It was half past four in the afternoon. I was reading The Zahir, my so-called comfort book, in one of the huts of my old high school. That and macchiato served as my escape from the fast approaching internship and pretty much from everything else. I welcomed the peace and quiet in the colegio, and there was no other place I would choose to escape to at that moment.
Everything was exactly how I wanted things to be: there were practically no students save for the kids playing soccer in the field, I had the hut to myself, and there was not a single person I knew in the area. But then my phone rang, it was one of my closest friends on the other line.
“Facebook says you’re in Letran?” she asked.
“Yes,” I confirmed, “I just wanted a place to read sans the distraction.”
“I’ve something for you, just wait for it. Know that I have your best interest at heart. And I hope you don’t get mad.”
I sat there wondering what the “surprise” could possibly be. I glanced around, trying to shake off that weird feeling that phone call brought me. I decided to continue reading, and after an uneventful hour, I simply assumed that whatever that thing might be, my friend changed her mind about it. I was finishing my coffee when a familiar voice greeted me.
I stared at him in disbelief, seemingly frozen in that moment. After almost three long years of zero communication since our bitter fallout, I was beyond surprised to see him standing right in front of me. I was never one to run out of words, but in that moment, for some reason, I just did.
“They told me I’d find you here,” he said as he sat beside me.
I resisted the urge to deliver the speech I had been practicing inside my head for years now. I wanted to gloat but did my best not to. I reminded myself that it wouldn’t matter anymore, whatever happened is in the past now. Instead I sat there, trying to make sense of the situation.
“I’m really sorry for - “
“I know, no need to explain.”
I had no idea what made me say that, when all I wanted in the last years was the truth, an explanation, and an apology. I thought that maybe I did not need him to explain anymore, my life is better now and somehow I had put my ghosts to rest even without the closure I thought I deserved. Or maybe I just wanted to spare myself from hearing all the unfortunate details, because what good would it do me now anyway?
We sat there in silence, not knowing how to proceed. Seconds felt like minutes, minutes felt like hours. He rested his head on my shoulder, and the familiarity of the gesture almost crushed my composure.
“I just want you to believe that I’m really sorry. I did miss you, you know?”
I don’t think I will ever understand what happened, but at that moment I felt genuinely at peace. I felt free from all the things that made it difficult to leave that past behind. And for the first time that afternoon, I smiled at him,
He held my hand. And just like that everything was right with the world.
My phone rang.
I glanced at my phone sleepily, it was half past six in the morning. I stopped the alarm as I tried to process everything. Only, there was nothing to process, I never went to the colegio, my close friend never called, he never came. It was all in my head. Sleep had not been so kind.