Mai's Point of View
I was really surprised to hear that Tom was coming over to Malaysia. I'd invited him over for my graduation ceremony but to be honest I never expected him to come over. I'd been asking him over for a holiday for ages and he'd always made some excuse. Then he'd dropped the bombshell that he was engaged. That took me completely by surprise. I knew from his infrequent emails that he'd been seeing a girl, but I never thought it was that serious. Tom, I knew had been heartbroken when Helen, his previous girlfriend, had dumped him. There’d been numerous late night Skype conversations around that period. Then his parents had died. I think that hit Tom harder than people realised. He always kept his emotions close to his chest, even to me. I always regretted never being able to get over for the funeral, but I couldn't afford the air fare. Part of me had wondered if he'd come over to visit me after their deaths, but he hadn't.
When he'd said he was coming, my heart had quickened. At school we'd been virtually inseparable. I know that people thought we were in love and having some sort of an affair which was ridiculous. I think though that towards the end of my time in England, we became closer. I know that over those years I did eventually fall for Tom. Whether it was love of the romantic or platonic kind, I didn’t know. I remember the last day we spent together in England, the tears mixed with laughter. The desperate hugs towards the late afternoon, each of us seeking to extend the moment. At one moment at the end he’d looked at me strangely and it was as though he was going to ask me something. I had wondered if he’d ask me to stay with him, to marry him, but the moment passed. In the weeks that followed I wished he had, I would have said yes.
Over the past eight years I’d often thought what would have become of us. I think that it was probably for the best that we’d not stayed together. I had had a few boyfriends when I came back to Malaysia but nothing serious. Although I wasn't hung up on Tom, I measured all my prospective boyfriends against him. No one had ever connected with me like he had.
The last few days had been a whirl of activity. I was getting measured for my graduation gowns, having rehearsals. I almost forgot to pick Tom up from the airport and thought that I would be late picking them up.
On the way to the airport I wondered what Sinead was like. Helen had a very commanding personality and from what I gathered had taken Tom by the scruff of his neck, calling the shots in their relationship. I admit that I breathed a sigh of relief when she'd dumped him. She changed his view on life and the old Tom seemed lost behind her changes. According to her Facebook profile she'd moved in with her boss after she left Tom, then onto someone else soon after as she worked her way up the companies’ structure. Tom was well shut of her.
I hoped that Sinead was different. From the excitement in his emails he was obviously deeply in love with her. I tried to envisage what she'd look like. Helen had been a beautiful person, at least in looks, not that she wasn't intelligent, she was. Heads turned when she entered the room. I imagined Sinead would be built in the same way. I remember Tom being strangely attracted to these sort of girls at school.
Entering the terminal in a rush, I realised that the plane had already landed. I rushed to the arrivals lounge and stood craning my neck for the first sight of Tom. I looked down at myself straightening the dress out down my body. I smiled inwardly, I knew this dress made me look good. I felt a weird sensation in my stomach, a sort of weightless fizzing with anticipation. A light headedness made me smile, the anticipation of meeting Tom completely masking the anxieties about meeting Sinead. I'm too old for these teenage emotions, I thought to myself laughing out loud. People turned their heads towards me and I demurely bowed my head stifling the sniggers.
It seemed like an age before I sighted Tom through the crowd. He looked older than I remembered, looking distinctly tired and washed out. He was pulling his suitcase behind him, his head scanning the crowd everywhere but where I was. I smiled, just like Tom, never looking in the right direction. Then he saw me. I saw his eyes light up. What happened next shocked and thrilled me. He dropped the bag and rushed for me scooping my body up in his arms. I was swept away in the moment. I hugged him back, tears of joy cascaded down my cheeks and onto his neck. It was like going back eight years to the moment we parted, his musky smell so familiar. I felt him loosen his grip and looked up into his eyes. His lips touched mine for a brief tender moment. I must have reacted because I saw doubt and uncertainty on his tear lashed face. I pulled him back and kissed his neck.
All too briefly it was over. Tom pulled back and turned towards a young girl. I gathered the person in front of me as Sinead. My first impression was she was young, a lot younger than I’d thought she’d be. She was a little dishevelled, plainly tired after the long flight. She wasn’t thin like Helen, in fact she seemed a little on the large size, although maybe the clothes she was wearing, jeans and a t-shirt, didn’t do her justice. From the look on her face, she didn’t seem very happy. I flushed slightly when I realise what it must look like.
I picked up her bag and went to the car. I must say the journey to the hotel was done in a distinctly cool atmosphere. I dropped them at the hotel arranging to meet later for a meal. I was looking to catch up with Tom and to really meeting Sinead. If Tom liked her, then I’m sure that I would.