Khristian Ross Pimentel

Loneliness was killing me. It had been a year and a half since Ed and I broke up. I caught him cheating on me, but I told him it’s okay like cheating is something you scrub out of your body, and things will be fine. I forgave him. He said that it’s not that, and he didn’t deserve my affection. He left. Fuck Ed. We were together since my first year in the university, attended all the UP Fairs screaming our hearts out. But he replaced me with a woman he just met in a year, and they were now living together. 

I couldn’t blame him. I was busy taking care of Mom who eventually died because of this pandemic. I was trying to mourn, and I expected that Ed would be by my side, but he wasn’t there. Not even his shadow. I didn’t know I was a burden, or he just didn’t control his fucking penis whenever I told him I was not in the mood. Who would be? When Mom died, I had to fix the paper works, the service, and everything—all because I am the eldest. I had to monitor Nicole and Mac. They were just in high school, and it’s just the three of us. 

And the worse part, I was supposed to defend my thesis on the day I beg for Ed to stay. Instead of attending the Zoom meeting with my panel, I camped in front of Ed’s house and held a pity party. “Marga, it’s over,” he said it with finality as if there’s nothing I could do to change his mind. I stared at Tita Clara, Ed’s mom, and when she noticed that I caught her, she closed the curtain, but before I lost sight of her, I saw it in her face that they wanted me to be finally out of their life. 

I was there when they grieved for Tito Rafael, Ed’s father, when he passed away before the pandemic. It was I who made Ed get back to his senses and finish his own thesis. He was three years older than I. It was I who encouraged him to get a job before the pandemic. If not for me, their family would be in quandary. Fate made it even more dramatic as rain poured over me. I could no longer distinguish the taste of rainwater from the tears I could no longer control. That’s the time I understood that I had to keep the remaining decency I had. I left.

I deactivated my social media accounts. I didn’t want to see my batchmates flaunting their victories on newsfeeds while here I was a failure in all levels. I could not muster the courage to clean up my messy life. It was difficult to pretend to my younger siblings that I am okay, that would crash me even more.

I didn’t want to take drugs, drink alcohol, or whatever, but I sure need something to escape. I reinstalled my Tinder account, something I made when Ed introduced the app to me. He said it was only to kill time. I never liked it since the beginning, so I uninstalled it. I told Ed to do the same. But I’m sure Ed did not, or else he would not have met Mika, who’s just 300 meters away from Ed’s condo. A slut!

I swiped many times to the left. I only swiped few to the right. And probably I was ready for this. It’s a ticket to forget all my miseries. It’s the remedy to all my sadness. Besides, it’s safer now. The cases were dropping. Good for them. Mom was dead. I wish she’s here to push me to finish my thesis when no one else can. I wish Mom is here, so I could cry to her all the tears I held in front of my siblings. I wish she’s here, so I didn’t have to rely on this foolish app doing the most foolish act I could commit. 

Too bad, Mom was not here. I carried my bag with a condom inside just in case Mario—if that’s his real name—negligently would forget. Who believes that a meet up will end up in guiltless conversations or mere cuddle? Everyone knows it leads to casual sex and nothing else. 

I had walked two streets away from house before I saw a red Fortuner waiting for me. I thought Mario was five years older compared to what he claimed he was. It didn’t matter anyway, he’s my type. Muscular, good-looking. His manliness was shouting in his facial hair. We reached his condo after he drove his car while we just had a very dry conversation. He didn’t seem to be interested in what I do in life just the same way I was not interested in his. Apparently, our intentions for the meet up were mutual. I don’t think I could tell what happened next in detail. In fact, I wanted to forget everything. 

What I can tell was that my mission to be happy has failed, and it compounded all my failures. It just underscored how my life was indeed fucked up. When I ate in a fastfood restaurantbecause I was too hungry after what happened between Mario and me, that’s the only time that I realized how pathetic the choices I made. It’s totally a one-night stand. It was not even night. I hoped that Mario and I could have a future after we shared a bed, but Mario admitted that he had a fiancé. It was late when I realized that I also did what Mica committed. I was no longer different from her now. What feels worse was I let my body touched by a man I just met. Before, it’s only Ed. But tying with Ed on this didn’t make me happier. 

Tears welled down from my face when Prof. Dela Cruz surprisingly appeared on my table. I didn’t notice she was nearby. I didn’t know that she was looking at me. She handed me her handkerchief. She gestured to embrace me, and when I felt her warmth that’s the time I wailed and released a cathartic cry. Then, she continued to hug me, and she allowed me to continue as if I was a child losing her most beloved pet. 

Suddenly, all the memories brought back. Prof. Dela Cruz was my teacher in high school. She was there when my father died. She was there when I was starting to question the world and I was wondering my real purpose in the world. She was there when no one else was. I was lucky that she also taught in college, and in our first encounter after a long time, she told me that she was proud of me. That she was always proud of me. And now that she’s in front of me, she was telling me the same thing again

“All is well,” Prof. Dela Cruz held my hands as if telling me that I should believe her. That her words are my assurance. She told me that she knew what happened to me. Thanks to Ria, my best friend, whom I shared my life many times. 

“Some chapters have to end, and we have no control on that. We have to continue on the chapters that we have control.”

She stayed for a few more minutes, and then she bid farewell when his son gestured to say that they are leaving. 

When Prof. Dela Cruz left, I felt Mom sent her. Prof. Dela Cruz said everything I wanted Mom to tell me. I wiped my tears and stood as I walked out of that place, I know I am ready to finish this chapter.