happy new tears

Confusion. It starts like a tickle in your throat. You clear it, hope it goes away but it comes back, even stronger than before. I couldn’t shake it. It followed me around all day. A question – are you cheating on me?

I get home close to midnight and you’re not here. I send out a three-word SOS. Where are you? No response. My phone says the message was delivered. But was it really? 

I wash off the day’s stresses and for a second, the warm water on my skin soothes me. A song comes on the radio, something about a lover’s lying eyes and without me meaning to, the thoughts have returned. It’s late and I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing. I… don’t know… who you’re with. I keep it at bay. No. I push it away. I turn away so I don’t see it. But here it is. Here she comes. The question – are you cheating on me? 

You’re probably working. You probably forgot to have dinner again and stopped by a fastfood joint for a quick bite. Maybe you’re out with your friends – you barely see them anyway. Certainly there’s a perfectly logical explanation as to why you’re still out at an ungodly hour. Maybe you’ve found someone. Maybe he’s kinder. Maybe he’s better. Maybe he’s a good little boy content living in your shadow. I promise I won’t be angry. Just tell me. Are you cheating on me?

You get home and it’s almost 3. I have to get up and work in 2 hours and yet, my mind won’t lend itself to sleep. You tell me you had a long day at work, some crisis only you could solve and I wondered how long it would take for you to see the crisis in my heart. You undress and lay down next to me. My heart rate slows now that you’re home. I close my eyes and try to wind down as best as I can. In the darkness, your hands creep through the sheets to find mine. You pull me closer to you, kiss me sweetly on the forehead, and say good night.

That could have been where the story ended. I wish it could end there but when you moved close to me, I caught a faint whiff of something alien. It took me a second to identify it. It smelled like dark roses and deceit. That’s not your perfume, nor is it mine. Whose scent is this? Who left like an indelible mark on your skin? Whose hands were you holding just hours before? Does he know you’re here with me? 

And just like that, the sliver of doubt that crept into my heart reveals itself to be something bigger. Damn it, he’s cheating on me.


Confirmation. It is morning and you’re still in bed. I creep out from under the covers as quietly as I can. I glance at you as you lay there sleeping, your eyes closed, mouth slightly agape as you snore. You look so peaceful, I am tempted to hold you. For a second, I consider forgetting the thoughts in my head, abandon the seeds of doubt in my heart. If I don’t water them, they’ll never sprout. They could just stay there, waiting, watching for the next crack so it can rear its ugly head.

I put my arms around you and you grunt gently. I’ve known you long enough to know you’re not awake. My hands creep under the pillow for the truth – I know if there’s anything happening I would find it in your phone. With some more reaching, I find it. I run downstairs like a dog coming home after he’s found a bone. With the curtains still drawn, I sit in the dark wonder if I should cross this line. This is it. This is the point of no return. Once I open this, there can be no turning back. Do I risk everything to know the truth? Is it better to be happy than to be right?

I scroll through photos, of random selfies and food you’ve eaten. Some I recognize because you sent them to me. Others, I assume were left in your drafts. I check your phone logs and find the usual suspects – your mother, your friends, a few people from work. I check your messages and see nothing alarming, save for a very persistent telemarketer offering part-time jobs. This can’t be it. There must be more. I’m not crazy, am I? I was just about to call it a day when a notification sends a chill down my spine.

“Hey,” he said. “I hope you got home safe. I’m still a little sore but it was so worth it. Till next time?” There was a winking emoji, playful and innocent. I wanted to scratch out its semi-colon eyes.

The notification opens a messaging app, one I haven’t seen or heard of before. As I scrolled through the dozens of messages, some from months ago, I swear I could hear the sound of my heart breaking. There, in countless sweet words and images were all of your indiscretions, all of the times you turned your back on me, on the life we have, on the future we were building, on the men we were going to become. Like a masochist, I found myself going through each message. Your boys talk about your body like it was a country they visited visa free. You lead them on with kind words, with sweet nothings I thought you had reserved for me. They send you photos of themselves, disheveled selfies in the morning, erect manhoods at night. You sent them cute photos of yourself, the same one for every boy, and they treat it like it was a goddamn prize.

I scroll up to the sore bastard who you met tonight. I read some of your messages today. 

U alone?

At work. 

U free? 

You mean time, or otherwise? 

 I don’t know when or how it happened but somewhere along the line, my love – once a fine cushion you could lay your head upon – turned into shackles that tied you down. I would never ask for your freedom, only your loyalty and your love. I’m sorry that’s what it’s become. I’m sorry – whatever it was, I’m saying sorry – wondering if you ever will.


Collapse. It is almost noon when you awake. I spent all morning spinning, spiraling into doubt, chaos, and despair. I sit patiently as you make your morning coffee, smoke your first cigarette, and retreat into the bathroom. It is your morning routine that I’ve watched for seven years. I can almost set my watch to it.

You emerge from the bathroom, relieved but with sleep still in your eyes.

“We need to talk,” I say quietly, the warmth all but gone in my tone. You stop in your tracks and look at me, look around at the house we called home, checking for obvious damage. Finding none, you take a seat on the sofa. There is confusion in your eyes.

“What’s wrong?” you ask and I say to myself maybe it isn’t too late. Maybe this is a Pandora’s box I don’t need to open. I didn’t know where to start. It feels like I’ve stepped onto an open field and around me are a hundred landmines.

I start with what makes sense. “Are you happy with me?”

“Oo naman,” you chuckle, dismissing.

“Where is this coming from?”

“I just want to know if you’re happy.”

“I am. Of course, I am. Ikaw ba?” 

I pause to ponder the question. “I thought I was.” I look up to meet your eyes. There is a kindness laced with sadness in them. “I thought you were happy. But maybe I was wrong.”

“That’s ridiculous. No relationship is easy, but we make do with what we have.”

“Do you feel trapped here?”

“Where is this coming from?” you ask. 

“Did something happen? You can tell me. You know you can always tell me.”

This is it. This is the point of no return in this conversation. My feet firmly on the landmine, it becomes increasingly clear that no one was coming to save me. 

“I’m giving you one last chance. Is there… anything… you need to tell me?” My breath shaky, I barely get the words out. 

“Nothing. There’s nothing. We’re happy, aren’t we? What is this? Tell me, what’s going on.”

“Is that what you tell Noel?” He looks up at me, a burrowing in his eyebrows. He recognizes the name, of course but looks confused as it leaves my lips.


“You heard me. Does Noel think you’re happy too?”

He sits across me, realization slowly washing upon his face. 

“You checked my phone.”

“You changed your passcode.”

“Still. You checked my phone.”

“You’re missing the point.”

“And what is the point?”

“How can I love you when I… I can’t trust you?”

“Are you saying you don’t love me anymore?”

“Are you?

“No, that’s not it. That’s… that’s not it.”

“Then what is it?” 

His sad eyes burst into tears. He breaks down, turning into a crumpled sheet of paper as his arms reach out for me. He holds on to my side, his tears soaking through my shirt. I tense up, my shoulders frozen as he holds on to me. Through muffled tears, he says he’s sorry. And it takes all of me not to comfort him through this storm.

“You know what’s sad? Of all the bad shit we’ve been through, I never thought this would be the most painful. You, sitting there, lying straight to my face.”

He sits up and I wipe the tears off his face. A cacophony of apologies still bursting out of his mouth, I push him away. 

“You could have just said you fell out of love with me. Instead, you made me feel like the biggest idiot in the world. Sana niloko mo nalang ako. Hindi yung ginawa mo pa akong tanga.”

“So what does this mean?” he asks. “Are you breaking up with me?”

“I don’t know. I… I feel like I’m done.”

“What does that mean?”

“I…” The words barely come out of my mouth. “I think we’re done.” 

 That day, I learned the sound of a seven-year promise caving in on itself and nothing was ever going to be the same again.


Compromise. They say what’s meant for you will never pass you by. I think of all this as I stand in the rubble of my world collapsing. Everything I thought I knew no longer is. Surely there were warning signs. Was I so happy that I didn’t notice the first few hairline cracks?

And maybe it was simpler when we were younger. Maybe before we had a home and promises to keep, we had the time to focus on just being… us. I don’t even know. Somehow, in the middle of paying the bills, getting groceries, making a life, we lost touch of each other. Maybe in the pursuit of living a life together, I failed to see that he’d let go of my hand and found solace in someone else’s.

It’s been a few days since we broke up. And though I’ve been brave and strong, rejecting all advances, I feel my resolve getting weaker by the day. We walk through these halls like ghosts although what exactly died, we were too chickenshit to figure out. Last night while he was sleeping, his arms slithered through the sheets to wrap around me. And while the previous nights, I pushed him away, last night I just let him. I lay there, equal parts sad and angry, and wondered if it was me he wanted to sleep with tonight or was it someone else.

He said they meant nothing to him. That I was still the man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. And I could just close my eyes and let that wave take me away. Surely, I could forgive. Surely, there’s enough love here to see us through. But what would that say about me? How many times can I look the other way before I realize I’m not the same person anymore.

A scuffle upstairs. My lover is awake. He is taking things from the closet. I tiptoe up the stairs to see what he’s up to. I see folded clothes on the bed, a suitcase A cold sweat flows from my brow to my nape. I ask him what he’s doing. He doesn’t say. I ask him where he’s going. He doesn’t say. I watch as he sorts the dirty laundry, picking out his shirts, his jeans, his boxer briefs, and towels. I didn’t know it was possible but my broken heart shattered into even smaller pieces.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m leaving.”

“I can see that. Why?”

“What’s the point of staying here when we aren’t together?” I couldn’t argue with that logic. 

“You don’t have to leave. I said you could stay for as long as you wanted to.” 

Tsk. He scoffs, like I was the one being ridiculous. “So I can be a freeloader? So you can be right, and pure, and blameless while I’m the one who ruined everything? You want to rub that in my face?”

“No. No, that’s not it.”

“Then was it? Huh? You want to break my heart but you don’t want me to leave?”

“You don’t get to leave, okay? You don’t get to abandon be in this house we built together. You don’t get to shit on the life we had then leave me here to pick up the pieces.”

“Is that what you want? You want me to suffer because I hurt you?”

“Yes? No? I don’t know… Look, I don’t know what I want. I only know this isn’t it. I can’t see this. Please stop.” He stops folding dirty laundry, puts the basket back in its corner, and sits on the bed.

He looks at me, sees the pain in my eyes and motions for me to sit beside him. I do as I’m told and he holds me.

“I’m sorry I wasted the last seven years of your life.”

“It wasn’t all a waste. I mean… we had our moments.”

“I never wanted to hurt you, even though that’s all I seem to be doing lately. I’m sorry. I’m sorry…”

“I thought I was ready to see you go but seeing you here… seeing this. I… I don’t know if I can do it.” 

“Listen to this,” he says, his hand on my heart. “What is it telling you? Do you want me to go? Because I’ll go if that’s what you want. But something tells me, this isn’t over.”

They say what’s meant for you will never pass you by. Please… don’t pass me by.