Sunday. Party Pilipinas Day.
“Eh nakakatawa kasi naman, wala ka pa sa kalahati ng score ko!”, patawang salita ni Julie kay Derrick. Nasa dressing room silang dalawa, nagpapataasan ng score sa Temple Run, habang hinihintay magsimula ang show.
“Hindi ko kasi nga nilalaro yan masyado. Panlimang beses ko palang yata nilaro yan. Iba na lang kasi!”, ang sagot naman ni Derrick, sabay kamot sa ulo. Imbes na mainis siya, nangingiti at natatawa na lang din siya. Nakakahawa kasi tumawa si Julie Anne, parang napakagaan ng pakiramdam. Isa pa, hindi naman niya magawang mainis sa dalaga. She was too good a person to hold any grudge against.
Julie rolled her eyes and took her iTouch from him. “Sige na nga, pagbibigyan kita! Pero talo ka pa rin naman sakin kahit anong mangyari eh!”, muling tukso nito kay Derrick.
“Weh, hindi kaya”, sagot naman ni Derrick sakanya. He leaned in to look over Julie Anne’s shoulder as the teenage girl went through her list of applications to see what could while away their time in waiting.
“Hi”, biglang may nagsalita sa likod ng dalawa. They both looked up, and it was evident how easily a smile crept to Julie Anne’s lips.
“Hey, Moe”, she greeted her on-screen partner, sitting up straight and unintentionally pushing Derrick’s head from her shoulders in the process. “Oops, sorry, Derrick. Natamaan ka ba?”, she asked the boy, holding his chin to see if any damage had been done, even though she only really just nudged him.
“No, okay lang ako. Thanks, don’t worry about it”, replied Derrick, gently holding Julie Anne’s hand and carefully removing it from his face. Nakukuryente kasi siya sa hawak ng dalaga.
All this time, Elmo just stood there, watching the exchange between the two, feeling something close to a pang of jealousy playing at the pit of his stomach. Anu na naman inaarte ng damdamin mo, Elmo? Anung selos naman yan, ha?, his conscience seemed to mock him. Elmo ignored his thoughts and watched as Derrick finally stood up from where he was sitting, next to Julie.
“Sige na, mag-aayos muna ako for opening”, paalam nito kay Julie.
“Oh sure, sure. Pero ha, talo pa rin kita!”, pahabol na tukso ni Julie Anne.
Natawa na lamang si Derrick and with a wave of his hand to Elmo, he walked over to where his PA was standing.
Elmo watched Derrick leave then sat down next to Julie, just as the teenage girl was standing up, as well. “Oh, san ka pupunta?”, tanong ng binata, na tila nayayamot ang tono.
“Eh, magreready na din. Malapit na magstart ang show diba?”, sagot ni Julie sa kanya. With a smile and a “See you later!”, Julie left Elmo to sit there on his own.
Elmo frowned and ran his hand through his hand. “Kung kelan naman dumating ako, biglang umalis. Kanina tatawa-tawa pa sila. Nakakainis”, he said to himself, obviously peeved. For whatever reason that he didn’t understand, he felt jealous. He had always wanted to be able to spend time with Julie Anne like how Derrick was spending time with her earlier. Usually kasi, they were all about work lang. Wala yung ganung kulitan. He wanted to have those kinds of moments with her. Normal lang naman na gustuhin niya yun kasi friends naman sila, diba? Aminado naman siya na hindi din kasi siya nag-iinitiate kaya siguro walang ganung moments. But here was his chance sana. Unfortunately, bad timing nga na malapit na magstart ang show.
“May sinabi ka?”, biglang may nagtanong mula sa likuran ni Elmo. The teenage boy looked around to see Diva sitting behind him with a malicious smile on her face as if to say “Narinig ko yun”. Patay-malisya naman si Elmo.
“Uy, hi Diva! Ha? Wala naman. Pinapractice ko lang yung songs ko for today. See you”, agarang sabi ng binata, sabay tayo at lakad sa kanyang sariling PA. He knew for a fact that Diva was one of Julie’s close friends. Hindi malayong bigyan nito ng kulay ang sinabi niya, lalo pa’t tunog nga naman na nagseselos siya. Pero hindi naman siya nagseselos. Diba? Wala naman siyang karapatan magselos because he had a girlfriend. Diba? Yeah, right, was all his conscience told him.
Elmo was finally able to sit down on the almost empty dressing room. The show was over and he was exhausted, as is usual every Sunday. Lalo na ngayon na halos madaming prods ang binibigay sa kanila ni Julie para mapromote lalo ang tandem nila, in time for the release of their first movie. He looked at his reflection in the mirror and saw that he probably needed a lot more sleep than he was getting these days, pero he was not going to complain. Ginusto niya naman magtrabaho sa industry na ito, so he didn’t really have any right to complain. Besides, he enjoys what he’s doing, nakakapagod lang talaga.
He kept going over their production number today. “It’s not hard for me to love you… No it’s not a difficult thing…” played over and over in his mind. He loved the song. And he liked that he was able to perform it with Julie Anne today. They really did blend well together. He couldn’t help the smile that crept to his face as he remembered their chemistry today, despite the issues with the PEP article. Their hand-holding, their staring, their smiling… he upped the ante a bit today, and held Julie’s face. He chuckled at the memory of her stumbling over the song lyrics when he cupped her face in his hand. Nagulat yata siya na ginawa ni Elmo yun. It was a nice touch din na hinawakan ni Julie ang kamay niya, habang hawak niya ang mukha niya. The crowd just went wild at that moment. And their smiles grew wider, kung posible pa, kasi the way they were already smiling, parang mapupunit na yung labi ng isa’t isa.
“Uy, andito ka pa pala. Di ka pa uuwi?” came a voice from behind him, na bahagyang ikinagulat niya. Hindi na niya kelangan lumingon o tumingin sa salamin para malaman na si Julie Anne yung nagsalita. But he looked anyway, just for the sake of seeing her. He smiled at her reflection in the mirror, looking at him.
“Hey, pauwi na din. Pahinga lang muna for a bit”, he told her with a smile. “Ikaw?”, he asked, as an afterthought.
Julie Anne tore her eyes away from Elmo’s reflection and walked over to where her bag was. “Pauwi na din. Just waiting for Diva and Lexi. They’re coming over eh. Movie marathon daw yata kami sa bahay”, she replied, sitting down on her own chair and staring at her reflection. She could still feel Elmo’s eyes on her and she didn’t dare look at him. His stare always gave her goosebumps anyway, especially during prods.
Julie was right. Elmo’s eyes had followed the girl as she walked and even now as she was seated. He listened to her words and smiled. “Bonding ah. Masaya yan”, was all he said to her, still looking at her. Suddenly, the dressing room door opened and in came Tim Yap, Diva, Lexi and Isabelle Daza. At their entrance, Elmo stopped looking at Julie and turned to face his reflection once again, watching the other people going about the room through the mirror.
“Ready to go?”, tanong ni Belle kay Tim, to which the latter nodded. The pair of them were about to leave with their bags when Tim stopped halfway to the door.
“Ay teka, I haven’t had a photo of Julie up in my Instagram yet. Alam mo naman ako, kelangan laging may documentation”, Tim told Belle, to which the latter only laughed and nodded. “Sige, I’ll wait for you in the car nalang. Bye everyone!”, Isabelle told Tim, and directed the last statement to everyone in the room. Everyone else waved goodbye to her, including Elmo, who was still quiet as he watched everyone.
Nilapitan ni Tim si Julie, his phone poised to take a picture of the girl already. “Teka, mas maganda yata kung dito ako”, sabi nito, and he walked to Julie’s other side.
Elmo turned his head towards the pair and watched as Julie smiled for Tim’s phone. When the picture-taking was over, binaling uli ng binata ang tingin niya sa kanyang reflection.
“Thanks! See you next week!”, Tim told Julie. The latter smiled and waved at him. “Thank you din! Nakarami na akong pictures sayo!”, patawang sagot ng dalaga. Tim nodded. “Eh kasi naman, most of your fans follow me and always request for a photo of you. I aim to deliver”, natatawa ding sagot ni Tim. They both waved goodbye to each other and then Tim left.
Now, it was only Diva, Lexi, Julie and Elmo left in the dressing room. All throughout the exchange between Tim and Julie, tahimik lang din nag-aayos ng gamit sila Diva at Lexi. Hindi napansin ni Elmo na habang titig na titig siya kay Julie eh pinapanuod din siya ni Diva, at nangingiti lang ito. Ngayong wala na si Tim, saka nagsalita si Diva. “Tara na ba?”, simpleng tanong nito kay Julie.
Julie turned to her friend, smiled and stood up, carrying her bag. “Let’s go, sago!”, she said, walking over to her friends, who were sitting just behind Elmo. She turned to her onscreen partner and tapped his shoulder with her hand. “Maiwan ka na namin, ha. Ingat pauwi”, she told him, then removed her hand from his shoulder and was about to walk when Elmo suddenly stood up and turned to her.
He waved goodbye at all three of them, although most of the time his stare was on Julie. “Ingat kayo! Enjoy sa bonding!”, he told them then leaned in to kiss Julie on the cheek. Simpleng beso lang naman, wala naman malisya. Still, he couldn’t help the small smile that was creeping on his face and was threatening to become a wide grin.
Napangiti na lang din si Julie sa beso at tumango. “Oo naman, we’ll have fun. Bye!”, she told him. Then, grabbing Lexi and Diva’s hands, she ushered the two of them out the door. Parehong tahimik lang ang dalawa, but their smiles were evident on their faces.
Elmo watched the dressing room door close. Now he was alone, and he didn’t stop the wide grin that eventually broke out on his face. Just then, his phone beeped.
The message was from L. Elmo smacked his palm on his forehead. He had forgotten that he was supposed to meet his girlfriend for late lunch.
“On my way, babe.”
Elmo sent the message and hurried out of the room, his bag in tow. His smile was still plastered on his face.
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