When they say the last year of college was the craziest time of the year, they really weren’t kidding. The last semester of my last year in college had just started, and the first month and a half of it almost drove me nuts with all the work I had to accomplish. I was up to my ears with all the papers and assignments and my thesis — not to mention my extracurricular activities. It was so bad that I had to miss a couple of days of Christmas vacation to stay in the dorm to finish the things that were due as soon as I get back to school. My roommates thought I was crazy; for me, I’m just thinking ahead. That, and I do not want to go home and think about school work.
Just thinking about home made my heart ache. The last time I was home was during the semester break, and I had to cut that short because of some thesis things that I had to do. My parents didn’t mind, since they know how important my thesis was, but I cried every night on the first week I had to stay at the dorm because I was terribly homesick. Sometimes, studying in the city really takes its toll on me.
I paused from my typing and glanced at the date on the bottom of my screen. It was the 23rd of December, two days before Christmas. For the first three years of my college life, I would have been at home even before the 20’s hit in December. At this time, I would be finishing my Christmas shopping — at least the ones I haven’t done yet while I was in the city — and would be locking myself in my room to wrap my gifts, and then sneak them under the Christmas tree so my brother wouldn’t try to peek. At night, the entire family would be dressing up to go to the last night of Simbang Gabi, and we’d follow that up with a baking session at home to prepare for Noche Buena the next day. I would be full with my mom’s hot chocolate, and Isaac would always, always bring us fresh, hot bibingka and puto bumbong from near the church when we’d run out of the ones we bought after the mass.
I smiled fondly when I remembered my best friend, Isaac. He usually goes home around this time from the seminary, since he’s gotten to staying there to help out with their Christmas preparations up to the last minute. It was weird trying to think of Isaac as some kind of priest in the future at first, but I’ve slowly gotten used to the idea. He was the only guy I know who was actually pursuing this calling, and people in college often scoffed at him when they hear about my best friend on his way to becoming a priest. At first I got angry at them for that, but now I just let them be — the choice didn’t involve them anyway. It didn’t even involve me, so I had no right to say anything about it.
But having Isaac in the seminary was hard, too. We hardly have time to see each other whenever we’re home. At the most, we only had a couple of days together and then either he has to go back to the seminary or I have to go back to the dorm. The most time we spent together was probably last summer, but it always felt too short.
My phone rang, breaking my reverie. I answered it without looking at the caller ID. “Hello?”
Only one person calls me with that name. “Isaac!” I squealed. “I was just thinking about you.”
Isaac chuckled, and it was a sound that I missed hearing so much that I teared up. I sniffled involuntarily, and Isaac asked, “Hey Rebekah…are you crying? What’s wrong?”
I sniffled again, and this time, a tear actually sneaked out of my eye. I wiped it away hastily, forgetting that he couldn’t see it. I’ve only shed tears in front of a few people, and Isaac was included in that list, but even then I never liked crying in front of him. It was amazing how much he can sense my tears, though. “No, no. I’m okay. I just…I just miss you so much!”
Isaac laughed again. “I miss you too, Bekbest. I just got home today and was expecting to see you, but Tita told me you were still there.”
“You’re home already?” I said with a whine. I leaned back on my chair and put my feet up on my table to stretch. “I missed your arrival again! I have so much finish before I go home!”
“Can’t you finish it after the holidays?”
I sighed. “I can’t. I’m almost done, though, so I can probably go home tonight. Or early tomorrow morning.”
“Come on, go home tonight!” Isaac said, almost begging. “I want to see you already. It’s been too long. I can drive all the way there to fetch you. You want?”
I knew Isaac would do just that, even if he had to sneak away from the house just to fetch me. I remember that one time back in sophomore year, when Isaac surprised me with my favorite snacks at my dorm. Everyone thought that Isaac was my boyfriend then, and the two of us just laughed at that. It wasn’t new for us — in fact, he was my first boyfriend ever. We were together for almost a year and then we broke up, and just stayed best friends. We were used to people teasing us together and we usually ignore it now — I mean, for goodness sake, the guy is going to be a priest.
Just then, a messenger window popped up on my computer. I put my feet back on the floor and scooted to my computer with a smile.
Rebekah! I’ll be there at six. Let’s have dinner? Then you can teach me how to drive all the way to your place for tomorrow.
I typed a reply on my computer and hit enter before speaking. “Isaac?”
“So, do you want me to pick you up tonight?”
Another message. All right then. Finish that paper already, okay? You can do it! Love you!
“No, Isaac, it’s okay. I’ll be home tomorrow morning, promise. I’ll see you first thing in the morning,” I said, typing my reply while I was talking. “Promise. You rest and I will see you tomorrow. I have a surprise for you.”
“Really?” I could hear the smile in his voice. Isaac can still be such a kid sometimes, it’s so charming. “Alright then. I have a feeling it’s going to be a bit too early for me to join your parents in picking you up.”
I was just about to say that my parents were not the ones who will pick me up, but my boyfriend, who he is going to meet for the first time. But then I heard someone yelling in the background. I recognized the voices — it was Catherine and Lawrence, his siblings. “Oh, wait, I have to go. The kids are demanding me to do something. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
“Yes, you will,” I replied. “Say hi to them for me. I can’t wait to see you.”
“Me too. Bye Bekbest, love you.”
Isaac ended the call before I could react. I sat there, staring at my phone, dumbfounded. Did Isaac just say that he loved me?