by Aizel Mae
Sometimes, it's in the most mundane moments that we find exactly what we needed.
|It was eleven in the evening, the party was in full swing and there's nothing more that Penny wants than to dance the rest of the night away which is why she, highly intoxicated, was grabbing Seth's arm and pleading with him to join her on the dance floor where their friends where already heating things up. Seth laughed at her antics but shook his head. When it was clear that Seth wouldn't budge, Penny turned to Mia.
"Come on, M! Leave Seth here. We can wipe that dance floor away and show Seth what he's missing."
Mia saw Seth eyeing her, an amused expression playing on his features. "Sorry, Pen. You know I don't dance."
"No, you most certainly can dance, Mia. I don't know why you're holding back but whatever! I'm leaving you two bores over here." Penny gave them a nasty look before stomping off to the dance floor. It didn't take long before she found herself a partner. A good looking one too.
"Look at her go." Seth chuckled before taking a sip of his drink.
Mia turned to him. She took the brief second to study Seth. He's different now. More of a man than the boy she used to know. For not the first time that night, Mia wondered why she was there, in Club Migo, having a drink with her high school friends, when she should be writing (and cramming) the story Miss Sarosa expects on her desk by Monday.
"Is there something wrong with my face?"
Seth's voice brought Mia back to reality where she had apparently been staring at Seth the entire time.
"What? No, it's perfect." Mia knew the words where a mistake the moment they slipped out from her lips. "I mean- no, there's nothing wrong with your face. I was just drifting off. Sorry."
Mia took another shot before she could say anything more stupid. She couldn't see him but she could feel the smirk directed her way.
"This isn't really your scene, is it?" Seth asked and Mia was thankful that he had the kind initiative not to embarrass her further.
"It could be. I just don't do this often. But that doesn't mean I don't like it." Seth patiently waited for her to elaborate and she did. "I really like this – live music, people dancing, fun company. It has an amazing vibe. I'm just too busy with writing that I don't get to go out as often as I'd like."
"I think that's admirable." Seth said. "Writing is your passion. I admire how you chose to stick with it despite the fact that– no offense, really – it's not a career that would give a steady inflow of cash."
"None taken. I know that. But I love it and I couldn't imagine doing anything else." Mia smiled.
"I couldn't imagine you doing anything else either. So, how's that going for you? Writing, I mean."
Mia couldn't help but notice the way Seth was looking at her. He seemed so sincere, so genuinely interested and the entire conversation wasn't just small talk to him. It was easy to answer back.
"Right now, it's not going well."
"Why not? What are you working on this time?"
"A love story."
"And how is that not going well?"
"I just – I can't write a love story. It's too difficult for me. I've been staring at a blank document for days and I can't even formulate a single sentence to start with."
"Maybe you just need some inspiration."
"Do you know where I could get some? I'd pay at least five hundred."
Mia kept a smile to herself when she heard Seth laugh. The sound was melodious and her making him laugh was a win considering that normally, it was Seth's wit that got her cracking up. For a few minutes after that, there was no talking, just the singer's beautiful voice transition the mood from upbeat to a soft, mellow slow dance song. Mia kept herself busy by trying to guess whether this was a cover or an original. Towards the last notes, she heard Seth whisper, "You should write about us."
Her other thoughts came to a halt as those words kept on replaying over and over inside her head. Slowly, she turned towards Seth, half hoping that she misheard that. But Seth was looking back at her with those intense eyes, rendering her speechless. She diverted her attention to her nails, absently studying them. She could hear, could feel her heart beating loud and fast. And just like that, memories of long meaningful stares, inside jokes and secret smiles, came rushing back in. Everything came rushing back in. Everything she had long buried in the past.
"I didn't know there was an 'us' to write about." It was a barely a whisper and Mia said it to herself more than to Seth. But Seth was looking at her with an expression she couldn't quite read.
There was a loud crackle of glasses bumping into each other and a strong impact pushing the table sideways. Mia forced herself to glance away from Seth and to the source of the disruption. Graham, all sweaty and smiling from ear to ear, slumped towards the table. He looked over to Mia and wailed, "Miaaa!"
Then he wobbled over to where Mia was seated and hugged her. But it was more of putting all his weight to Mia's shoulders and she had to grab hold of him to prevent him from slipping to the floor. But her strength wouldn't be enough to keep hold of him for long. Mia automatically turned to Seth for help but saw that unlike her, he didn't move his gaze at all. In fact, his jaw tightened and his eyes were more guarded than ever.
Still, Seth walked over and helped her position Graham to a chair. It wasn't long before Tom strolled in. "Ah, here's our champ!" He took a shot then motioned towards Graham. "Total lightweight, if you ask me. But he did score three girls' numbers so I can't say I'm not impressed."
"Three? Do you think he'd give me a number if I asked him kindly?" Seth asked before taking another swing of his drink.
And that was that. Whatever moment may have transpired seconds ago was gone; another piece to add to that Seth-related treasure box and to be stored away again.
There's a quote in popular TV sitcom, "How I met your Mother" that says, "Nothing good happens after two A.M." Mia didn't plan on testing the validity of this saying when it was exactly two A.M. and her friends were totally wasted and tired. Only three of them – Lee, Seth and Mia - remained sober enough to usher the rest of the squad to the SUV and head home. Lee took the driving responsibility, dropping everyone to their respective dwelling places until there were only Penny, Mia and Seth left. Lee dropped the trio on The Golden Towers, insisting that he had to get home right away because his sister just texted him that he his sneaking out has been found out.
"I think you both should just stay the night. I'm not sure it'd be safe to let you both call a cab at this hour, especially with Pen blacked out like this." Seth told Mia.
Mia glanced at Penny who has heavily leaning against Seth shoulder, mouth gaping open and hair sticking all over her neck. "Okay. You sure it's fine if we crash?"
Seth smiled. "It comes with a price though – breakfast."
Mia fake-sighed and rolled her eyes. "That's a hefty price. Can't I bargain? Maybe a discount?"
"Fine. I'll make the coffee."
It was Mia's turn to smile. "Deal."
They carried the sleeping Penny to the elevator and through Seth condo. The place was surprisingly neat, fully furnished and clean. Either he could read minds or he was just defensive, Seth explained, "The cleaners come everyday."
Seth motioned his head towards his bedroom and they trotted towards the wooden door. Once Penny was safe and soundly tucked into bed, Mia went back out and took a seat the kitchen island as Seth used the bathroom. He was out in only a few minutes, appearing to have changed into a comfy white shirt and dark gray sweat pants. "Sleepy?"
Mia shook her head. "Surprisingly not. Are you?"
"No. Do you want that discount right away?"
"Yes. Coffee would be lovely."
Seth got some water onto the kettle and let it heat up. While the sound of water boiling played in the background, Mia took the opportunity to study the entire space. The design was completely eligible-bachelor like and somehow Mia expected it to be so. There were loads of black, silver and spotless white. The furniture, however, has a little bit more colour to them, being a rich burgundy.
"It looks somewhat Christian Grey type, huh?"
Mia gave a small jump when she heard Seth's deep voice right next to her ear. With a hand across her chest, she said, "You shocked me."
"Not exactly Christian Grey. Maybe just a tad."
Seth raised an eyebrow. "You've read Fifty Shades?"
Mia shrugged. "I'm a writer, Seth. Reading is a must."
"I didn't think you'd read something so...explicit."
"You just always seemed too pure." Seth shrugged.
"Well, that's me! I surprise people." Mia was joking but Seth had another one of those impossible to read stares directed towards her.
"Yeah, you do."
In perfect timing, the kettle signaled that the water was all heated up. Seth prepared their coffee and handed Mia her mug.
"Mrs?" Mia couldn't help but comment on the cursive writing in the mug. Seth showed her his mug where in the same font the word, 'Mr.' was scribbled.
"It was for my cousin's wedding. They moved to Singapore so they left some of their wedding presents to us." Seth explained. "Come on, I'll take you to my hiding place. It might help with your writer's block."
Seth's hiding place was the rooftop of The Golden Towers. She followed Seth through the maze of storage rooms, machines and equipment until they reached an open space where an antique steel bench was situated, facing the edge of the roof. Seth ignored the said bench and went straight for the wall by the edge. The said wall was up to the lower part of Seth's chest and served as the protective barrier that kept things from being blown off easily. Mia carefully followed.
"Are you afraid of heights?" Seth asked, immediately regretting not asking earlier.
"No," Mia answered. "Just being cautious."
Beyond the wall was a breathtaking view of the sprawling metropolis, accentuated by the buildings, the landscapes, the bright lights and the distant sounds of people living. It made Mia feel different – like she belonged to that elite group of people who were awake when the rest of the world were busy falling into their dreams.
"I like looking at the windows." Seth shared. Mia followed by sight to where Seth was pointing to. "Those glass windows with lights on. It reminds me of other people. Whenever I look at those, I always imagine who might be on the other side. It could be a student burning the midnight oil or a stressed out finance guy trying to save their company or an overly happy, passionate couple, cuddling while an old romantic comedy played in the TV. Or you know, something way more exciting than cuddling."
Mia laughed. It was out of character for Seth to share something so candid but Mia had no regrets getting to delve into his mind for once.
"I like looking at the windows too but not quite in the same perspective." This earned Mia a raised eyebrow from Seth as he waited for her to elaborate. "I like to look at the entire picture as a whole. Like how all these lights must seem like stars if ever we were sitting in the clouds. Stars of the concrete jungle. Reminds you that you're just one of the million of blazing stars and there's always a greater picture."
"Mhmm. Poetic." Seth took a sip of his coffee which instead of reminding Mia of her own steaming cup of Joe, just diverted her attention to Seth's moist, soft-looking lips, keeping her entranced. Luckily, Seth was too busy admiring the view to notice her ogling and she was able to shake her head away before he could.
She was so much into this boy. Always has been. And he doesn't even know how many heroes have been patterned against him, how many stories were intricately written for him. Perhaps tonight is the night she becomes the heroine. If she could only summon up some bravery to —
Seth was looking at her, intense gaze back on and in full force.
Mia released a breath she didn't even notice she had been holding. "Yes. Yes, I am."
Seth smiled. "Come here. I don't have any infectious disease if that's what you're thinking."
Mia walked towards him and stood beside him. Seth scooted closer until their arms where already touching. Mia had to force herself to believe that it was nothing and that the action was only normal for Seth. There will be no more assumptions and no more false hopes.
"This is nice." Mia said. Finally remembering her coffee, she decided to take a sip. It wasn't hot now but thankfully warm to still be able to enjoy its flavour.
"It is." After a few beats, Seth said, "Is this helping you? With your story?"
"I don't know. Maybe." Mia shrugged.
"You should really just take my advice." Seth faced Mia, his brown eyes clear and serious. "Write about us."
Mia gulped the coffee down and in a low voice said, "Is there an 'us' to write about?"
Then she saw it. Seth's emotions played straight through his eyes. They were quick to pass through but Mia was able to catch them all – hurt, confusion, doubt, and lastly a strong determination. "What do you mean?"
There was a certain hint of hardness in Seth voice and Mia wasn't sure whether he was already getting mad.
"What do I mean? What do you mean? What are 'we' even?" Mia retaliated.
Coffee mugs were already forgotten and left on the floor.
Seth shook his head, letting a hand brush through his dark hair. "I-I don't know." He looked back up to Mia, his questioning irises capturing hers. For a minute, he stayed that way and then, "You know what? Nevermind."
"What is it, Seth? Tell me." Mia insisted. She was tired of all the guessing. For once, she wanted to hear the truth. Whatever it was. But maybe she was being unfair. After all, hasn't she been doing the same thing? Indulging, and then backing away. They were cowards. She was a coward.
Maybe this time she could be the heroine.
Mustering up as much courage as she can that very moment, Mia parted her lips, ready to spill out her emotions to the stars and the city lights. Apparently, she wasn't the one yearning to speak out.
"I'm tired of the game," came Seth's voice.
Mia knew he meant the yes-no, maybe-maybe not tug of war of emotions they've been playing ever since high school. She was tired of the playful banters and indecisiveness. She was becoming greedier, wanting more than what there was. More than just the light, fun side of it. She wanted it whole. She wanted the difficult, the all-consuming and real side of it.
Seth's mesmerizing eyes shot up to meet hers and Mia once again wondered whether he could hear the loud, steady, quick beating of his heartbeat the way she could hear hers. She wondered whether he felt the tight squeeze of a happy heart the way hers had.
"There's something here. There's something between us. I can feel it," stated Seth. Then a little less sure afterwards, "Can't you?"
Mia held his gaze, wanting to reassure him but at the same time wanting to admit it herself. "I can."
A brief smile played around Seth's features right before he asks, "What happens now?"
Mia wasn't sure what happens next. It was all too fast, too sudden. Like a once dormant volcano, all these feelings and everything else that came with it, suddenly became active and exploded, spewing a mess of everything everywhere. She was scrambling to collect her thoughts, her feelings when the other thing that has always been a factor of Mia's hesitance came to mind.
Mia chose to address that first, "Penny-"
"Is a good friend. We have a lot in common but I'm not interested in her that way. She knows how I've always felt about you." Seth cut her off, matching her gaze, intent on clarifying his point. "There was never and will never be a question about you or Penny, or you or anyone else. Mia, it's just you. Only you."
Perhaps she truly was a hopeless romantic or it was those endless reading of romance novels for research that made her do it. Nevertheless, it wasn't a conscious decision on Mia's part; but somehow her feet have taken the lead and rushed her towards Seth who stumbled a bit backwards from the impact. Fortunately, he was quick to respond and quite soon, Mia was wrapped in a tight embrace while she clutched Seth's shirt and buried her face against his chest. Seth's fingers found the tips of her hair and played with them while his other hand rested firmly on her back, keeping her glued to him.
"I still don't know what happens next." Mia said, her voice sounding somewhat muffled. She raised her head up to meet Seth's beautiful gaze. She will never get tired of staring into those golden browns.
Seth smiled and it was infectious. Mia couldn't keep the side of her lips from stretching up. The lights that used to grab their attention somehow seemed insignificant and eventually turned into colorful blurs in the background. Then it was just her and Seth, smiling at each other. The sight might lead others assume that they were lunatics, smiling by themselves in an abandoned rooftop in the small hours but neither of them would've cared enough to justify otherwise.
"I have an idea." Seth's hand found the base of Mia's neck and he pulled her closer. Then he leaned in until they were only centimeters apart. And against her lips, he whispered, "Is this our ending?"
"No," Mia whispered back, "Happily Ever After's are not endings, they're beginnings." Then she eliminated the very little space between them with a kiss.