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.
* * *
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.
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.
...To Be Continued.