Not that he was expecting anyone to answer. It was just a habit he had yet to break.
He did not need to look to know that everything was just the way he’d left them three weeks ago. Three weeks in Raleigh, North Carolina. Every night, after the meetings, he ate at a different restaurant in Crabtree Valley Mall. Each night, he would think of the last pack of Maggi noodles in that corner of the kitchen cabinet at home.
Tonight was the night.
He was not in a hurry. He was not hungry anyway. He took his time to roll away the luggage and put a pot of water on the induction stove before heading for the shower.
When he finally opened the doors of the kitchen cabinet, the familiar yellow packet was there, with its expiry date facing outwards. Today’s date: exactly one year.
He bent over to salvage the sachet of flavouring that he’d absent-mindedly tossed into the bin. That would be another habit to break.
She had teased him before, calling his fear of the receding hairline an unfounded paranoia, and who was he to argue with a PhD in food science?
He sighed as he watched the dried noodles churn in the pot of water.
When he first met her in Europe, sophisticated and paradoxical like the amino acid that was the subject of the conference, he considered her out of reach for someone like himself – he was just another suit, plain as table salt.
Inexplicably, however, there had been an immediate bond, which became a source of fluttering heartbeats and pounding headaches, all at the same time.
It was intoxicating. His world seemed a brighter place, and he went to great lengths just to remain in it, almost to the point of losing his bearings. Yet, somehow, she remained independent of him.
By now, the pot of water was boiling so violently that the bursting bubbles were emanating a low growl.
He aimed the sachet back into the bin.
Tomorrow will be a new day, he promised himself. One year: no more mourning.
Lucien Low is a Singapore-based lecturer. He most recently researched co-edited 50 Metres: Our Swimming Pools, and is working on a collection of Chinese readers for preschoolers.