Disclaimer: All fiction. Any similarities are mere coincidences. This was written for entertainment and not for financial profit.
“Can I talk to you?”
She raised her head from the script she’s been reading for the past two hours and looked at him.
She could say a lot about this man standing in front of her trying to look nonchalant, obviously struggling to shed some of the awkwardness that’s always been their silent companion whenever they’re in same room together, but she’d rather not, unwittingly evading what could very well be the reason he was there right now. She can’t say she’s at all surprised he wanted to have a discussion with her. She’s been trying her best not to be left on her own the last couple of days knowing this might happen but she was so engrossed studying her lines, inadvertently letting her guard down in the process. She wanted to keep everything impersonal and businesslike between them, wanting to avoid the cursed traps she keeps falling into.
Her friends were right. She’s been too nice even to the very people who are already blatantly taking advantage of her. She’s been trying her best to be a little more astute—tougher—a little less naive, but she’s always seemed to fail to distinguish the wolf from the lamb. God knows how sorry she was when she fought for those people who played around with her heart.
But how do you change that part of you that you needed badly to change without destroying everything else that took a lifetime to learn. She’s always loved people, loved being around them. She’s met a lot of good ones in her lifetime while under the scorching blaze of klieg lights constantly trained on her, but she’s been asking herself lately if it’s all worth it when she’s also met some really bad people who, she could almost swear, make the devil look a little bit kinder.
Is it right to be suspicious of everyone who are suddenly becoming friendly to her? Is it fair to make them pay for the sins of those who betrayed her and expect them to try doubly hard to win her trust? She knew she owes a lot to the people who follow her and more so to the people who use their hard-earned money just to buy her albums and movies and go to her concerts. But what if some of them are increasingly becoming more demanding, selfish, pushy, insensitive—how can she say “no” to them then? How can she demand her life back when she knew it would seem to them that they’ve already bought it from her?
“Uhm,” she prevaricated, looking around the vacant room to the open doorway where he was standing like a daunting sentinel barring her way out, wishing the floor would just open up for her. “Tungkol saan?” she finally asked in resignation, preparing for the inevitable.
John Lloyd sighed—disappointed. She doesn’t have to spell it out to him, it’s already written all over her face. She doesn’t want to talk—to him, at least. He could feel the chilling burst of indifference drafting towards him.
He smiled wryly and shook his head. “Wala. Saka na lang. It could wait,” he mumbled, as he turned away from her, pulling the door shut behind him. He is in no way giving up but he knew this not the time for the conversation he wanted.
Sarah frowned, confused by his sudden departure. She’s suddenly feeling guilty even though she knew she didn’t do anything that would warrant that emotion.
She answered didn’t she? She asked him what he wanted from her but it was him who walked away.
Feeling an impatience she doesn’t know wherefrom, she stood up and went outside to look for the one responsible for her discomfort. It’s “deja vu all over again” and she doesn’t think she could tolerate another one.
The staff and crew were as expected, busy milling about the location, getting the errands they were assigned to do, preparing the set, lights and props needed for the shoot that night. No one noticed her walk by them, all preoccupied with the work at hand. She wanted it that way. She doesn’t want an audience to what might happen before this night is over.
John Lloyd was with Direk Cathy when she finally found him. His back was to her so he didn’t see her walking towards him and so caught the tail end of the conversation.
“Ayaw pa nya eh. Tinry kong kausapin siya pero nagsisimula pa lang ako eh parang ‘hindi’ na kaagad ang sagot,” John Lloyd was saying with a humorless laugh, his head bowed down.
“Eh, akala ko ba nakapagdesisyon ka na?” Direk Cathy asked reproachfully, concern for her young friend weighing heavily on her.
John Lloyd just shook his head, unable to articulate the frustration and fear overwhelming him right now. Yes, he’s made his decision to do what he should’ve done years ago but it doesn’t mean she’s on the same page as he is. He could only hope that his reception, if it becomes a rejection, wouldn’t be as brutal as he fear it would be.
Direk Cathy suddenly became aware of her presence, quietly touching John Lloyd on his arm to warn him of her arrival.
He immediately turned towards her, noticeably putting up a mask, unwilling to betray what he was feeling but unaware of the rigid stare he was giving her, looking so much like a deer caught in the headlights.
“Ah, Sarah, kailangan nating mag-usap,” Direk Cathy started, taking over the awkward situation, not showing the exasperation building within her. She really couldn’t understand these kids. She couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that feelings that lasted this long should be kept hidden. For her, if you are sure about what you are feeling, she finds it almost like a sin to hide it, much more, deny that it even exists. If rejection is a great possibility then better put it out there as early as possible so that you wouldn’t waste any more time that you ought to mulling over it. If you get rejected then she is sure it’s easier to cut the ties, dust yourself off and move on than to brood over the pain, linger over the wounds love brought you and scratch unendingly at the scabs until you finally decide, which you eventually would anyways, that your family and loved ones deserve more than the hollow of a man that you’ve become.
“I think the both of you need to talk—really talk. If we have to cancel the shoot tonight then we would. I don’t think we’d be able to finish this movie if the tension between you two too are not resolved.” She looked almost exasperatedly at the pseudo-teenagers uneasily standing in front of her, “Do you agree?”
The two looked at each other then, reticent at first, unsure of what the other is feeling and hesitant about how to respond to the gauntlet thrown between them.
John Lloyd was wide-eyed, his hair unruly, looking so much like a child being chastised by his mother—not unlike how she was feeling at the moment—that’s why, despite the thick, constricting tension in the air, a giggle escaped Sarah’s quivering lips.
His eyes flew to her face then as renewed hope struggled in his answering smile.