Arranging A Bouquet

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“What is love to you?”

I once asked that question to Aislinn out of the blue several weeks before I proposed her. Her sudden facial expression was priceless: amazed yet somehow confused. I didn’t blame her as my question was kinda cheesy that day.

Aislinn put her favorite ice cream sundae down next to her and she gazed at the horizon. The thick and humid November wind blew her hair towards the land as we were sitting facing the sea. She went silent for a while, probably arranging words inside her head. And I was there, enjoying my vanilla ice cream sundae.

Several spoons of ice cream later, Aislinn answered my question. “Instead of giving you a detailed and structured definition of what love means to me, I’ll tell you a story. Well, not really a story, but you’ll get the point!”

“Okay.”

“So, I got this story from my first visit to a flower shop in the suburbs. You must notice that I had never bought a flower before because I didn’t really get the point of buying one. I mean, buying flowers are a waste of money although I’d love to get one,” she said. “Well, however, that evening was different. I had to visit my grandma at the hospital and it was raining cats and dogs that time. My family had already reached the hospital and I’m the one who was still outside. They forgot to bring something for grandma, and so they told me to buy a flower on the way there.”

“I found a small tidy flower shop on my way to the hospital. The place was so nice. Its wooden walls were painted sky blue and it smelled so good. I entered that shop to find an old man sitting on a tall wooden chair with his back hunched. By the time I entered that shop, he was arranging a bouquet-which I thought was for a wedding as it was so gigantic. He was so focused that I was pretty sure he didn’t notice me coming.”

“I approached him and asked him whether he could help me or not. I told him that I knew nothing about flowers and I really need his help to arrange one for grandma. He was really nice and gallant. Within a minute, he picked some pink roses. He asked me whether I’m okay with his choice or not. After I told him I’m totally fine with his choice, he headed back to his work desk.”

I’m not really sure where her story was going, but okay, for her, I’d love to stay longer even if it just for listening her silliest dorkiest stories.

“Before I saw him arranging a bouquet, I always thought that arranging a bouquet was a piece of cake. I thought that everyone can do it. I mean, what’s hard about picking a flower and sticking it together with a ribbon?” she said rhetorically. I could see her eyes was full of excitement like what a professional storyteller has. “But then, the magic happened. I saw him gently cutting thorns from those pink roses. He cut those thorns with full concentration. When he was done, he arranged those roses and cut the stems to adjust the height. He made the stem on the center of the bouquet a little longer so it appeared a little higher. He made sure the leaves that were left on the stem were still fresh and perfectly arranged. After he was done with the roses, he took a strap of pink ribbon and tied the roses with it. He looked at it for a while before giving the bouquet to me. That stare he gave to the flower was like the stare of a mother to her newborn baby, you know, so full of love.”

Aislinn’s tone was telling me that her story was over, yet I hadn’t understand the moral value of the story. “And so?” I asked.

“So, I finally realize that to love is like being a florist. You arrange things so beautifully. You take care of it with your heart. You put all your effort on that beautiful thing to maintain it. However, you must be ready to let it go. You cannot hold it forever. At a particular time you never know when, you must let it go,” she said.

“Does that mean that you’ll let go everyone you love?”

She frowned at me. “Of course not. I’m a selfish florist, I’ll keep those bouquets I have arranged by heart. I’ll be ready to let my bouquets go only when they died or are better off without me,” she answered. “Don’t get me wrong, I really love keeping bouquets. However, if I’m bad for it, I’ll let it go so it has a better caregiver.”

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My Silver Lining

New York 6

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.

Probabilitas

Morning Coffee

Bisa jadi kita adalah..
Muda-mudi saling jatuh hati,
Yang tak tahu bagaimana untuk mengawali.
Bisa jadi kita adalah..
Manusia yang pernah saling cinta,
Namun pada waktu yang berbeda,
Hingga rasa itu sirna.
Bisa jadi kita adalah..
Pemimpi yang membuta dari realita,
Terus berharap bahwa di seberang ada gejolak yang sama.

Atau!
Bisa jadi kau adalah penyaji kopiku di pagi hari..
Dan aku adalah pengikat dasimu sebelum kau pergi..
Bisa jadi kita adalah sepasang insan surgawi.

Atau..
Bisa jadi kita adalah sandiwara terhebat karangan-Nya.

-CA

A Stupid Thing Called Jealousy

381

Jealousy is a funny yet stupid thing. Believe it or not, that time was the first time I had ever felt jealous in my whole life. To be true, I’m not proud and I’m ashamed of it.

My Saturday nights is always my quality time with Aislinn. Every Saturday nights, we put aside our works and have a couple time inside the apartment. We usually cuddle on the couch while watching How I Met Your Mother, the sitcom that brought us together.

But for whatever reason, that saturday night was different. I arrived at the apartment from my workplace around 5 pm. Usually, when I arrived from my workplace, I smell the scent of an overcooked popcorn Aislinn made and hear Aislinn’s high-pitched shriek welcoming me. But that evening was so different. I came to an empty apartment. There were no overcooked popcorn nor Aislinn’s voice.

At first, I thought Aislinn was stuck in the traffic. I took a long hot shower to relax my tense body for sitting in front of the computer the whole day. After I felt like I was boiled, I got out, put a sweatshirt and a baggy short, and then tidy the apartment. I also cooked popcorn for our How I Met Your Mother marathon that night. Just as I poured the apple virgin mojito to a pitcher, my phone rang. I immediately picked my phone up. It’s Aislinn!

“Hey, honey. Where are you?” I asked.

“I’m in the cafe right now.”

“Are you buying truffles for us?” When we run out of popcorn, we eat a box of assorted truffles and eat them like playing Russian Roulette.

“Well, I was, Peter. But guess who I bumped into?” Aislinn’s voice sounded full of made-up neutrality with a hint of love and disgust.

A few names flashed on my head as I tried to connect the dots between Aislinn’s tone and the name the person she bumped into. “Drawing blank.”

Shortly, she said “Tanner Creek.”

Tanner Creek, Aislinn’s former boyfriend who was still trying to get her attention. Tanner, the one who nearly ruined our wedding. I tensed and I felt I’m about to choke.

“Peter, are you still there? Or did you passed out?”

I gulped, cleared my throat, and went, “I’m here. Why?”

“Umm, would you do me a favor? Postpone our HIMYM marathon for 30 minutes, 45 mins tops. Tanner said he have something to talk to me.”

Postpone our quality time for someone who nearly ruined my wedding day? For God’s sake!

“Well.. the popcorn will be cold and the virgin mojitos will be warm.”

“I know, babe, but please? I know you and I hate him for what he have done but I think he deserves a chance.”

I felt something cold in me and I guess that’s climbing up to my tongue. “Well, he never asked one.”

“He did, he just did. Please? I’ll be straight home after that and it’s not like we’re going somewhere private. We’re hanging here. Pleaseee?” she begged. And yeah, she held that ‘please’ for ten seconds. I don’t know why she always do that -holding the vocals in a word long enough- when she’s begging. While men have that three day rule to call a woman, do women have a ten seconds rule to bribe a man? If yes, I’ve never heard of it.

I was considering it for a while. My brain told me that it’s okay to let my wife clean the mess she made with her former boyfriend but my heart told me to be selfish and make her go straight home so that there will be no possibilities for Tanner to steal my wife.

“Well, yeah okay sure, at least you asked so I won’t caught you there then scowl at you this whole night. But 45 minutes tops, okay? See you, Aislinn.”

“Okay, thanks. See you, over-protective and jealous husband.”

And then she hung up the phone. Just like that.

“What was that supposed to mean?!” I shouted to the void. Nothing answered my disappointment except the buzz of the coffee brewer. And acknowledging that I was alone there when I supposed to be with her made me more disappointed. So, I flounced my self to the sofa, grab the remote, turned on the TV, and watched an action movie.

Have you ever heard Einstein’s theory of relativity? My professor in college once told me about that in the simplest way. He told me a story about two different people and a train. The first person was on the station, waiting the second person who was in his way in a train. On the other side, the second person was on the train rushing to the station where the first person was waiting. My professor asked us whether the time they both spent to reach each other were the same or not. We answered yes but then he said that it depends.

“You all see it in a way that copes all of it. Yes, it is true that they spent the same time. But have all of you ever heard the quarrel of two people insisting their belief? ‘I have waited for you for 30 minutes!’ replied with ‘No, you don’t, I was on my way for 20 minutes!’ while the fact is they both have spent the exact 25 minutes to met each other. I present you the theory of relativity,” he said proudly. “Well, it actually depends on the point of view. The person who was waiting tend to feel that the time that has passed is longer than the person who was rushing.”

And that was what I really feel when I was waiting for Aislinn to come home. I was lying on the couch like a big old sheriff on his day off. I wrapped my self with a blanket and had my eyes glued on the screen. I also started snacking the popcorn and crumbs were all over the blanket. I sipped my apple virgin mojito little by little till I realized that I had drank the half. Waiting Aislinn to come felt like ages and then all I know was that I was awaken by the sunlight.

“G’morning, honey,” called out a sleepy voice I reckoned as Aislinn’s. Yeah, I mean who else would be there?

“Aislinn? Where are you?” I looked around. The TV was no longer on, the table was already cleaned.

“Umm, look below here.”

I rolled my self to see the floor and saw Aislinn was lying there, bared to the air only with her shirt and knee-long shorts. “Oh my God, what are you doing? Why don’t you sleep on the bed? I could have stepped on you!”

“I’m sorry, last night I thought you’d be awaken and watch HIMYM with me. So, I decided to lay here in case you want find me easily.”

“Well at least you can bring some blankets to prevent cold, Aislinn.”

There was a short awkward silence between us then. She was just lying there staring at me with her warm hazel eyes and I was staring at her back from the sofa.

Out of nowhere, she accused me, “You’re disappointed at me last night, aren’t you?”

“How could you say that?”

“I know. I just know.”

“Ha, such a good excuse, Aislinn. You’ll be a good lawyer,” I said more sarcastic that I should have.

Hearing my answer, she instantly sat straight. Her eyes were on mine and it was no longer warm. It was cold and fierce. Uh oh.

“I have been your wife for 3 years, Peter, of course I know! Wanna know why I know? Your voice tone. Your choice of words. Last night, you suddenly changed into a sarcastic jealous husband!” she scolded at me.

“Oh, I’m a sarcastic jealous husband?! Yeah, tell me, what should I do when my dearest wife choose to spent her Saturday night with her ex-boyfriend who nearly ruined her wedding day over a quality time with her husband?”

Aislinn shocked in disbelief. “I have asked for your permission and you said it’s okay!” she said a few octaves higher.

“Yeah, 45 minutes tops! But what time did you take, two hours?”

“I only talked to him for 30 minutes, Peter, and I walked home for 5 minutes. Thirty-five minutes and I found you  asleep on the couch. Ask Tanner if you don’t believe me,” she lowered her tone and voice.

“Sorry,” I said, “Sit here.” I sat and make a room for two on the couch. Aislinn climbed up and sat next to me.

“What happened last night? Did I…?”

“I don’t know, Aislinn. Maybe I was disappointed because I came home to an empty apartment to find you spending 30 minutes of the night with someone who nearly ruined our wedding. Because from the deepest part of my soul, I hate him,” I said. “Well, anyway, tell me what happened last night so I won’t be mad anymore.”

She looked at me in the eye and then raised her body from the couch. She headed the kitchen and then showed with two recently brewed coffee and the truffle box. She put it in the table in front of the couch, gave me a cup, took a cup for her, and then sat again next to me. I always know this girl could never speak properly with an empty stomach.

“So?”

“So, I was at that cafe, buying that box,” she pointed the box,”Suddenly, a man who was behind me on the paying row tapped my shoulder and went ‘Hey, Aislinn, can we have a talk?’. When I turned around, I started to scream internally. I mean, what does he want? It was like he once made me madly in love then the next day he dumped me in such a humiliating way. He also tried to sabotage my wedding with someone I truly love, yeah that’s you. All I can say was ‘Don’t talk to me unless it’s 8 or higher,’, you know, quoting Lily and Marshall when baby Marvin was out.”

“You’re awesome. Go on,” I said. I mean, quoting a line from HIMYM to a person you hate? That’s awesome.

“And then he said that it was an eight so I phoned you to ask for your permission,” she pouted. “We sat and he had a coffee. He told me that he was finally over me. He met a girl a year ago, a nice one and he thought that she was the one. Well, they decided to get married. Apparently, his girl does have a crazy ex-boyfriend who apparently isn’t over her just like how he used to, karma huh? So, he asked for my –our, actually- forgiveness so that he won’t be jinxed on his own wedding. And I did forgive him. He said thanks and sorry again, then I headed home.”

“That’s all?”

“That’s all.”

“Whoa, thank’s God I thought he was trying to steal you again,” I sighed as my worries remained as delusion.

“Now you know what happened. Can you forgive me for postponing our HIMYM marathon?” she sulked. She leaned closer and widened her eyes, hoping I’d be tempted to easily forgive her like that. But as a matter of fact, I was easily tempted.

I was wrong for being mad but I wasn’t wrong for being jealous. If I’m not jealous then I no longer care to what happen to her. But I guess my first ever jealousy was unreasonable because I didn’t trust my own wife’s sayings and I’m ashamed of that.

“Now I know what happened. Can you forgive me for being mad at you last night?” I asked for her forgiveness.

She nodded. She took my coffee off my hand. “Okay, HIMYM marathon right now?”

“Yes please!”

She turned on the TV and picked the DVD. When the movie had been rolling, she leaned to me and said, “We have just had a fight because we postponed our HIMYM marathon.”

“I guess we love each other too much that we can’t stand the idea of not being together.”

Goodnight Mom!

43

Penny Mosby was only 5 years old when it happened.

“Dad, why should I go to the hospital again today? I have visited this place three times in 24 hours!” said Penny innocently when her dad, Ted, lead her through the hospital corridors that night.

“You haven’t said ‘goodnight’ to Mom, honey,” he answered.

With a big white teddy bear –a birthday gift from her mom- in her left arm, little Penny asked, “I’ve said millions of ‘goodnight’ to Mom this past weeks. I’ve kissed Mom’s forehead for several times this past weeks. Why doesn’t Mom come to my room and do all that stuff just like every day she used to?”

Ted stopped and kneeled next to her. “Penny, Mom has done that to you since you were born. Now it is your turn to love Mom just like how she loves you,” he answered.

Her dad’s answer convinced her to walk through the corridor. The fact is, Penny hates hospital corridors since they remind her of that scary day when her mom screamed furiously when giving birth to Luke, her brother.

Ted gave a knock to room 203. They heard a weak voice welcoming them as they got in the room.

“Hi, angels,” Tracy said.

“Hi, love,” said Ted. He gave Tracy a quick kiss on her forehead. “Penny is here.”

“Hi, Mom!” Penny shouted with excitement.

“Hi, darling!”

Penny climbed to the side of her mom’s bed and she sat there. With the last bits of energy she had, Tracy moved her left hand and caressed her little girl’s brunette hair.

“Do you have any story to tell me, Penny?” she asked.

“Of course, Mom!” Penny adjusted her sitting position so that she could face her mom. “Today I baked cookies with Aunt Lily. She came to our house, Mom! I’ve waited that moment for weeks since I want to know how to bake cookies. Would you teach me how to bake other things when you aren’t sick anymore, Mom?”

“Yes, of course, honey! We will bake rainbow cakes together, okay? We can make 4 pieces: one for you, one for me, one for daddy, and one for Luke. Deal?”

“Deal!”

Penny high fived her Mom’s weak hands just like how they used to.

Suddenly, the machine which was connected to Tracy beeped.

“What is that, Mom?” asked Penny cautiously.

“Oh, it’s nothing to worry, honey,” answered her. Trying to distract her daughter’s attention, she said, “Other than that, what happened today, Penny? How was your school?”

“School is amazing, Mom! I had literature class today and Miss Robin read us the story of Little Red Riding Hood. I like that story. I don’t know why but I felt I had known the story before Miss Robin read that to us.”

“I have read that story to you once, honey. Don’t you remember?”

Little Penny frowned for a while. She tried to remember that memory seriously till wrinkles showed up on her forehead. Seeing the weird-cute face of their daughter, Ted and Tracy laughed.

Suddenly, Penny shouted, “Oh, yeah, I remember now!”

“Good. Can you name the stories both Mom and Dad have read to you?” asked Ted.

Penny named the stories both Ted and Tracy have read to her. She also mentioned the authors of the stories.

“Mom, would you like to play your ukulele for me? I’ve never heard you play ‘La Vie En Rose’ for weeks,” asked Penny suddenly. Tracy had always played that song when she tucked Penny and Luke to bed. That time, due to her sickness, she had never done that anymore.

“Honey, I’d love to. But I’ve lost all of my energy. Wish me the best, okay, honey? Once I recovered, I’ll play my ukulele for you as long as you want.”

Penny gladly nodded.

The machine beeped once more. That time it beeped longer than before.

“Penny, do you allow Mom to sleep like Sleeping Beauty? Mom is so tired, honey,” asked Tracy.

“Of course, Mom! You can sleep with thousands of flowers around you. When you’re not tired anymore, I’ll wake you up and we can play together again!” said Penny innocently. She didn’t know what her mom really mean.

“Thank you, honey.”

The machine beeped again.

“Penny, it is time to go home now. Uncle Marshall is waiting for you outside. Say goodbye to mom!” said Ted when the clock showed 10 pm.

Penny heavily sighed. She didn’t want to come home without Mom but she had to.

“Goodnight, Mom! See you tomorrow,” said Penny. She leaned to kiss her mom’s forehead and cheeks.

“Goodnight, honey. I’ll wait for you tomorrow.”

Penny climbed down the bed and walked to the door. She looked back to her Mom and waved her hand. Tracy blew a kiss to her and then Penny went outside the door. She raced to the parking lot where Uncle Marshall had been waiting for her to take her back home.

Ted stayed at the hospital. He was always accompanying Tracy however the condition was. They both watched Penny as she ran outside with her little legs.

“She’s so beautiful, isn’t she?” said Tracy, asking Ted’s agreement.

“She is. She is just like you,” Ted said.

Tracy gave him a weak smile and Ted kissed her hand.

“Go to sleep, honey. I’ll be here when you wake up tomorrow. I love you,” said Ted.

Tracy whispered, “I love you, the love of my life. I love our little angels too.”

She shut her eyelids. Her hands were clutched with Ted’s who slept in a plastic chair next to her.

“See you tomorrow,” said Ted.

“See you.”

Tracy fell into a deep sleep, a peaceful one. Right at 12 pm, the machine beeped so long so it woke Ted and a few nurses up.

The next morning, Penny went to the hospital with Uncle Marshall, Aunt Lily, and Luke to meet her mom.

“Why should I go to the hospital before school, Uncle Marshall? I supposed to meet Mom this afternoon. I could be late to school!” said Penny.

“You have to say goodbye to your Mom before you go to school, Penny,” said Uncle Marshall.

“Okay, Uncle Marshall.”

When she arrived at the hospital, she could only found her dad, sitting outside the room 203. His hands were covering his eyes, hiding the stream of tears from his eyes. Both Uncle Marshall and Aunt Lily gave Ted a look that expressed their condolence from their deepest heart. All of the adults in that room tried to hide their tears to prevent Penny and Luke acknowledging their Mom’s passing.

“Dad, where’s Mom?” asked Penny.

Ted looked up to see his little daughter waiting for his answer. His face was still moist and traces of tears still exist. Penny’s face was so innocent and somehow it reminded Ted of Tracy. Penny hadn’t known what happened to her Mom and Ted hadn’t had the guts to tell her what did really happen.

Instead of saying the truth, Ted said, “She’s still sleeping, honey. It’s not the time to wake her up. I think you can wake her up tomorrow when she’s not tired anymore.”

Penny nodded in agreement. She still wore a smile on her face. Today is not the day I should wake Mom up, she thought. Tomorrow, the word his dad had said was still echoing on her head.

Penny had always had that vision of waking her mom up one day and she had waited that day to come. Ironically, it took a few years for Penny to notice and accept that her Mom’s eyelids would never open again and the tomorrow her dad had promised would never come.


A fan fiction of How I Met Your Mother.

Under the Ferris Wheel

Navy Pier

It was a bright clear Sunday when I and Aislinn decided to take a walk around the city. We rarely go out on Sundays. Instead of having a couple time outside the apartment, we are likely to sit on a couch and watch movies or read different books with our hands clutched. Just enjoying our holiday in silence since our workdays tend to be hectic.

Maybe just because of boredom or other reason, we don’t really know exactly, we decided to spend this Sunday outside the apartment. It all started when Aislinn woke up and rolled crazily on the bed and nearly fall down. I didn’t know what she was dreaming about, and with her sleepy eyes, she said, “Peter, do you want to go for a walk and grab an ice cream?”. And I said, “What?”. And then she said, “Pretty please? I think today is going to be a goooood day for a walk,”. And yes, she said that ‘good’ word for more than 10 seconds.

After we got dressed and ready, I in my shirt and Aislinn in her sundress, we start strolling down the city. We’re talking about unimportant things and though it’s a waste of energy, I still enjoyed it. Despite the fact that Aislinn is my wife (so basically I love doing anything with her), having a small talk outside the room was quite refreshing for an animation designer like me.

“Honey, what flavor do you want?” she asked me when she was about to order.

“Chocolate peanut butter,”

“Chocolate peanut butter and cranberry, please,” she said. She opened her purse, grabbed some pennies, and paid.

It might seemed weird when a girl pay for things in a date, when the boy should be the one who pay, but we both don’t care. Love is about sharing everything you want to share with the people you love. Even the silliest thing in marriage, like money. Don’t call me a chicken, I’m still a gentleman. I pay the expensive things. Haha.

“Here you go!” she said, handing me a cone of ice cream.

“Thank you!”

We started walking toward the ferris wheel near the beach. We didn’t ride the ferris wheel, we just sat under it. We have a favorite bench under the ferris wheel which is facing the sea. That’s where we sat when we was on our first date.

“So, how’s your Sunday, Mrs. Goode?” I asked.

She turned her face to me and smiled, “Until now, pretty good, Mr. Goode,”

It’s funny how when you fall in love, you’ll memorize everything about her/him. When a man stays single, he rarely memorize the details of a girl since it’s not a man thing. But when you fall in love, everything seem to be carved on your brain. You’ll memorize how her lips crooked when she smiles or how good is the smell of her perfume. Everything.

“It’s so refreshing, isn’t it? Having a walk on a sunny Sunday,” she said, and then continued her words after she licked her ice cream, “I am a little bit bored editing scripts,”

Aislinn is an editor. She often edits movie scripts. But actually, her real passion is editing novels. She once said to me ‘Making adjustments on a novel that will make a good reading feels makes me feel amazing. Moreover if the novel I edited become a best-seller! I somehow feel useful’.

“But that’s still your passion, isn’t it, Honey?”

“It is.. but I guess I need something new. Something that will cause a greater impact to the world,”

“Well you can try to write seriously. Your short stories and poems are great, remember?”

She stared at me. I can see a little desperation and a glimpse of relief in her eyes. “Thanks, Honey,”

“Any-”

I hadn’t finished my words when we heard a woman scream furiously. We automatically searched the source of the sound. It was just on the other side of the ferris wheel where the source of the sound was. The source of the sound was a pregnant woman screaming while holding her tummy. Besides her, her -probably- 6 years-old boy were staring at her mom, knowing nothing to do.

In a blink of an eye, I already saw Aislinn running towards that pregnant woman. I followed her though I didn’t know what to do. Call 911? Of course, but what should I do in the mean time?

I dialed 911 and Aislinn knelt besides her. In a very weak voice, the woman said, “Bring me to the hospital. Call my husband and take care of my son,”

“Okay! My husband had called an ambulance to bring you to the hospital and please stay calm! Say, what’s your name?”

“I’m.. I’m Mrs. Abernathy. A.. Aisha,” she said. She sounded like she’s about to faint.

“Okay, Aisha. I’ll call your husband,”

I didn’t know how she did it but Aislinn acted calmly. Her hands trembled a little when she’s dialing Mr. Abernathy using Aisha’s phone, but she’s so calm. She also helped Aisha to breath properly. Different from Aislinn, I’m panicking inside. What if the ambulance took a long time to get here? What if Aisha delivered the baby here?

I felt relieved when I heard the siren of the ambulance. The nurses were coming out and helping Aisha to get in. Meanwhile, Aislinn dialed Mr. Abernathy for the second time to tell him where we and his wife was heading.

When we arrived at the hospital, I registered Aisha and Aisha was taken to another room where I couldn’t go to. I sat down on a bench beside Aislinn who was trying to distract the boy from what happened to his mom.

“What’s your name, Hero?” Aislinn asked. When he didn’t answer, she said, “My name is Aislinn. I’m a stranger but you can trust me. Your mom is okay, okay? She’s about to give you a brother or a sister!”

The little boy nodded a little and he gave a wary look at me. Aislinn said, “He’s my husband, Hero. His name is Peter. You can trust him too!”

“Hi Hero, I’m Peter!” I said.

And then the boy opened his mouth shyly, “I’m Zafran,”

“Wow, that’s such a good name, Zafran!” Aislinn praised him. “Tell me, do you like playing soccer?”

“Yes,”

“Okay. Who’s your favorite player?”

I walked to the entrance door to wait Mr. Abernathy and I could no longer hear their conversation. A few minutes later, I saw a man in a black coat running towards the hospital. I automatically said, “Mr. Abernathy?”

“Yeah! Yeah! Thank you, Peter! You’re Aislinn’s husband, right?” He was gasping so fast for air.

“Yeah. Your wife is inside and your son is with Aislinn down the hall,” I said, pointing a white and blue hall where Aislinn and Zafran was.

I followed Mr. Abernathy to the hall. Aislinn and Zafran were talking to each other when Zafran saw his dad and ran to hug him. I could see a great smile on both Aislinn and Zafran.

“Thank you so much, I owe you both a lot,” Mr. Abernathy said, tightening his hug on Zafran.

“It’s alright,” Aislinn said.

“Congratulations, Mr. Abernathy. May your baby born in a great health,” I said to him.

“Thank you so much, Aislinn and Peter. May your marriage blessed in joy,”

We nodded to him and went outside. I was about to walk Aislinn home when she grabbed my hand and asking me to sit next to her on a bench outside the hospital. She rested her head on my shoulder and I could feel her breathing fast. Her body was shaking and I figured out that she’s crying in silence. She was shocked.

“Hey, Aislinn Honey.. Don’t cry! You did good back there,” I reached her body and wrapped my arms around it.

Aislinn was crying on my chest. I could see people were watching us but I didn’t care. I kissed her forehead and brushed her red hair, doing anything to comfort her. Well, anything wise enough to be done in public.

A moment later, Aislinn said, “I know I did good.. I’m just afraid,”

“Well there’s nothing to be afraid of,”

“No, there is! What if we failed to bring her to the hospital on time? What if-”

“Honey, we succeed. You succeed. I don’t know what are you thinking about yourself, but you’re a hero! You saved someone’s life, no, two people’s life!”

She nodded. “I just want to save her, you know? Being useful to someone..”

“And you did save her. You’re already useful,”

She didn’t move in my arms. Instead, she said, “You know, Peter? I’m no Einstein. But I want to help others by what I know even though I know less. I want to do something good,”

“I know, Aislinn, I know. You don’t need to be Einstein to do something good. You can be just Aislinn and do something good. And I love Aislinn, I don’t love Einstein. So don’t compare yourself to Einstein. Be yourself, Honey. I know that Aislinn can do a lot of good things,”

Aislinn nodded. “I’m sorry. I’m shocked,”

“It’s okay,” I kissed her forehead again. And when she really stopped trembling, I let go off my hug and say, “Hey, wanna go home or grab some burgers? I’ll pay for hero of the day,”

She smiled weakly, “Burgers,”

“Alright then! To burgers we go!”

I held her hands and we went to the nearest burger shop. On our way there, Aislinn moved her hand from mine and hugged my arms. “Thank you. For everything,”

And she smiled. Her smile was so bright. That smile is the kind of smile that shows satisfaction, glad, and happiness. That smile is the kind of smile I would never stop looking at.

Couch Talk

Couch Cuddle 2

“I can’t believe it!”

“What?” she said, wincing her eyes towards me.

“That you cried while watching How I Met Your Mother’s ‘Last Words’,”

“What? No, no, no!” her voice was a few octaves higher. “I’m not crying!”

I brushed my hands on her cheek, wiping her tears. Her cheek felt a little moister than usual. I bet she cried the whole episode.

“Then why are your cheek so moist?” I asked.

“Sweat, Honey. This place is so hot!”

I brushed her smooth wavy red hair. “You’re covered by two layers of winter blankets and you were asking me to hug you tight till you feel warm earlier. I’m sure it’s so hot down there,”

“Fine, I cried,” she said gingerly. “What’s the matter anyway?”

“Nothing,” I said.

Aislinn pulled herself back a few inches from my arms. I suddenly felt cold physically but her unbelievably wide eyes which were staring at me warmed me.

“Really, Pete?” she spoke in disbelief. “I know you’re lying, you’re biting your lips,”

“Well, it’s nothing important,” I said and stretched my back. “It’s just.. I love the way you cry,”

“What?” she shrieked for the third time this night. She sounded like she was offended but her eyes was just full of disbelief. “So, do you want me to cry all day long?”

“It’s not like that, Honey! Not like other people, you looked beautiful when you cry,”

“What?” The fourth time.

“Look, I love it that you cry. I’m not the man who think that crying is a ‘coward alert’. The fact is, crying shows you that you have a heart. But what makes me stunned is that you’re crying while watching HIMYM’s ‘Last Words’, an episode of a sitcom with a sad plot, that’s all,” I said. “Tell me, what makes you cry?”

She shook her head and smile. “Of course Marshall’s pop’s funeral, idiot! What, you don’t feel sad?”

“Well, of course I do, but it doesn’t moved me that much. I mean, Marvin Eriksen is just a minor character,”

“Oh. Well, for me, it moved me that much. I feel sad for Marshall,” she explained. “Losing your dad, losing your ultimate best friend in the world really sucks. Remember when I didn’t get out of bed for days after my godmother died? I felt incomplete by losing a friend. Moreover, Marvin is not just a friend to Marshall. He’s Marshall’s best friend, Marshall’s pop,”

“Well, yeah. It’s so sad that Martha’s gone. She’s one of your best friend,”

She nodded. There’s a moment of silence between us.

“But still, Marvin is just a minor fictional character and you cried!”

“Peter!” she shouted. She turned her face away so that I couldn’t look her in the eye.

I grabbed her chin and turned her face gently so she faced me. I looked at her and she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. I love her wide eyes, her pointed nose, her thin lips, her red hair, her pink cheeks when she blushed. I love her anywhere anytime. She’s the love of my life.

Even when she is supposed to be in her ugliest look like right now, when she’s mad.

“Hey,” I said.

“Men are jerks, you know that, Pete? Their hearts are made of iron and steel, so hard to be moved. I can’t believe it that there are a human being like that,”

“Well, you’re marrying one of them,”

“Ha, unlucky me,” she rolled her eyes and gave me a fade smile.

“Look, I’m sorry that I teased you. But I love you,”

“Ha,” she said sarcastically.

“I mean it. You’re the only woman with the biggest heart I have ever known. You feel goddamn sad for a fictional character. I love how you’re easily touched,” I said. “Having a big fat heart is what every woman lacking right now. Women nowadays tend to be heartless, merciless, and selfish. And here you are, the only woman who still have a big fat heart and cares for everything, even a fictional character,”

She smiled and her smile light up my whole universe. “Thanks God I still have a big fat heart,” she said.

“Thanks God you still have a big fat heart. You’re the woman every man should have married, you know Aislinn? Beautiful, intelligent, too kind-“

“But I only want to be married to you,” she said.

“Thanks heavens!” I faked a sigh of relief to make her laugh though deep down in my heart I felt relieved.

“But don’t tease me like that again. It makes you look like a jerk,” she laughed and I felt warm though she’s still a little bit mad at me.

“I won’t promise,” I said humorously.

She made a horrible face to me and then continued laughing.

“Hey, you said that I’m beautiful when I cry. Am I more beautiful than when I was in my wedding dress?”

“What can I say?”

She grabbed a pillow next to her and hit me on my chest. “A woman is on her most beautiful look when she’s in her wedding dress. Other than that, she’s always uglier! Moreover when she cries! You’re teasing me again, aren’t you? I can’t believe you, Peter, after-“

I shut her lips by giving a quick kiss, “Seriously, will you shut up? I mean it, what if you always look beautiful?”

“Damn it!” Aislinn smiled and leaned closer to me. She grabbed the remote and continue our How I Met Your Mother marathon.