It was a little before seven o'clock at night and I just finished attending church. It was still twilight outside and I decided that I didn't want to go home just yet. After all, witnessing twilight is such a novelty nowadays with me trekking out of work so late on weekdays. I approached the vendor selling street ice cream and purchased a yam-flavored one. Not exactly the healthiest option, but when cravings call, who am I to deny it?
Content with my indulgence, I walked around the town center where people were lazily milling around and trying to savor the last few hours of their weekend. I took a double take at this couple who were having an incredibly intense conversation — neither were they being discrete about it.
Call me nosy, but I was simply curious, I found myself sidling up to the bench next to theirs and pretended to be very interested in my ice cream.
The guy was probably in his late twenties. He was wearing smart clothes — a crisp white shirt and black trousers — and his face looked tired despite the twinkle in his eyes. The girl was sporting a barely there dress with her hair piled on top of her head immaculately. Her ankles look like they're screaming in torment judging from how swollen they were inside her super high heels. Her youthful face betrays her looks and demeanor because I get the feeling that she wishes to appear older than she really is.
“I'm sorry, but we couldn't do this anymore,” the guy told her in half Mandarin, half English.
Swollen Ankles tilted her head to the right showing me her despondent expression. “But I really enjoyed last night,” she said. “You were so good. I felt really one with you. I'm glad you were my first.”
Crisp Shirt blushed. And I blushed for him.
With her right hand, she untucked the left side of his shirt and she slipped it underneath. From the corner of my eye, I could see her hand making rubbing gestures against his rib cage. Seriously… we're in public, people!
He gently took her hand away from its position. “No, don't,” he pleaded. “We can't do this anymore.”
Tears started spilling from her eyes. “Why not?” she asked with desperation rising in her voice. “You said you love me. I love you. I love you. I love you. Wo ai ni!”
Crisp Shirt shifted in his seat restlessly.
At this point, I was really feeling for the girl already. She was about to get hysterical and I could sense the frustration in her voice. Her naiveity was killing me.
She tried putting her arms around him only to be met with restrain. “You said we'll be together forever,” she said accusingly. “You said we'll get married. We don't have to tell my parents, we'll just run away.”
My ice cream was already melting in my hands. I couldn't eat and listen at the same time — I'm apparently a bad multi-tasker. I stole another look at the couple and in doing so, it astonished me how young the girl looked. She couldn't be more than seventeen years old. I hurriedly tried to lick the dripping liquid yam from the cone.
“I'm sorry,” he repeated. “Look, I'll give you some money and I'll buy you that mobile phone that you wanted. But we just can't see each other anymore.”
He took out his wallet and gave her several hundred dollar bills. Swollen Ankles held the wad of money stiffly in her left hand. Her nails were painted a deep dark purple. Some fingernails were already beginning to chip.
She looked at him with confused eyes. “Do you not love me anymore?” she asked. He had on a face that was short of sayin “Oh god, give me strength.”
He sighed. “Love is a very strong word,” he answered uncertainly.
It was my turn to give an “Oh god, give me strength” face. I rolled my eyes at my fast-melting ice cream. This guy needs to get some new lines.
“I do love you,” he said to her. “But I don't love you the way that you want me to love you.”
What a freak! He says this after he takes her virginity the night before?
The girl burst out crying. “Why?” she wailed. “Why are you leaving me? Was it something that I did? Was I not good in bed?” Then she said something in Mandarin that I didn't catch.
He held her hand. “Look,” he said. “I'm really sorry. There's something I must tell you, but please don't hate me.”
She didn't say anything but looked at him expectantly.
“You see, I'm married.”
My eyes bugged out of its sockets. The ice cream has totally been forgotten now.
“And my wife's pregnant with twins,” he added. “We just found out this morning.”
Swollen Ankles didn't say anything. If my head was swimming in so much thoughts, I could just imagine what in the world was going on in hers. I was too scared to look over her way, but I'm fairly certain that the words KILL and HIM flashed through her head at one point.
“Mei Li,” he called out softly. “Talk to me.”
She was still silent. The earth seemed to have stopped moving for a few seconds. The next thing I knew, she reached out and slapped him right across his face. He sat there frozen, probably in shock. And for good measure, she reached out and did it again — harder this time because I heard a snap like a dry twig breaking.
A few people walking by stopped to look at the scene. Thank goodness they were all decent enough to keep walking as they realized what was going on.
“You bastard!” she bellowed at him in full force. “How dare you?!?”
She grabbed her bag and ran away from him despite the swollen ankles. He sat there utterly dumbfounded not quite realizing what had just taken place. A few people started hushing with each other. I was simply biting my lower lip and concentrated on searching for a tissue in my bag.
I decided to give Crisp Shirt some privacy and headed towards home. It's amazing how these things just unfold within a span of minutes. And for Swollen Ankles sake, her life just turned around rapidly within twenty four hours. Her heart and spirit had been broken, and she has been robbed off her innocence in broad daylight.
I wanted nothing but for her to come to terms with all the incidents that just took place. It's almost unfair that girls like her has to be taken advantage of. Then again, it always takes more than one to tango — usually two, but sometimes there are more dancers to the music.
Seriously. When did the world's events start warranting so much cynicism?
I just hope that she will be getting one helluva mobile phone.