The Meaning of Life (Short Story #1)
“DIAMOND SAGA- CHARLES JR. DISOWNED!”
Sigh! Poor Charlie… The whole Diamond saga is on every public spectacle. Everyone wants to snoop around their business. Everyone wants to know every single detail about the Diamond. I look at the headline again. I kept on repeating that name. Charles. Charlie. Charles. Charlie. He is growing up now. Underneath the big, bold headline, they also put in one of the old Diamond’s family portrait. There he is Charlie (Jr.) who looks swanky in that suit and bowtie. He must be about 5 or 6 years old here.
I scanned that young face. Everyone can tell that he is not happy. Indeed, a remarkable job by the journalist. You do not have to know Charles (Jr.) at all. The boy’s expression just said it all. He was and is never happy with the family. But then again, no one knows the real story behind it. I fold the paper and put it near the book shelves. I took a deep breath and let a long exhale to let all the memories evaporate into the thin air. It is not working. The Diamonds still lingers around my mind. Snap out of it, Jenna. Snap out of it.
I walked away from the living room and went to the kitchen, preparing for lunch. Connor and Vivie will be home soon. Some dirty dishes are left at the kitchen counter. Ah! It is almost noon! I walked to the kitchen sink and turn on the tap water. As I stand, cleaning all the dishes, I looked over the window. There lays a massive green grass covering our backyard. Oh my dear, Charlie… I stopped working with the dishes and stared at the backyard. The memory lingers on again. There is that feeling again. The big, bold and ugly headline pasted in my mind. I cannot stop thinking about it. If only I could meet Charlie again…
“Jenna, dear…” Gasp! A huge arm wrapped around my waist and a kiss on the forehead. That familiar warmth feeling is so comforting. I lay my head back on Connor’s chest. My eyes are all fixed at the backyard. Butterflies flutter their wings, looking for flowers to settle on. “Did you read the headline today, hon?” Connor took a deep breath and exhale. He slowly turns me around to face him. He looks calm as always. And such a lovely smile. I knew Connor expected me to ask him about it. His twinkling eyes reveal it so.
“Yes I have… You forgot something, dear?” Connor points to the clock. Oh my God! It is almost 1pm in the afternoon. I have been staring at the backyard for that long. I forgot all about lunch. I let go of Connor’s arms and start preparing for lunch, leaving Connor standing near the sink. I caught a glimpse of him seemingly amused. I was about to open the fridge when Connor stops me.
“Why don’t we just order in?” He walks to one of the kitchen counter and look for food leaflet. At the same time, my mind still boggles over Charlie. That darn paper! I felt sorry for Connor, who just got back from work. I know that he is exhausted. Yes, he is so sweet. While he was searching for leaflet, I closely eye his body. His body physique had lost it’s sculpt and over the years, he had developed a beer belly. His face shows traces of lines. Despite all that, he still is sweet and charming as ever. I walked up to him and wrap my arms around his belly. His body just transmit that teddy bear like feeling.
“You’re alright hon?” I can sense worrisome in his voice. Laying my head on his back, I said to him “I can’t stop thinking about Charlie… “
Connor turns his back and planted a wet kiss on my lips. I just smiles and return his kiss. He knows that I have been bothered by the news lately. It has been mostly talking about the Diamonds or the “Diamonds saga” as they call it. It was disturbing and very daunting for both of us. We have known the Diamonds for almost more than twenty years now. In fact, we used to work with them. I used to teach Charlie. Poor boy… Connor works as one of the bodyguards for Charlie. That is how we first met; a shared friendship bond over Charlie.
HONK! HONK! Both of us were jumped by the sound of the car honks. “It’s Vivie…“
Connor unwrap my arm and took my hand, slowly leading me towards the living room. As soon as we get there, he asked me to sit while he approaches the front door to open it for Vivie. I watched him open the door and a slender figure came in. “Oh sorry dad… I left the house key in my room… “ Her hair bounces as she walks towards me and she suddenly stops. She stares at me and Connor back and forth. “Is everything alright?” She cast her eyes on me. There is that suspicious tone in her voice. She probably could sense it.
Before I could say anything, Connor cuts me off “Mum forgot to cook for lunch… So which do you prefer: Chinese or Indian?” Vivie let out sigh of relief. “Chinese… We had Indian last week…oh I’m gonna go upstairs and take a shower… “ She turn and climb the stairs. As soon as she is gone, Connor looked at me again and gives me another smile. He went back to the kitchen to order in. I can hear the sound of water running in the shower room from upstairs. I just lay back and force myself not to think about Charlie or anything to do with the Diamonds.
It is almost 2 in the morning. The sound coming from air-conditioner plus Connor’s loud snores besides me kept me awake. At this point I do not mind to be disturbed. I just lay there, staring at the ceiling. Charlie… I wonder how he has been ever since the saga started. My brain starts sketching the 8 year old Charlie. He always wears expensive suits. I thought it looks way too much on a young boy like Charlie. A normal young boy wears T-shirt and pants and they are normally dirty and smelly. Charlie was never a normal boy. He is surrounded by bodyguards and maids.
Charlie’s parents are never around, not even on his birthday. Since both of them are famous entrepreneurs, they are paranoid about their security as well. Charlie was never let out in the public. He never went to public school or to any other places. The condo is his world. Thank goodness the place is never lacking of books. Books are his eyes and ears. Other than that, he never goes out and experiences the beauty in life. Just like the one he read in numerous books.
Since he was not allowed to go to public school, the Diamonds had hired me to be his teacher. I missed him calling me “Ms. Marbles”. I missed that voice. I have to say, teaching Charlie is the easiest job in the world. He is very resourceful. He always score excellent grades on every of his tests. What a bright young boy… I remember thinking about his future. Does teaching him about life worthy to him at all? Assuming that his parents already plan for his future-to take over Diamond’s family business and continue their legacy.
One time, I was teaching him about plants. All of a sudden, he asked me, “What’s it like putting your feet on the grass?” I was taken aback by the question. I stared at that pale face and then, suddenly it hit me. I realised that I never really care about how the grass feels as it touches my skin. Charlie, despite of his privileged status, missed out on the beauty of life. “I don’t know Charlie…” He looked down and continues to do his work. I knew he was disappointed. I cannot help but felt sorry for him. Unfortunately, our relationship is no more than a teacher-student. I cannot make a further connection with this boy. Oh the dilemma…
Little did I know tears trickling down my cheeks; beads by beads. I looked again at the wall clock. It is almost 4 o’clock. I got up from bed and sit at the edge of it. I wanted to stop empathising Charlie but I just felt so helpless. That question swirled in my mind, repeatedly forcing me to answer it- “what’s it like putting your feet on the grass?” I have the sudden urge to know the answer myself. I turn my head, looking at Connor sleeping so peacefully.
As I slid my feet in slippers, I had to make sure that I will not wake Connor up. Quite like a mice, I sneak out from our bedroom and walked downstairs towards the kitchen. Turning on the backyard lamp, I open to the back door. It is a very exciting and adventurous. Something that book cannot describe well. The night chills does not deter me from stepping on the grass. I took off my slippers and slowly step on the grass. Every single step gave me that feeling of excitement and freedom.
I finally understood what Charlie did what they did. I knew he had stepped on the grass and let the freedom flow through his body. At that moment, I knew that Charlie had found the question to his answer. The feeling as you step on the grass is the same as the feeling as you find the meaning of life. I smiled thinking about Charlie. Good boy!