Disclaimer: Adult content below.
by Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla
I leave Tristan’s place feeling better. He sounded so excited to be back and start a new life that I almost forgot my own problems. I didn’t want to burden him with my Matthew issues. Well, at least not yet. Sure, I’ve updated him about the dating part but I didn’t tell him, yet, about the Bridgette part. Most of all, I didn’t tell Tristan that Matthew had not called me in the last five days.
Silence can mean a lot of things. Silence can be a way of saying, “Yes, I’m missing out on a lot of things and I want us to start again now that we’re both single.” Silence can also mean, “No, I’m sorry, but I’m still not over Bridgette but you’re here again and I can’t help it.” But silence can also mean, “Wait, I’m thinking.”
Or silence can mean he doesn’t give a fuck about you, Veronica says. Not in college and not now.
Fuck off! I tell her as I unlock the door to my small condo in Makati. I open my fridge and stash the two jars of expensive jam I nicked from Tristan’s. I figure they’ll go well with scones tomorrow, I’ll get some from Salcedo Market. And after the work week I just had, I need scones.
The last few days had been gray. The world suddenly became bleak again—at least to me—since I last saw or talked to Matthew. Sometimes, I am so dramatic that I want to punch myself.
The ‘date’ ended just like the ones before. He dropped me off at my building before driving all the way back to his own place in Las Piñas. But this time, there was no singing inside the car, no small talks, no white noise to drown out the deafening, sickening silence that started in Starbucks when I told him he can’t keep me in a loop forever and that somehow, he has to let me go.
He drove zombie-like from Eastwood City to Makati. I kept my eyes on the road the whole time, kept my legs closed and my mouth shut. I was terrified of saying something more that would completely break the intoxicating spell I was in these last few months. I am not ready to snap out of it just yet. When we reached my building, he opened the passenger door from the inside to let me out. He kissed me on the cheeks and said he’d call me.
But the call never came.
At the office, I never explained the sudden shift in temperature or the switch back to strong, black coffee from the fucking ginger tea. My boss Joey must have sensed some sort of change that he decided to give me another brand presentation to work on. I guess he wanted to somehow monetize on my sudden desire to write. I managed to produce two dozen copies for this telecom’s new online campaign. Amazingly, the copies didn’t suck that much that half made it to design.
I try to put things in perspective. Matthew and I are not a couple. You never were, Veronica injects her venom. Not in college and obviously not now. I shake my head and try to drown her out while I clean up my neglected place.
I can’t talk to anyone about Matthew. I never share what we had or have to anyone, except maybe Tristan but even he knows very little. Just the bits and pieces of the sanitized and edited information I decide to share. God forbid I can’t even tell Hazel. She will literally scratch me to snap me out of my insanity.
How can I ever make anyone understand? That we were what? Fuck buddies in college? But wait, there was love there, somehow. He said it in Starbucks last Friday. He admitted it. We both heard it. So what does that make us? Fuck buddies who were in love? Am I in love now? Do I still feel the same love I felt for him four years ago? Is the same flame from the same torch burning?
If nothing’s going on between us, then I shouldn’t be feeling this much. But I do and I can’t explain it. I can’t even release it that it’s consuming me every waking hour, maybe except that time I ate at Tristan’s, but only because his presence is like a shining beacon of hope that reminds me that not all is lost—that I can still become like him, a serial entrepreneur who pursued something his parents think is just a phase, something that will bankrupt their entire family and leave their poor son unemployed until he’s done running and decides to join the family architectural firm.
But no, Tristan dropped out of architecture school, sold his car and enrolled in culinary school. He waited tables, scrubbed pans at night and practiced cooking risotto in the morning until he graduated. Tristan and I started at the same starting line but somehow he managed to circle the entire track thrice while I’m still on the first one. Or maybe I was afraid of telling Tristan what had happened to the once optimistic girl he knew. To our high school’s valedictorian, for god’s sake. I like how I look in Tristan’s eyes and I don’t want it to change.
But I can definitely improve on how I look through his eyes. I pull out the dark blue cocktail dress I bought on sale earlier this year. I lay it down on my just-made-up bed and decide on a pair of nude pumps to go with it. I want to look smashing tonight. If you’re sad, you might as well look fabulous.
Photo by Scott Baraquel Jr.
“Ready to go?” Tristan asks over the phone.
“Yeah, one minute.”
“Okay, meet you downstairs. No parking, your building sucks.”
“Well I’m sorry, I’m not as rich as you are.”
He laughs. I cut the line. I double check everything before locking up and walking down two flights of stairs barefooted. Unlike Tristan, I live in a condo complex that doesn’t have an elevator and an air-conditioned lobby. I don’t even have a doorman. Unlike Tristan’s place, I don’t have a kitchen island. I don’t even have a kitchen. I have a kitchenette that holds a small microwave and a tiny sink. I have a decent-size, for-singles-only fridge and it can hold all of my microwaveable meals.
I put on my shoes when I reach the ground floor and make sure everything’s in place. I inhale and let out a huge worry. Since senior prom, tonight will be the first time Tristan will see me dressed up in a grown-up kind of way. Unlike that unfortunate time in Intramuros and the in-betweens when I’m always either in leather jackets, boots, jeans and androgynous shirts, I’ll be in a dress this time.
I check my makeup in the sad mirror hanging in the ground floor lobby. I don’t even know why I’m worried. It’s not like I’m trying to seduce Tristan or anything. God, no. That’ll be like seducing a wall. I’m obviously not his type and he is more like this annoying older cousin I hang out with because I’d rather play computer games than paint my nails on weekends. So yeah, definitely no attraction there.
I open the door and I see him leaning against a black BMW sedan.
“Yeah,” he smiles, opening the passenger door for me. “Bought it last time I was here.”
“You never told me!”
“You’ll end up borrowing it.” He opens the passenger door for me.
“You’re so rich,” I tease. “I hate you.”
Read What Am I To You, Episode 9: Lights
Thank you for supporting #WAITY! Share it online and include #WAITY! This story was first published online in Bookbed.org in 2016.
Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla is a journalism graduate from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. She wrote Bedroom Blog by Veronica, a relationship blog for Cosmopolitan Philippines from 2009 to 2011, which covers most of her single dating life. In 2015, she published her first book Before I Do. She’s passionate about coffee, red wine, books and Mad Men. She stopped collecting hearts when she got married in 2013 and went back to collecting Archie Comics ever since. Send the author a tweet @kceustaquio.
Edits: Jacquie Bamba S. Zamora
What Am I To You is the prequel to Before I Do by Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla. Before I Do is available at National Bookstore and Fully Booked.
What Am I To You
Philippine Copyright©2016 by Katherine C. Eustaquio-Derla
Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental. Image from Pexels.com.
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