I know that I’ve promised a lot of things and haven’t seen them through. I used to work from home in a small town in Colombia. A very beautiful city, very laid back and relaxing, but the company decided that every staff should work from a central office, so I had to move to the capital and alone, because my kids stayed behind. So I travel back and forwards every weekend. Not to mention that as the Asian person at work, I’m seen as the computer geek, so besides my actual job, I have to do the tech support stuff. Needless to say, I get home very bushed and tired.
I try to steal time during lunch break to update Putri and Smaradahana. Well, with a help from my friend who sits on his chair, takes his eyes off the novel he was reading, points his finger at me and says, “Write your chapter!”. But it has been slow with all the distractions. I bounced this idea off him, all he said was, “Interesting….”. Sigh! ~_~
In a sentimental mood, I write this story, experimenting with a short fiction in a first person POV as I brew up the next action-packed chapter of Putri.
This one-shot story I dedicate to you the one who inspires me and fills my days with smiles and swoons. I don’t expect anything more than a hope that you hear this voice of my <3.
Voice of my heart
I grab on the overhead bar as the trans city bus slows down telling me that it is approaching the station near my office building. I stand on my tiptoes trying to catch a glimpse of the rectangular metal structure that seems cold and uninviting. A familiar view, reminding me that my work day is about to begin.
I glanced around the bus, even though it wasn’t full and there is an empty seat available, but lately I prefer to stand by the window on the folding door of the middle car. Turning towards it, I looked out of the thick tempered glass, my heart beating restlessly as my eyes try to catch sight of the figure that has filled my mind these past few weeks.
There he is, his silhouette outlined in the distance. His head bowed down looking at the square piece of equipment he held in his hand. His suit covered body gave a sense of security and confidence. The light from the phone shone on his face, although it was dispersed by the daylight that surrounded the earth preventing me from seeing him clearly from where I stand in the bus. He seemed to be concentrated on whatever it is that occupied the screen.
As the bus parked in front of the sliding door of the station, I can see him lifting his head and looking straight forward. He always stood there, every day. From the day he caught my eyes, whenever the bus comes to this stop I see him standing at the same spot. I don’t know if it is just a wishful thinking on my part, but it seems that when I arrive, he glances at me, I feel that every day our sights meet across the crowd. As always, we pass by each other silently as I get off and he gets on the bus. My heart thumps at the light brush of our clothes, the subtle scent of his cologne that the air wisps to my nose and the soft cough he let out as he cleared his throat.
Just a fleeting moment, a few seconds in time. Those few seconds I look forward to every day, but enough to fill my day with cheerfulness and hope for the next magical moment to happen.
* * *
Today as always I put on a lot of efforts to look my best. In the mirror, I see the familiar reflection looking back at me. My hair perfectly straight ironed, falling loosely down to my waist. My nude makeup translucently covered my face, giving me a professional look, ready to take on the challenges at work. I smiled in satisfaction at the way I looked in my dress suit, turning my body sideways and tucking in my tummy. “I have to lose those extra five pounds,” I tell myself.
I turn around and walked to the bed. I had my black platform high heels ready, I sat down then put them on. As I stood up I smoothed my skirt down. For the final touch, I walked to my dressing table, picked up my bottle of favorite designer perfume and spritzed it behind my ears and on my wrists. Feeling good about myself I nodded and walked out the bedroom door.
As always, no one to say good morning or goodbye to as I leave the apartment. The friends who sub-rent me the room are still in theirs, the door tightly closed as if warning me to not disturb. I take a deep breath as I opened the door and closed it behind me. Another day, another lonely day, by my own in this big city filled with millions of uncaring strangers.
As I walked down the sidewalk to the bus stop, I look forward to the only light of my days. I stop the bus that takes me the nearest trans city station from my house. Jumping on it, I merrily sit on an empty seat. It only takes ten minutes to get to the station. A blink of an eye.
Naturally I get off and hurried into the station, I pass my card in front of the scanner. The screen showed me how much have been deducted and how much balance I have left. Enough for another two trips.
In front of the sliding door, I wait restlessly for my bus to arrive. And it seems I wasn’t the only one. A legion of other passengers stand around me, faces looking with a fixture at each bus that drive up and pull up in front of the door. Looking forward to the arrival of their respective rides. A ritualistic activity in this big city as the population pour on the streets to head to their place of work or of study.
After some time of peeping at my wrist watch and looking on to the traffic, finally my bus showed up, driving in from my right-hand side. I get ready to step in with anxiety. I feel a push from behind. I glanced to see what was going on, apparently a young couple were joking playfully with each other and had forgotten that they were at a bus station. I stared at them with furor, they seem to realize their actions. Without even an attempt to apologize they looked away and pretended as if nothing had happened.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath calming my nerves. I shouldn’t lose my temper, especially that in a few minutes I’ll get to see him. Anger will reflect on my face and make me less agreeable in his eyes.
Finally the bus stopped and the door opened. I stepped in and took my place by the door. Thirty minutes. That’s how long I have to wait, give or take to reach the station near my office, and see the face that I long for every day.
The bus began to move and it picked up pace. Making a mental count I keep track of the number of stations it passed. Three stops to mine. As I see it in the distance, my heart beat began to accelerate. I anxiously looked for him. To my disappointment, he wasn’t there.
My heart sank into a dark abyss when upon arriving at the bus stop, I looked from left to right and he was nowhere to be seen. Holding back my tears, I listlessly stepped out and walked to the exit of the station, still guarding a little hope in my heart I looked around once more to see if maybe I missed him. He wasn’t there.
There is nothing worse than a torment building up in your own soul. That day felt so dark and torturous that I found it very difficult to focus on the work at hand. To be perfectly honest with myself, all I want is to roll up in bed and cry. But life goes on, the world keeps spinning and time keeps moving. I had to make the best out of this empty feeling that was grasping my heart. Pulling myself together, I strived to do my best at work, hoping that the hole in my heart doesn’t finally pull me in.
I swallowed my food during lunch, the jokes, laughter and stories by my friends couldn’t cheer me up. In fact to my ears, their voices were nothing more than mumbles in the background. I couldn’t really hear what they were saying, and even if I did, I couldn’t understand anything. My head was spinning, cold sweat dripped down my temple and my hands shook.
“You don’t look too good, you’re pale and you’re shaking,” I can barely hear my supervisor as she touched my forehead, “You don’t seem to have a fever. What’s wrong?”
I shook my head, “I’m alright. Thanks for your concern,” I tried to force a smile.
“You know, if you don’t feel well, you can go home. Maybe some rest will help you feel better,” Maria offered again.
I shook my head, “That won’t be necessary, really! I’m fine.” The last thing I need at the moment is to be at home alone with my sadness.
And just like that the day ended. There was nothing extra ordinary, everything was just the same as any other day. Only I was feeling different. Sad, melancholy, and heartbroken.
* * *
When I woke up, I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. But the ringing alarm clock kept reminding me that I had to go to work. If it wasn’t me, who else will bring home the bread and butter for me if not my own reliable self.
I shook my head as I sat up, whipping my eyes with my fingers I stood up. This two by four bedroom that I rented was a far cry from the big house that I pay for and am not able to live in. But this is my reality, my life, my daily routine. As always it takes five minutes for the shower to heat up to a tolerable temperature, it only last three minutes before it becomes cold again. I muffled wondering why nobody did anything about it. I shivered stepping out of the shower quickly reaching for the towel to cover my body from the chilly air.
I squatted on the floor with my back against the door, trying to recuperate my body heat. When I finally managed to adapt to the cold, I stood up and dried my body.I didn’t feel like dressing up pretty and fancy today. But no, the more unhappy and depressed I feel the more reason I have to even out the situation by putting on a layer of false dignity.
And like clockwork, I get ready, walk out of the lonely apartment and onto the streets to take the bus that brings me to the station. This time I was without spirit. Even when an older woman accidently knocked the side of my head with her elbow as she reached up for God knows why. I just smiled without getting into my usual fit.
The bus arrived, I stepped in, I had to stand by the door as usual, today not by choice, but because for some strange reason it was a lot fuller than usual. I sighed when the buxom young lady standing behind me pressed against my body causing me to be squished to the door. I wanted to push back, but resigned in despair, “What for?” I asked myself.
What a long and uncomfortable ride it was, my head kept bumping against the window, it turns out that tempered glass was just as hard as they say it was. I exhaled in relief when I saw the metal wall of the station. “There is a God!” I said to myself, my torture will soon be over.
I knew well that I had to make space between me and the door to allow the door to open. I placed the palm of my hand against the metal I heaved back, the young lady behind me complained, “Can’t help it, the door has to open!” I sassed.
Finally a flow of fresh air rushed in and I quickly jumped out of the bus. I looked back in surprise as I felt a hand grip my upper arm, it was him! He looked as handsome as always, only his face was a little flushed. He shoved a piece paper into my hand, I clutched it tightly as I watched him enter the bus, “Text me!” I heard him say as the door closed in front of him.
I quickly looked at the paper in my hand. There written in hasty hand writing were ten digits. A phone number. I looked up but the bus had left with him in it. But my heart jumped in excitement and happiness as I clasped tightly the piece of paper and smiled.
And as I walked out of the station, I felt the sun on my skin, warm and invigorating. I took a lively step towards the office building. A big smile on my face and a heart full of hope. “What a beautiful day!” I exclaimed.
* * *
“Hi there, you gave me your telephone number at the station,” I wrote gingerly on my phone before I hit the send button.
My heart couldn’t help but beat in anticipation as I wait for a reply. Then I heard the familiar tune, “Hi, thanks for texting me,” He wrote back, “What’s your name?”
I typed my name on the screen and sent the message to him, “And what’s yours?” I replied. Inadvertently I smiled widely as I read his name on the response.
“I really want to get to know you, I see you every morning at the bus station, but I didn’t know how to start a conversation,” I read.
“I notice you standing there every morning too,” I responded.
“Excuse my forwardness, but can we meet later today after work for a cup of coffee or some beer?” I almost fainted reading those words.
I considered what to write back, should I accept his invitation? Isn’t it too soon? But it’s now or never, “I’d like that.”
“Will six thirty work for you?”
And that day I couldn’t wait for the clock to point to six, the time my work day ends. Unlike the other days, I retouched my make-up and sprayed on my perfume.
“What are you up to?” Daisy, my friend asked.
“Nothing!” I replied, “Can’t a girl make herself look presentable before going home?”
“I’m not convinced!” She slanted her eyes and looked at me suspiciously.
I laughed as I brush her off, “You are over thinking it.”
“Do behave yourself! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” She cried out as I walked out of the office.
The place that he set for our rendezvous was seven blocks away from my office. But I decided to walk, so it would help me curb my anxiety. After a good fifteen minutes’ walk I arrived at the place. I entered the pub and the waiter took me to a table.
“Do you want to order?” He asked as he handed me the menu.
“I’m waiting for a friend,” I answered.
“Ah…right….” He looked at me knowingly.
A sense of discomfort overcame me, I felt judged by him. But I don’t know him and I don’t really care what he thinks of me.
My phone vibrated as a message came in, “Sorry, I’m running late” I read.
I sighed, “That’s okay. I’ll wait for you,”
To me this was a bad sign. Maybe it’s better to leave him as an illusion, a dream, something that I yearn but will not have, at the end of the day I am a woman with some level of pride, and my mother always told me not to wait around for a man and show a bit of self-respect
I stood up ready to leave the pub when another message came in, I sat back down as I read the words. He was unbelievable chatty, texts after texts entered my phone, intriguing me, unknowingly convincing me to stay.
I heard a rustle to my left side as the waiter who was looking at me with an evil eye stood up to welcome the customer who had just stepped in.
“It’s him,” My heart thumped.
“Hi, sorry to keep you waiting,” He started as he sat on the chair beside me.
“Don’t worry about it,” I replied.
“Shall we order?” He opened the menu.
As we sat there talking, the voice of my heart told me that tonight would be one of the best nights of my life.