I took one step a time. Gentle little steps. Gingerly. I tried to keep my face blank, trying to wipe off any trace of discomfort. I won't break, I told myself repeatedly. I can do this, not so far away anymore. I tried to console myself. I listened to the chatter of the people around me, just to keep myself distracted. Some wore the look of dejection, they sat by the road glumly, staring at the ground, into nothingness. Some chatted amiably, as if nothing happened, as if it was a daily occurrence. Some went on aimlessly, looking somewhat lost.
He walked in a slow pace, just a step in front me. Once in a while, he would look back and smile. I would smile back, despite the pain I felt. I refused to let him see. I refused to give up right in front of him. So I dragged my legs, heavy as they were. I tried hard to ignore the burning pain. I took a swig from the bottle of water I was carrying. I adjusted the white cardigan I was wearing as it slipped off my shoulder. It was a bit hot. A little breeze would certainly help. But with the number of people milling around, a little breeze would go away unnoticed.
As I walked, I accidentally kicked a plastic water container. Seemed like there were hundreds of those thing strewn all over the place. Plastic water bottles, food wrappers and containers, aluminium cans, straws, plastic bags, cigarette boxes. It was a pity, really, to witness this kind of almost careless neglect done by most people. I could only shake my head. The condition inside was even worse. I almost gagged earlier when we were inside. How could people be so irresponsible? I thought to myself.
He stopped suddenly. Only then I noticed I was lagging behind. The pain had become more pronounced. He waited for me patiently and as I got closer, he held out his hand. I took it and hand in hand, we walked. According to my pace, which was very slow. He asked me if I'm doing okay. I just nodded. He took my black handbag and slung it on his shoulder casually. I adjusted my cardigan again. I could feel the sweat seeping through my black blouse inside the white cardigan.
Halfway through, we stopped. He sat on the ground and looked up at me. He asked me to sit down. I shook my head.
"Pakai kasut abanglah, nak?"
"Habis abang nak pakai apa? Sandal ni?"
I looked at him incredulously. He took off his simple white slip-on shoe.
And so we walked to Tesco's parking lot side by side, my hand in his, a little faster than before. Me wearing his shoe. And him in my brown heeled sandals.
So Terengganu lose the Cup to Negeri Sembilan. So I got my feet blistered. I went to bed smiling anyway that night.
My Mr. F is such a sweetheart, no?