It is a truth universally acknowledged that there’s a proverb which says “Ignorance is bliss”. Almost everyone believes it. I was too, until the day I met her. Why? Because the idea of not knowing her was, is, and never will be bliss.
December 31th 2006 should be the best night of my life yet it turned out to be the worst. I started the day with a recently brewed coffee in my right hand. I was gazing out of my apartment window which gave me the view of a snowy New York skyline when my telephone rang.
Far away across the phone, I could hear my boss’ heavy bass voice, “Peter Goode?”
What was he doing on New Year’s Eve with his employee? “Yes sir? What can I do for you?”
“Can you come to the office at 3 pm today?” he asked.
“B-b-but Sir, isn’t it right that I have my day off today? It’s New Year’s Eve, Sir,” I reminded him in case he forgot.
“Well, yeah, I know. But I need you to stop by here at 3 pm. It’s urgent,” he argued. “Anyway, I’m sure you have nothing to do on New Year’s Eve. I mean, what does a single man going to do on New Year’s Eve? You don’t even have a girlfriend to kiss at midnight.”
My ears redden hearing his sarcastic statement. That’s impolite, you know? I knew I didn’t have any girlfriend at the moment but at least he shouldn’t emphasize that!
“Hmph, okay. I’ll come around by 3 pm.”
I quickly closed the phone and checked what time was that, 1 pm. I lay myself down on the couch, staring at the ceiling, enjoying the last cold day of 2006. After I was done lying without any purpose, I took a bath and walked in the snow.
New York in December was my favourite view of the year. The way the thick snow covered the streets and the cold froze the Central Park’s lake always amaze me. Apparently, my apartment was quite far from my office. So, I could enjoy my day off before going to the office for whatever reason.
When I arrived at the office, my boss –Richard- and my colleague –Damien- were gathering around the meeting table. When I entered the room, they quickly turned at me.
“Peter, can you explain this to me?” asked Richard to me with a paper on his hand to show. Richard’s face was red and I didn’t know why. Was it possible that he’s mad because he must go to the office on his day off too? I don’t know and I don’t care.
I took the paper on Richard’s hand. It was a screenshot of a leaked program’s codes. The codes felt familiar to me before I realized that I was the one who created those codes. The program’s codes were uploaded on someone’s private blog and it was indeed an urgent problem since those codes were the core of the company where I worked.
“What’s wrong with you, Peter? Why did you upload this? I know this blog is yours!” accused Richard.
“Of course not!” I shouted right into his face. “I never owned a blog! And I’m not a fool, Richard, you know that. Never in a million years will I upload those codes.”
“But you’re the one who own the full accessible version of those codes. It can’t be anyone else,” he said.
“So you’re accusing me as the one who leaked the company’s most precious treasure?”
Richard sat back on his chair and twitched his moustache. He really seemed like Hercule Poirot from Agatha Christie’s novel adaptation, but the difference was the fact that Richard was the antagonist one. “Well, no, Peter. But can it be anyone else other than you?”
It’s sure that I wasn’t the one who uploaded the codes on the blog, but Richard seemed that he would never trust me. Well, it was not really impossible for someone to break the company’s system and took a peek of the codes and shared it on a blog. Even if I explained it to Richard, he would still never trust me. He’s just a bossy boss without any knowledge about coding and programming.
“It can. If you don’t believe me, I’m out.” I couldn’t believe I had just said that.
“Well… I don’t believe you,” he said.
“Fine, then. I’ll pack my things right away.”
I felt like I lose. I couldn’t believe that I had just got fired by the most stupid boss ever existed. I quickly exited the room and went straight to my desk. From the corner of my eyes, I could see Richard and Damien smiling. Maybe they were actually planning to fire me. Maybe they’re the one who uploaded the codes to frame me. I don’t care anymore.
After packing my things into a box, I rushed my walk outside the building. I inhaled and exhaled long deep breaths. I should by happy on the last day of 2006 but I just got fired. It was so hard looking for a job in New Year. Companies won’t open any employee recruitment in the beginning of the year.
I walked back to my apartment to put my box. After snacking for a while, I got up and strolled down New York City. I wandered around Central Park with my beloved camera hanging on my neck. I always got calmer once I had my camera on my hand.
I was trying to capture the view of an old lady sleeping on her husband’s shoulder on a bench surrounded by doves when someone ran into the doves and shoo away that beautiful view.
“Are you serious? I’m trying to capture a good view here!” I shouted to her.
She was surprised by my existence. I couldn’t blame her for I was hiding behind a white tree in black coat. She walked to me. I could see that she’s way shorter than me –her head was as tall as my shoulder. She had a red hair hanging on her back. I could see her as an optimistic and a perky girl.
“Oh, hi! I’m so sorry, I didn’t know that you’re trying to capture the view,” she said to me. She gave her hand towards me, “I’m Aislinn. Aislinn Aldrin.”
I shook her white delicate hands gently. “It’s okay. I’m Peter. Peter Goode.”
She smiled and I could see her eyes got bigger as enthusiasm flowed to her. “So, what are you doing back here, Peter, other than taking pictures?”
“Trying to regain my sanity,” I said.
“What?!” she shrieked in surprise.
“I just got fired from my job. Well, technically I’m the one who resigned after being accused of leaking one of my past company’s secrets.”
“Oh my God, that’s bad,” she mumbles. “You resigned on New Year’s Eve?”
“Yup.” Then I told her the whole story. I rarely shared my secrets to strangers but I guess telling her my story won’t bring me any harm. She seemed like she won’t spoil my secret.
“That’s pretty bad! Didn’t they realize that they just lose their best employee?” she said. Her eyes widened and her lips turned into a disgusted smile.
“I guess they didn’t. But thanks anyway,” I said.
Again, she smiled. She was sure was a perky girl.
“And then I got back to my apartment, put my box, took my camera, tried to capture a great view but then you ran into the doves.”
Hearing my tease, Aislinn grinned. Her circular white face redden almost as red as the edges of her hair. “Sorry, I didn’t know that you’re taking pictures. I just like running into flocks of birds and see them leaving in a rush.”
Hell, she was so cute. “It’s okay, I’m just making a point there.” I gave her a smile to assure her.
“So, I make your day worse by running into the doves,” she said. “To say sorry, I’ll accompany you till the end of the night and make this night the best day of your life!”
What did I just heard?
“You don’t owe me anything, Aislinn. Trust me.”
“Yeah, I don’t. But I insist,” she boldly said.
“Don’t you have anything to do on New Year’s Eve? Don’t you have a boyfriend to kiss tonight?” I asked. Wait! Why did I asked the last question? Was I asking for a hint?
“Nope, I don’t,” she confessed blatantly.
“I don’t believe that!” I said in disbelief. Seeing my reaction, she shrugged shyly. I was afraid that I somehow made her uncomfortable, so I asked another question, “No work to finish?”
“Technically, I’m a college student, so, no,” she answered. “Why don’t we just go somewhere and be happy?”
She sounded interesting. I’m so amazed by her ability to trust strangers. There was a possibility that I was a serial killer and that I would kidnap her yet she still trust me.
I checked my phone. It was already 7 pm. “Okay, then. Where do you want to go?”
“How if we go to a deli and buy sandwiches?” she said.
“Okay. Do you know that deli near Times Square? I love it there.”
“Do you mean that Mr. Bradley Deli? I love it there too!” she shouted. “C’mon!”
She ran before me and I could see her hair twirled around. Honest to God, she’s beautiful. She’s a beautiful stranger who was willing to accompany me for the rest of the year and I’m thankful for that. I followed her a few steps behind just to enjoy the view of Aislinn. And I felt like I was coming home.
On December 31th 2006, I quit my only job. On December 31th 2006, I was a lonely single man wandering hopelessly on the romantic snowy New York’s Central Park just to make my heart better. But I met a perky girl who should’ve ruined my day too. I met a perky girl who was willing to accompany a stranger just to make her happy. Perhaps that New Year’s Eve wasn’t so bad.
A year later, I realized that the last day of 2006 wasn’t the worst day of my life. I met her, my undeniable beautiful gorgeous wife. Perhaps the last day of 2006 was the best day of my entire existence. After all, I came to realize that if I was a dark cloud, she’s my very favourite silver lining.