"Everything", he thought. "This is everything I dream of," he took a deep breath, greedily drawing in the sweet fragrance that's filling the air around him. “And more,” he concluded with a new found sense of peace within him. He rested his head lightly on the girl's silky hair, which was draping down his shoulder. Not too strong, enough to tingle. Lavender? Rose? Lily? He couldn't tell.
They were sitting at the back of the passenger van, on a summer holidays trip with a group of university mates. After a tiring fun-filled day, it was getting dark. It would be another hour before they could lay down their tired bodies to recuperate for another day. But, to him, it was an hour too soon, and he didn't want another day to arrive, as he caressed her soft hand.
He had been exploring boundaries within their friendship ever since he sensed his longing feeling for her. It's more than a crush. Her sporadic subtle hints convinced him so. Or were those his whimsical thoughts? Being younger than her, he's hesitant in making a bold declaration, until that night.
As they dragged their exhaustion onto the van for the trip back to their motel, their friends conveniently left the two back seats vacant. They were just happy to ignore all the teasing glances and walked towards the vacant seats.
It was after dinner. The air was cooling into the summer night. His body was tired, but his heart was undulating with emotions. He took out his walkman, tentatively offered one earbud to her. To his delight, she accepted. He put on the other one, hands shaking slightly with excitement. He pressed Play, hoping the music would have a calming effect on his racing heart. But the bumpy road had other ideas. Well, at least she didn't mind the ensuing intimate physical contacts of their shoulders, he was pleased. Finally, the bumpy road did him a favour. On one tiny bump, their hands touched. He seized his moments.
It was the softest hand he'd ever held. In fact, it was the first time he's holding a girl's hand with a gentle, romantic touch. This would be his first love.
At that magical moment, darkness painted the inside of the van with colors. The stars of the night were winking at them, blessing them. The summer breeze was not just cooling, they were harmonizing to the song playing from the walkman. Our song, he declared fondly to himself. Even the loud snores from one of the passengers sounded romantic.
That marked the start of what seemed to be a trip to heaven for him. They were finally a couple; holding hands openly everywhere they go; sharing drinks, food, and loving gazes.
The last day of the trip marked the end of an enjoyable trip for the group of friends. It also marked the abrupt end of their brief romantic relationship.
There were too many obstacles, too many problems she could foresee, she said. Disappointed, he was, but not upset. Neither did he appeal for another chance. Too proud, perhaps. The few days of loving feeling was never strong enough to slit a cut that deep, he explained to himself, amazed by his readiness and calmness in accepting her decision. It was good while it lasted, he conceded.
They were still friends. They still got together. He still tried to cross over the boundaries in subtle ways, testing waters, hoping she’d change her mind. But the boundaries were never crossed again.
After university, they went their separate ways. Both got married, at different time, to different people, at different places.
As time passed, those few days of romances were slowly buried under the sand of time, along with their song. On rare occasions when he caught the song being played on radio, his mind would trigger off a warm fuzzy feeling and plunge him into deep sentimental thoughts. It had become a fond memory of his youthful days.
The song would have stayed in his memory's wilderness too, had he not chanced upon her in their hometown many years after that. They had coffee, they talked - about old times, old friends, careers, families, kids, schools, etc. They had a good time catching up, filling gaps in between.
After waving goodbye, on his way home, he couldn't stop humming that romantic tune, their song. For the first time, after many years wandering in his oblivion, the song was recalled into his memory voluntarily. Sitting in front of his computer, still humming, he turned to YouTube for some sweet reminiscences. Lyrics of chorus, that's always the title of the song, he thought, shaking his head, smiling - after all these years, he had never bothered himself to find out the song's title. As he was keying in the words of the chorus into the search box, something that had never crossed his mind as anything meaningful, something that was so blatantly ironic, suddenly flashed before his eyes. His fingers hovered above the keyboard, paused. Eyes widened, he stared at what he'd just typed, in disbelief. After a long while, he chuckled, in amazement, and hit Enter ...