Short Stories


I was cheered because you were here

The first time I heard about Lucas, I thought what I heard was such an exaggeration. No man could be that talented and yet strikingly handsome and humble. Obviously, her standards were not that high.

Imagine, a 36 year old single man who already has ten published books, has won writing competitions, been interviewed by radio stations and appeared on television shows a couple of times. Such an accomplished writer also has a V shaped body? Poop! Who says so?

Most writers have a sloppy posture, are overweight and wear old fashioned clothing or something without style, as if wearing anything elegant would destroy their writing abilities. Typically, their hair is messy, dry and brittle and has never been touched by a professional hair stylist. Silky, shiny, trendy and perfectly shaped hair is apparently only for models.

Some writers wear glasses as thick as the bottom of a drinking glass. Their awkwardness on the social scene is the result of dealing with imaginary characters for too long. They can no longer cope with reality very well.

I heard that he was 6 foot 2 inches tall with brown hair and side burns. Hazel eyes with dreamy looks, he stood up straight, wore an alternative style of clothing and looked people in the eye with a smile. Yeah? If any man was that good, he wouldn’t still be single. Some woman would have grabbed him and made him a husband a long time ago.

“Today is his girlfriend’s wedding day but he isn’t the groom.”

A new acquaintance told me this at a house party. That was the first and the last thing she said to me that night. I could tell she was one of his fans.

That was the first time I laid my eyes on Lucas.

He was popular with the ladies. With more than thirty of them present, I didn’t get a chance to have a close look at him. From what I saw from the distance, I could see why some men disliked him; he was so much better looking and well bred than they were.

I overheard a man say to another, “Call Sammy away from Lucas, before he takes an interest in her.”

“They’ve known each other for a while now; she’s cool.”

“Lucas just lost his seven year relationship. The situation is different now.”

Really? Were women under his spell? He could have anyone he wanted? Please, women have choices. He may have been better than most other men but he was still a man wasn’t he?

Nowadays women are more aware of their own needs compared with past generations. We don’t need men to fulfil our dreams, to pay our bills, to make us feel good about ourselves.

We stay with men for support, common interests and a relationship. If men no longer fulfil our needs, we walk away from them. Like me, I walked away from a five year relationship because I had had enough of his constant insincerity and lying.

To be able to pack my bags and go back to the same room that I grew up in was a necessary step for my self-respect.

*        *        *

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. Helen had invited our parents and me over to her new house for a barbeque; a house for which they had been saving the deposit for years and for which they would owe the bank money for the next 25 years. Mum and Dad were looking forward to the first barbeque that their first born was holding in the property that one day she and her husband would fully own.

Brian was happily assembling the outdoor seating with Dad in the backyard. Mum was busy helping Helen in the kitchen preparing salad. When the doorbell rang, I volunteered to open the door.

Walla, standing in front of me was Lucas with a big smile. Ladies, eat your heart out, I had him all to myself!

“Hi Lucas!”

“Have we met? My memory is not my strong point.” He was most apologetic.

“No, I saw you in the distance at the Robinson’s house party last month. You were surrounded by the ladies.”

“Ladies are friendlier than the gents; they are far more compassionate and caring. That’s why females are superior to males.”

I could understand why so many women liked him; he was a charmer alright.

“I am Kristen. This is my sister Helen and her husband Brian’s home.”

“Pleased to meet you, Kristen. I live right next door. I have lots of pear trees in the backyard. Every year around this time, I have plenty of pears. If I don’t pick them, they’ll rot on the trees or get eaten by the birds.”

He had two plastic bags full of the pears with him.

I invited him inside the house. All of my family members were delighted to meet him. He was the kind of person who would fascinate you once you laid your eyes on him.

Brian insisted he stay for the barbeque. I was pleased when he agreed to stay.

Five hours later, I could see he had captured both my parents’ attention. I understood that, when you have a 31 year old daughter still living at home with you, a legitimate single man was the apple of your eye.

Mum thought Lucas was a good catch for any woman. He looked like he could be a Hollywood film star. I had to admit that he was a handsome man. With masculine facial lines, I would say he was the best looking man I had spent some time talking to.

Dad thought he was a well-read, well-spoken, well-mannered and unusual young man. Dad spent quite some time talking to him about stamp collecting, one of the world’s most popular hobbies. Dad accumulated stamps for sheer enjoyment and relaxation without worrying about their value and prices.

They talked about the variety of colours, watermarks, paper differences, perforations and printing errors. I could see Mum was so impressed with Lucas. A young man who could talk to Dad about stamp collecting was beyond her imagination.

Brian was a typical Aussie bloke. If you didn’t know much about sport, he wouldn’t spend more than five minutes with you. He and Lucas talked about football, cricket, tennis, soccer, even sailing. I was amazed that a man like Lucas would know sports so well. I was not surprised that Brian told Helen that “Lucas’ cool”.

Helen had never liked any guy I ever dated. She often said “You are dropping your standards”. After Lucas had left, she said to me, “Don’t let this fish swim away from you.”

My whole family was charmed by Lucas. I didn’t blame them; I was totally smitten by him. It was not so much what he said, it was the way he said it, almost like he knew you so well. He knew when and what to say at the right moment; your emotions felt totally exposed in front of him.

He said that life’s journey is a loss because we are always waiting for something to happen. A child waiting to grown up, a graduate waiting to get a job, a mother waiting to become a grandma, an old man waiting for his children to visit. It doesn’t matter whether our wishes come true or not, when we look back, that waiting time is already gone. We’ve lost it, there’s no way we can get it back. We are losing it every second, every minute, every hour, every day and every year. So make each breath worthwhile, focus on what you want, build your own foundation, love what you do. Otherwise stop it, let go of what is not right for you, make a sea change.

After hearing what he said, I felt good and assured. It was the same way I did things but it was so different from others. Some would accuse me of being weird. Finally, I had met someone who had the same attitude towards life. How could I not like someone who thought the same way as me?

He thought time was like an arrow. It kept going forward with no return. Our universe began around 13.7 billion years ago. After the Big Bang, time continued; it never stopped. The perception of time comes first and then the understanding comes later. So the understanding doesn’t change the perception, it just helps us put that perception into a wider context.

I could listen to Lucas again and again. He wasn’t just a good reader; he had to be a great thinker too.

Mum decided to bake something with the pears the following week, at Helen’s house, and organised to send me over to Lucas’ place to be the delivery angel. Mum said it was etiquette to return your neighbour’s kindness.

Normally, I would say it was all a bit tacky but I would do anything to be close to Lucas, even something tacky that Mum suggested. I had never met a man with as interesting a philosophy as his. Not to mention that I had jumped to the top of the list and become his number one fan.

*        *        *

Mum gave me a plateful of piping hot pear crumble and told me to take it to Lucas, along with a small container of ice cream.

It was 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. Dad and Brian were in the garage fixing the old Aston Martin. Mum took off her apron and gave me an encouraging look. Helen crossed her fingers and kissed me on the check.

I was too excited to feel awkward. Holding onto Mum’s creation, I walked to Lucas’ house, hoping he was home.

Lucas opened the door with a pleasant smile.

I was surprised to see a very neat and tidy place, although there were many books, newspapers and magazines on the coffee table and the lamp tables.

He showed me around the house. It was a four bedroom old style home and the rooms were all large in size with nine inch high ceilings. He had turned one room into a gym with a body building machine, weights and rowing exercise equipment.

“I switch on classical music while I am exercising. It relaxes me and doesn’t interfere with what’s on my mind so I can continue to think of my story while I am working on my body.”

His bedroom was simple. A whole series of paintings of Australian scenery hung on the walls. The pure white linen showed off the craft of the dark wood bed head.

“I love the feel of natural cotton. I sleep better with it than with synthetic material.”

The study was a mess in great order. There was a giant desk with two smaller desks on either side with many racks of trays on the side desks. A large world map, along with a few notice boards, was fixed on the wall.

“This board has the information that I am currently working on; my characters’ looks, personalities, backgrounds and plots are here. When I finish the story, I’ll empty this board so it will be ready for the next story. Every time I have a new idea, I write it down and pin it on that board.”

Next to the study was the filing room. He had an outstanding filing system. All the information he had was filed into the system.

“Ask me anything; see if I have the information.”

“Alright, how about a recipe for pear crumble?”

He showed me that first he looked under ‘R’ for ‘Recipe’, then under ‘Dessert’ within the ‘Recipe’ section, then under ‘Pear’ within the ‘Dessert’ section. He did have recipes for ‘Preserved pear’ and ‘Pear with red wine’ but not for pear crumble. I was really impressed.

The kitchen indeed needed a renovation. The last time it was updated was when he was a little boy. He remembered walking through the renovation mess and thought it was such fun.

“If my next book sells well, I’ll update the kitchen and the bathroom, rewire the whole house, pull the carpet away and polish the floorboards.”

The back garden was huge with many established trees and plants. I could see he was not a keen gardener.

“My grandpa was a keen gardener. When he was alive, this garden was magnificent. He wouldn’t be happy if he could see it today. You can’t tell now but once this was one of the best gardens in the area; it was even featured in the local paper. I don’t have the time and passion to look after the garden.”

Fair enough, we only have 24 hours a day. We can’t do every single thing; we all have to prioritise. One thing I have no time for is baking. That’s what supermarkets and cake shops are for. They have different flavours of cakes, cheesecakes, pies and tarts. Why waste time in the kitchen? It may not turn out as nice as the commercial ones.

The land was twice as big as Helen’s. There were not many old properties like that in the street. Most of them were either completely renovated or had been replaced with a new house.

I didn’t want to leave but, just to be polite, I left after the tour of the house.

Mum’s wish came true. Lucas asked me to have dinner with him the following Saturday.

*        *        *

He called me on Friday, the day before our first date.

“Do you like Italian food?”

“Yes, I love Italian food.”

“Good. Tomorrow night there’s a cancellation at my favourite Italian restaurant. I just received the call confirming that we have a table. If you like, you can wear something suitable for dancing. Italian places are great for food, music and dance.”

“Do you like dancing?”

“I love all art forms. My mother taught me how to dance when I was a child.”

“I am afraid I don’t know much about dancing.”

“The other day I saw you tapping your feet to the music. You have the rhythm. You’ll be ok; I can lead you as long as you don’t have two left feet.”

I didn’t know how he could tell just by looking at me that I would be able to dance. I didn’t have the confidence that I could follow his lead.

The restaurant was full, mainly with older customers. That either meant young people couldn’t afford to go or didn’t know the free style ballroom dances.

The head waiter seemed to know him. He introduced us. I liked his friendly way of handling the staff in the restaurant.

We had a table next to the wall and near the dance floor.

“We got the best table I think.”

“If you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice back to you.”

“Does that always work?”

“Not always. Some people are not able to recognise it but most of the time, it works like magic.”

“You’re such a good person. I suppose you’re also religious then? Do you believe in God?”

“I used to pray every day when I was a boy. Now my faith is not as strong as it was. I find it hard to believe something that I don’t understand.”

A four-person band played mostly old time music. Lucas showed me the basic steps for the waltz. He told me to relax the body and feet, listen to the beat in the music and follow it. Just remember, start with the right foot first, step back and count 1-2-3 with your feet, then the left foot steps forward first, and count 1-2-3. Repeat it all over again and again until the music stops.

Guess what, I did it. His right arm held my back firmly while his left hand held my right hand. I could feel his body movements and his hands gave me a good guide too as to which direction I should dance.

I had a wonderful time dancing. It just showed that with a good teacher, a student will learn what is there to be learnt.

“You are a good teacher.”

“You have a sharp mind. Learning new things is obviously easy for you. It was a pleasure to show you the dance steps.”

“Is there anything you don’t know?”

“Plenty. I might seem to know something but really, I know very little. It is important to me to keep quiet when I don’t know much about the subject. If I say things that I have no idea about, I could easily make myself look like a fool or a liar, couldn’t I? I learn from watching how people operate. I try not to do what others do wrong.”

“What deep thoughts you have. Often people say things they know nothing about. For example, like when you meet someone, another person would say to you ‘He’s a nice bloke’. One day you might find out that he actually got arrested for beating his wife. How can a person be nice when he can’t even be nice to his own family? The man who said he’s nice obviously didn’t know what kind of man he was. If you don’t really know the person, why make such a remark?”

“Wow, you blow my mind away. We have the same views on honesty. People talking about things they don’t know about is part of dishonesty.”

“Too many people say things they know nothing about. They just want their voice to be heard. Pretty much like a little puppy, they bark for no particular reason, just for the sake of barking. That’s annoying and irritating.”

“Absolutely. Another human behaviour which is so bazaar is that some people can spot other’s wrongdoing and they talk about it like they have such high morals. When you really look at them though, you often find that they are doing worse than what they let others see. As though they are not in the wrong as long as no one knows what they are doing. Pretty much like criminals; before they get caught, they act like law abiding citizens. When they get caught, they feel sorry. Not sorry for what they have done but sorry that they got caught.”

“How about when people get married, they agree to have and to hold, from that day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do them part. Unfortunately, some of them continue their private affairs like an unmarried person but they expect the other person to fulfil the wedding vows.

Some others carry on as if they are still single, cheating others like nothing was wrong. Once others find out the truth, they move to another social circle and continue their lies.”

We didn’t ask personal questions. Mostly we talked about our beliefs, standards and qualities. I found our thoughts were pretty in tune and on the same wavelength, which was a unique experience for me.

 “You have a fascinating mind. There are not many people I can have this kind of conversation with. In fact, I’ve only had this kind of conversation once. I was going to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in Austria. On the way there, I met an old Buddhist monk on the bus. He was a truly enlightened soul. I enjoyed the talk we had very much.”

“I’ve been to Eagle’s Nest. It was a heavy foggy day up there. I remember the restaurant was dark and cold.”

“Typical Austrian and German style; not my cup of tea. I like bright surroundings.”

“So do I, dark places make me feel uncomfortable.”

“I don’t like to wear dark coloured clothing either.”

“We are not very Australian.”

We heard a baby crying at a large table on the other side of the dance floor. A young father tried to settle the baby down without success. A young woman, who looked like the baby’s mother, was drinking wine.

“Poor baby,” I couldn’t help saying.

“It’s not easy to be parents. Many people want children but don’t care about the responsibility.”

“I am glad you said that! Anyone who doesn’t want to sacrifice should never become a parent.”

“No parent should take a baby out to a public place at this hour.”

My admiration towards Lucas was growing by the minute. He should be a life coach and teach people what their parents should have taught them.

“Parents can’t teach their children what they themselves don’t know.”

“That’s true. But maybe parents have no chance to learn how to be parents.”

“Nowadays, with the internet and libraries within easy reach, it costs nothing to learn. There are plenty of experts who talk about all kind of subjects. It’s up to the individual to reach out and learn how to be a better parent. People who don’t care for children and wish to remain childless, fine! They have no need to learn how to be good parents. People who don’t bother to learn are the people who shouldn’t have children because they bring problems into the world.”

Time flew when we were having such a good time. I was exhausted by the time I got into bed. My feet and legs were tired from dancing. My brain was stuffed with all the philosophy that I had learnt from Lucas. It would take me a very long time to digest it all.

For once in my life, I thought I was not smart enough to be with the man. I could understand why women worshipped him the way they did.

Did I enjoy my first date with Lucas? Absolutely, definitely, yes! The only thing wrong was it was too short. The night had flown unbelievably quickly. I loved to be his companion. I wanted to learn to be smarter and I hoped I hadn’t disappointed him.

*        *        *

The next morning, I was the first person to walk into the local library. I borrowed two of the books Lucas had written.

When he called, I was in the middle of reading his novel.

“You left something in my car last night.”

I tried to think what it could be? I had both of my earrings. I remembered I had taken them off last night before going to bed. I didn’t open my handbag in his car so nothing could have fallen out from it.

“This morning when I opened the car door I could smell your perfume and your scent.”

I laughed.

“Thank you for the lovely evening.”

“Thank you for the dance lesson. I never knew I liked dancing until last night.”

“Well, as long as you enjoy it, we can do more dancing in the future.”

“I am reading ‘The Other Side’.”

“That’s my third published book. Many people have asked me if that was my own story. I can assure you that is not the case. I am an open and uncomplicated man. The main character in that book was a secretive person. Totally opposite personality to mine.”

Lucas had an instinctive understanding that there is a unifying thread throughout all of life. He wanted to tap into the universal consciousness. He allowed himself the opportunity to express his vision of life and saw himself lucky enough to do what he loved to do.

Therefore, he saw difficulties and complications as part of life’s journey. No matter who you were, no one was able to avoid them. He just wouldn’t let them weigh him down.

I wished I could learn more of his philosophy. It would help me to get over some of my own hurdles.

“Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason and mind.”

I felt like I was talking to someone who had more than two generations of experience, not someone who was just five years my senior.

We began having daily contact by email and text messages. Our weekly meetings gradually increased to three or four times a week.

I admit that they were mostly my ideas or suggestions. That made me wonder whether his accommodating nature simply accepted walking the road that I paved or did he really enjoy being with me?

“I don’t have to be with you if I don’t enjoy your company. I have the choice. I like to be with you because you are different. You are willing to learn; that shows you are open minded. You’re interested in what I think; it means you care for me. I find you stimulating, with the capacity to expand. You have a vivacious personality that I adore. I believe both parties should feel the same way. We are two individuals, trying to spend time together to learn about each other. What we do or how we spend the time is not important.”

They were the most romantic words I’d ever heard. He brought great satisfaction to me. I was lucky to have come into contact with him.

The very next day I received a poem from him by email.

The memories before we met

Seem beyond this lifetime

The time we share

Occupies all my attention

Adjustments for social events

Is a necessary means to an end

The assurance I received from you

Is a matter of pure intellect

You have a way

To handle my particularity

Allowing me to indulge

In your thoughtful protection

Privileges and rights may lapse

If habits are not integrated

Vigilance merged with care

No grief during retrospection

I didn’t know how to react to such a beautiful poem. It made me melt from head to toe.

*        *        *

They were the happiest three months of my life. We laughed, talked, shopped and cooked together. How I wished the happiness I received from Lucas could continue the rest of my life.

Lucas was a gentle, impressionable and receptive man. He wanted to share his emotions and was also happy to receive the demonstrative love of others. I had a preview when I first saw him. He was like a magnet. Ladies couldn’t help being close to him. They loved to talk to him, to listen to what he had to say. Just like me.

He was very comfortable under the spotlight. Why wouldn’t he be? He was a good looking man who had probably been treated very well everywhere he went ever since he was a child. Being a writer would impress ladies. Where else could a lady find a compassionate and unconditionally loving man?

I understood it but I didn’t cope with it very well.

Our first unhappiness wasn’t either of our faults. It was just a situation that I couldn’t handle. He was a treasure in the public’s eye. It showed that, in comparison, I was nobody at all. That is not easy for anyone to accept.

Mum thought I should be grateful that he chose me to be his girlfriend. Yes Mum, that was the right way of thinking before I was close to him. I didn’t choose to be unhappy; I just didn’t like to be left in the corner and to watch him surrounded by so many ladies.

Dad warned me, not everyone could be in someone’s shadow; it was a lonely place to be. Any woman with Lucas would always be in his shadow. It was not his doing. It was nature’s gift to him that made him so outstanding but it destroyed his chance to find happiness.

Lucas knew I was unhappy about the situation. I believed it was not a new scene for him.

I tried to make myself busy. I didn’t contact him for a while. Four weeks passed. I didn’t hear anything from him either. What was going on? Did I always have to be the person to make the first move?

Without emailing or calling him, I turned up on his doorstep. I wanted to see if he was seeing someone else.

He didn’t answer the doorbell. I knew he was home. Through the partly broken door, I could see his car parked in the garage. I called out his name.

The front door finally opened. Lucas smiled happily with tears in his eyes. I was shocked and didn’t know what to do.

“Come on in.” He wiped his eyes with tissues. “What a pleasant surprise. You should have called me so I could prepare for you.”

“Are you alright?” I was really worried to see he had been crying.

“Oh yes, I am ok. Don’t mind me crying. I often do that when I am writing. In fact, I’ve been crying for the past few days.”

“Are you writing a true story?”

“No, it’s all a fabrication. I often cry or laugh with my characters, like they are my family. No one can understand it.”

He had not been out shopping for a while. There was no food or milk in the fridge. He told me when he started writing, he often lost track of time. He wrote until his eyes wouldn’t open any more, then he went to bed and slept. He slept until he couldn’t sleep anymore, then he got up to do more writing. He ate when he was hungry but often he didn’t feel any hunger because he was too involved in his story.

That was the pure and lovable side of Lucas. He immersed himself in the story, forgetting all about himself. The outside world may as well not have existed. That was why his stories were so convincing and realistic.

He didn’t realise that we had not seen each other for weeks. Once he walked into his creative world, he lost track of reality.

“Good, at least you still clean yourself.”

“That’s hygiene. I couldn’t compromise that.”

I remember he told me about an incident that occurred once he was at a ski lodge with a group of people shooting a movie. One night a well-known actress, who always played a sweet and ladylike beauty, came into his cabin wearing a dressing gown with nothing underneath. When she took off her dressing gown, all he could think of was how many sexual diseases she carried.

Not many men would care about hygiene when confronted with a naked beauty. That was the sensible and wise side of him. Although many women threw themselves at him, he was never a womanizer.

Lucas could never be a playboy. He was too clean and too rational to be one. What was I doing at his place? Kristen, shame on you, you and your mind!

I went with him to the supermarket. His mind was pretty much on his chapters, although he was happily talking and told me that he was going to cook dinner for me the following Saturday.

Cooking was not something I could brag about. I didn’t expect too much from Lucas’ cooking either. After all how many man could really cook? Those who could would have already become chefs. Most of the men I knew could barbeque some chops and sausages but that was about it. If you asked them to do a salad as well, you would be wasting your breath. They either chose to ignore you or had selective hearing. Either way, it would not happen. They could happily eat the meat on its own. They would never ever understand why women want salad, just to pick a fight?

*        *        *

I arrived at Lucas’ place right on time. He opened the door wearing his chef’s white hat and long black apron. He looked like those chefs on the television cooking shows, except much handsomer and more distinguished.

The house smelt good from the cooking. The background music was Michael Buble’s romantic love songs. That surprised me; how did he know I liked Michael Buble’s songs?

Not many people could have done a better job than Lucas had done decorating the dinner table in such an artistic way.

There was a bright red tablecloth with a white table runner on the eight seat rectangular dining table. Both ends had a silver plated candelabrum which held five red candles. Next to the candelabra were two round vases holding different coloured flowers from the garden. Two gold placemats sat opposite each other, with cutlery for four courses and white cloth napkins. Red wine crystal glasses and an already opened bottle of pinot noir completed the table setting.

Very impressive indeed. The atmosphere was so wonderful. Even if take away pizza was being served, it would not have diminished the delightful ambience.

The first course was half a dozen grilled oysters set on a plate of rock salt. It was the first time I had seen a three teeth oyster fork. A few years back it had taken Lucas many weeks of waiting for the special order to arrive. He loved oysters and he was the kind of person who liked to do everything the proper way.

The second course was Dutch cream potatoes with mushrooms. A big tall mushroom along with a shorter one, with potatoes as the stems, sat on the tasty cream sauce. They looked so appetizing and tasted so delicious too.

The third course was a medium rare eye fillet steak with polenta and sliced olives accompanied with artichoke hearts, capers and a baby rocket salad. I had had polenta before but it couldn’t compare with what Lucas had cooked – crisp outside and soft in the middle, the salty olives giving it a savoury taste.

The dessert was Kahlua cappuccino cream in a cocktail glass, decorated with crumbed Flake chocolate. It tasted as good as it looked.

He was a relaxed host. We took our time to go through the courses. We talked, laughed, danced and most of all enjoyed the delicious food he had cooked.

Lucas set a high standard. There was no man who could compete with him; how could anyone be that great?

It was a rare chance for any woman to experience that wonderful sense of perfection, beauty, luxury and calm.

Lucas had the ability to show his affection, sincerity and profound communication skills, making me feel emotionally secure. Our relationship strengthened and deepened in an emotional way.

I felt like all my troubles and unhappiness had evaporated, as if by magic. My self-confidence soared. I felt I could love the whole world.

*        *        *

The next morning, I received a poem by email that Lucas had sent in the early hours before he went to bed.

You remind me of someone

Whom I know very well

Her eyes tell me the story

Others tried with words but failed

Her smile instantly

Warms up the early spring air

No one before her

Was able to lead me

To walk through my resistance

To reach out to whatever is beyond

Pleasantly as I remember

That someone happens to be you

Tears poured out from my eyes. Oh Lucas, why were you so splendid?

At breakfast, I gave Mum and Dad the biggest hug they had ever received from me. They couldn’t understand the happy tears in my eyes. How could anyone explain a woman’s behaviour when she is madly in love?

I didn’t disturb him that Sunday. I respected his need for space. After all, he had already wasted a whole day yesterday preparing dinner. I couldn’t ask him to sacrifice his sleep in as well. I surprised myself by being so thoughtful. Where had the ‘What I want…’ girl gone?

Malcolm came by on the day which marked eighteen months since we had separated. He wanted me to give him another chance and he promised that he would change.

He told me how much I meant to him and how he missed me.

Words, words, words, nothing but words. Words were cheap, they meant nothing to me. Lucas was a writer, a person who knew words better than anyone else. Yet I received his feelings through non-verbal communication.

Save it, Malcolm. It was not working on me.

I didn’t understand how I could have once loved Malcolm. Look at him; his jeans were half way down his hips, the beer gut sat on his belt as if he was six months pregnant. He had come to ask me to go back to him but he hadn’t even bothered to shave first. The t-shirt on his body should have been in the wash, the runners on his feet should have been in the rubbish bin long ago. Why had I put up with such a dirty and disgusting man? I felt sick just looking at him.

Malcolm was a typical, average Australian guy; a crude and rude jerk. Pretty stuck up, full of himself with a disrespectful attitude. I used to think all young men were like him and that only the oldies like my Dad were gentlemen.

Lucas had showed me that young men could be gentlemen if they chose to. Once I saw how high standards could be achieved, there was no way I wanted to go back to a jerk. ‘Good-bye Malcolm, I would forever not be yours.’

What a fool I had been but it was all in the past now. I wouldn’t settle for a low standard man anymore.

I asked Malcolm to leave. I could see the agreement in Dad’s eyes. Had Lucas influenced Dad as well?

Malcolm was not happy but that was not my problem anymore. I was very pleased with myself when I closed the door on him.

I spent all day in my room creating a poem to send to Lucas:

If I were your wife

Thank you for marrying me

If I were your mistress

Thank you for loving me

If I were your girlfriend

Thank you for choosing me

If I were your playmate

Thank you for asking me

If I were your partner

Thank you for taking me


I know, I know

I am only a pumpkin

Who forgot her glass slipper

Even so

I still want to thank you

For that exquisite night

Shortly after I sent it, Lucas replied with another poem:

I was cheered

Because you were here

Happiness was near

Covered all the fear

Sorrows disappeared

No matter where

You’ll always be my dear

Oh mighty God, thank you for creating Lucas, thank you for letting Helen choose that house, thank you for arranging for us to meet. I would try my best to be a good person and do the right thing, as nature intended.

*        *        *

I couldn’t have been happier, although I didn’t see him as much as I wished or hoped. I tried to tell myself that writers needed their space and time. Let him be and don’t suffocate him.

At work, I found the prevailing routine quite reassuring. Nothing was going to disturb the peace and serenity that surrounded me.

A year had past. Life was going very well for Lucas and I, except that his book ‘Last journey’ wasn’t progressing as smoothly as one would have wished.

Through Lucas’ influence, Mum, Dad and I went for a power walk every morning before breakfast, and then we all tried to catch public transport to work. We all felt better physically and we all did our bit to cut down our contribution to the greenhouse effect.

I learnt how to cook modern Australian cuisine, authentic Italian dishes, fabulous French food, tasty Mediterranean and Asian meals and mouth-watering desserts.

Soon I found that fresh home cooking was much better in quality and taste compared to commercial products, not to mention the nutritional and health benefits.

Mum said she loved the person that I had become. Lucas’ positive thinking had brought the best out of me.

Everything seemed so wonderful, I felt blessed. That was when we were living our private lives.

In public, it was a different story. Somehow I could not enjoy myself when we were at any social event together.

He was the sun shining on all the lady sunflowers. They focused on him and followed his every move. Hello, did anyone care that I was there? No, get over it, why should people care for you?

Dad said that maybe the reason Lucas had never married was that he knew no woman could handle the pressure that the public had created. He was too smart to get into something destined to fail.

I was willing to learn. He was worth all the effort one had to put in. I wanted to be in the world that he had made for himself. I wanted to be the first woman that he saw in the morning, the last woman he saw at night. I wanted to accept that he lent his shoulders to those women to rest their weary and heavy heads in times of stress. I wouldn’t limit his availability to help others to solve their problems.

The real problem was those women were not seeking help, they were trying to capture him. They wanted him. He was the best they had ever seen. Who could blame them for trying? After all, it was I who, with Mum’s help, had made the first move.

It was the second winter we had been together. After an unpleasant social gathering, he drove me back home. We didn’t talk much at all in the car. I could tell he just wanted to say good night and leave. I insisted that he come into my parents’ place to have a chat.

“Something is bothering you, isn’t it?” I asked.

“You seemed to have found a few fans.”

“Now you know how I feel when you are surrounded with your fans.”

“Are you doing it to punish me for having fans?”

“You are not the only one who has fans, let’s put it that way.”

“It’s good for me to have fans. I need them. They are a necessity for a writer, that’s the fact every writer faces. If I ignore the fans, I may as well give up writing. I don’t expect you to like it but I expect you to understand it. You had a pretty good idea before you knew me. I thought it would make a difference.”

He kissed me on my cheek and left.

I felt awful. He was right. I shouldn’t try to make him jealous; what a childish thing to do. You don’t play games with the one you love. I was so ashamed of myself. Lucas, please forgive me.

Tossing and turning, I could not sleep at all. My mind was filled with the pain that I had caused him. What had he ever done to me? He never even said a wrong word. Fans loving him was a good thing. Why couldn’t I see the way it was supposed to be?

How miserable I was. I couldn’t wait until the morning to give him a call. I got up from bed and started to email him. That’s when the phone rang.

It was 3 o’clock in the morning. Helen called and told me that Lucas’ house was on fire. She said fire fighters were trying to put out the fire. No one had seen Lucas.

Dad and Mum drove me to Lucas’ house. I was too late. The ambulance had already taken his body away. I told myself it was only a nightmare. I had already planned to call him tomorrow morning, to tell him that I was sorry. He would pick up the phone, laugh and say ‘I washed away yesterday’s unhappiness this morning when I washed my face. I am ready for a fresh start today.’

I could not cope with the cruel facts. I felt out of control and fainted in Dad’s arms.

*        *        *

The police investigation found it was an electrical fault that caused the fire, which Lucas was very much aware of.

I couldn’t eat or sleep without the doctor’s prescription. Even under heavy medication, I didn’t miss any tribute to Lucas that I knew of. I cried together with his fans and watched over and over again the interviews that he had given while he was alive.

The way he raised his eyebrows when he talked, the way he held his hands when he was thinking, the way he laughed and spread happiness around, the way he moved his body, the way he tilted his head. I watched with a craving desire. How I wished I could touch him again, to embrace him in my arms once more. Please Lucas, come back to me, I am begging you!

Every time I finished watching the DVD and thought I could not live without Lucas, the grief and agony in my heart would stop me from breathing. I would collapse on the floor and would be unable to get up again.

Each time when I opened my eyes in my bed, I realised that I was still breathing, my heart still beating. I would not get a chance to tell Lucas that I was sorry. I had to hold that regret until we met again. I simply had no other choice.

After a long period of suffering, through Mum, Dad and Helen’s support, finally I got back on my feet and was able to talk about Lucas without pouring tears and becoming hysterical.

I thought maybe Lucas was too good for this not so good world. I should treasure what we had instead of moan about what I had lost. From the bottom of my heart, I hoped there was a better place for him beyond the life I knew.

His positive thoughts and happy nature would continue to influence the people who knew him, his readers and fans. We were so fortunate to have his books that showed how his mind worked. They contained his thoughts and beliefs that we could reach, even after he was gone.

Before Lucas’ tombstone was erected, ‘Last journey’ reached number one on the best sellers list. If only it had happened while he was alive, he could have used the money to update the house. Our story would have had a different ending. Life always went the way we least expected.

Six months after the fire, all his books had sold out. The following year, two of the stories were made into movies. Second editions of the books were ordered and movie contracts kept coming up. I know the details because I was the one who inherited all Lucas’ assets and rights.

All his possessions had gone up in flames in the fire. The only things that survived were the will he made a few months before he died which was kept in his lawyer’s office and all his important and official papers which were kept in the bank deposit box.

One Sunday afternoon, we were all gathered at Helen’s place for a barbeque. I walked over the ruin, trying to find some sense of it all. A reflection on the rubble caught my eye. I picked up an oyster fork. Lucas’ smiling face went through my mind. I could almost hear him say ‘Yummo, what a delicious taste.’

‘Oh dear Lucas, you would always live in my heart! The love you gave me was more than enough to help me through my entire life.’

I’m sure I would keep my single status for the rest of my life. Lucas had spoiled my chance of having another relationship. Not because of the fortune he left me but because of the high standard he had set.

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