It was a hot and cloudless day. I alighted from the bus, momentarily blinded by the glaring sun beating mercilessly upon the landscape. It was an hour or two before he would be off for his lunch break, so I tried seeking refuge from the sweltering heat. At the corner was some inconspicuous internet shop. "Might as well check my e-mails and do some surfing," I said to myself. However, my weary-laden eyelids had other plans. I dozed off in front of the monitor almost as soon as I settled on the chair. It was a brief but deep sleep, punctuated by hazy dreams and veiled, half-remembered images. I woke up with a start, unsettled and slightly agitated because of the vagueness of what my subconscious was trying to communicate to me.
Shortly before 12 noon, I stood outside the building, puffing away on my fast-dwindling pack of cigarettes. The cell phone rang, and I picked it up. "I'm off. I'll be there in a few," he said. I put the handset down quickly, and anxiously scanned for him across the street.
Then, I saw him.
He was a vision in red shirt and dark blue jeans, his dark shades blindingly flashing in the brightness of the noontime sun.
I had to avert my gaze and close my eyes. It was as if that very moment encapsulated a glimpse into eternity. My soul flowed over, both with infinite ecstasy and with much profound sorrow.
When finally I opened my eyes, time was standing still. All that my heart could see was him slowly crossing the street, walking towards me, the Spice of Eternal Wanderer's life.
"Gutom ka na?," he said as soon as he came up to me. He was still flushed and flustered by the short walk in the heat, but he still managed to flash his bedimpled smile.
(Be still, my heart.)
"Oo. Dito na lang tayo kumain, para mabilis," I said.
(I can't breathe. No. I can. But the only thing I can breathe is the scent you are wearing. The scent that you left on the pillow when you last slept in my bed.)
The lunch proved to be uneventful. He was proudly showing off his new I-Phone, and I teased him that he probably loves it more than me. He playfully threw a paper napkin at me with the comment. I threw it back at him with a matching smile. I told him about the misadventure at the bus station. He was sympathetic about it, and said it was really like that during the holidays.
All small talk. Nothing earth-shaking, no soul-shattering revelations. He soon had to go back to the office, and I, too, had to continue on with my journey. But in that fleeting hour spent together, I realized something.
270 kilometers and 6 hours are all but numbers.
They mean nothing to the heart.
And yes, for him, I still will go the distance.
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