Danica didn’t go to school with her. She said she was not feeling well, her head was having a seizure and had to take a rest. But, was it just really the reason why?
Tricia wasn’t surprised anymore when she found her surrounding very gloomy. Most of the students weren’t really in the mood to listen to the discussion, and neither her. She couldn’t bring herself to focus on what their instructor was talking in front. She just thought about Charles why he wasn’t still around and about Danica not being fine—the whole time. Also thinking that her best friend might have something she was keeping from her. She noticed there was something wrong with her after the accident happened. It was just she had no timing to ask about it. She still had a lot of things to think of and prioritize instead of that.
Tricia didn’t even eat lunch during their lunch break despite her friends forcing her to. Even when she was going home she was not still in her sanity. She noticed someone’s staring at her at that moment but she had no strength to look back because she didn’t care.
When she got home, she saw Danica was sleeping soundlessly on her bed. She was hot when Tricia cupped her cheek and forehead. Her half-closed eyes were swelling, obvious that she had been crying when Tricia was still in school. She couldn’t think of any reason why she cried except of her being sick or might because of that dead Kyle Hernandez Agonzaga.
She’d noticed it right after the accident happened or after they knew who were involved. Tricia knew her best friend very well. She knew when her best friend was keeping something from her.
When her best friend woke up that afternoon, she was surprised when Danica suddenly hugged her showing how glad she was that she came back home safe. When Tricia had been asked how school was, she supposed to open the topic about Kyle Agonzaga but Danica suddenly shifted the topic. And that was the moment when she realized Danica was avoiding the topic.
Danica just suggested them to watch something on their laptop. And at that time, She knew that Danica did absent not just because she suffered from head ache, but also because of Kyle Agonzaga’s death.
When they were preparing to sleep, Danica went outside to buy foods. Tricia wanted to accompany her but she refused. She didn’t want to bother her when she was studying.
A moment after, the door opened, she entered with a lot of curls on her hands. Her bad eating habit. Danica was just only that if when she was about to spill something. Tricia was even thankful that she didn’t bring alcohol tonight.
Tricia acted like she was reading and did not notice her presence, not until she heard her spoke.
“Best, let’s talk a-about Kyle, can we?”
Tricia brought the review down and faced her best friend. She pretended to frown her brows and later nodded at her. She properly sat as Danica went to her bed that across hers.
‘This is it, she’ll finally tell me the thing that has been bothering in my mind the whole time,’ she talked to herself.
“But first, you must confess something to me,” Danica challenged her.
“What will I confess?” Tricia asked with her questioning eyebrows.
“You know him, too, right? You just didn’t want to admit it. I saw your reaction, Tring. Seriously? You were so affected when you heard he really died. Yesterday in the auditorium—”
Tricia cut her off. “Stop, ‘Nic. I don’t know him. I promise. And it’s just normal to care if someone died. It’s normal to worry, it’s normal if I don’t want to hear what our principal was about to say because my chest was hurt, and it’s normal for me to pity that dead guy, okay? Just like you, you were so affected too, right?” And through that, she found a way to confront her best friend.
Danica heaved a sigh. “B-because the truth is…I knew him, Tring. I often saw him in the cafeteria along with his friends—ghad.
“I know his family, I know his voice, I know his shadow. And he was the person who I had a crush on that I couldn’t tell you.” She bit her lip. “And I’ll tell this to you right now. Do you remember when I didn’t come along with you from the cafeteria?”
Tricia could see how Danica tightened her grip on the curls.
She needed to breathe. She had to calm down.
She didn’t say anything, she filled with silence. She wanted to say something but she couldn’t find the words in her mind. She couldn’t fetch something. She didn’t expect Danica to say that.
“Well, how may times did I lie and ditch you just to go to the music room to listen to his voice?”
“When did you start liking him?” Tricia breathed hard. She saw the pain in the eyes of her best friend. Okay, she knew what was the ending of this.
“It was the first day of school. We happened to enter the campus along with them. You d-didn’t notice him because your eyes were just focus on the way—”
“Why didn’t you tell this to me before?” Tricia cut her off again.
Danica tried to prevent the tears to stream down, but they betrayed her. Tricia wanted to avert her gaze, but she managed to fight the gaze back.
Danica punched her chest. “You know me. When I am in love with someone, it was hard for me to open up, right? I was just trying to find the right timing to do so. I’m sorry, Tring. Sorry. B-but he’s gone, right? He’s d-dead.
“Are you familiar with the feeling as if something was sucking up your strength? That was I felt when I saw the accident. And when I heard someone shouted his name, I thought it was still s-someone else’s. But fuck! That was where I confirmed it was him when I saw his name on social media. I felt like someone just bathed me a cold water.”
Danica breathed hard. “I felt like being stabbed million of times. I was too stunned. I was so speechless to even know how to react. I was just trying to prevent my sobs because I don’t want you to know and worry about me, Tring. I was just even waiting you to fall asleep first before I could even let myself cry. But right now, I couldn’t help myself anymore. I couldn’t stop my tears anymore, Tring. But please tell me, it was not real, right? T-there was no accident. K-kyle was still alive, right? He isn’t dead. Please, Tring. Plea—”
Tricia quickly jumped out her bed and hugged her best friend so tight. She closed her eyes shut. She was trying to not let her tears fall.
“I understand you, Danica. I’m sorry too, okay? I’m s-sorry for being numb not to notice your tears. But it’s not right for me to tell you the accident wasn’t real just to lessen the pain inside you, ‘Nic. You need to accept the fact that he is gone. You have to accept it because once you don’t, it’d just hurt you more. But at this moment, just cry. You can cry, ‘Nic.” Tricia managed her voice not to crack. She felt her nods. She nodded many times.
Tricia bit her lips. She hated it. She hated seeing her best friend crying. She didn’t know that when she was hurting, her best friend was feeling worse more than she ever felt. She knew nothing about Danica’s feelings. She wanted to cuss and blame herself for being numb, for being care less.
She cleared her throat. “Do you remember when we talked last time in the cafeteria? Also the day when the accident happened?”
She heard no response but just cry. She breathed hard while hugging her best friend tightly.
“We talked about ghost hunting, right? Then we happened to talk about death. I just want to tell you that death indeed happen in the least you expect, ‘Nic. Did that guy know that he’ll die at that moment? No. It didn’t cross his mind because what happened was sudden and unexpected.” She caressed her back. “Because the death comes on the day you didn’t expect. It will come without letting you know. The one that always comes out as a surprise. Even that guy, I know he has no idea he will die that day. That’s why we need to be careful. That’s already a lesson for us, okay?”
Tricia pulled herself from her to look at on her face. Danica was still crying, so she hugged her back.
“Let’s prioritize our safety compared to that temporary happiness. We can still be happy in simple things. You can make yourself happy just watching your favorite movie. Just not those things that are dangerous.”
She felt her best friend nodded. Her cries were subsided, and was only sniffing.
Tricia caressed her back again. “In life, it’s normal for us to fall for someone even if we just knew them in a short period of time. Just like what you’ve felt for that guy. It’s been one month since your feelings have been grown. That’s why you should learn how to control your heart, because once that person’s gone—it’s gonna be painful. It’s going to ruin you.” Tricia breathed hard. “Too painful that you will never know why. So, you must learn how to protect yourself from your heart. It’s just normal for you to get hurt because he’s been part of your life. But if you’re going to protect yourself early as now, it will never go deep. It will be healed. And I think, you can do that, Danica.”
“How d-do you know?”
Tricia chuckled even she didn’t want to. “Because you were able to kept it from me for the whole time, and because you’re getting okay. Do you hear me? You’re getting okay, and you’ll be okay. You know what, ‘Nic? Wherever is Kyle right now, I know he’s fine, and if not, then I am sure he’ll gonna be fine. There are actually things that we cannot accept at first, but eventually, we will find ourselves that we are fine with them.”
They pulled themselves from each other. Tricia cupped her face. “You just need time. Maybe they say, moving on is a long process. Sure, that’s why they say that time can heal. You just really need to accept it with all your heart just to move on.” She smiled.
“That’s why tonight, you can cry. Cry all you want, ‘Nic. And tomorrow, the pain in your chest will not be that heavy anymore. That’s why right at this moment, you can cry, vent out what you all have inside. You are hurt? Sure, just cry. But just remember, that I am here. I will listen to you.” And with that, Tricia just heard her crying again.
She just bit her lips. She was trying not to cry, too. She needed not to cry in front of her best friend. She didn’t want herself to be weak in times that her best friend was. She didn’t even know what things she was telling her. She really had no idea what she must say and what she must not.
“B-best, do you know what I like about Kyle?” She heard her cracking voice.
Tricia cleared her throat. “Sure, what?”
“His personality, but maybe it was most likely his laugh.”
“Oh, just because of his laugh?” she asked with a confusion on her face looking at her best friend’s head.
She felt her nodded. “His laugh was different, Tring. His laugh was as if telling me that it is so fun to be alive. Maybe if I had introduced him to you much sooner, you’d surely get to know him, Tring. And you’d judge it yourself. Maybe you’d get the chance to hear his voice and laugh, too. And, for sure you would know how much he meant to me.”
“What’s with his laugh, really?” Tricia asked in a tone as if she was talking to a kid. “Maybe I’d already saw him, it’s just that I didn’t know he was the one whose my best friend crush.” Tricia managed to chuckle, doing her best to lighten up the mood.
“Hoping so, you seemed like you do not care with your surroundings.” Danica sobbed, pulling herself away.
Tricia beamed a smile when she noticed that Danica was getting fine.
“But we don’t really know. Maybe I have already seen him before. But I have something to clarify you, ‘Nic. You listen, okay?”
She got no response in the second time around but it was an indication to continue. She leaned against the wall.
“There was this guy I accidentally bumped in the library before the accident happened. His hair’s brown.” Tricia closed her eyes, reminiscing the scene.
“I was actually a little nervous that moment. You know that I hate being touched by some guys, right?” She opened her eyes just to see the nod of her best friend. “Well, except with guys that I am friends with. So, going back, instead of anger, I was nervous. I had also no idea what to say when he apologized. I actually bothered with his laid-back face, his debonair smile, his fascinating eyes, and his euphonious chuckle. I looked like dumb in front of him. That was the second time I looked like an idiot in front of a guy.” Tricia smiled when Danica leaned forward.
“Seriously? Maybe it was Kyle! Fucking shit. It was Kyle! I am sure. You bumped him in the library? The day when you left me alone in the cafeteria?! That was Kyle, Tring! And the brown hair. Kyle’s hair was brown!” Danica held on her shoulders.
Tricia just smiled and shook her head many times. “No, I am sure, too.”
“No! I can even ask you a bet it was him! When you went in the library, I just finished my meal and followed you there. But I didn’t see you, maybe you were already in the classroom by the time I arrived. But instead, I saw Kyle. H-he was reading. And because of him, I stayed there for a while. I…I lost the track of time, and I was already thirty minutes late for my afternoon class. That is why he was the reason why I didn’t get the quiz and I was frustrated.”
Tricia furrowed his brows and shook her head again.
“It was impossible. I am sure it wasn’t him. I’ve met the guy again when I went out from the auditorium. I just didn’t see him again today.” Tricia explained.
“H-how was it possible? You were as if describing Kyle.” Danica helplessly let go of her hand and leaned against the wall.
“That’s my point. You were thinking he was the only guy who acts like that, to the point that you got blinded by the fact that there are actually a lot of guys who are like him. You just didn’t notice because your attention was just for him.” Tricia raised her one eyebrow.
“Like you, Tring. You didn’t get to notice Kyle because your eyes were only made for someone to look at. And that’s no other than Charles L. Mores. Am I right, best friend?”
Tricia just shook her head, unable to reply immediately. “Don’t turn the table over me, ‘Nic.”
Danica smiled. “Is he really your first crush, Tring? As I can remember, there was a kid then and was happened to be a guy already. He was you friend before. It was I think, Charles’ cousin?”
Tricia smiled not because of what Danica told her, but because she wasn’t crying anymore.
“Yeah, but I can no longer remember his face, ‘Nic. Every time I think of his face, it was blurry, and it might be because it’s been a very long time. That was elementary days. We were just around seven or eight.” She sighed.
“Even his name? I didn’t see the kid before, since our house isn’t that near as yours to Charles’.”
“Yes, even his name. We were friends for almost one week, though. They went back to their hometown right after the fiesta ended.”
“Were you as close as we were before?”
Tricia laughed. “Definitely not.”
“I know, Tring.” Danica smiled. “But do you think if ever they stayed in our town much longer, will you be still friends till now? Or either just still communicating online? Do you think if ever our paths crossed as well, will we be friends?”
Tricia caressed her hair. “I don’t know if we will still be friends. What I am sure is, if ever you’d met him before, you two will be best friends.”
“Don’t you remember his voice?”
Tricia laughed again. “I couldn’t even remember his face, how come the voice?”
“But don’t you have anything that can help you recall his physical attributes? It is possible that you have already met him somewhere in Manila, but you just didn’t recognize his face.”
She thought of something, and eventually smiled as one memory came into her mind. “But I remembered something. Do you know where we first met? In the city gym. We were inside and waiting for the show to start since it was fiesta. We were sitting at the upper row of the benches and I was on the bench beside the barrier. What happened was that, as I was kept banging the energy drink on the rail, it slipped out of my hand and it fell.”
Danica just nodded, so she continued.
“And guess what? When I looked down the hall, I saw how the bottle smacked on the head of the person who was walking from the main door. When he looked up to find the culprit who was no other than me, I quickly ducked out from the view and acted like nothing happened.”
Danica laughed that made her smile. “What happened next, then?”
“But you know what, he climbed up with my energy drink in his hand. I didn’t know what I felt that time. Maybe I was nervous? Yeah, I was at fault. But the last thing that I remembered was he handed me my bottle. I couldn’t remember anymore if I said sorry or thank you. The memory felt really fuzzy. And as what I have told you, his face is really blurry every time I try to think of his face.”
“Seriously? So, that was the start of your friendship, Tring?”
Tricia shook her head. “Nope, Aunt Merriam, Charles’ mom, was the one who introduced him to me. And I think that was the time where I was so shy when he told me that he was the one who I just messed up with. And the only thing that I remembered was that we started to hang out, you know, playing. There was one time I stumbled down the ground and he told me that I shouldn’t cry. And the thing that I remembered the last day being with him was when he told me that I should take care of Charles, because he wasn’t sure if he can go back. And really…he did not.”
“Oh, God. Seriously, Tring? So, was he the real reason why you have feelings for Charles since then?”
Tricia shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe I just followed what he wanted me to do, and then…I just completely fell in love with C-charles.”
“But you avoided Charles for fucking one year when we were in elementary, Tring! He told you that he likes you!”
Tricia shook her head. “That was then when I didn’t have any idea about that ‘like’ thingy. And we were really kids that time, ‘Nic. It was so obvious that Charles didn’t know what he was saying.”
Danica nodded. “You have a point there, Tring. But let’s go back to his cousin. How did you remember what he had told you before? You told me you couldn’t remember his face.”
“How? I don’t know. It was all inside my head. I can’t remember his face nor his voice, but the memories were still here.” She motioned her finger pointing her temple.
Tricia got a little bit startled when Danica held her hand and put it on her chest. “And there, Tring. Maybe because he wasn’t just the kid who was been your friend from the past, but he was part of you. The memories will still live inside your heart because he has a space there. Right, Tring?”
She smiled. “Maybe it was innate to us that we, humans, just most likely to remember ‘what’ have been taught to us than to remember those ‘who’ taught us.”
Danica hugged Tricia tightly. “You’re right there, Tring. Hmm, can we visit Kyle’s family?”
Tricia halted for a moment. She was thinking if it was a good idea to visit. She was just thinking about Danica. But, however, part of her telling that they should go. There was nothing wrong whether or not her best friend would cry. She knew it was normal. And it was also an opportunity for her to see Kyle Agonzaga even just on the picture.
“Sure. But I am just worried about you.” She held her hand tightly. “Will you just be fine?”
Danica smiled. “I will be. Thank you for tonight, Tring.”
They hugged each other. It gives them comfort.
“I’m always here for you, ‘Nic.”
Danica plastered a smile on her lips. A smile that she used whenever she thought of something really funny.
“The curls. Help me to finish them, please?”