NOT THIS TIME

“What if I fall for you?”

I choked on my beer as I tried to keep myself from laughing out loud for what you have just asked. It was just a little too out of the blue and knowing that you’re halfway from being drunk just makes it so funny for some reason. There we were, on some bar, amidst people we don’t really know nor care to know about, just talking in between gulps of beers despite the rowdy crowd that night. I did try to suppress my laughter but it still came out as a giggle which you noticed.

Frowning, you looked at me straight in the eyes. “What’s so funny?”

“I’m not really sure,” I said, smiling. You made a face before looking the other way. It was obvious that you were pissed, yet there I was, still unable to take the smile out of my face.

“Keep smiling and I’m gonna smack it out of you myself!” You said without even looking at me. That just made me smile even more, which turned into giggles. You didn’t like that either. By the time I stopped, you looked like you were about to bolt out of the club.

“I’m really sorry but I wasn’t laughing at you.” I said soon as I got myself composed. You just rolled your eyes. You have always been so sensitive although you seldom say anything. Unfortunately for you, it always shows on your face no matter how hard you try to hide it. I, on the other hand, had always been an ass. It was the complete recipe for disaster but somehow, we’ve managed to get over that and became close. As to how that happened, some scientist would be better at figuring it out because I have no idea whatsoever.

“I just didn’t expect the question, not from you anyway.” I explained. That was the truth. You have always been honest about a lot of things but never about how you really feel. It was, of course, a hypothetical question, but that’s the farthest you have ever gone ever since we met.

I let out a sigh before continuing. “Do you really want me to answer that or did you just run out of things to say or ask?”

Again, you averted your eyes before answering. “Not really.”

I didn’t even know that silence can be so overwhelming in a noisy bar but there it was, that heavy feeling of unspoken words. You grabbed the bottle of beer in front of you and downed more than half of it before putting it down again.

“What if you fall for me?” You asked. I just stared at you, this time, you didn’t avoid my eyes. I stared at those deep browns before inching closer until our face just a few inches away.

“What is it to you?” I asked. I saw you open your mouth as if about to say something but closed it without uttering a single word. I smiled and pulled back.

“What’s with the questions anyway?” I did want to know the reason why. You have been acting weirdly all night. You let out a sigh.

“I just want to know if you’re in love with me.” You’re voice was just a notch above a whisper but I heard it all too clear.

“Then why didn’t you just ask me that? You know I’d answer anyway. It’s not like I’m—”

You cut me off. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear your answer. Anyway, forget it.”

Then you excused yourself and went to the restroom. I was still musing about what you have just said when your phone lit up and a message popped on the screen. I was curious on who it was from so I took a quick glance at it. I didn’t mean to actually read the message. It was the manufacturer’s fault and the message was just right there, scrolling on its own.

It was my ex, which wasn’t really surprising because you two were friends. It was the message that caught my attention.

By the time you got back, I was in the middle of singing, thankfully. I at least got the chance to pour my heart out, singing at the top of my lungs. You were smiling when I was done. I smiled back.

“Where did that come from?” You asked as I sat back down from putting the microphone on the empty table beside ours.

“It’s one of my God-given gifts.” I just said, chuckling a little. Believe me; I will still be more surprised of myself than you would have been of me if you knew what I knew back then.

We were out of the bar after a while. Since your unit was just beside mine, we walked home together. What we talked about within those almost thirty minutes was gone from me. The only thing that was clear was what you said as I tried to open my door. I was fumbling with my keys a little when you spoke.

“I love you,” You said, loud enough for anyone who was still awake in the compound to hear. I dropped the keys in shock. I didn’t think you would actually go that far. I took my time picking it up before turning around to face you.

“Thanks! I love myself too.” It was apparent that you didn’t expect that answer. I saw your face hardened but I didn’t even care anymore.

“Damn it!” You exclaimed. “Are you playing—”

“I’m not.” I was the one cutting you off this time. “Good thing you didn’t turn the recorder on.”

All colors left your face, your hand clutching on your phone.

“I deserve better than you lying and betting on me falling for you. I thought we were friends.” I told you before going back to open the door. It came open on the first try.

“I’m—” You started.

“Oh my God, please don’t apologize.” I said, cutting you off once again. “You’re apology won’t make it right so don’t waste any more of my time. As I see it, you’ve wasted enough.”

I went inside my unit and closed the door behind me, trying hard to keep the tears at bay. It was a good thing that I didn’t answer any of your questions. You would have won. But you didn’t hear me say a word. None of us won, at least not this time.

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