Tuesday at work was much quieter for Syafika. Nobody emailed her, and nobody called her. She could only assume that the Ministers Office had been happy with the information she’d supplied the night before. After the excitement of the day before, Syafika actually felt a bit bored. At lunchtime she decided to go for a walk in the nearby Botanic Gardens and enjoy not having to keep an eye on the time (if she was late nobody would be there to care and she’d already finished everything on her list of things to do that day).
Syafika wandered along the paths enjoying the smell of damp leaves and some strange fluffy white flowers. She was humming to herself and not paying attention to where she was going when around the corner came a runner and they collided. Syafika nearly lost her balance but he quickly put his arm out to support her. She looked up, not sure whether to be angry or apologetic and saw that it was Anthony. Instead of taking a step back to reclaim her personal space, Syafika stayed where she was and took a deep breath.
“You ok?” asked Anthony
“Yep” answered Syafika and tried to think of something else to say to keep the conversation going.
“I didn’t know you came here” said Anthony.
“I didn’t know you came here either” said Syafika
“Or you wouldn’t have come here?” suggested Anthony.
“No! I mean….” said Syafika. Then she was too embarrassed to say anything else.
“How’s Vincent?” asked Anthony.
“We broke up. I guess he’s fine” replied Syafika.
“Again?” asked Anthony.
“For the last time. We neither care for each other anymore” said Syafika.
Anthony smiled then said “I need to finish my run and get back to work. I’ll call you”. Then he ran off.
Syafika sat down on the first seat she could find. She felt shaky – she had that Anthony-induced feeling again. It was unsettling and made her feel a bit anxious but it was also delicious – warm and happy. Syafika remembered what it felt like in those seconds she was standing close to Anthony and didn’t want to move. She thought about following him to see where he went, but it was too late – she didn’t know which way he’d gone.
Instead Syafika went back to her desk and was engrossed in reading an article Fanta had emailed her when she realized that someone was standing behind her.
“Ah, so this is why you have to stay so late to finish your work” said the man from the lift. He introduced himself as Nelson and explained that he was hiding from his Executive Director Christine – the lady Syafika had seen him coming out of the lift with the night before.
“I can’t believe you are really hiding” said Syafika.
“I am” Nelson replied. “Christine is a bully”
Syafika was unsure what to do or say so she wheeled a chair to the empty desk next to her and said “Sit down if you like”
Nelson sat down and didn’t say anything. After a few minutes Syafika couldn’t stand the awkwardness anymore and started laughing nervously.
“Do you want some paper and pens so you can do a drawing?” she tried to joke.
Nelson looked Syafika in the eye while he took a breath.
“Can I tell you something?” asked Nelson.
“Ok” answered Syafika, sounding a bit worried.
“Sorry, but I need to tell someone. Christine is doing something really bad and I don’t understand why” said Nelson
“What is she doing?” asked Syafika.
“I think she is helping the Minister steal money” said Nelson.
“You should report it then” said Syafika.
“Yeah, that’s easier said than done” answered Nelson. “She’s had me organize the dodgy modelling and sign-off on all the paperwork so it looks like I’m the one who’s doing the wrong thing.
Syafika didn’t know what to say. She felt scared because she didn’t know whether it was Nelson or Christine who was the bad one and she wished Nelson hadn’t told her anything.
Luckily for Syafika, her phone rang and as she answered it Nelson got up and left.