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Premonition of Love

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Traffic Jam Romance - Part 1
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transition 809

    Suzette huffed and puffed as she breathed heavily and she could feel blood throbbing in her temple. Plus her olive skinned visage is now tinged with pink particularly around the cheek and forehead. Beads of sweat were just visible over there, making her look as if she had just been dipped in honey, and she was focusing on the calorimeter, clicking her tongue impatiently as she grumbled “Hmph… Still another kilometer to go,” She was so engrossed in staring at the gizmo that she could barely hear Amanda slow jogging beside of her calling for her name. She turned her head so fast she appeared to have cricked her neck and simply went “Huh?”. Amanda rolled her eyes and said “oh, for God’s sake… Were you even listening to what I was talking about?” and when Suzette shrugged she quickly blurted out “I said, what about your boyfriend, anyway? I haven’t seen him dropping around anymore. Are you guys having a row or what?” Her left eyebrow was raised, giving Suzette an inquiring look. It was quite an accomplishment, seeing how they’re trying to keep up pace with the jogging machine while keeping a conversation on. But then, at the mention of her boyfriend, Suzette momentarily lost her balance, and was deposited backwards, doing some kind of a back flip before she crashed into the wall behind them. Amanda laughed and she stopped her jogging machine. Suzette was heaved up and they laughed heartily together that the whole gymnasium stared at them. “Er, I don’t think that you think of continuing, don’t you?” asked Amanda. Suzette grinned sheepishly and they strolled out of the gymnasium together.

            On the way to the changing room Suzette said quietly, “we are often at loggerheads these days, if you should know. Actually I couldn’t think of any flaw but it seems that every time we see each other he would start to be grumpy, and he yells. I would understand if he’s having a feat with his job, but he keeps blaming me for being too pushy and childish like. I mean, it’s just not fair!”.

“What if Colin really is having feat with his job, Sue?” spoke Amanda, adopting Suzette’s nickname since childhood. “Maybe you could be more understanding, I suppose?” she added.

 “But I’m his girlfriend, and girlfriends do call their boyfriends, don’t they? As if he’s not the one who would call me during class intervals at high school, just to say hi, he said. And I was not a girlfriend, then. But now I can’t even reach his pager!” Suzette’s then raising her hand in resignation.

“Just give him some space and time. I’m sure he’ll come around.” Amanda replied, stepping into the blue and white tiled shower, carrying along her mini mauve towel and facial foam. Later there was a gurgling and spitting sound – she was washing her mouth. They were in the far corner of the changing room where the sunbeam is able to creep in through the minuscule window overhead. Suzette stopped in act of tying up her hair in ponytail, and looked into the mirror while saying “ Yeah, give him some more time and who knows he’ll end up marrying off a blond cutie whose work is distributing the French fries at the canteen where he works. What about me, then? Shall I just say ‘oh, don’t you worry about me, Colin. I’ll die a spinster.’? What a very happy ending, ha ha.” And then she laughed sarcastically.

“You know what? You’re overreacting. I’m sure he wouldn’t do that.” Amanda said, now standing against the washbasin next to Suzette’s, drying her mane of chestnut grey. As she caught Suzette mimicking her talking, she proceeded “He wouldn’t dare do that, would he? I mean, look how he sent you that bunch of kids wearing all white and purple to sing ‘This I Promise You’ on your last birthday? He promised indeed, right?”

“That was just because I said I’m into the boys band who sings it. But it was totally sweet, really. Which girl wouldn’t, anyway?” she shrugged.

“Come on now, don’t pull that long face. It’ll spoil our outing. Why don’t we go and hang out at the mall after this? It’s almost autumn season. There should be sales around.” Amanda suggested, and at the same time flashing a sly smile.

“You really read my mind, sis,” said a grinning Suzette.

            Then they hurriedly packed their belongings and seconds later, they were almost running gaily, past the stern-looking guard who was sitting reading a daily tabloid with a half-smoked cigar sticking out of the corner of his mouth, and outside the large white building towards their dark green sedan parked about 50 meters away under a large beech tree. The leaves are partly yellowing, a sign of oncoming fall in the part of Southampton, where the two young ladies live.

            On the way, Suzette had just remembered that she had forgotten her purse at home. So they had to go back for it at their apartment first. Suzette dashed into their apartment’s kitchen, grabbed her purse recently purchased at Next, and started to dash again outside. But then, as she passed the living room, she paused. Suzette, who always had a knack for knowing something which sometimes unpredictable by people around her, by the nag of her intuition, thought that someone would be calling them any moment. Sure enough, not even half a minute had passed since she stalked there at the hallway, the phone rang shrilly. Smiling, Suzette answered it.

            “Hi. Is Suzette there?” spoke the caller.

            “Hello Colin. Yeah, it’s me, dear. How’re things going on?” Suzette said happily.

            “Hey honey. Nothing, it’s just I’ve been missing you so I thought of ringing you up. I’m sorry I’ve been too busy. Are you alright?” said Colin slowly.

            “No, it’s okay if you’re busy. And I’m in the pink. Look, I know it’s quite rude, but I really need to go now because Amanda is waiting for me in the car downstairs. We’re technically having nothing in our stomach, so another minute in here and I’m sure Amanda’s going to have me as her brunch. Care to join us? We could have lasagna in the Italian restaurant nearby.” she said.

            “Oh, no but no thanks. I still have some paperwork to finish. Sorry, baby.” Colin apologized.

            “No, it’s alright. No harm done. Just keep in touch, will you?”

            She heard Colin laughed. “That’s for sure, my love. Well then. Have fun.”

            “Bye. See you around”

            “Bye, love.” And there was a sound of a kiss over Colin’s side and after that, they hung up.

            Suzette breathed out slowly, blowing away a stray strand of hair in front of her eyes. Even she herself didn’t know what made her lie to Colin about going out with Amanda, but nevertheless one thing for sure is the fact that she felt not even a tinge of guilt about it. On the other hand, she was relieved that Colin didn’t go with them, which was surprising considering that all this time she would do anything to be near him. And at that time, she thought she would feel more guilt towards Amanda because they were supposed to have fun together that day.

            When she slipped behind the wheel, as she had anticipated, the short-tempered Amanda had already pouting profusely in the passenger seat. Seeing Suzette, she blurted out “what took you so long? The purse is on the fridge, was it not?”

            Suzette explained the situation as she drove the sedan out of their apartment yard. Reaching uptown, Suzette suddenly jammed on the brake pedal right outside an Italian deli called ‘Buona Pasto’, and Amanda would’ve banged her head into the windscreen if not for the seatbelt. “Really, how could’ve the government people allow you a driving license?” shot Amanda, after she had recovered herself from the shock.

“I’m hungry. Let’s eat something, alright?” Suzette said impatiently.

Craning her neck so that she could see clearly beyond the tassels of grape vines twisting themselves around an archway of the restaurant’s entrance, Amanda saw cozy looking table sets for diners with red and white checkered tablecloth, and a sole fresh rose bud standing in a slender white marble vase in the middle. She was instantly reminded of the similar looking but much more exclusive bistro where the both of them had late night snack after a film preview at the Cannes Film Festival in France a couple of years beforehand. A waiter had accidentally spilled a glass of red wine onto Suzette’s off shoulder, blue sequined gown then. As the waiter apologized profusely, the chef came out from the kitchen to see what the disturbance was all about. Then, upon hearing Suzette’s name, he offered to prepare them the special cuisine of the bistro, namely ‘crepes suzette’ as an apology. Seeing the expecting look on his eyes, they accepted it modestly. As for the cuisine, it was simply superb.

Back in the car, after a few seconds, Amanda said “Let’s hit it then. We still have much time to shop. What brought you here, anyway? Don’t tell me that pasta beckons you again.”

At that Suzette giggled. “No, it’s just that I feel like having lasagna today.”

Stepping inside where there was not much customer, a young boy maybe a couple of years younger than they were greeted them with a warm smile at the reservation desk. He led them to a table for two near a pair of middle aged couple having their meal. Moments later, both of them were savoring the lasagna in silence, much to their appetite and joy. It was Amanda who broke the tension. “You lied, didn’t you?” she said.

Suzette nearly choked on her dish and she suddenly stammered “What? What did I lie about?” but at the cynical look on Amanda’s face, she said “oh, right. I told him we’d be coming here instead of going to the mall. But how did you know?”

“You know what? You’re so naïve that you can never tell a lie without your nostrils flaring like that.” said Amanda and she laughed.

“Well, I did lie to him, and usually I would feel bad about it, but today I felt no sense of guilt at all. And I can’t answer why because I myself don’t know.”

“Yeah, on usual condition I know you would tend to do the lie you told because then you would feel that you told no lie at all. So if that’s not the reason, why the flaring nostrils and the restaurant?” Amanda continued.

“About the flaring nostrils, that maybe because I really told a lie. And then the restaurant, Oh, Amanda I was really hungry. That’s all. You can’t be mad at me, can you?” Suzette teased.

“Why would I? Colin is not my boyfriend, obviously.” and they both sniggered in between mouthfuls of lasagna. That’s the special bond of friendship between them. Only God knows why they would always say or think of the same thing, but for both Amanda and Suzette, that’s what makes them so happy together. They had gone through both good and bad times together, sharing joy and tears, for they both had been great friends since their high school days. They often fought over stupid things, Suzette being the hard to coax one once she got hurt, but smiles broadly the instant Amanda utter an apology, while Amanda being the much more matured one, always having the right thing to say at the right time.

And then being a rather spoilt girl, Suzette always didn’t know how to act around boys so she would always suddenly fell silent whenever there are any of them around. But unfortunately, most people always mistook her silence as some kind of snobbishness and they thought she’s just full of pride. The truth is, she’s just so childish and vivacious but sometimes would act foolish and in effort to not to embarrass herself awfully, she would then prefer total devotion to her taciturn mode.

On the other hand, Amanda, there’s just one mystique quality about her that always bring other people to look up in awe at her. She’s full of wits, smart but not too cocky even though her vivid exquisiteness never failed to catch men breathless, and looked as if nothing could make her happier than acquiring a sleek, stylish sports car full with aero kits attached to it. What’s more, she loved Suzette so much she’s more like a little sister to her than a friend.

Then the chronicle started when there’s Colin, the college’s football captain, flirted with the arctic cold Suzette, and it became some sort like a huge gossip of fiasco when Suzette practically ignores him. It was sort of like the scene featured in the movie ‘John Tucker Must Die’ when John Tucker tried to date the heroin and the whole high school knew about it. What’s significant was the guy’s hard effort versus the girl’s iciness.

He appeared to have had memorized Suzette’s whole week’s class schedule, because she suddenly was always bumping into him, whether the corridor along the Chemistry labs, or the footpath to the greenhouses lined with roses bush, he would suddenly pop up from nowhere and while flashing his supposed-to-be-charming grin, tried to crack conversation with Suzette. Regrettably, each time Suzette would just say a weak hi, smiled a second, disappeared, and the next thing is the loud jeer from his gang who would be guffawing like mad. Alas, he’d just say coolly “There’s always a next time, ladies and gentlemen.”

So a next time it was, and this time there was no avoiding it. Colin had Suzette cornered during the Talent Night where he, elegantly tuxedoed with suede shoes, he stood in the pool of the spotlight with his much adored acoustic guitar, singing a song entitled ‘The Queen of my Heart’ which he claimed to have had composed it himself. He dedicated the song to Suzette, and at the exclamation of her name, suddenly the Great Hall’s light dimmed, and the other spotlight searched the crowd for few seconds before resting upon the already crimson face of Suzette, who was simply stunned at the whole situation. The song, with its lovely lyrics that went deep to the heart, conveying Colin’s love for her, went for like an eternity, at the end of which Suzette could barely control herself. Finished, face flushed, with his voice a little trembled, Colin dared himself asking Suzette to be his special girl. At that time, Suzette could almost feel every pair of eyes upon her. The tension. The silence was deafening it was as if everybody’s holding their breath. Annoyingly the voice in her head nagged her to refuse, reminding herself that that might be a stupid joke.

As if that wasn’t enough, Colin suddenly appeared in front of her, kneeled, holding (had they been adult then it would be a diamond ring in the colour Ben Affleck gave Jennifer Lopez’s, but considering they’re still students, I thought a bunch of white flowers would do,) a bouquet of roses, his sincere eyes searching hers. And a stunned Suzette, with a last look at Colin, and despite of the nagging voice, found herself beaming at him and nodding slightly. She even took the bouquet! Suzette regretted it the next minute because Colin had kissed her then, and the crowd broke into a huge applause, and a few seconds later he scooped her up, was about to take her out of the hall, and it would’ve been  true had it not been for the principal who had materialized out of nowhere in front of them. His words was; “I would like to remind all students that this is not a wedding party, so kindly take up your seats back because we still have another three performances to go before adjourning,” though as everybody else, he was also smiling at the look of the couple.   

 

That was then. That was a full half a decade ago. Now that they’re already fully grown ups, things seems to be slanting sideways, if not thoroughly turning the wrong way between them for Suzette, especially recently. And now sitting in the restaurant with her best of friend, Suzette couldn’t help herself from thinking that there might be another woman in Colin’s heart. Not to be skeptical, but sometimes her womanly intuition got the better of her. It’s a normal thing, being women. Plus the fact that Colin’s of the hardly irresistible kind one. Suzette must’ve been looking so immersed in her thoughts because when she gained composure of herself, she noticed Amanda snapping her fingers at her eye level.

“Back to Earth now… Sue dear…” Suzette heard Amanda said.

“I wasn’t daydreaming, mind you. It’s just I was thinking about me and Colin. Anyway, just forget it. Are you finished?”

“I have, for crying out loud. Shake it off for a while, will you?”

“Yeah, I will. Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s hit the mall!” Suzette said excitedly.

It was barely five minutes before they were on the road again. Another five minutes and then they arrived at the parking lot at the third floor of the west wing of the titanic building. The both of them were almost galloping while chatting animatedly. As they were entering the huge mall, they joined the lot of people hanging around the shops. Amanda could just make out the outline of the large marble statue of a winged unicorn fountain in the distance with water sprouting from it, barely visible amongst the sea of people’s heads. They sauntered around, walking in and out of fancy boutiques, admiring cool and stylish bags at L K Bennett, dropping their jaws at the price of one plush plum coloured dress with a plunging V-neckline on display at Versace, obviously going to show a vast amount of cleavage, that one was, then trying new Tommy Hilfiger fragrances, and making way through a line of women of all age getting free samples of new release of lipsticks at Clinique. Finally, they rested their feet while enjoying refreshing scoops of minted chocolate ice creams with mousse toppings and few pieces of chocolate crisps from Haagen Daaz.

And then the disaster happened. They shouldn’t have gone there, Suzette thought bitterly. It could’ve been anybody but why, why did it have to be someone associated with her? Why him? Of all people, why Colin? All of those questions were straining to burst out from her very head she thought she could black out right there and then for migraine. As for Amanda, she could barely believe their eyes, for in front of their eyes, there stood Colin, practically French kissing a girl garbed in a laughable tie-dyed dress with jet black hair that was braided diagonally across the back of her head. They appeared to be really busy kissing because even Colin wasn’t aware of the pair of girls watching them. They were standing (the girl rather clinging to him,) in front of a display outside Calvin Klein’s. Amanda and Suzette stopped in their tracks, the former stared in horror, with her eyes bulged protuberantly as if on the verge of falling out of its socket while the latter seemed to have been paralyzed on the spot. Several seconds went unnoticed by them amongst the blur of people rushing past them.

            Suzette took a tentative step forward, willing herself not to break the dam of tears that was silently building in her eyes, making her vision fuzzy and a little blurred. Colin, I’m standing solidly here, she thought. But how dare you kiss her in here, in front of this mob of people? And with a courage she conjured out of nowhere, she suddenly broke into a brisk pace, closing the few yards distance between she and Amanda and the couple. It happened like a fast forwarded movie, Suzette got there, unglued the pair by swiveling Colin so that he was facing her, and before he could utter a word, a slap made contact with his cheek, resounding loudly, making a few bystanders turned to watch. Not enough with that, she gave him a good audible kick in the shin, making him jumped about a feet into the air, and without another word Suzette stalked away. He made a grab for her hand, but she wriggled free. Suzette didn’t glance back, walked on with her eyes now brimming with tears, and was nearly running when she passed Amanda who stalled for a second, and then followed suit.

            Suzette was ashen faced. Amanda, on the other hand, kept throwing anxious glances towards her, seeing her unusually quiet. Her eyes darted furiously to and fro the dashboard and Suzette’s face, taking in the speedometer. With her ghostly eyes staring transfixed to the road, Suzette seemed lost in her world. Amanda was worried that she might lose her mind for a while and their safety would be at stake. The drive seemed to go on forever. And the silence was killing Amanda but she didn’t dare make a sound. God knows how relieved she was when the orange building of their apartment finally loomed in the neighbourhood. Reaching their floor, Suzette made her way to her room, refusing meals and visitors.

            Now a few days had passed…

Alone in privacy, Suzette thought, she didn’t care if the whole mall was watching the incident. She didn’t even worry about the fact that she had just dumped her long-time boyfriend. What mattered to her at that moment was that finally the truth had dawned to her, even if it cost her that much agony of losing him. It’s true, they had shared a vow of undying love before, and that vow now proved to be just for fools. She had totally made a fool of herself, and if it wasn’t for her best mate Amanda, she would’ve been a shell of a broken girl now. Truth is, Colin had never loved her that much. He didn’t even made any effort to get back at her, far from apologizing, after the mall incident. Not that she hoped for it, but that seemed to gnash the wound open wider as it is.

But then, despite all that, deep in her heart, Suzette knew, there’s no need to regret over it. What’s done is done. And now it’s up to her to steer her life by herself, and she promised herself to listen to her intuition as it had proved to her how wrong she had been when she ignored it on that Talent Night, when she insisted on accepting Colin. One thing and that’s for sure; she felt she had outgrown herself that few days. She’s not a little girl anymore who could be charmed by just colourful lollipops, but it takes more than that, for she felt that she’s gone through that phase and now already a big girl, she’s going to live her life to the fullest.

 

Previous short story:
Traffic Jam Romance - Part 1
Next short story:
transition 809
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Leona

Namaku sebenar jika diterjemah dari Bahasa Arab bermaksud Si Pemanggil.Atau mungkin juga Si Pemanipulasi. Sebab aku mampu buat orang sekelilingku fikir bahawa aku hanyalah si naif dan bodoh....mungkin ada benarnya aku hanyalah si naif dan bodoh. -Leona-_________________________________________________________________They call me The Caller.  I adopt daydreaming as a full-time job, wear Chuck Taylors on a daily basis, want a BMX, and have this strange affection towards calculators.Oh, and I actually come from Mars.-Leona-
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