To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/
At 12:45pm Syafika left her desk to go and meet Anthony. She didn’t change into her running clothes this time because she was determined that she and Anthony were going to talk. As Syafika walked to the café in the Botanic Gardens she mentally rehearsed the list of questions that she and D’arby had come up with. D’arby seemed to think that Anthony was some kind of spy and told Syafika that she should pretend she knew what he was up to. Syafika was impressed with the way D’arby thought. Anthony being a spy would explain his disappearing, name changes and maybe even the wig. It also explained why Anthony had wanted Celine to work in her team – Celine must be another spy. What Syafika found disconcerting was that if Anthony was a spy he’d probably only had lunch and dinner with her to get information out of her. Syafika imagined that Anthony had a set of tricks similar to Celine’s and knew how to make people like him and think he was interested in them, when really he was only interested in what they knew.
At 1:10pm Anthony hadn’t arrived and Syafika started to think that he wouldn’t turn up. She decided that she’d continue to wait outside the café until 1:10pm and then she’d go inside and order herself some lunch. She wasn’t going to let Anthony completely ruin her lunchtime.
At 1:15pm Anthony still hadn’t arrived. Syafika looked in all directions to see if she could see him approaching but she couldn’t so she went inside and lined up to order herself something to eat. Syafika was very disappointed that Anthony hadn’t come and tried not to cry as she ordered one of the fancy salads. Then she noticed the chocolate cake and ordered a slice of it too.
“Same for me and I’ll pay for it all” said the person behind Syafika in the queue and Syafika jumped because it was Anthony.
“Thanks”said Syafika and tried not to show how happy she was to see Anthony. “You were so late I thought you weren’t coming”.
“I tried to call you lots of times to tell you I couldn’t get here until a quarter past, but your phone’s been off” said Anthony.
Syafika thought that was pretty funny and said “I hate mobile phones”.
Syafika and Anthony took their food to an outside table and sat down to eat.
“Why didn’t you call me sooner?” asked Anthony.
Syafika thought that was a ridiculous question and guessed that Anthony was trying to get her to reveal how she’d got his number.
“You didn’t make it easy to call you, especially when you only gave me a number that didn’t work” said Syafika.
“So how did you get a number that worked?” asked Anthony.
“I saw you with Celine, in your silly wig so I got your number from her” said Syafika.
“What did you tell Celine?” said Anthony.
Syafika could tell that Anthony was worried about what she had told Celine, or maybe about what Celine could have told her and thought it might be funny to let him think that she and Celine had discussed him but she didn’t think she’d be able to trick Anthony and so she kept closer to the truth.
“No, I took your number from Celine’s phone when she wasn’t looking” said Syafika.
Anthony looked relieved for a second, then started to look worried and Syafika guessed that he must have realised that he wouldn’t have been listed as ‘Anthony’ in Celine’s phone.
“But she has a nickname for me” said Anthony. “How did you know that?”
“Mr L?” said Syafika. “I didn’t know what Celine called you but because there was no ‘Anthony’ in her phone I wrote down all the names that sounded masculine. There was also a Mr X and a Mr Triangle”
Anthony didn’t look entirely convinced by Syafika’s explanation but didn’t say so.
“Now it’s my turn to ask you some questions” said Syafika. “What’s going on between you, Celine and Nelson? Is Celine spying for you? Do you want your old job back?”
Anthony looked frightened when Syafika mentioned Nelson and after a pause he answered “My old job back? No. Celine is just someone I went on some dates with and I knew Nelson when I was working there before. We sometimes catch-up” said Anthony.
Syafika didn’t enjoy hearing Anthony say that he’d been on dates with Celine because she was hoping that their relationship was professional, even if it was that they were both professional spies. Syafika tried to remember the exact words of the conversation she’d overheard between Anthony and Nelson so she could work out whether what Anthony said about him and Nelson being friends could be true. She remembered that Anthony had been pressuring Nelson to make sure that Celine got a job in her team. Syafika supposed that Anthony may have done that because he was in love with Celine, but if Anthony and Celine were in love then why hadn’t Celine spoken to Anthony when she’d seen him in the Botanic Gardens last week? And why had Celine told her that she was single?
“Where are you working now?” asked Syafika.
“Here and there. I mostly do short term contract work” said Anthony. “It gives me the flexibility to travel to see my Mum when I need to. She lives in Perth and she’s been quite sick lately”.
Syafika wasn’t satisfied with that answer. She wanted to know what kind of work Anthony was doing but knew that if he really was a spy he wouldn’t tell her. Syafika wondered whether she should bother asking how Anthony could afford his harbourside flat. She suspected that he’d just make up a story about having been given free rent by a relative or something. Syafika wondered what Celine would do in her situation, and then she remembered what Celine had taught her.
“Sorry to hear about your Mum” said Syafika. “What’s wrong with her? Is she going to be ok?”
Anthony looked relieved and started telling Syafika how his Mum had a heart problem that meant she got tired and dizzy easily. As Syafika listened to Anthony she looked at his eyes and imagined describing them to Celine. Anthony’s eyes were a greenish brown and Syafika wondered if that meant they should be called ‘hazel’.
“What’s Perth like? Did you grow up there?” Syafika asked Anthony and as Anthony told her how he had grown up in Perth and about all the places there he liked to go Syafika was busy working going through the rest of Celine’s list of observations.
“What are you doing tomorrow night?” asked Anthony. “Would you like to go out for dinner and a movie?”
Syafika was so happy she almost laughed. “Yes, I would like that” and they arranged the place and time. When they said goodbye Anthony gave Syafika a hug and she tried to work out what Anthony smelt like.
As Syafika walked back to work she looked at her watch and realised that it was 2:30pm. She walked a bit faster and hoped she hadn’t missed anything important.