1 The Bottom Line is, I Love You
ANG BOTTOM LINE, MAHAL KITA
(The Bottom Line is, I Love You)
Part 1: One-sided love
June 8, 2015. It's the first day of class. It's already 8:10 in the morning when I reached the front yard of CBEA building. I looked at my schedule to confirm my room number. CBEA Room 05.
I ran towards Room 05 as soon as I spotted it. I was about to say my greetings when I noticed that our professor is not around so I just entered the room silently instead.
I sat on the vacant chair near the entrance. I didn't even bother looking for my friends as I noticed that everyone is busy copying the course outline on the board.
"Hi, why is the prof. not around?" I asked my classmate in front.
"She went back in the faculty room to get our class cards." She answered.
I brought my note out and started copying too. Our professor arrived few minutes later and started distributing the class cards.
"Class, on the upper right corner of your class card, kindly write down our class time and schedule." the prof. instructed after she distributed the cards....
"Good morning, ma'am!" greeted by the newly arrived student. His voice is somewhat familiar. I'm pretty sure I heard that voice before. I stopped marking my card and slowly turned my head towards the student. Everything seemed to be in slow-mo when I recognized the late comer. It's Lawrence. I rubbed my eyes again and again, trying to make sure it's not a dream but damn it's really Lawrence. And he's just a foot apart from my seat.
I felt my heart's beat. It's fast. It's loud. It's trying to break free. My eyes still glued at him. As if trying to draw his perfect figure in a canvass. Trying to make most out of the opportunity given by God and enjoy every second to look at him closely.
I immediately looked away when our eyes met. I really can't win a staring game with him. Just one gaze from him and my whole being melts. I'm really madly and helplessly in love with him. I grabbed my pen and continued marking my card, stopping my self from fantasizing him.
I stopped writing when he approached me.
"Marian, can you move on the next seat?" Lawrence requested. I gasped upon hearing him call my name. Wait. He's talking to me. God! What should I do? He's talking to me for real. I motioned my head towards him like a robot.
"Huh?" This was the only word I could say. My brain still not absorbing what is happening. Like OMG, is this for real?
"Can you move on the next seat." He reiterated.
"A-ah, sure." I replied, stuttering. Shit! I looked around before changing seat and found out that it's the only vacant chair.
I gave him a nod in response and smiled at him awkwardly. He placed his bag on the chair and went in front to get his class card.
He is Lawrence Burbon. The guy who unknowingly stole my heart in three seconds. Yes, I fell in love with him at first sight. He was my classmate when I was in first year during the first semester but got separated the next semester. And now after three semester which is equivalent to one year and six months, once again, we are together as classmates. I thought I already moved on and got over him but when I saw him today, I realized that wasn't the case. Because the truth is I never stop loving him.
I was finalizing my card when he asked a question again.
"What's course code?" He asked softly. I was stunned for a moment. I felt a jolt when I felt his breath.
"Oh God!" I whispered softly.
"Corsino, Marian" the prof. called out, again.
"Hey!" Lawrence blurted out softly after tapping my shoulder.
"B301." I shouted. The room suddenly filled with laughter. For a split second I felt confused but I immediately realized afterwards. I covered my lips with my hands after it sank in what I just did. Ms. Carag was checking our attendance but because I was spacing out, instead of saying "present" I replied "B301" when she called my name. Damn life! So embarrassing.
"Ms. Corsino, you are day dreaming again." Ms. Carag commented while trying to hold her laughter. I'm not normally like this but having Lawrence this semester as my classmate, is making a mess out of me. Who wouldn't be calm if you're with someone you have fallen in love with. Breathing the same air. Sitting side by side.
"Dela Cruz." the prof called out, continuing what she was doing awhile back.
"Present ma'am!" replied by the very last student after Ms. Carag called his name.
2 Months Later
Two months had passed but it still not sinking in that the person who stole my heart is my classmate again. What's more unfortunate or should I say how lucky I am that we are seat mates. Our class professors arranged us alphabetically. I really hate such arrangement before but now I am really grateful to the person who came up with the idea as Lawrence became my seatmate in every subject except Philosophy. So what else can I wish for? Just sitting beside him is more than enough for me. But isn't it ironic? He is so close yet so far, he's still beyond my reach even though he is just beside me. I felt like my heart was stung upon the realization. How sad!
"Last meeting, we started discussing the three approaches to solve the gross national product of a country. The first is the Expenditure Approach." The Prof. started.
"This has four components. The personal consumption expenditures(C), the investment goods/ gross private domestic investment(I), government expenditures(G), and lastly the net exports of goods and services(x)."
"There are three subcategories under personal consumption expenditures namely---"
"Good afternoon ma'am! May we interrupt you for awhile?" politely asked by the two students who arrived.
After Ms. Carag gave them her permission, the two students whom I presume our seniors (4th year), entered the room.
"Hi guys, I know that you are all aware that right after next week, it will already be our college festival. " the girl started. So this year, the theme is festival.
"For those who are interested, there will be try outs and auditions this saturday at the gym. " the boy continued.
"Our cluster's name is Ati-atihan. Regarding our socialization, the dress code is semi formal and the color is either white, black, or dark blue." they announced.
"Anyways, who wants to join the pageant?" asked Ms. Senior. My ears widened like those of a rabbit upon hearing her question. Pageant? I wonder how Lawrence would look like if ever he participates in that kind of activity. That would be awesome especially seeing him in swim wear. Shems! Does he have those yummy "pandesal"? (sometimes Filipinos refer to abs as pandesal-a type of bread). I was at cloud nine at the thought. Shetness! Nothing is more awesome than witnessing his perfectly built body and model it in a platform.
The ideas that come in mind is quite tempting and it's driving me crazy. Lawrence really drives me to do things that are out of the ordinary. But I seriously want him to enter the pageant.
"Lawrence, please join the pageant." I asked over and over again in my thoughts.
"Too bad, no one is willing to join"
"Lawrence, plea----" I immediately covered my mouth before I could complete my sentence. Crap! I blurted it out too loudly. It should just be my wishful thinking but words came out. I felt the stares that my classmate is throwing against me.
"What I mean is, I think Lawrence is a perfect candidate." I said, standing for my word to save myself from embarrassment.
"Heck! No! Why me? I strongly object" Lawrence contradicted.
"It was a suggestion." I reasoned out naughtily
"Why not though? Your handsome. You have charisma. Winning should be easy for you." I added. I don't know if it was my imagination but I swear I saw him blushed for a split second. Impossible.
"Just say yes, ading" ate convinced.
(Ading- a tagalog term for someone younger than you. Ate- a tagalog term for a girl older than you)
He smiled awkwardly. He took a deep breathe.
"Say YES!" The whole class mimicked, trying to convince him.
"What else can I do when the world is against me." he jokingly said.
"Ok. Fine. I'll join." He agreed in defeat. Something lightened up when I heard his response. Goodness is with me. Dream come true.
"Really?" I asked, still not believing. Trying to confirm what I heard is correct.
"I'll join. What can I do when it was you who suggested it."
"Huh? Are you saying something?" I asked Lawrence. I swear I heard him murmur something. I just did not hear it clearly since it was almost a whisper.
After Lawrence agreed to join the pageant, the two seniors bade their goodbye. He even gave his number to ate. How annoying! I don't even have his number and yet. Haist! That was necessary though. They need it to give him updates. It is really hard to enter into a one sided relationship.
Part 2: It's hard to assume
It's College Festival . Time went by so fast. I came to the university too early. Habit is really hard to overcome. Once an early bird always an early bird. I couldn't see any familiar face, my mates still not present. I went in the university gym and waited my friends to come.
To make myself busy, I look around and search the crowd. Hoping Lawrence was around. I sighed when I did not see him. Maybe he's with friends, strolling around plaza as the Pavvurulun Afi Festival is just around the corner.
(Pavvurulun Afi Festival is an annual festival every August, celebrated in commemoration of the city's patron saint, San Jacinto de Polonia)
"Faye!" I called out. I moved towards her and clung my arm to hers.
"Marian, it's Lawrence." She said.
"Where? I can't find him" I asked as I search the area.
"Oopsie! It's just Lawrence Guado." He joked as she burst in laughter. Damn! Faye, she just teased me right?
"Ha-ha-ha. Okay, enough!"
"Why don't you just confess? Who knows he likes you too and just too afraid to tell you just like how male leads in novels and movies."
"It is not as easy as we think. Not everything that happens in movies and the novels we read come true in real life. And those literary works always come with this disclaimer... this is a work of fiction... Which literally means it's just the product of the ever colorful imagination" I contradicted.
"Besides, it's hard to assume something uncertain. That uncertainty will surely not do any good. It'll just bring you pain." I added and pointed out.
"Okay, since it is hard to assume something uncertain, you plan to just sit around the corner and be contented to look at him from afar and sit beside him like an idiot. Common Marian, you must take the initiative first 'cause nothing will change unless you act. As they quoted, No Pain No Gain"
"No pain no gain, my butt! Who cares. I don't want to push myself into something I already know what the outcome is. And the bottom line is, It's hard to assume and rely on something uncertain."
"Ugh! What a coward" Faye blurted. Who cares! It's not like I said something wrong.
After buying snacks, Faye and I decided to go inside the gym and join our designated cluster. My lips curved a smile when my eyes caught him. Lawrence was at the bleacher happily chatting with his friends. Faye and I went straight to where they are. Faye tried to push me towards him. Fortunately, I maintained my balance.
"Lawrence, Marian is asking if you'll be attending the socialization tonight?" Faye to Lawrence.
I threw up the candy in my mouth upon hearing Faye. What the heck! I gave Faye a deadly glare to shut her and stop her from her nonsense.
"Ha-ha-ha. Three-laugh for your joke Faye." I commented.
"Where's the attendance sheet?" I to Lawrence.
"Gimalyn has it." Rondell answered and gave direction through his lips. We followed his lips and found Gimalyn's location. We took the sheet from the latter and wrote our names.
".... I thereby declare this college festival open." The college"s Dean announced. Every cluster then started cheering.
"Panagbenga! Panagbenga!" Shouted by the JPIAns.
"Afi! Afi!" Shouted by the ALMS
"Ati-atihan! Ati-atihan!" JIATs, also joining the crowd cheering.
"Bambanti! Bambanti!" YES shouted.
"Maskara! Maskara!" Shouted also by the YMAPs.
"Pintados! Pintados!" JFINEX cheered too.
Socialization Night. Like always, I was an early bird. I stood at the entrance and waited my mates
My eyes widened when I saw who was coming. My heart started to beat fast yet again. He's so handsome
"Hi!" He greeted with a sweet smile. His smile was a killer. His lips, so kissable. Damn! Why is that every inch of him so perfect, he's is the definition of perfection.
"H-hello!" Shit! I stuttered. Wait. This is a perfect opportunity to have a picture with him.
"Let's take a photo of us." I invited shyly. I curved a smile when he permitted.
"Ugh! It's ugly! It's too dark" I commented. I should have borrowed my sister's iPhone. Luckily, I spotted Lyca. Her smartphone has a good camera
"Wait, I'll just borrow Lyca's phone." I to Lawrence, informing him.
I was about to run towards Lyca when he grabbed my hand, stopping me. I felt the jolt of electricity that run all over my body when his warm hands touch my hand. Shems! What did I do in my past life to be so lucky tonight.
"Let's just use mine." He suggested and positioned his phone upward. I awkwardly stood beside him.
I gasped when he wrapped his arm around my shoulder and pulled me closer to him.
"I gave you a chance to be with me yet you're standing still." Lawrence retorted out of the blue. What is that supposed to mean? A supprise attack?
"Huh?" I innocently responded not knowing he is already clicking the button, taking pictures. Looking weird on those photos. Damn!
"One more, please. I'm a selfie addict." I requested
"Addicted to selfie or addicted to me?" I almost choked with my saliva. Another surprise attack. Anyways, never thought saliva can choke a person.
"Ha-ha-ha. Three-some laugh for your joke" I commented. The situation was quite dangerous. I can't let him notice that he highly interest me, in a romantic way.
Minutes later and his friends were already in attendance. And I who likes to document every single thing asked Lawrence together with our mates to take a groupie.
But what did he just say...
"I gave you a chance to be with me yet you're standing still."
I shook my head, stopping myself from drifting away from reality.
"Time to wake up, Marian. Let's stop dreaming, shall we? Stop assuming." me, reminding my self.
"Okay the next piece is for everybody." The emcee announced. The music started. My mates are almost in the dance floor yet here I am still glued in my seat.
"Stand up guys, let's dance and enjoy the night!." Rondell who just returned invited. I almost jumped out of my seat when someone grabbed my hand and pulled me in the dance floor.
It was as if time had stopped and the whole venue blacked out when I recognized the person who abducted me in my seat. The place was filled with loud music yet all I hear is my heart's beat. God! My heart is beating wildly. There were lots of students around us yet all I see is him, as if the students around us disappeared on thin air.
Little by little, I snapped out of my madness. We're joining our mates. I thought he took me away to dance with me.
Our class formed a circle and one by one we started to move at the center and do a free style dance.
I sighed as I dance with them. I'm imagining things again. I'm really hopeless. I thought my chance has come. Like I said, goodness Marian, stop assuming things.
Part 3: The bottom line....
It's the last day of the College Festival. Like always, I was an early bird. I checked the time. 12:30 PM. My mates including Lawrence might still be having their lunch. The checking of attendance was scheduled at 1:00 PM. I was overly excited. I heard Lawrence will be rehearsing at 1:00 PM as the competition will be tonight.
I wandered in the canteen, looking for the snack I crave.
I sat near the platform's entrance so I spot Lawrence as soon as he arrives. I watched the ongoing basketball match between JAFINEX and YMAP. It's championship, the second quarter of the game. YMAP leads by five points .
"Hoo! 3 points." I shouted in amusement when player number 5 made a three-point shot, ringless.
"Maskara! Maskara!" cheered by the cluster members, YMAPs.
"Go! Pintados! Go-go! Pintados!" Cheered by the defensive team's cluster members, JAFINEXs.
I shouted again when player number 5, stole the ball and made a two-point shot. Another score for YMAPs.
"Hoo! Go number 5!" I shouted, cheering the player.
"Go number 5!" A familiar voice mimicked in sarcasm. I shut my mouth immediately. It's Lawrence. For Pete's sake! What I did is so unmaiden. Why did he arrived when I was in such state?
I checked the time. It's 12:50 pm.
I brought a piece of paper and wrote on top of it "Attendance for HBO" and August 11, 2015 below. I jot my name down including Lawrence's and marked my signature. I then pass the sheet to him.
"It will be hard finding me later. Better confirm your attendance now." I told him.
"Why would it be when that's what I'm good at, finding you."
Did something hit his head? Cause he's saying nonsense again, giving me false hope.
"Ha-ha-ha. Three-some laugh for your joke." I said in sarcasm as I looked back. Surprise attack again. Here we go again. I can't stop myself feeling the butterflies in my stomach. Goodness, Lawrence! Stop those signals. If for you it's not big deal well for me it is. So please, don't give me false hope. It's useless having hope when you know he won't catch you from falling.
I took a deep sigh...
" Are you done?" I asked. He just passed the sheet to me. I texted my mates to look for me at the gym's entrance to confirm their attendance.
"I better go." I said, waving goodbye.
"You should watch me tonight." He ordered.
"I'll surely watch! After all it was me who pushed you to join. Besides, I'm your number one supporter" I retorted with a smile. Later left him to wait for our mates.
As instructed, I submitted the attendance sheet to Ms. Cabanada, our prof. in HBO, at 1:15 pm. Fortunately, I was able to find the latter immediately. She was one of the pageant's organizer.
I sat at the bleachers and watched the rehearsal. I saw Lawrence chatting with Xavier, another candidate from our cluster. Each cluster has two candidates.
I bit my lips to stop myself from shouting when Lawrence rehearsed his walk along the platform. He is effortlessly nailing it. I was trying to take a picture of him when he glance towards my direction. My phone almost slip through my hand. My God! I almost have to pay for my sister's iPhone.
I texted my mom that I will be coming home late. I reserved a seat on third row, near the center aisle. The first and second seat rows were alloted for faculty and family members of the candidates.
I'm starting to feel my hunger. I brought my wallet out and left my bag on my seat. I'll buy something to ease my hunger.
"Ate, could you please look after my bag? I'll be back shortly." I requested to the girl sitting beside me. She just nodded in response.
After buying snacks, I went near the back stage, trying to find Lawrence. I'll give a "Fresh" candy to wish him luck. Fresh, it's those candy with a phrase on the back of it's wrapper.
And the one I'm giving has this phrase ... "I love you". It's my Indirect and silent confession. Actually, I always give him "Fresh" candies everyday and I always choose the phrase that perfectly relays my feelings. That's me, a girl trying to confess through the candy wrappers. Such might be the first time among others.
My heart was filled with happiness when I finally saw him. I took a deep breath before approaching him.
My jaw almost dropped when he glanced at me. His outfit complements his handsomeness. Making him a stand out among others.
"Hi!" He greeted back.
"Wow! You look awesome" I said, bemused.
"Candy, to wish you goodluck!" I continued. He took the candy and stared at it shortly. Did he read it?
"Thanks!" Lawrence. He was about to go back on stage when I grabbed his hand, stopping him from moving away.
"Let's take a picture. It'll be hard taking one later considering the crowd"
"Thanks. I better go back to my seat"
It's the swim wear segment of the competition. My excitement is making a mess out of me. My vocal chords is almost breaking from shouting as I've been cheering him as loud as I can. What I'm really looking forward to finally came. Witnessing his yummy "pandesal" is an opportunity hard to come.
"Contestant number 5!" announce by the emcee, I almost jumped out of my seat when I heard his number.
"Kyaaaah! Kyaaaah! Go Lawrence!" I cheered endlessly when he go out the platform and modeled his well built body. Damn! He is so hot. Those hard abs is a bonus. I brought my phone out and took a picture of him. I saw him wink. Wait! Did he wink at me?
"And the Ginoong CBEA this 2015 is contestant...." the emcee paused for awhile to create tension in the crowd.
"Congratulation! Contestant number 5, for you are the Ginoong CBEA this 2015." finally announced by the emcee. But what....
Kyaaaah! Contestant number 5? Lawrence won the crown.
"Kyaaaah! Kyaaaah! Lawrence, won!" I shouted gleefully.
The pageant ended. The crowd is uncontrollable and in complete chaos. They are trying to take pictures with the winning candidates.
"Lawrence! Let's take a picture." I shouted. The crowd stared at me maliciously.
"He's a classmate" I whispered in defense.
"You're indeed addicted to me!" He teased when I reached him. I asked one among the crowd to take a picture of us. My eyes widened when he placed his arm around me. The phone flashes. Damn! For sure I look weird in the picture. I asked him to take another shot.
"Thanks!" I said gratefully to the student who took the picture of us.
"Congrats!" I mouthed as I shake Lawrence's hand. I was about to go when he place something in hand then closed my hand like a fist.
I received a text message when I went down the platform. I checked my phone. Unknown number.
Hi! It's me, Lawrence. The candy. I'm giving it back. It really brought me a lot of luck. Thanks.
My eyes widened on what I read. Lawrence knew my number? Wait! Is this a sign my Lord? My forehead creased when I looked at Lawrence direction. He's busy smiling in front of the camera. How did he text me? Maybe the text message was scheduled through the send later option. He's such a genius. The time the message was sent was so precise.
I went out the gym, planning to go home. I opened the candy and ate it. I read the message/phrase at the back of the wrapper
I love you too.
The candy went straight to my esophagus from the shock. It almost choked me. Wait. This was the candy I gave Lawrence awhile ago. The difference is, he added the "I love you" with a word "too". I immediately run inside the pageant venue. Did my silent confession got a reply?
He was already gone when I reached the platform. I went near the back stage's exit and waited for him. I pick a flower near me and bet the answer on it.
He loves me...
He loves me not...
He loves me...
He loves me not...
He loves me...
I took a deep sigh. Haist! Stop this madness Marian. There you are again, trying to drift from reality. Stop assuming things! I let the flower go and about to leave when he spoke.
"Hey, waiting for me?" Lawrence.
"What's this" I asked, puzzled.
"A candy wrapper" he retorted lazily.
I faced the exit and started to walk after his answer. Indeed! It's a candy wrapper. How idiot of me to even think it was the other way around.
I stopped walking when someone grabbed my wrist. Slowly faced me to him.
"If you are looking for the answer, it's better to ask that person who gave you that uncertainty directly rather than betting the answer with some stupid things." Lawrence.
"You know why? 'Cause that stupid flower won't tell you the answer." He added. He saw me plucking the flower petals.
"And it's better to tell a person what you feel directly rather than expressing it through a candy wrapper." I asked back, trying to mimick him.
"You know why? 'Cause that stupid candy wrapper won't express your feelings." I added
"Tsk! I hate people who are slow but you are an exemption." said Lawrence.
"I'm not slow, you're just complicated" I retorted in defense
"Tsk! Let's stop this madness. The bottom line is, I LOVE YOU." Lawrence trying to be romantic.
"Right! Because the bottom line is I LOVE YOU TOO." I agreed
And before I knew it, our lips already met.