Matt Scott, digging through the orphaned archive of files after the rebuild of Imagine Magazine brings us another lost work from June 20, 2012 titled “My First day at Faraway Island”!
For an explanation of where these files are coming from, you’ll need to read THIS article first 🙂
My First Day at Faraway Island
“Mango juice, please.” I put down the menu and let my eyes wander all over the vicinity. It was a beautiful small beach with few local tourists, whom I can see scattered along the shore and in the sea. The evening was windy, which made it perfect for some kids to fly their kites. In the midst of their high-pitched, excited voices, I feel very relaxed as the kites allow me to follow the flow of the situation instead of trying to find a hold on it. It has been a long time since I had a vacation, and Ben had been pushing me to take one. Perhaps because he saw me starting to crumble inside from the workload and the bad break-up with Jonathan. Anyway, I looked around online for a quiet spot to refresh my worn-out soul, and this place came up, from a stranger I met in a forum, nevertheless. But she gave me some pictures of the place, and I was hooked enough to travel all the way here alone. I even intended to stay here for a week.
My glass of mango juice arrived and I quickly drink it all to quench the thirst. Whoa. This tastes great! I called for the same waitress who took my order and asked her for more mango juice in much bigger container, like a jug. Yes I could drink that much after a hearty meal of a plate of tom yam fried rice. But she was confused by my order, perhaps she knew little English apart from the menu items.
“Wait, wait.” She said before yelling towards the small stall with large “ABC” sign situated next to the restaurant. “Aidil! Akak tak paham die cakap ape ni!” (Aidil! I can’t understand what he’s saying!) A young man appeared from behind the stall and he walked towards my table. He politely asked what I wanted, so I repeated my order and then he translated it for the waitress. When she was gone into the main restaurant, I told him to have a seat. All the locals I’ve talked to here seemed to have little or no command of English at all, and this guy is quite proficient. When you’ve spent several hours surrounded with people but unable to talk to them, it got kinda lonely. And the fact that he was quite cute didn’t hurt at all. He seemed hesitant, but after noticing that I was the only customer at the moment, he sat down before me.
“What is ABC?” was the first question I asked him. He chuckled at my question before explaining that it was just the local shaved ice. We continued to introduce each other, and from that we moved on to other topics, ranging from the local food, the haunted inn I was staying in, and the interesting places nearby. From our conversation, I got to know that his name was Aidil, and he had just finished high school and was waiting for the examination results to come out. It turned out the restaurant was his family’s business and the waitress was his sister, while their parents were the cooks. Aidil was much younger than me, but he was matured and friendly. I liked him a lot for that. We talked for quite some time before I realized I had to go back to the inn and skype with Angie or she would be paranoid that I had been robbed and killed by muggers. Being my only sister, Angie was overly protective of me. She even offered to accompany me here, but I declined because I did like to travel alone. Fuss free and I’m free to do anything.
“So we’ll meet again tomorrow?” I asked Aidil as I stood up. There was this unrecognizable gleam in his brown eyes upon hearing my question, but he quickly shook that off and smiled. It did leave me wondering seconds after that, whether I gave myself away with that question. But he responded cheerily enough to my question that I just let go of my doubts as quickly as I acquired them.
“Of course. In fact, I’ll be here every day! So if you’re feeling bored you’re welcome here. Oh, and if you’re hungry too. Hehehe…” Thus our little chat ended and as I walked down the narrow unpaved road back to my inn, I saw Aidil wave a little at me as he walked back to his small ABC stall. As I felt my cheeks get a little warmer, it suddenly occurred to me that I liked him. Oh, no! No no no no no… NO! I came here to have a nice, long, relaxing vacation, not to involve myself with someone else! Nevertheless, I continued walking along the straight path towards the inn I stayed in with continuous desire to kick myself for my vulnerability to these things. Maybe Jonathan was right after all, I’m weak. My thinking, my action… my life, were too influenced by my feelings, making me a slave to my emotion, turning me into a needy person, and thus not a suitable person for the open lifestyle he practiced, as said by Jonathan when he dumped me. As I walked, it’s as if a black cloud formed above my head, and when I reached my room, tears were already running down my cheeks. Maybe Jonathan was right after all. My feelings… are my weakness.
After some time was spent hating myself, and several occurrences of imagining Aidil being with me, I freshened myself up and had a nice, long chat with Angie. After the goodbyes, I realized I felt trapped in the small room and decided to go out for a walk. With pepper spray in my pocket. I guess other’s paranoia can rub off on you, which in my case, it was Angie’s. The beach was not that dark, as the light from the road lights reached the shore. And I was actually quite relieved.
“Hey, it’s you!” I heard a familiar voice from quite afar, which prompted me to turn to its direction. From the darkness, appeared a fair-skinned young man, with his black locks cascading down his face and the eager grin from this evening that hadn’t worn off yet. “Aidil. Didn’t expect to see you here.” I went up to him, not without noticing that he looked really good without the apron he sported in the restaurant this evening. Just the plain ol’ t-shirt and jeans. Oh boy, this one is really cute.
“Hey. I just got back from a friend’s house. How about you?” He started walking at parallel pace with me.
“Walking around. I just realized being in the room for hours made it kinda stuffy,” I replied nonchalantly. I stopped while I took off the flip-flops and started walking with part of my feet immersed under the seawater. He followed my lead, and soon we both were walking through the shallow ripples of waves with our flip-flops clutched in our hands. Feeling the sand beneath my feet and hearing the continuous growling sound of waves around me, I felt very much one with nature and, bit by bit, the weight of the problems piling up in my head gradually were gone with the cold wind.
“Do you mind if I ask you something?” Aidil said after a long silence. I took a glimpse at him, and smiled.
“Nah. Go on.”
“Why do you come here, of all places? And isn’t it summer this time of year? It is summer here all year long, but as far as I know, summer in your country is way more interesting than this… isolated, bland fishing village.”
“I just… There’s too much going on in my life, and I just wanna run away from all that. Being here, far from all that, I feel so much better.”
“Oh, I’m sorry…”
“It’s okay. It’s nothing, actually, just a few rejections of my design. My best friend said I do get carried away with my work all the time. I guess that, and something bad in my personal life, can really bring me down.”
“Is it girls, I mean, the other thing that’s bothering you?” Hearing the question, I promptly glanced at him, searching for a sign. Anything. As long as it can tell me whether he was just testing me, or if he asked just for the sake of curiosity. But all I saw in front of me was a young man staring at me with his keen eyes and kind smile. I didn’t know what to do. I’ve never really outed myself to my friends and colleagues, let alone to a stranger.
“It’s… a guy, actually,” I replied softly, and quickly braced myself for what was coming. When he grasped the meaning of the words I’d spoken, he looked at me, wide-eyed. It was not harsh, insulting or accusing, just plain shock. When I turned to look at him, he averted his eyes as fast as he could, and it’s as if I could feel the pain of my heart breaking at the very moment.
“Oh… Uh, you know what? I have something coming up at 10. So, see you later. Good night.” I sensed the obvious vibration lacing his voice, as if he was really scared of me. He then quickly put on his flip-flops and walked towards the road, while averting his eyes the whole time. And I was left alone at the shore, with only the sound of waves accompanying me. Just like that. Well, at least, he didn’t yell at me. But it was still a rejection of what I really am, and to be honest, I teared up a bit, because I really liked him. Nevertheless, I continued walking and reflecting on things I have gone through in my 26 years of living, while every once in a while Aidil’s face would pop up somewhere in the back of my mind.
I really did like him, didn’t I?
It was around one in the morning when I arrived at the compound of the inn. By that time, I was a messy combination of lethargy, fatigue and coldness. At the lobby, I sensed something that looked familiar. I didn’t know whether my tired eyes were playing around with my brain. Or if the inn really was haunted, and the ghost appeared in front of me as a fair-skinned young boy with a kind smile and cheery eyes.
Standing before me really was Aidil, with the same keen eyes and kind smile he had this evening. But there’s slight apprehension written on his face. He went up to me, his lips opened and closed as if to say something he couldn’t.
“I’m sorry. I was…”
“It’s okay. I… I understand,” I quickly replied. I extended my hand to pat his shoulder. I caught a glimpse of the counter in the small lobby; an elderly Chinese woman sitting there was staring at us. I know Aidil was uncomfortable with her stare as much as I was, so I signalled him to follow me to my room. Another reason that I desperately wanted to go back to my room is to have a cup of coffee because the drowsy spell hadn’t really lifted off of me.
“Sit down. I’ll make us some coffee.” I let Aidil sit down on the small rattan bench at the corner of my room as I made two cups of coffee on the table next to him. When I was done, I took one and sipped it before sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“I kinda like you, Aidil. Honestly,” I said as I looked at him. “But I understand if you’re… not like me. And you don’t need to be afraid of me, because I won’t make you do things you don’t want to. If you still want to be friends with me, that would be great, y’know. At least you understand whatever the hell I’m speaking about.” In my sleep-induced condition, the words just flowed out of my mouth with me having no time to think about them, so I expected him to freak out even more, maybe dashing out of this room as fast as his feet could carry him, but I was more than wrong. Hearing my words, Aidil bit his lips as the slightest shade of pink appeared on his cheeks. I wasn’t sure if he was embarrassed by my confession, or if he was blushing, or if he was just trying to keep himself from punching me in my face.
“But I… I don’t wanna be your friend… Because I like you too. ” I didn’t catch whatever he was saying the first time I heard it. I was sleepy and he said it so softly, so it made sense that I couldn’t make out what he meant. I just looked at Aidil with a weak smile and droopy eyes like an idiot, while waiting for the effect of caffeine to finally kick in my system. Losing his patience, Aidil went to sit beside me with his keen stare scanning me inside out. “I like you,” again he said, emphasising the meaning, and it was the exact moment the caffeine kicked in. This time, I heard it loud and clear, and as much as my intention to do all the things I had read in novels about romantic gestures for this situation rose, I didn’t know what to do aside from looking at him wide-eyed. But later I averted my eyes from his intense stare as I put the half empty cup on the chair next to the bed, and slowly turned my attention back at him. Aidil, again, bit his lips with blush on his cheeks as he took a hold of my hands. His hold was firm, assuring, yet calming, a gesture at a completely different level from Jonathan’s brief and occasional grasps. In return, I grasped his hands back, as I felt the familiar warmth on my cheeks. It’s my feeling, enveloping me as I concur to the affection I have for Aidil, and this time, instead of pushing it away, I embraced it and let it manifest itself through my touch, and the intense gaze we shared. Somewhere in my emotional frenzy, it occurred to me to ask him why he ran away from me the first time I revealed my true self, but as I looked at Aidil, I refrained from spoiling the moment with my endless questions.
I kissed his hands.
And we hugged.
Then we kissed.