by "dilettante" maia
NOTE: I know and respect JDG"s belief as a Buddhist… I hope it will be alright if I gave him a role that professes a different belief. AFTER ALL, this is just another twist to the famous AAE story. Among one of the reasons for coming up with this story was I.L.K."s wallie "Singing in the Rain" with JDG and "Angela" of Loveletter. Seeing "Angela" reminded me of that priest story. Another reason was my readings a week ago re: the Korean clergy…And among other reasons which I'd rather not mention. ;-) Hope you'll like another product of my scattered brain…maia 9.25.05
Cast of characters:
Kenneth Yin - Yin Xiang-Zhe
Nicole Zhen - San-Mei
Warren Kim - You-Zhen
Judith - Yong-Xi
Cielo - Zhao-Di
Erika - Ying-Mei
Nicole stood forlornly at the beach. This was the nth time that Warren did not appear on their date. Perhaps her friends were right. He was hiding something from her. He's not trustworthy, playing at her emotions and leaving her like this without an explanation. She felt it but was too stubborn before to accept it. They cannot blame her, she had fallen madly in love with him.
She works at an advertising firm in Seoul and has risen from the ranks. Nicole Zhen and Warren Kim met ten years ago. Since they work in the same industry, their paths would often cross. And considering that they have the same circle of friends, they would often meet at social events – baptisms, weddings, parties, and even at funerals. Warren would often call her and they would go out on dates sometimes with their friends, and sometimes just the two of them.
Nicole was afraid that he would court her formally since at that time she had no special feelings for him. She had her share of sad experiences in the "department of love". The same was true with Warren. Nicole knew of his series of girlfriends until…
She cannot understand her mixed emotions when he started courting her formally. But she was surprised also that he was reluctant to let the others know about that development in their relationship. But Nicole was very happy, letting Cielo, her trusted friend, know of her feelings. Nicole FALLING IN LOVE was headline news among her friends and they were happy that it was with Warren.
They were on the verge of becoming an official couple or so Nicole thought, when Cielo dropped the bomb on her. Warren had a girlfriend already when he started courting Nicole, but the lady was still in the States. She cried for weeks but did not want to believe it and Warren also denied it.
Until she noticed that his calls, text messages, and visits became scarce. Lately it has been Nicole who always initiated the move to call or text him. He always had a ready excuse.
Today at the beach was one of those days. He let her wait again, without fulfilling his promise to meet her. How can you do this to me Warren?, she asked the waves. She cannot believe he was capable of duping her, they are friends for years, they belong to the same group. Her eyes had been like a pair of waterfalls ever since she learned of his duplicity. And yet, being the optimist that she was, she clung on to the hope that it was not true. Or perhaps she was just too in love to be reasonable.
She looked at her watch and decided to go home. She waited for a cab, she'll return to the company's parking lot where she left her car. Once inside the cab, she closed her eyes and let the music coming from the radio sink in her thoughts…"I'll let you go, I'll let you fly, why do I keep on asking why…" Tears started to fall anew.
She eventually realized what was happening. Perhaps she was just too emotionally involved to figure it out. What followed were the ANGER, DENIAL, AND PAIN. But it was her pain alone. She got sick, was on the verge of depression. It was a good thing her work attitude was not affected. She has to let go and move on.
She asked Cielo to have dinner with her. Cielo knew of her sensitive moods, but warned her, "Nicole tonight I'll let you cry your heart out but PROMISE me this would be the last time you'd cry for him. Okay."
Cielo let her talk and cry. Fortunately there were very few diners that night.
"I know there would never be answers to my questions Cielo. I was blinded by love. I don't know if we'll ever be friends again. I saw the signs before but I was too stubborn to acknowledge them," Nicole told her friend with tears streaming down her eyes.
Cielo patted her hand. "Move on Nicole. Forget him, you deserve the best. The Lord has better plans for you."
She nodded. "I've decided to let go Cielo. I may never have the chance to know what I was really to him, but I don't care anymore. This is where I have to stop."
"That's my friend, I hope to see your smile back one of these days. Don't fail me Nicole. Don't fail yourself too," Cielo encouraged.
Across the room, two pairs of eyes were watching the emotional scene with interest.
Kenneth Yin asked Judith, his cousin, "What's her name? She lives in our area right? She's a very religious person. I often see her in church every morning attending mass."
Kenneth was an ex-seminarian. He was about to be ordained when he decided to go out of the seminary. Though he has not accepted His call to serve Him, he remained close to Him. It was during his morning mass attendance that he noticed Nicole.
At present, he manages the family business in Seoul. Judith eyed him mischievously. "Ahem!" and winked at him.
"She's very beautiful and seems friendly. I noticed she has a ready smile to everyone she knew. I wish I will be the recipient of her smile one of these days," Kenneth said hopefully.
Judith amused looked at him and shook her head. "Why with your piercing, magnetic eyes, I know every girl in the area would want to 'court' you. It was a good thing you did not become a priest. You will be giving the ladies a lot of sins every time they'll attend mass with you officiating. Kenneth, allow me to introduce you to one of my girl friends."
He shook his head and looked across the room. "Why is she crying? A broken relationship perhaps?" He seemed not to hear the words spoken by his cousin.
"How you wish!" and Judith laughed again. "She's a friend of Erika in grade school. I don't know if they're still in touch with each other." Erika was Judith's younger sister.
"What's her name.?" He impatiently asked his cousin again.
One morning after the daily mass, Nicole decided to stay for a while in her seat in one of the pews. Too early to report to work, she thought. She just sat there staring at the altar. This coming Sunday would be Warren's wedding. She shrugged. I've long forgiven you Warren, she said in her thoughts.
When she stood up, Kenneth, who was seated at the back pew, followed her. It's now or never, he thought. He fell into step beside her on the path towards the parking area.
"Good morning Ms Zhen."
Nicole looked up, surprised. She knew him, he was her classmate's cousin. She gave him a tentative smile. "Good morning too Mr Yin."
It was his turn to be amazed. "You knew me?"
"Yes of course! Since I was in grade school. Your cousin Erika was my classmate and friend and she often mentioned you to us. Perhaps because you seemed different since you studied at the seminary."
"That's so unfair. You knew me all these years and you were just a nameless face to me," he teased her. He offered his hand for a handshake. Both laughed.
"Wow, isn't it funny? We've moved in the same area for years, knowing each other by name or face but it's only now that we have this chance to know each other personally," Nicole said and smiled.
"Destiny perhaps," Kenneth countered.
That was the beginning of their friendship. They found out they shared a lot of things in common. Love for books, for God, for quiet, the beach, the same food, basketball. With him around, Nicole slowly returned to life. They complement each other, her strengths are his weaknesses and vice versa.
Eventually, they reached the point that they become comfortable with each other and started sharing their deepest secrets.
Kenneth shared with her the reasons why he left the seminary. "Deep in my heart, I knew I was not cut for it Nicole. It hurt my family, especially my mom, but I have to be honest with them, with Him and with myself."
She patted his hand and smiled at him. They were having dinner at the same restaurant where he saw her crying before.
"You're too handsome for it. I'm not saying that only those with homely looks are destined for the vocation. I mean you might be a source of sin to the parishioners because they cannot resist admiring you," she teased him.
He laughed and clapped his hands. "My first compliment about my looks from you. You know, for a Christian, you're too stingy with compliments for me." And he adapted a little boy look.
"I want you to be happy always Nicole."
Kenneth had once asked her why she was crying that night when he saw her in this restaurant. She was not ready then to open semi-healed wounds. But now she was ready to share her story.
"I was the joker in our group Kenneth, but I didn't see that the joke was on me. Remember that song? Everybody was happy because I was in love and when I started to cry, they were laughing because they cannot believe I was capable of crying too."
And as he started singing to her softly the lines of that song, she giggled. "I started to cry which started the whole world laughing but I didn't see that the joke was on me…"
Nicole continued seriously, "I believed then that letting go was not the end of the world. It was a beginning of a new chapter in my life."
"I hope I'm included in that chapter Nicole," he held her hand which was on top of the table and looked deeply into her eyes.
She seemed hypnotized by those eyes but still was able to manage a smile. "If you would want to. Why not." And gave him her enigmatic smile.
He smiled back at her, "Thank you for making me a recipient of that smile Ms. Zhen."
"You deserve it Kenneth, you deserve it," and allowed him to hold her other hand across the table.
THE END. 9.25.05