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Closing time.

A peculiar mix of pour homme and jasmine milk tea lingered in the air while they drove along the streets just outside the university. She had an exam the next day and could use an extra hour or two of sleep, really. But it was a Friday and Fridays always held in it a certain kind of enchantment she couldn't say no to. He texted her if she wanted to eat out and without hesitation, she said yes.

It was her first time riding his car tonight - in fact her first time riding anyone's car. She wasn't comfortable breaking into his space, as she was just as reluctant letting him in hers. There was a teddy bear nudged between the rear window and the car seat, she noticed. She didn't need to ask to figure out it may have been from someone special. So he had a past, she thought. I have too. Only hers was an unrealistic longing for Ryan Gosling. His, meanwhile, was an actual girl. She wasn't jealous, no. There had been a confirmation of their feelings after all, just two weeks ago. But she still felt the awkward silences creeping in between them every now and then, threatening to destroy the little bubble she has created for them.

He was still driving silently, his eyes focused on the tail lights and the road in front of him. Meanwhile, her hands wanted to search for his, in a silent, desperate call for affirmation, that indeed she did not make the wrong decision of agreeing to this sudden milk tea date, and of confessing to him twelve days ago, or rather, at all, after being classmates (and seatmates) for only three months. But she couldn't because they weren't at that point of letting fingers intertwine yet and acknowledge this so-called understanding. The only kind of touching they've had so far was her elbow brushing against his as she took down notes, and the electric rush from that should be enough.

Not long after, a car cut in front of them forcing him to honk in agitation. She stiffened in her seat, her hands holding onto her jasmine tea that threatened to spill all over her and his car. That's the last thing she wanted, not during this first time. Should I say something? What do I say? She isn't well-versed in passenger-seat small talk, let alone any kind of small talk, especially with a guy one particularly liked, so she couldn't be sure if she was supposed to comment on anything. She whispered a feeble Oh my god that asshole under her breath instead, to which he laughed and said, "Wow, you took the words right out of my mouth."

Was that, finally, an affirmation? She couldn't be too sure but she was willing to take it as such. She smiled and looked outside the window again, trying to imagine what other things she now unconsciously knew about him. The way he would shake his head when he hears a corny joke, the side of the handkerchief he wiped his face with (always the one with the monogram), the way he pronounced "comfortable" (komf-tabuhl). There was still a lot she didn't know, like the song currently playing in the background, and there remained a lot of space around his own personal bubble that she needed to get to know, but she was getting there. At least, she hoped so.

"You can change the song, if you want," he quipped. He must have noticed her indifference towards this dude rapping about his sexual exploits. She reached out for the knob in the stereo, trying her best to look like she knew what she was doing, when he cut her suddenly and said, "Why don't you just put your iPod instead?"

"I don't have it with me," she said.

Which was a shame because it was a big deal, God knew it was. She would have happily plugged in hers and played the playlists she's made for him, and he would finally hear the song she was telling him about, the one in that movie she wanted to see, the one that Justin Timberlake got wrong. She would have sung shamelessly along with the chorus, and he would have laughed, maybe regret letting her sing a little bit, but he would have loved it. She would have reached out for his hand again, and this time for real, and he would hold back. He wouldn't let it go even as he switched gears, and she would have been glad.

For now, she would have to find comfort in knowing that he was somehow making her a part of her space already, and acknowledging her song preferences should be symbolic enough. For now, it's just her hand on his knee, but him not putting it away. For now, the iPod inside her head should be content, for the song would be playing in the background nonetheless, plugging itself to the soundtrack of her night.

Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.


Can you believe this is post number 500? I can't, either.

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