They said don't cross oceans for people who wouldn't even jump puddles for you, but I did. And the moment I set foot on the island I have never heard of before, I found myself staring at nothing and inhaling all the oxygen that I could.
"I need to go back," I told the boatman who helped me get off the boat just minutes before. "I need to go back."
"I'm sorry Ma'am, the next trip will be tomorrow at eight in the morning," he answered. "You will just have to stay here overnight."
"No, no. You don't understand. I need to go back." My head shook, dreaded of the fact that I have no choice but to face him.
The boatman just shrugged and got back to what he was doing.
This was not how I imagined things would turn out. I imagined him waiting at the pier, with his ear-to-ear smile, and as soon as he would see me, he would run on his feet and hug me—the kind of hug that would make up for all those months we've spent apart wishing we were within each other's arms.
Instead, the opposite happened. There was no one to greet me, my heart was pounding so hard and my lips would bleed from all the biting my teeth have been doing just so it stops from trembling.
I walked further and found a hostel to stay for the night. I settled in and took a quick shower before I sat on the bed and stared at my phone.
Do I text him? Should I let him know that I have arrived safely?
My phone suddenly rang, his name flashing on my screen. I stared at it more before slowly lifting my finger to slide the screen to the right.
His voice broke my heart once more. Ah, these little cracks kept on finding a way to crack some more. He asked where I was and when we would be talking.
I could have answered I changed my mind. I could have answered something like, "I don't need any closure anymore." Or something like, "The boat sank and I was stranded in an island I have no idea about." But my lips betrayed me and I heard myself answering, "I'll see you at five. I wanted to climb this mountain I heard that has a great view."
He agreed and hung up.
I started curling my hair and put on a little blush and lipstick. If he was going to see me after six months of only seeing each other on Facebook photos and chats, he was going to see me at my best.
I left the key at the receptionist and walked towards the starting point of the climb to the mountain. Locals stared at me, the kind of stares that made me shy and uncomfortable. My hands were trembling; my heart was beating fast; I was low on oxygen and I kept on inhaling.
Then I saw him from a distance, wearing a white shirt and a pair of jeans. He got a new haircut, his shoulders were broader than the last time I saw him, and he was tanned. He looked more handsome than six months ago and he smelled like sea salt with a hint of Boss.
I didn't know what to say, so I just timidly smiled and turned around to start my ascent on the mountain. He walked past me and I followed behind in silence. At one point, he stretched out his hand to help me from falling off, and I declined. Instead, I grabbed the nearest plant that I could cling to. His eyes observed me like a hawk and we continued on our climb.
When it was high enough, we sat on the steps and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the view. The view the mountain offered stretched from the great ocean of the Coron Bay to the islands that composed the Calamianes Peninsula. I sat down on the hot concrete stair and held my hands near my heart.
He settled beside me, his knees brushing mine.
I knew I had so many things to ask and say, but it felt like all the questions I've been saving flew right out of my mind. The place was just too overwhelming. The silence was too deafening. His presence was too distracting.
"How are you?" I asked while looking far ahead. "You look even better now." I glanced at him and found him staring at me. "You don't look that bad as what you've been telling me over the phone."
"I don't?" He chuckled. "You don't look too bad yourself."
It was too obvious, how we tried so hard to make every word sound so casual, but we couldn't deny the tension building between us. It was like we were sitting together, but I felt we were still miles apart.
"So, what happened? Why only now? Why didn't you tell me about it as soon as you got into a new relationship?" Questions after questions, I couldn't stop myself. "Why did I have to know about it from her? " I bit my lip to keep it from trembling.
He took a sharp intake of breathe before answering me. "I told you I liked someone."
"That's not even the same. Things would have been easier if you told me sooner."
"I just—I just thought you've read between the lines." My head snapped to his side and I glared at him in disbelief. I closed my eyes and bit my lip harder to keep my lips from opening and saying anything I would regret the next moment.
I wanted this to end smoothly. I wanted us to remain civil, if not friends. I wanted to look back at us with a smile on my face, and tell myself that somehow we tried our best even until the end.
I wanted to look back at us with a smile on my face, and tell myself that somehow we tried our best even until the end.
But he was making this hard for me. We loved and hated each other so much that to remain civil would be ridiculous, not only to us but to everyone who knew us. We couldn't keep on running back to each other. We had to stop the infinite loop that we comfortably started. He knew it too. We couldn't be just friends.
I knew I had to ask one more question before I finally resigned to the truth that there wasn't going to be any us in the present nor in the future. I needed to know if I stood a chance, if I could alter what the universe had planned for both of us, if I could defy destiny and everything in between.
"Do you love her?"
It was the longest ten seconds of my life. It held the decisions I would be making for the next two minutes. It held our seven-year love story. It held our past, present, and even the future. It held everything.
"Yes," he answered while looking far ahead.
Did you hear it? Yes, that was the sound of my heart shattering into million pieces.
I took a deep breath and smiled gently. "Well, that was it. I have nothing more to argue or prove. I think I've done my best."
Knowing we had nothing to talk about more, he descended the concrete stairs and as he did, I stared sadly at his retreating back.
This was the man I had loved for seven years, and he was finally walking away from my life. There was a feeling of great sadness, like there was a vacuum inside my heart, but there was gratefulness as if I was thanking the universe in advance for saving me from something worse had we not ended this now.
This was the man I had loved for seven years, and he was finally walking away from my life.
With that, I had allowed my tears to fall and my lips trembled as my body shook. I decided I would mourn for the loss of the great love I thought I had found. I would grieve the future that I had imagined and planned for our lives.
They said don't cross oceans for people who wouldn't even jump puddles for you, but I did. And as I found myself standing at the same pier the next morning, staring intently at the metal gate, waiting, as if I would see him speeding on his feet to where I was standing, hug me and tell me he loved me and everything was just a mistake. I waited for the clock's long hand to reach 12, and when it did with no sign of him anywhere, I turned around and boarded the only boat trip from the sleepy and sad town of Culion to the tourist-bustling town of Coron—all the while knowing it was a battle lost and won.
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