Kathie exclaimed over the phone. Michelle recounted the weird incident in response calmly. She knew it would arouse her friend’s interest.
“Good heavens! They are everywhere, aren’t they? These mad people…”
Michelle interrupted with a question about meeting Kathie for lunch tomorrow, half hoping that it would distract Kathie from latching into one of her long tirades about Singaporean men.
“Sure!” Kathie agreed. “What shall we have? Oh wait… How was the rest of the day? Did you find out who took away…”
She stopped, realising that her curiosity resulted in a few seconds of silence.
“Gerald did it. It wasn’t so much of an admission, but more of him looking out for me.”
Kathie gushed. “Is it Gerald Ong? The guy from the other department? The same person whom we met at the coffee place the other night? He’s more than a nice chap. I’m sure you know that…”
“Right now, I want to focus on my work and spend more time with my family. This is what I want for my life now,” Michelle explained calmly. Sometimes she was amazed at how she could put up such a stoic front.
“I understand. Hey, we’ll talk more tomorrow over lunch. Maybe you’ll get a surprise from Gerald in the morning…”
Michelle sighed as she hung up her phone. Sometimes it would take a fair bit of effort to get things through to her friend, but Kathie had always been a loyal and kind friend whom she appreciated and treasure. It was her who spent the night at the hospital with her. It was her who cried with her as the doctor broke the news of his death. It was her from whom she sought solace, comfort and warmth during those dark nights and meaningless mornings.
She sat back on the red couch and observed the living room. It wasn’t too long ago that the television would be turned on with them cuddling together as they watched American TV drama series. She adored his after-shower scent and sometimes her finger would gently brush the stubble on his freshly shaved chin. The warmth of his body gave her the sense of security, that all is well in her world, their world.
Now, the home was silent. She couldn’t last 20 minutes watching the telly without thinking about him. Sometimes it seemed as though his presence was here with her. Closing her eyes, she could see him smiling at her, his eyes twinkling as he wrapped his arm around her and then, an occasional ruffle of her hair.
Silence enveloped her. She felt cold and isolated from the world. At the distance, she could pick out her faint reflection on the glass of the windows. A forlorn figure, still wearing her work clothes and sitting back on a couch which could fit two people comfortably.
It was the end of her first day in normalcy. Her assistant spared her the tedious task of ploughing through hundreds of e-mails which had accumulated in her absence. Her boss talked to her on a few occasions, making sure that she was fairly comfortable on her first day back and with the assurance that she could take her time in getting reacquainted with the work. Except for the weird incident, her lunch was uneventful and within 45 minutes of the break, she was back at her workstation reading documents.
She got up from the couch 15 minutes later and headed to her room. The gush of water from the shower head then broke the silence. The warmth of the cascading water comforted her. For the first time in weeks, there wasn’t the urge to break down and let loose her emotions.
Perhaps she had slowly come to terms of his sudden disappearance from her life. Perhaps this was her first step in moving on from the intense grief that she suffered.
As she dried herself, she gazed at her reflection – clearer now – in the bathroom mirror.
And she smiled.