It was one time. That was all it took for everything to come crashing down.

She met him with a  face void of emotion. Drained, somehow. The girl who had light in her eyes and heart on her sleeve was gone, swallowed up by the crushing blow of what he’d done to her, to them. There were dark circles under her eyes and her hair was coming out of her messy ponytail. There was some speck of blood on the corner of her uniform’s pocket where the top of her multi-colored pen and bandage scissors poked out, as if she didn’t have the energy to wipe it off her nursing scrubs.

“Say something,” he croaks.

He’d just told her the truth. He thought the hardest part was telling her about what happened in the tiny quarters with the other intern-- what he and Tricia, of all people--- had done, but right now the absolute blankness of her face is like a knife driving straight into his heart. Twisting all the way to his shoulder blades.

A slap across the face would have been much, much more bearable.

“Babe I’m sorry,” he tries again, struggling and failing to keep his voice level, grabbing for her hand. It lay limply against his tight grip. “I’ll try fix us, I promise,” he says, “Just please...just one chance to---”

A tiny, awful smile twists in her lips.

And it drives that knife further in.

“This isn’t something you can fix,” she says quietly.

“Don’t say that.”

“I’ll never be good enough for you, will I?”

“Babe,” he said, and it was all he could do to keep from begging, to keep his heart from hammering “Don’t say that, please. I was wrong, I made a mistake---”

She pulls her hand away from his grip gently, Too gently. “It’s better this way I guess,” she says, staring hard at her shoes, “I mean, two years hardly matter in the greater scheme of things right?” she says with a shrug, her words hitting home like she meant them to. Two years, wasted.  

“We’ve just...reached our expiry date, is all. Like how our patients do. Things... weren’t meant to last. That’s just how they go.”

No no no
“Babe, please” he says, tears stinging his eyes, “We can still fix this,” he doesn’t care if he’s repeating it over and over, panic was rising in his throat and he’s so afraid he was going to lose her then and there...

And then she shakes her head and says. “You can’t.”

She opens the car door and shuts it. Never once looking back, she walks the whole length of the dark alley, hails a 14D jeep and goes without a goodbye.

He passes by her station in the hopes of catching her eye. He’s been on his feet for more than 24 hours but that didn’t seem such a big deal.

She’s always somewhere else. The charge nurse shoos him away every time.


He leaves sweets by her locker, her favorite kind, the one you can only buy at those membership supermarkets and nowhere else. When he does his rounds he finds those chocolates on some patient’s bedside instead.

He’s eating lunch alone at Tagala’s-- that chicken and ngohiong place near the hospital. They used to eat here, before, when their schedules performed a miracle and actually matched. The empty seat beside him feels cold and he’s wishing he’d gone someplace else instead.

He thinks maybe this is how MVA patients feel after a head-on collision: numb, numb, numb and then everything comes crashing right back where it hurts.

Nothing was working. Maybe he’d been stupid enough to think that what he’d done could still fix them. So he throws himself to work instead. To forget her face, forget his mistakes--- work is the best distraction. He tells himself they were right- it was stupid to be in a relationship in the middle of med school, even if it was with the girl he’s known half his life. Even if, despite everything between them now, she’d been his best friend.

I don’t need her he tells himself. He tried to silence his conscience and looked for parts of her that he can be angry at, but he found none. But no more begging her to stay, either.

When word of her leaving the hospital reaches him, he tells himself that he is happy.


The pictures start coming through his feeds after a month or so. At first they were familiar: the turquoise waters of Kawasan, a stretch of white sand that was likely Moalboal or Badian or Alcoy. Then craggy summits- Osmena peak. She must be at the south, gallivanting and enjoying her newfound freedom. Then they start getting farther and farther: sea turtles and dolphins; limestone cliffs and old Balete trees. Rock pools and the surf lapping at her ankles as she tries to catch a wave.

Something inside him cracks but he can’t stop scrolling over the photos.

The list. Their travel bucket list, the one he’d promised they’d go once the brunt of med school passed. They were going to go places, he promised. Have adventures, memories, the best time.

Apparently she’s checking them off, one by one.

Without him.



It was ER duty, late into the night, when a couple of drunk-sounding girls came giggling through the doors.
“She fell off the bike!” offered one of them, delighted.
“My arm is bleeding!” laughed the other one.

And then there she was, sporting a long ugly gash on her arm, her drunken smile faltering as she took in his disheveled hair, his name plate, his coat.


“You fell of a bike? Really, a bike? Do you even know how to ride one?”

She just rolled her eyes.

Her hair was longer, and a lighter shade of brown. Was that a piercing on her ear?

“Were you drinking? You’re allergic to beer,” he says, trying to keep his voice down, donning on his gloves. She’s definitely had a few bottles.
“That’s how you get rid of allergies right? By actually drinking booze?” she snaps.

He’s trying to push his anger down. “Who were you with?” he glanced at her companion as if to say I don’t know who you’re running around with anymore.

Are you eating well do you have your nebulizer with you Jesus what are you doing riding bikes at this hour, love?

“Doc, do you know each other?” asked her companion, kind of irritated, “She’s hurt. Can’t you just fix her already?”

He stilled at the words.

Just fix her already.

Her mouth is a thin line, catching the meaning.

His eyes are on her as he says, “Believe me, I’ve been trying to.”

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