Tag Archives: Botanic Gardens

The Inklings: Chapter 104

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.


The Inklings: Chapter 71

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.


%d bloggers like this: