Hanz Daniel Cortez

“Can you keep a secret?” She turned her gaze towards me. “I need to know you ca-” “Yes,” I answered immediately. “I can.”

Her stern eyes showed passion and frustration building up from the corners of her eyelids. She moves her face closer to mine. “Good,” she whispers.

That was five months ago. She came up with a strict set of rules that I must follow, and follow rigorously I did. Or at least, I tried to.

It’s her messages that I look forward to everyday, no matter how much it stings sometimes. Since I’ve known her, I only managed to uncover a few of her secrets. She absolutely despises anything that’s related to pork. She values punctuality. She loves espresso. She has a collection of black, beige, and red pairs of bras and panties that she wears on specific days of the week. She dreams of becoming a successful architect. She hates her small and petite stature. She is miserable with her boyfriend. She loves the security he provides her. I know these things, but in the end, to me, she’s still an enigma.

My phone vibrated in my pocket as I walked out of my last class for the day. My eyes beam when I saw her name on my screen.

“Check this out,” her message read, along with a Spotify link to California Dreamin’ by The Mamas and Papas. I bet she just finished watching my copy of Chungking Express. “I added it to our playlist.”

“I’m listening to it,” I replied.

I headed out onto the street and hailed a jeepney. I could walk all the way to her condo, but she didn’t need me to bring anything so I thought I’d just see her as fast as I could. It’s been days since I last heard from her. Her thesis must have taken much of her time.

I got off four blocks away from my campus and strode hurriedly to her condo. I’ve been here a few times, but for some reason I keep forgetting which floor she was on and her condo unit. I scrolled through our messages. “I have 9 sticks of cigarettes here, and 14 lighters,” a message she sent five months ago.

I rode the elevator to the 9th floor and made my way to her unit. After knocking a beat that is uniquely ours, she opens the door.

She grabs me by the collar and kisses me as hard as she could. I barely put my bag on the floor and closed the door when my hands found their way to her hips. We move to her bed where she lays down,

pulling me with her. I kiss her neck and her collarbones as I move her robe out of the way. She’s wearing her beige bra and panties. Today’s Friday. I unfastened the clip of her bra when she pulled my face to hers. Her lips are soft and tender, her tongue furiously playing with mine. I caress her cheeks as she unbuttons my polo and throws it off to the side. My lips made their way to her chest, then down her stomach. I have long since memorized the patterns on her thighs with my fingers. She pulled my head towards hers. I opened my eyes. Her deep, hazel irises peered into my soul. Her cheeks were rosy pink. A strand of her auburn hair found itself on the corner of her lips.

“I missed you,” I whisper to her. “I know,” she whispers back.

The sun had just started to set when we began our dance. Trial and error brought about the maximum amount of pleasure we experienced during that time frame. Our flesh steamed as sweat stained her white bedsheets. Pillows fell off the bed as it rocked with motion that it had not seen for the past few days. My arms grabbed onto every moment I had with her, and my lips muttered wishes of eternity within these short windows of bliss. Passion dug its nails into my back, but I didn’t care. My body felt no pain, only a piece of carnal pleasure that I could never experience in its fullest. I wondered how amazing it must be to experience the more wholesome, soft moments with her. In moments like these, she is mine. In other moments, she belongs to someone else. But in every moment of my waking hours, I belong to her.

We laid side by side as our little dance ended, heaving with tremendous effort. Our eyes turned to each other as we smiled. “I missed you,” I whispered once more.

She sits against the head of the bed as she lights a cigarette with one of her fourteen lighters. She offers me a stick, but I decline. I sat up with her, staring at the white walls of her room. Silence began to creep up throughout the room, only halted to a certain level by the huffs and puffs from her cigarette. My eyes darted around her room. Her messy table was illuminated by her desk lamp. Clothes are all over the place – hung on the backrest of her chair, scattered across the carpet. A lone dirty plate sat on the floor.

“How’s your week?” she asks, breaking the silence. “Not the best. You?”

“Quite busy too. I found some time for Chungking Express, though. Great movie.” “Told you so.”

I fumbled for words to say to her. My thoughts were as clear as day, and I knew what I wanted to tell her. “Hey,” I began. “We’ve been like this for months now. Don’t you think that it’s time we…” I hesitate. I look at her, hoping that she can discern what I wanted to say. She doesn’t look at me. Her silence tells me that she already knows what I’m thinking.

“Do you remember our rules?” She asked. “What?” I asked back, startled.

“Our rules.” “I… Yeah.”

“What are they?”

I thought back for a while, remembering the foundation she laid for our relationship. “Rule 1: A new song added by you to our playlist is you calling for me. If I cannot come immediately, I tell you I will listen to it after some time until I’m free. Any reply otherwise means I’m on my way.”

“Good. Next?”

“Rule 2: A request for a song by me is me asking if I can come over. If you’re not in the mood, I will receive no reply from you in ten minutes, or you’ll tell me to wait. A song suggestion from you means I can come over.”

“And the last rule?”

I sigh. “Rule 3: The songs in our playlist are only meant to be danced to. We cannot attach any feelings to them, or else the playlist will be finished.”

She looks at me with knowing eyes. “Do you still understand why it’s an important rule?”

I gave her a silent nod. We speak in a lot of eloquent codes, to the point that our conversations can be made entirely in codes and I will understand every word of it. It doesn’t make it sting any less.

She puts out her cigarette on the ashtray by her bed. She looks at me, like a caring stranger looking at an injured puppy on the street.

I put on my clothes and gathered my things. I have a lot of assignments this week. I hope they will keep me busy enough until the next update to our playlist.

Image of the messy bed from:
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