So many words run through my head in the mornings… It’s so cold, the bed is empty, where’d he go this early in the morning? I swear he left the room three hours ago… I don’t want to leave the warmth I’ve built up under the blanket, but I want to get up. I stare into the eyes of my own reflection after wiping my face with a wet towel. I think I look prettier in the mornings in each of these moments. I rub my eyes hard enough with the towel so they turn a little red and double eyelids start to appear… and they stay for the moment I look in the mirror. The sides of my nose is red and everywhere else white… I wonder what it is I’m good at… making friends, keeping friends or losing friends? I see the water in the reused Somersby pear cider glass’s been drunk halfway and the blue and black sore spots on my arms from yesterday night’s impromptu volleyball game. My arms still hurt and I wonder how volleyball players live with this their sporting career. Maybe we just get used to whatever is hurting us until it doesn’t hurt anymore.
Then there are those to whom the new year means not much to, like the girl with too oily shoulder length hair, pink japanese slippers and a slightly torn black shoebag hugged into her right breast. The new year is just a day away, not that she bothers, but she makes a new year resolution for herself anyway: not to make promises she can’t keep. As she trudges on along home, wind cooler than usual, she wonders if people would like her better if she was truly herself around them. Would they find her more interesting? More likeable? Annoying? She entertains the thought, like a circus juggler throwing daggers in the air, catching them and tossing them back in the air, then a dagger falls to the ground and the act has ended.
As I sat in the train in silent and tired contemplation, I noticed a woman in her thirties in a black dress and black bag. Her bag was quite large, quite the size of a large cat. From it she pulled out a vegetable wrapped in cling wrap, and examined it closely with furrowed brows. And as I watched her, I thought it strange to have a vegetable appear from quite a classy bag. Maybe it was her attempt in trying to reduce the usage of plastic bags at supermarkets but I immediately thought of the world of Harry Potter, where it was possible for unexpected things to be pulled out of bags. For a split second I wondered if she might just pull out another odd object from her bag, maybe a hockey stick, or a black, long-haired and short tempered Persian.
A veil of darkness covered us all around. Just an inch from each other, we sat breathing in and out, then in, and out. A silent breathing. The world was quiet, and there were only the two of us. So close, yet not touching, but I didn’t need your touch to feel such intimacy. I could almost hear your thoughts already.
Then, your lighter clicked. For a second, your face glowed a bright and warm mix of peace, serenity and tranquility. The contours of your face not sharp and edged but delicate and yielding. Soft light on your skin, all I saw was love gleaming from your vulnerable heart, even though your gaze was averted. The light went out.
And we sat in veiled darkness again.
I was always there when he smoked. That was when he disclosed his personal experiences. He was exactly the kind of person Ma wouldn’t want as my friend, because he was a smoker, and I could see why. I eventually learnt to smoke. Perhaps it happens when your best friend smokes, but this habit carried the bitter sting of self-reproach. For weeks, I questioned myself. What if Colin saw me? Ma would be so ashamed. How could I do this to Ma, to Colin? I confided in Xen, and he told me I shouldn’t have to condemn myself for wanting to live the way I wanted.
“No point feeling sorry for yourself,” he said.
“What are your thoughts about the environment described by the author?”
My eyes avoided the teacher, half-heartedly scrolling through the pages of the story on my Apple Macbook, pretending to be busy analysing the fiction piece that was distributed earlier.
“There are window grills in the house,” my ears picked up subconsciously as a student replied. Drifting into hungry thought, I couldn’t help but hear a distant sizzling echo coming from my own imagination.
“Yes, window grills are quite common in HDB flats”, said the teacher in response. Immediately, the sizzling made sense, and I uttered under my own breath, “grilled cheese.” It was almost as if I could taste it.
The intimate theatre falls into the shadows; darkness lending attention to the musicians on centre stage. A silence. Then, slowly, gradually, as the conductor swished his baton in a fluid wave to beckon the music, a sweet melody rolled into joy and spiraled into a tune tinged with melancholy.
As the piece flowed, its reverberations ran deep under my skin, as though the atoms of my bones were quivering along, my heart pulsing in unison with the song. A tingling sensation ripples across my skin, arousing every fiber within. It conjures ambiguous tears behind blurry eyes, perhaps this is why magic mystifies.