Category Archives: Serial

The Inklings: Chapter 124

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

On Thursday morning Ousman woke up feeling excited. He was looking forward to the party that night at India’s place. She’d promised him the night before that she would hire the chocolate fountain again.

Ousman rushed to get ready for school so he’d have some time left to play with Aminata before he had to leave.

When Ousman was dressed he went to the kitchen to pack his lunch and have breakfast and was a bit surprised to find Mamadou there, cooking something with lots of tomatoes and eggs in it.

“Your hair needs more brushing” said Mamadou. “Go and get your brush and I will do it for you”.

Ousman wasn’t happy with this change of plans but didn’t want to be rude to his dad so he went and got his hairbrush.

Mamadou turned the stove off and brushed Ousman’s hair until there were no tangles or stray hairs. Ousman stayed quiet and pretended it didn’t hurt in the hope that it would be over sooner. He hoped that his dad wasn’t going to want to brush his hair every morning.

“There! Now you look really handsome” said Mamadou and he gave Ousman back his hairbrush. Ousman ran to put the brush back and when he returned to the kitchen he saw that Mamadou had put some eggs out for him.

Ousman sat down and looked at the eggs. They had been fried with onion and tomato.  Ousman thought they smelled quite nice, but was a bit suspicious.

“Here – have some bread with it” said Mamadou and he handed Ousman a thick slice of bread.

Ousman watched Mamadou dip the bread into his eggs and copied him. Then Ousman slowly took a bite of soggy bread and was pleasantly surprised by the taste.

Binta came in from the backyard with a bunch of flowers and put them in a small vase on the table before she sat down to eat some eggs too. Ousman watched his mum take her first bite to see what she thought of it and could tell from her expression that she liked it too.

When Ousman had finished eating his eggs he quickly packed himself some food for lunch, before going to find Aminata, who was usually sitting out in the backyard at that time of day.

Aminata was splashing around in some shallow water underneath the fountain. Ousman watched her for a minute or so and then he realised he could hear frogs croaking in the pond so he went to have a look. As Ousman approached the pond he noticed a small splash and imagined that a frog had jumped into the water to hide from him. Then Ousman noticed something that looked like froth in the water. When he looked more closely he noticed that they were frog’s eggs. Ousman was so excited that he ran to tell Syafika.

Syafika wasn’t up yet so Ousman knocked on her bedroom door.

“Syafika! You’ve slept in again! Would you like me to make you tea again? And guess what? There are frog eggs in the pond. Come and see!”  shouted Ousman.

Ousman waited for Syafika to respond but she didn’t.

“Syafika! Wake up!” shouted Ousman, but there was still no answer.

Then Ousman heard the phone ring. Aminata flew over to the phone and started copying the ringing sound.

Ousman was a bit scared of answering the phone because he thought it would probably be someone he didn’t know, but he couldn’t see anyone else heading towards the phone so he reluctantly answered.

“Hello” said Ousman.

“Is that Ousman? It’s me” said Syafika.

“Why are you calling me?” asked Ousman. He was confused because he still thought Syafika was in her room asleep.

“Didn’t you wonder where I was?” asked Syafika.

That’s when Ousman realised that Syafika wasn’t in her room.

“Where are you?” asked Ousman. “Did you leave really early?”

“Didn’t anyone check the message I left on the answering machine?” asked Syafika.

“I don’t know” said Ousman.

“Didn’t anyone miss me when I wasn’t there last night?” asked Syafika.

“Aunty Rose thought you were asleep and she told us all to be quiet” said Ousman. “When you do come home, have a look in the pond. There’s something really exciting”

“Ok” said Syafika. “Can you tell Mum I’m coming home soon and that I stayed at a friend’s house last night because I was sick. I was vomiting!”

“Ok” said Ousman and he was so excited by the news that he hung up without saying goodbye and ran to find Rose.


The Inklings: Chapter 123

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

Syafika woke up shivering and realised that she didn’t have a blanket over her. She put her hand out and searched for one in the dark but couldn’t find one. Then she realised that she didn’t know where she was sleeping. She thought she could see the shape of a bedside lamp so she put her hand out and felt for a switch. The lamp turned on automatically when she touched it and Syafika saw that she was lying on a bed, on top of the blankets.

It took Syafika a few seconds to remember where she was and why she was there. Her stomach felt better now but she was thirsty so she got up to get a glass of water. When Syafika passed the door of the main bedroom she could hear snoring so she tried to walk as quietly as possible. Syafika gently opened cupboards in the kitchen as she looked for a glass. She found neat stacks of bowls and plates, a modest pantry and a juicing machine before she came across the cups and glasses.

Syafika took her glass of water and walked around the flat. First she looked out at the harbour and noticed that there were no boats moving around. Then she noticed a flash of lightning and as she watched it start to rain she hoped that D’arby had followed her instructions and gone home.

When Syafika remembered D’arby she remembered that she’d met up with Anthony for a purpose. Syafika realised she should look be looking for clues to what Anthony was up to and imagined she might find some on his computer or phone or maybe some paperwork. Then Syafika remembered the transmitter D’arby had given her and wondered where she could hide it. Syafika decided to go back to her room to get the transmitter from her bag but on the way she noticed a door to another room. She turned the door handle slowly and gently, then stopped to listen. When Syafika heard Anthony’s snoring she decided it was safe to continue. She went inside the room and turned on the light.

Inside the room there was a desk, bookshelf and a couple of filing cabinets. The filing cabinets were locked but the desk drawers weren’t. Syafika had a quick look in them but only found stationery. Syafika wondered where Anthony kept the key to the filing cabinets. There wasn’t anywhere obvious to hide a key so she felt the top of the bookshelf but only found dust. Syafika sighed with frustration and wished she’d taken more notice of what was in Anthony’s room when she’d walked through to go to the balcony. Syafika considered trying to creep into Anthony’s room to have a look for his phone or computer, but when she imagined how embarrassed she’d feel if he woke up Syafika decided not to.

Instead Syafika went back to her room and got the transmitter then walked around the living room with it looking for somewhere to put it, but she couldn’t decide on a good spot because all the good hiding places were so out of the way that they probably wouldn’t pick up anything Anthony said and she didn’t want to risk putting it somewhere where Anthony would find it. Syafika was about to give up and go back to bed when she noticed a jacket hanging on the back of the door. Syafika took the jacket down and inspected it. She decided that the collar would be a great spot to hide the transmitter so she quietly got a sharp knife from the kitchen and cut a few of the stitches joining the underside of the collar to the jacket. Then she tured the transmitter on, slid it inside the collar and hung the jacket back up.

After Syafika returned the knife to the kitchen she went back to bed and lay there feeling exhausted but also guilty for not having made the most of this opportunity to look throught Anthony’s things.

Not long after Syafika fell asleep again she was woken by the sound of her phone ringing. She turned the light on and saw that her bag was on the bedside table so she quickly took out her phone and answered.

“Hello?” said Syafika. She was really curious to know who was calling because she didn’t think anyone but Anthony knew her number.

“Are you alright?” asked D’arby.

“Yes” said Syafika. “I feel much better now”.

“What are you doing?” asked D’arby.

“I was sleeping” said Syafika.

“What is Anthony doing?” asked D’arby.

“Sleeping, I guess” said Syafika and she realised that she couldn’t hear him snoring anymore.

“Have you had a look around?” asked D’arby.

“Yes but he hasn’t left anything accessible” said Syafika.

“Are you sure? Why don’t you have another look? What about in his room?” asked D’arby.

“I’m not going in there. He might wake up and catch me” said Syafika.

“You could make an excuse if he wakes up. Tell him you were looking for headache tablets” said D’arby.

Syafika sighed loudly and decided that D’arby was right and she should be making more of this opportunity.

“Ok” said Syafika. “I will do it now. Bye”

Syafika sat and listened for the sound of Anthony’s snoring but couldn’t hear anything. She had a really bad feeling about sneaking into his room and realised that she ought to be able to come up with a better plan. Syafika concentrated on her breathing until she felt calm. Them she got up and gently knocked on Anthony’s bedroom door.

When there was no answer Syafika knocked again and this time she thought she heard something so she gently opened the door and walked in.

Anthony turned on his bedside lamp and sat up in bed, looking a bit startled.

“Sorry to wake you but I have a terrible headache. Do you have something I could take?” asked Syafika. As she said this Syafika felt guilty, but not as guilty as she’d have felt if she had been sneaking around Anthony’s room in the dark. Syafika noticed that Anthony looked different when he was half asleep. His hair was sticking up messily and he seemed to be having trouble registering what she was saying.

Anthony briefly covered his face with his hands as his eyes adjusted to the light. Then he nervously scratched his hair. Syafika made the most of this opportunity to have a discreet look around the room. She noticed that Anthony’s phone was on his bedside table and so she sat down on the floor next to the bedside table and held her head.

“Ok. Just a minute” said Anthony and he got up and left the room. Syafika waited a couple of seconds and then grabbed Anthony’s phone, but soon realised that was a waste of time because it was locked and needed a fingerprint to unlock it.

Syafika put the phone back and, realising that it would take a lot more planning for her to be able to steal Anthony’s secrets, but that there was one thing she could have a go at – she could see what Anthony would tell her.

When Anthony came back he handed Syafika a glass of water and then put two tablets in her other hand.

“Thanks” said Syafika and she put the tablets in her mouth then pretended to take a sip of water and swallow. She had a thing against headache tablets and didn’t want to take them, even when she really did have a headache. When Anthony looked away Syafika spat the tablets into her hand and stood up.

“Will you be ok now?” asked Anthony.

Syafika looked at Anthony and wondered whether she should try to talk to him now or in the morning. She thought he seemed a little bit annoyed at being woken up, which made Syafika think it would be better to wait until the morning. But at the same time, Anthony’s tiredness made him less sharp and Syafika thought she’d have a better chance of getting information out of him now.

Syafika sat down on the corner of Anthony’s bed and sighed loudly.

“This game was fun, for a while, but I’m getting sick of it. Why don’t we both admit we are spying on each other and just tell each other what we would like to know – it would save a lot of time” said Syafika.

Anthony suddenly perked up. He sat down next to Syafika, put his arm around her and said “That sounds like fun. Let’s make some coffee and then we can talk until the sun comes up”. Then Anthony got up and went to the kitchen. Syafika waited behind so she could throw the headache tablets under Anthony’s bed, then she followed Anthony to the kitchen, feeling terrified.

Syafika watched Anthony grind coffee beans and put them into a stovetop percolator.

“I need to watch the temperature carefully and it takes a while so please forgive my silence until the coffee is made” said Anthony. “If you think it is too boring you can go and try unlocking my filing cabinets again. The key is hidden in that room somewhere. See if you can find it”

Syafika’s face became hot with embarrassment and she felt like hiding in one of the kitchen cupboards but instead she had to look Anthony in the eye.

Anthony smiled and took a small digital voice recorder out of his pocket. When he pressed the button it started making a snoring sound.

“Don’t worry. I’m not angry. I would have done the same if you’d let me sleep at your place” said Anthony. “Plus I know D’arby made you do it”.

Syafika tried to hide her surprise when she heard Anthony mention D’arby and wondered how Anthony knew who D’arby was. If Syafika hadn’t been about to bluff her way through a secret-trading session with Anthony she would have asked him how he knew D’arby, but instead she tried to look as if she already knew.

Syafika walked over to the look at the harbour, and on the way she noticed Anthony’s jacket hanging on the back of the door and wondered if Anthony also knew about her hiding the transmitter in the collar. As Syafika looked out the window she noticed that it had stopped raining but she could still see lightning in the distance. Syafika realised that her heart was beating really fast and tried to calm down by staring at the water and not thinking about anything.

“Coffee’s ready” said Anthony and he carried the coffees over on a tray and put it down on the coffee table. Syafika sat down on a chair that was facing the window and Anthony sat opposite her. When she looked at the tray it reminded her of the tea that Ousman had made for her at breakfast time, and she felt like that was a million years ago. Syafika saw that Anthony had made her a coffee with milk and had sprinkled chocolate powder on top and he’d made himself a black coffee.

“It was your idea, so you go first. Tell me something” said Anthony.

“Wouldn’t you rather ask a question?” said Syafika.

“Asking questions is a more dangerous version of the game. I don’t think you’re ready for that level yet” said Anthony.

“I’m not ready? Or is it just that you think you’d be able to control the information you give me more tightly if I can’t ask for the things I want to know?” said Syafika.

“Both” said Anthony. “Go, before the sun comes up. When we see the sun, we stop”.

“Ok” said Syafika. “Today… I mean yesterday, Celine and I went for coffee and we talked about you”

Anthony tried to keep his face blank but Syafika could tell that what she’d said had made him angry.

“That’s not much information” said Anthony, and not what I wanted to know. I don’t follow you to see who you go for coffee with”

Syafika wanted to smile but couldn’t. She was pleased with herself for having made Anthony admit that he’d been following her.

“Sorry. I’ll think of something more interesting next time it is my turn. Your turn now” said Syafika.

“Nelson is a psychopath” said Anthony.

Syafika hadn’t expected that. She had heard D’arby talk about psychopaths but didn’t really know what they were.

“Your turn” said Anthony.

“According to Nelson, Christine is helping the Minister steal money” said Syafika.

“That is more interesting” said Anthony. “But you shouldn’t trust anything Nelson says”.

“Who can I trust?” asked Syafika.

“You should trust Christine” said Anthony. “That was my turn. Now it’s your turn”

Syafika was glad to hear that she could trust Christine because she liked Christine, but she realised she liked Nelson too.

Syafika felt like she’d run out of things to say that might be of interest to Anthony professionally and she couldn’t stop wondering why Anthony had been following her – had he been doing that for his work? Or was he following her because he was personally interested in her? She was tempted to admit that she was obsessed with him but frightened of how he’d react.

“Let me think for a minute” said Syafika. “I need to take in what you’ve said and work out what I should tell you next”

Syafika realised that she needed to rethink everything she’d assumed about Anthony. She’d assumed that he was interested in her because he wanted to know what was going on at her work, and that Anthony was interested in what went on at work because he was involved in some kind of corruption. She’d also assumed that Nelson and Celine were working as spies for Anthony, but if Anthony had two spies, why would he risk trying to find out information from her? Hearing that Anthony thought Nelson was a psychopath and that he thought she could trust Christine made Syafika realise that Anthony didn’t trust Nelson. The way Anthony had got angry when she told him she’d had coffee with Celine made Syafika suspect that Anthony didn’t trust Celine much either. If all that were true then maybe Anthony tried to find out information from her because he trusted her more than he trusted his spies. That seemed like a sensible explanation but it didn’t explain how Anthony knew D’arby, or why Anthony had followed her home.

Syafika wondered what interest Anthony could have in D’arby and remembered that D’arby had started a new job recently but she didn’t know what the job was. When Syafika thought about how D’arby had suddenly become interested in spying on Anthony she wondered whether D’arby might also have his own reason for spying on Anthony. But even if that were true, what business did Anthony have following her home?

Syafika wanted to think that Anthony had followed her home because he was in love with her, but she forced herself to think through other possibilities and realised that there was another reason that Anthony would follow her home – what if Anthony was spying on her because he wanted to find out something about her family? What if Anthony hadn’t been following her when he saw her running barefoot – what if he’d been spying on her house and saw her arrive home? When Syafika thought of her family the idea that Anthony would want to know anything about any of them seemed ridiculous because none of them ever did anything suspicious, until she remembered how she’d followed Rose and had seen her give a bundle of cash to a lady who lived in the park near the train station.

“Ok. I’ve got one. I saw my Mum give a bundle of $50 notes to a lady who lives in the park near the train station” said Syafika. Syafika paid careful attention to Anthony’s face as she said this because she was using it as bait and hoping that his reaction would tell her whether he was interested in knowing about her family or not.

Anthony opened his mouth slightly, as if he wanted to ask a question but he didn’t say anything. He just stared at Syafika.

Syafika held Anthony’s gaze for a couple of seconds and then it became too uncomfortable so she glanced over his shoulder and noticed that the sky was getting lighter.

“I think the sun is coming up” said Syafika. Can we watch it from the balcony?”


The Inklings: Chapter 122

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

D’arby was puffed when he got home because he’d run some of the way (at least he’d tried to run all the downhill bits). As he approached the house he was relieved to see that there were still lights on.

When Fanta heard the door opening she came to look. Fanta got a fright when she first saw D’arby, until she realised he was wearing a disguise. Then she started laughing, but she soon became serious again.

“What happened?” asked Fanta.

“Syafika started vomiting so she went to Anthony’s place to stay the night” said D’arby.

“What? Why? Why didn’t she go home?” asked Fanta.

“I don’t know. She told me to go home” said D’arby.

“How did she seem when she told you that?” asked Fanta.

“Bossy” said D’arby.

Fanta was quiet for a few seconds. D’arby was relieved to see that Fanta didn’t look worried.

“I think she will be fine” said Fanta eventually. “We can track her down in the morning”

“But what if Anthony poisoned her?” asked D’arby.

“Why would he do that?” asked Fanta.

“I don’t know. Maybe he is a psychopath” said D’arby.

“Maybe he is, but why would he poison Syafika so publicly?” asked Fanta. “Don’t panic. Just go to sleep and rest so you are ready for whatever happens tomorrow”.

D’arby thought there must be more to say but couldn’t think of anything so he just said “Ok” and went to take off his disguise.


The Inklings: Chapter 121

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

When Syafika arrived at Anthony’s flat she was only interested in getting to the toilet because she knew she was going to vomit soon. Syafika was glad that Anthony didn’t follow her into the bathroom. Syafika knelt down beside the toilet and waited for the next wave of nausea. When she’d vomited she rinsed her mouth and washed her face. Syafika discovered that Anthony was sitting on the floor just outside the bathroom door.

“I bet you think this is fun!” said Syafika. She always felt quite good just after she’d vomited, but knew that she’d start feeling sick again soon.

“It is less predictable than the movie we were watching” said Anthony. “What do you think made you sick?”

“Food poisoning or a tummy bug I guess” said Syafika, without giving much thought to what she was saying because she was too busy worrying that her parents would get home and not know where she was.

“Maybe you picked up some germs while running barefoot” said Anthony.

“Maybe. Hey, I need to try calling my parents again” said Syafika.

“But you can stay here” said Anthony.

“Thanks, I know, I will. I just need to tell them where I am” said Syafika.

Syafika got out her phone and called her home number. As she listened to it ringing she realised she was feeling angry with Anthony for having commented on her running barefoot. A couple of seconds later Syafika realised that if Anthony had seen her running barefoot he must have seen her running yesterday and wondered if he’d been following her. She wondered whether Anthony had meant to reveal that he’d seen her yesterday or whether it was an accident. When the answering machine answered the phone Syafika decided she didn’t want to have to keep ringing so she left a quick message about being sick and staying at a friend’s house.

“My parents still aren’t home so I left a message. Now they won’t worry when they come home and I’m not there” said Syafika.

“Good. Now you can relax” said Anthony. “Would you like something to drink? You probably need to rehydrate. Would you like some water with ice and lemon?”

“Thanks, that would be nice” said Syafika.

“Have a look at the view while I make it” said Anthony.

Syafika looked around and realised that the flat had large windows and a balcony on the harbour side so she went to have a look, but what she most wanted to do was see if there was a balcony facing the Botanic Gardens. She was hopeful that there was because when they came in she’d noticed that this was the only flat at the southern end of the floor.

“Wow! Do you have a view of the Botanic Gardens too?” asked Syafika.

“Yes, there’s a balcony off the main bedroom – go and have a look if you like” said Anthony.

Syafika tried not to look suspicious as she walked across the flat. She was aware that D’arby would be confused about what to do because he was supposed to keep watch over her and she suspected that he would be standing outside the door of the building and wondering what he should do. Syafika considered trying to sneak D’arby into Anthony’s flat but realised it was beyond her deceptive abilities.

Syafika turned on the balcony light and went out, closing the door behind her. Even though it was dark she could tell that the view on this side was amazing. She wasn’t a fan of the busy waterfront and would prefer to look over the Botanic Gardens. Syafika looked down to see if D’arby was there and noticed that someone was waving at her – it was D’arby. Syafika was very relieved to see D’arby and yelled out that he should go home because she was going to stay the night. When he said he’d stay outside she thought he was being ridiculous and told him to go. Then she hurried back inside because she knew it wouldn’t take Anthony long to make her drink.


The Inklings: Chapter 120

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

It was after 11pm when Rose, Festus, Binta, Ousman and Aminata got home from India’s place. Ousman and Aminata were both grumpy because they’d fallen asleep in India’s lounge room and Binta had woken them up for the walk home.

Rose noticed that Syafika’s bedroom door was closed so she said “Everyone be quiet – don’t wake Syafika”.

Rose quietly made herself a cup of tea while everyone else got ready for bed. She had enjoyed organizing the street meeting with India and hoped that something good would come of it.

Rose took her cup of tea and walked out the back door. She looked at Mamadou’s shed for a moment and guessed that he must be asleep because the light was off. Rose quietly walked into the greenhouse and closed the door behind her. She checked how her seedlings were coming along. She was growing three kinds of cabbages, six kinds of lettuce and two kinds of broccoli plus coriander and some violas. Rose thought they all looked healthy.

Rose reached behind the seedlings and put her hand into a tin labelled ‘blood and bone’. She pulled out a plastic box and opened it. Inside was a mobile phone. Rose checked behind her, listened for sounds of activity outside and then quickly turned the phone on and typed a text message. After she sent the message she turned off the phone and put it back, then left the greenhouse.

When Rose got back to the kitchen she wrote a note on a scrap of paper and walked upstairs to the top floor. Rose quickly slipped the note under Amanda’s bedroom door then hurried back downstairs before anyone saw her.


The Inklings: Chapter 119

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

D’arby sat down on a stone wall and felt like a failure. He’d watched Anthony lead Syafika into his block of units and hadn’t been able to save her. D’arby was glad that Fanta hadn’t been there to see how useless he’d been. D’arby realised that he’d gotten into this mess by being over-confident – he’d begun to think that he knew how to be a spy but that was just because he’d never really been tested. Real spies would know how to save their friends from dangerous situations but D’arby hadn’t had a clue.

D’arby tried to calm himself down by telling himself that Syafika probably wasn’t in any real danger and the only problem was that she might be feeling unprotected and alone. D’arby decided that he’d wait outside, all night if necessary, to make sure that Syafika made it out ok. To make the time pass faster D’arby thought about his work at RenewBank. The business with Anthony had caused a delay in the modelling work that D’arby, Carol and Valentine had been doing. D’arby knew they weren’t ready to make any plans public, because they hadn’t properly modelled anything yet. Leopold seemed to have worked things out in his head already though. D’arby wondered what Leopold had been doing before he started working for RenewBank and decided he’d ask him the next time he saw him.

D’arby was busy thinking about all the things RenewBank would have to do to phase-in their new currency and was imagining all the things that could go wrong when a man stopped and handed him some money and said “Go and get yourself a coffee”.

“Thanks!” said D’arby. He realised that a coffee would be a really good idea and wondered why someone would be so kind. D’arby stood up and wondered where he could get a coffee at that time of the night. He realised that he’d have to go to one of those dreadful 24 hour fast food places and wasn’t sure the coffee would be worth the effort. It also occurred to D’arby that maybe the person who’d told him to get a coffee was working for Anthony and the plan was to get him away from the door.

D’arby looked up at the building, half expecting to see Anthony spying on him from one of the balconies, but D’arby couldn’t see anyone. Then D’arby noticed a balcony light turn on about two thirds up the building. He watched carefully and saw the balcony door slide open. Out walked Syafika. She closed the door behind her and looked out. D’arby realised that she must have been looking for him and he started to wave. Syafika didn’t seem to notice and D’arby realised he was standing in the dark so he rushed to a street light and waved again.

When Syafika saw D’arby she waved back and smiled. Then she leaned over the balcony and yelled “Go home! I’m ok – I just keep vomiting so I’ll stay here tonight. I’ll probably be ok by the morning. Go!”

“I’d rather stay, just in case” yelled D’arby.

“What?” said Syafika.

“I’m staying, just in case” yelled D’arby.

“No. Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t sleep in the park. Go home” Syafika replied. And she went back inside and turned off the balcony light.

D’arby stood there for a few minutes. First he memorized which balcony Syafika had appeared on and then he thought about what he should do. He realised that the main thing stopping him from going home was what Fanta might say when she realised that Syafika was all on her own with Anthony.”Maybe Fanta will know what I should do” thought D’arby. “I should just tell her what’s going on, not sit out here doing nothing”. D’arby looked at his watch and realised that if he hurried Fanta might still be awake when he got home.


The Inklings: Chapter 118

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

As Syafika sat down at the restaurant table with Anthony she realised she felt a bit sick but thought it must just have been because she was feeling nervous. The waiter poured them each a big glass of sparkling water and told them it was filtered and carbonated on the premises. Syafika drank half of the glass straight away and hoped it would make her stomach feel better.

Anthony was looking very handsome that night and was being very charming. Syafika couldn’t help smiling and laughing a lot. She thought she may as well enjoy the night because it would probably be the last time she saw Anthony – she may as well pretend that they were both there because they enjoyed each other’s company. Syafika enjoyed the gentle smile Anthony was giving her because it made her feel admired.

Syafika wanted to appear elegant but the food was so delicious that couldn’t help eating a lot, and probably too fast. Syafika noticed that Anthony also ate his dinner fast and wondered whether he was just trying to keep up with her, but then remembered that on Tuesday Anthony had finished his lunch well before her.

When they finished their main course Anthony looked at his watch and suggested that there was time for dessert. A passing waiter heard him and stopped to take their order.

“Normally I would love to have dessert, but I think I ate too much already. I would like a peppermint tea though” said Syafika.

Anthony ordered tiramisu and a black coffee and when the waiter had gone he started smiling at Syafika again and Syafika began to feel that it was too much – if Anthony was trying to charm her he was trying too hard. It even crossed Syafika’s mind that Fanta might have been right when she suggested that Anthony could be crazy.

Syafika nervously finished off her glass of sparkling water and then smiled back at Anthony for a half a minute. While she was looking at Anthony she decided that she may as well ask him some questions while she had the chance.

“Why do you go running? For fun or health?” asked Syafika.

“Both” said Anthony. “What about you?”

Syafika took a deep breath and tried to look like Anthony’s question hadn’t flustered her while she anxiously scanned through her memory, looking for a time that Anthony could have seen her running when she wasn’t chasing him around the Botanic Gardens, but there wasn’t one. Syafika concluded that Anthony was either talking about the times she’d chased him or had seen her running another time without her noticing. Syafika looked into Anthony’s eyes and wished she could read his mind. Then she decided she may as well just tell the truth.

“I used to hate running and if I was worried about my health I’d have chosen almost any other kind of exercise before running, but then one day I saw you running and started running after you, and then I couldn’t stop. Now I feel the need to run almost as much as I feel the need to eat”

Anthony laughed and said “Really? You started running to chase me? I am a lucky person!”

Syafika smiled and tried to think of something clever to say but all she could think of was how much her stomach was hurting. Syafika’s smile turned into a frown.

“What’s wrong?” asked Anthony.

“My stomach hurts a little bit. I must have eaten too fast. The peppermint tea should fix it. Don’t worry” said Syafika.

Anthony looked like he was going to say something but the waiter interrupted him by delivering their hot drinks and filling up their water glasses.

Syafika sipped her sparkling water while she waited for her peppermint tea to cool down a bit. Anthony took a sip of his coffee and commented that it was a good one.

When Anthony’s dessert arrived the waiter gave them both spoons. Syafika noticed how large the spoons were and how small the portion of tiramisu was but managed to wait until the waiter had gone before she started laughing.

“If we were sharing the first person to take a spoonful would get the whole thing” explained Syafika.

“I wouldn’t mind if you ate it all” said Anthony.

“I bet you would!” said Syafika. “It looks delicious. Lucky for you I’m too full, even for that tiny thing”

Syafika was beginning to feel nauseous but didn’t want Anthony to know so she smiled and took a sip of her peppermint tea. It was still very hot and burnt her lips but she drank it anyway and hoped it would make her feel better. She realised she should be making conversation but couldn’t think of anything to say. Anthony was concentrating on eating his dessert. He was shaving off tiny pieces with the tip of his spoon and savouring each one. Syafika held her tea under her nose so she could enjoy the smell.

When they left the restaurant and started walking to the cinema Syafika started to feel nauseous again. When she saw D’arby at the cinema it made her feel a bit better, but Syafika was starting to worry that she’d caught a tummy bug and was going to start vomiting soon.

As the movie started Syafika concentrated on taking slow, deep breaths and hoped that her tummy would start to feel better, but it didn’t. As the waves of nausea got stronger Syafika realised that she had to get to the bathroom before she vomited on the floor.

“I need to go to the bathroom” said Syafika and hurried off.

Syafika only just managed to make it into a toilet cubicle before she vomited. The vomit was so forceful that it felt like her stomach was turning inside out and afterwards Syafika noticed that there was some blood in her mouth. Syafika sat on the toilet for a few minutes to recover. Then she washed her hands, face and mouth and returned to Anthony.

“Are you ok” whispered Anthony.

“No. I am feeling really sick. I’m sorry but I should go home” said Syafika.

“Really? Are you really sick, or are you just trying to get away from me?” asked Anthony. “When you got up to go to the toilet I was so worried that you were not coming back that I watched the door until you did”

“I am really sick” said Syafika. “Why would you think I’d run off?”

“You looked really uncomfortable a couple of times at the restaurant” said Anthony.

“That’s because I was starting to feel sick” said Syafika.

“Let’s get out of here then” said Anthony.

 


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