Chapter 15 Part 2
~: THE FLASHBACK STILL CONTINUES:~
I stared at myself in the mirror. Some strange feeling was teasing me. With the cheerful heartbeats, the restlessness came back little cajoling.
By the time I stepped out of the washroom, the atmosphere had changed its demeanor. The soft lighting and the dinner table’s pleasing arrangement brought out intimate feelings like a first date. Aaron was waiting for me at the table, and he pulled the chair out for me.
“Thank you.” I took the seat.
He went around the table and took his seat. Stacy brought a white bottle of sake along with two small cups. She also served a bowl of warm edamame.
“Sake?” he asked.
“Yes. Thank you.”
Aaron poured the drink for both of us.
“Cheers!” We both said and took a sip. The dose of sake warmed my throat. I didn’t know how to start an ordinary conversation now that it turned into a romantic setting.
“This is very nice,” I complimented.
“I’m glad you’re enjoying it.” He commented as he took a soy pod, slid out the seed with the teeth, and discarded the pod in a separate small dish set at the table.
“How come you never went to Hawaii, when you have the privilege to do so?” I initiated the old topic, and also I was curious to know more.
He picked up his napkin and rubbed his fingers to clean them.
“I have a very hectic schedule. I’ve two houses, but I mostly live here in the air,” Aaron waved his hand around.
“You have money, that’s why you remain unaffected about it.”
“It’s only money, Jess. It has very little value when we die. We don’t take any of it with us. We came alone, and we’ll depart alone. Leaving everything behind, this cup, this airplane, this body—everything.” He then leaned forward and whispered,
“At some point in my life, I will alter some of this and focus on what makes me happy. I want to go on a hike in Hawaii, explore the Amazon jungle, and enjoy African safari. I want to retire and explore life. Once I find the purpose of existence. I’m going to grab it and won’t let go of it—ever.” He leaned back in his chair, lost in thoughts.
I was amazed by the simplicity of a man with such an extraordinary lifestyle. I found him so organic, so human. And now I admired his philosophy about life too.
“So basically you want to live as a ‘Tarzan’ or at least be one,” I said, breaking his thoughts.
He laughed with a full throaty sound and threw his head back. It was fascinating to watch him.
“Tarzan... haha... I liked that.” he laughed some more.
Stacy came with a smile on her face like the one mothers have when they see a child laugh and play. She cleared the table and served both a bowl of miso soup with tofu.
I picked up my chopsticks to stir the soup and carried the bowl in my hand, and slurped. The soft—salty miso was full-flavored.
“You make it look so easy. I know you worked hard for all of this.”
“I work harder for my people who work for me, and I’m successful because of them. I have the best team that I can rely on, trust them, and care for them with a lot of care, like a family.” This man was something. I found him very genuine and down to earth.
“Who are you?” I asked.
Aaron only laughed then drank his soup.
Stacy came back, cleared the table, and began arranging white square dinner plates. She returned a few seconds later and placed the assortment of sushi and sashimi on the table. She was very attentive waiting on us, yet without being overbearing. I was impressed with her.
Sushi got served, and I began mixing wasabi and soy sauce. Then between both of us, we finish eating every piece of the raw fish after Stacy brought our dessert. A matcha creme brulee.
“Wonderful, can’t wait to taste.” I liked the idea of custard made with matcha green tea.
“In your family, it’s just you?” He asked.
“Yes. Just me and my Mom.”
“What does your mother do?” Aaron began a light conversation.
“My mom is a doctor now. Before meeting my dad, she was a nurse.”
“Hmm. A racecar driver and a nurse? Match made in heaven.” He commented.
“Yeah, they first met when he’d a minor accident.” I broke the sugar on my custard.
“On a race track?” Aaron asked.
“No, he jabbed a knife into his hand—”
“Shit,” he reacted, breaking me in the middle of a talk. “How?”
“He was removing the pit of an avocado,” I said and sank my teeth into my lovely desert.
“Ouch! Always, always a spoon to remove the pit of an avocado. It scoops right out.” He said.
I giggled, “Agree.”
“So he visited the hospital several times for dressing, and in those frequent visits, they fell in love.”
“I bet,” he said.
We sat on the big comfy chairs opposite each other. Aaron was working on his laptop, and I was observing—keenly at him, with a glass of wine in hand.
“Like what you see, eh?” He caught me watching him. Sneaky, I thought.
“I’ll say,” I answered. Enlightened by my comment, Aaron paused and gaped at me for several moments.
“Tell me about your family—sisters, brothers?” I asked him since he got my full attention now.
“None. I’ve no family of my own.”
“None?!” I was amazed.
“I was abandoned as a child.” He bluntly said. That left me surprised and silent.
“Oh...” It was the only reaction I could give. I couldn’t imagine not having parents or any family. Now choosing my words carefully, I asked, “Did you ever try to find your parents?”
“No.” He answered without taking his eyes off the laptop.
“Why not? Don’t you ever want to find out who your parents were?” My questions became more inquisitive.
“No. Why look for someone who had neglected their child?” He was disrespectful, his answer was cruel and merciless, maybe he was just angry, but he was right to a certain point. He was moving on with his life journey alone with no intention of finding his parents, and I didn’t believe him.
“I don’t believe you.” My mind articulated, and the words just fell out of my mouth.
His eyes flared momentarily in surprise, admitting his doubts.
He looked at me with apologetic eyes and said, “I did try once... actually twice to find them.” He sighed, sadness filled his eyes. I was feeling terrible.
He looked at his laptop, intending to end this matter, but there was a glimpse of pain in his eyes. I could see it very clearly.
“How old were you?” I asked. I desperately wanted to know this, but I was nervous to see if he will even take it and choose to answer me.
“I was just a baby about four months old,” he answered, then paused to close his laptop’s lid.
My palm went to my chest. ‘How devastating?’ A picture of a baby Aaron with big blue eyes, swaddled in a blanket, whimpering helplessly, and abandoned by his parents appeared in my mind. I set the wine glass on the table.
“Who then took care of you?” I asked, wanting to know more about his life situation.
“I was in Foster Care. I had a terrible teen life.” He opened up a little. “At fourteen, I ran away from physical abuse. I was homeless for weeks. I even begged for money at subways and signals.” The impression was so strong that it broke my heart.
He continued, “Every morning, as the small shops and restaurants would open, I went asking for work. Every day I worked at different places and had different jobs—porter, waiter, dishwasher, to name a few. They would pay me with food or a small payment. I never argued. I was thankful for whatever they gave it to me. I was desperate.” The way his tone dropped made my heartache. I could sense the agony gravely wounded him.
I understood the condition of his heart, and tears moistened my lashes. All of his sighs touched me. I couldn’t imagine the terrible things he’d suffered and the difficult time he went through. The dew which was in my eyes began rolling on my cheeks.
"Oh... Jess.” Aaron sighed and drew me into his chest. He stroked my back. “Don’t feel bad for me, Jess. It only made me stronger.”
My throat felt tight, and I found it hard to speak. “I lost my dad and never found peace. You–you don’t even know your parents,” my voice was breaking. “I know you’ve shed tears of blood on nightmares. Chapped and pruned your hands in a struggle. I can only imagine your life and what you’ve been through.” I pressed my face against his firm chest. He squeezed me in even tighter.
“I’m rich now,” he said sarcastically, trying to lighten up the mood. He made me look at him and cupped my face in his hands and swiped my already rolling tears with his thumbs. “I’m not holding any grudges against my parents anymore. I’ve forgiven them with love–a long time ago.” These words showed his kindness at heart.
I saw that his world had filled with sorrow. Now I understand his life’s philosophy, the care he has for his people because he has been through it to know what it feels like to have what he has now.
“You’re the noblest man I’ve ever met.” My compliment warmed him, and a smile appeared at the corner of his mouth. It brought consolation at heart.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. We are now crossing a zone of turbulence. Please return to your seats and keep your seat belts fastened. Thank you.” Stacy made the announcement.
“Come on, let’s not spoil our evening anymore. I can’t bear the tears in your eyes.” He swept my tears away with his finger and placed a kiss on the temple before separating me from him.
‘Again. It came so naturally for Aaron to convey his feelings.’