Chapter 2: Spaghetti and tortilla chips

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Elaine prepared spaghetti carbonara for dinner. She was making iced tea when I entered her small kitchen. "Need any help?" I asked.

"This will take just a few seconds. Your help is not needed," she said smugly and continued stirring the tea. 

I leaned against her tall refridgerator and watched her thin fingers holding a tall spoon and she stirred a few times before tasting the tea. "Nobody's home when I got back," I told her. "I'm not sure whether any of them had been sleeping in the house for the past few days."

"But all their things are still there, right?" Elaine had told me not to worry about my housemates so much. Perhaps all of them were busy with work. 

"Yeah! But I haven't seen any of them for almost 5 days now. Don't you think it's funny?" I helped Elaine took out two tall glasses from the cabinet and we walked to the dining table. 

"Your housemates are air hostesses, Allysa. Isn't it normal for them to be away for days?" Asked Elaine as we sat down and she lifted the cover of her spaghetti sauce. Two big bowls were laid on the table. Elaine filled both with generous helping of spaghetti before she passed me a ladle. "Guests first," she said, understanding very well how particular I was about my spaghetti sauce. I liked them just enough to cover the top of the spaghetti and they shouldn't smear the edge of the bowl. 

"They've never been away this long, Elaine. I'm starting to worry." I stabbed a small piece of mushroom with my fork and brought it to my mouth. 

"Perhaps they're doing long haul flights, now?" Suggested Elaine. "The airline hadn't been calling your house, looking for them right?"

"We don't have a land line in the house," I reminded her. I've tried calling my housemates but none of them answered. 

"Did Mr. Hotness suggest anything this afternoon?" Elaine was back on track. I knew she wanted to ask me about the coffee session - everything about it, even the tiniest details.

"Well, firstly let's not call him Mr. Hotness." I paused to chew the spaghetti and mushroom. Elaine shrugged, as if asking me, 'What's wrong with that name?' Good looking as he was, I would never call a male colleague: Mr. Hotness - it was just too immature.  "His name is Nazrul. Everybody calls him Naz."

Elaine's forehead creased as she sipped her iced tea. "But, what if we need to communicate in codes? Let's say he is just next to me, and I need to tell you that he smells nice or his feet stink?"

I laughed at her. "Let's just stick to Naz, okay? We're not school girls anymore. In less than two years, we will both become thirty." Elaine's lips curved into 'O' shape and her eyes were wide.

"No! Please don't remind me! I want to freeze the time so that I don't have to turn thirty." Elaine put down her fork and spoon and reached for my palms. "But you will be here when we turn thirty, right?" 

"Of course we'll celebrate together, if I still live in KL then..." my voice trailed off as I realized what was about to happen soon. 

"But if your mother managed to convince you to return to Kedah?" Elaine had been telling me to be firm with my decision to stay and work in KL. 

"She'll let me stay here if my housemates can help to convince her," I said. "But now I can't talk to any of them. I can't get you to ...."

"Oh, I can always pretend that I'm your housemate, as long as your mother buy it," Elaine offered to lie for me. 

"She knows you!" Elaine's idea was not going to work, I knew it. My mother had met her a few times and she knew that Elaine was living with her parents. They had been my neighbours for three years. 

"I can always tell her that I've moved in with you," Elaine came up with another idea to lie. 

"No, let's not go there. None of us should lie. I just need my housemates to convince my mother that the house is safe, that I'm independent and I shouldn't return to Kedah."

"So, did Mr. Hotness - sorry - Naz give you any ideas?" Asked Elaine. I knew our conversation would continue to revolve around the man. 

"He's hopeless," I said as I brought another spoonful of carbonara sauce to my lips. "He told me to find my own solution. And then he reminded me of my age."

"No!" Exclaimed Elaine with eyes as big as saucers. 

"Yeah!" I nodded a few times while my mouth was busy munching the spaghetti again. 

"That's so cold of Mr. Hotness - sorry - Naz." Elained waved her hand in aneffort to flush the nickname from her mind. 

"Remind me again why I decided to tell him my problems," I said and Elaine made a guilty face. 

"I think it was because once upon a time, not too long ago I advised you to find a reason to get close to him?" She made a guess and I nodded with a faint smile. 

"I was so stupid, don't you think?" I was hoping for a sincere answer from my good friend. 

"I think it's time for tortilla chips and a Fast and Furious movie!" As always, Elaine answered difficult questions by offering calorie laden food. 

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