The sound of the waves. The smell of the ocean. The smooth sand.
Sofia is sitting on the beach, on this night that evokes the feeling of loneliness, looking at the sea in front of her.
She was thinking about a lot of things. Her mother who worked hard for her. Her father….who is no longer gentle.
Then she looks again at the sea and release a sigh fill with the feeling of frustration…welling up inside her heart, thinking about the matters of the heart.
She looks at the sea through the slit on her mask that covered her face except her beautiful eyes and her lips.
Sofia right now is wearing the mask from the previous play.
Her school did a trip to Terengganu. It has islands and beaches and the windy wind. It was a beautiful place….but tonight for some reason she is spending the night alone, without her boyfriend.
This place is like the textbook place for having a date but unlike dramas or TV series, her boyfriend is nowhere to be found.
On this night…all alone….on this night that makes her miss her mom…..on this night where she feels she is…weak.
Tonight, she just finishes playing a play with her classmates.
Many of the other classes also participate in the trip and all lives in a different chalet. Three days and two night trip sponsored by the school after the midterm exams.
Sofia wanted to use this trip to forget about her problem at home. But who thought that when she came here…..she got into a big fight with her boyfriend Hasrul, leaving her alone looking at the sea.
Thinking about Hasrul she felt...messy.
They have been a couple since they were Form one. They know each other since they were elementary school.
But their status is highly different.
She came from a poor background. The only talent she has is archery and in the modern world that does not help at all.
In the beginning, without a care in the world they would go anywhere. Resting under the tree after a frustrating day, linking arms walking around the city on their date.
Sometimes they take photos and lock their memories in there, and calling each other when they both could not sleep.
Remembering those days, Sofia shed a tear. She was 15 years old now.
Her dreams became his future. His dreams become hers. But as time passed, they grow distant.
As their status and other things that once didn't matter, become important now.
She also becomes a bit more beautiful and she has many friends. But even so, her tears alone in her bedroom….is becoming more numerous.
Fighting each other all the time, suspicious of each other.
It was the same but they both have changed. Thinking of this the wind blows her long hair and she released a sigh.
He can't leave her and she can't say good bye. But they both no longer in love. Even when they go to a movie together…even when they talk to each other, even when they look at each other eyes…..that love is no longer there.
Only bitter feeling….and bad memories…and Sofia didn't want to hate him anymore…didn't want to feel suffocated hating him like this.
She looks at the sea again and closes her eyes. Hoping for an answer, praying that she could overcome this.
A tear is shed again and she was about to sob in confusion like she always did when she hears a footsteps and she opens her eyes.
She could see a man, wearing a mask, just like her walking round the edges of the water, feeling the sea water with his feet, walking slowly like he is enjoying the water on his feet, and even though he is wearing a mask, because of the lights near the shore she could see that the man is closing his eyes, like he was appreciating the sea breeze and letting his hair caressed by the wind.
For some reason looking at this man behavior made her calm for that one moment.
For some reason the man keep walking and sometime he would look at the sky. The night sea, the wind breeze and this man.
He piqued her interest and so, she did something so uncharacteristically her.
She followed the man.
She believes that the man comes from her school and her class but she didn't know who is he but for some reason, she could not help but follow him from behind.
Slowly from behind the man a sound of footsteps can be heard, as Sofia walk slowly behind her, bare feet just like him, letting the sea water to wash her feet.
They walk together. Walking along the sea together. Without a sound, without a conversation.
Just a confused woman and a lonely man walking at the night sea of Terengganu.
Beneath the light of the streets, a story is being written. Then reaching a large stone the man sits.
He looked at Sofia and Sofia also sits beside him. And her heart is beating fast and she almost scolded herself.
Why did she follow him?
Nearby she could see her classmates. Some of them also realizes that Sofia was there and was about to come to her but then they also realize the masked man.
They all thought that the man was Hasrul and that Sofia is talking about something serious with his boyfriend so with a smile they go a little bit further way.
But what they didn't know, their class is not the only one having some performance that night but also the class of Form 3 brilliant class.
(In my school there is name class. For example, Brilliant class, Peace class or something like that. While the name calls is like that it doesn't represent the general attitude of the class)
Azief then stared at the girl and looked at her with confusion in his mind. Did she know him or something?
Azief was walking along the sea because he always likes the sound of the sea, the feeling of the wind on his face and the stars in the clear sky.
Tonight was such nights, so after fulfilling his obligatory performance in his class enthusiastic performance meant to make each other participate in what Azief termed as a waste of time and effort, he tries to unwind himself by walking along the sea.
He wanted to let the wind soothes him, wanted to let the sound of the waves hitting the shores calms his nerve and to let the sea water play with his feet.
He wanted to be left alone to his own self-made imaginary fortress. He wanted to be alone because being in a crowd drains him.
Because people in a crowd, especially in a crowd he could not understand or fit in…drains him.
They take away his individuality, take away his voice and take away his courage. Being in a group….has always frightened him more than being alone.
Only to find herself being followed by a girl.
The girl face is also hidden by the mask. Azief also misunderstand that the girl is from his class, not knowing Form 3 Genius Class also had a performance.
Sofia didn't want to open her mask fearing that the man would recognize her.
The man could not remove his mask because he was shy. When has he ever been followed by a girl before?
This might be one in a million chance for him but then he reminded himself again. Why would this girl be interested in him?
So, Azief did not do anything and just sit. Waiting for her to leave. But he could not say that he wanted to leave because that will be too rude.
So, they sit in silence until Azief realize that the woman eyes were swollen, like she was crying.
Azief observe her more than he intended to and uncharacteristically for him, he ask
'Why did you cry?' Hearing this voice, Sofia was startled.
For some reason she tell the truth
Looking at the moon wistfully she said
'Ah. He didn't say it…..but I could feel it. Feel that whatever between us…..has fade away. Azief was startled. Did this girl just open up to me?
Now this is weird. Did I stumble into a weird girl? he is thinking to himself.
This kind of development only happens to a lead character in a shoujo manga or the lead actor in romance movies.
But he did not say anything and let her say anything she wanted to say. Because he didn't know how to react.
And then she chuckles a bit before suddenly tears streamed down her face and she cries while smiling, while laughing.
Azief looking at this feel...something.
He could only see her mouth and eyes the other features of her face was hidden by the mask….but Azief could feel that if he could see her face right now…..she would be to embarrassed…to tell this story
And he thinks to himself.
I met a weird girl, didn't I? Of all the nights I could choose to go out enjoying the beach, why did I choose tonight? He said complaining to himself.
Sofia of course could not know what he is thinking about so she continues her story.
'And do you know what I did? I pretend that I could not feel it, could not see it' and then she keep crying in that way, smiling with tears running down her face, laughing while crying.
'Why am I laughing?' she said as she covers her mask then wipes her tears.
Azief just sit there, looking at her, first dumbstruck, not understanding anything she is telling him only listening to whatever she wanted to say.
But then the most curious thing happens. He was mesmerized by the sight, mesmerized by her feelings…..enchanted and curios…how could someone feel that intensely.
Azief never love someone…..at least not in the way she describes. Because he always treats it like it was a hassle.
Loving someone…is humiliating he always thought of this.
Then she said
'I love him….but' and she could not end her sentence.
Azief then look back at the sea and he is red on his face, thinking why did he stares that long and then he continues looking at the sea not saying anything, just enjoying the sound of the wind, feeling calm and at the same surreal.
Sofia after crying for about 10 minutes bawling her eyes out, she finally calmed herself down.
In all that time, Azief stays there, sitting, waiting for her, while looking at the night sea.
He couldn't see anything other than the darkness of the night only the beautiful light street and the moon illuminate the beach but he keeps sitting there.
The people playing near the beach has already enter their chalet and only a few people on the other side of the beach could be found sharing stories.
Azief could have gotten up any time he wanted….but he stays there. Listening to the story of this girl who he did not know.
Then exhaling her breath, she got up.
Looking at the unresponsive man that listens to her story she said
'Let's not meet each other again' Sofia added and she turned her back to return to the chalet but then the man who did not say anything for their whole walk along the beach, then said
'Love has no 'but'.'
He said and Sofia halted her steps
'The 'but' takes away love. There is no 'buts' or when. It's just there and always. The condition less state of the heart. To say 'you love him 'but' …is to say you did not love him at all. If you have to find a reason to love him….maybe he is not the right guy for you.'
Without turning her back to look at the man she asks.
'What if I never met any man like him ever again?'
Azief then replies
'When you are in love, you always think nobody else will do. But others do…..and often do, much much better….But being better has nothing to do with being in love. People break up. They love. And they hurt each other. And they love again. Love is not….eternal. But if you don't believe that love is eternal, then you'll never be able to love.'
Saying these words, Azief got up on his feet and walk back to the same direction he came from without looking back.
Sofia turned back at this time and all she could see was his lonely back, walking along the beach, letting the sea water washed over his feet.
For a moment, the man looked extremely lonely…yet free.
And then she asked herself…curios of herself what so special about him that she…..revealed her story to him…..the first moment she saw him.
Strangely, she tells him what she couldn't tell others. Looking at him go away, she became curios…of the face under the mask.
Making her decision, she returns to her chalet.
Azief on the other hand keep walking around the beach until he could forget that girl tears. Until he realizes it was morning.
That dawn, he go to bed...not forgetting the girl tears.
A WEEK LATER
'Did you hear? Sofia breaks up with Hasrul. I might get a chance. She is not the most beautiful person in the whole school but she qualifies to be at top 5' the man said with a dreamy expression as he already imagining walking on a date with Sofia.
'Dream on' others chimed in.
Some girls on the other hands throw some pencils and eraser towards that man as the man swiftly dodged every projectiles thrown at him while smiling stupidly.
Azief who was on the last seat of the class suddenly woke up from his sleep because of the commotion and then looked at one of his friend, Emir telling the story to the class about Sofia break up.
Sofia? The girl from Genius class? He thought inwardly. He never liked gossip so he resumes his nap.
To be honest, he does not like gossip of people he doesn't know. For people he knows, he sometimes revels in them.
But since he doesn't know her, he doesn't have the energy to care about some girl break up.
But then he is reminded of that girl tears and he opens his eyes for a moment.
He has been trying to ascertain who was the girl he meet on the beach a week ago, but no matter how he tries to observe the girl of his class, none of them shows any signs of being that girl.
He sighed and then he closes his eyes again.
Sofia was chatting with her friends, talking about this and that. One of her friends says that she heard about her break up and then she said
'He is looking good' Mera said without tact.
'He is also laughing with that girl from Smart class, what's her name? Ana? Or was it Aini?'
Thinking about this, Sofia just smiles bitterly…and also a bit happy if what Mera said is true. At least he found a new love.
When the bells ring for recess, she got out of her class when she crashed into another person who was running
She falls to the ground and feels pain in her abdominal area.
She looked in front of her and she could see a lean person, but with a curly hair. He also looked unkempt but for some reason Sofia feel familiar with the man.
The man got up, looks behind him with anxious expression and then looked back at her. In his eyes there is a bit of guilt and then he said.
'Sorry about this. Got no time to explain.'
Then he resumes running and then Sofia looked at that man. Running with full speed down the stairways running from someone.
Not far behind him, about 3 people just passed her by as they running to keep up with the man.
'AZIEF, YOU! STOP!' The man yelled as they keep chasing him. Sofia chuckles a bit.
So, that is the clown of Form 3 Brilliant, Azief? She mused. Smiling, she went to the cafeteria.
Sofia looks at the current man in front of him. Standing up after he finishes leveling, he was like a God.
A handsome god. The kind of guy, girls would stalk…in cooperative packs. The perfect balance of danger and charm...the very definition of a bad guy.
His face after leveling this time looks even more handsome than before.
His face was flawless like God sculpted him from the best materials and his body emitted an aura of power….black aura roiled around him shrouding him like some kind of Prince of Darkness.
Looking back….she could not see that clown….or the curly hair boy that she used to laugh at.
All she could see was....Lord Shadow.