In the silence of the room, Khalid wiped his tears. He raised his head from the desk and looked in the mirror to see his reddened eyes. Stupid, he thought, his feelings not yet fading. This is all stupid. Why am I even here?
The sight of Father flashed across his mind, stroking his anger again. He could still feel the pain on his back, courtesy from the hanger Father used. That was it. Wearing a cap, he went out of the house, relieved Father wasn't around his workshop. Taking the deserted road, he walked away from his home, intent on leaving behind the prison Father had made for him.
My elder son is completely useless, he heard Father said in front of his friends.
At that time, Khalid was serving them drinks. After Mother's death, it was either him or Zairil who did the job. He didn't like it. He didn't want to hear Father's conversation with his friends because whenever he was around them, the talk would always focus about him. Father would always -
Just look at him! Father said, gesturing at him as he poured the tea. He looks like he doesn't have bones. Looks like a faggot.
Khalid didn't say anything, but his blood was boiling. He didn't look at Father or anyone else; his eyes were fixed on the floor as he finished the job and carried the tray back to the kitchen. I am a faggot and still a much better person than you, he thought venomously.
Khalid shifted his attention to the road. Sifting through yesterday's event wouldn't help him in anyway. He didn't know what he wanted to achieve by walking to a place he had yet decided, but he needed to just get away from all the misery that happened to him. The sun hung in the sky, its sunlight unfiltered by the lack of clouds. He could feel the afternoon's heat biting his skin. It was a normal Malaysia weather, but he still didn't get used to it. It was too hot.
After half an hour, he found himself at the entrance of a forest. Did he just walk that far? He didn't think of anything in his journey and instead savoured the houses at either side of the road. They scattered as if they had minds of their own, unsurprising considering the area wasn't a city where houses lined up in neat order as planned.
He stepped into the forest, the smell of plants fresh after being showered with rain greeting him. He had never been in this area before. He certainly didn't have any interest on forest. It just felt like a gathering of the unexpected to him, a destination for those who wanted to be alone and away from civilization. In a way, he was one of them now. He wasn't sure, but there was some forces that pulled him towards the forest, as if it was enchanted or alive.
After five minutes into the woods, Khalid still didn't find any wild life. Perhaps that was for the better, because he couldn't imagine what he would do if suddenly a tiger jumped out of a bush and charged at him. He would run, of course, but years of avoiding exercises guaranteed his doom. The beat would catch him in no time and shred him into pieces. He shuddered. What a thought. The sound of cricket was the only evidence the place wasn't similar to a grave.
And then he saw him. A man sitting under a tree, his eyes closed. His hair was a gathering of silver threads, his face wrinkled. As Khalid approached him, he opened his eyes, prompting Khalid to take a step back and stumbled as a result. Khalid yelped. The old man stared at him and smiled. He stood up, slightly trembling as he did so.
'Young man,' he said, his voice gentle and yet wisened by age. 'I'm grateful you are here. This is the first time I've seen someone in the woods. Your timing is perfect, too. Usually, I can walk my way to my house, but alas, I'm too tired. The weather is too hot - hotter than usual, I would say. Can you - can you please carry me to my house?'
Khalid stood up, brushing his butt from the sand. He blinked his eyes. The man didn't look dangerous, and he was old. There was no harm in helping him, was there? Besides, Khalid was glad of his presence, because it meant he wasn't alone anymore, and he was also curious. What kind of person made a house in the forest, away from modernization? It was such an inconvenient thing to do. He couldn't imagine himself staying here - it was a nightmare.
'Alright, I'll help you,' Khalid said, scratching the back of his neck. The old man was thin, so he wouldn't be heavy. 'Just tell me the way.'
The old man smiled and climbed Khalid's back. To Khalid's relieved, he didn't put much weight. He could also smell some kind of fragrance from the old man, which was kind of strange when considering the tattered clothes he wore. Just who was he, and why did he prefer to be alone in the forest? Khalid decided to keep the thoughts to himself as he found no way to speak of them in a manner that didn't offend the old man.
As he navigated through the trees and bushes following the man's directions, he felt a strange sensation coming from the forest. It was - how to describe it? It felt like you were in a different world. The air smelled sweeter and cooler, and the scenery seemed like someone had put some glitters on it. Which was ridiculous. He must've imagined it. And yet, the feeling felt so real.
And that was when he found a barren field, and standing on it were two different people. The first one was clad in armour, the silver metal shining under the sunlight. He was tall and sturdy. Facing him was a shorter man, small in size, wearing nothing but mere brown and gray clothes. They started to fight each other, fists and kicks delivered. The warrior-looking man dominated the battle in no time, brushing away the short man's attacks as if they were nothing. And they were nothing. Khalid couldn't imagine the short man hurting the warrior with those weak punches.
The warrior's unbroken pattern of attacking the short man worried Khalid. He seemed sadistic in nature, choosing not to end his opponent's life immediately and instead torturing him slowly. It was such an unfair fight. Every inch of Khalid's body urged him to step into the fight, to intervene and help the short man, but as soon as he made a move, someone grabbed his shoulder.
'Don't interfere,' the old man behind him said. 'I understand how you feel, but this fight has been done before. The man who's at the brink of defeat wants to defeat the warrior and end the corruption the later has helped to spread, and you're not allowed to disturb them. You can only observe, or else everything would disappear.'
What does he mean by that? Khalid thought.
A/N: This is the second draft of my short story, The Siblings, the Old Man, and the Talking Eggs.