This is a story published in the young star section of the Philippine star circa April 2002.. it took me a long time to find a copy of this story,, it was written by matthew estabillo..
THE THIN LONG WIRE
By Matthew Estabillo
Robert was finishing off the last bites of the stale egg and cucumber sandwich his mum made him for lunch when he looked at the time. It had been a rough morning at work, with him finding out that he had to submit all the reports that afternoon. He frowned. And after mentally insulting the food, he put a small pillow behind his head and leaned back on the chair. Putting his feet up, he lit a cigarette.
It has been three weeks now and he still could not get Dana off his mind. He such and idiot, he thought, for having fallen in love with an attached woman. And he was a total *******, he knew, for letting her go. He was sick and tired of seeing her every five minutes on his work table, and suddenly, he was glad he had a lot of grinding to do.
Robert had met her five months ago in a mall parking garage. He had just bought some canned fruits for his mum and was just about to get going when he dropped the bags on the floor, seeing that he had left his car keys inside the locked vehicle.
Dana, whose car was parked alongside his, was also leaving at the time. And after letting the expletives fly, he slapped his forehead hard. Apparently, it was loud enough to catch a stare from her.
“Putangina! Bwiset!,” he said.
“Hoy! Wala naman kasalanan nanay mo sa ‘yo, noh! “Wag mong murahin!” she joked.
“Ano bang paki mo?”
“Amina nga! Tabi diyan!” she moved and brushed him aside.
She took out a long, thin wire from her handbag and after several minutes of prying the windows ajar, she successfully hooked onto the lock and pulled it up. She smiled and nervously handed the wire to a flustered Robert.
“Bakit ka may ganito? Carnapper ka ba? Hehehe! Maraming salamat, ha.”
“Well, yeah. Sideline ko yan eh. Pero ok lang yun. Madami akong ganyan actually sa bahay eh. Sobrang dalas ko naiiwan susi ko sa loob ng kotse kaya nagpagawa na ako ng mga wire,” she said.
“Ah, okay. Er, I’m Robert, by the way. Thanks ulit. Can I show my appreciation by treating you to a meal? Have you eaten already?”
“Ay, naku! Tempting pero hindi na. Yung boyfriend ko manlilibre daw sa akin ngayon eh. Next time na lang, Robert. I’m Dana nga pala.”
“Nice to meet you. O, sya! Alis na ako. Hinihintay na ng mommy ko itong prutas eh. Ingat ka and I can’t thank you enough.”
“Hehehe. Sige! Tago mo na yang wire. Feeling ko kakailanganin mo ulit yan very soon, eh.”
Just as soon as he was geared to reverse, Robert heard a soft tap on his window. It was Dana.
“Er, not exactly. But can I borrow back the wire I gave you for a second? I uhm…”
So they had been close friends since then. They went out to movies, dinner and such. And he even met Dana’s boyfriend Edward, whom he really thought was a very good lad for her at the time.
“They’re both so lucky to have each other!” he once said aloud.
In any case, like many other “innocent friendships” between a boy and a girl, the frequency of their “platonic meetings” and phone calls eventually took its toll. Whereas in the past, their pet names for each other were usually “sis” and “buddy,” it was later upgraded to “dear.”
His friends knew that it would lead to this, but naturally, nobody had the guts (or the brains) to tell him. And Robert, for all his jaded emotions, first felt this kind of sensation after Dana had a fight with her beau.
“It’s no one’s fault, lass. Talagang may tampuhan sa mga relationships.”
“Yeah? Eh bakit parang nag iba siya months after sagutin ko siya?”
“I don’t know. Only you can answer that, my dear.” Robert said.
“Ewan ba! I’m getting tired of this. I still love Edward, pero it’s getting to a point na nagsasawa na ako sa mga away namin.”
“Well hang in there, dearie. Fight for love despite the obstacles.”
Robert choked as he said that, for he was now feeling more than just sympathy for the friend who had helped him unlock his car a few months ago. He eventually felt deep resentment towards Edward, because he felt that the guy was kind of shallow to get angry over the fact that Dana wore spaghetti straps to parties. Her sense of style should be hers and no one else’s, he thought.
And even though he ached to openly express what he really wanted, he felt it was none of his business, so he kept his mouth shut.
It was only after her fourth argument with her boyfriend in less than a month did he have the courage to tell her off.
“Eh bakit ka pa pumapayag na awayin ka niya ng ganyan?” he furiously asked.
“Because we’re together. And I still love him.”
“Then why do you complain about him all the time to me? I’m getting a bit tired of this Edward ****, Dana! I can’t stand to see you cry all the time!”
“I’m sorry! But if only you came first…Pero ikaw kasi ang friend ko!” She sobbed.
Now there was the twist!
“Listen, I’ve been waiting to tell you something, but I’ve been afraid it would only give you more problems.”
“Out with it, Robert!”
“I, uh, think, I’m falling for someone who can unlock a car with a thin wire.”
“What?” Dana shouted.
“I’m sorry, my friend. But I wanted you to know that. I know the timing is **** and all, but…”
Now there was an even bigger twist.
“I’m really sorry, Dana.” He couldn’t even look at her when he said that.
“Oh, Robert! If only you came first!”
Their talk was cut short when she heard her mobile phone ring. They both knew who it was and with that, Robert gave her a hug and left. He felt sick to his stomach. He was so selfish, he thought, for having spilled his guts to Dana when she already had enough problems as it was. He slapped his forehead hard. Apparently, it was loud enough to catch stares from several bystanders.
In his heart he felt that Dana liked him, too. And that even added to his emotional pain. As the weeks passed, he stopped calling her. He would rarely answer her text messages. And if he did, it was always straight to the point – no flowery words whatsoever. She, on the other hand, naturally noticed the change in Robert, and it hurt both of them.
This was the only way, he thought, to fight the feelings he was having over the last month. He knew he couldn’t have her, so what was the point of risking it all? No way was he going to “steal” Dana from her beau because he thought it was too illicit and too devastating for Edward to handle – no matter how much he hated the *******. Besides, he didn’t want her to leave Edward for him in the first place. He had never been a cause of a bitter breakup before. And there was really no reason to start now. That was, until they accidentally bumped into each other in a grocery store.
“Buying more canned fruits for your mother?” Dana tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hoy! Kamusta na? How’s everything? How’s Edward?”
“Ayun. Ganun pa din. But we’re trying to compromise and…”
“So he’s allowing you to wear spaghetti straps na?” he jokingly said.
“Hey! Why did we stop talking and hanging out? Dahil ba sa akin?” She sadly asked him.
Robert sighed. It had been more than a month since he last saw her. And he thought her feelings for her had subsided. But right now, he wanted to smack himself in the *** because he was still in love with the lass. He realized now it was more than just a silly crush. It was real love (or whatever).
“Yes, Dana. It was because of you.”
“Is that right?”
“Kasi tuwing magkasama tayo, I just can’t help but fall for your wicked charms. That’s why you must forgive me if I am avoiding you. It’s for the best.”
“And I’m so sorry if I had to be so honest with you about how I really felt. I should’ve just kept to myself.”
“I also don’t want to be the cause of any breakups. Alam mo, I really care for…”
“Huh? Ano? Bakit?”
“I-I’m falling for you, too.”
“I started to miss you when we stopped communicating. And it was then I knew I needed you a lot. Sounds selfish doesn’t it? But hey, pareho naman tayo eh.” Her eyes were watery, but she tried to smile.
Robert fixed his gaze on her. He was both happy and sad at the same time. He touched her hair softly and carefully handed her a handkerchief. He felt glad that Dana somehow kind of felt the same way he did abut her. But he also felt remorse for being a burden to such a nice girl. And it was the time to set things straight. He owed her at least that.
“Dana, do you love Edward?” he asked.
“Do you love me as well?”
“Yes,” she meekly replied.
“I guess it would be stupid to ask who you like more, huh?”
“Oh, Robert. I don’t know what to do. Please tell me. If only you came first.”
“Dana, I’ve never regretted ever knowing you. In fact, I’m thankful, that I do. But it’s wrong for me to step in when you’re having fits with Edward, because it would be biased against the relationship itself. Do you understand, sis?”
“What happened to ‘dear,’?”
“The thing is, you loved him for the man that he was. And as much as I would regret saying this, I feel that you’re as in love with the idiot now as you were before. And anyway, I’m just here to mess things up.”
Dana’s eyes narrowed with confusion.
“So what are you saying?” she innocently asked.
“I’m saying that we shouldn’t hang out anymore.”
“But we’re friends!”
“And it’s very hard for the both of us to stay that way when we’re together!”
“I really love you, girlie. Kaya I’m letting you go. I’m stepping aside and I’m sure na one day you’ll thank me for all this.” He said.
“I love you, too, buddy.”
“Now promise me you’ll be happy again, okay?” It sounded plastic, he thought, but he didn’t give the slightest damn.
“I’ll try. Thank you, dear. If only…”
“I came first. Yes, I know. Now run along. Bibili pa ako ng prutas para sa nanay ko eh.”
That was the last time they ever spoke to one another.
He was now starting to get back to work as he threw the cigarette in the trash bin. In his mind, he could now see Dana going back to being who she was before he came along. He had lost the game, he knew, but was relieved to be out of the situation. Robert smiled. If he could give up even an honest friendship to make someone he loves happy and free, then maybe he wasn’t such a selfish ******* after all, he thought.
With that, he pulled out the long, thin wire, which Dana had given him many months ago. And except for the memories, it was probably the last remnant of Dana that remained with him. So after taking one last look at it, he pried his office windows open and threw it out.
“I better start learning how to make myself one of those,” he said.
Published on the Youngstar Magazine of The Philippine Star, 2002.