Melissa.

¨Hello, anyone there?¨ I heard his voice again. Hesitantly, I placed my phone against my ear.

¨Haze? I mean, Max?¨

¨Hello beautiful.¨

******************************************************************

Those words echoed in my mind over and over again, like a mantra.

It was not only the words but something more. Something in those words, maybe it was in the voice or presence or the fact that I needed someone desperately at the moment.

The numbness, sadness, and emptiness all vanished in an instant. All the negative feelings that consumed me earlier evaporated like they were not present once.

¨Hello,¨ His voice again reminded me that it was him.

And my once calm thoughts became a mess. My thoughts scattered like flowers scattering seeds in a strong wind. Mixed feelings resulted from shock, relief, and confusion.

I was confused as to why Max called me all of a sudden, as he was the last person I was expecting. But the most critical question that confused me was;

How on earth did he get my number!

¨Huh, I can not believe this.¨

His sighing jolted me back to reality.

¨I have worked so hard to devise a plan and act on it so that I can get your number, but in the end, you have decided to give a silent treatment.¨ He lazily ranted like he was on the verge of sleeping.

¨Oh no! I mean, sorry, I was just…¨

¨Impressed?¨ He cut me short, then continued, ¨I get that a lot. I am the prince charming, of course.¨

Here we go with the self-praise. Rolling my eyes, I answered.

¨I was going to say surprised, but whatever works for you, narcissist.¨ I heard him chuckle through the phone and could not help the goosebumps rising from my skin at the sound of his rumbling voice.

¨ Self-love, remember.¨ Max stressed the first word making me chuckle lowly, and it surprised me. A few seconds ago, I was crying and cursing myself, but with just a few words, Max was able to earn a laugh from me.

¨If it helps you sleep at night,¨ I paused, sitting upright, before going on.

¨Jokes aside, how did you get my number?¨ I asked the curious question that has been bugging me ever since he called.

¨It is a secret.¨ came his answer in a heartbeat.

¨It is not a secret when I know you asked someone from the café. The question is who?¨ and it disturbed me a lot.

I remember asking all my co-workers not to give anyone – absolutely anyone – my number without permission.

So when I heard from them that Max was asking for my number and they all refused him, I was glad but at the same time not happy.

Maybe I wanted him to get my number quickly, or maybe not.

Arrrgh! There is something wrong with my head.

¨Aha! so you are the one who stopped them from giving me your number?¨ He spoke as if he had solved the mystery.

¨Getting my phone number is not supposed to be that easy, you know. One has to work hard to get it.¨

¨I agree with you on this, but have you ever heard of the saying, money solves everything? It took a few tips to get it.¨ This caught my attention.

¨A few tips?¨ I asked, shocked.

¨Did you bribe someone to get a number?¨

¨Your number, and no, I did not bribe anyone, just spoke nicely and gave some tips, nothing biggy.¨

I tried to think of who could betray me because of money. Surprisingly, I did not even need to think much as the answer was already in front of me.

Jessica! Of course, it had to be her!

Who else was clinging to Max in the coffee shop?

¨Yeah, I think that is her name.¨ His voice cut through my thoughts. I did not even realize I spoke out loud.

¨But how? I mean, wait. Is that why you were indulging her all the time?¨ I could not believe that I got angry and overthought for nothing. All this time, I was scorning Max, cursing him and calling him names because I thought he was no better off than the others.

But, as it turns out, he was actually thinking of me all this time. The thought somehow caused my stomach to flutter in a good way.

¨What else were you expecting?¨ I heard him ask, his voice laced with amusement, and without even giving out my thoughts. I knew he already knew it.

¨My, Oh, My, someone was feeling left out. ” His teasing voice made my insides burn, warming up my body. It was the first time I relinquished a man in a conversation late at night.

Usually, I would not answer any calls from men passed seven in the evening and could not stand it when they started flirting with me. It was always bland to me, but with Max, everything is different.

Whenever he gives me those flirty smirks or even checks me out, it never once disgusts me. It made me feel confident in myself. It makes me feel beautiful and can rule the world.

Did I say that I am going crazy?

¨You do not need to worry. My attention is only on you.¨ My train of thoughts was interrupted by Max.

¨Is it hard for you to speak like a normal human without flirting?¨ I asked, faking a huff.

¨Alright, tell me why you have been crying?¨ His sudden change baffled me. I was only kidding but did he have to change quickly?

And what surprised me the most was that he knew I had been crying.

¨What? I don know what you are talking about.¨

¨Your voice is hoarse.¨

¨Because you woke me up from sleep.¨ I pointed out the obvious. It went silent for a while before I heard him sigh.

¨I am sorry for waking you up then, but if something is bothering you, make sure to sort it out before sleeping. My mother always says that sleeping on the wrong foot will surely make you regret it in the morning.¨ A light chuckle left my lips as I looked at nowhere in particular.

¨What if the damage has already happened? Can it be fixed?¨ I asked.

I could not help but wince every time I remembered the argument that took place hours ago.

What was I thinking speaking like that to Bibi?

¨Yes, it can, Melissa. All you have to do is take that leap of faith and face it. Try it, and you will see how good of a sleep you will get.¨ A genuine smile found its way to my face.

¨Thanks a lot, Max. I really appreciate it.¨ I earnestly thanked.

When the call ended, it was like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulder. I sighed as I lay back on the bed, facing the ceiling. Thoughts whirled up my mind, turning into a rollercoaster of mixed feelings.

As much as I tried to close my eyes and sleep it over, I could not. Every time my eyes closed, the image of Bibi and her hurtful expression flashed. It was the first time us to argue, and I had to wince every time I recalled my barbarous words. Never in my life did I think that we would one day get involved in a heated argument.

It was an intense argument that we both hurt each other. I hoped it was the last time because the aftermath was not pleasing after all.

The restlessness, regrets, and guilt did not make things easier for my sleep, as I kept on rolling back and forth to the point my bed would squeak every time.

I did not want to sleep with the misunderstanding between Bibi and I. It was not healthy.

Maxs voice echoed through my thoughts, and I knew what to do.

No one is sleeping tonight, angry.

I mumbled in my mind as I got down from the bed, wore my slippers, and headed outside my room.

When I decided to do this, I was all hyped out by Maxs words, which gave me courage, but now standing in front of my grandmas bedroom, hesitation kept stopping me.

What if she was still angry at me? Or disappointed or did not want to see me?

How come I never thought of the consequence before acting out in anger. Clearly, one can make the best speech in anger that held regret later.

Arrrgh, Mel, you can do this.

I encouraged myself, scratching my hair. I was about to knock on the door when it opened by itself – not necessarily by itself – as the one facing me, now, is Bibi.

Old age seemed to have taken a toll on her overnight.

Her hair was the colour of silver in various stages of oxidization, every hue from mint coins to almost slate grey.

There is no gem, no diamond greater than my Granny. For even though life crushed her, though she suffered, she shone brightly for me. She showed me that one could survive and learn how to thrive.

How to find the good stuff and have genuine gratitude for it. She always said I am the love song God sent her to protect.

Then how could I make this woman cry?

¨Habibi?¨ Her voice snapped me back from my trance, and I could not help but cry.

¨Bibi, I am sorry. I don know what came over me.¨ I was ashamed that I could not look her straight in the eye.

¨Hush, now, I am sorry too. Come here,¨ Bibi said, opening her arms for me. Without waiting for any second, I hugged her tight.

It had only been hours since we argued, but it felt like eternity being this close to her.

¨Silly child, why are you crying? Do you know men don like women who like to cry.¨ Instead of getting angry this time, I let out a few hearty laughs.

My Bibi was back.

¨I love you so much, Bibi, don ever doubt that.¨ I said, burying my head in her embrace.

¨Never!¨ Her words were firm and sure, and I knew everything was alright.

”You see why I never want to have a boyfriend? ” I asked once we were cuddled in the bed. After patching everything up, I did not feel like going back to my cold bed. Instead, I decided to sleep alongside Bibi for tonight.

”Is because they always come between relationships. If Its not between friends, then its you and God, and if its not with God, then with your parents. They are just bad luck, you know. ” Once I finished ranting, I felt Bibis chest shaking, followed by her laughter which came in snorts but was music to my ears.

”Sometimes, you speak as if you have been hurt in love or even know anything about love. ” She said once she had calmed down.

”I have watched movies, and don tell me they are just fiction because not entirely everything is according to the imagination. People write out experiences on their own or with others. Else how would one know that when you are meet your crush, you will feel bashful or nervous. ”

For someone to get Inspiration to write something, there must be something that triggers the author, maybe from another movie, another story, lifes experience, or better yet, a song.

Even fantasy movies still have something related to reality.

”So you see, Bibi, I have many experiences- ” My words were cut through by a noisy snore causing me to jerk up from Bibi, who has been sleeping, I don know for how long.

”Wow, Bibi, just wow, ” I muttered under my breath but nevertheless laid on my side.

Try it, and you will see how good of a sleep you will get.

Thank you, Haze.

These were my last thoughts before I drifted to sleep.

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