How do you find the courage to be always true to yourself when you know that in doing so, the person you love will walk away? How do you find the courage to be always true to others when you know that in doing so, you will be forsaken…unloved?
An oval shape started to form on the white ceiling. Then, there were the radiant black almond eyes and the nose that was as soft as that of a neonate. The pinkish soft lips were inviting of a passionate kiss, and when they parted with a sweet smile, a perfect alignment of sparkling white teeth was revealed. A dark, straight hair complemented the visage that was now clear to him. That was she. He could never forget this beautiful face that exudes a kind innocence, a vision he had always loved to behold.
Julio saw her coming closer to kiss him so he shut his eyes in eager anticipation. He likes kissing, romantic kissing. It makes his flesh and emotions connected to her. His muscles hardened and his pores emitted heat when their lips engulfed each other. He relished the sweet taste of their saliva mixed together and of the tickling sensation of the warm, moist breath gently blowing on his face after he freed her lips.
But nothing touched his lips. They were still dry and needing hydration. He opened his eyes and saw that she paused inches away. The expression on her face turned sad, sympathetic. Then she receded until she slowly faded away and the ceiling was again blank.
He must be hallucinating.
A sharp, pointed spear just struck his heart; it was too late to block it. The wound it created was now bleeding, letting the misery pass through it, and torture him like a gladiator defeated in the most important battle of his lifetime. How long had he been lying awake? He could not remember; his thoughts were too shattered to organize a coherent memory.
He lay on his left side and squirmed. The Blackberry on the bedside table had been alternately flashing red, blue, and green LEDs. Perhaps, it was his boss trying to contact him after days of not reporting to the office or maybe it was Marcus attempting to check on how he is coping with the painful reality.
Since that night when she broke the news to him, he never wanted to pick up his phone again. That night when he was rehearsing his script on how he would confess his love for her beyond their mutual understanding and friendship was the same night when his heart was broken, crushed sorrowfully.
“We’re getting married!” Olivia was excited on the other line. “Who would have thought we could still get the chance to sort things out after five years of not being together. I thought we no longer love each other, but we’re entirely wrong. All the feelings just came back swiftly the moment we saw each other again. Would you believe that?”
He was shocked. “Huh? What about…us?” The words came out with difficulty.
Olivia’s cheerful tone did not change when she replied. “Of course, we’ll continue to be good friends. That’s what we’ve always been, right?”
His face drained of color and his legs weakened like a soft gel. The oceans and mountains were removed from their places and fell on him.
Good friends. Always been. After all?
He never made any women cry before. He always treated those he met as delicate, fragile…deserving nothing but love, care, and protection. Olivia was truly special to him. He adored her. He started really gentle with her. He was very patient, careful to push his feelings aside due to the fear that it might scare her away. His path crossed hers when she was at the lowliest point of her life – mending a broken heart and struggling to move forward. Julio helped her kneel, until she eventually got back to her feet. She was very receptive to his care, a quality that he liked so much about her. Maybe, that is also one of the reasons why strong women do not excite him at all. With them, he could only care less; they are too strong to care for themselves. They would just resist and stop him.
Julio did not heed the vibrating smartphone. He would miss another call and he could imagine how angry Marcus, his bestfriend, would be at him now.
“Are you sure you want me to leave?” Marcus sounded concerned when he turned and stepped back in the airport. Julio tried an effort to laugh, “Bro, you don’t want to miss your flight, do you? Please go. I’m OK. I can certainly handle this. Besides, Singapore is just a stone’s throw away. I promise to call you when I need help.”
He was not OK…definitely not. It was a chaos he could never solve with logic, simply because it involved the weakest part of his being – his feelings, his damn feelings. Would he come to this point if he had dealt with her the other way around? He could have taken advantage of her. He could have made love to her during those cold nights when she was begging him to hold her…on his bed…on the slatted floors of the cottage house in Sagada. But again, that was so uncharacteristic of him. His only fault was that he assumed that everything was perfect between the two of them, that she would heal and love him back. He dismantled his strongholds and let himself fall in love so deeply, not knowing that it would cause him to drown.
He clearly had a lot of plans for the two of them; plans that were unknown to her because he wanted to surprise her every time they would be together. His personal pin board had a long to-do list, a cherry-picked choices of summer activities that he was certain Olivia would love to try. She was always willing.
“You’re becoming very exclusive to her bro! You don’t get to spend time with me anymore. I’m getting jealous now!” Marcus faked a frown when he saw him one night busily sorting some flight and hotel reservation documents. Julio laughed and ignored his sentiments for he knew how supportive his bestfriend was in this undertaking.
Yes, it could be an undertaking, where he invested a tremendous amount of dedication, undivided attention, and love. Or perhaps a project that was carefully planned and ultimately benefited a party other than himself. Was it all worth it then? Maybe no, but Julio did not have any regrets. When he loves, he does not give just half of his heart. He loves wholeheartedly; he gives the best of him. When he loves, he does not analyze if it would be all worth it in the end. That is how love works for him. It did not matter whether or not she loved her back in the same magnitude as he did. He loved Olivia for only one reason – he loved her.
Julio assumed a fetal position. It hurts, yes, it really hurts…very painfully.
He has not responded to her invitation yet. Olivia and James were flying to Hawaii in few months to exchange vows, a blissful occasion he himself promised her quietly several times while watching her fall into a calm sleep on his chest. He would be attending the wedding of course, but he needed enough space and time to grieve and accept that some people, Olivia included, are seasonal.
They come to his life unexpectedly, let him experience things that more often than not are first to him. They leave usually at times when the strings are already attached to produce a melodious symphony. Then, the music suddenly stops playing and silence is again back to its deafening state.
“I love you Olivia!” Julio whispered as the tears reached the curve of his lips. He pressed his face forcefully down the pillow.
“I love you…Olivia!” It was now a sob, still no reply.
His shoulders began to shake like an earthquake that alarms the whole town to a great fright. Silence fell. Afterwards, a loud, grotesque cry reverberated on the four anguish walls.
Olivia never loved him.