"It is what it is. What can I say? You chose a man with complications." And he said this to me in one breath, as though it were that easy. My mind raced with questions. Did he love me? Would that be enough? What was I looking for? What did I expect I could get from all this? I couldn't answer any of them. I just sat there, eyes glued to the floor as the man with too many strings attached broke my heart.
"Do you love her?" I asked. It was a question that would hurt but I needed to hear his answer. He tapped the bottom end of his cigarette pack and tore the seal off. He took the first stick and put it back in the pack, filter end first. What he needed a wish stick for, I didn't need to know.
"I don't know," he answered, his pitch tentative. "Not as much as I used to but I guess there's still some love there. When you give your heart to someone, anyone really, a part of you will always love them."
"What about me?" I asked, the words getting caught in my throat. "Will a part of me always be with you?" He looked away. His silence spoke more than any explanation he could give me. And since the burden was all mine, I was left with nothing to do but to cradle my head in my hands and wait for the world to stop spinning.
"My father taught me how to smoke. Did I ever tell you that? He said that the first cigarette is always lucky and so each new pack gives you a fresh wish. That's why I keep doing this," he said, showing me the stick he had flipped. Maybe this was his way of answering my question. "I know it sounds silly but a part of me has always believed in that."
"And what did you wish for in this pack?"
"I wished that I'd met you before her." He lit up a cigarette and took short, pensive puffs. "Because the only alternative is after her. And I just don't think I can do that." I looked straight into his dark brown eyes and saw a million forevers that would never be.
The new year brings us hope – hope of a fresh start, of possibilities, and of countless choices that won't turn into regrets. If I could do it all over again, would I have wrapped my life around his? He took one last puff of his cigarette, put it out on his shoe, and walked away.
♫: Dishwalla | Angels or Devils (2002)
MANIGONG BAGONG TAON! And so another year comes to a close. I know I didn't really get to write that much (14 posts! My lowest ever!) but I sincerely appreciate everybody for sticking around anyway. See you next year!