I arrive at the metro station a little after eleven, and start looking for anyone whom I might recognize as Jae’s friends. Jae is this social magnet without opposing poles who can’t stop making friends wherever he goes, and he’s always busy holding events to bring his friends together so he can see more of them at any one session. This karaoke party is one of them, and I am pretty sure I can spot at least one familiar face at our designated meeting spot.
After three rounds the station (during which I admired the freshly repainted ceiling of ancient mythical figures in kaleidoscope colors and a couple of cute girls), I am surprised to find there isn’t anyone whom I can recognize; though given that I am somewhat on time, it may very well be that they haven’t arrived. Just when I am reflecting on how birds of a feather do indeed flock together, someone calls me from behind.
“Are you a friend of Jae?”
I turn around to find myself staring into this pair of glassy brown eyes whose hue darken and converge into a black dot that draws my consciousness in. When I pull myself out a full second later, I see before me a chocolate-skinned beauty of classical features wrapped in a floral dress.
“I am. And you are…?”
“Anna. Nice to meet you.”
“Yes. Nice to meet you. Too.”
I search for words to say to this dark beauty, but can’t find any. My mind is too actively generating questions (“Who is she? Do I know her? Have I seen her? No, most definitely not, since one can’t possibly forget such a beauty – then how does she know me? Has she seen my pictures with Jae? Does she know about me? If so, how much? And if not, why not?”), so that it has no room for other activities.
“So do you sing?”
She is asking me a question.
“Yes, but… Yes. I mean, I do but I don’t… Like, I don’t sing well. But I can. Sometimes. Like in the bathroom. And karaoke. That’s why I’m here. And that’s why you’re here. Like…”
I am a dimwit. A moron. I am mumbling and fumbling. True, I never am much of a conversationalist to begin with, not like Jae, but this is way too humiliating. I feel my cheeks and body glowing in embarrassment, and if I can do it without suffering further humiliation, I will have moonwalked away from her.
The beautiful creature called Anna laughs, and – in a suspiciously flirtatious tone – replies, “I know, it’s exactly the same with me.”
I swear, that at this very moment, time stops and carves itself into eternity. And in this eternal scene, everything else is drained of colors, leaving only myself and Anna and her very first laugh for me.