And then she threw out the apology gift I gave her just ten minutes ago. Right out the window of the 8th floor. The teddy survived, but not all the chocolates stuffed inside.
I can’t exactly rush up to the girl’s apartment so I waited for her to come out her balcony. I waited, and waited. People pass by, some watched, some laughed. All that would be a normal sight, if it was not 2am in the morning. So I took deep breaths and let passersby be passersby.
“Aquila!” I only had the face to shout once, but the hope inside was as if I shouted a thousand times right in her ears.
I kept on waiting with the flesh at the back of my neck contracting, my face towards the sky for I’m not quite sure how long. Then I fell asleep.
“Aree, wake up dude. Wake up. I can’t cover for you anymore. Lecturer’s looking.” A mildly frantic voice surprised my slumber.
“You better keep that story away, man. Professor Pang ain’t gonna be very pleased. Finish it later!” He added.
I was immediately but strangely alert, quickly hid the story draft and took out my pretend notes. Thankfully I brought the right one. Yes. Contracts Notes, and I even got all the dates written on top. I await Professor Pang with calm and confidence.
“Very impressive Mr. Fauzee. But you’re getting sloppy. I stopped giving contract classes for half a year now.”
Well, it’s a good thing I live by the rule that you can’t win em all. There was nothing I can do but apologize. I did. An unconvincing one at best, but I nevertheless did. She had better things to do than telling me that I’m unworthy to study law, so she gave me the you’re-unworthy-to-be-here look and walked away.
And so the day went on as normal as it could be. It was spectacularly dull. Nobody got punched in the face; nobody spilled curry on their perfect whiter than white shirt, nobody tripped and fell hurting their faces while rushing to class. Not that anything like that has ever happened here, but you can’t blame a guy for having imaginations.
“You should really kill your habit of sleeping by the side of the road” A sweet voice caressed my eardrums.
“How long was I asleep?” A reply followed by a brief yawn.
I didn’t really hear what she said afterwards. All the facts present in my head was that I gave her a pink teddy bear stuffed with all the chocolates she like, we hung out at the cafe and afterwards I said something really hurtful that made her rush up back to the 8th floor and throw away the gift. I know and conscious only of those facts.
She finally stopped talking.
I don’t know what’s appropriate here. Is this a trap? What is she doing here anyway? No way had she come down from the eighth floor just to remind me not to sleep on pavements.
With a striking uncertainty about everything, “What made you come down?” I asked.
“I… I… I’m sorry.” It was not of her character to stutter.
Out of the silence, my right shoulder was tapped “Aree! Come on! Class started six minutes ago!”
I wonder how somebody so meticulous, so detailed, would be late for class. It’s like knitting from scratch and then burn the knitted hat. Well, that’s Haikal for you. I’d probably be drifting away with my writing if it wasn’t for him. Not that it’s going to be the first time should it happen just now. It’s strange nobody else is running. Probably all of them are comfortably resting their butts in the lecture hall, not being screamed at for being late. The thought of that just made us run faster.
Finishing line, the door. It was oddly soundless. I slowly pushed the heavy wooden door, expecting glares and stares. What greeted us was far from it, it was a sarcastic laugh.
“Congratulations, we’re one of the few people who weren’t informed about the class cancellation. Eighty-two batch mates and the four least-informed ones are here in this lecture hall right now. As you all know, nobody tells me anything. What’s your excuse? Got too caught up with your stories again, Aree?”
It was Hilmi. As he was mocking us and himself, he walked down quite quickly from the top row of the lecture hall seats with piles of files on his hands. The rows and rows of seats number in the hundreds, each row was elevated behind the other. I guess Hilmi was too used to sit at the back row, he didn’t even hesitate taking his steps with those files.
“I was just pranked. Should have seen this coming. See these files? None of it is mine. And something smells like rotten garlic rubbed with feet and eggs! Hope my birthday next year falls on a weekend!”
Well this is a dumb moment. One of those files is mine. I forgot today was his birthday. Everyone gets pranked on their birthday here. The plan this year was to get Hilmi bring all the files stuffed with nasty surprises to an empty lecture hall. The feet smell was mine, I stuffed my file with old futsal soles.
“Happy birthday dude! Come, I’ll buy you lunch. Aree, care to join us?” Haikal said out loud, enough for a lecture hall full of people to hear, if it was actually filled.
After they both left, I just sat down with compliments from the weight of my stupidity. I didn’t get much sleep and I wasn’t that hungry so I was left alone to drift away with my writing..
“I love you.” and I didn’t believe her, I just couldn’t say it.
“I love you too, I’m tired. Let’s not fight tonight please?”
What else was I supposed to say? Let’s fight some more, I’m not done here yet? Perhaps that wouldn’t be the best question I could come up with. I have no idea why I’m still here; I don’t even live in this college!
“Can you just go back now, please?” I could feel by that tone of voice she was too sleepy even to stand there in front of me.
“You do realise we need to talk, right?” I hate to sound commanding, especially towards her.
She rubbed her eyes and fiddled the ends of her hair “Okay, but not now. Go back. You’ve been here for two hours. Lunch later?”
This kind of leniency does not come from her that often. Usually fights like this will continue with deafening screams and scary hand gestures. It ends with severe silent treatment, usually. I saw the victory she was handing me; I wasn’t going to let my swollen but tired ego give that up.
“You should really start paying attention to people more than your pen and paper, Aree.” A deep but familiar voice came out of nowhere. It wasn’t a male’s voice. So it must be a ghost. I always knew this hall was haunted!
“Hilmi said four people were in this room. You, Haikal, Hilmi…”
Now I’m really scared.
“Boo!” Soundwaves transformed into a physical being, it was Aquila from behind, scaring the life out of me.
“Aquila! you do not scare me like that!” Again, i hate to sound commanding but I almost peed in my pants, I think I’m allowed. She stood down immediately.
“Hmm.. Sorry I scared you. I forgot about your lovable over-imaginations. Still up for lunch later sayang?” She hugged me from behind, took her bag and hung it over her shoulders, smiled and walked towards the door.
She stopped halfway and looked directly in my eyes. I could not concentrate on my paper, only she has that effect on me.
“Yeah, I’ll meet you at the café in a few minutes alright, I need to finish up here..” i answered.
So I took out my trusted pen..
“And then after all that I only remember waking up at my supposed contracts class and shuffling my pretend notes…”