I carefully eyed all the people sitting at their cubicle like desks in the cramped area of the International Sales Department whilst stirring the hot cup of coffee in my left hand. The hot exterior of the plastic cup turned my skin red, an almost burnt mark appeared on it. It felt good but reminded me of unpleasant times. The scraping sound of the wooden stick on the base of the plastic cup gave me a satisfying feeling in a weird way as I continued stirring.
I worked at a famous publishing house - Xenon Publishing Press, but definitely not as what you’d assume or the work the people i’m looking at do.
My footsteps got mixed amidst the shuffling of papers, the clicking sounds of the keys and people muttering on the landline as I walk towards the desks from the lounge. I made sure that I don’t trip over and cause a scene because I hated unwanted attention even though I’m not socially awkward. I’m actually quite outgoing but lonely. This reminded me of our highschool reunion that’s happening today. I should clock out early today. It’s not like anyone would notice or question that I was gone early anyway.
I briskly finished the work and found myself in front of the fingerprint scanner at the door of the office within half an hour. I saw Mr.Brown entering the lounge from my peripheral vision. I threw a quick ‘bye’ at him before entering the dull hall outside the office. The doors of the lift opened with a ‘ding’. The light from the lift lit up the dull hall. It was blinding, I really disliked bright lights.
I breathed the fresh air outside the office building, smoke and dust being unwelcome guests. Luckily I didn’t have to wait for the taxi today because I saw an elderly woman getting out of one, so I ran towards the cab before it left. As I entered the cab, the man gave me a warm smile, which I returned. The cabbie instantly held a conversation about how he hates it when he gets rude customers who don’t even respond properly, we keep the conversation going for a couple of minutes. I rest my head against the headrest and think about how my life would have been if I didn’t work at the publishing house. The pay wasn’t that much, but it helped me get by without any problems. I had to only support myself so it worked out fine. Nevertheless, there wouldn’t be much difference. Life would still be a little bitch. With that though I arrived at my studio apartment.
Keys jingled as I turned them. Darkness greeted me as I entered my cozy studio apartment. The faint aroma of garlic instant noodles which I ate in the morning still lingered. I threw my wallet and keys on the mini cabinet beside the door. The clock on the opposite wall read 7:03 pm.
I laid on my bed for about half an hour before deciding to head out for the reunion.
I tucked in a black and white button down t-shirt with thick vertical black stripes into my faded light grey jeans. I was in no mood to do something to my hair, I liked the way it was - messy wavy. I had an oval face with the facial features of your average 25-year-old American guy. My nose was a little flat at the bridge. You could say that I have a chubby face.
My green eyes stared back at me from the mirror, a small yet deep old gash also entered my line of vision as it was right above my right brow. I touched it out of habit, it did not reflect physical pain anymore but it made my heart wince. I let out a deep breath, not wanting old things to cloud my head now. It’s was a constant trauma.
I stepped into my black and white converse and grabbed my wallet and keys and locked the door behind me.
The street downstairs to my apartment was too busy as it was a Friday. I stood at the edge of the sidewalk, waiting for a cab to pass. 5 minutes later, I entered a taxi and gave him the address to Augusté, an Italian restaurant where my high school batch of ’12 was supposed to meet.
I managed to get a highschool diploma from Bayleaf High with immense difficulty. Because obviously, studying was hard and given the circumstances, there was no way I was in the mental or physical state to graduate with flying colours. A story for another time. My train of thoughts came to a halt with the car. The restaurant gave a welcoming vibe. It was huge.
These guys sure chose an expensive restaurant. The name itself sounded so posh. As I entered, the door bell’s chime blended with the laughter that filled the place. Before I could even look around the place, someone engulfed me in a bear hug, the arms felt familiar and comforting. I relaxed into the hug and hugged back.
“Bro!” Ron basically yelled.
Aaron’s biggest smile made this place look dull. He was still the same since school, same old tall guy, structured face with six abs and a smile which made girls swoon in the past.
Over Aaron’s shoulder I saw my some friends and acquaintances waving at me. Most didn’t even recognise me because school was big and i wasn't social.
“How have you been, my man!” I asked as I happily grinned back at him .
“You know me, still working as an athlete turned artist”
Aaron found his passion for art when he started dating this girl called Lila, in junior year. She was known for her art in the school. He decided to pursue it as a career after high school. Before that he was a part of the lacrosse team, thus the built. I guess they are still going strong because I haven’t heard otherwise.
We made our way to the table, hands on each other’s shoulders, where we joined everyone else.
Aaron didn’t leave my side the whole night because he missed me. He couldn’t stay quiet even for a minute because he was so excited. It was sweet and warming. Then Lila arrived late from her job and Aaron’s mind was diverted.
Some more familiar and unfamiliar faces joined the table, greeting their old beloved friends.
April poured me a drink. All of us got caught up with each other’s lives and cracked lame ass jokes. Seeing and catching up with the only people that probably care, filled my heart with a feeling I couldn’t pinpoint. It made me feel important after noticing that they actually remember the shit I used to say and do.
“Together We Rise! Ay!” Everyone chorused as all of our glasses clinked together as we recited that nostalgic yet quirky school motto.
Everyone returned to what they were doing. I glanced at the people in my view, everyone looked so happy in their lives. Laughing over good old memories.
Meanwhile, no matter how hard I try, I’m still there, stuck in the whirlwind of my nightmares. High school was the better hellhole. An escape from one hell to another. Alex joined me up on another conversation about football before I started thinking more. The conversation ended as Orin diverted Alex’s attention towards himself.
So I turned my attention to food. I was busy devouring the delicious delicacies kept in front of me, especially the crispy spicy spring rolls when my eyes caught someone familiar. Someone I see everyday yet, she seemed so different right now. She seemed beautiful in a way she didn’t look everyday. The office atmosphere didn’t do her justice. She smiled my way as she realised who I was.
It was her, from the office,