4th Stage

Star

Stage 4.

“You’ve prayed for this night. Okay? Seize the last chance. Que sera sera—whatever will be will be.” I told myself while facing the wall. I have to be reminded that tonight, I must let these—everything that was keeping me from moving forward—go, go where it truly belongs. “This too, shall pass.” I added while tapping my chest.

“Hey.” I suddenly froze when I felt a hand touched my left shoulder. I know that voice, that exact same voice—the one that I don’t want to lose in the deafening noise of this world.

I tried to calm my heart before facing him. “Hey.” I said, assuring myself that my smile wasn’t an uneasy one.

“See? I told you.” He said while handling me a bottle of water. I assumed he was talking about my performance tonight—and how my doubts consumed me and how he encouraged me to try my best out. “You really are something.” He added as his glance fell to me.

And he smiled. That damn smile, the smile that fixed the misalignment of galaxies in my universe.

Before I fall to that obscurity, “Dino, can I have a second with you, later tonight?” God knows how I trained my heart to calm while I spat the words out.

“Sure. Ikaw pa.” Dino purposely patted my head to muddle my hair.

“Don’t.” I said as I tried to run away from him. Well, I hope I really have the courage to do so.

Letting my gaze travel to the whole event place, I can say that: we did it! The event was indeed successful. I would be happy with the notion of marching out from this school—let’s talk about my incoming graduation—knowing that other people saw me being devoured by what I love the most and where I find comfort—music. I am a member of this school organization called the Music Bureau. 3 years ago, I just found myself auditioning for a spot in the club and through God’s grace, I was in. And the rest was history.

“Star! 9pm? At the university park?” Dino shouted while putting his guitar inside its case.

“Oh. Looks like our lucky Star and Mr. Perfection’s going to have under-the-vastly-night-skies-with-glistening-dust-date.” She said, she whose smile is perfect—she who stole his heart.

“Jans.” He said, with touch of seriousness on his voice.

“I was just kidding.” Jans smiled widely while saying this. Maybe that was the smile that has fixed the misaligned galaxies in his—the same way his smile did to mine.

She bid us goodbye, but his gaze followed her.

We were both standing in the midst of the isolated event place. I can sense the awkwardness on my part. Well, later tonight, the awkward atmosphere will plummet on his world too. I just hope that it won’t burn the bridge between me and him—wow, me and him, those words, existing in my world as something, existing in his as nothing, nothing at all.

“Shall we?” He told me when he was all ready to go.

“Can I have a minute with myself? You can now go there. Just wait for me.” I said without looking at him. I’m still putting my ukulele inside its case, and God knows how I’m trying to slow everything down. I’m so nervous that I can feel all the feels in my chest, trying to find their way out.

“You know what? I’m sort of nervous about this talk. I’ve never seen you so serious. Did I do something wrong?” He said, and I can sense the awkwardness in his voice.

Stage 4. Confession.

According to this book that I’ve read, entitled; Karmic Hearts. They said that there are 5 stages of connection. In order for the angel of love—cupid—to connect you to your soul mate, you both need to reached the 5th stage. Awareness. Realization. Acknowledgement. Confession. And lastly, Commitment.

And here I am, playing fool to myself. I know from the very start that I will reach this stage—alone.

“Hey. Earth to Star! Spacing out?” I was suddenly out of my musing when I saw him in front of me, gently holding my wrist. And when I was brought back to my reality, I immediately pulled out my arm from his grasp before the electricity travel its way to my heart.

“I just need to go to the wash room.” I tried to hide the uneasiness but no to avail.

“Star can you please tell me what’s wro—“, before he can finish his sentence, I was already running away.

“See you later. 9pm.” I shouted my lungs out without looking at him.

I have to teach myself to not look—at his perfection, at his being, at him… everything about him.

***

9 PM.

56

I saw him sitting at the bench under the 5th lamp post standing in the park. He’s holding the guitar, patiently waiting for me. I assumed he’s listening to something because of the earphones plug to his ears. I gave myself some seconds to admire the totality of this picturesque night before breaking the news to him.

I inhaled all the insane courage I have praying that it won’t asphyxiate me.

“Hey! Kuya Dino.” I blissfully uttered before sitting at the space beside him.

He smiled. That annoying smile of his, that ear to ear grin that made his eyes transmute into thin curve lines. That smile, the one that made me knew trouble. “What’s with the Kuya? You’re at it again kiddo.”

We both laugh until silence came.

“Hmm so… what’s with the sudden talk?” He asked, looking straightly nowhere.

The organ inside my chest started pounding erratically. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to say this. I was never wrong when I told myself that all the courage that I have inhaled will suffocate me. My hands are trembling and my stomach’s churning—here comes the butterflies.

Instead of saying anything, I uncased my ukulele. This is the good thing about music. It can speak when your throat can’t—when your heart can’t.

Oh I teach myself,” I started to delicately strum the four transparent-colored strings while letting the words out.

“…Not to get hurt. When you’re looking while she’s singing as if you’re doing some star gazing.” I continued singing.

“…Oh I teach myself, to lessen the heartbeats. When you’re smiling while she’s talking don’t you know it’s kinda…” I stopped for a moment.

“…damaging.” I finished it out, praying that he will at least have a hint of what are we doing here.

“Wow. New composition?” He asked. And based on my surveillance, he didn’t get it.

“Yeah, for someone.” Straightforward and fast. I answered him that way. I didn’t let any doubts devour me at the moment. There’s no turning back.

“Woah. Let’s slow down to that. Are you sick, Star? You’re actually admitting that you wrote this song for someone.” I can sense the surprise aura sinking to him. I received quizzical look as he scrutinized me. I know that he’ll fish out. “So who’s the luckless guy?” He added.

You.

I was about to vomit another shot of straightforward and fast principle of my life but I gave nothing; it’s just me, him, the moon, my heart and its silence.

“Dino, I will tell you the whole story. Tonight, you’ll have all the because of those why’s running in your head since I asked for this talk. But can I request for a little favor?” I put up all the hint of seriousness on that statement. “Let me end this story that has been on hiatus for too long. Do not speak. Just let me finish this.” I just want to end this great dilemma. “Just let me.” If after this, I’ll have to withstand the brokenness of not having the same intensity of what I gave, then let me, ‘cause I know, it’s all worth it—he’s worth it.

He gave me a nod and a smile—that smile, the start of the labyrinth of trouble that I’m still finding my way out.

“I don’t know where to start.” I uttered. I chose to start by being true. And tonight, I’ll be uttering the truest and surest words that I have long hid within me.

“This too shall pass.” I said, while tapping my chest. “I’ve been playing fool to myself since.” I am straightly looking at the other side of the park, trying my very best to not let my gaze fall to him. Let me save my gaze, something I didn’t get the chance to do with my heart. “For two years? Yeah, two years. I’ve been trying to tell myself that it will pass, that it wouldn’t devour me. I was so stupid to trust myself that it will go away, that it will just be a short-lived one. But apparently I was wrong ‘cause it stays—the feeling stays.” I can sense that I caught his attention. I can feel that he’s now looking at me. So I inhaled all the insane courage before facing him.

And just like that, I fell… again and so were my tears.

He’s looking at me with sense of seriousness. I can’t read the things that are running inside his mind— suddenly, I was blinded by my thoughts, by my heart beating insanely, by my feelings.

I pulled myself out from the oblivion of looking at his eyes. I saw the galaxy and I don’t want to be consumed. Sadly, it’s too late. I was already there, just traveling my way out.

“Ha ha.” I laughed, wiping the tears away. “It was not love at first sight. Don’t flatter yourself that much.” I look at him again, this time, I elbowed him. I hope that would somehow lessen the discomfort sensation lurking around.

He’s just giving me that look—that look—so indescribable.

“Hey don’t yo—“, I was about to say something when he suddenly pulled me for a hug. And just by that, I felt like I’ve got the chance to ride a rocket ship to get a glimpse of the stars, the milky way, the planets—the galaxy. To witness how beautiful they are together, in one picture, in one depiction.

“Why? Why didn’t you tell this to me before?” He stated while still hugging me. “Why me? Why me Star?” I can feel his hug getting tighter and tighter.

Right at this very moment, I’m praying my heart out. Can we stay like this? Can we just stay like this? If this is the jail of oblivion, then I don’t want to be freed. But I have to pull myself out from his embrace ‘cause we both know that this hug isn’t meant for me. So I did. It’s time to let go of my daydreams.

And now I curse you for being so sweet and so kind.” I still tried to sing it. I still tried to wipe my tears away. I still tried to talk to myself that this will pass, that it will never stay. I still tried.

“I hate you Dino. I want to hate you. I want to hate you for being so good to me. I want to hate you for always being so gentle. I want to hate you for having that voice; for always walking me home; for always being there. I want to hate your smiles; the way you sing; the way you encourage me; the way you look at my eyes. I want to hate you for being so good; for letting me see that delicate universe inside your head. I want to hate you for always asking me to sing you to sleep; for always allowing me to hear your new compositions. I want to hate you for our late night walks, your poems, your humorous snide, your imperfections; your love for music. I want to hate you for making me feel this way. I want to hate you. I really do.” I have exhaled all the toxic out. I want to breathe. And I feel like, the notion of me peacefully breathing means that I’m finally out from what’s keeping me annihilated—and it’s him, it’s always him. “I want to hate you for smiling when she was talking. I want to hate the way you look when she was singing. I want to hate you for always bragging about how good she is. I want to hate you for inviting me to the universe inside your head. And I want to hate you more for welcoming her to the entrancing home you have created inside you heart.” And the tears started falling, bit by bit, until I can feel the need to wipe it all out. I don’t want him to see the huge amount of tears that I could shed by being fond of him. But who I was kidding? I’m broken and he can perceive the wall I have built, slowly shattering—piece by piece—until it can no longer protect me from shattering too.

“I want to hate you, to despise you, to tell myself that years from now, this scenario would disgust me. But after years of putting prank to myself, I finally understood that my wants would not surmount what are meant to be. The universe conspired for the collision of stars. And in my story, I’m praying that we will collide but sadly, I was never the other star. I understand. You just want to be seen by her the same way I want to be seen by you. You just want to be heard, the very same way I’m hearing you. I can’t hate you ‘cause apparently, I love you… and that ruled over.”

With that, I stood up. He’s intently looking at me while I’m putting my ukulele inside its case. When I’m all set to go, I stood straightly in front of him—with the ukulele in my grasp, my wobbly knees, the moon above, the nightly skies, the indescribable atmosphere and my heart that I have worn on my sleeve.

“I hope nothing will change.” I widely smile. I hope the falsity wasn’t that obvious. “Stage 4. I was finally done.” I fake-happily told him knowing that he wouldn’t understand.

“Go. Digest everything. Let’s just meet outside the campus when you still want to walk home with me.” I added with a smile. This time it was genuine. Trust me, it was. I gave him enough space not to open his heart to the idea of me but to simply let go—the way I did tonight.

***

Dino

She left me there, still in awe. And as the words that came from her mouth blazes back to me, waves of regret started drowning me.

“I was on stage 3 when I apprehended that everything’s going to be better when we don’t reach the stage 4.”

I telepathically whispered to her retreating back. And maybe, my story—our story—will never reach the 5th stage.

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