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She said, you are the lucky one.
The one person who has everything one could possibly want. The one people are irresistibly drawn to like a moth to a flame. The witty, smart one – blessed with good-looks and personality to match. The one who is seems out of reach, yet down to earth. The one whose smile dazzles and laughter stirs mirth among listeners. The one whose very presence lights up the room such that the very atmosphere changes.
When all the doors are closed and the mask is stripped away; when you are the only person left in the room.
Can you say you are the lucky one?
The first time you asked her out for a movie, you were so nervous your hands trembled. Whatever you typed on the keyboard came out in a jumble of alphabets which made no sense. You shook your head, telling your roommate you can’t do it. He took charge, pried your frozen fingers off the keyboard and backspace the jumbled message. It took him a minute to decipher your message and guiding your trembling hands, retype the message clearly. Once sent, he went back to his reading while you waited for her reply. It occurred to you then, that is how eternity felt like.
When she said yes, you froze. When it finally sank into your bewildered mind, you jumped out of your chair with a whoop. Tripped over a pair of sneakers. Fought to gain your balance and somehow, landed face-first on the bed.
“Dude!” Your roommate rushed to your side and flipped you over, his forehead creased in worried frown. You blinked stupidly at him and whispered, “She said yes.”
Saying it louder, you repeated, “She said yes.”
“Dude, what are you mumbling about?”
You sat up and shook his shoulders, a big grin plastered on your face. “SHE SAID YES!”
As she went over the edge of the cliff, you rushed forward. You didn’t have to think. Your body just moved of its own accord. A natural impulse. A reflex. For one terrifying moment your heart stopped when your hands grabbed nothing but air. Then as your body hit the unforgiving ground with a thud, your right hand connected with flesh and you gripped it tight with all your might. You gasped. The sharp sensation that shot up your straining arm blinded you for a moment. You wondered how much longer you can hold on when she whispered, “It’s okay. You can let go.”
You gaze darted to her face. To her frightened eyes. Her pert nose smudged with dirt. Down to the lips curved in a sad smile and that stubborn chin. To your chagrin, there were a number of small scrapes and cuts on her once smooth complexion. How is it that in a short time, she has grown to mean so much to you? You have no clue. But at the edge of that cliff, hanging on for dear life, realisation hit you like a splash of cold water. Tightening your grip on her arm, you said with a strained smile, “Weren’t you the one who told me to never let go?”
The first time she talked to you, you were finishing your tea and were ready to leave. She sat down opposite you, a mug of tea in hand and struck up a conversation. Against your better judgment, you stayed and indulged her as she began a steady stream of chatter. Hearing her mention the name of her high school, you asked if she went to the same high school as her. She replied yes and that they were classmates. You immediately labelled her as ‘one of those girls’. You mumbled an apology a minute later and left. You didn’t know she was staring at your retreating figure, bemused.
The next time you talked to her, neither of you remembered the abrupt way you ended the first conversation. The table which you were seated at is directly opposite the double doors of the library. Your gazes met as she entered. The conversation was brief but this time you said your proper goodbyes before parting amiably. A smile spread itself on your face and remained there for the rest of the day. You were blissfully unaware of course. That is, until your friend nudged you and made a teasing remark after the last class of the day. You wouldn’t hear of it though. Oh, silly you.
The first song that got me hooked on Ed Sheeran’s music was ‘Cold Coffee’. Though I am not a coffee person, the song quickly became an all time favourite. I was listening to ‘Cold Coffee’ on repeat for the umpteenth time when I was struck by the idea to write a ficlet based on the song. I thought, why not? I’ve written such stories before. So I wrote. Somehow whatever I wrote never seemed capture what I felt was the song’s essence. In the end, I didn’t write anything. Some things are best enjoyed in their original form after all.
The first few raindrops felt like a thousand icicles melting on your skin. It shocked you at first but you became used to the cold. You trudged on. Your mother would blister your ears with a tirade when you get home, raving about unnecessary prolonged exposure and pneumonia but you preferred to think of it as adapting to the environment. You hurriedly unlocked your car and entered it. Chills wrecked your drenched body as you turned on the ignition. Outside, the rain continued to pour – stirring up a wisp of a memory of one rainy day a long, long time ago.
It started out sunny, that afternoon. You ordered chamomile tea while he tried the new mint frappucino recommended by the barista. The hours flew by as the two of you talked and shared stories. By the time you were aware of the hour, you had to leave to pick up a friend as there was a reunion dinner later. His hand slipped into yours during the walk back to your car when it started to rain heavily. Though clichéd, it was funny. Freezing cold too. Yet, in retrospect, it was nice – walking in the rain, hands held and laughing.
He fears it is for real. He has lost sight of himself, not once, but more times than he cares to count. He has no idea how. He has no idea why. She asks, what is the matter? It does not come naturally as it used to, he says, try as I might. Oh, how he tried! One word, one sentence, one paragraph… but it never comes out right. It never does. He sits despondently in his chair, sighing. A single tear leaks from the corner of his eye. It splashes onto the page. He can’t write of happy thoughts anymore.
12.12.12; a special date? Perhaps. There will not be another date like it again. Like, ever. Truth be told, each date is unique and well, obviously different. No date will ever repeat itself again once it has passed. That is the both the beauty and drawback of time. But time itself is a mystery. A curse for those who do not wish for it anymore. A saving grace for those who need it. A delight for those who are in love. A gift for those who are just born. A gift both precious and priceless – making it worth more than anything in the world.
Walking, pacing. Up and down. Heart racing. Blood roaring in your ears. Sit down, stand up again. Strolling down the corridor. A steady pace. Become impatient. Quicken. Pacing once more. Then pause. Nothing. Nothing but silence. And the fan. Swirling the humid air overhead. An image. A vivid one. Imprints itself on your mind. Red. You see red. And her smile. Now gone. Her pale form, broken and torn. You gasp. Grab a nurse. Demand her to tell you. But in vain. She does not know anything more than you do. Anxiety. Dejection. You sit. Stare. And wait. Hands clasped and praying.
It is not as bitter as you expected… but stronger and sharper. It does not only sting your taste buds. It spreads to your entire being. It starts small, like a mustard seed, planted in the cavity of your mind by a thought. When reality sinks in, it grows. Matures. Spread out its branches, like a plant starving for sunlight, reaching every crevice, every crack until it reaches your heart; stinging right where it hurts the most. It leaves you gasping; for breath. For air. For life. Suffocating you. Eroding your will, your hope. That is how defeat feels like.
Unless… unless you pick up the pieces – broken and jagged – one by one. Caring not that it cuts. Caring not that it stings. Caring not that it hurts. When you piece it back together, it still forms a semblance of a picture of the being, of the person you once were. It was never perfect to begin with. From the start, the person is riddled with imperfections and flaws. Yet, you still carry on. Functioning with whatever pieces there are whether they are barely holding together or not. You move on. It is the getting up that counts, not the fall.
A million ‘what ifs’ runs through your mind as you mull over what to do. One question remains at the forefront of your thoughts – to go or not to go? Perhaps you have it easier than the original thinker, Hamlet. You are not the Prince of Denmark. You do not have to worry about your conniving uncle or avenging your father’s death. Nor do you have a love interest on the side whom you been rather callous and malicious towards as of late. Yet, like Hamlet, this decision is a momentous one. So you come back to that one crucial question; to go or not to go?
They say your life flashes before your eyes when you’re on the brink of the death. She discovered that little tidbit of information isn’t true. She would know. She almost died today. Or so they tell her. She can’t recall every detail, probably due to the shock or trauma caused by the accident. She doesn’t know. But she does know one thing; five out of six people who were involved escaped with nary a scratch on their bodies. She alone sustained injuries but they were superficial at worst and mere scrapes at best. It's simply amazing to see how God works miracles in the worst of situations.
If they were still together, it would have been for six months now. If they were together now, what will become of them six months down the road? As your mind takes you on a journey of all possible realities, you relaxed more comfortably into your stuffed chair, puffing your pipe every now and then. Reality in the form of a chirping sparrow unwittingly intruded on your day dreams. Reluctantly, you reckoned it was foolish to entertain such wistful thoughts. They were never together to begin with. You sighed and stared at the old photograph on your lap. But oh, if only they were.
Your hair is curled around your shoulders. The makeup feels light, natural even. Under the stage lights, it will look amazing – or so the makeup artist says. The dress swirls around your ankles as you twirl and mentally prepare. Everyone else is in their own space. Running lines. Vocal exercises. Marking steps. Stretching. Last minute warm ups. All too soon, the orchestra starts playing the overture. Break a leg, the stage manager whispers. You smile.
Now is the time. Now is the hour. The invitation…
Out there on stage is where you belong. It is home.
Calm and unassuming. Sweet but not too plain. A little witty perhaps, but mostly comforting. Dependable, even when other things fall apart. Just like vanilla.
And yet when she danced, she was a force to be reckoned with. Gone was the quiet demeanour, driven by emotions unnamed. Her movements spoke of the grace and force of high winds. Intuition kicked in, even as senses took flight. Unpredictable, unchecked but unmistakably alive. A tempest.
And yet when the music fades and all is calm, she becomes herself once more. Plain, sweet vanilla. And he would not have her in any other way.
When clouds gather and thunder boom, the sky darkens. As lightning splits the sky, rain fall in torrents – a storm begins. What then is the aftermath? When the wind quiets down and the fury is spent. Nothing but stillness. A stillness that calms the mind and soul. A stillness that makes one ponder, contemplate – the beauty that is life in everything around you. Even in the storm, there is a sense of refuge. An inner peace that transcends understanding. He did not promise a storm-free life but He did promised a storm-proof life. And that is the only thing that truly matters.
The garden was a haven; a solace from the outside world. It was gorgeous in autumn, an enchanting wonderland in winter, peaceful in spring and a veritable feast for the senses during summer. The garden knew how they met, for it was the ambiance which drew them to it. The garden saw them fall in love; strolling hand in hand or gambolled among the trees. Beneath the oak tree, among the shrubs, hidden dirt paths - there was not a place they did not explore together. The garden knew they loved each other, for their happiness blossomed like flowers in spring.
Can you hear it? The frantic pace of your heartbeat. Can you feel it? The rush of your blood as it courses through your veins. Just let go and flow, let the music carry you. You can get drunk on that heady feeling that thrills you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. It is as though you dived into the deep end without a thought for danger or safety. It is exhilarating. It is awesome. But it's all over within seconds. Gasping, panting, you get up. Wanting to do it all over again.
It was half past one when I remembered I’m supposed to write notes to everyone as a token of appreciation. Sitting up, I grabbed the first paper and began to write. I had written eighteen notes when I thought of you. Grabbing a fresh sheet, I wrote your name after the customary ‘Dear’. My hand paused as I wondered what to write. It has been a while since we last spoke to each other.
It is now three in the morning and your paper is still blank. Looks like you won’t be getting a note from me this year. I’m sorry.
I wrote this for you; the one who first loved me before I knew how to love myself. I hope you like my gift. I spent the last six months preparing for it. Thank you for blessing me with this opportunity to serve you in this musical. I will treasure every single moment over the last six months and the friendships formed for the rest of my life. It is truly a life-changing experience unlike any other. I hope you have a wonderful birthday this year. While I may not show it all the time, know that I love you. Always.
For the first time in months, I wake up to a day which I have nothing to do. No textbooks to study. No errands to run. No late night rehearsals. No where to rush to prepare for a matinee or night show. My morning is already half gone. My afternoon is uncluttered with errands. My evening and night is absolutely available for me to indulge myself with whatever activity I choose. I don’t need to be anywhere at anytime of the day. I am free and I feel … bereft. As though I have lost my meaning of existence. Strange.
She bought you tea for Christmas. But it was not just any other ordinary tea. It is a special blend from Coffee Bean; Tropical Passion to be exact. You don't know how to react. Manners dictate that you say thank you to her and be nice about it. You did. Thank her, that is. A brief message but it satisfied social protocol. Because really, how are you supposed to accept a gift from someone you have yet to accept as a person in your life? You honestly don't know how to go about it. Then again, perhaps you are just thinking too much.
You were walking out when you heard someone calling your name. You turned around. It was an old friend whom you have not seen in years – since elementary school, to be exact. He had always been thin and gangly but puberty had been somewhat kind. As the two of you talked, it became apparent that he has not gotten over his crush on you even after all these years. Later, you bid each other goodbyes and went on your separate ways. As you walked away, the last few minutes replayed in your mind. You can't help but chuckle. Some things never change.
You closed your eyes and sighed. Opening them, they blinked several times as you cast your gaze upon the view outside your window. Whatever you saw outside, everything was slightly out of focus and blurred around the edges. You wondered why. Your gaze traveled to the wall in front of your cluttered desk where the creamy expanse was covered with sticky notes and paper in every imaginable colour. Then something dark at the corner of your eye caught your attention. Your fuzzy vision zoomed in on the object resting on top of several haphazardly stacked books – it was your black-framed spectacles.
I stumbled upon this particular post on tumblr which showed a screenshot of a Q&A. The writer was asked by someone to describe the colour red without using the word red. At first I thought it was almost impossible to describe a colour without the using the very word which is both its name and description. Curious to see how he would reply, I read the writer's answer. Wow! I was blown away. It wasn’t just a mere description; he ingeniously crafted an emotional short story within the ten sentences too. If that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is.
Breakfast at ten o’clock in the morning. Straightening out the mess in the room. A long afternoon spent packing, moving boxes, going through old things and momentos from the old house. Finding a poem written by your twelve year old self amidst the old junk. Chatting with the best friend who is half way around the world. Although you missed the fireworks at midnight; taking photos, hugging and catching up with people you love made up for it. Receiving an unexpected and thoughtful message from him. Late night supper with family in a mamak. T’was a good way to end to the year.
The Tip Jar