Chasing Chances

mm-journeys-january

My own personal adventure

No matter how we start, we can never plan what happens in between until the end. – Francine

break-1

This is one of those rare occurrences where I have such an awesome day that I had a day hangover rather than a book hangover. I write this mostly for me so I’m not sure everyone would care much about it, especially since I’m a bad story teller. Maybe people would like it. Maybe they won’t. This is a non-fiction short story of a day in my life. It contains mature words such as curse words or innuendos. This is non-verbatim of course because my memory’s not that good. And I think it benefits from a little creativity. The age group is probably New Adult considering we’re a bunch of university undergraduates or graduates. What I like about the whole story is that I think it fits quite well with the theme of my month.

P.S. If you want to give editing/proofreading advice, feel free to do so. XD

You can read the full story below, but the formatting got a little weird. You can also read it on Google Docs.

banner-random-ramblings

Saturday, Jan. 25, 11:40am

I slowly come into consciousness thinking this would be a wonderful day to relax with a good book. Or rather a couple of good books. Saturdays are my favorite days. it’s the only time I could really lie back and relax.

The first thing I do every morning is reach for my phone and check my notifications and social networks so I did just that. It was the common ones – a couple of emails and tweets. What’s new was a text message.

Marti: Guys. If you want to come, we’re meeting at the Gateway Food Court at 2:30. From there we will be taking the train to V Mapa Station to meet my friend. He’ll be driving us to Mall of Asia. Please bring your thickest socks. So that we can avoid blisters as much as possible. That’s all. Thank you. :))

Oh crap. I didn’t think we were pushing through with today. This message is so last minute! And we’re actually going to go iceskating! I don’t want to go iceskating. I’m afraid to go iceskating. We’re going with people I don’t know too. I’m just going to embarrass myself in front of his friends. Also I haven’t informed my parents. That should be easy. Maybe. Well, it is my best friend’s birthday. They can’t say no to that.

Should I go? Take a chance, Francine.

**************************************************

2:20pm

After the usual adult interrogation – who, what, where, why, etc. – and lunch with my family, I bathed and realized I was going to be late. So I decided to tell Marti.

Me: Erm. Nii-chan, you know me well, right? :)) be there soon. XD

Marti: I do :)) why? 🙂 yeah sure. Is okay. I allotted for waiting time. 🙂

Thank goodness he knows me well. “Nii-chan” is a Japanese term of endearment for older brothers. We met at a Japanese culture appreciation club so it was just natural to use those kinds of terms. He calls me “imouto,” which means “little sister.”

I put on my black Threadless tee with my orange neon – and I mean neon – Zara skinny jeans that makes my bottom half look better than it normally does. I’m not really feeling pretty today though. My lack of sleep has manifested on my appearance. The red blemishes are stark on my fair-skinned face. My shoulder-length hair’s not really behaving. But it will have to do. It’s not like there’s anybody to impress. I put on lip gloss to hopefully help my chapped lips and my black high-cut platform sneakers that add one to two inches to my five feet. I grabbed my plain big black sling bag and left for the train.

**************************************************

3:00pm

I arrived thirty minutes late. I let Marti know where I was and then I waited for him. I saw him pass by. He didn’t see me at all. So I walked after him and extended my hand.

He flinched and backed off with a surprised and distrustful look on his face. “What? What? Are you okay?” I asked.

“I thought you were grabbing for my bag and stealing my things.”

“What? Do I look like a thief to you?” I laugh and reach out to hug him.

“You never know.”

“Alright. Is everyone else here already?”

“No. You’re the first one.” Ha! I was late, but I wasn’t the last one to arrive. That’s new.

“Who else are we waiting for?” I ask.

“Oh, we’re waiting for Atan, and his cousin. Atan was my high school classmate.”

“What about Jason?”

“He went ahead already with Kamille. Jason’s strong.” He playfully grins hinting at something more about the two not travelling with us.

Since we had to wait a while, it was best to just sit first. We entered into a heated discussion about Frozen, the Disney animated movie. It was mostly argumentative on my side though not his. I felt strongly about my disappointment in the movie. Elsa’s character design simply did not meet Idina Menzel’s voice, especially when she sang “Let It Go.” Elsa’s features weren’t sharp enough.  The end was also anti-climactic. But I do agree that the wit had me laughing and that the “Do you Want to Build a Snowman?” song was really good and emotional.

He then got a call from Atan and I pretty much zoned out because Marti talked in his provincial dialect that I don’t understand at all. When the call ended, he explained to me that they were lost and we might need to wait a little longer.

“The thing about Atan is that he never asks for directions. He would just keep on walking until he finds his destination. Sometimes he’d backtrack too and he’ll take even longer.”

“Why? That’s so weird.”

“Yeah. But he’s smart. He likes studying. He finished a degree in Psychology and now he’s in his first year taking Engineering”

“What?” I put an incredulous face and point my fingers to two different directions.

“I know right. That’s what everyone’s saying.”

“Hmmm. Well maybe he’s going to use psychology to build structures.”

“This shape will be good for their brains.”

“It can help them relax and give them peaceful minds.”

We finish each others sandwiches.

**************************************************

3:30pm

Soon enough, they finally arrived. Marti introduced me to Atan and Atan’s cousin, Gat. I actually wasn’t sure for a while what their names were because they were pretty unusual. They looked pretty average – normal dark brown eyes, black hair, and brown skin like most Filipinos, average features. They weren’t that tall either as compared to me. They were just a few inches above. Atan is really thin, he had short side-swept hair, and he was wearing a shirt, shorts and sneakers. I’m not really into guys who wear shorts out – i.e. school or malls. Gat was sporting a fohawk and glasses with an average build. He also wore a shirt and sneakers, but with jeans. Normal college looks. And like the introvert I am, I waved high and looked away.

We walked to the train station and got on. I pretty much ignored Atan and Gat because I’m not a people person. It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s that I don’t know what to do in front of them. I would talk to Marti every now and then when he would point his attention at me.

Soon we reached our station. We had to wait for Marti’s friend who had the car. Marti brought out his phone to contact him when I noticed this guy casually leaning on a post, smiling, and looking at us.

“What does your friend look like?”

“Chinese features. [Almond-shaped eyes and fair skin]. Glasses. Long hair,” Marti replies gesturing to his shoulder for the length of his friend’s hair.

“Is that him behind you?” I queried.

Marti turns around and immediately walks to him. They did their manly greeting thing with the one-second hug and pat on the back, talked a little, and walked back to us.

He then introduced us. “Guys, this is Andz-sempai. He was the bad guy in the short film we made for Japanese class.” “Sempai” is another term of agreement that is loosely translated as a senior in school that the juniors look up to. They all got acquainted while I watched – ever the wallflower. Andz was exactly how Marti described him, only his hair was longer and reached mid-back. I would also like to point out another unusual name.

He then led us to walk to his car. We went down a staircase and proceeded to walk outside. We walked for a few minutes and I would keep on wondering which car was his. It was a pretty long walk, and I was not used to walking a lot. What’s happening? Are we walking all the way to the mall?

After more walking, we finally reached the car and loaded our things and ourselves into it. Andz was behind the wheel and Marti called shotgun so I got in the middle behind his seat. I sat next to Atan while Gat was on his other side. We drove for a while where the guys easily fell into conversation talking about Japanese anime, games, and other normal guy things. I found out though that Andz works as a High School Math teacher so they managed to insert math into the conversation. They talked about law too because Marti was in his first year in law school. They also talked about philosophical things and they joked around about personal experiences and funny things they saw on the street. Sometimes I would laugh along with them, but I mostly sat staring out the window as we passed very unfamiliar streets.

Marti asked, “So Fran. What does it feel like being stuck in a car full of guys?”

“I have 3 brothers.” I’m used to being invisible.

**************************************************

5:00pm

After the long drive where I only spoke about two sentences, we reached the SM Mall of Asia – one of the biggest malls in Asia. I’m not really sure why this is such a good thing. It’s too friggin’ enormous. No matter how many times I go there, I always manage to get lost.

Andz parked at one of the outside lots, and then we made our way to the mall. We had to cross the road to get to the mall itself, and Marti grabbed me by the wrist to walk the way.

“I’m hungry,” I said. “Oh gosh. I just felt like a little girl with you holding me by the wrist and saying ‘I’m hungry.’” He laughed.

We walked a couple of feet and passed a lot of stores and restaurants. When Marti saw the rink, he left my side and ran toward it. I thought he saw his friends already, but apparently he just went to look, which was adorable. I like how excited he was.  I, however, was left to stare and be afraid.

“Are we going in already?” one of the guys asks.

“No. We should eat first. Fran’s hungry. But we should find Jason and Kamille first. They should be here somewhere,” Marti says. “I’ll go look for them. Why don’t you all check out the food court first?”

The other three guys easily agreed so I followed them silently as they wandered around the food court. Since Atan and Gat were cousins, it was easy for them to walk and talk together. Andz and I followed them. We stopped near some empty tables, but the guys weren’t sure about eating here. We mostly just stood around. Atan and Gat went to look at the rink.

Andz walked closer to me. “You know. I’m not really sure how to approach you.”

I laugh. “Don’t worry. You’re not the only one. You should ask Marti how we met.”

“How did you guys meet?”

“We met through Toujin [the Japanese culture org].” He approached me when I sat quietly amidst the org members.

“Oh. And you’re his imouto, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Why imouto though?”

“I dunno. We’ve been together since we met in 2nd year college and we’ve been together since.” It’s been 4 years.

“Are you batchmates?”

“Yeah.” I have my way with words.

“I thought you were a lot younger.”

“I think it’s my build. I’m really skinny so people always mistake me for someone younger.”

“I see. So just between you and me. Does Marti have a siscom?”

“A what?”

“A siscom. A sister complex.”

I giggled. “Well, I think it’s better if you ask him that yourself.”

Marti then came back along with Jason and Kamille. After we had all been properly introduced to each other, Andz and Marti talked about eating at Sakae Sushi, the place with the sushi buffet. I was familiar with the place since I’ve already eaten there before. But like I said, it was so easy to get lost in this mall that I had a hard time remembering the way. The place where we were standing looked very familiar to me though. While a couple of them went to look for a map, I was left with Atan and Gat. I didn’t really know how to talk to them so I went the other way to explore a little because I was pretty sure that the restaurant was close. I knew it was near one of the entrances.

I stumble upon one of the entrances, but it wasn’t the right one. I was headed back when I saw everyone else walking my way. Marti passes me again.

“Hey! What. Are you blind today?” I chuckle.

“No. I just didn’t see you.”

“It seems you can’t easily see anyone today.” I kid. “The restaurant isn’t here though.”

“That’s okay. At least there’s a security guard. We could go ask for directions.”

After they approach the guards and received directions, Marti walks back to me. “You were right. The restaurant is near an entrance. It’s just a few feet away from here.”

“Oh. That’s good. I knew it was around here somewhere.”

“Yeah. I looked for you and they said you walked away. I asked them why they didn’t stop you and they said that you walked really fast.”

“I was supposed to come back, but I already saw you guys approaching so there was no need for that.”

We soon found Sakae Sushi. It’s one of those Japanese restaurants where there’s a train of sushi plates and you can just grab whatever you like. The waitress led us to a booth that easily fit six people. The train was situated on one end of the table. On the right bench, Andz sat next to the train followed by Gat and Atan. On the left one, Kamille sat across Andz followed by Jason and me. Marti sat at the other end of the table where a typical head of the celebration should be sitting.

Atan, who was sitting across from me, asks, “Were you the one who gave Marti An Abundance of Katherines by John Green?”

“Yeah. That was me.” I didn’t even know he told people.

“That’s good,” he nods in approval. “It’s a good book.”

“Oh. Were you the friend who was frustrated about the story and wanted to throw it away?” I try to remember. Marti told me about someone who was hit with all the feels that the book was just too much.

“What? No. I don’t think so.”

“Oh. Maybe I recalled the story wrong.”

Atan asks Marti, “What’s she talking about the person who was frustrated about the book?”

Marti replies, “Oh. That was me.”

“Oh. Was that you? But you haven’t read it yet!” I say.

“Yeah. I haven’t. But I already know the story.”

“I didn’t know that. And I just gave you the book,” I complain.

“Well I’ll still read it. Don’t worry,” Marti assures me.

We all began to eat. Of course the guys were pretty competitive about how many plates they ate and then stacked on top of each other. Andz managed to win with around 12 plates. I only ate 4. I think the others had around 8 or so.

**************************************************

6:45pm

After dinner, we headed for the ice rink.

“Shall we?” Marti asks.

“I’m still pretty full,” I say. In truth, I was just stalling. I don’t want to get in there!

“Yeah,” Andz agrees with me. “I feel like I’ll sink into the ice with all the sushi I’m packing.”

“Alright then. Let’s all go walk around first.”

We walked by a few stores where I strayed behind everyone, my eyes wandering to the clothing shops. Some people needed a bathroom break so we stopped by one. Marti, Andz and Kamille went in, while four of us waited outside.

Atan tried to strike a conversation with me. “So, you read An Abundance of Katherines. Did you read all of John Green’s other books? How’s Paper Towns? It’s the only one I haven’t read yet.”

Wow. I don’t read a lot of guys who’d talk books with me. I played it cool. “Yeah. I’ve read all of them. I think Paper Towns was good.” I actually mean that it’s really great and it’s one of my favorites ever! I don’t really know what my problem is, but I just cannot easily speak to strangers.

“What about the Percy Jackson series? Did you read that?”

“No.”

“The Mortal Instruments?”

“No.”

“Twilight?” Gat asks. I shake my head emphatically.

“So just John Green?” Atan asks.

“Not really.” I’ve read hundreds of books. You just didn’t mention the right ones. But I felt happy inside despite that. I appreciated Atan’s effort to get me comfortable enough to talk to everyone. And what more, he asked me about books. He knows his way into a bookworm’s heart.

After everyone came back, they all agreed to go skating already. And fear starts to settle in me again. We walked back and started lining up to pay for the admission fee and to get the entrance bracelets. I started panicking inside.

We made our way to the entrance where a machine scans the bracelet and lets us in. A guy near the entrance stamps us with an ice skate near the bracelet. I’m actually not sure what it was for, considering we were already wearing the bracelets.

The first stop was this size indicator on the floor to measure what skates we needed to borrow. My companions easily went into putting their feet in. I was more apprehensive because of the idea of a lot of people putting their feet in. However, the skates didn’t have standard sizes so I had no choice. And either that thing was grossly wet or it was just cold.

I then went to claim my skates, which were really big and REALLY heavy. How am I supposed to move in these?

As we got nearer the entrance of the ice rink, I could smell the repulsive odor of the rink and people mixed together. The place smelled like piss. “Oh gosh. This is so gross.” I say to no one in particular, as I put on the skates. They were still wet, probably from a previous owner. Ew ew ew ew ew. I can get very compulsive about cleanliness.

After I was fully laced up, I say, “Okay. How am I supposed to stand up? Oh gosh these skates are heavy.” I tell Marti, “You should be grateful I love you.” This is probably going to suck for me. I handed them my sneakers and bag for safekeeping in the lockers, and tried to stand on my feet. Learning how to ice skate is like being a baby again and trying to learn hot to stand up and walk. Although this time you’re smarter and probably more afraid.

We all started walking to the entrance of the rink inch by inch. “At least we can now say we walked in heels” one of the guys says referring to the skates.

“C’mon. This is going to be easy.” Marti steps into the ice and instantly loses balance but manages to stay upright. “Okay. The ice is really slippery.” He extends his hand to me.

“I don’t want to get in there!” Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. “FUUUCK!” I scream as my feet hit the slippery ice and I cling to the wall. There is an indent that separates the opaque plastic and the clear one where people can hold to steady themselves. The rink is an oval Olympic-sized ice rink which is about 31 x 60 meters. I’m not good with measurements, but being in it, I can say that it was pretty huge.

“Come on!” Marti calls out to me.

“Noooo. Fuuuuuck!”

“You can’t stay there. Other people are trying to get inside the rink. You’re blocking their way.”

I try to move slowly grabbing to the way. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Shit! I hate this!”

“You can do it. Come on!” Marti says.

“Fuck! I can’t! I don’t know how. I’ll fall,” I say. “And I’m cursing like a sailor!” I did not know what it was like to do that until I stepped foot into that ice rink.

“You have to move. There are people behind you.”

I looked behind me and there, in fact, was an adorable little kid who was about chest-high compared to my height. He even had a little helmet on, and like me, he was clinging to the wall for dear life. I HAD to move. Marti extends his hand to me, and of course I can’t refuse that so I reach for him. He pulls me away from the wall.

“Fubliblooba”

“I’ve never heard a sailor curse like that.” Marti says.

“There was a kid behind me!” I cry out. “Shit! Stop! Wait! Don’t pull me away from the wall! FUUUUCK!”

He keeps on dragging me and my feet stay still, but the blades provide easy gliding. I can’t really stop him unless I knew how to actually use the damned skates. “FUUUCK! I HATE YOU! Fuck! Fuck! Shit! Aaaaahh! Oh gosh. I’m going to lose my voice!” I scream and laugh. I think I was getting a little hysterical. The awful part was that the ice wasn’t smooth anymore from all the people who used the place throughout the day. It was uncomfortable bumpy for someone just gliding along. But Marti just kept on pulling me, where I would curse, laugh, ask to stop or say I hate him. I clinged to his hand with one hand and fisted the back of his shirt with the other. Before long, Marti was able to pull me around the whole oval.

“Okay. I don’t want to do this anymore. Let me out! Please please please.”

After much begging, Marti heard my pleas and allowed me to get out for a bit. I stayed near the exit and watched them all skate. They all seemed to be having fun, and I felt bad that I may be acting out too much and ruining the fun. After a while, Marti came back for me and I went back in.

“How do you do this shit? I don’t know how to do this shit!” I complain to Marti.

“You have to keep one foot diagonal and slide the other foot forward” he says and demonstrates.

I then tried it. “It doesn’t work! My other foot is sliding back!”

After a few tries on my part, he then dragged me all the way to the other side opposite from the entrance. “Where are you taking me?! Aaaaahhh! Wait. Shit. Stop.”

“Don’t worry. I have you.” And I knew it. I just didn’t want to be sliding around.

“Wait. I need to rest. You can deposit me to that wall over there.” So he did. I tried to get the air back into my lungs.

Marti then started moving away from the wall. “Come on. Reach for me. You can do it,” he coaxes.

“No. I’d rather cling to this wall. Thank you very much.”

“Fine. I’ll leave you there. You’ll have to figure out how to move on your own.”

“I’ll reach the exit inch by inch. You can go make a round, and when you come back I’d still be around here. Don’t worry. Go ahead. Have some fun.”

Marti goes on, and I try to move little by little. Andz decided to stay with me this time though.

“This is my first time too, you know,” Andz says, who was able to skate just fine albeit a little clumsily.

“Well good for you.”

“No. It’s easy. You just have slant one leg and go forward with the other.” He demonstrates. It’s easier said than done. I tried a couple of times unsuccessfully while clinging to the wall, and slowly moving forward. “It’s just like swimming.”

“I don’t know how to swim.”

“What would you rather do? Learn how to skate or learn how to manually drive a car?”

“I’d rather drive. At least, I won’t be on slippery ice.”

Soon Marti made his way back to me and I’ve moved only a few feet. He invites everyone for a group picture. So they drag me away from the wall again.

“Come. We’ll hold you,” Andz reassures me. “We won’t let you fall.”

“And if you’ll fall, we’ll catch you,” Marti adds.

“Isn’t that dangerous? There are blades under these skates.” I answer.

“Well, it will be for us. But at least you’d have a soft landing and you would be safe.”

We all stand in a line while we took the pictures. And true to his word, Andz held my hand all throughout the time. Marti, Atan, and Jason took turns using the camera phone.

After that, Andz started letting go of me and moving away. “Look. You can stand on your own. And you’re not falling.”

“Standing is different from moving.”

“You won’t learn if you don’t move. Come on. Move forward.”

“Necessity is the mother of all invention,” Marti remarks.

“Poverty is the mother of resourcefulness,” Andz asserts.

They dunked me into the deep end, and expects me to figure it out on my own. “Can I just crawl back to the exit?”

“No. The ice is wet and cold.” Andz then treats me like a puppy and starts patting his laps and saying “Come on. You can do it. C’mere.” And I just stared.

They soon took pity on me and brought me back to my new friend, the wall. They all kept on skating, and I worked hard to keep moving. I finally figured out a faster system. I used my arms to pull me along the wall and my feet would easily glide along. When I was about halfway through the oval and meters away from the exit, Atan then comes for me.

“Hi. How’s it going?” I say while trying to keep on gliding.

“Okay. You have to move your legs.”

“I’m fine. Thank you.”

“It all starts with one step,” he cajoles. “You have to lift your feet a little.”

“But the shoes are heavy, and they hurt.”

“Yeah, but they keep your feet and ankles safe,” he responds. “You have to keep your feet diagonal.” He indicates with his feet forming a slightly wider “V.”

I follow his example while holding the wall, and my foot immediately slipped.

“You have to let go. You’ll be able to stand. I promise. And I’m right here.”

“But I’m slipping.” I say trying to get a foothold. But I tried, slipped, and immediately grabbed onto the wall. I did this a couple of times before being able to stand properly.

“See. You’re standing.”

“Okay, Sherlock. Now what?”

“You have to keep one foot diagonal while moving one forward.”

I try it one more time. “My other foot keeps moving backward!”

“You have to lean your weight on one foot.” I don’t really do a lot of physical activities so I’m always dumbfounded when it comes to any of them. I stood dumbly for a while.

“Come on,” he says offering his hand.

I took it and tried moving one foot.

“There. That one was good,” he affirms. I tried doing it again the second time and failed, but Atan kept me upright. I think it’s true when they say third time’s the charm because I was able to move forward. “See! You’re doing it” he distracts me and I instantly lose balance. He keeps holding my hand and waits until I get myself together.

He then leads me farther from the wall. “Wait! Where are we going? The exit is back there!”

“This is the shortest route to the exit,” he laughs still holding me.

“What?! It’s right there! We’re moving farther!”

“It’s okay. I have you.” We move slowly, but surely. He doesn’t pull me with him, but he allows me to move on my own. He never lets me go and waits for me when I need to stop. I would apologize profusely, and he would say it’s okay. He kept on reassuring me all throughout. Before I knew it, we were back where we started.

“Okay. You can take me to the exit now.” I joke, and he graciously laughs.

“But you did it!” Thanks to you.

Everyone else was near the place where I started and they all they all applauded and cheered – “Hey, Fran is moving on her own.” “You’re doing it.” “Atan, such a great teacher.” I smiled a little and felt proud of myself. I felt so grateful to all of them for holding my hand and staying with me throughout everything. I couldn’t have done it without them, especially Atan.

Everyone started to make another round again, and I felt a little more confident so I didn’t need to hold anyone’s hand. And Atan stayed by my side while I tried to skate on my own, and kept up with my pace.

Marti started taking a video of everyone on his phone. “Hey! You’re skating,” he exclaims to me.

“You better remember this!” I shout back gaily. “I’m never doing this again.”

“You better remember it so that you can do better the next time,” he quips.

“There is no next time,” I state. I was actually having fun despite myself. I was able to skate the whole round by myself. Albeit losing my balance a couple of times, I never fell.

After that round, Andz inquires, “Can we rest up first? I’m feeling tired.” We’ve been there for more than an hour.

“The place is closing up soon though. I don’t think we’d able to get back in if we get out now,” Marti answers.

“That’s true. We should probably just go one last time.”

“Okay. One last round, guys!” Marti declares. We all follow.

This time, Atan stayed by my side halfway through the oval, and offered his hand every time I would lose balance. I never held on though. I was getting the hang of it. So Atan soon moved on ahead, and I was surprised to find Gat staying with me and spotting for me. Why are they all being nice to me? I’m feeling bad that they have to keep up with my very slow pace. I was very thankful though. He also held out his hand whenever I’d slip up, but I didn’t take it either.

With my feet and legs sore, everyone finally agreed to step out of the rink and soon head for home. The guys went to the lockers to claim our things, which they then handed to us. We started resting and changing socks and shoes. It was a scary, tiring, and fun experience. I’m so glad I tried it out, but I doubt I’d want to do it again. I have a newfound respect for professional or competitive ice skaters.

**************************************************

9:oopm

After we left the ice skating area, Andz mentions that he needed coffee, especially since he’s driving all of us home so we went and looked for a Starbucks. I needed coffee myself too. Andz and I lined up while the others stayed outside. I thought we would all be getting a drink, but apparently not. I wish I knew earlier on that we would be having the drinks to go. I ordered a tall White Mocha Frappuccino. I was surprised that Andz said he’d be paying for my drink. We’d only known each other for a few hours. That was extremely kind of him. We’re not even paying him for the gas for his car.

We all made our way back to the parking lot and tried to figure out the seating arrangement. Everyone agreed that the last one out would ride shotgun and people should file in the back depending who’s going down first. I was second to the last so I got into the back seat with Gat who would be going down before me. Now Andz’s car is one of those kinds that requires the middle seats to be folded for entrance and exit to the back seat.

When they started putting the middle chair back in place, I remarked “Oh. This is a tight fit. I don’t have a lot of leg space.” For a short girl, I have long legs.

“You can sit diagonal and lean your legs on mine,” Gat offers.

“Guys, what are you doing back there?” Andz playfully asks.

“Gat, you can’t get to my little sister without going through me first,” Marti warns.

Everyone fell into joking around and talking. The ride home actually felt a lot more comfortable than the drive to the mall. I would laugh along with them, although I didn’t really have much to add. I hummed a couple of songs to myself a little.

We were doing fine just driving around until Andz declares that he was lost. “This car is really great. It’s only problem is the nut behind the wheel.” He missed the road to Kamille’s home and we had to backtrack to find it. It took us around an hour to find actually find the place.

The thing about tiny people is that they have tiny bladders. After a few minutes of driving, I knew I needed a bathroom. I whispered to Marti “I need a restroom.” There weren’t really answers though since we were in the middle of the road at way past 10pm. Most of the establishments were closed. I was hoping there would be a restroom at Kamille’s, but I didn’t want to impose so I kept my mouth shut.

When Kamille left, I moved into the middle seat in between Marti and Atan. I wanted the leg room.

When you’ve been in the road for a while at night, it’s quite easy to get a little bit crazy out of boredom and fatigue. All the guys kept on laughing at random things they see on the road. Of course, they also had to make corny pun jokes.

“Knock knock,” Atan says.

“Who’s there?” Jason answers.

“Interrupting goat.”

“Interrup-”

“Meeehhh.”

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Cashew Nut.”

“Cashew Nut who?”

Atan sings, “Don’t tell me you’re sorry cashew nut…” He says, “I actually just wanted to sing.” He continues, “And baby when I know you’re only sorry you got caught. But you put on quite a show….”

Laughing with a full bladder is quite painful. Every now and then I’d whisper “I need a restroom.” Soon enough, Marti felt it too and he needed to pee too.

And then the car stopped at a traffic light. And I pointed out the 24-hour Jollibee, a Filipino fastfood restaurant. Because I really really needed to go that it hurts. I was only whispering to Marti because I’m still a little shy with all the other people in the car.

“Can’t we stop by the Jollibee?” Atan asks. That actually surprised me a little. That was pretty sweet of him.

“Yeah,” Marti says to Andz. “Haven’t you heard Fran hinting many times now?”

“Oh. Okay. We can probably stop by. But we should buy something,” Andz answers my prayers. He’s also quite noble not wanting to freeload.

He drove to the back parking lot, and started positioning the car. I was practically bouncing on my seat waiting to get out.

“Marti, why don’t you and Fran go down ahead?” Atan suggests. That about pretty much melted my heart. I was developing a little crush on this guy I’ve only known for a few hours. He was sweet, kind, funny, and charming. And he talks to me about books. What more could I ask for? Of course it’s just a little crush. I’m not even sure if I’d ever see him again. One thing I realized though is that I fall for the personality, not the looks. Good personalities make people attractive.

We all get down, Marti and I headed for the restrooms to find they only had one functioning so we had to stay in line. There were two girls in front of me. Then an old lady asks me if she could go first. And because I respected old people, I agreed. Lady, I’ve been waiting for a long while to use the bathroom! Thankfully the staff allowed her to use the other one they were keeping closed for cleaning. I hated communal restrooms, but you gotta go when you gotta go. Thankfully it was quite clean. After my turn, I told Marti I’d wait for him at the tables mostly because it reeks in that area and partly because I was quite comfortable spending time with his friends.

After everyone relieved themselves, we set out for the road again. It was getting really late and Andz managed to get lost a couple more times. It was easier to talk a little and actually participate in the shenanigans. Andz dropped us off one by one. I got home at around 12:30am, but it was totally worth it. This day was awesome.

In those moments when I tuned out all the guy talk, I thought about how I felt like I was in a Nikki Godwin book. She writes these fun stories with reverse harems in them. And usually, things aren’t what we’d expect them to be.

I think I can easily say that this was one of the best days of my life. I often get so lost in others. My work mostly consists of countless hours talking to foreigners about their own personal lives. When I’m not doing that, I’m usually living another life through the books I read. In other times, I would stalk other people on the internet and see what’s happening with them. I realized that I lost sight of myself. I forgot that I had my own story to live. So I say take a chance. One never knows about the wonderful surprises life brings.

**************************************************

Acknowledgments

Thank you to my best friend who I also consider a brother, Marti. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without you. Thank you for all the times you reached out your hand to pull me into living my life. You already know that I love you. And I’m glad you had one awesome 21st birthday, and I’m grateful that you let me experience it with you.

Thank you to all the people in this story for being part of it. You probably won’t read this, but thanks anyway.

Thanks to all the authors and bloggers who inspired me to like writing. I’m not a writer, but most people would say, “Just write.” More specifically, I want to thank Nikki Godwin for first making me feel how nice it is to be in a reverse harem. Also my title was inspired by her.

**************************************************

Adventure awaits,
Francine

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