Disclaimer: All fiction. Any similarities are mere coincidences. This was written for entertainment and not for financial profit.
She unclenched her fists, stopping herself from showing any sign that she was in any way affected by the news. Unwelcome tears immediately brimmed from her eyes but she pushed it back, determined to show only a lack of care. He’s just not worth it. No matter what happens she has resolutely decided that no one would know.
She trained her eyes towards the clock behind her, feigning boredom at the topic being discussed, giving herself enough time to compose her shaken mien. She gazed at the timepiece longingly. If only she could turn back time and un-sign the contract they had been cockily brandishing in front of her. She’d been suppressing the desire to grab the cursed document and burn it right in front of them. She is sure there would be no greater pleasure to see it reduced to ashes. But reality cannot be pushed back any longer as the insistence from the voice of the person talking in front of her stating their case continued to bombard her ears. She couldn’t even get help from her manager sitting right beside her who has been nodding in agreement to every single proposal they’ve been throwing at them, not wanting to raise any more trouble since he knew that, after all, it was her feet-dragging that has delayed the plans’ fruition.
The unpleasant truth was they didn’t have to remind her of what was inside the contract. She knew perfectly well what she personally signed up for…that is to live a life of lie. That time she happily annexed her signature on the papers, she didn’t know that she would be agreeing to sentence a good portion of her life to a hellish existence. She thought then that she didn’t have to depart from reality that far and even believed foolishly that, in essence, she needed only to be herself when the time comes.
She couldn’t have been more wrong.
Whoever said hindsight is always 20/20 has learned the bitter taste of regret. Now there is no more turning back. It has finally arrived and she can no longer delay the awful inevitable awaiting her in the future.
“What can you say about these Sarah?” her manager, Boss Vic, asked. She quietly sighed to herself as she resignedly turned to him. He’s almost a father to her—almost. She knew it’s still business with him but she’s eternally grateful to him for making her dreams come true and for trusting her at a time she so badly needed to be trusted.
“Opo, naintindihan ko po. Hindi na pwedeng i-delay ang part 3. Kailangan nang i-shoot as soon as possible.” She forced a smile out, not only for his boss’s but also for everybody’s consumption, showing nonchalance she was far from feeling.
She stole a glance at the other person in the room who has remained quiet the whole time both their futures were being discussed. Sarah knew John Lloyd doesn’t like what was happening anymore than she does. She is sure that if ever anyone would reject the project written on the contract it would be him. Admittedly she is still holding on to that hope that he would reject it for the both of them.
“John Lloyd?” Nenette, his handler, asked inquiringly, giving him the opportunity to air his opinion.
Sarah looked at him expectantly, telepathically willing him to say “no” to the project. If both parties agree not to go through the agreement, it could easily be expunged—at least that’s what she hope would happen.
“Yes, I was hoping that we could start the movie as soon as possible,” John Lloyd acquiesced seriously, matter-of-factly. “I asked my camp to initiate the talk today so that we could iron out past issues that have prevented us from doing part 3. Kung wala na po kayong idadagdag, I guess it’s all go?” he asked simply, not betraying any other emotion but bland indifference.
Sarah was quite shocked by what she was hearing, suddenly left wide-eyed and slack-jawed, unable to remain uncaring and detached. What a traitor! She couldn’t believe he was the one who actually started the ball rolling. How can he do this to her?
She could still remember the acrid smell of gunpowder piercing her nostrils, the blinding dust swirling wildly between them and the still smoking pistols each of them were holding—all visions committed to her memory of a fight that caused the distance between them—at least that’s how she remembers what happened—not literally, of course, no actual gun was fired. She couldn’t remember who took the first shot but, no matter, both of them were successful in killing whatever it was that was starting to bud between them. Both of them made sure nothing was left standing that night—not even an iota of possibility that any tender feeling could still be revived.
Then why was he doing this now? What were his intentions?
Suddenly, for the first time that morning, impersonal eyes were focused solely on her, unwavering and expectant.
“Ikaw Sarah, ready ka na ba?” John Lloyd asked, his manner all austere and businesslike.
She looked down at the papers she was holding as if the answer to his question was written there, unable to hold his gaze much longer. She wanted to fidget but it will only betray the upheaval boiling beneath her skin. How she longed to be able to look like him, cold and formal, robbed of any emotion.
“Well,…” finally looking at him straight in the eye, “hindi ako sure pero I think after next week open na ang sched ko. I guess I am ready.” Her voice sounded the same as usual but her eyes, which only he could read, were speaking volumes–angry, rebellious. ‘Two could play at that game,’ they were promising him.
Suddenly he smiled. At her. His happiness spilling from every pore. He looked like the cat that got the cream.
“Ok!” he quipped excitedly, shedding all formalities. He stood up and took her manager’s limp hand and shook it. “Thank you po Boss Vic! I think this will be another Box Office hit for both of us!” he added exuberantly.
Everyone was staring at him in abject confusion, all surprised by his sudden change.
Nenette cleared her throat, looking as puzzled as everyone else. “Opo, Boss Vic,” she said carefully, clearly nonplussed but ready as always to back up his talent, “another Box Office hit,” she added lamely.
Sarah was unprepared when John Lloyd went around the table and pulled her guilelessly to her feet to hug her fervidly, as if the Pacific Ocean was not standing between them. “…so, see you after next week?” he asked so close to her face, as if they were the only two people standing in the room.
She caught her breath, suddenly dizzy.
She was not given a chance to answer his question though. All of a sudden, the room was devoid of his presence, and the enigma that was John Lloyd Cruz, has become just a memory of their still befuddled minds. It seemed he was overwrought with excitement that he couldn’t even be bothered to wait for her answer.
“Anong nangyari dun?” Boss Vic helplessly asked. “Sarah?”
“Ano po yun?” she forced herself to respond, still lost in her own cloud.
“May alam ka ba dun?” he asked frowningly, staring at her, suspicious of her continued silence.
“Saan po,” she answered automatically, unable to erase the memory of John Lloyd’s warm embrace, still trying to make sense of everything.
“Saan pa?” her boss quipped impatiently, still looking for answers.
“Ano po yun?” she asked disconcertedly, unable to participate in the conversation.
“Hay naku,” he gasped, exasperated with the whole situation, “tawagan mo na lang ang nanay mo at magpasundo ka na. Mag-usap na lang tayo ulit kapag-okay ka na.” Boss Vic said, shaking his head in consternation as he purposely strode out of the room, already thinking of his next appointment.
Sarah mentally shook her befuddled mind and went to the window, unsure of what to do. Yes, she feels confused but her fear has grown fangs that were starting to eat all the good sense left within her.
Suddenly she saw John Lloyd step out of the building. He was walking briskly to his car when, gradually, his steps started to slow down. He hesitantly stopped in his tracks and turned around, frowningly looked up the building and started to search the windows. Somehow she knew that he felt her presence there. And then their eyes met and it started happening again. Her heart began to beat in increased tempo, stirred by an unknown force. The feeling was achingly familiar, a heady sensation, but totally unwelcome.
Once again he smiled at her, now tenderly, lifting an arm to give her an all too familiar salute. She could almost hear his voice in her head saying, “ingat!”
She almost smiled.
No. Not a goodbye but a promise.