Richard is all alone in front of an old piano. This place has been his sanctuary in this school. He was often found here with this same old piano for his 12 years of stay.
He started playing the piano when he was 3 and he was already very good at it when he started his studies. He would play in school programs, he would often be sent to represent the school and would always get the top prize. He just loved it here.
When he graduated, he would often visit but after his breakup with Maya, he never returned. He even severed ties with most of his batchmates. He was in communication with just his very close friends.
Maya dela Rosa – Ventura proceeded to the restroom after leaving Richard. She cant control her nerves and she was sure that she was blushing when she saw him smile at her. The blush is confirmed when she saw herself in the mirror. She needs to compose herself. She needs to act unaffected at his presence.
But why does he need to look so handsome? He looks so good in that light pink polo shirt and jeans he was wearing. He still smells so good. He always smelled so good and he was always neat and he always dressed so well when he was still studying here.
Now his manly scent mixed with his perfume intoxicated her. His mere stare could weaken her knees. He’s matured now especially with that glasses on but still with that same boyish charm, that chinky eyes which grows into slits when he’s smiling, laughing or even when he’s angry and that lopsided grin showing the asset she loved most – his dimples.
His body is well taken cared of. She noticed his arms and chest and wonders how it would feel to be held by him. It’s difficult to stop thinking about him but she has to if she wants to maintain her composure in front of him. She splashed cold water on her face believing that it could remove her thoughts about him.
“Richard I missed you.” she’s teary eyed as she stares at her own reflection on the restroom mirror.
After about 30 minutes inside the restroom, Maya emerged and proceeded to the faculty room finding Rafi and the other teachers on their respective areas.
“Emm, where’s Ricky?” Rafi was surprised to see Maya.
“Ah nasa music room. He’s checking the instruments.”
“Eh oo. Pasensiya na. I have an upset stomach kasi. Must be something I ate kaya kanina pa ako dito. He’s okay there naman. He’s probably playing the piano now.”
“Ha! Naku nakakahiya sa kanya. Halika na let’s go there na at kawawa naman yung tao.”
Rafi grabbed Maya’s hand and they hurriedly darted to the music room.
She was right. Richard is playing a Mancini medley when they arrived.
He automatically glanced at the door when he heard them. he stopped playing and stood up.
“Naku Ricky, sorry ha, mag-isa ka dito. May quiz kasi yun mga bata. Emm has an upset stomach kaya di ka nya tuloy nasamahan. ”
He turned his gaze at her and she was obviously lying about the upset stomach thing so he quipped:
“No, I’m perfectly fine here. Mrs. Ventura already showed me around before she left so no worries. Alam ko na yun instruments available. Dont worry Rafi. You dont have to treat me like a visitor.”
The way he said her name left a bitter taste in his mouth yet he has no choice but mention it.
They we’re supposed to act professional towards each other.
“Ah eh, just call me Maya, and i think i should just call you Chard or Ricky.”
Maya needed to say that coz she’s used to calling him Chard. She might slip and be found out by her co-teachers.
“Chard will do. That’s my real nickname anyway.”
“Oh, so Chard na lang din itawag namin? Di ka agad nagsabi eh. Si Fr. Francis kasi iba yun pakilala sa’yo. At mas sanay akong Ricky.”
“It doesn’t matter Rafi, you can call me whatever you want.”
“Sorry talaga for leaving you alone”
“Sorry Chard, I need to go to the restroom lang kaya natagalan.” Maya quipped.
“I said don’t treat me like a visitor. Maiilang ako nyan eh. Treat me na lang na someone working here too. ” He smiled.
“Thank you. Baka kasi magback out ka eh pag di ka namin naasikaso. Fr. Francis talked so highly of you kaya i presume VIP ka. Hahaha!
“Of course not. Lahat naman binibuild-up ni Fr. Francis. Nakakapressure tuloy. I hope i wont disappoint you.”
Maya is just silently listening to Richard and Rafi while pretending to read the suggested songs they prepared for the concert.
“Uy Emm, are you okay? ”
“Ah Oo. Bakit naman hindi. ”
“Ewan. You looked so spaced out kanina pa. Ano na naman ba ang ginawa ninyo ni James at nawawala ka na naman sa sarili mo jan? ” Rafi teased.
She was taken aback by what Rafi said. He on the other hand cringed at the mention of a guys name. She felt uncomfortable and embarrased by Rafi’s naughty quip. He felt jealous despite him not having any right to be jealous.
“Huy bat ganyan ang reaction mo?”
“Ah eh, kasi naman Rafi nakakahiya.”
“Kay Ricky? Naku we’re all married naman kaya di ka dapat na shy jan. Para ka namang teenager nyan, hahaha! Di ba Ricky? ”
Richard just swallowed hard and wasnt able to respond. He felt very uncomfortable for himself and for her too.
Rafi has the tendency to be tactless. It didnt help that she has no inkling about Richard’s and Maya’s past. She was just being her usual self.
Maya, on the other hand is already uncomfortable. Richard knows that she was always timid and shy and on the conservative side. He loved this about her. She is still the same.
Rafi just said it. She is married. Well what does he expect. She has a son.
Of course she is married. But the pain is too much now after the confirmation that she is indeed married.
Maya also felt the sharp pain in her heart after Rafi said that they are all married.
She instinctively directed her eyes at his finger and the confirmation was there. He was wearing a ring. She doesnt know what she actually felt – upset, jealous, frustrated, angry, pitiful – to sum it all up, it was a very unpleasant feeling. She was upset, jittery and obviously very uncomfortable at the moment.
He is quick to observe it . When they were still together, Maya was a very transparent person. She could’t hide her emotions. He is witnessing it again right now so he suddenly diverted the conversation.
“Can we have a meeting this afternoon so we can talk about the show? The sooner we come up with the concept, the flow of program, it will be easier for us to assign the kids to their respective roles. What do you think Teacher Emm? (he made a conscious effort not to call her the way he addresses her before).
“Maya na lang and yes that’s a good idea. I’ll schedule the meeting at 4 this afternoon. An hour is enough to discuss it since we have already talked about some ideas even before our former music trainor resigned. We will just discuss it with you,Chard this afternoon.
“We’ll just meet this afternoon. But for the meantime is it possible to meet the kids? Or are they still busy this morning?”
“Ah di ba Emm pwede naman silang hiramin sa klase? Para makilala na rin nila si Ricky.”
“Eh oo. Pwede naman. Alam na ni Directress na the kids will be busy for the concert so I dont see anything wrong with it. I’ll just ask their teachers to excuse them from their classes. Mga how many hours, Chard? ”
She still feels different whenever she mentions his name in front of Rafi.
“Maybe an hour or two. Marami ba sila? ”
“There are about 40 of them na members talaga ng glee club, theatre and dance troupe but we can add some more if kukulangin tayo.
“Ah sila na muna. When we have the concept na and I get to meet the kids, dun na lang tayo magdecide if we need more talents pa.”
“I think I’ll just meet the kids this afternoon. Maybe after lunch. Its’s already late if ngayon”
“That’s better para we could talk to the class advisers this lunch.”
“By the way, are the faculty included? Or yun kids lang?”
“The faculty will have 2 numbers sa program. Required kasi ng mga madre. ” Maya interjected.
“Okay. Well, may ready number na yun faculty or we have to start a new one pa ba?”
“Pwede na ata Emm yun ginawa natin sa foundation day? Ano sa tingin mo? It was well received and applauded by the audience. ”
“Oo pwede. Mabuti pa ipakita na muna natin yun kay Chard and he will decide. May apprehensions din ako kasi napanood na rin yun ng mga parents. Baka may masabi sila, mahirap na. ”
“I’ll watch it muna na lang then we will decide from there. We’ll discuss it na lang sa meeting this afternoon.”
Maya couldn’t help but feel so impressed of how decisive he is and how serious he is in getting things done. He’s got a certain command on things. Well, he was a already a leader in school even during his stay.
“That’s better. Sige let’s resume na lang later. Lunch na muna tayo. It’s 11 na. Mamaya puno na ang canteen nyan when the students are dismissed. Emm, sabay sabay na tayo. Tawagin na natin si Luke. Tapos na yun classes nya, di ba?”
“Ah eh… oo tapos na ata.”
She is hesitant to join Richard for lunch. She’s been feeling so awkward and uncomfortable in front of him but she has no choice and she also doesn’t want Rafi and the other teachers suspect something wrong between her and him.
Lunch went on normally with most of the teachers engaging in banters and discussions that made Richard at ease with the group. Maya was quiet and her co-teachers didn’t notice it since they were all busy entertaining Richard.
The female faculty members were all silently gushing and stealing glances at him. Even some of the students passing by the canteen would spare another glance his way.
Richard would engage in the playful banter but made it a point to never talk about his personal life.
He would just smile when he was asked about his family or even his work. He would say that it’s boring to talk about himself. The group sensed his hesitation so they stopped asking.
He would occasionally glance at Maya who is busy with her son. The sight was so heartwarming for him but he was also jealous of the father of this kid.
He felt bad that Maya easily moved on while it took him years to do so. Or had he really moved on?
It is unfair, he mused.
After lunch, Richard excused himself from the group and informed Rafi that he needs to leave to get something from his house. He promised to be back in time for the scheduled afternoon activities.
Actually he needed a break from the overwhelming happenings this morning. he couldn’t contain his emotions anymore and he needed a break from it even if just for an hour.
Upon arrival at his home, he quickly took a shower and changed into something more comfortable. Unconsciously, he wanted to look a lot better this afternoon.
He stashed his own keyboard in his car. He decided on bringing it as it was more mobile than the piano in school. He planned on doing some impromptu audition for the kids and he decided to do it on the open grounds of the school for more space and more freedom.
As much as he wanted to keep Maya out of his mind, he couldn’t help but think of her on his way back to school. His mind was filled with unanswered questions about her, about them. But as much as he wanted answers, he believes that there are things better left hanging for the meantime. Besides they have just seen each other again after 7 long years.
Richard arrived 30 minutes before the scheduled meeting with the participants of the concert. He proceeded to the music room to find Rafi, Maya , Eds and Jeff with a couple of kids. They were busy discussing unaware of Richard’s presence.
“Am i late?”
Everyone was startled most especially Maya, who seems jittery whenever he’s around.
His outfit intensified her attraction of him. She was mesmerized by his orange polo shirt, soft cream jeans and that cologne again. He also had his sunnies on.
During the time that they were a couple, she always admired Richard for being so handsome, so charming. He has this appeal and he oozes with it. She thought that she was just admiring him because of his intelligence, his talent in almost all musical instruments, in singing and even dancing. He was articulate and very sensible.
What made him stand out more was the fact that he grew up all by himself after his grandpa was ambushed by political rivals. Richard grew up in the care of the trusted household staff of his grandpa and he still grew up to be close to perfection despite the experiences he had.
Ladies swooned over him during his high school and college years but he seemed uninterested with them. He had one constant female companion though, his best friend, Catherine. But it never progressed into anything more than friendship.
He was first year high school when Maya was assigned as a student teacher in his school for two months before her graduation. She graduated from her education course at the age of 18 after being accelerated twice due to very high grades and performance. She decided to apply for a regular job at his school after graduating and she was automatically hired.
Maya was the favorite student teacher of the kids of Northwest Hills. She was really smart, strict but fair. She easily clicked with the kids. She was like a barkada to them yet they highly respect her. She wouldnt run out of ideas and trivias for the kids.
She was also so beautiful, that every morning, flowers from anonymous students would be found on her table. She was amused and she finds it funny for kids to get attracted to her. Some of the teachers would tease her but she just plays along and being the confident, headstrong woman that she is, she could easily deal with kids and even co-teachers who show interest in her.
On her first year of work at the school, she was handling science for all year levels.
She got interested with this particular boy, a freshman who graduated on top of his elementary class at the same school.
Richard Lim, was already famous in school during his elementary days. He would often represent the school in both academic and musical competitions. He was a good leader in school organizations, polite and humble and so good looking. His cute chinito eyes which would turn into slits when he smiles and that dimple he has are reasons enough for a large population of female students to have a crush on him. The teachers too, are fond of him, especially when they knew about his family story. But Richard would always remain humble, friendly and he never wanted extra attention on himself.
Now a freshman high school student, Richard Lim would pay extra attention on his science subject. Science is his forte but the new teacher handling it inspired him more. It was his first time to get attracted to someone. He would never get tired of watching her give lectures in front of the class. She was really beautiful for Richard Lim.
Maya also handled the Music and Arts club wherein Richard was an active member. They became closer in the Music and Arts club and when Richard was on his senior year.
During Maya’s 4th year of work in the school, they were already very close friends. It came to a point where she would advice him in his studies, his personal life. She would even make it a point that he gets to eat on time, a thing he always forgets to do especially when he’s busy in front of the piano or with school work.
Her reverie was stopped when Rafi asked her to prepare the kids for their meeting with Richard.
Now in her room, Luke was sleeping peacefully. She is lovingly staring at her son.
She can’t sleep especially after the events that happened today.
She hesitantly retrieved a box from her closet.
As she opened it, she automatically got teary eyed. Then her silent sobs came which was witnessed by their quiet room.
She closed the box, deciding that she’s not ready to face the memories of the past yet.
She leaves the room and dials a number.
“James can you please come home?”
“Why Maya? May problema ba?”
“I need you here.”
“Bakit? Are you crying?”
She tries hard to contain her sobs but the choking of her voice and her breathing gave her away.
“Hey Maya, what’s wrong? Im getting worried here. May nangyari ba? Si Luke?”
“O..okay kami James. Nothing happened.”
“Eh why are you crying? Bakit iba yun boses mo?”
“Gusto lang kitang makausap. I want to hear your voice.”
“Huh? Naglalambing ang Maya ko. That’s new ah! Eh halos di mo nga ako tawagan or kausapin. Why nga?”
“Nakakainis ka. Basta, i just need you now. Uwi ka na muna please.”
“Maya, you know I cant. I wanted to pero hindi pwede. Sige na just tell me what it is and pagusapan natin”
“Wag na. Sige go back to what you are doing na. Good night.”
Maya ended the call without allowing James to continue what he is saying.
She returned to her room, embraced her son and cried herself to sleep.
Preview of next chapter:
“Naku Emm ang ganda ng flowers!”
“Malaki siguro ang kasalanan ni James ngayon ah kaya sobra kung bumawi”
“Romantic naman talaga si James kaya eto si Emm miss na miss na siya.”
“Kelan ba kasi uuwi para masundan nyo na si Luke?”
He was unaware that he was clenching his fists and his eyes turned to tiny slits.
Richard went out of the music room to calm himself.