Category Archives: Fiction

I’m all at sea

I have to tell you something.

What is it?

I think I would miss you when you leave.

Thanks for that.  

No worries, kid.  I know now that I can tell you anything and you’ll be okay with it.  I just wished you’d do the same.

I do.  It’s just that I’m not really good at articulating my thoughts.  It is only when we meet that I can really say what I want to.

Roger that.  I guess I’ll see you when I see you then.

Yeah, but can we just stay like this for a while longer?

It’s nice, huh.

It is.  

Take care of yourself, kid.

You too.  Keep them letters coming.

Hah. Not if you don’t write back.

You write better.

Liar.  But thanks anyway.

I’m the soldier, I have soldier-y stuff to do.

Hah.  I know what you do over there.

So does my boss.  Heh.

Some people live their dreams

My mug of coffee felt heavy in my hand, its content warm to the touch.  She was holding her own mug, watching other people, taking a sip every so often.

“You look good,” I commented, and finally made her look at me.  She smiled then, her face losing some of its tension lines.

“Well, you don’t look too shabby yourself,” her voice sounded tired, but the smile was still there.

Trading stories, we were able to catch up on what is happening in our lives.  The real stuff, not the ones found on SNS.

“Are you still not on muka buku?”  I shook my head in the negative.  She smiled again, followed by a chuckle.  “I guess you never will be on it.”

“I guess so.  Too much information, all the time.  That’s worse than working in a newsroom.”

Another chuckle.  “I do not miss that much.”

– – –

“So.  Are you guys friends with benefits?”  Blunt as usual and I detected a note of curiousity and slight admiration in her voice.

“You know how I am.  I don’t sleep around.”  Despite our very different lifestyles and outlook on life, we get along really well and she respects my social boundaries as I do hers.

“I do know you.  That’s why I’m asking.  Because you sound like you’re really into this guy, enough to throw caution to the wind.”

“I do like him.  A lot.  And that scares me.”

Her eyes widened further as she takes another sip of her coffee.  “Why are you scared?”

“I’m scared that this might actually work out.”  There, I finally said it out loud.

She smiled at that.  “Gosh.  You’re really something.  Gone sailing all over, travelled alone, interviewed bigwigs, yet so chicken!”

“I know, right.”

She turned serious suddenly, her hand snaked out to reach mine across the table.  “You deserve to be happy.  And I hope things work out with him.  Because I think you’ll need a long time to recover if it doesn’t.”

Ain’t that the truth, now.

Oh tear ducts and rust

I saw him walking towards me, a smile on his face.  He put his bag down as I rose and gave me a hug.

“Your belly is showing again,” I teased half laughingly.

“Yeah, I haven’t been to the gym in ages.  You’re looking good, though.”

I told him of what happened at camp, the people I met, the sailing trip.  He perked up when I mentioned the ‘interesting’ encounter during lunch that one time and what went on after I came back.

“So how did the date go?”

“Hey, we KL-ites don’t date, we hang out, remember?” He ignored my attempt at making light of the subject and persisted with his questions.  Typical hack.  But then, I was in a chatty mood so I told him my story.

– – –

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out with that guy, N.  You’re a great person and he’s an ass.”

“I shouldn’t have met him in the first place.  I knew his status and yet I still went out with him.  And I felt bad afterwards because I actually enjoyed myself.”

“Hey, don’t beat yourself up about that.  You knew the stakes going in.”

“But still, I could’ve said no.”

“Well, he came clean and told you about his situation.  And you like him.”

“I can’t say that I don’t.  He’s really interesting and I enjoy our conversations, especially about sailing.  And you know I can’t really talk to many people about that.”

“I know.  And you’re not exactly the friendly type who chats up people easily.  But couldn’t you just ignore that one fact?” I knew he was just curious and not making a joke.

“You know I can’t.  Not just because of my family history, but the principle of it.”

“I guessed as much.  You wouldn’t be who you are if you had said otherwise,” he said softly, taking a drag of his post-dinner cigarette.

I let out a sigh, tired of thinking too much about things I do not have control over.

“I make it really hard on myself, don’t I?  Life is short and I’m saying no to a guy I really want to know better because of a technicality, and let’s not forget career choices.”

“I do wish you’re not as rigid, and live vicariously.  But you are who you are, N.”

“Nice word.  I don’t think it suits me, though.”

“Hah.  Says the woman who quit her job to travel the world.”  Laughter all around.

Not broken just bent

The bridge was fairly quiet, except for the lookouts from both port and starboard reporting contacts at regular intervals.  I’ve been on duty for almost an hour, alternating between fixing and checking the radar, of which I much prefer the latter.  Charts are really not my thing, especially when there is calculation involved.  I’d rather scrub the deck floor.  Really.  But it’s 0100H and scrubbing might be hard to do in the dark.

“Midshipman, pandai buat kopi tak?” the OOW asked.

Boleh, Tuan,” I answered, relieved it wasn’t a request for a song or teh tarik.  Receiving my orders, I head down to the galley.  After two days on board, I was able to find my way to most places without getting lost.  Found all the stuff I needed to make the said beverage for the officers at the bridge and even scored paper cups after exploring around a bit more.

I managed to get back to the bridge without spilling any coffee on the floor, as the sea was calm at Sea State 1, unlike when we first came on board.

“Pour yourself a cup and follow me,” CORRO said and headed out to the port side.  I did as I was told, glad to have some fresh air.

CORRO was one of the first officers who showed me the ropes on what to do at the bridge.  He was helpful and I sensed that he wanted me to learn and experience everything I could during my short stay on board the ship.  In fact, most officers were like that and I really appreciate the fact that this is a training ship where I could ask any question at any given time.  Plus, it’s easier when you’re still under training and not a commissioned officer.

Sedap kopi awak buat,” he said after a while.  I mumbled my thanks, then continued to stare out at the dark vista.  It felt nice out here, and there was no need for talk, just the sound of waves and the ship breaking the silence.

“You’re alright, for a reservist.  But I still can’t believe you’re not in your 20’s.”   I was flattered by the compliment but had to laugh at the hint of disbelief in his voice at the end.  He’s only 25, sungguh muda belia.

“It’s the haircut,” I assured him, smiling into my cup.

Amboi, seronok dating ya Dah, masuk balik.  Nak belajar steer wheel tak?”  Aah OOW.  Your timing is impeccable.

また会う日たのしみに

You know what?

What?

I like being me.  

You just realised that?

Not really, it’s just that despite knowing that I’m not entirely the same person I was 10 or 20 years ago, I’m still ok being myself.  At my own pace, doing things I want to do, things I like to do, be with whom I want to be with.

Good for you.

I’m so blessed, I know that.  Although there are times when I wish for more.

That’s called being human.

I know you worry about me.  You shouldn’t be.  There are other things you should think about.

Yeah.  It’s a habit, I guess.

I’m grateful, but I’ve made peace with my feelings.  With you.  

I know you have and I’m glad you’re okay with everything.

あなたとは結局友達だね。

そうだね。でも君は大切だよ。

私にとっても、あなたは大事な人。だからこうやって一緒に頑張れる。

I’m glad we could do this.

Right now, I think I’d prefer having a quiet love that comes from friendship and nerdy interaction.

Nerdy interaction?!

Heh. 

You’re always one for stimulating conversations, anyway.

I guess I haven’t changed that much, huh.

Not so much, no.  But that nerd should be smart enough not to let go of you.

Like you did?

Ouch.

If I find him, I’ll be sure to tell him that.  Or maybe you could do it for me?

Sorry, kid.  You’re on your own there.

Bah. I knew I shouldn’t count on you.