So in the spirit of never being who I think he is, months after the last time I saw him, he attended the reunion I swore he would miss. It felt like he lived to prove me wrong.
We were in a café, me and a few friends, waiting for the rest of the group. He stood behind me, his voice like a dagger straight to my heart, when he said hello to everyone but me. He was greeted with enthusiasm and I tried my best to keep myself from looking his way. Nothing good ever comes out of self-torture. I promised myself that there will be no such thing that weekend. I will keep out of his way and I knew that he will stay out of mine.
I spent the entire time staring at whoever is talking. I forced myself to look away whenever he would speak. I felt proud. I was doing exactly as I said I would. Pretty soon, the rest of the group arrived and it was time to leave. We all walked to the loading area and got on a jeepney to head towards our destination. The resort is a couple of hours away so travel will surely take a while. I intended to continue ignoring his existence but I accidentally looked his way and I could’ve sworn that he was looking at me.
My heart skipped a beat. “Shit.” I said to myself. This isn’t what I was hoping to happen. I sneaked another glance but he was stubbornly looking the other way, his jaw tense. I smiled to myself trying to decide if I really did see what I thought I saw, or if the hunger I was feeling was starting to make me delusional. I took another glance in his direction, I swear that was the first big mistake I did that night. And I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t do it, the rest of the night would’ve gone so much better.
We got to the resort later than intended. A small group started prepping up for a late dinner while the rest decided that it was a good time to get the party started. They passed around shots and by the time the food was ready, a few people were already a little buzzed, myself included.
The night was spent the same way it always was, with over flowing booze, loud and sometimes out of tune karaoke songs and crazy dance moves. And as the people got drunker, inhibitions started to hit rock bottom. This was when insanity really started.
I was happily buzzed and minding my own business when the part of the night where farewell speeches were made had arrived. One of our bosses will be migrating to the US and she will be leaving shortly after the outing. She started giving this speech about what she’d like to tell everyone, her voice slurry and a bit hard to understand due to her drunken state. We were laughing and having fun until it was time for her to tell me her message.
She looked me straight in the eyes and with full conviction said “You’re in love with him. I know you’re in love with him.” Her entire speech was dedicated to telling me that I was in love with the man standing just a few steps away from me. I smiled that ‘oh come on you’re drunk’ smile and approached her. “You’re drunk, dude.” I said as I tried to calm her down. She started crying while shouting and all I can tell you is that it was pure insanity.
I should’ve gone to bed after that. But I didn’t. That was mistake number two.
Every one kept drinking and singing and swimming and basically making fools of ourselves. A few minutes after, I made mistake number three.
I saw him sitting there, just staring at the wall looking pretty drunk. I had a drink in my hand and my desire for answers screaming in my head. I took a step forward, and then another, and then I found myself standing right in front of him.
“Can we talk?” I asked him. I stared at him waiting for an answer, but as he has done so many times before, he simply ignored me as he continued to stare at the wall.
“Please? Just 5 minutes, ok?” I said as I took a step forward. He stood up and walked away. I felt the tears forming as I watched him turn his back on me. He left and just stood there, my heart shattering. But mistake number three wasn’t even the worst thing to happen that night.
At the peak of the merriment, when everyone else was having fun, a commotion started in the bathroom. Someone had gotten too drunk and was being assisted by a few others. I happened to look up from my drink and I saw him make his way up stairs. That was when mistake number four started. I followed him into the boy’s bedroom and closed the door. He turned around and looked at me with surprise for two seconds and pure rage straight after. “Get out!” he shouted.
“Can you please just talk to me? Or at least listen to me for 10 seconds?” I begged him.
“No. I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to listen to you. Get out!” he tried to side step me but I stood directly in front of the door and blocked his access to the doorknob. Annoyed, he began to bang the door loudly.
“Please. Just 5 minutes. Just listen.”
“No! GET OUT!” he kept banging on the door. I could already hear people outside trying to get in. I know that they are probably worried given that the commotion downstairs was bad enough.
“Fine!” I glared at him as I yanked the door open. I took a step out of the room but back pedalled and faced him again. “You know what,” I said to him as soon as I turned around, “you are an asshole!” and then I made mistake number five by throwing whatever’s left of my drink on his face.
I didn’t even stick around to see his reaction. After throwing my drink, I walked straight into the girl’s bedroom and slammed the door. As soon as it closed, the tears started falling. My body began to shake and my heart ached and I couldn’t breathe. My knees buckled and I fell to the floor, still crying hysterically. I didn’t even know why I was crying.
It took me several minutes before I could be calm enough to walk out of the room and take a shower. I stood under the cold water for what felt like hours, tears still falling. When I was sure that no more tears will come, I stepped out of the shower and got dressed. I made my way to the girl’s room to leave my towel. Every step I took from that bathroom to the bedroom solidified my resolve. I will never cry over him again. Never in this lifetime will I shed tears for this heartless man who cannot even be bothered to spare 5 minutes to listen.
As I stepped out of the room, he entered the guy’s bedroom. I don’t think he noticed me, but he left the door ajar as he climbed up the top bunk and collapsed there, fast asleep. I sighed and went to the pool area to re-join the party.
It was around 5am when almost everyone was asleep, that I made mistake number six. I went into the guy’s room to take care of one of our friends who was drunk out of his mind. While trying to get him to rehydrate, I noticed that the guy in the top bunk was getting cold. I found him a blanket and tucked it around him as he continued to sleep. I know this small action wouldn’t change anything but I couldn’t leave him there. After covering him up, I went out of the room and ran into one of the boys. He left the door ajar and I decided, against my better judgement, to sit on the bottom step of the stairs leading up to what I believed to be the attic. The stairs are directly in front of the boy’s room and I could see him facing the wall as he slept.
About a year ago, he was one of the closest friends I had. He got me through some of my bad days by simply being around. He was able to read my mood and he was usually the one who helps ease my bad temper. Tears formed as I recalled the days when things were still fine. I shook my head at the memories. Breakfast every single day, cheeseburgers in the afternoon, endless talks over Google chat, late night hang out sessions during night recruitment, Twitter/Instagram/Facebook wars/arguments, pointless petty discussions about difference of opinion and random days where we would send each other SMS until one of us got bored and decided to stop replying.
I stared at his sleeping form, acutely aware of every memory I have of him, both good and bad. I had so much to tell him but he refused to listen. So in that moment, while he slept, I started talking.
“I’m sorry.” I whispered, still watching him sleep from a distance. “I’m sorry that we ended up strangers after being good friends for just a short time. I don’t know what happened and how things ended up this way. A lot of people have different opinions about us, but I know what we were. I know what we are. We are two people who had a lot in common. In fact, we had so much in common that when we do have a difference of opinion we have the tendency to clash and fight. We are two people who have very strong opinions, you see. Because of this, we refuse to back down. Obviously, we are two people who like to argue. And boy, we argued a lot over the span of our short lived friendship. We are two people who may or may not be in love with each other. I’m not really sure about your feelings for me, but I believe that I was in love with you for a while. I was fascinated, infatuated and quite possibly in love with you for a while. Or at least, I was in love with the idea of you and me together. We are two people who clicked. And that is where all of these troubles started.” I sighed, remembering the last time I thought things would be fine.
“I missed you.” I admitted. “But today is probably the last time I will ever get to see you. And I am very sad about that. I’m sad that we are no longer the two friends I thought we were. I am sad that I lost you and I don’t even know why. It hurts me so much that this is how things will end; you and me, strangers. This is our ending, you; angry for whatever reason, and me; completely at a lost as to why. I keep replaying our interactions in my mind, trying to pin point the exact moment when you decided that I was worse than the dirt under your shoes. I keep trying to think of why or how or when we started drifting apart after all the talks of ‘acting normal’ and ‘things won’t change’. I keep looking for closure and answers and I think tonight, finally, I can say that I’m done. I am done begging for answers that you obviously don’t have. Because if you had the answers, I would like to think that you would tell me these things yourself. I am no longer going to apologize for something that I do not even know. I am tired of asking for time to try and fix things when obviously, things are not even broken. You have simply decided to throw away something that is no longer worth your time and energy, and for that, I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for you because you decided to throw away someone who would’ve defended you and stood by you until the end. I feel sorry for you because your pride has prevented you from seeing a person who loves you, completely, without any hope of receiving anything in return. I feel sorry for you because your default response to love is hate. But at the same time, I want to thank you. Thank you for all the good memories. Thank you for having a hand at making me a better person. Thank you because I am happy that I met you and that you were, at one point, someone that I loved. Today is the last time that I will ever see you. And though I know you cannot hear any of these, this is already enough. Thank you. I guess, the answer to my questions of why and how, is that it’s simply time to say goodbye. So, goodbye my one time friend, tomorrow we become strangers.”
I stood slowly, wiped my tears and walked to our room, where I stared at the ceiling until the sun rose and it was time to go home. I have not seen him or talked to him since. He and I are officially, strangers again.