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Writings > Short Story > Thriller

Come Back Down

Previous short story:
Forgotten memories
Next short story:
Laila & Lutfi

To Ida, we will always be by your side; through thick and thin.

1230, 061507
Aida was looking at the bridal clothes queued in front of her. She wore that beautiful smile of a young bride about to get married. Her long fingers shifted from one dress to another.

It was scorching hot outside and equally boiling inside the rumah setinggan lined along Kg Pasir. Aida visited a friend’s house to choose the perfect dress for her wedding which is less than two months away. She was giddy with excitement and could not help but feeling a bit jittery on the inside. Too many times she had dreamt about this but being extra careful not to slip it out to anyone. It was for her pleasure only.

Earlier that day 0830, 061507
‘Sasha!’ Aida called from her room to her housemate. No sound. Aida glanced at her watch and noticed that it was not yet 9 o’clock and considering Sasha is now a successful unemployed young lad, she bet that girl is sleeping still.
Aida was just about to turn her back to the kitchen to fix decent breakfast when the door creaked. Sasha’s face appeared somewhere in the middle of the door; looking very sleepy, complete with puffy eyes and tousled hair.
‘Yes?’ Sasha was not even trying to open her eyes.
Aida laughed. She squatted to face Sasha. ‘I’m going out today to have the fitting done.’
Sasha’s eyes flew open and looked very much awake the next second. ‘Oh really?’ She stood up in haste, opened the door wider. They have been talking about nothing but preparation of the wedding for the past two days; Sasha being more excited than Aida. Sasha was still single and it excites her so to know someone is getting married. Even if it wasn’t Sasha who got married, she was more than happy to celebrate it on behalf of her friend.. They were never that close before but since they completed their studies, the gap between them has lessened. It was a nice surprise; very nice indeed.
‘Yes!’ Aida exclaimed cheerfully; trying to hide the excitement. That’s how she is; she always try not to reveal too much of her emotions.
‘OK remember about the pink dress or the green and …. Lilac! That one suites you the most. And don’t forget about the veil. I already gave you samples of veil, right? And good luck if you choose the ones with corsets,’ Sasha ended the sentence with a salute. And Aida nodded in agreement.

Now, Aida was standing in the midst of 20 or 30 dresses. She was trying to make up her mind on which dress she is going to pick.
Fandi sat on the couch; staring at her back. He was shifting every now and he was concealing something that he didn’t want Aida to know. He thought he was prepared for this when he clearly wasn’t. Everything seems wrong and at this point of time, he was literally drenched in sweat to think about the days about to come.
‘Fandi, how about this one?’ Aida posed in front of Fandi; looking great in green.
Green with envy. Consumed by green monster. Fandi blinked and looked at the exceptionally stunning Aida. But something was missing. Aida looked hazy in his eyes.

The fitting session went on smoothly. While Fandi was looking redder in the face as the day stretched, Aida put aside all bad thoughts and managed to calm herself that Fandi was just being very uncomfortable in the very hot room. He was used to an air-conditioned room.
Aida thought happy thoughts all the way to Ampang. It was the perfect thing to do because she had finally managed to do something she has been dreaming for the past five years. Five years of waiting and they have finally made it. The journey was long and extremely tiring but they managed to pull it off beautifully in the end.
That night, Aida slept peacefully after having an extremely lengthy discussion with her mother about the design of the wedding card. It was extremely taxing to plan a wedding. But she gladly did it so; it is once in a lifetime opportunity. She kept a very long list of to-do-lists for the wedding.
‘Oh my God! Is that a list or a stock market report?’ Sasha asked Aida once when Aida fished her lists from her bag. Cheeks full with sausage, Sasha looked at the lists in horror. There was a bubble coming out of her head saying, ‘I don’t think I am going to get married ever with so much things to do.’ Sasha handed the list back to Aida with pure terror written all over her face. Aida laughed. Sasha was always like that.
She would just tremble at the mention of marriage. Aida wondered when Sasha will find someone to replace her ex-boyfriend. It has been two years but Sasha kept on saying, ’I’m not ready.’

1430, 061607
Sasha was minding her own business; stretching beside her bed when Shima burst into her room.
‘Fandi called,’ Shima said with utmost seriousness.
‘Huh?’ Sasha asked while standing in a T-Bone position which was part of her Pilates workout.
‘Fandi called. He wants us to check on Aida. Where is she?’ Shima asked and sat on Sasha’s chair.
‘She issssss…. No idea,’ Sasha straightened up. She sensed that something was terribly wrong.
‘OK before we ambushed her, this is exactly what he said…’

Fandi’s phone call at 1340, 061607.
‘Something happened and I want you guys to look after her,’ Fandi was sniffing. Shima was listening intently on the other line.
‘Aida might not be so stable now because of … something,’ Fandi was looking at their engagement picture. He had to do this. This seemed to be the only way out. It was difficult but he had to.
‘What exactly happened, if you don’t mind?’ Shima’s heart was thumping hard against her ribcage. She was glancing over her shoulders to check on her line manager.
‘Just… she needs support,’ Fandi was sniffing again. Shima was getting wary.
‘OK but I need to go to the bank first so might be a bit late. All right?’
‘That’s fine.’ With that, the conversation ended.

1450, 061607 (after much quarreling in Sasha’s room on how Sasha and Shima should approach Aida)
Aida’s door opened after the third knock. Sasha and Shima were looking at Aida with absolute fury.
‘Yes?’ Aida asked groggily. Was this some kind of a rollcall or something that she didn’t know? Was this some kind of a new regulation of this house that she wasn’t aware about?
‘You were sleeping?’ Shima asked her while clenching her teeth. Sasha was staring; open mouthed. They were in total bewilderment.
‘Yes…anything wrong with that?’ Aida was having problem to digest this new scene in front of her.
‘You fool! We thought you were in trouble!’ Sasha finally found her voice and bellowed in rage.
‘What? What have I done?’ it was Aida’s turn to be puzzled. As both of her housemate retold the story, she laughed while feeling appreciated. She felt loved by this two very crazy people.
When Shima called Linda to update on Aida, Aida lay on the bed and looked at both of them with a pang of regret. She wished she could tell them what really happened.

2030, 061707
‘Shima,’ Aida’s voice was really weak. If Shima’s ears were not betraying her, Aida was pleading.
‘Yes?’ Shima was in the midst of watching her favorite movie; The Longest Yard. She hit the ‘Pause’ button on the remote control to focus.
‘There’s a problem…’

0845, 061807
‘We are sick and decided we missed you so much,’ Shima barged into Sasha’s bedroom. As usual, Sasha was wrapped in her pink comforter. It was still very early and besides, Sasha was having her three-months break before she will look for any jobs. Shima tore that comforter away from her. Aida was fixing coffee for Sasha in the kitchen.
‘I’m sleepy…’ Sasha moaned and tried to grab the comforter from Shima’s grasp but to no avail.
Shima spanked Sasha’s butt and instructed her to wash her face. Not before saying, ‘Aida has something very serious to tell you.’

0915, 061807
All three of them sat in a small circle on Sasha’s bed. Sasha was crying her heart out; she was always the wet blanket.
‘He told me that he didn’t think this is going to work out. He was unsure, he tried to love me back for the past one year but he failed to. He said that I didn’t make an effort to change, I was too pushy that he ended up feeling very suffocated,’ Aida looked at her steaming mug.
‘What? What else you need to change Aida?’ Sasha asked between sobs. She was very excited to have a friend getting married this year. She secretly came up with a list of things that she wanted to buy for Aida. She even went to a tailor to buy a dress for the wedding. If not the wedding planner, she was the one getting excited to know what Aida had in mind for the wedding.
‘He said I need to change so I can fit to become a wife,’ Aida looked at Sasha in the eyes. There were dark circles under Aida’s beautiful eyes. Sasha realized that sleeping was not what Aida did yesterday.
‘And he wants to postpone this wedding?’ Sasha asked for confirmation. Silence. Aida looked at Shima with questioning eyes.
‘No. He wants to cancel it,’ Shima answered on Aida’s behalf.
‘Oh my God,’ Sasha’s hand flew to her mouth. And they hugged. Tears were coming out of Sasha’s eyes like a broken dam. Shima sniffed and Aida tried to smile a very bitter smile.

1430, 061807
These three girls were a very chatty bunch. But today, words fail them. Thoughts jumbled up in their heads.
Aida quitted her job, ready to move out from the house, invested extremely huge amount of money for this wedding. She rejected so many people who wanted to know her because of Fandi. And after 5 years, this is what she gets in return?
‘Mama, I don’t think he has another woman. I can’t be 100 percent sure but I can be at least 80 percent sure that he wasn’t cheating on me,’ those were Aida’s word that Shima and Sasha can hear from the next room.
Sasha was slumped against the wall. Shima was taking endless puffs of smoke. Fandi’s words were very dodgy. He actually begged Aida to contact him after this although they were going to cancel the wedding. It was very selfish indeed and totally inconsiderate. Aida’s voice came in a wave of rushed words; they can hear it.
Looking positively like two Death Row inmates who were waiting for the executioners; Sasha and Shima stared ahead of them with vacant eyes. Doorgifts, ribbons, receipts for wedding materials, magazine cuttings for bride’s dress, lists of guests, to-do lists; everything were in front of them. Another call made to the canopy company and their friend will be announced as newly wed. Everything has been settled and Aida was just waiting for that day. That is all that she had to do.
‘Sasha?’ Shima took another long puff.
‘A hah?’ Sasha answered while staring out the open door.
‘Do yourself a favor and stay single,’ Shima said like a wise old men. Sasha looked up in doubt. ‘Tell Ibu that arranged marriage will do.’ They were quite close. Each of them called each other’s mother with names like Mama, Ibu and Umi.
Sasha looked up from the floor at Shima’s face; dumbfounded.
Aida walked into the room they were sitting and blurted this out ‘He has someone else.’ This time, Shima grabbed Aida to calm her down. Aida didn’t see it but tears were streaming down Shima’s eyes. She knew Aida needed support but this; she cannot handle this piece of information. It was too cruel to accept. Sasha again imitated a goldfish. But this time, she was too shocked to react. This was really drama series-like. Sasha couldn’t believe what she just heard.

2034, 061807
‘5 freaking years of loyalty, faith and sacrifice. 5 years and he left me for someone he knew 7 months ago?’ Aida was musing to herself over her mango juice. All of them were sitting in the hall. Sasha swallowed her hot chocolate with difficulty. Sasha spent the last 30 minutes looking at the supposedly-wedding-ring in disbelief. How can someone be as heartless as buying a three-thousand ringgit diamond ring and yet felt absolutely nothing?
‘He led me on, found some girl to replace my face and yet he brainwashed me by saying I’m unfit to become a wife?’ Shima was having difficulty digesting this insanity. Fandi was trying to say Aida didn’t understand him, didn’t try to make this relationship work.
‘He is the one unfit to become a husband or even a human. He did try something, Aida. Of course he did. But instead of ensuring the relationship to work, he was trying to pinpoint all your mistakes. Then, convinced himself that he is totally right and you are to blame,’ Shima rammed her straw against her cool glass of iced lemon tea.
Both of them turned to Sasha; half expecting her to say something.
‘What? I don’t have a boyfriend even. I’m not entitled to give any opinions,’ Sasha looked up innocently. They shrugged and just let it be.
Another beep sounded from Aida’s handphone. Fandi has been trying to apologize to Aida. He was sorry; according to him.
‘Sorry my foot,’ Aida smirked.
All three composed a lengthy text for Fandi’s eyes. It sounded like this: You actually did this to me after all that we have been through? All the times we had, every single memory, you threw in the drain for that girl? Yes, I know. These 5 years meant nothing to you? Thank you for repaying my loyalty and trust with this lie. I will forgive you, of course; but I will never ever forget this PRESENT from you. Ever.

2036, 061807
Fandi paced back and forth in his lawn. Who told Aida about his affair? He couldn’t face Aida; he was too embarrassed to do so. He has been telling Aida that it was her fault; she was not fit to be a wife for him. He was trying to cover this up. And who screw his plan? Fandi realized that he was putting his ego in a very difficult place. If he owns up, he will lose face. Thus…

The whole week left Aida in chaos. Everyone teamed up to cancel all wedding preparations. Dressmakers and boutiques have to be called. Sasha was given the task of gathering all the presents she bought for this wedding to be sealed in a box. Shima accompanied Aida as much as she can. Aida received endless calls from dawn till midnight from both families; extended and near. Aida returned two boxes full of Fandi’s gift to his office. That girl didn’t even look up at her when Aida placed the rings Fandi gave her on Shiera’s table. Sheira was her name. Aida went into the relationship with dignity. She will leave it with dignity.

1830, 062307
‘Mama, why did you tell Aida?’ Fandi loosened his necktie.
‘If you cannot lie to yourself anymore, I also cannot do the same. I pity her, that’s why I told her about that ungrateful Sheira,’ Fandi’s mother was preparing dinner when he walked into the kitchen.
‘Mama, Sheira has nothing to do with this. She’s innocent,’ Fandi sat on the chair in front of Puan Habibah.
Innocent. If she is innocent enough, she would not tamper in their relationship. She managed to wreck a girl’s life and dreams. Aida quitted her current job to make last minute preparation of the wedding. Everything has been settled; up to the smallest bit of the wedding. Every base has been secured.
‘No wonder Fandi doesn’t want to distribute the wedding invitations yet,’ Aida told her over the phone this afternoon. Puan Habibah shrugged. She wished Aida only the best of luck. She will treat Aida as one of her daughters. 5 years of knowing Aida, she knew Aida can be a very good wife. What more can his son ask when Aida tried to persuade Fandi to buy a cheaper ring because Aida doesn’t want to trouble Fandi?

That night, all there of them were waiting for Linda in the hall to arrive from her Masters class. They were laughing merrily when Aida decided it was time for her to change her Friendster profile. At the ‘Who I Want To Meet’ section, she wrote ‘Guys with balls’.
Her chapter with Fandi has ended. Aida will try to make it one day at a time and she was so glad she has everyone on her side. It wasn’t an easy battle but she believed that she will make through another one.
Sasha stood beside her and reached for the mouse. Sasha searched for a track titled Come Back Down from Lifehouse and played it for Aida.
Aida knew from then that she will always be fine with friends who surround her. This time, she cried very happy tears.
‘Come here you! You made me cry!’ Aida dragged Sasha, Shima and a very surprised Linda at the door and hugged them tight.

Previous short story:
Forgotten memories
Next short story:
Laila & Lutfi
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about the writer

Siti Aishah Abdul Aziz

the one who loses her rose-tinted glasses, with the tendency to borrow others thinking caps. 
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