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Chapter Three

Love is a big illusion that I should try to forget. Isang linya na nanggaling sa paborito ko na kanta. I was so young when I learnt to love the songs of Michael learns to rock. Halos araw-araw ko iyon pinapatugtog sa kotse ni Papa kapag inihahatid niya ako sa school. Lahat din ng kanta nila ay nasa phone ko na rin noon. But I loved them even more when John came into my life. Iyong feeling na you are just simply plain before but when he came into your life he brought colors. I was just at my teenage years when I met John. Four years ang gap namin. I was sixteen and he was twenty back then.

"Venice!"

Napalingon ako nang may tumawag sa pangalan ko. I just came home from school. I was about to pressed the doorbell pero umarangkada na naman ang kakulitan ng kapit-bahay namin na anak ng kapitana. Ilang buwan na rin niya akong ginagambala. I don't know what he is up to and I really don't give a damn. Ayaw ko sa mga lalaking katulad niya. He looks like a fuckboy. He was still wearing his college uniform. Sa pagkakaalam ko ay business management ang kinukuha ni John. Iyon kasi ang sabi ni Ate Vermz ng minsan itong magawao sa amin.

I sighed. "Ano na naman ba John?" I asked him pero lumapit lang si John sa akin at ginulo pa iyong buhok. My mouth parted. He really loves messing my hair.

Maganda raw kasi ang buhok ko iyon ang sabi ni mama. Namana ko raw iyon sa lola ko na mama ng mama ko. Medyo wavy ang mahaba kong buhok at purong natural lang ang pagiging wavy nito.

"How was school?" he asked.

Kumunot ang noo ko. Whe does he even bother to ask? "Uh-uh okay lang."

John nodded. Pansin ko na may dala siyang paper bag na may mukha ng isang malaking bubuyog. Nangislap ang mga mata ko. This is one thing I like about John. Alam nito kung anong gusto ko.

"I bought you something to eat. Napadaan kasi ako sa fastfood chain and I remember you kaya binilhan na kita ng makakain." he said. Iniabot niya sa akin ang paper bag hindi naman ako nangiming kuhanin iyon.

"How did you know that I like cheeseburger?" tanong ko sa kanya. Nakaupo na kami sa gilid ng kalsada. Kinakain ko na iyong dala niyang pagkain. Siya naman ay masaya lang na nakamasid sa akin. He always say na dapat daw ako kumain ng marami para tumaba. I'll be more beautiful daw kapag mataba ako. Hindi ko naman siya sinang-ayunan sa sinabi niya. Marami kasi akong mga kaklase na nabubully dahil mataba ang mga ito. I tend to protect those people whom I treated as my friends.

"Sabi lang ni Vermz."

"Close kayo ni ate..." ngumunguya kong wika. Kumuha pa ko ng fries na nasa lap ni John nakapatong. "Bagay kayo at magkasing-edad. Ligawan mo siya, John." suhestiyon ko sa kanya. John's forehead creased. Naisip ko rin kasi na kaya 'to ginagawa ni John sa akin ay dahil trip nito si Ate Vermz. Kaya siguro gusto niyang mapalapit sa aking dahil gusto niya ng approval ko para makapanligaw na siya kag Ate Vermz. Omygod! So bale ako ang magiging bridge nilang dalawa ni ate.

Humarap ako kay John at nag-isang linya ang kilay ko. I was still munching the cheeseburger inside my mouth. "Are you trying to get my approval so that you can court ate Vermz? Is that your plan?" I asked him. I don't know but I think I sounded so... disappointed.

Why? Bakit ako madi-disappoint? John is not my type. At alam ko na malayo ang agwat namin so di ko talaga siya magiging type. Wala siya sa listahan ng mga crush ko.

John chuckled. He messed up with my hair again. Sinamaan ko siya ngg tingin dahil sa ginawa niya. He just laughed even more.

"Loko-loko ka!" sabi ko.

"Mas loka-loka ka." aniya. Inayos muna niya ang sarili niya at tintigan ako sa mga mata. Her eyes were fixed on mine. He had a sly smile on his face. "What made you think that I am hitting on Vermuda? Isn't obvious that I am interested in you Venice."

Nanlaki ang mga mata ko. Ramdam ko rin ang panunuyo ng lalamunan ko dahil sa sinabi ni John. Nakangisi lang ang huli. I heard it! Alam kong hindi ako nabibingi. What does he mean by that?

Nag-iwas ako nang tingin. I stood up tapos na rin kasi akong kainin iyong cheeseburger. Pinagpag ko iyong may pwetan ko. Hindi ko na pinansin si John na panay lang nakatingin sa akin. He was making me uncomfortable. I also don't understand the erratic beating of my heart. This is not right! Affected ba ako sa sinabi niya.

"Wala ka lang bang sasabihin?" sabi pa nito.

I rolled my eyes to him. "What do you expect me to say?"

"Uhm... anything?"

"Ewan ko sa'yo!" naiinis na wika ko at agad akong tumalikod sa kanya. I was about to pressed the doorbell pero hindi ko namalayan na nakatayo na pala si John. He grabbed my arm and he pulled me towards him. Nanlaki ang mga mata ko dahil napasubsub ako sa dibdib niya. I didn't react. Nagtaas ako ng mukha but to my surprised he dipped down and landed his lips on mine. Bahagya pang nakaawang ang aking bibig kaya kaagad nitong nasakop ang buo kong labi.

I just froze and let him do his job. Hindi ko alam kung bakit napapikit ako dahil sa paraan ng paghalik ni John. Ilang babae na kaya ang nahalikan ng lalaking 'to? And why am I even interested?

"I'll court you... but in the right time, Ven."

I opened my eyes and I was greeted by John's gaze. May kung anong kislap pa akong nakita sa kanyang mga mata. Lumuwang ang pagkakahawak niya sa akin but before he fully let me go ay hinalikan niya pa ang aking sentido. He smiled at me and then he left.

Napahawak ako sa aking mga labi. Nakatulala pa rin ako at hindi makagalaw. That was my first kiss! Omygod!

"John kissed me... Omygod!"

I sighed. Bigla na namang naglakbay ang diwa ko sa alaala ng nakaraan. Hindi ako komportable sa kinauupuan ko because I am facing John Antonio Guanzalo II. Panay lang itong nakatingin sa mama ko. My mama and John are quite close even before. Madalas kasing bumibisita si John sa bahay noon.

"How was the business, Tita?" John asked.

"Well, Venice is handling it well. Nagretiro na kasi ang Tito mo pero bumibisita pa rin siya sa Mindanao. Venice is now invading the shoe industry. She is very intelligent." Mama bragged.

Nakayuko lang ako habang kumakain. I don't want to look at John. Naalala ko pa ang sinabi niya noong huli kaming magkita. I could see the fire in his eyes at alam ko na galit na galit pa rin siya sa akin. Nasasaktan ako hindi para sa sarili ko kung hindi para sa kanya. I don't know how he cope up with the pain.

"That's good to hear then..." nagtaas ako ng mukha. Sinalubong ako ng mga titig ni John. "Baka sa iyo ako magpapagawa ng shoes para kay Blythe. I guess she'll be needing one for our wedding. Would that be fine with you, Venice?"

Ramdam ko ang titig ng ate Vermuda ko sa akin. Bahagya niya pa akong siniko. "H-ha? Sure. I won't mind." sabi ko pa. I feigned a smile.

Gusto ko na namang umiyak dahil masyadong torture na para sa akin ito. Nahihirapan na nga ako sa presensya ni John pati ba naman presensya ng mapapangasawa niya ay kailangan ko pang indahin. Mahina akong napamura nang maramdaman ko ang sakit sa bandang dibdib ko. The pain is still there. I should have say no but I was caught off guard. This dinner is really awkward. I hadn't had a decent meal sinve the last time I saw John in his party. Tapos ngayon dadagdag pa ang naging pagsang-ayon ko na ako ang gumawa ng shoes ni Blythe para sa kasal nila. Gosh! This is torture.

Hindi ko na tinapos ang pagkain ko. I lost my appetite. I excused myself to them and went to the pool area. I want to breathe. I want to be distant from John's presensce. I want to save myself because the more that I spend time with John the more that I'll get hurt. Nasasaktan na nga ako mas madadagdagan pa ang bigat at sakit na mararamdaman ko. I did nothing but to love him. He was my everything back then but their are some decision that will change his life.

I felt a warm liquid on my left cheek. Hindi pa ba ako napapagod na umiyak? I am tired of being sad and living my life with full of regrets. Yes, I made a mistake of letting him go and pinagsisihan ko na ang nangyari pero at the back of my mind kung hindi ko iyon ginawa alam ko na magiging miserable ang magiging buhay ni John ngayon kung hindi ko siya iniwan noon. That's it, may consequence lahat ng naging desisyon ko but may good outcome naman.

"How are you?"

I froze as I heard his voice from behind. I closed my eyes to suppress the tears from falling down. I sighed deeply as I plastered a fake smile. I turned around to see him. His hands were inside his pockets. Mataman lang siyang nakatitig sa akin. I looked into his eyes but I no longer see the eyes of my John.

"I am fine John..." I bit my lower lip. Hindi ko alam kung bakit parang nag-crack iyong boses ko. I just cleared my throat.

His arched his left brow. He smirked. "Good for you Venice. I always wished that you were fine after that day." tumawa ito ng pagak bago muling nagsalita. "Masaya naman talagang mang-iwan diba? That was years ago but you really left a mark right here." tinuro nito ang parteng dibdib nito.

Why are we even having this kind of conversation? Mas lalo akong nasasaktan and alam ko na galit na galit si John sa akin at nakakadagdag iyon sa sakit na nararamdaman ko ngayon.

"I did the right thing, John." I said. He laughed.

"Yeah, I guess so that was the right thing to do."

Tumango ako. Hindi ko na alam kung ano ang isasagot ko. Hindi ko napaghandaan ang ganitong pag-uusap namin ni John.

"It took years before I realized that you are never the girl that I wanted in my life and thank you for letting me go because by with that I also found the woman whom I want to be my heaven and earth. Thank you, Venice." He said and then left.

Naiwan akong nakatungaga habang ramdam ko sa bandang dibdib ang kirot at hapdi dahil sa mga salitang binitawan ni John. It pains me a lot knowing that I am just someone that he used to love. Masakit.

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