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by Jared Yap
She walked down the street in a flowy white summer dress and beautiful Bohemian braids when she caught my eyes, and more, my heart. That was the first time her fragrance of orchids fill my nostrils as she walked past me. Her glowing olive skin and piercing green eyes looked past me as she gave me a little smile, a smile of an angel. Taken aback by her beauty, I could do nothing but smile back, an awkward smile actually. She burst out laughing as she walked past me. And I couldn’t help laughing at myself despite my embarrassment. I covered my face with my palms to hide my cheeks, both turning red in this crimson sun. Were they turning red because it’s hot out here in the summer heat, or was it because I was flushed in embarrassment? It wasn’t till I heard a thud. I lifted my face to see, the girl, the very same girl with the flowy summer dress and romantically Bohemian braided hair on the floor. She must’ve tripped on the cracks along the sidewalk and fell. That’s when I saw that she wore these beautiful chunky wedges with beautifully designed straps that could match the famous Jimmy Choo. With a small gasp, an “Oh!”, I quickly ran towards her. While helping her up, I could not help it but apologize, feeling as though her trip could be my fault for distracting her. That’s when our eyes meet. Hers in a shade of green, deep green, almost jade green I could say, and mine, my not so interesting dark brown eyes. Those eyes, I could remember them till this day. Something struck us there. Could it be that the ever popular myth of love at first sight, the one I’ve brushed aside since my previous lover dumped me for another man, is actually true? Did I tell you about her hair, her romantically braided hair? Up close, I saw her hair. Her hair was wavy, chestnut brown in color, and the feature that struck me the most, the smell of orchids that could not be from anything other than the bottle of Herbal Essence that I’m all so familiar with. Perfection, that’s the only word I could describe her. It felt as though time stopped but we soon snapped out of it and I helped her up. Embarrassed, she gave a small chuckled as she shook her head and covered her face. I laughed as I looked at her. Slowly, I grabbed her wrist and slowly pulled down her hand. I gave an assuring smile at her. “Sky.” I said as I pointed to myself. “Can I buy you a drink? It’s the least I could do.” I continued. She nodded with a sweet smile. We walked to a nearby Starbucks and she had an iced Cappuccino whereas I had a Java Chip Frap. We parted ways after we got our drinks. Her name was Charlie and that was all I got to know. No number, no e-mail, no way of contacting her in the future. But that girl, Charlie, took my breath away. I wonder when I will ever see her again. I gave a long sigh as I walked 1|Page
back. I wondered what I was supposed to do for the day for a moment and realized I was supposed to meet a friend in Central Park. Looking at my watch, I realized I had to be there in less than 10 minutes. Hurriedly, I ran towards Central Park, with my Java Chip Frap in hand. There she was, under the tree, looking at her cellphone, a worried look plastered on her face. That was Katie, the friend I was supposed to meet. We go way back. You see, Katie was a friend of mine. She used to live down the block and now, she stays a few doors away in college. Dark curls with chocolate brown skin, wide eyes, a brown beauty. I ran towards her, panting. She turned towards me when I was running towards her wording the words “Sorry”. She has that look on he r face again, the kind of face that I know too well which meant I’m in for another round of lecture. I finally reached her. “I could explain” I said. “You better come up with an exceptionally good reason to be late again, Schuyler Abernathy Lee!” she said, using my full name which I know too well meant she was not happy. “But for now, we have to go. Hurry!” she said in a hurried tone. “Okay, Katherine Helena Rosewood.” I said, mocking her. She gave me a stare which clearly defines “We’ll settle this later.” We ran towards the center of the park, where we’re holding a surprise birthday party for our friend, Ted. It was his 21st birthday and we wanted to make it special. You see, Ted is a jock. He runs around the park every single day, even that day on his birthday. Our plan was to throw him a surprise party as he ran to us in the park. As we reached the center, we were just in time as we saw Indie, waving frantically to us to hurry up as she saw Ted not too far away. Katie and I picked up our pace and got there just in time. The party went on from the park to the club where we had a little drink before calling it a day. After the party, Katie dropped by my room. Could she have remembered my wrongs for the day? Could she have remembered that I have some explaining to do? “Now, talk.” Katie said. So she did remember. In a way, I was nervous to tell her but I think it’ll be good to t ell a friend. I told her about Charlie. I think my cheeks grew red a few times as I spoke of her, as I remember how she looked like, her dress, her smile, her hair. I’m not too sure if it was the Vodka Lime I had earlier but my cheeks grew hotter by the minute. Katie laughed at me a few times but I knew that she was 2|Page
genuinely happy for me. She gave me a hug and she left for her room. That night, I smiled my way to bed. As I closed my eyes, I could only think of her, of Charlie, the girl who will soon be my everything. Every day, for almost a week I went to the same newsstand where I first saw Charlie in hopes of bumping into her again but to no avail. Maybe my time this time is not right. Maybe I’m not ready for a relationship yet. Maybe God is sending me a sign that I may never see Charlie again. Days gone by and months pass, but no Charlie, no girl with the orchid scented hair. I gave up searching for her as the new semester is beginning and I will not have time to be idling at the newsstand. Autumn is coming, leaves are falling and classes are starting.
It’s been three years now ever since I last saw Charlie. I graduated from NYU in film making, got my own place in Brooklyn and got a job in an office. Yea, every aspiring film makers dream to get a degree and work a 9 to 5. The days passed by pretty routinely. Wake up, get to work, take a walk around the park, get home, watch some television and sleep. I was getting bored and not to mention lonely. Every once in a while, I would think if Charlie, if I could see her again and if she could even remember me. I wondered, how did this stranger made such an impact in my life. I hardly knew her. As I walked home from work one day, on a Friday evening actually when I decided to take a walk along Central Park. It was there that I’ll meet Chuck. There was this adoption booth being put up by some animal shelter. I was getting tired of coming home to an empty house every day and decided to take a look. The volunteer there, Penny I think her name was, greeted me with a happy smile. She showed me some of the dogs. As I was looking at these bubbly Pomeranians, I couldn’t help but notice a pair of eyes staring at me. I turned around and looked and saw what I could only describe as a pup fit for me. Quiet and charming at the same time, with a beautiful caramel coat and dark brown eyes that seem to pierce through your soul. As I walked closer, the beautiful pup lied flat on the floor, his eyes gazing at me up and down. I bended my knees and looked at him. His eyes followed mine and gave a soft woof. A charming Border Terrier he is, not too big for me and not too small to threaten my masculinity. I reached out my hand to him and immediately, he sprung up on all fours, tail wagging and tongue waving at me. I scratched his head and by his closed eyes and a decent smile on his face showed me we are becoming fast friends. I waved to Penny and pointed at the Border Terrier mouthing “He is the one” Penny came and asked me again, pointing at the Border Terrier. I nodded. She was about to pick him up when I asked if I could do it instead. Happily, Penny allowed me to pick him up. “Hi there, Chuck.” I whispered as I believe that will be his name from now on. Chuck licked my face in glee and a soft bark lets me know he’s comfortable with me. I followed Penny to the counter to finish up some procedures. I got to know that he is just in time for his vaccinations and wondered if I could do it myself instead. I just nodded, not thinking of the costs as I finally have someone or rather something to keep me company and no longer come home to an empty house.
Chuck and I went home and I could see that he is happy as he ran around the house, barking away, his tail wagging high in the air. I shook my head and gave a small chuckle. He was about to pee on the couch when I quickly grabbed him and ran to the bathroom. I think since then, after a few tries, Chuck learned that the place to dispose his waste would be the bathroom. I cleaned him up soon and turned on the tap for a bath. I left the water running as I went to my room to undress. Chuck followed me around like as though we grew up together. I didn’t mind it at all. In fact, I love the new company I have. I walked back into the bathroom, towel around my waist and slipped into the bathtub. Chuck looked at me with his curious look. Slowly, I came out of the tub and grabbed him. I allowed his feet to touch the warm water and he doesn’t seem to flinch at all. Maybe this dog loves getting wet. I slipped into the bath tub again and took my bath with Chuck, happily making noises in the tub. It felt like the world belonged to us now. I scrubbed him with the shampoo that I bought from the counter Penny was at and I have to admit, it smelt really good. Apple mint filled the bathroom as I felt like as though I want to wash myself with that too. Soon after, I let Chuck dry off and allow him to run around the house as I took my shower. I could not be bothered enough to drain off the water and refill the tub. After my shower, we went to watch some television as Chuck jumped up on the couch towards me. I could see that he’s yawning away and decided to call it a day. I picked Chuck up and headed towards my room where we dosed off. The very next morning, I was woken up by wet tongues on my cheeks. I opened my eyes to see Chuck on top of me, looking at me as I rubbed my eyes. He barked at me playfully and began to jump on me. I grabbed him and smiled. “I’m up Chuck. I’m up,” I said as I put him down. I poured some dog biscuits into his bowl before pouring some cereal into mine. I looked at him as he gobbled up his food. I couldn’t help but just to shake my head and smile. I took my shower soon after as I do not have to go to work that day.
I took the leash and hooked it onto Chuck’s collar. By the struggles he gave, I knew he doesn’t really enjoy it but I couldn’t allow him to roam freely without me on the streets. After I finally got the leash hooked, Chuck was less fidgety. We walked towards the vets for him to get his vaccinations. We registered and were waiting for our turn to see the vet. I could see the waiting room was quite empty except for us and a few pet owners, one with a small Chihuahua and another with a Siamese Cat. Not long after, a nurse came up to us. “Dr. Willows will see you now, Mr. Lee,” she said. We walked into an office labeled Dr. Willows. The room was filled with pictures of puppies but one dominates them all as most of the walls were filled with the picture of a nice white Maltese pup. As i let my eyes wander across the room, I saw the back of the doctor, a lady with her hair in a bun and wearing a clean white lab coat. “Welcome, Mr. Lee,” she said as she turned around. “What can I help….” She said but paused halfway. “Charlie?” I said. “Sky!” She replied as she pointed towards me. “How have you been? What brings you here? Here, sit.” She asked as she invited me to sit on a chair in the room. “Thanks. I’ve been good. This fella here, he needs his vaccinations. How have you been?” I replied as I pointed at Chuck. Charlie looked up into the horizon and replied with a simple, “I don’t know. There are ups and downs, as she walked over, put Chuck on the examination table and checked up on him. We chatted as Charlie carried out the vaccinations. Chuck was ever so brave for not even whimpering but I guess I was too busy talking to Charlie to even notice if he did. In minutes, the procedures were done and we’re good to go. Apparently, I was the last client for the day for Charlie as she worked the night shift last night. In a way, I felt lucky that I came on time. I asked Charlie if she would like to go for a drink, some brunch before heading back home which she delightfully agreed to. We had a nice brunch that morning in some diner nearby. I had coffee while Charlie had some croissant and coffee as well. I got to know that Charlie graduated from med school last year and is currently a veterinarian specializing with dogs and the Maltese pictures in her 6|Page
room were Lady, her Maltese back home. We chatted for a long time and this time, I got to ask her for her digits as we exchanged numbers. I walked her back home as her house is about 3 blocks away. We waved goodbye as she entered her house and promised to catch up some time. As it was a nice afternoon, I took Chuck to a pet shop and we got some toys for him. He seemed to be delighted with his new bone-shaped chew toy which boasts of being the best in the market. Soon after, we head back home as I have some work that needs to be done. I got back home and switched out of my going out attire and headed straight to my laptop. Before I started any real work, I headed on to my Facebook page and was surprised to find a new friend request. With my hopes up, I clicked on the icon and lo and behold, “Charlotte Willows sent you a friend request.” Overjoyed, I clicked on the confirm button. For the next few minutes, I felt like I was a stalker, going through her Facebook page. For the rest of the day, I sat in front of my laptop, finishing up some reports I need to show my boss next week.
A few days passed, I gathered my courage and texted Charlie. “Dinner?” I asked her. Minutes felt like hours as I waited for her reply. Thoughts ran through my head and I looked at Chuck, hoping that I could find some sort of clue. “I just hope she replies soon.” I said to Chuck, followed by an agreeing bark from him. My cellphone buzzed and I quickly unlocked it. Sigh, it was just a service message. I plunged onto my bed, face down in defeat when my cellphone buzzed again. “Sorry, was in the shower. Sure. Pick me up at 6?” Charlie replied. A smile lit my face as I looked at Chuck with a “SHE REPLIED!” face. I was careful not to reply too quickly to sound desperate and creepy. I replied with a simple “Sure, see you in a bit then,” as by that time, it was already 4. At 5:30, I walked over to her house, eagerly waiting for her. As the clock drew nearer, my heart beat faster. 5:30 became 5:45, and soon enough, it was 6. I continued waiting, hoping she’ll be meet me soon. Soon after, it was 6:15. My heart sank a little. Maybe she won’t be coming and there is when my cellphone rang. “Sky, where are you?” Charlie said. “I’m right downstairs.” I said. “Downstairs? Downstairs where?” she said “Er… Your house.” I said. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. I’m still at the clinic. What I meant was to pick me up from the clinic at 6.” Charlie said “Oh, right. Sorry. I’m coming over now then.” I said as we clicked on the red button.
I laughed to myself as I made my way to the veterinary. As I was on my way, I passed by the florist and decided to pick up a flower for Charlie. Seeing her room was purple, I thought a purple orchid would do the trick. Few minutes later, I arrived at the vet. Charlie was waiting outside. “I’m so sorry.” We both apologized at the same time and laughed together. I handed her the flower, she sniffed it (not that an orchid has any scent I thought) and smiled. We walked over to a bistro nearby and had dinner as we chat through the night. The night was wonderful, filled with laughs and giggles. I felt comfortable around her. After dinner, I walked her home.
This continued on for a couple of times and our relationship grew closer. I even told her about how I went back to the newsstand, hoping to bump into her again and she told me that she had always giggled when she passed by the Starbucks that we had our first drink at. And there it was then, I remembered clearly, date number 7. After dinner, we walked through the park and decided to sit on one of the park benches as we looked at the sky above, amazed by the stars and the moon. I turned my head towards Charlie, my hands shaking and my heart racing as I popped the question that could change our relationship. What I was about to do would either bring us closer or will render us awkward around each other. “Charlie. Will you be my girlfriend?” I asked her, my voice a little shaky. She looked at me, leaned over and kissed me on my cheek (mind you, it was the first time she did this). She then looked me in the eyes, her eyes as gentle as the morning dew as she nodded. Overjoyed, I was lost for words. I froze. She then threw her arms around me and we cuddled as we watched the night sky. Not long after, I walked her home she pecked me on my cheeks again as she said good bye. That night, we spoke to each other on the phone throughout the night. That night, I was content, I was happy.
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Charlie and I decided to take things slow. We decided to first enjoy each other’s’ company and not rush things. Our dates always end with me sending her to her house and a kiss on my cheek as I watch her walk in. On one of those dates, we Skyped with our parents and asked for their blessings. Fortunately, they approve of us. It was not easy looking into Mr.Willows eyes. I felt like he could pierce through my soul for being with his darling daughter. But it was all a relief when he gave us his blessings. After a little over a month, during a beautiful winter night, a memory etched into my brain was made. It was a few days after our first month together. After dinner and a movie, we decided to walk through the park. The sky was clear and stars fill the skies above. The moon shone dimly and we could see the numerous stars above. We sat down on the very same bench I asked her to be my girlfriend. As we were talking, slowly, Charlie leaned forward and pursed her lips. My heart raced as if I could feel it bursting out of my chest. Closing my eyes, I responded. Slowly, our lips met. It was fireworks. I could only wish to stop time. It was perfect. It was pure. It was the best feeling I had ever felt. It was my first kiss and it was hers. I felt like I was dreaming. It was too good to be true. That night, we had crossed another milestone in our relationship. As I sent her back, again we kissed by her doorway, under the glittering stars and the moonlight. Light snow falling adds to the atmosphere as we stood under the street light. It could only look like a scene out of a romantic movie. That night, I felt like life could not get any better.
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I would like to believe that a couple, who had never fought, could never truly understand each other. For it is in anger that our true colors show. As much as I regret that day, I was thankful for it, for without it, we would not have come to where we are today. It was a crucial time for me as we are to prepare our annual reports and present them to our boss. Those who performed could actually be offered a raise. I, for one, had been eyeing for the raise for quite a while. I mean, how could I move on in life with my current salary? I worked hard day and night. I’ve been missing out on sleep and relied heavily on my coffee every morning. All I had in mind was, at least there’s food on Chuck’s bowl and my work. Target, target, target. Reports, reports, reports. Those were the things that occupied my mind. It was a Saturday morning when it happened. Charlie had an off day and decided to pay me a visit at home. As she entered, I was fixed on my laptop, ignoring her. Or at least that’s what I remembered, or what she told me. Surprised at the condition of the house, Charlie began cleaning the house as I sat there, eyes on my laptop. The next thing I know, Charlie came up to me with a stern look on her face. “Were you even listening to me?” she huffed. “What?” I turned to her, a blank look plastered on my face. “You apartment, can you at least keep it clean?” she said. “I’m sorry” I apologized and went straight back to my laptop. Charlie just walked away with a sigh. This cycle went on not once, not twice, but a couple of times. It was the same pattern until one day; the pattern was a little different. This time, instead of walking away with a sigh, she slammed the coffee beside me. “You know what. This is not working out.” She almost screamed. “What’s not working out? Can’t you see that I’m busy.” I brushed her off. “Your priorities are all over the place. Chuck is uncared for, your apartment is all messy. And you, you’re all messy. What has gotten into you?!” Charlie shouted.
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“Who do you think I’m doing this for? With this measly salary, how do you expect me to take care of things in the future?” I said. “What’s the point of a future when you’re losing your present? You know what, I’m leaving. This is pointless. And here, here are your keys! I’m taking Chuck with me. I can’t see him suffering here with you.” Charlie said as she took her bag, lay down my apartment keys, grabbed Chuck and stomped out the door. I rolled my eyes and the next thing I know, my hand swung, hit the cup of coffee and now, the coffee is all over the floor.
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A few days passed and guilt had finally taken over. What have I done? Overwhelmed by guilt, I could only lie in bed, beating myself up. I’ve lost Charlie, the only one around that actually cared for me. I’ve lost Chuck. I knew I had to do something. I knew I had to make things right. I didn’t know if she would take me back, but it was worth a shot. I cleaned up my act. I began with cleaning the house up. Maybe that would ease my guilt a little. As I cleaned my room, I found the card Charlie gave me on our 5 th month together. There, she wrote a reply to a vow I sent her. As I read her card, I began to tear. Sniffling, I walked to the bathroom and got cleaned up. The next thing I know, I was running out of my house and I stopped by the florist. My heart raced as I waiting in front of Charlie’s house. Will she take me back? Will she reject me? My heart was confused, but I knew I had to do it. A few hours passed and Charlie was nowhere to be seen. As far as I knew, she was not on call that day. Her house was dark as the sun set shows that she’s not at home. Where could she be? Hours passed and I felt like I was on the verge of giving up. There I sat, on the steps, looking at my watch as a shadow blocked the street lamp light. I looked up to find Charlie, looking at me. “What are you doing here?” she said, her face, annoyed by my very presence. I stood up, heart racing in fear and guilt. “I’m… I’m sorry.” I uttered. “Whatever.” She said as she shoved me aside. “To hold you when you laugh, to hold you when you cry” I said. “To love you till I could no longer see you” she whispered. “And beyond.” I continued. She turned around. A drop of tear fell through her face. “I’m sorry for the times I upset you. For the time I did not care. And most of all, I’m sorry I did not run after you.” I said. Charlie leaned forward and whispered, “Forgiven” and kissed me on the cheek. 14 | P a g e
There, we reconciled and it was there, a new chapter began. One we promised to talk it out, for we vowed to love each other, till death, and beyond.
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Charlie and I had been together for almost 5 years now. I knew it was time to move one. It was that night that I planned the biggest thing that could happen to me. It was our 5 th anniversary and I wanted to make it special. Under the guise of it being our 5th anniversary, I told Charlie I had a surprise for her. Fortunately, she played along as I placed the blindfold on her as she entered my car. (Yes, by that time, I had my raise and I’ve gotten a car myself) She questioned a lot but I kept telling her it’s a surprise. After about half an hour, we’ve reached our destination. As I opened the door and she took my hand, gentle breeze swept our faces, bringing the scent of the ocean we both enjoy.
“Are we at the beach?” Charlie asked. I took off her blindfold. Charlie covered her mouth in shock. Lined in a pathway, were our friends, all dressed in white. In the first row, Katie and her husband, Ross handed us white heart shaped balloons. As we walked past them, the line of friends holding candles led to a heart shaped arrangement of candles. As we stood in the middle of the heart, I got on one knee and uttered the question that a man should only utter to his only one, the most important question of all. “Charlotte Reina Willows, will you take me, Schuyler Abernathy Lee, to be your husband?” Covering her mouth in shock and disbelief, Charlie could only nod as she stretched out her hand for me to put the ring on her finger. I put the ring on her finger and as we embraced each other, our friends walked over, with applause and cheering that could cause a ruckus through the night. That was the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. That was how I met the love of my life. I know they said that there will be a lot of ups and downs that will await us, but with Charlie by my side, I know we can sail through storms and conquer mountains.
To be continued…
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