A/N: This is a continuation to Foolish Hearts – part 7
Chapter 8 – The Drive
Saturday, 7:45 a.m., Richard and Maya were at the condo unit of Ysabel pressing the doorbell. As agreed a week before, they were to travel to San Nicolas together using Richard’s car. He suggested using only one car since he doesn’t know how to get to their hometown. Logistically, it would be easier and cheaper for them to be in one vehicle. However, that Saturday morning, Ysa wasn’t responding to Maya’s phone call so they decided to go up to her unit to check on her.
Richard and Maya had been waiting for almost 10 minutes when finally, the door opened. Ysa obviously had just woken up since was still in her robe when she peeped thru the door.
“Hello Ysa.” Maya greeted her friend.
“Hi Maya.” She answered lazily and opened the door wider. Then, she saw the figure beside Maya. “Ay, good morning Sir Richard.” She tightened her robe closer to her body.
“Naku, sorry, kagigising ko lang. We have to go na? Teka, teka.” There was an obvious panic in Ysa behavior.
“Oo, ano Ysa, ligo ka na hihintayin ka na lang namin. Hindi mo ba kami papasukin?” Maya gave her friend a strange look. They were still in the doorway having conversation.
“Ah… eh… kasi…na late kami umuwi kagabi. Ikaw naman ang aga aga mo umuwi.” Ysa stammered; her thoughts in disarray.
It appeared to Richard that Maya and Ysa were together the previous night. Before he could ask what Ysa was referring to, they heard a man’s voice coming from the bedroom. “Babe, what’s taking you long?”
Ysa blushed as she looked at Maya who seemed surprised. Maya recognized Lino’s voice. Richard who has been observing the two was unaffected by the girls reactions.
Richard took over the conversation. “So, Ysa makakasabay ka ba sa amin sa pag-uwi sa San Nicolas?” He plainly asked.
“Ayy, Sir, okay lang ba na mauna na kayo ni Maya? Kasi alam n’yo na, maghahanda pa kami.” Ysa was a bit apologetic in her request.
“It’s fine. Can you manage to go there later?”
“Kami na lang ang mag-da-drive pauwi.” It was Lino who responded to his question. He joined them at the door. He was still in his pajamas. “Hi Maya.” He winked at her.
Maya took the cue and introduced the two men. “Ricky, si Lino ang boyfriend ni Ysabel. Taga San Nicolas din s’ya.”
Lino extended his hand to Richard. “Hi Ricky, nice to meet you. So, ikaw pala ang boyfriend ni Maya.” After saying that, Ysa elbowed him. Maya blushed at the assumption.
Richard grinned as they shook hands. “Nice meeting you too, Lino.” Then, he glanced at Maya who was uneasy after Lino’s comment . He turned his attention back to the couple. “So, I guess we’ll go ahead of you. Magkikita na lang tayo doon later.”
“Sige, sir. See you later.” Ysa bade them goodbye.
A few minutes later, Richard and Maya were in SLEX on their way to San Nicolas. Maya noticed that Richard was grinning while he was driving.
She couldn’t help but ask him. “Ricky, bakit naka-smile ka dyan.”
“Well, natawa lang ako kay Lino. He assumed that I’m your boyfriend.” He stole a glance at her.
Maya didn’t respond to his comment but instead talked about what they saw. “Ah, ang akala ko eh yung dahil naabutan natin sila together. Hindi ba parang ang awkward ng situation?”
“What’s awkward? Aren’t they in a relationship?” He clarified.
“Oo, pero kasi di ba… ano… alam mo na… since they are in her place and early morning… we already know that…ganu’n..” She said intermittently as if she was embarrassed by her own judgment.
“Ah, you mean they’ve slept together. Were you affected by that?” He momentarily took his eyes away from the road to see her reaction. One of his eyebrows was raised.
“Not really, ano lang, parang awkward. Alam ko naman na that can happen for some couples even outside of marriage. Kaya lang parang hindi ko inexpect sa kanila, ewan ko ba.” She explained.
“Maya, I think they are in love with each other. When a person is in love, that person expresses his or her love for the other person. It’s normal. ” He faced her and saw that she was thinking. A thought of kissing her flashed in his head. He wondered how it would feel if he kissed her. Then, he had to remind himself that he hasn’t declared his feelings for her. For each day that he spent trying to get to know her better, she was becoming more special to him.
Richard remembered Ysa’s comment about the previous night. “Anyway, ano ‘yung sabi ni Ysa na umuwi ka ng maaga kahapon? Did something happen?” He sounded concerned.
“Ah yun? Kahapon kasi, we went out with our friends. By 11:00 p.m., umuwi na ako kasi nag-iinuman na sila. Di naman ako pwede makipagsabayan sa kanila, so I decided to go home.”
“That late? So, is it normal that you guys go out on a Friday?” Richard asked. He has the same routine with his friends so he wanted to check with her if she has the same practice. He didn’t like the idea that she was out that late without him.
“Sila madalas. Ako naman kung available lang or may occasion lang.” She responded.
They talked about their friends and activities they do with their friends. Eventually, Maya got tired of talking that she dozed off. They have been driving for 1 ½ hours and they still had 2 hours more before they reach San Nicolas.
After 30 minutes Maya stirred. She just opened her eyes when she saw a piece of GI sheet flew out of the big truck that they were trailing. The sheet almost hit their car, causing Richard to quickly swerve the vehicle to the right. This sudden movement triggered Maya to exclaim in fear as she thought they met an accident.
“Oh my god! Rickyyyy!” She shrieked on top of her lungs at the same time holding Richard’s arms. It was good that Richard had good grip on the steering wheel and a presence of mind as it could have really caused them an accident.
“Maya, calm down. Nakakagulat ang reaction mo.” He said as he pulled over on the right side of the highway. “Are you okay?” He noticed that Maya’s hands were still holding his right arm tightly.
“Ah, I’m okay. Nagulat lang ako kasi akala ko tatama sa car mo ‘yung yero. Then, you swerved.” She explained her reaction. She removed her hands from his arm but he quickly grabbed her left hand with his right. He pressed it lightly.
“I’m sorry, I swerved. That was the only way I could avoid that GI sheet. Anyway, we’re okay now.” He looked at her tenderly as he remembered her facial expression earlier.
Her heart thumped when she got conscious of his warm touch. She didn’t pull away her hand. She just smiled back. “Okay. Ingat na lang sa byahe. Or, if you want me to drive, I can do it too.” She offered.
“No need Maya.” He intertwined their fingers as they continued on with their trip to San Nicolas. They occasionally glanced at each other with secret smiles on their faces.
Their hands remained locked for a long time until Richard’s fuel gauge signaled they were running out of gas. As he stopped at next gas station, he had no choice but to release her hand when he turned the ignition off and took his wallet from his pocket.
At the gas station, Maya suggested they take a snack at McDonald’s. Richard volunteered to order food for them while Maya waited in their table.
After a few minutes, Richard was on his way to join Maya carrying a tray with their food. He paused when he saw her talking to man. He couldn’t see the face but he saw the side view of the guy. They have the same height and body built.
However, what struck him was the way Maya smiled at him. He noticed that there was a twinkle in her eyes too. It was a familiar expression that she exhibits recently whenever they were together. It was that expression that makes him happy. He felt his heart ache a little when he realized that she bestowed the same smile and gaze to another guy.
As he joined her on the table, he asked. “Who was that?” He didn’t have the chance to meet the guy face to face but he saw him hug Maya before he left.
Maya was still smiling when she answered. “Si Eric, kaibigan namin, taga San Nicolas din. Pauwi rin s’ya today.”
Although he only saw Eric from a distance, Richard knew that he didn’t like the guy.
After taking a light snack, they were back on the road leading to San Nicolas. Richard became quiet. Maya noticed that Richard only had short responses to her questions and his attention was focused on his driving.
“Hmmm, parang tahimik ka na? Are you tired?” She checked.
“No” He tried to smile. He was still thinking of the scene at McDonald’s. “So, what’s our plan this afternoon?” He asked to divert his attention to something else.
“Mamasyal tayo after mong mag check-in sa hotel. There are places in San Nicolas that I’d like you to see. Pero, mukhang tayo lang dalawa ang makakapasyal dahil sila Ysa malamang gabi pa dadating.” She responded.
“That’s good.” He got excited at the prospect of spending the rest of the day with her.
“Huh?” She gave him a quizzical look.
“I meant, it’s good we can spend time together, as in alone.” He took his eyes off the road to look at her. Then, he reached out for her left hand. She didn’t refuse him. Their fingers were interlocked again.
At one point he commented, “Okay talaga pag ang sasakyan ay automatic transmission.”
“My free hand can do this.” He slightly raised their hands to emphasize his point.
“Ricky… unsafe naman ‘tong ginagawa mo.” Referring to holding hands while driving.
He laughed. “Yeah, unsafe sa puso ko.” He whispered but enough for Maya to hear it.
Again, Maya almost died of giddiness with his utterance.
It was almost 1 p.m. when they stopped at a two story traditional house in San Nicolas. They’ve reached Maya’s home. At the first floor was a small eatery while the 2nd level was the main house.
Maya excitedly got out of the car when she saw one of her grandmother’s sweeping the yard.
“Inang Kosang!!” She greeted her grandmother. She took the elder lady’s hand for the customary greeting. “Mano po.”
“Ayyy, apo, Maya. Umuwi ka? Akala ko ba sabi ng Nanay mo ay hindi ka uuwi?” The old woman was happy to see her.
“Dapat po sana, pero nagbago po isip ko.” Maya responded in a slightly louder voice since her grandmother has some hearing issues. Then, she turned to Richard who just joined them.
“Good afternoon po. Mano po.” Richard greeted Maya’s grandmother. He was smiling.
“Inang Kosang, si Ricky po ang kasama ko.” It was a short introduction.
The old lady was momentarily stunned evidenced by the widening of her eyes. Her eyes shifted back and forth from Maya and Richard. When she opened her mouth, she called out names in strained voice as she began to cry.
“Isang! Conching! Isang! Conching!” She took a handkerchief from her chest to wipe away her tears. “Mag-parine kayo! Si Maya, nag-asawa na!”
“Ano po?” Maya and Richard exclaimed at the same time.