It was the Sunday before Christmas. It was a hot afternoon, but not unbearably hot, just lovely Summer weather. Syafika had all the windows open to let in the warm breeze, which carried the smell of Jasmine flowers and traces of the incense that the neighbours were burning.
Fanta, D’arby and John were on their way and Syafika was clearing everything off the kitchen table to make room for them to screen print some T-shirts. All four of them were in a holiday mood, especially John because his restaurant was closed until January.
As they walked to Syafika’s place John and D’arby were each pulling a two-wheeled shopping trolleys full of blank T-shirts and screen printing materials. D’arby was hoping that this visit would be better than the last time they went to Syafika’s place. John was appreciating the contrast between how good he felt to be on holiday now with how he used to feel when he didn’t have a job to take holiday from.
Syafika had an even longer list of T-shirt ideas ready this time. She’d also made some iced tea. Her parents had gone for a walk.
John and D’arby arrived before Fanta. The combination of holiday time plus the heat and smell of flowers soon put them into a silly mood. John insisted that they put some music on and started going through Syafika’s music collection. When Fanta arrived John and D’arby were laughing as they tried to break dance to an album they remembered fondly. John put on Syafika’s bicycle helmet and was trying to spin on his head when the doorbell rang.
Syafika threw the door open without taking notice of who it was – she was busy laughing at John, who was actually pretty good at spinning on his head, and assumed it was her parents returning from their walk.
In walked Vincent. He was carrying a bunch of flowers, but did not look amused. When Syafika turned back to see who had come in the door Vincent greeted her with an expression that was a mixture of disappointment and anger. These emotions had so overcome him that all he could manage to say was “Well!” before he turned and left.
Syafika ran after Vincent, leaving John, D’arby and Fanta to look at each other guiltily. They realized now that they shouldn’t have agreed to meet at Syafika’s place, but the weather and their holiday moods had made them reckless.
Syafika wasn’t been able to get Vincent to stop walking. She chased him and tried to explain, but there really wasn’t anything to explain. Vincent had told Syafika to stay away from John and D’arby. He thought she would understand that it was a well-meant warning based on his experience. Syafika thought Vincent was being silly and bossy and had ignored his warning. She didn’t think Vincent would find out that she was still spending time with John and D’arby – Vincent had only given her a surprise visit once before, and although that was the time John and D’arby had been there Syafika hadn’t expected it to happen again.
When Syafika returned half an hour later her friends had gone. So had the screen printing stuff, and even her list of T-shirt ideas. The weather had changed. A cooler wind was blowing from another direction, bringing with it the smell of the damp manure that Rose had put on the front garden that morning.