it was a cold wednesday afternoon, almost like today. the sky was hazy, the sunlight was diffused and the air was sweet. i arrived at the mall a few minutes prior to my meeting and decided to loiter about while i waited for time to pass. it was then when i received the call.
"would you mind accompanying me to do errands? i just have to drop off something. it's only within the area anyway and i promise it won't take long."
"sure. i don't mind."
15 mins was what was agreed as i slowly walked to the designated porte-cochere and waited for the familiar silver sedan to drive by.
it started to rain a few minutes later. the wind blew strong where i stood, the chill sending many who were also waiting as i did to withdraw further inside. i, however, did not mind the frigid spray. i enjoyed the cold, how it makes me feel as my skin tightens in its futile attempt to conserve my warmth. the smell of the damp air felt cleansing, like smoking sweet incense.
the sound of a car horn and the blinking of headlights heralded that my ride had arrived. the car slowly drove up the wet ramp and the passenger window lowered.
"hey you!" i was greeted with a smile.
"hey!" i replied, smiling back.
stares followed me as i got in the car. i gave the driver a warm hug, strapped myself in and we drove off.
* * * *
"i hope you don't mind, but can i ask you something?"
i was familiar with the routine. the damper. the polite gesture. the cordial request to pry. a slight affirmation from my part is all they need and they move in to drop you the bomb. i have had many similar encounters before and experience has taught me much in handling situations like this. for once, it certainly pays to be nonchalant, a trick well exercised by the chinese accountant who lives in my head.
"sure. ask away." i quietly answered as i shifted in my seat, still bearing my smile.
i sat still as i listened carefully to my companion, momentarily also feeling the skin under my fingers as i rolled them together, something i notice i do whenever i am in deep thought. the question was indeed heavy, one that i haven't been asked in a long time. to be honest, though i was sure my stoic facade held up, i was still taken aback. the question was deeply personal and to answer it would mean me digging farther within and shed light to many places i don't think i was ready yet for others to see.
i suddenly noticed the silence between us despite the sound of the rain tapping against the windshield and the steady hum of the engine. my companion had finished and was already awaiting for my response. i was now put on the spot.
"um.... well." was what escaped my mouth initially. it helped in giving me some momentum as i shifted from rationalizing in my head to voicing my opinion. it helped as well to buy me time as i was toning down my answer so as to reveal just enough to satisfy the question, and still keep enough back that not all the bowels of my being be exposed. i answered as plainly as i could, trying to leave any emotional residue out of my reply. i wanted it short, straight to the point and easy to digest. the topic, though was not new to me, was still something i struggled with. i did not understand why but i did not want to be seen feeling uncomfortable in my delivery. i did not want to feel that i was being disrespectful of my companion by fidgeting and stumbling on words. i wanted to answer true but brief. lingering on the topic at that moment was not an option.
after i said my piece, it seemed a part of me fell silent. though i knew what i said was what i thought what i felt, there was still something in me that still wanted to speak. i however quenched the urge and it fell quiet once again. it took my companion a few moments to take in my words. a nod and a reply moments later meant that they were eventually accepted.
the car slowed down as we took the turn towards our final destination. we meandered through tight corridors, finally halting at a rather deserted part of the parking lot. we waited for a while before my companion turned the engine off.
"thank you for coming with me."
"told you i don't mind."
"so... shall we then?"
"sure. ladies first."