(That guy with the flowers is looking at me. No way he can tell I'm looking back at him with my Oakleys on.)
(Yellow AirMax95s. That student is wearing them. Doesn't match his uniform though. And that red bag. And that silver Rolex! Obviously trying to beat everyone else wearing Tag Heuers... wonder what else he has inside his bag. But... everything he has doesn't match with everything else. He looks like one of those who buy things looking at price tags.)
*SoI'llstartarevolutionfrommybedcuzyousaidthebrains Ihadwenttomyheadstepoutsidesummertime'sinbloomstandup besidethefireplacetakethatlookfromoffyourfaceyouain't evergonnaburnmyheartout*
(He's reading a letter.)
(Strange way he's doing it, reading a few lines and then looking away for a while.)
(He doesn't want to read it.)
(That glazed look. I've seen that before.)
(He's holding back his tears. Good job.)
(That despondent look... hadn't I seen that before two years ago, in the mirror one miserable Saturday night?)
(You'll get over her buddy. It'll be difficult... but you'll see through your folly.)
(Or you'll end up like me.)
*Drinkingmercurytothemysteryofallthatyoushouldeverseek tofindlovelygirlyou'rethemurderinmyworlddressingcoffins forthesoulsI'veleftbehindintimewemustneverbeapart*
I'll get Phil to change our telephone number.
I don't want anymore of the dumb flowers or crappy Japanese food. Phil will learn to listen to me sooner or later.
Phil's diamond ring is just like the happy moments I had with this guy. Except that others can admire and drool at the diamond ring, whose envy can fuel my pride.
With barely happy thoughts my happiness is fleeting.
I'm not going to get off at Orchard.
(What does my surroundings sound like?)
(I want to know.)
[He cautiously removes his earphones, and finally hears what the world around him sounds like -- carefully muffled screeching of the train's rails; children weaving between the metal poles oblivious to their mothers' raised voices; announcements by a disembodied voice, informing him of his imminent arrival at his destination. He stands silent, unaccustomed to all these seemingly foreign sounds. He shakes his head and puts the earphones back on, returning to his fast-moving, unrelenting, sanitised sonic world.]
*Idon'twannamissonesmileIdon'twannamissonekisswell IjustwannabewithyourightherewithyoujustlikethisIjust wannaholdyouclosefeelyourheartsoclosetomineandjust stayhereinthismomentforalltherestoftime*
*I...I...allmybagsarepackedI'mreadytogoI'mstanding hereoutsideyourdoorIhatetowakeyouuptosaygoodbyebut thedawnisbreakin'thisearlymornthetaxi'swaitin'he's blowin'hishornalreadyI'msolonesomeIcoulddie*
(Why are my earphones so soft now?) [Pushes earphones deeper into ears.]
*Sokissmeandsmileformetellmethatyou'llwaitformehold melikeyou'llneverletmegocauseI'mleavingonajetplane don'tknowwhenI'llbebackagainohbabeIhatetogo*
(Must have adjusted the volume.) [But the volume is already at maximum.]
*I...there'ssomanytimesI'veletyoudownsomanytimesI've playedaroundItellyounowtheydon'tmeanathingeveryplace IgoIthinkofyoueverysongIsingIsingforyouwhenIcomeback I'llwearyourweddingring*
(Then it must be the batteries... need to change them.) [Self-deluded, he does not see the battery power indicator cheerfully display full battery power.]
*Nowthetimehascometoleaveyouonemoretimeletme kissyoucloseyoureyesI'llbeonmywaydreamaboutthe daystocomewhenIwon'thavetoleavealoneaboutthetime whenIdon'thavetosay...*
The first few words said it all: "I'm sorry, but we can never be together...” Another line drove the nail home: "...I'm really not worth waiting for...” Who was? He replaced the letter in its envelope, and put it into his red duffel bag.
For such an unceremonious end to months of speculation and hope, he was shocked that he felt nothing at all. Perhaps it was the realisation of the cost he had paid to arrive at this conclusion -- the responsibilities shrugged off; neglected assignments; impending examinations... matters he had so conveniently ignored to devote his time and energy into such expensive an episode. Opportunity cost, he had heard someone say before.
The escalator brought him away from a fast-moving, unrelenting, sanitised world into another.
At the MRT station there was a lot of people. Plenty of executives hurrying around. Students too, some holding hands. He unconsciously grit his teeth when he saw that, but he was already to numb to it, hardly aware of the distant emotions those images evoked.
Above him, the glass dome showed the fury of a tropical storm. His fast moving, unrelenting, sanitised world was about to become a wet one.
But all of the sudden his footsteps ceased, an awkward figure stationary in the middle of a crowded station. People banged into him from all sides, unaccustomed to someone not in a hurry as they were. After all, life was one constant flux of motion, hardly staying still unless they were waiting, seated, or asleep.
He stopped at his realisation, finally making an observation of the picture he had been in all his life.
Plenty of people everywhere.
People casting frantic looks around them, holding delicately wrapped bouquets; people leaning on the ebony marble pillars, waiting, watching; people with earphones and sunglasses, melting into other groups of people.
Slowly, she took confident, well-practised steps forward...
...and on her powdered, photo-perfect face, an ambitious smile was beginning to form...
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QLRS Vol. 1 No. 1 Oct 2001