Kaulayaw

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘kaulayaw’ or ‘a pleasant and intimate companion’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

The tatami had grown hard under Yuna’s knees, the urge to shuffle was a never ending itch at the back of her brain; an alluring whisper she struggled to silence. Still, the speaker continued and politeness demanded she at least appear attentive.

“Turning your attention to diagram 48, you will see that the variance wave length indicates at least three separate advanced digital…”

Yuna’s spine had begun to curve slightly and she straightened. This was the first official dinner with Shima’s colleagues Yuna had attended, and despite Shima’s assurances that it was a casual affair she was grateful for her decision to dress in her best. Appearances might take second place in Shima’s estimation, but Yuna had already noted the careful eyes that followed them to their table. She was not the only attractive female companion in attendance, but she could take pride in being the most well presented.

A warm hand pressed against the small of Yuna’s back and she flinched slightly, Shima smiled at her and leaned to whisper in her ear.

“Kagama is renowned for his lectures, they are as lengthy as they are informative,” he said. “They must always plan dinner so that he’s cut short. He complains about it often, but no one dares tell him the plans are made with that specific purpose!”

A smile attempted to twitch Yuna’s lips and she bit the inside of her cheek viciously to maintain her serene demeanour.

“Ah! I nearly had you there, I see the laughter in your eyes!” Shima whispered. “And look, proof arrives; the master has risen.”

The department chair had indeed risen to his feet and the energy in the room notably changed, Yuna suspected that if relief had a sound then the noise of the slow release of breath by a few dozen people would be apt. The hand on her back pressed a little more firmly, Shima’s thumb circling slightly, and Yuna finally gave in to the urge to shuffle her aching legs.

“We should escape, Kagama is not the only bore here,” he said and stood, pulling Yuna with him.

It was a strange turn of events and one that might have flustered Yuna a few weeks ago, but she’d become accustomed to Shima’s impulsiveness. It sent a small thrill down her spine to leave so blatantly, a tinge of guilt and excitement that she found only in Shima’s company. She didn’t ask where they were going; it could be dinner at a new restaurant he’d heard about, or a trip to the local observatory. Without fail wherever they went it would be an adventure, another chip at the careful armour Yuna found herself less willing to done around her emotions.

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