they had to say was true.
I don’t know if you can still remember it; the first time you met me.
Everyday went by with your existence around. And I don’t know why but it made me happy. I looked forward to it day by day. I missed you when you weren’t around. I missed you a lot. I know I never told you that, I couldn’t admit such a thing, of course. Yes, I missed everyone, my friends, but the way I missed you seemed different. Like there was a hollow space in my chest that no matter what I do, the normal things which could have made me happy back then, they never worked. And I only regained the feeling of happiness once I saw you again. It was weird. I tried to ignore it for months. But I guess there came a day when I couldn’t ignore it anymore. And one day, I don’t know why, it felt like I wasn’t myself around you anymore. I tried to distance myself from you, thinking that the feeling would just go away on its own once I get used to not having you around. It didn’t work. I just missed you even more, but not the way I miss my friends when they’re gone, or the way I miss my pet at home when I’m away, or the way I miss my parents when they’re on a trip. I miss you perhaps the way I would if my lungs would be taken away from me, I couldn’t breathe, I’d probably die. I know you won’t believe me, but it’s true. I never lie, you see. I’ve always been an honest person, I was born that way, I was raised that way. Yes, even with the jokes I tell, you might think I’m only pulling your leg, but I’m not. Perhaps you just haven’t seen through me yet, or have you already? I don’t know. It’s something I could never have the courage to ask. Because I’m afraid of what you’ll say, that’s why I’m writing this letter now. These are the things I’d never have the courage to tell you in person. Anyway, I don’t think I’d be able to see you again, ever. So it might be safe to tell you everything now. Oh, I’m deviating from my story, I shall go back to what I’m narrating.
So, you see, it was everything back then. Eventually though, destiny took us away from each other. I kept in touch, I stayed by your side as your friend. And you did the same. I was thankful for it. I still felt I could tell you everything I couldn’t easily tell other people, my thoughts, my dreams, my life, my emotions. Of course, by saying my emotions, I mean everything except emotions concerning you. Every single random and non-sense thing made me happy, and it was the most I could do from losing my sanity for missing you a lot. Days passed by and we lived each our life away from each other, but there never came I day that you weren’t in my mind, and in my heart.
And to make the long story short; you see, I’m in love with you. I fell in love with you on the first day that you were able to put a smile on my lips.
Last Monday, she received a very important phone call. At last, she would be seeing him again. He invited her to a special event. She spent the whole week preparing for it, no, not in the way that you will find clothes scattered on the floor, she’s not concerned about what she would wear for that day. You can see it by the crumpled papers scattered around, overflowing from the trash bin she had beside her night table. She’d been writing this letter for a week now. Tomorrow would be the big day.
Perhaps it was her fault. Perhaps it was destiny’s choice. No matter which of it is true, there’s nothing much that could be done now.
After what seemed like a sleepless night, sunrise finally came. It was the day she’s been waiting for, or been dreading for.
The phone rang even before her alarm clock went off.
“Hello?” she answered the phone in a weary voice which could have been mistaken as a voice of someone who just woke up, though clearly, she barely had any sleep.
“Hello! It’s me! Today is the big day, I don’t want you missing it!” A cheery voice greeted her from the other end. His sweet voice she could still remember from the past, reminding her of that day’s important happening.
“Are you crazy, of course I won’t miss it for the world. Will be there in an hour. Bye, see you!” She tried to imitate his own level of cheery energy. Perhaps she succeeded in concealing her own dismay for he didn’t ask if anything was wrong, as he normally would for he’s got her voice memorized. It came with talking on the phone every night.
She put the phone back down. She sighed a deep sigh, one which wasn’t even enough to blow the painful throbbing in her chest away.
Her footsteps echoed in her empty room. She picked up a book which stood on her night table, fluttered the pages until she reached the page where she slipped an amusement park ticket. It was when her pet kitten died and she kept crying. He tried consoling her but it didn’t work, his last resort was to bring her to an amusement park where he won a stuffed animal for her from the arcade. It made her happy, the stuffed animal would be a replacement for her kitten. And he won it just for her, it made it extra special. The said stuffed animal sat on her bedside table. She still sleeps with it, the way a little kid would. And beside the stuffed animal she loved so dearly, a red velvet box sat on her bedside table too.
She patted the stuffed animal’s head, “I wonder if he still remembers you.”
Then she picked up the red velvet box. She opened it and tried on for the hundredth time her engagement ring. Indeed, it would be the biggest event of her life. Or perhaps not.
Realizing she would be late if she didn’t hurry, she pushed all her thoughts away. There’s no time for that now.
The traffic was easy, she was in the venue on time.
There were pink roses everywhere. The church was crowded.
She looked around on familiar faces. Where is he, she thought.
Before she had a chance to roam around and look for him, the bell rang.
It was time for the ceremony to begin.
And he stood there, in front of the altar, looking as handsome as ever. He was waiting for the woman he would be spending the rest of his life with.
The long ceremony started. All this time, she was standing in front of the altar too.
And finally, it was over.
Happily ever after, she thought to herself.
It was time for the reception, a celebration for the newly wed.
And there were fireworks there too.
She went up to the balcony where she could see the fireworks better. The men below were still preparing the fireworks for a spectacular display. She looked up the night sky instead, the night sky they both looked up to once and shared their deepest dreams. Both of their dreams came true already, to be successful in their own chose careers and of course, to find true love.
She felt around her purse in the dark until she found her phone. She dialed a number and sighed. It was the ultimate decision of all. The phone was answered on the second ring. There’s no turning back now.
After a few minutes and several deep sighs, she was putting the phone back in her purse when she heard footsteps behind her. She turned around and saw that he was approaching her.
She found true love already, and there it was standing in front of her.
“Who were you talking to just now and what are you doing here alone?” He asked in the voice she missed hearing so much.
“Trying to enjoy a beautiful view of the fireworks,” she looked down the balcony, there were still men huddled around the fireworks set up, “I wonder what’s taking them so long.” She purposely avoided answering his first question.
She heard him chuckle, “I remember how much you love fireworks.” He looked up the vast sky which glowed with countless stars. “Our class went to a trip to the Meteorological Museum, you thought stars and fireworks were the same thing. You were so funny.” He laughed to himself as if recalling their youthful days.
“Yes, it was my first school trip after I transferred schools. I was so excited.” She leaned on the balcony railings like he did, but instead of looking up at the night sky, she was looking at him. She didn’t fail to notice that even in the dark, the profile of his face was still very handsome.
“Hey, now I remember, it was your first school trip, and it was my first time to go back to school after I was discharged from the hospital. Being hospitalized for a month was such a bore. I was just so glad the first day I would go back to school would be on a school trip. Lucky me.”
“For that whole month, I was wondering who was supposedly seated beside me. I was alone by the window that whole time. Your seat was empty. I had no seatmate. I was lonely.” She looked down and noticed that the fireworks would be starting soon, the men who were fixing it were dispersing slowly one by one.
“And then I came and you weren’t lonely anymore.” He grinned at her.
“Yes, and then you came and I wasn’t lonely anymore.” She smiled back.
He sighed. “Time flies so fast. Who would have thought it all happened years ago, it seems just like yesterday. And now, I’m already married. And a month from now, you would be too. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my bride’s maid-of-honor. I asked her to watch the fireworks here with us but she said she’d rather accompany her family.”
She looked up the sky, seriousness in her eyes and her voice. “I’m not getting married.”
The firework show started.
“What did you say? Stop kidding. C’mon, your favorite firework show is already starting.” He moved closer to her.
“I said I’m not getting married. And I’m not kidding.” Seriousness remained in her voice. She looked at him and he looked back at her too. It had been a long time since they were able to see each other eye to eye.
“What do you mean?” He was finally realizing she wasn’t kidding.
“I called him just now and cancelled the wedding. I couldn’t fool myself anymore, I’ve been doing so in the past years.” The way they held each other’s gaze, one would have thought there were the ones who got married that day.
“What are you saying?” There was a frown on his handsome face as he was trying to absorb everything she was saying.
“I’m in love with someone else.” She smiled a lonely smile as a silent tear fell down her cheeks. “But the person I’m in love with will never love me back the way I love him.”
“And who is this person you’re adoring so much?” Finally, it was clear to him it was not a joke.
“It’s something that’s been bottled up inside me for years. I can now finally admit it, but I guess it’s already too late. You see, he’s already married.” She pulled an envelope from her purse. This time she was already crying. “I spent the entire week writing this letter, everything I’ve been wanting to say to him, everything I’d be willing to admit. How much I love him.”
He tried to snatch the letter from her grasp but she was quick to extend her arm and loosen her grip on the letter, and the brown envelop was sent flying down the embers of the fireworks below. It caught itself in fire and united with the fireworks with each spark that flew.
The letter she took days to write was gone. And he didn’t have a chance to read it. If she wasn’t such a fool to give it on the day of his wedding, she had all the time in the world back then. Why only now, when it was too late already?
“Look, aren’t the fireworks so beautiful?” She stared at the fireworks which devoured her letter. It was true that she loved fireworks so dearly.
He was still staring at her. “You’re so stupid, you know that? If you’re claiming all of these things now, why didn’t you tell him that before, before it was too late? Who knows he might have felt the same way.”
“He might have felt the same way? Some things are better left unsaid.”
There was look of mixed disappointment, annoyance, pain, and anger on his face as he stares past the fireworks, as if he’s not seeing a spectacular view in front of him. Most of all, there was a look on his face which seemed like he just lost the most important person in his life. “He says he’ll always be here for you, as your friend. No matter when, no matter where. Just always here.” He looked down on his feet, silently blaming himself. If he had the courage too, perhaps things could have turned up differently.
“Tell him thanks. I’ll always be here too, as his friend.
They both watched the firework show in silence.
Some things are better left unsaid, but it’s important that they are felt.
Some things like love.
“Someday, you’ll meet your prince too.”
Well, unfortunately, I grew up not believing in Santa Claus, in fairies, in magic, and in fairy tales. These things were just invented to put annoying little kids to sleep, like me. When I was young, I used to hear a lot of these fairy tale stories but as soon as I realized there’s no such thing as happily ever afters, I dismissed these thoughts out of my mind and they are never to come back again. EVER.
Until I met him.
“Gosh, I just hate this stupid subject. What good would it do to my life anyway? Hmpf!”
I was the cutest little thing when I was nine years old. The most stubborn little kid. Always failing in my most hated subject, Math.
“Want me to help you?” a little boy approached me.
I stared hard at him. Who was he? I barely knew him. Oh, he’s from my class, I thought.
“NO!” came my headstrong answer.
I was also the little bully, eating lunch alone for no one dared to go to the table I owned or they’d get a piece of me.
“Could I sit with you?” I heard someone say from behind me. A familiar voice, yet again. Without turning my back I already knew who it was.
“NO!” again came my headstrong answer.
Every kid from school walks home, chattering, giggling, and playing together as they talked about the day’s events. But my house was at the farthest side of town and no one had ever walked home with me yet.
“Hey, I’ll walk you home. You might need company, it’s such a long way.” I turned around to see the smiling face of a little boy, his hands holding tightly the straps of his backpack.
“Wait, this ain’t your way. You live at the other side of town.” I glared at him.
“It’s okay. I could always go back.” He was still smiling expectantly.
“NO!” again came my headstrong answer. “Go away!” I continued walking, leaving him standing alone in the middle of the street.
But ten years after, this same boy asked me a question I could not say no to. He asked me if I loved him too. I should have lied but I can’t. He asked me at the stroke of midnight, during the first minute of the nineteenth summer of my life. He asked me at the seaside and I wrote my answer on the sand. The waves washed away my written answer the moment our love story started.
He was no prince at the start. He was clumsy and he obviously wasn’t the knight in shining armor I was told about in fairy tales. But as days went by, I came to know the real him. I came to know the prince hiding in his boring demeanor.
At the seaside, when he asked me if I loved him, he was merely verifying a fact that he’d known already for ten years. During the end of fourth grade, I realized our family was moving to another town. I cried so hard that time, I would have to say goodbye to everyone I knew, not that there were much. I went back to school late at night during the last day of fourth grade, when I was sure that there was no one else around and when I was sure that the following day would be the cleaning day when all school furniture would be moved out for cleaning. During that night, I went back to my classroom and slipped a letter inside a boy’s locker, confessing my likeness for him. Only, I put it in the wrong locker. I didn’t know that the boy who owned the locker would go back the day after and read the letter.
He may not be the real recipient of the letter but everything that I wrote there is now true. Everything is now back in place, my family’s back in town and our love story is set on its track.
He was my prince. He always carried my things, he always helped me with my school works, he always ate lunch with me, and he always drove me home. He was also the most polite person to my parents. We drew our future together on the canvas called life. We had everything planned, when we would get married, how many children we’d have, where we’d live. Our families and friends approved of our plans and they gave us their blessings. But I didn’t know life had other plans for us.
For our graduation, we planned a trip abroad to celebrate. Just the two of us. Only, we didn’t reach our destination. Two hours after taking off our plane crashed. No one survived. Then why am I writing this? Because at the verge of death, we promised each other that we will live again, and search for each other across the world, and continue our love story. Today, I saw him at the departure area at the airport. He was picking up the books which fell from his bag. He was as clumsy as ever. Then I remembered our promise. Unfortunately, he forgot all about it. He wore a ring on his left ring finger. He was happily married. I watched him sit where his wife was waiting for him, how’d I know? Because she was wearing the same ring he wore. She gave him a kiss on the cheek then she whispered something on his ear which made him laugh. The plane was ready to take off. He took her hand as they walked away. I stared at them while they were leaving the area to go on board. I watched while the plane flew away towards the vast sky. I couldn’t have been mistaken, I was sure it was him and I was also sure I won’t see him again.
So I was right all along, fairy tales are not real. There is no such thing as happily ever after. I shouldn’t have wasted my time believing.
11/3/2010 | 2:13 AM
As inspired by Haruki Murakami’s On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning, I really loved that story.