Chapter 1: A cup of cold coffee

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This was going to be the last time I shared my personal problems with a man. My mind was a mix of anger and embarrassment as I walked up the steps to the LRT station. I shouldn't have told him everything. He didn't have the right to know. I couldn't believe how stupid I could be at times. 

He was just one of my work colleagues. Although we worked together and sometimes went out for lunches and events, it didn't mean he was trustworthy. What was I thinking when I decided to pour my heart's content to him? 

"You're 28, why can't you do it yourself? Solve your own problems?" Was his question that triggered the realization in me. He was not the type I could depend on. He was just another acquaintance who probably was getting enough of my whining that afternoon.

"I was just wondering if you could help," I told him during our coffee session, after I related the whole story about my mother's request and my father's health condition. My mother had been urging me to go back to Kedah. My father had been sick and worried about me living and working in a big city. My housemates were not around to help convince my parents.

"I'm sorry, I'm no expert in this area. Perhaps you should ask your female friends," he said with a shrug before he left me at the table - alone - staring blankly at my cold cup of coffee. 

I climbed the last few steps and finally reached the crowded platform. The overhead display was telling everyone that the next train was arriving in 2 minutes' time. I glanced at my watch and sighed. My train should be the one after next. I was going to spend about 15 minutes waiting at the platform. 

A woman dressed in dark blue office suit got up and left one of the metal benches and I hurried over to claim it. My cell phone rang just as I was about to take out my compact powder. It was Elaine. 

"Hey, what's up? I saw you and Mr. Hotness at the coffee shop not 20 minutes ago - in a serious discussion. Care to share?" Asked my concerned next door neighbour who happened to work in the same office building. 

"God! You saw us?" I wiped my brows with the back of my palm and regretted having the discussion at such a public place. 

"The coffee shop is just by the road side, and you know I take that road everyday. Of course I saw you guys! What are you trying to hide from me?" Elaine was half shouting, trying to beat the sounds of traffic. I knew she must be standing in front of our apartment block, staring at her favorite window display - the gold shop. 

"I was just asking for his opinion about my problem - about the house thing, and my mother' concern. That's all." I didn't want to elaborate, the reaction I got about 20 minutes ago really broke my heart. 

"Duh! Why did you ask Mr. Hotness about such thing? You think guys care about house and housemates' problems? I bet he just turned a deaf ear on you. Am I right or am I right?" Elaine must be speaking from experience. She had five brothers and six ex-boyfriends. I never had to tell her whenever she was right - especially about men. 

"I realized how stupid I was, Elaine. And by the way, Mr. Hotness is not even a warm person when it comes to serious discussions. He's the kind of guy who takes life as a joke, I think. Let's just say the coffee session was my greatest regret this year." I shifted on the metal bench when an old man pointed to the space beside me. He sat down, smiled at me and pretended not to listen to my phone conversation. 

"So, you didn't regret the green heels we bought at Tangs last week?" Elaine teased me. 

"Okay, okay, make this the second biggest regret I have this year. The green heels remains at number one." I heard Elaine giggled at the other end of the line. "Don't you ever make me do it again," I warned her. She managed to talk me into buying it for a themed dinner we were having next month. 

"What did Mr. Hotness tell you?" Asked Elaine and I replied with a grunt. "Ugh! Was he that bad? That heartless?" 

I heard the sounds of high heels hammering concrete surface; I guess Elaine was climbing the stairs to her apartment. "As you've told me just now, guys won't understand such problems. How I wished the meeting never happened." I sighed and noticed the old man beside me was trying to hide his smirk.

"Call me when you're home," said Elaine. "Let's have dinner and discuss your problem again," she said before she rang off. 

"Alright," I whispered to my disconnected cell phone and then glanced at the old man. "Yes? How may I help you?" I asked him and he was taken off guard. 

"Sorry," he said and attempted to stand up to leave the bench. 

'If a man can't understand a house crisis then why in the world another man so eagerly eavesdrops on a conversation about a house crisis?' I was planning to ask the old man that when my train arrived. I gave the old man a sideway glance and jumped inside after the door was opened. 

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