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He was playing with his phone, twirling it between his index finger and thumb, trying to make it seem like this was what he always did when there were pauses to fill between the how-are-yous and what's-your-next-class, but the quivering of his fingers said otherwise. I should know. I've mastered the skill of phone-swiveling.

"Don't you ever get annoyed that people never call you by your first name?" I asked, finally shattering the cafeteria buzz that disguised itself as awkward silence between us.

I was, after all, curious. I wondered how anyone ever got to calling him anything other than Tan.

"Who would want to be called Genesis anyway? I mean, even I would be annoyed if anyone called me that," he replied without hesitation.

I couldn't even imagine myself calling him Genesis. Even if we become friends, or even just close acquaintances - the kind that had inside jokes about our respective partners, or this as-good-as-rubber baked mac I was trying to eat. I wondered what his mom called him? I assume Sassa would give his real name when she called him at home and his mom picks up the phone. Hi Tita, can I speak with Gen please? Genesis! It's your girlfriend! Or when she would introduce him to her friends. Hi guys, this is Tan. It sounds too impersonal. And odd. This is Gen. It sounds even odder.

I laughed, both at his remark and at the thought inside my head. Gen Tan. I cannot imagine feeling any more glad about being Anne Cruz. Default, but without fault. He laughed too. At me, with me, I cannot be sure. And with that, the lull sneaked its way back between us again, like it always did. We weren't really friends - only connected because as they say in Disneyland (and in this university), it's a small world after all. I suppose after this we're now entitled to an eyebrow-raise or even a small "Uy!" that wouldn't seem too pretentious.

Finally, 5:30. He stood up to leave, carrying with him the Lock-and-Lock water bottle he had refilled a few minutes ago and a giant paper bag (that I'm guessing contained either a really large stuffed toy or a whole lot of shoes), and said goodbye. I wished him luck about his surprise and asked him to greet Sassa a happy birthday for me. I glanced at my phone and wondered if I should be going as well. No new messages.

Wednesday was about to end, quietly lifting the burden of the week from the students as Thursday is slowly ushered in. I could see the sun from behind the trees, as tired from the day as the students inside the cafeteria were. For a group meeting, for a quick snack, for a glass of water - people saying hi, people coming, people walking away faster than you can wave them hello. It was the way things were. The most people can give you is their five minutes, and before you can even crack a joke that would cement familiarity, the bell rings, the professor comes in, your friend texts you, the sun sets, time's up - you're to be somewhere else. I don't complain. Instead, I put the earphones back in my ear, and resumed nodding to Metric's Collect Call.

I tried browsing through my notes about trigonometric functions to while away the time, feeling stupid because I was in a building with people who have likely mastered them in their sleep. I tried to blend in with the crowd, tried to make it look like I don't mind being alone again, because I don't. It's just better to be feeling alone with someone, rather than being alone, period. It's okay to wait when someone else is waiting. No matter that it's almost a stranger whose path I'm unlikely to cross again - at least, for a while, I wasn't the loner girl on the table by the water dispenser.

I glanced at my phone again, hoping that the message, the person I was waiting for had arrived; hoping that the minutes would shatter the waiting. 5:32.


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