Posted in literary

No….Yes

I couldn’t help but but feel nostalgic as I stood in front of my favorite restaurant. It was an Italian restaurant where Evan took me on our first date and on our three anniversaries of being together. It is where we head out when we wanted something edible besides the Chinese and Indian food we take out from the store across our apartment. I’ve practically tasted everything on their menu. I wonder if they’ve added something new. It’s been a while.

“Good evening Miss Margaret.” the familiar doorman politely greeted me. I nodded and smiled in return. I scanned the room for my date. Luckily, I found him immediately. He looked dapper in his three-piece suit. His tie was slightly loosed around his neck. He might have noticed someone staring at him  and so he turned his face towards me. He stood up as he waited for me to reach out table.

“You look gorgeous tonight, as always.” He put a light peck on my cheek then he moved to help me sit on my chair. “I would look more gorgeous if I was given another half an hour to fix my hair but I was afraid I’m going to be late if that happened.” I joked.

He chuckled, “It was good then that you were short of time or I would have died out of hunger.” Then he stared at me with adoring eyes, “But no matter how you dressed or styled your hair tonight, you are perfect.”

I just smiled back at him. I remember those times when Evan would compliment the way I look, the way I move, the way I do everything. I didn’t believe him at first but he kept on telling it again and again that I believed him. It’s one of the many things I loved about him. he made me feel good even at my worst.

A waiter tended us and we gave our orders. The sommelier approached our table with an expensive bottle of Marsala and poured our glasses. Evan taught me the art of wine-tasting. I actually enjoyed it. We had so much fun that night that we became tipsy because we downed three different wines. We ended up leaving his car on the parking lot an hailing a cab home. But tonight, I refused to drink and opted the sparkling water instead.

Our food came which we ate in between exchanging stories. The dishes were cleared out before the waiters came back to set the platters and cutlery for our dessert. It was tiramisu which I loved. Evan was the one who enlightened me that tiramisu is an Italian dessert. I really thought it was Japanese before!

I started with my dessert when the good-looking man in front of me asked, “Did you know that tiramisu means pick me up?“Before saying “I know”, he stood from his chair and walked towards me. He kneeled at the side of my chair. Is he doing what I think he is doing? In answer to my question, he got something from his breast pocket. A small velvet box. He opened it then just before my eyes was an enormous diamond ring. It was breath taking. “Margaret, we’ve been together for quite some time now and I just feel that this is the right moment to say this. I love you. Will you pick me up from here? Will you marry me?”

Memories of my time with Evan sprang out from the back of my mind. We were happy together. I never thought I could be that happy being with someone. We were happy but there were also moments that were a big let down. Like when we got pregnant but I miscarried on the 8th week. There was that moment when we haven’t had a real conversation for days. The doctor said my uterus was not a conducive place for the baby to grow but it doesn’t mean I can’t carry a full-term baby. I just need to take some medications and take are of my health. Evan didn’t say anything bad towards me. It’s like we had a mutual silent agreement not to talk about what happened. But I still felt he is blaming me or was it my guilt making me feel that? After that, everything between us changed.

I go back to the present and to the question. Will you marry me? How do I answer that ? It’s the second time I’ve been asked with the same question. I hated close-ended question types. I cannot reason out, I cannot give excuses. I remember the first time I was asked with the same question. It was also in this restaurant. I said “yes” simply because I loved the one who asked it. Somehow, I think to myself, I wouldn’t want to dine here anymore. What am I going to say this time? I noticed that the other tables were staring at us, or at me, waiting for my response. I look back at the man kneeling in front of me. I don’t love him. But before I gave him my honest answer, my attention was caught by a couple who just entered the restaurant that my mouth was left gaping. They were holding hands, the guy was whispering something to the girl as she giggled. They stopped their tracks as they noticed the situation going on. I stared at their intertwined fingers and didn’t fail to see a big diamond ring on the girl’s finger. So it’s true, he proposed to her. He asked her to marry him. To have his babies. To spend her life with him,like, forever. Realization dawned to me. I am hopeless. I  felt my heart constrict as my mouth dried. I just felt tears running through my eyes. I stared at the man who just entered, the man who asked the first “Will you marry me?”. I mentally sent him a message. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

Then I turned to the man proposing to me. I changed my mind. I said, “Yes Noah, I want you to make me your wife. You’re going to be a father after all. I’m 9 weeks pregnant.”

The crowd cheered while I died inside. Goodbye Evan.

Posted in literary

A Table for Two

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She was wearing her favorite pastel blue dress when she entered the restaurant. The maître d’ knowingly welcomed and led her to her reserved table. A table for two. It’s not her first time to come here after all. A young waiter approached her with the menu on his hands. She smiled at him and lifted her palm to stop him before he presented her the menu. “Don’t bother. Just a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon please.” she said with a smile instead. The waiter politely nodded then set off. Her eyes travelled around at the amazing interior. It seems like nothing has changed in the past months. It has been four months since the last time she went here. The waiter arrived with the chilled wine bottle in a bucket of ice followed by another familiar waitress with a tray off wine glasses. The waitress smiled at her. “Good evening Madame Jacob. It’s nice seeing you again. I’m surprised!Will your husband be running late tonight?” the middle-aged waitress asked her. She smiled and nodded meekly in answer before the two left her after the glasses were filled with the wine.

She didn’t bother to tell the familiar staff that she would be dining alone tonight. Didn’t even bother telling them that she won’t be needing the extra glass placed opposite her. She just let them think she was waiting for her husband. With her well manicured hand, she reached for the glass in front of her and lifted it. She let the rim of the glass touch the tip of her lower lip as she smelled the pungent aroma. She liked the smell as she liked her wine, bittersweet. She took her first sip, indulging into the rush of warm sensation that ran through her body. “I can get used to drinking this.” she silently told herself.

Mrs. Jacob ordered a Waldorf salad. She didn’t want to down the whole bottle with an empty stomach. She wanted to be sober at least for a little longer. She wanted to remember the details of her marriage vividly. She smiled. It’s their fourth wedding anniversary tonight. Oh how she wanted to recall the times.

She remembered their first anniversary. She was so happy to wake up beside him that morning. Beatriz couldn’t believe that she had been Mrs. Jacob for exactly a year that day. Beatriz stared at the face of her sleeping husband. She kissed him and whispered, “I love you.”

Her husband stirred and woke up. “I’m not Sleeping Beauty, but thank you for that wake up kiss.”, he said smilingly. Beatriz giggled as her husband cuddled and kissed her.

They were out of breath when they stopped. “Dress up nicely later. I’m taking you somewhere fancy tonight. Happy anniversary, Bee.” he said as he kissed her again.

On their second anniversary, she woke up with a breakfast tray on her bedside table. A cup of coffee, orange, bacon, waffle, and a stem of tulip. She read the note attached to the flower. Good morning Mrs. Jacob. I’m out for work early. Pick you up at 7-ish? Two years and forever. Love, Your Mr. Jacob.  She was surprised with the breakfast in bed. She can’t help but be touched by the gesture since her husband didn’t know the map of their kitchen. She finished all the served food. Later that night, Mr. Jacob brought her to the same restaurant where he brought her on their first anniversary date.

On their third anniversary, she thought of doing something naughty. She woke up earlier than her husband and stuck a note on the alarm clock on the bedside table saying, Skip breakfast, maybe? There’s something or SOMEONE more delectable in the bathroom. She donned her Victoria’s Secret lingerie she bought the day before. She placed her iPod, filled with sexy songs she searched over the internet, and speakers on the sink counter. She waited for some minutes and chose to sit in the bathtub. She ended up sleeping instead and was woken up by a blasting “My Sharona” from the speakers. Then she saw her husband with his hip resting on the counter, arms crossed, watching her amusingly with a grin on his face.

“I wanted to eat something or someone delectable but I found out she was sleeping.”  Bee frowned, feeling disappointed by her failed seduction. Her husband laughed at her as she walked towards her and helped her stand up.

“I’m sorry, I’m not really a good seductress.” she said embarrassingly, blushing.

“Said who? I find you sexy. The sexiest, in fact.”, he chuckled as he reached and enclosed her in her arms.

“I will make it up to you tonight. Wear something nice, I’m taking you somewhere fancy.” she hugged him back, saying the words he said to her on their first anniversary.

“It’s a date then.” he chided. He released her and looked at her face with glint in his eyes, “But I’m already hungry. Is your offer of something or someone delectable still up?”

Bee remembered all those dates together with all the memories that happened in between them. All their lovemaking, their silence, the fights, the make-ups, the love. Then she noticed, she almost downed the whole bottle alone for herself. She was feeling tipsy already and didn’t want to finish the one-third left. She raised her hand to catch the attention of a waiter passing by and asked for the bill. After she paid and left a big amount of stood from her seat. She felt the head rush so she placed her arms on the table for support. The waiter kindly offered to guide her to the doorway but she declined. “Oh no need. I can manage. I will just ask the doorman to hail me a cab. Besides, it’s a busy night for you. Thank you for the kind offer.”, she said sincerely. The waiter didn’t sound convinced but didn’t bother to ask her again. Mrs. Jacob picked her purse and started to head to the door. With a slow and straight gait, she was surprised to know that she was not that intoxicated after having several glasses of wine. The doorman was busy talking to a newly arrived group of diners which she was glad about. She didn’t want anyone to offer to usher her. She reached the parking lot and got in to her car. She turned the radio on and tuned it to a Blues station. She rested her head on the headrest and stared at the green dashboard clock. It’s two hours and several minutes before twelve. She continued sitting idly as Ella Fitzgerald sang in the background. The day of their wedding anniversary is not yet over. It’s her first time to spend this day alone, no conversations. They usually lasted this day with lovemaking in their apartment. Then realization dawned that that would never happen again. “Never again,” she closed her eyes as tears streamed from her eyes, “never again.”

”Y-you are so unfair Eric. I-I hate you right now. You are very unfair.” she said faintly as tears continued pouring down her cheeks. Her silent cry turned to sobbing. She rested her arms and head forward to the steering wheel. Just tonight, let me cry again. She cannot believe that in just one night, she remembered almost the whole of the four years they’ve been together. The sadness felt heavier as she realized that the four years they have been together was not enough for her. She wanted more. Wanted forever. But she knew it’s impossible. He is gone and not coming back. The flashback of the four years of companionship was indeed a flash. Just like their marriage, it started but suddenly ended. Just like how fast his husband’s life was taken. She remembered that night four months ago…
She received a call telling her that her husband had a car accident. She rushed into the hospital, praying and hoping that everything will turn out fine. She arrived at the hospital, six minutes after Eric’s life was gone. Then everything weren’t the same.

She snapped back to the present time, inside her car. She wiped her wet cheeks with her hands. The sobbing stopped. It’s time to go home, she told herself. She started her car and exited to the main road. Billie Holiday is serenading, singing “Without Your Love” on the background .

“I miss you, Eric. I love you.”she said. Tears started coming out again. She wanted to stop crying but she just can’t. I’m tired and sleepy, damn that wine, she thought, as gravity pulled down her eyelids. Billie Holiday was still singing, with car horns joining the jazzy band. “In another life, Mr. Jacob.”

Posted in literary

Until That Lemon Tree (A Short Story)

xoxofrets

Hi! My name is Taylor and here is my story.


      xoxofrets

        It was on the first day of our senior year when I first met Bram. Being the new guy, he was the apple of the eye of the entire class – and when I mean “entire class,” I’m pretty sure that includes me. I found him cute. And just my luck, he was seated two seats in front of me! As boring lectures consumed the hours, I would daydream about Bram-hearts-Me. Of course I would tell these to my girl friends during our breaks and we would get giggly about it. Ugh, girls!

       And then that time came when it was not a mere crush anymore. And you also know that moment when your friends, or at least a couple of them, become so noisy and accidentally on purpose tells your secret when your crush is just two steps away from them? That’s much more likely how Bram and some other people knew about it. And I hate it when my blushing gave me away when I’m supposed to be pokerfaced. It was good Bram would just smile it away.

       Then one night, I received a quote message from an anonymous number which turned out to be Bram’s. He got it from our class directory. We started exchanging text messages and online chatting—from quotes to greetings to something more personal, even homework.  It’s where we basically started our getting-to-know-each-other phase. But still we don’t talk to each other in school, just smiling. It was like hiding a relationship minus the relationship part.

       One time, I got to school earlier than the usual and saw Bram sitting inside our classroom alone, reading a book. We knew that there’s something more-than-friends going on between us but at that moment, it felt awkward. We didn’t even have a technical friendship to begin with, for crying out loud! Well, that’s if you consider electronic messaging and no face-to-face verbal conversation a real friendship!

       I smiled at him. He smiled back. Then silence.

       “Hi!” I said. Then I felt myself blushing.

       “Hi!” he said back. And gosh! He also blushed!

       Then something came over me and I blurted out, “Bram, I like you!”

       Silence again. Then I felt like I was blushing more. Good thing it was the same for him.

       And when I felt like crying from the embarrassment, he replied, “I like you too, Taylor.”

      And boom! I woke up from a coma. Just kidding! That was real and we became a couple. It’s just that we had to keep it from anyone. Bram had a girlfriend before but this in-a-relationship thing is a stranger to me. For some instances, it was unconventional and others may not accept it. I didn’t even know how to explain it to my family. I’m just thankful Bram understood my point.

       We would secretly meet. Our conversations had to be subtle when classmates were around. As for our first kiss? Well, it happened in the empty locker-room in the school gym. It was delightful I should say. After classes, he would walk me home. Not really to the door or the front yard, just until the lemon tree more or less 15 meters away from our house

       Bram’s house was just a block away  from our school so during lunch breaks, we would leave our friends in the canteen and run off and head there. His parents were at work and his sister was at the university. We would usually make chicken waffles or pancakes while watching MTV. On one of those lunch breaks, another first time happened. He started kissing me and I kissed him back. Hands travelled over our bodies. The “deed” was done. It was hard to explain. A feeling of excitement, body-tingling bliss, pleasure, and a little bit of pain .

       Senior year was about to end. Our relationship was turning 6 months—still a secret for two. I still feel the fear. Should I continue or end it? It got me thinking for days until I decided to choose the latter.  One night, as we were standing beside the lemon tree, Bram smilingly asked me what I wanted as a gift for our graduation. I just stood still, not knowing how to break the news. I just bowed my head.

       “What’s wrong?” he asked me after a moment.

       Still looking down and with voice as soft as whisper, I told him, “I think it would be better if we break up.” I looked at him. I can’t really see his face clearly in the shadows but I was sure he was struck.

       He laughed. “Don’t go making jokes like that!” Another laugh came from him. But it was pained. He knew I was serious. “Why are you doing this? We love each other!”

       There was never an easy way to break-up with someone you love and you know who loves you back.  “All the time we were together,” I shakily answered, “I was scared about others knowing about this relationship. I am scared for you. That everyone would laugh at you for having a relationship with me. And I am scared that I may not live up to that.” I paused and started crying. “ I hate myself right now for being a coward and hate myself more for hurting you and letting you go. I know you love me and I also love you but I know that there will come a time when it won’t be enough. That you will look for someone who could give you more. ”

       Bram just stood there. I heard him sniffle. I knew he was also crying and for a moment, there was silence. “Tay,” he broke the silence, “I don’t know what to say. It hurts so much to know that you don’t trust the love I have for you. I know you are scared but I will not be that kind of person who will leave you because you think someone could give me better.”

       Those made the feeling worse. “ It’s also hard for me and it pains me much but we have to do it, for you to be happy. Thanks for the love. Don’t call or text me. Goodbye Bram” And with one last quick kiss, I ran home without looking back. I entered the backdoor and quickly headed to the bathroom with my head down. “ I need to pee!” I managed to shout as an excuse to my family. I let my tears out as the shower poured. I hope it will help lessen the redness and puffiness of my eyes. I guess I would just have to make another excuse as to how my peeing ended up in taking a shower.

       The last days of school went on without Bram and I talking to each other. It still hurts.

       Two years have passed and I happened to run into a high school friend while I was doing the grocery. We started changing stories over a coffee. I learned from her that Bram’s girlfriend was 15 weeks pregnant. I didn’t know how to take that news. Was I hurt? I didn’t know. But I was definitely happy for him.

       Several months later, I went to the hospital to visit a cousin who just gave birth. While I was walking along the hallway, I heard someone call out, “Taylor, wait!” The voice sounded so familiar and before I realize who owned it, Bram appeared.

       “Hi! Long time no see.” the smiling, manly Bram said breathlessly after running after me. His familiar scent wafted the air.

       I smiled back. “Hi yourself. I’ve heard you’re having a baby!” Realization dawned on me. “Oh! Has she given birth already?”

       ”Yeah. Grace gave birth to our baby girl last night.”

       “A baby girl! Wow! So what did you name her?” I asked excitedly.

       “Taylor,” he said somehow feeling awkward. “we named her Taylor. Grace loves that name.” He said with a smile. Then he showed me the the baby’s birth certificate.

       Of course I was surprised! Who would let their child have a name same as their ex’s? “Seriously?! But does she know about me?”

       ”No. Wasn’t I the one who promised you not to tell any soul about us?” he smiled again, “ We made a list of baby names and she added Taylor on it. Apparently, she loves Taylor Swift and picked it. I had no objections, it’s a very beautiful name.”

       ”It’s still weird.” I laughed though. “Anyway, Seeing how happy you are right now, I feel happier. You know that feeling that you know you have made the right decision?”

       ”Thank you, Tay, for everything.” he expressed. And then there was the charming half smirk again, “ Where are you heading to anyway? Would you like to see them?”

       ”Uhm, I was supposed to visit a cousin who also gave birth but I think I could spare some time before dropping by her room.”

       Then together again, we walked beside one another. Not as lovers but as friends. He introduced me to Grace. She was nice. We talked about anything and how nice baby Taylor and I are namesakes and about their engagement. Bram just watched as talk, sometimes he joins our conversation. I also tried carrying Baby Taylor when she was roomed in. After an hour of joining them, I bid my goodbye.

       It was nice. I was happy to see a family. I know they love each other and with that, I can go on with my life. I thank Bram for loving me before and I thank Grace and Baby Taylor, for loving him back.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

       Bram watched Grace and their baby as they slept. After seeing Taylor again, he can’t help but remember how Taylor showed him love and the sacrifice made for him to have the kind of family he has right now. He loved Taylor truly and even today, he still does. Not romantically but still, in a very special way. And he wished that Taylor would find someone who would love him for what he is and would be courageous to let others know. Someone who would ease off Taylor’s fear of other’s judgment and someone who would be proud of their relationship even if other people think that a guy should not be in love with another guy.