Sunday, April 21, 2013

Chapter 2 of "Forever-Beginning" Part 1





Chapter 2
Lillian

            We finally arrived at our destination.  Richard’s GPS system declares.  The opulent building appears to be an old historical castle transformed into an aristocratic medical school.  It’s secretly hidden away, high on a cliff, overgrown with luscious tropical foliage, vines and trees.  The entire perimeter is guarded with a massive wrought iron and stone fence while the entrance is safely secured by two attendants in official red uniforms.  The grounds are beautifully maintained with many distinctive flowering plants and hand sculpted boxwood bushes.  A colossal water fountain with three ornate mermaid statues takes center stage in front of the school.  This is to be my home for the next five incredible years…I can’t imagine my life getting much better than this!
          I’m drawn to the magical fountain.  I stroll up to its’ stone rim and set my bottom down.  I place my hand in the clear cool water and wade it back and forth.  I have a strong impulse to make a self-indulgent wish.  I think I have a few coins in my side pocket.  Here they are.  I dig them out, chant “I wish for success and happy endings.” and toss them in.  Richard taps my right shoulder from behind and my reverie comes to a halt.  He acquainted himself with several other new medical students and must have discovered the location of my dormitory. 
“Lillian, we’ll be cohabitating the same building!” is what he excitedly tells me.  “In fact, our rooms are just down the hall from each other.”
“That’s great Richard!”  I pretend to also be thrilled.  But this is far from the truth.  School hasn’t commenced and I’m already plagued with a handsome male diversion on my hands.  This accelerated medical program has a severe reputation for its intensity.  I can’t allow myself to get off track before I even start.  My entire future depends on how well I do here.
          Richard leads the way to our dormitory.  I follow behind his trail of two large luggage.  He’s well equipped in comparison to my single medium size suitcase.  I’m probably the most minimalistic girl in the world.  Even with his hands full, Richard considerately insists on helping me with mine.
          “I can get that for you.  I’ll throw yours on top of mine.” 
I teasingly tell him, “This little mute can handle her own shit, thank you very much!” 
I’ve learned to manage myself efficiently ever since I was a young toddler.  My mother worked long hours to make ends meet so I adapted independently.  I never ask for any help unless I absolutely needed it.
“I get it, Miss Independent.”  He grins.    “Will you meet me for dinner then?” he inquires.
          “Um…sure.”  I can’t seem to discourage this persistent man.  I hesitantly agree to dinner.  This will give me an opportunity to explain to him why school is my only priority for now. 
We push all of our luggage into the elevator and ride it up to the 10th floor.  I wonder what the weight limit is for this car.  My fear of height is getting the best of me.  My palms are sweaty.  I’m hoping the elevator will not drop us.  The doors open just in the nick of time before I go into full-blown panic attack.  We haul our suitcases out and head down the hallway in opposite directions.  I solely drag mine to room# 1008. 
 The door to my dorm room opens before I’m able to insert my card into the key slot.  I see a pair of arms reaching out to me, offering a warm welcoming bear hug.  And then I see the rest of her.  She energetically introduces herself with an enthusiastic high-pitched voice.  
“Hi, I’m Amelia McFarland from London, England, your new roomie!” 
“Nice to meet you, I’m Lillian Ly from the U.S.”  I reply with only a quarter of her energy level. 
The Brit coincidences I have encountered within one day are uncanny.  She has the most beautiful shade of scarlet red, silky straight hair that flows freely pass her shoulder blades.  She stands a few inches shorter than me with a bust line that both men and women can really appreciate.  Her skin is fair with strawberry freckles on the bridge of her nose and along her high cheek bones.  I catch myself coveting her dreamy greenish brown eyes.  Amelia’s friendly personality makes her approachable.  She’s laidback and low maintenance.  I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate choice.
We settle into our separate sides of the room.  There are two overstuffed upholstered chairs with their backs to each other in the middle of the room and two antiquish dark-hardwood desks by a beautiful stained glass window.  The full size beds are equipped with fancy vivid colored bedding.  It’s delightful to have a nicely decorated college dormitory room.  I pinch myself to make sure this isn’t some fantasy dream I’m having.  Everything I’ve encountered about this place has been surreal.  I let my listless body sink deep into my super comfy new bed and exhale an appreciative breath.   

I unpack my belongings, and neatly place them in my personal closet.  There’s plenty of room left over since I didn’t pack a whole heck of a lot of things.  I set a graduation picture of me with my mother and two best friends on top of my desk.  I also pull out my lucky fortune and lay it next to the frame.  Now I think I’m ready to call this place home.
Who could possibly be knocking on our door?  Amelia jumps off her bed and clumsily stumbles over her feet to open it.  Richard is standing at the doorway entrance looking particularly charming in dark slacks and a light ivory linen shirt.   He holds a fancy bottle of champagne in his left hand.  Perspiration drips along the sides of it, indicating that it has been properly chilled and ready for drinking. 
“May I come in ladies?  I have a welcoming gift to christen your dorm room.”  He leans his broad shoulder against the wooden doorframe.  He’s a tall lengthy man.  Both Amelia and I are appreciating the same handsome view from different angles.   
Amelia bashfully smiles and turns a magnificent shade of cerise blush while walking him into our room.  He hands me the bottle and it’s chilled, just as I speculated. 
“I have a special place in mind to take you for dinner tonight.”
  Oh holy crap, he hasn’t forgotten my dinner acceptance.  I quickly include Amelia to help ease the pressure of having dinner alone with him. 
“Amelia, wouldn’t you love to join us for dinner at Richard’s special place?” I hopefully ask, giving her pleading eyes. 
“I wish I could but I have a farewell dinner date with my parents.”  Amelia seems sincerely disappointed that she’s unable to come with us, but Richard is rather relieved instead.  He has a triumphant smile on his face. 
Richard escorts me to an extravagant restaurant targeted for the upper class tourists, of course.  I look around this elaborate establishment and find myself extremely underdressed and completely out of place.  Most of the women are wearing elegant evening gowns.  And I’m simply adorned in a black cotton dress, the only one that accompanied me to this island. 
“Richard, why didn’t you tell me I needed to wear something fancier?”  It wouldn’t have made any difference, I guess.  I have nothing fancier than what I’m already wearing.
  “You look absolutely stunning.  It’s the person, not the dress that matters to me.”  How nice of him to pay me this sweet compliment.  But unfortunately, I still feel like an odd piece that doesn’t fit into this perfect puzzle. 
We sit outside on the terrace with a remarkable view of the tranquil cerulean water.  The waves are entrancing.  My eyes are locked in a wistful daze.  I soak in the most amazing sunset full of warm cinnamon gold and vermilion jewel tones.   The unpleasant humidity is still present but there’s a calm, constant, cool breeze that balances the evening’s atmosphere.  The food is a perfect blend of Caribbean and Mediterranean influence.  My taste buds fondly relish the palatable infusion.  An aromatic sweet crisp wine perfectly complements our meals.  I’m careful to take only a few mini sips.  I’m not much of a drinker…a total light weight is what I am…so it doesn’t take much to influence me.  
I have to admit, I am enjoying it all very much…maybe too much.  The ambience is truly romantic and my company isn’t Mr. Average Joe.  He’s charismatic and fetching.  It would be fairly easy to get lost in the moment.  But not for me…I’m too determined to allow myself to stray.  I mentally caution myself to keep things simple between us.  He playfully reaches for my wrist and adjusts my bracelet so the smooth pink lava stones are facing upward.
“I see you’re still wearing my priceless bracelet.  I’m honored.”  He acknowledges with delight as he tenderly brings my hand up to his warm soft lips.  The hairs on my body rise from the sensation of our intimate contact.  I’ve never been this close to a man before.  Hayden doesn’t count because we were just immature teenagers. 
“It’s one of the few pieces of jewelry I own.  I appreciate the caring gesture it represents.”  I openly disclose my feelings with him.    
Slowly, I retrieve my hand and considerately thank him for a wonderful dinner.  “Richard, I appreciate your sincere friendship but this is all I can commit to at this point in my life.  School has always been my first priority.  This will not change until I become a physician.  I know you can understand where I’m coming from.  I see you as a charitable and kindhearted man.  I personally witnessed it today.  I hope I don’t hurt your feelings in any way.”  I regretfully tell him.  
“I do understand.  And this is why you’re unique from all the rest.  Your heart is pure and generous.”  He sweetly responds.
I commend him for handling my offer graciously, not pushing me further and creating uneasiness between us.  We conclude the evening sharing more personal stories and getting to know each other as friends over coffee and dessert.  The awkwardness slowly fades. 
Richard has the same passion as his mother and me.  He wants to use his medical degree to aid those who are less fortunate.  His mother had a deprived beginning.  Her parents struggled in the projects to raise five kids.  They had no health insurance or extra money for anything.  She pushed herself to succeed in school and swore she would help people like herself whenever and wherever she could.  Richard and his siblings were taught to be humble by accompanying her on missionary trips to foreign countries like Africa and Asia.  He was forced to witness poor and sick people begging for food and sleeping on pitiable streets. 
“I’ve been instilled by my mother to never take anything we’ve been blessed with for granted.  ‘We should share our fortune with the less fortunate.’  She constantly reminds me and my siblings.”  He speaks respectfully of his mother.  I can see it in his proud piercing blue eyes.
“Your mother sounds like an amazing woman.  I would love to meet her one day.”  Knowing this personal side of Richard makes me want to become closer friends with him.
“She is.  Your personality reminds me a lot of her.  I’m sure she would love you at first sight.”  He pays me one last sweet compliment… 

***Picture is shared from Pinterest***