by Lina Taylor
Tom meets a lady three times in a row.Their first two meetings weren't too good
|“Watch it, mister!” the lady yelled as a man tried to walk between the seat in front and her legs out to the aisle. The man apologized quickly and headed for the washroom. We had been on the airplane for two hours. The woman had immediately been on everyone nerves, she was obnoxious and irritating. She sits diagonally beside me. She is so fierce that even the air stewards and stewardess are afraid of her. When I saw an air stewardess heading for our direction, I knew it was show time.
“Miss, what do you want to have lunch?” the air stewardess asked.
“Lamb chops,” the lady ordered. “You don’t have that do you? Of course you don’t, this place is so lousy and the service is awful!”
“No, we don’t but we have chicken chop, would you like --”
“We have fish…” the air stewardess hesitated. It was like she was afraid that she might offend the lady again somehow. I could not stand sitting on the fence watching the air stewardess get bullied. I had to tell that lady off real bad.
“Hey, missy! Stop making it difficult for everyone. Don’t you have better things to do?” I said.
“Oh yeah, I should start disturbing you too.”
“Do you know how awful you look with that hair? It’s terrible. Oh and your clothes? Are you colour blind or something or you’re so poor that you had to dig those clothes out from the lost and found?”
“Unhappy now that I have found better things to do? Yes, it’s much more fun alright. Thanks for your tip!” the lady scoffed.
My blood was boiling. What an uncouth woman, I thought. I ignored her and continued reading the newspaper until we landed in New York where I carried my luggage and headed home. It had been a long flight traveling from Europe for a business trip back home and I hope to never ever meet that rude lady again and that it would be a miracle if I did.
Sadly, miracles do happen. I was lining up at the cashier ready to pay for the groceries in my basket when I recognized the cashier’s face. It was the rude lady from the airplane! I could not believe my eyes. It seemed that the lady noticed me too. “You!” we said at the same time. “What are you doing here?” she demanded. “Obviously I’m buying groceries for the week, what else would I do in a supermarket? Well, what are YOU doing here then?” I said. “I’m working here,” she said as she scanned a can of tuna for the customer in front of me. I was surprised, “You’re working here? How come I never saw you here before? I shop here all the time!” The lady sighed, “Whatever. Have you ever thought maybe I just started working here yesterday?” “Oh,” I said. The lady shook her head, “What a doofus.” Then she laughed. Her laughter was not a “oh you are so funny” kind of laughter but a short laugh that meant “you’re so stupid.”
She gave the customer that was ahead of me her change then grabbed the goods from my basket out one by one to scan. “Potatoes? Let me guess, you’re a mummy boy and you’re going to make mash potato for your mama?” That pricked me. “Two things. One, I’m not a mummy boy, I just happen to like potatoes. Two, my mother is dead, so is my dad,” I said as-a-matter-of-factly. The lady paused as she held my bag of grocery. I paid for the groceries, snatched the bag and walked off.
I reached my apartment half an hour later. I lied on sofa and looked around. It was a beautiful home. It had a great interior design and it was luxurious enough for a man living by himself like me. I was thirty-one years old and had been living alone for the past seven years. My parents died in a car accident a year ago. I hardly had any friends as I had not much casual time apart from buying groceries. I enjoyed living alone. The silence was relaxing. I had a study room where I could continue doing my work after coming home from my workplace. Work was paradise to me.
People had asked me when I was ever getting married. I always smiled and shook my head. I had never planned of having a family. It was just me and my work, nothing else. I did not find anything so great about having a wife and kids. May be because I had never found anyone I loved before.
I got out of the sofa and unpacked my grocery. It was Sunday and I wanted to make something good for dinner. Another thing I haven’t mentioned was that I love cooking. I do not like to boast but I really do feel that I could cook really well. If I was not an Executive Director in an electrical goods factory, I might have been a chef.
The next early morning, like always, I went for a jog in the park. In my running shoes, I jogged around the park and, at the same time observed random people. I was so busy looking at other people that I did not look at where I was going or what was coming towards me. I was turning into a corner with my head facing a group of kids when something really hard knocked into me. It happened so fast. As I fell on my bottom I saw a bicycle swerve past and hit a tree. Apparently, a bicycle was cycling towards me as I was turning the corner and the cyclist could not stop in time so it swerved, hit me down and then smashed into the tree. As soon as I recovered from my shock, I ran to the person who fell of the bicycle. It was a young lady. She was lying face down so I asked her how she was while turning her over. To my utter shock, it was the same lady that I saw in the airplane and at the cashier in the supermarket! I gasped, “Not you again!” She got up slowly and sat down. She had a few bruises and scratches but otherwise fine. “You! Man, aren’t I so damn unlucky!” she whispered. “I’m not very excited either,” I rolled my eyes. “Seeing I’m such a caring person, I will bring you to the doctors to get your fixed up.” “Ha. Ha. Ha. Oh goody,” she said sarcastically. I helped her up onto her feet and held her waist as she limped all the way to the nearest clinic.
“Goodbye, Miss Sampson! Remember to take lots of rest!” the doctor said as we left the doctor’s room. The doctor had helped the lady and me apply some alcohol onto the wounds and bandaged them up. There was nothing serious at all. I went to pay for the doctor’s fee then waited for a few moments for a snide remark from her but she did not say anything rude. Instead, she whispered, “Thanks.” I smiled in surprise and invited her for lunch at the nearby café.
“So…” I started as we started eating.
“So,” she said.
“Um, it’s funny how we met each other three times in a row.”
“Yeah, it’s really coincidental.”
“Maybe because we’re fated to meet,” I joked.
“Hello? You were supposed to laugh.”
The lady looked up at me, “Ha. Ha. Ha. Very funny.”
“So, you’re Miss Sampson?”
“Please, call me Amelia. You are?”
“Tom. Nice to meet you,” I laughed because I realized we were talking really formally.
“The three times we met weren’t really good, were they. First I insulted you in the airplane and we argued. Next, we argued over the cashier. Thirdly, we crashed into each other and injured ourselves.”
“Hahaha. Funny isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I remembered something funny, do you know…”
I looked at my watch. It was 9am already. I had actually spent more than two hours with her. I was late for work.
“Hey, I got to go. I’m late for work already.”
“… funny isn’t it? What? Oh…see you then…” Amelia’s smile disappeared.
“Well, it was nice meeting you, Amelia.”
“Yeah… it was nice meeting you too…Tom.”
We exchanged cell phone numbers and went our separate ways.
For the first time, I could not concentrate at my work. I kept staring at the computer but nothing came up. I had been thinking about the lady, Amelia, for hours. I had always thought she was a really rude woman. But when I actually talked to her, I could see she was different. It was like she was not meant to be rude before.
I smiled and decided to send a text to Amelia, “Hey. Want to meet up tomorrow?”
From then on, we met up almost every week. I had this weird tingly feeling every single time I was with her. Sometimes, I would invite her for dinner on Sundays and cook up something special. We talked a lot about ourselves. Everything flowed out automatically when I was with her. I told her I loved cooking and working. She said that she loved art but she was actually doctor! It seemed that she was forced to study medicine when she always wanted to be an artist because her parents were doctors themselves and they had high reputation. I was curious then so I asked her if she was a doctor why she was working at the cashier. She said that she liked getting away from sick people once in a while so she worked part-time at different jobs.
One day, we met up as usual. We were laughing and chatting, having the time of our life when Amelia became serious out of the blue.
“Hey. You know how we spent some much time together?” she said.
“Well, from young, my parents chose who my friends were or who weren’t. My choice was non-existent. They only allowed me to befriend certain people who had good reputation and had parents that have as high status as them. They got me into thinking that people might take advantage of me, seeing that I was rich. At first I didn’t believe them but when I overheard some of friends are hanging out with me because I had money to spend, I realised what my parents said was true. So, I held that thought through out pre-school even after I graduated from college. That was why I was rude to everyone, I was actually afraid of them, afraid that they would do something to me. I never really trusted anyone…until I met you. You are different. You are first true companion, Tom,” she whispered as she lowered her head down.
I raised her head by the chin with my finger and smiled, “I thought you were different too. You were special and unique… I have something to tell you. I really like…”
“I have something to tell you too. Let me go first,” she said.
I nodded signaling her to go ahead with what she wanted to say.
She looked me straight in the eyes, “I know we just met but I feel that I can confide anything with you even my problems. I sort of have a problem now. I went to the doctor yesterday and he told me I am diagnosed with…the second stage of breast cancer. I did not notice the lump on my breast until last week. ”
The minute I heard that, I froze. I just met Amelia and now she is going to leave me?
Amelia said that the doctor advised her to go for an operation as soon as possible but she told him that she was not sure and that she would think about it. I was astonished when she said that. I told her it was between the matter of life and death and she could not “think about it”, she must go for the operation immediately. She shook her head and whispered, “I don’t want to risk losing you.”
I forced a smile on my face and consoled her, “No, you won’t. You will go for that operation and come out of there alive. I will be there beside you when you wake up.” She smiled. Then I reminded her, “I’m your greatest friend, remember?”
Her smile disappeared again, “Yeah, friend…”
On the day of the operation, I sat beside her and she waited in her ward for the operation to start. She did not say a word, neither did I. I was obliged to tell her how I felt about her, but every time I opened my mouth, I would swallow my words back. I did not know what to do until she was wheeled out of the ward on a bed towards the operation room. I grabbed her hand and put on something on her finger – a ring. Before we could say anything, I was stopped by the doctors as I watched her disappear behind the operation room doors…
I touched Amelia’s hair and pushed her fringe behind her ear. This was the first time I ever looked carefully at her. She had beautiful blonde hair and crystal clear eyes. She was petite and fair. The more I looked at her, the more beautiful she became until a stage where her beauty was unparallel to anything. I held her hand again and looked at the ring I had helped her put on. I had spent days finding the perfect ring for her – something simple yet beautiful just like her. The ring was made of silver gold and there was small diamond on it. Amelia’s operation was a success but she was still asleep because of the anesthesia. I was really relieved and glad. It would be not long before she would wake up from her sleep. I had so much to tell her. I wanted to tell her how much she meant to me and that nobody could replace her in my heart. I wanted tell her that I would devote to her all my life. I wanted to tell her that when she was under the operation and was in a life and death situation, I realised that I could lose her any moment. It was then that I realised the weird tingly feeling I got every time I was with her was love actually and I had been secretly enamored with her. I knew there was only one way that would make everything right…
Suddenly, the hand I was holding squeezed mine. Amelia’s eyes fluttered open. I could not think of anything to say but, “Will you marry me?”
It was the start of a new beginning for both of us.