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MH370

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Author's Note: Purely a work of fiction. Thoughts and prayers for the flight MH370 tragedy.


7 Mar 2014, 7.45 PM

She clutched her phone so tightly as Naina hugged her goodbye. It was about seven forty-five p.m., and her flight isn’t leaving until twelve forty a.m. Even then, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport is rather packed with a vast mixture of fresh as well as exhausted faces. International flights are twenty-four hours in the run, and she remembered once waiting at the arrival hall, sitting on her own baggage while munching down a gigantic Burger King burger she picked out of hunger as late as one in the morning, waiting for her other friend from Jakarta to get through the extraordinarily busy immigration counter. Even then, her Jakarta friend still nearly didn’t recognize her for her new boyshort cropped haircut, and she didn’t notice it was her friend because she looked as if she lost a good amount of weight.

But this time it was different. No Jakarta friend to look forward to. Only Naina, saying her goodbye, waving her arms still sore over the 40 kilos of baggage she offered to help her carry. She was about to leave the country for four months to study in Beijing, and she was looking forward to it so much since Professor Fang, who were to talkative and humorous to be someone so respectably professional in academia – not that it is a bad thing, though – had shared her how you could drive a car in Beijing with the maximum speed of 20 kilometre per hour, and how bicycles are better modes of transport, and you would be too busy with the insanely busy traffic until you had no time to marvel on the beautiful architecture of the city itself, but she promised she wouldn’t do that.

Her parents told her goodbye two days ago when she departed to Kuala Lumpur with heart as heavy as her baggage, and from now moment on, as soon as Naina dropped her off, she would be alone for four months. She had been alone too much lately, that she was too used to the silence, but she was also afraid of losing the ability to engage in a good contact with humans alike. She never thought alienation is a side effect of isolation, but in this case, she is the alien, maybe.

With a steady guitar bag mounted on one shoulder and another laptop bag on the other, she refused to go for all troubles to the food court and settled at McDonalds in hope that she wouldn’t miss her flight to Beijing. Sighing alone with her cup of milk tea and fries, she finally had the courage to send a text to someone she had not kept in touch for such a long time, really – until a few days ago.

Hi. My flight’s tonight. Am at McD KLIA. Jom dinner McD.”

To which he instantly replied, “okay.”

She went nervous at the response, thoughts wandered through her mind as she tried to imagine how he would look like, now. She never would have thought that he agreed to see her before she leaves – isn’t that a subtle message of the text she sent? He could be more handsome than she last met him, more flamboyant, perhaps, but more macho, hopefully. Lucky enough, he was one of the few people who have been told of her departure to Beijing. She made him promise not to tell anyone, anyways.

He arrived nearly thirty minutes later, busy highways and parking troubles as a reason for the time. She had finished her fries by then, but he offered to buy her ayam goreng McD and he himself, a set of Spicy Chicken McDeluxe, and even brought dipping sauces – chilli for him, tomato for her.

She was touched at how he was able to spontaneously remember how much she preferred tomato sauce over chilli sauce at every meal. She didn’t bring it up, however, the reference was too unimportant, just a detail from a year ago. She nodded thanks.

He sat opposite her on the small table in the fast food outlet. And yes, he looked rather differently. His hair was kept away from his forehead, and his sides were trimmed. His eyes never had changed, his crooked smile was still the same, and she could almost remember cigarettes dangling from in between the dark pink lips of his. Albeit the smell of food and air conditioning, she could still smell him. He smelled like him. Still like him.

“How are you?” She asked, adjusting her beanie that was covering most of her hair – she had grown her Anne Hathaway pixie into a Carrey Mulligan jaw-length crop.

“I’m good,” he answered. “You look different.”

“You too.” And then she peeled the skin of her fried chicken with her fingers, awkwardly. She wasn’t really hungry, but she was hoping he would start a less awkward conversation.

He poured his fries onto the tray, like he usually would. “How long will you be away again?”

“Four months.”

“Study elok-elok.”

She nodded. “I’ll send you postcards.”

He wanted to refuse, but she didn’t have his current address anyway, so he just smiled. “Who sent you here?”

“Naina. She left.”

“How is she?”

She thought he would know better, since they stayed pretty much around the same area of Penisula Malaysia, but who the hell is she kidding, they were only teasing friends in university, and that was all to it. He only had been around his university best friends after graduation, while her university best friends are just flights apart. Including Naina, that is. “The usual,” she finally answered.

“She’s not married yet?”

“She’d like to focus on career and whatever that is, she’s a bit paranoid.”

“Ah, too bad. I like coming to weddings.”

She nearly choked on her milk tea. Weddings weren’t something you would definitely talk about in front of a former lover. She clicked the home button on her phone which was on the table, and purposely scrolled down the timeline.

“Ryder and Kayla’s wedding is in July,” he said.

“Oh,” and she realized that she would be away during the wedding. “You’re going?”

“I guess. Will you be around by then?”

She shook her head. The perks of not telling someone you’re away!

“They didn’t know you’re going away right?”

“Well, I’m not that important anyway.” Isolation. That was what made her think that way.

He was clearly taken aback by her pessimism, since he had always found her to be very optimistic back then. “They haven’t really confirmed the date anyway. They might’ve just shift the wedding date.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m not worth the trouble.”

He wasn’t really happy with her response.

“I’ll just come to your wedding instead. Go get a girlfriend, you jambu.”

He gave a nervous laugh at her joke.

They talked about ridiculous politics and bucket lists for the rest of the dinner, and he sent her off to the boarding hall. She nervously asked if he could take a picture with her before she went off, and he complied, which was to her surprise anyway. Thankfully a random lady who looked as if she was about to go backpacking alone was willing to help take the picture.

She gasped when he held an arm around her waist. It was such a comforting feeling – something so terrifyingly nostalgic she almost heard her heart dropped, she wished it had last forever.

She missed him, she loved him, and she still had loved him now.

He gave her a quick tight squeeze, and she managed to whisper, “I missed everything we have ever had.”

He didn’t release her.

“I love you then, I love you now, I love you tomorrow.”

She hurried away without looking back.


8 Mar 2014, 9.12AM

BREAKING NEWS: Malaysian Airlines says flight MH370 carrying 239 people bound for Beijing has “lost contact”.

This time he was the one who heard his own heart dropped.

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about the writer

Steff Cempaka

Im strangely attracted to old school, fried chicken, seahorses, ukuleles, and dates.
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