I once knew
a girl. Her motto in life was just to love and be loved in
return. Not that she wasn’t loved at home but all she wanted
was to find that fairytale in her life just as she read in
novels. Her name was Ashley…
“I gotta go now. The plane won’t wait for me.
I’ll be fine, Ma, don’t cry. It’s not as though I won’t
return,” I said quietly. My heart was heavy. I didn’t know
what I was getting myself in to but getting out of Singapore
was a decision I made in my heart a long time ago. This
place is filled with nothing but horrible memories. I needed
to find myself once again and believe in this thing called,
“Remember to take care of yourself. The
weather can be cold, eat well. Don’t catch a chill. Remember
to call home, keep warm…” my mother, Alice, nagged as she
always would. She thinks that I am still her baby girl, not
independent enough to venture on my own
Aren’t mothers always like that? Fathers too.
In their eyes, their children never grow up. They are always
young, ignorant and need to be taken care of by them.
One final hug I gave to all who sent me off
that eventful day, 13 March 2006. A sense of liberation
overwhelmed me as I passed the gates and turned back to wave
my goodbye before embarking on this wonderful journey that
laid in front of my very eyes.
‘I wonder who I will be sitting next to…
Could this journey in finding myself start right here, in
the flight to England?’ I wondered to myself as I passed the
gantries and boarded the plane.
My heart skipped a beat. Golly! The guy who
is sitting next to me, Mr. A, he’s awfully familiar. Have I
seen him before?
‘Hi, first time to England?’ Mr. A asked as I
settled myself at my window seat. His face, why does it seem
like I have met him before? His vibe, something so familiar.
Could this be a déjà vu? Oh God, please don’t let him be
anything for my past.
“Nah, it’s my second time already. So what’s
your name?’ I asked coyly, wishing with all my might that my
worst nightmare would never come true with this Mr. A.
“Oh. Hahaha. I
forgot to introduce myself. I’m Brendon. Nice to meet you,”
his hand stuck out waiting for me to shake as he introduced
himself. So, definitely not one of the guys I’ve met before.
Anyway, ‘nice to meet you’? Oh my gawd. That’s such a cheesy
line! Who uses that line anymore? Ah but it’s okay, his
nicely chiseled face makes up for that tiny little cheesy
“Hahahaha. Nice to meet you too. I’m Ashley,”
taking his hand into mine as I introduced myself.
“Ladies and gentleman. Welcome to Flight 221
to London Heathrow. This is your captain, Albert speaking.
We are expected to reach our destination at 1300hours and we
hope you will enjoy this flight.” Ah bummer. The usual
lines. I can already memorize what the captain will say. Why
don’t they ever think of other lines? Too hard on them?
Finally the plane is moving! ‘England, make
way for Ashley!’ whooped my lil mind all excited about
leaving Singapore soil. Many would say that I am an
escapist, running away from all that holds me back. But you
know, I don’t really care. All I need is a brand new start.
I’ll come home when my time is up. Just let me find myself.
Yes, back to Brendon. His features, so well
defined. But no, I didn’t let my guard down. After all, this
is only the beginning of the journey of finding myself. Why
drag myself down by ‘falling in love’ with the guy who sits
next to me on the plane?
Three hours into the flight, the silence
between the both us were too much to bear and he tried to
make small talk again.
“So what are you doing in England?
Holidaying?” he inquired.
“Nothing much actually. Too much spare time
on my hands. So I’m gonna travel around this nice country
and find myself again. Too much pressure back in Singapore,
kinda makes you lose track on who you really are,” not
wanting to divulge more about my reason for wanting to
Silence yet again.
It didn’t matter much that there was silence
anyway. I had a good book to read up on, Persuasion by Jane
Austen. Who ever had time for books in the hustle and bustle
of life back home? If we aren’t doing the paper chase, we
are trying to work our asses off for that once in a lifetime
promotion that will entail us being the elite in the
“Ashley, I have been thinking. Have we met
before? You remind me of this girl that I met way back when
I was 16.”
His question literally almost threw me off my
seat! Could this really be happening? Meeting someone that I
knew back when I was 16? Golly!
“I don’t believe so. What makes you think we
have met before anyway?”
“For one, your appearance, it’s a striking
resemblance. The way you talk, is just like her too. Her
name was Jing Yi and I met her through a music exchange
between our secondary school bands. Maybe it’s just too much
of a coincidence. But you really remind me of her” the look
on his face just as he said those words, seemed like they
glimmer with hope of finding this one girl again.
His words, pierced through my heart. It
screams with pain just as it questions, “ CAN THIS REALLY BE
HAPPENING?!” Could this Brendon be that first love of mine
whom I met through a music exchange when I was in secondary
“Are you Yong Han? From Victoria School?
Clarinetist?” I manage to inquire in this bewildered state.
“Yea! You’re Jing Yi right? From TKGS?
Clarinetist. The section leader too.”
OH MY GAWD. I can’t believe this is really
happening. Finding my first love on my journey of finding
myself again. No WAY! How could this be even happening? God
must be playing a tremendous joke on me. Not like he hasn’t
done so in the last 10 years.
So this obviously sparked an endless
conversation as the flight progressed on. Gone was
Persuasion and all that were important was filling in on
each other’s lives. How we had been in the last ten years.
Not like mine was any more interesting than his. After all,
all I heard after he left me was that he kept getting
attached to a various number of girls and of course
sentimental me, got tired of hearing his frivolous ways. He
on the other hand, never forgot my existence but never ever
tried to contact me again. Jerk.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for flying
with Singapore Airlines. We hope that you’ve enjoyed the
flight and will fly with us again. “ came on the overhead
system. Obviously, we lost track of time just talking and
“Where will you be staying? Any way of
contacting you here in England? I’ll be here for a couple of
months so if you have the time, we can always meet up and
soak in the sights and sounds here,” asked Brendon, with
that tinge of hope in his voice.
“Well, you can always contact me on my
mobile. 94756694. Yea, sure we can always meet up when you
are not that busy with meetings and stuff. After all, I am
here on a long overdue holiday and will be here for as long
as I can handle.”
Finally, London! In my wildest dream would I
have met Yong Han aka Brendon again on the flight here. Was
my past coming to haunt me again? I came here escaping from
my past, looking for a brand new start before I go back and
face the stress of life back home where my family is.
Shaking my head and bracing myself, I walked
out of the arrival gates, flagged a cab and traveled to
downtown London, to my best friend’s apartment. The gush of
cold air that hit my face, felt even more refreshing than
before when I came up four years ago. Excitement filled the
air as I traveled. Could more exciting things be happening?
“Sue!” I yelped as my best friend, Sue Lin
opened the door of her Zen styled furnished apartment. We
hug for what seemed like the longest time at the door.
Probably her neighbours would have thought that we were
lesbian partners seeing us in that embrace.
“You’re finally here! In my apartment again!
Waltz into my humble abode? Isn’t it just lovely? How about
some tea, English style?” an exuberant Sue said.
Settling down into her never ending chocolate
coloured sofa, she serves me what she calls, the
‘Traditional English Tea’ with you’ll never guess it, Lipton
tea. You know those Lipton teabags that you get in
Singapore? That to Sue is traditional English tea even when
she is residing in England. That girl.
Feeling a little wozzy from the trip, she
walks me to this bedroom, which surprisingly, has been
nicely decorated to my liking. A white furnished room, with
white furniture and crisps white sheets. I plonk myself into
the bed and Sue, being that inquisitive her, climbs into bed
with me and pesters me for the latest gossip back home and
of course details of my ‘so-called’ exciting flight.
” Sue. It’s not like I’m going home tomorrow
so let me catch up n some beauty sleep first. I’ll fill you
in on all the details during supper. I need my sleep!” in my
whinest voice as I chased Sue out of my bedroom.
“Hey! Time to wake up, supper. Go change,
bathe then we head to that classy restaurant that I’ve been
gushing about for months and of course fill me in on all the
juicy gossip!” pestered Sue as she tries to wake me up just
barely after I’ve fallen asleep. So much for waiting
So yes, climbing out of bed, as I was about
to open my luggage, my mobile rings. Horror of horrors!
‘Brendon calling’ reflects my screen. Hasn’t he got enough
“Hey, Ash, want to head out for dinner
tonight? I know of this really chic restaurant in downtown
“Sorry Brendon, I promised Sue, your remember
her right, my best friend? That I will be dining with her
today, how about tomorrow evening instead? We can always
grab dinner together?” I offered instead.
“Sure, I will pick you up say 7.30pm? Send me
your address later ya?” a despondent Brendon replied.
I slapped myself awake. Did I just agree to
meet him for dinner tomorrow?
“Eh Ash!!! Quick, I made reservations for
7pm! It’s already 6!!! FASTER!” screamed Sue. That girl,
always a sucker for punctuality.
“Ok!! Give me another 20 minutes. I will be
out” just as I climbed out of the shower and was getting
dressed up to the nines. After all, it’s my first night in
London and I will never know who I will meet.
“Woah. You are only going with me, not for
some hot date. Why dress up to the nines? Now I gotta change
to match up to you,” said Sue jokingly.
Finally we are out on the streets. Climbing
into Sue’s car, I start to absorb the sights and the sounds
that downtown London was offering.
Within 10 minutes we were at the entrance of
“Good evening misses. How about some white
wine to compliment your orders? On the house,” offered this
adorably cute waiter.
“Sure, how about leaving your number too?”
winked Sue, seductively.
Sue being the more attractive of us, always
get the attention that girls strive for. But nah, not that
I’m complaining, but hey, I would like to get noticed too.
“So, tell me more about what has been
happening back home? How’s the resident bitch, Charlene
doing? Still seducing other people’s boyfriends?”
“Why talk about her? I never wanted to hear
about her after she snatched your boyfriend from you. Anyway
you’ll never guess who I met on the plane here,” trying to
change the subject.
“Who?! Some hot hunk?”
“Nope, remember Yong Han from VS? The one I
went out with in secondary school? I met him on the plane
and we are going on a date tomorrow evening. Cannot believe
it right? I came to London to run away from all these
heartaches that I have experienced in the last 10 years and
God just has to let me run into him. By the way, he is now
“HUH! You mean you actually agreed to go with
him on a date? Are you like out of your mind? You took like
what, two years to forget this jerk who started dating
barely two weeks after you broke up and you are meeting him
again?! All the sense that I knocked into you seems to have
gone out the other ear right?”
“No, take it as I’m meeting a friend that
I’ve not seen for a long time. I don’t think I am that
stupid to fall for him again unless we are really that fated
to be together. Anyway he is going to be stationed here in
London for a couple of months and you know my plans of
traveling around, so I where got time to be tied down by
him? After all, I cannot let him foil my plan of meeting new
This bantering seems to last forever and by
the time we left, the restaurant was already closing. Back
in the car, Sue suddenly drops the bombshell.
” Ash, don’t freak out ok? But I am getting
“WHAT DID U SAY AGAIN?”
“You heard me. I’m getting married. To this
guy whom I met like two years ago but I didn’t tell anyone
coz I wanted to be you know, still be listed on the market.
His name is James and works as a broker. He’s hot!”
“You are not getting married because you are
pregnant right? You know I will kill you especially now that
I am staying in your apartment, that makes it even easier
for me to kill you. So when will I get to meet this James?”
“Soon enough. Maybe this weekend. And no, I
am not pregnant. I don’t believe in pre-marital sex
remember? Anyway he respects this moral value so yea, I AM
Okay, so my best friend is getting married to
some guy whom she has never mentioned and I am happy for
her. Of course there’s this tinge of jealousy because hey
she still has this long line of guys who are dying to be in
her arms and she’s getting married. But me? Still trying to
find myself in this land that never shines.
But then again, this James must be really hot
to tie this chilli padi down. Bummer, it’s already like
11pm and I can’t wait to get back into bed.
“Good morning London … “ the radio in my room
What! It’s only like seven in the morning and
I am woken up by this stupid radio. Bummer. I can’t get back
to sleep. What a night. First I accept a date from my very
first boyfriend, then my best friend tells me that she’s
getting married. What more can I expect from today?
“Good morning! So today’s the big hot date
with our first love eh? Excited? Wanna go to my stylist,
grab new clothes and astonish our big boy, Brendon?” asks
Sue in the most coy tone that I have yet to hear in the 14
years of our friendship.
“Shopping? No such need. I’m such a pretty
girl already. No need to impress him again. It was his loss
in the first place,” I laugh as I make my comments.
Deep inside, I was excited. I didn’t know
what to expect. Was this the chance that I was hoping for
when we first broke up? But, no I will put my foot down and
not try to impress. After all, if he were to be interested
in me again, it would not be because of how I look anyway.
In addition, I am here to look for a brand new start in life
and not be tied down with someone from my past.
“Hey!!!!” snapped Sue as she tried to get my
attention. “I’m talking here. Did you even hear what I
“Eh what did you just say? Sorry, I’m still a
little wozzy. Jet lag. “
“I was just saying, I took time off work
today and can bring you around. Maybe do some shopping? You
know, Soho, Jimmy Choos, GAP..” rambled Sue, the true blue
“Ok shopping. But can you ask James out for
lunch? At least let your best friend have a look at this
“I knew you were going to ask. I already
asked him out for lunch. 12 noon at the Herolds Café. Quick
finish up breakfast, we are going shopping!”
Finishing the last bit of Lipton tea and
polishing up the butter scone, I brace myself for this long
day. A sense of excitement fills the air as we prepare
ourselves for the exciting day ahead.
“Are you ready to go out? How come you always
take so long, one? Whined Sue.
“Done already! Let’s go!”
Just 4 hours of shopping with Sue is like
going for an entire workout session at California Fitness
minus the cute looking gym instructors. But hey, who’s
complaining with all the purchases I made. I just love
walking down the streets of London and settling down at
Herolds Café waiting for this mysterious James.
“Hi ma’am. Table for two?” inquired the
“Oh, my friend is in there already. Thanks,”
I’m astonished! He’s actually a Chinese! My
fantasy of this James has been crushed! To think that I
thought he was the cool Brit with that heavy, yet sexy
English accent. I sure hope his accent makes up for it.
“Hi darling,” greets James with a kiss for
God, they look so blissful together. You know
how the Chinese like to believe that if couples are meant to
be, they would have this ‘husband and wife’ face? They
certainly look like a happy married couple!
“Hey. I’m Ashley, Sue’s best friend from
Singapore. So you’re that lucky guy that snogged the hot
babe. Good on ya!” introducing myself as Sue takes her seat
“Ah I’ve heard a lot about you. You’re that
famous journalist from Singapore. No one hounding you to
write about them?” asked James, jokingly.
“Nope, I’m here as a reclusive journalist. No
one knows that I exist. Anyway, where do you hail from?
“Ah. I grew up here. Notice the accent?
Lovely eh? So did Sue tell you all about our wedding plans?”
“I have plenty of time to fill Ash in. After
all, she will be here for a couple of months and she can
help pick out my wedding dress!” gushed a super excited Sue,
on the topic of her wedding.
Hours seem to pass at the café and I gently
excuse myself to head back home to prepare for that dinner
date. I wonder, should I wear something casual or dress up
to the nines? I don’t know where we were heading too anyway.
Back home, standing in front of my closet, as
I racked my brains for the perfect outfit for the evening,
my phone suddenly rings. “Home” it reflects.
“Hi Ma, sorry I didn’t call. Been busy trying
to catch up on my beauty sleep and with Sue. By the way,
she’s getting married to this British, James. No Ma, he is
not Caucasian but a Chinese. Grew up here. Handsome man.
Anyway cannot talk already. I’m preparing to go out. Met my
friend on the plane on my way here. Going to meet him for
dinner. Don’t worry. You take care and say hi to Pa for me
too.” Sighing a sigh of relief as I hang up the phone.
The undue worries of a mother.
I lost track of time as I continued preparing
for this date and the doorbell rings. Oh my God! It’s only
6.45! I sure hope that it’s not him.
My heart seems like it’s thumping faster and
faster as I made my way to the door. One could never expect
the surprise I received when I opened the door. A huge
bouquet of my favorite flowers, pink roses, greeted me.
He still remembers my favorite
“Hey, come on in. Thanks for the flowers.
They are really beautiful. Give me another 10 minutes and we
can head out.” I said in a rather embarrassed tone.
Nothing could prepare me for this date. Not
even the calmest of thoughts could soothe my thumping heart.
As I finally slap on the last of my make up, I tell myself,
“ it’s only a simple dinner. Don’t get your hopes too high.
You’re here to have a new slate of life not fall back to
“All ready.” Waltzing out of my bedroom.
“Wow, you’re really beautiful. Come, my car
is downstairs. Oh grab your jacket. It might get a little
chilly at where we are going,” said Brendon thoughtfully.
It seems like ages since I have been in such
close proximity to Brendon again even though we sat next to
each other on the plane just two days before. The
seriousness on his face when he drives, the way his hands
wrap round the steering wheel, somehow gives me the sense of
security I’ve always been looking for.
“So where are we going for dinner, Mr.
Brendon? Somewhere so reclusive that you won’t even tell me
our destination?” I asked jokingly.
“You’ll love what I have planned. Now just
enjoy the music and I promise we’ll be there in 20 minutes,”
in his ‘oh-so-secretive’ tone as he turns on my favorite,
Boy, he has certainly done his homework. I
affix my eyes on the scenery outside the car even though it
was getting dark. Before I knew it, we were approaching this
really beautiful cottage, by the sea, one that I have been
Stepping out of the car, I absorbed the sight
of that magnificent cottage that was before my very eyes.
Gently, Brendon puts his arm around my waist and leads me to
the door that was left open.
“Wow, this is magnificent. You certainly had
planned this dinner well eh?”
“This is nothing. Wait till you see the view
out at the deck where we will be having our dinner.”
Just as he finished his sentence, the
breathtaking view before my very eyes left me dumbfounded. I
didn’t know how to respond to him anymore. My heart was in a
whirl. What was he trying to do?
“I really don’t know what to say, Brendon.
This is totally awesome. How did you even manage to find
“Hahaha. This is where I am staying. Nice,
eh? I just bought it a few months back when I received
notification about my posting. Well, dinner will be served
shortly and it’s your favorite, black pepper steak. Of
course, with your favourite 1988 Chardonnay wine.”
Before long, dinner was served. Maybe it was
the doing of the red wine but our vocal gates opened and we
started talking endlessly. This feeling that I felt, was
indescribable. Could this be love again? Could this be the
“It’s late, I think I should go back to Sue’s
before she gets all worried.”
“Oh my. Yea, it is indeed late. Let me send
In the car, there was this silence that
seemed to last forever. But I was grateful for it. It gave
me time to think about what had happened at his home.
Finally, the lights of downtown London. I was home.
“Thanks for the lovely evening,” I said as I
was getting out of the car before anything more could
“It was my pleasure. Ash, if anything, I
would like to this again. Can I call you?”
“Sure. I’ll give you a call some time soon.
I’m heading down to Wales tomorrow to visit some friends.
I’ll call you when I get back. Thanks again. Drive safely.”
Trying to end the conversation as quickly as I could before
a mistake could happen.
As I stood at
the walkway seeing him drive down the streets, a sense of
relief, happiness, anxiousness overwhelmed me. What was I
feeling? Maybe it was good that I was heading down to Wales.
My heart was
still pumping hard from the night before. First, it was in
my wildest dreams to meet my first boyfriend on the plane.
If ever I did probability, the probability of this chance
meeting would be less than a million. Never mind just
meeting Brendon, but going for dinner with him? I must have
been out of my mind.
“Sue, I’m off to the train station already!”
I hollered as I was leaving the apartment. I couldn’t
believe what had happened the night before. Brendon was
unbelievable, preparing dinner, presenting me with my
favorite flowers, being so sweet. What am I feeling? What am
I to do now? Maybe it is a good thing going to Wales for a
week, get my head cleared of all these thoughts and start
life as I had planned.
Deep in thought, I walked through the gates,
gripping the train ticket on my right hand. Suddenly, my
phone started ringing, that startled me. Who could be
calling me at this point in time? Don’t tell me it’s Mum or
worst, Brendon?! I searched for my mobile frantically in my
Fendi overnight bag.
“Where is it?” venting my frustrations on my
belongings before finding it.
‘Brendon calling’ reflected my screen. Just
“Hi, what’s up?” I asked, hoping to hear him
not say that he was at the platform waiting for me.
“I was just wondering when you will be back
“Some time next week. Going to visit some
friends and relatives.”
“”Oh, text me when you’ll be back alright?
I’ll come pick you up from the train station.”
“Okay. I gotta run, last call for boarding
Hopping onto the train at the very last
minute was not fun at all, thinking what an unfit person I
am. Walking through the cabins, I finally found my seat and
slumped gratefully into it. Before I could even rest my
aching feet, thoughts about the phone call ran through my
Why was Brendon being so nice? I couldn’t
fathom why someone who seemed so distant felt so close with
unspoken words between the both of us. Was there something
he wanted to say to me just as I left? My heart was in a
whirl again. I did not want to commit the same mistake of
letting my heart rule my head especially that I’m more
mature. It is just like the English phase ‘once bitten,
twice shy’. I want to learn from my mistakes and not commit
As I pondered so long and hard that I failed
to realize that the train was coming to a stop. I looked out
of my window, heart heavy that I had missed beautiful
scenery as I traveled. Something caught my attention. Oh my
Gawd! Am I seeing things? What is he doing at the train
I grabbed my overnight bag from the overhead
compartment immediately. Pushing throw the crowd, I ran
toward Brendon, amazed that he had appeared at the platform.
“Weren’t we on the phone just before I
left?” I asked, while trying to catch my breath.
“I wanted to surprise you! Relax, you silly
girl. It’s only me!” Brendon said in a tone that seemed all
so familiar – the tenderness and love.
“But, why? I mean why come all the way here
to meet me? And how did you reach here before I did?”
“My dear Ash, have you not forgotten that
there’s such a thing as the plane? I flew here early this
morning after calling Sue last night to see what time you
were leaving today. I couldn’t bear to wait a week just to
see you again, not after last night.”
I stood there frozen at my spot. The renowned
journalist was at a lost for words. I couldn’t string a
proper sentence together. What was I expected to say? I
couldn’t wait to see him too? Oh confused heart, search for
the right words to say.
“Oh, that’s really sweet of you. Did you
drive? I need to get to my aunt’s place,” I said rather
“Yup, I did. Let me send you there.”
That moment was nothing but awkwardness. I
was glad that we were walking toward the car, somehow
finding solace that we were getting out of the train
station. The physical distance between us seemed too close
for comfort yet again, even though we were just walking side
by side, in silence.
“So what’s the address that you’re going to?”
he asked just as we got into the car.
“Oh, it’s along the Swansea bay. She’s
meeting me at Waitrose. You can drop me off there,”
Starting the ignition, Brendon tried making
small talk again.
“Ash, can I ask you something?”
“Brendon, before you say anything more, I
want to get this off my chest. It’s really surprising how we
met each other on the plane and it’s been so amazing how
sweet you’ve been. I’m grateful for that but what happened
in the past keeps hindering the present. Maybe we should
take things slow before we make progress again. Let’s handle
this maturely, okay?”
“Oh, I suppose I can stomach that. You’re
right, I’m probably trying to too hard but there’s this vibe
that you cannot deny. Give me another chance?” The look in
Brendon’s eyes were one that filled with hope, yearning to
be given that long overdue second chance.
“Give me time to think about this. I never
expected all these to happen but believe me, I will think
about it. Maybe it is the second chance that God has given
us. 3 days, you can call me after 3 days. Let’s think about
it rationally as the adults we are, neither of us wants to
get hurt again.”
Silence filled the car again. I knew that I
had hurt Brendon with my words but I didn’t want any of us
to be burt again, especially me. Call me selfish but it was
for the best. The silence was deafening and I couldn’t wait
to get out of the car. I needed to be rationale, not to give
in at this point in time to my heart.
Finally Waitrose was in sight, seeing my aunt
standing at the entrance brought me great comfort.
“Thanks for the ride. I’ll call you, I
promise,” I said as I left the car. I couldn’t bear to turn
back once I walked away. What if he had that pained
expression on his face? What if he was on the verge of
crying? I knew whatever it was, I couldn’t bear the sight.
“Hi Aunt Geraldine! It’s so good to see
again,” locking my aunt in an embrace, seeking comfort in
her warmth for my aching heart.
“My beautiful niece, was that your boyfriend?
Why didn’t you introduce us?” she inquired.
I didn’t know what to say but walked silently
beside her to the car. Was three days simply too long to
bear? Thoughts filled my heart and mind as my aunt rambled
on and on about the party that she had planned. I was
certainly in no mood to party but yet thankful to be in the
company of loved ones.
Driving up the driveway, the image of a
cottage adorned with party decorations welcomed me. A smile
drew across my face.
“That’s simply awesome! Thanks so much!” I
exclaimed in gratitude.
“My pleasure, afterall it’s not everyday that
my favorite niece comes to visit me! Ashley, I know that
there is something troubling you, if you need someone to
talk to, I am here.”
“Thanks Aunt. We’ll talk about it afterwards.
Don’t want to dampen the party mood.”
Everyone I knew residing in Wales was there,
friends and family. The warmth of home was overwhelming and
definitely drew me away from all my troubles.
“Jing Yi!” my childhood friend came toward me
“OH MY GAWD! You’re pregnant? Wait, you’re
“Have you forgotten? I got married like two
years ago to Jonathan and you didn’t attend my wedding
because you were covering some conference in New York?”
“Oh yes! Now I remember. When are you due?”
“My birthday! This is so exciting.
The banter continued from Kate to Kelly to
everyone else in the room yet deep in my heart, I knew that
I was in pain, I was lonely, I was thinking of Brendon.
Waiting for the night to creep to an end.
Waking up to the smell of fragrant coffee was
enticing, especially after the long day previously with the
emotional roller coaster. It was day two already and I knew
I had to give Brendon an answer tomorrow. I climbed out of
bed, walking down the stairs being welcomed by a sumptuous
breakfast that was prepared by my aunt.
“Good morning! Hope you had a good night’s
rest last night,” chirped my aunt. Who could be this
energetic so early in the morning, after clearing up the
mess from last night’s party and still have the energy to
prepare a table full of treats?
“Morning. Thanks for breakfast. Erm, would
you like to take a walk with me by the sea later after
“Sure, when you’re ready to go, tell me.”
With that, my aunt walked back into the
kitchen and got on with her chores. How was I going to
broach the subject? I knew I needed her advice because I
couldn’t share it with my mum, she simply wouldn’t
understand. After all, aunt Geraldine was the one whom I
confided in since I was young.
Twenty minutes later, dressed in slacks and a
t-shirt, I got myself ready to go to the beach. Calling out
to my aunt, we walked out of the house
“So I suppose we’re taking this walk because
you wanted to talk to me about something, something close to
your heart. Guy trouble again?” My aunt seemed to read me
like a book. I didn’t have to start the conversation because
she already knew what was weighing heavily on my mind.
“Do you remember that guy I met when I was in
secondary school, Yong Han? I met him on the plane while I
was coming up to London. He’s been asking me out again and
just yesterday he surprised me by meeting me at the train
platform in Wales. He asked me for a second chance and I
told him that I would think about it and would tell him my
decision by tomorrow,”
“And you don’t know what to do because you
still love him but yet, do not want to be hurt again.
Ashley, you must understand that there must be a purpose for
the two of you to meet again especially during this time
when you are trying to find the meaning of life again.
Remember how crestfallen you were when he left? Those years
even though you tried to put it behind you, it still haunts
you and always hindered your future relationships. Maybe
your heart is really still with Yong Han.”
We walked on quietly, deep in thought with
what was said. My aunt was right, maybe I really still had
something for him that’s why I never had a successful
relationship after Brendon and I broke up. I always felt
that no one could match up to him.
“I figure that you’re right, Aunt. No one
could make me feel like how I felt for him even though we
were still young then. But I am really afraid of having to
go through the pain that I felt when he left.”
“Why be so focused on the unknown when we
should be looking toward the future? You’re older now, you
would know how to handle the pain and whatever problems that
would come your way should anything happen. Ashley, deep
inside you is this strength that you’ve yet to realize. When
it’s time for you to realize it, you’ll know that
ultimately, life is not just about being so smooth sailing
especially about love.”
“Thank you for your advice. I believe I know
what I should tell him. Wish me luck. “
“It’s always my pleasure to lend you this
listening ear. Remember, whatever happens, your family here
is willing to lift the sky when you feel that it’s crashing
down on you. Use the strength you use for your work in this
I can never thank God enough for having this
aunt that I can confide in. Sometimes I wonder why my mother
cannot be as understand as her. I mean I remember once when
I tried to tell her about Brendon she said,” Girl, you still
young, why are you committing so soon? So many guys out
there and in any case, I don’t like him. He is not good
enough for you and you better not have been cheated by him.”
So much for giving good advice to the
daughter who just had her heart broken. Aunt Geraldine and I
strolled along the beach, taking in the sea breeze and
occasionally letting the freezing seawater touch our feet.
It was a refreshing feeling, now that the knot in my heart
was undone and knowing what to do with Brendon.
It was soon
approaching lunch and we decided to walk home. My heart was
skipping with each step we took as we approached the
cottage, knowing that I was a step closer to calling Brendon
to tell him of our life changing decision.
In the comforts
of my room, I plucked up the chicken courage that I had to
dial Brendon’s number. It seemed like eternity before he
picked up the call.
“Hi Brendon. I hope that you’re sitting on a
chair because I’ve finally come to a decision about the both
“Go on, I’m listening.” A tinge of
apprehension in his voice.
“I thought about it over the night and I
think that we as mature adults would know how to handle
affairs of the heart much more know how to cherish a second
chance. So I suppose, you would want to think of how to make
this second chance that I am giving to this relationship and
make this work.”
At that precise moment, I was pretty sure
that I heard yelp and an “I’m coming over to pick you up now
to celebrate”. I was abounding with joy too. I ran to the
loo, freshen up, changed to a new set of clothes before he
could even reach the house.
It felt as though I was sixteen again when I
saw him pull up the driveway. My heart was leaping for joy,
my limbs unable to keep still. It was like our first date
all over again. I opened the door and stood there giggling
like a little girl as Brendon walked up to the door.
“Hello. Let’s go grab a cuppa. Just like we
did on our first date. I’m sure the coffee here would taste
much better than the one we had back when we were sixteen.”
Brendon said laughing. This happiness in his voice seemed
all so familiar, the voice that has been playing in my head
for the past few years.
It was evident that the both of us felt the
intense joy yet there was this unspoken silence that we knew
we couldn’t afford to break each other’s hearts again. It
was as though each step in the relationship were to be
treaded carefully but it was in my resolve that I decided to
let go of all doubts and inhabitations to savor every moment
that Brendon and I were going to share. It is only then
would we know the true meaning of love.
Climbing into the car, Brendon was full of
chatter, talking non-stop, a sign when he is ecstatic. We
arrived at this chic looking café that was located at the
sea front. It was a beautiful moment, with us being reunited
again, enjoying the sea breeze and each other’s company.
Over the course of the next few days, Brendon
and I spent many wonderful days together just visiting
friends, spending time at the park, enjoying each other’s
company. It seemed like it was a dream – sitting at the
park, under the clear blue skies, having a picnic and
sipping magnificent tasting red wine. What more could a girl
like me ask for?
By the time we were suppose to head back to
London, it felt as though we were both brand new people,
experiencing the love that was once lost and now found,
savoring every moment of it. Even during the train ride back
to London, being seated next to each other, not saying a
word, was enough for the both of us.
As the train pulled into the stop at London,
“Ash, it was the greatest time of my life for
the past few days. I want this to last forever and ever.
Will you want to spend the rest of your life with me?” asked
Brendon as he went on one knee and took out this red velvet
box from his pocket.
I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to react
after all, we had only known each other again for two weeks.
It was too soon! Yet, I wanted to badly to accept his
“Oh Brendon! Get up first! We’ll talk about
this,” I didn’t know what to say but only to tell him to
stand on his two feet to buy me time as I thought about the
decision that would change my life forever.
“I need time to think about this. I mean
we’ve only been together for a week or so and it’s all to
soon. Brendon, I too want to spend this magnificent time
we’ve had forever, but I think we do really need to think
I knew once again that I put Brendon in a
spot just like the time when we were in Wales. Seeing his
crestfallen face was heartbreaking but yet I knew that we
couldn’t jump the gun and skip the whole lot of knowing each
other better before getting married.
Sue who was supposed to pick me up from the
train station saw the whole proposal and was dumbfounded.
“Ashley! Why didn’t you say yes? I know you
wanted this all your life since the day you knew Brendon
back in secondary school. Don’t think about it anymore. I
believe you are old enough to know what your heart and mind
is telling you to do. “ Sue who knew me all so well advised
me when we were walking back to the car.
I could only accept Sue’s words and walked
beside her silently. What was I to say to have the best of
“In addition, if you accept his proposal, we
could have our wedding together! It’ll be so perfect!
Moreover it can be held in the most romantic season, autumn!
Go on, call Brendon, I know you want to,” enticed Sue.
It was true. I always wanted to have my
wedding during autumn. Maybe I should really accept
“Sue, but don’t you think it’s all too soon?
I mean we’ve only gotten back together last week and now
he’s asking me to marry him. I feel like we’ve skipped the
part of knowing each other better and you know, dating.”
“Why think so much? Both of you love each
other deeply and God even gave you the second chance to be
together. Don’t you think that’s a good enough reason for
you to get married?”
That was true too. My heart was confused. I
just wanted to sink into bed and not think anymore. I was
grateful that Sue’s apartment was in sight. All I could do
now was just to rest and be rationale before calling Brendon
It was a night of unrest. I couldn’t sleep.
All I could think about was the times that Brendon and I
spent together in the past week and praying that it was a
good enough reason for me to accept his proposal other than
because we love each other and having been given the second
chance at this relationship.
Thinking about what Sue said also made sense.
The reason why two people get married is because they truly
love each other and it doesn’t matter how long they know
each other. We can never know a person well enough before
getting married because getting to know each other better is
a lifelong process. That probably suffices as a reason good
enough for me to accept his proposal.
As though I had a brainwave, I picked up my
mobile and called Brendon, not caring if it was only six in
the morning. The phone seemed to be ringing forever. Why
wasn’t he picking up?
“Hey it’s me. Did I wake you up from your
sleep? I called because I wanted to tell you something.”
“Are you okay? You didn’t sleep at all last
night? Did something happen?” it was as though anxiety rose
in Brendon that I could imagine him sitting erect on his
“I’m fine, dear. I just called because I had
to tell you of my decision again. Can you meet me for
breakfast at Starbucks?”
“Sure. Be there in an hour.”
Immediately I sprung into action, running the
bathroom, changing and even telling Sue that I was borrowing
her car. I was excited. I’ve never felt this relief about
making this decision and I knew that my life would be
Walking into Starbucks was Brendon, dressed
casually in slacks and a t-shirt. He looked worried, not
knowing the least what to expect from me.
“Hey. Bought your favorite coffee and
sandwiches already,” laying my purchases on the table in
front of him.
“Did you manage to sleep last night?” he
asked while unwrapping the sandwiches.
“Nope but I thought about what has been
happening. Dear, Sue heard everything last night and she
told me what she thought. It had set me thinking about us.
It doesn’t matter how long we’ve known each other for. We
love each other and that’s more important. Brendon, I’m
willing to take this life time to know you more and fall in
love with you every single day."
At that moment, it seemed like time had
stopped. Brendon had sprung up from his seat and was jumping
around in the café soliciting congratulations from the
others in the café. I couldn’t help but laugh at his crazy
antics but yes, I was elated too.
Running back to our table, he scooped me up
from my seat and locked me in an embrace that still lingers
today. I’ve never felt so protected or so loved. I knew
finally, all doubt has been cleared and I had made the right
Before we knew it, we were calling our
parents respectively not bothering about the time
difference, just to share our joy.
“Ma!! I’m getting married! Nononono. He’s not
a Caucasian. Remember that guy I met while I was in
secondary school? Yea, the one that dumped me before. But
no, he won’t do it again. We’re more mature now. Yes, Ma I
will be back soon to introduce him to you and dad.”
Even I got my mum psyched. It was truly a
liberating experience. I think I found myself earlier than I
expected. This journey hadn’t stopped. There was much more
to experience in this life but the only difference this time
was that I had Brendon with me.
Brendon did have their dream autumn wedding in England with
all their close family and friends. Ashley got to don that
Vera Wang wedding dress that she had been eyeing on for what
seemed to be the longest time and what was better was that
they got married the same day as Sue and James. No parents
could have been happier on that day seeing the best friends
Having their dream wedding - a simple affair
in the park with all the golden leaves cascading down each
time the wind blows, having every opportunity to dance the
romantic slow dance on the dance floor and simply enjoying
the moment, was what every girl could ask for.
Both Brendon and Ashley embarked on their
life journey together, living in the beautiful cottage that
they had their first date of course, that after going on
their honeymoon to Austria. And I as their friend, wish them
happiness together forever.