The night was cold and the sea was calm. The moon was not out but the stars were, twinkling in the sky. It was one of those nights when the two of them would just agree to camp near the beach and talk all night about the world and its beauty and irony.
It was almost midnight and they created a bonfire just a few feet away from their makeshift tent. Julie brought out a pack of marshmallows and a bunch of wooden sticks. She sat near the fire to keep herself from freezing then started to heat the them as Elmo sat next to her holding two bottles of beer. He offered the other to her and she gratefully took it. She felt his arm around her waist and she suddenly didn’t need the fire anymore to keep her warm. She gladly snuggled up to him.
"Nilalamig ka ba?" He asked, producing a blanket that came out of nowhere then wrapped it around the both of them.
She looked up to him and smiled, “Hindi na.”
He just smiled back and kissed her forehead then took a swig of his beer. “Ang dami palang stars, baby.”
"Hmm?" Then she looked up and followed his gaze. She couldn’t help but smile at the sight. She could see the stars from her position but she could also see his face, smiling as he gazed at the starry night. She sighed contentedly as she suddenly remembered a distant memory from the past.
His gaze shifted to her. “What is that sigh for?” He asked, curiosity in his voice.
"May naalala lang."
"Kasama ba ako dun?"
"Actually, hindi," she answered with a giggle. He just raised an eyebrow in response, waiting for her to speak again. "It was… It was just an ex."
"Really? Tell me about this guy who ruined our moment," he said teasingly.
That’s one of the things she liked about Elmo. He was the type of guy who would not jump into conclusions right away. He was as open minded as she was. And he understood her better than anyone ever tried to.
So she didn’t hesitate to tell him about this ex. “Uh, I’ve always wanted to go stargazing. And he promised me before that he will take me out one night. But apparently, it never happened.” She smiled sadly at him. “Masaya lang ako na nagawa ko na siya ngayon. At ikaw pa ang kasama ko,” she added then kissed his cheek.
He smiled at her, his eyes and smile were as warm as the hearth. “Bakit? Anong nangyari sa inyo?”
"Things… got complicated. And we broke up," she said in a low voice, trying to remember her past. Surprisingly, it was all in a blur like it happened a lifetime ago already. "I’ve always wondered why it didn’t work out between us…" She paused, and thought about it for a moment, "Yung feeling na the two of you against the universe. Then everything just suddenly went wrong."
"Did you figure it out why?" He asked, seemingly interested in this conversation. For other people, they would surely find this moment awkward but it was the other way around for them.
She shrugged. “Well, I realized that we’re just not really meant to be together.”
"Who did let go first?"
"Was it hard?"
She had this faraway look on her face and just smiled sadly at the memory. “Sobra.”
"Namimiss mo ba siya?"
"Hmm.." She pretended to think about it just to tease him. "There were those times that he would suddenly pop in my mind but I don’t miss him anymore."
"Do you regret it?" She stared at him when she heard that question.
"Letting him go?"
"I thought I did at first. But no, not at all."
"Really?" She could hear the surprise in his voice. "Bakit?"
She smiled softly at him as she reached for his face and held it between her hands. She then looked straight to his eyes. “Because… because if he didn’t happen, I wouldn’t know that it was you… who’s really meant for me.” She paused, groping for the right words to say. “You know… When I was with him, I thought I finally knew what love really was. But right now, with you, I’m not sure anymore.. I mean.. I mean if that was love? Then if there’s anything in this world that is greater than love that’s what it is like for us. That’s what we have right now,” she whispered while caressing his cheek with her thumb.
He didn’t say anything but his eyes spoke more than words could ever tell. And she knew that he was exactly feeling the same.
She slowly pulled his face closer to hers, their foreheads resting against each other and their eyes closed. “And honestly, what I’d felt for him before was almost neglible compared to what I’m feeling for you right now,” she confessed. She then opened her eyes and looked at him again, tearing up. “And it’s scaring me shitless.. the thought of losing you, Elmo.” Her voice cracking.
He smiled reassuringly at her as he wiped her eyes gently.
"Hindi mo naman kailangang matakot. Hinding hindi ako aalis sa tabi mo," he promised. It was just a few words but it was enough for her to hold on to for the rest of their lives.
Because she knows it was true.
Because they already vowed to, in front of the altar and their loved ones, eleven days ago.