by Miles Rost
15 years ago, Charles Martin stood on top of an outcropping over Lake Superior and yelled out to anyone who could hear him on the lake.
“I WILL NEVER, EVER, GET MARRIED!”
Charles was a frustrated man. From the time he was young, everything he wanted to do was thwarted in some way. He had a dream of becoming a congressman, and the corruption of those who he looked up to left him in disgust. He had a dream of going into the NFL and becoming a great running back, and a torn ACL in high school killed his career before it could even start. Before that day, 15 years ago, he was engaged twice. Both times, the women left him.
“You are just not right for me after all.”
Charles was so frustrated by these dumpings, and his incredible bad luck during his teen years, that at the age of 24, he made his proclamation to God, the world, the water, and anything that could hear him.
Those 15 years gave Charles a chance to get himself on a better track. He graduated from college, toured the United States, and later left for China to teach Mathematics to university students.
He and his fellow teacher, Shen-Wei, sat in a bar and joked over a couple of Qingdao beers.
“Man, I could never live in the US again. They’re just falling over flat. Being here…it’s close to heaven,” Charles said, his speech slurring slightly from the amount of beers that he has.
“China can be good place for people. Not exactly heaven, but it has great beer.”
As they laughed at the botched reference to an old Wisconsin tavern tune, a young lady walked up behind Shen-Wei and tapped his shoulder. She asked a few things in Chinese to him, and he replied brusquely. She nodded, and walked over to Charles.
“I told your friend, you are very handsome,” she said, in broken English.
Charles eyed her up and down, to get an idea of who she was. As he finished giving her the scanning eye, he noticed a small tattoo on her shoulder. The tattoo was of a celtic cross. He started to feel a bit fuzzy, as he looked down at his own shoulder. He remembered getting a similar tattoo years ago, without even thinking about things.
“Where did you get the tattoo?” he asked her, skipping all pleasantries.
“Korea. I got idea in vision.”
By this time, the fascination had gone by. However, his heart wouldn’t let him leave it behind just yet.
“What is your name?”
“Shen-Zhen. In English, I am Cindy.”
After that first meeting, Charles went home and sat. The image of that celtic cross on her shoulder, in the same exact place as his, made him wonder.
He tried to forget her, but everywhere he went in the city of Qingdao, somehow she was there. Even if she didn’t talk to him, he still saw her dead in his sights. Slowly, but surely, he noticed that he liked going places and seeing her there. He didn’t know what he could do. He made his vow. Did this mean that he was falling for someone again?
The answer to his question happened about 2 weeks after the last encounter, 6 months after their first meeting.
He sat in a park in Qingdao, looking around and just resting. He had seen Cindy earlier in the month, but started to avoid the bars. He just wasn’t interested in drinking cheap beer anymore.
He looked up from his bench and straight into the deep dark brown eyes of Cindy.
“Cindy…what are you doing here?”
“I came to find you. You haven’t been around.”
“I decided to give up drinking and bars.”
Cindy smiled, and sat down.
“I think of you. You make me happy.”
Charles’s head swung her way quickly.
“What do you mean?”
“There is famous poet here, many years ago, said something important. “A man who says he never marries, will find love when he doesn’t want it.””
“Not another Confucius says…”
She looked at him and turned a small bit of fire on him.
Charles continued to groan. This made Cindy man.
“It don’t matter where you go. It’s going to find you anyways. You can’t run from love.”
Now that didn’t sound like Confucius, Charles thought.
“Who said that?”
“Eddie the Rabbitt.”
Charles looked at her, his eyes staring at her in disbelief.
“Tell me, Cindy. Are you trying to say you love me?”
“Yes. I want you forever.”
Charles was floored. He didn’t know what to reply.
“I said once that I would never marry. What would make you different from the others who left me?”
Cindy looked at him square in the eye and pulled her shirt over her head. Next to her tank top, on the shoulder, she showed him the celtic cross. She grabbed his sweater, and pulled it to show his.
“We are linked.”
He suddenly realized that it wasn’t going to be the same as the others. If he didn’t take his chance now with this woman, he was lost forever.