Be careful what you say to strangers.

Thankfully, my translator was seated at the last row of the jam-packed bus. He kept ribbing me with the miscommunication with the natives, I began to feel it was not funny anymore.

There’s a God, I knew it. The woman beside me looked like a movie star. She can also speak my dialect. The ride back would not be monotonous.

“You’re a tourist,” she guessed. “Your Ilocano is not good.”

Her bluntness was forgivable. Even if she insulted me for not being handsome, I would accept it wholeheartedly. That’s how much I was attracted to her.

“I am learning quickly,” I pretended, hoping she would teach me personally. “Will you help me?”

“Why not? I am a tutor.” Her smile had that feature found in commercial ads on TV.

“Can I give you a visit? Say, tomorrow?” I would not procrastinate.

“Wait a second, I’ll check my schedule.”

While waiting, I caught a whiff of her perfume. I did not know if it was the flowery odor that satiated my sense of smell or the thought that she gave me a chance, being a stranger and all. I imagined all the happy moments we would be spending together.

“You can come in the afternoon. Here’s my address.” She handed me her calling card.

I looked back and saw my translator snoozing. He would not believe it when I told him I hit the jackpot.

We had a lively conversation thereafter. She was the soul mate I waited for.

When the bus stopped at the terminal, everyone prepared to alight. I did not want to wait for the morrow so I asked her out.

“I can’t,” she replied. “I have something arranged tonight,”

I was about to insist when a hunky fellow stood by near our seats. I thought he was a new passenger, eager to reserve our place.

“Oh, darling! You should not have fetched me!”

Darling? The word shattered all my wonderful plans.

“By the way, I accepted to tutor him tomorrow.”

I nodded, smiling sheepishly. He did the same but suspiciously.

“See you tomorrow,” she said while being ushered out by her husband.

I was about to pick up the pieces of my broken heart when I heard a familiar voice behind me.

“Busted!” my translator whispered as he passed me by. He grinned like a cat.



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