“So how did it go?” Ben asked.
“How did what go?” Sam said.
“You know what I mean.”
They were picking up their pace now. The morning was new and the streets were nearly empty.
They turned to a corner.
“How did it go?” Ben repeated.
“I just told her that I liked her, that I liked her eyes a lot. That’s it. I didn’t want to go too far,” Sam said.
“Yep. That’s about it. And then I told her that I really liked how she smiles, you know? The way the corner of her mouth slants so slightly like that when she’s happy or something? When she’s amused by something. And that’s it. I didn’t want to go too far. I didn’t want to cross the line.”
“That’s it? Sounds like a lot. What line?”
“Oh, you know. The line of our friendship. I didn’t want to cross that.”
“That’s only an imaginary line.”
“Nevertheless, it’s a line that demarcates her space from my space.”
“Hm,” Ben said. “So that’s it?”
They were both quiet again. A few cars passed them by, honking for no reason. A few shops were starting to open. Above them, the sky was bright and golden.
“I should’ve said more, though,” Sam continued. “I should’ve said that I like the way she looks with her glasses and all. And how she speaks and whatnot. How she comments on things. I like how she talks and thinks and moves. Every time she’s about to say something, I always pay attention because I feel it’s going to be about a very important thing. Even if it will turn out to be a remark about the weather or the news or about a person we’re common friends with, it’s still very important and interesting. But that would be too much to say to her.” He was panting as he finished his sentence.
“Want to take a break?” Ben said.
“Sure,” he said. He checked his watch. “5 KM. Not bad.”
They both drank from their bottles.
“Did she say anything?” Ben said.
“Yeah,” he answered.
“What did she say?”
“She laughed, which upset me. And then she said there’s something she wants to tell me.”
“Well?” Ben said. “Out with it, then.”
“She said she really liked me, and this is where I excused myself because her expression was so serious and stuff and I wasn’t used to seeing her that way. So I just said, there’s something I forgot and I needed to go. I got into my running shoes and just ran, you know? I just ran. At first, slowly. And then I built momentum and just ran my heart out, you know? I ran all the way from the cafe where we met to the Banilad area. And I ran through Maria Luisa — the guards were asleep — and went down Busay and Lahug. Then I got to the rotunda and made my way down South. It took me a while for the road was pitch black at times but I made it here, eventually, at the break of dawn.”
“That’s almost 50 kilometers,” Ben said. “Are you insane?”
“Yeah,” Sam said. “I should’ve stayed and said more, you know, because that wasn’t half of what I really wanted to say, but I didn’t want to go too far.”