The good thing about Tagpuan bookshop is that it also functions as a café with available snacks and instant coffee you can buy at the counter. The food there is not that extravagant but just enough to get on an empty stomach which is just what you need. So you sit by the window with the book you bought on your birthday last week, half immersed with the story and half wishfully thinking that someone with honey eyes and a lopsided grin will walk through the door.
Ever since your chance encounter, you developed an urgency to hang around the bookshop from 4 p.m. 'til sundown reading that book of yours and wondering why it takes you so long to finish the first chapter. Perhaps, it is because you took more time watching people bustling in and out of the door and grumbling in disappointment because none of them was Alex. And still, you can't admit to yourself that you missed him.
You checked your watch and it was already 5:48 p.m. and though you hate to go, you need to have dinner and have the rest your body deserves. You gathered your things and was about to reach for the doorknob when someone outside pushed the door open. Too bad it wasn't Alex. Just kidding! It is him and he looks like he's been running and is now trying to catch his breath.
"Hey, again! You okay?" you asked, completely unhappy that you bumped into each other again.
"Yeah," he said, still out of breath, "yeah, I'm fine. I was just-" he continued but was cut by someone.
"Oy Alex, looks like it's your lucky day," said the bookshop owner.
"Well, I guess it is," Alex replied then turned to you grinning. You have no idea why today was his lucky day but you can't help but smile as well.
And so Alex told you that just like what you've been doing, he stops by the bookshop every day after work so he could see you again. Unfortunately, it so happens that his out time coincides with when you're just leaving the bookshop which was why you never got the chance to see each other again until this very moment.
You're both standing by the post now just outside Tagpuan.
"So where are you headed to?" Alex asked you.
"Well, I was supposed to have dinner in some cheap diner, but since you're here..." you trailed off, and in some way, you can't bring yourself to look at him. You can feel him staring at you. Is he smiling?
"We surely need to grab dinner first since, you know, the way to a woman's heart is through her stomach," he said knowingly, trying to hide his chuckle.
"Shouldn't it be the other way around?" You teased him.
"We're breaking gender roles, Joan. Gender roles, I tell you," He said smugly. You shook your head smiling at his silliness. He bumped his shoulder into yours and you were almost knocked down, completely surprised. You looked at him in disbelief and did as he did, only that he barely budged.
And just like that, gone was the awkwardness brought by years not spent together, gone was the fear that things will never be the same, gone was the regret of you leaving, gone were your worries and longing, and gone were the walls you've put up within yourself because this right here is coming home.