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Memoir of a Lovelorn We live in a crazy, cynical world where hungry hearts are everywhere. There are just too many hungers in this world, yet I have always believed that the one thing that most people throughout the world crave the most is the gift of love itself. I may sound just like another hopeless romantic with her renowned rose-tinted view of the world, yet, even the most sceptical cynics long for love secretly somewhere deep within their seemingly thick-skinned exterior. Even the most heartless criminal craves for love but it is because of the wild world we are living in, which seems to taint the pure soul we derive from. Concisely, love is vital for all human kinds for everyone needs it to maintain their sanity and act of benevolence out in this crazy world. And I think the one who despise love is in truth, desperately in need of love. No matter what you say, I will always embrace my faith that love really is human’s main hunger in this world of apathy. At least, I have faith and I will stand up for what I believe in like a rock in the midst of the fierce ocean waves splashing mercilessly. If love is not a necessity, then why are there countless love songs being written and eventually being sung by countless musicians? If love is not essential, then why does love become the most important theme and element in various films, plays, novels, even poetry? If love is unnecessary, then why does my heartbeat go faster at the rising sweet yearning buried in me at every dear sight of him? I look forward to seeing him everyday in school like so many lovesick seventeen-year-old girls like me. He was my secret inspiration in all the poems and stories I had ever written. He was the only visible being to my eyes when he blended into the swarming crowd. And when he smiled, I felt like the world just simply melted away, and what lingered on was the beauty of the smile engraved eternally in my memory. I endeavoured to spend as much time as possible with him and always—I found the moments with him always passed so swiftly but the expression on his face, his smile, his laughter, his careless touch would stay forever on my mind. I knew him far better than anyone ever knew him including his own father who never really cared about him. He came from a broken home. He might come from a wealthy background, as his father was a successful businessman who owned a prestigious engineering company, while his mother was a doctor who had just recently opened a clinic of her own, he had never been happy in all his childhood years. His parents fought constantly and being the only child who had no one to turn to, other than his grandmother who lived at the other side of the neighbourhood, he would always run to her house when he felt that there was too much going on in his stormy life. Yet, the dark chapter of his life really began when his mother died of a tragic car accident one rainy Thursday night. The dark shadow continuously loomed about his life when his father came to the decision to marry another just a few weeks thereafter. He, who never had a good relationship with his father, argued with him everyday over his uncaring stepmother, almost like an inevitable habit for both father and son. One emotional outburst leading to another, exasperated conflict arising until he came to the extent that he could take it no more, he finally ran away to his grandmother’s and this time, he never came back, and lived there under the care of his aging yet understanding grandmother ever since. “My grandma is the best thing that has ever happened to me—other than you, Amy. You were always there for me, too.” He would often say to me with that tender smile of his I so adored. It was true. I was always there for him during those gloomy days of his. Even if I had other matters occupying my time, I always tried to be there for him whenever possible. I just could not bear at the thought of him being alone in the dark corners of his life, wallowing in self-pity and pessimism. I never wanted him to feel lonely. He had no reason to feel lonely, because no matter what he would always have me to be with him even in the most raging blizzard of his life. I wanted so much for him to know that, just as much as I wanted him to know how much I cared… and loved…. “So, Amy, what do you think of this Valentine card?” He showed me a red heart-shaped card which had a line of pink-hued words ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ written over a violet ribbon, that laced two hearts together under a dove, that must have been cut out into the shape of a dove from a white paper and the hearts from a crimson-coloured paper. The decoration on the front cover of the romantic card was undoubtedly splendidly done. “It’s lovely….” I breathed smilingly at him. “You think so?” He smiled proudly. “I spent the whole night making this card last night for Ivy. Gosh, I hope she likes it as much you do.” I tried to look away at the slow, loving tone his voice always got whenever he mentioned another girl’s name, ‘Ivy’. Clearly, she was not just another girl. As I stared into his sparkling eyes, I realised sadly that those loving glitters were not for me—they were for the luckiest girl in the world named ‘Ivy’. He was in love with another. He was always in love with her, for she was his first love like he was to me. Just then, I could see him like an outsider would. He was Shaun Madrid, a mixed-blood guy who had Spanish and Portuguese blood ran in his veins from his previous ancestors, which made his wavy hair the colour of dark chocolate, his soft-brown eyes of Spanish, his fair complexion and well-built figure of a European gentleman. I could now see why Ivy was so attracted to him back then. Yet, at the same time, I could not see why she decided to dump him for another after only two weeks of dating. As much as the separation between those seemingly happy lovers shocked everyone including even me, who had known only too well how much Ivy meant to him even when they were still friends, I knew that Ivy’s decision shocked him even more, and pained him so deep beyond remedy. I knew it because I was there for him during that miserable stormy Thursday night. Seeing his puffy Spanish eyes I so cherished reddened at that fateful night, it occurred to me how much he was in love with her. And just seeing the tender smile blossoming upon his dreamy face now as he held a diamond ring from a red jewellery box, “This is my late mother’s ring. I remember promising to my mom before she died, that I’m going to give this ring to that special girl in my life. I just hope Ivy will like it….” And I instantly knew that he was still in love with her. Shaun looked up smilingly at me at the twinkle of the silvery jewel of the ring. “You know what, Amy? ‘Ivy’ is such a beautiful name for a beautiful girl like her, don’t you think? Ivy… sometimes I think that my love for her is like her name itself. It will forever cling onto me and never let go… like ivy….” I just nodded slowly with a smile. At the back of my eyes, I could feel tears straining. And somewhere deep inside unseen to any naked eye, my heart was breaking…. I dipped my feet slowly into the crystalline water that hot Saturday afternoon. I trembled at the touch of the refreshingly cold water enveloping my body, as I swam slowly into the river. I saw the calm surface of the water rippled into gentle wavelets, twinkling at the bright sunray like sparkling crystals. It was such a fine day for swimming as I gazed at the blue afternoon sky, while wading my way through the lonely stream. It had been so long since I last had a swim. It had been so long since I savoured the clean, pure water of the nature here in this forlorn brook. It had always been a habit for me to have a swim for at least once a week to release the tension of everyday life by delving into the mysterious depth of this beautiful river. It was one of the joyous moments in my life to spend the day here swimming alone by myself, thinking and reflecting on the days that passed by. It filled my lovesick heart great pleasure just listening to the soft lapping of the river upon the rocks, to the birds chirping merrily up in the trees along the river bank in the quietude, while swimming calmly to the slow rush of the river. Just then, I let my whole body dove into the depth of the crystal-clear water. I had always loved diving and exploring the underwater, where there kept a thousand mysteries waiting to be discovered, I always thought admirably. I could feel the sweetness of freedom like never before just paddling my legs and moving my hands about gracefully in the underwater. I felt myself gliding freely in the deepness of the calm river and the freedom was as sweet as soaring in the blue sky above. I must have swum for hours for just as soon as I waded my way out of the water, it was almost twilight. I treaded carefully upon the slippery rock and reached for my orange towel upon one of the biggest rocks there, and calmly wiped my shivering body covered with my new bathing suit, now damp after the swimming. It did not take a while for me to realise that my dry clothes were not there, which I recalled my placing hem next to my towel before I went for a swim. I groaned. “Shaun, I know you’re here! Come out, wherever you are and please return back my clothes!” I folded my arms onto my chest as I shook my head. Just as I had expected, Shaun emerged from among the bushes with a sly grin upon his mischievous face. “How did you know I was here?” “Shaun, we haven’t met just yesterday, you know. I know you always like to go to this place, too. And you are the only one besides me who knows about this place!” Shaun kept on grinning. “You never get tired of swimming, do you?” He walked up to me as he handed my pink top along with my dark pants. “And you… it’s weird that you always like to go here yet, I’ve never seen you swimming in the river, not even once!” I beamed at him. “Don’t tell me you’re scared of water?” I snickered. “Scared of water? Me? No way!” He smirked “Well, prove it then!” I challenged as I playfully pushed his broad chest that made him plunged involuntarily into the tranquil water down below. I broke into giggles feeling the gentle sprinkles of the tasteless water sprayed on me just as he fell beyond the wavy surface of the river below. A few minutes passed by, my keen ear searched for any sound from him but silence still lingered, filling the still atmosphere. My giggles died away immediately as I stood there, motionless. I looked down onto the serene surface of the river glimmering at the trace of the sunset glow. No sign of him. Pang of panic began crawling slowly at every inch of my body. “Shaun!” I shouted at the top of my lungs repeatedly in panic and deep concern that my voice grew husky. The silence was painful that I felt like my heart could burst of overwhelming fear and anxiety. God, this could not be happening! Countless pessimistic thoughts flashed through my mind. Impulsively, I threw away the towel and dove into the cold water again. I searched for him frantically in the underwater and found him sinking deeper just a few metres away. Without wasting another moment, I swam as fast as I could toward him and reached for the collar of his shirt. I dragged him slowly with all my might to the riverbank. “Shaun, no! Please, please wake up!” I slapped him on his unaffected face a few times but to no avail. “God, Shaun, wake up! You’re not going to die okay?” I yelled with tears began bathing my eyes. “Shaun…” I ran my fingers through his damp brown hair, staring helplessly down at the droplets of water that trickled down from his wet closed eyes to his cheek. “No, Shaun! You can’t go now! There’s still so much to talk about!” Too many things left unsaid deep at the bottom of my wistful heart… “Shawn, please wake up! There’s still so much to say!” I could not strain my tears no longer that I let them fell one by one onto his cold cheek. “Shaun, wake up, for God’s sake!” I realised that I had never felt so afraid I could break down right there and then. Just when I endeavoured to push my hands upon his chest in hope for a miraculous moment, that I would find him breathing again, I felt the burden of tension fell away just as soon his unruffled face broke into his widest smile ever. “You can’t live without me, can you?” He voiced out finally. “Shaun! God, don’t do it again!” I slapped him playfully on his cheeks, as I slowly pulled awkwardly away from him. “Wow…you even cried for me, Amy!” He observed my blushing face carefully. “These tears….” He drew closer to me with his gazing eyes intent upon mine. I felt myself trembling deep inside at the sweet warmth of his hand wiping the tears away from my eyes. “So, what’s it that you want to say to me?” His voice lowered. His Spanish eyes were looking deeply into mine, as if to search for truth in my guarded expression. His breath warmed my cheeks in sweet intimacy. Suddenly I was afraid… again. I was afraid that he could see what I was trying to hide all these years. I was afraid that he could discover the hidden yeaning buried beneath my glassy eyes. “What—what do you mean?” I could finally find my voice under the intensity of his gaze. “I mean, just now when you thought I was dead, you said that you had so many things to say, to talk about… so you can tell me now….” His voice was pleading and his shady eyes were imploring, that I had to strain myself not to break the imaginary shield that had been surrounding me for so long and eventually throw myself in his arms. Perhaps this was the ideal time for me to finally unveil the feelings that I had been bottling inside my craving heart for so long. His eyes had never been so close like this before, and it seemed as though his eyes could rest upon mine forever, and I knew it would just be a matter of time before he would decipher the feelings concealed beneath the warm twinkles of my eyes. I knew I just had to brace myself to step beyond the boundary this time to let the light of truth shone upon him for the first time. I could not live in this sweet façade, hiding my true emotions under the name of friendship full of pretence anymore. I could not keep him in the dark no more. It was now or never…. “Shaun, I….” The confession of my love for him paused and my determination broken at the shrill laughter from behind the bushes not very far from where we were sitting. “Oh my God!” Shaun gasped suddenly after listening to the female voices rising and gradually falling into giggles again. Shaun stared at me with the familiar warmth he always had in his eyes whenever he mentioned about… “Ivy.... Oh my God, Amy, it’s Ivy!” “Oh….” Was all I could say. I forced him a smile, as always, swallowing a pain so deep inside my already shattered heart that made my chest ached. “I can’t wait to show her the card I made for her the other day! Oh where’s it? I think I brought it… where is it? Where is it?” I watched his frantic eyes wildly looking around the quiet area. “Ah, I think it’s in my bag!” I had never seen him smiling so cheerfully as he did at that moment when he finally found his blue bag upon the grassy bank just a few metres’ away. “Oh I hope I brought it! Ivy just has to see it now!” I watched him with blurry, melancholic eyes as he rubbed his hands anxiously into the bag. “Ah, found it!” He looked so happy that he almost screamed in joy when he held up the same Valentine card he showed me the other day. “How do I look?” he grinned just after he slipped into his dry clothes with his soppy hair stylishly combed back. “You look… wonderful, as always.” I smiled again but the hurt still lingered, throbbing mercilessly inside me that I could just die right there and then. “You’re sweet, Amy.” He smiled back. “Wish me luck, okay?” He left me a quick peck on my cheek before he dashed beyond the bushes to meet the girl of his dreams. I moved feebly toward the bushes as though he had stolen all my strength away. And silently with pounding heart, I peeked at them through the bushes. Ivy and her theatrical best friend, Vienna who looked alluring, as always, in their best matching pink dresses, looked mildly surprised to see Shaun appeared before them out of the blue from among the bushes. At first I could not make out the words said but I could see the frown upon Ivy’s face, which was adorned with make-up, when Shaun presented her the card he made sincerely for her. “God, Shaun! What’s this?” Ivy raised her voice all of a sudden, as she grasped the card fiercely from his hold, and held it up in the air before his helpless eyes. “Why can’t you see, Shaun? Why don’t you get it already? We’re over! In fact, we’re way over since last year! Why don’t you just accept the fact? And if you think that I’ll be running back to you because of this silly card, you’re wrong! I’m not going back to you, Shaun—not ever!” She retorted impatiently before she let out a heavy, frustrated groan. “Listen, Shaun….” She sighed. “I didn’t mean to yell at you like this but I just want to make it clear to you for the umpteenth time that I won’t go back to you, no matter what! And you want to know why? Call me insensitive but I’m not a sentimentalist like some other girls! I don’t cry in movies and I’m not even into all those soppy, romantic novels, Shaun. I’m just not your type. You’ve always wanted to be cuddled, to be assured that you’re actually loved—you’re much too clingy and too romantic for me, Shaun! Until now, you always like to waste time doing all those pathetic stuffs including this card—other girls may find them romantic but I just don’t think so, Shaun! I think it’s just ridiculous!” My heartbeat almost came to a pause, and my heart flared with fiery anger at seeing Ivy tearing the card into red and pink shreds right before Shaun’s eyes. To make the matters even worse, a mocking laughter was heard from Vienna as if she was watching a comedy being performed right in front of her. “I’m sorry, Shaun, but I’m just tired and sick of you doing everything you can to make me come back to you even after all these years! Get a grip, Shaun—get a grip for…!” I just did not have the heart to witness the heartbreaking pain upon Shaun’s face at Ivy’s venomous words piercing his heart mercilessly any longer, as I walked up there without thinking and slapped her right in the face. “What the…!” Ivy’s sharp, black-lined eyes stabbed me a sharp stare, while Vienna just stared at me speechlessly, flabbergasted. “Amy!” Shaun stared at me in disbelief. “You don’t have the right to criticise him like that!” I finally voiced out in the awed silence. I felt tears stung at the back of my eyes. “He’s done everything for you… and yet, this is how you’re repaying him?” I looked down melancholically at the scattering torn shreds of the card upon the earthy ground, as if I could see Shaun’s heart breaking into pieces like those seemingly meaningless shreds. “Do you know that he stayed up the whole night working on the card without even sleeping a wink, just for you? Do you know how much effort he put into making the card that he’s been shopping all day at the mall to find just the finest bits and pieces to finish the card? Do you know that he’s just different from the rest of the guys in school? Do you know that his family, his late mom and his father…!” “Amy, for God’s sake, stop it!” Shaun interrupted with a frown, before he gave his best smile to Ivy. “I’m sorry, Ivy. It’s really okay, if you don’t like it, I mean…” “Amylea, Amylea….” Ivy did not pay heed him, however, as she smirked at me. “You’ve been friends with Shaun for so long. What a pity… you and Shaun… just friends—nothing more….” Ivy shook her head that made her shiny dark curls dangled gracefully upon her fair, bare neck. As her sharp eyes locked on mine, I knew that she was always aware of the feelings I had toward Shaun. “Bye, Shaun.” Ivy suddenly smiled sweetly at Shaun despite what had befallen just now. Before she departed with Vienna, she whispered sarcastically into my ear, “It’s a pity, isn’t it, Amylea? No matter what, you’re just nothing to him but just a nosy beat friend of his. And no matter what, he’ll always stay loyal to me, you know that, too, don’t you? Man, too bad for you….” She gave me the most superior smile, laughed sneeringly out aloud, before she finally walked away. I just closed my eyes, then, feeling my heart was burning in flame. Yet, when I did open my eyes again, the sight of Shaun kneeling on the ground picking up the pieces of his Valentine card one by one somehow washed away the fury within me. “Shaun, what are you doing?” My voice shook with suppressed tears. “It’s okay, Amy. It’s okay.” Shaun comforted slowly and repeatedly as though to comfort himself of the heartbreak he was suffering from. “Shaun, I can’t stand seeing you being hurt like this! She doesn’t deserve your love, Shaun! She’s not in love with you—she never was, even from the very beginning! She’s just using you all this while to show off to her friends!” I finally blurted out the truth. “Shaun, listen to me! Forget her and move on with your life! She’s not worth half your time!” I shook him desperately with tears streaming onto my face, as though to shake him into believing every word of mine. . “No, Amy! No! You don’t understand! I love her!” he pulled away stubbornly from me. “I know she still has feelings for me somewhere deep inside although she wouldn’t show it! I know it, Amy! Perhaps she’s right. Maybe this card is ridiculous!” He let out a fake laugh. “Perhaps it’s because of the card. Yeah, that’s it. Perhaps, I’ll just make another one for her—the one that’s not silly-looking like this!” He stared down at the tatters of his torn cards lying around his feet. Seeing the crestfallen look on my face, he said, “You don’t understand, Amy. You don’t understand how’s it like to be really in love. It’s like you’d do anything for that special person. You’d even find yourself doing the things that you never knew you could do. It will hurt you to see that person in pain. And it will cheer you just to see the smile on that person’s face. Sometimes you even feel so angry and want to cry at the same time that you want to be together despite it all. It’s just the best feeling in the world, Amy. Oh—you don’t have to worry, Amy. I’m sure you’ll understand all this when you finally meet the guy you fall in love with.” And I did. I did understand, I wanted to say but the words choked back. And he did not have to worry, for I had already fallen in love with the guy standing right before me now all along…. That night, I was lying awake all alone on my bed. My parents and my younger brother just went out for supper, of which I did not have the mood for. It was half past midnight, and no matter how I kept moving about restlessly upon the comfy single bed, I just could not sleep. I cursed under my breath in frustration as I stared at the twirling fan hanging from the ceiling above in the dimness of the room. Spontaneously, as usual, Shaun’s image glued upon the fan and began floating to the slow rhythm of the spinning fan. I began replaying his words today over and over again inside my mind: It’s like you’d do anything for that special person. You’d even find yourself doing the things that you never knew you could do. It will hurt you to see that person in pain. And it will cheer you just to see the smile on that person’s face. Sometimes you even feel so angry and want to cry at the same time that you want to be together despite it all. It’s just the best feeling in the world, Amy. His words moved me, that I found tears silently flowed onto my cheeks. Oh, if only he knew how literal his words were to reflect the feelings I kept inside for him all these years. I thought about how close I had been to confessing my feelings to him today… and wondered, if I would ever do the same again…. It was still raining cats and dogs outside. I listened calmly to the faint sound of raindrops tapping upon my windowpane, forming a kind of sentimental melody that reminded me of Shaun. I must have thought about him for hours as the pattering of raindrops on the rooftop almost lulled me to sleep, until I came to the realisation of the incessant knocks on my door. Intuitively, I pushed aside my blanket and got off the bed. I dashed downstairs as quickly as I could. My heart was pounding hard as I ran across the living room. I did not know why but my instinct told me that something was not right and true enough, as I opened the door, I saw Shaun standing outside in the heavy downpour. “Shaun!” Paleness and helplessness was all over his fatigued visage, as if he had been running as fast as his legs could carry him all the way to my house in the rainstorm. His clothes were soaked to skin. His brown hair now darkened, drenched with raindrops. He was shivering terribly that I wish I could wrap my warm arms around him at that very moment, without ever letting go. “Amy, I’m sorry to barge in on you like this in the middle of the night. I—I just don’t know where else to go….” His tone sounded helplessly weak. I could not tell whether he was really crying or it was just the raindrops. Without even waiting for an explanation, I dragged him inside the house. I made him sat near the fireplace, before I raced upstairs to find my leather jacket, and hurried downstairs again, to let his cold, trembling body immersed in the sweet warmth of the jacket and a blanket from the living room couch. “Thanks, Amy… I’m sorry if….” Shaun began just as soon as we both sat side by side on the warm living room carpet in silence before the glowing hearth. “Hush. That’s what friends are for….” I tried to smile despite the pain my own words brought me. The storm was still bristling madly outside as the roar of thunder boomed across the showery night now and then. “Tell me what happened. Maybe that can make you feel better.” I solaced gently. “My grandma….” His voice trembled, as though it was difficult for him to speak, “… She—she’s dying….” “Shaun….” I glanced at him sympathetically, but he was staring glassily ahead at the iridescent flame flickering to the capricious wind. “She had a heart attack when I got home today.” Shaun resumed. “She was taken to the hospital… and the doctor insisted that she should stay at the hospital since she’s in a critical condition because of the heart attack.” I could see he was trying hard to battle his own emotions deep inside. “Shaun, I’m sorry….” I squeezed his hand softly. “And even worse, my dad came with his new wife to take me back to live with them again.” “And you said…?” “Amy, going back to live with them means returning to hell!” His voice was cold, unfeeling with dark anger concealed beneath every word. “There’s no way I’ll be leaving grandma at the hospital just like that to live with them! You know just how my dad cares about nothing other than his mistress and his oh-so-important job!” He buried his face in his hands then. “Shaun…” As soon as he finally lifted up his shadowy face, I thought I could see a trace of tears smeared upon his cheeks. “I don’t want to talk about them anymore, Amy. I’m just too tired—too tired of them, of my life, of Ivy…of everything. All I want now is for grandma to fully recover. She’s the only one I have in this world. She’s the only one who really cares about me. She’s the only one who really understands me. She’s the only one who really loves me….” the beating of my heart almost stopped, and I was almost breathless, when he naturally tilted his head against my shoulder. “People always think I must be happy to belong to a wealthy family, to be the son of a millionaire….” He went on slowly, “… but they never know about my pain inside. Money certainly can’t buy happiness, can it, Amy? What’s all that wealth for when you’re in pain inside every single day? What’s all that wealth for when your heart feels empty? What’s all that wealth for when it seems sinful to fall in love and to be loved in return? Sometimes, life can be so unfair don’t you think so, Amy?” In the serene silence, I strained hard not let the tears fall that I felt my eyes sore. I could feel, rather than see him smirking as though it was reflected against the glowing embers, leaping enchantingly like magical sparks in the air from the incandescent hearth. “I guess Ivy is right. Perhaps I am too clingy, too much of an idealist… but is it wrong? Is it wrong to be myself? Is it wrong to yearn for people to care about you, to love you? I thought that was what everyone in this world wanted, and why can’t I want it too? Tell me, Amy, is that wrong?” “No, Shaun. It’s not wrong.” I smiled touchingly at him after a while of silence. “Not wrong at all….” I whispered. Shaun stared at me with a tender smile. “Then, what a wonderful person you are, Amy. Of all people, you’re the only one who’s willing to stick to me at all times, though I can’t see the reason why. I mean, despite the strong guy I may appear to be, I’m actually weak, emotional, vulnerable, touchy, moody, too idealistic, and not to mention, clingy—I’m just pathetic!” He kept pouring his disillusioned heart out to me as though he had never done it to anyone before in his whole life. In spite of myself, I felt my hand reaching for his sorrowful face. He slowly closed his eyes as though to savour the touch. He leaned back against my shoulder, as I stroked his face gently. “No, Shaun. You’re not pathetic. You never are.” It was barely above a whisper as I spoke those words. I watched his face resting calmly beside me and knew at that very moment how much I was in love with him. I could see now beyond that tough surface was a gentle, sensitive guy who craved for nothing out of his troubled life but the love, which his life was devoid of during his parents’ constant quarrels, his mother’s death, his uncaring father marrying another, and now, his beloved grandmother struggling with death at the hospital ward… and… “Ivy….” He softly sighed all of a sudden. A tear began rolling down his cheek. I reached to slowly wipe it away despite the pain. “Ivy….” He murmured again still with his eyes closed, took my trembling hand and kissed it before saying over and over again, “…Ivy….” Despite the tenderness in his kiss, I felt my fragile heart shattering again, like the piercing sound of a glass breaking into pieces against the cruel, hard floor, and once again, he did not seem to hear it…. Ten minutes had passed since the bell for break rang. As I headed my way to the crammed, noisy canteen from my class, I stopped eating the hot wedges that I bought from a friend, just as soon as my eyes laid on a large crowd of students gathered in the middle of the school canteen. I hastened my steps in deep curiosity. As soon as I was near the roaring crowd, I took a peek from between the numerous heads. I lost hold of the bag of hot wedges immediately just as soon as I recognised the faces of two guys fighting in the centre of the canteen, while the crowd encircled around them, watching in amazement. For a moment or two, I was struck wordlessly dumbfounded seeing Effendi, Ivy’s new rebellious boyfriend, was collaring the helpless Shaun aggressively. “Who do you think you are, eh? You think that Ivy will go back to you just because of a ring? Please, give me a break! Trust me, she won’t! She’s mine now, Shaun, mine—why can’t you just accept the fact that you have already lost her to me?” Effendy stared smugly at Shaun’s bruised face. “She won’t go back to you, Shaun—trust me, she won’t, not ever!” “Why the hell should I trust you?” Shaun raised his fist high up in the air with a frown before he finally landed it straight on Effendi’s face. Effendi stumbled onto the ground. He rubbed his blood-red lips with his hand and saw drops of crimson blood dripped through his fingers. “What the…!” He shot Shaun a razor-sharp stare before he rose on his feet, ready to give him another blow… and another… and another… until Shaun finally fell defencelessly onto the ground. His swollen eyes, his panting breath, his cut lips, the black-and-blue bruises upon his face and drained body upon the cold, tiled floor of the canteen—I could bear the sight no longer. “No, Effendi! No! That’s enough!” I screamed at the top of my lungs as I shouldered my way through the crowd and stood before Effendi, just when he was about to seize Shaun for another punch. Effendi stopped on his track. He stared at me, as if in awe. “Amy, step aside!” Shaun demanded breathlessly from behind me. “For God’s sake, Amy, step aside!” “No, Shaun!” I took no heed to the rising tone of his voice, as I looked straight at Effendi with imploring eyes. “Effendi, please, no more. I’m begging you, no more. He doesn’t deserve this. No more, Effendi. No more….” The tears could not help flowing upon my pleading expression as I said those words. Effendi sighed after a moment or two. “All right.” He finally dropped his knuckles to his side. “Thank you….” I bowed my head, gratefully, before I fell on my knees by Shaun’s side, and held him gently by his shoulders. “And oh yes, before I forget, Ivy said she didn’t need this ring….” Effendi threw a silver diamond ring, which I identified as Shaun’s deceased mother’s ring that he used to show me the other day. The ring bounced a few times upon the floor toward us, before it rolled unsteadily along the slippery floor, and finally rested against my feet with a quiver. I slowly picked up the ring as soon as Effendi walked away from there, along with the thinning crowd. There was only Shaun and I still left on the floor in the silence that was gradually conquering the air. “Shaun….” My voice lowered with concern as I slowly offered him the ring. He just stared at the ring indifferently, as if the ring gave him no meaning, regardless of the fact that it was his deceased mother’s treasured gift for him. To my deepest shock, he just simply shoved my hand away along with the ring, saying with a tone filled with bitter apathy, as if the words were said by someone else, “If Ivy didn’t like the ring… then, I don’t think I would need it anymore….” “Amylea!” I blinked at the impatient faces of my cousins sitting cross-legged in a circle before me. Shaun’s lingering image on my mind and his ceaselessly dancing words in my ear somehow vanished just as I realised that I was still there inside my room, playing UNO cards with my teenage cousins during that damp, rainy night. “Are you dreaming or something?” 15-year-old Hannah, the youngest among us who sat beside me waved her hand before my blinking eyes. “It’s your turn now!” She sighed. “Oh sorry.” I smiled sheepishly as I quickly took a blue card from the many cards in my hold, and placed it on top of a messy stack of colourful UNO cards before me. It was then did it occur to me that we were having a family gathering, as usual every Friday night, and today was no exceptional. I glanced momentarily at the window next to my wooden cupboard. It was still raining outside as I could see the vague trace of mild raindrops from behind the windowpanes. Then, inevitably, Shaun’s manly contour soared again on my mind. I thought about what had happened today at the school canteen, where he was lying helpless on the cold canteen floor with all the bruises. The tormenting sight broke my heart so much that the pain still lingered. Even now, I still could not help worrying and wondering what he must be doing right now with his incapable, bed-ridden grandmother. I thought about the forlornness he would feel when he eventually returned to his empty home after accompanying his grandmother at the hospital for nights. The thought somehow threw me into the deepest concern, for no apparent reason. I felt uneasy all of a sudden as though I could sense something dreadful was about to befall on him. Yet, I endeavoured desperately to thrust the absurd thought aside, and went on revelling the moment with my amusing cousins, just to keep my mind off him for a while. “Amy, phone call for you!” My clouds of thought were blown away at the sound of my younger brother picking up the phone from my study table. I groaned. “Who?” I asked lazily. “Shaun Madrid, who else?” My brother winked teasingly at me. “S—Shaun?” His name brought ripples that stirred the calm surface of my expression like it always would whenever his name was being mentioned. I wasted no time that I almost ran over the pile of UNO cards before me. “Amylea! Watch out where you’re going, will you? I’ve just arranged those cards!” Bob frowned at some UNO cards left cluttered from their previous position upon the smooth parquet floor. Nevertheless, I paid no heed to him, not even my brother’s mischievous grin, as I picked up the phone with my heart beating wildly. “Shaun?” “Amy….” I thought his low, feeble, somewhat breathy voice sounded odd. “Shaun, are you okay?” I tried to keep my composure despite the tremendous weight of apprehension that was descending upon me. “Amy, I need someone—I need you here… my grandma… she—she just died at the hospital….” The phone receiver almost slipped off my hand. The wave of shock that came over me was too great that it left me wordless for a while. A few moments passed by that I just stood there, motionless. “Amy, I don’t know what to do….” I thought I could hear him sobbing, and the thought made my heart ached with immense concern. I quickly hung up the phone then. As fast as lightning, I reached for my raincoat hung on one of the pink-painted walls, and stole a glance at the dripping raindrops from the misty windowpane. “Amy? Where are you going? You haven’t finished playing UNO yet!” I dashed my way straight through the damp, lonely road in the dark, showering night, as though I would never look back. The pale beam of the full moon no longer illuminating the dim road ahead for it was veiled by the murky clouds, yet, I persevered on. I darted through the brown muddy ground, through the knee-high wet, dewy grasses and through the snaky rocky path. I journeyed carelessly through the miles, with only him on my mind, as though I was willing to let go of everything and never shall I turn back. I was panting for breath just as soon as I reached the gaping gate of his house. I rushed into his dark, empty parlour through the unlocked door, screaming his name. My calls were left heedless in the achingly silent house, which scared me as depressing thoughts raced through my weary mind. I ascended the stairs hastily and finally, came to the door of his room. Upon my opening the door with a creak, another vast surge of shock took over me that it almost deadened my heartbeat, at witnessing Shaun lying weakly on the floor beside his bed with a bloody wrist. A blade could also be seen laid near his bleeding hand, smeared with crimson-red blood. “Shaun, what are you doing?” I almost shrieked as I hurried up to him in dread. I felt like bursting into tears as I held his face up with both my trembling hands. His eyes were closed shut that made my heart hammered so fast I could hardly breathe. I felt myself drowning in countless pessimistic thoughts. “No, Shaun, no!” the tears flowed smoothly from my eyes then, as I embraced his body as tight as I could, careless of any consequences. Just then, I thought I could feel him breathing softly in my ear. “Amy….” “Shaun!” I pulled away to find his soft-brown eyes opening in a slow motion. There was an aura of sweet melancholy in those beautiful soft glitters of his eyes, as they gazed into mine. “Shaun, I should take you to the hospital now….” “No, Amy.” He refused stubbornly as he rested his hand gently upon mine. “It’s too late, Amy. It’s too late.” “Shaun….” “Hush.” He laid his shaky forefinger quietly onto my lips. His pale face broke into a tender smile despite the pain he was enduring. “Perhaps death is better than living a life without love, eh, Amy?” “Shaun, how could you do this to you?” The tears kept falling from my eyes that his rapt eyes seemed indistinct in the haziness of my watery vision. I held his leaning head gently against my lap, as the rush of blood kept oozing out smoothly from the cut on his blood-stained wrist. I could tell that he was struggling hard to cope with the pain at losing more and more blood each second, just by the deep creases on his forehead and his heavy, squinting eyes. Just seeing him in so much pain hurt me to my heart’s core, wishing so badly that I could just kiss the agony away. “All I need is just a little love from them, Amy. Is that—is that so much to ask?” His simple, yet eloquent words touched me so deep that before I could even help myself, I held him tighter again in my arms. “No, Shaun. You don’t need them! You have me, Shaun. You always have me!” Then, staring into his eyes again through my misty sight, I let the words slid off my lips after too long they remained in the shadows, “… Shaun, I love you….” I expected shock but all I could see was his visage as calm as the sea, still left unstirred at my sweet confession, as though he had known it all along. “I’ve always loved you…” I sobbed while he remained voiceless. Then, unexpectedly, not heeding the aching, he raised his face painfully to mine. My drying eyes were bathing again with tears, as our lips sweetly touched in one magical moment I never thought possible. “I should’ve done that a long time ago, should I?” His eyes locked on mine as he gently touched my teary face, and brushed the tears away. “I know you’ve always loved me, Amy. I’ve always known it. You were always there for me. You always care for me. I can see it in your eyes. I can feel it just at this very moment.” A smile lingered upon his tender face. “It’s you that I should be in love with all along. You don’t deserve this, Amy, after all the pain I’ve put you through all these years. But I guess, life is indeed, unfair—to both of us, don’t you think so?” He began nestling his head slowly again upon my lap with the same tranquil look upon me. “I may not live an enviable life, but at least… at least—I… I….” he paused, bearing the pain pinching every inch of his body with the little strength left in his shivering body, “… At least I can die… in the arms of the one… who’s willing… to love me… till the end….” He smiled softly at me. “Shaun….” I stroked his hair gently, with the tears kept trickling down my face onto his cold lips. “I’m… I’m so sorry, Amy. I’m so sorry.” He moaned. “Perhaps… perhaps I’ll learn to love you better in the afterlife… to make it up for all the suffering you’ve gone through….” “Shaun, be strong!” “… Amy….” The serene smile remained upon his face as he said these words, “… Thanks for loving me….” Just then, the wonderful tenderness of his touch upon my cheek became his last, as his hand fell away helplessly from my face onto my lap. “Shaun!!!” I cried at the top of my lungs for my lost love at that cold, rainy night of 3rd September. Inside a sorely deserted house with drizzle showering the dark world outside, a hungry heart craving for a thirst of love finally met its downfall, leaving another weeping with silent tears, and another… and another… and another… forming a trail of broken hearts mourning for his fall. I knew this just as I witnessed the rueful tears his father cried… and as I looked up to the dark, overcast sky, I also knew his mother and his grandmother were mourning for him as well from up above. As I have come to learn to let go of my fallen love till this day, I cannot help wondering that perhaps Shaun is one of the countless famished hearts strewn everywhere across the globe in this wild, cynical world we are living in, filled with hypocrisy. Perhaps, you can just find those poor, thirsty hearts among you, intentionally veiled by the superficially unfeeling masks they have upon their exterior, waiting to be delved into. I cannot deny that, I, too, desire for love like any other humankind. I even believe that it is love itself that has touched me to be the writer and the poet I am today, weaving my feelings in between the stanzas of words in those poems and love tales like I am penning now. And as I reminisce back those beautiful memories of Shaun, sunk in my past lovelorn, I realise that when you love someone, it does not necessarily mean that you have to expect him to return your love. All I expect of him is for him to be happy with whomever he wishes. It may be hard to let go but with determination and strength in enduring all obstacles, will make you realise just how stronger and wiser you are becoming once you persist for the sake of the one you love. Love has always been inspirational, and so, that is why, even if I cannot be with him in this outrageous world, I will always have faith that we will somehow be together in my writing, my poetry, and perhaps, in heaven, too, during the hereafter, where he will love me better like he promised…. By, Sara Rosella