We got out of the house and it was the first time I saw Project 13 in something other than a nightgown. She tied her hair high up into a bun and she wore jeans and a white tee. I found it amazing how normal she looked in normal clothes. Riding my motorcycle, I took her to Haji Lane. It was one of the few quaint places in Singapore and it was a small street lined with shophouses selling offbeat clothes in cute stores. I knew I should get her an evening dress that was quirky yet sophisticated and there was a certain store in Haji Lane which had that style.
I got to know about that shop thanks to Annabelle. It was a few months back and we were in a classy hotel room. "This is a nice dress," I commented, before taking it off.
"Thank you, you are the third person who told me that today. I chanced upon it at Haji Lane and it is the cheapest dress in my closet. Maybe it's not just the picey things which suit me," said Annabelle.
Me and Project 13 browsed through the shops, holding hands. We probably look like a normal young couple in love instead of a girl with her pet bunny. "I like it here," said Project 13, smiling at me. We finally arrived at the store I wanted to bring her to. It sold various vintage-looking dresses of varied styles. Project 13 looked overwhelmed by the different dresses. "I don't really know what to pick."
"Don't worry, is there any style you want?" I asked, browsing through the outfits. There were a red velvet chair in the shop and she immediately sat on it. It was like she was trying to detach herself from the shopping process. "Nothing too revealing. I do like blue and white colours," she said, slightly squiming in her seat. I picked out a few dresses for her to try.
She stepped out of the fitting room in the first outfit ( a long white lace gown with a corseted top and a poofy skirt).
"How is it?" she asked. I was surprised how well the dress fitted her. This dress was a gamble because I thought she would be nothing but skin and bones. It occured to me that her collarbone was very pretty and there was something attractive about her big eyes and small face.
"You look beautiful," I said. "Do you like it?"
"It's too revealing," she said, looking at her reflection in the fitting room's mirror. I wanted to point out to her that she was wearing a dress that reached her ankles but instead I passed her another dress. "Try this one."
The second dress was a long, white, long sleeved dress. It was made of cotton, has a square neckline and cut in a princess style with a high waistline. "I like this one!" exclaimed Project 13.
"No it's too covered!" I cried. It also looked too much like a nightgown which I'm sure was why she approved of it.
She finally stepped out in the third dress. It was a long sleeveless midnight blue dress. The top had a scoop neckline and the flared skirt was overlaid with a black rose lace pattern. "I guess this doesn't look too bad. I like the rose design," she said, swishing the skirt around.
I smiled and nodded in approval. "Let's get it."
"Are you sure? It's not exactly cheap."
"Don't worry, take it as my congratulation gift when you become a published author. I'll also get you a pair of heels," I said, looking at a pair of black open-toed pumps which were studded with black rhinestones.
We both left the store with the dress and shoes packed neatly in a big paper bag. I slung the paper bag over my shoulder and held her hand. It was nice walking around and we both wandered around the area, walking towards the shopping mall that was some distance away.
"It's been a long time since I've seen so many people," she said, clutching my hand tightly. I was curious about something, "What did you do before you started writing your manuscript? I mean, were you working, or studying?"
"I worked there," she said, pointing at the building next to the shopping mall. I turned to see her pointing at the National Library. "I was a librarian for about a year, until my grandmother died. Then I just stayed home to accompany my bunny. It was a great job though. I didn't have to talk to anyone and I was surrounded by books."
"Do you want to go to the library?" I asked.
"Sure, although right now, I am jealous of all the writers who have their books in there. But maybe it can motivate me."
The library was located at the basement of the building and had rows and rows of shelves containing books of different subjects. Project 13 looked happier here than at the clothing store, earlier. She led me to the last shelf in the fiction section, where the authors last names started with W, X, Y and Z. "I tend to like Japanese authors like Murakami and Yoshimoto." She bend down to select a book by Banana Yoshimoto. "She always writes about characters who have suffered a traumatic event in their lives, like death of a loved one. What kind of books do you read?" she asked.
"I don't read much. I used to read comics a lot when I was younger, like batman and stuff. You can borrow those here too," I said, pointing to the comic book shelf.
"Really? I didn't know that," she said, widening her eyes.
"Have you always wanted to be a writer?" I asked.
"I always loved reading as a kid and at some point in my childhood, it occured to me that I should write my own stories. I never really wrote proper stories till I was a sixteen though."
We both sat down on a black sofa bench and I said, "Very few people have dreams these days especially with something as concrete as yours. Maybe they have a vague idea of what they want to do with their lives, but in the end stability and money becomes more important and that vague dream gets pushed away."
"Bunny, do you have a dream?" she asked, looking at me with those big eyes.
"Me? I'm just living."
"Even though I am very happy that you are alive, I hope you find your dream soon. But I have to say, you are doing a wonderful job as my muse at the moment."