[1 – Even The Most Brilliant Firework Dies Off Eventually]

Emotions make people irrational. Irrational people make irrational decisions. Ultimately, irrational decisions create unsavoury outcome. Who came up with that? Me.

I learned about that when I witnessed a fight between two (or was it three?) lovers in the park. Blaming yourself for not being good enough and insist on being better to make the relationship work? C'mon, the guy's cheating on you. That irrational thought will make you suffer even more in the end.

But reality hits you differently when you were the one experiencing it. When it comes to areas where emotions are invested upon, you would have held on to the belief that things will work out in the end, no matter what the other might think. That was a toxic mentality to have.

Like what those internet investment gurus say, cut your losses and carry on.

"I want to break up with you."

The strobing bright lights and high-tempo music was not what I had in mind for a breakup. The heavy strikes of the drum-set from the performance on stage resonated with my heart, and the crowd buzzed without a care around us. They were all so carefree, far different from the mood I was expecting for a break-up.

"Wait…hear you…band's too loud! What…you say?" Laura, my girlfriend of five years, pushed her hair behind her ear and scrunched her eyes.

"W-what?" Right, of course she could not hear me. Even I had trouble understanding her words. On hindsight, this was a bad place to be dropping the news. Why did I even choose to do it here in the first place?

"Sorry! The drum is too loud! I can't hear you properly. Let me get closer."

Laura inched forward and brought her ears closer to me. Her peach scented perfume smelled so sweet and her braided hair looked like it was prepared specially for this date. Having such perspectives made me look like the asshole right now.

My heart was beating loudly, almost in sync with the bass drum's rapid tempo. The thought of repeating this up close made me even more nervous and scared.

"I said," My lips were almost kissing her ears now. I held my breath.

"Let's give it up for the Masketeers for their electrifying performance!" The emcee's energetic voice brought along a wave of shrills and scream from the crowd squeezing up front the stage while I took a step back from her.

I took two steps back.

Her hazel brown hair fell forward, covering her expression. Something shimmering dripped from her face with a silent splat. Even though I should have seen this coming, the actual sight of it got me surprised. A part of me wavered and questioned if I was making the right decision.

"Are you serious?" Her words coiled around my heart, as if questioning me once more on my decision. I imagined breaking out a "Ah ha! Gotcha – you got punk'd!" might push this conversation to another time, but even that was wildly inappropriate anyhow.


"After all these years, hah. I even got my hair braided for you, and it was only for you."

My heart skipped a beat.

Those perfect braids hanging down on her back as she rests her head on another guy surfaced in my head again. Human are habitual liars, I get that. The truth hurts, so sometimes a lie will help to lessen that pain, like how paracetamol helps with headaches. That placebo effect provides you the belief to tell yourself it is alright, even if it is not. I do not take Panadol; I rather face the pain head on and let my body grow accustom to it until you do not feel it anymore.

The fact that I had to face it head on left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. Something stirred in my gut and I felt my lips twitched.

"I've been the one by your side, supporting you and all." Laura stifled a forced laugh and took another deep breath.

"I know, and I'm thankful for it all." That sentence came across a lot more shallow than I imagined, but it was all I could reply, my mind still occupied with the scene of her smiling brightly at the boy she was with, her arms hugged around his in an embrace I was all too familiar with. Something was heating up in my eyes.

"Then why?"

Her tears rolled down her porcelain cheeks and Laura broke into a bawl.

"What an asshole."

"Did he just dump his girl in the middle of a party?"

"Insensitive douche. She deserved better."

Even in the loud music setting my ears still found its way to pick up those words. I was self-aware, no. Hyper-aware would be the right word. It was somehow natural for everyone to arrive at the same conclusion.

It was even weirder how this conclusion would change with the gender gets swapped. If it were a guy crying, people would be making fun of him, giving him spite for breaking down in public and that was not "manly" at all.

What then, makes a man? In the first place, what's with this societal image on gender expectation to begin with? We are living in the 21st century dammit.

Tip 101: Never propose a break-up in the middle of a crowded area. Who said that? Me.

"You promised you won't make me cry."

"I did. And I'm sorry."

"You promised you won't hurt me."

"I'm really sorry." Why am I apologising, what is this feeling? Why do I feel like I was falling into a trap I cannot claw out from?

"You're an asshole, Zhao Shin Tien." Seething would be an understatement. Her words were coated with hatred towards me. For some strange turn of events, it felt like I have committed a grave sin and I should be rightly punished for it. Everything from then on fell out of my control.

"Let's begin the countdown to the new year!"

"You're a jerk, you know that?" The words came out from someone within the crowd.


"Yeah! She's such a nice girl and you're just tossing her out after use!"

"U-use? What kind of guy do you think I am?!" Everyone isjust against me now!


"Jerk. Asshole. Bastard!" Laura screamed at the top of her lungs with her palm wide open.

"…One! Happy New Year!"