She closed her eyes. Tired.
Even choosing clothes for the day, usually a treat for her, seemed a chore that day. "I hate smiling in photos" was the tee she had picked. Appropriate, she thought, for her mood.
As she sank into the seat of the cool cabin of the cab, she felt a stinging sensation in her eyes.
She turned her head away, toward the window as hot tears rolled down her cheeks.
She stepped out into the cool air, nervous. "Can we get chocolate, please? I really need chocolate now," she said to him, as he grinned. His eyes narrowing into slits as he smiled.
He had sprung a surprise on her. He was bringing her home to meet his family. His parents.
Her summer dress floated in the breeze as she huddled under his arm as they crossed the road together.
It still felt surreal. She couldn't believe that just 10 days before.. she had totally freaked out about travelling half the globe just to see a guy for his birthday. And yet.. somehow, everything fell into place and felt, so right.
They stepped into a cool fashionable cafe. Everything was nice and minimal, the clientele looked chic, the food looked great, but they were still full from cantaloupe and proscuitto Grace had scooped up on the fly in the car while crouched on top of the luggage, giggling at how she was serving up their "gourmet lunch".
As he went to the toilet she felt this surge of emotion that she had not experienced in a long time. She poured a cup of water from a jug that had cucumber slices, and ordered herself a hot chocolate.
When he stepped out of the loo, she looked at him. Amazed yet again at how so deeply she felt for this man. How connected she felt to him.
She grabbed a couple of individually wrapped brownies, something she figured her mom and sis would enjoy, and they walked next door to a gift shop.
As they browsed around, she thought back to the day before.
"Quit. Stay." He said, perched on the ledge overlooking the river on this beautiful private lodge they had found by chance in Ojai.
The sun lit him from the back, making his chiseled features even more prominent.
Hunched over, his sick pack was still as prominent as ever. One of the unjustices of the world.
"I want to. Just give me some time. I have some things to do first. But I will, " she said.
"But, by then, the moment will be gone.."
In her heart, at that moment, she hoped and prayed that the moment will never be gone. Because she knew that somehow, this man, was different for her. Different from anything she had seen, or felt, or known.
She did not dare tell him of the things she was experiencing at home. The financial difficulties. That even going to visit him, was a financial sacrifice in itself. One that took courage. But now, a blissful week later, felt like the best choice she had ever made.
"I saw some cool sunnies next door, can we go check them out?" she asked. He smiled indulgently, "Sure", as they languidly ambled to a funky looking optical store.
"Hi, we're actually closed for a private event. We're launching this designers range of sunglasses, but feel free to come in!" said a perky, bespectacled shop assistant, who quickly flourished flutes of champagne and offered them cake as they merrily tried on pair after pair of sunnies.
Her heart felt heavy as tears kept streaming down her face, her heart, heavy as lead.
"Miss, you want to go Toa Payoh or Braddell?" asked the cab driver.
"Toa Payoh please, uncle," she said, as she quickly wiped her tears and opened her eyes, embarrassed. She faked a yawn, hoping the cab driver would think the tears were a result of her merely being tired, and hoped to God, that her make up was not too tear streaked as she neared the office.
Maybe, she had missed the moment, she thought to herself sadly. But right now, all she could do, was miss him.