Elmo was standing outside Julie’s classroom, waiting for her last class to be over so they could go home together. He was thinking a lot of things lately about them and her bestfriend’s statement earlier didn’t help answer his questions. It just made him overthink more.
He and Julie had been exclusively dating for almost seven months now. They didn’t announce it to everyone, much less to each other, but it was obvious enough to the people around them that what they have was more than just friendship. They started as friends though, then they just found theirselves being drawn to each other. Even though it was already months ago, they haven’t really admitted or said anything to each other. What they couldn’t express in words, they compensated it with actions. Besides as what people say, actions speak louder than words.
But still, sometimes people need the confirmation of those words. It still makes a significant difference to say the words out loud and to hear them directly from the people you love.
He was still in deep thoughts when Julie finally walked out of the room and approached him.
"Moe, tara na?" She asked him with a smile.
Elmo snapped out of his stupor and blinked at her. “Si—sige,” he blurted out then started walking without waiting for her. He then realized what he did so he stopped, turned around and waited for her.
Julie just frowned a little then smiled again at him and walked beside him. When she was finally by his side, he draped his right arm around her shoulder as she wrapped her left arm on his waist, her other free hand reaching for his right hand to intertwine their fingers. It was a habit they had acquired over the months they spent together so they didn’t even notice how synchronized their moves were.
He then finally spoke when they were finally out of campus. “Hinahanap ka sa akin ni Maqui kanina,” he mumbled without looking at her.
"Ah, yep. Nagkita na nga kami—"
He then cut her off. “I asked her kung ba’t sa akin ka niya laging hinahanap..”
"Eh siyempre kasi lagi kitang kasama, di ba?" She said as she looked up to him, a crease on her forehead.
He was a quiet for a moment, gathering the courage to say the words out loud. “Sabi niya, kasi boyfriend mo daw ako,” he blurted out then he finally looked straight into her eyes. “Am I?”
The last two words came out weakly as he was afraid of what she might answer. He suddenly wanted to take it back, not wanting to hear what she was going to say but deep inside, he was really dying to know the answer.
She stopped walking as soon as the words came out of his mouth. Julie pulled away from his arms and just thoughtfully looked at him, thinking of what to say.
He felt like he was waiting forever for her to speak but it was only just a few seconds. He was surprised when she started to smile at him like she finally saw the sun for the first time. She reached for his hand again and squeezed it before she finally spoke. “Tara, Moe. Kain muna tayo bago mo ‘ko ihatid sa bahay.”
It was not what he was expecting from her and he didn’t know if he should feel relieved or disappointed with her avoiding his question. But he decided to let it go for now and have her way. He reluctantly nodded at her but she was already dragging him with her as she looked for a place to eat.
Elmo didn’t speak much the entire time they were eating at the restaurant, as he wondered why she dodged his question. Though Julie tried to lighten the mood and he did his best to cooperate, he was confused and hurt to laugh convincingly at her jokes. He suddenly thought Julie might not even feeling the same way about him. He realized that having an answer even if it was not what he wanted to hear was better than saying nothing at all.
It was when they were walking back home that Julie broke the silence between them. “Bakit ang tahimik mo? Are you still thinking about what Maqui said earlier?” Her voice was laced with concern and uncertainty.
She stopped walking and he noticed that they were already standing in front of her house.
He dared to look at her but he couldn’t read her expression. “Why didn’t you answer my question?”
It was not an angry question but he knew she could hear the frustration in his voice.
"Because I don’t have one yet," she whispered then she bit her lower lip. She was looking at everywhere but him.
Elmo sighed defeatedly and reached for her hands to hold them as he finally asked what he was dreading to say. “Ano ba ko sa buhay mo?”
That was when she finally looked back at him. Her eyes showed something he didn’t notice before and somehow, it gave him warmth and hope.
She squeezed his hands and stepped closer to him. “You’re special to me, Moe. And apart from my Dad, ikaw lang ang lalaking mahalaga sa buhay ko,” she said without missing a beat. “I didn’t answer your question because I really don’t know yet. All I know is that… you make me happy. I’m happy when I’m with you and when I’m not, I keep thinking of you. And I’m always looking forward to every moment that I’ll see you again.”
He didn’t know what to say so he remained silent. He just wanted a little bit of assurance from her that she was feeling the same way about him. But what Julie revealed was more than what he was asking. If it was not a declaration of love, he didn’t know what to think of it.
She then continued, “That’s the only answer I can give right now… But if you’d just be patient with me, it won’t be soon before long.”
When he still didn’t say anything, she heaved a frustrated sigh and took his face between her hands. “Magsalita ka naman,” she pleaded.
He was trying to look at her eyes but her lips distracted him as she moved closer to him. He was about to say something but he felt her breath on his lips and he couldn’t remember what he was thinking anymore. All of his doubts vanished away when he saw the determined but soft look in her eyes and heard the sincerity in her words.
He realized that maybe she was not just ready yet and she was scared. He was too but he was willing to take the risk. And he was willing to wait for her, especially now that he finally knew that they were both feeling the same way.
But the urge to kiss her couldn’t wait any longer so he held her face gently and leaned in closer. He looked straight into her eyes as he asked, “Will you let me kiss you?”
He noticed that her gaze was shifting from his lips to his eyes then back to his lips again, and it stayed there as she answered, “Yes.”
So he did. And she kissed him back.
And for him, a little bit of her was enough.. for now. Because though he would wait for her no matter how long it took, he could feel from the way she kissed him back that he didn’t have to wait longer. She’d get there soon enough.