Stories That Breathe

Today or Tomorrow

Chapter 1

I suppose many people would agree on this: When something interesting happens in Singapore, the first thing that passers-by would do is to take a video and upload it on YouTube. Whoever uploads it the fastest will get a chance to be interviewed in mainstream media. If the act is shameful, then keyboard warriors who have nothing better to do would track down the identity of the people in the video, expose their personal information online and soon, the people in the video would migrate to Australia and be forgotten after one month.

Well, I think I’m going to be in one of those viral videos, but I don’t give a shit and will not migrate to anywhere—unless someone buys me an air ticket to South Korea.

Mine was like a clichéd scene from a Korean drama. Firstly, the girl must be annoyed: Tick. The guy must be cool: Tick. There must be a shouting match: Tick. The girl (obviously me, duh!) must be amazingly dazzling even when she is drunk without make-up: Tick.

How it happened was simple: I was walking like a boss, and did not see the solid column in front of me. And then, tada! Three bangs later and I was down. The two plastic bags with potato chips and Coke landed on the ground softly, but my laptop seemed to yell in pain as it bounced on the ground once.

Ouch. What is this. Why are there columns in bus stops?!

My butt hit the ground with a loud thump and a bone-shattering pain grew within me. I was still trying to figure out why I could not walk through the column when the guy suddenly materialized beside me and picked up my laptop.

“Go away,” I said.

He moved like a robot, ignoring whatever I had said. The first thing I noticed was his hair—it was black and so oily that you could stir-fry vegetables on it during a sunny day.

“I don’t—I said I don’t need help! Go away!”

The guy paused, but only for one second. Maybe he was the cleaner here. Maybe he would walk off with my laptop. Maybe he just wanted to get into my pants. Whatever he wanted, I was not in the mood to entertain him. At least, not now!

“Go—away!”

The guy had almost finished grabbing everything and put the laptop on the seat. I shot a glance at him and picked up a canned tuna. It was difficult resisting the urge to smash the can at the guy’s greasy head.

“Shut up,” the guy said.

Shut up? The guy told me to shut up? The guy told me to shut up! When I dropped my bag, I insisted no help, and he said “shut up”? Where’s the logic in this? Guys aren’t supposed to be so rude to a lady like me; we deserve to be put on a pedestal!

“Come,” the guy reached for my laptop. I recoiled immediately, but he snatched it. I don’t even fucking know him—so what the hell is he doing! He looked like an undergraduate from the nearby university, with a hairstyle of a typical Singaporean student: short and spiky. For him, it was oily, too. With his lean face and bulging chest, he seemed to work out regularly. Oh my gosh, I don’t know why I looked at his chest first before his face. For girls, I’ve always done that to determine whether my breasts are bigger (and fortunately, they’re often bigger). For me, victory lies in the size of the breasts and not the wallet.

“I don’t need help,” I whispered. “Give me back everything.”

“Where?”

Aha, that was when my conclusion was confirmed. Another man with an agenda. I know there would be more advances when I’ve just become single, especially from friends, even attached or married ones. But boy oh boy, this guy sure timed his advances well. I had just “broken” up with Gary less than one day ago!

“I know guys like you. You just want to bed me. So return everything to me. I’m not interested.”

“Go where?”

I eyed him and said, “Go to hell.”

“Understood.” The guy gestured to the road with his chin.

My blood boiled. Boiled! Just an hour ago, Gary made the same challenge. I told him that unless he divorced his wife, I would kill myself. He told me to go ahead. Go ahead! Why can’t anyone take my words seriously?!

All I was thinking, as he challenged me, was to dash onto the road. That was an expressway, and so, vehicles were moving at 90 kmh—no matter how careful a driver is, I’m sure he won’t be able to avoid me. Moreover, who the heck would look out for pedestrians when they’re on the expressway? The chances of a plane landing are even higher!

* * *

But the guy was faster.

I had dashed forward and even made a leap as I was at the kerb. There were two loud honks, and once I was thrown back to the bus bay like a cat being saved by a hero from a speeding car, more vehicles honked. A laptop dropped, my canned tuna dropped, my Adidas dropped. When the “hero” dropped, he cursed so loud that I wondered whether he was going to attack me.

He had grabbed me and literally flung me back onto the empty bus bay. I had two concerns then: first, whether I had cut myself when I landed like a tossed rag doll, because should I see blood that comes out from anywhere except my vagina (damn fucking period is the only blood that I can take!), I would faint like a little girl. The second was my hair. Was it still intact?

“What are you doing?” I said.

“What are you doing?”

“You challenged me to die!” I argued. “Gary, too!”

“If I challenge you to run onto the road again, you’ll crazily do it?”

“Yeah!” I yelled, and now, I had only one concern: my hair.

But still, I ran onto the road again.

* * *

I think the more attractive guys prefer their names to be kept a secret as long as possible, because being mysterious is sexy. But this guy; he told me his name, and forced me to remember.

Wilson; that’s his name.

You think I care?

During my second attempt, Wilson merely sat on the pavement of the bus bay, shaking his head. By then, cars had slowed down. Once I was on the road, I spread my arms and closed my eyes. Come on, I thought. Why does Gary have to leave me for that fucking ugly woman?!

Lao niang is so much better!

But the first car at the last lane braked in time. Some vehicles behind it braked and a few even switched to the middle lane like a boss and continued their journey. No horn was sounded; tyres screeched, and I felt like the only human who had just survived a zombie apocalypse.

The hazard lights of the first car blinked, then the driver, a balding man in his forties who tried to look twenties with his cartoony T-shirt and Bermuda shorts, came out. He did not look happy; but usually, a man of this profile is always delighted to see me, for I’m 34C and I like tight T-shirts. I look good in every angle.

“Are you okay?” the driver said.

Now, that’s normal. Everyone should care for me. As long as you have a dick, you treat me like a princess. That’s how the world works. But this old man was looking at me with that kind of eyes. I mean, you nearly killed me, and you still lust for me? If he stares at me for one more second, I would dig out his eyes, put them into a blender together with chilli padi and blend them for minutes, then mould them to eyeballs and deep-fry them before putting his red eyes back into his perverted sockets.

Wilson stood up and strolled towards me. “I didn’t buy her a Prada bag, so she’s angry.”

The erect-forties-man opened his eyes wide.

“I’ll buy a Prada bag now.”

The forty-year-old-pervert looked puzzled. “I…I don’t—”

The cars behind began to honk.

“Girls.” Wilson eyed the shameless-forties-pervert with his head down. “So, Bro, nothing happens. You continue your journey in your Mercedes, and I’ll go buy her a Prada bag. Right? Don’t you report anything.”

Report what? Now, this is not how the world works. Also, I don’t like Prada.

Another honk.

Wilson then shooed me away. “So, Sweetie, what colour do you prefer?”

Sweetie?

But Gary called me Darling. I was already confused, and this Wilson; he gave a new meaning to being confused.

Gary? Wilson?

* * *

My mother said that to find the one, you have to be with the many. Having been through six serious relationships and about ten flings (if you consider that as a one-day relationship that involves merely kissing), I thought I had finally found the one—his name is Gary, and even the name sounds like it’s tailor-made for me.

Angeline and Gary.

Gary and Angeline.

Perfect, isn’t it?

We first met a few months ago when I went for a training session conducted by my company HQ. I was a temporary cashier in a supermarket, and when my supervisor asked me whether I would like to go for it, I immediately agreed. No one in their right mind will decline an invitation that pays you to sleep in an air-conditioned classroom, right?

He was the marketing manager in the company. I could still remember his first manly sentence: “The marketing executive should be in charge of this training programme, but he has taken MC again, so I’m covering without knowing what I’ll be training about because I’m his immediate superior and I take full responsibility for his absence.”

I thought I suddenly had got twins when I heard his deep, sexy voice.

For hours, I listened to the company’s background, the correct way to handle nasty customers (do you know that you should only take “appropriate” action only after a customer has used an “expletive”?) and how to give feedback to the company. I had even brought a small pillow there, but his sexy voice kept me awake. Three hours later, he flashed a slide with his marketing executive’s number.

“Anything, you guys can call him,” he said. “Any question?”

I raised my hand. Having just broken up with my previous boyfriend, I had to admit that I was a little overly attracted to this young-looking marketing manager. Or maybe his voice.

“How about you?” I said, “What’s your contact number?”

And how it started was simple; an evil wink, a sexy smile and a simple sentence: “Look for me after this.”

* * *

As a 1997-er, the key communication tool for me is text messaging, and so, the moment I got Gary’s contact number, I sent him a WhatsApp message. After about five hundred messages (literally—I’m serious for I’ve counted them), Gary asked to meet. He said he was in a race to be promoted and needed some rest.

I agreed, of course. But in a reluctant tone: “I’ll be there if I’m free. I’m a busy girl, you know.”

Obviously I’m free! Even if I were not, I would cancel all my appointments just for him! That day, I did my make-up for one hour, made sure my skirt was short enough (my mother has always told me to wear more; okay then, I take her advice: Less is more) and wore the bra that could change an alphabet before going to the KTV room he had booked. My make-up was so thick that I hoped I did not have to smile!

He was, as he had told me, singing alone. “Need to relax,” he said. I walked in, we sang until our throat burned and then went for dinner. I’m telling you, it was more than just a dinner. He made me laugh so much that I was full even before the food came. Then, he suddenly became serious and told me that he worked about twelve hours every day, Monday to Sunday. He said the marketing director was retiring; it would be a great achievement for a twenty-nine-year-old man (him!) to be a marketing director of a big company.

He was ambitious, and I loved that. And loved him. I’ve always liked men who planned ahead; I could almost see my future with him, and every single word from him seemed to increase his attractiveness.

The last sentence of our date was simple: “Let’s meet again; I’ll call you.”

My heart melted. And that lovely lips. It’s more than awesome. It’s awemany! I was…addicted. To him.

Aww, don’t tell me you’ve not been attracted to a person of the opposite sex before? I’m just being honest to talk about it. You got a problem with that?

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