at night

You can tell I wrote this one over the course of many different moods and sittings by how my writing kinda changes over the course of the story. And you can tell that I got bored and just wanted to finish it by the end, get it over and done with. I seriously need to plan better.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this one. One one hand, I like it, but on the other hand, as always, I’m not sure I do.

Some of my more rambling sentences were intentional, as was the slight overuse of parentheses (including my first-ever usage of parentheses within parentheses [like this]). Tried to write it a bit differently, and I don’t know if that makes it better or worse. Or even if I succeeded.

I’ve been feeling very negative about me and my writing and it’s starting to hurt. But that’s for another entry.

Enjoy.

///

It was another windy, rainy night in the city and I was alone again. As usual. Waiting for the bus home, soaked down to my underwear, it was nothing that I hadn’t experienced before. You’d think that I’d have had the common sense to bring an umbrella or a jacket or something like that, but no. I never did, even when I knew it was the rainy season. Perhaps, deep down inside, I liked getting soaked by the rain, liked how it felt to have the rain soak my clothes, to start to feel them getting heavier and heavier, to start shivering due to the cold brought on by trudging through driving, cold-as-fuck rain.

It was as if it made me feel alive. Cold, shivering, soaked to the bone. Alive.

The bus stop was only a block (perhaps a block and a half) or so away from my workplace (a quaint mom-and-pop music store which I minded at night when the owners — a husband and wife couple, if you hadn’t thought of that by now — had more pressing business to attend to, like their children and having dinner as a family [something I had never experienced] and things like that), and I could have just ran the short distance to the bus stop (surely I, even in my woefully unfit physical condition, could manage that), but I preferred to instead walk slowly into the driving rain. In a sense, it felt like going through a car wash.

And so there I was, leaning against one of the steel poles that supported the clear plastic roof of the small bus stop, shivering and rubbing my hands together to fight off the cold and the occasional biting wind that would sweep down from the heavens and send all manner of rubbish (leaves, plastic cups, tin cans) flying into the air and rolling down sidewalks. A biting wind that bit me incredibly hard, what with me being soaked to the bone and dressed in only a skimpy t-shirt (a reminder of happier times: I could still smell her on it, somehow, which is totally illogical, I know) and jeans.

I’d been waiting for about twenty minutes when the cold and the wind just got to me and I decided I couldn’t stand it anymore. It had stopped raining, but the damned wind was still there, and still biting into me. “Perhaps,” I thought to myself, “perhaps I should have ran instead.”

But it was no time for silly regrets. I decided I’d head back to the store and rummage in and around the storeroom for something that I could wear (the owners, bless their hearts, trusted me well enough to entrust me with a spare set of keys, “Just in case,” as they’d say), like a jacket or a sweater or anything of the sort. As I said, it wasn’t raining anymore so I figured that I couldn’t make things any worse by heading back to the store. And maybe the walk would get some much-needed heat into my muscles.

I hung around a bit longer to see if the bus was anywhere in sight, but I didn’t see any signs of it appearing. Just as I turned and began walking back to the store, I heard a bus approaching, the signature sound of its engine revving carried, as I later found out, quite a distance by the wind. I stopped, turned around and assumed my previous position, leaning against one of the steel poles that supported the clear plastic roof and waited, tapping my foot to the beat of some mysterious cosmic metronome.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. The sound of Converse on concrete.

Tap.

Tap.

Tap.

Tap.
The bus came, alright, but it was being driven on the wrong side of the road, heading in the wrong direction and had the wrong numbers printed on a piece of paper taped to the windscreen. So it was the wrong bus. I had waited for nothing, but then I had time to kill, so it really wasn’t a problem.

I turned and headed back to the store. The bus didn’t even stop at the bus stop opposite the one I was standing at.

The smell of the night air right after the rain rejuvenated me, and while I walked slowly, as usual, that night I walked with an almost cheerful gait that surprised even myself. After all, at that point I’d had very few reasons in my life to be at all happy, and certainly fewer still reasons for me to be walking cheerfully. Content, yes, but happy? No. Not at all. But I enjoyed the moment, walking in the cool night, inhaling fresh (well, as fresh as the air will ever get in the city), post-rain air and the fact that there was no-one else on the rain-slicked sidewalks which reflected the lights from various illuminated neon signs and streetlights in a glass-like form, continually shifting as I walked.

As I walked, I was accompanied by the distant sound of car horns honking, the anonymous humming of various air-conditioning units and the sound of my slow, measured footsteps.

My wet hair kept getting in my eyes every time I turned or moved my head, and, frustrated, I said out loud, to no-one in particular, that I’d get it cut soon. But I (and anyone who had happened to overhear me) knew well enough that I didn’t really mean it and it wasn’t going to be the case. I’d been saying that same thing, pretty much, in various shapes, forms and sentence structures since . . .

Since . . .
I stopped walking and looked up, looked around me at my surroundings through strands of hair, looked at the lights and the wet, rain-slicked concrete and the locked-up doors of shops closed for the night (it was nearing 11 then) and tried to remind myself that I was in the present and not in the past, that she wasn’t a part of my life anymore and that I was over whatever I had felt for her.

Of course, I failed. Did you expect anything to the contrary?

Admittedly, our relationship never did blossom into something really serious and all we really did was just be significantly close friends, but to me, the times I spent with her just talking over lunch or dinner or while in the train heading towards wherever it was that we were heading towards were, and still are (even to this day), special to me, and they made me happy. I had my problems, even back then, sure, but she, in her own special way, would never fail in making me forget those problems for a little while . . . for however long I spent being with her.

She was like a drug. And I was hopelessly addicted.

The things she said — the little throwaway sentences that I’d ignore if they came from anyone else — and the things she did always took on enhanced significance to me, especially after I decided to come clean and tell her how I felt about her. I knew, even then, that these kinds of things are never rushed, but I always kept hoping, trying to see if I could hazard a guess about how she felt from those aforementioned words and actions.

Little did I know how misleading a person’s words and actions could be.

Oh, how little I knew.

I suddenly snapped out of my involuntary reminiscing and looked around (again) for a bit before I started to slowly put one foot in front of the other. Before I knew it, I was walking again, and once again on my way towards the store. Fortunately, I had managed to snap out of it just before I revisited a very dark part of my recent past back then, a part which I would be glad to never revisit again. I was even able to divert my mind towards thinking and reminiscing of other things (such as the time I spent wandering around the city at night, reading Murakami’s Norwegian Wood while hopping from one 24-hour food establishment to another) while I walked.

The rest of my walk passed without incident, and I reached the store in no time at all. There was a 7-Eleven a few lots away, its bright indoor fluorescent lighting spilling out onto the street, and I decided that I would head there first to buy myself a drink of some sort. I was in no rush. I knew I’d missed the bus I had been waiting for, and knew that I could still catch the last bus home comfortably.

I pushed the door open and triggered that annoying alert that sounds every time someone walks in to or out of a 7-Eleven. The (cute, I might add) girl behind the counter, in an oddly perky tone of voice for the time of night, said “welcome, sir!” before returning to the magazine that she had been reading. For some odd reason, I decided to try and strike up a conversation with her.

“What’s a girl like you doing working at a time like this?”
She looked up from her magazine, smiled and said,

“Well, I really needed a job and this shift was the only one that was available here.

Really, though, it’s not that dangerous.”
I nodded, half in agreement and half as an empty, polite, gesture (she had missed my point and I was in no mood to clarify my question), said something that sounded like “ah,” and headed to the back to grab myself a cold beverage. I should probably have went for something that hadn’t been in the refridgerator for the whole day (and probably a while longer) but I wasn’t thinking much at that time, so I just grabbed the first thing that caught my eye: a bottle of Sprite.

I took it to the counter, paid for it (in exact change), smiled at the girl, declined both her offers of a plastic bag and a straw, and walked out, clutching the cold plastic bottle in my warm fleshy hand.

I put the bottle on the ground beside the door and fumbled around in my pockets for the keys, making a much larger fuss of finding it than I should have. After all, it wasn’t like there was anything else in my pockets aside from the keys and some money (coins and notes). I heard a car drive past accompanied by a muffled “thud thud thud thud” emanating from inside it, no doubt from a suitably expensive sound system.

I unlocked the door, pushed it open slowly (it opened up silently without a squeak at all: the benefits of well-oiled joints), picked up my bottle of Sprite and walked inside, making sure to close and lock the door behind me, just to be safe. The light streaming in from the window at the front of the store allowed me to get to the back room without much difficulty, and I was out of the store in five minutes, wearing a slightly tattered hoodie that was one size too big for me. I wasn’t really in the mood to search, so just I grabbed the first suitable thing I found.

It began to drizzle lightly again just as I stepped out of the store, as if on cue. I stood there for a moment, underneath a streetlight and looked up at the night sky, feeling droplets of rain fall onto my face, feeling at ease with being alone at night in the rain, feeling a strange sense of peace as if all the things that had been bothering me had just dissapeared, had been washed away by the rain. I knew that wasn’t the case, though . . . but it sure felt like it. And I enjoyed feeling that way.

After being jolted back to reality by the sound of two cats fighting, I returned my gaze back towards the earth, pulled the hood over my head and started walking at a leisurely, relaxed pace back to the bus stop with my hands in my pockets. I was enjoying the night. Enjoying being alone. And hoping that it didn’t start to rain too heavily again.

It didn’t, and I reached the bus stop in no time at all. My sudden positive mood had allowed me to avoid reminiscing on unpleasant parts of the past, and I was thankful for that fact as I once again began to wait for the bus home. I looked at my watch: it was nearing 12 and I knew that the next bus that stopped there would be the last bus home. I never liked walking back home at night, due to having to pass through a very dangerous neighbourhood (if I didn’t, I would have to take an incredibly long alternate route that pretty much doubled the distance: this route is the one the buses use), so I had to catch it. Unless I wanted to sleep at the store, which was something I wasn’t exactly keen on, particularly since I’d probably end up having to sleep on the hardwood floor.

And so I waited for the bus, sat down on the cold metal railings which passed for seats and tried to pass the time. Looked up again at the night sky, the stars nowhere to be seen (come to think of it, I haven’t seen stars in the sky ever, since I began living in the city) and the moon trying desperately to shine through the clouds which obscured it.

And I waited and waited, the seconds giving way to minutes, with no sign of the bus. I wasn’t worried, but I was getting tired of waiting.

Some moments later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a figure heading towards me. I paid it no attention, of course, but I did feel my body tensing up just in case I had to run or, worse, fight said figure off. While it seemed unlikely, I knew better than to rule out the possibility entirely. It was, after all, the city.

But then the figure spoke. Spoke in a voice that I had never expected to hear again. One simple word that changed everything entirely, one simple word that threw me totally off balance and sent me spiralling down, back into the past.

“Hey.”
The voice was unmistakably, undoubtedly hers. I don’t know what cosmic coincidence had brought us, two (lost and insignificant, if I may add) souls in a vast city, together again, stumbling upon each other at, of all places, a bus stop in the city on a windy, wet and rainy Monday night (of all nights). But it had, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that fact, whether I was thankful or not. I’m still not sure, to this day, how I really felt, except that I was definitely and undoubtedly confused. (Of course, I nearly always am, come to think of it.)

I slowly, hesitantly turned my head to look at her. She hadn’t changed a bit. She still had her hair in the same fashion (straight, bangs combed to the left, obscuring her forehead), she still had that piercing on her lower lip, she still wore that tattered pair of jeans that she so loved to wear and, god, she still looked so goddamn beautiful. And she was looking at me in that way she used to look at me, that look that once made me think that, perhaps, just perhaps, there was something between us.

There never was, no, but that look seemed, to me at least, like it signified something. I don’t know why, and I don’t know what, but it did.

And then I said “hey” back to her. A three-letter, monosyllabic word: the most complicated word I could think of right then and there. My mind was . . . I don’t know where it was, but it sure as hell wasn’t there. Thoughts and memories began running through my head, through my heart. My hopes, my fears, my feelings, they all came back to the forefront. And they hurt. They confused me, made me doubt all the things I’d thought and felt, made me question my true feelings.

I forced an awkward smile, somehow, trying to dispell the awkwardness. And she smiled back. But her smile wasn’t awkward, it wasn’t forced. I felt a genuine sincerity and a sort of relief behind it, as if she was afraid that I wouldn’t smile at her ever again. There had been times in my life when I had felt that way, felt that I’d never smile at her again, that I’d never want to talk to her again, that I’d never want to be at all close with her again. And I let those feelings take over my life, let them guide my decisions.

I changed my phone number. I got a different job. I made sure I didn’t share any classes at all with her. And I felt good about it.

But, on that wet, rainy night, under a the clear plastic roof of a bus stop, I realized, finally, that, in the year we had been apart, I had missed her so. Missed her smile, missed her face, missed everything there was to miss about a human being. And I could sense that she knew it, somehow. In her own way.

Always in her own way. I guess it’s something to do with her and her fellow women supposedly being from Venus (or something of the sort, I’ve never read that book).

(But then again, probably not.)

And we looked at each other, awkward and confused, me shifting uncomfortably in my seat and her rocking from side-to-side as if she was going to topple over. There was so much I wanted to say, and I knew that she was thinking the same thing. Yet the words wouldn’t come for either of us, and we continued staring at each other in silence for a while, listening to cars honking in the distance, the sound carried by the wind which occasionally picked up again. Time stood still (or seemed to, as it is, after all, impossible for time to actually stand still) as the city and its inhabitants moved on around us. Like rocks in a stream.

It was then that I heard the sound of a bus’ engine and, somehow, I knew, in my gut — instinctively — that it was mine, that it was what I had been waiting for. The bus home. There was nothing else it could have been. It had to be it. I involunarily looked away from her, stood up, walked to the side of the road and looked down it to try and see how far off it was. And it wasn’t that far off. I could see its lights reflected on the road (as well as windows and various roadside signs) as it turned the corner onto the stretch of road that I was waiting on. And, for some reason, I smiled. A bit.

When I turned to look back at her, to ask if she wanted to hang out (and maybe spend the night) at my place, she was gone, and I could see her walking away, back the way she came from, hands in her pockets, looking up at the night sky. As much as I wanted to say something, to shout out to her, to get her to come back, I knew that it wasn’t going to be any use. She was walking away and nothing would bring her back to me. Nothing would make her turn around.

And so I sat back down and waited for the bus to arrive, open its doors and admit me onboard.

To take me home.

Advertisements
Categories: prose and poetry, thoughts
  1. Zara Suhaimee
    Apr 21, 2008 at 18:21

    mcm tergantung je cerita.
    hmm. but overall, it was good.
    love it. :)

  2. peachdrug
    Apr 21, 2008 at 19:38

    This is good :)
    I like how you try to divert the attention of a reader after describing about the girl vaguely (providing infos with just based on his emotions and memories of her), to what he’s doing now (the Sprite, going back to the shop) & then back to her again, but with a stronger presence. Makes the build-up more interesting.

    :)

  3. azzief
    Apr 21, 2008 at 19:54

    Thanks muchly, both of you. Greatly appreciated. =]

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: