Just a little story i wrote out of spur.
When everyone else is studyin for their poly graduation exams, a young lady worked extremely hard with part-time jobs while jugglin between school and family. Her name is Jabelle..
Obviously she wasn’t from a rich family, and the same goes for her childhood friend, Albert. They had gone through thick and thin together, includin that disastrous breakup between Jabelle and her first ex-boyfriend of four years. It was hell for her durin that period, and she thanked god that Albert had always been by her side..
“Hey Bert, hows your preparation goin?”
Jabelle was munchin some cookies she bought at 7-11. Every night after she’s done with K-Box at 3am, she will take a long stroll back home at Jurong, and Albert will usually be on the other end of the phone call.
“Ahhh, screw the papers. I hate exams, you know me. Haven’t touched anything that looks like a textbook to me.”
“Haha, you gonna flunk and stay with me next semester? How sweeet!”
Jabelle laughed with her mouth full of cookies.
“Yaa right, fat dreams. Who asked you to miss all semester 3’s papers? It’s a miracle we’re still in the same school already.”
“Do you think I wished for it..”
The atmosphere suddenly grew tense.
Albert realised he had said something wrong.
“Sorry, a slip of mouth..”
“Haa, no worries, got used to it. Stupid Bert!”
More than a year back, Jabelle didn’t attend the examinations. She was always in her room back then, locked up from the inside, shunnin everyone. The breakup was apparently too intense for her. As her best buddy, Albert was there at her place almost every day. He was always able to calm Jabelle down, something which her own blood sister, Jeraldine, couldn’t manage. It took some time, for Jabelle to be herself again. And it took some time, for her to finally decide..
For the abortion..
“So, you’re home yet?”
“Yaa, just. I’m soooo tired. Aren’t you sleepin? I wish I can sleep at 10am lor, and there you are wide awake at 4am every night. You should be the one workin!”
Jabelle complained as she walk up the stairs.
“Haha, but your side doesn’t need any more staff. It’s not like I didn’t apply.”
“Yaa.. Tommy hired a lot of Malaysian PRs. You’re slow laa!”
“Enough of your ‘Duhs’. I need my bathe and sleep right now. See you in class tomorrow alright?”
“Sure. Milo or coffee?”
Albert always buys her drinks for mornin classes.
“No prob. See you tomorrow Belle. Nights.”
After hangin up the phone, Albert jumped unto his bed almost straight away.
“Oh ya pal, I didn’t forget. Pass you the present tomorrow ya? HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
It was a sms from Jabelle.
Albert smiled, and dozed off..
The results for the graduation examinations came after a few months. It wasn’t pleasin. Jabelle did pass her papers with good grades, and thus able to attend her last semester the followin year. But to everyone’s dismay, Albert failed..
Jabelle has sent Albert a nudge!
“Wasup Belle? Don’t you try to cheer me up too..”
“Huh? What for? You TOLD my parents?!”
Apparently Albert hasn’t told them yet.
“No.. But I feel guilty.. Always jokingly curse that you’ll retain the semester with me, and it really happened.. Even Jeraldine said I’m evil..”
“Wow, do you always tell her everything? Don’t be silly ya. You said it’s a ‘joke’ already.”
“Haha.. We sisters keep no secrets against each other..”
Jabelle managed to pull off a smile in front of the monitor.
“Well, I have no choice but to see you next year again. Sian!”
“Wei, You’re so bad! But I’m kinda glad.. Thought I’ll be all alone next sem..”
“Well, I’ll be around ya.”
“Thanks Bert. And I’m sorry..”
The next half of a year was smooth. Both of them made it through their graduation after months of hard work. Jabelle was quick to quit her part-time at K-Box and located a full-time job as an IT software programmer in a local SME. And it wasn’t long before Albert will be enlistin with the army..
“So sorry, I can’t take a day off on that day itself. I’m still on probation..”
“It’s okay Belle. It’s the thought that counts.”
“Haha, I’ll send you my photo as a replacement instead. Have you packed? Had everything you need?”
“Yup! Oh man! I can’t wait to see Pulau Tekong! Haa..”
It’s just too obvious Albert is fakin his enthusiasm.
“Haha, cheer up pal. It’s ONLY two and a half years. Be a man, do the right thing!”
“Yaa, right. Two years is a great deal of freedom okay? I can do a lot of shit with it, like watchin Russell Peters. Thanks for remindin!”
“I shall remind you every night! I shall tell you all the lovely things that I’ve done everyday! Haha!
“You mean it? We will chat every night..?”
“Yaa, for not being able to send you off. Hey, maybe I can go over during family visiting day..?”
“But I don’t want to let you see me in uniform! I will be shy..”
“Shy your head laa! Haha!”
Jabelle laughed out loud.
But she didn’t attend the family visiting in the end. Durin the three weeks of BMT, calls between Jabelle and Albert dropped drastically. Every night when Albert tried ringin her up, she would be either too busy with her work projects or too tired. He stopped callin eventually, believin Jabelle will ring him up if she is free..
Well, she was busy alright..
It wasn’t long before Albert realised Jabelle got attached. She met him durin her first day of work, and had seen him daily ever since. He was her manager, the same person who interviewed and hired her, the same person whom she shared meal times with, the same person who knocked off from work and hung out together. It didn’t take much time for Jabelle to fall in love with him..
“George is a really cool guy! Carin, mature, and he always has something up his sleeves!”
Albert seemed really uninterested.
“Wei, don’t be an arse. He’s a really nice person.”
“Okay okay, I get your point.”
“Hey, why don’t you get yourself a girlfriend too? Then we can both meet up as couples!”
“Is that even a joke?”
“Come to think of it, you haven’t got attached a single time since the day I know you pee-d in your pants..”
“Belle, you promised never to bring it up again!”
That was a dark secret between the two of them.
“Haha! So why don’t we meet up soon? I really want to introduce him to you!”
Jabelle smirked devilishly.
“Yaa we should. It has been ages since you’re WILLIN to meet me.”
“I’m sorry laa..”
It was a known fact that Albert detests such friends.
They met soon after. It wasn’t a really pleasant day. Albert was much of a sore eye for George, since Jabelle had told him a lot of their childhood stories. Being mad at Jabelle for not meetin up for some time, Albert wasn’t really in his best of moods as well. Worse still, Jabelle is not pleased with Albert’s cold treatment against her beloved George..
That day was a disaster..
“Grrr, I hate Albert! He is so not a gentleman!”
Jabelle, whinnin to Jeraldine durin bed time that night.
“What happened to him?”
“Aiya, I was thoughtful enough to arrange a meet up between my boyfriend and my best friend, but all Albert did was givin attitude! I know I didn’t meet him much over the months.. But he didn’t have to be that petty, right?”
“Haha, at least you did realise you didn’t meet him for a long deal of time. Don’t forget you missed his family visiting day as well. I will be pissed if I’m him.”
Being the elder sister, Jeraldine always seemed more mature.
“But you have been too blinded by love, sis. Have you forgotten how he had stood by you all the while? Just because you think you found your love of your life, doesn’t apply that he deserved such cold treatment from you. Isn’t him your buddy for life?”
Jabelle was hit at the bull’s eye.
“Yaa yaa, I know I’m naggy. Not a big sister for nothin. I don’t wish to jump to conclusions, but hasn’t him shown more care than anyone else? If he’s older by a few years I would have snatched from you lor..”
“Haha, you two can always have a 姐弟恋!”
“Shut up. I’m already attached.”
Jeraldine’s turn to get hit.
A few months passed and the two good friends were still not contactin each other. For Albert, it was as usual. Long had he got used to a life without a text or call from his best friend. He did think back bout the past at times, and it always ended with a sigh. Good times never last..
His phone rang one day, a message from Jabelle.
“Can we meet..”
When Albert saw Jabelle below his block that night, he sighed again. She was in tears. And when she saw Albert walkin towards her direction, she couldn’t help flingin herself at Albert. She cried loudly on his shoulders..
“He lied to me.. He promised me so many things.. But they won’t happen..”
Albert wiped her tears off her cheeks as she whimpered.
“He is married..”
“I found out today.. His wife came..”
It was then Albert realised Jabelle had a bruise on her cheeks.
“DID SHE DO THAT TO YOU?!”
“She didn’t make a really big ruckus.. Left after tellin me off.. Tellin me never to meet that guy again..”
“Have you called him..?”
Albert realised his temper won’t do any good to the situation.
“Yeah.. He told me he’s plannin to divorce..”
“Bert.. Should I still believe him..?”
Jabelle eyes were so swollen..
“I think you already have an answer in your heart, Belle..”
That very moment, Jabelle locked her arms around Albert and gave him a deep hug.
“Bert.. You’re my best buddy after all..”
Jabelle smiled with tears in her eyes..
She stayed on with George.
But not without resistance. Her family was totally against the idea of her being a third party. Even Jeraldine had a big quarrel and fell out with her. Not being able to withstand the pressure, she moved out in the end. News eventually caught wind, and all her colleagues knew bout the affair. Everyone shunned Jabelle like plague..
Everyone, except her best friend..
“Why didn’t you try to convince her?!”
Jeraldine probed Albert when they met up.
“You know she wouldn’t listen..”
“I only know she’s doin something gravely wrong right now, and you supported her! It doesn’t seem like you to be so short sighted!”
“Now everyone is mad at her, are you happy?”
“Jerald.. You know her more than I do.. The first guy she had almost drove her crazy.. If she gives up this time round, she won’t recover..”
“You’re tellin me that it’s right to break up someone else’s family instead?!”
“I only know she loves him a lot.. Too much, to give it up altogether.. If she believes in him, I believe in her.. Shouldn’t you support her too?!”
“My little sister, is really blind..”
“She always sees the bad guys..”
And starred at Albert with tears..
It really wasn’t kind on Jabelle. Though independent, stayin alone wasn’t an easy feat, especially durin such a period. She even changed her job to avoid gossips. Missin the warmth of her family, she often broke down and cried. George stayed with his kids and wife. He didn’t accompany Jabelle much..
“How’s your new work place?”
Albert asked while browsin through his list of mp3s.
“Not too bad.. At least I get to use the Internet..”
Jabelle had grown so much thinner and fragile since..
“Well, I can’t wait to ORD from the army months later. It’s so sickenin to get stuck in there for five days a week!”
“How I wish you can meet me every night, Bert..”
“Well.. You can always call me?”
He was tryin hard to divert her attention.
“And I neglected you durin your BMT.. I’m so sorry..”
“Wow, that’s like almost a year back. No wonder they always say never offend a woman, they remember everything..”
Jabelle managed a fade smile.
“How come.. You never once asked bout George and myself..?”
“Hmmm, am I supposed to?”
“Aren’t you curious how we were getting along..?”
“Belle, I believe in you..”
Jabelle smiled again..
But in actual fact, things were rather bleak. It had been almost two weeks since Jabelle had met George. It had occurred to Jabelle that he had started avoidin her. The usual calls and messages turned almost zero. Deep inside, she knew she was goin to let her best pal down..
“Don’t make yourself at home, alright? It’s not the first time you messed up my room!”
Albert shouted, before enterin the bathroom.
“You better don’t peep at any of my stuff while I bathed!”
“What’s there for me to peep at, little boy? Your new boxers? Haha..”
“I-r-r-i-t-a-t-i-n.. Give me five minutes!”
Jabelle smiled to herself. Lookin around, except for a few new posters on the wall and a shelf full of books, Albert’s room didn’t change much at all. It was exactly the same as she first stepped into his place, when they were still so young and naïve..
“Like room, like owner.. Haha..”
As she started fiddlin through his stuff, she realised it had been a really long while since she last visited his place. When they were younger, she used to come over almost every other day. Memories. Just like the birthday present she bought him before the graduation exam. As she flipped through the old wallet, she became playful and tried to empty it, takin out all his cards and cash.
Suddenly, Jabelle froze. Tears formed up in her eyes as she became overwhelmed with feelins. She put everything back into order and placed the wallet back to its original position.
“So, did you mess up my room…. Huh?”
Albert realised Jabelle was already gone when he came out..
As Albert darted out into the corridor while donnin a decent piece of clothin he grabbed within his reach, his mind was at a blank. Deep in his heart he knew something was dead wrong.
Albert yelled at the top of his lungs as he saw Jabelle runnin across the street.
It wasn’t long before he caught with her.
“Nothin, just leave me alone!”
“NO! Tell me what happened, or I won’t let go!”
Albert was losin his end as Jabelle turned cynical.
“Why are you always such a BUSYBODY!”
Albert couldn’t believe his ears..
“George told me everything.. That you went to look for him and told him off.. That he should break up with me if he doesn’t love me enough.. Now that he had avoided me for two weeks already.. ARE YOU HAPPY?!”
Jabelle blurted out as she cried.
Before Albert knew, Jabelle had given him a really tight slap.
“SHUT UP! Who are you to interfere with my life? My life is bad enough, I don’t need a busybody to make it any worse!”
Albert stared at Jabelle with a hand on his left cheek.
“I don’t wish to see you ever again.. Just.. Leave me alone!”
Jabelle said her last as she freed away from Albert’s softened grip.
As she ran across the road, Albert was seen chasin behind her.
It had been two weeks ever since. Jabelle didn’t get to see Albert at all. As she sat on the bed thinkin, she had really begun to regret her words. She had the urge to see Albert more than anyone else right now..
“How are you feelin today?”
Jeraldine asked as she stepped into the room.
“Jie. I’m much better, I guess..”
“Dad.. He is still rather stubborn..”
Jabelle knew deep inside that her father won’t forgive her so easily.
“So, hows the packin?”
“There wasn’t much to begin with..”
Jabelle looked around the room and prepared to leave.
Jeraldine knew George didn’t visit her even once durin the two weeks. She knew somehow, it was over between her sis and him. And she was kinda glad Jabelle was able to take it with ease..
“He didn’t come at all. I guess that is his answer..”
Jabelle replied with a smile.
“Sis, I’m happy for you.. I know it wasn’t easy..”
The two sisters gave each other a hug.
“He is okay, still the same..”
The room went dead quiet for awhile.
“Are you goin to visit him now..?”
“Com’on, lets go.”
As Jabelle stood up with the help of her sister, she reached for her clutches and started walkin towards the door..
Albert was admitted into another hospital. That fateful night, as Jabelle started runnin across the road, he saw a sports car approachin along the curve. That was when he yelled at Jabelle, and pushed her hard across the road. She suffered a broken leg as she fell hard against the pavement. And Albert..
“He hasn’t woke up yet..”
Albert’s mom told Jabelle. Even though she was really mad with her initially, but had calmed down much as time passed. She and her husband saw Jabelle grew up too, and they knew, that their son was brave to save his beloved childhood friend.
“I’m so sorry..”
Jabelle broke down in tears again.
“It’s okay Jabelle.. It’s not your fault..”
Albert’s father tried hard to ease her guilt.
“You two, take care of Albert for awhile alright? Alice, lets go buy some food..”
“But I’m not hungry..”
“Dear, you still need to bite something..”
Albert’s father said as he caressed her head.
When the parents left, Jabelle took the seat beside Albert and held his hand..
“I wish you’ll wake up right now..”
“He will, soon.. If only he knew that you had got over George for good..”
Jeraldine mumbled to herself.
Jabelle starred at her sister for awhile.
“Jie.. I think I know..”
“I saw something, that night..”
Within the old wallet that Albert kept for years, was yet another gift about the same age. Kept inside a secret compartment he had carefully hidden, was a photo. The very picture of Jabelle and Albert whom were secretly snapped by Jeraldine durin their school days. The very picture Jabelle gave Albert before he left for the army.
“You saw the photo?”
“You knew all along?!”
Jabelle was caught surprised.
“Of course. I took that picture, remember?”
Jabelle was still in disbelief.
“Sis.. There are a lot of things you didn’t notice..”
Jabelle starred at Albert for a moment. It was this familiar face that had always been around her, showin up each time she needed him most.
“Jie.. How long did you know..?”
“Since day one.. Have you forgotten how he had always wanted you to be the bride instead of me? It’s not because I’m older..”
Everything came back as Jabelle sought through her memories. When they were still kids, Albert always had to play with Barbie dolls at their place. And whenever they played 家家酒, he would choose Jabelle as his wife, and made Jeraldine the kid instead..
“Sis, I’m sorry I kept this secret away from you all these years. Since now you had finally realised, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to break my promise with Albert..”
“You know, when you first got together with Ray durin your secondary school days, this little brat actually came to me and cried..”
Jeraldine ruffled Albert’s hair as she continued to narrate.
“Can you imagine how his heart cracked each time you told him bout your happiness or sadness with that guy, and with George..”
It suddenly dawned on Jabelle that Albert was always uninterested about her two boyfriends.
“Do you still remember those days when you’re workin at K-Box?”
“Why do you think Albert always stayed up late every night until 4am?”
“He has always been good with his studies. So, I gave him a really bad scoldin after his results were out, when I knew he failed on purpose.. He planned it all along, to accompany you for half a year more.. He didn’t want you to be alone..”
“You can imagine how disappointed he was when you couldn’t make it for his family visitin day.. But you definitely didn’t know he had to sacrifice his parent’s tickets just for you.. He was all alone that day in camp, when everyone else had love ones visitin them.. I was on the phone with him that whole night..”
“Sis.. The day when you told him you were pregnant with Ray’s kid, didn’t you two hugged and cried the whole night? Didn’t he promise he’ll protect you and stay with you all the time? He kept his promise all along, you know.. He still is..”
Jabelle had already broken into tears ..
“Albert, I couldn’t thank you enough for savin my stupid sis’s life, over and over again..”
Jeraldine starred at Albert and smiled with watery eyes.
Jabelle cried while holdin his hand tight..
Deep in her mind, memories of Albert flooded. All the sacrifices he had made for her since the very beginning, she could imagine now, the pain and heartbreaks he had gone through, yet puttin on a strong front each time, workin even harder to cheer her up. That was the love he had for her..
“Bert, I love you..”
Jeraldine’s boyfriend proposed to her at the end of that same year. It was an happy occasion, on top of the fact Jabelle had moved back with the family, and her father had forgiven her. Brushin all the past aside, she returned to her cheerful and hardworkin self. But on the weddin night itself, she wasn’t smilin much. Because Albert wasn’t around..
“Reve, have you been takin good care of my Jie? Remember to let her bully without complaints, it will make your life easier!”
“Idiot.. You don’t want your gifts already huh?”
Jeraldine grumbled with her hubby beside, laughin.
“Wei, you promised to buy me those durin your honeymoon. You can’t go back on your words!”
“Let me think about it.”
Jeraldine replied cheekily.
“Did you buy anything for Albert..?”
“Yeah, help me pass him alright? Tell him I’m sorry too, that I didn’t make it back on time..”
“I’m sure he’ll understand.”
As Jabelle stepped into Albert’s room once again, she felt it was so much neater. Compared to the past where she had to clear away books and papers just to take a sit on his bed, it certainly helped with a lady doin the tidyin up. As she saw the old wallet on his desk, her eyes turned watery once again..
“Silly, are you gonna cry again?”
Jabelle looked up, and there he was, standin at the door.
“Nothin, just thinkin bout things..”
Jabelle replied as she walked over and hugged him.
Albert woke up from his coma that day. He claimed it was Jabelle’s voice that brought him back. It wasn’t long before he recovered fully and reported back to army, missin Jeraldine’s weddin night due to army duties. Jeradline was on honeymoon and was too late for his ORD celebration.
“Sorry I made you went through so much..”
“Silly.. At least now we’re together..”
Albert kissed her forehead as she smiled.
“Hey, I wanna hear you say it again..”
“Thanks for always being there for me..?”
Jabelle replied the wrong words deliberately.
“The other one!”
Jabelle paused awhile and gave Albert a little kiss.
“I’m glad I’ve met you..”
“Bert, I love you..”
“Belle, I love you too..”