• Matt

Storytelling, part 3.

(continued from part 2, which you may want to read first)

Enjoying something does not mean I do it well. Nor does it mean I want to do it all the time, or take the time to practice it to the point where I am above average. Hence these textual efforts, in which I am attempting to translate my enjoyment of telling stories into a written medium and see how it comes out. I am reasonably competent at stringing sentences together, but this is only a technical skill and far from being able to wax eloquent with witty prose which makes the story entertaining and meaningful.

As part of that process, I have decided to explore writing as a way to tell stories. Below is the third in a set of four short stories that cover a morning in Singapore from different perspectives.

4:30am. It sounds like the soft patter from one of the local cats walking slowly by the window. 4:30am. The sound of my alarm. A pleasant song I remember from my childhood. A bit tinny from the small speaker on my Nokia 3310. 4:31am. I need to visit the toilet, but I am so comfortable here in the bed. The aches are less today than most days. Why did I hear the cat before the alarm? 4:35am. The alarm again. The same song. I suppose I fell asleep. Too comfortable in this bed. I must rise and get moving. 4:37am. Pants, t-shirt, slip-on shoes. I forgot my underwear. Remove the pants, t-shirt and slip-on shoes and put on my underwear. Then the clothes again. 4:38am. Comfortable black shoes with thick soles. I washed the clothes yesterday, so everything is clean and smells nicely. It reminds me of my childhood. Watching my mother wash clothes and listening to her sing to me. 4:47am. Did I forget anything? Check my pocket. Card wallet. Handphone. S$2.50 for porridge from Poh Yee Huay’s at Ang Mo Kio 61. Lock the door. 4:49am. I am glad I only live on the 4th floor. I need to exercise more. At least I do these stairs three times a week. 4:55am. Oyster omelet and kopi. Every Monday. A girl needs to keep her habits to feel comfortable.

5:10am. Li Wei talks too much. I really don’t care what his daughter is doing. He tells me every day. I also don’t like the way he stares at my chest. 5:11am. The train arrives in 14 minutes. It takes me 12 minutes to walk to the station. Time to start. I need to think of something to say to Rachel. She will surely tell me about her children again. 5:14am. Every weekend. Why do children and their parents see each other every weekend? I have not seen my parents in twenty-seven years. I haven’t talked to them in twelve years, a week before they died. 5:17am. It’s starting to rain. I hoped it would wait until I arrived at the MRT station. Of course I have an umbrella, but now I have to dry it before putting it back in my bag. 5:21am. In the station. Dry my umbrella. A stand with bags for umbrellas? This is new. Is it because of the new condo they are building on Yio Chu Kang Road? This reminds me of the Raffles Place MRT station. How convenient. 5:22am. Hello, Rachel. How are you, Rachel. How are your kids, Rachel. I’m so glad to hear, Rachel. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. Three minutes until the train arrives. Please, Rachel, tell me more. I can’t wait. 5:25am. Thank you, train #271. You have quieted Rachel. Maybe one day Rachel will get stuck in the door. They always warn of that, but I have heard of it happening. That would be a nice surprise. 5:53am. My papers are not here! This has never happened. Tony is not answering his phone. Where are all the people? I don’t see anyone. Is it a holiday today? Where is Min? She is always here before me. What do I do? 5:36am. Gasp. Why is Rachel looking at me like that? Did I forget to tell her how interesting her children were? Where are my papers? Oh. I fell asleep in the train. That was quite a vivid dream. I am having them more and more. Strange. Yes, Rachel, I am fine. No, Rachel, no doctor. I just fell asleep. I’m sure, Rachel. 5:41am. I wonder why I fell asleep. I am not tired. Something with the porridge? Twice last week. Perhaps I should see a doctor. Perhaps I’m tired. 5:42am. Rachel never stops talking. There’s another door opportunity up ahead. Maybe the door will do the ears of the world a favor. 5:48am. So many people standing up. I wish they would stop looking at me. I have to ride the metro for nearly thirty minutes, but I always have a seat. At least no big Ang-mo on the train this early. 5:51am. There’s Min. Nineteen years I have been working with her, and I have only arrived before her three times. She also appreciates silence and no longer talks about her children. If I wanted friends, Min would be one. 5:55am. All the papers are stacked and ready. Five more minutes. 5:57am. I think I put on my panties inside out. And I am wearing my blue Wednesday shirt. This is annoying. I forgot what color my panties are.

6:00am. Focus. I must offer a paper to everyone. 6:03am. Two young men with blue shoes, one directly after another. Young people use color in such different ways in their clothing these days. 6:06am. Purple hair! Doesn’t she worry people will stare at her hair? She is barely 20. So care-free. Or doesn’t care about other people. I wish I had learned that earlier. 6:07am. Purple hair again. Oh, it is the same young lady coming back. She looks frustrated. Calm down, little girl, life isn’t a race. 6:11am. Two men in their 30’s… no, I think they are still in their 20’s. Both with some purple highlights in their hair? They look 302. 6:24am. What a small little backpack on that young boy. And he’s so quiet. Maybe in an alternate universe, Rachel’s children would be that quiet and well mannered.

7:01am. A lady older than me with purple and blue hair. Maybe I could dye my hair. Perhaps Li Wei would stare at something different. 7:11am. I wonder if the waves of people will ever shrink instead of getting bigger and bigger each year. This little island is going to sink under the weight. 7:30am. Three hours since the cat woke me up. Time seems to go so much faster once I have the papers and my work to do. 7:42am. I wonder if that girl with the tiny skirt and red hair knows what Lee Kuan Yew did for her. They have so many choices these days. 7:46am. Why did I start thinking about politics? I try to avoid looking at the paper each day for that reason. My job is to hand out Today, I don’t have to know what’s in it. No one asks me anything about it, anyway. 7:52am. Now the tourists start arriving. So many of them are so fat. They sweat so much, and hardly ever accept a paper. I should keep asking, but I know they will say no or ignore me most of the time anyway.

8:06am. I do enjoy working with Min. She is efficient and we get along well without talking to each other. 8:08am. Why are young women so loud? Their volume goes up the more of them there are together. I think I would have been similar at their age if I lived in a place like this. 8:25am. They are coming in waves. Less colored hair in the professional types that are arriving now. I wonder how many people fit into each of the office towers here. 8:39am. Finally, a woman in business clothes with purple hair. I admire her. 8:44am. Sixteen minutes until 9am. Almost a third of my day is finished. 8:55am. That old man wanted three papers. This does not happen very frequently. Better than throwing them away at the end of the day.

9:06am. I’m thirsty. Fifty-four minutes until my break. 9:13am. Why do some Ang-mo seem so irritated when we offer them a paper? That young man is too much in a rush. 9:20am. More and more people every day. Only three people spoke to me today, besides Rachel and Li Wei. More busy, less talking. It’s sad.



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