Thursday, September 11, 2014

Iced Tea, Cigarettes, and Death

A gust of polluted wind blows in her direction, reminding her where she is, her soft black hair swaying gently across her face.

She looks around her without really looking, and her mind barely registers the people bustling past her. After several minutes of mindlessly staring at strangers, her eyes finally focus on her fingers – or what’s in between them— and she smiles bitterly. “My only companion in this world,” she mutters under her breath, “the best... and the worst.”

She puts her “companion” in between her moist lips and sucked in hungrily. She sighs inwardly as she feels the wonderful sensation only her menthol cigarette could ever give to her. She knows she should quit. Everyone tells her to. She chuckles darkly as she finds that amusing. Yeah, everyone. Well, where is everyone now? She is in the middle of a busy crowd and yet she has never felt more alone. But she’s used to it. That’s why she still hasn’t quit smoking. Because who the fuck cares? She doesn’t. That balding man in the wrinkled suit doesn’t. And that one picking at his nose obviously doesn’t too. She gazes at the approaching waiter whose only thing he probably cares about right now is refilling empty glasses. She feels a little envious – how simple life must be for this guy, no great expectations, and no one expecting him to do anything but refill glasses and not break anything. She stares at the waiter’s calloused hand as he puts iced tea into her glass.

"Thank you." Mr. Iced Tea Guy gave a tiny nod at her almost inaudible words. He left her immediately. There are napkins to be folded.

She loves the iced tea here. It’s just the right amount of sweet and sour and it’s always ice-cold. It refreshes her. That’s a nice feeling so she always orders bottomless. Sometimes it’s the only thing she orders. Even if that’s the case she believes the waiter appreciates her presence -- because this café rarely gets filled. So they welcome whatever they can get. That’s another thing she likes about this place. Solitude in the middle of a crowd.

She doesn’t care. She wants to be left alone.

To think. About what, she’s not sure. Her mind is a jumble of fleeting ideas. So most of the time she feels her mind is blank. Filled with nonsense that leaves her brain too fast before she even makes sense of it. That’s how she can best describe her state of mind on a regular day. If she manages to focus on one idea and be able to sit and write about it in such a way that other people could understand – then that’s a special day.

That’s what she does all day long. She sits. She smokes. She thinks. And yes she drinks iced tea while doing all that.

She takes a final drag from her fast-dying cigarette and put it back on the ashtray. She doesn’t put it out. She always let her cigarettes “die naturally”. She thinks it gives them dignity - to not be snuffed out of their short existence after being drained of their essence. She watches until the last glimmer of light is there no more. She signals for the waiter to give her a new ashtray. This one’s full. All hers. That’s a lot of dead cigarettes. She’s a killer of cigarettes. And she knows one day, the ghosts of those cigarettes will have their revenge. Oh how they would laugh when it’s her time to die. The best and worst companion ever. She finds that extremely funny. So she laughs. 

Death. The cigarette killer still thinks about death. What’s our purpose here if we only die so swiftly? Life is so short that she fails to see the logic of living as these people around her live. Always busy. Rushing. Stressing. Climbing towards their goals. Battling against deadlines. Wasting all those years working for something which in the end would be totally useless. Why? Because they will be dead! How can people be so stupid? Are they aware that the average life span now is shorter than before? So why waste your time going through the motions? All these go through her mind and she shakes her head as she lights another cigarette. “I would never live that way….” A cloud of whitish smoke obscures her exotic face for a few seconds. “Never,” She said emphatically as if she’s trying to convince herself.

She plans to live her life unlike most people. She would not waste her time dwelling on unimportant things. She plans to live her life to the fullest. Do something exciting daily. Yeah, like sit in a lonely café every single day, killing yourself slowly as you watch “stupid” people waste their lives doing useless stuff? Her dark side whispers to her. She shrugged mentally. I’m just waiting for the right opportunity. She tries to reason with herself. She waits for her sarcastic dark side’s retort.


Silence inside her head.

She waits.

Still nothing.

She gulps down the remaining iced tea in her glass. Quite unladylike she notices. She puts the empty glass down, more forceful than she intended to. She sees Mr. Napkin Man glance at her. She ignores him.

Yeah. She totally does not know what to do with her life.

With that realization she swears she heard her dark side chuckle.

A deep sense of dread engulfs her. Like a dark cloud hanging above her head, bringing in cold air, wrapping all over her body, encasing her until she shivers involuntarily.

She wants to cry. But she can’t. She physically can’t. She thinks she’s devoid of most human emotions.

She thinks she’s dead inside. That’s why she doesn’t care if she kills herself physically. She would probably find a way to kill herself more quickly if she wasn’t such a wuss. No. Actually, she doesn't want to die. She has never been suicidal. She loves life too much, she's selfish like that.

Another cigarette.

Another refill of iced tea.

No, she doesn’t know what to do.

Her hands went under the table and grasped the handle of her suitcase. Where will she go? What should she do? Should she go with the flow? At least she’ll be doing something. If she starts now maybe she could catch up. Maybe, just maybe, she could still make her parents proud.

She looks around her and sees them all going in one direction. All of them trying to get to the jeepneys or buses first. She doesn’t know what’s up with people and their tendency to rush. We’re all gonna die soon. So why not take it slow and enjoy the journey instead of focusing on the destination? She couldn’t understand that.

And to think she’s considering to join those faceless robots.

She felt a shiver of dread and cold panic.

No. no. no! She can’t decide now.

For now what’s she’s going to do is order mac & cheese.

She’ll think about that tomorrow.

She may not know what to do, but she doesn’t have to know now.  

She lets go of her suitcase. She felt the weight of it release from her.

At least for another day.

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