Withering

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Short story & Illustration by Dila

So, it was what a song told about how you never miss your water till the well runs dry. The feeling was unusual and pretty odd. You know, the feeling when you miss something that you never really kept. And, it’s all gone of your will. In my case, I was just never really sure. At one point I was feeling sorry, in other side I thought that I’ve done the right thing.

Everything started from that day, the day when I first met Max. His full name was Maximiliano. Is it quite a strange name for an Indonesian, eh? It was also what he thought about his name anyway.

Maximiliano was a new guy in my office. He sat in front of me, literally. It was only a separator of our shared cubicle that was divided the desk into two—my desk and his. He was a tall skinny guy with a fair complexion—a fair one he got from Toraja descent—and a messy dark hair. He had a good smile. You know, that kind of smile that can make people smile back at you when you have it. And, another good point was that Max had very clean and white teeth that always made him a nice thing to look at.

That day I was sitting on my desk working on a revision of a report I had to finish by the following day. In between, I was humming a song I was listening on my itunes. It was “I’m in Love with A Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist” by an indie-pop band from London called Another Sunny Day. It was the moment when he suddenly stood by his cubicle and looked down right at me and asked, “Is it Another Sunny Day?”

I barely heard him speaking since I always kept my music player’s volume quite high in my headset, and begged his pardon while putting it off.

He did not mind and repeated his question.

“Oh, yes, it is they.” I soon answered him.

He smiled and told me, “You got a nice sense of music.”

I felt hesitant, yet smiled back while saying, “Thanks.”

Then, he offered me his hand while introducing himself and asking my name after that. I told him my name, Emilia.

That day was the day when we discovered that we had sort of similar interest in indie-pop music, suspense, and Thailand horror movie—even though he disliked the Sastro, a local band I loved the most at that time. One thing made me feel pretty satisfied that he laughed hard over my joke about the great Chuck Norris, the same hard as me when I first heard it from my brother. There had never been any mate I knew who really got it when I told it.

Since then, he kept sticking on me. He arrived earlier only to have a warming up conversation with me—I always arrived much earlier than anybody at office, unless the cleaning service guys at my floor, sure. In every same morning, he shared me every slice of sandwich with different topping or filling each day prepared by his mom, the woman whom he told me the most wonderful mom. A warm emotion in his eyes every time he told me anything about her always made me smile. I’ve just never seen any men speaking of their mothers the way he did.

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