Thursday, September 01, 2005

Lunch Break (Part Two)

(This is the second part of a series I call "Lunch Break". You may want
to read the first part before continuing with this. The previous post.)

From: Ella del Rosario
Date: Wed Jul 10, 2002 12:25 pm
Subject: LUNCH BREAK CONT'D. galadri_ella

Richard stared at the phone after she hung up. Now why on earth did I do that, really? He asked himself.

He had gone out of his way to be “in the neighborhood”. He admitted to himself that it was because he wanted to see her. Now, how to explain that later, in front of her penetrating eyes that don’t seem to miss anything, posed a real problem. He would have to be creative! It was going to be an interesting dinner, he thought.

Being with Carol always challenges him to be up on his toes. Unlike all the girls he had been with, she always asks the WHY’s of things. Unfortunately for him, she seems to always know the answers to her questions. This unnerves him.

They had met in college. They started out taking the same business subjects until he shifted out and went college hopping before finally graduating on his seventh year at the University. By this time, Carol had already been pirated twice by multi-national companies. They had dated for a while during sophomore year until a more serious suitor captured Carol’s attention. Richard let her go easily, but they had kept in touch. After five years, Carol’s fiancĂ© broke off their engagement to try his luck as an engineer abroad. She was devastated.
She shut out everyone and concentrated instead on her career, which was more rewarding at that time.

Richard, on the other hand, dated a different girl in each college that he enrolled in. Carol had warned him against breaking too many hearts but he simply was a man who enjoyed the opportunities that were put before him. She and Richard only got friendly again after the reunion of their college freshman block. Seeing her again after all those years, she looked prettier and more self-assured than he remembered. He had decided, then, that a woman like that would have nothing to do with him.

Recently, however, his cellphone has been loaded with her messages. He wasn’t sure which of those were merely forwards and which were intentionally meant for him, but he kept most of them.

He was growing to be more excited about that dinner party, the more he thought about it. Smiling, he bought a sandwich and munched contentedly while he composed his opening line for Carol later.

Carol could not believe the sea of cars that she met in EDSA. After her long yet productive meeting, she had barely an hour left to go home, grab the cake she baked the night before for Cristy, squeeze in a quick shower, change out of her stifling linen suit into her little black
dress, and rush to her best friend’s house. She would need to exercise her makeup-application-while-driving skills again. She wondered if she had seamless black stockings to go with her stilettos. She hated the wasted time and texted Cristy her apologies for being late, in advance.

Later, she rang the bell and then ran her fingers through her damp hair, very much aware that she didn’t have enough time for a proper blow-dry. Cristy’s husband Arthur opened the door for her. “Now the party can start,” he said, beaming at her as he ushered her into the
living room where most of their friends were gathered.

Cristy, radiant and pregnant with their second child, greeted her with a tight hug, “I never imagined I’d be THIS happy when I turn 30!” she said. “I only wish that you would be happily settled down when your 30th birthday comes.” Carol returned the hug and felt how genuinely fulfilled her friend was. Then Cristy raised her eyebrows and subtly pointed Carol to look at the corner of the room where Richard was talking to Arthur’s younger cousin, Melanie. Cristy did not hide her disapproving frown. Carol raised one eyebrow in return and went to the powder room to check her makeup. She needed to fortify herself for this night.

Richard noticed Carol come in and almost dropped the glass he was holding. She looked smashing in black. Power oozed from that woman and he felt the ancient need to protect himself. He pretended not to see her and feigned interest in what Melanie was saying. It was difficult because she was talking about some bar she hangs out in with her friends, a bar he
had never heard about. Richard felt old, all of a sudden.

People were on their way to the dining area when the doorbell rang again. Arthur looked at Cristy before opening the door. The exchange was not lost on Carol, who suspected something was up. When the door opened, she froze.

“Happy Birthday, Cristy,” came a deep baritone voice Carol would recognize anywhere. It was David, her one and only ex.


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