"Totoo?" kunot-noong tanong niya. "Bakit? May "fake" art style ka ba?"

"You can say that," mukhang nag-aalalang sagot nito. "One of my reasons for volunteering as an instructor during our school's digital art workshops is to learn other art styles. I want my characters to look like they've been drawn by a male artist."

Hindi niya napigilang pitikin ang noo ng lalaki na halatang ikinagulat nito. "Who are you to put gender on an art style? "Too feminine." "Drawn by a male artist." "A guy like you to draw like a girl." You're making my ears bleed, Kuya Greco." Hinarap niya rito ang phone nito para mapilitan itong titigan ang sarili nitong gawa. "Why are you embarrassed of something as awesome as this? Don't put unnecessary genders on stuff, okay?"

Nag-soften up ang mukha ni Greco, saka ito nakangiting tumango. "Okay, I'll remember that. Thank you, Ruma."

Ngumiti lang siya dito, saka niya sinoli dito ang phone nito. "Anyway, gusto mo bang i-discuss ko sa'yo ang plot ng script ko? Baka kasi hindi ka comfortable sa pagdo-drawing ng romance story, eh."

"Oh, you write romance," tumatango-tangong komento nito na para bang ina-absorb ang mga sinasabi niya. "It's fine with me. I'm an illustrator for a light novel imprint."

"Oh, really?" excited na tanong niya. "Merong nag-pa-publish ng light novels dito sa'tin?"

"My father owns a publishing company that produces magazines," sabi nito sa nahihiyang boses. "Just a few years ago, they started to publish books from a popular online writing app. At ngayon naman, nag-ve-venture sila sa pag-publish ng light novels since merong demand from the young readers. The first batch of their light novel imprint was released just last month. As far as I know, they're only available in Manila areas right now."

Ah, kaya pala hindi pa nakakarating sa'min ang sinasabi niyang light novels.

Tumango-tango siya dahil nasa point na siya na hindi na siya nagugulat marinig kung ga'no kayaman ang lalaki. Iisa lang naman ang sikat na magazine na naiisip niyang nagpa-publish din ng popular books na nagmula sa online writing app na trending ngayon. Kung tama ang iniisip niya eh talaga palang bigatin itong si Greco. "You're talking about Cream of the Crop Magazine, aren't you?" Nang tumango lang ito, pabiro niya itong binunggo sa balikat. "Rich kid."

"That's thanks to my parents, I guess?" halatang awkward na sagot nito kaya siguro binago na nito ang usapan. "Anyway, wala akong copy sa phone ko ng mga ginawa kong book cover at illustrations para sa mga light novel namin. Pag nag-meet uli tayo, puwede kitang bigyan ng copies para mabasa mo rin since mukha namang mahilig kang magbasa."

Mabilis siyang tumango. "Yeah. I like reading books with pictures. Thanks in advance."

He chuckled while gently shaking his head in amusement. "Will you attend the workshop tomorrow?"

"There's no need for that since I already found you, Kuya Greco," nakangiting sabi niya. "Nag-enroll lang naman ako do'n kasi gusto kong maghanap ng artist na papayag i-drawing ang story ko. Hindi ko na kailangang mag-aral ng digital art, saka nag-give up na rin naman ako. Maybe I'm really not meant to draw."

"Oh, okay," sabi nito. "I can help you get a refund. Sayang naman kasi ang binayad mo kung hindi ka na a-attend ng second day."

"I can do that?" gulat na tanong niya. "Hindi kasi nakalagay sa announcement na puwedeng mag-refund, eh."

Napakamot ito ng pisngi. "Don't worry about it. Ako nang bahala."

Kakausapin niya ang mga staff since mommy niya ang owner ng art school. "Kung hindi puwede ang refund, okay lang naman. This is just a small sacrifice I have to make for my dreams. Saka super worth it na ang pagpunta ko dito sa Manila kasi na-meet kita, Kuya Greco."

Kumunot ang noo nito. "You don't live in this area?"

"I'm from Bulacan," sabi niya. "I just went here for the workshop and to look for an artist."

"So, uuwi ka na ba pagkatapos nating mag-usap?"

"Bukas pa ko uuwi. I rented a condo unit," sagot niya, saka niya sinabi sa lalaki ang pangalan ng condominium building. Napansin niyang nag-lit up ang mukha nito. "Why, Kuya Greco?"

"That's where I live," halatang na-excite na sagot ni Greco. "My condo is on the 9th floor."

"Oh, I'm on the 7th floor," sabi naman niya. "Is this what they call fate?"

Namula na naman ang mukha ng lalaki. "Maybe it is."

Tinawanan lang ni Ruma ang reaksyon nito. Kahit na rich kid ito, hindi naman ito mayabang. Saka kahit "nangangamoy" privileged din ito, may pagka-inosente pa rin ang aura ng lalaki. Kaya siguro magaang agad ang loob niya rito kahit ngayon lang sila nagkakilala. "Then, shall I pitch my story to you, Mr. Greco Fuentes?"

"Of course, Miss Ruma Agustin," nakangiting sagot ni Greco. "I'll listen well."

Our Sixty-Second Gap (Published/Preview)Basahin ang storyang ito ng LIBRE!