Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Their prey

January 2003

When I called her that evening, I repeated my email request that she should not make any bookings until we have agreed the dates.

Eventually she agreed to wait.

She then went on to tell me that she had booked a trip to Southern China, ‘so inexpensive’ she said, ‘and you know honey, I think you haven’t been there so is ok for you to see’
‘And is it ok for you too? I asked.
‘Is ok honey, but I don’t really like it, for Hong Kong people we always think that mainland China people are so dirty, you know they very poor, no money at all, and they don’t care about personal hygiene. They throw the shit in the street, so horrible’
‘Maybe they don’t have any other option. Nobody want to live like that’
‘Oh they don’t care, they are so undeveloped’
‘So maybe we shouldn’t go, if you don’t like it’
‘But might be interesting for you. We will join the tour. Will not be luxury accommodation, but hopefully will be clean. I will have to pay, as the agent won’t take the credit card’

‘If we make a trip, I want you to enjoy too. Why not go somewhere else, as we discussed before. I don’t think you will be comfortable if we do this trip’
‘Oh honey, I will be ok, I will be with you. You see I am considerate person. And you know I haven’t been for couple of years, so maybe better than I think. Honey don’t worry’

The conversation was drawing to a close, when I asked ‘you are not upset because I asked you wait before booking the wedding are you?’
‘Is ok honey, I understand, is just a matter of timing only, right?’
‘Yes’ I confirmed.

It is a great regret to me that I just cannot quite remember what she said next. I have tried so often to recall her exact words, but alas the memory is gone. I just wasn’t paying enough attention.
Alluding to an anonymous band of men who she has referred to before as her ‘admirers’, she hinted that they remained very much alive and were still actively seeking their prey

Friday, October 27, 2006

Only a monster

January 2003

It was now nearing the end of January, and in a few days I would be flying to Hong Kong again to spend eight nights with Maggie. I sent her a text, ‘we will be together soon’

Her email the next day said ‘Honey, so happy we will be together soon, I cannot wait, am counting the days until I see your sweet sexy face’

And then she went on to say, ‘Honey, I ask the friend who works in the hotel, how much for the wedding dinner. She wanted to know how many guests. We don’t need many guests right? What do you think? I don’t need to invite too many friends. Otherwise I think will be very expensive’

I wrote back, ‘Babe, you decide, don’t worry too much about money. Please don’t book anything yet though, I still haven’t agreed my holiday yet’

I’d decided at the moment to use my holiday as my excuse to delay her plans. It was rather weak, I knew, but I hadn’t come up with anything else. And if I did suddenly get inspiration, I would tell that my leave was approved but ………

If I could only get her agreement not to do anything more until after this trip. That should be sufficient delay since as always, I expected this trip to be my last. I had no concept how I was going to end this thing, and as each day went by I was allowing myself to be drawn further into it. But I had to do something soon, I had to do it before she started booking hotels and inviting people to a wedding that could never happen.

Only a monster would let her do that.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I don't need holiday

January 2003

‘Ok babe, I agree, if you are sure. Only don’t say anything to your mother yet. I will be there soon, we can talk about it more when we are face to face. Ok?’
‘So I will talk to hotels about our wedding dinner, see what deals we can get’
‘And when do you think we will get married?’
‘Around Easter time, as we said before’

So I had until Easter to let her down. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. How could I just break up without giving her a reason?

‘Do you really think we can arrange a wedding by Easter?’
‘Why not honey? Be honest honey, is it too much rush for you? You know I am the rush person. When decision has been made, I just want to do it as soon as possible. I cannot wait’
‘No it is not too soon, just seems like a lot of work for you. And I need to be sure I can get the time off work’
‘Honey, I don’t believe you cannot get holiday, you tell me you get five weeks holiday, so where is the problem?’
‘Babe, I told you before, my work cycle is monthly, and some weeks I just cannot take leave, I always have deadlines to meet’

‘Well honey, you don’t need to take much leave, only couple of days, then you can go back to work. Wedding only takes a day right?
‘Then we wouldn’t have a honeymoon. I wouldn’t be happy with that, I will want some time alone with you after we are married’
‘But honey, we can have holiday anytime, and maybe will be cheaper if not the peak season, honeymoon is nice, but not important right, wedding is much important. I don’t need holiday, I just need you’

My highest priority

January 2003

I felt a bit sorry after that, and sent her an email that evening saying ‘Babe, you need never worry, you are always safe with me, now and forever’ I also sent a text with a similar message.

She wrote back, ‘so happy to receive your sweet text, I know I should not worry, honey I know you are so sincere to me, I never have the doubt, only cannot wait until our happy day’

As always I called her in the afternoon. ‘How about I come over to UK?’ she asked.
‘I thought we decided you were coming over at Easter’
‘We did………….. but you know I’m thinking that I could come to UK to live after we marry, if you don’t have a job in Hong Kong’
‘Babe, you are changing your mind everyday’
‘Well honey I think everything is flexible, and if you don’t have the job, then our plan has to change, right? You know we have to be selfish, we have to think what we want, if we are going to be happy’
‘Have you mentioned this to your mother?’
‘No, just my thinking only. You know I want a solution to our problem’

‘So, are you saying now that you want to marry in Hong Kong, and then we move here?’
‘That’s what I’m thinking’
‘But I thought you never wanted to leave Hong Kong?’
‘You are right, I always say will never leave Hong Kong, even when sister ask me to live in Montreal. But now I meet you, I think place is not my priority anymore, you are my highest priority now’

‘And your job?’
‘You know is a good job, and my boss is very kind to me. But he is not priority too, you are much important to me now’

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

At least we would be married

January 2003

When we talked that evening, the conversation took on a new turn. ‘We could get married in the UK’ she said.

I stayed calm, ‘I guess so’ I replied, ‘but I don’t know how long we would need to wait. It takes a long time to organise a wedding I the UK.
‘How long? Honey, I don’t believe’
‘Well there is a waiting list for church weddings in the UK, I don’t know exactly, but I think about six months’
‘We always think that the westerner men don’t like to get married, so how can you have such a long waiting list?’
‘Well you are mistaken, they just marry later in the west. And all the girls like to have the church wedding’ I was making it up as I went along, but I didn’t think she could find that out.

‘Anyway’ I asked, ‘why are you asking about a UK marriage, I thought you wanted to marry in Hong Kong. Think how expensive it would be to fly all your family to UK’

‘Honey, I am just thinking how we can be together as soon as possible, you know I just want to start our happy life. Mother would not come to UK, but you know, she just wants me to be happy. Anyway seems that UK may not be such a good option. So as I say, nothing is perfect’
‘But darling, surely you want your mother to be there?’
‘Honey, nothing is perfect. I just want to be with you’

‘But babe, what would we do after we are married? I stay in UK and you go back to Hong Kong? I don’t think I could do that, do you? Just imagine how horrible that would be.’

‘But at least we would be married, and I could feel more secure’

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mistake no more

January 2003

‘I never think about that’ she said. ‘Always think we will be together, no more parting’
‘Well you need to think about it’
‘Honey, I will wait for you. So this is life. Nothing is perfect’

Then to change the subject, she said, ‘I will let you know more about the trip tomorrow, I will speak to another agent, but this agent will not take the credit card, so will have to pay cash.’

‘Well you do what is best babe, and have a think about whether you want a time limit’

I wanted her to repeat that she would wait for me, but she didn’t, and when the conversation ended a few minutes later, I felt a pang of disappointment that would stay with me throughout the night.

The next day I had another long email with various options for trips. I didn’t read it. I was more interested in her other email though. It said:

‘Honey, you know I will wait for you no matter what… you are the person who I want to walk together with for the rest of life… when you find true love, you must never let it go, otherwise will be regretting for whole life… I know we can wait for each other…. so no pressure honey, you loved one will be waiting here patiently… I have no doubts… we have waited a couple months already… I will look forward to our new life. .I know will be happy forever…’

So I got the response I’d wanted. So my mistake was a mistake no more. Without initially intending to do so, I had managed to change the expectation I’d created on the first day that I met Maggie, namely that I was certain of employment in Hong Kong.

I’d known for some time that the lie couldn’t last forever. I just hadn’t worked out how to deal with it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Time limit

January 2003

So I knew what was coming next.

‘Honey…… so how will you get the job in Hong Kong, if there is nothing for you to do here?’

I didn’t have chance to think.

‘My transfer to Hong Kong depends on the office there winning a new contract. When they get the work, I will be able to start. At the moment, they don’t have enough work to justify my coming over. You know, it is very expensive to employ me in Hong Kong.’
‘So how long do we have to wait?’
‘I don’t know. That is why I have never been able to give you a definite answer. You now I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep.’

I was pleased with that. This was a good turn around. Now I was showing myself in a rather positive light.

‘I understand honey, nothing is perfect, right? But you know I told family that we will marry at Easter. How can we marry, if you are still living in the UK?’

I didn’t know quite what she meant by that. I was quiet for a minute or two, and then when I did answer, I lowered my voice in an attempt to portray unhappiness.

‘Well there isn’t much I can do. They should win this contract, but if they don’t then………. Then I don’t know. I am very disappointed.’

‘Honey I understand, I just don’t want to wait, you know this is hard for us, I always want us to be together as soon as possible.’
‘So what do you want to do?’
‘Nothing. Just don’t want too much waiting’
‘So what is your time limit?’
‘What does that mean; time limit?’
‘Ok. At what point will you decide to give up waiting. How long before you decide that you don’t want to wait for me anymore?’

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another mistake

January 2003

She stopped. And I was expected to answer. I couldn’t answer, I was lost somewhere between Taipei and Vietnam. I stalled; ‘Do I need a visa for any of these places?’

‘Let me check tomorrow, honey’ she replied, ‘but what do you think? You decide’
‘Let me think. I will tell you tomorrow.’ What else could I say? I just hoped she didn’t notice how little I had taken in. Next time, I decided, I would try to write some of it down.
There was nothing more to say, so she changed the subject.

‘Honey, I was thinking I may need to work for one or two days when you are here. Otherwise I will use too much of my holidays. I want to save some for when we get married, so we can have the honeymoon. You want that too, right?’

I wasn’t really happy about this. ‘Do you want to change the plans?’
‘Of course not honey. Do you think I would spend so much time talking to the agent, if I wanted to change the plan. I just have to think about the holiday. I only get fifteen days a year, plus government holidays. I have to work the weekend before you come too, so I can get the Chinese New Year as holiday.’
‘You don’t get much holiday. Don’t you even get the new year off?’
‘Only by working the weekend. So you see, I need to be careful. If I use all the days now, I cannot take the honeymoon with you. You know I think the honeymoon is much important. Agree?

‘Ok babe, do what you have to’
‘Maybe you could go to work too’
‘I doubt that, there is nothing left for me to do in Hong Kong. All the work now is in Shanghai.’

Before I’d even finished speaking, I new I’d made another mistake.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What do you think?

January 2003

In the morning, amongst others, I found the following email:

‘Honey, let me know what you think…….
Taipei - four days, three nights, 3* hotel, leaving HK on Thursday 6th February - HKD3500. Bangkok – three days, two nights, 3* hotel, leaving HK on Thursday 6th February – HKD4000. Vietnam – four days, three nights, 3* hotel, leaving HK on Wednesday 5th February – HKD3250. Singapore – three days, two nights, 4* hotel, leaving HK on Wednesday 5th February – HKD4500……………’

And so it went on, including it seemed, every major city in Asia. After the second option, I wasn’t really reading, I skimmed over the rest, and replied simply:

‘Anywhere is ok for me. What would you like to do?’

That afternoon, I called her around the usual time. After the usual pleasantries, she said, ‘Did you get the email? I spoke to another agent. They say, we can go to Taipei, three nights, four days on the tour, in 3* hotel for HKD3200, of 4* hotel for HKD3600. If you rather go to Vietnam, then four days, three nights will cost HKD3500 for 3* hotel, but they only have four places left, so you need to tell me tonight if you want to go to Vietnam. Otherwise, we could go to Phuket for three days, two nights for HKD3500, or Bangkok for HKD3250. What do you think?’

I didn’t get chance to answer.

‘Then they also have a three day trip to KL, but we have to join the tour, that is quite good price too, only HKD3300. What about Singapore, you never been there right? Three days will cost HKD4150, I don’t know why Singapore is more expensive, it is quite boring place, but if you never been, then why not? Or we can just go to China, maybe Beijing, you don’t need to go to Shanghai, right?’

I never knew she could talk so fast.

‘So honey, what do you think?’

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sounded good though

January 2003

The next day we were back to normal. She spoke to me as if nothing had happened, entirely forgotten. 'Say something sweet' she said.
'Oh..... umm.... how about....... sugar?'
'Honey, say you love me'
'Ok... you love me'

We were laughing again and planning our time together for Chinese New Year. 'we should go somewhere for travelling' she said. 'Let me see, Chinese New Year is on the Wednesday, then we could have go somewhere else, you might be bored, a whole week in Hong Kong'.
'I doubt that, but a trip might be nice'
'Where would you like to go? How about Taipei? Or Bangkok? You never been there, right? Maybe we could join the tour, get a better deal, let me check with the agent'

'Will that be ok with your mother, I thought she wanted you home for the new year?'
'Oh honey, she is flexible, and she knows you are my first priority.'
'Ok, if your sure'

'Sister will be in Hong Kong for new year, with her boy friend. she says they will marry in August'
'So will I meet him?'

This was a bit of a worry for me, since he was a fellow westerner, and male of course, and it occurred to me that he may notice a little of my disguise, or at the very least, ask awkward questions. I already thought that Maggie's sister didn't entirely trust me.

As I drove the car home that night, I had plenty of time to think, the traffic was heavy as always. What could he find out? He might have suspicions; so what? I wasn't going to admit to anything. I had my story pretty straight by now. On balance, it didn't seem to be much of a threat. Anyway, I'd already made plans. All I had to do was get my flight booked.

A trip to Taipei sounded good though.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So that was it

January 2003

‘But honey, as I already say, I forgive you, I know you will not upset me in this way again. If we keep talking on this subject I will feel uncomfortable. So case closed ok?’
‘But if you say that I upset you, how can I let that go?’

I was beginning to feel bored with the subject myself, but still did not want to let it go. I didn’t want to hear that I was forgiven, I wanted her to apologies, to accept the blame.

Lucia stepped into my office, it was two days since we’d had dinner, and we hadn’t spoken since, when she saw I was on the telephone she left me a note saying, ‘please see me before you leave tonight’.

‘Honey, you did upset me, but know is forgotten, ok? I am happy again now, I know I will see you soon. Maybe we can go somewhere for traveling, you know Hong Kong is much boring. We could go to Taipei, I think they have good deal for New Year, let me call the agent’
‘But it was not all my fault that you were upset. You misunderstood, you know that don’t you’
‘Honey, every problem is made by two persons. Honey, I just want to be with you. You know all the problem is caused by us being apart. When we are married, you know, there will be no more problem like this. You know, I want to get married as soon as possible, then will be so happy. You are right, the problem is my misunderstanding only, caused by missing you so much.

So that was it. We were happy again.

I worked late that night, having fallen behind these last few days. I didn’t get chance to speak to Lucia.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Might have ended differently

January 2003

The conversation hadn’t made me feel much better. Although Maggie kept saying that she wanted to be with me. I just didn’t want her idolized view of me to be spoilt in anyway. And equally, I had no idea how to make sure that it wasn’t.

That night, I had arranged to have dinner with Lucia. She was back in the UK, and I’d decided she would not return to Shanghai, after the incident we’d had a month earlier.

I wasn’t really in the mood, as we walked toward the High Street, so I knew even before we sat down that the evening would be a difficult one.

Really there was only one topic of conversation for us, but clearly neither of us wanted broach it. Actually I was really hoping she would; I wanted to hear her say that her feelings hadn’t changed. If she had, then I think perhaps the evening might have ended differently.

As it happened, she didn’t mention it, and there remained an awkward sadness between us. Fortunately, the Indian restaurant we’d chosen wasn’t busy, and so the food was served quickly. We struggled to find things to say, I asked whether she had enjoyed the Christmas break.

At the end of the evening, I drove her back to her lodgings. ‘So this is where I live now’ She said.
‘Is it ok?’ I asked
‘Oh yes, its fine. Anyway, its only weekdays’
I wanted to say, ‘I do have some feelings for you’. Not because I did, but because things seemed uncertain with Maggie, I wanted Lucia to make me feel better. I wanted her to touch me.

Instead though, I simple said ‘goodnight’