- A Promise Not To Break: Teaser
- A Promise Not To Break: Prologue
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 1
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 2
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 3
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 4
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 5
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 6
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 7
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 8
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 9
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 10
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 11
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 12
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 13
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 14
- A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 15 (END)
- A Promise Not To Break: Epilogue
“HON, baka malate ako mamaya ah? May dumating kasi na pasyente kanina, kailangan na raw mabiopsy ngayon. Tingin kasi ni Dr. Dimalaya may liver cancer. ”
“Ganun ba—akala ko pa naman makakapanood pa tayo ng sine.”
“Sorry. Di bale, sigurado naman darating ako sa dinner date natin. S’an tayo? Shakey’s pa rin?”
“Hindi naman tayo pizza-addict ‘di ba?” natatawa niyang sagot rito. “Pizzahut, gusto mo?”
“Sure, sige. Basta hintayin mo ‘ko okay?”
“Ayoko nga!” biro niya rito. “Ay, maalala ko, sabi pala ni mama, kung hindi pa raw natin siya mabibigyan ng anak next year, humanap na ‘ko ng ibang mapapangasawa. So, kapag hindi ka na naman dumating mamaya, maghahanap na talaga ko!”
“Subukan mo,” natatawa nitong sagot. “Hey, love, sorry, but I need to go now. See you tonight. Love you.”
“Okay. ‘Wag masyadong magpakapagod, dok. Love you.”
Huminga siya ng malalim. Sayang naman ang day-off niya. Kung kailan naisip pa man din niyang iispend ito kasama ni Mael, sakto namang naging busy ito. Oh well, may dinner date pa naman sila. Mamamasyal na lang muna siya.
“No, that deal was already closed. Tell him we already talked about that and he agreed. So hindi na siya pwedeng umatras pa ngayon. It’s a thirty-seconder; I think our price is fair enough. No, ‘wag kang padadala sa drama niya. Nangunguripot lang ‘yan. Anyway, I need to go. Okay? Let’s talk about it on Monday.”
Pinindot niya ang end button ng kanyang cellphone at humarap sa sales lady na kanina pa siya sinusundan. “Here, I’ll take this, too. Oh, wait, do you have another shade of blue?”
“Ito na lang po, ma’am, eh.”
“Okay, I’ll get this one.”
“Sa counter na po, ma’am,” sagot nito as she led her to the cashier.
Tumunog na naman ang kanyang phone. Ng tignan niya kung sino ang tumatawag, nairita siya ng makitang ang assistant na naman niya ang tumaawag about their current client sa ad agency.
“Cynthia, I’m on a day-off. You’re smart. You can deal with that. Okay? Bye.”
“Ma’am, eto na po,” wika ng nakangiting sales lady sa kanya habang iniaabot sa kanya ang mga pinamili niya kasama ang kanyang card. “Thank you, ma’am. Come again.”
“Thanks,” wala sa loob na sagot niya habang palabas ng boutique. At dahil kinakalikot niya ang mga pinamili niya, hindi niya napansin ang matangkad na lalaking nasa harap niya. Nagkabungguan sila.
“Oh!” gulat na wika niya ng mabitawan niya ang mga dala niya. “I’m so sorry. I wasn’t looking—”
The man was looking at her oddly. And he looked vaguely familiar…
Kilala siya nito? Muli ay tinitigan niya ang matangos na ilong nito, ang medyo maninipis na labi nito, maging ang cleft chin nito. He really looked familiar…Ngunit bago pa siya makapagdedisyon, muli na itong nagsalita.
“It’s you,” amused na wika nito at pagkatapos ay kinabig siya nito palapit at yinakap ng mahigpit. “You haven’t changed a bit except for yor hair. And your boobs—I think they’re fuller.”
Sa sobrang pagkabigla ay hindi agad siya nakapag-react sa ginawa nito. Ngunit ng maka-recover siya sa shock na naramdaman niya ng yakapin siya nito at sa mga pinagsasabi nito, agad niya itong itinulak. “Excuse me!” mariing sabi niya rito.
Halatang nagulat naman ito sa ginawa niya ngunit agad din iyong napalitan ng amused expression. “Just like the old times, huh,” wika nito habang tinitigan siya ng mga nakakahipnotismong mga mata nito. She suddenly felt her pulse quicken.
“You really don’t remember me anymore?” He had such long eyelashes…And then it hit her.
Ngumiti ito. “Finally.”
“Dave?” Hindi siya makapaniwala. Paanong ang matangkad at gwapong lalaking ito ay ang batang inaalagaan niya dati? Ang patpating teenager na… “Anong ginagawa mo rito?”
Biglang parang may na kung anong dumaan sa mga mata nito bago ito ngumiting muli.
“Bakit, hindi ba mall ito? Bawal na rin ba ako rito? I wasn’t stalking you, you know.”
“Ikaw nga si Dave,” medyo pilit ang ngiting sagot niya rito. “Pilisopo, eh.” Galit pa rin kaya ito sa kanya? About what happened seven years ago?
Tumawa rin ito sa sinabi niya. And for a moment, she thought that she was very much drawn to his deep baritone laugh. She gave herself a mental shake.
“I told you,” wika nito. “So ano? Hindi mo ba ‘ko yayakapin?”
Ngumiti siya at pinaunlakan ito. Mabuti na lang at maraming tao at hindi masyadong pinansin ang eksena nila. “It’s good to see you again, bro,” sabi niya habang yakap-yakap ito.
Pagksabi niya noon, Dave suddenly stiffened.
“Dave?” tanong niya rito. Bigla na lang kasi ay naging matigas ang anyo nito sabay ng paglayo niyo sa kanya. “Did I say anything wrong?”
Tinitigan siya nito ng matagal bago ito sumagot. “I’m starving. Where can we eat here?”
May palagay siya na hindi iyon ang sasabihin sana nito. Ngunit ayaw niyang masira ang muling pagkikita nila kaya pinalampas na lamang niya ito. Besides, heto na ang pagkakataon niya to make amends about how she broke their communication. “You want pizza?”
“Sige, Shakey’s na muna tayo. My treat.”
“Hindi nga, ba’t nandito ka?”
“Sa Pilipinas or dito sa mall?”
“Nandito ko dahil magpeperform ako. Next month,” sagot nito habang sumusubo ng isa pang slice ng pizza. “Here in this place because tita Mel told me there’s a music shop here kaninang nakasalubong ko siya. I need to buy an extra violin. And, oh, the house is still in great shape, thanks.”
“Mom did all the works. I think napag-usapan na nila iyon ni tita Alexa,” sagot niya rito. Tumango lamang ito. “You never told me. About the music thing, I mean,” she said after a few seconds of silence.
“You never asked.”
Nalungkot siya sa sinabi nito. It was a painful reminder of how much she severed their communication. “I’m sorry,” sabi niya rito. Tumigil ito sa pagkain.
“For not knowing about my music forage or for forgetting me?”
“I never forgot you, Dave.”
“Lie,” nakangiting kontra nito sa sinabi niya. Naging seryosong muli ang mukha nito. “It’s been seven years, Prie. You never answered even one of my letters after that happened. Not even once.”
Nag-aakusa ang tinging ipunukol nito sa kanya. Nag-iwas siya ng tingin.
“Why did you do that to me? To us?” madamdamin nitong tanong sa kanya.
“Kayo pa rin ba?”
“When are you getting married?”
“Wala pa kaming napag-uusapan. He’s still busy.”
“Are you living with him?” Napatitig siya rito dahil sa tanong nito. “I want to know.”
“Sleeping with him?”
“Really?” tila natatawang tanong nito. “What, eight? Nine years? And he never touched you?”
“Eight. And what’s wrong with that?”
“You must have a very boring relationship. I guess boring means long-lasting, eh? I mean, have you even kissed?”
Biglang nag-init ang ulo ni Prie sa mga pinagsasabing iyon ni Dave. He was being rude and vulgar, and yet ito pa ang may ganang husgahan ang relasyon nila ni Mael?
“So what’s wrong with that? We decided to wait until we get married. Kung sa Australia okay sa inyo ang mababa ang moralidad, well, we still keep ours, okay?”
“Whoa, whoa. Prie, don’t tell me you believe that crap? Everybody does it, not only us with low morals as you’ve pointed out.”
“Okay, fine. I’m sorry I said that. But we’re not like everybody. Mael and I—what the heck—not that it’s any of your business but sex is a sacred thing for us. So we decided to wait.”
“Until when? You just told me there still no wedding date. Do you plan to stay virgin—you’re virgin, right? I knew it. I mean, until you’re forty? Hey! You’re wasting your youth! And you’re what, thrity?”
“Twenty-nine! Holy mother!”
“Why are you being so vulgar? Ngayon na lang tayo nagkita ulit and all you can talk about is my sex life? Whatever happened to the sweet Dave I knew?”
“I’m still sweet, just in a lot of more intimate ways—you know. So you don’t want to talk about your sex life…you want to talk about mine?”
“Tsk, tsk. My dear Prie. You really never change,” wika nito na ang pinatutungkulan ay ang pagtawag niya rito ng ‘David’ kapag napipikon na siya. Umakma siyang tatayo ngunit agad siya nitong hinila pabalik. “Hey, hey. Look, okay, I’m sorry. Wala lang akong alam pag-usapan. I don’t know how to talk to a person who left me brokenhearted years ago and never bothered to contact me again. Ayoko namang pag-usapan natin ang iyong magiting na si Ishmael. So humor me please.”
“You know I had to do that,” mahina niyang sagot rito as she sat back down. Hindi man ito nagtaas ng boses, ramdam niya ang sakit at galit sa mga salitang binitiwan nito sa kanya.
“What? Leaving without saying goodbye?”
Naiwas siya ng tingin. Hindi niya kayang makita ang paninisi sa mga mata nito.
“Leaving you so you can get on with your life. Normal life. I was making you miserable.”
“You’re Ishmael made me angry—and yes, miserable in a way. But no, actually, you left me lifeless,” wika nito in a carefree voice na para bang wala lang rito ang mga sinasabi nito. “Look at me.”
Sumunod siya sa utos nito. He was leaning so close that his face was inches away from hers. And what she saw in his eyes made her want to look away, but she didn’t. “You know what happened to me, Prie? After you left me in that hospital? I became suicidal. I was writing you letters everyday and everytime they told me there’s no answer, I tried to kill myself.
“They had to lock me up in an institution for three months. And then after that, I ran away again. I became an addict. It took them three years to straighten me up and make me decent again. Was that the normal life you wanted me to have? Because I want to know if I reached your expectations. You know I’ve always wanted to please you.”
“Stop it,” pigil niya rito kasabay ng pag-agos ng kanyang mga luha. She didn’t want to hear any of it! “Stop it, stop it, stop it!”
Dave leaned back on his seat as he watched her cry. He was amused by her reaction. “Why are you crying, love? Nagkukwento lang ako. We haven’t seen each other for some years, and of course, I want to tell you what happened to me.”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t want that to happen. I was just trying to—”
“You were just trying to help me. I know. And you shouldn’t be sorry. And you sure shouldn’t be crying. Baka akalain ng mga tao hinaharass kita. And really—what happened did help me, you know. I thought me how I shouldn’t—what’s that word…oh, obsess too much about certain things. How I shouldn’t wear my heart out on my sleeves. Those things. So you see, you did help me.”
“I—I’m sorry. I need to go.”
Agad siyang kumuha ng pera sa kanyang wallet to pay for their bill and put the cash on the table. Without looking at him, she almost ran out of the restaurant. Hindi na niya kaya pang marinig ang mga sinasabi nito.
Dave let her go. He was afraid he would beg for her forgiveness if he ran after her. He still didn’t want to let go of his anger. Seven years. Seven years silang hindi nagkita and yet when he saw her, his treacherous heart still wanted her. Wala siyang pakialam kahit na sinaktan siya ni Prie. He just knew that he still loved her. After all these years.
He never had a single serious relationship. No one could compare to Prie. And even though sinabi niya sa kanyang mommy na wala na siyang pakialam sa nangyari dati, he knew, deep in his heart na pumayag siyang magconcert sa Philippines because he still wanted to see Prie. He wanted to hear why she left—and if they could still have a chance. Kaya nga ng sabihin nitong sila pa rin ni Ishmael, all his anger broke out. He knew he was being a jerk. And seeing her hurting and crying like that almost undid him but he wanted to punish her. Punish her so much that she would have to think twice bago niya pakasalan ang Ishmael na iyon. Maybe then she would turn to him.
“Damn!” mura niya as he thought again how he treated her. “Damn, damn, damn!”
Parang hinila siya muli sa realidad ng marinig niya ang waitress. “Yes?”
“Heto po ang bill niyo.”
Bumunot siya ng isang-libo mula sa kanyang wallet. “Here.”
“Sir—how about this money po?” turo nito sa iniwan na pera ni Prie.
“That’s you’re tip,” distracted na sabi niya rito bago siya tumayo at mabilis na lumabas ng restaurant. Naiwang nakanganga ang waitress na nagserve sa kanila.
She tried to redo her makeup habang hinihintay niyang lumabas si Mael. Magang-maga ang kanyang mga mata and she knew Mael would see through her makeup, but still, she wanted to do her best to distract him.
Tumingala siya ng marinig ang boses ng kasintahan. She smiled even though her smile hurt. Seeing Mael somewhat calmed her nerves. In contrast to Dave’s oozing sex appeal, Mael was a lot ‘tamer.’ Mael was tall but a bit smaller than Dave, rugged and handsome but a little on the nerdy side. And he wore glasses. He was currently doing his specialization in hematology.
“Akala ko ba sa mall tayo magkikita?”
“I—I wanted to surprise you,” she said with false cheerfulness. Ngunit katulad ng naisip niya, Mael saw through her smiles.
“What’s wrong? No—let’s go out and then talk. Halika,” yaya nito sa kanya as he held her hands and pulled her to the walkway leading to a nearby park.
“Okay, seat,” sabi nito ng makarating sila sa parke. Nang umupo siya, umupo din ito sa tabi niya at tumingin sa kanyang mukha habang hawak-hawak pa rin ang kanyang kamay. “What happened?”
“I saw Dave.”
Gusto niyang humigi ng sorry ng makita ang sakit na rumehistro sa mukha ng kanyang kasintahan. Pero alam niyang hindi iyon ang gustong marinig ni Mael.
“I’m not giving you up without a fight,” wika nito sa kanya. “You know how much I love you, Prie.”
“You don’t have to fight for anything,” may bahid ng ngiting sagot niya rito. “He hates me.”
“I don’t think that’s true.”
“It is,” mariin niyang sagot. At pagkatapos ay ikinwento niya rito ng buo ang naging pag-uusap nilang dalawa ni Dave. Ng matapos siya, hindi ito agad nagsalita.
“Prie,” he said after a while. “I don’t know what you heard him say pero bilang isang lalaki, I can tell you that he’s still very much inlove with you. And it scares the hell out of me.”
Hindi niya maintindihan ang sinasabi nito. He just heard her tell him how Dave wanted to hurt her through his words, and yet sinasabi nitong mahal siya ni Dave?
“No, it isn’t. Love, Dave is a smart man. Yes, galit siya. And yes he wants to hurt you. But in the end, alam niya kung ano ang pwedeng maging effect sa’yo ng galit niya. He’s manipulating you and I’m afraid that he will succeed.”
Hinila siya nito at yinakap. “Prie…please love me more than him. Ayokong mawala ka.”
Kanina pa siya pinagkakakagat ng lamok. Halos dalawang oras na rin siyang naghihintay sa pagdating ni Prie ngunit ni anino ng sasakyan nito ay wala siyang makita. “Anong oras mo ba talaga balak umuwi?” tanong niya sa kawalan.
Ayon kasi sa katulong ng mga Israel, may sarili na raw apartment si Prie at tuwing Linggo na lamang ito umuuwi sa family house ng mga ito. Using his charms, pinilit niyang makuha ang bago nitong address at heto na nga siya ngayon. Ayon rin sa katulong, may sarili na raw kotse si Prie na kulay blue kaya iyon ang hinahanap niya. Wala ang kotse sa garahe kaya alam niyang hindi pa ito nakakauwi. He didn’t know why he was doing this and he knew he shouldn’t, pero hindi niya mapigilan ang sarili niya.
Seeing Prie again awakened everything he repressed for a long-long time. Kahit na galit pa rin siya rito, gusto niya itong makita at makasama. And it made him angry to think that she may be with that Mael.
Naputol ang pag-iisip niya ng makitang tumigil ang isang puting kotse sa harap ng apartment ni Prie. Nasa sulok siya at natatakpan ng halaman kaya hindi siya nakita ng mga nasa loob ng kotse.
Akala niya ay nagkamali lamang ang nagmamaneho ng tinigilang bahay ngunit ng bumaba si Prie, napuno ng kaba ang kanyang puso. Ng bumaba mula sa driver’s seat ang isang matangkad na lalaki at yumakap kay Prie, he knew that he was seeing Mael again after seventeen years. And the scene made him tremble with anger.
Agad ring umalis si Mael na ikinagalak niya, at habang binubuksan ni Prie ang pintuan nito, lumapit siya rito.
Gulat na humarap ito sa kanya. Magang-maga ang mukha nito na parang bang wala itong ginawa kundi umiyak mula kanina. “What are you doing here? Hatinggabi na!”
Binuksan nito ang pinto at pumasok. Sumunod siya rito even though she didn’t invite him.
“You’re right. It’s midnight and yet you only came home now. I’ve been waiting for hours. Isn’t that a little late? Even for your age?”
“I don’t think that’s any of your business. Besides, bakit ba nandito ka? Hindi ba may sarili kang bahay? Umuwi ka na.”
“Dinadalaw lang kita.”
“Wala akong sakit,” wika nito as she opened her front door. “You may go.”
“Sino bang nagsabing mga sakit lang ang dinadalaw? Besides, you look sick. Your eyes are all red. Pinaiyak ka ba ng boyfriend mo, ha? And I can’t go. I don’t have a car.”
“I’m not sick, thank you very much. Malapit lang dito ang Dizon estate, so go. Kaya mong lakarin ‘yan.”
“What if I tell you that I came to say sorry about earlier?”
“You don’t know how to say sorry. And I don’t believe you learned how these pass few years.”
“Fine. So I came to see you. We’re still friends, aren’t we? So why were you crying?”
“Mag-umpisa ka ng maglakad pauwi. And I wasn’t crying—”
“Yeah, right. Humor me. Why were you crying? And masyado ng gabi. I don’t want to walk alone.”
“Wala ang kotse ko so you need to. Dapat naisip mo ang mga dahilan na ‘yan ng pumunta ka rito. Who the heck even told you where I live?”
“I have my charms. Wait, patulugin mo na lang kaya ako rito? Just like the old times?”
“No. We’re adults. Go home.”
“Dito lang sa sala please? And whatever it is about us being adults? We can be two consenting adults, you know,” biro niya rito.
“The last time I slept outside I almost caught pneumonia,” nangongonsensiyang bulong niya rito as he slowly walked out of the door.
“Fine!” sigaw nito. “Fine, fine, fine! Matulog ka diyan sa sofa. Suffer at your own stupidity.”
“I knew you really do have a soft spot,” nakangiting sabi niya kay Prie ng talikuran siya nito at umakyat sa stairs. Hindi ito sumagot. Nang akala niya’y natulog na ito, bumaba itong muli after a while at inihagis sa kanya isang malaking kumot.
“Please be gone before eight. Susunduin ako ni Mael and I don’t want him to get the wrong idea of you being here.”
Para siyang sinuntok sa tiyan sa sinabing iyon ni Prie. Try as he might, hindi pa rin niya napigilan ang sakit na bumadha sa kanyang puso. “Sure,” sagot niya. “Kapag nagising ako.”
“Gigisingin kita,” wika ni Prie habang paakyat itong muli ng hagdan.
“Prie?” Lumingon ito. “Why were you crying?”
“Because—none of your business.”