Lisa woke up and the first sensation that hit her was the excruciating throb inside her head. She tried to distract herself by recalling what happened. The curtains were flapping lazily and sunlight poured in, enveloping almost every inch of her tiny bedroom. She scanned the room for Tyler and he was no where to be seen. She strained her ears to listen for sounds, still hopeful that he could probably be lingering somewhere in her apartment. Several seconds passed by and the agonizing hangover got the better of her. She reached for her mobile and saw a piece of paper, neatly folded in two at her side table. She stared at it momentarily and slowly reached out for it. She felt her heart pounding as hard as the thumping inside her brain. Suffocating with a mix of anxiety and fear, she unfolded the paper and read its contents.
My dearest Lisa,
Please take your time in reading this letter for through writing, I’ve found the little courage I need to tell you my truest sentiments. There is really so much I want to talk to you about, so much I need to say to you. But when I’m with you physically, I’m at a lost. The things I’ve been meaning to tell you seemed to evaporate. It’s as if an unseen force is dying to prevent my heart from reaching out to yours. I won’t blame you if you despise this cowardice of mine. I have no excuse for it. I’m sorry ...
Before you came along, my routine life in this town was painfully dull. Day in and day out, I functioned like a zombie, alternating between work, meals and sleep. Everything I see appeared to be shades of white, grey and black. I hope you know what I mean. I couldn’t stand another day living like this. Bumping into you in that train was the best thing that ever happened to me. You brought the rainbow. No, you are the rainbow. And now, I wish time would freeze, so you could continue to colour my soul. How I wished we would have met sooner. How I wish you came into my life under different circumstances. Through the days of being with you, I hated so many things ... God, life, you name it ... for forcing us in this scenario. It feels that we’re being punished for nothing.
Now I’m pleading for you to forget about me. Take the past 7 days as a fleeting dream and nothing more. I know it’s hard. For me, I think it would be impossible to ever forget about you. But still, I’m selfishly asking you to try. To be leaving soon and never seeing you again is the hardest moments in my life. I swear this. The pain I’m feeling is simply indescribable. But I know it’s for the better. Like I said, I’m no good for you. I am not who you see me to be.
Live your life to the fullest. Reach for the stars. I have no doubt you’ll find happiness in someone. Someone who can truly give you everything you’ll ever want and ever need. Forget about me but I beg you, please don’t hate me …
With all my heart and more,
Lisa re-read the letter three times. The more she read, the more her mind was being sardined with clutters of questions. Has Tyler left town? Why is he no good for her? Does he have an incurable illness? Why didn’t she cherish their last moments together better? Why did she have to pass out? So many questions. So many regrets. So much pain. No answer. No relief.
Live your life to the fullest. Reach for the stars ...
Lisa knew what she had to do. She jumped out of bed and realised that the hangover had magically disappeared. Propelled with a rush of adrenaline, she afforded herself a quick wash up, brushed her hair, put on the first clean dress she found in the closet and dashed out of the apartment.
Following her heart, she broke into a run and headed towards their usual café. Laughing silly to herself, she felt liberated. For once, she is actually fighting for something she believed in. She was basking in a glorious mood and felt invincible, as if nothing could ever dampen her spirit and resolve.
When she neared the café, she expected to see him sitting on the bench beneath the jasmine tree. No one there. She then peered through the enormous glass door of the café, confident that she’ll find him sitting there, looking back at her, smiling. Instead, she was stared at by a dozen faces stamped with bewilderment, none of them familiar.
Panic began to creep into her system causing her to hyperventilate a little. She took deep breaths trying to calm herself and sat on the bench. Lisa fished out her mobile and dialled Tyler’s number. The dialling tone sounded muffled for all she could hear ... all she could sense ... was her heart hammering against her ribcage.
The call connected.
Her throat was parched. Her lips trembled without a sound. Then, she heard a voice from the other end of the line.
‘Hello,’ the voice said.
The voice wasn’t familiar. The voice wasn’t Tyler’s. The voice belonged to a woman.
‘Hello,’ the voice repeated itself.
‘Hi *pause* Hi. Can I speak to Tyler please?’ Lisa mumbled.
‘Oh, Tyler just got home. He’s in the shower,’ the voice replied.
‘I see. Ummm ...’ Lisa said as a thousand thoughts flooded her mind.
‘This is his wife. Can I take a message?’ the voice offered.
The word ‘wife’ revibrated again and again in Lisa’s ear. She felt utterly numb.
Lisa hung up.
She felt her world shattering. Anguish and disappointment exploded internally causing her body to convulse. Only the sudden gust of wind caught her by physical surprise and her quivering eased. A solitary jasmine flower twirled and landed gently on the ground in front of her. Lisa stared at it, trance-like. That image overwhelmed her. Seconds later, countless more jasmines surrounded her as they fell from above. Lisa buried her face in her hands and wept like never before beneath the tree of sorrow.