Disclaimer: Please see Chapter 1.
Note: Thanks to Ate Janet’s lovely revelations. Keep them coming 🙂
1234 I LOVE YOU
“Beh, nandito na ko,” Sarah said from the door of the den, her one hand holding the knob. “Bihis lang muna ako tapos merienda na tayo, ok?”
“Ah, ok,” John Lloyd said distractedly from in front of the computer where he’s been sitting the entire afternoon updating his bank accounts. Quickly saving his work, he looked to the door to ask her to wait for him but she was already gone.
Hmmn, there seems to be something wrong. Looking at the clock, he noticed that it’s already four o’clock in the afternoon. She’s two hours late. What could’ve happened? She’s been having regular practices scheduled every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for every birthday month that she’s had in ASAP for as long as he can remember and those things take only the entire morning. He knows that it’s always been a taxing time for her whenever July comes since she had to add more production numbers to her regular list of performances assigned to her—but what could’ve happened?
Feeling restless and bothered, he went to their bedroom to go look for her.
“Beh?” he called out gently as he entered the brightly lit room. She’s not there. Going to the walk-in closet, thinking she was just getting some clothes, he called out again but she was not there either. Since the bathroom door was open, he didn’t care to look inside anymore.
Noticing for the first time the billowing curtains of the opened balcony door, he walked towards it and looked outside. There she saw Sarah, in the corner, sitting on a rattan chaise lounge, crying silently.
“Sarah,” he exclaimed worriedly, “anong nangyari?”
She just shook her head and continued to cry quietly.
“Beh, anong nangyari?” he asked again, as he sat beside her, putting one arm around her shoulder, not knowing what to do.
“Wala, pagod lang ‘to,” she said hoarsely, leaning heavily on him.
“Anong kinain mo nung lunch?” he asked gently.
She just shook her head, wiping at her wet face, not looking at him.
Sighing in frustration, he lifted her up bodily and placed her on his lap as he slid and lounged back on the chair, allowing her to lean on him fully.
Swallowing all the chastisements he wanted to tell her which, he is sure, she already knows, he chose instead to let her gather her much needed strength from his presence. He started to massage her back and arm lightly, kissing her head as he quietly hummed tunelessly to her.
She rubbed her tear stained face on his chest and inhaled, feeling the tightness in her chest starting to ease up. She wouldn’t mind if they didn’t move for an entire year as long as she is in his arms. She laid back more easily as she listened to his calming hums.
“Ganda naman ng chair na ‘to,” she mumbled inanely, touching its circular design made of metal and rattan.
“Oo, Noodle design,” he agreed proudly, smiling. “Cobonpue yan. Ito yung iniimagine ko nung binili ko ‘to.”
“Ini-imagine mo akong umiiyak na naka-upo dito?” she teased lightly.
“Hindi. Tayong dalawa nakaupo dito nang ganito,” he confided dreamily.
Reaching up, she kissed his cheek tenderly.
“Sorry ha,” she said guiltily, resting back on his arms.
“Nahuli mo kasi akong umiiyak.”
“Bakit,” he said, frowning, not liking what she was saying, “dapat bang wala kang emosyon at kailangan mong itago sa akin kapag umiiyak ka?”
“Hindi naman,” she explained, sighing, “ayaw ko lang isipin mo na nagrereklamo ako sa trabaho ko.”
“Sarah, ano ka ba,” he protested, “bata ka pa eh nagtatrabaho ka na,” he reminded her, “why don’t you just give yourself a break.”
“Feeling ko kasi hindi dapat ako nagcocomplain kasi hindi lahat ng tao nabibigyan ng opportunity ng katulad ng ibinibigay sa akin…”
“Oo nga,” he agreed,”pero lahat naman ng nasasaktan di ba umaaray? Hindi ka naman robot para hindi masaktan.”
“Opo, tama po kayo,” she agreed, smiling a little at his ardent lecture.
“One more thing…”
“Ano po yun,” she said looking up at his serious face, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Kung gusto mong mag-reklamo, sumigaw, umiyak, tumawa,” he said, counting off each emotion with his fingers,”tandaan mo na hindi ka na nag-iisa, may tao ka nang pwedeng sabihan ng mga bagay sa isip mo,” he reminded her feelingly, caressing her face gently as he gazes into her eyes.
“Napagod lang talaga ako kanina,” she confessed tiredly, closing her eyes in remembrance, “tapos distracted pa ako the whole time kaya hindi ko makuha yung dance steps—nag -extend tuloy kami kaya hindi na rin ako nakapag-lunch. Feeling ko tuloy ang bobo-bobo ko na,” she exclaimed in frustration.
“O, huwag ka na ma-tense,” he said gently, massaging her shoulder gently, “meron pa namang ibang araw to redeem yourself.”
“Hmmn,” she agreed, relaxing back.
“Halika na sa baba, kumain ka na,” he coaxed, ”baka gutom ka na.
“Ayoko pa sanang tumayo dito eh,” she admitted achingly, ”ok lang ba kung dito na ako matulog?” she asked lazily, wrapping her arms around him.
“Pwede naman,” he said chuckling, poking at her sides, “pero past 4 na kasi eh, mas kailangan mong kumain muna,” he said softly, cajoling, worrying about her despite her casual behavior. “Kung gusto mo early dinner na lang kainin natin tapos tulog na tayo.”
“He, he. Sasamahan mo akong matulog ng maaga?” she asked smilingly, loving the feeling of having an accomplice to her kind of decadence.
“Oo. At, kung gusto mo rin, bibigyan din kita ng complete body massage,” he suggested devilishly, grinning, trying to scare her.
“Hmmn, sige,” she agreed undaunted, “pagmagaling ka na completely,” she added, laughing aloud when he pouted.
“Sige na nga. Excuses, excuses,” he said, leaning away from her, affectedly showing his disappointment.
“Halika nga dito,” she said, pulling his disgruntled face closer to her, “kiss mo na lang ako.”
Taking her offer before she could change her mind, he caught her lips with his and kissed her tenderly.
Saturday, in the middle of an intricate step, she suddenly heard excited voices coming from the outside of the dance studio.
“Ano yun, ate?” Sarah asked the dancer beside her, staring at the door, listening to the muffled excitement coming from it.
Before anybody could respond to her question, the door suddenly opened, revealing John Lloyd in his favorite home attire—white shirt and khaki cargo pants.
“Excuse me Teacher Geo, guys, nagdala po ako ng lunch, sali naman kayo ng pananghalian sa labas, o,” he announced, standing half-way through the door, his smile inviting.
“Uy, Lloydie,” the choreographer exclaimed, surprised, “lahat kami?”
“Opo, lahat po kayo,” he offered, “well, except Sarah,” he joked, looking at her for the first time.
“Oo nga, past 12 na naman pala,” she exclaimed, looking at the wall clock, “sorry guys. Kain na po tayo, be back after an hour.”
“Thanks, Sir Lloydie,” everyone said, as they all hurriedly walked outside one after the other.
Left on their own, he just noticed that Sarah was already all the way across the room, wiping at her sweaty neck and face, looking at him warily.
“Ba’t ang layo mo,” he commented, amused, walking slowly towards her.
“O, o, diyan ka lang. Huwag ka na munang lumapit,” she instructed, shooting glances at the door. She doesn’t trust that panther-like expression on his face, hungry for a hunt.
“Bakit? Tayo lang naman dalawa dito ah,” he said, pausing, sweeping his hands across the empty room.
“Hmmmn,” she groaned protestingly, shaking her head in consternation, “baka may biglang pumasok dito.”
“E, ano naman? Wala naman tayong ginagawang masama,” he was saying as he started to walk towards her again.
Although almost scared out of her skin by his approach, she couldn’t help but be tickled by his sudden appearance at her rehearsal and his continued pursue of her.
“Wala pa,” she corrected, nervously wringing the towel in her hands while gazing at him longingly, looking at his familiar face.
She could almost see how the headlines in the tabloids would put it if someone claimed that they saw the both of them in a compromising position, “SARAH AT JOHN LLOYD: NAHULING NAGHAHALIKAN!” It’s actually what her nightmares are made of.
“Ikaw naman,” he gently rebuked,” ki-kiss lang naman ako sa cheek mo eh,” his expression almost believably serious.
“Mamaya na lang,” she advised, “mabaho na ko noh, sobra na kong mapawis,” dabbing exaggeratedly at her neck and face.
“Ok, lang,” he assured her, smiling at her nervous expression, “mabango naman pawis mo eh.”
Now standing in front of her, he gently put his arms around her waist and pulled her to himself, gently kissing her willing lips.
He released her immediately, his arms leaving her sooner than she wanted, stepping back away from her.
“See,” he said smilingly, looking at her flushed face, “no harm done.”
“Hmp,” she said, frowning, “ang bilis naman nun,” she complained, stomping away from him.
Laughing out loud, he observed her as she walked towards her bag to get her water jug, miffed at his abruptness. Noticing her wet shirt, he walked towards her again and took the towel from her hands.
“Bakit?” she asked, confused.
“Basang-basa ka na ng pawis oh,” he said worriedly, as he turned her around to put the towel on her back, sliding it under her shirt and pulling it out from her collar.
Not protesting, she continued to sip from the straw of her water bottle, feeling only relief and gratitude from the dry towel being placed on her back.
“Sarah?” Teacher Georcelle called as she walked in on them, “kain na tayo.”
“Ay, opo, susunod na po kami,” she promised, smiling at her openly, closing the zipper of her bag while John Lloyd continued to fix the towel coming out from her collar.
Surprised by the domesticity she accidentally discovered, Teacher Geo walked slowly outside, lost in her own thoughts, unwittingly arriving into some unerring conclusions which she knew she must keep to herself.
They arrived at the loud melee of excited dancers and artists gathered around a long table, getting food from large dishes placed in its center. Getting a paper plate, she fell in line along with everyone else while John Lloyd stood behind her pointing at the foods he wanted.
Choosing a spot a little farther from the general noise in the room where everyone was scattered in groups of twos and threes, she sat with her husband near the staircase.
She started eating absently, trying to remember her steps for her SOS number, getting frustrated because she makes the same mistakes even in her head. Distracted, she pierced a piece of meat she knew John Lloyd would like, and fed it to him one by one, not noticing the two occupants at the table beside them eyeing them curiously.
Frustrated by her meager feeding of him, he grabbed the fork from her hand and ate freely from her plate. Discovering halves of Brussels sprouts hidden behind a piece of chicken, he wondered why he even bought that particular dish. He never liked those mini cabbages. He could even go so far as to say he hated them. Feeling mischievous all of a sudden, he speared one and fed it to her, knowing she was too distracted to notice. Not getting the reaction he wanted, he fed her the other one, smiling to himself. Justifying his action, he was thinking that he doesn’t want any kind of food go to waste—even if he hated that particular kind of food.
“Ano ka ba,”Sarah exclaimed suddenly, grimacing in disgust, “ano ba yung pinakain mo sa akin?” She reached out and took his can of coke, trying to swallow the offending vegetable.
“Uy, Lloydie,” Billy called out as he approached their table, “ikaw daw nagdala ng food?” he asked, slapping his shoulder.
“Oo, feel ko lang mag-pakain eh,” John Lloyd explained smilingly.
“Yan ang Lloydie namin, very generous,” he commented teasingly. “Uy Sarah, umiinom ka na pala ng malamig na Coke?” Billy observed, looking surprised as he saw her drink from a can.
“Kay Lloydie ‘to,” she said, embarrassed, returning the soft drink back to him which he drank immediately , proving the truth of her statement. “May nakain kasi akong hindi masarap eh.”
Looking down at their table, Billy suddenly realized what he just interrupted. Mischief suddenly glistened in his eyes, wanting to make trouble to these two friends of his who are, in his mind, full of secrets. “Saan pala plato mo Lloydie?” smilingly looking pointedly at the single plate in front of them.
“Hindi naman ako masyadong gutom eh, kaya nakiki-kain na lang ako kay Sarah,” he explained guiltily, which, in evidence, was an outright lie. The plate was in front of him and he was the only one holding a fork, which means he was the one feeding Sarah.
“Ah, ganun ba,” he acceded facetiously, grinning from ear to ear. “Hindi na ako magtatagal ah, I won’t interrupt your lunch any longer,” he waved as he walked away.
Suddenly, Billy stopped in his tracks in the middle of the noisy room and looked back at them. “Lloydie,” he called out loudly, “kasama ka pala sa dance rehearsals today,” he needled teasingly, curious to see how they would react.
Seeing the twin expressions reflected from both faces, he suddenly got reminded of that phrase, “if looks could kill.” Getting the reaction he wanted, he burst in guffaws of laughter, and then mercifully walked away giving them the peace they wanted.
Later that night, while John Lloyd was in the toilet, Sarah was sitting on his side of the bed putting his last two medicines on his night stand, counting the remaining tablets inside the bottle. Suddenly the phone started to ring. Reaching for it automatically, she answered the phone distractedly.
“Hello?” she asked the caller.
“Hello?” Sarah asked again.
“Ah, uhm, hello po,” the female voice from the other end answered hesitantly. “Pwede po bang makausap si Lloydie?”
Suddenly, as if a bucket of cold water was poured over her, she realized who the female voice was. Thinking fast, she raised her voice a pitch higher, imitating Manang Belen’s voice. “Hello po ma’am,” she answered the caller with a heavily accented voice, “ito po ang bahay ni Sir John Lloyd po. Sino po sila?”
“Ah, Manang Belen po ba ito? Paki-sabi na lang kay Sir John mo na si Angel ito,” she asked politely.
“Opo ma’am, sandal lang po,” Sarah finally said, running hurriedly to call John Lloyd.
“Bebeh, bilis, phone,” whispering loudly through the door.
John Lloyd opened the door suddenly, his mouth full of froth as he continued to brush his teeth in front of her.
“Si Angel daw, nasa phone,” she whispered to him. “Nasagot ko kasi yung phone,” she explained, looking a little bit pale.
Finally wiping his mouth after rinsing, he bent over her and kissed her lips. “Ano ka ba, don’t panic. Ok, lang yun,” he said tenderly, kissing her again quickly before going to the waiting phone call.
“Oo, tinawagan na ako ni Mr. M, sinabihan na nya ako tungkol dun sa report. Oo, congratulations din,” she heard him say when she followed him inside the room. He suddenly turned to face her and smiled,”Oo, sasabihin ko kay Manang Belen yan. Ok, goodnight din.”
“Nag-earn daw ng twenty million pesos first weekend ng movie namin. Mas malakas kaysa expected. I guess matutuwa na dyan ang Star Cinema,” he added wryly. “Salamat din daw kay Manang Belen sabi ni Angel,” he told her smilingly, sitting on the bed and pulling her down beside him, looking at her gnaw the inside of her cheek worriedly.
“Do not worry too much, okay,” he tried to assure her as they prepared to lie down in their favorite position–Sarah clasped to his side.
“Haay naku, Beh, baka hindi ko na abutan yung six weeks na pangako natin kay Mr. M,” she moaned in his chest, disappointed at herself over the blunder she did just now. “Akala ko magkaka-heart attack na ako kanina eh.’
“Tsk, tsk. More than a week na lang naman eh. Sabi sayo huwag ka masyado mag-alala. Hindi naman natin kailangan ibigay yung buhay natin para dun sa pangako na yun. Favor lang naman yun. At saka hindi mo naman sinasadya.”
“Oo nga pero…”
“Shhh, tama na,” he warned her gently. “If you don’t stop worrying about that, ako mismo magdadala sa’yo sa TvPatrol at hahalikan kita sa harapan mismo ni Ms. Korina Sanchez.”
“Ok, Ok. Hindi na po,” she promised to her now sleepy husband.
“Good,” he said, drifting finally to sleep.
Lifting her head to gaze at his face, she caressed his cheeks lovingly.
“Kung hindi lang kita mahal, Mr. John Lloyd Cruz,” she whispered to her unconscious husband before she leant over him and kissed his lips. “Goodnight, Bebeh ko, ” she whispered before she too finally drifted off to sleep.
**Thank you to all those who keep sending me their beautiful comments and encouragements. 🙂
**NOTE: Kenneth Cobonpue (born 1968, Cebu, Philippines) is an industrial designer known for his signature designs in natural fibres and materials. Designs mainly focus on nature’s forms using rattan, buri, bamboo, and abaca.