I don't lie. I just don't tell the truth.
Nguyễn Tú Trân.
“Sorry for waiting,” She said with a smile, while coming toward me.
Trying to be as professional as I could, I said, “It’s okay. Nice to meet you,” then I raised my hand and waited for her to make a handshake. Seven minutes late wasn’t too bad for the first day of work. I could tolerate that.
We sat down and she went right into the point, “So what is your expectation for me?”
I looked at her. She seemed to be a modest and ordinary Asian girl: average height, small breasts, and there was not much make-up on her face. A youngster. I chuckled to myself. I told her about Polarista, my two-year-old start-up company about brochure design. At this moment, we were looking for lots of young and passionate interns.
She got quiet for a second then looked at me and asked: “Can I come to your office in the weekends, if I’m free?”
I laughed, “Come on Mai! Don’t you party every week?”
She shook her head. “I’m under 21,” She said.
Then she looked outside from the window as I just approached a sensitive subject. Behind those glasses were beautiful crystal clear eyes. I didn’t say anything either. In front of me was a typical little Asian girl who had a strong passion for graphic design and a boring ordinary life. I could definitely imagine her in the library under so much homework that she couldn’t have time to hang out with friends, have a couple of drinks, or get a guy. Somewhere in me was raising a feeling of an unknown satisfaction. I gave her some pictures to retouch and she finished them without complaining anything. The first day couldn’t have gone any better.
At five in the evening, I drove home. There was something needed to be done. I sighted. Opening the door, I saw my wife sitting there, reading the newspaper while waiting for me to have dinner. I kissed her on the forehead and asked how her day was going without actually listening to it.
Then I asked, “What did your dad talk about it?”
“It will be transferred to your bank account next Monday,” She hugged me from the back.
I got relieved. We had some casual dinner then I went out for a couple of drink. I got lost in the crowd and just enjoyed my glass of Vodka. Suddenly, the image of Mai appeared in my head. At this time she would be doing her homework or my work that she had brought home. Then my eyes got wide open. Mai was in front of me and as I was staring at her, she was also staring at me, eyes wide opened.
Now she was sitting in front of me. We didn’t say anything. As I thought I should be the one to start the conversation, there was only one thing I could think of.
“Someone told me she was under 21 this morning,” I said.
She looked at me and laughed out loud, “I’m sorry. I said I was under 21. I didn’t say I didn’t drink!” Then she started laughing again, “It’s a working environment. What do you want me to say at that time? Yes, I’m under 21 and I drink quite a lot?”
I looked at her feeling a bit humiliated but at the same time, there was something about her that drew me in. Mai wore a sexy silky black dress with hair tied as a bun to show her beautiful clavicles and white skin. Her make-up was a bit heavier than in the morning. Her luscious and well-defined lips were painted in blooded red. Without her glasses, the depth of her eyes was unveiled. I felt like I was being drawn into the darkness of sparkling stars.
“What’s that?” Her voice suddenly woke me up from a sweet dream.
She was so close to me. The plunging of her neckline drop down, disclosed a part of black floral bra and her cleavage. I couldn’t control myself but put my lips on hers. Her lips were soft like marshmallow and I was just licking around the deadly sweetness of it.
We went to a motel nearby. Just when our door was opened, I lifted her whole body up, gently but fast taking off her clothes. I was on her and we were both harmoniously dancing in a ghostly song. What was the morality that we had to abide by? That question appeared once or twice in my mind, but at that time I just wanted to enjoy our moment together.
The sunshine from the window licked on my face and woke me up. Mai was nearby, gently sleeping like a quiet puppy. Yesterday was not a dream. My heart jumped for a second but I looked at Mai again, fondled her soft pinkish cheeks like baby skin. I could feel a soft spring weaving from every corner of my heart to the part down there. Some parts of me were mentally and physically woken up and I felt so lively.
Later on when Mai woke up, I asked her where she would like to go for breakfast and without a second of thought, she said, “La Boulange.”
I had never been to La Boulange before. There was something too fancy about it that didn’t suit me. But Mai obviously loved that place. We went inside and I suddenly knew why I had felt that way. It felt like the time stood still in this shop. Everyone took their time to look around the cakes. There were many, too many indeed. Mai looked at colorful Macaroons then looked at me. Her eyes sparkled. I giggled then nodded. She chose ten out of them and I picked a simple breakfast pizza with a coffee.
I was about to sit down in the shop then she said, “Let’s eat outside.”
La Boulange was inside Yerba Buena garden so right in front of it was a field of green grass. What a nice location. I thought to myself. We sat down and Mai took a bite from the mango Macaroon, closed her eyes, then slowly chewed it. There was something hunting about this girl that I couldn’t take my eyes off.
Suddenly she looked at me, her eyes whirled deeply into my soul, “You want some?”
I vacillated for a second but then got closer and took the other half of the Macaroon from her hand. My lips touched her fingers. She seemed to not mind then sucked her fingers to clean them up. I felt a bit turned on. A quiet moment passed by. Then Mai lied on the grass and asked me to do the same thing. It was a comfortable feeling that I haven’t felt for ages. I closed my eyes and felt the cool wind kissing all over my face.
“I love to lie down on the ground, look up on the sky, and wonder why I was born, why things happened the way they were,” She whispered from far, far away, “Was it meant to be something?”
I heard her voice but wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or just mumbling to herself. I wouldn’t mind. This feeling was too good to be woken up.
I went home. My wife was there. I kissed her on the forehead and asked how things were going. She got used to the fact that I wasn’t home sometimes because the company was still in a hard time to find a placement in the market. I hoped she also knew that we haven’t had sex for two months. I dreamed of the day I could hang out with Mai again.
Few weeks later, on a Thursday morning, I told my wife I wouldn’t come back that night then left. At work, I couldn’t concentrate. The tremendous amount of work was eating me up so when Mai decided to hang out at her place, I happily agree. Her apartment was a clean and organized studio. Here and there were hanging many pictures of her and her friends. None of them were ours. We shouldn’t, obviously. While I was looking around, she came to me with a glass of drink.
“My mom always made me lime juice when I got sick,” she said. “Don’t worry. It’s delicious.” She winked at me.
Suddenly I felt my heart was melted. Was it why she wanted us to stay home? I hugged Mai but she didn’t react. Then she opened the window, went out to the balcony, then picked up a cigarette in her pocket. I didn’t know she smoked. She busted a smile and fired the cigarette. Mai took a deep breath, looked up on the night sky with twinkle little stars, then blew out a thick smoke. The smoke danced ghostly in the sky then later vanished in the air. Suddenly, I got astonished when a song started to fly out from her lips.
Feeling my heart was beating fast, I asked, “What kind of song is this?”
“9 Crimes by Damien Rice. Good song.” She smiled like nothing happened.
She knew it wasn’t the answer I was looking for. Suddenly she kissed me then smiled naughtily. It was the first time she took the initiative. It was sweet like gummy bear. I replied by another kiss then we both smiled. What I just thought, I couldn’t remember. I wouldn’t mind forgetting it either.
The next night when I went home, my wife was waiting for me behind the door.
“You didn’t answer my phone call yesterday. What happened?” She asked.
“I’m sorry. I was busy with work and forgot to pick up the phone.” I said.
My voice raised a bit higher than normal. Mistake. I knew what was going to happen next. She started to tear up. I hugged her. I apologized. I hold her tighter. She struggled. She punched my chest. She pushed me away.
With tears all over her face, she cried out, “You get bored of me now, don’t you? You used me and now want to leave me, don’t you? ISN’T IT BECAUSE I’M INANIMATE?”
The last word tore my heart into pieces. I ran out of the house then got to the car. I didn’t know where to go. I just drove. Her last word still echoed in my head. I got one voice message from her, then many later. She cried. She apologized. She begged me to come home. I didn’t reply. I was exhausted.
Mai came out of her house, looking at me surprisingly, then let me in.
She brought me a cup of hot tea and said, “I’m busy with my final today. But we can have sex later.” The last line was dropped like thin hair.
That night wasn’t the same as any other nights. My anger, my desire, my exhaustion, my thirst, I pulled them out in every movement I made. Her body tallied with mine. I bit her lips. She uttered softly. It was a vague idea on the first day we met but now it was clear like crystal. There was a strange bonding between us. Love perhaps?
I found myself being the luckiest man alive. After that night, my wife wouldn’t dare to complain about my suddenly–busy schedule. She said it was a good thing. We still didn’t have sex, but occasionally I would hug or cuddle her so she knew the sky wasn’t falling. In another hand, I had Mai with no strings attached.
Time was passing by. It was so fast that finally her internship came to an end. I did give her a job offer, but she denied since she got a better job from a company in our city. At least she was still with me so either way was fine. Thus probably she thought it would be better for us not to work in the same place so I happily let her go.
On the last day of work, when Mai came to pick up her office supplies, she brought a young guy with her. Suddenly a cold shiver ran down my spine. She showed him her workplace while he was holding her hand. Then she asked him to pick up some heavy things for her and gave him a kiss. Everything happened right in front of me. When the guy was bringing her stuff downstairs, Mai came to my office.
She looked at me in the eyes then smiled, “You thought we were lovers, didn’t you? No one knows what our relationship is. No picture was taken. We have done everything, except getting a label for it.”
I got threatened. None of the words could come out from of my mouth. Then I remembered my wife. She would still be in the house reading the newspaper and waiting for me to come home.
“Now aren’t you thinking of your wife?” Mai didn’t stop talking yet, “But should we call her your wife anyway? She has the label but nothing else.”
Then she smiled, let me stay there bewildered, and walked away.