I have to marry him? Dad must be kidding! Pumasok ako agad sa opisina niya at naabutan ko siyang nakatanaw sa labas. Malalim ang iniisip. "Dad?"
Lumingon siya agad sa akin at ngumiti. "What brought you here?" Umupo ako sa katapat na silya ng kaniyang lamesa habang nakatingin sa envelope na nakapatong doon. That must the.. marriage.. contract?
"You forced Renzo to marry me?"
"I did not force him. It's my condition, he can take it or leave it."
"Bakit kailangan pang ganon ang kapalit?"
"I'm doing you a favor. Dapat maging masaya ka."
"I don't think this is right."
He sighed and sat down.. "Walang pumipilit sa kaniya. It's still his choice."
"But he needs your help!"
"I don't give my help for free." His authoritative voice is telling me to shut up now but I just can't.
"Then that's not called help, Dad. He needs your sincere.. help."
"Ayaw mo bang ikasal siya sayo?"
Natigilan ako sa tanong niya at hindi makapaniwalang tinitigan ang aking ama. "Wh-"
"I'm setting the table for you so be grateful."
"No! This is too much."
"I told you, no one's forcing him."
"What exactly did he asked of you?"
"Money. Tinangay ng accountant ni Matilda ang pera nila at nabaon sila sa utang nang hindi nalalaman ng kaniyang anak. Renzo only knew everything after his mom's death. Naghahabol na ang mga kliyente nila and the bank took their house so he's left with nothing but a two million pesos in his account."
My heart sank.. "And yet you can't.. help him?"
"My help, my rules. And I'm not doing this just for the marriage, Renzo's ideas are quite unique.. and creative. We need him at OC."
"Then that's it! He can work for us in exchange of your help! Because marriage? That's too much, Dad. Pero kung pagtatrabaho sa OC ang kapalit ng ipapautang mo, I guess that's enough."
"Hindi sapat, Wendy."
"What exactly is in your mind?!" I feel so frustrated. Hindi ko maintindihan ang rason niya. This whole sitation is confusing me.. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang pinanghuhugutan niya sa kondisyon niyang kasal.
Tumitig siya sa akin. Nananantya.. "Stop acting like you don't want this."
"Fine! If you can't help him then, ako ang tutulong sa kaniya."
"Bakit, may 50 million ka ba?"
Napairap ako. "What exactly do you want, Dad? Bakit ang babaw ninyo? It's just 50 million, barya lang iyon sa inyo, bakit niyo ginagawang big deal ito?"
"I'm doing this for you, to secure your future.."
"Future? What future are you talking about? Bakit kailangan niyo pang hingin ang kondisyon na 'yon? Hindi ako madalas magsabi sa'yo. All I told you is I like him, 'yun lang! How did you even know that I want him so bad to the point of marrying him? Ano 'yun? Just your wild guess?"
"Sapat na ang alam ko, Wendy. You're weeping every goddamn night after that boy broke up with you and you're.. slitting your wrist.."
Tila nahulog sa kung saan ang puso ko sa mga sinabi niya. No one knew about that.. fuck..
I stared at him for a second. No one's supposed to know that, how could he – I always wear any kind of top with long sleeves, a wrist watch and a two inches wide onyx bead bracelet. Kay Gigi ko lang naikwento ang lahat. Hindi ko alam kung paano nalaman ni Dad. I'm pretty sure Gigi wouldn't betray me because I know her dark secrets too.
Dad's disappointed eyes remained at me.. "You always think that your mom is more attentive but you're wrong." This is the first time he looked at me this way, like I am something broken and beyond repair. That's why maybe he thought that the marriage.. with the man I loved all these years.. can save.. and repair me.
Naihilamos ko ang palad ko sa aking mukha. Naninikip ang dibdib ko. It all happened in the past but I hate this feeling. I feel so ashamed.. that I have done crazy things to myself because of him. Everything felt painful again... Mabilis ang pintig ng tibok ng puso ko, masakit din at nakakahilo. Tumayo ako at umalis doon.
I went to CafeTin, isang coffee shop na lagi kong pinupuntahan, kaunti lang lagi ang tao roon and it may be a bad thing to its owner but it's a good thing for me. Pumasok ako, umorder at saka umakyat sa second floor kung saan tanaw ang kalsada dahil sa salaming pader. Mahigit isang oras akong nakatanaw sa labas at hindi na rin malamig ang iced coffee na binili ko pero wala akong lakas para tumayo.
Moving on at that time was so hard. I just turned 18 and I was so emotional and immature back then. Hindi ko kaya na nakipaghiwalay si Renzo so I did everything to ease the pain. I just don't know kung bakit naisipan kong maglaslas noon, ngayon tuloy ay nahihirapan akong itago ang mga peklat na 'to sa palapulsuhan ko. Though I tried to use some oil para mawala ang peklat, ang ilan ay visible pa rin kapag tinitigan ng mabuti at hinaplos.
Napabuntong hininga ako at marahang sinandal ang ulo ko sa salaming pader. Pakiramdam ko'y bumabaligtad ang sikmura ko sa tuwing naiisip ko ang mga araw na 'yon. I was so hurt and I thought that Renzo leaving me.. was the end of the world, I feel so stupid. Hiyang hiya ako sa sarili ko. He moved on and made great things while I'm here, barely living. Though I managed to control my emotions overtime, I still find myself thinking about him every night. I still love him.. and I hate this feeling like I'm kind of stuck.
I checked my account using my phone. Kulang na kulang kahit ibenta ko pa ang kotse ko para makabuo ng 50 million. I can't get my trust fund yet, makukuha ko lamang iyon kapag pumanaw na si Dad but of course, bakit ko naman hihilinging mawala na ang daddy ko?
Dalawang araw na ang lumipas. Wala akong balita kay Renzo pero narinig ko sa pag-uusap nina Mom and Dad na makukulong si Renzo kapag hindi siya nakabayad. Mas lalo akong kinabahan so I texted him.
Ako: How are things going? Did you ask for someone else's help?
Renzo: I can handle this.
Pumikit ako ng ilang segundo at nagtipa sa cellphone ko.
Ako: Can we talk? I mean, personally.
Matagal siya bago nakapag-reply. Mabuti at pumayag. Nagkita kami sa CafeTin. He's wearing a white long sleeves tucked in his black slacks. Mukhang galing siya sa kung saang pormal na meeting. Medyo magulo ang kaniyang buhok and thin stubble is growing on his jawline. He's a hot mess.
Tila pagod siya at hindi pa nakakatulog ng maayos. "What do you want?"
"I have an idea."
Nakakunot ang noo niya habang nakatingin sa akin. "Yeah?"
Huminga ako ng malalim at saglit na pumikit. "Marry me."
Paglingon ko sa kaniya ay nanatiling blangko ang ekspresyon niya. "No."
"Wait, listen to me. I read the contract. Hindi natin kailangang magpakasal sa simbahan. A civil wedding will do. Then after two weeks or a month, maghihiwalay din tayo. It's just.. I know this may sound ridiculous because it's 2018, hindi na uso ang ganito pero hindi kita pwedeng hayaang makulong."
"Aalis na 'ko." Saka siya tumayo.
"Just try to think about it. I don't have enough money.. this is the only help I can offer."
"I underestimated you. You're not different from your father after all."
Something crumbled within me I watch him walk away.. "Is it really unbearable to marry me? Mas gusto mo pang makulong kaysa pakasalan ako?" I tried to sound angry but my voice screamed of pity..
He laughed. The way his lips were twitched sent me shivers. Seeing him this playful and devilish makes me want to run. "Ha. Do you hear yourself? You sound crazy."
I stiffened. It felt like I'm going back to who I was.. years ago. Hindi na ako nakapagsalita. Should I stop here?
Ngumisi siya at saka saglit sa tumitig sa akin. "I'm considering the offer.." He waved his three fingers in the air before walking downstairs.