Memories that Last Forever


Memories that Last Forever

Yixin tapped her card on the card reader. When the resounding beep pierced her eardrums, she hopped off the bus and waited patiently for the bus door to slam shut before crossing the road. The bus zoomed off, unfeeling, into the distance. The tarred road seemed to go on and on, never ending. The ground was even, as though it had been bulldozed a thousand times until it reached the flatness of an airport runway. The streetlamps, unlit, stood on both sides of the wide road in parallel formation, like soldiers lining up, saluting the President in the National Day ceremony. They complemented the grey sky, where dark clouds were marching in together with the strong winds. Some people were running under the several bus stops that punctuated the linear road for shelter as the first bolt of lightning cracked into view. Yixin and her friends stepped onto the curb as the sky shed its first drop of rain onto Yixin’s cheek.

“It’s raining,” Yixin declared, wiping the raindrop off her cheek.

“Walk faster,” her friend said aloud to the rest of their friends who were walking ahead, all of whom were joking around and laughing aloud. A strong gust of wind blew and she wrapped her jacket more tightly around herself as she quickened up her pace to overtake the rest of her friends.

“Hey Yixin! Do you remember what Afiq used to do last time? He sat right next to you, remember?” Liang Yu said. Yixin merely managed a weak smile and nodded. All of them were her primary school classmates. They had not met in ages, but they were going to visit Afiq today.

“He used to stand by the window, remember?” Ridzuan mused.

“Yeah, when the strong winds were blowing,” Liang Yu replied.

“With his hands outstretched,” Joseph piped up. “Like that.” He raised his hands in imitation. But Yixin hardly needed the description or reenactment of the scene by her friends.

“What are you doing, Afiq?” their teacher asked.

“I’m flying!” he said jokingly.

“Really?”

“Yeah! Titanic!”

“Where’s Rose?”

He looked round, then out of the window and to the ground three stories below.

“Oh no! I think she dropped down already!” he exclaimed, panicking. The entire class laughed.

Yixin smiled at the mere memory of his cheeky grin, his eyes small beneath those round glasses as he pointed downwards, out of the window. His face was still swimming in her plain view as she walked down the road. Her friends had stopped laughing as soon as they had started. They walked on in the cheerless serenity which was only disturbed occasionally by the thunder.

“Yixin!”

She turned as something cold and wet struck her across the cheek.

“Yuck!” she exclaimed, rubbing her cheek. “What’s that?”

Afiq chuckled as he waved his whiteboard marker in the air, triumphant. Yixin giggled along as she continued rubbing her cheek, unknowingly smudging the ink on a larger area on her cheek.

“Don’t!” Afiq said, fishing out a piece of tissue paper from his shirt pocket, but accidentally drawing on his own cheek with the exposed marker pen in the process.

“Hahahahahaha!” they burst into fits of laughter.

“We’re even,” Yixin said, taking the piece of tissue paper from him.

The rain was getting heavier, but the group walked on, now quiet. All of them looked around curiously but Yixin stared right ahead. No matter where she looked, Afiq’s face would be in view anyway. His voice rang out, too, tinkling in her ears like he was right there beside her.

“Oi!” came the fierce whisper from her left.

“Bull’s eye!” Yixin cheered softly, picking up more eraser bits which she had plucked out from her pen eraser.

“Watch me!” Afiq whispered, smirking as he put his own eraser bit on the rubber band and pulled it back like a catapult. Then, he released. Yixin dodged. The eraser bit flew a little further than what both of them had expected and landed on the teacher’s book from which she was reading aloud from. The two of them turned their heads and stared down at their own Pets Coursebooks.

“Afiq!” the teacher screeched.

“We’ll continue during recess,” he promised in a low voice which only Yixin could hear over the loud shrieks coming from the teacher’s table. She watched as he stood up and walked over to the corner of the classroom to stand, facing the wall, as punishment. A small eraser bit dropped out of his clenched fist as he walked past her, and a rubber band peeked out from the other.

It was so long since Yixin had met him. The only few times they had met after they had graduated from primary school was when they bumped into each other occasionally on the trains, buses or even just walking along the streets. But even then, they had lots to talk about. She could tell how much taller he grew since he was twelve when they last saw each other on the train a year ago. They were nineteen, and he was fresh out of polytechnic while she was a freshman, getting ready to enter university. Yet, every time they met, she had failed to tell him how much she missed sitting next to him in class. But today, she dreaded visiting him.

“Are you ok?”

The voice was right next to her ear. It was real, but it sounded so distant from Yixin.

“Yeah,” she replied back in a voice unlike her own, her fingers trembling as the cold wind blew. The group ignored the raindrops now pattering onto them, drenching them. She was glad, for when she looked skywards, the raindrops washed away the tears as they turned into Muslim Cemetery Path 17.


This story is dedicated to a friend whom my ex-classmates all loved so dearly. We haven’t spoken in ages, and he really was a great partner to sit with in class, back in primary school where we were all forced to sit with the opposite genders so we would not talk as much. Too bad for our teacher, Afiq and I clicked perfectly well and we ended up having eraser bits fight almost every day. We’ve never been really close, only close enough to have fun during lessons back in primary school, close enough to talk only when we coincidentally meet elsewhere after we graduated, but close enough too, for me to remember those fun childhood memories we had. The walk to his grave was a calm and collected one for me, but the story was a metaphorical one, and it reflected the battle that was going on in my mind.

Rest In Peace, Afiq. You were a great friend that I was blessed to have.

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The Assassin


This is a short piece, a homework of my creative writing class: to deliver a short piece about a character. Clearly, it was inspired by a recent incident. Please enjoy and feel free to comment.

He threw himself onto the cushioned chair, his legs stretched out front, propped over the other. Light reflected off the tip of his shiny, leather brown shoes, delightedly showing off a smirk like the one its owner had drawn across his face.

His hair was graying, brows thick above his malicious eyes. His checkered, button-down shirt hung loose from his thin frame, not even wrapping around the beer belly he had. His blue eyes bored into hers, as though knowing something about her that she did not. She winced slightly before withdrawing her gaze from his, looking down at his hands which were crossed, against his chest. The pen, the puppet and accomplice of its owner’s destruction plans, lay benignly on the desk. A thin sheet of paper sat on the desk, flat as its master’s words. From the distance, she could not see what was written on it. The element of surprise, as Dan Brown would say, was the best advantage an assassin could have.

“Ready?” he leered, showing a row of bleach-white teeth. Clearly, he had braces when he was younger. Or perhaps, given his age, they were dentures.

“Yes,” she breathed, not looking into his eyes as she took her place at the front of the class.

“Then, begin,” he instructed, not even reaching for the pen.

She eyed it suspiciously and started her speech, her script trembling in her hands so slightly that her audience could not even see. Eye contact was essential, that was one of his criteria. She kept her eyes scanning the class in front of her, who were nodding, not at her speech, but into a deep sleep as her lullaby drawled on for the next fifteen minutes. Often, she let her eyes zoom over to the desk where he sat, but the pen still lay untouched. His head cocked to the side whenever their eyes met. “What was she looking at?” he thought.

He had guessed, of course, like another victim of his. They wanted to know what he was writing, good or bad, positive or negative. But today, he had a plan, a more vicious plan of delivering his death sentence. No matter how good she would be, she would meet her downfall today. He knew she did not know the reason why the pen was lay untouched, unlike the usual procedure. Today, he would not deliver the use of his weapons in front of his victim. In fact, the death sentence had already been carried out, unbeknownst to her, of course: her grade had already been given before the presentation had even started.

The Assassin © 2011 by AubyStories. All rights reserved.

My Guardian Angel


My Guardian Angel

“This is my table! My tissue packet was here!”

“Aunty! The table got your name?!”

The warm March morning was heating up this little circular dome where the hustle and bustle of life started every day, heating up the tension. All around, the stall keepers and their customers watched to look at this petty little quarrel ensue, echoing around the walls of the small coffeeshop. Even the roti prata man twirling in the prata at the Indian stall paused to look; the spattering of oil from the Western Stall heard just minutes earlier stopped too. Others who were eating stopped to stare. A man abandoned his traditional egg and coffee breakfast and went over to our table to watch the fight. The whole coffeeshop had come to a standstill, watching the gunfire happen, which was slowly brewing into a war.

It was an uneven fight: my mother against two other men. One fat and balding, the other one emaciated and tattooed. The rounded table and the four plastic red chairs between them seemed to mark a demilitarized zone. The moment my mother took a step towards it, the men exploded into roars of frustration.

I brought my brother to the front of the drinks stall for noise disturbed him. It stood thankfully tranquil by the entrance of the coffeeshop. Neatly stacked canned drinks decorated the dull, white counter with vibrant colours. Next to them were four giant plastic containers containing lime juice, rose syrup, water chestnut and barley water. A transparent tube connected to the ceiling was planted at the corner of the oddly shaped counter, ice cascading down the tube every few minutes. Above the counter was a cabinet displaying cigarette packs with grotesque pictures. A yellow hygiene certificate ‘C’ was stuck on the mossy walls at the back.

“Elijah?” I started gently.

His warm, gentle eyes averted sideways, not making eye contact. A small, uncertain grin appeared on his face, his left hand shaking. I took it.

“Are you ok? Are you scared?”

“Ok,” he repeated softly after me.

“Do you want to eat roti prata?”

Prata…

His answers were in little whispers, but they sounded like tiny bells ringing in my ears, like Christmas.

“We wait until we get a seat, ok?”

“Ok,” he whispered, giving me a lopsided grin.

“Good boy,” I whispered.

That was my twenty-four-year-old brother. He always responded to his name with a smile, whisper one words to express himself. In his little world, he had his rules which we did not understand. Same shapes must go together, such that he placed his bread from breakfast on the bookshelves with other books and we never discovered until a week later. Tidiness must be implemented in his universe, such that he was more particular about it than my mother, pushing in chairs at the tables, straightening out the tablecloth so that all sides were equal. Hats should not be placed at coat stands and during Christmas, the stockings must go into the wardrobes. His random bouts of happiness came in running and jumping around the house, bursting out in bouts of delighted laughter. He was the gentlest, sweetest boy in the world.

A loud thud caught my attention when a familiar scream that followed wrenched my stomach into a tight knot. I looked up to see my mother stumbling to the floor, the fat man next to her, hands raised.

“Don’t!” I screamed. “Elijah! Stay here! Excuse me! Sorry! Let me through!”

I was afraid, very afraid. What if Mum gets hurt? What if I could not get there before he started beating her up? My feet could not carry me there fast enough. The crowd was not cooperating, jeering and refusing to budge. My yells for him to stop were drowned by the overpowering shouts of the people who were watching.

“What kind of man are you! Hit women!”

“Yeah!”

“Shameless!”

Suddenly, I was removed bodily from the crowd. The skinny, tattooed man had such force one could not imagine. Bruises bloomed on my forearms as I gasped with pain. In a second, I was spun around with sheer force, choking loudly with his arms wrapped tightly around my neck.

“I’ll- ARGH!”

A chair toppled noisily as the sharp cry of pain pierced the air. Spinning round, I saw a tall figure towering over Tattoo-man, holding him in a tight headlock. As Tattoo-man gasped pitifully for breath, I saw a blazing look of hatred in Elijah’s eyes, the look he had on his face two years ago.

Mum’s screams pierced the night as punches rained upon her.

“No, Dad! Stop! Please!”

My pleas did not help. Mum was bleeding, I was crying. Out of nowhere, Elijah rushed into the scene, grabbing Dad in a headlock with increasing strength, refusing to let go. I grabbed Elijah’s hand, attempting to throw him off Dad. Then my eyes caught the look on his face, the hatred I had never seen before. Shocked, I let go of him, the stranger I had never known. With a crack, Dad went limp in Elijah’s arms and moved no more…

“ELISE! COME HELP!”

Mum’s voice never failed to shake me awake. I found my way back to Elijah and tried to force him off Tattoo-man, but his strength was unbelievable. Everyone was still screaming, but no one, not even the fat man, came to help.

WHAM!

A handbag hit Elijah on the head, sending him to the floor, dazed.

“Elijah!” I yelled, running to my brother who lay gasping on the floor. Tattoo-man got up, spluttered some vulgarities and ran away, his friend close behind. My vision was blurred, but they cleared when I blinked, and two large drops of tears rolled down my cheeks. Right before me sat my brother, looking at me with angelic eyes, but scared and pleading, just like the night when he realized Dad had gone.

“Elijah,” I whispered tearfully, pulling him into a hug. Around us, people were pointing and whispering. I had a shrewd idea what they were saying, but I did not care. Elijah protected me, just as he had protected our mother two years ago. Now, it was my turn to protect him.

My Guardian Angel © 2011 by AubyStories. All rights reserved.