The Inklings: Chapter 43

To read the story from the beginning go here.

It had been over a week since Syafika and Vincent had their big fight and Vincent still hadn’t contacted Syafika. Syafika was feeling unloved and thought that Vincent was being very self-centred. Vincent was showing his stubborn side and it really was a stubborn side. Syafika had spent most of the week staring at the telephone, hoping that Vincent would call and then getting angry when he didn’t.

Syafika was angrily washing the dishes and thinking about how awful Vincent was being when she heard the phone ring. She stopped washing the dishes and listened as her mum answered then called her to the phone.

Syafika ran to the phone because she thought Vincent had finally decided to apologise and she wanted to get to the phone before he changed his mind.

“Hello” said Syafika

“Hello Syafika! Why are you breathless? Is it because it is exciting to hear from me?”

Syafika took a couple of seconds to respond. Her mind had to change gears.

“Syafika?”

“Anthony?” said Syafika, finally.

“Yes. Did you miss me?” asked Anthony

Syafika couldn’t believe she was in the sort of situation she had once spent all of her spare moments dreaming about and wasn’t able to truthfully say that she’d missed Anthony.

“At first I missed you, but then I just got on with life” answered Syafika.

“I missed you” said Anthony

“What about your girlfriend and baby?” asked Syafika. She hadn’t forgotten about that!

“I made that up” said Anthony. “They don’t exist”

“Why?” asked Syafika

“Because I needed an excuse to leave” said Anthony

“Why? Why couldn’t you just say you were leaving?” asked Syafika

Anthony was sick of the topic though, and he ignored the question.

“So what are you doing tonight?” asked Anthony

“I hadn’t thought about that yet” replied Syafika

“Let’s go out for dinner then” said Anthony.

Syafika didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know what she wanted to do or what she should do. She’d been ready to spend the evening at home, waiting for Vincent to call.

“Well?” asked Anthony

“Ok” said Syafika and they arranged to meet in an hour.

When Syafika hung up the phone she was still justifying this date to herself. She decided it was going to be just a friendly dinner and that Vincent couldn’t have objected to that (although she was dreaming if she thought he wouldn’t) and that because Vincent hadn’t called her for a week Syafika could do what she liked. It was only when Syafika was satisfied with her reasoning that she realized she had agreed to meet Anthony in only one hour! Of course it was only going to be a friendly date, but it was still a date with Anthony. How could she make herself look perfect and get to the restaurant in less than an hour? She hadn’t even thought about what she would wear. She would be lucky if she even owned something nice enough for this special occasion and if she did there was no way it would be clean and ironed.

“Mum! Help me!” yelled Syafika.

Sixty five minutes later, Syafika arrived at the restaurant. Rose knew that Syafika and Vincent had been fighting but she had never known about Syafika’s obsession with Anthony and so she didn’t really understand what this date with a strange man was about. Nevertheless, Rose helped Syafika choose some clothes to wear and did her hair. Rose hoped that if Vincent was out of the picture the replacement was at least as handsome as him.

Anthony wasn’t there when Syafika arrived at the restaurant and so she immediately began to feel foolish. Why had she rushed? Now he would think she was keen to see him. Or what if he wasn’t coming at all? What would she do then? Would she have dinner by herself? Syafika wasn’t even wearing a watch so she couldn’t tell how late he was. She sat down at a table by herself and pretended to be looking at the menu while these thoughts floated around in her head. She was so worried about what to do if Anthony didn’t turn up that she forgot he might actually arrive.

When Anthony walked into the restaurant he saw Syafika staring intently at the menu, looking sort of worried.

“My lovely Syafika!” said Anthony, as he walked over to the table. Syafika looked up to see Anthony with such a big smile on his face that it was almost ridiculous. She couldn’t believe that he was so happy to be there with her, but that’s what it looked like.

“Hello” said Syafika. She was thrilled to see Anthony, but also worried about what would happen and she was feeling guilty because she wasn’t sure whether she was still in a relationship with Vincent or not.

Anthony sat down. “So what are you having? I saw you studying the menu carefully.”

“I don’t know. What do you suggest?” said Syafika, but she was just talking without thinking. She wanted to fill the space and make things feel a bit more normal because Anthony was still smiling crazily.

“It’s good to see you again” said Anthony. “I missed you”

Syafika couldn’t believe her ears. It was the second time in the same day she’d heard something that belonged in daydreams. Although things were different now and Syafika thought she still loved Vincent, she couldn’t help saying “I’m glad to see you again too”, although she didn’t add that she had missed Anthony, because that still wasn’t true. She had scarcely thought about Anthony since she met Vincent, but she knew that she would be thinking a lot about him now.

Syafika soon realized that Anthony had an agenda for the evening. He ordered some food (Syafika didn’t care what) and as soon as the waitress had gone he said “So, what have you been up to? I heard that you and Vincent broke up”. Syafika’s lies were coming back to get her. Anthony wasn’t talking about her recent fight with Vincent, but the story she’d made up about breaking up with her imaginary Vincent.

“Who told you that?” asked Syafika. Anthony must have been in touch with someone from work. Then their drinks arrived, so Anthony took the opportunity to avoid Syafika’s question.

“So, are you still single? Asked Anthony

At least Syafika had met a real life Vincent. It made it easier for her to explain what was going on now.

“I don’t know” said Syafika. “Vincent and I had a big fight and we haven’t been talking for a week.” As she said this, Syafika felt bad because she really didn’t believe that she and Vincent had broken up and she should have said so.

Anthony looked disappointed and confused. “So, did you and Vincent get back together again?” he asked.

“Yeah” said Syafika, extending her old lie.

“And now you have broken up again?” Asked Anthony

“I don’t know” said Syafika.

“Well you should work out what’s going on. It’s important” said Anthony. “Anyway, let’s talk about something else now.”

The rest of the evening was more comfortable. Syafika even managed to relax enough to be able to understand Anthony’s jokes (when she was nervous her brain didn’t work very well). At the end of the evening, Anthony walked her home, patted her on the shoulder, said he’d had fun and told her to take care of herself.

Syafika stayed awake all night, trying to work out what was going on. Three things were bothering her at once. The first was that Vincent still hadn’t called her and she didn’t know what that meant. She hadn’t thought that their fight would end the relationship and she didn’t want it to.

The second thing that bothered Syafika that night was whether it was right for her to have gone out for dinner with Anthony when she still thought Vincent was her boyfriend. Until she sorted out an answer to her first concern, Syafika couldn’t sort out the second.

The third thing that kept Syafika awake took most of her thoughts that night. She was wondering how much Anthony was interested in her and whether she had blown her chance that night. At first he’d seemed really keen. Remembering this made Syafika’s heart beat faster. However, after they had discussed Vincent, Anthony’s mood had changed and it had become less of a romantic date and more like dinner between friends. Even if Syafika and Vincent were still together, even if Vincent rang to apologise tomorrow, Syafika would still like Anthony to be in love with her, not just a friend. Of course if Anthony did tell Syafika that he loved her, Syafika would ask Anthony if they could just be friends (that’s if she decided that she was still with Vincent). Syafika was really disappointed that Anthony hadn’t tried to kiss her (not that she would have kissed him back, but just because she wanted him to have tried). Then Syafika thought about this a bit more and realized that maybe Anthony’s not kissing her was a good sign because it meant that he respected her too much to try when he wasn’t sure that she was single. Maybe it was a sign that he wanted to marry her! Maybe Anthony wasn’t sleeping either. Maybe he was lying awake and hoping that she and Vincent would really break up. Syafika didn’t rest on this thought though. If Anthony was awake, maybe he wasn’t thinking of her at all. Maybe he was out dancing and having fun. Maybe Vincent was out dancing too.

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