Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here Is A Piece of My Soul

You've heard how each piece of work by a writer is like a piece of his soul?
Well, I'm about to post a piece of mine.
You would probably never know how long it took me to grow some balls big enough to post my whimsical piece of lomantik jiwangness here, for the world to read (and possibly mock).
So if you have to mock, please do so deeeeeeep DEEEEEEP within your heart, where my paranoia would be unable to hear.

Warning: Quite luvverly. Take that however you please =D

Just One Hello Is All It'd Take

The train doors slid open, and the harassed-looking people waiting on the platform poured in like a tidal wave of humanity, wedging him into a corner. Inwardly running through a whole litany of curses in three languages, he angled his torso awkwardly in order to breathe air that wasn’t heavily scented with eau de body odour, ending up in a hunched-over position vaguely reminiscent of Quasimodo. Well, at least his nostrils were no longer begging for euthanasia. He tried to be grateful.

Desperately casting his gaze over the crowd in an almost-futile effort to find a space in which he could stand upright, he saw her.

She was standing by a window, and the sunlight that was attempting to rival the bright yellow of her dress was also gilding her hair and creating a nimbus-like effect around her delicately-boned face. His hand twitched; he wanted to sketch her as she looked right then, to immortalise her forever, to – in some way – own a piece of her. It wasn’t a conventionally beautiful face; the nose a little too small, the eyes a little too narrow to please a society obsessed with golf-ball-sized eyeballs. But it was a face that arrested, that made you hunger to discover the secrets hidden in the depths of her eyes, made you want to bruise her plush lips with harsh kisses that are all teeth and punishing lips and later soothe those same lips with the gentlest of butterfly kisses. He itched to skim his fingers over her delicate cheekbones, to grasp her pert chin and tilt her face up to that perfect angle so he could watch her lips part and allow forth what he was sure would be an enchanting laugh. He wanted to – 

The train lurched and he staggered, catching himself before he landed on the lap of the small, elderly woman seated behind him. Praying hard, he quickly snuck a peek at her, hoping she hadn’t borne witness to his almost-humiliation. He caught her eye; saw an amused smile glinting in its depths and right there and then almost lost faith in religion. 

Damn, damn, damn!
He grinned at her sheepishly, trying to convey embarrassment and flirtatious interest in that one grin while also trying not to look like a creepy pervert who leered at attractive women in small enclosed spaces. Her eyes warmed even more, and was that a hint of answering interest in her smile

It is their first date, and he has decided – after numerous inner debates – to play it safe and take her to dinner at a nice restaurant. Sitting at the romantically candle-lit table, he fidgets nervously; playing with the stem of his glass while staring into it like it holds the secrets of the universe is not what he usually does but he’s so jittery. Should he have been bolder and more unique? Maybe a kite-flying outing? Or a picnic under the stars? What if he doesn’t make enough of an impression? And then she walks in, in a dress that makes him want to get on his knees and beg for her to be merciful and marry him. And he is suddenly so, so glad that he picked a dressier venue. But halfway through dinner, he realises that she is not just a pretty face and smoking hot body; she has a mind that holds him fast, that intrigues him so much he would gladly volunteer to be her personal thing-carrier if it means he could spend more time in her company. When the date ends, he walks her to her car and as she slides into her seat he blurts “Could – I mean, would you like to do this again sometime?”, waits for what seems like two eternities, and is thrilled when she gives him a slow smile and says “Of course.”

That night, he falls asleep smiling.

The train ground to a halt. The doors slid open again, and he was seized with a panic that she would leave; walk right out of his life before he had the chance to do anything. When the mad rush had settled, he craned his neck, and lo! The yellow dress was still there. He leaned sideways and forward, ignoring the protests from his muscles who would surely exact painful revenge the next day. Yes, she was still there! He was elated. After the (maybe) flirtatious smile she had given him, she had looked away, distracted by something outside the window (curses on its head). Maybe now he could try to make a move. But the crowd between them had, if it were even possible, swelled and it was now harder than ever to move even a step. If he could only say hello, he was sure it would be the start of something special. He looked hard at her, trying to telepathically convey a “Look at me!” message, but judging from the amount of people’s eyes he caught, the telepathic message had reached everybody in the train car except her. He noticed that she was talking animatedly on her cell, and slumped back into his original position rather disheartened. Suddenly something reached his ears. Was it laughter? It couldn’t be anything else, and yet... it made every other laugh he had ever heard sound coarse and raucous in comparison. Warm honey with a hint of breadcrumbs? He had no other words to describe that warm, flowing sound that had a bit of husk in it. It had to be her. He could practically hear his muscles threaten anarchy as he leaned forward again to check. It WAS her! Her face, already lovely, was transformed into sheer... perfection, for lack of a better word. It is amazing what a smile can do to one’s face; it makes the face warmer, younger, happier. It made her heart-breakingly beautiful, so much so he could almost feel his heart swell and press against his ribcage.

She laughs up at him teasingly, as he stumbles around in the blindfold-created dark. “Where IS it, woman?” he growls in mock ferocity. “I’ll never tell!” she giggles, the warm honey almost drugging his senses, almost making him forget his ‘quest’. Could he maybe seduce her into telling? He tries to reach for her, but his fingers swipe empty space. “You cheater, don’t think I don’t know what you’re trying to do!” her laughing, semi-indignant voice comes from what must be the other side of the room. He groans in frustration. “This is supposed to be my BIRTHDAY. Why are you torturing me? Don’t birthday boys get lots of love and pampering?” He jumps as she suddenly materialises beside him to whisper “Don’t worry, birthday boy, you’ll get your fun in a while,” in a tone so promising he wants to abandon all games and make haste for the proper venue for fun. But she has other plans, leading him by the hand to God only knows where. And then he hears a loud “SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” and he realises that her long, elaborate ‘treasure hunt’ was a diversion so all his friends and family could set up everything for his surprise birthday party. He pulls off his blindfold, blinking in the sudden brightness; and as his vision clears, the first face he sees is hers, her smile brighter than all the lights in the room combined. He kisses that first face he sees, and swears to himself that this is the last face he’d ever kiss like this; like his emotions spill out of him into her through the lip-tongue connection they have. 

That night, when the guests have gone and they are lying in their slightly damp and very rumpled bed, she murmurs sleepily into his ear “...luv you..” and is gone into her dreams. He stays awake stroking her, his living, breathing dream come true. 

A loud sound jerked him from his reverie; a young woman was berating a slouched, rather disreputable-looking man for not giving up his seat to an old man. Everybody in the coach stared at the younger man censoriously, completely neglecting to remember that they themselves at some point or another had been guilty of the same crime. The younger man sulkily hauled himself up, jerking a thumb at his recently-vacated seat by way of inviting the older man to sit down, which the latter did with a grateful smile at the young woman.
Uninterested in the mini drama, he searched for that flash of sunny bright yellow. And found it, but the expression on her face was closer to stormy than sunny, her glare poisonous as she attempted to do a Medusa on the man. He wanted to smooth away the small frown that creased the space between her brows and dispel the storm clouds in her eyes, kiss away the slight downturn of her lips and let her place her burdens on his shoulders. But he was here and she was there. The distance frustrated him, the obstacles between them maddened him and his immobility enraged the hunter within his psyche. How was he to capture the heart of the fair maiden if he couldn’t even move his bloody feet?

He feels a headache coming on; and the stony silence between them is not really helping matters. He knows that the both of them have valid points, but it is now a matter of principle – and pride – that he not give in. He looks over at her. She is seated stiffly, so close he can feel the warmth emanating from her skin, but the slight distance between them seems filled with a wall of solid ice on which a sign that says“DON’T EVEN THINK OF TOUCHING ME.” hangs. He sighs. The headache is getting worse. He knows he shouldn’t have said what he said. The words that they have uttered at top volume, accompanied on her part with a few well-aimed plates at his head, seem to linger in the stillness of the apartment. Their dog cowers in the next room, frightened by the angry sounds coming from its owners, worried that it may be the cause of the discord. Its bladder it starting to make itself known to the poor canine more and more insistently, and at last it gives in to its bodily needs and trudges to the room from which such animosity is emanating, in a manner more suited to a bomb survivor returning to the scene of the tragedy. She notices the dog entering the room with equal parts misery and impatience, and the dog-owner in her snaps to attention. “The dog needs to do its business,” she murmurs, getting up to grab its leash and take it outside. With that, the tension in the air is somewhat eased and he feels his headache start to dissipate. “I’ll come with you,” he offers, swallowing said pride; a walk always does wonders to clear one’s mind. Maybe they’d be able to talk things through.

As their dog happily runs around barking at invisible friends, they stand together under a tree passionately making up. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles against her lips, oh God, how he loves her lips. “I’ll never do it again.” “No I’M sorry,” she murmurs back, between little nipping kisses, “I shouldn’t have thrown the plates at you.” He rubs at a nick on his forehead with a rueful laugh and she kisses him again, with greater vigour as though to heal him through passion and passion alone. He loves her, minor injury be damned. And fights always make the making up sweeter and more intense. He holds her closer, breathing in her scent, and vows to never mention her attractive best friend again.

He watched the next station approach with a burning fervour. He WOULD move in, at the first chance he got to move his limbs. With equal parts relief and nerves, he watched as the station came closer. When the train finally stopped, he edged forwards as a large part of the crowd made their way to the doors, only to stop short. Where was she? He scanned the crowd with a growing sense of dread. And suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of yellow.

Oh God.

He looked again, and there she was, walking briskly along the platform, heading towards the exit.
Is that it? he wondered. Their whole relationship had only existed within his mind, without ever having the chance to exist in the physical world?

He watches as she gets out of the car and walks away for the last time. He feels... numb. Is that it? he wonders. All the loving, all the fighting, all the EVERYTHING, just... gone? He drives home in a daze. He spends the next few days wandering the apartment, remembering her in each room. Frying the eggs in the kitchen. Burning the eggs (and the pan) because she ran out to watch Eminem’s latest music video. Singing in the shower, rather off-key but more than making up for that with enthusiasm. Lying in bed, sleep-rumpled and grumpy at having to get up for work “Do I HAVE to??” “Yes, darling. How else will we afford to keep you around?”. Lazing on the sofa, hogging the whole thing as she watches TV, only lifting her feet to let him slide under them. The sounds she makes as he massages said feet. Training the dog “Honey! The stupid dog thinks ‘sit’ is ‘roll over and drool!’”



The rooms echo with silence and remembered sounds. He flees the apartment, pursued by her memory.

Only weeks later is he at last able to sleep without imagining her snuggled against his side.

A few weeks passed, and only then was he able to get her off his mind. In the weeks that followed the encounter, he filled innumerable sketch books with her likeness, would find himself absentmindedly sketching the shape of her nose, or an eye – her eye – on a paper napkin at a cafe. He saw her everywhere and had dashed across countless roads only to come face-to-face with complete strangers. 

But now, life was starting to get back to normal. His friends were relieved, and frankly, so was he. It was hard living a life that felt leached of colour and beauty, always longing for something that didn't exist.

He yanked open the door to his office building and strolled in, whistling. Flirted with the pretty receptionist, stole Tony’s doughnut right off his desk, and while munching on a Hazel Dazzle, he noticed that he was really starting to feel like himself again. He grinned, proud of his progress. A real man doesn't stay down for long, he told himself.

And then he heard it.

Warm honey with a hint of breadcrumbs.

Crazy, insane hope clogging his throat, he backtracked so quickly he almost gave himself whiplash and poked his head through the door from whence the sound came. His boss beamed at him, “Say hello to our new graphic designer!”

He smiled at her.

She smiled back.