17B


Part two of our Jeepney Lovestories series. You can read that part one here.

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Ah Jones, Colon, Santo Nino! Jones! Colon!--- the konduktor shouts. 

She puts the coins into his grimy, calloused hands.

“Sakto ra na,” she says. Wherever she’s going, seven pesos can take her there.

She’s never been to Downtown alone before. Then again, there’s always a first time for everything. She’s been to farther places, after all. The jeep bursts forward and her hair whips around her face as they fly through the boulevard.

The memory comes so swift, she doesn’t have time to dodge it.  This was just like the first time he took her for a drive--- it was fast and scary and oddly exhilarating, and a breeze from another time whipped through her hair. She remembers his eyes, deepest brown, even in the passing lamplight. He could hardly keep his eyes on the road. And even then he’d always reach over the console. 

To hold her hand. 

She shudders at the memory and silently prays for this ride to be over.

The first time they held hands was both awkward and sweet. That was the first time she understood why people called it having butterflies in your stomach, which was silly, because butterflies didn’t even cut it. It was more of this strange, wonderful feeling that clawed its way up to her chest and cheeks and it made her fingers warm whenever she looked at him. Nope, not butterflies. More of a typhoon in the middle of summer. Or a sandstorm.

He’d held her hand too, that last night they spoke, when he’d confessed what she’d long suspected. He cheated on her and the fact of it hit her like a blow. 
He held on to her hand like a lifeline, he was drowning in his guilt and knew she was slipping away from him. 
 Something inside her breaks at the memory, and instead of that warm feeling she gets whenever she remembers his name, there's a bitter taste in her mouth. 

There was no excuse for what he’d done. No excuse at all. 

A small part of her could even believe that he’s sorry. She knew, he truly was. But a bigger part of her felt like he’d betrayed not only her, but them; he’d betrayed their memories and sold them out for some action inside some cramped room with some other girl. All of a sudden, those windy night drives transformed into something stale and childish and the kisses between lamp posts became cheap thrills instead of cherished memories. And her hand in his--- it was this filthy, stupid thing and all she can think about was how his hands touched that other girl, if they made that other girl feel the things he made her feel.

Bile rose on her throat just as the jeep pauses at a red light.

Months and months of traveling was a balm to the burn he’d left. Never mind that they’d made that bucketlist together; he was the one who chose someone else over her--- who’s to stop her from going places now? Then she split her arm and had to rush to the ER. She’d been too tipsy to realize he’d be on the night shift. 

She ended up with four stitches.

There was a real scar on her now, long and ugly, but perhaps that was the simplest wound he left her with. She swaggered out of the ER after the minor operation, never once wincing, never acknowledging how much his hands shook as he tried to fix her. It was funny how he can patch up a laceration in 45 minutes flat and do so little about their severed relationship.

He called her name as she made her way out of the swinging doors.

“Take care, will you?” he said. She simply tucked her insurance card inside her wallet and left.

It’s been a month or so since. She heard from a friend that he’s been studying for the licensure exams all this time. The exams was to begin in a couple of days. Has it really been that long?

For some weird reason, even after all that’s happened between them, she found herself here on this jeep, on her way to do something incredibly stupid or vaguely heroic. For the boy who broke her heart, who’d been the same boy who took her to late night drives and made typhoons rumble in her chest.

Maybe she was naive, or foolish. She didn’t know why she was doing this, but she just had a feeling that she had to. He did a lot of wrong things but she was better than being hateful. And maybe this would be the start of a very long process of getting over him.

There’s always a first time for everything, after all. A small prayer for the boy she once loved wouldn't hurt, either.

She could see the Basilica’s bell tower now. She clinks a coin against the handrail--- its shrill sound pinging as fast as her heart was beating.

“Lugar lang,” she told the konduktor.



Author's Note:

17B- a jeep route that traverses most of downtown Cebu

Sakto ra na - literally translates "that should be enough", a term Cebuanos use to tell the driver or barker that their fare is the exact amount and doesn't need change

Lugar lang- a term used to make a jeep stop when you've reached your destination

I didn't intend this one to have a sequel? These Jeepney Lovestories (please please give me a better title!) were supposed to be one-shots or one-episode stories involving the different jeep routes that ply metro Cebu. But this sequel felt right. They're inspired by my daily commute--- I ride at least 3 jeeps every day to work, and during the ride, I always end up thinking--- what are these other passengers thinking? What are their backstories? We all have these twisting plotlines inside of us, right? Different arcs and character developments? I had so much fun writing this. We might even have a part three! Find out next Wednesday.




Lots of love and #feelings,

K x