List Of My Own

Mistake no. 1
I believed in him. In every fucking word he said. I believed his 5,000 word essay on how everything would be better if Sanders sat on the presidential seat, or how he explained, with perfect accuracy, the differences of psychology and ethics–hell, I even believed in him when he told me–well, not exactly told me–there was always a chance for everybody. Even in love.

Mistake no. 2
I fell for the little things. The opening of doors, the pulling up of seats, the late night conversations, the stay safe and take cares, the covering up of each other’s mistakes so we both could get away with it, even the tiny nudges on the shoulders, the pull on the elbows, the tap on the knees, the brushing of arms, the ruffling of hair–fuck, even the hugs that seemed to only last for a few damned seconds.

Mistake no. 3
I wouldn’t open my eyes. Not even when everything was practically shoved into my face. Not even when everyone was basically pushing me to stay away from you, telling me I was far too precious and deserving for someone else greater than you. That I could meet and have anyone I wanted if I simply accepted the fact that it can’t ever be you. But i couldn’t.

Mistake no. 4
My hands held on for too fucking long. The bruises, the scrapes, the blisters–they were all there, hurting every second, every minute, every day I refused to let go. My heart clenched, pounded, hurt, squeezed, everytime I saw you, everytime i touched you, even everytime I simply remembered you. I guess i found the love i thought I had in pain. That in its reccesses there was something to fix, to turn, to make into something. But I had to learn the hard way that pain will always be pain and that hardly anything nice will come out of it. I don’t know why I’ve always tried to convince myself otherwise.

Mistake no. 5
I loved you a little too less and a little too much. Less when I didn’t give two cents on who the hell you always talked to, laughed with, spent most of your hours on and too much when I tried taking in any means possible what I thought was mine–you.

Mistake no. 6
It took too long to realize.

Mistake no. 7
I still reminisce, you know. About those little moments we’ve shared, topics we’ve tackled, arguments we’ve had, awkwardness we’ve gone through, opinions we’ve debated on–i still remember the twinkle in your eyes whenever i said something you found witty, or the shake of your head when you got too disappointed, or how you used to shut everyone out when you weren’t in the mood, or even, even when you simply smiled–at me, at her, at him, at everyone you knew. I found that quality quite endearing, along with how much of a gentleman you will always be.

Mistake no. 8
I hoped. Too fucking much, i’ll have to admit. I clung to the hope, to the idea of us, never realizing in the first place that it was all a figment of my imagination. That everything I’ve built, everything I wanted, was only there to protect me from myself–from the reality that i was always pushing away. And it hurt when everything crumbled. It really did.

Mistake no. 9
I tried to stay. I tried to patch everything up as if it were some kind of paper that could be fixed with tape but we both knew it was deeper than that. The wound ran so much wider, so much deeper, that it could never be fixed with simple small talks and 45-minute phone calls. This was something that had to take its time. And distance. Fucking distance. I could never quite give that to you or to myself.

Mistake no. 10
I was sorry for myself. But I realized that I could only be sorry for the things I have unintentionally done, for the things I had no control over, for the things that were never quite in my hands. And everything that happened? I knew what I was doing. Every move, every step, every thought, every moment–i knew where I was going. I just refused to see otherwise.

2 Bottles Down

You took a swig of beer, grimacing. I simply watched you in fascination, my arms crossed over my chest, limp, with my head pounding, my vision spinning.

“You.” You said, pointing at me. “You know how it feels like.”

I tilt my head to the right, my head feeling like it weighed tons. “What?”

“What does it feel like? Loving me, I mean? You’ve been doing it for what, 3 years?” You squint, almost jeering.

I straightened up, shrugged and said, “You wouldn’t want me to describe it.”

Your head bobbed up and down, your eyes never leaving mine. “Yes I would. I trust your judgments.”

“Okay. So.”

You waited for a few minutes, your bottle of beer forgotten.

I wanted to tell you that loving you felt like I was underwater, but I didn’t know how I got there. I refused to resurface, believing there was still something left to save, something to salvage, and something that could be for us. I was using every bit of oxygen I had in store, blinded that I was slowly dying in the process. And my lungs felt like they were about to burst, bubbles escaped my lips, floating over me, beckoning, but instead of pushing against the pressure of the current, I let it push me even deeper down, down, down. And I close my eyes because I can’t resurface just yet.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I told you that loving you felt like a fresh breath of air when you’ve been in the city for too long. It was refreshing, like water on a scalding burn, like sunshine on a gloomy day, like the excitement you feel when you received a letter from a friend who lived far away, or like you just topped your exams. It was familiar, like eating your favorite candy when you were a child, or running along the meadow with a kite in tow, or holding your best friend’s hand when the world turned its back on you. It was satisfying, like a pint of ice cream when you just had a bad day, like finishing a book you never thought you would, or a mother’s hug when you needed it most.

When I finished, you looked astounded, shocked into silence.

I pursed my lips. “I told you so.”

“You know,” you straightened up, “You’ve always been a poet when asked about these kinds of stuff, yeah?” You paused, shaking your bottle a little. “But you’re my poet. Always will be.”

And I smiled, wishing that were true.

Riptide

Do not sweep me inside an embrace that can only last as for how long, I am not certain, and neither are you. If you choose to keep me, tighten your clasp around me and never let go; no matter how hard, how rough, how painful it will be. The warmth you radiate is enough to keep me going, the protective stance you have built is what I truly need. This is a world where realists are bittersweet towards everything in their way and where dreamers are wanderlust, soaring among the clouds in their own bubbles. I do not belong anywhere, I do not choose to stay in one place but I am no drifter, either; I am simply caught in a riptide that crashes between two kinds.

Do not tell me sweet words that tend to linger like fingertips grazing my skin. I am gullible, vulnerable to anything, especially if those are the exact things I long so much to hear. I will assume, I will hope for things that aren’t meant to be. If you truly appreciate me, please do not leave me hanging where I am dangling by the edge of the cliff and thorny bushes are spread below me. If you let me go, at least tell me so. If you do, it will help me cushion my fall and I might be able to stand again despite the scars not only visible on the outside, but also in the inside.

Do not give me material things that I will have such a hard time to let go of. They are pieces of you that will remind me of what we used to be, of what I hoped we would be. There will always be memoirs that will be dear to both of us, and when we let them go…we will do it with open arms and we will look at each other and say our “good-byes”. 

Do not tell me to stay because you simply need me. I need you so much that it hurts with every breath I take and even when I close my eyes, I can only see your outstretched hand. I have invested so much for you. So much heartache, so much pain, so much tears; and yet, there is still the faint beat of happiness that the memories tend to pulsate around me. And I am thankful for that. But do not expect me to be always there for you, to always be the beacon of light in the midst of darkness. I love you, but I need to try letting go of things that bring me down.

I am trapped in a riptide where cold water drenches me from both sides. My emotions are a whirlpool, sucking everything and everyone in. 

So, I’m sorry if I step out of line. I really am. 

But I am in a riptide. And I can’t get out on my own. 

Confessions In Ink

You should know that I’ve longed to intertwine my hands with yours; fingers interlocked, palms pressed to close the distance. That even though it will get clammier by the second, sweat running and creating a humid feeling, I will never let go. Instead, I’ll hold on with the determination you won’t expect, with excitement pulsing through me in irregular beats. We could walk through corridors, alleys, streets and people will see, but I’ll hold it up like a trophy; I won’t be ashamed. I’ll grip your hand tighter, my heart beating in a faster pace.

You should know that your hugs comfort me in a way that blankets do at night and I’m all alone. That the warmth you radiate bounce off in waves and I snuggle against it. Your chest becomes a sudden pillow and when I wrap my arms around you, trying to nonchalantly tap you in the back like it was some sort of bro code so as not to betray the growing feelings inside me, I pray for it to last—even for 0.01 milliseconds. But I pull back anyway and the sun shines in your eyes and I see the color in them, glinting mischievously. And after that, do not wonder why I would shy away—but it is to calm my pounding heart and slow down the rush of blood as it colors my cheeks.

You should know that our secret smiles and stolen glances are enough to keep me going for a day. That those decoded messages and unspoken understandings are ours alone to be passed back and forth, two words colliding in swirl of emotions. Thoughts slip in and out of us; debates over petty things, comparisons over ridiculous discoveries, and agreement over various realizations. If literal speech bubbles existed, ours would be filled with haphazardly placed conversations, written by the exploding mind. But those tiny fragments of the moments we shared would still fit snugly side by side, like missing pieces in a puzzle.

You should know that when people talk about you, my heart skips a beat, my ears perk up in anticipation and my focus sways from what I was originally doing. And when they are two seats or two tables away from me, I will still strive to listen and find a way to hear more. It may be eavesdropping but I’ll still pass by casually, straining to listen about you, flitting descriptions filling my head. And they will giggle about you, laugh at you, fawn over you and I envelope myself in the vulnerability of the matter. I will talk about you too, dropping hints of our memories into my conversations with others and I might smile unknowingly and my stomach will do somersaults and tiny little flutters inside of me will begin.

But there are times that knowing too much is a curse and I might end up sitting in a corner, my thoughts dilly dallying in a world not of my own making. And like the wind passing through my fingers, you slip through my mind as well.

You should know that I like to bask in your attention, laugh at your jokes and even sport a frown when you’re being too tactless. Know that I send group messages about you and about us, but they are hidden between the lines of my favorite quotes and heartbreaking poetry. You live in my world as the knight who will not be in a shining armor, but as a knight whose armor is dented and dirty because he has gone through several quests to reach the tower that is mine. I think of you as the boy who will continue to live on as I describe you as much as I can through pens and papers, forever sealed in ink, in letters of calligraphy or ugly scrawls.

And when you can’t organize your feelings into paper, I’ll present you with ways that are different than the ordinary; you set the pace and I’ll follow closely behind, cautiously leaving our marks on the ground, a reminder of you and I—us.

Lastly, you should know that the struggle of refusing to nurture my feelings for you can be as hard as climbing the cliffside without my own harness. I know about the probability of falling into the depths of sorrows and the current of its ocean engulfing me, waves bobbing up and down, pushing me deeper and farther from the surface. Warning bells go off, followed by the shrill of an unmistakable alarm and flashing signs would greet me face-to-face, glaring neon lights blinding my eyes.

But I am like the moth and you are the flame, the attraction a growing bond that becomes harder to sever.

Note that I will try to stop myself from looking for you in the sea of students, an outstanding figure in the midst of them all. I will try to stop myself from thinking about you in the middle of class, conjuring situations that I long for to exist and happen, daydreams flying in and out of my mind. I will try to lessen the curiosity bubbling inside of me, the longing that led Romeo and Juliet to the end of their tragic story, their ultimate demise.

But I ask for one thing and one thing only.

Listen to my words.

Look into my eyes.

Find me in between these lines and you will know.

Ironia

Isn’t it ironic how a person can love someone, yet hate him at the same time?

The world has long been filled with irony in every single one of its nook and cranny, crevices that have crawled among the surfaces, and even the gaping holes that people long to ignore. Even the people are bathed in it; christened to be a walking paradox that strolls among the grasslands, runs across roads to buildings, and even swims in the oceans that are as vast and colossal as the sky.

I tell myself that I’ll be alright. I whisper it to the wind first thing in the morning and even before I go to sleep. But no matter how much I try to convince myself, answers keep on piling on top of me, seen yet never noticed.

And now, the time has come where I have started to hate things about you.

I hate your brown eyes and the spark of passion that dwells in it. The way it lights up to things you tell me about, you share about, you care about. Even its tiny glances and relentless flickering to drink in any observations around you have started to annoy me in ways that I understand but still, a tiny voice inside tells me not to. I see your whirlwind of emotions in those eyes, the true mirror to your soul.

And I’ve wished on dandelions that you’ll look at me with passion and happiness as if you were a blind man who has just seen the sun. But that’s not the case.

I hate the way you talk about the things that matter to you. The way you describe them in rich details makes me feel as if you’ve stripped them naked until vulnerability and have gone to convincing people to believe in everything that you’re saying. Your words are filled with so much sincerity that even the simplest vocabulary begin to sound impressive. The way you speak the truth makes it seem as if the facts have their own branches to spread all over in a reach that an be as high as the Empire State Building and as wide as Russia.

I do not see you as a manipulator but someone I wanted to be described by. I am curious. How do you see me?

I hate the way you act as if nothing happens. A private chat and a personal message can mean so much for a person like me who has grown up needing the love and attention of the others. And yet, when I see you, when I remember all those lengthy conversations, my hesitation heightens because of the gut feeling that you might not even remember all the tiny facts I have been dropping as hints. I am not afraid to admit that may I not remember every single detail, I still remember most.

Do you even know me at all? Or is it all different from what I think this is?

I hate the fact that you’re oblivious about me. I see you and talk to you everyday, and the change may be gradual but it’s there. A lingering fact seems to hover among you and yet you keep your head low in oblivion, unaware of my feelings and maybe too afraid to even look up.

I thought the tables could turn. I thought you could flip. Maybe I was wrong.

But most of all, I hate how I still like you after all of this time. I hate the fact that I still care and I still feel the flutters in my heart, the somersaults in my stomach and the rush of blood in my ears whenever you’re near. I hate how you would casually sling your arm over my shoulders and pull me near, or even the times wherein you tell me secrets and I feel the burden of carrying it alone, the moon too far away to have listened and the stars too many to confide in.

Hearts will break, eyes will cry, noses will sniffle, and lips may dry. But believe me I know that. And I hate that I do and yet I ignore it.

You’re my friend. I’m your confidante.

I’ve been pondering on this so much and I’ve come to a conclusion that maybe there will be a “someday” that I’ll get over you. That there would be a time where my hate would subside and my feelings will fade.

And as ironic as it may seem, for now, let’s stay this way, yeah?

Four Seasons + You

When I first saw you, you were twirling your pen between your index and middle finger, deep in thought and might as well have been contemplating on what the future held. Maybe you were.

I was sitting two tables away, my chair facing your direction and a book laid open in front of me: Inorganic Chemistry with its colorful graphics of molecules dotting the cover, connected. Maybe I wanted to connect with you then, but I shook my head, thought I was too pathetic and carried on reading.

I saw you again after quite some time. It was just the start of spring and the flowers have just blossomed open, the leaves have become greener, and the sun shining warmly as it crept into the window of my favorite coffee shop. It was probably yours too since the cashier asked whether it was the usual or you’d like to try something new. You’ve been hanging out here since, bringing the same old black notebook and still, you twirled your pen, lost in thought. The rays turned your hair brown as you sat by the window in the red ottoman and you squinted as you peeked out the window. Were you waiting for someone?

Spring became livelier by the day, the bermudas growing taller in my front yard, the orchids that my mom has been nurturing turned lovelier even more and as they continued to blossom, my curiosity did too. You sat by the same space everyday and by the hour, I had to order the same old thing so I could act like I was studying too when really, I was just building the courage to approach you and strike up a conversation. It’s never easy when you’re the girl. But the chance never came. We came and went, just like the spring.

Summer arrived quickly. I haven’t been inside the coffee shop for a month since. I wondered if you would be there but I also wished you weren’t. I was trying to drown the curiosity that was bubbling continuously inside me; it bugged me between study periods, raced across my mind during lunch time and even danced around my thoughts when I prepared myself for bed. I haven’t seen you around in school, too.

The soft rattle of the wind chimes above the door got your attention. You looked up and our eyes met for about half a second and then I looked away. I approached the counter and smiled, flattered, when the cashier asked me where I had been all this time. As I tried to answer her questions, I threw casual glances at your table and faltered when I saw another girl directly beside you. Funny that I didn’t notice her before. Was she your girlfriend? Surely…

As quick as I could, I paid for my iced coffee and bolted out the door and under the rays of the sun that scalded my bare skin. The pavement was hot and my shoes were wearing thin on the soles. The shop windows were presenting their annual summer sale and as much as I would have wanted to look through those racks, I just wanted to get home. Summer became dreary yet bright, rainfall missing in action. The air became humid yet stale, and I could feel my plants starting to die. And just like that, so did my curiosity for you.

It has been 2 months since the start of my college year. Studying in an Ivy League had a lot of pressure; more than I thought I could bargain with. Sleepless nights ensued, endless flipping of pages, and jotting down notes that filled half of my notebook (and it was only after 2 weeks that I had to buy a new one). Autumn has come, turning the trees and its leaves inside the campus into an array of golden brown, yellow, red, and even green. The fallen ones were strewn around, littering the pathways from building to building. The wind became stronger every day until I couldn’t stand to be out too long without a hoodie to protect myself with.

Flitting thoughts of you continued to crowd my head. I didn’t know you personally, you were just a boy from school, and yet your presence had greatly affected me. Maybe it was the kindness I saw in you that day you helped an elderly woman cross the road. Or the time you dropped a particularly huge bill inside the jar for UNICEF. Or yet, it was that time that you saved me from a bad fall with the teacher in journalism class when you answered the question with wit and humor, taking the attention away from me (I was too embarrassed to even say thanks). Perhaps, I was yet to discover.

Autumn continued to come in a shower of color, and when I began to decide that I was most definitely over you, I stopped myself, thought I was too pathetic, and carried on with my academics instead of also wondering where you could be.

Winter, ah, my favorite season. The white, fluffy stuff always captured my attention. It reminded me of a vague memory of spilling slush all over my shirt when I was young and having my father wipe the front of my blouse with his handkerchief, and I having to step over the fallen drink, listening to its crunch under the heels of my shoes. The icy breeze made my teeth chatter, my hands shake, and my knees lock that it takes me a long time to cross from one building to the other. And yet, I still love its uniqueness.

It’s almost a year wherein I would have to celebrate my infatuation or cry over it as I try to bury it six feet under the ground. I remember you being aloof in some classes, with a demeanor that was like ice; hard to break yet you looked fragile as you focused and zeroed in on everything that was discussed. In a way, as I trudged down the walkway with the snow that continued to fall, I am reminded of you. I didn’t even know your name since we only had one elective that didn’t even require a whole lot of discussions; just basic instructions and we were off to write a creative output. True, I’ve wasted dozens of opportunities in that little coffee shop. My heart squeezed a little when I remembered your smile, like it had become a secret between you and I because you rarely did that outside that shop; or when you brushed past me by the entrance, I on my way in and you on your way out.

We have become very much like the four seasons. Our lives have continuously shifted in a pattern that we had no choice but to be accustomed with. We were totally different, and yet we cross paths and exchanged places for some time without the acknowledgment of one another. We came and we went.

Suddenly, I slip and land on my back. Air whooshed out of my lungs in a pace that left me coughing so hard as I sat up and tried to brush off the cold snow that were starting to melt and drenching my clothes, my rear. I could have cussed in frustration but a hand stretched towards me and I pull on it without hesitation.

“Thanks–” I had started to say when you cleared your throat and I had to look up. And stared.

After three months, it’s you.

“I remember you,” you said, “The girl I always saw hanging around in the coffee shop, yeah?”

I remembered nodding but I was frozen with giddiness. Who would have thought I would see you again?

You smiled and my heart squeezed; not in pain but with joy because after all this time, you finally had it directed at me.

“Oh yeah. By the way, my name’s Dean.” You said and offered a hand. “You okay now?”

I shook it. Despite the woolen gloves I wore, I felt the warmth of your hand. The same hand that twirled the pen over and over, having me locked in a trance most of the time, back at the coffee shop.

Talk about serendipity. Was this even destiny?

“Thanks,” I said. “My name’s Jean.”

In that briefest moment, I saw the sincerity of your smile and the interest in your eyes.

The snow continued to fall. And so did I.

Photographs

I’ve never given much thought as to how I would spend my Christmas this year. It’s all the same anyway; a perfectly normal day, secretly wrapping of presents, a dinner out, and lounging in the living room waiting for the clock to strike 12:00.

I don’t make a big deal out of it.
But my best friend does. And he’s made the effort to come home just for the holidays.

He wraps his arms from behind me and envelopes me into a tight bear hug, lifts me feet off the ground and twirls me around. I close my eyes, dizziness coming onto me and I let out a shrill “stop it!” and he puts me down.
“I swear to God, Alex–” I start to say when he turns me around and embraces me, though this time, a little more gently.

I love hugging people who are way taller than me. It makes me feel safe and protected, like they could be this cute human shield whenever someone tries to harm me. I rest my head on Alex’s chest, just under his chin, and feel the warmth radiating from his body despite the thick jacket he has bundled himself into. I wrap my arms around his neck and ruffle his hair from behind.

I missed him so much.

The airport’s bustling with activity as flight after flight departed and arrived, bringing homesick people into the arms of their family just in time for the holidays. Wreaths hang from every post, twinkling with Christmas lights that run in an array of red, green, blue, white and yellow. Songs play in the speakers, filling the cavernous area with cheerful spirit mixed with laughter from the people and shouting from the children.
I missed him so much.

When Alex got his letter from Yale, he had jumped around the house in pure joy and grabbed his mom for an impromptu dance as a sign of celebration. Then he climbed over the coffee table and hugged me so tight, I was sure my lungs would burst. I knew how much time he sacrificed to bust his ass off just so he could get the best grades for an Ivy League. And he did it.

It’s only been 4 months since our separation but the emptiness that hung between our distance sent our emotions into ricochet as soon as we saw each other in the flesh. No amount of texting or skype-ing could have prepared us as he barreled behind me and went on with his trademark hug. People usually think of us as a couple and I don’t doubt the ones here would think any differently.

But I know what we are and what we are not.
“Jazz, oh god, I missed you so much!” Alex whispers in my ear, tightening his hug even more.

“4 months,” I reminded him. “I missed you, too.”

He lets me go and he grins at me mischievously. I could feel something was coming and before I could fend off his incoming question, it beat me to line. Spotlight’s on me.

“Where’s Connor?”

“Connor…” I trailed off. I admit, I haven’t gotten around to telling him that Connor and I were over. One month ago.

“Jazz…” He knows I’m hiding something. He knows me too much. “You’re not making eye contact. Are you keeping something from me?”

I back off a little, hand in the air like I surrender. “Well…” I gulp. “Connor and I are over.”

He crosses his arm. “I bet you’re planning to use the–” he makes air quotes, “It’s-better-to-tell-you-in-person excuse.”

I hit him in the arm, a little too hard to show him I was serious. “It is better to tell you in person!”

He just nods. “Whatever you say,”

But his voice was taunting me. And he knew I hated that.

But before I was riled up, he envelopes me into another hug and plants his forehead against mine. “Doesn’t matter. Now, it’s just the two of us again.”

Alex always says I’m the best photographer in town. Sometimes, he says it so persuasively I almost believe him. And even if I tell him I’m not, he stands firm anyway. I value memories so much that I keep them forever frozen in photographs. Polaroids and developed pictures in frames take up half of my bedroom wall back home. I even brought some to my dorm in Columbia, where my roommate enjoys looking at Alex’s pictures too much and even to the extent of fawning over our pictures together because she says we have chemistry.

“Where are we going?” I ask as he slung his arm over my shoulder and pulls me close to his side as we walk out of the airport.

“Ah,” he smells the air, “Welcome to New York.”

I look up at him. “Dude, it’s only been 4 months.”

He looks down at me, his trance broken, and waggled his eyebrows. “Which felt like 4 years.”

I stick my tongue out. “Better get used to it, then.”

He meets my gaze and we lock eyes for a moment. The sound of car horns faded away in the background as I noticed the tiny golden flecks in his green eyes. My hands wanted to get my camera so that I could capture this moment forever, the snow gently falling on top of Alex’s head and melts as quickly as it had come. Suddenly, his grin wolfish, he breaks the contact.

“Let’s get to Central Park,” he says.

Central Park looks like a winter wonderland in this time of the year. It always has been.

Memories come rushing back of a 10-year old Alex gliding across the frozen lake, ice skating shoes on and a 10-year old me, wobbly, even with both of his hands gripping my own. I was too wrapped up with the thought of humiliating myself in front of kids who were way better and experienced than me. But Alex never let go and said:
“Jazz, you’re safe. You’ll always be safe with me.” And patiently glided alongside as I struggled and fell a dozen times, laughed at the appropriate moments and cheered when I finally maintained balance.

Even Central Park in summertime held memories I’m sure I’d never forget. Only that time, I was the boss and I was teaching Alex how to ride a bike at 12 years old.

It had been hot and humid, and yet I forced him to wear his protective gear (kneecaps, elbow caps, and helmet) even though I knew he’d be bathing in sweat by the time we finished. It’s a best friend thing, you know.
“Ahhhhhh,” Alex yelled as his bike swerved a hard left and he toppled over in a heap. “Jazz!!!”
I ran over to where he was, laughing despite his furious look and offered a hand. He took it quite hardly and pulled me down in a heap beside him. We laughed some more.

Somehow, I have photographs of those moments too, though it wasn’t as accurate as what really happened.
And now, as I take a look around, with Central Park illuminated in twinkling white lights, I catch sight of Alex sitting down on a bench. He pats the space beside him, beckoning me over.

“Melancholic, don’t you think?” I say as I sat down, my hands nestled deep within my coat pockets.

“Yes, I think so too,” he answers and turns to look at me over his shoulder since his elbows were propped on his knees. “I have something to tell you.”

My heart starts to pound so fast against my rib cages. Blood floods my face and I am glad it was starting to get dark. Around us, figures grew shadows as they stand under the light and then disappear.

He continues, poker faced. “Jazz, I’ve been thinking about this since I was in Yale.” He looks down for a while. Then he locks eyes with me. “I’ve been thinking about you.

I start to open my mouth so that I could as why when he shook his head. I stop.

“Remember that time when someone gave you a bouquet of red roses during Valentine’s day, senior year? How you thought it was Connor who gave you those and when you asked him, he said yes?” He gives me a crooked smile. “He lied. I sent those.”

I falter. No wonder he seemed so bitter that day. I had to practically beg him so that we could go and watch the movie we’ve been waiting for years.

“You did?” I whisper.

He nods, fiddling with this fingers, twisting the ring on his middle finger. “Also, I didn’t really want to go to the Tinseltown Prom with Natalie. I wanted to go with you since you seemed so lonely but Natalie had expected too much and so I relented.”

One by one, his confessions hit home. And one by one, my heart started to jump in joy. Of course I liked Alex. And he liked me back.

But it was an unspoken understanding between us. And it was enough because we weren’t in a hurry.

As the snow fell from the sky, the faint voices kids signing Christmas carols filling the air between us, he suddenly zips his bag open and fumbles for his phone.

“Alex, what are you doing?” I ask.

Music comes playing and he says, “Dance with me, Jazz.”

And we smile as he wraps his hands around my waist, bringing me closer, taking my hand in mine and resting my other on his shoulder.

“I’m not too late, am I?” Alex asks, his voice barely a whisper.

“Why are you whispering?” I giggle.

“Jazz,” his voice is back to normal, “I’m not too late, am I?”

I shake my head slowly. “You’re never too late, Alex.”

He leans his head forward and we kiss, his arms going all the way around my waist and my hands gripping the nape of his neck, going all the way through his hair.

Sometimes, why settle with photographs when alive and moving memories are so much better?

A Metaphorical Snapping

Words travel faster than understanding does
Dazed looks and unending fuss
A stream of messages strung up in the air
Over puzzled feelings and pretentious care.

I break a little everyday, pieces scattered across the floor
Echoes of falling digging into my core
And yet you’re one to step and listen to the breaking
A sensation of breathing, and yet, I’m still sinking.

You hear me, what I say passing through each ear
You listen, and it stops all my fear
A metaphorical snapping, a breaking of my heart
As fast as the target meets the dart.

I get it, I am no different from others
No reason for wasted attention like a drunkard gathers
But I hoped for a correlation between us
Because I thought I already knew what it was.

The Story Of Us

I am getting on a train and you’re out there waiting on the platform, a strap of your bag hanging from your right shoulder and another before you, headphones on and a look of excitement in your eyes. You’re cute, I give you that, with your almond-shaped eyes and marshmallow cheeks that you keep on filling with air. I sit down on the line seats that face the window where you can be clearly seen, remaining to be oblivious of the chaotic scenes unfurling behind you; someone lost their ticket, children running around, students lining up the scanner, and workers milling about, on their way home.

It’s 4:00 and I am on my way home, too. How about you? I wonder as the train starts to beep, a warning for everyone to start boarding. Someone shifts beside me and I look over to see a young girl eating a chocolate bar, her face dirty, and a toothy grin plastered on her face, with which I also return. When I look back at where you stood, you have disappeared from my line of sight and the train starts to move. I have to admit, when I was watching, you looked so wanderlust I can imagine your muscles taut from waiting for a friend who’s probably running late, eager to get on board and travel to where you want to go. But where?

This is the city composed of skyscrapers that tower all the others, cars that horn every minute to get the traffic moving, billboards looming above flyovers, and bridges connecting separated islands from the mainland. Where could you possibly want to go?

As the train slows to a stop, I look at the station sign. This is me. Standing up, I adjust my sling bag behind me and step off, the rush of air greeting me with a force that I had not anticipated and therefore blew my hair around, covering my face. The struggle is real as I clip my hair into a ponytail, and I could have left it hanging for all I care when someone bumps me from behind, throwing me off my step and I could have fallen down had it not be for the strong grip on my arm. I could have shouted, I could have cursed, but when I looked around, I saw you.

The boy from the platform. You were holding my arm.

I can faintly hear you mumbling a series of “sorry” and see the look of concern in your eyes. You help me straighten up and flashed a sheepish smile, your free hand consciously rubbing the nape of your neck. But I guess I looked too blank because you started to wave your hand in front of me, like what people do in movies when one isn’t paying close attention.

I liked the way you laughed at me when I finally snapped out of it. I wanted to get mad because there was nothing funny about being caught starstruck. But when your laugh reached my ears, it wasn’t mockery but hesitant amusement. It was clear that you didn’t want to laugh but you did anyway, and I’m fine with that.

But there is something familiar about it. Too familiar that it stirs my heart. Faintly, but it’s there.

Growing up in a world where fairy tales were the center of inspiration, romantic comedies as an uplift and sappy novels as the ultimate reading material, I wondered if the statistical probability of love at first sight is high enough to become a reason for the way some people feel. The world has always been defined by infinite numbers, twisting its way into our lives, constantly pushing us over the edge of the cliff where we teeter and worry about things that shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place.

And then I remember you.

Memories burst through the dams that have been holding it back, flowing like a body of water that has been held back long enough.

You were the boy who gave me mud pies when we were little, topping them off with fallen flowers that littered the little front yard of your house; the boy who ran across the road each day to knock on my door, only to be answered by my mom who answered your questions about where I was and if I wanted to play; the same boy who taught me how to ride a bike, who picked me up when I fell down and would disappear like the Flash to get the First Aid Kit. A few years later, we became the awkward teenagers who simply grew apart, slowly by slowly, until you didn’t walk to school with me anymore, didn’t play the board games we were used to on Friday night because you were always too busy with a new video game. You softened my heart when you asked me to eat with you one night at our favorite diner, back when we were kids, and ordered the same berry cobblers just like 10 years ago and talked until the sun started to peek over the horizon and you walked me home to a blissful Saturday morning. I thought I would never forget prom night, where you asked me to be your date at the last-minute, wearing a sheepish smile that showed your dimples.

And then you disappeared after graduation. Like a popped bubble, where it vanishes without a trace.

Now you’re back and the stir in my heart becomes a leap and I can feel my eyes brimming with tears. I involuntarily take a step forward.

You look me in the eyes with your big brown ones, and a smile begins to form. You adjust the strap of your bag awkwardly, bringing me to an 8th grade memory where you convinced me of chivalry by taking my bag and hiking it up your other shoulder.

I’ve forgotten how much I missed you.

You take a step closer, and whispered, as if reading my mind and answering it, “I missed you too.”

I Write For You

I liked him because of the way he smiled.
He smiled until his eyes looks like two hyphens. His lips revealed the braces that has been attached to his teeth for quite too long, molding the crooked ones to form a straight horizontal line. The braces are blue today, my favorite. The kind of blue that forms when the sun reflects against a tinted window as it shines onto the pavement. Whiskers show on his otherwise marshmallow cheeks, and I fawn over the adorable way his hand would automatically cover it to avoid the forthcoming teasing. The way he always smiled makes me wish those affections were for me.

But it never was.

I liked his laugh.
It was never the kind of laugh that left you wondering whether he really found the joke funny or if it was merely a show. The kind of laugh that made you join in, until you slowly realize that you weren’t only focusing on the joke, and as quick as a snap may occur, you start laughing at him because of the tears in his eyes and how he clutched his stomach in pain because it was too funny. How his shoulders shook, how his hands would awkwardly cover his mouth, and how his eyes became smaller, made you wish that you could always see him as he is at that exact moment, that everything would slow down until it all of it freezes. And every sound was like a musical note that hit the right parts.

I liked him because of the way he viewed the world.
He talked about the endless issues of the society, of how he despised the lack of action made by the government. He voiced out his opinions with fiery passion and would laugh it all off to reduce the tension in the air as the debate burrowed further into the deepest recesses of each topic. The way he spoke reached out to me as well, with points that would strike you once and send you into thinking about realizations that begin to dawn with the feeling of discovering something that has long been in front of you, but were too blind to see. Convinced as he may be with his beliefs and uptight as he may seem about what he thinks is the right choice, he listens to the others’ voices, gathering all of them into one big bubble that slowly becomes bigger, filled with thoughts that vary in categories and importance.

He was funny yet reserved. He didn’t talk to the others that much, excluding his circle of friends who became my telltale signs that he was probably following behind them. And there he would be, appearing out of nowhere. I merely watched him from afar, co-existed with him in the building as I tried to catch up with his classes that coincided with mine. Freezing whenever he was nearby, the made-up conversations dissolving in my head, a battle with myself on whether I should say hi or should I not. Being too much of a coward to open my mouth, being too conscious to walk by casually that I end up looking like a penguin lost in a tropical country, having my self-esteem drop dangerously low because I believe that I’m not enough for anyone, let alone him, continue to frustrate me with every waking hour and every ticking of the second as the day reaches its end.

I grew up playing with words. Stringing them into sentences that are metaphorically dramatic, reaching deep within my thoughts and feeling every emotions that I could draw some inspiration from, and yet there are times wherein I would come up empty-handed, that I would result to flitting from memory to memory for experiences worth writing about.

And I thought of him.

Almost everything about him.

And now, I write about him in ways only I know of because I know I can never say it aloud. That I would cower in his presence, that speech would be unavailable and it would be as if I had no tongue. For now, I write about you in here, where my heart recognizes every detail about you yet there are some that I cannot simply put into words.

I wish you would look at me.

Even for once.