My heart is pounding in my ears and my chest hurts. How I wished I stayed at home curled up in my bed. I wonder if anyone around me feels the same way. The air feels dense and the sound of constant chattering everywhere isn’t doing me any favours. Either way I’m nauseous and I can hardly stand myself. Focusing as hard as I can, I pushed my emotions aside and walked into my office.
My name is Josie and I’m 26 years old. I started working with my mom doing eyelash extensions and make up 4 years ago despite having a degree in civil engineering. I initially thought that being part of a team and building stuff from the ground up was my true calling. Invading and dominating a man’s world was my forte. I soon found out that sticking little pieces of eyelash extensions on people or generally just dolling them up was equally satisfying and I took pride in my work. Lately I’ve been feeling strain in my eyes, neck and back. Even after a night of sleep I would wake up physically and mentally exhausted.
I enjoy the fact that I was working with my mom as her partner and not really working for someone else. I’ve spent 4 years doing the same thing over and over again. I needed some release and I needed to get away. I was suffocating. I love my mom. Everything about her. I really do. The way she smells and the way she laughed. She always knew what to do. She was my partner in crime and my mentor. She was always there when I needed her. I wanted to be there for her.
I grew up happy despite not knowing anything about my dad. When I was younger I knew he was probably the reason why mom would cry alone at night. She would deliberately hold everything in and waited for me to fall asleep before giving into her demons in a dark corner. It was difficult and extremely painful to see such a strong woman crack under pressure. I try not to ask about him for as long as I can remember. I would rather see mom happy than seeing her torn up expressions. I would rather hear all her lame jokes than her short vague answers about him.
Deep down I desperately wanted to know more about him. The real reason why he isn’t here. I know how hard she tries to hide everything from me. I know she did it out of love and I’m not going to hold that against her. She has her own reasons and I know she would tell me when the time is right. Even if she took everything to the grave one day and ends up never really telling me anything. I sincerely wouldn’t have it any other way.
After a long day of work I went to a bubble tea store to get my dose of sugary goodness. I ordered a chocolate muffin and a tall brown sugar bubble tea. I took a seat at my usual table and that’s where I met my childhood friend Elise. We were happily making small talk having a blast walking down memory lane. It felt as if she never left and we never grew up. It was pleasant to see the years went by but nothing changed between us. After awhile Elise left me completely dumbfounded.
“It’s been 9 years! You do know that our reunion is in another 2 weeks right? Everyone in our high school class would be there” She beamed.
I stared at her not knowing what to say.
“I’m bringing my boyfriend Chung.I met him 3 years ago in college.” She quickly added completely oblivious to the fact that I was struggling to keep up.
“I heard Jenny broke up with her ex and she is now dating Dexter from the PE class!” She continues on and on for almost an hour.
I didn’t say anything and kept my hands in my pocket.
“Jacqueline is having her second baby and she is expecting a boy! I can’t remember when is she due. I hope she can make it to our reunion.” She chirped.
“What about you Jo? Who is the lucky guy?” She teased.
It sounds like everyone found someone. I’ve been busy out of my mind and obsessively wrapped in my work so much that I never really slow down to consider anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I did met a couple of guys over the years and went on dates with them but there wasn’t really any chemistry between us and I ended things after the first date.
It just felt all so alien to me. I hated the fact that things felt forced. I never felt relaxed with a guy. I felt lonely and empty at times but I wouldn’t consider them at all. I’m glad Elise found her Mr Right. I’m genuinely happy for her and everybody. I silently recall the days we spend together studying, messing around and having fun. I gave Elise a warm smile and held her hand. My action made Elise jumped a bit.
“Jo? You okay?” She asked pushing my hair aside as if I was hiding behind my long voluminous hair.
“Ell, I’m fine. It’s just so good hearing from you again. I missed you”. I answered with as much enthusiasm as possible.
She gave me the biggest smile and I smiled back at her. I had a lot in my mind and I debated on whether I should tell my best friend how pathetic I was in my love life. I don’t want her to feel bad for me or anything. Out of nowhere someone tapped on our table. He greeted us warmly. It turns out to be Chung. After brief exchange of words, Elise excused herself and left with him holding hands. I couldn’t help noticing the way she looked at him and the way he looks at her. I can see the love they had for each other. They are so cute together. I secretly envied her.
Seeing them together kinda makes me wonder about my own happiness. Putting down all my defences and letting someone in? Leaving myself exposed and completely vulnerable? I scoffed at the thought. Its ridiculous to imagine a random man just walked up into my life by chance sweep me off my feet and suddenly everything’s all cupcakes and rainbows. It’s great in Disney movies and story books but I’m not going to day dream about my prince charming and his white horse because he isn’t coming. I was hopeful at first but concluded that this person doesn’t exist.
From a very young age I learn to stand tall with my own two feet. It was difficult and I endure it all. I had to be strong for myself and my mother. Even with friends I only shared my happiness. I wouldn’t show them my pain. That’s who I am. I find it difficult to ask for help so I kept my mouth shut and push forward. On the surface I’m invincible but deep down I’m crumbling. No matter how I hard I struggled I never felt complete.
I went home and took a ice cold shower instead of a warm bath. I wanted to forget everything and I wanted to numb this body. I wanted to wash away the self doubt and loneliness I felt earlier today . I wanted to wash away every little impulse not to scream or shout in frustration. It took an hour for me to be done with my shower. I can hear my mom in the kitchen getting dinner started. I quickly put on some knee height socks, shorts and my oversized fluffy sweater, dried my hair half way and thats when I noticed a box on my pillow. On top of the box was a note in my mother’s handwriting. It writes “Thank you for being an amazing daughter” I smiled. I set the note aside and carefully opened the box and found several items.
The first item that sparks my interests was a black bullet Mac lipstick in the shade colour Marrakesh. I opened the cap and twisted a bit of the lipstick out of the tube to marvel at the colour. It reminds me of maple leafs and sunsets. It was mesmerising.
The second item that grabbed my eye was a small blue box of Tiffany and Co Eau De Parfum. I decided to lightly apply a small amount on my wrists. After getting over the initial strong alcohol smell. It gave off a soft flowery summer scent. The packaging and scent was simply gorgeous. The last item was a tube of smarties chocolate. I didn’t thought much of it and tossed it into my bag as a snack.
I was smiling ear to ear when I walked into the kitchen. I instinctively start washing whatever was in the sink while my mom continued cooking.
“What are we having tonight?” I said not holding back the excitement in my voice.
“We are having sweet honey pan fried pumpkin and roasted chicken with pita bread” She laughed.
I quickly finished up, dried my hands, set the table, poured some water in a glass for us and sat in my chair. She passed me the plate and I waited for her to sit down before digging into my simple yet luscious dinner.
“I see you liked my gift.” She said while stuffing a wing into her mouth.
“It’s great.Thank you” I answered.
After biting into my chicken I noticed my mom’s gaze burning a hole through my head.
“Mom? What’s up” I questioned.
“Hmm, Did you liked the chocolate?” She asked.
“Yeah, its in my bag” I said after a mouthful of sweet pumpkin.
“Do you want to have some right how?’’ She debated.
Is she for real? Smarties during dinner? I thought to myself and rise an eyebrow. That’s when I realised that there might be something hidden in there and I smirked mischievously at her. I ran into my room to retrieve my bag and brought it to our dinner table so I can open that tube of “smarties” with her. I bet it’s a dildo or some sort. Thanks mom but I’m not that thirsty I thought in my head. As I picked up the tube in the corner of my eye I can see my mother holding her breath. I opened the tube and found a rolled up piece of paper. I was speechless and confused to be honest. I unrolled it and it was a flight ticket to Japan with my name written in it.
I was stunned for awhile and my mom burst out laughing at me. She pulled me into a tight hug. I didn’t realise the tears rolling down my cheek. I get to spend three months in Tokyo Japan. I felt as if I was one of those lucky people getting to met Ellen DeGeneres from The Ellen Show or something. It was incredible I was finally getting away from everything. This was the release I needed.
“Oh my gosh! Mom!” I squealed.
“Your flight is next month on the first of April. On April fools” she chuckled wholeheartedly.
“What about you? What about work?” I hugged her tighter.
She gently pushed me back so she can look me in the eyes.
“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry. I found someone to work for me temporarily while you are away.” She assured me.
We spend the whole evening teasing each other and laughing.