Marlia sped her imperious colossal luxury at full tilt. The 10 minutes journey home seemed more like a ride in a hearse to Malin,however. There was no conversation,no stopping by and honey-would-you-like-a-Slurpee or anything. The only things that kept her awake were the hum of the engine together with the cool blow from the air-conditioner on her face. She leaned her forehead against the window glass.

"We're home."

Malin leaped out the car and ran off towards the door.

"Oh no,"

Malin turned to her mother. Her face dread-struck. Another act of disrespect done,two misbehaviours for the day in total. And it's only 2 hours past midday,while the evening's still a long,long way to go.

"Thank you mum,"
"I want you to wait for me until I get back from work at 7."

Malin was silent,uneasily sniffing. Thank God she forgot,she whispered to herself.

"We'll talk about it when I get back."

The child stood stiff as a statue,her eyes fixed on the pebbles on the pavement. She understood too well just what the word 'it' meant.

"See you later in the evening."

Malin nodded. She walked daintily towards the enormous door. Through the stained glass,she could see the housemaid hasting over to open the door for her.

"Hello there princess,come on in. I got your favourite dish ready on the table!" She greeted with a smile. Malin didn't reply. Colourless drops fell on the floor before her feet.

"Oh dear,what's wrong now..?"
"...mum,mum doesn't love me,"
"What,no,that can't be true? Hush...your mum will be sad,don't you say such things..."
"Of course it's true,she never smiled to me and she never brought me out to play the swing-and,and the slide..."

Some of the words fade in between of her sobs.

"...unless Pa tells her to. I love ice-creams but she never cared to buy me one,she isn't nice. She's not nice like my friend Alex. She doesn't love me."

Only then did Malin look up,her adorable face was already wet of tears by then. Her eyes spoke persistent words of solemn. The lady who was kneeling down in front Malin stared blankly. Suddenly the girl gasped,with both her palms covering her mouth.

"I didn't mean that! Please don't tell Mum!" She begged. Then,without another word,she sprinted upstairs to her room.

Malin reached out to the door knob,twisted it and sunk into her bed in five seconds to cry herself to sleep. She was way into her deep eye-shut half an hour later,when a voice came out from nowhere.

"Hey,Malin! Hey,over here,"

Malin rose with her swollen eyelids.

"Who's there,where are you?"

" 'tis Alex,come on here,look out the window. Hurry up now,"

Malin popped her head out the window to see Alex looking up to her in between her dangling hair.

"Come on!"
"What Alex,how am I supposed to get down,I can't go out,Mum told me not to," She replied sluggishly,wiping her face. It was not too long when Malin jumped in shock that she almost threw herself out the window.

"But wait! How did you get in here?!"


-Catch,anak pak man!-

"There's one!" exclaims Malin, spotting a maroon Myvi passing by.

"That's not red! Maroon doesn't count! No cheating!" says Alex with arched eyebrows paired with a smile.

"Aww, gimme a break.." Malin begs ever so mildly to her best friend in the whole wide world.

"No! There's a blue one! Yeah, I'm leading now!" The score was now 17-16 and Alex can't resist rubbing it into his best friend in the whole wide world's face.

They both had been at it for half-an-hour now, and the game would probably go on until Malin's mother came and fetched her, but they didn't care.

Malin would see Alex everyday after school waiting for her just outside the gates and they would do anything any healthy 7-year-old kid would do while waiting for Malin's mother to come fetch her.

Everyday, Alex would have a new game to play, or a new story to tell, or an ice-cream to share. Never was "boring" used to describe the "after school period". Malin, in her school uniform, and Alex, in his green long-sleeved t-shirt and khaki shorts. Nobody got in their way (except Malin's mother when she comes to pick her up) and they felt like they had the whole world to themselves.

"There's two! Haha, now I'm leading!" joy filling every syllable of the words coming out of Malin's mouth.

One of the red cars was her mother's 5-series, concluding the game that afternoon and oficially making Malin the victor of the spotting duel. Malin entered the car and waved her best friend goodbye, and caught the facial expression of fright on Alex's face. She had disobeyed a promise that Alex had asked Malin to pledge the first day they met and became best friends, "Never talk or wave at me when your mother is present."

Marlia, Malin's mother said with a scowl, "Who in heavens are you waving to?"

"My friend, Alex. Didn't you see him mum? He was right there beside me when you picked me up," Malin replied.

"Don't make up stories Malin! You were waiting on your own, like you always have. Which brings me to the questions, haven't you made any friends at school? It's been almost a year since you entered," enquired Marlia while they drove off.