“Dad, can I come in?” Mark knocked gently on his study room’s door.
“Oh sure. Why not? Pop in and have a seat,” Neil told his seventeen-year-old son. “So what are we up to again this time son? Need extra allowance for your date again?”
“Dad, I’m here to talk to you. Yes about my date but definitely not money,” Mark paused. Neil stared at him and waited for Mark to continue with his words.
“I.. I mean Charlotte and I broke up.. Last Friday, when I.. I drove her home, she took the first step and ended our relationship,” Mark said with pauses and stops in between.
“Am I surprised. You’ll get over it, son. Don’t worry.” Neil comforted his son. “Well, perhaps it is a message from God, telling you that she isn’t meant for you.”
“But how could you know it is God message that some girl is meant for you? Like how you know you’ll love mum only for the rest of your life, Dad?” Mark asked with great confusion.
“Oh son. Perhaps if you listen to my story. You may laugh at first but if you cried in the end, that’s natural,” Neil kidded in a semi-solemn manner.
It was yet another summer holiday when nineteen-year-old Neil Carter had to work in order to make end meets when college reopened in autumn. He took up his usual summer job as an ice-cream seller along the coast of Cottesloe Beach. The sun was warm and shinny everyday. Everyone back then and even now love a good tan. What else could be the worse thing for a teenager during summer holiday? Oh damn. That is summer job. Sometimes Neil was too busy serving perspiring customers, scoops after scoops. Despite the fact Neil loved the hot weather and the sparkling clean sea water so much, all he could do was to stand there whole day selling ice-cream, earning a sheer low wages.
It was the last week of summer when he finally took a day off from his summer job. He went back to the beach that day and was all ready for his fabulous and perfect day on the beach. It was time for him to show off what he was made up of. After all he had always been walking to and back from school everyday and the laborious job he took up to help out his parents in their little shop down the street. He had been carrying heavy loads on his shoulders while working diligently in his parents’ shop. Sometimes in college when he was free, he would take the opportunity to go to to gym and firm his muscles. All those works shaped his body like someone who visited the gym quite often. He swam in the sparkling clear sea water that was refreshing and cold enough to wash away all his worries and pressures that he faced last term or the upcoming challenges he had to encounter.
That day while he was swimming in the water, from a distance he saw a group of people forming a huge circle. Laughter or rather criticising laughter could be heard from a distance. He thought it was something hilarious so he dashed out of the water and saw it was actually a teenage girl in her nineteen too. She was a little chubby but not overweight. Her body wasn’t so stunning and attractive like any other fashion model you saw on the magazine covers. She tripped and fell over. People were obviously teasing her for her clumsiness.
Neil made way through the crowd and saw her gently touching her bleeding knee cap. He immediately gave her a first aid treatment, knowing that over bleeding could take her life away. The crowd started to leave as Neil finished his job. He could see some girls gossiping in a sarcastic tone, “What a waste! That spunk there is really attractive. Why in the world would he help such a fat and ugly girl.” Neil noticed tears were flowing down from her eyes and dampened her little cheek.
“Thank you so much. I was so humiliated in the crowd. Actually could you help me one more time? When I fell down just now, there was a hole in a swimming suit. So I couldn’t walk around conveniently,” she pleaded. “And by the way, I am Mary. Nice to meet you.”
“Oh hi. I’m Neil. Neil Carter. Nice meeting you too,” Neil introduced himself. At that moment, he was captivated by her smile. A smile that is simply just warm, affectionate and heart-melting. “I.. Sure.” He lifted her up in his arms and brought her into his car. He ran back to the beach and packed up his thing and back again to his car in the parking lot. He drove her back home.
“Dad, so you fall in love with Mary?” Mark interrupted.
“Yes, I did. It was really love at first sight. We meet one another almost everyday after that incident. It was only till the last day of my summer vacation that I realised that, everything was simply a mistake, just pure coincidence we meet one another. “Neil answered.
“Heh Mary. I hope I could stroll along the beach with you every evening like this forever,” Neil gathered all his courage and told Mary on the last evening that they spent together. “Even though college is going to reopen next week, I believe we can still got things work out.”
“Sorry Neil. What are you talking about? I don’t get you,” Mary clarified her confusion.
“Mary, you know I love you. And I know you love me too. So could you give us a chance? Despite our family background, I promise that I will work extremely hard when I graduate from university. I’ll get the best job and buy the biggest and most beautiful house for you.” Neil poured out all his plans.
“Neil! You got all these mixed up! Sorry I am engaged actually. My parents have agreed that I can marry my high school sweetheart. Yea. You are right. He is sweet, gentle and handsome. You have all those qualities like him. However, he is going to be a doctor next time while you choose to be a teacher. I can’t afford to stay with someone of different.. economy background. I know this is hard on you Neil but..” she paused.
“Then why would you always come and meet me after that incident,” Neil yelled.
“I was just lonely and needed an accompaniment. I really appreciate what you did for me that day but at least I would not want to waste your time. Sorry Neil.” Mary explained. “And I guess, that’s goodbye.”
She walked away without looking back.
“Son. I am never born with a silver spoon. Your mum whom I met in university later on in my life. She is the one who always encourage me to go after my dreams. She is always there with me through the ups and downs. Together we have been through the mills. That is when I realised that your mum is my true love.” Neil took down his reading glasses.
“And I am telling you this. Not as your university lecturer. Neither as your dad. As a friend who have experienced all these before, somehow you know that when she did not look back when she broke up with you. You know that you should also turn your back and walk in the other direction.” Neil tapped on Mark’s shoulder gently.
“Life never go in one direction. There are always so many alternatives and passageway for us to take. If you have taken the wrong one, find your mistakes and go ahead with a new direction. One day, you’ll find the passage that you never regret for your rest of your life. And that is the day you’ll find someone whom you truly love with your heart and soul. She’ll be the one walking throughout the life with you. And that is also the day you’ll finally get the message.” Neil said.
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