First published on Medium.com on August 8, 2016.
(short fiction #4)
It’s been seven years since that conversation. Yes, seven. As you expected, our relationships were icy for that long. I didn’t try to make a second apology as I am a massive prick. We only talked when I lent them my stuffs and I borrowed theirs. But, that was it. My bedroom became so cold, icicles were formed. Despite that, they still managed to make me feel happy.
One day, I visited my favourite park with them. It was a seaside park, located not far from my house; it only took 30 minutes by foot (for me, that’s not far). Do not picture it as a pleasant park as it wasn’t. There weren’t enough grass. There were no flowers. There were old, abandoned buildings; they looked like they were built in the 1980’s. It was really hot even on cloudy days (it never went below 30 degrees celsius). When rain came, it had to be accompanied by a storm. But I still loved it.
It was really quiet. Even though I was never completely alone (when my friends didn’t want to go with me), it was never crowded; perfect for me to unwind. On hot days, I could stay under the trees which were still surprisingly healthy despite the poor park management. On rainy days, I could stay under the gazebos. The abandoned buildings were mentally stimulated; I often imagined what I would do if I purchase them as their architectural styles were beautiful. Okay, enough with the irrelevant info.
My friends visited the park for similar reasons. Because of that incident, I became more reserved every time I went out of the house with them. It was a really hot day so we preferred to stay under the shades. It was very relaxing, physically and mentally. But that relaxation didn’t last long because of an unwanted person.
“Guys, that is Anto over there.” I pointed to a small crowd.
He was playing soccer with his friends (I didn’t count how many they were). He wore a pair of sport shorts. He was naked from waist up. His bare torso really caught my attention. It had really well-scuplted solid muscles resulted from intense regular exercises. His perfectly-tanned skin was glistening with sweat which reminded me of the guys in ‘cheap’ films; it felt so unreal! He was already attractive when I saw him years ago with those loose clothing. Then, this! I looked at his friends. Even though they did not have good-looking faces, their bodies were equally athletic. It became more unreal! If there were spectators, I am sure they would enjoy the players more than the sport itself. On a glimpse, I saw that both Wan and Kama were smiling; I don’t think they smiled simply because they were “happy”. Then, I realised something: Anto and his friends had muscles!
What would happen if they saw me with the ‘undesired’ ones? I was just a fat prick, they were all athletic. Anto said he was in the military. Judging from the haircut of some of his friends, they may be military men as well. They could easily turn me to a pile of flesh and bones. Immediately, I started walking home even though I just arrived at the park. My friends looked disappointed. But, they expected this shameful behaviour of mine. They followed me anyway.
“It’s stupid of you for fearing us.” Rita said suddenly after five minutes.
I stopped walking. I turned to them.
“Did you know what we just saw?”
“Well, we just saw Anto and his friends.”
“We are not talking about him and his gang.” Wan said calmly. I became more confused.
“There were people that you weren’t able to see.” Kama added.
I just stared at them.
“Every single one of those people have ‘undesired’ friends.” Wan made the inverted comma gesture when he said the word “undesired”.
I didn’t know how to react.
“In fact, every single one of them have more than four.” Rati said. “Some of them only had male friends, some only had female ones, some had both. By the way, which one was Anto?”
“He was the one with grey shorts.”
“Really? He had the most number of ‘undesired’ friends.” Rati revealed. I was genuinely shocked.
“All of them were males.” Kama said. “It was a right decision for you to leave Anto and his friends.”
“Their ‘undesired’ friends are really undesirable.” Wan answered. “Actually, undesirable is an understatement. They emitted really dark auras. I would be surprised if they haven’t done anything horrific.”
“What kind of horrific things?”
“The things he showed you years ago.” Rati answered.
I didn’t react at all. I stayed silent for about a minute. I didn’t dare to make any eye contacts. Then, I proceeded to walk home. Should I be surprised that Anto have more undesired friends than me? Not only that, they were actually undesirable! He was a beautifully-masked man with a rotten core.
It was almost bedtime. Just when I was about to get on the bed, I stood frozen. My lack of movement confused them.
“Andy, what’s wrong?” Wan asked.
I stayed silent. I turned to face them. I made a gesture telling them to hop on the bed with me. They had been sleeping on the floor throughout this whole time; they were physically tough.
Now they were the ones who stood frozen.
“Please.” I sounded sadder than I wanted to.
For the first time in years, they gave me warm, genuine smiles. They hopped on the bed with me. One of them turned off the bedside lamp. We cuddled tightly.
“Guys, I am….”. They interrupted me with gentle shush. A hand was gently stroking my hair. The room suddenly became warm again. But that is nothing compared to the warmth emited by friends. It had been missing all these years.
I have been forgiven.