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Week #17
Prophecy - Part 2

Looking for Part 1 of Prophecy? Click Here

Can I tell you a story of a girl trying to fight destiny?

No, this one isn’t all that dramatic either. But perhaps a little less boring. Not so much nose to the grindstone story at least.

Yes, there is silliness, a little too many smiles and a whole lot of ‘head in the clouds’ moments.

Are you interested in hearing this one? I have to warn you though, I don’t know how it will end.

“Looks like you are writing again.” I wasn’t really surprised when he sat next to me at the breakfast table. Last night we parted at the resort’s open-air restaurant. He went to join his friends and I walked over to find a table on my own. I’ve eaten alone at restaurants so often in the last year, it no longer felt odd. All I needed was a book and a pen and I could get lost in my world and leave all the judging eyes behind. Dinner yesterday had been no different. Except, I may have stolen a few extra peeks at the far table that he sat and laughed with his friends.

“Good morning. Where’s your pack today?” I smiled.

 

“They are not early morning people. They’ll get here just before the tour time and eat in a hurry and then complain how full they are the whole tour.”

 

“Ok then… what are you all visiting today?”

 

“Dambulla Cave Temple”

 

“Are you really?” It was hard to contain my enthusiasm. “That one is older than Sigiriya. I think it’s from 1st century, right? Can you imagine what it would’ve taken to carve a temple into the side of a mountain at that time? But because it’s rock and because it’s covered from the elements the statues and paintings survived two thousand years…. Oh… I wanted to see it but I couldn’t find a tour group.”

 

“Why don’t you come with us?”

 

“You don’t have to do that. I already crashed one of your tours. I can’t do it again, especially now that I know how you all do private tours only.” Much as I wanted to join the tour, it felt like I was intruding. I still really wanted to go.

 

“Don’t be silly. Since you crashed the party yesterday no one will really be surprised if you show up again. You can blame the front desk one more time.” He winked at me and waved the waiter over. “We leave at 10:30. So you still have a couple of hours to finish writing your story.”

 

The waiter took his coffee order while I tried my best to scowl at him. How dare he make fun of my mistake. But I still wanted to join.

 

“So, how’s the assignment coming? Did she decide to rewrite her story?” He turned back after placing the order.

 

“I only started a few minutes ago. So, haven’t written much yet. But yes, I think she’s at least going to try to change it. Much as she can at this late hour.”

 

“Hmm… you don’t sound very optimistic. You know you are going to have to write me into the story now so I can help her.” His wide-eyed smile seems to mask the tiniest uncertainty. “But in the meantime, what do you say we go serve us some breakfast?”

 

The hotel served a buffet-style breakfast. Two thirds of the food was Sri Lankan and the other third was western. He stuck mostly to the Sri Lankan food section, trying out a little of the milk rice, string hoppers and honey hoppers.

 

“You know you just got 3 different things made with rice, right?” I had to point out.

 

“Really? It makes sense given rice is the base for almost every meal in the eastern world”  


“Yes, see the milk rice is literally rice cooked in coconut milk, the string hoppers is angel hair noodles made from rice flour and the honey hoppers are made from a batter with rice flour, coconut milk and palm sugar.”

 

“Can you make these or did you research the food here before coming too?” I loved the way his eyes smiled when he was entertained.

 

“Of course, I researched. But I can cook the milk rice too. The other two are hit and miss. They just take a long time to make and need a lot more practice than I’ve had time.” The desire to stick my tongue out took some effort to tamp down.

 

When we got back to our table the waiter had left a coffee pot, cream and sugar. On a sudden impulse I lifted the pot to serve. “How’d you like your coffee?”

 

“Hmmm… not too sweet please. But otherwise, I’ll let you decide”

 

“Ok… let’s see. Since you are obviously already awake and chipper than the average human in the morning, I’m going to go with mostly milk with just a tiny bit of coffee and maybe one cube of sugar. You really don’t need any more caffeine!” I stirred the coffee and handed him the cup. A distant wayward thought wondered, wouldn’t it be nice to make his coffee every morning…

 

“Hmmm… best cup I’ve had today!” His eye lit up as he continued to sip.

 

“Very funny… So, did you do anything after dinner yesterday?”

 

“Not really… how about you?”

 

“I went stargazing. Alpha Centaurid meteor shower happens in February every year but you can’t see it in the northern hemisphere very well. Since we are so close to the equator I thought this would be my chance to catch it.”

 

“Huh… so did you see many shooting stars?”

 

“Nah… I fell asleep too early. You see, they are visible mostly after like 4 am to sunrise. I couldn’t stay up that late.”

 

“Hold on, did you sleep outside the whole night?”

 

“Yeah, next to the lake we met. The hotel has sleeping bags and they do a nice little camp out spot if you ask them. I’m planning to try it again tonight. The meteor shower is supposed to be active for another week or so, I think.”

 

“Nice… can I join then?”

 

I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. The nonchalance in his voice didn’t reach his eyes as he waited for my answer. But before I could muster up the courage to respond, one of his travel buddies called him from across the dining room. He waved the friend over. I excused myself and went to poke around the Sri Lankan sweetmeats table. I wasn’t quite sure how his friend would react to me and figured it was best to give them a little room to get settled.

 

These sweetmeats were novel and intriguing and I had decided to try one every day just to see if I might like any. Yesterday I had tried ‘Dodol’, which was too oily. Today, I picked ‘Kokis’ largely because the name sounded interesting. It was a butterfly shaped crispy shell, fried to a golden brown. The first bite reminded me of funnel cake, but crispy and light instead of doughy. The sweetness was in the batter instead of coating the outside. It was rather heavenly to eat. I was lost in the taste as I reached the table. Both men had their backs to me. His friend seemed a tad agitated and his voice rose as I neared.

 

“Hyung, you know you have to be cautious. What’s the point in having us come along to protect you if you run off without us every chance you get? And anyway, what do you know of this woman? She might be a crazy fan stalker or a gold-digger. You have to stop trying to make friends with everyone you see and let us do our job.”

 

“I don’t think she even knows who I am. She’s a nice person that seems to just be going through a rough patch in life. Give it a rest. I invited her to come on the tour with us today. You’d better tell the others and be nice to her. I don’t want to hear anything more on it.”

 

“Seriously? You invited her or she invited herself? At least, let me run a background check on her then?”

 

I froze not knowing how to react. But I came to my senses soon as I realized he had seen me standing there. I turned around and walked over to the host’s desk.

 

“Can I please leave my room number to charge my breakfast to?” I asked the host.

 

“If you can give me a moment I’ll have the waiter bring the check for you to sign.”

 

“I’m sorry but I’m not feeling well and need to get to the room quickly. My room number is 207. Please add a 20% gratuity to the check. Thanks.” I started walking without looking back.

 

“Wait, where are you going?” His voice was in my ear as I hurried forward.

 

“Oh, sorry I didn’t get to say good bye.” I stammered. “I’m not feeling well. I just need to get to the room.” It was easier to continue the lie than face him and talk.

 

“Will you still join us for the tour today?” If a voice could break a heart, his pleading tone did mine.

“I don’t think I’ll be better by then. But thanks for inviting me. You have fun.” I practically ran after that.

 

The tear that trickled down felt like a betrayal of the wall I had taken pains to build over the last year.

 

Rest of the day felt empty. The hotel staff brought my book and pen over to the room about an hour after breakfast. I had left it when I ran away. I was glad to have it back. If there was ever a day to write my heart out, today was it.

 

The girl, now a woman, mustered up her courage and walked away from the charmed life she had built brick by brick. Her husband didn’t understand how she could walk away, even if he wasn’t perfect. He in turn either blamed her for putting herself before him and the kids, criticizing her for chasing happiness, a fairytale in his opinion or begged her to stay promising to be a better, caring husband. But the impact on her kids’ lives was the hardest part of the decision for her. She had gone to great pains to give them a secure, stable life with all the luxuries she never had growing up. But at the end, she decided it was important her kids learned how to find their own happiness and not be stuck in a pre-destined box. She couldn’t be a role model for them if she went to sleep every night crying to the pillow wondering when the emptiness will fade. That is when she finally broke out of her gilded cage and moved into the tiny house with a garden.

Crying to the pillow didn’t end immediately. Emptiness didn’t fade immediately. But she became a better mother to her kids and a better friend to her ex-husband. She felt peace even if it was a lonely existence.

She made a bucket list and now travels the world hoping that elusive happiness might be waiting when she turns the next corner. Hoping someone might turn her head, that someone might listen to her disconnected words and care enough to make sense of her thoughts.

I must’ve read my own words twenty times. I wanted to continue to write that someone did turn her head and seem to have heard her voice, offering to be her new safety net. But how am I supposed to write after all the hoops she had jumped through to find that someone, the distance between them was too great to bridge?

I didn’t see him the rest of the day. I chose to skip lunch and ordered room service for dinner. It was all for the best. I decided to take a nap before going to the lake to camp out so I could stay up till the early morning hours this time. I was determined to see at least one shooting star. The 13-year-old self in me had grand plans to get at least one wish out of this meteor shower.

The alarm went off a little after midnight. I picked up my book and pen and made it slowly to the lake. The night sounds were calming and the moonlight filtering through the trees lit the meandering walking path. I couldn’t quite discipline the wandering thought about what tonight might have been like if I had asked him to come watch the stars with me.

 

We could’ve walked this path hand in hand and sat at the lakeshore watching the moon set. I could’ve asked him all my 300 questions and he would’ve answered good humoredly. We could’ve wished on the same shooting star… it would’ve been nice. I might’ve been able to write a hopeful ending to the story then.

 

I shook myself mentally and reminded myself the stars are still waiting and the world is still filled with wonder, whether he’s there or not.

 

The camp site looked much like yesterday night. Only difference was everything seemed a little larger. The tent a little bigger. The sleeping bags looked like 2 lumps in the shadow instead of 1. The cooler a size bigger with two small wine bottles in addition to the water.

 

“I’m going to have to leave an extra nice review for this place if they are going to give me free wine.” I said out loud.

 

“You should definitely leave a good review for them. Even though I’m the one who ordered the wine, they’ve done a good job getting everything set up.”

 

I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard his voice coming from the bench that was shrouded in darkness.

 

“Dear god… you scared the daylights out of me.” I muttered collecting the book and pen I had dropped. “What are you doing here?”

 

“Well, you ran away this morning and I couldn’t find you at dinner. This was the only place I knew you’d be for sure so I thought I’ll wait here.” He spoke softly as he walked over to the tent and took the sleeping bags out.

 

There were indeed two of them. He methodically opened each and laid them out next to each other, moved the cooler next to them and proceeded to get inside one of the bags and lie down. Once settled he looked up and tentatively patted the vacant sleeping bag, inviting me to join. Even in the black and white shadow world there was enough moonlight for me to see the uncertainty in his gaze. I doubt there’s anyone who wouldn’t jump through a fire hoop to wipe that uncertainty away and brighten his gaze. I put the book down next to the vacant sleeping bag, got inside and lay down without a word.

 

“Comfy?” He sounded pleased.

 

“Where’s your pack? Do they know you are here? They’ll worry when they can’t find you, you know.”

“They know exactly where I am” He kept his gaze forward as he spoke.

 

“Really? And they are ok with you being here with me?” I couldn’t imagine that after the conversation this morning.

 

“Well, they know Where, not so much with Whom.” He turned his head for a fraction and smiled.

 

“I see.” That made more sense. “How long have you been here anyway?”

 

“Since about 10:30. I thought you might come early and fall asleep again. I wanted to see you before you fell asleep so I came early.”

 

“Hmmm… Why?” I felt guilty that I had taken a nap instead of coming here early.

 

“I wanted to know how the story went.”

 

“The story is fine. She decided to break out of her gilded cage and build a new life from scratch. She’s trying to still learn what happiness really is and if there’s someone who might actually hear her voice so she can parse through the 300 questions she has about life.”

 

“It’s good she decided to break free. I’m sure there’s someone who can hear her voice.”

 

“I don’t know. The world is too large to really bridge that distance some times.”

 

“She can’t give up like that though. After all, isn’t that why she broke out of her cage?”

 

“I suppose… but what if the person who can hear her voice is in a cage of their own? And what if there’s not any space in that cage for her?”

 

He reached for my hand without turning. His fingers were warm and rough as they interlaced mine.

 

“Then she can help him to break free too.”

 

“What if he stops hearing her voice or finds a voice sweeter than hers? Especially if he has a lot of options…”

 

“You can’t predict the future. But what if he doesn’t? Is it not worth finding out?”

 

I held his hand a little tighter and we watched the sky silently for the next few minutes. Our heads almost touching.

“By the way, I looked you up today. Your friends are correct. You should be careful.” I softly offerred.  

 

“I am careful. But I have a right to have a life too. I have the right to find my own happiness.”

 

“Right, but you and I come from very different worlds. You can’t do the stuff I do and run away as easily. The responsibilities I have are to my children. I love them dearly and will do everything to give them all they need. Your responsibilities seem much bigger and different. And honestly, I don’t know how you tell truth from fiction in your world or how you learn to trust.”

“You make a lot of mistakes and you learn from them. I still don’t really know.”

 

“Ok… but you can tell your friend that I’m no gold-digger and that he can have my passport to run a background check.”

“That should make his day. Especially if I tell him you were here with me.” His laugh once again reminded me of soft raindrops hitting a tin roof. When he picked up our interlaced hands and kissed my knuckles I thought a part of me might have melted. “Thank you though. I know it’s an invasion of your privacy. I’m sorry this is my world.”

 

“They are just trying to keep you safe. How can I not support that?”

 

He turned his head and his eyes locked on mine. The desire to move closer was almost a physical pull. His petal shaped lips only a breath away.

 

The streak of light across the sky behind him distracted me right at that moment.

“Shooting star… look” I almost squealed. “Make a wish, make a wish.”

Without waiting to see whether he was following direction, I quickly closed my eyes and made a wish. I didn’t have to think hard. It was the first thing on my mind.

“What are you, like 13?” The soft laughter in his voice, this close to my ear, only quickened my pulse.

 

“Yes, I will forever be 13... If it means I can see the wonder in this world, then who wants to grow up?” I whispered back.

“So, what did you wish?”

 

“This” I closed the gap between our lips to softly brush against his.

 

“Good wish” He mumbled against my lips before deepening the kiss.

Go to Prophecy - Part 3

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