JULIE & ELMO

"When it's all too much, look at what we've done."

Everything Has Changed (Part 3)

“Jen naman. Alam mo namang andun siya…”, Julie said meekly through the phone as she inserted the key to her apartment’s doorknob. She had just gotten off the elevator when her phone rang. It was her friend, Jenny, asking her to a party tonight. Julie would’ve instantly agreed. She hadn’t seen her friend for over a month, but the problem was…

“Eh ano naman kung nandun si Elmo? Andun naman ako. Tsaka, madami naman kakilala yun dun mamayang gabi. Di ka naman siguro gagambalain nun! Sige na, Juls! Tagal na natin hindi nagkita o”, Jen pleaded.

Julie sighed as she entered her apartment and closed the door behind her. She wanted to go to this party because most of her friends would be there. But the fact remained that Elmo would be there and she wasn’t sure just how ready she was to handle a whole night out with him in close proximity.

When she’d moved here, knowing that Elmo lived in the building, she thought she’d prepared herself enough for inevitable encounters. She’d spent months watching all of their videos together in hopes of desensitizing herself for what was to come: the awkwardness, the rush of emotions upon seeing him again for the first time in months, the unbearable hurt she would remember she’d been through after not hearing from him for a long time and the anger that would follow the hurt. She’d forced herself to feel all of those over and over again while reviewing their past videos, hoping to numb herself of them so that she won’t experience them anymore once she does see him.

But all of her mental preparations proved to be futile from day 1, when Elmo came into her apartment, claiming to see how she was doing. Everything she worked hard to bury deep inside of her came crashing down and bursting out, resulting to that harsh encounter. Her unexpected breakfast with him and Jean just served to break down her resolve even more; besides making her remember her hurt and anger, she was hit by the sadness of it all: how far she and Elmo have come, from spending almost everyday together in the past to being this close physically at present but being so far from each other emotionally. It had been 2 weeks since that breakfast but she can still feel the melancholic air that they both exhibited towards the end. She wasn’t sure if she could cope with another bout of that when she sees him at tonight’s party.

“Jen…”, she said now, exasperated as lay down on her bed and stared at the ceiling.

“Juls, please”, Jen pleaded. “Miss ka na ng barkada. Please.”

Julie sighed. She knew then that she couldn’t possible turn down her friend. Jen was right; it had been a long time since she saw her friends. What with the preparations for moving and her own preparations for her possible encounters with Elmo, she hadn’t been able to go out with them for months.

With an ounce of reluctance and a silent prayer that she would not regret this decision, she said, “Sige na nga.”

***************************

“Julie?”

Even before she turned around, she knew who it was. She could never forget that voice. A voice she worked beside for years.

She was standing in front of her apartment building, waiting for her friend Billy, Jen’s boyfriend, to pick her up. Jen had told her this morning that Billy had already agreed to take Julie to the party since her building was close to where he lived. Julie had insisted on simply taking the cab, but Jen had insisted even more. She said it was the least she could do to repay Julie for agreeing to go to the party. Julie had felt bad that Jen would think it was a chore for her to agree to go so she hadn’t pushed the subject and simply agreed. Now, Billy was running a little late and Julie was dreading turning around at the sound of her name.

“Uy. Hi”, she replied as she finally turned to see Elmo standing outside the door to the building, dressed to go out. No doubt, to the party she was about to go to as well.

Elmo stood there for a while, not making a move to step forward, simply staring at Julie as if he was only seeing her for the first time. And it could be said that he was seeing her for the first time tonight; first time in two weeks that is. He hadn’t seen her since their breakfast with Jean.

“Hi. May lakad ka?”, he asked softly as he finally had the courage to step forward slowly, sidestepping Julie discreetly so that they weren’t standing too close to each other. While he wanted to be closer to her, he wasn’t sure how she would respond if he made a move to stand beside her. He didn’t think he could cope if she flinched or openly moved away.

Julie gave him a tight smile. “Oo. Hinihintay ko lang si…uhm, si Billy”, she said, her voice becoming smaller towards the end of her sentence. She suddenly remembered that Billy was one of Elmo’s close friends. In fact, Elmo was the one who had introduced Billy to Jen in one of Elmo’s house parties a few years ago. Telling him that Billy was coming to fetch her made her feel uneasy, especially since they have this gap between them right now. She felt as if she was stealing his friend somehow, even though it wasn’t she who had requested for him to fetch her.

“Susunduin ka din niya?”, asked Elmo, a note of surprise in his voice.

Confusion was etched in Julie’s face. “Din?”, she asked softly, before she was able to put the pieces together. A look of realization and anxiety crossed her face. “Susunduin ka din niya?”, she asked, unconsciously echoing Elmo’s earlier question.

At that moment, a black car pulled up in front of them and honked. Both Elmo and Julie recognized the car as Billy’s. But neither of them moved.

“Uhm, look, Juls, kung gusto mo, magtataxi nalang ako…”

“Wag na, Elmo. Andito na si Billy. Sayang lang yung magiging pamasahe mo”, Julie cut him off. What she really wanted to say was ‘Sige, Elmo. Kitakits nalang sa party’. But she didn’t. She wanted to be rid of this awkwardness between them. And if a 30-minute car ride together can be a stepping stone to that end point, then she would take it. She figured she’d probably outgrow this anxiety around him soon enough.

“Sigurado ka?”, Elmo asked hesitantly.

As a reply, Julie walked to the car and opened the back door.

“After you”, she said, trying to keep the mood light.

Isa Pa (One Shot)

NOTE: Not my best work. But someone requested for a one-shot, and this is all I could muster after a 9-hr straight workday. Sorry :(

“Break na daw sila ah.”

Parang regalo sa akin yung mga salitang ito nung sabihin ni Ate sa akin nung kausap ko siya kagabi sa video call.

“Bakit naman ngiting ngiti ka dyan, hoy? Di mo ba naisip na baka malungkot yung kaibigan mo ngayon? Heartbroken siya, siyempre. Isang taon din sila nun, noh”, pagsaway niya sa akin.

Natawa ako. “Eh yun nga eh, nabulag siya dun sa ugok na yun ng isang taon.”

Inirapan ako ni Ate. “Loko ka, Moe, ha. Kahit pano naman minahal din niya yun. Tsaka anong feeling mo, ngayong hiwalay na sila, magiging kayo na? Manligaw ka muna uy.”

“Wow, ha. Salamat naman sa vote of confidence mo sa akin, Ate. Tsaka bakit hindi? Matagal na kaming magkakilala. Walang ibang mas nakakakilala sa kanya kesa sa akin. At ganun din naman na walang mas nakakakilala sa akin kung hindi siya”, sagot ko naman.

“Uy, nagdrama daw siya bigla? Hay naku, anong balak mo? Nandito siya sa Pilipinas, nandyan ka sa Amerika. Ano, uuwi ka para sa kanya?”, tanong niya sa akin na natatawa.

Hindi ko siya sinagot, siyempre. Ang hindi niya alam? Oo…oo ang sagot sa tanong niya.

*********************

“Basta ayoko na pag-usapan yung lalaking yun”, sambit ni Julie habang kausap ko siya sa video call pagkatapos ko tawagan si Ate kagabi. Pagsagot palang niya sa tawag ko, alam ko nang kakatapos lang niya umiyak. O baka talagang hindi pa tapos pero ayaw lang niyang makita ko kaya pinigilan niya. Yan kasi siya eh, ayaw niyang may nakakakitang mahina siya, kahit ako pa na matagal na niyang kakilala. Gusto niya lagi siyang mukhang matatag. Macho nga daw kasi siya.

“Pwede bang tanungin lang kung bakit nakipaghiwalay ka sa kanya?”, tanong ko.

Tinaasan niya ako ng kilay. “Sino naman nagsabing ako ang nakipag-break?”

“Hindi nga ba? Eh kasi, ang tanga naman niya kung siya ang mang-iiwan sayo. Not to mention, ang kapal naman ng mukha niya kung ganun”, sagot ko naman agad.

Natawa si Julie ng bahagya. “Sira ka talaga. Salamat naman sa suporta, friend, pero siya ang nakipaghiwalay sa akin. Hindi daw kami magwowork-out kasi mas bata daw ako sa kanya. Ulul niya, ang sabihin niya matagal na siyang may gusto dun sa bago niyang katrabaho. Buwisit yun”, sagot niya sa akin. Narinig ko ang bahagyang paghina at nginig ng boses niya sa bandang huli ng sinabi niya. Hindi ko na ito pinansin.

Umiling ako. “Ang kapal naman ng mukha niya para gawin yun sayo. Di bale, buti nalang lumabas yung tunay niyang kulay bago pa kayo nagtagal.”

Hindi na naming uli masyado pinag-usapan ang hiwalayan nila. Ang mahalaga, nasigurado ko nang pwede na uli si Julie. Oo, makasarili yung iniisip ko, pero kung ikaw ba, mabigyan uli ng bagong pagkakataon para maitama ang katangahan mo, hindi mo ba ito kukunin?

***********************

Ganito kasi yan. Si Julie at ako, matagal na kami magkakilala. Naging magkaklase kami nung elementary palang. Tapos, dahil malapit ang bahay naming sa school, at sila Julie ay malayo, sa tuwing merong event na ginagabi sa school, sa bahay nakikitulog yang si Julie. Syempre, hindi kami magkatabi. Tabi sila ni Ate Isa. Tapos nung papunta na kami ng high school, lumipat sila Julie sa village namin kaya mas naging malapit na naman kami.

Si Julie, napakaganda niyan. Kaya madaming nanliligaw. Pili lang ang nagiging boyfriend, pero ni minsan, hindi niya ako naging boyfriend. Bakit? Kasi torpe ako. Nakakatawa man aminin, pero totoo. Matagal ko na gusto yang si Julie, Grade 5 palang kami. Napansin agad ni Ate yun pero wala eh, talagang hindi ko siya kayang ligawan. Hindi ko kasi lubos maisip ano naman ang magiging pag-asa ko sa tulad niya?

Kaya ayun na nga, mula Grade 5 eh nasa tabi-tabi lang ako, pasulyap-sulyap. Laging sumbungan tungkol sa problemang boyfriend pero hindi nagiging boyfriend. Eh ganun talaga. Tinanggap ko na yung kapalaran kong yun noon pa.

Tapos, nung second year college kami, kinuha ako ni Papa dito sa Amerika. Hiwalay na kasi sila Mama at Papa. May sarili nang pamilya si Papa dito. Kinuha niya ako dito para siya ang magpaaral sa akin ng college. Noong una, ayoko. Pero kasi maganda yung music program na nahanap ni Papa, eh yun talaga ang gusto kong kunin, kaya napapayag din ako.

Nung araw na hinatid ako ng pamilya ko at ni Julie sa airport para umalis, humagulgol si Julie at yinakap niya ako ng sobrang tagal na para bang ayaw na niya akong bitawan. Dun ko naisip na, “Teka, baka naman may pag-asa ako dito”, kaso siyempre huli na kasi aalis na ako. Kaya sinabi ko sa sarili ko, paguwi ko sa summer vacation, aamin na ako kay Julie.

Kaso, sa malas ko, may boyfriend na si Julie nung unang summer na umuwi ako. Nung sumunod na summer na paguwi ko naman, mayroon pa din. At nitong nakaraang summer lang na paguwi ko, yun na nga, boyfriend niya yung ngayon ay ex-boyfriend na niya.

Tatlong summer na yung pinalipas ko. Dadagdagan ko pa ba?

************************

“Basta pumunta ka sa airport bukas please?”, paki-usap ko kay Julie.

Mahigit isang buwan na simula nung  nagbreak sila ng dati niyang boyfriend. Simula nung araw na tinawagan ko siya para makibalita tungkol sa kanila, nung araw na namumugto ang mata niya, may mga ibang naging tawagan at usapan na din kami. Araw-araw naman din kasi kami nag-uusap niyan. Kahit madaling araw na dito, tinatawagan ko pa din yan pag hiniling niya. Hindi ko naman matitiis yan eh.

“Siguro dadating ka bukas noh?”, dagdag niya, sabay ngiti na para bang nasabik siya sa ideya na yun.

Natawa ako. “Julie, alam ko namimiss mo na ako pero diba kalagitnaan ng semester ngayon? Paano naman kaya ako uuwi?”, tukso ko sa kanya.

Nayamot siya at inirapan ako. “Sorry naman kung excited ako makita kaibigan ko noh. Eh teka, ano gagawin ko ba sa airport bukas?”, tanong niya uli.

“May padala kasi ako para kay Ate at kay Mama, kaso walang pwedeng kumuha nun bukas kasi pareho silang may lakad. Sige na, please?”, pakiusap ko uli.

Nagpanggap si Julie na para bang isang napakabigat na Gawain ito para sa kanya. Pero sa totoo lang, hindi din naman ako matiis nito minsan. “Sige na nga”, sagot niya sa akin, bahagyang pinahaba ang huling salita na para bang napipilitan lang siya.

“Salamat! The best ka talaga!”, sagot ko naman.

*********************

Alam ko dapat inaantok ako ngayon, lalo na’t iba ang oras ng Pilipinas sa oras ng Amerika. Dapat inaantok ako dahil napagod ako sa biyahe. Pero paano ka aantukin kung ang pagkakataong makuha mo ang gusto mo eh nasa harapan mo na?

Kanina pa ako dumating dito sa airport, exactly 28 hours simula noong huli kong nakausap si Julie sa video call.

Nagsinungaling ako sa kanya kagabi. Wala akong padala. Hindi busy sila Mama at Ate. Ang katotohanan niyan, kanina ko pa din sila kasama dito sa airport. Sinundo nila ako. Kasi, oo, umuwi ako para kay Julie. Kalagitnaan nga ng semester, pero dahil isang subject lang ang kinukuha ko ngayon, isang beses lang sa isang linggo ang pasok ko. Kaya pwedeng pwede ako umuwi ng ilang araw. Kahit kaunting araw lang yan, kukunin ko kung si Julie naman ang magiging kapalit ng pag-aabsent ko at pagod ko sa biyahe.

Kinakabahan ako. Gagana kaya ang plano ko? Sa mahigit isang buwan nang nakalipas simula nung naging single si Julie, hindi niya na uli nabanggit ang ex-boyfriend niya. At mukha naming masaya siya. Pwede naman na siguro naming subukang kami naman?

“Andyan na siya”, bulong ni Ate mula sa tabi ko.

Tumango ako nang nakita kong pumasok si Julie sa revolving doors sa first floor ng airport. Umalis si Ate sa tabi ko at bumaba para salubungin si Julie, hawak ang isang kahon. Sa loob ng kahon na iyon, may sulat.

Julie,

Sorry kung nagsinungaling ako kahapon. Sorry din kung natagalan ako masyado.

Elmo

Pinanood ko silang dalawa, si Julie nagulat sa pagkakakita niya kay Ate. Bakit nga naman hindi siya magugulat eh sinabi ko nga naman sa kanya na busy si Ate ngayon. Kaya nga siya dapat ang kukuha ng “padala” ko. Pinanood kong binuksan niya ang box at inilabas ang scroll na naglalaman ng liham ko. Bago pa man niya ito mabuksan, lumapit sa akin sa Mama. Tinignan ko siya.

“Bababa na din ako. Bahala ka na dito”, sabi niya.

Tumango ako at tumingin uli kay Julie. Nabasa na niya ang liham ko at kausap niya si Ate. Kitang-kita ko ang pagtataka sa mukha niya. Si Ate naman, ngumingiti lang.

Maya maya pa, si Mama naman ang lumapit sa kanila. May hawak din siyang kahon. May liham din sa loob.

Julie,

Alam ko naguguluhan ka ngayon, pero ako hindi. Wala nang ibang bagay sa buhay ko na mas sigurado kesa dito.

Elmo

Hindi ko na hinintay ang pagbubukas ni Julie sa kahon. Tumalikod na ako at pumunta sa kuhaan ng padala. Sinabihan ko sila Mama na huwag sasabihin kay Julie na umuwi ako. Basta sabihin lang nila na may kukunin siyang padala.

Habang hinihintay ko si Julie dun, bumilis ang tibok ng puso ko at bigla akong nagdalawang-isip. Paano kung masira ang pagkakaibigan namin dahil dito? Higit sa lahat, yun ang kinakatakot ko. Hindi na ako natatakot na ma-reject dahil kung tutuusin, matagal ko nang nakondisyon ang sarili ko dun. Pero yung epekto nito sa amin ni Julie bilang magkaibigan, yun ang hindi ko matatanggap kung dahil lang ditto eh mawawala lahat ng pinagsamahan namin.

Bago pa man ako makaisip na umalis at tumakas, nakita ko sa malayo na naglalakad si Julie, hawak ang dalawang liham ko, binabasa uli ang mga ito, nakakunot ang noo.

Pinapawisan na ako.

Naglalakad pa din siya.

Nasusuka na ako sa nerbyos.

Malapit na siya.

Kailangan ko yata muna magbanyo.

Ayan na siya.

Bigla siyang tumingin pataas at nakita ko ang mabilis na pagbabago ng mukha niya: pagtataka dahil sa mga liham, bahagyang pangingilala nang una niya akong makita, pagkagulat, pagkatapos ay tuwa.

“Hoy, Elmo!”, sigaw niya, sabay takbo papunta sa akin.

Pinagtinginan kami ng mga tao, pero yan si Julie. Pag masaya siya, masaya siya. Wala siyang pakialam na madaming nakatingin.

Mahigpit niya akong niyakap at narinig kong bigla siyang humikbi. Umiiyak siya? Sa harap ng ibang tao?

“Sssh, wag kang umiyak”, bulong ko sa kanya. Niyakap ko din siya ng mahigpit.

Hindi pa din siya bumitaw sa pagkakayakap niya sa akin. “Eh kasi naman eh…ikaw…sinungaling ka…sabi ko na…eh kasi…ikaw talaga! Kasi naman!” Hindi na niya halos masabi ang gusto niyang sabihin dahil sa tuwa, na ikinatuwa ko din naman. Ibig sabihin namiss din niya ako!

“O tama na, tama na. Oo, sinungaling na ako, sorry na”, sagot ko.

Dahan-dahan na siyang bumitaw at agad pinunasan ang luha niya. Nang magkatinginan kami uli, natawa siya ang sinuntok ako sa braso. “Bakit di mo sinabing uuwi ka?”, tanong niya, sabay hikbi.

Natawa ako. “Pwede naman siguro surprise diba?”

Natawa siya. “Hay, naku ka. Ilang araw ka dito? Kailangan pumasyal tayo! Magkita-kita tayo nila—-“

Pinutol ko ang pagsasalita niya. “Julie, shhh”, sabi ko. Nang tumigil siya, kinuha ko ang kamay niya at huminga ng malalim.

“Huy, anong nangyayari sayo?”, tanong niya sa akin, pero nakita kong may pag-aalinlangan sa boses niya. Na para bang gusto niyang malaman ang sagot sa tanong niya, pero parang ayaw din niya malaman dahil baka hindi niya kayanin ang magiging sagot.

Huminga ako uli ng malalim bago tuluyang nagsalita.

“Matagal na kitang gusto Julie. Mga bata pa lang tayo. Uhugin pa tayo nun. Naka-brace ka pa nun. Naka-pigtails. Uso pa Backstreet Boys at N*Sync. Wala pang Justin Bieber nun, pero gusto na kita. Cliché man tong sasabihin ko pero hindi ako umamin sayo dahil bestfriends tayo at ayokong masira yun. Tsaka, ang ganda ganda mo eh. Sino ba naman ako para magustuhan mo? Ilang taon kong tinago ito. Ilang taon kong kinimkim. Ilang taon akong tumahimik at tumabi sa sulok habang sinasaktan ka ng mga naging boyfriend mo. Galit ako sa kanilang lahat dahil hindi ka nila pinahalagahan. At itong huli, ito yung nagtulak sa akin para umamin na sayo. Ayoko na uling maiwan ng pagkakataon. Ayoko na uling may lalaking mananakit sayo. Hindi ka dapat sinasaktan. Napakabait mong tao para mapunta lang sa isang lalaking hindi marunong mag-alaga. Ako, matagal na kitang inaalagaan. Kahit alam kong wala akong pag-asa sa iyo, andito padin ako, laging nakaabang para tulungan ko o alalayan ka sa tuwing may lalaki na naming pumilay sayo. Sa tuwing nasasaktan ka, nasasaktan ako. Sa tuwing masaya ka sa boyfriend mo, masaya din naman ako, pero nasasaktan din. Pero nanaig yung pagiging kaibigan ko, kaya hindi ko pinakita yun lahat sayo kasi ayokong tumigil ka sa pangangailangan mo sa akin. Kasi parang yun yung lifeline ko eh. Parang yun yung role ko sa buhay, at yun yung role na gusto kong gampanan habang-buhay. Gusto ko pag masaya ka, ako yung dahilan. Gusto ko pag malungkot ka, ako ang dadamay sayo. Gusto ko magkasama tayo sa pagtupad ng mga pangarap natin, hindi lang bilang magkaibigan lang. Alam ko, masyado pa siguro maaga para manligaw, at kung ganun man, bibigyan kita ng oras pa. Pero gusto ko lang malaman mo na mahal na mahal kita, at hindi ko na mababago yun. Ang nais ko na lang ngayon eh mabago yung tingin mo sa akin, mula sa pagiging kaibigan lang.”

Tahimik siya pagkatapos ko sabihin lahat ng iyon. Para akong nabunutan ng tinik nung ibinubuhos ko ang nararamdaman ko. Pero ngayon naman, parang mas malaking tinik yung nalunok ko sa paghihintay sa sasabihin niya.

Maya maya pa, ngumiti siya at pinitik ako sa ilong.

“Bakit kasi ang tagal tagal mo gumalaw? Ang tagal tagal na din kaya kitang hinihintay,” sambit niya.

Eto na yun. Sa wakas, nakuha ko na yung isa pang pagkakataon ko para makuha ko ang gusto ko. Bibitawan ko pa ba?

Niyakap ko siya ng mahigpit ng mga oras na iyon at pinagdasal kong sana hindi na matapos ang araw. Sana doon nalang kami habang-buhay, magkayakap, masaya, dahil sa wakas, tapos na kaming maghintay para sa isa’t isa.

Everything Has Changed (Part 2.5)

She couldn’t believe the turn of events. A few minutes ago, she was perfectly fine. Well, despite the fact that she had a sudden urge to panic when she saw Elmo standing just outside the elevator doors. And despite the fact that she was forcing herself not to hyperventilate when Jean asked him to ride the car down with them. All of those things, she could tolerate, especially since she knew it would only be Jean she was dining with this morning. She hadn’t given much thought that since the elderly lady was friendly with everyone in their building, she was bound to extend an invite or two to some people they would encounter. While maybe at the back of her mind, Julie wouldn’t have minded meeting the other residents of the building, she hadn’t expected that out of all the people there, it would be Elmo whom they would run into. It would be Elmo to whom this particular random invite would be extended.

What was she supposed to do once Jean had invited him? Should she have told the older woman that she wasn’t up to having breakfast anymore? Would she have had the courage to tell her that she didn’t want to be in close proximity with Elmo right now?

She could never have done such. First, because this would raise so many questions from Jean; questions Julie didn’t want to be asked. And second, despite the fact that she and Elmo were in a bad place right now, she could never bring herself to be rude to him like that. Sure, she’d asked him to leave last night, but it wasn’t like she was harsh about it. Or maybe she was, but at least it was just the two of them there. Telling Jean that she didn’t want to be with Elmo right now would not only mean being harsh to him for the second time in less than 24 hours; it would also mean embarrassing him in front of a stranger. Stranger when it came to their history, that is. She was expecting him to say no, for both their sakes. She didn’t really think Elmo would be up to dining with her, too, after the way she acted last night. Her surprise must’ve been evident on her face when he agreed to the invite because Elmo’s smile faltered and threatened to disappear. It was a good thing Jean was looking at the digital display above the elevator doors indicating that they were on the 20th floor already. The elderly lady was oblivious to the unspoken communication exchanged between her young companions.

“Buti naman. I’m sure you will have more fun being with us kesa yung palakad lakad ka sa mall mag-isa”, Jean was saying now.

So, what else could Julie do but plaster a smile on her face and brave the morning that was to unfold.

“Nice to meet you, Elmo”, she said, putting on a show for Jean.

****************************

The restaurant where Jean took Julie and Elmo was just a few blocks from their building. The walls were painted cream with small red, blue and purple flowers drawn on the wall corners. As they entered, Elmo, being the perfect gentleman that he was, opened the doors for Julie and Jean. The elderly woman entered first, and as Julie passed Elmo, their eyes met for a brief moment, each a reflection of the other’s anxiety.

Jean lead them to a booth near the back of the restaurant where a waiter passing by greeted her. As she sat down, she laughed and said, “Wag kayo masyado magulat kung madaming nakakakilala sa akin dito. I dine here for breakfast almost everyday. They have the best blueberry muffin. Tapos samahan mo pa nung green tea, naku I’m telling you, masarap talaga”.

Julie smiled as she slid into the chair beside the elderly woman. “Sige po, yan oorderin ko para masubukan ko na din. Para dito na din ako mag-aagahan everyday”, she said with a chuckle.

Jean smiled. “Yes, we can have breakfast together everyday! The three of us!”, she said excitedly.

Elmo was just sitting on the chair opposite them but this statement caught him off-guard and he almost slid off the chair.

“Uy, Moe!”, Julie exclaimed by instinct, standing up and reaching for Elmo’s hand.

Elmo gripped Julie’s hand and used it as leverage to pull himself upright. It all felt so normal, so automatic, that it took a moment for them to realize that they weren’t really in good terms, and the both of them immediately let go of each other.

Julie cleared her throat and went back to her seat, looking down at the table.

Jean watched the whole exchange with a curious glance. After Julie sat down, the older woman looked at Elmo and patted his hand, which was awkwardly placed on the table after having let go of Julie’s hand so suddenly. “Are you alright, iho?”, she asked.

Elmo smiled at Jean. “Opo, Mommy. Nadulas lang ako sa pag-upo”, he said.

They all settled into their seats and called for a waiter. After placing their orders, silence enveloped them. Jean was the one to speak first.

“So, Julie, are you still studying?”, she asked.

Julie nodded. “Yes, po. Actually, kaya po ako nag-apartment. Kasi malayo yung school ko from my house. I didn’t want to waste too much time in travel”, she replied.

Jean nodded and smiled. “Well, I want you to know that if you ever need anything, just knock on my door. Or Elmo’s, for that matter, since mabait at matulungin naman ang batang ito”, she said, pointing to Elmo.

Elmo gave a tight smile, not looking at Julie. “Hindi naman, Mommy”, he said in a small voice.

Jean shook her head. “Non-sense! Ikaw kaya ang pinakamatulungin sa mga boys dyan sa building”, she said with a laugh. She turned to Julie. “Alam mo ba, last week lang…eh di siyempre galing ako sa grocery. Tapos palabas na ako ng elevator…alam mo, sa lahat ng nakasalubong ko pabalik ng apartment, si Elmo lang ang tumigil at tumulong sa akin. Kasi ang bigat ng dala ko. At that time, nagmamadali si Elmo. I know because he was already walking fast towards the elevators. Pero yun nga, he still took time to help me out”, she narrated, beaming at the young man in front of her. She looked at Julie again, still with a smile on her face. “I’m sure pag may kailangan ka, tutulungan ka din niyan”, she said.

Julie smiled, though it didn’t reach her eyes, and nodded. “Sige po, Mommy. Pag may kailangan ako, kayo pupuntahan ko”, she replied.

The waiter came back with a glass of water for each of them. Both Elmo and Julie reached for the same glass, and as the tips of their fingers touched, they both pulled back immediately, as if met with electric shock.

At the sight of this, Jean laughed. “Ano ba kayong dalawa? Kanina pa kayo parang nakukuryente. Siguro may gusto kayo sa isa’t isa”, she teased.

Elmo made a sound that was a cross between a laugh and a cough. Julie fidgeted with her hands on her lap. No one said anything.

“Bagay kayong dalawa, actually”, Jean added.

At that moment, the waiter came back, this time with their orders. Julie has never felt more relieved in her life. At least now, she had an excuse not to talk because her mouth would be full. She pulled her blueberry muffin and tea towards her. The smell of the muffin made her hungry. She bit into it and closed her eyes, savoring the taste. When she opened her eyes, she was met with Elmo’s, looking at her with an expression of amusement, the same expression he would always have when they ate together back when they were…well, when things were a lot different than how they were now.

“Sarap noh?”, Jean’s voice suddenly cut through Julie’s thoughts.

Julie turned to her and nodded, still chewing. She held up her thumb and forced herself to swallow. “Sobrang sarap!”, she agreed.

The elderly lady went on to say that she would bring her children here whenever they visited the country. She told them that her children were already in different countries, working, and that her husband has passed away nearly five years ago. “Kaya ko iniwan yung malaking bahay sa province. Kasi maalala-alala ko lang siya. Mahirap, kapag yung taong matagal mong nakasama eh biglang mawawala. Hindi mo na nakakausap, hindi mo na nakikita, hindi mo na nakakasama, tapos titira ka sa lugar na magpapaalala sayo lahat ng memories niyo. Nakakalungkot masyado”, she finished.

Julie suddenly looked up at Elmo, and as if by instinct, he looked at her, too. For once, since their awkward encounter last night, they really stared at each other, their emotions intertwined, mirroring each other. Taong matagal mong nakasama… hindi mo na nakakausap… nakikita… nakakasama… nakakalungkot masyado. Jean’s words were running through their minds as they shared that brief moment together, staring. Despite the gap that seemed to divide them, despite the changes that have passed in the months without each other, they were both feeling the same thing.

Then Jean broke the spell. “Kaya nga buti na lang dyan sa building natin, madami akong nagging kaibigan na makakasama lagi”, she said as she added honey to her tea, oblivious to the moment that Elmo and Julie has just shared.

“Oo nga po, Mommy. At least, hindi rin kayo laging mag-isa”, Elmo said, his voice a little hollow. He wanted, more than anything, to be alone with Julie so they could talk about the moment that just passed them.

Julie looked away and reached for the honey, adding some to her tea, as well.

For the duration of the breakfast, Jean told stories of her children and her childhood, growing up in the province. Elmo and Julie would nod and reply at the right moments, just to acknowledge the older woman. Both of them were able to avoid any further contact with the other, physical or otherwise. Despite this, they couldn’t have been more connected now than if their hands, hips and all the parts of their bodies were touching: they were both feeling sad about the time lost between them and feeling confused about what exactly they could do about it.

Two years and counting.

Today marks the second year anniversary of this Tumblr blog. A blog that wasn’t meant for anything else except to stalk anything related to the amazing tandem that is JuliElmo. A blog that was supposed to run on a simple like-and-reblog basis. But in the end, I was able to use this blog to create stories. This blog mixed both my life as a fangirl and my life as a frustrated writer. This was supposed to be just about Julie Anne and Elmo Moses. Instead, it slowly also became about me and about my fellow fans. This is where we expressed bliss over the simplest of things, sorrow over the most trivial, if sometimes even childish, plights. This is where we exchanged anything and everything about the two teenagers that made our hearts flip everytime they are together.

Despite having been away for such a long time now, I still find myself being drawn back here somehow. And as much as it pains me that Julie Anne and Elmo Moses are no longer a tandem, I cannot bring myself to rid my life of this blog, this connection I have to them. A connection I started exactly two years ago. There is probably still a part of me that is hoping they would still get back together. Although, if I am being honest, that idea is already far-fetched. They are both already in too deep in their respective careers that I have only a sliver of hope left that they would be able to swim back and find each other again. Despite this, that sliver of hope still lingers and will probably always linger unless I hear both of them say it outright that they will never work together again.

Anyway, all I am trying to say is: Happy 2nd birthday to my fangirl heart! May you continue to beat to the JuliElmo rhythm and bleed the blue-orange blood. As long as we both shall live.

Everything Has Changed (Part 2)

“She hates me”.

These are the first words he mumbled to himself as he lay on his bed early the next morning. The curtains were still drawn and the red digits of his bedside clock told him it was just past 6, but he felt as if he hadn’t had a single second of sleep since he left Julie’s apartment last night. What had gone wrong? Their first words were ‘Hello’. Awkward, tension-filled, but otherwise simple and civil enough. But just a few minutes after that, they seemed to have said their goodbyes, just like that.

Was it really a goodbye? He hated to think so, but it felt like it. She looked hurt. She looked angry. He didn’t understand why. Or maybe he just refused to understand, because understanding is the first step of acceptance, and if he accepted why she was hurt and angry, he’d have to accept that maybe that really was a goodbye last night.

“I hate me”, he said grudgingly as he turned on his side and kicked on the pillow resting on his foot. He heard the flop as the pillow fell to the floor but he made no move to try to pick it up. He felt tired. He didn’t want to get up. What would be the point of getting up? He had nowhere to go. And if he went out, he’d run the risk of bumping into Julie and also run the risk of seeing that once-friendly face turn sour at the sight of him.

He pulled on a pillow, buried his face in it and screamed with all his might. He felt the pillow’s dampness on his face and knew the tears he’d been keeping at bay since he woke up this morning had finally spilled. He hoped that with Julie so close to him, they’d patch things up immediately. Then again, it was a naïve and, frankly, insensitive thought. He hadn’t talked to her for a while and now he expected them to pick up where they left off? If he could say so himself, it was plain stupid to think that.

“Julie!”, he screamed into the pillow, letting the tears dampen the pillow even more.

*****************************

“Julie, okay ka lang diba? Bagong umaga na, wag nang isipin ang kagabi”, she said to her reflection on the mirror hanging on the wall beside her apartment door. She was on her way out for breakfast with her neighbor. No, not Elmo—-her other neighbor, the one living immediately beside her unit.

“Ngiti. Marami pang darating na araw. Alam mong makakasalubong mo siya dito, diba? Alam mong dito siya nakatira pero pinili mo parin dito, kaya panindigan mo”, she added as she straightened her hair and smoothed out the creases on her skirt.

There was a knock on the door and for a split second she was anxious and hesitant to answer it, memories of last night’s visitor still lingering.

“Julie? Are you ready?”

She sighed with relief as she recognized her neighbor Mrs. Aquino’s voice.

“Kalma lang, Julie”, she whispered to herself. She took a deep breath and grabbed her purse from the table beside the door.

“Hi, Mrs. Aquino! Good morning po!”, she greeted the elderly lady as she opened the door and exited her apartment.

The older woman smiled at her and hooked her arm through Julie’s. “Naku, anak, Mommy Jean nalang itawag mo sa akin. That’s what the other youngsters call me here in our building”, she said.

Julie nodded and gently guided Jean to the elevator. As they waited for the elevator car to arrive, her heart started beating slightly faster, feeling anxious about the possibility of Elmo stepping out of the elevator as they enter. She mentally shook away the anxiety. She couldn’t live like this, always dreading the possibilities of encountering him.

“By the way, do you already know the young gentleman living across from you?”, Jean asked as the elevator doors opened to reveal an empty car.

Sighing with relief, Julie let the elderly woman enter first before she got in and pressed the button for ground floor. Not having heard the question properly, she said, “Huh? Sino po?”.

“Oh, here he is”, Jean suddenly exclaimed, pressing the button to keep the elevator doors from closing.

Julie looked towards the hallway and saw Elmo standing there, apparently surprised to see her, as well.

After a beat of silence, Jean spoke. “Well, don’t just stand there, young man. Pumasok ka na at sabay-sabay na tayo bumaba”, she invited.

Julie saw the hesitation in Elmo’s eyes. She knew him well enough to read into what he was thinking through his eyes.

“Ah sige, una na po kayo…”

“Nonsense, the car can hold the three of us, come on!”, Jean insisted.

Without any excuse for delay in mind, Elmo got in and the elevator doors closed behind him.

Julie looked up and saw the red numbers counting down the floors. 25…24…

“Elmo, have you met Julie Anne? She’s a new neighbor”, Jean said, turning to Elmo but pointing to Julie.

Elmo smiled and nodded. “I met her last night, Mommy”, he answered briefly, pocketing his hands and not looking at Julie.

“Good. It’s always nice to know who your neighbors are”, Jean said. Suddenly, the elderly woman snapped her fingers and both Elmo and Julie looked at her in surprise. “Are you going somewhere in particular, Moe?”, she asked.

Elmo frowned but shook his head. “I was just gonna walk around the mall”, he said uncertainly.

Jean smiled and patted Julie’s arm, still looking at Elmo. “Join us for breakfast!”, she exclaimed.

Julie couldn’t speak. Breakfast? With Elmo? Her eyes widened as she watched the same surprise and anxiety cross Elmo’s face.

When he didn’t answer immediately, Jean spoke again, convincing him. “Come on, dear. Let’s get to know Julie Anne more. She’s our neighbor, after all. Let’s make her feel welcome into our floor”.

Elmo was never really able to say no to Jean. She was a kindly elderly lady who took care of him like a mother, when he needed anything. He chanced a brief glance at Julie and saw that she was watching him, her eyes wide. He closed his eyes briefly, trying to compose himself. This answer would probably make her feel like he’s trying to make amends or else just trying to mess with her. Either way, this answer could make or break his chance to be in good graces with Julie. He opened his eyes and gave Jean a small smile.

“Sure, Mommy.”

Everything Has Changed (Part 1)

There was a knock on the door.

“Sandali lang.”

She put down the batch of cookies she had just taken out of the oven on the kitchen table and took off to open the door.

Her mouth dropped open.

“Hello”, he said from the doorway, an uncertain smile on his face.

“Uhm, hello”, she replied, biting her lip out of surprise and building anxiety.

They hadn’t seen or talked to each other for months. And now, here they were, facing each other, a threshold the only thing separating them.

He cleared his throat. This was awkward.

She cleared her throat and finally had the sense to be a good host. She stepped back slowly.

“Pasok ka”, she said. Though it came out like a question.

He nodded and carefully stepped around her, entering her apartment.

She closed the door behind him and put her hands in her pockets, shifting her weight as she stood behind him.

He could feel her behind him, waiting for him to do or say something. Anything to ease the obvious tension in the air. He made a gesture as if looking around.

“Ganda ng ginawa mo dito ah. Orange pa din talaga”, he said, his voice breaking a bit, no doubt caused by his anxiety. Why did he come here again? Oh, right, cause they’re neighbors now. He cleared his throat to prevent his voice breaking again later when he talks.

She nodded, then, realizing he couldn’t see her because she was behind him, she spoke. “Oo, alam mo naman. Favorite.” What had happened to them? They used to talk a lot around each other. Now, they were reduced to saying brief, obvious statements. That’s what a breakup and separation would do to two people. Not that they actually realistically broke up. They were never a couple.

The silence stretched on for a minute or two, but they both felt like they just wanted to leave the room and be someplace else, hopefully away from each other, because each other’s presence was bringing on too many feelings. Untapped. Unspoken.

“Upo ka, Moe”, she finally said, pointing to a couch to their right.

He nodded and walked over to it, then sat down. “Thanks”, he said with a smile. He tapped his foot on the floor, not knowing what else to say.

She smiled at him but for a moment just stood there, rooted to the spot, feeling as if moving away from that spot would be unsafe; that standing there, close to the door, would help her in case she wants to escape when the situation became too overwhelming. But who was she kidding? They were neighbors now. There was no way they could put off talking to each other. They’d have to be civil with each other, if they were to live across from each other. And they couldn’t possibly just brush off each other every single day, could they?

Finally, she took a deep breath and walked over to the kitchen. “Kumusta ka naman?”, she asked as she carefully transferred the cookies from the baking pan to a plate.

He watched her do her work before answering. “Okay naman. Ikaw?”

She looked up and gave him a brief smile, before looking back at the cookies. “Okay naman din.”

“Good. Good”, was all he was able to say before the silence enveloped them once again.

She bit her lip as she placed the last cookie on the plate and put the baking pan on the sink. What were they supposed to do? Juice. They need juice.

She looked around and saw that she only had one glass on the kitchen counter. She reached up and opened the overhead cabinet to get another one for her visitor.

When he saw her reach up to the cabinet, he immediately thought of being a good guest and helping out in whatever she was doing. Slowly, he stood up and walked over to her, standing behind her and reaching up.

His presence startled her and she gave a small scream when she felt his hand on top of hers, reaching for the glass she was reaching for as well. The sound of glass breaking on the tiled floor reached her ears and she jumped back by instinct, pushing her back against Elmo’s body.

He hugged her from behind by instinct pushed her aside, away from the glass fragments now littering the floor. “Sorry, Julie! Hindi ko sinasadyang gulatin ka!”, he immediately apologized.

When she felt his arms around her, for a short while she felt like she was back home, back in her comfort zone. The safety of his arms, the smell of him, his breath on her hair, his proximity—-it brought back memories. She closed her eyes for that short while, relishing the thought of being with him again. But the split second passed and she remembered that they were practically strangers. She pushed through the strength of his arms around her and, when she was a foot away, turned to face him, unable to hide the hurt and anger in her eyes. “Bakit ka ba kasi andito, Moe? Matagal na tayong hindi nag-uusap”, she said quietly. Even as hurt and angry as she was, she couldn’t bring herself to shout at him. He was still very much a part of her life, as painful as it is to admit it to herself.

He blinked, surprised at her sudden change of mood. “Julie…”, he trailed off. He didn’t know what to say.

She gave him a small smile, though it was a sad smile. “Tahimik na ako, Moe. Okay na ako uli. Bakit ka andito?” She didn’t make any sense, she knew. But quite suddenly, she was tired and just wanted to lie down. The few minutes she spent being awkward around him was exhausting.

He frowned and sighed. “Gusto sana kitang kumustahin”, he said timidly.

“Okay ako, sinabi ko naman sayo. Nakumusta mo na ako. Ano pa?”, she asked. She was being rude, but she just wanted to get over the civilities and have them both move on with their lives.

He nodded and looked down. “I see. Sige, pahinga ka na. Good to know na okay ka naman”, he said, looking up at her and forcing himself to smile at that final sentence.

She nodded and turned to walk towards the door. She opened it and waited for him to catch up with her. It was breaking her heart how awful she was treating him right now but she just can’t cope with being around him alone. Not right now. Not in the next year, maybe.

He felt tears threatening to fall. He took a deep breath and bit his tongue to stop the tears from coming out. It wouldn’t do for him to cry in front of her. She looked like she just wanted to be rid of him and not have anything to do with him anymore. Could he blame her? He was radio silent for almost a year. He wouldn’t want to have anything to do with someone like that, as well. Especially after the memories they’ve shared. But how could he explain what really happened when she doesn’t even want to be near him? He walked over to the door, which she already opened. He stared at her and was about to speak when she broke eye contact and looked down at her hands. He swallowed the lump in his throat and crossed the threshold to the hallway that separated her apartment and his.

“Good to know din na okay ka, Moe”, she said before slowly closing the door.

He stared at his apartment’s door as she closed her door behind him, as if it was a figurative closing of the door of the chapter of their lives that they shared. As if that was it, no more open doors between them from now on. He took a deep breath and walked over to his apartment, opened the door and went inside. Without turning on the lights, he locked the door, slid to the floor and leaned on the wall. “Hindi ako okay, Julie.”

New Year, Same Feelings

“Julie!”

I looked around to see my bestfriend, Maqui, come up to me from a table near the small platform that seems to be serving as a stage for those of us who want to perform. Of course, it’s empty right now. Being in the show business, you always have to pay attention to your actions. And going up there without anyone asking you to is like saying ‘I’m hella talented and it would be your honor to hear me sing’. Nope. Not a good image you’d want to project.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Julie. I am a singer. I also dance, host, act. But my main thing is singing—-has been since I was God-knows-how-young. That’s basically all you really need to know about me in this story.

“Maq! How are you?”

“I’m good! I didn’t know a lot of people were still in the country, I thought most of them went out-of-town for the holidays.”

Oh, did I mention it’s already the New Year’s Eve and I’m at the countdown party thrown by my mother network? I didn’t. Well, yes, I am here right now.

“I know. I wasn’t going to show up but I figured I should at least just pass by, or something. I’ll probably stay for an hour or so.”

“What? You’ll be leaving before the countdown?”, she asked me incredulously. As if it was a matter of life and death. Sheesh. She can be very dramatic sometimes.

I chuckled.

“Yes, babe. I do have my own countdown at home with my family. You know how Mom and Dad get about these things”, I said.

She nodded with an all-knowing smile.

“Tell me about it. My parents didn’t want me to come so I just told them they should come with me”, she told me.

I raised my eyebrows.

“Oh, they’re here?”

She nodded.

“Dad’s somewhere, probably talking to some of the news anchors. Last time I saw my mom, she was starstruck by the sight of Ate Marian”, she said with a laugh, referring to Marian Rivera.

I laughed with her and looked around, in time to see my former tandem partner walking up towards us.

Oops, I also forgot to mention: I used to be a part of a musical tandem dubbed JuliElmo. It’s a mash-up of our names, Julie and Elmo. Yup, my tandem partner was a guy. And no, I’m sad to say that we never made it past the professional relationship. Don’t get me wrong, Moe (that’s his nickname), is handsome. He’s also generous, caring, talented, thoughtful, hardworking…okay, let’s not get carried away here. Suffice to say, our relationship was strictly business.

I smiled at him as was about to wave when someone pulled my right arm, towards a group of people that I recognized were the cast of my recently-ended show, Kahit Nasaan Ka Man.

“I’ll talk to you later!”, Maqui called after me as she headed towards the other direction, towards her other friends.

I was dragged into the group of people by the actress who played my caregiver in the show. Everyone said their hello’s and I was immediately sucked into the conversation about what everyone did during Christmas. I politely answered their questions. When my loveteam partner on the show, Kris, started talking about slightly more political topics, I discreetly looked around, trying to see if I can find Elmo. I haven’t officially said ‘Hi’ to him yet. Not that it’s that big of a deal or anything but, hey, we worked together for 3 years so that’s got to count for something like friendship, right? Except, of course, after our musical tandem was “disbanded”, for lack of a better word, we kind of had a falling out.

Okay, honesty time.

Truth is, Elmo has been my crush since before we were even paired up. I would see him perform on stage and he would look so adorable, tumbling over his words, smiling sheepishly and trying again. I mean, can you really blame me? You’d have to see him and you’d know what I mean. So, anyway, I was extremely thrilled when we were chosen to do a duet. You can actually see my happiness on the performance—-I was all smiles.

And then we got paired up for a duet again, and again, and again. Eventually, we gained a following and were given our own spot on the variety show we were in. This went on for more than two years. Then we had small roles in some sitcoms. Then, finally, we had our own movie. Although, admittedly, our movie didn’t work out so well in the sales department, it worked out well for our relationship/friendship…whatever you want to call it. Or at least, I felt that it did. We grew closer.

We texted and called each other more, sometimes just at random times when we’re bored. Then we also had an out-of-the-country trip together and let me tell you, it was so much fun. My parents weren’t there so I was pretty much free to do what I want…except break the law, of course. And when we got back, we were given even more duets, more romantic songs. And then we had our own Sunday afternoon show. Everything was pretty much working out that for a while, I actually thought it would develop into something more.

But then the variety show we were on had a reformatting and JuliElmo was no longer.

Up to this day, that thought still stings. I didn’t mind it that much at first because I figured it was just the show that was going away. The feelings would still be there, right? Wrong. We texted and called each other less. There were even times when I would hesitate if I should text him or not, and that wasn’t a normal feeling for me because I used to just text him the most random things and I didn’t make a big deal out of it.

Anyway, eventually, we were in total radio silence. No text, no call. Not even Facebook messages, Twitter direct messages…nothing.

So, naturally, I’m a bit curious right now as to why he was so eager to come over when he saw me earlier.

“Looking for someone?”

I turned to see Kris smirking at me.

“Uhm, no”, I lied.

“You know, I may not have been your partner for 3 years—-who I know you are looking for, by the way—-but I’ve been your partner long enough to know that you, miss, are lying”, he said with a chuckle.

I blushed. I knew I did. But let’s try to still salvage some pride, shall we?

“Maybe you think you know, but you really don’t.”

It was a lame statement, I know. But it was all I could do at the moment.

He simply laughed at me and pointed behind me.

“I think he’s also looking for you”, he said, then walked away.

I frowned and looked behind me. Sure enough, Elmo was there. There’s that smile again. He was still a few meters away. I waved and he waved back. God, why was this so awkward so suddenly?

“Julie! Come here!”

It was Ms. Rose Conde, one of our chaperones on that out-of-the-country I’d told you about. She walked towards me.

“Hi, Ms. Rose!”, I greeted. I looked back to where Elmo had been standing, but he was also being pulled away to his castmates in his current show, Villa Quintana.

I sighed and turned my attention back to Ms. Rose. She ushered me to a group of crew people, those I worked with on our movie, Just One Summer. As with my KNKM cast mates, they asked me how my Christmas was. I answered politely, of course. They all went on to describe theirs as well. I lingered there for a few minutes before Maqui caught up with me again and pulled me away. I bowed out of the group politely and followed her to the food table.

“Are you leaving?”

I frowned.

“Why?”, I asked.

“It’s already been more than an hour since you arrived.”

I looked at my watch. She was right. I had to get back if I wanted to be there in time for my family’s countdown.

“I need to go. My mom’s—-“

“Here”, she said.

“Huh?”

“Your mom’s here. I called her and begged her to allow you to stay. So, she agreed to come here with your family so you can spend your countdown here with us”, she explained with a smile. She made a move to look around the room then pointed to the corner beside the stage/platform.

“There they are”, she said.

I followed her gaze and sure enough, my parents and my sisters were there. I waved to them and they waved back. I turned to my bestfriend.

“You really can’t let me go, can you?”, I teased.

She laughed.

“Oh please. You’ll thank me later, for making you stay”, she said, then walked away.

I watched her go with curiousity. I will thank her later? Why?

Before I could even think of what she meant, I was being whisked away again to various groups of people. All night long, I had to repeat my story about how we spent Christmas day in Tagaytay. Throughout the night, I would also chance a glimpse at Elmo, see him smiling at me. We’d wave at each other but wouldn’t have the chance to actually go near each other. I actually felt a bit miffed when I saw him talking to my parents in a far corner of the room.

What were they talking about? My dad looked serious, my mom had a small smile on her face, and Elmo looked like he saw a ghost. What was that all about?

Before I knew it, the countdown was about to begin. With only a minute left till 2014, I found myself beside Maqui and my family. The music was blaring and I was feeling pretty good that I had stayed. I was with my biological family and the people I consider as part of my family, too, the way we’d all been working together for a long time now. Maybe this is what Maqui was talking about when she said I would thank her for making me stay.

“10…9…”, people started shouting.

I turned to Maqui.

“Thanks for making me stay. This was fun!”

She smiled at me and hugged me.

“You’re welcome. But this is not the only thing you’ll be thanking me for”, she said with a wink.

“4…3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

Warm lips touched my cheek at that moment. Everyone screamed. I smiled, knowing it’s my mother kissing me. I didn’t mind. I turned to her to kiss her back but then I froze.

Elmo was standing right beside me, a big smile on his face.

“Happy New Year, Julie”, he greeted. He didn’t shout it out, but I heard it.

He kissed me on my other cheek and everyone screamed again. So, that’s why everyone had screamed the first time. Because Elmo had kissed me. Wow.

I stood there, speechless for a minute.

Elmo stared at me curiously, his grin getting smaller, becoming uncertain.

“Julie?”

Still, I was speechless. It was Maqui’s elbow to my ribs that got me going.

“Ow!”

She smiled apologetically.

“Sorry. I had to wake you from your daydream, babe”, she teased.

I rolled my eyes at her, then turned to Elmo.

“What was that for?”, I asked.

“The kiss? It was for you”, he answered with a small smile.

“Why did you do that? We haven’t talked for a while then you come at me with a kiss? A friendly kiss?”, I asked, fishing for information on that last question.

He shook his head.

“There’s a saying that the person you kiss at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve is the person you will end up with…for the next year, anyway. And I’m hoping the saying’s true”, he said.

 

My eyes widened at this revelation. He wanted to end up…with me?

“But…what? Me? Why me? We haven’t talked in months. We have new partners, new projects…”

He shook his head at me again.

“New partners, new projects… they don’t mean new feelings.”

“So…you like me?”, I asked. I had to clarify, of course. I had to make sure I was understanding it correctly.

He chuckled before looking me in the eye. He grabbed my shoulders gently, and kissed me lightly on the cheek. Everyone screamed again. (Sheesh, people, calm down.) My breath caught in my throat as he pulled back just a bit so that our faces were only inches from each other.

His whispered words came towards me like a raging storm.

“I love you. Always have. I just needed time to think about my next move. Sorry it took me this long. But I love you.”

And that, folks, is how my 2014 began. No other New Year’s Eve will probably top that.

@MyJaps @SuperElmo

I could use a lot of flowery words and complex sentence constructions for some of my thoughts right now. But, really, they would all be summed up as this: I STILL LOVE JULIELMO AND I STILL MISS THEM EVERY GODDAMN DAY. Pakisabi sakanila please.

ADIKS!

Na-appreciate ko ang pagRT niyo, pag-like niyo at pag-reblog niyo sa plano sanang garage sale fund-raiser. Pero dahil wala namang nagreply kung pwede sila makapagDONATE, hindi na ito matutuloy. Salamat padin. :)