He half-ran, half-walked towards me. A lot of people were coming out of the classrooms at that time, which made it easier for me to pretend not to hear him. I turned away to hide my face from his scrutiny, but felt him grab the tip of my loose blouse’s sleeve. I smiled inwardly. I did not realize that this small physical contact could make the cold September day suddenly warm.
“May I walk with you?” he asked.
I walked faster. I could not believe that he actually had to ask me. What would the most looked at guy want with the most scoffed at girl in school? But of course, we were taking up the same college course, and shared classes in almost all of our subjects. We were even scheduled to graduate in the same year.
“I sent you a message. Did you receive it?”
He asked me conversationally while I tried my best to keep a safe distance. I would have loved to be seen with him. It would lift my social standing in the chart of highly elite university species. Then I made a mental picture of how he and I looked together. He was wearing his usual school clothes: sleek rubber shoes, washed out denims, and a simple shirt that showed off his masculine upper torso, like that was necessary.
I, on the other hand, was wearing my hideous slippers, matched with a faded black, almost graying pair of pants, and a green colored blouse. Simply put, the sight of us together would cause unpleasant wrinkles on the brows of the “it” people in campus.
To top it all off, he smelled of the rich expensive musk found in exclusive stores, while I smelled like the generic cologne found in local drugstores.
“I dread being in our next class.” he said impulsively to break the silence.
I craned my neck trying to see his face. I always knew he hated going to school. I felt like that was what I was here for. Then I gazed at the most expressive eyes I have ever seen. Fireflies were flying in his charcoal eyes.
The night before, I read that people who liked each other would hold on to each other’s gazes for more than five seconds. I immediately pretended to be interested in the tiny cracks on the floor.
“My report is done.” he told me proudly. Maybe he was waiting for me to shower him with praises.
He should have finished it, I thought. His group was to report about the strange drawings in Lascaux, France an hour after the class he dreaded. It was a bit strange, but we have been classmates for five semesters now, and even shared summer classes, but we never became group mates. Maybe that was for the better.
“You know where I was last night?” he asked unnecessarily.
I nodded knowingly. I always knew his whereabouts, more than anyone ever did. We both knew where each other was last night… or the other nights for that matter.
Despite this one sided conversation, I found myself enjoying his company. Knowing that were nearing the last stairs, we abruptly stopped and faced opposite directions.
“I have to check if my history professor posted the exam results. It is on the other end of the hall.” he said. I knew his reasons just as he knew mine. So I just shrugged.
“I’m so messed up you know. I’m beyond fixing.” he reminded me.
I know what it meant. He also knew what my usual answer would be. He enjoyed hearing it. I drew a deep breath.
“We’re here.” I finally said. Then I hurriedly gave him the notes I took time to rewrite last night. I “impatiently” glanced at my watch, and walked away fast enough so that I would be the one to walk out of hall and into the door first.
Nina R.T. Landicho is a graduate of UP Diliman. She was born in Basiawan, Davao del Sur and grew up in Davao City. Her works have appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and in the The Hundreds Project of the UP Writers Club.