eclair, etc. : Short stories

"Catching up"

It was a cold December afternoon. Janine was supposed to meet Mike in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf after work. As Janine was walking along Paseo, she saw one of her high school classmates. Actually, she was one of her closest friends in her junior year.

"Hey, Janine! How are you?" a smiling and glowing Teri Antonio asked her.

Janine was shocked to see Teri after all these years. "I'm good, Teri. Everything's been great."

"You work around here, too?"

"Yeah, I do. I work in the Business Council," Janine replied.

Teri winked at Janine. "You must be earning a lot, my friend."

Janine almost gagged. "Teri, it's not as prestigious as you think. I earn as much as any employee who isn't in a call center."

Teri raised an eyebrow at Janine's confession. "Really now? I happen to be one of those call center employees." She grinned. "I have a kid, you know, so I have to earn my keep."

Janine suddenly had a flood of memories. Back in college, she studied in Manila while Teri continued her studies in Laguna. Back then, there have been rumors that Teri already got married because she got pregnant. That was already four years ago. She has never been able to keep in touch with any of her batchmates because her busy schedule, juggling her studies and part-time job in Jollibee. Janine heard of these things from their batchmates and, later on, in Thea Cortez's blog.

"So how's it been for you and your kid?" Janine asked Teri. "Since when have you moved to Manila?" At least this time she was going to hear it from Teri herself, not just through rumors.

Teri took her hand and replied, "My friend, I've been here for two years now. My husband, Jake, has been assigned by his company here. That's why I've been in Manila." Teri laughed. "I'm sorry I haven't kept in touch with you. Everything just happened so fast."

They both laughed, feeling like schoolgirls again, sharing confidences. "Indeed! I have to agree," Janine quipped. And all of a sudden, reality sank and she realized that she was supposed to be going somewhere. She would love to catch up with Teri one of these days. It's been a long time after all. Janine glanced at her watch. It read, "5:25 PM."

Teri noticed Janine's sudden movement. "I shouldn't keep you long." She asked Janine, "You meeting someone?" Her eyes twinkled.

Janine sheepishly smiled. "Actually, yeah."

"At last, Jan! You have a boyfriend!" Teri couldn't resist teasing her long lost friend.

Janine blushed, embarrassed that Teri was thinking of it that way. "Uh, it's not like that... Uhm, he's just a friend." She didn't know how to explain it. "More like a brother."

Giggling, Teri nudged Janine. "Whatever you say, girl. Whatever you say... You're old enough anyway - 24 years old ka na!" Teri laughed her heart out. Composing herself, she asked, "What is your email add? You chat? On Yahoo!? Or MSN?"

"Yeah, I do. It's janinetorres@yahoo.com - very easy to remember." Janine realized how boring her username is. "I use YIM."

"Me, too!" Teri chirped. "My ID is terijake2000. Add me to your buddy list, ok? I'd love to catch up with you."

"I'd love that, Teri. Anyhow," Janine said, as she hugs Teri. "I got to go now."

"See you around, girl!" Teri waved.

"Yeah, see you."

Janine and Teri went into opposite directions. As Janine walked on, she was anxious that Mike would be impatient. She walked really fast, almost as if she ran. With her arms flailing, she rushed to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, the coffee shop. Immediately she saw Mike sitting on one of those soft cushiony seats.

"Hey," Janine greeted Mike, as she walked to where he was. "Sorry to keep you waiting." She was short of breath.

Mike put down his mobile phone-PDA on the table. "I just got her myself," he told her. "I was about to SMS you if you'd like me to get anything for you." He noticed that she was still out of breath. "You should relax. We're here to chill out after, a long day of work, remember?"

Janine found it a bit difficult to laugh because she was out of breath but she did. "You're right." She plopped down the soft cushiony seat across Mike and exclaimed, "I love this seat so much!" Then she asked Mike, "Have I told you that?"

Mike leaned back and chuckled. "Maybe a hundred times already?" He winked at her. They both burst out laughing. It was indeed a good way to start catching up on things. Two months is not as long as four years but they have missed each other that much. After two caramel lattes, some muffins and tea, Mike and Janine walked out of the coffee shop laughing and happy that they took the time to catch up.

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