Friday, October 26, 2012

The Better Man

"This is the second time you've failed this year! Why don't you take after your brother huh? Look where he is now, don't you want to be like him too?"

I couldn't stand it anymore.

"Young man, where do you think you're going? Don't you dare turn your back on me!"

I have to get out.

"Robert! Robert! Get back here! When your father hears about this..."

I'm suffocating...



My room had the fortunate circumstance of having a balcony with a folding fire escape ladder that leads to the rooftop of our house. When peaceful dinners turn into heated fits (which they often do), there's no better escape. Up here, I feel untouchable, unreachable; detached.  Up here, I can see our entire neighborhood, and pretend that I'm not myself. I have this hobby that I play, if I'm not deep in introspection, where I imagine myself living out the moments of some random neighbor. I would look at their house, spot someone talking to someone about some mundane thing I'd rather not know, and pretend I was there, in their stead. I would try to imagine what was in their minds at that moment, what they were thinking of, how they felt. It would distract me from my own woes and worries, pass the time, cool my head.

Or sometimes, I just take out my phone and see if anyone messaged.

Of course, no one did.

Even if I already texted her like five hundred times.

Sometimes I like to think if I was better off without her.

She just adds to my worries sometimes.

Troubles come knocking no matter how much you try to avoid them. Be really good at something and people would begin to pester you and pick on you every damn time you fall below their expectations; like you're some sort of  broken property that needs to be fixed. Be really bad at something however and people would pester you and pick on you much the same way, egging you on with what they think is reinforcement and encouragement but are in reality no more than stinging words, eating away at whatever confidence you might have had left. And heaven knows what they'd do if you remained mediocre. You just can't ever please these people with a life you'd think was your own.

So really, why bother?

"Hey, I thought I might find you here!"

"Oh, hey dude, whats up?"

"Nothing much. Heard your mom going berserk again. Failed another subject or something"

"Yeah... But I tried really hard though. I just don't know why she couldn't see that! She berates me as if I didn't do my part, like I did not study at all, but I did!"

"There there... I know you did, chill..."

John is my next-door neighbor and a childhood friend of mine. We've known each other ever since we were very young, and he had been the unfortunate recipient of my worst rants and ramblings. I don't think he minds though, as he always wears that impeccable, almost inviolable smile. We used to go to the same school, but his father enrolled him into an exclusive school for boys sometime during our elementary years. I think that was the only time I ever saw him without that almost signature smile of his, but he seemed to cope rather well. If anything, that was also the time when he discovered my habit of hanging out on the rooftop of our house, so we hung out together most of the time after that. I guess that somehow helped him cope up, but I didn't really mind. He was always very patient and very supportive -- you really couldn't ask for a better friend -- and it was the least I could have done.

I checked my phone again. Of course, there was nothing. I'd been hoping for naught, but the worst part is the fact that I even hoped in the first place.

"She's not replying again isn't she?"

"Yeap... I don't even remember anymore why I fell for her in the first place..."

He laughed.

"What?"

"Nothing. Remember when you made me read that mushy love letter of yours? Dear Abigail. Has there ever been any flower quite as delicate and beautiful as you..."

I hit him in the shoulder. He let out a playful protest, but continued teasing me anyway.

He can be a jerk sometimes, but at least it got my mind off of my problems temporarily.

I've been dating Abigail for more than five years now. It's surprising, in this day and age, how well our relationship has lasted, but it had its own ups and downs. She was the brightest in our class, and had always been the crème de la crème. So imagine my surprise when she accepted the love letter I had reverently wrote for her. I've been the envy of everyone ever since then, but I couldn't care less. I loved her and gave her everything I had. Whenever she needed me, I was always there, ready to answer to her every need. I felt I couldn't be any more lucky to have someone like her; she had become the center of my naive little universe.

A universe that had so slowly and methodically collapsed that I did not notice until it was too late.

After our fourth year anniversary, or maybe even before that and I just did not bother to mind, she began to change. It started when she demanded we see each other a little less often; she said she wanted to pursue her own a life, a life defined by her and not by the relationship we shared. Soon, we didn't see each other at all, and her text messages have begun to become more and more laconic and forced. Sooner still, she did not even reply anymore. Every once in a while, she would text me to make a request or to ask for a favor, which, of course, I foolishly obliged. She would be very nice to me during the duration of the request and would act as if she had missed me, the veracity of which my naive self did not even bother to think about. I was happy and she was too, and that was it. Problem was, after all has been said and done, she's back to her old self again, and the cycle begins anew.

Ugh.

Such is my life, a big cluster-fuck of unmet and misplaced expectations, coupled with indignation and apathy, fueled by random praise that seemed to hook me in just enough so I don't go wandering off elsewhere. It's unfair and it's all messed up, but it was my life, and I had no other choice but to live through all of it.

At the end of the day, I can't do anything but just be the better man. Even if doing so meant sacrificing myself for everyone else. Unfair, yes, but what else can I do.

"Hey, Robert..."

"Yeap?"

"Tomorrow..."

"Hmm?"

"Ahh... You see, this might be the last day you'd be seeing me..."

"Huh? What gives?"

See? Now my best friend is going to leave me as well. How much more unfair can life get?

"See, my dad... He enrolled me in military school. I did not want to, but he said I did not really have a choice in the matter. He says I needed some toughening up or something."

"Oh... 's that so?"

"I... Ahh... loved reading that letter you wrote for Abigail. You know, it's really good. And, well, I think you're a really awesome person, no matter what your mom or Abigail says. So please stop thinking the world has been unfair to you... Because if it had truly been fair..."

"Huh? Dude, what are you saying?"

"If it had truly been fair..."

His eyes were wide and deep as they drew closer and closer to mine. As if by reflex, the world began to grow dark, and a moment later, a moment that felt like forever, an unknown and unfamiliar sensation filled my then torn and beaten heart.

Was it confusion? Was it disdain?

But then why can't I find the strength to withdraw?

And yet why does it all feel so unfair? So much more unfair than how I felt all this time?

"I'm sorry it had to end even before it could even begin... Please stop thinking the world is unfair to you..."

"John... I..."

"Because if only you knew..."

"John..."

"Well, I guess now you do... Farewell Robert..."

4 comments:

  1. ..........I'm just going to throw lots of caps lock words at you via chat

    Through this comment...I'll just say T__T

    ReplyDelete










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dearest I love you


true



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