With a glass of fine red wine slipped in between the index finger and middle finger, she gently raises the glass of wine and seeps it. The wine that dampens her lips gently, just like how gentle the wind in the autumn night brushes through her hair. She sits on a swing on her balcony overlooking a local park in the dark. As she stays motionless with her leg crossed, she stares onto the dark sky, envying the beautiful full moon adorned with sparkling stars on a fine autumn evening.
“Heh Nancy. Are you alright?” her sister taps on her shoulder. “I’ve seen you sitting alone on the balcony ever since… I’m sorry. But I am just showing my concern. I hope you are alright.“
“Oh did I wake you up again? I’m alright. Perhaps could you give me some time?” she forces a smile on her face.
“Just don’t think too much. It is pointless to dwell along with it too. It’ll get better in time,” she taps on her shoulder again. “Alright, the dark is going to give way to the dawn again soon. Go get some rest dear,” she kisses her cheek and heads back to her bedroom.
“Thanks sis. Good night,” she murmurs but she did not know if her sister has heard it or not. She continues to stare upon the clear autumn night sky. As the darkness penetrates into her thoughts, streams of tears start to fall off again like the Nigeria Fall, dampening her soft pink cheek for her past seems to haunt her again. The dark night seems like a time travel machine that can bring one back to the past and the cold chilly wind is like an accelerator of a car which pushes you even further back in time.
“Heh girlfriends! I’ll see you guys back on Monday in the office! Have a pleasant weekend!” Nancy greets her colleagues when the clock draws nearer to 5 pm on a Friday afternoon.
“Is she joining us for the girls night-out tonight?” one of her colleagues gossips.
“Oh please Esther. Didn’t you know that our Accounting Manager’s boyfriend has been waiting loyally and faithfully in the parking lots? Didn’t you see that spunky guy? The one driving a marvellous and eye-catching black Mercedes Benz! Oh my goodness Esther. You really need a new pair of spectacles…” the gossips continue to pass on after Nancy leaves her office and heads for the parking lot.
“Hi Owen. Sorry to keep you waiting. Just finish off my things. Won’t want huge piles of work pressuring me during the weekend,” she hugs and exchanges kiss with her boyfriend lying against the black shiny Mercedes Benz.
“Hi sweetheart. Don’t worry. I haven’t been waiting long,” Owen opens the door like a gentleman, gesturing her girlfriend into his car. “So where are we eating tonight? You know how starved I am right now? The clinic is exceptionally busy today with so many agitated mothers bringing in their children for vaccination after the bird flu outbreak.“
“Oh dear. It must been a tough and harsh day for you. How about Italian meals tonight? I won’t want you to accompany me to the Chinese restaurant every week,” the 25-year-old Australian Chinese replied. “I know that job has been harsh for you and Daddy always wants to make life difficult for you. Poor you Owen.“
“Oh dear. Don’t worry about it. I love Chinese cuisine in a sense. There are such a wide varieties and in fact I haven’t try most of them. But since tonight I am exceptionally starved, I am breaking the rules. I am heading for the Italian restaurant. I have even booked a table for two,” Owen kisses on her cheek and he drives away from the parking lot and off he goes whizzing through the boulevard and highways when the traffic becomes less congested.
The journey takes them an hour from the city of Perth to the outskirt of the city. As they step down from the car, they could immediately feel the freshness of air as they inhale and feels the comfort, simplicity and happiness of residing in a countryside. There are no skyscrapers nor massive buildings but there is only some single-story shop with an Italian restaurant situated in between.
“This is it. That is where we shall dine in this evening,” the 27-year-old doctor says. “Let’s go in. I reckon you’ll love this place.“
“That was the finest Italian cuisine I have ever tasted! It really has the authentic Italian touch in every food, from the appetizer to the main course and the dessert! Oh Owen. What a romantic and lovely evening you have planned,” she compliments and thanks her boyfriend.
“Glad you love it,” Owen hugs her and whisper right into her ears slowly, “I love you, Nancy.“
“I love you too, Owen,” she replies.
Saturdays and Sundays have always been busy day for the couple. Despite Nancy tries to finish or leave her work until the next Monday, the agitated accounting manager still insists on spending some free time on the weekend revising some of her clients’ accounts and statements and checking through her team members’ progress. She is so diligent or rather over the bars that to a certain extend her mum has to remind her to slow down the pace. As for her Dad, he is the traditional and close-minded person who responds positively to her attitude and says, “That’s a good thing. Our daughter can continue to work harder and gets promoted to a higher position. The more time she has with the work, the less time she has with her that Anglo-Saxon boyfriend. She should date a Chinese instead of a Caucasian.“
Being brought up in a family where Chinese culture and values are given great emphasis, Nancy just ignores her dad and continues to date Owen despite the continuous objection from her Dad. She knows that from the very first moment she meets Owen in college, somehow Owen gives her the very first special feeling that he is the guy she will spend her entire life with. Having meeting Owen is like a miracle that occurs in her life. Owen has expressed his concern for her when she lost her grandmother back then. She was so devastated over the lost of her beloved grandmother and Owen has always been there for her, giving all the moral support that she needs.
Sometimes when she is battling against the tests and examinations, Owen would ring her up secretly or send her text messages, ensuring that she does not push herself across the boundaries. The duo has been together ever since college. At a certain point Nancy mentions to Owen about her Dad’s objection, Owen instead of chickening up, tells Nancy to give him sometime to assimilate and learn her Chinese culture. To much of her astonishment, within a year, not only Owen manages to converse in simple Chinese, learn to enjoy and love Chinese cuisine but also assimilate some Chinese cultures in his own life. Assuming that her Dad would somehow understand, she continues her romantic love life with Owen.
“Heh Nancy. Still awake? Thought I ask you to go to bed?” her concerned sister walks to her again, sounding a little annoyed about her headstrong and stubborn sister who is reluctant to take her advice earlier on.
“Mind if we talk? I do not want to let Dad and Mum know about this…” she mutters softly as her tears continue to fall. “I just need someone to talk to and I don’t want Dad and Mum to be worried about me.” “Oh come here darling, tell sister what has exactly happened,” her sister prompts despite the fact that this would make the 10th time she listens to the similar story after the incident.
“Heh dear. I need to tell you something. It is kinda urgent and important,” Owen approaches his girlfriend one day during their date. “Whatever it is, I hope you can keep yourself calm.“
“Ok, spill it out, Owen. I’ll be fine whatever it is,” she replies with a strong sense of anxiety. She has always hates suspension in speech as it piles up your anxiety and junks up your adrenaline which makes her feel totally uneasy.
“I feel honoured as the government has chosen me as one of the doctors for a community service in Afghanistan. You know after the September 11 incident has broken out and shattered the world, wars have been going on and medical service is very much included. I’ll have to help our Australian army,” Owen explains. “And…“
“And you are going, aren’t you?” losing her coolness, she cuts into it. “So are you going, aren’t you?“
“Oh please dear. Don’t be so angry about it. I know it’s not the right time for me to leave now as your dad has just accepted me, not fully but partially. But it will definitely be a great opportunity for me to see rest of the world right?” Owen tries to convince her. “After all, it is just a year medical service in Afghanistan and then a new batch of doctors and nurses will be sent there and by then I would be back.“
As she losses her coolness, she immediately springs her hand free from his and dashes off in the aisle in the shopping complexes. All she knows is she need to escape from the sad news that she would not be seeing him for a year. Being not able to see him for one month last time when Owen is invited by the National University of Singapore to be a invited lecture at there is devastating for her. Owen seems like the only one whom she can open up and talk to. If Owen is now gone for a year and if misfortune happens, he may even be laid to rest in peace as she pictures the chaotic war scene in Afghanistan she sees constantly on the Internet or on the morning papers.
“Heh Nancy. Wait up,” Owen shouts from a distance, trying to catch up with her. Instead, she ignores his scream and continues to walk out of the shopping complexes. Owen is still chasing after her.
“I shouldn’t be so stupid and arrogant the other day. My stupidity and selfishness cause myself a big punishment. I go straight to the roads without noticing any cars. It is then a high-speed vehicle is approaching me,” she stops and continues in a chocked manner. “Owen is just in time to push me aside and the car runs into him. The next thing I could see is the guy whom I love is lying down there on the road, covered with fresh red blood all over his working togs, the one I have bought him as last year Christmas present.“
“Sorry dear. But as time elapses, you will need to erase the hurtful past and grows up from it. Take it as a lesson and never react childishly despite all difficulties,” the sister advises in a soft manner. “After all, we are all now keeping our finger cross Owen can wake up from his coma. Miracles do happen, dear.“
“But it has been a year. If I would have let him go that time, perhaps he could have been right here with me right now. How stupid I am. If and only if I could see all these consequences that I have to suffer and the punishments God is making me to accept, but it is so unfair and unjust to Owen. He has nothing to do with it!” she bawls out, losing her temper once again.
“Come on dear. Life sometimes is just about moving on. You have got to learn from your mistake and grow up from it. If you never learn, perhaps you are going to repeat the same mistake again in the future. And as for that, remember what the Buddhist teaching we learn in temple weekly when we were young? Everything has its pron and con and certain things are destiny.” her sister tries to calm her down.
As they continue to exchange conversations until the darkness give way to the dawn, suddenly a catchy ray of sunshine pierces through the darkness, catching the attention of both.
“See dawn may not be the best time to look at the sky. For the sky is often blended with different colours like grey, blue and like today, a ray of bright yellow light totally makes the colours clash. However, if we haven’t been through dawn, would we able to witness the magnificent and colourful sunset at the beach?” she lectures. “Similarly in life, if we haven’t been through the worst stage of our life, I reckon the best part of life has yet to come. Remember what I have always told you, ‘No winter last forever, for no spring skips its turn too‘. Somehow I just know today is a special day, trust my instinct.”
Suddenly the phone inside Nancy’s room rings. Who could be calling during such an early hours? Nancy’s sister approaches the phone and answers it. After murmuring something on the phone, she tries to look solemn and cool and ask Nancy in for the phone. “I think this is for you. You just keep yourself calm no matter what you heard. Could be bad or could be good. Remember what I have told you all the time,” she passes her the phone.
After hanging up the phone, for the first time after a year, Nancy screams and cheers with joy and is totally over the moon. She leaps high up into the air and hugs her sister, “Owen is awake! I can’t wait to go to the nursery house and see him!” Her sister screams in joy as she has received the news earlier on but just tries to control her calmness.
“Alright, with one condition – I drive! You are too excited and you won’t be able to focus,” the down-to-earth sister offers her chauffeur service. “Yes Ma’am! I will do whatever you say. Your sixth sense is really true!” the Accounting manager hugs and kisses her sister like a celebration.
“Enough nonsense. Don’t keep the boyfriend waiting. It has been a year already…” the sister teases her.
“Heh Owen. Today marks the 12th year we have been together ever since we have met each other back in College. Throughout these twelve years, the most tragedy thing has happened to you last year. You went into a deep coma just because of me…” she apologised with much guilt in her tone.
“Heh dear. Stop bragging about it. You know what I fear the most about falling into the deep coma?” Owen questions. “I never fear of dying for when I accepted the medical service offer, I know that if I go somehow I might not come back. Instead when I fall into coma, I have learnt much lesson before about accepting death.“
“Then what is your greatest fear then?” Nancy asks curiously.
“I fear losing you, Nancy. I fear that when I wake up after a year, I would see you down the streets with another guy instead of me. I fear that you left me for waiting me is a great uncertainty in life. You could have waited for a month or two, a year or two or even the rest of your life and I could be still in coma. Hence, I have always tried to wake up as soon as possible, hoping to find you by my side again when I recover,” Owen explains. “But right now, I know that when I first looked into your eyes, I see honour, beauty, wonder and great perfection in you and I am not wrong.“
Instead of responding further, Owen presses his lips gently onto her lips and Nancy swings her hand all over Owen’s neck and they exchange passionate kisses as they sit on the swing in Owen’s garden. Nancy lingers her fingers around Owen’s back and Owen gently feels her dark black long straight hair.
As darkness uncovers its veil and dusk gives way to the night, Nancy lays herself against Owen’s warm and muscular chest. Feeling his bare chest, she says, “Owen, you have taught me one big lesson in life that I have ever learnt.“
“What’s that?” Owen asks. “Something that has to do with Chinese philosophy again?“
“Maybe yes maybe no. Besides being able to stay calm and cool despite facing any challenges, throughout the whole year, I have learned that the greatest distance between us to would not be between the Northern hemisphere and the Southern hemisphere, instead the greatest distance between you and I could have would be Heaven and Earth,” she pauses. “And that is one distance no one can bring them close to one another.“
Owen kisses her again on the forehead and says, “And the greatest time separation is not just one year, it would be FOREVER.“
That night, they continue to exchange passionate and affectionate kisses. And from that very moment onwards, Nancy knows what she really want in life and what she has to learn in life. As for Owen, being able to know Nancy and showing her the great extend of his love for her would be the best thing he has in life. And at that briefest instant, Owen feels so thankful to be the luckiest man on Earth, spending his whole night with his first true love.
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