Tag Archives: Syafika

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.

 


The Inklings: Chapter 117

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

From where D’arby was sitting he could see Syafika and Anthony side-on. He peeped over the menu and tried to work out what they were talking about, but couldn’t tell. D’arby noticed that Anthony was tapping his foot a lot and guessed that he was feeling nervous. Syafika was laughing nervously and tilting her head to one side. D’arby reminded himself that his job was to protect Syafika, but wondered what that would mean in practice. Should he go over and drag her away if she started crying? Or should he rescue her if Anthony seemed to have charmed her too much? Then D’arby realised that all Syafika probably needed was to know that she wasn’t alone – she could probably look after herself better than D’arby could, but nobody enjoys feeling like they have to.

When D’arby got around to reading his menu he was a bit shocked by the high prices, until he remembered that the restaurant was on the waterfront in a tourist area. He ordered the cheapest dish and a soft drink and wondered what Syafika and Anthony would order. D’arby looked around the restaurant and realised that nobody else was dining by themselves. He hoped that didn’t make him look suspicious and decided to limit the time he looked at Anthony and Syafika, in case anyone was watching him watching them.

At the table next to Anthony and Syafika was a jolly couple who were laughing a lot. When their meals arrived they seemed delighted and gave generous smiles to the waiter. D’arby hoped he could be that happy one day.

Anthony and Syafika’s food arrived before D’arby’s, and D’arby realised he was feeling really hungry. D’arby wondered if people who ordered the cheapest meal were given lower priority. Syafika had a pasta dish and Anthony had something meaty that had been cooked in tomato sauce. They also had salad and bread. D’arby wished Syafika would throw him a piece of bread.

Finally D’arby’s meal arrived. It was pretty simple – pasta with olive oil and garlic – something he could have easily made at home, but it tasted delicious. D’arby even enjoyed the bitter lemonade he’d ordered to drink. Although D’arby felt like eating fast he paced himself so that he wouldn’t finish too much earlier than Syafika and Anthony.

Towards the end of the meal D’arby thought he noticed Syafika looking worried and wondered what they were talking about.

D’arby paid his bill just as Anthony and Syafika finished their meals so he could wait for them outside, and not risk losing them if they paid and left before he could. Then D’arby went outside and watched the door of the restaurant from the darkest spot he could find.

Not long after Syafika and Anthony came out of the restaurant and D’arby followed them to the cinema then overtook them before they got to the queue. After D’arby had bought a ticket for each of the two movies starting soon he sat down and waited to see which cinema Syafika and Anthony went into.

As Syafika walked past D’arby noticed that she looked less happy than before but D’arby couldn’t tell if her expression was because of physical or mental pain.

D’arby sat two rows behind Anthony and Syafika. As he watched the ads he felt bored and wished he’d bought some popcorn. He also wished the cinema wasn’t dark because he couldn’t really see Anthony and Syafika.

About ten minutes later the movie started and D’arby was just beginning to enjoy being there when he noticed that Syafika was leaving the cinema. After panicking for a few seconds D’arby realised that Syafika was probably just going to the toilet so he stayed where he was. Syafika returned about 5 minutes later and after talking to Anthony for a couple of minutes she got up and left again. This time Anthony went with her. D’arby waited a minute before leaving too – so that it didn’t look like he was following them. Outside the cinema D’arby noticed that Syafika and Anthony were sitting on a seat and Syafika was resting her head on her hands. D’arby walked slowly past in the direction of the men’s bathroom and tried to work out what was going on.

“I feel much better now” said Syafika. “But it is likely that I will need to vomit again soon – I’ve never had a tummy bug before that was over in one vomit”

“We should go then” said Anthony. “You need to rest and recover. I’ll look after you”

“I will call home and see if someone can come and pick me up” said Syafika and she started looking in her bag for her phone. When she found it she dialed her home number but nobody answered.

“They haven’t come home yet” said Syafika. “I’ll just get a taxi”

“No” said Anthony. “If you vomit in the taxi the driver will be very cross. My place is very close. You can stay there until the morning. I will look after you”

D’arby opened the toilet door and went in but left the door open a crack and waited until Syafika and Anthony got up to leave. Then D’arby followed them. As he walked along he wondered what he was going to do. He didn’t think he’d be able to sneak into Anthony’s building behind them, and even if he managed to he wouldn’t be able to sneak into Anthony’s flat.


The Inklings: Chapter 115

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

Syafika watched the clock all afternoon and when it was finally time to leave she rushed off to change into her running clothes. They were damp and stinky from her run in the rain that morning but Syafika didn’t mind – she wanted to get home as soon as possible so she could take her time getting ready for her date.

When Syafika got home there was nobody there. There was a note on the fridge saying that everyone had gone to India’s place to install the ramp and plan the street meeting. They were going to have dinner there, and there were leftovers in the fridge that Syafika could have. Syafika realised that she hadn’t told her parents about her date that night and decided she’d leave them a note before she left.

Syafika opened her wardrobe, took out the dress she was planning to wear that night and carefully put it on her bed. It was made from dark blue cotton with a tiny red flowers printed on it. Next Syafika took out a pair of sandals and checked their condition. They were her favourites and very comfortable. If Syafika hadn’t known Anthony was a spy she might have considered wearing some of her prettier, less comfortable shoes, but she wanted to be able to escape quickly if things got uncomfortable.

Next Syafika packed a red shoulder bag with all the things she thought she might need that night, including the mobile phone D’arby had given her. As Syafika put the phone in her bag she noticed that a light on it was flashing so she looked at the screen and saw that she had a new text message. It was from Anthony’s number and said “I can’t wait until tonight”

Syafika noticed it had been sent an hour ago. She tried to reply but didn’t really know how to send text messages, and was feeling too nervous to be able to work it out. In the end Syafika decided to have a shower before trying to reply.

When Syafika was dressed and ready to leave she looked at her watch and saw that she dind’t need to leave for another 15 minutes so she had another go at trying to write a text message to Anthony and eventually managed to write “Me neither”, but as she pressed ‘send’ Syafika realised she didn’t mean it. She was feeling so terrified she didn’t want to see Anthony at all.

Syafika put the phone in her bag and wondered if there was anything she’d forgotten, but nothing came to mind. Next she spent a couple of minutes looking at herself in the mirror, checking that her dress didn’t have any holes in it or fluff stuck to it. Then Syafika set out.

As Syafika walked along her anxiety started to fade and she began to feel excited instead. She wondered what she would learn about Anthony that night and wondered what he was hoping to learn about her. Syafika was imagining her conversation with Anthony when she realised that someone was walking next to her. It took her a couple of glances to realise that it was D’arby because he was wearing a disguise. D’arby had grey hair and a beard and must have padded his tummy because he looked a bit fat.

D’arby managed to stop himself from laughing until he was sure that Syafika had recognized him. Syafika noticed that he’d even disguised his laugh, making it a deeper chuckling sound than his usual hyena sounds.

“I just picked up something really useful from John” said D’arby, and he showed Syafika the transmitter, and how to turn it on. “I haven’t thought through what to do with it though. What would be really great is if you could hide it at Anthony’s place somewhere, but if you don’t get an opportunity don’t worry”.

“I’m going to dinner and a movie with Anthony, not his house” said Syafika. “But I’ll take the transmitter and see if I get an opportunity to hide it somewhere. If Anthony brings a bag with him I could try to put it inside the lining or something”. Before Syafika put the transmitter in her bag she turned it off – she didn’t want D’arby listening in to her conversation with Anthony.

“Sorry, yeah, silly me” said D’arby. “You might also be able to hide it inside a jacket or shoe – although I don’t suppose you’ll be able to access his shoes”. D’arby had wanted to ask Syafika to try to find out the number of Anthony’s flat but was too scared to make Syafika angry so he decided to change the topic instead and asked “Did your parents ask where you were going tonight?”

Syafika felt sick when she realised she’d forgotten to leave a note for her parents. “Thanks for reminding me. I need to call them – they were out and I forgot to leave a note”

“Why don’t you use your new mobile phone?” asked D’arby.

Syafika felt a bit disgusted with herself as she took the phone out of her bag and dialed her home number – if she’d known where the nearest pay phone was she’d have gone there instead. Nobody answered and Syafika realised that her parents probably hadn’t got back from India’s place yet. Syafika hated leaving messages on the home phone because she didn’t know who would listen to them and so she hung up and decided to try again later.

“They aren’t home yet” said Syafika. “I’ll try again in an hour or so”

As Syafika and D’arby walked they went over their plan. D’arby would have dinner at the same restaurant where Syafika was meeting Anthony and then he’d go to the same movie. The trouble was that Syafika and Anthony hadn’t decided on a movie yet, but they had chosen which cinema. D’arby had narrowed the movie they would see down to two options, based on the time of night. His plan was to buy a ticket to each and then follow Syafika and Anthony to see which theatre they went into.

When they were a couple of hundred metres from the restaurant D’arby stopped and waited for Syafika to get ahead of him.

When Syafika arrived at the restaurant she looked at her watch and realised she was a couple of minutes early. Based on previous experience she expected Anthony to be late, so she sat down on a wall and watched out for his arrival. Fifteen minutes later he still hadn’t arrived. Syafika noticed D’arby walk into the restaurant. Either he didn’t see her or pretended he hadn’t seen her, but a few minutes later D’arby walked out of the restaurant, looking at her briefly before going back inside. Syafika suspected he wanted her to follow him so she went inside too. Syafika quickly noticed that Anthony was sitting at a table in the middle of the restaurant

“Sorry” said Syafika after she rushed over to Anthony. “I was waiting outside”.

“That’s ok” said Anthony. “It was my turn to wait”


The Inklings: Chapter 114

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

When Syafika returned to the office after having coffee with Celine Fanta noticed that Syafika looked upset. Fanta got up to go over and talk to Syafika but was intercepted by Nelson on the way, who asked her to take a folder of paperwork to Briony at Human Resources.

Fanta didn’t want to admit to Nelson that she didn’t know where Human Resources was, so she decided that she’d go down to the reception desk and ask there. A man called Beazley guarded the reception desk every day until 12pm and Fanta liked how he’d greet everyone as they arrived.

As Fanta walked downstairs she was worrying about Syafika. She knew that Syafika needed someone to talk to, especially before she went out to dinner with Anthony that night. Fanta decided that she would make sure she spoke to Syafika before leaving that day.

As Fanta reached the first floor a man entered the stairwell in a hurry, bumping Fanta’s arm as he passed and causing her to drop the folder that Nelson had given her. Fanta looked up at the man who’d bumped into her but he didn’t stop or say sorry.

As Fanta picked up the papers she tried to stop herself from reading them, but because she knew that Nelson was up to something Fanta couldn’t resist and ended up reading each page as she put it back in the folder.

The folder contained job applications, including the ones that she and Celine had submitted. Fanta was particularly interested in Celine’s resume. As she read it Fanta realised that Celine was over-qualified for a graduate role – apparently she’d worked for five years for the federal government in Canberra.

…………………………………………………

At lunchtime Fanta asked Syafika if she wanted to join her for a quick walk around the Botanic Gardens. Although Syafika had decided she wouldn’t have a lunch break she realised that it would do her good to have a talk with Fanta and so she agreed.

“How are you feeling?” asked Fanta as they walked down the stairs.

“Mostly scared, but also jealous of Celine because she says she did go on dates with Anthony. Although when she told me that she looked scared. I think that’s a big part of the reason I’m feeling so scared right now. What am I getting myself into?” said Syafika.

“I don’t know. I don’t like it that you’re going on a date with Anthony tonight. If D’arby wasn’t going to be there watching you I’d probably insist you didn’t go” said Fanta.

“I knew you’d be scared too, and you have a good reason to be scared. But I think I need to go – I think I have to find out who Anthony is before I can get him out of my system” said Syafika.

“I knew you’d say that!” said Fanta. “I just hope you’re right and that this is good for you, not bad for you. What happens if you don’t find out anything else about him? Will you have to go on more dates?”

“I don’t know” said Syafika. “Don’t you think it’s funny that I’m going on a date with Anthony to find out what he’s up to? He’s probably only going on the date with me to find out what I’m up to.”


The Inklings: Chapter 113

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

Syafika didn’t sleep well on Tuesday night. She kept having bad dreams. First she dreamt that she was living in a block of flats that had replaced her house. Then she dreamt that she was trying to get ready for her date with Anthony but couldn’t find any clothes that fitted and all her shoes were broken. It wasn’t until just before sunrise that Syafika fell into a nice deep sleep, but she didn’t get to enjoy it for long because Ousman started knocking on her bedroom door when he realised she’d slept in.

“Are you ok Syafika?” yelled Ousman. “It’s after 8! I have to leave for school soon. Would you like me to make you a cup of tea?”

“Yes please” said Syafika. Even though she was feeling tired and anxious, Syafika realised she was starting to like having Ousman around.

Syafika quickly put on her running clothes and was brushing her hair when Ousman knocked on her door.

“I’ll leave your tea outside. I have to go to school right now” said Ousman.

“Thanks” shouted Syafika. She finished doing her hair and then went to get her tea.

Ousman had left a tray with a teapot, jug of milk, pretty cup and saucer and a small vase with a bunch of basil flowers in it. On one corner of the tray was a small grey and pink feather and Syafika wondered whether Ousman had left it intentionally or whether it was a sign that Aminata had helped make the tea.

As Syafika drank her tea she thought about how sweet Ousman could be and felt bad when she remembered how awful she’d been to him in the past. Then Syafika planned her day. She’d run to work, have a quick shower, then put her work clothes on. If she hurried she’d get to her desk before the 9:30am team meeting. Syafika hadn’t forgotten that Celine was expecting them to go for coffee again today, so maybe they’d do that after the team meeting. Syafika would have a quick lunch (no run this time) and then work hard all afternoon so she could leave a bit early and have plenty of time to go home and get ready for her date with Anthony. She and D’arby had planned to meet halfway to the city and walk to the restaurant together, finalizing their plans as they went.

Syafika checked that everything she needed was in her backpack and then she ran off to work. As Syafika took the shortcut through the park she had to be careful not to slip because the path was a bit muddy. It started raining and Syafika remembered the day last year when she’d walked through the park carrying a cake for Anthony’s last day of work. Syafika couldn’t help crying when she remembered how hopeful she’d felt that morning, and how crushed she’d been that afternoon and hoped she wasn’t going to have another one of those days. Syafika was trying not to get too excited about meeting Anthony that evening because deep down she knew it probably wasn’t going to end well. Based on past experience there was a high chance Anthony would cancel, and even if they did meet up and had a lovely time Syafika now knew things about Anthony she hadn’t known last year.She wondered if she’d have felt the same about Anthony back then if she’d known he was a spy whose job required him to charm people into telling him things.

…………………………………..

Syafika was the last person to arrive at the team meeting. She’d taken so long in the shower that she hadn’t even had time to turn her computer on before the meeting started. Syafika kept noticing that Nelson was staring at her and regretted the awkward conversation she’d had with him yesterday – what had she been thinking! As if Nelson would tell her the truth about Anthony when he’d just gotten back from a meeting where Anthony warned him not to say anything! Syafika realised that when she was excited she was likely to do stupid things. She made a mental note to stop and take lots of deep breaths that day, to make it less likely she’d do more stupid things.

After the meeting Syafika didn’t have to ask Celine about going for coffee because Celine came over to ask her.

When Syafika and Celine arrived at the café Celine tapped Syafika with her elbow and whispered “Your man is here”

Syafika looked around and noticed that the waiter who’d given her a note last week was operating the cash register. He smiled when he saw Syafika and it was such a happy smile that Syafika couldn’t help smiling back, even though she didn’t feel like having anything to do with him that day. Syafika thought he was someone she should like, but because of what was going on with Anthony she didn’t want to complicate her feelings any further by getting to know someone else.

“He really likes you” said Celine. Syafika raised her eyebrows but didn’t say anything. Syafika headed towards a table and wanted to take the seat that faced the window, but Celine got to it first. Syafika sensed she was being manipulated by Celine and it made her cross. She felt like getting up and running away. She began to imagine what would happen if she jumped up and raced out of the café and down the street. She couldn’t help smiling as she pictured the look on Celine’s face as she watched her go.

When Syafika came back to reality she noticed that the waiter was handing her a menu. Syafika hadn’t intended to eat anything but when she saw the list of specials she realised she was really hungry and remembered that all she’d had for breakfast was a cup of tea. Syafika watched Celine order her usual black coffee and then ordered herself two slices of fruit toast with butter, ricotta and figs. When Syafika handed the menu to the waiter she noticed that his hand was shaking.

“Are you having a snack or is that your lunch?” asked Celine. Syafika listened carefully for traces of disgust in Celine’s voice but couldn’t hear any.

“Brunch, I guess” said Syafika. “I didn’t have any breakfast and might not have time for lunch”

“Why not?” asked Celine.

“I have a date tonight, so I want to leave early” said Syafika.

“What about the waiter? Don’t you like him?” asked Celine.

“I’m not really thinking about him” said Syafika.

“So why did you want to come here then?” asked Celine.

Syafika wondered what she should say. She looked at Celine and tried to work out whether she could trust her. Syafika wondered whether anything she said to Celine would be reported back to Anthony and wished she’d been clever enough to think of a way to test Celine’s trustworthiness.

“A couple of months ago I saw you meeting a man here. I think you know him as Lawrence. He is the man I have a date with tonight. I love him, but I think he might be trouble. He says he used to date you. Is that true?” said Syafika.

Celine stared at Syafika for a while and Syafika could tell that Celine was struggling to come up with an answer. Syafika watched carefully, looking for signs of jealousy but only saw fear.

“Yes, I did date him” said Celine eventually. “But there just wasn’t a spark and we ended up just being friends. Sometimes we catch up for coffee. That must be what you saw. How did you meet Lawrence?”

Syafika wondered how she should answer that. She didn’t want to tell Celine that she knew Lawrence as Anthony and wondered whether Celine knew that Anthony went by more than one name. “I used to work with him” said Syafika.

Celine looked terrified when she heard that Syafika used to work with Lawrence. Syafika wondered why, but didn’t know how to ask. Syafika also wanted to know more about Celine’s relationship with Anthony.

“How did you and Anthony meet? And when? How many dates did you go on before you realised there wasn’t any spark?” asked Syafika.

“We met on an internet dating site a couple of years ago and we went on three dates” said Celine. “You don’t need to be jealous”.

Syafika felt like saying something rude. She did feel jealous, and angry, and at that moment she hated Celine, but couldn’t say anything because the waiter brought over their coffees and Syafiaka’s fruit toast.

“Can I sit down for a minute?” asked the waiter.

“Sure” said Celine.

The waited dragged a chair over and sat down. He looked at Syafika for a second before speaking “Today is my last day working here before I start another job but I don’t want it to be the last time I see you so here’s my phone number. Please call me. Will you please call me?” said the waiter.

“Ok” said Syafika.

The waiter smiled, got up, replaced the chair and got back to work. Syafika looked at the note he’d given her. It just said “Nhat” followed by a phone number.

“You realise you just promised to call him, don’t you?” said Celine.

Syafika looked at Celine then looked at the note again and didn’t know what to say. She hadn’t meant to promise anything but now that she had, she knew she would have to call or risk feeling guilty for the rest of her life, and Syafika hated feeling guilty. Syafika decided she wasn’t capable of deciding what to do about that today so she put the note into her wallet and started eating her toast.


The Inklings: Chapter 111

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

As Syafika walked home from Fanta’s place she wished she’d changed into her running clothes because she wanted to run but the shoes she was wearing were not suitable for running in – just the walking she’d done in them that day had given her blisters on her little toes.

“Why am I putting up with this!” she asked herself, and took her shoes off. She put them in her bag, then ran barefoot the rest of the way home.

When Syafika arrived home she saw a tow truck loading up a large white car. She was relieved to see that there was no obvious damage to the car, not because she cared about the car, but because she didn’t like the thought of more people getting injured by cars in her street.

Syafika wanted to tell her mum about her date with Anthony but couldn’t because India was there. India and Festus were examining a drawing of a building. They looked angry. Rose was writing notes. Syafika could smell beans and realised that her dad must have cooked dinner. Binta was making salad.

“Where are your shoes?” asked India.

Syafika had forgotten that she was barefoot. She looked at her feet and noticed that they were a bit grubby because she’d run through some muddy sections of footpath on the way home. “In my bag. They were too uncomfortable” said Syafika.

“Better give your feet a wash” suggested Binta.

Syafika didn’t like all the scruitiny her feet were getting so she went to have a shower.

When Syafika came back India was still in the kitchen and Rose had made a few more pages of notes.

“What’s going on?” asked Syafika.

“We’re organizing a street meeting for Thursday night” said India. “Some greedy a-hole wants to build this disgusting thing where the burnt-out houses are”

Syafika looked at the drawing India was pointing too and realised that it was a large block of flats.

“The block of land won’t be big enough for a building that big” said Syafika.

“They want to buy us out too” said Festus.

“And they’ve also made offers to the people with blocks backing onto the site – we went and spoke to everyone this afternoon to see what we could find out” said India.

“Can I come to the meeting?” asked Syafika. She didn’t want a block of flats next door and was worried her parents might consider moving.

“Of course!” said India.

Mamadou, Ousman and Aminata came into the kitchen and India realised that it was dinner time so she got up to go.

Syafika noticed that Aminata was making a hissing sound.

“Is she ok?” asked Syafika.

“She’s been making that noise for a couple of hours” said Ousman. “I think she’s imitating the sound of something”

“It sounds like a tyre deflating” said Binta.


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