ANTI-ROMANCE by Lana NG

I am sitting

In the morning

His hair is laden with rays of silky gold, going at the same speed he runs. Cracks in the ash-fallen pavement invite him to a near unconsciousness, but he refuses to walk over them. There is no such thing as luck and jinxes, he tells himself. How could he believe in luck if it never revealed itself in the iciest of fondness?

Luminous city light blinds his now colourless eyes; no glints of seafoam amusement twinkling within them. The haze doesn't help either in his mad dash to the diner where he'll meet her.

At the diner

On the corner

Concealment is like a virus needing a body in order to survive. Samantha sits in concealment. Her quietness screaming for attention; her uselessness deteriorating her warmth; her happiness dying as death sets its eyes on everyone.

Tears weightlessly drip down her face, as though the water balloons of her youth have been punctured. She is no longer concerned with her haughty and hollow-eyed appearance. Ironically, veils of light seep through the lacklustre trees against the soft patting of rain. It is as if the sullen cloudburst falls in a synced beat to her broken heart.

I am waiting

At the counter

It hits her. He hasn't bothered to show up. They both had reluctantly planned to meet up on that day. That meant sharing the same air in the room, never mind about yelling wicked words in front of an unknowing audience - a ping pong match of flying expletives.

The hands on the retro, cherry-red clock sitting above her ticks away. Each stroke passes. A chaotic cacophony rings in her ears. It reminds her of how she has sold her past, and equally, her futile future.

And he fills it only halfway

And before I even argue

They were done arguing. Tim had tried to make things right but to no avail. Tiresome days of almost-scripted disputes sentence them to the remoteness of their own minds. Even silence was a commodity.

Viewing the glass as half full or half empty wouldn't save their loathsome love - musings of this nature swim in Sam's head as the glum waitress refills her cup of black coffee.

He is looking out the window

At somebody coming in

Therapy didn't work either, nonetheless, they both attend separately on weekends; Saturday is her's, so Sunday is claimed as his.

Endlessly, the doctor tries to make sense of their raging ramblings, always about one another, but nothing makes sense since they seem to love each other to care enough. Or at least loved each other.

"It is always nice to see you"

Says the man behind the counter

She had hoped those words were from her soulmate, instead, they come from the grease-ball of a chef behind the chipped marble counter. Pathetic joy is etched on the man's face as if it is carved by a master of the art of showmanship.

That smile plastered on his face turns her coffee even more bitter—that is, excluding the splash of dry alcohol.

To the woman who has come in

She is shaking her umbrella

Dust cloaks Sam's coarse skin, rendering her as a stone monument of pathos. 

Crashing, crashing, and more crashing… From the sky to the Earth, lightning hits superiorly in a heated conversation between the rain and land.

Realising that the chef is, in fact, talking to the woman behind her, Sam watches as her eyebrows knit into a deep frown. "She wears that smile so humbly, shoving her everlasting youthfulness in my face," she thinks to herself.

And I'm turning to the horoscope

And looking for the funnies

Her mind trails back to the soggy newspaper on the table in front of her and inky hands flip dully through pages. Perhaps something in there could change her sour mood.

Pages as uneventful as her love life lose her attention. Thus, emerald eyes shift toward the window's striking, ominous afterglow of the storm.

When I'm feeling someone watching me

And so I raise my head

People stare and gag at his sickly complexion. Sweat stings as it oozes out of Tim's pores, meanwhile time continues to be the winning racer against him. As he heaves, hungry for air, smothering cigarette smoke lingers and clings to his senses. Time is running out, and rapidly.

There's a woman on the outside

Looking inside does she see me?

Samantha was a stunningly beautiful, young, attractive woman in her prime; however, the years of drinking have taken a heavy toll on her. Even though she could afford high-quality cosmetics, they can't cover up the dejected, darkened bags under her eyes. That's all she sees in her own reflection.

No, she does not

Really see me

Tim's ailing boredom reflects whilst he pasts floral boutiques — on his exhausting journey to her — all as expensive as each other. Gold, black and white flickers of streetlights glimmer with his wet reflection which makes him look strangely godlike.

A moment of staring pasts. He shakes the thought of it off. How could foolish glass windows paint a picture of a god of him through their eyes? Gods consisted of conquering heroes and champions, and she has made it clear that he wasn't her hero anymore.

I am thinking

Of your voice...

Various images ignite in her head and dissolve into even older ones. So easily accessible, like a personal album stored in the back of her mind. She remembers them so vividly.

Nostalgic-ridden snippets replay countlessly and pause on subtle, absent-minded moments where they both look so happy. Be it the grass looking so green against her ivory wedding dress or the thin, lace veil sitting rewardingly upon her head. They both stare, engrossed in the ceremony. That is, only until he splashes her playfully with a shower of champagne. Lulling them into a tranquil slumber, the drink and food take its effect.

And of the midnight picnic

Once upon a time

Their story is a fairy tale with an acerbic ending. "What is that alluring aroma?" Tim asks the eerily quiet street, not to anyone in particular really. He decides to follow it.

Bustling charge awakens the street's dank exterior as buckets of rain continue to hail onto the pavement. Gravity is something to worship, he guesses. Thankfully, the smell has taken him nearer to the diner he and his ex-wife-to-be dreadfully promised to meet each other. He stops to take a breath, holding the official papers in his hand. A texture of mushiness is felt as he rubs the soaked documents in between his fingers because he's forgotten an umbrella—the practice of preparedness did have its rewards. However, his feet suddenly complain in disdainful voices.

I finish up my coffee

It's time to catch the train

The bell adorned on the door resonates. At least something acknowledges her presence. Shivers crawl down her spine when a blast of chilly air greets her prickly skin. Although in the morning it had seemed like it was going to be a gorgeous, bright day, there is nothing sunny about the current weather.

Alongside the persistent booms of traffic, her heels make a click-clack sound as she storms off; puffs of cool air in the miserable atmosphere escape the corner of her lips.

"Let him dine on ashes," Sam spits viciously. "Because one day, I'll be the one to rise from them."

In