There were three sharp knocks on Rich’s door that Thursday afternoon, followed by voices and some laughter. Rich rose from his desk, where he had spent the last three hours wrestling through the novel he was assigned to read for his literature class, and walked to his door to answer it. From the muffled sound of the voices from where he stood, he already had an idea who were behind his door. There was only a few people who often came to his place, but they never just dropped by without any prior word, so this was truly a surprise.
“Kuya Rich!” Nikki greeted him happily with a hug as soon as he opened the door.
“Hey Nikki,” Rich said, hugging the girl back. Behind Nikki, Rich saw five more people from YFC in school, all chattering excitedly. He gave Nikki a questioning glance, confused at why they were there. He had purposefully stayed away from the hangout so he could get some reading done and he was trying to finish everything today, but with these kids here, who knows if he’ll even get past the page he stopped at now.
“You’re the only one we know who has cable TV in his dorm, Kuya,” Nikki explained but not really explaining anything at all, as they all entered the small living area. Rich raised an eyebrow as he shut the door and joined the group.
“Okay, that explains things. Or not. What is it with my cable? Don’t you guys have classes now?”
Joy, Nikki’s best friend and blockmate, shook her head. “No, at least not us. Everyone else would just have to miss it and watch the recording.”
“Miss what?” Rich asked, still absolutely confused. But his question fell on deaf ears as Nikki urged Carlo to set up the DVD Recorder to Rich’s TV before “it” started.
Rich sighed. When the kids get excited, they get too excited that they don’t notice a lot around them. The freshmen batch amused him a lot because of their enthusiasm and their eagerness to be at the usual hangout and for their activities, but he also wished they wouldn’t be too overexcited and forget that not everyone could keep up with their pace.
There was another knock at his door and Rich stood up to get it, telling himself that he’d get his explanation as soon as Carlo was done with the set up. Either that or he wouldn’t allow them to turn the TV on to catch whatever it is until they tell him.
As expected, there were more of his friends, but this time, he felt a sense of relief when he saw who it was. It was Eliza and Anna, two more YFC members in school. Eliza was his household head and the senior sister of the YFC in school and Anna was one of the new-yet-old members — new in the sense that she just joined YFC in the campus just last term and old because she’s been a YFC member for a while, albeit inactive.
“Hey, Rich, sorry to barge in on you like this,” Eliza apologized, looking at the freshmen crowd over his shoulder and back at him.
“It’s not like I can do anything about it,” Rich replied with a little smile to show his sarcasm wasn’t serious. Eliza chuckled as he ushered them in. “Hey Anna,” he added to Eliza’s companion.
“Hi,” Anna said quietly, almost nervously. Rich smiled at her kindly and let her pass, noting her expression. Among all the YFC members in their school, Anna was one of the quiet and mysterious one, if not the most, in Rich’s standards. She and Nikki stayed in the same dorm, and if it weren’t for Nikki seeing Anna wearing an old conference shirt one evening there, they would not have met Anna at all.
Lately, Anna has been hanging out at their usual table at school, which was a good thing, but she almost always kept to herself. Rich rarely gets to talk to her, but it didn’t make him less curious of her, if not more protective of a sister. There was something in her that he feels is different, only he couldn’t pinpoint it just yet.
His thoughts were interrupted by Nikki’s shriek. “It’s on! It’s on! Carlo, start recording! Ate Anna!”
Eliza pulled Anna on the spot on the floor beside hers while Rich moved to the back, now really curious about what Nikki was excited about. Rich also could not help but notice that Anna’s cheeks were scarlet, and Eliza had put her arm around her comfortingly.
Rich turned his focus on the TV. “What is this show?” he asked loudly over the intro music.
“It’s You Filmed It,” Rich was surprised to hear Anna reply. Her eyes flickered over at Rich for a moment and then back at the TV, cheeks still red. “It’s this show that plays student-made short films on TV.”
“Ah,” Rich nodded understandingly. He remembered the show vaguely, as it was a topic at the hangout every now and then. The freshmen were the ones who usually were excited about this, but not at this level. Nikki was practically bouncing on her seat in anticipation.
And then, Rich saw why they were all so excited. And why Anna was blushing so much.
He didn’t spot her on her first appearance on the screen. Maybe it was because he didn’t know what to look for, until he heard her speak.
“Hi girls! What’s happening?”
It was Anna. But it also wasn’t. The girl on TV dressed differently, wore make up and acted very much unlike the Anna that Rich knew. As much as he did, anyway.
“Anna.” Her name was off his lips before he could stop it.
Rich’s mind flashed back to the night that he first saw Anna. Unlike everyone else except Nikki, it wasn’t on the day the young girl brought Anna to their hangout. It was a week before that, Aat the back of the Yuchengco building, one night of their worship. He could still remember the forlorn figure that stood at the stairs, almost invisible in the darkness. Rich could still remember the electric feeling in the air that night, when lightning flashed and he first saw her face, eyes searching and he could almost sense her longing to join their little group then.
Amidst the cheers and laughs of the other people in the room that watched the show, Anna’s eyes looked away from the TV screen and met Rich’s. She was still blushing, but he was surprised to see her lips upturned into a shy, but pleased smile. As Rich smiled back, he felt the hairs on his arms stand up, and there was the same charge in the air…just in time for Anna’s character on TV to speak.
“Girls, I think I’m falling for him.”