It was a sunny Monday morning and almost everyone looks so happy and complete. Well, almost because as I go on my morning routine as a CAT officer, I bumped into this lady whose mind seems to wander. Just at the sight of her, walking along the pathway with tears running down her cheeks, gives me a stirring feeling in my chest. Known as the school’s playboy, the feeling was certainly new to me.
And as I picked her things that fell in the ground when I bumped into her , my heart beats so fast that I even wonder what was happening to me. Maybe it’s because even though I am known as a heartbreaker, I still hate to see a woman cry.
“I am sorry miss; I didn’t mean to bump at you…..” I said as I give her things “I am just in a hurry, I am really very sorry. Did I hurt you?”
“Thank you for picking up my stuff, I’m okay.” And she smiled at me through misty eyes. As I looked at her, I can see that she is hurting, not from the incident we had but because of something else. “Thanks again, I got to go.” And she hurriedly went off.
From that day on, I would wait for her to pass by in that same corridor where I first met her, hoping against hope to see her again. However, that never happened. I know I am just a year ahead of her. I saw in her ID, its red, for junior students. I don’t understand why I wanted to see her again, yet I know that if I do, that will make me very happy. I even planned to look for her. I abandoned my plan; I wouldn’t want to be laughed at by my friends.
At last, my prayers were heard. I was about to go inside the faculty room to submit my report to our CAT commander, when I heard the teachers talking about her. I was glad to have a news about her but so sad to learn that her uncle had died. Then Mr. Santiago, one of our teachers asked me to call Anzene, that’s her name. I was just too happy to oblige.
As Anzene and I walked together towards the Faculty room, I saw her eyes, filled with sadness. Seeing her like that hurt me. It was then that I realized that I love her; I have fallen in love with Anzene.
When we got to the faculty room, I saw Mrs. Flores smiling, and then she told her to sit down. I was about to go when our teacher called me. I saw Mrs. Flores excusing to her co-teachers. She was my adviser when I was in second year. And now, I am wondering why she wanted to talk to me.
“Ma’am why does you want to talk with me? Have I done something wrong?” I asked worriedly. Nevertheless, when she smiled at me, all my nervousness was gone.
“No LJ, you’re a good student. You haven’t done anything wrong. I just heard from your adviser that it seems that you are not yourself lately. Is there anything bothering you?” She asked me with a voice of concern.
“Well, it’s not a problem actually. Don’t worry ma’am I have figured it out a while ago.”
“It’s about Anzene right?”
“Hmm… it’s just that I think…”
‘You are in love with her.” She continued to what I was about to say. “Come on! I was not just your former adviser, I am also your friend remember? And rest assured, your secret is safe with me.”
I have to smile at that. “Yeah right. I could still remember when you were still our adviser. You are the only one who could see me through.”
“Just like when everyone believed you to be problem child? Yet, nobody knows what you really are. That inside that façade is a fine young man; vulnerable yet brave despite the odds. Everyone sees you as a strong and independent young man. They didn’t know that like the man in the song… ‘beneath that armor, the warrior is a child’.” She told me smiling.
“Err, ma’am, how did know about it? While I am not even sure about it myself?”
“Because I can see it in your eyes. And I know you. I used to be your confidant, remember? You used to tell me all your worries and joy.”
I am speechless for a moment. I could remember the days she was talking about. The days were I was in the point that nobody wanted to believe in me even my parents who were always busy. For them it’s always business that should go first. They even forgot they have a son who needs them. All they could think about was that dammed business. Since then, I became a rebellious child. I go for gimmicks and barkadas and my presence at the guidance office for almost always is expectable.
Then we had Ms. Flores as an adviser when I stepped second year. She didn’t judge me the way our former teachers does. And with her, I found a buddy and a friend.
“LJ? Are you still with me?” Ms. Flores asked bringing my memories back to the present. “Well?”
“Oh! I’m sorry ma’am. I just remember those days you were talking about. And I am really thankful for all those things you have done for me.”
“I know son. Like what I have said a while ago, you are still young. You have just turned sixteen while Anzene is just fifteen. However, you are not a child anymore. Do what you think is right. At this point, Anzene is in total distress, but I know you are a man who knows how to take control and when to take actions.”
“Thank you for everything… and for trusting me.” with a grip on my hand and a smile on her face, she walked back to the faculty room.
Thinking back on what my teacher have just told me, I can’t do anything but smile. Her words are enough for me know the exact thing to do.
That night, I hardly went to sleep. I keep on thinking what would happen next to Anzene now that her uncle, her only family left was dead. Although I know that she won’t stop school for she is a scholar and that she works as a cashier in the grocery store nearby. But how about college? Even though she still has a year and a half before stepping college, I don’t want to finish that year without doing anything. That thought was the last thing on my mind when I finally fell asleep.
The next day was a new start for me. With that feeling in my heart that was basically new to me, I feel more enthusiastic and alive. Days went on and just seeing Anzene from afar was enough to make me smile.
Seeing her made me happy, but if only I could bring back the glow in her eyes, it would make me happier. Sometimes I have this urge of walking towards her and introduce myself but I know that it’s not yet the right time.
I spend my break times in the school’s mini- forest. Since I met Anzene, I became more serious with my life. Still, I don’t forget to be gay and joyful sometimes. I learned to balance my time, appreciate the things around me, and see how lucky I am. Now, I also have a good relationship with my parents.
Moreover, since I started hanging out in the mini-forest, the presence of Sapphira “the campus snob” is a common sight at the end part of the mini forest where the biggest tree was planted.
That day was a surprise though. Instead of seeing Sapphira, it’s Anzene I saw under that big tree; and she is crying. I couldn’t watch her just like that. I was about to approach her when I saw Sapphira coming. In no time at all, I saw her extending a handkerchief to Anzene and talked with each other. It was another surprise. I know Anzene don’t talk to anybody just like that. That’s why she was tagged as the “ice lady”. She always has that aloof and cold composure.
Yet, there she was, telling Sapphira everything. Suddenly I felt relieved. At least now, she got a friend. Although I don’t know Sapphira that much, I can feel that she was exactly what Anzene needed.
Since then, I started to witness how the glow in her eyes started to go back. It was only sad to know that in a month’s time, I’ll be graduating. I wouldn’t have the chance to see her that often anymore. Anyway, the only consolation I’ve got was that I wouldn’t be going that far. I’ll still be around only I will be studying in a different school. But then, I remember that my dad wanted me to take up business administration in the states. Suddenly, I felt so down again. Just thinking about it made me feel bad.
Then suddenly, I got an idea. One week before our graduation, I decided to speak with my dad. He was in the library studying a contract.
“Hey son, what is it? Any problem?” my dad asked as I entered the room.
“No dad, I just want to talk you regarding something.”
“Is that about the states thing again?”
“Do I really have to? There are also good schools here in our country.”
“I know. But you could have better if you study abroad and have your masters there.
I know it would be hard; but we have talked about this right. I know we have not been an ideal parent to you but couldn’t you do this for us?” My dad said looking directly into my eyes.
“Okay dad, we have settled our relationship. Maybe we could settle this too.” I countered
“Which means I’ll study in the states like what you wanted, take up business administration…”
“But…?” my dad cut. “Come on I know you’re up to something…”
“Well, there’s this woman, I like very much. Actually, I think it’s more than that. I promise to do exactly what you wanted but only if you promise to help her.” I look straight at his eyes. I have to make this successful. I’ll do anything just to help Anzene… anything.
My dad was so silent that it made me nervous. Then he spoke, “Give me one good reason to help her aside from the fact that you like her and you think you’re in love with her.” looking at me with bored amusement in his eyes.
“Oh men! Don’t give me that look dad. You know I don’t really want to go abroad. But if this is the only way then I would. And besides, this girl I am talking about is all alone. He got no father or at least don’t know where he is, her mom died when she was twelve and five months ago, her uncle died because of a hit and run. She is currently studying in the same school I am going as a third year student and is able to go through because of a scholarship. Now dad, what can you say? Isn’t she great?”
“Hmm… quite impressive. But how can I help her huh?”
“Need you ask? You’re a rich man. Please send her into college a year from now and let her take any course she wanted. She’s not just a pretty face… she’s also smart. I assure you, your money and effort would not go to waste. You have a scholarship foundation. You could easily help her.”
“Yes. But LJ, those scholarships are given to those who come to my office and pass the exams and qualifications set by the company.”
“But dad, that is exactly why we are having this conversation. You can send one of your men to her and tell her that you see her potentials and bla bla bla… please dad…”I pleaded. I have to get this done for Anzene before I leave.
“Okay! But promise to finish your studies with flying colors.”
“Sure dad.” I said happily. “I would be doing the best of my best… thanks!”
After I have settled everything with my dad, I really felt great. A week after our graduation I was busy preparing the necessary requirements I’ll need for my admission in the state.
The night before I left for the states, my cousin talked to me.
“Kuya Lj, I’ll be going to miss you.” she said. “Anyway, you don’t have to worry that much. I’ll gonna send you email and faxes about your lovely Anzene.” She teased me.
“Hey pretty head,” I countered, “how did you know that? I don’t remember telling you that…”
“I’m so sorry. I accidentally overheard your conversation with uncle jerry. Just wondering, why didn’t you tell her about your feelings? You didn’t even let her know about your existence.” I wasn’t able to answer her for I don’t know how to explain things with her. But then she continued…
“Anyway, you don’t have to worry ‘cause I’ll be your eyes.”
“Oh cousin that’s so kind of you. Thanks! Now, I’ll be okay.”
At least now, I really don’t have to worry too much. I believe in Garnet’s words. And after all, Anzene now have Sapphira as a friend. I know she wouldn’t be living a hard life anymore.
And when I reach the states and began my studies, my cousin really let me know everything. The happiness Anzene felt when she became the school organ’s editor-in-chief, and all the staff about her. It made me glad when she’s happy and as much as devastated when my cousin Garnet told about the guy who played with Anzene’s feelings. When she graduated, I was very glad to know that she was the class’ valedictorian.
She took up fashion merchandise in one of the best universities in our country. According to Garnet, daddy was impressed with her credentials and personality, and the determination she have within her. I know that my father would be impressed with her for he is a sucker of determinant people. That’s the reason why he decided to put up a foundation; to help the determined but helpless youth.
Seven years after that, I finish my master’s degree in Business Administration at Princeton University as cum laude. My mom and dad were happy and I could tell by the look in their eyes that they were proud of me…
Now, after eight long years of patience and hard work, I am back. And I could say, it feels really good to be back at home.
Now, I am ready to face Anzene. I couldn’t think of any right time but now. Those eight years I had waited seems to be ages for me. Three years ago, she graduated fashion merchandise at the highest honor, summa cum laude. My cousin told me how Anzene awed everyone with her speech, and I was proud of her even though she doesn’t know about me.
It has now been a couple of months since I came home. Next week will be my mom’s 55th birthday. And as I think of what to give her, I passed by Anzene’s boutique. I couldn’t be wrong about it. It is named “the Fashion Stop” exactly how garnet described it to me. I turned over and parked my car. Nervously, I entered the shop.
As I entered, everyone looked at me as if asking what a man like me is doing in a girl’s fashion boutique.
“Err miss;” I said to the sales lady, “I am looking for something that would suit my mother. Could you give me some suggestions?”
“Well sir, if you are asking for suggestions, the owner of this boutique is also a fashion consultant and she renders her service free of charge for the customers.”
“That’s nice to hear. Is she around?”
“Yes sir, please excuse me for a moment.” And leave only for a while then said, “hope you’ll enjoy shopping in here sir. We have accommodations that you can’t find anywhere else.”
I was just about to answer her when somebody spoke behind me.
“Excuse me sir, what can I do for you?” said the very familiar voice to me…
“Hmm… I am looking for something to give my mother on her birthday. Can you give me an idea? She’ll be turning 55.” I told her; finding hard to find the words to say.
Then she began giving me suggestions. After a quarter of an hour, I went home satisfied. I could tell that she really is good at her job. The only thing I need to think is the next step to make.
What I didn’t know is when I left, Anzene and Sapphira talked with each other. She thought that I looked familiar and even went to look at the receipt.I didn’t know that more surprise was yet to come.
On my mom’s big night, everyone was so busy especially when the visitors began to come. I was really shocked to see Anzene and Sapphira among the visitors. She kissed my mom and greeted her happy birthday. I didn’t know that she knows my mom and that they are close.
“Hi tita Clarisse happy birthday.” Said Anzene and Sophie.“Oh! I am glad you both came. By the way girls, this is my son, Lawrence James. He just arrived from the state a month ago.”
“Good evening ladies, you can call me LJ.”I said as shook my hands with them. At least now I don’t have to think of how to let her know of my existence. I guess fate is making things easier for me. I just hope my luck would continue long enough to tell her all I needed to say.
“I- its you…” said Anzene.
“You know my son, hija?” asked my mom.
“I guess so. He brought something in my shop the other day.” She answered.
“Really? That’s nice. Well then, I’ll leave you for a moment. I’ll just see my friends.” My mom had just left when Garnet and her friend came over.
“Hi ‘cuz!” said Garnet. “By the way, this is my friend Kristen.” She introduces her friend.
“Hello! Pretty head. This is Sapphira and Anzene.
“Guys, please excuse me and my cousin for a moment.” Garnet said leaving me a deep thought.
And while we are away, I didn’t know that Kristen warned Anzene. And Anzene not trying to argue further to Kristen’s bitchiness just walk away with her friend.
When we came back all I see was Kristen smiling so sweetly at me and said, “Hey honey, could you get me a drink please.”
“Where’s Sapphira and Anzene?” I asked her.
“I don’t know. Maybe they went around. And I don’t care either.”
“Kristen, I don’t wanna offend you but please don’t honey me. You know you are just like a sister to me.”
“You are so mean!” Kristen said and I thought for a moment that she would cry.
“I don’t want to be mean. But you are asking for it. We grew up together and I don’t wanna cheat you. You are just a dear friend. I am in love with somebody else.” I knew that I have really hurt her with my words. I have to do that. She’s being a pain in the neck the past few days and I can’t stand it anymore. She excused herself to us and I don’t know where she went.
“Kuya, I think you really hurt her. But I guess that’s better. I am also tired of her always asking where you are and what are you doing.”
After a few more minutes of talking with my cousin, I went around to look for Anzene and saw her talking with one of her colleagues. I asked her to dance with me. She looks hesitant for a while but I am glad that she accepted my hand.
“Please don’t look at me that ways. I don’t feel comfortable.” She said to me noticing that I was looking at her lovely face.
“I am sorry,” I answered, “I am dying to have this moment with you since I can’t remember.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t think this is the proper place. But if you trust me, could you please have dinner with me tomorrow night?”
“I don’t know. I have to check my schedule first. I hope you understand.”
Those were her last words towards me that night until she and her friend decided to went home. After my mom’s party, I had a hard time going to sleep. Maybe I am just anxious of what will happen next but I know I have to be confident with myself.
The next morning, I called her at her office to know what her answer on my invitation is. I am heading for a major dismay ‘cause she declined it. And what’s more to it, my cousin Garnet keeps on teasing me that makes me feel more irritated.
“Hey gorgeous, looks like your charms isn’t working anymore huh?” she teased.
“Stop it or else you wouldn’t anymore extra allowance from me brat…”
“Okay… okay… you want me to help you?”
“And how are you gonna do that?”
“Wanna bet? That’s as easy as one two three to me…”
“Is that so… and what would you want in exchange?”
“What could you give me?”
“A boyfriend, what do you think?” I teased.
“Handsome and gorgeous like you? Why not. But I don’t think I am in for that right now. How about a shopping in France for a week?”
“Only if you could give me a result in less than an hour.”
“Deal.” She said and headed for the phone.
After a few minutes, she and Anzene are already talking. I don’t know what they were talking about, then I heard Garnet say: “Oh that? Don’t mind her. That’s not true. So… will you give my cousin a chance?” then handed me the phone. She mouthed something like Anzene want to talk with me and smiled.
“Hi Anzene,” I began, “Can’t you really dine with me tonight…”
“I think I can consider that…” she said in a low voice.
“Does that mean yes?”
“I’ll fetch you at seven in your shop. Would that be fine?”
“Of course. That would be convenient.”
“Okay then, see you later.” And I hang up.
“Now Kuya do you believe in my convincing power?” said Garnet with a hint of a joke.
“Yeah. By the way what were you talking about?”
“Nothing… really. I just learned that Kristen told her to back off. That is why she rejected your invitation. She really thought Kristen was your girlfriend.
“Anyway, good luck for tonight. Hope you’ll have the courage now to tell her about your feelings.”
“Of course, I wouldn’t waste a single minute.” I told her, “and thanks garnet. You’re really a gem.”
That night was the most unforgettable night. I was so excited and nervous both at the same time. She looks really lovely in her red cocktail dress.
“Anzene, what did you and my cousin talk about this morning? If you don’t mind…”
“Oh! It’s nothing. We just talked about the high school days. Now I know why you look familiar… we’re schoolmates.” I smiled at her and she continued…
“Now I remember, you’re the one I bumped in while I was walking along the hallway.”
“Yeah. But that’s not the only time we’ve met. I was the one you escorted you to the faculty room too.”
“Really? My mind was wandering that time because of my uncle’s death. I didn’t notice.” She said looking surprise.
“I am glad that my father helped you. Look at you now, wherever your dad and mom is, I am sure they are really proud of what you become. You’ve gone a long way Anzene.”
“Yes. And I am really grateful to you and your family.”
“The first time I ever talked with your father I remember him saying, ‘my son is right. You really are something; smart and beautiful’ almost in a whisper I hardly hear. It’s only now that I truly understand what those words meant.”
“Yes. But my dad not only helps you because of that but also because you have potentials. I hope you’re not mad at me?”
“Mad? Of course not. I am grateful to you and your father. Hasn’t it been for your help, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I don’t even know how I would support myself during those times. I am just wondering, why did you do all that LJ?”
“It’s because I love you Anzene. For a long time, I have waited patiently for the right time to tell you about my feelings.” She looked so shock with my revelations. And before she could say something I continued…
“I just wanted to tell you how I feel. You don’t have to answer it right now…”
“This is too fast, and I really don’t know what to say.” She said honestly.
“I understand. Just let me prove myself. For now, let’s enjoy the night.”
And then, we had our dinner. After that, we danced. I almost couldn’t believe that things were really happening.
After that night, I began courting her. I went to their house and met his father, Mr. Leandro Martinez. After two months of dating and getting to know each other, we had a date again in the restaurant were we first dine together.
“I talked with your mom and dad,” she told me while we are eating. “Sorry if you had to go to states because of me. I feel really flattered with your parents’ revelation. After being hurt by all the things that happened to me; I never thought I would find someone who will love me the way you do.”
“Because it’s what you deserve Ann.” I told her.
“Thank you. You know what, the first time I saw you, I felt something I couldn’t name. But I wasn’t able to entertain the feeling because I am in total grief. Aside from that, I didn’t see you anymore.” she paused.
“Go on…” I encouraged her.
“Then, I met mark when we are in fourth year. I he was my first boyfriend but I about a month I discovered that he courted me all for a bet. Since then, I was afraid to entertain suitors.”
“Then when I saw you again at the shop, I felt like something hit me. Now I know it’s not because you look familiar, but because of the feeling I felt towards you way back then. And each day I got to know you better, I realized that…that”
“Ann, are you telling me what I have in mind?” I asked nervously.
“Yes LJ. I realized that I have fallen in love with you too…”
That was when it all began. After three weeks, I formally proposed to her. In may seem fast but I guess eight years of waiting is enough. Our parents are both glad for us. Sapphira, Ann’s best friend who is now going out with a suitor is very happy for us too.
I know I did the right thing when I keep this feeling in my heart for eight years. My family loves her very much. You could see how excited my mom was in doing all the necessary preparations.
And after two more months of waiting that seems to be two years for me, here we are at last! In front of the pastor that would bind us together till death do us part. It looks exactly the way I dreamed it to be. The only difference is that it’s not a dream anymore.
After the wedding ceremony, you could see everyone smiling to both of us as if saying a warm congratulations and best wishes.
As we walk the aisle out of the church, where a new beginning awaits us, you can hear a song playing, as if telling that the storms in our life is over…
I saw the world in shade of black and gray
Turning blue with every passing day,
Just when I thought that maybe all was lost
My life took on a new turn
And it’s all because…
Now there’s a reason to wake up each day
I thank the Lord, for sending you my way
Now I am whole a lucky soul
I wanna thank you for your love
Now looking back to the pain
No more dark clouds, no more rain
Thank you for your love.
And I could say that it is really my love for Anzene that changed me and made me stronger. Everything was different since she came. And now that I have here with me, I am stronger to face the battles that would come our way.
February 07, 2005