THAT SCHOOL YEAR WAS OVER. One Friday afternoon, I arrived late to our rendezvous at an American fast food joint the Sy family franchised in Cimitarra. The gang was already at the parking lot and about to leave.
“Sorry, I’m late, guys,” I said as I stopped my bicycle in front of them. “My new boss asked me to go overtime. I don’t want to be a bad shot for this new job.”
“No worries, Huan,” Fonsy said. “You came right on time.”
“Why do you have to take a summer job, pal?” asked Buddy. “It’s vacation. Let’s enjoy the days out of school.”
“You know the reason, guys,” I explained. “I’m not rich like Fonsy here. I need dough, too, for my tuition fee and other expenses.”
“Huan, I want you to meet the girls,” announced Fonsy. “This is what Buddy meant by VACATION.”
They laughed. I became the sore thumb in the group again.
“That is Pinky…,” Fonsy pointed to the girl beside Mark.
A long-haired girl who couldn’t get the hairbrush off her hand waved her hairbrush at me. She personified Vanity. I remembered her as one of those girls who broke up with another guy in school a few weeks ago.
“…Alice…,” Fonsy pointed to the girl beside Jim.
Alice waved her hand and smiled at me, and then turned back her attention to Jim. I knew Jim had been courting this girl a few months back.
“Tina,” Fonsy pointed to the girl beside Buddy.
Tina smiled and waved her hand to me. But Buddy tightened his hand on her shoulder and nudged her. Her face changed and looked at Buddy.
“And this is Rosanna,” Fonsy pulled the girl beside him.
“Hi,” Rosanna greeted, “nice to meet you.” She offered a handshake and I took it.
I pretended that I didn’t know her, or was surprised to see her with Fonsy. We shook hands and I said, “Nice meeting you, Rosanna.”
I didn’t know what happened next, but I felt Fonsy’s hand slapped mine. It jolted me and saw Fonsy’s serious face. It seemed that he wanted Rosanna for himself. How would I compete with my best friend?
THE PLAN WAS TO GO SWIMMING in a vacation house the Sy family owned in Puerto Montoya, the resort capital of La Isla Colonia.
While on our way, Buddy coaxed us to stop for a while to look at the beautiful view of the sea along the cliffs. It was our first time to enjoy the scenery of Puerto Montoya. So we got out of the car, and stood at the cliff side. However, I noticed that Fonsy remained in the car. I thought that he’s already used to the view so I waved my hand and called him to join us. But he shook his head. I went back to the car and asked Fonsy why. He just smiled.
“I’m going to tell you something,” Fonsy said. “I’m afraid of heights.”
“What do you mean you’re afraid of heights?” I asked. “Almost all of your properties are either high rise buildings or located on top of the mountains.”
“I can manage to drive the car along these roads,” he said. “But I can’t go near the cliff side and see how high I am. I have to stay in the middle and not look at the sides whenever I’m in high places.”
Our conversation was interrupted when the group came back to the car. But his revelation stuck in my mind.
“Just don’t tell them what I’ve told you,” Fonsy said hurriedly.
WE ARRIVED AT FONSY’S BEACH HOUSE after an hour drive from Cimitarra. It was late afternoon and there was still time to swim either by the beach or by the pool. Everyone was having a good time.
After swimming a few laps in the pool, I got up and dried myself. I sat down on a chair. I couldn’t help but observe Fonsy and Rosanna. I immediately turned my attention towards something else whenever they saw me looking at them.
After an hour of sitting on a chair, drinking beer, and munching on peanuts, I heard Fonsy beside me.
“Hey,” Fonsy said.
“Hey,” I answered.
“Been observing you,” Fonsy said and sat down on the chair beside me. “You do like her, don’t you?”
I knew he was referring to Rosanna. I looked at him.
“I’ll be a hypocrite if I say no,” I answered. “I have had a crush on her since I first saw her. But don’t worry, I won’t do anything. I won’t compete with you.”
I looked at the pool and saw the three girls telling stories while in water.
“You know what I like about you, Huan?” Fonsy asked. “You’re honest. You don’t hide anything from me.”
He, too, looked at the pool and stared at the three girls.
“I like her, Huan,” he said. “But it seems that she likes you more. There’s something in the way she looks and smiles at you.”
“Come on, Fonsy,” I said. “I’m a poor boy. She wouldn’t want me just like that.”
“But you’re smart,” he said.
“You’re smart, too. Always remember that.”
“But I’m not as good as you.”
Silence came between us. We still stared at the pool. Then we saw Buddy, Jim, and Mark join the girls and waved at us.
“May the best man wins, Huan,” Fonsy said as he tapped my shoulder.
“I said I’m not going to compete with you.”
“I know, buddy. But the way I see it, in any given time, she will choose YOU over me.”
I stared at Fonsy, thinking about what he said.
“And I can’t take that against you or against her. Either way, I’ll make sure she will like and love me,” Fonsy continued.
“I’ll try to stay away from her if you like,” I said.
Fonsy tapped my shoulders again and stood up. “Come on, let’s join them,” he said.
WEIRD, I woke up at around 3:00 A.M., witching hour that was what people called it. I looked around and saw the other guys asleep, snoring. I kept tossing in bed trying to get some sleep but to no avail. So I got up, went out of the room.
I went to the kitchen and took some water from the fridge. I brought the glass with me and headed out to the pool. I sat down, put the glass of water on the table, pulled out a cigarette from my pocket, and lit it. I puffed some smoke and closed my eyes as I leaned back in my seat. God, I want to have Rosanna but I can’t.
When I opened my eyes, I saw Rosanna sitting beside me, smiling. I couldn’t tell if I was dreaming or not.
“Can’t sleep, Huan?” she asked.
I nodded and puffed another smoke as I avoided her stare.
“Me, too,” she said. “Do you have a light?”
I turned to her and saw that she already stuck a cigarette into her mouth. I immediately took out my lighter and lit the cigarette for her. “I didn’t know you smoke,” I said.
“I want to join you in smoking,” she said. “I hope you don’t mind, do you?”
I couldn’t answer her question. For me, I preferred girls who don’t smoke. But how could I tell that to her? But, I liked the way she smoked. She brought elegance to it. Her mouth, the way she held the cigarette, it was beautiful.
“No, I don’t mind,” I lied.
I wanted to avoid Rosanna right there and then. That was what I had promised to Fonsy earlier that afternoon. So I finished my cigarette and stood up.
“Excuse me,” that was all I managed to say.
I took off my shirt and dived into the pool. I swam a lap and returned from where I came from. I saw Rosanna at the end of the pool, she had already dived in.
“Are you avoiding me, Huan?” she asked.
“What makes you say that?” I asked back.
“It seems that you don’t like to talk to me.”
“No, it’s not that, Rosanna. I mean…” I went to the edge of the pool and stood beside her.
Fonsy likes you,” I continued. “He’s my best friend…”
“Do you think he owns me? No,” she shook her head. “I admit, he kept saying that I’m his girlfriend,” she continued. “But I told him, he’s gonna prove that to everybody. I know what I like and I can decide when I would like it.”
I bowed my head and thought about what she said.
“Congratulations, by the way,” I heard her say.
“Huh?” I turned to her, surprised.
“For being a top student,” she said. “Saw you went up the stage with your mother and received a lot of medals last week.”
“Oh, that one,” I said while remembering the Recognition Day at school. “Well, thanks.”
“You don’t have a girlfriend, do you?” she asked.
I shook my head and smiled. “None, I don’t think any girl would like a nerd and poor boy like me.”
“Well, I like you,” she said smiling.
I couldn’t believe what she had said.
“You’re intelligent, industrious, kind, and good-looking,” she continued.
“No,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief.
“Come on, Huan,” she said. “Don’t deny that.”
“Why are you telling this to me?”
“Wanna race?” she asked instead. “Come, just one full lap. Ready?”
I looked at her and saw that she was conning me for a dare. “What if you lose?” I asked, smiling.
“Then, the loser will have to do what the winner will say,” Rosanna smiled back. “Ready? Get set…”
At that point, I decided to beat her in the game once and for all.
“Go!” we both said.
I swam as fast as I could until I reached where we started. But, Rosanna won by a few seconds. She raised her two hands in victory and laughed.
I smiled at her and conceded. “You won,” I said.
Immediately, she put her raised hands around my neck and kissed me on the lips. Her wet lips were warm and inviting. Her hands were sliding down my back.
It caught me by surprise but I couldn’t help my hands around her waist as I felt her supple body…
“Are you naked?” I asked as I pulled myself away from her. I turned around and saw her clothes lying on the floor a few feet away from the pool.
“Huan, please,” she pleaded. She tightened her arms around me. “I won the race and as the loser, you have to do what I say.”
“Rosanna, no,” I said. “I admit I have a crush on you. But I don’t want to do this to you. Not this way.”
“What are you afraid of?”
“It’s not that I’m afraid. It’s just that when I get married I want that part of it to be something special. Maybe it’s kinda dumb but I want it to be the first time for both of us. Because in a way, I want it to be something private. Something the world can’t touch all our lives.”
“Huan, listen,” she whispered. She put her hands on my face. “I know you’re a gentleman. I like you. And I am willing to give everything to you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Huan, trust me. Just trust me…”
And so we stayed that way for a few more seconds. She kissed me again, this time with more passion. I tried to respond to her kisses. God, thank you! Then I felt her hand searching and once she found what she was looking for, she touched it gently. Then, Rosanna held my hand and led it to her breast for me to touch them.
“No,” I said. “This is too much… too wrong… I’m sorry.” I voluntarily moved away from her.
Rosanna held me tight and pleaded. “Please, Huan,” she whispered. “Nobody will ever know that this happened. I want you to take my virginity before Fonsy does. Trust me… please…”
“Do you know what you’re telling me to do, Rosanna?”
“Yes, I know what I’m talking about,” she said. “It would be better to have my first sexual experience with you than with anyone else, even with Fonsy. He’s been insisting on me to do it with him ever since I became his girlfriend. But I kept on telling him that I’m not ready yet. I know he’ll be asking me again for the nth time.”
“Then why don’t you tell him?”
“Huan, you don’t know Fonsy when it comes to me. To you he might be a good friend. But to me, he’s one of those guys who just wanted a piece of me.”
I thought of her last statement. I just don’t want a piece of her. I want her whole. But I couldn’t because she’s Fonsy’s girl. Yet, this situation presented an opportunity.
“I don’t know…”
“Huan…,” she said.
“It might be too embarrassing to admit, but I’m a virgin, too…”
“So what? I have this feeling that if I have my first sex with you, I’ll regard sex as something special. I want to feel sex that way and not on how I feel Fonsy will do to me soon.”
She tightened her arms around me and kissed my lips again, pleading in passion.
What could I do? I responded to her kisses and let her do what she wanted. We started our foreplay in the pool. When we couldn’t bear our sexual urges any longer, we went out of the pool, looked for a vacant room and had our first experience of making love.