Maya was pacing the floor madder than a feral cat locked in a cage. The day after the modeling show, she popped into the bookstore to pick up a copy of the TIE THE KNOT wedding magazine . She didn’t pick up on it at first, because she was so excited to flip to the middle and see all the great shots they had gotten of her in the wedding dresses. The pictures were just beautiful and it made her sentimental all over again, thinking of Ian on their rushed wedding day. But then she flipped back to the front and really looked. There she was on the front cover, a picture of her from her bare shoulders up. It was obvious to her what they had done. They were trying to make it look like she wasn’t wearing clothes and in essence referencing back to those leaked naked photos. Was she ever going to be able to get away from that one stupid mistake. Well, she had gotten a lot wiser in the last two months. A picture on a cover was never just a picture on a cover. Its what sells and sex appeal sells.
There was no point in calling Eddy to talk about it. He would probably just laugh again like he did when that unfortunate incident happened and then tell her she was being paranoid. He didn’t call her last night either. She woke this morning still holding her phone on her chest. She checked her caller I.D., but no call. She thought about calling him but she knew his show would have gone pretty late last night and didn’t want to wake him up.
Maya was just about to leave for school when she had a knock on her door. She opened it to a vase full of flowers being held out.
“Someone got flowers!” said a voice behind the bouquet. Chloe entered her room and placed the vase on her desk. “Read the card. Ooooo, I bet they are from Eddy!”
Maya, pulled the card out from among the flowers and slid it open to read it.
Maya let out a gasp. Ian? Did that mean that Ian had been at the modeling show? No, he couldn’t have been. It was by special invite only. How would he have gotten in?
“What does it say?”, Chloe said starting to reach for the card. Maya quickly snatched the card back and stuck it in her pocket.
“Oh you know, just some sappy stuff. They are beautiful aren’t they!” Maya replied turning towards the flowers in an effort to distract Chloe.
“He is just so sweet. Just like him to make sure they sent over your favourite shade of purple! Oh look at the time, we got to go!”
Maya and Chloe raced off to their first class of the day, but Maya’s head was not in school. She stared out the window contemplating the situation. The sound of the students pushing back chairs and gathering their things brought Maya out of deep thought, and it was then she realized that she hadn’t heard a word the teacher said. All she could think about was those flowers and Ian. She knew she should probably speak to Ian and thank him for the gift. But she wasn’t sure just how she wanted to go about it. She had been terrified of this moment since the day she left, for she knew it was foolish to think she would never hear from or speak to Ian again. There was Jin to think about after all. But to be honest, she did think it would be years later. Should she text? That seemed the cowardly way out. Write a note and drop it in the mail? A little more personal. Or should she swallow her pride and her fear and pick up the phone to call? But it wasn’t just fear, she didn’t want to get into a big long discussion or fight over her leaving. Not when emotions were still too fresh. So she decided to write him a note.
Thank you for the beautiful flowers, I just love them. You remembered my favourite colour!
I think of you often
No Scratch that. Try again.
Thank you for the beautiful flowers. They are sitting on my desk in my dorm room and give the room such a lovely scent.
Hmmmm, how should she sign it? Your wife? Sincerely Maya? Love Maya? She mulled that over for a few minutes and decided on just Maya. She walked down to the mailbox and dropped it in. By now it was about five in the evening and she still hadn’t heard from Eddy. She hoped that nothing was wrong.
When Maya stepped back into the Sorority House she was stopped by Chloe.
“Do you have a minute to talk?” she asked Maya
“Sure. What’s up?”
“Well, its just,” she glanced around the room and lowered her voice. “I’m worried about something. I think I might be pregnant.”
“Umm, Okay. Why do you think you might be pregnant?” Maya whispered back to her.
“I’ve been sick in the morning for the past three days. I had this funny strange feeling come over me the other day and then everything started happening.”
Maya’s heart started to race. That strange funny feeling had happened to her too. With Jin.
“You’re sure you aren’t just coming down with something right?”
“I don’t think so. What am I going to do? I can’t be pregnant. Not now! I have a boyfriend back home. He will never forgive me and I love him so very much.”
“The important thing is that we don’t put the cart before the horse, kind of thing. Let’s go to the hospital and take the test. Worry later.”
“Okay, but you will come with me won’t you?”
“Of course. It’s going to be fine. You’ll see”
Maya and Chloe spent three hours in the hospital waiting for her test results to come back. Chloe didn’t want to leave, so Maya wandered the hospital. She came upon the maternity ward and spent some time staring at the babies in their incubators through the glass partition wall. They were so tiny and beautiful, each and everyone of them. ‘I wish I had a picture of Jin’ she thought. Thoughts of Jin brought tears to her eyes and that part of her that she had locked away to protect itself opened up.
“My precious little boy,” Maya whispered to the glass. “I love you so very much.”
“Maya? Maya guess what?” Then Chloe saw Maya’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh,” Maya giggled slightly to cover her foolishness. “Nothing is wrong. Babies just make me weepy” she lied. “Did you get your results?”
“Yes! Not pregnant! Thank goodness! We should go out and celebrate!” Chloe said
“If you don’t mind. I think I would just like to go back to the Sorority House and get an early night. I’m suddenly just beat. Maybe we could hang out tomorrow though.”
“WELL, you know….I could just come back and cuddle in bed with you, uh huh!” Chloe said wiggling her eyebrows at Maya.
Then they both burst into laughter remembering that awkward conversation they had, the morning after their drunken bed play.
“Come on,” she said to Chloe grabbing her hand. “Before you get yourself into even more trouble!”
Maya had a fitful restless night. She had trouble falling asleep and when she did, she had dreams of Jin crying and calling out for mama. She kept running and running but could never quite reach him. I’m coming she would yell to him and his screams would just get louder. Then his screams started to fade away and the room got darker and darker till she was standing in a pitch black room. She called for Jin several times but all she heard was silence.
When Maya woke, her face was wet with tears and she rolled over and quietly cried into her pillow. When she was feeling a little better, she grabbed her phone to check for any calls. Nothing. She was really starting to get worried about Eddy and vowed that if she hadn’t heard from him by the end of the day, she was going to call him. She was sure that talking to Eddy would help calm her nerves and make her feel better.
As it was Saturday, Maya didn’t have anywhere to be so she spent some time just lying in bed thinking about the week ahead. Just as she was getting up, someone shoved a piece of mail under her door. She grabbed it and hopped back up on the bed. Maybe it was a letter from Sun! But she opened the envelope and pulled out a picture that had been ripped out of the TIE THE KNOT wedding magazine. Attached to it was a note, that read:
This is my favourite one! You look positively glowing in it. But you look beautiful in anything you wear!
I’m glad you loved the flowers!
Maya was so shocked by the note that she couldn’t move. She had no idea what was going through Ian’s mind or what he was possibly thinking. Confusion turned to worry and worry turned to a pounding headache. So Maya crawled back into bed and fell back to sleep. Sleep now she thought. Worry later.
Two months had passed since Ian woke that morning to find the note on the bar and Maya gone.
When you read this, I will be gone. Please believe me that I never meant to hurt you but staying would only hurt us both and I felt like I had no choice. You are a kind, loving, wonderful man and I count myself blessed that I met you that day in China. But this isn’t the life that I pictured for myself when you asked me to marry you. I have always had dreams of living in the Western world in a busy town full of modern advances and all the world had to offer. No matter how much I care for you, if I were to stay, I would be miserable and that would not be good for either of us. I only ask one thing from you; when you speak of me to Jin, I hope you will tell him kind things about me. Tell him that I love him and always will.
Please forgive me,
He was absolutely stunned to say the least. He knew that she was struggling a bit with the whole isolation and becoming a new mom. But he never thought it was so bad that she would consider leaving. Since she had left, he must have read that note a hundred times trying to make sense of it all. But in the end he focused on two things. She loved Jin and she loved him. He knew deep down that she did. He couldn’t just have been a matter of convenience for her. An easy way to get out of China. It had to be something more.
Over the past two months he had seen every article in the newspapers and magazines she was in. She wasn’t hard to find. Since she and Eddy had been dubbed Celebrity Favourite Couple, all he had to do was type her name into Simgle, and there she was. At first he was furious, and then he was just plain hurt. If she loved him, how could she cheat on him like that? But it also occurred to him that not once in any interview or article was there any mention of him. No mention of anyone knowing she was married. She was keeping him a secret, even going so far as to use her previous married name. He thought that was her way of being kind-trying to keep him out of the spotlight and those blasted paparazzi off their island. His friends would say he was just deluding himself. Maya was looking out for Maya. But knowing her as he did, he didn’t think that was true. There was real regret in that note she left for him. Like she really didn’t want to leave but felt she had no choice.
When he studied the photos of her and Eddy, they just looked off to him. In every picture, it just looked posed. He had yet to see any evidence of anything that looked like real love. To him it all looked like a show for the cameras. He was really concerned that this relationship might be a publicity play on Eddy’s part. He knew that Eddy was already benefiting from it because there was such a big deal about all these new shows that had been added to his schedule. There also was speculation reported that he had been offered a major part in a movie. Ian wondered if Maya had also been offered any parts.
He understood now too why she avoided Jin as much as she had before she left. She knew it would be hard and she was trying to protect them both. Good intentions aside, it didn’t work. Jin was inconsolable after she left. He cried for long periods of time for absolutely no reason other than he missed his mother. He had to put his work aside and just spend all his time with him.
He taught him how to walk and talk. Read him books and played toys with him. Jin had mastered the xylophone quite quickly and it was obvious that his talent was going to be musical. But Ian couldn’t wait to put a paintbrush in his hand, as soon as Jin was old enough to stand at an art easel. If he was anything like his mother, he would paint beautiful paintings.
A month into Maya’s leaving, Ian was commissioned to sculpt a statue out of stone for a wealthy client. The client was so impressed that she introduced him to another wealthy client which eventually led to Ian being asked to sculpt a statue for Olivier Harbucks in Roaring Heights, of his newly adopted daughter Shirley Templeton. The sculpture turned out truly beautiful and Olivier was so grateful that he previewed it in his annual town gala that he hosts in his home. It made a few of the papers and garnered him quite the attention from the art world. Ian was paid handsomely for that statue. Enough to set him up for quite a few years. He started receiving invitations from the art world and became known to many wealthy people. Which led him to wiggling his way into an invitation to Collette Cohen’s fashion show, just so he could be near Maya.
Sculpting gave one a lot of time to bounce ideas and issues around in one’s head. He had spent quite a bit of time mulling around all these thoughts about Maya and Eddy, Maya and himself until he finally made a decision. He was going to fight for his wife and he was going to win. So he made a plan to woo his wife back into his arms.
He would be subtle, yet persistent. He had to make her believe that it was all her idea and definitely not that she was forced. Eventually he knew that the world she had thrown herself into would lose its shine and he would be there. It started with attending that fashion show and never letting her see him, yet letting her know he was there. Flowers ought to do it he thought. This would be fun and ultimately it would be the ways it should have been when they first met. He was going to make her fall deeply in love with him until she never wanted to leave him again.
And he didn’t care how long it took.