PART 1-FOUR, HER SILLY HEART

   

                                                       NO one has ever accused Riri of being stupid kaya pagtakbo niya pababa galing sa kwarto ni Johnny, dumiretso agad siya sa pool area kung saan nagbabasa ng magazine si Ninang Dita habang nakaupo sa lounging chairs doon.

          Johnny wouldn’t dare touch her with his mother around. Naupo siya sa katabing silya ni Ninang Dita but immediately decided na masyadong obvious kung doon siya pupwesto kaya umalis siya doon at naupo sa gilid ng pentagon-shaped pool.

          “What was it this time, Riri, my girl?” naaaliw ang tonong untag ni Ninang Dita without taking off her eyes from the page she was reading. Kabisado na nito ang pastime niyang inisin si Johnny.

           Pero syempre kampi pa rin ito sa kanya at kahit minsan ay nagtatampo na si Johnny rito, ipinagtatanggol pa rin siya nito sa sariling unico hijo. And with her parents gone for two whole months para magbakasyon sa States at makasama ang Ate Shaniah niya na doon nag-aaral ng kolehiyo, mas lalong sineryoso ni Ninang Dita at Ninong David ang pagtayong second pair of parents sa kanya.

          Although, they do not really have to do anything at all. Kung tutuusin, at eighteen years old ay hindi naman na siya bata na kailangan na minu-minutong bantayan. Of course, many of her family and friends would disagree. It was part of the reason why her parents were finally convinced to let her Ate Shaniah study and live in the States alone. Kumpara daw kasi sa level of maturity niya, pang-great-grandmother na nila ang level of maturity ng Ate niya. Kaya hindi na nito kailangan pa na mag-migrate silang buong pamilya sa States para lang may makasama ito roon. Besides, some of their Aseron aunts, uncles and cousins were there too. Hindi naman ito totally nag-iisa roon.

          Pero pagdating kay Riri, mas doble ang pag-iingat ng mga magulang at ibang kapamilya nila sa kanya. She vehemently denies that she goes looking for trouble. It’s just that trouble always seems to find her no matter where she is or what she does.

          Kaya kahit na halos katapat lang ng bahay ng mga Winter ang bahay nila dito sa Montagu at may mga katulong naman siya na makakasama, mas pinili nina Ninang Dita na dito muna siya tumira sa bahay ng mga ito. Higit pa iyon sa hiling ng Mom niya na tingnan-tingnan siya habang wala ang mga ito. Hindi rin naman kasi siya maaaring umuwi sa bahay nila sa Isla Fuego, sa farm ng ama niya roon, dahil may pasok pa siya sa eskela. She could also stay with her uncles and aunts who all live within the Metro Manila area right now. But it was her choice to stay with the Winters.

          Because if all her plans come to fruition, she will be a Winter soon too. Through Johnny Winter, by marrying him and having his babies. That is if she could convince him to let her live after that latest trick she played on him.

          “Oh, nothing much, Ninang Dita. He was just a bit shocked after his cold shower,” she grinned impishly as she answered Ninang Dita’s query.

          Pero kagyat din siyang napakagat sa labi when she saw Johnny walking purposefully towards her. And though she knows she’s in big trouble, she couldn’t help noticing how gorgeous he looked in his gray Henley shirt and black pants. His thick eyebrows, deep set of dark as coal eyes, well-pointed nose, squared jaws and lips any girl would kill for has long captivated her young heart.

          He’s a dead-ringer for that male model on TSwift’s music video of Blank Space according to her cousin Doreen. Pero para sa kanya, Johnny is Johnny, and he’s hers. That was already decided ages ago when he declared that he will marry her as soon as she grows up the first time he saw her. He was just ten years old then and she was six years old. At kahit nalimutan na nito iyon, both their parents had not at ang mga ito ang nagkwento sa kanya niyon.

          “Hi, Johnny!” pinilit niyang ngumiti bagamat kinakabahan na sa mapanganib na kislap sa mga mata nito.

          “I’ve had it up to here, Riri!” asik nito sabay tapat ng kamay sa taas ng ulo nito. Ibig sabihin, lampas na sa kaya nitong tiisin ang pagtitiis nito sa mga kalokohan niya. Sa hitsura nitong gigil na gigil, hindi na siya magugulat kung bigla na lang siyang ihagis nito sa pinakamalalim na bahagi ng pool.

          But it was all really his fault. Kung hindi siya nito tinawag na ‘salot sa mundo’ last night at the dinner table when she accidentally poured his drink on his lap ay hindi niya ito ila-lock sa bathroom nito. She was just trying to serve him. Pero akala nito ay sinadya niyang dito ibuhos ang cold water at hindi sa baso nito.

          “You’re turning bloody eighteen but you still bloody behave like a silly ten-year-old! Alam mo bang muntik na akong atakihin sa puso dahil akala ko’y nakukuryente na ako?!” his voice was just a decibel lower than that of an ambulance siren and it was definitely furious.

          “Hah! Fooled you, didn’t I? It was just a toy,” kahit sa sarili niyang tainga ay halata niya ang nerbyos sa tawa at tinig niya when she took out the joy buzzer and showed it to him. “See? I have one more of this. Do you want--- Hey! Johnny!”

          He snatched the toy from her hand at ihinagis iyon sa pool. It made a huge splash kaya nabasa siya.

          ‘‘Now look at what you’ve done! Kapapalit ko lang ng damit!” iritang yuko niya sa basang harapan ng shirt niya.

          “Really? Then maligo ka muna bago ka magpalit ulit.”

          Pagkatapos ng pahayag na iyon ay walang babalang itinulak siya nito sa pool.

          She screeched before she went down. He was laughing hard as she fought to keep afloat.

          “Johnny!” galit na sita rito ni Ninang Dita na napasugod sa gilid ng pool.”Get her out of there now!”

          Kibit-balikat na tumalungko si Johnny sa gilid ng pool. Nakangising pinagmasdan siya saka iniabot ang kamay sa kanya.

          “Wrong move, Johnny boy!” mas maldita ang ngisi niya.

           “Oh no, you don’t, you brat!” umiiling na anito. Agad na nabasa nito ang isip niya as she tried to pull him into the pool with her pagkakapit niya rito. Kaya naman mahigpit na humawak agad ito sa edge ng pool. Nakahanda para makontra ang pwersa niya habang pilit niyang hinihila ito.

          Inis na binelatan niya na lang ito at sinadyang pabigatin ang katawan para mahirapan itong iahon siya mula sa tubig.

          “Pasalamat ka kay Mom, Riri. Kung wala siya, lulunurin na talaga kita para matahimik na ang buhay ko,” bulong nito habang tinutulungan siyang pigain ang tubig sa buhok biya. Sadya pa nitong diniinan ang pagpiga kaya napangiwi siya.

          ‘‘Gusto mo palang mag-rest in peace eh di ikaw na lang ang magpakalunod!” she snapped and tried to push him into the pool.

           Pero maagap nitong naikawit ang isang braso sa baywang niya kaya pati siya ay nahulog muli sa tubig.

          Humahalakhak si Johnny nang lumitaw ang ulo sa ibabaw ng pool. Tuwang-tuwa ito na siya naman ang naisahan habang siya naman ang sumisingasing sa galit. Ano bang nakita niya sa lalaki na ito at ito pa ang pinili niyang maging puppy love, first love and true love?

          “Let’s have a truce for one day, sweetheart,” he grinned while making the peace sign.

          And her heart, silly, foolish organ that it is, knew the answer. She did not choose him. Her silly heart did.

                                                                   

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