As I close my eyes, memories flash back in my mind. Memories of a painful past I couldn’t escape years after. A past I want to forget to be free. But I know that to forget isn’t going to make me feel better, for time will come that these same things will haunt me. Acceptance is my only passport to inner peace. As I write this, I believe I am trekking the road to recovery.
Everything happened ten years ago. I had a huge crush on a guy named Marcus. He was just a transferee from an exclusive boys’ school. He had a perfectly chiselled face to match his well-sculpted body. But what really sets him apart from all other good-looking guys was the fact that he actually had a brain. He wasn’t all brawn, he can actually think! As a plus, he’s also very kind. Now who wouldn’t like someone as nice as him?
Although I liked him so much that it hurts, I know for a fact that he will never be mine. He’s Mr. Perfect, and who am I? Ms. Wallflower. Not pretty enough. Whenever I think of him, I end up crying. My best friend, Redmond, would always comfort me. If it weren’t for him, I would never have stopped weeping.
I never dared to imagine Marcus talking to me, but one day, he just did! He approached me as I was throwing stuff into my locker. He introduced himself to me, and just as I was about to do the same, he told me he knew my name. God, he knows my name! He even asked for my number, which, of course, I gladly gave him. He said he would call me up that night. After our short chat, I ran all the way to the library, where Redmond was. I just had to let it all out. I told him about the entire incident, and he was very happy for me.
That night, Marcus did call. We talked of each other’s interests, etc. I was a bit shocked to find out that we had a lot of things in common. He likes the same kind of music, the same types of food. Practically everything.
Since that first call, Marcus and I grew very close. We would hang out with each other in school. I savoured every minute that I was with him. Everything was sailing smoothly. All things were going my way. Or so I thought.
My best friend Redmond got mad at me for not spending enough time with him. He said I was always with Marcus. I apologized and tried to make it up to him by spending the night at his house. We munched on pizza while watching re-runs on the boob tube. We were having the time of our lives but our fun was cut short. Redmond dropped the half-eaten slice of pizza in his hand and he collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital.
And that was when I found out that my best friend has cancer, and he has no chance to survive. Cancer. I didn’t know how to react to what I just found out. I was so hurt that I was enraged. I felt so weak. But I knew I had to be strong for my best friend. I picked up my shattered self and went to him. I asked him why he didn’t tell me he was sick. He said he didn’t want me to worry. I cried damn hard. I knew that anytime soon, I might lose him. I will lose him.
I went to school the next day where I saw Marcus. He greeted me cheerfully but I just nodded. He tried to talk to me, but when he saw the tears welling up in my eyes, he just embraced me. He acted as though he knew. Then I started to speak. I said it was Redmond. He said he knows. I asked how, and he reluctantly answered my best friend told him. Damn. I was the last to know Redmond was sick. As if that wasn’t enough, Marcus admitted to me that it was my best friend’s idea to bring us closer to each other. Redmond asked him to befriend me as a favor. All was faked.
I turned my back to Marcus and walked away. When he tried to explain, I started running. I ran until I reached the football field, where I just lied down flat on my back, crying till my eyes were dry. First, my best friend was dying. Now, the guy I liked pretended to just like me back. I felt so cheated. My best friend lied to me. And so did Marcus.
I talked to my mom about it. She understood. She said I had the right to feel this way. But she also told me that maybe Redmond just wanted to make me happy before he passes away. I should hold no grudges against him. He’s noble and I should be proud of him.
Mom was right. So the next day, I went to visit Redmond at the hospital. He was about to go home when I got there. I told him I know already of the conspiracy between him and Marcus. He uttered an apology and I told him it was okay. I thanked him for it. On the way home, we told each other of the things we’ve missed. I told him about school, about our nearing graduation, etc. Redmond says he will attend the Graduation and the Grad Ball. We have agreed to go together.
Redmond and I decided not to waste time. We hung out twice as much. Sleepovers came more often. We had a lot of meaningful conversations. He told me he loved me. I answered thank you. But at that time, I loved him already. I just didn’t want to admit it, because I know he’ll die soon. He just smiled at me, and I smiled back.
The night before the Graduation, Marcus called me up. I received his call minus the warmth. He asked if he could still explain, and I just let him. He told me everything, from the day Redmond asked him to try to get close to me until now. And he told me he had fallen in love with me. I was taken aback. I was speechless. He asked me if I felt the same, but I told him I loved Redmond. That ended our conversation.
On our Graduation, I was awarded Magna Cum Laude. Redmond clapped his hands vigorously as I got up and took my medal. I reciprocated his cheers for me when he was the one called up to receive his diploma.
That night was the most unforgettable in my entire life. It was the Graduation Ball. I wore a red strapless gown because I knew it was his favorite color. He looked gorgeous that night in his tux. We exchanged compliments, and then he took my hand and led me to the dance floor. He held on me tightly as we danced to slow music. The night was perfect.
He whispered a soft “I Love You” to me. I said I loved him as much. And with that, we kissed. It lasted for a few minutes then we came back to our senses.
The slow dancing went on. We were almost oblivious to the people around us. We both wished to freeze time and just stay in that moment forever. But of course, that’s impossible.
The rhythm of the song “Heaven” filled the air. He said he loved me more than anyone or anything. I said I felt the same. Just as he was about to kiss me again, he fell on the ground. I knelt down beside him, crying really hard. I uttered, “Don’t leave me… I love you so much,” to which he replied, “I love you, too. I don’t want to leave, but I have to. Just remember that I loved you from the moment I saw you, and nothing’s going to change that, not even death.”
Those were his last words. He died in the cradle of my embrace. I stayed by his lifeless body as he was brought to the morgue. I was there at his wake. I was there when he was cremated. His ashes are with me until now, sealed in an urn with his picture on it.
At last I was able to narrate our tragic love story. I feel lighter now.
By the way, in case you wanted to know, I have married Marcus a couple of years ago, eight years after my best friend’s death, and now we have an eight-month old son named Redmond.