The next morning, I entered the school's gate with my heart pounding loudly. I'm nervous about what's going to happen today if I see Chrixa. I really hate this! Not this again! Not with my best friend!
I take a deep breath. I just have to act normal.
I jerk as Chrixa calls me from behind. She then catches up to me and we walk together. Whatever happened the other day, she seemed to have forgotten about it. Not me, though. As we walk, I can't help feeling so uncomfortable.
Mort: Oh! H-hi Chrish.
I said, stuttering and giving an awkward smile.
Chrixa: What's wrong with you?
She inquired, a brow raised.
Chrixa: You look like you've seen a ghost. Are you alright?
She's actually doing her forget-about-it-after-one-day style. Somehow that made me slowly relax. If she's doing that style then Lance's theory could be wrong and what happened the other day was not really as big as I thought.
With that in mind I say clearly and with a smile.
Mort: Yeah yeah. I'm alright.
Chrixa: Oh... Ok...
Silence followed after a minute. My mind is struggling between asking her about the other day or just act normal and forget about it. Suddenly the awkwardness crept back in me. Then I decided to just ask her and thought that it won't hurt anyways so I turned to her and say,
Mort: Uh Chrish –
Great. If the bell was a person, I’d punch him in the face.
We then ran towards our classroom. I decided to just ask her later.
During lunchtime, I started having that feeling of being hungry-but-not-hungry again. I just sit on my chair, mind flying somewhere else.
Chrixa: Here take this.
Chrixa appears beside me holding up a lime green lunchbox. She’s wearing one of her cutest smile.
I can't help my mind from getting ahead of me. Now I'm thinking that the reason she’s giving me lunch is because – NO!
Dang it Lance! Giving that idea to me! Now I can't erase it in my head!
This is just another prank. I hoped as I ask Chrixa, trying to act suspicious,
Mort: What's inside it?
It's gotta be a prank. So inside it would be...
Chrixa: Lunch. Food.
Now I feel truly suspicious and my mind just focused on the prank she did the other day when she gave me lunch. I can't fall for that again.
Mort: Not confetti?
Chrixa, rolling her eyes and without saying another word, opens the lunchbox.
Real food was actually inside.
The sight of Adobong manok made me wanna drool but the feeling of Lance's theory being true slowly creeps back in. I started examining the corners of the lunchbox, desperately looking for a confetti.
I touch the food and felt it's genuineness.
Mort: Where's the confetti?
Chrixa: There's no confetti, stupid!
Chrixa said almost laughing. The word "stupid" made me recall her face, opposite to how she's saying it now, the other day. It made me uneasy.
Mort: Well...n-no pranks today?
Why am I feeling nervous?
Mort: I don't have to do anything before taking that delicious food? You're giving it for free?
There’s gotta be a catch.
Chrixa: I actually thought of making you lick my shoes before giving this to you.
She’s checking her nails and eyes her shoes.
There is a catch! My insides almost rejoice but her next words prevented it to do so.
Chrixa: But then you wouldn't accept it so I altered it a bit: If you don't take this, I'll force you to kiss me.
Chrixa said, her lips half pouting, half smiling.
Mort: I'll take it!
I immediately take the lunchbox. Trying hard not to mind the "kiss" part which is actually echoing inside my head. I tried to shake my head but ended up shaking fast but small, like vibrating my head, so that Chrixa won't see it.
Chrixa: Good boy.
She pats my head. I force a smile hoping that she didn't see my predicament.
Chrixa: Now eat!
She said cheerfully and takes off.
Mort: T-thank you! Chrish...
I told her before she could get far.
Chrixa: You're welcome!
She said, raising her thumbs up as she walks away.
I look at the lunch. Then I notice that the Gang was snickering from a distance. I can see Lance making heart shapes with his hands. I raised a fist at them which was effective for stopping group antics.
Chrixa's really strange today. I can feel it. I don't know why but ever since the idea of her being – I inhale then exhale. Ever since THAT, I just feel different.
After praying for the food, I started eating Chrixa's lunch wondering if she's the one cooking it. It's really delicious. As I eat it I feel so different though. I can't really determine what it is but it's unpleasant and familiar. Could it be that – No! I patted my chest. I can't be. Not with Chrixa.
I eat fast and drank a lot of water to drown the things that are stirring inside me. I shake my head and just nailed it to the fact that nothing's proven yet. I need to make it sure though. So I've decided to ask her after class. I can't let this confusion linger in my heart.
After dismissal, I lost sight of Chrixa. I'm looking for her because I wanted to ask her, once and for all. So that everything is settled and I wouldn't have to imagine things anymore.
I head towards the white leadtree beside our room but then I hesitated because why would she be there alone? If Lance's theory was right then the possibility of her sitting on the emo rock is high.
I got there, sighing in relief, as I see no one. But then I hear familiar voices from my left. It was Chrixa and Karen. They're not under the white leadtree but on the table just a couple of meters near it. That's the comfort table. A table only used by the gang to either hang out or give serious advice.
I didn't interrupt Karen and Chrixa because I think I know what they're talking about. Plus they didn’t see me.
Chrixa: I already told him! But it seems like he didn't hear it!
I never heard Chrixa talk like that before. Come to think of it, she never really ranted to me before. She always seemed happy whenever we're together. We didn't really talk about her problems because it seems like she doesn't have any. And if she does have a problem, she'd be absent.
Back when we were just kids, I went to their house the day she was absent. I just sneaked into their backyard and throw pebbles at her window. Then I'd make her go out to play. I always made her happy whenever she's sad so talking about her problem doesn't happen between us. I'm also not the guy who pries that much, especially when I know it would be wise not to. So every time I see that Chrixa has a problem I just make her happy and we just laugh it off.
But now that I hear her talking like that. I felt like there's a very big distance between us. I want to go there and join Karen helping her with her problems. But then I realized -
Karen: He didn't hear it?
I am the problem.
Chrixa: It's not that he didn't hear it. He's just so stupid to get it!
Chrixa's words came through my heart like an arrow, hitting it right on the spot.
Karen: Actually Daniel told me about it.
I knew Daniel would tell Karen.
Karen: He said Mort actually thought that it's Hugh Jackman.
Karen laughs and that's when I accepted it.
Lance's theory was right.
Chrixa: He's really stupid...
I'm really stupid.
Chrixa: But I love him. I love him so much.
Hearing it directly from her feels so...
What? What do I feel?
My heart can't even process her words. Suddenly I wanted to go and confront Chrixa but what will I say?
I tried to recall the prank she gave me on the first day. The way she hugged me and said those words. The way I got very angry.
I clench my fist. Did I hurt her because of that? Did I made her feel that she'll only hear those phrase from me if she pushes me into doing so? I got even more pissed. Now the "L" thing hit my best friend. The girl I've been trying so hard not to be hurt by that thing. And now she's experiencing it! I feel like crying but then I suppress it. I reeled myself back to the present, and listened.
Karen: Aren't you gonna tell him again?
Chrixa: I don't know.
Chrixa's voice is almost like a whisper. Full of pain and sadness.
Chrixa: I think I'll just wait.
Chrixa paused then say,
Chrixa: Maybe He has a plan.
And by saying He, I assumed she's talking about God.
Karen: Of course He does.
Karen assured Chrixa, which proved my assumption.
What is He planning though? I look up.
Mort: What are You planning?
I ask in a whisper.
Chrixa: I'm going now Karen. Thanks for listening.
I can hear Chrixa standing up. I then walk away and plan to act as if I'm just about to go to their spot.
Karen: Oh Chrixa...whenever you need someone to talk to about this, just call me ok?
Chrixa stands up.
I then started walking away. I stopped after a few steps and turned around. Chrixa was just turning around the corner towards me.
Mort: There you are.
I said to Chrixa so normal that it surprised even me. Chrixa jerks as she sees me. Karen was also rounding the corner.
Mort: Oh. Hey, Karen!
Karen was a bit surprised about my sudden appearance but smiles as I greet her.
Chrixa: You can go home already, Mort.
Chrixa's not looking at me but the ground. I can see her face now. She looks so sad.
Chrixa: You don't have to wait for me.
Mort: We're always going home together. Of course I'll wait for you.
I have to act as normal as possible, for now.
Karen gives me a smile. I smile back. She usually pries a lot but, right now, she's acting like Auntie Jane. Letting us deal with it ourselves.
Chrixa didn't make a sound after that.
Our walk home is the longest walk I've ever had with her. I wanted to tell her something but I'm afraid to make a wrong move and screw it up so bad. So I remained silent. I don't really know what to say to her at the moment, so silence is the best thing to do, I guess.
I was staring at her back as she walks ahead of me. I don't ever want her to end up just like me. Isolating herself into loneliness. Shutting down interactions with friends. The kind of symptoms those hopeless romantic people go through. If I wanted to help her, the next move should be clear, right? Enter the "L" thing with her. But I can't. I know how sensitive a heart is. I don't want to pretend I lo- I stop myself. Even saying the word is difficult for me now. How much more putting it into action.
We reached her home both looking gloomy. I don't know if Auntie Jane knows what's happening but I smiled for her, to give her an assurance that it's nothing big, and bid goodbye. I bid Chrixa goodbye too but she just walked straight into their house, not looking back.
Later that night, I just can't sleep right away. Chrixa's voice is echoing inside my head.
"I love him so much."
AH! I sat up and prayed:
"What do you want me to do God? I love her but I don't want to hurt her. I don't want to destroy our friendship. So please God show me the way and guide me through it. I know You'll never leave me. And I know that You will be with her, especially now that she badly needs Your guidance. Please, Father, guide us both through this. Amen."
My heart is comforted for now. So I slowly drifted to sleep.
I hear Chrixa's voice calling me. I slowly open my eyes and her face focuses slowly in front of me. Her beautiful face shines as she smiles at me. I'm lying down on a patch of grass. She helps me stand up and I notice we’re on a huge field of beautiful flowers.
She grabs my hand and we run around the field. We're very happy. Then Chrixa drags me near a cliff.
"Whoa!" I say, stopping and pulling Chrixa away from it. Chrixa smiles and pulls me towards it.
"C'mon! Don't be afraid." she says, smiling. Then she lets go of me and moves closer to the edge of the cliff.
"Hey Chrixa, don't!" I tell her, but she just smiles and says,
"Jump with me."
Then she lets herself fall off the cliff.
My insides leap as I run to try to grab her but it's too late. I watch as her figure diminishes into the darkness, shouting,
I wake up panting. I realized I'm on the edge of my bed, my right arm dangling towards the floor of my bedroom. I'm breathing heavily as I stare at the dimly lit floor beneath my bed.
I sit up my bed and turn on my lamp on the table beside me.
The nightmare never left my mind even after waking up. It keeps on replaying in my mind and, for what seems like an hour, I sat on my bed thinking what it meant.
Chrixa. Falling. Me. Helplessly watch her as she falls.
And she was smiling.
A sudden pain shots through my chest. I slap my head thinking, "How could I be so stupid to let her fall! Why didn't I see it coming?"
Once again, Chrixa caught me off guard. And it left me feeling awful again. But this time I don't think it would only be for a while. This ones going to last long. And no knucklehead can make it any better.