Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Do you have to bring your teddy bear along?"

I stared at Min's face before we both turned to look at Bob who was enjoying another cup of cream latte and a slice of New York Classic cheesecake a few tables away all by himself. It seemed that he didn't have any problem sitting all by himself. Well, with a cheesecake, who would even bother about being lonesome? He was pressing his thumb on the keypad of his mobile phone -- chances were that he was communicating with Tiara, judging from his excited facial reactions. Maybe both of them were back into speaking terms. Well good for them. But not good for me just yet. I turned back to Min and she did the same to me.

"Well," I said. "I have to bring him. I can't drive."

She just stared at me, waiting for further explanations. I stared back at her, deep into her shiny, hazel eyes. The lashes looked so finely arranged like the finest fur of hare. Her eyebrows were symmetrically charming; they stored an amount of affection to everyone who noticed. He round eyes showed so many deep secrets inside, as if it went so deep that all that fell into it would have never survived. Her skin was so fair; hardly any flaw could be located on that adorable skin. And her shiny cheery lips...

"You," she said. "Why can't you drive?"

"Oh," I replied, a bit embarrassed. I pushed the chair backward a bit and pulled out my knee so that she could see it. "I fell last night. See?"

She bent herself to the left a bit to take a closer look at my shin. Her face changed slightly. I guessed it was due to an instant concern. 

"Oh my," she said before placing her hand on the bandage. "Does it hurt?" 

"Ouch!" I pulled my leg from her hand immediately (it wasn't that painful anyway, but of course, for the dramatic effect of the entire conversation). Wait, why did I pull my leg again? It felt so good just now when her hand touched me, even from outside the layer of bandage.

"Sorry, Eddy," she said in her softest voice. Wow. She called me using a name nobody ever called me with before. "How did it happen?"

I leaned back on my chair and looked at her, smiling. If only you knew everything, Min, would you be in love with me for my whole life long?

"I just tripped over something." I smiled at her. "No worries, it will heal."

"Why did you come if you know you should be resting, romeo?"

Romeo. I like that. 

"Because," I leaned forward and looked at Min right in the eyes, this time a little bit more serious. "Because someone wanted to set my jacket on fire."

Upon hearing that, she burst into a big laugh. Her eyes closed shut and she covered her mouth with her long, beautiful fingers; in between them her pearl white teeth showed off generously. Her hair moved as she laughed, and the sight was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen in my entire life. It was this thing that cheered me the most - a sincere laugh from a woman as pretty as she was. But then again, every women looks pretty when they laugh.

"Oh my God," she said, still chuckling. "I'm sorry. Really. But you deserved it."

"I deserved it you say. How could you threat me like that? That's my favorite jacket you know."

"Because you didn't reply any of my SMS that's why."

Oh. That. Yes, I did not. But by pulling such trick just to freak me out was not funny at all, Min. But at least you met me in the end, just like you planned, no? Smart girl. Burn down my jacket, you said. You tricked me, and you tricked me good. 

"You came home late last night," I said, trying to change the entire atmosphere of the whole conversation with a more serious sense of air.

"I did," she replied. "I was out doing something and my battery went flat."

I didn't reply her.

"Look," she took a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I know you waited. How do I make it up to you?"

 I didn't reply her still. Just making a serious face, just making a serious face...

"I'm sorry, okay," her face got somewhat worried. "I'm sorry. I just wanted to meet you up."

I raised both my hands and made the 'obviously' gesture by tilting my head a bit. 

"And here I am now, sitting right next in front of you." 

And she smiled right away.

* * *

Min finished work late that day.

Well it wasn't a long wait after all. When Bob and I arrived previously, it was already late evening. There weren't many customers after all that day, so I managed to spend some time with her at the counter until about 8pm when she finished her duty. By that time, Bob had already finished three slices of cheesecake and two more grande cups of latte. The teddy bear was by then had achieved the size of a small moon. Worse, I had to pay for them all just so that he won't make any noise about the entire evening. 

Min came up from the room next to the counter with a new pair of shirt and jeans. On top of that was my dark, corduroy jacket. Her hair was left untied and free. She smiled at me and placed her bag on the counter before she turned to her two colleagues, including the boy the other day, talking something and handing them a bunch of keys. When she's done, she took her tote bag and walked towards me who was then sitting on a sofa near the counter. She popped the collar of the jacket and flicked her head.

"Let's go, romeo."

I returned her smile with a smirk and walked with her toward the end of the premise. The smell of that citrus perfume struck my nose even worst then. Min was walking in front of me when she suddenly turned around. She signaled me using her lips, pointing at a place behind. 

"You forgot your teddy bear."

I turned around to see Bob looking at us in a horrific way -- perhaps he was scared to be left behind. I gave him a hand sign to call him over and walk with us. It took him some time to stand up and collect his effects on the table. 

"Don't ever leave your teddy bear, Eddy," Min spoke to me. That's the second time she called me that.

"Uh huh," I replied without even looking at her. "What do you do with a teddy bear then?"

"You bring him around, stick with him."

Stick with him? Yeah right. Try that with Bob. I rather choke myself to death than to spend a day with him. 

"You'd certainly do that?" I asked her.

"I would definitely do."

"Really," I said, looking at her, testing her sincerity. "So who's your teddy bear then?"

Min didn't immediately reply. Instead she examined my face and gave me the look that was usually given by a homely cat, asking for a pat. Her round eyes glittered in the night; reflecting all the beautiful rays of light from around the twin towers. Her lips shone magnificently. She was so close to me that the warmth of her body was burning me down. I could feel her breath even, slowly brushing against my neck. Up to a point, she was only staring into my eyes, as if she was searching for something. She did that for sometime before she had the courage to let what she had in mind out. 

"It's you."

Oh I'll be damned.

...To Be Continued

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Have you ordered the drinks?"

I pulled out the chair next to the large boy and sat down slowly. My shin was still aching at that time, although the pain had toned down to a much bearable level. Apparently the mint and ginger extract ointment worked very well when it comes to this type of external injury. The swollen part of the shin had been wrapped around by an elastic bandage after the ointment was applied on the affected area. It was a good thing that the twin tower shopping center offered a few choices of pharmacy, enabling me to find the aforementioned medical items in a faster and easier way. Before I applied the bandage in the toilet previously, I told Bob to go to this coffee outlet to make our drinks order so that our waiting time could be sufficiently minimized. To my surprise, our drinks were not even there yet when I arrived.

"I did, yes," Bob replied before he released a whole cloud of cigarette smoke into the evening air. "The girl will deliver them later."

Ah, I said to myself. The girl.

I took a quick look around the place. From where I was sitting, the open, man-made pond was clearly visible. The sky-rocketing water fountains were charmingly entertaining a whole bunch of inspired visitors who at the time surrounded the pond and stared at the waterworks with much admiration and awe within them. The tall tower that belonged to a communication giant in the country stood sturdily in the background. A number of joggers were seen running on the jogging track that snaked deep into the center garden next to the fountain pond. The wind blew gently that evening, making the trees swayed beautifully, and the reflection of the setting sun that shone on the clouds above depicted the atmosphere in the most heartwarming manner. 

In the cafe itself there were not many customers, albeit the fact that it was already late evening and technically the place should be swarmed with hungry people who usually hunted for food at this hour. Only a few tables were occupied with some laid-back city-goers, including a table next to us, where there was a Caucasian man who was calmly enjoying his coffee beverage along with a pack of cigarette. Speaking of coffee beverage, I started to feel rather thirsty. I wondered what took the girl so long. In a moment I heard footsteps coming from behind me, and from Bob's smile I knew that the person who produced those footsteps were coming right at us. 

"Here are your drinks," she said while putting both grande-size coffee cups onto the table with her fair hand. "This is java chips," she handed the drink to Bob, "and this is caramel..." 

She didn't finish her sentence. I looked at her, and she looked at me. Our eyes met again. Her eyebrows moved slightly towards each other, showing a little confusion. I sat calmly and smiled at her. She didn't smile back. After a few moment, she pulled a tight face. She took the drink and placed it in front of me. Bob looked at what was going on with an increased interest.

"This is caramel frap. Enjoy."

And with that she started to walk away fast towards the counter that was located right at my 6 o'clock. She smell of that adorable citrus perfume filled my air. I turned around before she went away even further.

"Hey," I said. 

She stopped walking. She hugged the circular, brown plastic tray close to herself and turned around to face me. Her face was so sour, that she easily scored against the sourest plum in the world by a hundred point to none. 

"I'm working," she said. "Later."

She walked away and I turned around again to face Bob, who was then already sipping down to the bottom of the upper half of the grande cup. 

"Jeez," he said. "What's her problem."

"Oh you know," I replied to his monologue. "Women."

Bob placed his coffee cup on the table and took a cigarette out of the red-and-white paper box before handing the box to me. I took one cigarette out of it too and lit it up. I took a deep breath and exhaled the smoke out gently.  

"So," Bob said after blowing another cloud of smoke into the air. "Why are we here again?"

I didn't reply. Instead I held the grande cup of caramel frap in my hand and took a few sips to test its taste, just in case. It tasted nice and pleasant. Perfectly perfect. I took a few big gulps to quench my dry throat down and felt refreshed instantly. Bob saw this and as usual he made his annoying inquiry.

"Hello," he said. "What, am I talking to the ashtray here?"

I took a long stare at him. I tapped the cigarette ash and took the final draw of the cigarette before butting it out in the ashtray. I let the smoke out straight above my head. 

"You started to sound like Tiara, Bob."

"Please," Bob killed the cigarette in the ashtray. "Don't mention her name."

"Why, you guys are fighting again?"

Bob didn't reply nor did he show any interest at all to the question. I gave him the unbelievable look. 

"Again? Not two days ago you guys had a fight and I had to sort things out for you."

"I know, I know," Bob replied with a long sigh. "She complained about her feet. They keep getting sore from her shoes. I told her not to wear that shoes anymore but you know," he shrugged his shoulder, "women." 

"Uh huh." I just looked at him. That was my line, Bob.

"Let's not talk about me," he said, a little embarrassed. "I still don't know why are we here."

I shook the cup in my hand and took another big gulp of the caramel frap before placing it on the table. 

"I need to meet someone."

"I see," Bob said while taking another cigarette and lit it up. "So who is this someone?"

"Well, she's a girl."

The Caucasian man next to us stood up and excused himself when he moved right next to us, mainly because he couldn't make through due to Bob blocking his way out. Bob stood up to allow the man to walk pass before sitting down again on his chair. A creaking sound came out from the chair as he was making himself sitting comfortably again.

"A girl, aye. Is this the girl from last night?" 

"Apparently she is," I said.

Before Bob was able to say anything more, a girl appeared at the table next to us where the Caucasian man was sitting previously. She took the empty ceramic cup and placed it on a circular, brown plastic tray and placed them both on another empty table to our left. She wiped the table clean with a piece of damp cloth, arranged all the chairs back into place and replaced the ashtray with a new one. Her ponytail danced in the most beautiful way as she got all those works done. Bob and I was looking at her as she was busy with her cleaning chore. The citrus perfume struck my nose again. The girl finished cleaning and setting the table up in less than a few minutes - so efficiently - and walked away after that with the tray and the empty ceramic coffee mug. Before she left she did gave us a quick glance. I turned back again to Bob who was at the time still following the girl with his eyes. I felt like slapping him for giving her so much attention. Then he turned to me.

"Alright then," he said. "So when can I meet this girl who broke your heart so much last night?"

I gave him a smirk. "You already did."

"Yeah?" Bob killed the cigarette in the ashtray and leaned back. The chair creaked again. He finished his drink up and slammed the plastic coffee cup onto the table. "When?"

I leaned back fully and crossed my arms. I raised both my eyebrows and signaled Bob with my eyes, pointing to the table next to us. And then I gave him another smirk. He seemed not to notice at first (he was somewhat a bit slow in catching hints -- a trait that Tiara found to be very annoying) but after a few moment he managed to catch a glimpse of the overall idea. His face showed that he was entirely surprised by this wholly unforeseen, well, surprise.

"Oh my god," he said.

I looked at his face. Still surprised he was, but what more surprising was that his eyes were not looking at me but slightly above my head. What? I asked myself. What's so surprising? And so suddenly my nose caught that very familiar smell again. Citrus perfume. Wait a minute, who's behind me? I turned around slowly, only to see a female's body. I lifted my head up to see who she was, and to my horror it was Min, standing with an empty ashtray in her hand. Her face did not show any emotion. Mine however showed at least a thousand. I suddenly felt as if all the blood in my head was flushed away down to my feet. I felt I was getting pale. My face felt numb. Worse, I felt my soul was leaving my body. The shock I had could only be expressed in the similar way Bob did:

Oh my God.

...To Be Continued

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"So who is she?"

I applied the bag of ice slowly on my shin. The swollen had at least reduced to half already by then. A bluish spot appeared clearly on the surface of the skin. I threw the bag of ice away into the bucket next to me and dipped a towel into a bowl of hot water that my dear mother prepared for me earlier. I squeezed the water out carefully and folded it twice before placing it on the swollen part. I didn't feel anything, at least not for a few seconds due to the pain that numbed pretty much everything at that point, until I realized that the towel was too hot, causing me to jerk a bit. The towel fell from my leg, that at the time was resting horizontally on the coffee table from across the sofa I was sitting on, and onto the floor.  

He bent forward from his seat and picked the helpless towel up before giving it to me.

"You're not going to tell me, man?" he asked.

I took the towel, refolded and applied it onto my swollen shin, this time gentler to avoid another unforeseen and awkward jerk from coming. I leaned back to the sofa and placed both my hands along its headrest, and both my legs stretching from the sofa and onto the coffee table. 

"Eh hello," he said. "What, am I talking to the wall here?"

I turned my head lazily and looked at the man who was sitting on another sofa on my left. He looked younger than I was at the time, even though he was born shy of a month earlier than I was. He was shorter than I was by a couple of centimeters, and weighed more than I did by a couple or more kilograms. He was indeed a large man, only that his height was his only disadvantage, making his appearance more or less similar to that of Michelin Mummy. Nevertheless, he was one of my best friends. He happened to drop by at home after I told him that I needed to cancel a previously-planned outing with him due to my injury. 

"Fine, Bob," I said. "What do you wanna know?"

Bob was munching on some homemade chocolate chip cookies which my mother served to us also earlier, along with a pot of hot coffee. He took a few more cookies from the plate and leaned back to the sofa, crossing his legs like a bloody sir. 

"So," he said, before putting a cookie into his mouth, munched on it and swallowed it in only a few seconds. "Tell me about this girl."

"Did you just swallow the cookie? What happened to chewing food before you swallow?"

"You didn't answer my question." Another cookie went and disappeared in that large mouth.

I stared at him continuously munching on those cookies and smirked for a bit. I shouldn't have had told him about how exactly I was injured from hitting that damn bed. At least not about what made me. Well I was sure that I could have come out with some self-made stories to cover things up instead of telling him the truth. But perhaps it was good too that he knew about it; at least I could see the entire situation from a whole new and different perspective. But then again he didn't know specifically about what really happened last night.

Oh Bob, if only you knew what really happened last night.

* * *

Two missed calls.

Two missed calls and the phone went dead silent. No more vibrations from an incoming call. I held the phone in my hand, thinking, and hoping it will vibrate again. Well what if did? Will I ever answer the call, or leave it unanswered like the previous two calls from the same number? I didn't even know why exactly did not I answer the calls. But no time to justify or reason things out. Let's just wait for another call now. Here goes, gotta answer this one alright, I told myself. I held the phone tightly in my hand and waited for the screen to light up and its body to excitingly vibrate again. I actually waited for a few minutes. 

Nope. Nothing happened. 

Damn it, I said. I knew I should have answered the calls. Now what do I do? Do I call her back? Do I just pretend that I was sleeping? Will she know? Women have this very deadly accurate instinct about almost pretty much everything. They seem to have this strong sensing ability that sometimes to cheat a way out would be nearly, if not at all, impossible. What if she already knew that I was awake? Maybe that was why she called in the first place? Or did she just try her luck? So what could my response be? Do I respond to her accordingly, or do I maintain the non-responding behavior? I could feel that my forehead was sweating regardless of the low ambient temperature. Perhaps this was the hardest and pressuring time ever. Come on Jack, I said to myself, make a damn decision already! Suddenly the phone vibrated; two pulses and not continuously. 

A short message. I pushed a button to read its content.

"I'm sorry I didn't reply your SMS. My phone died. Just got back home. Maybe you're asleep already now. Sorry if I woke you up or anything kay."

Just got back home? I looked at the clock on the wall; it showed 3.30am. My God, where did she go? What could possibly be the places she could have gone to at around this hour? A nightclub? Oh my. But then again she didn't look like someone who went to clubs in the first place. Well what else? Oh my, could she be an escort girl? Damn it, what the hell was I thinking? Let's think positively. Well how about this: maybe she went to her friend's place or something? Did that sound better? Wait, what friend? A boyfriend? Holy shit, seriously? Seriously Min?

Beep beep. Another message came in.

"Thank you so much for the rose. Nobody ever gave me any before. Thank you so much. Can't stop looking at it the whole night. That was sweet of you."

Well of course! You are definitely welcome, my heart said. Well it wasn't a part of the plan anyway. I happened to see someone with a bouquet of roses when I was in the LRT on the way to meet Min up, and it occurred to me that, well, why not get her a gift or something? It so happened that I went and walked past a small florist when I was walking to Min's cafe, and maybe to cheer her up or brighten her day, I bought her a blood red rose. Very little I thought that that one single flower changed the entire course of her day. Nevertheless, I felt proud and uplifted from knowing that I made her day better, if not entirely greater. 

So that's it? No more text message? Beep beep. Oh hello, there, another new text message. Let's push this button here to open the message and let's see what's in there for me to read.

"Will you come and meet me again?"

I snapped.

* * *

"She lied?"

I took the towel from my shin and dipped it in the bowl of warm water. I squeezed all the water out and reapplied it on my swollen skin again. Now that the temperature of the water wasn't anywhere hotter than it was previously, this heat treatment happened to be much comfortable and relaxing. I leaned back to the sofa and placed both my hands along its headrest, and both my legs stretching from the sofa and onto the coffee table, all over again. 

"Eh hello," Bob said, imitating an annoying female diva. "What, am I talking to the coffee cup here?"

Sincerely, I felt like slapping him every time he did that.

"Yes Bob," I replied him gentlest as I could. "She lied to me. She didn't exit at the station."

"But why?"

Damn it, Bob. If only I knew the answer to that question. Bob took the last piece of the chocolate chip cookies and ate it in one go. I was aiming for that cookie, actually. Seeing him finishing the last cookie off made me die a little inside.

"And," Bob paused for a while to wipe his lips with a piece of tissue paper before continuing, "you didn't even reply any of her messages last night?"

"Nope," I said. 

"Not even the ones she sent this morning?"

This morning? Oh yes. She sent two messages. First, she wished me a very good morning, followed with a smiley, and second, she asked me why didn't I reply her messages and if I was angry at her, followed with another smiley, only that the bracket that represented the mouth in this smiley was reversed compared to the one in the first message. 

"Nope," I said again. "Not any of them." 

"Mm hmm. And why didn't you?"

"Oh come on, Bob," I replied him with an annoyed tone. "She lied to me."

"Well, maybe she has her own reasons. This you don't know."

I stared at Bob in disbelief. What, you're on her side now? He didn't give any response to my stare-attack. He just sat there and pretended to be entirely unaffected by me. This of course drove me into another whole new level of frustration. At this moment, I really felt like slapping him. The possibility of me throwing the bowl of warm water to his face, an option to a slap, was almost a hundred percent.

"Let's take it this way," Bob said.

Well this was it. My eyes stared at the bowl of warm water. One wrong sentence and you're gonna get it, man.

"Why not you and I go and see her and ask her personally? At least we can clarify the matter clearly," Bob said in his most profound and philosophic manner.

Good point, Bob. He was lucky this time. Fortunately he chose his words wisely. Unfortunately I had to disagree with him. 

"Look at me. I'm pissed off," I told him before pointing a finger at y injured shin. "And look at my leg. It hurts."

"You really sound like a girl now, brother." Oh really? Where's that bowl of warm water again?

"How could I even..." Before I could finish my sentence, my phone vibrated. "Hold on," I told him as my hand reached for the phone on the coffee table. 

It was a text message. I opened and read it one, twice, three times. Every time I read it, my facial expression changed from normal to, however exaggerated this could be, something similar to that of a dried date. I could feel my face turning green. I immediately stood up and threw the towel on my leg into the bucket next to the sofa. Bob was taken aback from my reaction, and by far confused.

"Why," he asked. "What happened?"

I didn't answer him. I went to the Javanese cupboard next to the wall and looked for my effects. I wore my wristwatch and put my wallet into the back pocket of my Bermuda short pants. I looked into the large wall mirror next to the cupboard and combed my hair using my fingers. There, good enough. I turned around and went to the coffee table to pick my phone up before placing it into the side pocket of my pants. 

"Can someone tell me what is going on?"

I turned to Bob. "Come on, get into your car."

"Eh hello..."

"No time to explain. Just get into the damn car and turn on the engine."

Without a word Bob stood up, opened the main door of the house and walked to his car. I went to the kitchen to inform my dear mother that both of us were going out. Once the permission from the queen of the resident was obtained, I walked out of the house and locked the door before proceeding to Bob's car. Bob was already inside it, sitting behind the wheel. I got into the car and closed the door. 

"So, big boss," he said to me. "Where to?"

With a push of a button I winded the window down. I took a cigarette out and lit it up, inhaling the first smoke and let it out gently. Suddenly the kick from the first nicotine sobered me up like a motherly slap first thing in the morning. And so suddenly too I felt damn energetic. 

"Full speed ahead, young master Bob," I said to him as I turned to look at him in the face before turning back to the front view of the vehicle. I put on my RayBan Aviator.

"Next stop," I said, "KLCC."

...To be Continued.

This is not (500) Days of Summer. 

This entry is to celebrate the recent achievement of my fanpage that has hit 500 likes.

I'd like to extend my gratitude and congratulations to all the fans who have followed me in Facebook Fanpage and for making this happened. Without your supports I mostly will never be able to go this far, and perhaps with your supports now I shall go even further ahead, and I shall bring with me your encouraging words and loves.

Please keep supporting my efforts in writing for the world to see. 

So cheers for this achievement that I present to all of you. Hey, we made it! This is all for you, for it was you all along who made it happen! Thanks a bunch, and let's make this date a day to remember! =D

You guys are AWESOME!

p/s: How I dearly love you all. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

It rained heavily again that night.

The air-conditioning unit was constantly blowing chilled air into the room, but the cold temperature seemed to be unhelpful enough in cooling my boiling heart down. The rain splashed against the glass window fiercely; the sound it made roared around the dark, empty room. The same little night lamp desperately blasting rays of red light around the perimeter but to no clear avail. The streetlight outside shone through the window, making patterns of radical watermark shadow on the plain, huge wall. I stared at the shadow closely, trying to make sense of what exactly it was trying to paint, but in my mind I was somewhere else. 


I sat down at the edge of the bed and rub my face with my hands, pushing all the soft strands of hair backward. I closed my eyes and let all my other senses grew, just so that I know I could still feel. Total darkness in my eyes, I heard more than I could see. The tapping sound on the glass windows, the ticking from the clock on the wall, the rattling sound from the air-conditioning unit and many other remote sounds, but none of them were similar to that of what I wanted to listen to - the sound of an incoming text on my phone, a simple reply from you.

 Why, Min?

I tried to replay again the scenes in my head, over and over again, trying to interpret all the hidden messages I failed to see, only in the end I saw myself surrounded with nothing but utter frustration, if not an entire confusion. From the corner of my eyes I looked at the phone that was lying motionlessly on the bedside table. It had been in that position for almost a few hours now. The clock showed 2.00am in the morning. The time to me, was slowly moving. But of course this was due to my own mental state -- apparently time is the longest when you wait for something that, to you, is the most meaningful. In this case, I was waiting for Min's reply, to almost ten individual short messages I sent to her via the phone, to which none was answered, and even worse, not a single one was delivered. 

Damn it.  

Of all things, why must it be her that wandered in my mind at this very odd hour? Why couldn't I forget her at all? Why her face kept on appearing in my mind whenever I opened my eyes, and when I closed them, I saw her apparition more? The way she smiled, the way she tidied up her loose hair around her fair ears, the way she walked in front of me and turned around to peek, and worst of all, the way she cried while waving at me? All these sudden attacks got through me defenselessly. I just had to endure all these very tormenting array of memories, while in the same time I had to try to crack the mystery open.

What did I miss, what did I fail to see? 

I stood up from my bed, and a coin fell out from the pocket of my short, and all the way it fell, rotating side to side, only to hit the floor, producing the wholly-familiar sound.

* * * 


The coin rolled all the way and off the platform and into the space down beneath, close to the tracks.

"Oh boy," she said. "Not again."

She shut her purse closed and placed in into her tote again, carefully enough not to disturb the flower at its end. In her hand was a Touch N' Go card that she was previously trying to store safely in the purse, but lost a coin instead, and decided to keep it in her hand at the end. We entered the LRT carriage and chose a place to sit. Min's face was a little sour.

"It's only a coin." I said.

She looked at me, giving me a some sort of fierce look. I was actually taken aback. She stared right into my eyes, examining something, before turning her face back to the opened door.

"It might be just a coin, but you cannot buy something, had you not enough cash to pay, for the amount is less a coin, in which where that one coin, could be your only savior."

Holy shit. Now where did that come from? I looked at her in disbelief. Wow, I said to myself, this young lady here could be one of the smartest, if not the wittiest, girl I had ever met all my life!

"I'm sorry," I said in my defense, whatever defense that was. "I didn't mean to offend you."

"It's alright," she said. "Maybe you don't value money the way I do."

Alright. That could be the biggest imaginary slap I had ever received that one whole year. It felt like getting trapped in between the large, metallic hands of Optimus Prime while he claps them together. It felt like my cheeks were slammed together by a pair of sledgehammer continuously from each side. At that instantaneous moment, I was actually searching for something to cover my face, if not my whole body with, from such an extreme embarrassment. I let out an awkward cough.

"Very well then," I said to her. 

The LRT doors closed shut and it started moving towards our destination. There were not many people in the LRT at that time, for the time was already passing 10.00pm at night. The seats were mostly empty, and the air-conditioning temperature of the carriages was by far at the lowest. But this wasn't the coldest yet, for the coldest would be the reaction I received from Min following the comment I made over her rolling coin. She didn't say any word at all after that. Given the coldest shoulder, almost every man will start to wonder of what exactly did he do that caused the entire much-regretful event, and if he already knew, what exactly does he need to do in order to fix the entire ordeal. In my case, I was trying to figure out the latter, for the silence between me and her was already quite a killer.

"Look," I said. "I am terribly sorry for saying that."

She turned her head at me and tried to curve a smile on those cherry lips. Albeit the cold and dry temperature in there, the lips maintained their moist and shiny state. The looks on her eyes were rather softer this time. Her heartwarming lashes and her well-aligned eyebrows caught my attention quickly. Her long hair wrapped her around her neck and fell freely to the front side of her right chest. She used her index finger to fix the hair that fell within her peripheral view, and jerked her head to let them all pushed away to the back. So very beautiful she was when she did that. Please, do it again.

"It's alright." She brushed her bag with her hand softly before continuing, "I'm sorry for being harsh as well."

I looked at her while she was saying that. She smiled nervously to hide her embarrassment. I gave her a nod to signify that I accepted her apology, to which she replied with also a nod, signifying the end to the cold war which we had for five minutes or so -- probably one of the shortest in history.

"You're working tomorrow?"

"I do," she replied. "In the morning."

"Can I come and visit you?"

She laughed a little. Her sparkling white teeth gave a surprising show up. She leaned back against the plastic seat and rested her head on the wall panel; her eyes stared at me in the most daring, if not entirely flirtatious, way. Her fingers played with her hair. She bit her lower lips gently.

"Can I say 'why not'?"

* * *

There was nothing wrong at all.

All the details had been accounted for. Everything was so perfect. There was no reason at all for Min to act in such a peculiar way. First, she lied about her end destination. Secondly, she didn't reply any of my messages, and thirdly, she went away with my jacket. I recalled just how soaked I was after running under the heavy rain towards my car. To drive in those wet clothes made driving even more difficult, knowing that there was no other way to maneuver the car safely in that weather other than to turn on the air-conditioning unit to keep the dew from forming on the cockpit screen. I shivered all the way home. From then on, I felt that my body was warmer than usual.

Maybe I was catching a fever.

I went to the toilet at the corner of the room and washed my face with cold water just to refresh myself for a bit. I didn't foresee the fact that I was going to get any sleep anyway, so might as well I just stay awake and do something doable in that cold, rainy night. I took the towel and dried my face and hair with it before tossing it back on the towel rack. I walked out the toilet and back into the dark room, and turned off the toilet light, where everything went pitch-black except for three sources of light - the streetlight outdoor, the little night lamp at the room's corner, and an even tinier light from the mobile phone on the bedside table. 

Wait, what?

I rushed to the bedside table and on the way there I accidentally hit the corner of the bed with my shin, causing me to curse in the most inappropriate manner as tears started to accumulate around my eyes. But this of course didn't stop me at all, for I literally dragged myself to the bed and took the phone with my hand. With a few maneuvering, I saw that all the pending messages previously sent to Min had been delivered. She finally turned on her phone... at this hour? The delivery reports showed 3.15am in the morning. Did she just arrive home, or did she just woke up? I thought about it for a while but it appeared that the pain on my shin was very unbearable. I checked for blood but there was none, only a bluish spot instead. I rubbed my shin vigorously trying to make the pain disappear while my head iterated about the possibility of why only then Min turned her phone on. Before I was even able to determine what exactly was the explanation behind that very odd phenomena, the phone started to vibrate in a pulsing manner continuously, signifying an incoming call, waiting to be answered. Caller ID: Milia Yasmin.

And the pain on my shin disappeared entirely. be continued.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Are you hungry?"

She didn't reply. Her eyes were staring at the blood red rose, admiring its petals. The end of her index finger gently caressed the petals one after another. Her pinkish lips shone under the glimmering yellow light. Some strands of her hair fell from the tie and hung in the air; they moved about when she withdrew her breath. Her soft, rosy cheeks blushed naturally in such a captivating manner. There were so many lovely things about this girl that could not go unnoticed, not even by someone close to her, let alone me, a definitely still a stranger. 

If only I know what is in your mind, Min.

She was still encased in her own imaginary world with the blood red rose in her hands. I didn't know that a single rose could have had her affected that well, or badly, whichever fit. I admired her in my eyes as she admired the blooming flower in her hands. There were so many things that I didn't know about her yet, well at least not yet. It was a good thing that we weren't able to secure a pair of seats for ourselves previously in the cinema because, apparently, it was a full house that day, except for some crappy movies, in which both of us didn't have the slightest interest to watch. Had we been able to go for the movie, I wouldn't be able to obtain this otherwise very pricey moment. So here we were, sitting on this wooden bench, overlooking all the busy evening shoppers who moved fast and furiously between each other, with bags in their hands and tired feet down under.

Min continuously admired the rose, indulged in her own world until after some time, when she returned to the real life and turned her face towards mine. She smiled a little. 

"Are you hungry?" she asked. 

Well this is awkward, I thought. I just asked you the very same thing.

"Slightly," I replied. "You must be famished now," I continued, "so why not we find some food?"


She wrapped the blood red rose carefully into its wrapper and placed it standing at the end of her tote bag so that it wouldn't be crushed. She carefully sling the bag on her left shoulder and hugged it in such a way that she could protect the flower from anything that could make a physical contact on it. Apparently the flower meant so much to her, more or less equal to just how much she meant to me. Deep inside my heart slightly melted. 

"So, what's good around here?" I asked. I looked around, trying to locate any good food outlet but to no positive result. There were only departmental stores along this aisle and on this level. Perhaps more promising ventures awaited for us at the ground level.

"You want to eat here?" 

I turned around to face Min again before I shrugged my shoulder. "Well where else could we have dinner at?"

She smiled widely at me and her face showed an amount of unforeseen excitement. 

"I know a great place." 

* * *

There were only two of us.

The elevator casually moved us from the cold and empty underground level up to the surface. It was my first time there - the Kg. Baru LRT station. The unfamiliar surrounding caught my attention, but never in a way similar to how the person, who stood in front of me now, did. For some certain reasons, she chose to stand towards me and against the movement of the elevator. Perhaps she didn't want me to secretly admire her very much admirable bottom, and if that was the case, she had certainly been successful enough to lock me in such an embarrassing posture. I must say that, albeit all the confidence I had in particularly handling women, this one somewhat took the top of my confidence a whole mile higher, making it rather difficult for me to maintain an otherwise very casual posture. That moment on that moving machinery could be one of the longest I ever had in the accounted history of my travelling on an elevator. I lifted my head up and looked at her straight in the eyes. My cheeks instantly thickened again.

Bad move indeed.

This could be the third cheeks-thickening moments I had ever experienced in one single day. The first was at the coffee outlet previously, and the last would be this one. The second however was the most memorable; for the first time in my life my cheeks thickened so badly that there was no doubt my face turned into a some sort of those large burger variety. It happened just some few minutes previously, in an unforeseen embarrassing moment I had with Min in the LRT.

In the LRT previously as we commuted from KLCC to Kg. Baru, the compartment where we decided to crash into was very crowded. Luckily enough I managed to secure an empty space right next to the door, although much to my own disappointment was barely enough for us two. As the commuters crammed into the already bloating compartment, I pulled Min to the space aforementioned, where she could safely stand against the wall and a glass divider next to the door, as I, although not heroically enough, barricaded her from other commuters, using my body as the shielding protector. I pressed my hand against the poly-carbonate wall, and my other hand gripped on the overhead metal bar tightly.

What I experienced next was the most challenging.

There she was, pushing herself closest to the corner, hugging her bag tightly. She held her head downward slightly, in which as a result exposing her rather thick brown hair, located right below my nose. Some flowery scents stroke my nose again, in which at that moment I was merely guessing what type of shampoo she used. But of course that wasn't the most notable thing. Imagine, I was only a few inches away from her in that crammed compartment. People continuously pushed me closer to her, in which I could feel the warmth from her body radiating on mine, if not the striking flowery scents that continuously fed my hungry smelling buds. As the LRT moved, and so did other passengers behind me, the circumstances pushed me closer to Min, and by far this was the closest I could have had ever gotten to her.

Suddenly, there was a bump on one of the rail track, causing the compartment to shake a little. Many people, me included, were jerked to a side, in which in this case the side I was jerked to, was where Min was standing. As an impulsive reaction, or maybe more to a self defense mechanism, she laid her hands on my chest, protecting herself from being crushed by me. She quickly withdrew her hands gently and she didn't raise up her head at all, perhaps to cover her blushing cheeks, but I could clearly see her lips from behind that charmingly-looking nose -- they were indeed smiling after uttering in the softest m anner the word 'sorry'. And quite at that instantaneous moment too, I felt so very much overwhelmed from that little romantic gesture.

"What are you smiling for?"

My mind came back from the flashback moment to where I was literally standing - on the elevator going up from the underground level of Kg. Baru Station to a level above. We were almost at the end of the elevator by that time. I raised my head again to look at Min before stepping off the moving plates to the ground floor after she did.

"Oh nothing," I said to reply her previous inquiry. I stared at her confused face, nevertheless still pretty, before continuing.

"Nothing at all."

* * *

The meal was great.

I didn't know there was this humongous food fiesta along the roads at this spectacularly wonderful side of Kg. Baru. Min brought me to this one place where they served us two plates of Chinese fried rice, a plate of battered and fried calamari, a plate of fried water spinach with salted fish, and my favorite -- a bowl of char-grilled cockles, or kerang bakar. My delight for cockle was nurtured when I was a boy, and it never really at all faded over time. Apparently, Min enjoyed the tiny creatures as well as I did, so I ordered another bowl of it soon when the content in the first one nearly reached its bottom.

I stared at her desperately trying to open one of the cockle up using her tiny fingers. I took it from her and opened it up in one single move, and returned it to her, who was already waiting with a plastic fork and a small bowl of spicy sauce that went well with the moist and sweet cockle flesh.

"You like cockle huh?"

"I do," she replied. "Only that I always have trouble opening it up."

She took one of the largest cockle in the bowl (I was actually aiming for it too to satisfy my own appetite) and tried to open it up using her tiny fingers again.

"Need help with that?"

She didn't reply at all. Her eyebrows made expressions in such a way similar to that of someone's who was trying to deal with the result of a seven-day constipation. I immediately took the cockle from her hands, opened it up and ate it in just a few seconds. She stared at me in total disbelief.

"That's bad. You're a bad man." She placed the plastic fork to rest on the sauce bowl, hung from its circular wall. She leaned back and rested her hands on the edge of the table, showing an obvious sign of protests.

"Calm down," I told her. "Come, let me open them up all for you."

She didn't say anything but remained in that protesting gesture. Her face was the sourest for the first time ever. But I knew how exactly to lure that sweetness out of her sour costume. I gently opened the grilled cockles one after another and laid them on the plastic plate right in front of her. After ten or so naked cockles in the plate, I retired from the work and wiped my hands with some serviettes.

"Come on now," I said. "Otherwise I'm going to eat them all one by one in front of you."

"No!" she shrieked and quickly grabbed the plastic fork. She dunked all the cockle contents into the sauce bowl and took the bowl close to her. "No one take my food away from me," she said while pointing the fork at me, "not even you."    

She later devoured them cockles one after another while making a satisfied face. I laughed from her reaction, from which I considered to be the cutest so far, and in return she laughed as well. My, just how I hoped that moment will last forever, where, despite the fact that the place was full with customers, only what happened between the two of us really mattered.

Once done with our meals, I cleared the bill and both of us took a walk back to the LRT station, around a few hundred meters away from the food outlet. The night sky was accumulating thick clouds and it was pretty windy too, signifying an incoming downpour any minute then. But both of us were walking pretty casually nevertheless, mostly due to the fact that both of us ate quite a lot just now, and also to the fact that I didn't want the night to end this quickly. Not a word was spoken after we left the food premise, and both of us were entrapped in our own world of imaginations, speculating how exactly do we kill this silence between us.

"I had fun today," I said while looking at her.

Min turned her head at me and smiled. "Me too." 

"When can we meet again, I wonder."

She let out a small giggle. I looked at her still, confused. She let out a small sigh and she untied her hair and let the shiny and wavy, thick dark brown hair fell around and onto her shoulder. She combed it with her fingers and styled it out casually before she wore the hair band on her hand as a bangle. She looked at me again and gave me an even wider smile. Her white teeth sparkled in between those pink, full-blown bee-stung  lips. I knew that daring look on her. Clearly something witty was about to come out from her mouth.

"You miss me already?"

I was dumbstruck again right away.

* * *

"Next station, Wangsa Maju."

Upon hearing the announcement, I turned to Min, who was sitting next to me in the almost empty carriage and reminded her.

"It's our station next."

She nodded gracefully. Strange, just when I thought that of all these times, she actually lived in Wangsa Maju, just a few kilometers shy from where I did. We were so close, yet so far away. This also was especially true, pondering on the fact that we didn't talk quite much en route from Kg. Baru to our current location on board the LRT, except exchanging a few words over our plans for the next day and...and that was all about it. Nothing much else was spoken about. The rain outside was getting heavier. I undid my jacket and gave it to Min.

"Use this to cover yourself in the rain later," I told her as I handed her the thick, corduroy jacket. "My car is parked just next to the station."

I took out my Touch N' Go card from the pocket of my shirt and I saw she did the same thing from her bag. She hugged her bag and my jacket pretty tightly. Perhaps the air-conditioning temperature of the carriage was too low for her petite body. Her look was thrown far outside the window where raindrops  brutally slammed on the thick glass wall, creating heartwarming ticks every time they did. Very little did I know what was in her mind, only that I could see that her face showed a little bit of worry. As the LRT proceeded to enter the platform area, we stood up and went towards the opening door opposite to where we sat. I stepped out of the compartment and walked ahead, only to realize after a few steps that Min wasn't behind me. I turned around and saw her standing at the space where she stood while we were travelling to Kg. Baru just now, smiling. The door alarm rang off, signalling that all doors of the LRT will be shut close soon.

Oh no, I said to myself. No no no no no.

I tried to climb into the compartment back but the doors were already three-quarter closed by that time. I saw Min from behind the doors, still smiling, still hugging her bag and my jacket close to herself. I was confused. I got a little panic. What is going on? I asked myself, and in the same gesture, I asked her. I could feel my heart throbbing fast. 

She waved a little and said something I couldn't understand. By chance I saw a little drop of tear fell from her eyes. This of course drove me into an immediate madness from wanting to know what the hell was going on. Why was she crying? When I walked out, why didn't she follow? She told me that she will exit at Wangsa Maju station, but why didn't her? While these questions continuously attacked me, I had to step away because the LRT was already moving. Cold raindrops showered onto my hair and face from the rooftop above. My eyes were on her at all time. I felt so helpless. In fact I felt so very damn useless.  Worse, I didn't have the chance to even properly say goodbye.

I felt my throbbing heart stopped beating. In my head the images of her waving at me as she moved far away in that carriage flashed upon continuously over and over like a broken movie player. I pulled myself together and stared at the LRT that was then only a small trace of light in the heavy rain. The LRT moved even further away. As she disappeared into the darkness that rainy night, deep inside myself I felt something dying. There was only one thing to say in that kind of situation, and that was the only thing appropriate to say after all. And I had to say it.

Goodbye, Min. be continued.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The automatic doors opened swiftly.

I walked out the doors along with other commuters while impatient embarking passengers pushed into the LRT compartment against our ways, making escape rather tedious. I managed to push through the unforeseen commotion and made my way up the escalator. It's the busy hour anyway, particularly due to the fact that it was the time when workers rushed their way back home after a long day at work. From the corner of my eyes I saw some female passengers getting trapped in between bigger, stronger males while making their way in and out from the light rail transit compartment. If only they have someone to protect them.

If only.

I flashed my Touch N' Go card on the reader and the automatic bars opened up to let me through, leading me to the tunnel way. People were rushing towards the underground station now, and I had to push my way close to the wall to avoid collisions with these raging bodies that could snap anytime following even the smallest mistake you didn't mean to cause. The condensed tunnel turned out to be pretty much empty at the end where two stairs that were built facing each other were located. I walked past the stairs and towards an open door at the end of the tunnel walkway where it led me into the twin tower's main shopping complex. The smell of fresh bread and pastries struck my nose like a hammer does to a nail. Right after I walked through the door, I saw something in vases located on the floor.  

And I thought to myself, this is exactly what I was looking for.

* * *

"Here's your drink."

I looked at her face when she handed me the plastic cup filled up with my favorite drink. The face looked tired and out of spirit. Those cherry lips curved some weak smiles nevertheless. Her dark brown hair was tied neatly just like usual; a few strands hung out unnoticed. She was so close to me that I could feel the warmth came radiating from her body. When I was closely admiring her from this very close distance, she happened to notice this, and so she turned her head. Our eyes met for a while, and she seemed to be surprised, and so was myself. Those cheeks quickly turned notably pinkish, and she threw away another weak smile before turning around and walked back to the counter, hugging the round plastic tray against her chest with both hands. 

Oh Min.

As usual I stripped down the paper cover off the plastic straw and prepared to drink the caramel frap. My first sip didn't go quite convincingly, so I took another just to be sure about the taste, and I was caught by surprise. Not that I was criticizing but the drink was way out of taste. Something was wrong with the coffee-caramel ratio, and the cream wasn't foamed perfectly either. This had never happened before; the caramel fraps I had here were either way too sweet (like the one the other day) or way too good. But this one was very lucrative at all by the taste of it. I placed the cup back on the steel table and I took out a cigarette and lit it. As I blew the smoke out into the still air that evening, my eyes were on her, the girl at the counter.  

I looked at my wristwatch. The time showed 5.50pm. Ten more minutes until she's off duty.

She wiped the counter off from any visible contaminants with her damped cloth. She wiped her forehead gently with her arm while the other hand was still wiping. She turned on the tap and let water ran on the cloth, scrubbing it in both hands and hung it at a towel rack next to the counter to dry it out afterward. She washed a few used glasses next and wiped each of them dry with a clean towel before arranging them neatly on top of the glass rack. She took the ice blender box out and cleaned that out too. Her hands danced in a such admirable fashion. She wiped her hand with another cloth and looked for me. She smiled excitingly, somewhat, and held up a hand signal, in which was interpreted to convey this message: 5 minutes. 

I smiled back and nodded. I saw Min talking with two of her other colleagues while she undid her black apron. Then she disappeared into the kitchen section. I looked at the seat next to me to see if the package of something from the vases I saw just now was still there. It was. I decided to drink up the frap after all, never mind its taste. Well, probably Min was having one of those bad days where everything could just go so very wrong no matter just how good you wanted them to be. Or maybe she's just having that time of the month.

Well let's hope not.

I managed to finish the drink just slightly before Min reappeared from the kitchen and walked towards me. Her attire was entirely different now but still nevertheless was very appealing. She was in a plain white dress and a pair of blue jeans as the main attire, while a pair of ladies sandals and a brown tote bag luxuriously accompanied her. Her hair was tied into a ponytail again, and on those lovely ears stood a pair of pearl earrings. I noticed that she applied a layer of pink lip gloss and some foundation powder on her face, and for the first time I realized just how beautiful she was even when covered with only the most basic makeup. Perhaps this was because she was already a beautiful lady in the first place, no doubt she was, all naturally.   

She pulled a chair and sat next to me. The smell of some fancy mix of amber, citrus and flowers struck my nose. I slowly took a long breath in, enjoying every moment of it.

"I'm sorry. Did you wait a long time?"

"Oh no," I replied. "No. Definitely not." Even if I did, I'd still wait nevertheless, Min. It was worth every damn second. "Are you alright?" I asked her. 

"I am, thank you." She leaned back and let out a long sigh. "It's just that we have a lot of customers today and we were short of hands."

"I see." I took a look at those two guys at the counter. You lazy bastards, I thought, this woman worked twice the works you both did, combined. 

I let Min took her short rest for a while. Her eyes fell on the empty frap plastic cup.

"How was the drink?" she asked.

"It was great. Just like always." Another lie. Getting better at this, eh Jack?

She just smiled. I stared at her for some time, admiring her beauty. Embarrassed, she turned away and laughed.

"Don't look at me like that!"

I laughed a little after seeing her reactions. I turned to the package on the other seat just now - a long, brown paper bag - and handed it to Min. 

"Here," I told her as I offered her the bag. "I brought you something."

She looked confused but overall surprised. "What is it?"

"Well, take it and find out."

She placed her tote bag on a seat next to her before reaching for the paper bag. She unwrapped the plastic top cover of the bag and took a peek into it. And then those lips smiled the widest. Her white row of teeth came shining along with the surprised look on her face. 

"Oh my, you shouldn't have."

What do you mean I shouldn't have? I would buy the whole farm of it if I could just so that I could see that smile on your face everyday.

"Do you like it?" I asked.

She didn't reply. Instead she pulled the sides of the paper bag apart, in which after that a fully-bloomed blood red rose of the finest kind carefully wrapped in a thin plastic sheet came out to view. She took a smell of the flower and admired its petals. She stared at it for some time, in which my brain could easily tell that this was one of those best moments in life every men could possibly wish to see - the moment when a lady appreciated so much what you did for her gallantly. I was fully relieved and in a way, I felt like winning. What exactly I won I did not know.

"I do," she said in her softest voice before she lifted her head and looked at me directly in the eyes. "Thank you."  

Now, dear readers, at that moment, upon hearing what she said last, I went totally out of my mind. I felt something in my heart right away. That rose right there in her hands wasn't the first rose I gave to anyone; in fact there were so many roses and other flowers that I have handed to so many girls that by then I had already lost count. But the reaction she gave was by far the most genuine, and this of course caused me to experience the biggest dumbstruck in my whole entire life. I wasn't able to speak a single word out, let alone give an entire speech. I was made speechless by such a simple gesture of mandible sincerity. I suddenly felt so warm inside. Like a damn volcano just erupted in my stomach. At that time I could have just hugged her and expressed just how thankful I was to her for making my entire life so far worth living. I could have just proposed to her as well. I pictured me and her walking down the aisle with our members in the family and friends applauding at each side; petals of blood red roses got thrown in the air. And soon after that I pictured us in our new home, taking care of our newborn baby son, in which the son later grew into a fine young man and went to college, and...

"Hey, you alright?" 

All imaginations disappeared and I came back to my senses. Oh my. How very embarrassing. Did she just see me annoyingly smiling from all the projected scenes in my head? I felt my cheeks suddenly thickening. Another speechless moment there, of course, no doubt at all. 

She ignored me and smelled the rose again. Smiling, she wrapped the rose carefully back into its paper case and placed it gently in her tote bag. Then she stood up before me while facing the sunset, and she glowed like those angels they showed in the movies. She looked at me, who at the time was still dumbstruck, and in the gentlest gesture possible she offered me her hand. 


Cupid, you bastard. be continued.

Monday, March 12, 2012

If only there were words to express how exactly I really felt that day.

I lied on my bed later that night. The rain poured heavily outside the window; traces of running water drops became visible on the glass cover as the light from passing car shone through. The room was entirely dark, albeit having a little night lamp that was struggling to keep up with its reddish glare from a corner of the room. The air-conditioning unit rattled for a bit from time to time, blowing moderately cold air just for circulation before it went silent again. The clock on the wall hit 2.00am in the morning, and I was at the time still wide awake.

I had never been sleepless from a thought of a woman before, but that night I did.

I pulled the blanket off my body, got up and placed my feet on the cold tiled floor. I brushed my hair from front to back, and reverse, for a few times. Clueless. Confused. many things ran in my head. I looked at the shadow formed on the wall each time a car passed by outside; it appeared and faded until a next car came much later on, like the picture of her in my head, only that the latter occurred much rapidly. I pinched the base of my nose in between my eyes with my eyes closed, trying to get some senses. What kind of senses in particular, I did not know.

My hand reached for my glasses on the bedside table. I stood up and put the glasses on, and I walked to the window, hoping for something interesting outside. There was nothing but rain, pouring heavily from the sky. All mortal lives in the neighborhood could be asleep by now, judging from the dark row of houses within my view, except for their porch lights. From the streetlight I could see the drops of rain came smashing on the tarmac road -- just like the way the memories of her came crashing onto the wall of my otherwise strong heart. Not wanting to be further indulged into those disturbing thoughts about her, I turned into the small stereo that was sitting next to the night lamp. With a single click I turned it on. 

And that song came to life again.

* * *

"Nice song."

She was wiping the counter with a damp cloth when I said that. She turned her head to look at me before focusing back to what she was doing previously - wiping the wooden counter. 

"Isn't it?" she replied without looking. "It's Ballad for Adeline."

Clayderman, 1976, instrumental piano; a song composed for the composer's newborn daughter who went by the same name the title suggested. I know that song.

I stood there admiring her skills with the damp piece of cloth.

"Can I help you?" she asked. "You need another drink or something?"

"Oh. Oh no, not really." I placed both my hands into the pockets of my jeans, trying to look casual, but I was pretty much sure that the effort failed miserably. "I was just wondering..."

"About what?" She folded the wiping cloth and placed it at the end of the table before bending over at the counter, resting her chin on her folded arm. That lips smiled so generously.

"About," I said; my head was still iterating if I should even ask her in the first place. I pulled the serviette with a set of phone number on it out from my pocket and showed it to her. "About this." 

She just smiled and shook her head before shrugging her shoulder in the cutest manner possible. "Okay, what about it?"

I placed the serviette on the counter for her to see clearly. She stared at the crumpled item. I left it there and moved back a little to give her some space in examining the piece of thin paper. After some time I decided to pop the question up to kill the deadly silence.

"Is that your number?" Is that even a question, Jack?

"Of course it is," she laughed a little. "I wanted you to have it but now..." she took the serviette and placed it at the bottom of the sink and turned on the tap water as I looked helplessly and in utter despair, "...I don't think I gave it to the right guy." 

What do you mean, the right guy?

"Alright then". I tried to hold back my surprised facial expression after seeing how the serviette got soaked in water and broke into little pieces, but of course, this gesture too, failed miserably. She was again resting her chin on her hand and her folded arm, and was still staring at me. That lips just didn't stop smiling. She's playing a game, Jack.

Better be careful now.

I gave her a slight nod and a smile, signalling that I was leaving. She waved her fingers a little, her lips uttered the word 'goodbye' but not a sound was made. I turned around to the table where I previously sat, took the folded newspaper and left. The grande coffee cup was then already empty, sitting motionlessly among crumpled serviettes. 

As I walked away from the premise, the sun was already sky high and the weather was relatively warmer. In my head a few things went running, but the most prominent one was 'what just happened?'. Although there were a few possibilities that could possibly explain the situation, none of them could be readily clarified, in which at that point the real reason why she did what she did was still unknown. Was she trying to pull off some pranks? Or was she serious about it? There was only one way to find out. And one of the fastest way was through the set of number she previously gave me, nicely written on a piece of thin, fragile product of paper, that at that time could already be resting peacefully in the twin tower's system of sewer. 

I took out my phone and unlocked it. The screen brightened up instantly, and despite the eye-hurting glare from the sun, I still could see what was written on the LCD screen. And so I smirked widely. 

Game's on, Min.

* * * 

It was still raining heavily outside. 

In my hand was the same phone, with the same bright screen, showing the same set of number. Luckily enough, I managed to save the number she gave me before asking her directly about it -- indeed a good move after all.  I juggled the phone for a few times in my hand, deciding what to do next. Ballad for Adeline was still playing on repeat. The clock on the wall was showing 2.30am in the morning. 

Let's examine why she gave the number in the first place. There was only one single answer to that apparently -- to establish communication. And this communication could only be initiated from my side, knowing that there was no possible way that she could have my phone number. Comparing the pros and cons of the decision, especially at that time in the night where the rain poured down heavily and everyone was fast asleep but me, I decided to choose for the other side of the coin -- making the odds even more odder. Let's hope this will work out, and let's then hope for the best. Her face flashed before my eyes as I typed a new message in the phone.

'Hello, Min'. 

I hit the send button. The sending progress bar popped out, and after a few seconds the message was sent and delivered safely. 

Now do you know that feeling when you sent a text to someone, apparently so special to you, and you did not know what their reaction would be? The pounding heart, the pressuring worries? That uncomfortable feeling when you speculated what the act would turn out to be; the complete uneasiness where you started to doubt yourself, where you began to see that all the possible outcomes could be, most importantly to what you hope for, contradicting?  

Will she reply after all? Right when that question popped up in my mind, the phone vibrated, and by the look of it there was an incoming text message.

'Hi coffee lover.'

Holy crap. So suddenly I was wrapped up in utter confusion, if not hell of a bloody excitement. 

'How did you know it was me?' 

I lied down back in my bed and stared at the phone for her next reply. Every time the phone screen faded into darkness, I pressed on random button to keep it lighted up. And then the phone vibrated again.

'This number is new. I only gave to a few people so far.'  

So that explained. Fair enough. 

"Why aren't you sleeping? No work tomorrow?" 

Sent. Beep beep.  

"Was about to. Tomorrow half day. Why are you still awake?" 

I was thinking about you, Min. Wait. Let's not go there yet. At least not yet. So what else to say now? Alright. Let's try this one. A bit bold but what the hell. Since we were already there, just try it as well.

"About to sleep too. Hey. Wanna catch a movie tomorrow?"  

I hit the 'send' button before realizing just how messed up the message was. Consider this: to each other we were still a pair of total strangers. Very little she knew about me, let alone what I knew about her. Now how could have I, of all other things, invited her out after only a few exchanged texts? Congratulations, man, you just proved yourself to be the world's biggest desperado, if not the world's biggest loser. There goes your first date, Einstein. Realizing this, I buried my face in both of my hands. Oh dear God, what have I done? What was I thinking I wondered. How was I supposed to go to my favorite coffee shop again now? Reputation was definitely at stake. This was surely the biggest mistake. And then the phone vibrated. The Ballad for Adeline now sounded like a Ballad for Me. Better brace myself now. Open message, clicked.


Holy shit. 

...To Be Continued.