How everything was just like then. I gladly stretch my arms while glancing at my watch. He is late. I sat down as I imagined who I am 5 years ago…
Sitting here on the rooftop’s floor, leaning on the wall while I was facing the vast blue clouds, I felt nothing but emptiness. It was funny how I have everything which I wanted but still eager to have something far from reality.
I heard footsteps in the stairs heading here in the rooftop. Probably from someone who’s lonely as I am. I continue gazing at the sky which is moving slowly with the wind. I feel like somebody’s looking at me, so I lower my head and I found myself smiling at my best friend. He sat beside me and I lean in his shoulders.
‘Are you coming with me?’, I asked him.
‘I’d love to. I would like to visit your dad too.’ he answered optimistically.
I gaze at his smiling face and he stands up and stretches his arms.
‘Let’s go. I brought my bike with me.’, I said cheerfully.
He extended out his hand and helped me stand. We walked down from that building and later on he was driving the bike while I was on his back, my hands were embracing him and my head was resting on his broad back. It was just 20-minute ride before we reached my dad. I light up a candle and offered a short prayer before we left the cemetery. It was passed 4pm at that time whe he sent me home. While he was driving the bike I can’t help but hug him tight and cry. It was still fresh on my mind how my father died just last year.
It has been 3 years before his death when we discovered he has a leukemia. My mom was a doctor and so is he. When we discovered he was ill we treated each day as a gift for we knew it was an incurable. I thought I am already ready for the worst. I thought I was, not until the day when my dad passed away. I was half listening to our teacher at that time, I was looking at my endless rainy horizon when my teacher called me out and told me I need to go to the hospital. The moment I heard the word ‘hospital’, I knew exactly what my teacher meant. I hurriedly rushed to the hospital and I saw how my mom was struggling to save my dad’s life inside the ICU while he was barely breathing. I never saw my mom cry in front of my dad ever since he was ill but at that moment while she was trying to save my dad’s life my dad grasp her hands and though my dad can’t speak, his teary eyes were speaking in his behalf. My mom fell on the floor sobbing in tears with her face was buried in my dad’s palm. It was a very traumatic scene and all that was there for me was Erick my best friend, and his family. Ever since that happened I never dare visit my mom’s hospital. It has been one year but it just all seems like yesterday, not faraway.
My memories bring me back and surprisingly I don’t exactly know how long I’ve been hugging Erick while we were already in front of my house. I quickly slide down the bike and smilingly face him. He went down from the bike and turn over it to me.
‘Thanks for driving me home today.’ I said feeling so lively despite being sad at that moment.
‘I was thinking about how you really loved hugging me since it seemed that you don’t wanna get off the bicycle’, he said smilingly, obviously teasing me. I knew he was just cheering me up through irritating me. So I acted as if everything was back to the normal atmosphere.
Then I drive my bike to our garage. Our house was still dark. My mom might still be at the hospital. When my dad died my mom devoted her whole time in the hospital to forget that painful experienced of ours but it seems like she forgot me instead.
I change into my nightgown before going to bed. I woke up without my mom still. I was a bit hungry but I have no time to cook since our housemaid took her leave yesterday. I bath, and prepared myself for school then hurriedly went out from the house almost running. I was planning to get my bicycle when I heard somebody calling out my name. It was Erick on his bike. I just ride on his bike like…sometimes. Their house is just two houses away from ours.
We were not classmates, he is 2 years ahead of me but it feels like we are, just because I talk to him more of the time than my classmates or in fact even more than compared to my suitors.
I was again inside our gloomy class. It has been a long class but I couldn’t comprehend what our homeroom teacher was uttering. I was facing outside the window of our classroom while I was playing with my pen in my hands. The sky seems to be great just this morning but right now it seems like rain is about to pour. My imagination run back the past then I was stricken with the ring from the school bell. I stood up from my chair and went to the cafeteria to buy lunch and headed to the rooftop to eat. I usually eat here with Erick. There I found him already sitting on the floor. I sat beside him and we had our lunch together. Erick has been so good to bring two pack lunches. He said her mom fix extra lunch especially for me. Her mom is always so kind to me and treated me as one of their family members. I know how eager her mom is to have a daughter but Erick is their only offspring.
I asked Erick if I could visit their house tonight and personally thank her mom for a very sweet lunch. And later on in the afternoon it was already raining hard. He removed his polo uniform and hangs it over my head before we headed home while riding his bicycle.
We were completely soaked in the rain, and we were quivering in coldness. Erick’s mom meets us at the door with towels and slightly scolded us for being careless, bathing under the rain. It’s visible that I look better than Erick for he was only wearing his inner shirt when we were driving home and he was even sneezing right now. Despite that he is still smiling the reason why her mom couldn’t help but laugh at us.
Her mom let me wear one of Erick’s loose shirts paired with one of her mom’s shorts. Her mom combs my hair as if I was really her daughter. And I feel really warm about it.
After saying what I came there for, I went home. I didn’t bother Erick to send me home though he and her mom insisted. When I was close to reaching our house I noticed it was already bright. I quickly run unto our house. I wonder why my mom would be home at this time which is earlier than her usual.
I was excited but then I was disappointed seeing our housemaid home instead. She told me that my mom just called to inform that she will not be able to dine with us. I was not surprise this time. It’s not unusual. If my dad would just be able to talked I knew he’s gonna scold mom. My dad always place our family at the peak of his priorities despite of his hectic schedules at the hospital. He always assured that we ate our meals together. After his death I wonder just how many times my mom and I shared the dining table.
I watched Aunt Luz, our housemaid as she cooks our dinner. I knew she understands me since she’s been there when I was still a toddler with my mom and dad. I can’t stand the silence anymore so I told her that I already eat dinner at Erick’s house and I’m going to sleep now.
When I woke up I took a glance at the calendar and was a bit surprise to see that today was the 12th day of February. I ride at my bike in going to school while Erick was following me in his bike too. When we arrived at the school he was gentleman enough to help me my parked my bike.
During our lunch we were just seated at our normal spot, soundless. I broke the silence then I offered a nice deal with him. We normally played these sorts of things having pact about some nonsense but funny stuffs. This time I told him that whoever doesn’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend right after Valentines Day should treat the winner. At first he laughed but when he saw how determined I am, he later on nodded. I was really serious at that time though I was thinking of it just for fun. I never heard of Erick dating any girl while I was already involved in rare relationships, but I just broke up with my boyfriend last month.
Long days passed and before I knew it…it’s already Valentines Day. I went to Erick’s classroom and waited for him outside. I’m confident enough that were gonna treat each other. I was smiling imagining that he would never have a date same with me and were gonna eat our exchange snacks instead.
After a few seconds I was already facing Erick but I was stunned seeing a pretty, simple girl beside him. He introduced me to his girlfriend. I could hardly heard Erick’s words for I was mesmerized for the fact that I lose against Erick. I shake hands with the girl named Kyla. They obviously suited, perfect match indeed. I told Erick that I will be waiting for him after class at the rooftop where we normally unwind.
I left them. I was walking but my mind is floating. I can’t understand my feeling. I was filled with regrets. If only I answered one of my suitors I would not be in a solitary moment right now. I felt like a left-over, alone and lonely.
I arrived at the rooftop first. I was standing, leaning on the floor, facing at the wide sky.
I knew it’s from Erick even without glancing, I ask him where did she get his girlfriend. And I was a bit shocked hearing a cute hello from somewhere. I faced him and saw his girlfriend with him. He told me smilingly that he’s not gonna accept my treat instead he’s gonna treat me. I was about to say yes of course but upon hearing that Kyla would be with us…I refused. They left together while I was left, alone again. I fall on my knees, crying. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe because Erick was my only true friend, he is my family, my brother, my world, my outlet, my everything…
It hurts… but it was a pain I created myself. Recalling, I made the deal myself. I thought it would be fun but now I knew it isn’t and it would never be.
The days that followed were doomed, hopeless. I always ate my lunch alone, go to the school on my own, went home alone, and see him scarcely. And those scarce moments that I saw him he even barely smiles for he is always with Kyla. They were inseparable.
I even dare to visit their house and bring a cuisine I cooked myself, but he was not home yet. It was raining at that time and her mom didn’t allow me to go home alone so I waited for Erick. I was in their living room chatting with her mom and looking at their photo albums. We were laughing over Erick’s childhood photos when Erick arrived. He was wet and I rushed to the door to assist her mom wiping him with a towel. I wanted to laugh at his cute sneeze but…
“So you’re not alone. And who’s that cute little girl? Is she your girlfriend?”, her mom teasingly asked.
I was too focused to Erick that I never noticed that Kyla was behind him, totally wet. I offered a towel to Kyla but Erick grabbed it and wiped Kyla himself. It would be my greatest pleasure if I would be in Kyla’s place for even just a few seconds of my life. Just a few. Just a few. Few. Few. But unattainable.
I pretended to look at my watch and act to bolt from the blue. I told everybody that I need to go for my mom might already be home. It was a lame excuse of me. Erick’s mom insisted to let Erick send me home for it was already dark. But upon looking at Erick’s expressionless face, I insisted to go home alone. I never even borrowed an umbrella. I walked under the strong rain, crying. It’s easy this way for nobody’s gonna distinguished tears from rain which were both flowing down my cheeks. I stayed outside our gate. I burst out all the pain I carried inside of me. I almost scream.
When I was already ready to go inside the house I changed my clothes and I lie-down the bed still crying until I was able to sleep without having dinner. The next morning, I woke up late with Aunt Luz beside me. I felt my head so heavy and my body aches. I can barely move. Aunt Luz helps me sat on my bed, hand me a glass of water and a tablet. She told me how high my fever is. I drink it without hesitation and slept again. I would never mind being absent in the class today. I preferred lying here than being in a bored school where I don’t feel like I belong. It’s the first I felt Iike I don’t belong. How funny. I slept again, and I was woke up with the heat I felt coming from the window pain. It was already noon. I buried myself under the pillow. Then I heard Erick’s voice talking to Aunt Luz downstairs. He was asking if he could visit me while Aunt Luz was insisting that I need a full time rest as of now. I won’t really mind seeing him as long as he is all by himself.
Later on I heard a knock on the door. I didn’t answer then I heard the door open then closed. I hid myself under my blanket and pretended to be sleeping well. Erick knew I’m really not asleep and he began talking about some sort of nonsense, like it was really his fault why I am in bed right now and he shouldn’t have let me to went home alone without anything. I played dumb but in my mind, it was really his fault.
I heard another footsteps then I heard the voice of my mom asking Erick about what happened to me. Well, this is the advantage of being sick. At least I’d be able to try being nursed by my doctor mom. I sat down on my bed facing my mom. I told her that I’m very fine and she shouldn’t leave her patients in the hospital just for me. When Erick feels the bad atmosphere he excused himself. My mom and I are certainly arguing right now.
I cut everything with a “sorry”. She was quite, still standing at the side of the bed. I looked at our family photo above my side table. Near it was my photo with Erick. I don’t know where I did get courage to put these words together but what’s certain is… I asked my mom to transfer me in another school abroad. She asked me why out of the blue I asked her about that. I took our family photo and with tears I told her how I felt like I missed our family. My tears dropped down the photo frame which I’m holding. I told her that if ever she’d allow me to continue my studies abroad maybe she would also miss me. And if ever she’d feel like missing me that might be the time we continue our lives without being disturbed by my dad’s shadow. She hugged me. And with teary eyes she told me how sorry she was for taking me for granted. But I insisted to study abroad until my mom gave up of holding me. Behind my mind I have another reason for being so determined to transfer.
My mom scheduled to transfer me few days from now, since she also has to arrange some papers related to my plans. The next day I was back in school. I tried to feel cheerful for my few remaining days here. Three days had passed and I’m leaving tomorrow. I went at the school’s rooftop, maybe for the last time [I think]. The sky is overwhelming as always. Few minutes later as I was opening the door leading downstairs I saw Erick rushing up the stairs. He told me if he could ask few minutes of mine to stay there with him.
We talked. And he told me how fast things are. We used to be together, always. But it seems that we were strangers to each other now. I laugh to make everything soft. I told him about my transfer. He almost screams in shock. He told me why I didn’t tell him earlier. How could I that he’s been so distant lately.
He told me how Kyla is a jealous type and Kyla hates it whenever Erick is with me. I told him that Kyla would be mad at him right now then I laugh heading to the stairs. He grabbed my hand and hugs me. I hugged him too. He has no idea how I miss those times I hug him and how I love hugging him. Tears pop out from my eyes and I force to stop it but I simply can’t. I told him that I would really miss him and I would never forget him. I also thanked him for all those times he made me smile, comfort me, advice me, brought me lunch, and most of all the time he has afforded me. I am talking as if I would die tomorrow. Funny but it is what I really sound.
I slowly let go of him when I realize we’d been hugging ourselves for so long. But he never let go of me. I jokingly told him that I can’t breathe but instead he hugs me even tighter. I can’t understand. Maybe he would miss me.
“I love you”.
I found myself saying this complex word. I felt like he was also crying then he told me how he and Kyla broke up because of me. I told him I was sorry and I didn’t mean to be in between them. He told me that I shouldn’t be sorry for all along it was me who he loves.
I couldn’t found the right words to say. We took a visit to my fathers tomb then we went home together in silence. I was riding behind him in his bike. I was hugging him and as I close my eyes I felt like we were back to what we really are before. Tears still rush down like crystals from my eyes, and when we pass by a bridge. I asked him to stop. We looked at the crimsoned sunset together. Our face reflects the color of the sky. I asked him if he could wait for me 5 years from now and we’d meet in our usual hang out. We had our pinky promise.
Then he sends me home. With our farewell we parted.
I am a doctor now. And I work at my mom’s hospital as an Oncologist or a doctor specializing at cancer case, helping patients with the same illness as my dad. My imagination was cut when I heard footsteps coming upstairs. I focused on the door until it opened at last.
At last. He’s here.