It's a cold February night. People are bustling through the streets, either pulling up their coat collars or wrapping scarves around their necks, trying to stay warm.
It's so cold today. I'm standing at my window, looking at the people moving like little dots. Standing in a heated room, I'm beginning to pity those people. Why don't they go home? Do they plan on wandering until morning?
"Almost time to go home! My boyfriend must be going crazy." One of the nurses breathe a sigh of relief. "Still needs to work overtime on Valentine's Day. It's so unfair!"
"You are fortunate." Another nurse says. "Some people don't have anyone waiting for them."
"You mean Dr. Shu?"
Like Sherlock Holmes, my ears perk up when I hear my name.
"Do you remember how she lost control on this day last year?"
"Of course I do." A nurse shudders. "I've never seen Dr. Shu like that. Crying and yelling, like she was crazy."
They are talking about how I was last year. They are correct. I was out of control, like they said.
"You can't blame Dr. Shu. If my boyfriend died in front of my eyes, I would probably go crazy as well."
"Keep it down. She hasn't left work yet. She might hear you."
The two nurses are too late. I heard the entire conversation through the canvas wall.
"Dr. Shu, what are you doing standing here?"
Just as I was deciding whether or not to reveal myself, another nurse exposed me. I awkwardly step out. The 2 nurses who discussed me start to blush. Their faces became redder than the bow on Valentine's Day chocolates.
"I'm waiting to go home." I pretend that I didn't hear anything.
"Dr. Shu, you must have gotten too involved in your work. It's already past time to go home. See you tomorrow. Happy Valentine's Day!" She waves goodbye.
"Happy Valentine's Day." I wave back and watch the 2 nurses hurry away.
That's fine. I was ready to go home anyway. Even though no lover is waiting for me, at least there's a lazy cat waiting for me to feed.
After I come home, the first thing I do is feed the cat. I forgot when I first had the cat. Probably since last year's Valentine's Day. At that time, I was like an abandoned cat, with eyes filled with despair. Cats don't cry, I do. That's the only difference.
"Better drink all the milk or I'll skin you." I threatened the cat. Her name is Christine, my least favorite English name. I don't know why I named the cat Christine. Christine meowed once to let me know she heard me, but her eyes are complaining about my severity. Her eyes remind me of someone I used to know, standing in front of me with eyes of rebellions.
An year ago today, I had lunch with my boyfriend and took the opportunity to complain to him.
"Today is Valentine's Day. Why didn't you give me any flowers?"
He raised his eyebrow. "Why should I give you flowers? You are not my anyone."
"Then... you should at least give me a card!" I pouted my lips, hurt by his tone.
"I know, I know. After lunch, I'll send you an e-card."
E-card. That sounds so impersonal, but that's the way he is. "You have to e-mail it to me. I'll be waiting." I excitedly smiled and planned to sneak home after lunch to check e-mail. Even though he wouldn't use any romantic words, I still looked forward to the card.
"I can't stand you women. Why do you make such a big deal out of Valentine's Day??" He grumbled while eating his food. His comment induced me to fight with him again.
"You are not romantic at all!! Don't you watch any Japanese drama?"
"Japanese drama? I only watch Discovery Channel."
"Your life is so boring." I made a face at him. "One recent drama was really good. You should have watched it."
"What's that drama called?" He didn't believe in the love portrayed in TV and movies. He always thought they were lies.
"It's called 'Story of A Century'." I gladly answered.
"What kind of trashy plot did it have?"
"What do you mean trash?? Show some respect!" I was so angry. "That drama was very touching, and the theme song was beautiful as well. It's called 'Only Love', performed by Nana Mouskouri." I wonder if he knew who Nana was.
"Nana, I know her. A Greek singer with really expensive albums."
"Her voice is worth it." Even though I secretly agreed with him, I couldn't bring myself to admit it.
"Whatever." He glanced at his watch. "I'll give you 5 minutes to tell me the plot. After that, I'm leaving."
I tried hard to explain 6 hours worth of story in just 5 minutes. The drama portrayed the love stories of 3 generations of women spanning 100 years, from 1901 to 2000. Each generation was portrayed by the same actress. The story was tear-jerking.
"What's so touching about it?" He asked, after listening to the story.
"Don't you think each generation's story is wonderful? If I have such great screen writing ability, I wouldn't be a doctor anymore. I would become a screenwriter."
"If you become a screenwriter, I bet no one would watch the show. The TV station can go out of business." He quickly interjected.
"I'm going back to work. Hurry and send me the card!" I was so mad that I went home immediately, not even finishing my coffee.
As soon as I walked in my door, I turned on my computer and go online.
Staring at the empty in-box, I began to reminisce about how we met. Maybe no one will believe me, but my boyfriend and I were actually neighbors. Our homes were only 1 wall away. Ever since we were kids, we liked to fight with each other all day long. I still remember when I moved to the country that year. Used to the city life, I couldn't get used to the simple life in the country. After school, I would just go home and do nothing. Whenever that happened, he would always come over to tease me.
"Why are you staring off into space??" He loved to pull on my hair. "You're so ugly when you're doing nothing. But you're also not pretty when you smile." In other words, I'm really ugly.
"You're the one who's ugly!" I pull back my hair. "If you think I'm so ugly, why do you visit me??"
"Can't help it. My home is right next to your home." He argued.
"Then I'll move!" The next day, I drew a line in the ground using some white chalk. A line that I forbid him to cross.
That year, we were both in the 5th grade. We couldn't stand each other and hoped the other would move away. But 5 years passed, and neither of us moved. Not only that, we got into the same high school and into the same class.
"You're that infamous couple." All the students and teachers in the school would say whenever they saw us.
"We're not!" I always tried to explain. "We're only neighbors." At that time, I hated my parents for making us live next to him.
"My standard is not that low." He would say. "Who wants her to be a girlfriend?? It's not like I don't have eyes."
"Yes, I know your eyes are on top of your head." I really disliked him. "Better than having eyes on the bottom of my head like you." He implied that I couldn't judge guys. At that time, I had a crush on a senior.
I didn't think that his sarcasm had a hidden meaning. After a while, I found out that the senior student had lots of girlfriends. When I cried about it, he silently passed me a handkerchief and awkwardly held me in his arms.
"I told you he wasn't any good." He roughly comforted me. I cried in his arms the whole night, and began to see him in a different way. Things began to change between us. We still fought all the time, but he started to look at me differently. And I blushed and my heart beat faster when he was near. We both knew: we fell in love with each other.
Even with this knowledge, neither of us said anything. Even though we would not be able to resist and kissed each other constantly. Even though we cared about each other's every moves. Both of us refused to admit our love.
Time flew by quickly, and it was time to face separation. I chose to study medicine, and he chose physics. Yet we still couldn't separate from each other. Our parents worried that we didn't know anyone in Taipei, so they forced us to live in the same apartment building. Once again, we became neighbors. We still fought, but sometimes we fought into the bedroom. Alright, we became lovers, but we still wouldn't say we loved each other. We didn't even spend Valentine's Day together until he saw me share dinner with a man one Valentine's Day. That night, he waited for me in front of my door and said that he would take me out to dinner on Valentine's Day from then on. I have to say that he was very arrogant. But I nodded and accepted his request. Since then, we spent every Valentine's Day together. After graduation, I became an intern. He started a small computer company with some friends and became a programmer. We were busy with our own lives and had no time for a relationship. Three years later, I became a doctor, and his business began to boom. We separately moved to bigger apartments and stopped being neighbors. On the surface, we left each other. In reality, we were still together. We spent every Valentine's Day together but each year became more dreary than the next because he never told me he loved me even with all my hints.
Facing the empty in-box, I suddenly grew very angry. He wouldn't say it and wouldn't send me a card. What did he mean? Who did he think I was? I called his cell phone.
"Hello." He picked up the phone.
"I didn't receive the card." I immediately showed my displeasure.
"You didn't receive it?" He seemed really busy. "But I sent it."
He was really busy but I didn't care. "I didn't receive it. Send it again."
"Okay, I'll send you 100 times. Is that good enough??" He said with impatience. His tone further infuriated me. Is that how lovers speak to each other?
"Don't bother sending it to me. And you don't have to pick me up tonight. I'll eat dinner by myself."
"Don't be childish, ok? I'm really busy."
"I AM childish!" I hung up the phone and tears rolled down my cheeks.
Childish? Why didn't he consider the situation? We've gone out for so many years and spent countless Valentine's Day together. I never received any flowers nor cards from him. Now, I just want a little e-card. Is that too much to ask for?
I unplugged the phone from the wall and turned off my cell phone. I didn't want to hear his explanations. After I returned to the hospital, I instructed the receptionist not to forward me any phone calls. I wanted to concentrate on work.
Because there were so many emergencies today, I was sweating 1 hour later and forgot about our argument. "Dr. Shu, please take a look at that patient."
As I was collecting my equipment, the shrill sound of an ambulance sounded outside the ER. When I stepped out the door, the emergency medics hurriedly wheeled in a gurney.
"What happened to him?" I asked the 1st medic. Everyone else were trying to help put the patient on the gurney. He was covered with blood.
"Car accident." The medic replied. "Very serious. He may die."
I nodded and ran to the operating room with them. When I arrived, the nurses told me that the man had already stopped breathing and also his heartbeat also stopped.
"Prepare for shock." I calmly instructed the nurses. Saving people is our duty. We can't lose our calm.
But when I saw who laid on the operating table, I lost my calm. That person was my boyfriend!
"No..." I stood in shock. "No!" I grabbed the paddles and continuously shocked his body. His body bounced up and down from the shocks. The scared nurses went to find another doctor, to tell him that I was crazy.
I didn't know if I was crazy or not. I just wanted to save my lover. Even though we fought all the time. Even though he never showed me his love. I still wanted to save him. He still owed me a card. He couldn't die! I threw away the paddles and began to press on his heart. I pressed with all my strength, hoping it would revive him, but he didn't wake up. He didn't even say "It hurts". He just laid there with his eyes closed, punishing me with his silence.
Dr. Jian angrily pushed me away. By that time, I couldn't see clearly anymore. I cried. I wailed. I bowled until no sounds could come out of my mouth.
"It's too late, Dr. Shu. He's already dead. I'm sorry." Dr. Jian patted me on the shoulder. They knew each other and ate together once. I introduced them.
"He can't die." I shook my head. "He can't die!!" I struggled to run to him.
"Dr. Shu, control yourself!" Dr. Jian slapped me. "I understand what you're going through, but you're a doctor."
Yes, I'm a doctor, but I'm also a regular person. How can Dr. Jian understand how I feel? I've loved him for so many years that it's become a habit. How can I just throw away a habit? Besides, he still owed me a card. "I want him to live! I want him to live!" I ran to him again and tried to knock the life back into his body.
"Take her away!" That day, I lost my control and my professionalism.
And that day happened to be Valentine's Day.
Afterwards, I asked his co-workers why he left work early that day.
They told me that after I hung up the phone, he tried to call me several times but couldn't reach me. Worried, he drove to the hospital to find me and got hit by a large truck on the way.
When I heard this, I froze. My tantrum killed him. Just because of an unmailed card, he died. After that, I lost my privilege to be childish.
Like an abandoned cat, I couldn't even cry anymore. After his death, I couldn't cry anymore, regardless of how touching the plot or how tear-jerking the dialogue. They didn't affect me anymore.
Now, I'm only left with a cat and a seldomly used computer. Stepping over the cat, I turned on the computer. Even though I know no one will send me a mail, I still hoped that someone will remember me on this day.
Meow, meow. I looked at Christine to see what's wrong. She finished her milk. I went into the kitchen to get her more milk then came back to look at the computer screen.
I have.... 100 emails! Who would be bored enough to send me 100 junk mail?
I was just about to delete them all when I received another mail, and this one said: "Because of system error, we could not send these until today.
We apologize for the delay." The sender was my ISP.
I looked at the 1st mail. It showed the send date is last year's Valentine's Day. My heart began to beat fast. Could he have sent these?
With a trembling hand, I opened the mail. The first thing that popped up was a gorgeous red rose set against green leaves. Then a beautiful melody began to play.... "Only Love". I couldn't believe it. The rose was so beautiful and the music was so dreamy. I almost thought I was in a fantasy. Most touching of all were the words underneath the rose, because the words read like a beautiful poem.
That's my name.
"Knowing you so many years, I've never sent you any flowers. Today I send you a rose."
I received it and it's so beautiful.
"You know we are always fighting. We can never really open our hearts and tell each other how we feel."
Yes, but it's all your fault for being so distant.
"I know I always make you mad by the things I say."
Good that you're admitting it.
"But today I want to say to you: I'm sorry, and I love you."
I waited so many years for those words.
"And I want to tell you a good news. I finally saved enough money."
You already have enough money. Why did you need so much?
"So Hwei, let's get married!! I was afraid to propose to you, because I didn't trust in my ability to give you the good life you deserve. But now I've saved enough money so we don't have to wait anymore."
Who wanted you to wait? I'm already yours.
"Today, I use this card to propose to you. Will you marry me, Hwei? Will you?"
That's the content of the whole card. Like a fool, I kept reading his words and talking to him. It's like I can hear his voice and see him again.
As if it's back to 1 year ago with us constantly fighting.
The song played over and over, repeating Nana's heartbreaking voice.
Only love can make a memory. Only love can make a moment last. You were there and all the world was young and all its songs unsung. And I remember you then when love was all, all you were living for, and how you gave that love to me...."
The lyrics of this song fits our love so closely. When he was alive, my world was so young. Every day, I could find a something different to fight with him about. But after he left, my life is only left with memories and coldness that will never go away.
"Will you marry me?"
When I read these words, my tears unconsciously came, wetting the keyboard.
Will I? If he's in front of me, I will definitely kick him and call him a big fool. If I wasn't willing, I wouldn't have waited until today.
So I moved the cursor over the "Reply" box, and typed the response that I've already prepared for so many years - "I will."
I will - be by his side for the rest of my life. I will - fight with him forever. That is how I answered him, but the only response I got was the repeating song "Only Love."
Nevertheless, I opened every single letter, accepted every singled rose, and typed the same response: "I will."
I replied 100 times, and "Only Love" played 100 times. In this cold Valentine's night, the line that's been broken for 1 year finally got reconnected.
What about you?