Ten minutes

I went up to the fourth floor. I know the bookstore is at the fourth floor.

I don't know what to look for. I don't actually plan to look for anything. I have money, but I don't want to spend it. I also still have a couple of books to read, and when I'm done with those two, I don't have any more space for new ones I might buy.

So I hang out at the magazine section. A wider selection than typical, albeit most of them are past by their sell-by date. It's the middle of the month. An odd transition of sorts for magazines.

My eyes start to feel heavy.

I was listening to This American Life. I've heard this episode before. This man was sexually abused when he was seven years old. He kept it from his parents for almost twenty years or something. He hears his abuser has returned. He plots to kill him. Somehow the story ends with the abuser expressing regret over the whole incident, adding that he only did it that one time, and he doesn't exactly know why he did it.

It was a bit of a reminder for me. Don't do anything you'll regret later, the voice in my head said.

I wandered towards the fiction section. I was on the verge of another impulsive action. I don't want to spend money. And I don't usually buy fiction. I haven't realized this until now, but I tend to relate anything I read from a novel to whatever's going on in my life. I'm reading Joe Dunthorne at the moment. Oliver and Jordana. That sure has nothing to do with me, right?

Jose Rizal is a Penguin Classic? That's cool.

I haven't had to read his novels in high school, a circumstance I somehow have grown to regret in passing years, especially during my second year in college.

I went to the record store next. I knew I'll find nothing. It's a record store. It's playing Taylor Swift in the background. She's fighting with Ira Glass, who's trying to introduce the next act. I find an Allison Iraheta CD. I'm pleasantly surprised, and then I move on.

I'm surprised I still know my way around.

One of my screenplays for film writing class revolved around two high school friends who grew apart after both realized they had feelings for each other. One of them was patterned after me, solely because he had an uncanny sense of direction. Mine isn't as uncanny, but I certainly knew my way around. Sir Doy encouraged us to write stories that are inspired by our personal experiences, and while I have never had to profess my feelings for someone in the middle of some life-changing event, like when Anton told Mitchie he loved her after their graduation, I certainly have had to guide someone through a place even I haven't been to.

I was told I'd take a ten minute walk to the bus stop. I walk fast. That ten minute walk would probably take seven.

I was mindful not to talk to myself during those seven minutes. There aren't many people around, but I'm still wary that people would think I'm crazy.

I replay all that just happened in my head.

I can't help but talk.

That was the worst thing that ever happened to me, I said as I crossed the road.

I remember taking out a pen from my right pocket and writing a few things on the tissue paper before me. I didn't find the need to wipe it on my lips. Besides, they're a bit dry. I have a mouth sore and it's putting me in that awkward situation where I potentially have to use Chapstick, which I never have. I've been seated there for so long. I might as well make the most out of it.

I might as well go. I didn't write that. Too dramatic.

I don't remember what I exactly wrote. If I did, I wouldn't understand what I exactly wrote anyway. I have small handwriting. I'm writing on tissue paper. I'm writing a lot of things. What I'm writing has nothing to do with what I'm doing at the moment. I haven't done anything of this sort in a while, and nothing substantial is coming out of my fingers.

Across me was a foreign couple, chatting over blended coffee drinks. Unlike mine, theirs have whipped cream on top.

To my left was this guy, fiddling with his laptop. He's been there for the whole three hours I've been waiting.

I might as well go. I have been waiting here for three hours.

I wasn't waiting for three hours. I was waiting for two. Two hour-long periods. She arrived an hour after our agreed meeting time. I walked ten minutes, she said, without a hint of apology.

I have been waiting for this day for two years.

I had the feeling I was getting in her way.

My bosses have a meeting here. She was pointing further across us. I don't really have to be here, though.

So I'm something extra?

I have a pretty good memory. I remember the last time we met. Two years ago. We seemed really interested in each other. I judged that from the way our conversations went. I could be forgiven for thinking that, for once, here's someone who likes me back the same way I like her. Liked her. Am I being delusional? I'm not good at reading signals the same way I'm not good at giving them.

This one, though, felt particularly serious. I wouldn't mind that, except she seemed particularly disinterested, which makes me feel a little apprehensive. She tries to engage me, and I try to do the same.

I don't remember what we talked about. I would've. Television shows, mostly.

Excuse me, she then said. I think my bosses need me. She stood up and walked across the room, and sat down on another, much bigger table. I looked at my tissue paper, and thought nothing of it.

I still don't remember what I wrote there.

I remember looking across the room. She was on a laptop, looking at things. Important things, I assume. We might have talked about it but my anger has rendered my memory useless.

I should've begged off, I thought. I had the chance to say no. But then again, I did wait for this day for a while now. Sometimes we were this close, but nothing happened. I got a bit peeved, but I pushed for it anyway. And here we are. What's the harm in waiting a little more?

I was closing in on the bus stop. I haven't stopped talking. I have, however, been trying to keep myself hushed. Limiting my lip movements. Make it look like I was just whispering verbal notes to myself. Or maybe singing. I had earphones on. It's a love story on This American Life.

I had this sinking feeling. I've had it since I started walking. Or since I heard Taylor Swift singing about, I don't know, boys, I guess. My chest's steadily growing heavier, and it's on the verge of dropping to my stomach, and it's definitely not helping me and my seven minute walk.

She went to me, trying her best to sound apologetic. It's been an hour, almost an hour, since she left me the first time. I'm sorry, she drawled. I have to work. She took her bag from the chair she sat on, perhaps a little too methodically, and walked across the room again, to the laptop she was fiddling with earlier. Without a word.

I understand, I said.

I didn't. Not from her perspective, at least.

I do understand dropping one thing to do something much more important. I've done it before.

I walked towards the door. Her back was turned at me. She wouldn't have said goodbye if I didn't call her attention to it.

I don't understand dropping one thing, to do something much more important, without an iota of courtesy. Maybe some ample warning. I'm going to drop you now. Here goes! Maybe a cushion for the fall. Instead I realized that, yes, I am something extra. And all of that waiting was for nothing.

Why was I waiting in the first place? I knew very well that there was nothing at the other end. Or at least I convinced myself, for the most part, that there is nothing at the other end. And yet, for some reason, I wanted something at the other end. Anything.

They do say walking eases the mind. I'm not sure if they accounted for pedestrian traffic, or the general atmosphere.

I reached the bus stop. I was getting impatient. I see buses, but none of them are mine. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. My chest sinks further, and I have the feeling I'll cry right then and there. It's growing dark.

I decide to turn right and walk to the next bus stop. Even with my fast walking, which soon became quite a chore, it took me thirteen minutes.

Don't do anything you'll regret later.

I already regret being here in the first place. I definitely will not regret crying on the sidewalk. But people say I should suck it in, so I don't.

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