Her

It was the way she sat. It was the way she sank into the chair, heavy with burden, yet sustaining an impossible air of grace. She leaned towards the floor, reached for her backpack and began to rummage for unfinished homework.
It was one in the morning, and she was weary, but this is her life now. Textbooks found, she pulled it out of her bag and placed it on the table, squarely in front of her. But instead of opening it, she placed a hand across the book, and sighed at the man at the opposite side of the table, me.
“What are you studying today?”
I half-pouted and told her I needed to study for my upcoming mid terms.
She mirrored my pout and reluctantly removed her hand from the textbook and flipped it open.
It’s been almost a year since I last saw her. But time has blessed her well and she’s now even more beautiful than before. Her hair was now a length that finally allowed for natural curls and it was dyed a fierce and passionate deep red. She was definitely the best view I’ve ever had for months.
Perfume emanated from her and floated in the air. It lingered mischievously in the air, seeming to disappear when I inhale deeply, then teasingly returning when I take an unconscious small sniff.
We studied for a while, before she left the room, saying she needed fresh air. I put my pens down and abandoned my work to follow her. We walked out of the deathly silent room and it was as if we had entered an alternate world altogether. This new world we entered was silent too, but it was the peaceful quiescence of the night, not the oppressive quiet of students cramming for an exam that will not matter at all five years down the road. This silence is blissful, and it calmed our senses down, despite us being one of the few beings awake amongst a slumbering majority.
She answered nature’s call as I waited at the top step of a flight of stairs that faced a small thicket of trees. She joined me shortly afterwards, playfully flicking water towards my face. We laughed heartily together, ignorant of the fact that we were guilty of puncturing the night’s tranquil.
Then we quieten down, as if an invisible guardian of the night robbed us of our childish jubilation. We were forced once more to face our own realities. Hers, of her exams, and mine, a more current problem, how to figure her out? I wanted so badly to hold her hand, which I was strongly aware of, through furtive glances from the corner of my eye.
But I could not. She is not and will never be a lover of mine for reasons complicated beyond explanation; I felt like the male lead in my tragic literature books that were all governed by the rule ‘So near, yet so far.’
She stood up. And so did I. Then she walked back to the room, and so did I, with the undying question on my mind – never wishing more than I did then for the ability to read minds – how does she truly feel about me?

Her

The Thrill

It just did not seem to want to give way! But then again, neither did he. He fiddled a bit more, chewed a bit more, and twisted a bit more. Finally, the chain gave way. It broke loose and he let his hand drop with the weigh of the chain-cutter, landing on the floor with a resonating, but victorious thud. He straightened his back, which ached from being bent over the bicycle for an agonizingly long period, and his spine made popping sounds as he twisted it.

Triumphantly, he grabbed the handlebars and eased it out of its parking. The rubber felt firm and fit nicely into his palm, just as if it was designed specifically for him. He smiled and hopped onto the bike. Glancing around once, checking for any signs of human life and not noticing any, he cycled off.

(C) bikocity.com
(C) bikocity.com

The exhiliration of the wind through his hair was a feeling he had missed and welcomed. His left hand let go of the handlebar and dug his pockets for his earphones and music player and he deftly put them on with a single hand, while controlling the bike with his right hand. With music in his ears, and his goal accomplished, he rode off into the night. There was no turning back now.

The Thrill

The Nightmare Has Begun

The monsters were closing in. Their hands could reach out and grab his ankles and he would be done for. Any second now. His lungs were already burning and he had no idea where he had been running in. He just wanted to live. Then he heard a monster behind him bellow loudly. Shortly after, he felt a huge weight hit him from behind.

Fred woke up startled in his bed. His hands were clutching the blanket tightly and his knuckles were white. His neck was drenched in a cold sweat. But he felt relieved that the nightmare had ended and that he was back in his own bed. He rolled in his bed towards the edge and groped around the floor for his phone and spectacles.

He examined his phone for the time. Eight in the morning. Splendid. He was early. He sat up in the bed. He realised now he had drooled a lot that night. His pillow were wet in many spots and it looked as if it had a polka dot pattern. Gingerly, he denuded the pillow and tossed the pillowcase into his laundry hamper. Then he got up and wandered to the toilet.

As he brushed his teeth, he looked at his reflection and tried not to acknowledge the fear in his eyes. University life was starting soon and everyone said it’s a whole different ball game. He was scared. Really scared. Who wouldn’t be? If you were in his shoes and had such high hopes to live up to, you would be scared out of your wits too. Fred gargled and spit. Then he realized the irony: his nightmare was just beginning.

The Nightmare Has Begun

Revenge is Six Inches and Best Served Fresh and Cold

Revenge is definitely sweet. Although in this particular story, I am not a victim, and my target is not the perpetrator.

My loyal readers would not be able to miss out the many posts I wrote during the chapter of my life where I worked as a Sandwich Artist at Subway. But if you are new (or ignorant) let me enlighten you, I’ve worked in Subway the fast food restaurant for two months. And two days ago was the first time I found myself on the opposite side of the counter.

I made the first mistake before I even knew I made it. I told the man my order before I chose my bread. How ironic. I’ve served so many customers who made the same mistake. By now I should have learnt not to make the same mistake now. Well, foolish me told my menu to the man anyway and then smiled confidently. Then he repeated the phrase that I have chanted like a mantra for two months: “Your Bread?” My smile faltered.
I wanted to tell him, “Can I have the biggest six inch there is?” but he looked very professional and how could I bring myself to stoop so low before him? Instead, I asked for a Parmesan six inch.

He confirmed my order once more and proceeded to dress the sandwich. At this point, I recognised a beeping noise in the background. I looked behind the man and my suspicions were confirmed, the speed oven toaster was the source of the noise. A bread has been put inside and the timer is up. The girl at salad bar was either deaf, or did not care. I grumbled to myself, thinking that I could definitely do a better job. If I have learnt anything from my two months working at subway, it’s that I have an invisible pair of arms. Behold, I’m Fred the human semi-octopus.

After several seconds of beeping, the man finally opened the oven door. But to my surprise, shock and distaste, he left the toasted bread inside and the door open. I would have taken the bread out and shut the oven door. The pre-heated air must not escape or else the oven would take a minute or so to reheat itself and in all fast food restaurants, time is of the essence.

After another period of time where time slowed and the seconds were palpably agonising (to me at least), the man alerted the girl beside him who nodded and took another couple of seconds to retrieve the toasted bread and shut the oven door. Poor poor oven.

I peered at the girl from the corner of my eyes and she did not seem cheerful. The man on the other hand seemed like he genuinely loved his job. I moved down the line and observed my own sandwich which, fortunately, did not go through the same process as the previous sandwich did.

Unfortunately, my sandwich now sat in the hands of a very grouchy girl. She held it as if it was dung that sat on the baking paper instead of my beloved sandwich. She looked down at it then up at me, and from her eyes, one could honestly believe that it really was dung that sat on the baking paper.
She did not open her mouth to chant the mantra “Vegetables?” so I took the initiative to tell her “All except jalapeños and pickles” instead.
She then began to stretch her claws to fetch the vegetables from their respective cambros. You could hear the lettuce screaming in terror as the witch ripped them away from their friends and family. I then requested for extra onions and olives, to which she did not acknowledge or nod to, but I did get my extra serving anyway. I would have liked a bit more courtesy with it though.
Then when it came to sauce, I did not get a vocal prompt, but instead she pointed her ‘dung-stare’ at me once more. She accompanied it with a casual wave of her hand.
I chose the Honey Mustard, Sweet Onion and Mayonnaise. She gave me a decent amount of each, par for the mayonnaise. It was a pathetic strip of white no longer than two inches in the middle of the six inch sandwich. It looked like the amount of toothpaste I squeeze on my toothbrush every morning. Disgruntled, I asked for more. AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE DID?
That whore witch gave me another dung look and then she AUDIBLY SIGHED or harumph-ed, to be more exact. Then she gave my sandwich another strip of white that was still less than decent. In retrospect, I should have been furious but at the time, I was amused. I have a pseudo-sadistic tendency where I derive pleasure from annoying people. That huff of agitation from her genuinely made my day.

But honestly, is it that difficult to love your job? In my opinion, customers with special requests colour my job with variety. What would my subway experience be without the customers with horrible atrocious pronunciation? Imagine how dull it would be if everyone requested the exact same order and spoke the same way. This story goes out to the difficult customers, because they are underappreciated, misunderstood and wrongly and unjustly despised.

Revenge is Six Inches and Best Served Fresh and Cold

Another Trip to the Station

They were walking back from school. I was walking to the train station again but just happened to be behind them. Naturally, I could not help myself and eavesdropped on their conversation.

“Who is your best friend?” asked the plump one.

Confused, the leaner one did not know how to answer. I scratched my chin. Apparently the kid can already smell a trick question from afar.

Then the plump one rephrased his bizzare question. “Oh I mean your best best friend.”
Not very helpful, is that? I thought.
“Your first best friend?” He tried again.
The lean one was still unsure how to reply so he hmmmed.
“Your first friend?”
Now even I am unsure of the question.

From the left, a pack of children were giggling and bellowing laughter. A green and tall fence separated us from them and the door could only be opened from the inside.

This caught the attention of the plump kid.
“Hey!” He clung onto the fence and yelled to whoever was inside. “Hey!”
“Jackie!” A boy shouted in reply
“Hey! Wow what’s that? I want!” He was referring to the smoothie that the other kid held in his hand.
“Strawberry! You pay me two dollars and I’ll let you in.”

Chuckling to myself, I walked on, while the plump kid remained clinging onto the fence while the lean one waited beside. Even at such a young age, these kids drive a hard bargain.

Another Trip to the Station

He Asked For Instructions

He asked for instructions and he got what he wanted, then he walked away from the couple dressed in jogging attire, where the man was carrying a water bladder. He thought they were very polite, which made sense because he had behaved rather politely too, or at least that was what he believed. He said “Thank You” twice and they smiled in reply at the first one, and voiced a jolly “No Problem” to the second. Then he hurried away.
As he hurried away, he came to a stop at the zebra crossing, where he heard the loud clangs of cymbals. The sounds connected within his mind with a vivid image that he saw yesterday of Seven Month Hungry Ghost Festival products on sale. He glanced around to find the source of the loud clangs but he noticed something else. The couple in the jogging attire were a couple feet behind him and were waiting to cross the same road too.
His brain began to whir the way it does when it is about to churn out a story and he began to overthink and overimagine.
If  the couple is right behind me, is it possible that they are heading towards the train station too? Why didn’t they offer to lead the way for me? Was I not friendly enough?
This man prided himself on his friendliness and his ability to amiably interact with anyone he wished.
The green man lighted up and the man’s feet continued to move. He wanted to look back so badly but he knew it would be rude or it will make the couple wary and he didn’t want that.
He walked a little further down the straight road, obeying the couple’s instructions when the train tracks came into sight, just as the couple has informed.
He breathed a sigh of relief. He thought the couple had played a cruel trick on him and led him the wrong way. That was probably why they did not want to lead him on a wrong trail. But now he was glad that was not the case.
As he walked further on and got closer and closer to the train tracks, he glimpsed behind him and realised the couple were still behind him!
Are they going to board the train too? Then they totally could have offered to lead the way. That would have saved me from a lot of worry.
Then he changed his train of thought.
Wait are they going to take a train to go somewhere to jog? Why couldn’t they do it here? He took a glance around to look for joggers. He saw none. But he kept his eyes on the lookout. Then a cyclist dressed in full gear passed him by. This neighbourhood seems like a percectly fine place to conduct exercise. Why don’t they do it here?
He was getting very near to the train station by now. But as his eyes followed the train tracks to the end of his vision, he realized he couldn’t see the station. He had an impulse in that moment to turn around and ask the couple which was the right direction. He turned, and the couple were still behind him. This is really odd. Now, he was right below the train tracks and he slowed his pace of walking to almost a crawl. Then he saw the train tracks disappear into a horizontal tube shaped roof. Aha! He picked up the pace again.
Then as he neared the station, an elderly lady with wrinkles adorning every inch of her skin stopped him.
She spoke in mandarin. “Is this Aljunied station?”
He replied in broken mandarin. “Ah. Aha. Yes. Aljunied station ah.”
She threw him a toothless grin and shambled off, swaying from foot to foot.
Right then he realized that he should have offered to walk or support her there. But then again, he didn’t have the fluency in mandarin to communicate that offer to her.
Ironically, right then, the couple was thinking that they just wanted to get into fresh shower to wash off all the grime from their morning jog and the young lad seemed bright enough to know his way around decently well.

He Asked For Instructions

I Never Understood Why Children Hate Vegetables

At my workplace, where we sell sandwiches with customizable ingredients, I get a lot of children and toddler customers who order sandwiches with absolutely no vegetables in them.

This brings to my mind the memories of various instances where I see children refusing to eat their broccolis, carrots, corns and peas.

But, ma, I hate vegetables!

Having been a child not too long ago myself, I can never understand why children hate vegetables, or at least why television commercial directors seem to have that stereotype in mind.

I absolutely loved my vegetables. My favorites were stir-fried french beans.

You will never find a need to do this to me.

On the other hand, I hated meat. I even once declared to my form teacher during class that I was a vegetarian. For some reason that I was too young to comprehend then, this sparked a huge (and totally uncalled for) show of concern for the ten-year-old me.

“Fred! You need to eat meat!”

“Fred! You’re too young to be a vegetarian!”

“Fred! Look at you! You’re so skinny! You really need meat!”

Too bad they did not ask “Fred! Do you really not eat meat at all?” because then, I would reply, “Actually I do. I just really really don’t like them that’s all.”

I Never Understood Why Children Hate Vegetables