I was running late. As I rushed towards the platform to catch my train, I heard someone call out my name. It was him, with a wide smile as he navigated through the salarymen crowd.
“I thought you went back east a couple of months ago.”
He had left to start his own business and to be closer to his parents.
“I did. I had some work in town this past week. I’m leaving tomorrow,” he answered, still smiling.
“Listen, I know you’re on your way home but would you have coffee with me? There’s another train in 40 minutes, right?”
Glancing at my watch, and judging by the numerous beeps from my mobile, I knew my friends were already at our meeting place. Yet, I wanted to stay. After five months, I think a cup of coffee with him won’t kill me.
Braving the drizzle, cold wind and throng of people, we crossed the street into a coffee shop.
“You look good,” I said, after a short, awkward silence. There’s only so much stirring of coffee I could manage without talking or looking at him.
“Thanks. You’re not bad yourself.”
He told me about his new company, the usual difficulties in doing business and his parents. I related the story about my parents’ visit and how they still hope I’d go back to KL instead of trying to make it in Tokyo. Updates about mutual friends, some laughs and our half hour was up.
“You took the charm off.”
I looked at my phone strap and remembered I had recently removed a boat-shaped charm he gave me a few years ago. I looked up again to see his face break into another smile.
“I wish I could take mine off that easily. ” In the middle of the platform, I was suddenly engulfed in a familiar warm hug. The meaning of his words was not lost on me, his lucky charm.
“I’m really glad to see you today. Be good, okay.” He was gone. Again.
– – –
The ending of the story came in a dream, specifically, the “you took the charm off” part.