He was stuck.
There was nothing else he could do but stare at the dying light. He unbuckled his seatbelt and thought – There is only 30 seconds left.
He once watched a video on how to get out of a sinking car. The most crucial moment is the first 30 seconds after the impact. He thought to himself, he can either roll down the windows or break them.
He chose to reach for his phone instead.
“Mikey, why did you let the boat sink?” He asked his 10 year old playmate as they both stared at the sinking boat.
“Please don’t tell my father.” replied Mikey as he threw another stone in the lake.
“I won’t. I promise.” He said while patting his friend on the back, trying to comfort him.
“I have another secret. Promise to never tell anyone!” said Mikey, gesturing his friend to keep quiet. His friend was taken aback by how close they were and just nodded as he had no way of speaking since Mikey’s index finger was on his lips. “I have a secret crush on Lucy.”
“Oh.” He just smiled. “Cool.”
“Hey! Come here!” Mikey’s voice was being drowned out by the loud music. People were dancing, drinking, and kissing each other.
“Look who’s here! Mr. Jock, I’m so glad you came to my party!” Andrew, the host of the party, hugged him tightly. “Come play 7 minutes in heaven with us. A party classic.”
The tip of the bottle stopped in front of him after three turns. “Oh, you’re next. You’re up with Melissa!” He smiled as he got up and held Melissa’s hand as they walked to the closet.
Melissa started stripping as soon as she closed the door. She took off her shirt and grabbed her partner’s neck gently, and then kissed him. He kissed her back and removed his own shirt. He closed his eyes and his mind drifted away to one particular memory.
“I can’t watch your game bro. Lucy and I have a date tonight. I’m sorry, but I promise to make it up to you in your next game, I swear.”
Mikey never missed any of his games, until now.
While running in the field, he was so frustrated. Something was missing, maybe he forgot to do his ritual before the game, or he forgot to call his mom. He just kept running without any direction until he heard a familiar voice.
“Go 21!” Mikey was there after all.
He moved back and pushed Melissa lightly. He grabbed their shirts and gave Melissa hers before wearing his. “I think our time is up.”
“It’s Jasmine right? It’s always been Jasmine.”
“I’m sorry.” He said as he exited the closet and left Melissa sobbing. He reached for his phone and called Mikey. “I want to go home Mikey.”
10 minutes after, they went to Mikey’s car. The car was quiet and only the sound of the engine was heard. Mikey, then pulled up in front of his yard.
“I wasn’t feeling well. I knew you wanted to be with Lucy.” He said nonchalantly.
“It’s alright. I saw Jasmine, too. She’s with that stupid guy again, huh.” Mikey replied, still holding on to the cold steering wheel.
“It’s not Jasmine.”
“It’s okay man. It’s okay not to admit, I mean, if I think about losing Lucy, I don’t think I can -” Even before he could finish his sentence, his lips were already pressed against Mikey’s.
I know we haven’t talked since Andrew’s party. I know that what happened was just an accident. You’re going to UCLA now, and I know you’re happy for me since I’ll be in Harvard. No matter how far we are, we’re friends for life. Take care, man.
That was the last text he received from Mikey after high school. He never sent a reply.
The last 15 seconds were spent waiting for an answer.
“Hello?” A warm, familiar voice said from the other end.
“It’s Mikey! I’m probably busy right now with my girlfriend, Lucy! Leave a message!” The line went dead.
He thought, Mikey, why did you let the boat sink?
Photographed by Inah Maravilla
Styled by Neal P. Corpus and Inah Maravilla
Make-up by Aquinna Duyan and Nicole Valencia
Modeled by Chad Alviar, Manu Fernando, Rovin Mizuse, Geo Santos, Elejah Saiki, and Julia Velasquez
Assisted by Pamela Batac, Chelly Patalud, and Thea Torres