For this week’s Deleted Scenes, author Ana Tejano shares a snippet she removed from her latest book, Keep the Faith.
Keep the Faith
As a community development worker, Faith was quite familiar with heartbreak and recovery after all the time she spent on disaster relief missions. So when her five-year relationship ends right before she left for a mission trip to a typhoon-stricken town in Iloilo, she tries not to make a big deal out of it. How can she be broken up about a breakup when she’s with people who literally lost everything?
Click on the Continue Reading button to read “Payday” Trip, by Ana Tejano.
(a deleted scene from Keep the Faith)
This is the original Valentine’s Day scene in Act 2. I wanted to have one set in that holiday because it’s something that Faith had to deal with after the breakup. But then I realized how it seemed out of place in the whole book so I scrapped it.
I never finished the whole scene, and it has no place in the book now, but I always liked imagining Nico pulling this kind of thing to cheer up Faith. 🙂
* * * * *
JAMES AND I LIKED VALENTINE’S DAY. We celebrated it every year since we got together, not because of the hype of the “holiday,” but because we actually got together on Valentine’s Day, in the middle of the Metro Manila traffic on our way home from a date. My friends teased me mercilessly about it, with some bitter comments on the side, until Rain and Mark got together and Meah decided it wasn’t worth it making jokes about it when it was two couples against one.
So imagine the dread I felt when February rolled in and I realized that this was the first time in five years that I would be alone during Valentine’s Day. I told myself so many times that it really shouldn’t matter, because I was fine then. A bit bitter about the lack of a love life, just like a lot of single, unattached twenty-five-old girl, but still, fine.
We had field work on the day before Valentine’s Day, which was sufficiently distracting, while I was out, but it also didn’t last for so long. When I got home, my mind immediately went back to James. I wondered what he was doing now. I contemplated texting him, but I couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t make me sound pathetic. But I wondered what was on his mind. Did he even think about me? Was he also thinking about how tomorrow could have been our sixth year anniversary?
I had picked up my phone and started to compose a message when Nico’s face showed up on the screen. I answered his call and was greeted by a cheerful, “French Fries!”
“Hey, what’s up? Is anything wrong?” I glanced at the clock – it was already late. We had all separated ways after we were dropped off at the HQ, everyone not looking forward to facing the Valentine’s weekend traffic. I was the first one home, obviously.
“No, nothing’s wrong, don’t worry,” he said. I heard some people talking in the background. “Do you have plans tomorrow?”
Was he seriously asking me this question? Didn’t he hear April and I talking about this earlier? “Of course I have no plans, Nico,” I replied sarcastically. “What do you think?”
“Not meeting your friends? Going home?”
“No.” Rain and Mark were out of town, and my family also had plans of their own with their respective partners. Even Meah had plans, leaving me at alone with plans of binge-watching some TV shows, ordering some cheese pizza and eating it all by myself. No way I’m going to be out alone.
“Okay, good. We have field work tomorrow.”
“What? Where? For real? Don’t you have plans?”
“I just heard about it. You and me tomorrow, okay? I’ll pick you up at six.”
“Will you even make it at six?”
“Har har,” I heard a smile in Nico’s voice. “See you tomorrow.”
True enough, he did show up at my doorstep at six the next day, all bright and cheerful, so unlike the Nico I catch every Thursday at the HQ. He looked like he slept for eight whole hours, and he handed me coffee as soon as I opened the door.
“Don’t you want to have breakfast first?”
“Skip it. Or bring it. We can eat it in the car. Let’s go, French Fries. We don’t want to be late.”
I raised an eyebrow at him, but still followed anyway, locking up behind me. He led the way to his car, and even opened the door for me to get in, before climbing in at his side.
“Will you tell me where we are going now?” I asked, as he drove away. “And why do we have field work today? I can’t remember anything up on the calendar at the HQ.”
“You ask too many questions, French Fries,” he said, as we reached EDSA. He turned right, heading to the northern part of the city. “Don’t you want to go out today?”
A thought popped into my head. Was this a Valentine’s date?
“Nico, why are we going out today?” I asked, serious this time.
He glanced at me at the corner of his eye, and a smile parted his lips. “I told you. We’re going to the field.”
“But why? Is this an official field work?”
He shook his head, and his bangs flapped over his forehead. He brushed it away impatiently. “No. It’s not.”
“So…what is this? All this?” I motioned to him, the food, and to the road. “Is it because it’s…today?”
“What about today?” he asked, as he signaled to the right. We were about to exit to the expressway.
“Oh, wait,” he said, nodding. “Of course. I guess you can say that. That’s why I asked you to go with me, French Fries.”
And here I thought Nico wasn’t one of them, who threw me pitying glances when I wasn’t looking. Maybe he was only like that at the start. “I don’t need your pity party,” I said with a huff.
“I mean, it was payday last Friday, right?” Nico continued, like he didn’t hear me at all. “We should go out. Because we deserve to do this after all the work we did this week.”
He met my eyes when we finally stopped a bit to wait for our turn at the toll gate, and laughed when he saw me staring at him. “Why are you looking at me that way, Faith? It is payday, right? Have you checked your account yet?”
I looked at him in disbelief, and continued doing so even after Nico had to break his gaze to focus on the girl behind the toll gate who gave him the card. Out the window I saw the girl smile back at him, obviously hit by his charm.
“So you got paid, right?” he asked again, glancing at me as we drove away from the tollgate. “Because tell me know if you didn’t so I can ask payroll and tell them that’s totally unfair that I got paid and you didn’t.”
“Yes, of course I got paid,” I replied slowly. “So this…is a payday trip?”
“Yes. What other occasion is there?” Nico asked the last question innocently, even rolling his eyes, but I saw the hint of his dimple, and I immediately understood he was doing. It made me feel a little uncomfortable that he was doing this for me, but there was also another warmer, more pleasant feeling that took over: gratitude.
I leaned back on my seat to look out the window. Nico hummed along to the song playing on the radio as he drove, and I watched the sky slowly getting brighter thanks to the sunrise. The sky was part blue and part purple, and the sun’s rays were breaking through the pink clouds, like cotton candy floating in the air.
When I looked at him again, the sunrise lit his face, highlighting the sparkle in his eyes, the cheerful grin on his lips, and the way his hair flopped over his forehead. Something fluttered in my heart.
“Hey Nico,” I said, and he glanced at me. “Thank you for this.”
He reached out and touched my hand so briefly that I thought I almost dreamt it, except for the tiny electric sparks that seemed to have traveled from my hand all the way up to my chest.
“Thank me later,” he said, still grinning. “We have a lot of stuff to do today.”
* * * * *
The “stuff” that Nico wanted to do were things that I never dreamed I’d be doing on Valentine’s Day.
My anniversary dates with James were usually dinner somewhere we have reserved way ahead of time, and sometimes a movie. Sometimes we would go out of town, but it was usually a chill vacation, nothing extreme – mostly eating, touring around some place, visiting museums, and all that.
Nico, on the other hand, didn’t like us being cooped up somewhere. So that day, on our payday trip, he brought me to this new real estate development up over the nearby province, which boasted of a new adventure park. It was so new that it wasn’t really open yet, but this little independent group that Nico knew was holding a charity event there to raise funds to support their scholars. The deal was we pay to get a day pass that gave us unlimited access to all attractions, and part of the proceeds from the sales will go to fund their scholars. But there was more – if we completed a particular set of activities at a certain time, we get to add more to the fund that will get their school supplies. Oh, and the passes we paid for also sponsored one of their kids, so we’ve been hanging out with their scholars the whole day, too.
“That was awesome!” I exclaimed, as he met me at the waiting area of the 180-meter long zip line that I had just finished doing.
“Do you want to go at it again?” Nico asked with a laugh, as he handed me a bottle of water. Adrenaline was still rushing through my veins, and I knew my hair must have looked terrible from the helmet, but I was so pumped up, I didn’t care. “And you were totally freaking out before you jumped off.”
“You will if you looked down and realized you were forty feet up in the air!” I waved my arms around for emphasis. “But it was so awesome.”
“Told you so,” he said smugly. Nico glanced at his watch, then at the list of activities in the little booklets we received when we got in. “Oh, looks like we have all tasks completed. Let’s go and redeem this.”
“Don’t worry, we can do that humongous swing again if you want to do it.”
I made a face. “No. Once is enough.”
Check out last week’s Deleted Scene HERE. More coming your way soon! ^_^