To read from the start, go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/
It was Monday morning. The sky was cloudy but the air was warm and it was predicted to be a very hot day. Syafika was feeling nervously excited about going to work. As she walked along she was humming to herself. Would she be able to contribute anything to the morning team meeting now that she understood so much more of what the team was working on? Would she be able to go for a walk in the Botanic Gardens at lunchtime, and if she did, would she bump into Anthony there? Then after work Syafika was going to Fanta’s house for dinner with D’arby and John. It was meant to be one of their activism meetings but Syafika anticipated that the others would just want to talk about the plan for John and D’arby to move in with Fanta and that was something Syafika didn’t want to hear about because it made her feel left out. She felt like John and D’arby were stealing Fanta from her.
The closer Syafika got to work, the more anxious she felt. Her usual response to anxiety was to eat or drink something and so Syafika stopped at a cafe to order a takeaway coffee. As she waited nervously near the cash register for her coffee to be made Syafika noticed an elegant woman walk in. Syafika noticed the woman because she was everything Syafika thought she could never be – so neat, so clean and confident. She had sleek hair and very thin arms and legs. A bead of sweat began to run down Syafika’s face and as she wiped it off with the back of her hand Syafika noticed that the elegant lady had no signs of sweat or grease on her face – it was as if she’d just walked out of a fridge. Syafika watched as the woman sat down at one of the tables where a man was sitting with his back to Syafika. Syafika wished she could see the man’s face because she was sure he would be handsome.
Syafika’s coffee was ready and it was time to go but she didn’t want to go. She wanted to watch the couple at the table. So she sat down at another table and pretended to be looking for something in her bag while watching them. The waiter took their order over – two black coffees. Syafika took a deep breath because black coffee reminded her of Anthony and at the top of her breath she thought she could smell Anthony. She looked at the back of the man’s head again. If it was Anthony then he’d had a haircut, but it could be him. Then he turned his head slightly to the side and Syafika saw that it was Anthony.
By then Anthony and the elegant woman had each taken their mobile phones out. It looked like they were swapping phone numbers. Syafika had never before wanted to own a mobile phone because she thought they were a sign of unreliability and poor morals, but for a moment when she saw that elegant woman putting Anthony’s phone number into her phone Syafika wished she had one too.
Syafika realized that she had to leave the café before Anthony noticed she was there because she didn’t want him to see her distress. So she rushed off to work, making it just in time for the morning meeting. Syafika didn’t pay attention during the meeting though. She was too busy keeping tears at bay and wondering about things. Syafika wondered why Anthony was having coffee with the elegant woman. She wondered whether Anthony was in love with the elegant woman already or whether there was still time to stop that from happening. But the thing that hurt Syafika the most was Anthony had given the elegant woman his mobile phone number when he’d only given Syafika his landline phone number (and that number didn’t even work).
At lunchtime Syafika did manage to get out of the office and walk in the Botanic Gardens. Her reason for walking there had changed though. She didn’t expect to meet Anthony there, or even want to. She just wanted to go somewhere where she could cry without anyone at work seeing or hearing. As soon as Syafika got through the gates of the gardens her tears started flowing. At first the tears stayed inside her sunglasses and Syafika thought she might get away with impersonating someone who was fine and just enjoying a lunchtime walk, but then the tears started escaping the sunglasses and running down her cheeks. A couple of ladies carrying containers of salad noticed that Syafika was crying and asked if she was ok, but they didn’t really want to get involved with Syafika’s troubles and so when Syafika told them she was ok they were satisfied and left her alone.
Syafika looked for somewhere to hide because she didn’t want to have to spend the rest of her lunchtime fending off strangers who were uncomfortable when they saw someone crying. Syafika realized she’d have to leave the path. Feeling grateful that she’d worn sensible shoes, Syafika squeezed between two bushes and sat down on some freshly laid mulch with her back against a large tree. If Syafika peeped between the branches of the bushes she could see people walking past on the path, but they didn’t seem to be able to see her. Syafika was so pleased with her spot that she was no longer feeling sad enough to cry. She decided to try and relax instead. She rested her head against the tree and looked up at the shapes the canopy made as the wind moved the leaves. Then the tears started again. Syafika felt well and truly sorry for herself and cried for ten minutes or so before being distracted by the sound of someone running along the path. Syafika peeped through the bushes because she wanted to see what sort of person went running on such a hot day. When she saw that it was Anthony, and that he had somehow managed to undo his haircut Syafika shook her head at how ridiculous that was. Then, before she could really think about what she was doing, Syafika was up and running after Anthony. She didn’t want to catch up with Anthony. She just wanted to see where he went. The trouble was that Anthony could run faster than Syafika and so Syafika had to take a couple of short cuts through garden beds to keep sight of Anthony. Syafika laughed as she jumped over a low hedge of azaleas and hoped the Ranger wouldn’t see her.
Anthony ran a complicated path around the botanic gardens before sprinting uphill towards Government House and then stopping to stretch. By then Syafika was so out of breath that her throat was sore, so when she saw that Anthony had stopped to stretch she stopped running too, but kept walking towards Anthony. After Anthony finished stretching he left the gardens through the gate behind Government House and crossed the street. Then he went into a block of apartments that overlooked the harbour. Syafika couldn’t follow Anthony inside, but she didn’t have to go inside to know that it was strange that Anthony could afford to live there.