• Chapter 4: A new start…after the end

    Once upon a day, a young maiden with long raven locks and sparkling brown eyes was seen in a sky blue dress walking in the midst of the busy city of London. At her sides were her close friend, Alicia and Clarisse. They were laughing at a joke the black haired young girl had told them. Unaware by the three were the men walking past them and around them. Most of the young charming men who passed them turned around to look at them again. Some other men even craned their necks just to have a look at them. It was not true that they were unaware. They knew this would happen if they went strolling on the London streets. They had learned to expect that kind of attention every time they went into public.

    “Selvia, I believe that the young man at the lamp post up ahead had been following us. Have you noticed that?” Alicia asked her raven-haired friend as they walked. Selvia squinted at the place where Alicia had mentioned and saw a young man in black hair and shabby garment watching them. Selvia stared at the man for a second before Alicia pulled her back into their conversation.

    “I say, Selvia, he has been watching you ever since I realized his presence,” Alicia said. Clarisse watched the man intently and made a satisfied expression.

    “Alicia is right. He only seems to notice you, Selvia. He had not turn around even though that shopkeeper is arguing badly with his customer right behind him,” Clarisse commented. “And he is not bad looking either. No, I think he is quite handsome and charming. He would suite you perfectly. He is so darkly tanned and his self is so mysterious, though he is too shabby. He is exactly your opposite but at the same time you two are made for each other,” she teased and giggled. Alicia nodded, giggling herself.

    “Clarisse is right. The two of you would make a great couple,” Alicia agreed. Selvia smiled helplessly at her friends.

    “Nonsense, Alicia, Clarisse. He is…,” Selvia protested but stopped as her eyes nearly met his. There was something familiar in his eyes. “…charming,” she finished. As she said that, her eyes actually met his and they were trapped in each other’s gaze. Selvia forgot her friends.

    Selvia felt as if no one else existed in the world except him and her. She did not know who this man was but somehow she knew him. She sensed from his eyes that he knew her. She felt a warm compassion from his gaze. She felt as if that was how her life should be, always warmed by his gaze. But she saw something else too. She sensed loneliness, deep eternal loneliness, from his eyes. She wanted to run to him, to pull him out of his loneliness into happiness that they could share together. Under the loneliness, she saw sadness. A sadness that could kill her if it had been she who had it. She wanted to comfort him, to care for him and to love him. She was surprised to find herself thinking about love.

    If she had really dwelt upon his grief, nothing would stop her from approaching him but, however great her need was she could not go. His deep hate eluded any safe passage towards him. She knew the hate was not for her but she was frightened by the intensity of his hate. It was so deep and so big that it made him unlikable. No one dared approach him. But despite all those feelings, she felt that he was only human. Vulnerable and fragile.

    “Selvia, Selvia,” Clarisse called from Selvia’s side. She and Alicia exchanged worried expression. Selvia had not said anything after she said ‘charming’ and she had been staring at the stranger without a blink. They even observed the man and he was also in a trance as Selvia was. They were locked in each other’s gaze. They had waited long enough. They shook her hard enough to rouse her from her trance.

    Selvia suddenly realized that she had been staring at the strange man. She looked at her friends bemusedly as they called her name. For some reason, her memory was clouded. She felt as if something from her past had tried to infiltrate her current state. Selvia suddenly staggered forward, she was loosing consciousness.

    “Selvia!” her friends shouted when she suddenly staggered. They caught her before she could fall. “Selvia, are you alright? Selvia, please say something,” her friends pleaded when she did not utter a single word. Selvia pulled on her remaining will and stood up.

    “I, I’m fine. I think the sun is making me weak. Let us sit somewhere and rest our sore feet,” Selvia said to her friends. They gazed at her with worry. Selvia noticed their concern and quickly said, “I’m fine. Truly. I just need to sit down, that is all,” and added a smile. Her friends were clearly unsatisfied with her condition but complied with her wish. They went to Selvia’s side and helped her to the nearest bench overshadowed by a large tree. As they walked, Selvia squinted at the man she was gazing but was surprised to find that he was no longer there.

    “Selvia, please tell us what happened? You went quiet in a sudden and we could not get you to talk to us. When we realized that you were quiet, you were staring at the man I mentioned,” Alicia said after a while. Selvia did not answer her question. She let it hung in the air quietly before speaking.

    “I’m sorry. I do not even know how to explain it. I, I want to keep this to myself. Please, I really do not want to discuss this,” Selvia pleaded. Alicia and Clarisse gazed her with a sad expression but agreed to drop the subject. They retired for the day and went straight to each other’s home.

    Selvia quickly went to her room as she entered the house. She was undressed and laid on her bed. She tossed and turned but she was still restless. She felt guilty too for trying to avoid discussing her troubles with her friends. She had her reasons but she could not voice out any of it. She only felt that it was something private and something that she does not want to share with anyone.

    She had the feeling that she knew the man she saw. The memory was distant and clouded. She knew she had never met him there, in London, but she might have met him at her old neighborhood. However, she had left that place fifteen years ago and it was impossible for her to meet anyone she knew from there in London. She even scarcely remembered anyone she knows there, but she had the feeling that this person was someone very important. She felt as if she had done something wrong to this person. Suddenly an image of a black haired boy appeared in her head. She remembered the white over size clothe and brown trouser he wore. Then with a pang, she remembered how they met. She remembered everything that she and he did do and talked. Then she remembered how sad she was when he refused to follow her to her grandmother’s house. Then a sudden promise came to her. She had promised to take him to see her grandmother. She had not fulfilled her promise. She lamented over her fault.

    Even as she mourned for her failure, she knew that it was more than just a promise. A thought stroke her. But I was merely a child then, she thought. She knew that feeling. The warm compassion, and the care, she knew how she felt about this boy. She repeated her thought to herself again and shook her head but another voice kept nudging at the back of her head. She could not have possibly felt that way about a boy at that age. It was just impossible and ridiculous. She sent the thought far away to the back of her mind.

    “Miss Selvia, the Madam is waiting for you downstairs,” a maid said after she knocked the door. Without bothering to answer back, she dressed herself and went to her mother who she knows will be waiting her in waiting hall. Selvia found her mother at the door, fully dressed for traveling. It bothered her that her mother had not said anything about leaving the house that morning. With a puzzled expression she approached Mrs. Arendill.

    “Where are going to, mother? You’re dressed very nicely indeed” Selvia asked her mother who was within earshot. Mrs. Arendill smiled at her daughter as she came to her. Selvia stood beside her mother and waited for her to answer.

    “Your father called just now. He requested that I be by his side as soon as possible,” Mrs. Arendill answered. She smiled at Selvia and chuckled when her face changed expression. Her daughter really was difficult sometimes.

    “But, is he not away today? I overheard you this morning. Father is supposed to attend a conference in the neighboring country, is he not? He was supposed to leave this morning and dark is approaching us soon. Why is he not away yet?” Selvia asked. She must know why her father needed her mother now. She had just planned to have dinner with her and discuss her difficulty.

    “Yes, he was supposed to leave this morning but he had something important which he left. So he took all the trouble to take the first train heading towards London and he was nearly halfway there. Now he wants me there to send his document and…. to follow him there,” Mrs. Arendill explained. That explanation took Selvia completely by surprise. She had not expected her mother to follow her father to his meeting.

    “But, but why? Why are you to follow him there?” Selvia asked in surprise. She stared at the floor and made a sad face. Mrs. Arendill suddenly sensed something from her daughter and stared at her.

    “Is there something you wish to tell me, Selvia?” Mrs. Arendill asked, again surprising Selvia. She looked at her mother and nodded. Mrs. Arendill smiled again. She took her daughter’s hands and stared her right in the eyes.

    “Can this wait? Just a little longer? I know I’m not supposed to promise something that may not be true but I can promise that I will try to come home as soon as possible,” Mrs. Arendill said to Selvia. Selvia sighed and smiled. She knew nothing would stop her mother from leaving.

    “Alright mother. My difficulty can wait. Have a safe journey, mother. Send my love to father,” Selvia said to her mother. Mrs. Arendill smiled at her daughter and gave her a farewell kiss on the cheeks. With a brief good bye, Mrs. Arendill departed within the taxi she had called earlier.

    Selvia sighed audibly once again once her mother’s cab vanished from her view. She hung her head and entered the house. The housekeeper approached her with a sympathetic expression.

    “Is there anything I might help you with, young mistress?” asked the old housekeeper. For as far as Selvia could have remembered, this housekeeper had been with her family even before they moved here. After fifteen years, his hair was nearly white. Fifteen years ago, his hair was fully straw coloured and he looked younger. Now she knew better. People ages, gets old in the end, and die.

    Selvia shook her head with a smile.

    “I’m fine. I would like to have the evening to my own if you would be so kind,” Selvia said to him. He nodded his head and bowed before he left. Selvia glanced at every servant as they left her with a courtesy or a bow.
    Selvia sighed again but this time she felt better. She headed to the door, which lead her to the garden. She entered it and sat on the nearest chair there. The garden was wide and it was spacious. She had always loved the garden. All the flowers there were grown by her and no one had helped her for she requested to do the gardening alone. Now, she just sat on the chair by the metal coffee table watching her beautiful garden. She made sure that the middle was empty and clean in case her friends would like to have a picnic. Occasionally, she would lie on the grass under the protection of the trees and sleep there. Now, all she wanted was someone who she could talk to. She abandoned her chair and joined her flower bushes. She sniffed each blooming flower and stroked them gently. She felt her heart rising and her burden lessening. She started to laugh for no reason. The evening air was helping her. Then, she sang.

    All the maids and the servants inside the house, including the old housekeeper were overjoyed to hear their young mistress singing. It had been a while since they last heard her sing.