Module VIII.

/*15 minutes past the designated meeting time, SAIKOW_08 reaches its drop-off point, the NCCC supermarket. Directly after getting off the transport, with split-second reflex, it looks at incoming vehicles, calculates their speed and distance, and runs across to the other side of the road. Its leg joints hissing as it rapidly navigates across crowds of other units, eyes targeted on the meeting place. When it reaches the doors of the rendezvous point, it pauses, scans the facility and concludes that who it’s meeting hasn’t arrived yet. It looks for a seat and waits for half an hour.*/

Verifying time…

Verified, 14:57:34…

Scanning in progress…

Scanning complete…

Target not found…

Verifying time…

Verified, 14:57:41…

Scanning in progress…

Target found…

Reconnecting to out-dated wares…

She got inside the restaurant, paused about three steps away from the entrance, raised her heels and chin, and searched for me inside the establishment. Her hair that was, as always, parted at the middle, flowed down, covered her ears and reached about two inches below her shoulder. Upon her hair was a white headband that was more of an accessory rather than something used to keep her hair in place. She wore a small, navy blue, Baby Guess t-shirt on, it’s brand printed on the chest for the whole world to see. Just above her left fist was a bracelet made of seven marble-sized beads, each bearing the milky shades of the rainbow. And, on her right hand, was her Ericson cell phone, her right thumb pressing its keypad as if it had eyes of its own, and the sling of her pink Heartstrings bag that dangled as her head moved left to right. She wore faded pants that stretched down to her blue Chucks, laces peeking out to the world. Funny, she had those shoes ever since they became big here in Davao.

Her strained eyes eased, her right thumb stopped moving, and her lips broke into a smile when our eyes met. She tilted her head to the left, raised her left hand and waved at me. Her heels kissed the floor and began racing against each other towards my table. I stood up when she was about three meters away. I greeted her and she welcomed me with a loose embrace. Her toes must have been accustomed to supporting her whole weight. She let go and walked to her side of the table, sat down, placed her bag beside her and her cellphone near the salt, pepper, and toothpick containers.

“Nakapag-order ka na ba?”

Her tagalog accent came as a surprise to me. She has only spent about two semesters in La Salle and she has already adopted that tone.

“Ah, wala pa, eh. Sandali lang, ha? Excuse me, kuya, o-order na mi.”

The waiter came, gave us the menus, and took our orders. I asked her to order first. After a bit of hesitation on her side, and a lot of persuasion on mine, she finally looked at the waiter, smiled at him, and gave him her orders. Her voice was still as soft as that which she left in my memories. And as I watched them converse, I couldn’t help but notice how she draws the waiter closer to her. The tone and the pitch of her voice, the choice of words, the aura, all worked together to form a calm flame for wandering flies. The guy had chinky eyes and a light complexion; her type, no wonder. The fact that the guy was practically old enough to be her father didn’t seem to bother her. Why would it? She had admirers in his age bracket ever since she discovered MIRC.

She became a web-monkey since then. Blogging every now and then, chatting, meeting new people, making personal websites, and fixing up her friendster accounts. She had six of them, all of which virtually had the same people as contacts. Because of this, she was often seen in internet cafes. Most of the time, after logging out, she’d proceed to another “eye-ball” session. All of which didn’t have the boys the pictures and words in the monitors promised. Instead of rich, young, handsome, chinito athletes, she often found jologs, wanna-bes, dirty old men, addicts, me.

The conversation between her and the waiter grew abnormally long for a topic such as chicken gravy. She tucked her hair behind her ears. I was surprised to see that she didn’t have earings on. Of all the accessories, those were the ones she couldn’t be seen without. She had all sorts of designs of them: suns, beads, golden hearts, flowers, feathers; all dangling. Once, I even thought of giving her a nice pair made of shells, but for some reasons, I never got the chance to.

When the waiter walked away after getting my orders, I looked at her eyes and smiled. She smiled back, her contact lenses were colored green today. I started the conversation with the two things I knew she liked as topics: movies and the latest arcade games. It’s good to know that not everything is the same as her taste in earrings. She was so engrossed in talking about them that she never noticed that I barely knew anything about them. She knew a lot about those things, and it came as no surprise. She’s a smart girl, a consistent honor student in her whole high school life. In a nutshell, I could say everyone in her high school knew her because of her brains. Yes, she was a popular girl, being the president of their student council proves it.

*beep* *beep*

She received an SMS. As she read the message, her lips twisted to the right side of her face. I knew that face.

“Papa mo?” I asked just as she placed her phone in her bag.

“Oo. Hinahanap nanaman ako ng daddy-dear ko.”

“Oh? Baby girl ka talaga,” I smiled an awkward smile after saying those words. And from her eyes, I sensed that, beneath her smile, she was affected with my choice of words.

Trying to push the air of uneasiness aside, I asked if I could borrow her phone. She handed me her bag and told me to look for it. I opened it and saw a bottle of Johnson’s baby powder, a container of Body Shop lipgloss, a box of Dunhill cigarettes, her phone. I didn’t bother looking at anything else when I saw the phone. The box of cigarettes, I felt, was the last surprise I could take for that day.

“So, moving on, ano nga nangyari sa The Notebook?” I asked as I took her phone out.

She started speaking again. Her words just entered my left ear and found their way out of my right. I was busy looking at her pictures in her phone. She had lots of pictures of herself, more than anyone would keep of themselves. As she spoke, I kept on scanning through her pictures. I missed her, and I couldn’t tell if the feeling was mutual. After a few images, I saw one of her with another guy. Funny thing is, she never took pictures of us when we were together, but she has loads with him. I asked her if I could take a picture of her, she agreed. Once again, like when she waved at me earlier, she tilted her head to the right and smiled.

*click*

With that sound, that one moment was trapped in her phone.

She looked at her right and shot back at me with widened eyes. Whispering, she asked for the container of lipgloss inside her bag. I gave it to her, she swiped it off my hand, opened it, applied a dab onto her lips, closed the lid, and threw it back at me. She smiled, the waiter came with our orders and slipped her a piece of paper.

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~ by saikow on April 13, 2007.

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