Wild Card by Allan Gregory Lazaro

Wild Card by Allan Gregory Lazaro. Written for SubSelfie.com

She is wearing a frown on her face as she sips her iced green tea. You take a glance at her as she intently eyes the cards on her hand and the rest of the cards laid out on the table. You draw a second yellow property card from the deck. On your other hand, a property wild card has been sitting for several turns now.

You’re used to seeing her with a game face whenever you play Monopoly Deal. But that frown, it’s not because of this game.

You then place the second card on top of the first one. For a split-second you contemplate on passing the turn to her just to see what she will do. But you dismiss the idea just as quickly as you’ve completed your third full property set. You win the game.

You urge her to shuffle the deck: You lose. 

Ayoko na maglaro. (I don’t want to play anymore)

You pause and scoop the cards up. It is a rare moment of victory for you. Most of the time she beats the shit out of you in Monopoly Deal. But with these words, she took away the triumph of that last win — just like that. She crosses her arms. She’s not being a sore loser or anything. You just didn’t expect her mood to change that fast. Maybe after losing three in a row. But after just one game?

You ask her what’s wrong: Ayaw mo na sa akin? (Don’t you like me anymore?)

And she explains, slowly, and in spurts at first, and then at full speed. You hear words such as turn off and commitment and your mind wanders back to the past six weeks. You’ve just gone through a break-up and recently joined the unfamiliar dating scene. Tinder congratulates you with a match as you swipe right at her big round eyes.

You unexpectedly hit it off right away and you decide to meet up a couple of days later. It’s in Cubao X (because she’s never been there she tells you) over a bucket of beer. She’s statuesque (you find out that she’s taller than you by an inch) and slender, a muse with an infectious laugh, and you marvel at how this must be what it means to experience love at first sight,what it means to just click (but you brush off the love-at-first-sight thought because you don’t believe in love at first sight, but maybe, just maybe).

After scouring her Facebook page, you find out she plays Monopoly Deal too. You think it’s a good date idea until she trash-talks and hustles you ten games to six, earning her an additional ten ganda points.

And then it happens. You kiss her and she kisses you back (you were both a little tipsy at Cubao X again for the third date). She will complain to you that it’s not how she does things. Still, you go out with her, do things together, and things happen again.

And then there was last week. You drop her off at her house and the heavens intervene with a downpour, forcing you to stay at her place until the rain stops. The rain has long stopped, however, and you are still beside her on the couch, talking to her and kissing her in between.

The next day, it was silence.

And the next day, too.

You try to pry out from her what you did wrong again and again — until she tells you of her fears, and her values, and how it differs from yours. You try to interject an explanation, reiterate that you have abandonment issues, but her mind seems already set. She tells you she doesn’t want this particular set-up (as if you meant for things to happen this way). And suddenly you’re both confused.

This was the moment your best friend, Austin, warned you about:

Ingat ka na lang. Baka mapasubo ka. (Take care, you might be getting a little too far than what you intended to) You just shrugged him off that time, of course. You believed it would all work out. Except everything turned upside down after you kissed her goodbye that night.

And then, you’re both at the coffee shop. You lay the property wild card on top of the yellow property card, completing your third full set. You tell her:

You lose.

Ayoko na maglaro. (I don’t want to play anymore).

You realize you’re in too deep and it breaks your heart. You try to find the silver lining or a lesson in this story somewhere. Or a way to make it work with her. And then you suddenly wake up at past four in the morning. You check your Viber for a message but there’s nothing. You check your cheap Nokia phone, and still, nothing.

You follow your instinct and send a text. You know, just to check on her if she got home safely. Minutes pass by as you stare at the darkness that is your room. There’s a lesson in this story. Somewhere.

Your fingers lightly stroke the tiny hairs on her forearm. The cards have long been set aside. She lets you continue what you’re doing and you whisper: I’m gonna stay.

No, she says.

You walk her across the footbridge: I’m gonna stay, you repeat. And finally, she tells you: bahala ka. (It’s up to you). You notice the darkness has lessened a bit. It’s 5AM and there’s sunlight piercing the window. You stop trying to find the silver lining, the lesson in this story, and you get up from your bed. It’s a new day and you’re convinced you haven’t reached the end of the story just yet.

[Entry 38, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Allan Gregory Lazaro is a senior producer at Rappler and was previously a segment producer for Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho and occasionally for Brigada. Learn more about him through his personal blog.

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