DAY 1: Franz
Oh crap. My head hurts. I wake up with my arms around him. He’s kinda heavy. He gained weight since the last time we woke up like this which was… ugh, I fogot. I am trying to remember what happened last night but, never mind, I should not push it. Hay, I don’t know if what I am doing is right, I thought. I watch him for a moment and realize things had changed since we first met.
I first met him in UP. He was a year older than me, taking Fine Arts major in Visual Communication. I was taking Business Administration and Accountancy. I remembered it was during my orientation in his organization when I first saw him. He looked really weird that time wearing a white shirt with paint splattered on it. What a freak, I thought. Back then, he wasn’t the one I really wanted to pursue. I actually had a huge crush on his friend but my “moves” turned out so bad. It was freaking embarrassing. And also, I had some issues with my own sexuality. You know, being gay is not a good idea for my family and some of my friends. I was still uncomfortable with the thought of liking men that sometimes, I acted like a homophobe. I remember I almost punched him when he accidentally touched my ass. He just looked at me with intense hatred. Ooh, those eyes. Up until now I still cringe whenever I remember the look on his face that day. But still, he helped me understand myself better and discover who I really was. If not for him, I would not be the person I am now.
Back then, he always wanted to enter the world of—wait for it—advertising. I never met a man who had such great ideas like him. Almost every brainstorming session in our organization, he would go around and observe and at the end, he would provide the best suggestion. When he was talking, “blah-blah-blah this, blah-blah-blah that,” some of our orgmates, who saw him as an over-rated and over-achieving bitch, would roll their eyes out of acceptance of defeat because they knew they could never beat him.
Eventually, we became close when I took marketing and advertising electives. He actually convinced me to get those electives and yes, I was gullible enough to follow him, just kidding. But lucky for me, he always helped me craft excellent campaigns and proposals. Every time I had something to do, I would stay in his place. After we finished our academic requirements, we would usually talk about our experiences, the latest episode of America’s Next Top Model, and everything under the sun.
Until one day I realized, he became an integral part of my life—like Patrick to Spongebob, flood stains on white pants, and marshmallows on my chocolate drink. Back then I knew he was the one I was looking for.
It was really funny because just when I gathered enough courage to ask him out, his ex-boyfriend wanted them to get back together. The nerve of that thick-faced jerk. Jessie asked for my advice. God knows how much I wanted to punch his bastard ex-boyfriend in the face but I still put up my sympathetic look—sincere eyes and trembling lips. I told him the best advice on earth ever—follow his heart—though what I really wanted to tell him was to forget his ex, hold my hand and be my boyfriend. For crying out loud, I look way, way better than his ex.
When he was about to meet up with that bastard, up until now I still don’t know what pushed me to hug him. And I couldn’t remember how, but we ended up kissing each other. It was really passionate and now that I thought of it, disturbing, because we were at a waiting shed in front of my dormitory. People probably saw us, but who cares, that time I just wanted to let him know how much I really wanted to be his boyfriend. I felt fireworks inside of me and some massive bombs waiting to explode down there. Maybe I should not continue this story but to sum it up, that was the night I lost my capital V. Actually, he was just waiting for me to ask him out. Had I told him earlier, he would not even consider seeing his ex. Forgive me for being too cliché and dramatic but that was really one of the happiest days of my life.
Back then, he had a light brown complexion, his eyes were full of energy and enthusiasm, and his smile was assuring that I would always be a part of his life no matter what—even if Daniel Radcliffe will ask him out, or Lieutenant Spock will offer him a ride on the USS Enterprise.
Six years after he graduated and of our relationship, he still looked the same. Only this time, his eyes lacked the usual energy. Every day since he got promoted as a creative director in an advertising agency in Makati, he would always go straight to bed without even asking how my day was, you know, it became to a point that I didn’t even notice he was already at my side. I seldom see his smile. What I always see was his get-out-of-my-face look whenever his copy writers don’t submit on time. He was always yelling at people, telling them what and what not to do. The agency ate him up and changed him to someone I can’t recognize. Before, I could tell him senseless stories, just to have a conversation whenever we eat together like why I thought banana would look weird if its color is violet or how we could kill a rat through a fork-trap that I invented. But now, he would always say he was tired and had no time for such nonsense. Last week I told him I already figured out how to brush my teeth while my eyes were closed and he just said “seriously?” Well, I became accustomed to it. It was seven months anyway since we last dined together, and it was just accidental because that was the dinner set by his client, which was—surprise!—the company where I am working.
I am watching him sleep when he slowly opened his eyes. I can the see panic in them. Ooh, this is bad. I give him my usual smile, to assure him that I would be here. Guilt suddenly rushes inside me. I will leave in three days anyway, why am I prolonging his sufferin? Right now, I should be cold to him. Let him feel that nothing can be changed. But I just can’t resist him. I can’t bear seeing him hurt and sad. How can I turn down those eyes? Oh, I can’t imagine him breaking down. I agreed on his condition because the pain in his eyes was killing me. But I know—I need this. We need this for us to grow and discover more about ourselves. We need the space to realize if what we have been sharing for the last couple of years are still there. I even made up an excuse, falling for another person, just to make things easier for him to understand. Jeez, I am seriously fucked up.
I see the lack of light in his eyes, but in an instant, he gives me the usual smile that I see every morning. He kisses me on the cheek, nose and lips. It feels great, though weird because we haven’t brushed our teeth yet. I really miss his kisses and morning breath. I hug him tight and we remain in that position for several minutes. It seems neither of us wants to move or let go. I won’t let go. I can hear his heart beating rhythmically. I imagine the past, the old times when we would just lay on the bed, hugging each other, cracking jokes for hours and neither of us would get tired. Those thoughts made me happy until I fell asleep.
I wake up hearing his heavy footsteps on the floor. Hay, he was late for work again. I stand up and go to our kitchen to look for something to eat. I see my favorite breakfast on the table: sunny side-up egg, bacon, fried rice and hot chocolate. Wow, I am surprised because he never prepared breakfast for me because he’s always busy and late for work. He would usually stay up late to work, and wake up early in the morning.
I am eating my breakfast when he comes out of the bathroom. He’s surprised to see me in the kitchen but he does not linger. He immediately enters our room to put on his clothes while I go the bathroom to take a shower.
When I enter our room, I see him naked. He is a sexy little man with nearly-perfect abs and muscles. I smile when I remembered how I usually teased him by drawing additional abs on his tummy. He notices me looking at him, and puts on his clothes.
I see my clothes on the bed: my long sleeves, tie, pants and socks. He prepared everything, making sure that I would look good. This is one of the reasons why I really liked him. He was very particular in choosing outfits. Eight years ago, when I first met him, I was a typical ‘promdi-who-wants-to-blend-in,’ wearing faded jeans, an oversized shirt and torn rubber shoes. He helped me transform myself and improve my taste. You know, I really miss shopping with him, trying new long sleeves and computing our daily expenses. Ever since he was promoted, we never had a chance to go out—even when it was our anniversary last month. He just called me up to say that he would be late. As always.
I am preparing my things when I see the edge of the envelope I was hiding from him. I open it and get the documents inside it. It is the title of the house I got from a loan. It is not really fancy but I though it will still be great for the two of us. It has two floors, an attic and a rooftop. It also has a garden because he always wanted to have flowers in the house. He actually designed it, I took one of his sketches of his “dream house” and asked a friend to tweak it a bit. It is really costly—but what the heck—he’s worth it. It is in Palawan because I always wanted to stay in the province—away from the traffic and the noise. He can pursue his events planning dream there while I can have my bakeshop in the town. But I know, he will never give up his position in his company. Or if ever he does because of me, he will surely break down because I took the job that makes him happy and alive.
I thought he already left when I heard him calling my name.
“Franz, I’ll drop you off at your office, so there’s no need to rush,” he said.
Day 1: Jessie
I greeted everyone good morning. Even some of my bosses were shocked to see me this enthusiastic. “You’re so happy today, did something interesting happen on your way here?” my boss asked. “Nothing, it’s just a beautiful day, isn’t it?” I responded.
I prepared everything in a dash and no one received any sarcasm from me. Not even the copy writer who misspelled her name. Not even the artist who forgot that people usually have ten fingers. Not even our secretary who forgot I never liked coffee with sugar. I sang our song loudly and full of emotion while I was texting him.
“Good morning love, the sun is smiling today! I love you!” I texted. Almost five minutes after, he replied. “Good morning too. =) Have a great day!” I immediately responded with “What r you doing? R you busy?” Almost ten minutes passed before he replied, “Not really, just doing some paperwork be4 a meeting. Bout u?” That was when I remembered that I was already late for a meeting with a client. “Not really, if u want we can hav lunch together. Wil meet u at ur office.”
My copywriter knocked at my door to remind me about the meeting with a client. I told her to go in my stead. I gave her all my presentations. “It’s easy and simple. Just remember to be perky and have fun!” I told her.
I was eagerly preparing for our lunch date together. It had been several months since we had lunch together in his office. Our schedules never matched because he was busy as an accountant in a bank and I am a creative director in an advertising agency. I was cleaning my table when he replied. “Can’t meet u later coz I have a meeting. Probably around 2. Is it ok?” “Sure, see u later love.” I responded.
I played Plants vs. Zombies to finish the level we were working on six months ago. Anyway, I still had two hours before we meet so I could tell him the secret to finish the level. But my mind was adrift. I could see his face and his smile. He was four inches taller than me. I’m barely five feet. But height was never an issue except when we were trying to change the light bulb, or putting things in the cabinet.
I looked at the picture frame on my table. It was me and Franz, on his graduation day. We were wearing his sablay, the traditional attire of UP graduates during graduation, together. We were really happy back then. Under the picture frame was a violet folder: the offer from the big bosses. I was offered to transfer to Bangkok, in the head office, as the new regional director. At first I was thrilled. But when I found out that I will have to live there, I hesitated. What about Franz? He does not want to leave the country. That is why I turned down the promotion. Anyway, I am planning to resign by next year. Franz always hinted that he wanted to live in the province so I am just saving for a small business. Events planning, a school or photo studio will do. I am just finishing the payment of our “dream house” in Tagaytay that’s why I can’t resign yet. This is my surprise for him on his birthday. He will surely love our new home. It’s a bungalow style with three bedrooms. The design of our home came from him, the design he always look at in a magazine. Though I really wanted to have a big home, I settled with what he wanted, because I know that would make him happy. Also, I already acquired a good place for his bakeshop near our new home and I talked to a friend of mine to help me get the necessary equipment.
I didn’t notice that it was already half past one. I texted him “Hi love, I’m on my way to ur office. See you.”
I was on the elevator when I received his reply. “Hey, I’m sorry, still in the meeting, but will meet u after 30 minutes.” I was too early but I proceeded into his office. I was just excited to see him and be with him.
It was too hot outside his office and too many people were passing by. It was already fifteen minutes past two when he texted me. “Hi, meeting’s done, be with you in a jiffy.” Soon enough, after I sent my reply, he was there, standing in front of me, with a big smile on his face.
“Surprise!” he said enthusiastically, “for you.” He gave me a heart-shaped pen with a blue ink. He knew I always liked having crazy pens, the crazier, the better. “Where are we going?” he asked.
“Same place? Do you want?” I responded. Ever since we worked here, we always eat in the same restaurant because of the ambiance and the price.
“Sure,” he said.
We chatted while walking. I was more of the chatter than the chatee. I told him all the crazy ideas I had for our next ads. He responded sometimes with “yeah. I like it. I think it’s better if you’ll do this, blah, blah, blah,” but for me, what he said meant a lot. His opinions matter the most for me because he was always my supporter, adviser and critic from the beginning.
We finally arrived in the restaurant when he said, “By the way, I have to go back by three because I have another meeting.”
It was already two-thirty. It was fine. Thirty minutes of being together was more than enough for me. We both have busy schedules and demanding jobs. I couldn’t ask for more. We ordered the usual things: fried bangus with vegetable salad on the side for me and pork chops with mashed potato for him. We were making our own knock-knock jokes and forcing ourselves to laugh—our meal-bonding activity. But, nevertheless, it was really effective in cheering us up.
We headed back to our separate offices after lunch. I was about to enter our building when he texted me, “Thank you for the lunch, see you later.”
I wanted to go home and hug him tight at that moment. But I could not because I still had three clients left to serve.
I immediately worked on them so that I can go home early. It was easy. Thinking of advertisements is my forte. I drafted instructions for my copy writer and graphic artist. We need to finish this as soon as possible. I have to go home early. I need to go home early.
We brainstormed in my office. It was intense because we had conflicting ideas, as always. The advertisement creation process is murky and, most of the time, dirty and if you cannot stand it, you better leave. I was too engrossed when I noticed it was already past seven.
I checked my phone and I had seven missed calls and four text messages. All were from him. He was asking if we could go home together. But his last message was if he could go out with his friends tonight. He assumed that I was in the meeting because I hadn’t replied. I called him.
But no one answered.
I called him again.
Still, he did not answer.
I called him again many times but he didn’t answer. Maybe his phone was in his bag or in silent mode. I would just surprise him at home.
I prepared his favorite fried chicken and stir-fried vegetables at home. I even bought his favorite ice cream for dessert. I was really excited to see him that night. It was the first time since I was promoted as a creative director that I actually cooked something for him. I missed being in the kitchen, but I missed more being in the kitchen with him. I called him again to check where he was.
Still no answer.
I tried again and again until I felt I was too tired. I waited in the kitchen, waiting for my phone to ring until I fell asleep.