The necklace

Submitted into Contest #168 in response to: Make a train station an important part of your story.... view prompt


Romance Sad East Asian

The platform that afternoon was as busy as other afternoons. Everybody was in a bustle with luggage. Some people ascended the trains, some descended from them, nobody wanted to stay long at the platform except a young couple.

“Remember to send me your letters, my love!” said the girl.

“Uh-huh”, replied the young man.

“You have to write every week, to let me know if you still love me”.

“Okay, I have to go now”.

The young man did not want to see his girlfriend’s gloomy face and reply to her endless words. He was not in a mood for a farewell as he was busy thinking about adventures ahead. The South was waving him. The South where it’s warm the whole year was the ideal land for enthusiastic and ambitious men like him. He was bored with the old quiet city of Hanoi. The idea of going South to begin his career had taken root in his mind for so long that finally he determined to make it come true. His ambition was so big that nothing, even his girlfriend, could keep him stay. When he told her that he would gone South, she was so sad. Why did it have to be the South? Was the capital not enough for him? Numerous people wished they could stay on this land while he wanted to leave. But the most terrible thought obsessing her was that he did not love her. If he loved her, he might have never had that crazy idea. Whenever thought so, she sobbed. It usually happened in the night, when she thought so much, and except him, she could think of nothing else. Her choked cries which sank into silent nights could not find the way to his ears. And in front of him, she usually hid her feebleness. She just slightly blamed or sulked him sometimes. She did not want to prevent him from building his career, even if she did want, nothing could prevent him doing what he determined to do.

“I have to go now,” he repeated coldly.

“No,” she seemed to awake. “I want to look at you for a while. Just a while.”

He hesitated. His eagerness seemed to be softer. He looked at her face. Two rows of tears appeared on her pair of cheeks. She was choked and could not say a word. He wiped tears on his darling’s eyes, fondled her hair, and put a kiss on her lips. It was the longest and simultaneously the shortest kiss of her. Normally had she never let him kiss her in public, but that day was different. He was going far away and she did not know when he would come back…

She took off her silver necklace and put on his neck:

“I have nothing but this necklace. Please keep it to remember me.”

The young man was moved.

“I’ll keep it. I will surely come back to you,” he said.

She burst into tears. He hugged her, letting her cry on his shoulders.

“I will wait for you. Even if it’s five years, ten years, or twenty years, I’ll still wait for you,” she said in tears.

The time when the train moved was coming nearly. The train inspector asked him to go on board so that he said goodbye to her. How sad was the farewell moment! Her eyes were filled with sorrow, and so were his.

He arrived at his seat next to the window. The train’s whistle howled. He waved goodbye to her. She waved good bye, too, and smiled. She wanted the last image of her in his eyes were the most beautiful, were the smile he often praised that it fit her.

The train started to roll its wheels. The platform was moving backwards. So was the image of his girl. At that moment, he just started to have an equivocal feeling that he had lost something. He grasped the necklace on her neck, looking at the faraway piece of sky ahead. The feeling of the lost quickly fainted. Again, he was eager to think of the South…

Fifteen years later, he became a rich and successful businessman. He achieved what he wished fifteen years before. Still, there was a missing piece in his puzzle of success. Although he could easily had beautiful girls beside, he suddenly realized that none of them were equal to his normal girl long ago. He occupied her heart so easily that he did not cherish that love. He loved her but still dreamed of girls he was not yet able to reach. But when uptown girls falling in his arms, he could not find the love he used to give her. Other girls love his perfect cover he created, while she loves his real personality…

Once visiting his family on Tết holidays, he heard that she had been married. Some times he intended to visit her but he could not overcome his shame. But this time, finally, he mustered enough courage to visit her. Standing in front of her house, he waited after pushing the doorbell button. He suddenly felt nervous like in the first date. He wondered how different she was after fifteen years.

“Will she recognize me?” he asked himself.

He did not even know if he was so different from himself fifteen years ago.

The door was open. She startled and exclaimed:

“You… Oh my god…”

“Yes, it’s me. Long time no see.”

When he came in the house, a boy ran to her, hugging her and looked at him curiously.

“Mum, who is he?”, the boy said.

“My guest. Say hello to him.”

Two words “My guest” were like invisible knives stabbing his heart. Yes, he was no longer anything of her. He was just like a stranger.

“Hello!” the boy told the guest.

“Hello, young man!” he replied.

“Now go upstairs watching cartoon. Let mum talk with him,” the mother told the boy.

The boy ran upstairs. The guest looked at the boy and had a indescribable feeling.

“How old is he?” he asked his ex-girlfriend.

“He’s five years old.”

“He’s a good boy, isn’t he?”

“Yes, despite his naughtiness, he’s a well-behaved boy.”

She gave him a cup of tea.

“Here’s your tea.”

“Thank you.”

He received the cup from her hand. Then, familiar feelings suddenly woke up in his heart. In front of him was the woman he used to love. Time had not taken her beauty. Conversely, it even made her more beautiful and mature. He was staying in a normal house. It was not as large and convenient as his mansion in Saigon, but her appearance made it warm and peaceful. Meanwhile, his mansion was so cold as it lacked the hand of a woman. He got divorced two years before. His wife, who was two years older than him, was beautiful and rich. Thanks to her, he jumped quickly on the ladder of success. Nevertheless, his family had never been peaceful due to the haughtiness of the wife and the unfaithfulness of the husband. Finally, his marriage broke down. He longed for the warmth of a family. He wished the woman in front of him were his wife and the boy were his son…

“What do you do?” she asked.

“I’m the owner of an automobile import company and some properties.”

“You got what you want, didn’t you?”

“You could say that”, he smiled with bitterness. “What do you do?”

“I’m a teacher in a junior high school.”

“Oh yes… You did always want to be a teacher.”

They were quiet for a while. Discursive thoughts and old memories occupied their minds. Suddenly he said:

“Are you free tonight? I know a good café.”

“Okay!” She accepted his invitation.

He told her the address and the appointment’s time. Then, he left. He had a lot of things to tell her but sitting in her house, he found it hard to say anything but hollow words.

That evening, they met in a luxurious café. Graceful melodies recall their old feelings when they loved each other passionately.

“You are even more beautiful than before,” the man said.

“Thank you! And you are still elegant,” the woman replied.

“How long since the last time we met? Oh, fifteen years! Fifteen years ago, we were too young. I was twenty and you were sixteen. And in a wink, fifteen years had passed…”

“How is your family?”

“Oh, I got divorced two years ago and don’t have any child. Now I’m single.”

“Why don’t you marry someone else?”

“I haven’t found anyone yet. In my position, it’s hard to find a good woman. Most women came to me because of my money. Wish I could marry a woman like you…”

Her shade of face suddenly changed.

“How can you say that?” she said in anger. “Don’t you know I waited desperately to be your wife? Yes, I wait for you five years in hope and five years in desperation, when I heard you got married. During ten years, there were no second I didn’t think of you. If there were moments I forgot you, then it was like people forget they are breathing.”

She stopped for a second, then turned to be indignant:

“I can’t remember how many nights I cried missing you, how many times I wanted to be dead to get out of pain. I loved you more than my life. When you got married, when you betrayed my trust, my heart was torn to pieces. Since that day, I have been dead. The woman talking to you is only the reborn from the ashes of your girlfriend fifteen years ago. Now, when my pain had subsided, you reappeared to make it swell. After that number of years you had not come to me, not written for me a word, after so much pain you’d given me, is that all what you say?”

He sat silently, listening to her words. Each word was like a knife stabbing his heart. Finally, he said:

“I can’t figure I hurt you that much.”

“Of course. You assumed that everybody forgets quickly like you.”

“I’m sorry. I made a terrible sin. Please continue scolding me.”

“No, I can’t scold you more. My madness disappeared. I have never been angry at you for more than a minute. Moreover, it was the past. I don’t care anymore.”

They were quiet again. Sad melodies seemed to regret their beautiful love. All of a sudden, he drew a handkerchief from his jacket. He opened the handkerchief. There was a necklace.

“Today I come to give it back to you. Perhaps it has brought luck to me during all those years.” he said.

She looked at the necklace with indifferent eyes.

“No, I won’t take it back. Please keep it. I gave it to you. It belongs to you forever, like my youth”, she said.

“So… As you said that, I’ll keep it.”

After that, they said goodbye. He held her hand and said:

“Wish you all the best.”

She gave him a tender look.

“The same to you”, she said.

Getting out of the café, he called a cab for her. Watching her shape fainted, he understood that he had lost the most valuable thing in his life. When holding her hand, he intended to beg her to come back to him. If he did, perhaps she would have agreed as he saw in her eyes the thing called love. However, he did not. He made a lot of guilts and did not want to make one more. It would be the guilt of breaking down a family. Moreover, their love could never be like before. “Let the past sleep in beautiful memories”, he whispered.

He drew the necklace from the jacket again and looked at it with full attention. He held it tight. He asked himself to keep the necklace forever by his side, because it was a sin, a debt he had to carry for his whole life…

October 22, 2022 01:20

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