I’d survive worse than this. For the past four years, I’d been doing fine on my own. I didn’t need him but I’d be lying if I say his absence doesn’t affect me. With him, I found a sense of self that I had lost a long time ago and all the while he was just using me. I’d been betrayed by the first man I’d ever let in. I should’ve seen it coming. How could I be that stupid? I sighed as I pushed my car door open. I pulled the compartment open and took out my grocery bags. Dumaan din ako sa grocery bago ako umuwi galing sa library.
My day was mundane as it could get. I never touched my phone because he’d been calling and texting me. I needed to get used to not having him around. Kailangan ko na ulit masanay na ako lang. I already had alot of emotional baggage to begin with and I would collapse if I had to carry more. I went inside my house, putting the grocery bags on the counter tip. I took out all the ingredients I needed to make my dinner. I was about to turn on the stove when I heard a faint sound of guitar playing outside.
“And Audrey was her name, a not so very ordinary girl or name. But who’s to blame, for a love that wouldn’t bloom. For the hearts that never played in tune. Like a lovely melody that everyone can see, take away the words that rhyme it doesn’t mean a thing” I tightly shut my eyes. I argued with myself wether to go out to see him or not. Ayaw ko sanang makita siya. It would only make everything harder. I exhaled and opened my eyes. Paalisin ko lang siya then I would walk back in and I’d never see him again. I walked to the front door opened it and saw Callum standing on the front porch with guitar strapped over him.
“And Audrey was her name, we tripped the light and dance together to the moon. But where was June… no it never came around. If it did it never made a sound. Maybe I was absent or was listening too fast, catching all the words but then the meaning going past.”
You could see the passion he had for music. It was seeping out of every pore of his body. I wanted to lean against the door frame and just listen to him sing. His voice was smooth, calm and angelic despite his speaking voice being slightly rough. If he ever did pursue his music career, I’m sure he’d be famous by now. There was certain texture in his voice that made him distinct and special from the others.
“Callum” I silently said.
He lifted his head up from his guitar and looked at me. There were dark circled under his eyes telling me that he hadn’t had a good sleep. Tinanggal niya ang strap ng guitar nita at inilapag iyon.
“Audrey, please kausapin mo naman ako.”
“Umalis ka na.” I brought my hands to his chest to try to push him. “Hindi ka ba nakakaintindi? I don’t want to see you again.”
“I’m not going to deny what you saw. I had our converstions recorded on my phone. I wrote down how you responded to me in bed. I wrote everything we ever did togethr in hopes of understanding you more. I need to understand you in order to help you. I need to know what goes on in your mind. I want to help you more than you know.” His eyes were filled with undeniable sorrow.
“I trusted you, Callum. Akala ko lahat ng pinakita mo sa akin ay totoo. I don’t need someone to study or analyze me. I’m tired of being used and lied to. I already feel less than a woman, huwag mo nang mas pababain ang tingin ko sa sarili ko.”
“I was scared of how you’d react. I want to find a way to ease the pain you’re goung through. Gusto kong malaman mo na totoo lahat ng pinakikita ko sa iyo.” He lifted the white binder I saw in his office from the ground and handed it to me. “Here are all the files. Do whatever you want with it. Throw it out. Burn it. I don’t care. You’re all I care about. I care about you beyond this and I don’t want to lose you, Audrey”
“Leave, Callum.” I let out a exhausted exhale. “Hindi mo kailangan mag-explain sa akin. What we had was just sex. It’s better if we stay away from each other”
He dropped to his knees and wrapped his aems around my waist. With face buried against my stomach, he murmured. “I can’t. I don’t know what I’ll do without you. Everything feels right with you. With you I feel like I’ve discovered my purpose and I don’t feel lost anymore.I don’t want to go back to waking up with nothing to look forward too. I’m not giving up on you.”
“Callum, stop…” I tried to pry his arms around me but he only hugged me tighter. Why does my heart feel like it was being squeezed by an invisible hand. I was finally able to push him away and took steps back. I ran inside my house and closed the door.
Napasandal ako sa pinto. He started banging on the door and begged me to open the door so we could talk.
I had already finished my dinner. I looked out the window and saw Callum, still sitting on the steps of my front porch. He said he wouldn’t leave until we talks and occasionally strumming his guitar. Mapapagod din siya at aalis.
The rain started to pour after I cleaned up and did my dishes. It was already cold outside without the rain. I had my heater turned on. Paano pa ngayon na umuulan. Sigurado akong aalis na yun. I peeked out of the window in the living room and he was still there.
Even though my front porch had a roof, the rain was pouring in torrents. The roof he was under couldn’t protect him. I could tell from the thick mists that surrounded my house that it was freezing cold outside. I kept telling myself that he would eventually leave and closed the window. I slipped into my bed and tried to sleep. The rain kept getting louder and louder, it was as if someone was throwing rocks over my roof. I knew for sure that it was already raining hail stones outside. Hindi ako mapalagay. What if Callum was still outside? He wouldn’t able to make it in the morning kung sakaling nasa labas pa siya.
After almost an hour of tossing and turning, I decided to get out of bed to get myself a glass of water. Okay, excuse ko lang yun sa sarili ko. I just wanted to see if he was still outside. To my surprise, he was still there. Nakahiga siya sa bench na nasa porch ko at yakap ang sarili niya. I opened the light and then the door.
“CALLUM!” I called him out.
He didn’t respond.
Kinabahan na ako kaya tumakbo ako palapit sa kanya. I shook him awake. “Callum….” ”Audrey….” He moaned.
He didn’t look well at all. It was as cold as a freezer out here and his clothes were damp. He was probably getting hypothermia.
“Come on, we’re going to get you in.” Pilit ko siyang hinatak paupo at isinampay ang isang braso niya sa akin. I helped him up and took him inside. His lips were blue. God, his lips were already blue. I took him to my bedroom and set the heater high. Isa-isa kong tinanggal ang damit niya at kinuha ko ang heater blanket ko at iyon ang kinumot ko sa kanya.
After just a few minutes, nagkaroon na ng kulay ang mukha niya. Hinawakan ko ang mukha niya at naramdaman kong mainit siya.
“Audrey…” With eyes closed, he took my hand that was placed on his cheek and brought it to his lips.
“Do you want me to take you to hospital?” I asked, worried.
“I’m okay.” He answered and then let out a faint smile on his lips. “Sabi ko na nga ba, hindi mo ko matitiis.”
“Cal, magpahinga ka na.” I told him
“Cal.” I said in an annoyed tone.
“It’s so cold.” He muttered.
I rolled my eyes and slipped into the blanket with him. He pulled me into his shaking arms and hugged me. I had no choice but to hug him back. He felt solid and soft both at the same time and his skin was warm to the touch. I could feel the steady beat of his pulse. Soon enough his arms relaxed and his breathing become deep and steady telling me that he’d already fallen asleep.
This was the first time we’d been physically intimate without sex. I buried my face into his neck getting the smell of raw manliness that he emitted. I found myself hugging him tighter. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, intoxicating my senses with him.
My fluttered open. My room was brighter than when I closed my eyes. I Iifted my gaze and saw Callum looking at me. His eyes shone brighther now.
“Hey, good morning.” He smiled.
“Morning.” I sat up and felt his forehead. He was still kind of hot but not as hot as last night.
“How are you feeling?”
“Better.” He flashed his pearly whites.
“Kanina ka pa ba gising?”
“About half an hour ago.”
“Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“You were so stunning when you were sleep, almost as stunning as you are awake.” He said, his eyes sparkled with a divine radiance as he looked at me.
I rolled my eyes at him.
“What were you doing last night? Nagpapakamatay ka ba?”
“Alam ko naman kasing hindi mo ko matitiis.” He propped his head with his elbow. He lifted one hand to touch my cheek. “Audrey…. you are so beautiful and I can’t think of anything better than waking up next to you.”
I wasn’t going to deny it. I was addicted to how he makes me feel. After long years of solitude, it was nice to feel… desired.
“Audrey, I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I want to help you just as badly as you want to live a normal life. I want to give back the life that was taken from you. I want to be able to walk you into your darkness and assure you there.” Lumamlam ang mga mata niya habang nakatingin sa akin. I could feel yhe sincerity of his words and I wanted to melt into them.
“All I want is for someone to understand me. Gusto ko lang naman maging masaya. Gusto ko lang maramdaman na babae ako, na tao aki… Is that too much to ask for?” My eyes lowered so he wouldn’t see the tears that were starting to blur my visions.
“You are not what happened to you. You are what was done to you.” He said. “I did what I thought would help you. In my years of practice, we were taught that humans are easy to predict. That the best way to understand a person is through their pattern of behaviour. That’s what dictates my perception of someone and how I should deal with them. But everything I’d learned went out the window when I met you. We shouldn’t even having this kind of relationship to begin with.”
“You’re damaged in the most beautiful way. A bit rough around the edges and difficult to stereotypes. Your eyes tell the hell you’ve been through and your smiles fought through wars. I want you to know you’re perfect and I adore you the way you are.” He said, holding my chin between his two fingers. “I like you, Audrey. I like you alot.”
And I liked him too. More than I should have.
“I’d like to start over with you.” He said. “Let’s pretend I was never your psychiatrist. I want to start in a clean slate with you.”
“And pretend that you’re just some random naked man in my bed?” I teasingly cocked a brow.
“Yeah…. that…” He raised his brows with amusement.
“Im going to make breakfast. What do you fancy?” I asked, smoothly getting out of bed.
“Anything edible will do.” He said stretching out his arms. “Where are my clothes?”
“I threw it in the washing machine and forgot about it.” I bit my bottom lip. “Pero huwag kang mag-alala, madali lang naman yun malabhan.”
“Admit it, you just want to see me prance around naked in your house.” He teasingly grinned.
“Of course not!” I exclaimed, scandalized.
His face shifted into a serious expression. “Audrey, I don’t want our relationship to be purely physical anymore. I don’t want it to just be about sex. I want to get to know you, the real you.”
I pressed my lips together, trying to get a hold of my emotions. I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel or react. So I just shrugged my shoulders.
“It’s so hard to build a relationship when women are only after your body.” He groaned in a joking manner.
“Alam mo ang yabang mo.” My face crumpled.
“Let’s start from the beginning.” He held out his hand. “Hi! I’m Callum Francois.”
I found myself lifting mine and touching his and then I smiled playfully. “My name is none of your business.”