Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for mature content.
It’s all the same. Even after a week of being fired from the job, the shitty feeling is fresh and brimming. I survived the past week by just eating cup noodles; I just couldn’t bring myself to go shopping. To buy groceries or shower or just simply do anything at all. I sat down to write emails to friends, who have a job and, since they have a job they declined my invitation to “hang out”, friendly. “Next time, Kid” Almost everyone has sent the same thing. Except for Kenny.
When he said I have to buy him the coffee, I declined his acceptance to my invite. But he hasn’t seem to get the clue, he keeps texting me and mailing me, asking me about the coffee that he promised that I should buy for him.
So I get up from the bed, though I don’t know how I ended up there. I haven’t been sleeping a lot these days, my bed did not serve its purpose. I don’t feel safe in it. The armchair that I bought with my first month salary keeps me comfortable. I don’t know the technicality or making of it, but it has nice depth for the butt and a relaxing arch for the spinal. I sit for a while in the chair which is still in front of the window. There are no crows now, of course, but I hear my stomach caw of hunger.
I get up from the chair, walk into the bathroom and I almost don’t recognise myself. I didn’t want to worry too much of my looks so I cover the mirror with a towel and proceed to brush my teeth.
It’s 5.30 P.M. I said I’ll meet Kenny at 6.30 P.M. I sit again in the chair fully dressed; a T-shirt and a pant. I scan my room for my wallet, I find it sitting on the kitchen counter, I get up to get it and walk straight out the door. It didn’t feel right to be just sitting in my room. And I knew if I stayed a bit longer, I would have sat down again and wouldn’t have got up till 7.00.
It feels weird stepping out the apartment, I notice Newspapers scattered around the floor and a milk packet spilled, I push them aside with my foot before I notice Mrs. Nair standing outside her apartment talking to someone on phone. She looks at me, I smile and she reciprocates. She’s a kind-looking woman who I knew will call the house owner immediately after I’m out of her sight.
I walk to the café in a haze. The sun is too bright and the kids are too loud. I may have enjoyed them if I wasn’t so hungry. I walk up to a shop near the café, I decide to stand outside till Kenny shows up because I know I need fresh air though I feel suffocated.
I take two deep breaths and I feel dizzy. I walk inside the shop and buy a pack of cigarettes. I check the money in my wallet and I see that I have just enough to buy us both coffee and a muffin. I walk out to smoke the cigarette or cigarettes till and I realise that I have no match. I keep the cigarette in my mouth and lift my head towards the sun.
“Yes, that’s one way of doing it.” A man in a dark suit walks up to me with his left arm stretched, holding up a lighter. I bent down my neck and cup my mouth halfway for him to light it, he raises his eyebrows and uses both his hands to light my cigarette. I inhale sharply, the smoke cuts through my throat and makes me cough, through watering eyes I see the man in the suit smile.
“Thanks.” I say. He pockets his lighter and heads toward the store. I might be wrong but it seemed he called me in with him, I stand there and take two deep inhales of the cigarette before throwing it out and following him back to the store.
I see him standing in front of the refrigerators eyeing the frozen drinks. He sees me and smiles, a very nice, kind smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. I go stand near him, “Do you like orange juice?” he asks. “If you’re paying.” I say.
His eyes twinkle at that, I open the fridge and take out a bottle of “freshly squeezed” orange juice. “Not that.” he says while taking the bottle from my hand and puts it back. He leans back as if having a wider look and picks out a bottle with pulp in them. “I don’t like pulp in my juice.” I say.
He looks at me, pretending to be shocked. Something about the way he did that; a thirty something man with huge round glasses mooning his high cheek bones and neatly combed hair, parted from the left, feigning shock over not liking a pulped orange juice made me smile, laborious though it was. I follow him to the cashier with the juice in my hand. He pays for the juice along with some mints and chewing gums. I stand behind him and catch the reflection of myself in the mirror.
We step outside, and I being more aware of the state of myself, couldn’t bring to meet his eyes. I look around to find a restroom. “Just a minute.” I say and walk towards a huge sign in red. “Hey,” he calls, “aren’t you forgetting something?” he points at the bottle in my hand. I shuffle my feet, I really need to comb my hair. I walk towards him and hand him over the bottle, “Just a minute, ok?” I say. He looks away, cupping his hands to light his cigarette.
As soon as I open the door, the stench fills my nostril making it hard to breath. I walk to the nearest sink and spit. I splash the water on my face, so cold, and sprinkle some on my head and comb my hair with my fingers. A week of no self-care, I find my hair matted and tangled.
I walk out, wiping my face on my T-shirt. I reach the store and I don’t see him anywhere. I look around but he’s nowhere. I stand there for a few seconds before walking towards the café, I pick a cigarette from the pack almost instinctively and look around the parking lot.
I hear a tapping of the glass behind me, I turn back and see him, with a suppressed smile. I try hard not to smile back so I look down at my hands and wipe them off in my T-shirt while walking into the café. “I thought, muffin?” He asks me. “Yea, whatever.” I say and walk towards the corner table.
He stands behind the counter with his right hand inside his pant pocket and I see the waitress smiling, shyly at him. He says something and then they both laugh. I look out the café, to the car parking, the sun is still bright.
“There you go.” He says as he sits in front of me, placing the bottle on the table. “This is mine, and she’ll bring you your fresh juice.” I say nothing and I feel my heart beating so fast. I take the bottle, open it and take a sip. He doesn’t say anything either, just looks at me and turns to look out the car park.
The waitress brings out our food and we eat in silence. A comfortable silence. I eye him every now and then, to see if he’s watching me but he doesn’t. He just eats, mouth closed. He lifts his head only to see the parking lot.
The waitress comes back for our plates, he fishes out his lighter and holds it in his right hand on the table. I reach out and open his palm, he raises his eyebrow, genuinely and mildly surprised. I take the lighter on my left hand while still touching his palm with my right.
“There you are.”
We both look up. Kenny walks towards us. And before I could gather my thoughts, the man in the suit, gets up, taking the lighter from my hand, “Well, nice meeting you.”
I don’t say anything. He smiles at Kenny and walks away. Kenny takes his place, “Who was that?”
I look out to see him walk away, with his right hand in his pant pocket, head bent low as the sun set faraway and I too full to move.