One fine day, Saluna missed the last bus home. She was chasing after the accelerating train so frantically that she lost her breath.
It was late at night, and she’s just finished her project on campus, deciding that when she gets home, no more worries would cloud her mind. She just need to relax and cool down, probably go to a very deep sleep, and definitely no time to make out with her boyfriend, or anything like that.
She couldn’t wait to get home. The next train would come in an hour, and by then she’ll pass out. The next morning she had to wake up early for another class. Yes, this semester’s driving her crazy!
She went to the ground floor of the city hall. There was a food court that was still open that late. She hoped she could find someone to buy tickets for the bus. Even though the bus route to where she’s currently staying is quite complicated, she’d rather get home early than wait an hour for the train to come.
She asked an auntie behind the chinese food counter. “Are bus tickets purchasable here?”
The woman nodded. She looked at her with a hint of suspicion. “What are you up to so late?”
“I’m just back from school, finishing up my work,” she replied. “I need a ticket home for one, please.”
“You can just go ahead and type in your credit card number into the machine.”
It was right by the cashier. She currently had no money in the bank, just some cash. When she’s standing there so still, thinking what she should do next, the auntie moved from behind the counter and helped her work with the machine. She used her own credit card to purchase a bus ride. But alas, she pressed the wrong button (though she never realized that, and neither did Saluna), and before Saluna can make up her mind, she told the auntie: “Oh no, that won’t be necessary at all. I’ll just wait for another train. Thanks, auntie.”
“What do you mean you change your mind? You think I just paid US$1,000 for a change of mind? Here, I already bought the ticket. Now please return in cash.”
“What butt? Kids these days, Taking advantage of the elderly.”
“I didn’t mean that. I just thought, I was just panicking… I…”
“How are you going to pay me back, young lady?”
“Alright. Fine. I promise I’ll work shifts here for as long as I can, without any fee. I volunteer. How’s that, auntie?”
“Kids… Alright. Fine. You come here tomorrow morning at 6. Sharp.”
She called her boyfriend. “Hey babe, where are you?”
“Going back home.”
There was a girl’s voice chirping in the background.
“Oh, just someone. A friend.”
His voice seemed indifferent, totally unlike usual.
OK, whatever the case, she’s not thinking about that right now. She too tired to think. Maybe she should just drive back home by herself, even if it would be a really long ride.
Thank God the auntie gave her the car keys to use, just to make sure tomorrow morning when she comes in for work, she’ll return the car.
So she went to the basement. She was driving so dangerously; you should see her steering with her left hand, looking for some cash to pay for the parking ticket. And so it happened – she hit a huge tree on the left, and the car was mildly damaged.
Oh boy, she sighed.
When she reached back to the place, that place where she decided to stay for a while while her boyfriend’s in town, it was loud and messy. The place was a wreck. Thank God her designated room was tidier, though most of the households gathered in her room that night, just because that room she sleeps in is the largest of all.
All these people, whoever they are, are Sean’s friends. Friends from where, she don’t really know. “Just people I know,” he explained the last time she asked Sean.
Immediately after she dropped her backpack on the floor, the front door opened, and there was Sean. With some girl. Short, long-haired, and frankly, looked plain Jane.
If he was going to bring a girl she’s gotta be at least up to his ears, she fleeting thought immediately.
Well, that’s what he said. He said he’s in town for me. Now that sentence just sounds ironic.
Whatever. She’s too tired to complain, or say anything at all. She just caught his eyes for a moment, those stranger’s eyes she never saw before ever since she knew him. He dressed nice, took off his usual spectacles and used contact lenses, brushed his hair up with gel, and wore a clean-cut polo and some neat black pants to pair. The girl really looked like some random Jane on the street. Long black hair, Asian face, sleeveless pale blue dress, and short espadrilles.
And he was holding her hand.
OK, now that’s his friend. Definitely.
After they met eyes, without further ado she went back into her crowded room. She said she wanted to go to sleep, and thank goodness these people understand. That look in Sean’s eyes; something struck real bad into her heart, like it’s cut with the largest kitchen knife ever. But who cares?
She changed into her PJs, covered herself under the huge blanket, and planned the next day. Hawker center at 6, school at 8, and projects until 10.
Sean’s eyes. Damn it.
She stormed out of the room and went into his room. For some reason, they haven’t been sleeping together in weeks. Not even in the same room. Well, he said “I don’t want to disturb you, honey.” OK, that’s not cute anymore.
And the crowd turned out to be hanging around in his room. Saluna didn’t care about that.
“What the hell are you doing?!” she exclaimed to Sean, who was lying on the bed, stroking the girl’s hand, holding her shoulders, and listening to her tiny voice talking about God knows what.
“What’s your problem, Sal?” he replied nonchalantly. And the girl was staring at Saluna. In fact, every one in the room froze, all eyes on Saluna.
“What’s my problem? I can’t believe y—” before she even finished her sentence, his head went back to looking at the girl, listening to her whispering about God knows what. He was still stroking her hand, caressing her arms and head and ears and all over the place.
She look at him. She look at them. She can’t understand why.
She took one more look at Sean, who’s totally ignoring the awkward silence in the room.
Fine. If this is what they’re like right now, then she’d better leave. She won’t even shout at him, she won’t even look at him anymore, or poke him or tickle him or whatever the things they used to do to each other. She’ll just ignore him. As if he never exist.
She know that giving zero attention is the most hurtful feeling of all. Might as well spend her time and energy on other things than something that she can’t trust would work.
She went back into her room, and was so hurt and tired and confused that she fell asleep right away.
The next day, she was about to ditch her words when she said she promised she’s going to work at the hawker center with the auntie. She really thought of ditching that statement. The auntie was a stranger after all, she thought. She may not see her in the future ever again.
But then, something just tells her she needs to do this.
So she went. She became fast friends with Ilona, a girl who’s working there as a staff too. At first Ilona hated Saluna for what she has done – she disrespected an elderly! Was she ever schooled?
But then, they eventually talked about the situation, while Saluna spilled her boyfriend problem, and they talk and chat and laugh like twin girls.
It was when Ilona was giggling about the time when Saluna said one time she was texting on the street while walking when she hit a tree in her head that Sean suddenly texted.
“Hey, what are you up to, babe?”
As if nothing happened between them. Like a wind.
Well, there you go. Unresolved.
She doesn’t reply, she doesn’t want to care, she doesn’t give a shit about pressing the green button on the phone whenever he called, like, 20 times an hour.
A wrong deed is a wrong person indeed, she concluded.
A man who’s intentionally hurting your feelings is just like any other guy on the street who’s thinking of robbing your purse, then decided to rape you before cutting your chest with a knife.
Well, my readers, do you know why Sean’s acting that way all of a sudden?
He never feel safe. He never feel secure. He simply, simply want Saluna, for once, to be jealous. And he’s trying so hard to that that he risked their relationship.
Wrecked car, spent money, lost a boyfriend. Not a real waste of money after all. Saluna, in the end, took Ilona out for a bus ride around the city using that ticket, which was a double purchase. That auntie, who pressed the ‘2’ button, made it a US$1,000 bus ride around the city. But along the way, the two girls were giggling at each others’ stories while enjoying those fleeting views outside the glass windows.
She didn’t break any promises with strangers. She did made a really good friend.
And hawker center became the place where God can trust her.
Saluna and her stories: View all / Diary entries