ii. he noticed me on the exhale

It was summer when we first met. No, we didn’t meet on such occasions that soap operas tend to favor the most. Not in perfectly nice weather, neither in our best clothes nor in a perfect place. It was in the middle of summer; the month of July. The humidity was so high, and it made me covered in sweat within minutes. I remember thinking that this sultry heat could not be worse.

Then you showed up from the mouth of an alley —a small one. No, you didn’t catch my attention at the very first glance. You were just a normal person wearing beige shorts and a plain black t-shirt with a bit crumbled at the back. Did you use sandals or shoes? I can hardly tell. Both of us, together with five other people, were waiting for a bus. I was about to head back to my mom’s place. “I need to stay for the weekend,” that’s what I thought. Everything was normal until you accidentally played Edison Lighthouse’s song out loud. I knew that was by accident. My guess is that you probably thought that you had your earphone connected to your phone when it was, in reality, not. Your face looked shocked and turned pale in a split of seconds, then you apologized to people in your surrounding with a little mumbling that I could hear. I didn’t think an apology was needed, but that’s what made me look at you closer. Because you were polite.

The bus had arrived. You didn’t go in, and nor I. Why? I haven’t found the answer to that question yet. All I know is that because I felt like I shouldn’t be on that bus. You took a long deep breath and were about to move your legs. You noticed me on the exhale and asked, “You don’t come?” For the first time, our eyes met. Fuck your voice, my focus was on your big round eyes. Your gaze rested on me I noticed. As the bus started moving, you drew a simple smile.

“What will you do today?” you asked.

And then suddenly the scorching heat of summer felt nothing. I held my breath and tried to pull out a beautiful smile even though I was not sure if it was beautiful.

“What about you?” I uttered after I found my voice back.

You giggled. Ah, your giggle…

He offered to take me to his favorite boba shop. “It’s far from glamorous or fancy, but I can guarantee its quality for sure,” he told me and gave me a vanished smile at the end of his words. So then we walked to a Chinese town nearby; which took us about twenty minutes on foot. The street was crowded since it was Saturday. Many people went out and stayed in their favorite cafes. Back in my 20s, I used to do the same; now, there was no way I wanted to pay more for the sake of my electricity bills.

As we had arrived at his favorite boba spot; which, as he said, was beyond luxury and fancy and artsy. He made an order politely. This time, I had my moment to observe him. Very well-manufactured. His eyes sparkled in joy every time we start talking, and they always tell me that he is listening. That he is giving me all of his focus, all of his attention. And even though there was nothing special about his clothes, I could tell that he smelled like money. He was wearing a very casual Ralph Lauren t-shirt and as far as I know, it is a big brand. Ah, one thing! His haircut was neat. He did not put too much hair cream or hair gel that my co-workers always use. He combed his hair clean-cut. And I won’t be hypocritical by saying he was perfect as if he comes right away from the television because he’s not. He was normal; the kind of person who would never catch your attention at the first glance. Even I started to look at him thanks to Edison Lighthouse.

We enjoyed our boba tea and sat near the fountain. I could feel the splashes of water at some points. He started to build up a simple conversation, and I guess it is probably the right time for me to write down his name in this book.

People call him Adam. But he told me to call him Ed; just like his favorite singer, Ed Sheeran.

“I never saw you around,” I talked shit. Of course, I would not remember everyone in this city. But then he smiled; which made me flabbergasted by the sudden butterflies I got in my stomach. The corner of his lips went up, and there were soft wrinkles around his eyes.

“So you notice,” he said. “Actually I just moved here.”

“Well then, welcome!” I said casually and took a sip of my drink.

He nodded and drew a simple smile. “It feels surreal,” he paused for a while. “I don’t even know what I am doing here.”

Oh wow. I didn’t see it coming at all. He looked so sturdy and well-managed, but his words made him look like a boy who just ran away from his mother’s house thanks to his puberty.

He turned his head and looked at me inquisitively. “You didn’t expect it, did you?”

Okay, the wind became so awkward. I was hesitant to continue. “Aren’t you too old to say that you’re lost?” I said jokingly.

“Well you can say I’m old,” he giggled. “I’m almost forty.” Then he flicked a fallen brown leaf from his left leg. “But isn’t life always like that? Leaving us lost as if we’re in a test whether we can find the way out or not?”

He’s not jobless, that’s for sure. There’s no way a jobless man could say such words and look this decent. Slightly, I felt relieved.

It seemed that time had passed and we were just sitting on the bench. None of us spoke anything. My eyes were fixated on the veins on his hand that I did not even give any attention to anything. After I ate the last piece of my boba, I randomly uttered my brain, “Do you know that you have such a beautiful pair of hands?”

Adam moved his hands to the front of his eyes and took a good look. “Well, thank you,” he sounded so serious as if no one ever told him about that and as if he just realized it as well. “You have a couple of beautiful brown eyes.”

I could not help myself but laugh. “Well, next time, try to find a better pickup line. It sounds so lame.”

“So, there is next time,” he stated. “Sounds good to me.”



One of thousands Jo March in this century.

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