R:TUL Chapter 3: The Simple Rule

Julia’s P.O.V.

I’m now here at the beach with Mike. I leaned my back on the trunk of a coconut tree to relax. It feels so good. The kind of feeling where you don’t have to think of anything else but happiness. I think this is the best place to go to when you want to be alone.

I closed my eyes for a moment, taking in the beauty, happiness, and peacefulness of my surroundings. I went along with a deep breath. “Haysss(2)…”
Now I opened my eyes. I saw Mike approaching me with two bottled soft drinks, one in each hand.

“Oh!(9)” He exclaimed while handing me one of the drinks he was holding. I gladly accept it.

“Thank you!” I said in gratitude. I turned my gaze to a woman sitting on the sand near the ocean.

“Oh?” Mike said as he also took notice that I’m looking at something so he turns toward where I’m looking. “Know her?” He asks.

“Of course not! I just think she’s beautiful.” I explained. It’s true anyway. She’s really beautiful. She doesn’t have any make-up on. She’s just simple.

“So, you got a crush on her?” He said.

I glared at him angrily as a reply.

“Huh!” He smiles then sits down beside me.

“So, why are you here?” He asks. Is he serious? He leads me here with him then  asks me why I’m here.

“Siraulo ka(4)? You invited me here.”

“Tssk. I mean, why did you go with me? You’ve never even met me.”
Ahhh… so that’s what he meant. I’m such an idiot.

“Nothing! I’m not sure! Actually, I don’t know.” I replied. I just really don’t know why. I wonder why?

“Isn’t that great? I understood that.” He seriously answered. Sometimes it’s confusing to talk to him. Is he joking or is he for real? I think he’s kind of stupid. I’m sure he’s messed up in the head.

Suddenly, something hit me, around the time we first met. Ahh…

–Flashback–

It’s 4:56am. I am now here at the park, sitting down on a long bench. Right across from here, you can view the sea and mountain range. This is where my selfishness brought me. To be honest, I don’t know this place and I’m not familiar with it either. 

I do know that the sun is just about to rise around this time, but I want to stare at the sunrise more. I want to see how the sun rises in the east. At this moment, I think I’d rather watch sundry things even if I know there’s nothing to gain from it.

As I observe my surroundings, I didn’t realize that it’s early morning already. People are starting to crowd the area. I notice that most of them are exercising and that most of those exercising have reached old age. I wanted to join the people doing zumba, but I’m too shy to.

Later on my phone rang in the pocket of my pants. I saw that Nick, my boyfriend, was calling, so I just turned my phone off so that nothing will bother me while I’m observing my surroundings.

While looking around, I couldn’t take my eyes off a man who is also sitting on a long bench not too far from where I’m sitting. Whenever I’d look in front, I’d notice that he’d watch me. When I look at him he avoids eye contact. That’s the set-up between me and the man who sits on the next bench.

…Until I couldn’t focus on what I was doing because he’s the only one I’m noticing so I approached him.

“Excuse me! Why are you looking at me?”

He then looks to his left and right as if confused about my question.

“Are you asking me?” he asks.

“Who else is here?” I ask again.

“Miss, are you blind?”

“Are you crazy?” I answer him out of irritation.

“You’re the one asking me that question when you can clearly see that there are others here.”

‘Patience Julia! Patience! That’s how life really is.’ I told myself before I spoke again. “What I mean is, there’s only the two of us here. Who else would I ask? You know-it-all!” I continued then he looked to both sides again.

“So what?”

“Huh!” I said as I made a face before going back to my seat.

Hayss(2). Thank goodness! I can go back to what I was doing earlier. Where was I again? I think to myself while remembering what I was really doing before. But I haven’t gone back to myself yet when the man from the other bench spoke anew.

“By the way, what’s your name again?” he asked while still staring at the sea and sitting down from where he was.

“Are we close?” I answer his inquiry.

“You’re so assuming. Are you the one I’m talking to? This is actually the one I’m talking to.” He then raised his hand, moving his fingers around as if it’s a puppet. “What’s your name? How long have you been there? Why are you here? Why aren’t you…” He continued to ask questions, talking to his hand.

–End of Flashback–

So that’s why he looked like an idiot when I saw him at the park. Are you dead? What can I do? Think Julia. Think until the book you read crosses your mind. 

“Let’s do this instead. At least now we already know each other.” I said.

“What is it?” He said while waiting for what I’m about to say.

“Let’s make a rule?” Hehe. This is the only idea I thought of so I could avoid him. You know, playing safe.

“For what?” He asked.

“To be aware of each other. I only went with you, but we don’t know each other too well. You might be a snatcher or a prisoner who escaped from prison.”

“A snatcher, really? Maybe someone who snatches hearts.” He joked– I mean, I can’t tell, he looks serious.

“Happy?” I gave him a serious look. Got that from him.

“Okay! So tell me about this rule.” He said.

Will he like the rule that I’ll tell him? I’m not sure if he’ll like it or if we can agree on it. Oh! Why not have ten rules? Nope! That’s too many. Hmmm… Five maybe? Seems so rude. How about one for each of us? That’s right! One for each of us. Bright idea Julia. ‘Oh I’m so bright. Yeah, brighter than him.’ I thought.

“Ahmm… You give one rule to follow then I’ll also give one. Is that all right?” I told him.

“Sure! You first.” He said. Nonchalantly. As if it was nothing. He looks like an idiot right?

“Ahmm…” I said, thinking of a rule to say. Actually, I’ve already thought of one. I just want to prolong it, so it seems like I just started thinking. I remembered what was in the book of Marcelo Santos III(10), “Para sa Broken Hearted”(10) (For the Broken Hearted). And it is…! If you were asked a question and you don’t want to give an answer or if it’s too personal, you can say ‘pass’ then respect what the answer will end up being. Okay, I’ll speak now. 3, 2, 1. Go.

“Here, I’ve thought of something. Do you know the story, “Para sa Broken Hearted”(10) (For the Broken Hearted) of Marcelo Santos III(10)?” I ask. He might now know.

“Then?” He asked again. He just really makes me wonder. What a nice answer. Does he know what I’m talking about or does he want me to explain?

“The thing there.” I shortly answered because he may know it. I might embarrass myself if I explained.

“What thing there?” He asked again. Oh? You see? He doesn’t know.

“Here it is, we can ask each other questions, but if it’s too personal or maybe we don’t want to answer it, we can just say ‘pass’. So? Is that okay with you?” I explained then asked him.

“It’s all right!” He said in a very unconvincing tone that makes it seem like he doesn’t fully agree. Nevermind.

“Okay! Your turn.” I said.

“Ahmm. I can’t think of one.” He said.

“Anything? In the movie, “That Thing Called Tadhana”(20) (That Thing Called Fate) something in which you have to pay 100 if you mention an ex(-girlfriend/boyfriend). What do you think? Just anything.” I said as an example.

“You know too much.” He said. So what if I know a lot? Unlike him who looks so dense.

“Fine, I’ll think of something. Ahmm…” He said.

It’s been almost half an hour since we sat here because of this. Mike is still staring down at the sand until now. Haysss(2)… Has he dug deep already? It seems like he wants to eat the land. Lord please help me– I mean not me, him.

“So? Have you thought of something?” I said to him.

“Yeah, I’ll keep it simple.” He replied. Haysss. Looks like he finally thought of one. Thank you, Lord.

“What is it?” I said in excitement. I wonder what he thought of? It must be good.

“You can’t fall in love with me.”

I was surprised at what I heard. ‘You can’t fall in love with me.’ I don’t know what my reaction should be, should I laugh or feel annoyed? After waiting for so long, that’s what he says? But mostly, what he said makes me laugh.
‘Is he serious with that?’ I said to myself while holding back my laughter.

“Why are you laughing?” He asked. Was it obvious?

“Huh? No! Of course not.” I denied in an effort to be serious even if I’m trying so hard to hold it back.
“Hahaha… it’s nothing. Because out of all the simple rules, THAT’S what you thought of? And you think that I’ll fall in love with you?”

“Well I’m not sure.” He answered.

“Fine! Suit yourself!” I said as I shook his hand.

After shaking hands with each other, I went back to gazing at the sea. Imagining again. Thinking of different things. Haysss(2). It’s so boring. Buhay nga naman parang life(11).

“The sea is beautiful, isn’t it?” I said trying to open up a topic to talk about. It’s just too quiet.

“Yeah.” He said. Wow he didn’t even try to continue conversing.

In the small silence of the area, I glance at Mike. I notice that he’s staring at something so I look to find out what it is. Am I not such a busybody?

“What’s wrong?” I asked as I notice a woman who kept glancing our way– or maybe Mike’s only, I am just assuming. ‘Looks like there’s something…’ I say to myself.
“Ahhh… your ex?” I told him.

He glares at me before looking back at the sea. “Do you have a boyfriend?” He asks me while staring at the sea. I can’t be sure if he’s talking to me. Am I the one being asked? Fine, I’ll just ask.

“Huh? Me?” I ask him.

“This?” He raises his hand and talks to it again like a puppet and it made me smile.
“Do you already have a boyfriend?” He asked his hand. This man is just too much. He’s really messed up in the head. But don’t test me, he’s more handsome when he smiles.

“Actually, we’re fighting…”
He looks at me, waiting for what I’ll say next.
“…do you know that feeling when you know it yourself that he can’t ever do that. You chose to believe other people, especially those who have witnessed what happened. It’s so difficult to just keep on thinking. It gets painful.” I shared with him. “How about you?” I ask him.

“Me?” He said. I’m the one waiting for a reply this time. Looks like he’s loading.
“Of course I don’t have one. It’d be weird for me to have a boyfriend.” He joked.

“Maybe you’re gay.” I joked as well.

“Who? Me? Why don’t I kiss you then?” He irritatingly retorted.

“Fine. I dare you!” I tried to be courageous.

At that moment, I hadn’t noticed that his face was getting closer to mine as if he was really going to kiss me. Oh my gosh! What is this? Why is my heart beating this fast? Is this real? Is he going to kiss me? What should I do? Do I close my eyes or what? Ahmm..

“I’m trying to point out ‘girlfriend’. If you have a girlfriend. You idiot!” I said to him then he pulls his face away from mine. Hoosh…

“Wow? Aren’t you so rigid?” He said.

“Hehe. So now what? Do you have a girlfriend?” I ask while feeling nervous.

“Hmmmm… Pass.”  He answered.

“That’s so slick. I told my story, but you didn’t. Unfair!”

“Why? That rule came from you! You should’ve said pass in the first place.”

“Oh well. I hadn’t thought of that. But wait! Check your heart.” I told him.

“Why?” He curiously asked.

“Maybe you’re falling for me?” I joked.

“Haha. Amazing. Happy now?” He said with a serious face. “…and one more thing, I don’t fall for anyone just like that! Especially for you!” He added.

“Oh really?”

“Of course! This is me we’re talking about.”

“So what?” I say in irritation.

Why? I’m a nice and beautiful person. I look away from him and look towards the children having fun in the sea to ease my annoyance. They’re so happy. Lucky them. What about me?

“Look at that!” I say to Mike as he looks at where I pointed.

“Let’s go there.” He said.

I think he just took pity on me. Am I that pitiful to look at? I haven’t even said yes, but he held my hand. I was still drinking.

“Wait a moment! I’m still drinking.” I said.

“Just drink later. Let go of that for a while.”

I put the soft drink down and we went closer to the water. Do you know the feeling that it’s been so long since you’ve known each other. That’s what I’m feeling, now that I’m with him.

At this moment, we started to know more about each other. Having fun. Our craziness is on par with each other. Our thoughts go along with each other and his actions are slowly starting to have a deeper meaning.

His sweetness is really over the top. Instead of splashing water at me with his hands at my face, what he did is, literally sinking me. The type where he sinks my head below the water as if he’s drowning me. Sweet isn’t it? Annoying. I still don’t him that well, okay? What if it’s been so long that we’ve known each other?

~~~

Footnote/s:

(2) Haysss – This is a sound or an expression equivalent of a frustrated or relieved sigh.

(4) Siraulo – This is an insult in Filipino that means “crazy” or like something’s wrong with the person’s head. Literal translation is “broken head”.
Ka – means “you” in English.

(9) Oh! – He said this in a way that meant “here you go”. This is quite common in Filipino.

(10) Marcelo Santos III – A bestselling author who uploaded videos of love stories when he was in college.
      “Para sa Broken Hearted” (For the Broken Hearted) – A book written by Marcelo Santos III, the sequel to his first book, “Para sa mga Hopeless Romantic” (For the Hopeless Romantics).

Marcelo Santos III
[image credit]: yuneoh.com]

Book Cover of “Para sa Broken Hearted”
(For the Broken Hearted)
[image credits: goodreads.com]

(11) “Buhay nga naman parang life.” – It’s a bilingual joke that means “life is really like that” or “life is just like what it is”. The joke doesn’t translate very well to English so I left this note. Literal translation is “Life is just like life.”

(20) “That Thing Called Tadhana” – A Filipino rom com film that aired in 2014.

Movie Poster for “That Thing Called Tadhana”
(That Thing Called Fate)
[image credit]: karlcastro.com

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