I would appreciate likes for my story. Thank you for reading this, and check out my other posts. ~deepika viswanath
The drive down to my aunt Mona’s house was long. The air was sticky, warm, and humid. I couldn’t handle it. I rolled down the window several times and fanned myself with a brochure I picked up at the airport.
Once the cab dropped me at the entrance and drove away, I stared long and hard at it. It was a shack. Literally a shack. I had gotten the impression that my aunt lived in a decent enough place to host one person. But her house was so dingy looking, I imagined this would be a heavenly sanctuary for the rats and the cockroaches.
As I stared at the house in disgust, I heard footsteps behind me. I turned. It was a plump, older woman around sixty years old, with black hair, wearing an apron. She had kind eyes. “Are you lost, dear?” she asked. I wondered where she had come from.
“No, I’m visiting my aunt, who supposedly lives in this house.” I pointed towards the shack.
“Oh, I didn’t know Mona had a niece,” she remarked. She tsked. “She’s gone. Not here.”
I cocked my head at her. “Not here? What do you mean?” Aunt Mona had called me and told me she lived at this exact address, just yesterday.”
The woman shook her head. “She left this morning to Paris.”
I was stunned. I was not informed about this. The least aunt Mona could do was to tell me this beforehand.
“You didn’t know?” the woman asked, seeing my face. “I’m so sorry. I’m good friends with her, so that’s how I’m aware.”
I didn’t know this woman, so I didn’t want to tell her ‘yes I didn’t know. My aunt forgot to let me know she was going to Paris the day I was set to arrive at her place.’
This left me feeling disconcerted. This was my first time coming to this town, and was looking forward to spending some quality time with her. I also had a lot in common with her. Growing up, we’d talk about favorite foods, boys, and clothing. But now, aunt Mona seemed to be like a stranger. The aunt Mona I knew wouldn’t depart to Paris without letting me know.
I simply shook my head. Then I asked, “What’s your name?”
“My real name is Lina. But everyone calls me Ma.”
“I’m Danica. You have children of your own then?”
“Yes. I did. They died in the war.” She looked down, feeling the pain.
I felt bad. But I wondered something else. “Where do you live then? I don’t see any houses around here,” I looked around. The land around my aunt’s shack was barren for the most part.
“I live a few miles away. I like to take walks down this road though. I parked my truck that-a-way. Want to see it?”
I didn’t know Ma well at all, so I didn’t know whether to trust her. But her soft voice and nice aura made me want to go with her. After all, I had no other option. She was the only person I knew here.
I walked with her towards her truck. It was a ten minute walk at least. As I walked, I saw a white house on the right corner. It was much nicer looking than aunt Mona’s shack. “Does anyone live in that house?” I asked Ma curiously.
“Yes, someone does. A couple. Young man and his wife. The young man is almost like a son to me, the son I never had. His wife is away, visiting her parents. I heard she’ll be gone for a month. So he’s all alone for now.”
Well, she seemed to keep her ears to the ground regarding the identity and whereabouts of the people living here.
“I see.” I looked at the white house again.
On the way to Ma’s house, we listened to the radio. She liked country music, Elvis, so she played his songs loudly.
When we reached her house, I saw it resembled the white house. I wondered why my aunt lived in such a dingy place. If it even was her real place, that is.
“I live here all alone. You can stay here if you want to,” Ma said. “That is, if you don’t have other arrangements now that your aunt is not here.”
I told her that I didn’t have a hotel booked or any other place set for that matter.
“That’s okay,” she said, putting her hands on my shoulder. “You can stay with me. I’m all alone. My husband died and my sons died too.” She carried my suitcase and took it inside the house. I took this time to observe her house. White pillars, wooden doors, steps leading to the entrance, paneled windows. I wondered what she did for work.
“This is a nice place, Ma,” I commented as I followed her into the kitchen. She thanked me, then gave me a glass of water, and offered some snacks. I politely declined as I wasn’t in the mood to eat.
She then took out something from the fridge. It was freshly made apple pie, which she then wrapped in foil. Ma noticed me eying the pie.
“Want some?” she asked.
It felt tempting, but I really wasn’t hungry. My stomach felt queasy and in knots known that I was here all alone, and that my aunt decided to be unreliable at the last minute.
“No thank you,” I said politely.
“If you don’t want some, mind taking it over then?”
I raised my brows. “Taking it over where?”
“To the young man. The one who’s wife has gone to visit her parents.”
The man in the white house. What was his name? What was his wife’s name?
“Him? You want me to take the pie to him?” I asked.
“Yes. It’s a nice gesture.”
I assumed he and his wife were new to the neighborhood. I didn’t want to ask anymore questions, so I agreed to do so after I settled in, changed my clothes and looked more presentable.
I asked Ma to come with me, as I didn’t want to show up at this man’s (whose name I didn’t know) house with a pie I hadn’t baked myself.
She agreed. She seemed so jovial, full of life, something I’d yet to learn to be more like. She trotted besides me, humming too. When we reached his house, I knocked on the front door, which was made of wood with glass tiled windows.
“He’s not home,” I said to Ma.
I knocked again. Still no one showed up at the door. I decided to give up and turn away. That’s when we both heard the door open.
“Yes?” asked a man’s voice.
I turned. The man standing in front of us was tall. He had a soft face, thick black hair, and kind eyes. He wore a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, with black pants to complement. He was handsome in a regal sense.
“Hello Mark,” Ma said, with gleaming eyes.
“Hello Ma,” he replied, hugging her warmly, and kissing her on the forehead. I was sort of confused. Wasn’t he new here? It seemed like these two knew each other reasonably well given their close body language.
His gaze turned towards me. “And you are—”
“I’m Danica. I’m just visiting this town for a few days.” I remembered the pie in my hands. “Here you go. A house warming gift to welcome you to the neighborhood.”
Mark seemed confused, but took the pie anyway. “Thank you,” he said, in a soft voice.
“Ma told me you were here alone, so she decided that we come say hello,” I finished.
The man smiled at me, then looked at Ma. Then he shifted his eyes to me again. “By the sound of it, I think you are under the impression I’ve just moved here. I’ve been living here for five years.”
Blood rushed to my face. I felt slightly embarrassed. “Oh! I’m sorry. I guess I misunderstood. My apologies. But please, take the pie. Consider it a gift from Ma and I. Oh, and I didn’t make the pie, by the way. Ma did.”
He laughed. “Okay, alright. Thank you very much once again.”
I nodded respectably. “Very nice meeting you Mr. Mark.” I then said to Ma. “I guess we can go now.”
Ma hugged Mark again and then we turned away from his house.
Ma side-eyed me. “Well … what do you think?”
“Mark. How is he? Isn’t he handsome?”
I scoffed. It sounded like Ma was trying to set me up with Mark, first trying to gage how I thought he looked. “He’s handsome,” I agreed, slightly blushing.
After spending one night at Ma’s house, I felt like it was my own home. Ma was very friendly, polite, and respected my privacy. She had her best friend over, a woman her age, name Elsa, with round glasses and a puffy pink skirt.
I decided to go into town and busy myself, while Ma and her friend had their quality time together. I used a cab again to reach the downtown area. The slew of shops and stores with catchy logos and slogans caught my eyes and I decided to check them out. Among them was an art gallery. My love for art compelled me to enter the gallery.
As I scanned through paintings, I caught sight of someone familiar-looking right next to me. He was wearing a black t-shirt, jeans, and his tall presence took me aback for a second. Ma was right. He really was good looking. He hadn’t seen me though, as his gaze was plastered on a painting hung on the wall.
I kept my gaze on him, to make sure it really was him. When he moved his head, it was too late for me to look away. He’d seen me.
“Danica?” he asked, moving closer towards me.
“What brings you here?”
“Well, I just wanted to check out the stores here. I love paintings, so I thought I’d see what this place had. These paintings look great. I’d buy one, if not for the hefty price.”
Mark chuckled. “You’re right. But buying one painting is not bad, is it? I might get this one.” He pointed at the one he’d been looking at. It was a sunset painting, the orange and blue hues that decorated the canvas in a smooth and striking manner. “My wife would really like it.” He stroked the canvas with his fingers, taking in every pattern, color, and shape. I found myself watching as he traced the entire canvas. I then noticed there was a sign right above that said ‘NO TOUCHING THE ARTWORKS.’
“She’s an art enthusiast like you?” I asked, turning my focus to his face.
“Something like that. Or more that she’s a sucker for anything pleasing to the eyes, something that will liven up a room. This painting would look good in the foyer.” Mark had then seen the warning sign right above him. He tossed me a look of guilt. “Oops. But I’m on good terms with the gallery owner, so he wouldn’t mind me touching the painting.” I laughed slightly. The gallery owner saw the two of us and asked if I was buying anything. I said no, and felt kind of bad. I would like to have bought something.
Once Mark paid for the sunset painting, we exited the gallery. He asked if I had any plans.
“I might head back to Ma’s place. I’m staying there for the time being.”
“That’s nice. Ma is always welcoming towards guests and new acquaintances.”
I smiled. “She really is. I also have a lot to learn from her regarding being happy about everything.”
He narrowed his gaze at me. “Why, you’re not happy?”
I shook my head. I then explained about my plan to see my aunt and how she’d left for Paris right when I’d arrived here.
“I’d like to help, but I don’t know how I’d do so. If my wife was here, we’d be happy to have you stay with us. But it seems that you’re quite happy staying with Ma.”
I agreed with him.
It was then that Mark offered to take me back to Ma’s. I agreed for some reason. He seemed like someone I could trust. The sound of his voice, his smile, everything seemed genuine.
He wanted to stop at his place first to drop off his painting. I didn’t mind, I said I’d wait in the car for him.
When he approached the front of his house, he then turned to me. “You can come inside if you want to. I don’t mind.”
“Are you sure? I mean, you’re just going to drop off the painting.”
He nodded. “Yes. But I don’t want you waiting out here in this heat. It gets hot inside the car, even with the windows rolled down.”
I took up his offer, since I was not fully adjusted to this weather. I melted in extreme heat, and got headaches from it.
When I entered inside his house, I saw Mark setting up the painting on the wall in the foyer, where he said he’d put it, when we were at the gallery. As he did this, I couldn’t help but notice the romantic framed photos of him and his wife set up on the foyer table. His wife was gorgeous looking. She had black hair that framed her face, big eyes and an infectious smile. I could see what he saw in her.
Once he finished setting up the painting, he saw me looking at the photos. He stood next to me and stared at them for a bit. “Like these photos, huh? I’m happy with how they turned out.”
“Yes, they look fine indeed. You and your wife make a nice couple.” I smiled at him. I was about to tear my gaze away, when the telephone rang. Mark rushed to get it in the living room.
I could hear him talking. The conversation sounded friendly at first, but then it shifted three-sixty degrees.
“How are you honey?” he was asking. “I’m good. I just bought the painting you wanted me to get. I’ve hung it on the foyer. Missing you over here.”
I held on to the wall that separated the foyer and the living room. I made sure to stay hidden out of view so that he didn’t see that I was curiously listening. His back was towards me, facing the telephone.
“Really? You’re not at your parent’s house? Then—” I saw him pause. He had his right hand on his hips and his left hand was holding the receiver.
“What do you mean?” he suddenly asked. The tone of his voice sounded frightened. “You’re leaving me?”
I almost jumped. Should I still be here? This was not the sort of conversation I wanted to continue listening to. It felt like a violation of his privacy. As I decided what I was going to do, Mark turned around, as if realizing I was there. He didn’t say anything to me, just kept staring at me, as he listened to his wife on the other end.
“Well fine. If that’s how it’s going to be. Tony, of all people? That punk from the boxing gym? I can’t believe you would leave me for him. Well, have fun though. It’s your life.” With that, he slammed down the receiver. I gulped. He strode towards me.
“I’m so sorry. I’ll leave now,” I said, in a hurried manner.
“No, wait.” He held on to my arms gently. “I’m sure you’re wondering what just happened.”
“I heard enough to know. It’s none of my business,” I said.
“I know, but—” His grasp on my arms suddenly let go. He put his hands to his face, as if he were about to cry. “I can’t believe what my wife just said.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I kept quiet.
“She’s leaving me! Me!” Mark started to sob slightly now. Then he looked up. He had such a helpless look on his face. I felt terrible for him. I didn’t know why, but I suddenly felt the urge to go closer to him, and hug him, comfort him. Stroke my fingers across his smooth cheeks, and give a little peck on one of them—all in a comforting manner, of course. I had no idea why I suddenly felt like this, but there was something about this man that attracted me to him, and now seeing him like this, made me believe that a man like him is not be afraid to be seen as vulnerable.
I held my hands clasped together, standing in front of him stiff as an army commander. “I’m so sorry. I can see myself out, don’t worry.” I patted his arm and then turned away.
That evening, I told Ma what happened. “Poor him. I can’t believe it. Carmen was such a lovely wife to him. What happened? How could she do this to him? Did he say anything else?”
“No. It was none of my business to stay there any longer, so I left.”
“Poor Mark. He’s such a lovely man. Heck, if I were a couple decades younger and had a man like him, I’d keep him for life.”
I smiled sadly. I agreed with her, but didn’t want to openly say it. I couldn’t help but find fascination with Mark. The way his tapering fingers touched the painting, the way he stood when he was on the phone with his wife. And the way he looked so dejected when he got the news on the phone that his wife was leaving him for someone else. I felt the desire to hug him, comfort him, and tell him it would be okay, and that she probably didn’t deserve him.
I considered going to his place the next day. Just to see how he was doing.
The following day, I hadn’t heard from my aunt Mona. She didn’t have the decency to tell me she wasn’t going to be here. I gave up trying to contact her. I decided that if I was going to stay here, I’d try to do something good. And that something was to check up on a certain someone, cheer them up.
Ma handed me a cooler with soda pops in them. Perfect for the hot weather. The blazing sun scorched my skin as I took Ma’s truck and drove to Mark’s house.
I parked outside.
Holding the cooler in my hands, I stood outside and knocked on his door. There was no response. I found this strange. I knocked again.
This time the door opened. It was Mark. He looked like he hadn’t gotten any sleep. He had on a white t shirt and jeans.
“Mark? How are you doing? I thought I’d check up and see how you were. I figured I left you at a bad time. Ma got some soda pops. Want one?”
He seemed in no mood to refuse me, nor jovially accept. He nodded and ushered me inside.
“I apologize for my state. It’s been a rough day,” he said as we entered the living room. I set the cooler on the glass table.
“No worries. No need to apologize. I’m very sorry for yesterday.”
Mark sat down next to me on the couch and took a bottle of Coca Cola. He drank like his life depended on it. “I’m sorry about it too. I shouldn’t have acted so emotional.”
I gave him a stern stare. “Please don’t say you’re sorry. You don’t need to justify feeling the way you did, and probably still do. Besides you should come out of this with a positive mindset.”
“Which is?” he asked.
“That you deserve someone better. Someone who loves you for you. Someone who won’t leave you for someone else.”
Mark gulped. “I know. I tried to think like that this morning, but I just couldn’t. I still feel like ‘maybe I wasn’t good enough for her.’ And now she’s not coming back here. I still have our photos together. It doesn’t hurt me that she lied to me that she was seeing her parents. I’m hurt that she knew she wanted to leave me, and decided to use the phone to tell me. Like I’m her scapegoat and that I’d be okay with her breaking the news to me this way.”
I felt extremely bad for this man. “I wish I could give you heartfelt advice, but I’m not an expert in this field. All I can say is that you are a strong person, and you deserve the best in life. Ma is all praise for you. That means you aren’t all that bad, right?” I shot a short smile, an attempt to make him feel better.
“I guess. Thank you, Danica. I appreciate it.”
I opened my Coca Cola bottle and sipped on the cool liquid, the liquid reaching the bottom of my throat, feeling like heaven. I then noticed Mark staring into space. He was so heartbroken, I could tell. I stood up.
“Got a record player here?” I asked.
“You have a record player here, right?”
“I do. It’s on the table over there.” He pointed to a table in the corner of the room, which I hadn’t seen before.
“Great. I’ll put some music, so that it will cheer you up.” I changed the record and put on a song by Quincy Jones. For Love of Ivy. When the song played, Mark immediately perked up. “This used to be our song,” he said.
“What?” I asked.
“This song. It was the first song we slow danced to. Carmen and I. We were married six years ago, but I still remember our first date where the restaurant we were at played this song. We danced under the moonlight. It was magical.”
Poor Mark. Still in love with his wife, who didn’t care for him anymore.
“Well, Mr. Mark. There are other fish in the sea. Carmen probably didn’t deserve your love, think of it as that.”
Mark stood up, and walked towards the record player as an attempt to hear the music better. “Please, call me Mark. And I appreciate your words, but it might take some time for me to recover.”
I nodded. “Sure, I understand.” I pointed towards the entrance. “I’ll go now. You probably want your space.”
The instrumental section of the song played. It was haunting, yet melodic. We stood there in silence, listening. Once the singer started singing the last few lines of the song, I turned to leave. But I felt his arms on mine. “No. Don’t. Please stay. I think I need the company for a while.”
He went back to the couch, finishing the last of his Coca Cola. I sat down next to him again. What did he want me to do? Just watch him wallow in his suffering? He was leaned into the cushion of the couch, his shirt rumpled, as if he had been resting the whole day. His side profile was that of a saddened man, who had lost his true love. I felt out of place being here. What use did I provide here? Just to observe him until it was time to leave?
“If it would make you feel any better,” I started. “I think you have an impeccable taste in music.”
Mark leaned forwards. He took my hands in his. “Thank you, Danica.”
His touch sent bolts down my arms. How I wanted to have him in an embrace, caress his soft face from one cheek to the other, and gaze into his eyes and tell him it was okay. All instead of staring at him like a statue.
I left his house not long after. Mark called out to me as I walked away. “Thank you so much, Danica. You are a blessing in disguise,” he said.
It took only those words to confirm that I was taking a much bigger liking to Mark than I had anticipated.
“What do you do for work, Ma?” I asked, at dinner. It was me, Ma, and Elsa, her friend who was over the day before.
“I used to be a chef at a diner. But my back let out couple of years ago, and so I work from home, doing home deliveries. I use the truck for that exact purpose.”
“How fitting. You really are a great cook.”
“Oh don’t be silly,” Ma said, nudging me lightly. It seemed that she liked to be humble and didn’t care for praise.
“How’s Mark doing by the way?” she asked. Her friend and I lifted our heads upon hearing his name.
“He’s not great. The Coca Cola helped a bit, but I think he’s still recovering.”
“So sad, so sad. He should just find another woman and move on,” said Elsa, who obviously knew what had happened with Mark.
“I agree,” Ma said, nodding fervently. “He really should.”
“But who would he be with?” I asked. “He loves Carmen like crazy. And he’s not the type to move on to someone so fast.”
At my words, Ma stopped in her mouthful of mashed potatoes. “How do you know?” she asked.
“I was at his place earlier today, remember? He was very upset. I played him a song on the record player, and it made him more emotional. I should have asked him beforehand before choosing the song he and his wife danced to on their first date.” I looked down, feeling guilty
“You were at his house, drinking Coca Cola, discussing his wife with him?” Elsa asked, raising her brows.
“Yes. Is that bad?” I got the feeling Elsa didn’t like the sound of this.
“Not bad… it’s just… why would he be telling you all this?”
“Well I bumped into him in the art gallery yesterday and he bought a painting that he said his wife would like. I feel bad knowing the painting will hold a bad rapport in his mind every time he sees it,” I said.
Elsa shot Ma a look. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you care about how Mark feels. And I mean, really care.”
“What?” I asked, surprised by how this conversation was going. “What do you mean?”
“You know exactly. Ma told me about the pie you gave him, and the blush you made when you agreed with her that he was handsome.”
Ma had told Elsa all this? God. Things spread fast here.
“That’s somewhat true. It was a hot day. My cheeks were probably already red from the sun.”
Else scoffed. “I don’t think so. If you didn’t care, why’d you go over to his place today with Coca Cola?”
It was a good question. Why had I gone? I felt bad, that’s all. But that’s not how people saw it apparently. If an older woman like Elsa saw it as me showing my feelings for Mark, did a young man like Mark himself also guess that I was interested in him?
I didn’t answer to her question. I just looked at Ma. She tossed me a look. It wasn’t a ‘I disapprove’ look. It was more of a ‘Go with what your heart tells you’ look.
“So… how do you upkeep this place by yourself?” I asked, as Mark and I sat at the kitchen table inside his house. It was the following day. I’d taken up on Ma’s advice to chat with Mark some more so I’d get to know him better. She seemed to like the fact that I was interested in him.
“I just do. I like to keep the place clean.” He gazed into my eyes. He looked stunning in another white shirt. “Tell me more about you now.”
“Me? There’s not much. I’m a secretary at a bank in San Francisco. Studied English lit in college. And that’s about it. What about you?”
“What do I do?” he asked. Then he thought pensively. “I’ve just retired as a police officer.”
I perked up at this. “Police officer? Wow. How long were you one?”
“Wow.” I was amazed to be in the presence of a former police officer. Mark suddenly appeared so official, so formal.
“It’s not as grand as you think it is. It pays a lot, that’s all.”
“I bet. But I guess you probably wanted out of the ‘chasing criminals’ life, right?” I waited to hear his response.
“Something like that. I hoped to retire so I could spend more time with—” The mention of his wife made him hesitate. But I knew what he meant to say. I put my hands on his arm, comfortingly.
“I know … I know. But with all that’s happened, now what do you plan to do?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, to be honest. Just stay here?”
I nodded. “Sounds like a good plan for now.”
“I just don’t know how I can carry on being alone.”
“You’re not alone,” I insisted. “You got Ma, Elsa, people in this town, you have a lot of people. Don’t think for a minute that you’re alone.” I almost added my name to the list, but decided not to.
“I mean in terms of love,” he said. “I’m all alone. I don’t have anyone now.”
I gulped. How could he say he was all alone in terms of love? I guessed he never actually realized how I felt about him.
“You’re not alone,” I whispered. “You have me.” I had finally said it in a way he would realize my feelings.
Mark stared at me, gazing into my eyes. His soft brown eyes piercing into my own brown ones. Suddenly, he put his hands on my cheeks as if caressing them. Then, he leaned in and kissed me on the side of my face, grazing his lips against my cheeks. I felt a dozen butterflies flutter all over inside me.
Then he pulled away. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, touching my hands to my cheeks, feeling where his lips were just now.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that.” He stood up and faced the stove. “If you want to leave you can.”
But I didn’t want to leave. But I also didn’t want to overstay my welcome. “Fine, I’ll leave. If that’s what you want.” I felt my face grow hot in embarrassment. I suddenly felt humiliated. That kiss was just a rebound, an ‘in the moment’ kiss. It wasn’t real. At least not to him.
As I touched the front door handle, I heard Mark rush up behind me. “Danica…” he said.
I turned around.
There he was standing in front of me. What was he going to do, kiss me for real this time? I stared at him, remaining still as night.
“I … I want you to know that I am appreciative of your support during this time and I am thankful for our chats, our conversations. But I don’t want you to misconstrue it as feeling something for you in that sense. I do value you for being so kind to me during this difficult time, and what just happened now was not right on my end. I guess I was in the moment and had to do that. You are a very beautiful woman, and any man would be lucky to have you.”
I felt myself emotional at his words. I started to tear up just a sliver. I couldn’t bear to look into his face. I had guessed this. I knew he didn’t really care for me in the romantic sense. I accepted his words.
“Don’t worry, Mark. I understand. Thank you for telling me this now before leading me on, and both of us get hurt at the end. As I said before, you deserve the best in life, and if there isn’t another woman to give you the happiness that you so rightfully deserve, there really is no hope in humanity. So don’t worry about my feelings. I hope with time I’ll learn to cherish our time together.”
Mark smiled at me. “I’m glad my words made sense to you. And are you sure you’re a secretary? You sound like an eloquent poet; your words have such an effect on people.”
His joke broke the emotional tension searing in the room. “Hard to believe, right?” I asked. “But I think that maybe I should have majored in marriage counselling or something.” When I saw him slightly smile, I put my hands on his. “Also, I have some news.”
“I’m leaving tomorrow. I called up an airline and they have an available ticket to California for tomorrow afternoon. I have no other reason for being here longer than I have to, now that my aunt is not here.”
Silence. That’s what filled the room after I’d said these words. Mark seemed stunned by the fact. “You’re leaving? So soon?”
“I am. But this isn’t goodbye. Here—” I pulled out a notepad from my purse—“is my number.” I scribbled it down on a paper then handed it to him. “Need any more advice? Call me.”
Mark then held on to my arms again. I could tell he didn’t want me to leave, and he didn’t want this to be goodbye yet.
“Thank you Danica. Thank you for all you’ve done. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
I place my hands on top of his. Then I kissed them.
“Danica…” he started. Then he stopped. “I don’t know if you leaving is a good idea.”
I remained still. “Why?”
“Because … because I lied. I told you I didn’t care for you like that. But the truth is, maybe I do.”
His words were like music to my ears. I couldn’t believe it. I tried my best not to hug and kiss him. I stood, listening to his words.
“I care for you that I am upset you’re leaving. Do you have to go?” he asked.
I’d already confirmed my ticket, so there was no cancelling now. My silence said it all.
“I can see you at the airport, if you want,” he then said, stroking my hair and face.
“Yes, that would be nice. Thank you.” I looked up at him. With no hesitation, Mark leaned in and kissed me passionately on the lips. This was no moment, no fleeting act of passion. It was real, heartfelt. I wrapped my hands around his neck, kissing his lips, his cheeks, and around his face. All my emotions were let out now. I had to let him know that I had fallen for him. And this moment reflected my feelings. Before we could get any further into our kiss, Mark pulled away.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said calmly. “What time’s your flight?”
Once I gave him the details, I gave him one more kiss.
The airport was crowded, yet I still felt empty. There were so many people, yet I felt lost among them.
At least Mark was right with me as we hugged one another. He told me to write to him. I said I would. I knew that Mark, even though he cared for his wife, valued true love. Something that not all men went after right off the bat.
True love was something priceless, not a cheap emotion sought after like a prize, or trophy. It was meant to be kept sacred.
And that’s what I felt towards Mark. And I’m sure he had some of that feeling inside his heart. It would only be a matter of time before he’d be open to the idea of moving on.
Once I got on the plane, I knew this wouldn’t be the last I’d hear from Mark, or from Ma.
Ma made sure to help me pack my items, and gave me her phone number. I told her I’d write to her just as much as I’d write to Mark. She hugged me and told me I was like her long lost daughter. I felt for her. Just as Ma had longed for a motherly bond with people like myself and Mark, and had gotten that, I wondered if I’d ever cross paths with Mark, and make sure Mark got what he wanted—which was true love.
Only time would tell, I figured. Only time would tell.