Finding: A series, Chapter One, Finding Home

Mei Ann disliked him the moment she saw him. Everything about him irritated her. His hair, his complexion, his clothes, his bag, his shoes, his everything. She shivered. A loathing at first sight.

And she didn’t even know the guy.

She turns away and makes her way up the stairs. Unit 34B, is the apartment she’s looking for.

As she rounds the bend she notices that he is following her.

She looks at him disdainfully for a second and then keeps on climbing.

Ah, the apartment is in sight.

“Looks like we found it.”

The sound of his voice made her blood curdle a little. She hated it.

Mei Ann turns to looks at the man who spoke. He gives her a winsome smile.

She rolls her eyes and turns away. “What an awful fake smile,” she thought.

“Hi. I guess you’re here to look at the same apartment as I. I’m Andre.”

He stretches out his hand, she stares at the hand for a while before turning away.

Mei Ann knocks on the apartment door. It opens letting out a stream of thick cigarette smoke. She steps back coughing.

“You want to see the apartment right? Come, come, both of you,” says a gruff and impatient voice from inside the apartment.

Andre slips in past Mei Ann who was still coughing. Eyes watering she staggers in after him.

“Fashion emergency right there,” Andre thought to himself when he laid eyes on her earlier.

“How does one go about wearing such boring clothes. Black pencil skirt, black jacket, black carrier case, not to mention that tight bun, a hairstyle that should have stayed back there in the 70s. She must be a lawyer,” he thought aloud. Poor girl. He off-handedly dismisses her from his thoughts.

He quickly checks himself out in a window reflection. He needs to look spunky enough for the apartment. 

Hair. Check.

Smart white shirt underneath the beige knitwear with deep blue sleeves. Yes, it was nicely fitted over his tone body. He nods at himself. Check.

Skinny jeans and Converse sneakers to finish the ensemble. Check.

Stylish leather bag. He looks inside, all essentials neatly packed within. 

Satisfied, he quickly walks toward the stairwell.

This is the perfect place,” Andre thought to himself. “It’s close to the city and with the LRT a short walk away and all the amenities nearby this is perfect. I just hope I can dazzle the landlord with my winning personality and get the apartment.”

He notices the poor girl in front of him walking very quickly toward the same stairwell. “I wonder if she’s going to see the same apartment. I sure hope not,” he flips his hair back.

He follows after her and sees her standing at the landing to check the apartment numbers.

“Looks like we found it,” Andre says.

The girl turns around. “Yikes, stone face,” he said. She frowns. “She should put on some make-up. That is one scary face,” Andre thought.

“Hi. I guess you’re here to look at the same apartment as I. I’m Andre,” he says and offers his hand to shake but she just turns away to walk towards the apartment.

The girl knocks on the door and as the door opens she is met full in the face with a stream of cigarette smoke that causes her to cough and stagger backwards a little.

“You want to see the apartment right? Come, come, both of you,” says a voice from inside the apartment.

As the girl was trying to catch her breath, Andre slips by and into the apartment, and she quickly follows after him.

Andre and Mei Ann both enter the apartment and heard the angels of heaven singing their hallelujahs.This was it, this was THE apartment.

“Finally,” they both said in unison. After the million others they have seen they finally found it.

Everything about it was perfect. From the kitchen, which was classic and spacious, and that large living space with tastefully selected furniture, not too ostentatious, to the balcony window which allows enough sun to stream in. Homely.

But that wasn’t the only thing that surprises them.

“So what do you think?”

Andre and Mei Ann stood in shocked silence with mouths open at the apparition which spoke to them. It had huge curlers in its hair, make-up only a drag queen would be proud wearing, a leopard print top, bright canary yellow tights and Japanese slippers. It held a long stem cigarette-holder with a freshly lit cigarette.

“Ooi!,” it screamed. “Stop staring as if you’ve seen a ghost, You want to rent or not?!”

“Yes!” both Andre and Mei Ann answers with Mei Ann surging forward.

“Good afternoon Mrs Abraham. I spoke to you earlier. I’m Mei Ann. I like your apartment and have all my financial statements ready for you to see that I have the means to afford your apartment…,” starts Mei Ann as she takes out a folder to pass to Mrs Abraham.

“I love what you have done to the kitchen it is simply divine,” Andre skillfully elbows Mei Ann out of the way as he hooks Mrs Abraham’s arm in his and guides her to the kitchen area. Mei Ann is left stunned by Andre’s audacity.

Running his hand over the stainless steel cooker he beams at Mrs Abraham with his best smile.

“You have such good taste. I feel like we are kindred spirits with an eye for the finer things in life. Don’t you agree?” Andre says.

Mrs Abraham takes a long drag from her cigarette causing the cigarette ash line to recede a little and exhales out of the corner of her mouth directly into Mei Ann’s face again just as Mei Ann tries to say something to her. Mei Ann staggers back coughing.

“I like you two,” says Mrs Abraham as she turns away and walks towards the balcony.

“But…,” Mei Ann tries to speak but starts coughing again.

“I assure you…Ow!” Andre starts but Mei Ann stomps his foot.

 They glare at each other. Daggers.

“You remind me of my husband and I when we were young,” Mrs Abraham says as she takes another drag of her cigarette with the ash line receding further down the stem of the cigarette.

“I only rent to couples, you know. Don’t like singles messing up my apartment with all their stupid parties and drinking and messing up my place.”

Mei Ann and Andre stopped glaring at each other, look at Mrs Abraham’s back and back at each other. Click. They broke into forced smiled at each other. 

Mrs Abraham takes another long drag. The ash is hanging on precariously to what remains of the cigaratte but holds on. She turns around.

Andre has his arm around Mei Ann’s waist and the other holding her hand. Mei Ann has her head on his shoulder awkwardly.

“Oh Mrs Abraham, we’re not into parties and wild living. Isn’t that right, honey?” says Andre.

“Of course sweetie,” Mei Ann replies with a smile she hopes it looked like a smile and not a cringe.

Mrs Abraham smiles. The cigeratte ash finally breaks off, slowly falling to the ground.