Chapter  9

Here I Am

Chin Chin came home from the dance studio and found Fei browsing the Internet in his room.  Over the last few days, she had noticed Fei’s moodiness and she knew for certain his grumpiness was not due to the fact that she was out getting therapy from Nathaniel or the fact that she was helping Nathaniel out at the dance studio.  In fact, she found it quite annoying when he seemed rather happy to see her leaving the apartment.  To her, it made her feel as if her presence was keeping him from being left alone to his own sorrowful demeanor.   
However, she knew Fei was trying hard to make life easy and comfortable for her, and for that she was grateful and could not stay irritated at him for long.  She would not argue with him when it came to heavy lifting house chores, but it frustrated her when he would not let her do even the light lifting chores like washing dishes or cooking.  Every morning, he would make sure there was breakfast for her when she got up.  He took care of as many household chores as he possibly could before heading out to work so there was literally nothing whatsoever for her to do. 
Tonight was no exception; the few dirty dishes she left in the sink from this afternoon were all cleaned and put away, even her drinking mug was cleaned and placed on the dining table next to her dinner that was waiting to be warmed up in the microwave upon she returned. 
Most girls would envy her for having a man who was professional, domesticated, and let’s not forget, heroic.  However, she would have been content if Fei’s heart was not torn because of another woman, the woman whom she also felt indebted to.  She would never be able to forget the fact that she was alive today because of Fei and this woman.  And because of that, Chin Chin knew deep down that Fei was not her trophy to keep. 

Though it was nice to be pampered by Fei, it was another mattered to be served out of indebtedness and guilt.  There was no doubt in her mind that Fei loved and cared for her, but she also knew it was not the kind of love that could build a lasting relationship that would lead to marriage. 
It wasn’t difficult for Chin Chin to accept that things between her and Fei had changed over the last three years while she was in captivity.  She was tired of trying to revive the same feelings they had for each other, because she knew they simply weren’t as close to each other as before.  She also knew he hadn’t let go of his feelings for Kwan and she couldn’t blame him nor wanted him to.  But what frustrated her most was getting him to admit that to himself.  She just wanted Fei to admit that things between them have changed and that it was okay to let go of their past promises to each other. 
Chin Chin often found Fei playing the game ‘Solitaire’ on his computer and feared he would turn into that man in the song with the same title by The Carpenters.  She had tried her old tactics by intentionally playing the song in his car and casually mentioning her thoughts to him.  But it didn’t seem to have any impact on him, or that he simply chose to ignore her messages deliberately. 
However, Chin Chin believed there was one person whose words and presence could rescue him from his downward spiral into depression and that was Kwan.  But with Kwan leaving Hong Kong, Chin Chin feared Fei would take his true feelings to his grave. 
Tonight, when Fei had only acknowledged her return without making a fuss about the time of night; when he did not nag her for not calling to tell him of her whereabouts; she was certain her status had become more of a sister than a girlfriend.  The man she almost married three years ago until fate intervened would have wanted to know of her whereabouts to the second of the day. So when Fei entered the kitchen while Chin Chin was warming her food in the microwave, she decided it was time to confront him.
(A few days later…)

Kwan was once again surprised by the number of people who came to see her off at the airport.  Although she cherished her family and friends who were present, she couldn’t help but feel disappointed when Fei was not among them.  He had not even contacted her since the night at the Farewell Party three weeks ago. 
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in jeans and carrying a backpack,” Gigi commented. 
“Got to get comfortable for a 20-hour flight,” Kwan responded. “I am also looking forward to not having to get all dressed up for work.  I can do research in my pajamas!”
Korean gave his senior boss a pat on the back.  “Yau Sir!  How about putting that recommendation in for us?”
“You would be charged for indecent exposure!” Gigi blurted at Korean.
“Eh?  How would you know what kind of pajamas he wears?”  Pong Sir teased Gigi.  “Or not?”
The rest of the crowd joined in and created a loud roar of laughter.  Gigi quickly covered her mouth in embarrassment.
Korean gave her a snare and gave her a pretend knock on her head.  “Told you not to speak without thinking!”
While all the attention was focused on the couple, Chin Chin noticed a touch of sadness on Kwan’s face and decided to pull her away from the crowd.  “Don’t be mad at Fei for not coming.  He is still unable to accept you are leaving Hong Kong.”
Kwan felt her heart sink a bit.  She didn’t want to be so transparent.  She forced a smile on her face.  “I am not.”
“I will scold him for you,” said Chin Chin.  “I just can’t believe he is so stubborn.  I told him to come see you off.”

Kwan touched Chin Chin’s shoulder and put on a sincere smile this time.  “Don’t worry about me.  When I’m gone, you two can start to mend your relationship.  Just give him time, he’ll come around.”
“Kwan,” Chin Chin shook her head.  “Fei and I are over.  Our feelings for each other are not the same anymore.  I don’t want to be treated like an ancient treasure from the past.  And I don’t want our relationship to be like an artifact.  To him I am like a piece of fragile glass that needs to be handled with care.
Kwan understood what Chin Chin was saying but she didn’t want to add anymore comments to this delicate subject.  She looked at her watch and then led Chin Chin back to join the rest of the group.  “It’s time for me to clear immigration.  I have to learn my way through this new airport!”
“Already?”  Bui Yee commented.  Kwan nodded and started putting on her jacket followed by her scarf. 
“But Fei is not here yet!”  Ah Kit looked around the airport as if he was expecting to see Fei appearing among the crowd. 
Kwan took her passport and boarding pass out from her backpack.  “He didn’t say he was coming.  And I don’t think he will!”  There!  I said it!  He’s not coming!  Kwan convinced herself and secured her backpack.  She placed a brave smile on her face and blurted.  “Time for hugs!” 

There was another 10 minutes to spare, but Kwan didn’t want to stay till the last second in case Fei never showed up.  She knew she was playing the ‘If’ game again, but she could not help it.  If he was late, she would feel better he cared enough to see her off.  But if he never showed, she didn’t think she could stomach the reality that it was over with Fei.  And because her heart was telling her mind of the latter, she wanted to be left alone to bring her emotions to a final closure. 
“Tsui Sir is here!” Gigi cheered.  Everyone else shared the same excitement in seeing Fei.
So just when her mind was preparing her heart to leave it all behind, the mention of Fei’s name once again triggered the faintest hope in her.         
After releasing from Chi Shan’s hug, Kwan saw Fei trying to get through the crowd like he was in a hurry to catch a flight himself .
“Does this mean you are staying?” Chi Shan whispered for only Kwan to hear.  She gave him a glary look for being ridiculous.
Fei managed to stop just a few inches from crashing into her.  He was huffing and puffing but managed to voice out between catching his breath.  “Sorry … I’m ... late!” 
Kwan tried her hardest not to smile, for it would show how affected she was by his presence.  But the corner of her mouth lifted enough to reveal her unraveling emotions. “You’ve always had a way of making a grand entrance!”
Somehow Kwan noticed everyone had stepped aside to give Fei some space.  She found the strength inside her to look him in the eyes and thanked him with sincerity.  “Thanks for coming but I really have to go through immigration now.”  Fei handed her the tiny bag he was holding.  “What’s this?”
He gave her his irresistible smile with a dimple.  “Something I made just for you!”  He noticed her eyebrows lifted.  “Honestly, not lying this time!  I compiled all your favorite songs myself!”
Kwan took the bag and looked inside.  It was a gift wrapped the size of a CD.  Touched and surprised, she lifted her eyes to look at him.  “My favorite songs?”
Fei smiled impishly and cleared his throat.  “And I chose a song for us!”
“We have a song?” Kwan wondered which song he had chosen to be their song.
“You’ll find out when you open the gift on the plane!” Fei said nervously, fearing she would refuse to take the gift.  Kwan closed the bag and folded it with care.  Then she called to Bui Yee to put the gift bag into the front pouch of her backpack.
As Bui Yee obliged and unzipped the front pouch, she did a double take before placing the gift bag inside.  After Bui Yee told her the pouch was zipped up again, Kwan turned around to face Fei.  She decided to give him her last words of wisdom.  “Take good care of yourself.  Cherish your time with Chin Chin and don’t waste any more time on me!”
Kwan knew there was no way she could allow their physical distance to be closer or she would have a complete melt down immediately.  So she offered her hand to shake his.   But the touch of his hand stirred up all her feelings for him again, forcing her to smile and whispered a soft goodbye as she tried to retrieve her hand.
However, Fei wouldn’t let go of her hand before he gave his last words of truth. “I never wasted any time on you.  It was time well invested!”
Kwan had to insert force in order to pull her hand away from Fei.   After that, she gave a quick wave to her family and friends and quickly turned around to walk to the gate that leads to the Immigration.  She couldn’t look back because her vision was blurred from her teary eyes already.
Fei stood motionless watching as Kwan disappeared into the crowd of passengers.  Bui Yee nudged him with her elbow.  When he turned to look at her, she told him.  “A week ago, she wanted to donate the diary you gave her to charity!”
Fei felt his heart dropping as an image of that special diary appeared in his memory.  Just when his heart reached to the bottom of his feet, Bui Yee’s words was like a spring that shot it back up to the chambers behind his chest.    
“I saw it in her front pouch!” Bui Yee gave him a pat in the back.  “She’s not over you yet!”
Here I Am
by Air Supply
Here I am, playing with those mem'ries again,
And just when I thought time had set me free,
Those thoughts of you keep taunting me.

Holding you, a feeling I never outgrew,
Though each and ev'ry part of me has tried,
Only you can fill that space inside.
So there's no sense pretending, my heart is not mending.

Just when I thought I was over you,
And just when I thought I could stand on my own,
Oh, baby those mem'ries come crashing through,
And I just can't go on without you.

On my own, I've tried to make the best of it alone.
I've done ev'rything I can to ease the pain.
But only you can stop the rain.
I just can't live without you, I miss ev'rything about you.

Just when I thought I was over you.
And just when I thought I could stand on my own.
Oh, baby those mem'ries come crashing through.
And I just can't go on without, go on without,
It's just no good without you …..

Without you.
Without you.
Without you.
Without you.