Five Fifteen

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Our time together is now at risk. It could be severed anytime and I'm now dreading the reality of what I once imagined. All I could say is that this wasn't the way how I planned things out.

I’m sitting by his side as I run my fingers through his hair, he still has no idea that I finally came back. He looked so comfortable as he slept but I could see in his face how he fought pain in order to get this peaceful sleep that he’s been wanting to acquire for quite a long time now. When I stopped fondling his hair, his eyes gradually opened.

“Am I dreaming?” he asked.

“You’re not. This is real. I’m here Tyler.” I whispered to him.

He then rose up quickly then he walked away from me, his mood changed, “What? Why are you here?”

“Aren’t you happy to see me?” confused as I asked.

“No. It’s not that. But you’re not supposed to be here. You should be somewhere along the road, chasing your dreams. And after you do that, that’ll be the time you’re going to come back.”

I walked towards him then I held his hands, “My dreams will never be important as much as you are. You mean the world to me, Ty.”

“I’m not worth it Jack.” He then asked me to leave, so I did.

I headed back at home then when I came in, my dad asked if I already ate something but I just told him that I wasn’t hungry and that I just wanted to lay in bed and take some rest. The way Tyler talked to me earlier took so much away from me so I didn’t have enough energy in me to do anything aside from making myself fall asleep to make me forget the way he told me that he wasn’t worth it. Our conversation felt incomplete but at some point he made his point clear, that he never wanted me to go back. One minute I was happy then seconds later I felt broken. It took me several minutes before I fell asleep and once again, I dreamt about him. In my dream, I visualized Tyler smiling as he walks down the aisle. But he’s not ambling towards me because I’m walking beside him, accompanying him as he approaches another man standing in front of the altar. The whole venue was full of joy. It felt real. I sensed the pleasure of love as it wilts between us. I’m smiling yet deep inside I know how my heart is dying little by little. But I’ve already decided to go all the way to deliver him in front, to that guy, because if there’s someone who should surrender him to another, and if there’s nothing more I could do to change that, at least I must be the one who should do it.

It took me a couple of hours to escape that nightmare and when I opened my eyes I could feel my head pounding. My body feels sore and it feels like I didn’t even rest. I was too lazy to get up and I wanted to sleep for a few more hours but it scared me, the dream, so I decided to lay awake and prevent myself from dozing off. After a few minutes, I heard a subtle yet quick knock on my door, “Are you awake? May I come in?”

“Yes, dad. The door’s unlocked.” He then came in and sat beside me. He caressed my face up to my hair gently, he looked so delighted to see me.

“Aren’t you mad?” I asked him with a faint voice.

“Why would I be mad?”

“Because I wasted a good opportunity of finishing college in Cambridge, that I chose to come back to Tyler rather than going after what should’ve been chased.”

“I’m not mad, son. Opportunities come and go, if you miss one, there’s nothing to worry about because there’s always something that lies ahead, something much bigger than what you perceived. But Tyler, there’s no one like him, and if you missed getting the chance of living with him, it’ll be such a shame, don’t you think?”

“You’re right, dad. But when he saw me earlier, he seemed cold, like the luminous flame that once burned bright for us has now become ill-lit. He did not look so happy then he demanded me to leave.”

He sighed deeply as he walked towards the door, “Perhaps he needs more time. After all, what he’s going through isn’t easy. But who knows? He must’ve grown tired of waiting for you day after day. Just be there for him, as his lover, or even just as his friend.”—then he fled out of the door and again I’m all alone on my bed, I wish that Tyler is here with me, laying right next to me but for some reason it felt that it’s never gonna happen again.

Some time around five p.m., I decided to go out and check the sky, to reminisce my time with Tyler just the way he wanted me to. When I looked at it, it wasn’t at its usual vogue. It was tar-black and I couldn’t get a glance at the sun because of the clouds blocking it and straining its ray to shine upon the pavements. Didn’t take long before rain started pouring down. Droplets began to drip from the grasses in our lawn, the rainfall was sprinkling them like an irrigation sprinkler does. For a while I watched it as I listened to drops drumming above our roof. Eventually, a portion of rain moved over the quercus and the noise lessened.

I came back inside our house to take a bath then afterwards I planned on revisiting Tyler again. When I came down, my dad was eating dinner alone in the kitchen, I wanted to join him because I could feel how lonely he’s been since I went to U.S. but he knew that I was going back to Tyler then when his eyes met mine he said, “The car’s key is at my pant’s pocket. It’s folded at the couch, just get it there. Be safe.”—then without any more hesitation, I went to Tyler’s place again, in hopes that this time's gonna be different.

As I drove I could hear the car’s hood as it bangs against the wind violently. Every break that I take I could also hear the tires as they make their monotonous hiss over the rain-washed road. Even though it’s now evening, the surroundings are still bright. And since I’m travelling alone, I decided to fiddle with the radio to make up with the silence that’s slowly killing my hearing. By the time I arrived at their house, hesitation kicked in to me again. I thought a lot about going in and talking to him or just let this night pass and give him some time like my dad said to me earlier. I walked slowly towards their balcony then a scream bypassed my ears and I ran swiftly inside the house, finding Mrs. Cohen crying on the floor while holding Tyler in her arms. I approached them immediately, I’m trembling, not sure of what I should do. This is the first time I’m seeing Tyler after he collapsed so I was petrified. I stood there for seconds, watching his mom as she weep, then I grabbed his hand, carried him on my back to the car. I drove as fast and safely as I could and when we arrived at the hospital I carried him again, all the way to the E.R., he’s body seemed more heavy in this state. The Tyler I once knew wasn’t even close to the one I’m carrying now. He looked so pale and forlorn that put me in a blue funk. When nurses finally assisted us, we waited patiently, seated as his mom signed some papers to admit him in the hospital. My thoughts were so jumbled, one side thinks of how he should be living his life now and the other kept on praying to god, helpless I may seem, but I didn’t stop.

He's supposed to be jolly and radiant. He should be enjoying his college life and persuing his dreams. He shouldn't be laying down, looking so weak and suffering this kind of pain. God if you're listening, help him, please. I'm begging you. If I could do anything to ease up the pain, to help him, I'll do it. Whatever it may cause me. Just let me take away the hurt that's caused him to lose so much of his life. Give him comfort and lay your healing hands upon him. Just this once, hear me.

When I finally calmed down, his mother who’s seated beside me, whimpering as she shed tears, finally talked to me “I was never gonna call you, Jack. He begged us not to. But when we brought him here for the third time he lost consciousness, the doctor said after examining him that there was a complication and that his supposed 3a cancer has progressed to Metastasis.”

“What do you mean?” I asked her as I wiped the tears in her eyes.

“It spread through his lungs. And they told us that there’s a cure to it but in most common cases, the treatment doesn’t cure the cancer itself; but at least it could reduce its symptoms. They said he could still live for months but they’re not sure for how long exactly.”

There’s nothing more I could say to her. I couldn’t give her false hope that Tyler’s gonna be fine, that everything will be alright because I myself find it hard to believe that such miracle could still happen. I put her head on my shoulder as I pat her back gently, hoping I could help her to calm and ease up for a bit. When Tyler was finally moved to his room from the E.R. I asked his mom to head home and get some rest and that I’ll watch over Tyler on her behalf just at least for this night. When I reached the door, I could see his tranquil body as it rested flat on his bed. A moment later, when the nurse was finally done checking his vital signs, I grabbed a chair then placed it beside his bed. I sat beside with both of my hands holding him.

“How are you feeling?”

“Feeble...” there was a great pause after that first word he uttered then he looked me in the eye as he relinquished his hand from my touch, “I have to tell you something.”

Even before he continued speaking, I knew that he’s going to tell me something that I didn’t wanna hear. So I stopped him, “Don’t. Please, Tyler.”

But he didn’t listen. “I’m dying, Jack. There’s not much for me to do in my remaining time but I want to spend it with someone that I love, and it’s not you anymore. I didn’t want to hurt you so—”

I could no longer hold the heartbreak that I’m feeling so tears raced down my face as grief flooded my soul, my lips were trembling but still trying its best to hold a smile as I interrupted him “Save your energy, Tyler. From now on I’m no longer here as your lover but rather as your friend.” —he looked the other way as he wiped a tear from his eyes, “Hey, look at me. I know you feel like a bad person for lying to me. But you don’t have to. You’re free to love anyone that you want and you don’t have to worry about me. You’re all that matters right now.”

“Aren’t you tired yet, Jack? Because I am. I’m tired of myself, all the lies and pretty much everything that’s gonna come my way. I’m done fighting and I just want to give in.”

“I’ll never get tired of you.” Then there was silence between the two of us. We let our tears fall for the moment then I asked him, “Can you promise me two things?”

“What is it?”

I wiped a tear from the side of his face then I held his hand for the last time. "You’re allowed to scream as much as you want when you feel the pain is unbearable, you can cry for minutes or even for hours but you’ll never stop fighting. I’ll always support you so you don’t have to worry about being alone in this fight." then I gave him a dreadful smile, "Oh right... you might not need me anymore for that. But I’m always here for you. The second one, make sure that you fell for this person's soul and not for his vessels alone. Only then I could let you go without any worry burdening my heart."

“I will and I did, Jack.”

His most beautiful smile was seen by me that night. Some of you might get angry at him for not keeping his promise to me, but what right each of you have if I myself, his own lover, ex I mean, is not mad at him. He is a lot of things, Tyler Cohen, but being a bad person is not one of them. Here’s the thing about him: All of us could love anyone we adore, we’re free to do so. But there’s always this question that makes us terrified from falling to another "Will they feel the same?" And that very same question crossed my mind when I knew that I’m falling deeper for him day after day. But Tyler was different. He wasn’t afraid to love anyone who he holds special to him. That’s what he made me feel when he loved me at my worst. His love for me was the greatest thing I have ever received and somehow, at some point, it felt that it’s going to last forever. But it didn’t. I’m sad because what we had was great but what he and the guy that he now loves has is far greater than what we had.

Now I know why other people say the hardest part of loving someone, is to watch them as they love another person. I want to be happy for him, support him even but it’s too painful. Part of me is still hoping that letting him go was the right decision because I know that he’ll somehow find his way back to me. But what if he doesn’t? What if it’s too late then? I have no regrets though. I’m breaking down, falling apart because of the pain that he brought to my heart but I still think that loving him was the best thing I had ever done. He’s worth every tear that I shed, every sleepless night that I spend thinking about him. I love Tyler with all my heart and nothing could ever change that.
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