It seemed funny to Andee that the universe still managed to keep her and Rain together, despite her numerous attempts to keep herself away from him. It is as if fate forced her to be a part of a joke she didn’t even want to hear—one with a terrible punchline at that. What was funnier was the fact that it was now just the two of them sharing the same schedule, having strayed and separated from the very friend group where they first met.
In fairness to her, she had been able to somehow keep her stubborn heart in check. Perhaps getting to know him more over the years grounded her perception of him. Hearing him talk eagerly about his ambitions of becoming a famous actor—and seeing his committed efforts to reach that dream—made her realize that he was in no capacity to love her the way she wanted to be loved. That is, if he actually did in the first place.
But the feeling still lingered, like an itch that wouldn’t go away. Andee still couldn’t fully look Rain in the eye. There were still nights when Andee would selfishly wish upon a star that Rain would finally see her through and make her a priority of his, next to his dreams.
The weeping of the clouds particularly reminded her of him the most. Just as she stared at the gloomy landscape through the glass entrance, she couldn’t help but feel a little lonely. She had been alone the entire afternoon, having to purchase some supplies for an upcoming class project. Rain, on the other hand, had been away the entire day following a scheduled photoshoot for some advertisement.
“Send me some BTS pics, okay?” Her last message to him read, next to a single check mark on the corner of the screen.
Instead of wallowing further in self-pity, she took the time to bask in her solitude. For a while, the thought of unreciprocated affection hadn’t crossed her mind, like the times she was with anyone but him. With each sip of her favorite mocha latte that she so deservedly earned after a long day, she could feel his silhouette in her mind slowly fade away as the sweetness of the coffee tickled her taste buds. The café she happened to be in was also not too crowded, making the atmosphere feel all the more cozy for her.
But then, she heard a name she hadn’t heard in so long. It was a name that she once considered sweet—turned sour once it became part of a bad memory.
“Dee-dee?” A distinctly low voice excitedly called from behind her.
Andee turned around, her muscles tensing up. She saw a face she never thought would see again—and for good reason. A certain someone once considered special in her heart, only to end up as a nameless face in her memory. Someone she once loved.
“Jack?” She called back, as she felt a lump in her throat. She then rose from her seat and stood in front of him, wide-eyed. Even until now, he still towered over her, with his proud muscular build contrasting her petite frame.
“Long time no see! How have you been?” He enthusiastically asked, gaze fixed on her.
Andee thought she’d never see him again after they graduated from high school. She had already closed that chapter in her book. The moment she realized his love wasn’t meant for her was the end of the line. She was done fooling herself.
Yet for some reason, her heart still remembered everything, despite the years’ worth of heartache she felt from holding on to the hope he’d someday see her eye to eye. She still felt the tinge of longing from observing his face, and thinking of what once was—imagining what could’ve been. However, she refused to feel anything. Now that she was older, she knew what was better for her.
“I’m doing fine, usual college stuff,” she replied, with some reservation. “And you? How are you and Noelle?”
“We’re great, still going strong,” Jack said proudly, his smile almost from ear to ear. “She’s actually here—just checking out the bags outside. I decided to just wait here, ‘cause… y’know.”
Andee simply gave out a small smile, before unconsciously glancing at the glass doors for the nth time. She was so used to having them out of her life—and she wanted it to stay that way.
As if heaven had heard her, her phone rang. It was Rain. Andee excused herself, then answered the call. “Hey Andee, you still there at the mall?”
“Yeah, at the café. Where are you?” Andee eagerly replied.
“I’m at the entrance. I’ll meet you there—”
“No, I’ll go there!”
The call ended, and Andee discreetly breathed a sigh of relief, before noticing Jack’s confused expression.
“I’ll see you around, then?” Jack asked, reluctant to end their interaction.
Soon enough, Andee said her goodbye and left. She walked back to the entrance of the mall to see Rain—who was still dolled up from the shoot—waiting for her. Without any hesitation, she immediately enveloped him in an embrace, as though she had not seen him all year.
“Hey, hey, what’s wrong?” Rain worriedly asked.
“Nothing. I just… missed you. And… nothing, really.” Andee replied, rather tongue-tied, after letting him go. “How’s… your photo gig?”
The past was over and done. In spite of everything—her unfading feelings for him, the circumstances that always led him to her—Rain probably remained in Andee’s life for a reason: to be a constant reminder of the present, and the lessons of yesterday.