Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Long Weekend (Chapter 1)

The Long Weekend
By Thad Hinunangan

The styrofoam cup felt warm on my hand, but the coffee was still scalding hot. I stirred it some more, careful not to spill its contents on my lap.

“What time is the bus leaving?” My bestfriend was smoking her third cigarette for the day.

“Probably at 7am. Ugh! Why did we arrive so early!” She scoffs.

I was with three friends- Tatat, my bestfriend, Eric, a fellow Team Manager and my long time crush, and Jen, who I just met weeks ago. We all worked in the same office, except for Jen. We were headed to Sagada, Mountain Province for a three-day stay. Presently, we were huddled together in a corner in Dangwa Bus Station in Baguio, as we wait for the first bus to Sagada.

“Gab, do you already have your QA scores for the week?” Eric asks. I took a sip of my coffee. “I don't have them yet. I'll phone Malou of Queue desk tomorrow and ask.”

“Wasn't your team the highest last week? Your team has been consistent with high marks. The Quarterly Evals are coming up, and it looks like a big bonus is coming your way.” Eric smiles as he sits on the bench opposite to mine.

“I hope you're right on that one.” I reply. Eric and I were batchmates- we were among the pioneer reps in the company, who at that time merely had forty employees. In a span of four years the number of employees had grown exponentially, with its present count almost reaching a thousand. Both of us now held higher positions, and are both up for evaluation.

Eric was tall, mestizo, and well educated- a combination rare among guys. He graduated Cum Laude from Ateneo, and if that wasn’t enough he also happens to be well off and incredibly nice. He became known as “the office heart throb”, who elicited stares from girls and gay guys alike at work.

I call him “the impossible dreamboat”, for I was among those who secretly had a crush on him. It was such an irrational infatuation, that I always get mad at myself whenever I think of him. Every time I have lunch with him at the pantry, I would silently curse myself for enjoying his company. Let me explain: First of all, Eric is a straight guy, and that alone should be enough to deter me. A straight- gay relationship is a paradox; it will always be one way since he can’t return the feeling. Second, let us say, if in a parallel universe I was a girl, he would still be way out of my league. He is well bred, well off, and sophisticated. And me, well, all the schooling at UP Diliman will never change my provincial ways. Third, he is my friend, and in that respect should be off limits. It would be such a waste to throw that friendship out the window.

“Here comes the bus.” Says Jen.

Tatat turns to me and whispers. “I didn't know she could speak.” I made a face. “Hey, be nice to her. She's Eric's friend.”
With our luggage in hand, we board the bus. I take a seat next to the window, and my friend Tatat sits on the adjacent seat. Jen and Eric took the seats on the next row. There were hardly any passengers except for an old woman who brought with her baskets of vegetables, a boy with a stack of newspapers, and an old man in the back.

The rickety bus finally moves as its engine sputtered to life. I ready my camera as I lean out the window, enjoying the cool morning breeze. Tatat lit another cigarette.

“How many hours was it again to Sagada?” I nudge her.

“Seven years.” She replies, waving her hand for emphasis.

“Aww C'mon Gab, just enjoy the sights. The views are spectacular, and the last time I was here, I took a lot of great photos.” Eric chimes in.

“The ones posted on Friendster?” Tatat asks.

“Yeah, I think I saw those. Where are we staying again?” I ask Eric, who had been to the place before. Gosh, he looked so cute in his navy sweater.

“St. Joseph Resthouse. It’s a really cool place, and their common area has a fireplace. Plus, its really cheap. The amount you spend for a three day stay in Bora can last a month here.” Eric said.

“Sounds good!” I look out the window again. I could only see mountains, as far as my eyes could see. It was such a different experience for me, since I’m a beach person. Puerto Galera was my favorite holiday getaway, perhaps because it reminded me of the beach in our province that was only about three blocks from our house.

I remember the scene that happened a week ago in the office..
Stick around for the continuation.


-=mink_blink=- said...

Thadie medyo nabitin yata yung kwento mo... never been into Sagada, pero ive tried hiking before isang beses lang to do some grass research...

Phoenix said...

@ mink_blink: Hi mink! Sagada is fantastic- you should go visit the next time uwi ka ng Pinas.. Actually this is just the exposition.. introducing the characters and the setting. Still have parts 2 and 3 coming up!

cant_u_read said...

"Second, let us say, if in a parallel universe I was a girl, he would still be way out of my league. He is well bred, well off, and sophisticated."

aww.... don't sell urself short!

Phoenix said...

@ cant_u_read: I don't ; ) It's fiction and I needed to embelish a bit to enhance the dramatic quality of the story hehehe

josh said...

these r d true-2-lyf stories dat make my eyes glued on d screen... 3 parts pa.... :-)

Phoenix said...

@ josh: hmm based on true stories, but i've altered them a bit ; )


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