THE WRITERS POST
VOLUME 8 NUMBER 1
THE PURPLE ROSES
A SHORT STORY BY
- What did you find in this garden this morning?
- I found a few memories and a little happiness.
The train stopped at Lao Cai train station at 5:00a.m., after a 10-hour overnight train ride from Hanoi that wound in the darkness through muddy rice paddies, past small huts with thatched or ancient tile roofs and through large and small towns along the railroad. From Lao Cai, Amber and the tour group traveled 40 kilometers in a van in the dense fog, winding along a steep road cut through the terraced hillsides of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Finally the van reached the Valley of Roses Resort and spit people out at the front of the registration building at 7:30a.m.† It was a dreary morning and Sa Pa was enveloped in thick mist.
"Bad luck! We have traveled thousands of miles from California to Viet Nam just to get sick, breathe polluted air, and get soaked in the rain and mist. I hate the dampness; I hate the drizzling!" said Amber, venting her frustration and disappointment.† †††††††
"Calm down, Amber; we are here. Tell me, who fell in love with that picture of a little Hmong girl standing on a hilltop in a film of mist? Be patient Amber, I know you are tired, but be patient.† When we get our room, you can sleep as much as you want," said Lan, holding Amberís cold hand tightly.†† Umbrellas in their hands, people chatted excitedly and sprang out of the bus into the rain: German, French, Italian, and Irish.†† Amber felt weak, sick, and nauseated.† She wished that she could lie in a warm bed or have a cup of hot tea to calm her noisy stomach.†† Amber and Lan jumped out of the van last without any umbrella or raincoat.†† Amber looked shriveled and pale as though she could fall into the watery concrete courtyard at any second.† Lan interpreted the irritation in Amberís eyes as saying that she wished to be back in Hanoi.
After registering, the group followed the tour guide, who was quiet and tired after a long sleepless night, to the assigned cottages.†
The Valley of Roses resort is perched on a hillside facing hazy Mt. Fan Si Pan, the highest peak in Viet Nam, and is surrounded by a sea of roses.† Guests stay in cottages that pop up amidst the rose garden with their curling smoke columns climbing slowly skyward.† A tiered rice paddy lies submerged in the mist on the†† hillside opposite the resort.†
†Amber and Lan walked for a short distance on the slippery rock path until the tour guide pointed to chalet number four and called their names loudly.† They said a temporary goodbye to the group and turned left onto the tiny path leading to their cottage.† Reaching the room, Lan raced to the heater and turned it on high.†† Amber dropped her belongings, jumped into the bed and covered herself with the down comforter.† She curled her tired body beneath the comforter thinking of sleeping through the day.† She felt chilled.† Her stomach was making so much noise!† Contrary to Amber, Lan felt energetic and changed into a new outfit: a maroon cashmere turtle neck sweater, a maroon beret and a maroon scarf.† The denim Guess jeans fit her long legs beautifully.† †
†Amber lazily watched Lan as she left for a walk, and then gradually dozed off.† When she woke up, the clouds had vanished and warm rays from the sun were streaming into the room, dancing in her eyes.† She felt light hearted.† She had an urge to walk outside and mumbled to herself: "I can't lie in the room through a beautiful morning like this."†† She went outside and meandered through the rose garden, flitting like a butterfly, smelling this blossom, touching others, wrinkling her nose or shaking her head. ††Amber felt alive.† Time breezed by quickly and suddenly she felt hungry.†† Amber remembered that she had skipped dinner and breakfast.† Thinking of a steaming bowl of chicken soup dotted with a few slices of green onion, a few slices of chicken floating on the top of the clear broth, and white rice noodles, she walked towards the resort restaurant.†††††
Suddenly she heard someone greeting her; a male voice, warm and tender.† She halted, turned and responded to him with her typical politeness and caution.†† Perhaps the rose bushes were too high or she was distracted, for she hadn't seen him until now.† A few yards from her, behind a row of blossoming roses, a†† man stood calmly looking at her.† She could see his slim figure of average height and his brown face. His eyes were hidden beneath the visor of his cap.† Her hands nervously searched for her coat pockets as they did every time she encountered a stranger.† He might have been watching her wandering in the rose garden for a long time.† She felt embarrassed and thought of what she had done in the garden, sometimes looking up at the cloudless sky, sometimes smelling rose blossoms, sometimes reciting a verse of an ancient poem softly.† So had this man shared the same morning air and observed her sentimental moments?†
"Hello Miss.† How are you?† What did you find in the garden this morning?" the stranger softly asked her with a friendly smile.†
"Good morning!† I found a few memories and a little happiness,Ē Amber answered shyly.† Her†† long lashes fluttered over her downcast eyes.† Her complexion looked rosy, perhaps from the color of her burgundy wool coat or from the warm sun.† She looked fresh and beautiful.
"Is this your first visit to Sa Pa?"†
"Yes!† Yes it is.† I love this garden!†† She laughed softly and talked to him in detail about the various flowers in the garden, assuming that he would understand what she was talking about.† The man smiled cheerfully, hearing someone express appreciation for his hard work.
"This is my world, a tranquil place with fresh air.† My sacred refuge.† You see, I am the gardener, a little God to this garden.† But a God who cannot foresee his future," the stranger replied.
"So you are the God of this heaven." Her sweet voice rose in the warm air as a soft breeze wafted not only the virgin air but also the wonderful fragrance of the roses to her nostrils.† She inhaled the fabulous scent into her lungs and felt like she was embraced by an unseen force surrounding her.
"Are you a tourist, Miss?† You don't mind if I ask you this question?" he hesitantly asked Amber.†
The question took herby surprise.†
"Why do you think I am a tourist?† Don't I speak Vietnamese as well as you?" she responded†† stiffly and with cold irritation.†
"No offense intended, Miss.† You speak Vietnamese fluently.† It is your look, your aura.† I find that people who have been living abroad are so alive.† They are different than us in the way they talk to each other, the way they look at things, and the way they laugh so freely.† From our viewpoint, they must be living a wonderful life. You see the people that you have met here and that live here, they seldom smile, they don't laugh and their eyes are empty.† We have been through so much hardship in the past that we do not have the spirit of living.† We live like robots.† You and other tourists are like the fresh ocean breeze!"†
"I am sorry I got a little irritated,Ē Amber replied, her voice filled with regret.† "I was born and raised in Vietnam and it is difficult to be viewed as a foreigner in my home country."
"Please!† Don't say sorry, miss," he smiled at her and his eyes seemed far away. His voice rose again as though in longing: "Looking at you wandering among the roses in the morning sun was a magic moment.† I appreciate your presence tremendously.† Talking to you makes me feel alive.† It makes me think of a time long ago with someone else."
The stranger talked fast as though he were afraid that Amber would disappear like the mist from the hills.† Amber could feel the delight in his voice.† He poured his heart out to her, another stranger.† He stood in the stillness of the garden and exuded confidence, but, he looked so lonely.† A lonely God who couldn't foresee his future, Amber thought.†
There was something about himÖÖ.something that stirred her emotions.† She felt confused and†† wondered why listening to his voice seemed to make her heart tremble.† She looked hard at him; he looked decent, wearing a red wine-colored shirt and†† khaki pants.† One hand held a pair of trimming scissors. He didn't look like a professional gardener to her.† The stranger started walking toward her. Unconsciously, Amber fluttered her eyelashes and composed her voice as she usually did when she talked to someone that she could trust.† Why did she suddenly trust this man?† She lifted her chin and her curious eyes stared straight into his deep sad eyes. She believed that eyes are the windows of a soul. She noticed a tiny faded scar on his left eyebrow and a sudden realization hit her like a blow to her face.† In that moment Amber felt like the ground where she stood was moving, her heart beat faster and faster, her head was dizzy with shock, and she tumbled toward†† the man who stood a few feet from her.
"You are sick," he whispered to her.
"I can't see you!"† Amber panicked and tried to stand up straight.† Her face was pale, her eyes closed and she almost fell backward.
"Let me help you." The man extended his hands quickly to keep her from falling.†† "Here is my arm; hold it please and let me walk you to your place," he whispered into her ear.
His voice rose and fell while Amberís body leaned against his shoulder as they walked to her cottage.† He tucked her beneath the down comforter.† She was confused and her head felt like it was spinning. He looked around the room,†† saw the thermos near the coffee table, poured a cup of hot tea for her, and brought it to her bed.††† He helped her to sit up.† She held the warm tea cup with both hands and sipped it slowly, trying to think of what she could say to this man.† A half cup of tea quickly disappeared but Amber still couldn't compose herself.† Finally she decided to introduce herself using her American name.† She only could say a few words and lie down again.† The man sat down in a chair near her bed.† He looked at her sadly and said:
"My name is Ba."† His lips quivered like he wanted to say something more, but he wasn't able to utter a word.† He stared at her in silence.† The air inside the room felt thick and heavy.†† Amber finally broke the silence.† She thanked him profusely, glanced at the clock on the wall and told him that her friend would be here soon for lunch and could help her.††
"Are you sure she'll be back soon?" Without waiting for an answer, he made a phone call to the kitchen and ordered chicken soup for two people.† He told her that he was going to a management meeting this afternoon and had to leave.
After Ba left, Amber broke into tears and began to weep inconsolably.† She cried and cried her heart out.† Ba, who is Ba?†
This man was Son, her ex-husband! He didn't recognize her even though he was by her for nearly 30 minutes.† She wondered†† if she had changed so much or if she was the only one who still†† thought about their past life together.† Perhaps he had married†† someone and didn't want to acknowledge her, or had just forgotten her after so many years.† When he was next to her, she didn't have the courage to hold him in her arms and say "Son, I am your wife".† She could no longer say that, since she had remarried long ago after giving up hope of ever seeing him again.† "Son is alive; I have betrayed him by marrying David!"† Why had she recognized Son in a second when she looked into his eyes and he had not recognized her?†† Amber was deeply hurt.†
Suddenly Lan burst open the door, talking loudly:
"I had so much fun!† I learned how to bargain and how to negotiate with the merchants.† They were like bees buzzing all around the tourists on their way to the market.† I bought some items for you and me even though I'm a lousy bargainer.† But I don't care,Ē she talked and talked until she saw Amber sinking sadly into the sofa, her eyes filled with tears.† Lan was astonished to see Amberís distress.† She threw the gift bags on the floor, rushed toward sofa, and hugged her tightly.†
"What's happened?† You look terrible.† Tell me! Tell me," Lan asked urgently.
"Son is alive!† He is here....he is the gardener.† He didn't recognize me!† He was in this room and stood right here.††† He left just before you got back,Ē Amber said tearfully.
"Whoa, this is crazy! Crazy!† Were you in a daze this morning?† Were you confused and saw someone else who has†† features like him?" Lan caressed Amberís back and tried to calm her down.† Her voice was tender next to the sound of Amber weeping.† "If that man is Son, he might have married another woman.† He could look ugly and old like an old tree after many years in a concentration camp," Lan said, her voice firm and serious.†
Lan was stunned at Amberís statement.† If Son had stood in front of her, she would have hugged him, would have called his name whether or not he was married, old and tattered.† Someone knocked at the door. Lan opened it and a young girl entered carrying a tray with two big bowls of steaming chicken soup.††† Lan found a small note from under a pair of chopsticks and spoons:
ďAmber, try to rest and eat some soup. This will help you, and I will drop by later to see you.† Ba".† Lan stared at the note and looked directly into Amberís eyes with an unspoken question: who is Ba?
"Ba is the gardener. Ba is Son. Son is Ba.† I don't know.† I don't know.†† I don't know why he has that name.† If you see him and talk to him, you will know Ba and Son is the same person,Ē Amber said in a confused voice.
After eating, the two women discussed the matter for a long time.† They†† decided to see if they could determine whether Ba was indeed Son.† They went to the manager's office to try and get information on Ba's background, but were told he was gone until 4:00 p.m.† .† They made friends with the young receptionist and chatted with him for awhile.† They pretended they were Ba's cousins from Hanoi and wanted to talk to him.† After Lan and† Amber gained his confidence, he opened up and†† pointed to the hilltop across from the resort and told them that the owner allowed Ba to stay in a hut located† the second from the right on the ridge top.†
Leaving the receptionist, they climbed the hillside and hiked to Baís hut.† It was small and primitive, but looked neat and clean from the outside.† He was not there, so they decided to take a chance and go inside.† Neither the gate nor the front door was locked so they easily gained entrance.† They scanned the inside of the house quickly, from the bookcase near the door to the end table by the bamboo bed.† They saw nothing in the sparse belongings in the hut that could verify that Ba was Son.† They both knew Son used to be a bookworm with his bookcase always full of many good books when they were together in Vietnam long ago.† Disappointed, they returned to their cottage and sat still for a long time.† To escape the stagnant atmosphere in the room and help resolve the issue, Lan went to the manager's office again to chat with the receptionist, hoping she could get more information about Ba.†† Amber stayed in the cottage, laid her head on the sofa and stared blankly at the ceiling
Meanwhile, Ba sat in his meeting but could not concentrate.†† Amber had captured his mind. Finally he could not stand it any more, and left the meeting.† He went to his hut and built a fire to brew some tea to keep him warm.† He sat near the fire, and stared at the orange dancing flames thinking about his wife, Thuy Tien, twenty two years ago.† He clucked his tongue and whispered to himself that time had just flown by.† He hadn't seen her since the terrible time of the fall of Saigon in 1975.† Thuy Tien was about 5'2", slim, fragile and timid. When she talked to someone she fluttered her eyelashes unintentionally, though it sometimes looked to others that she was trying to flirt.† Son had loved the smile that made her face so radiant, showing her brilliant white teeth.†
On the contrary, this woman Amber, who reminded him so much of his wife in her mannerisms, was much more rounded, had dimples and spoke with an air of confidence. But similar to Thuy Tien, Amber had a beautiful smile and her eyelashes fluttered when she talked to him.† He mumbled the two names, Thuy Tien and Amber, many times and finally he went to the conclusion that Amber and Thuy Tien could be one woman.† Ba was so confused.† He looked at himself in the mirror and didn't recognize that person.† He had changed so much.† He felt old and worn out.† He thought perhaps his ex-wife also had changed so much.†† Amber could be Thuy Tien or vice versa.† Too tired he dropped his head on his knees thinking if he hadn't seen Amberís face and had only†† heard her voice, her laugh and inhaled her scent he would have believed that Amber was Thuy Tien, his wife.†
But then a thought struck himÖÖsomething that was important and special to him and Thuy in the past. His eyes sparkled as he picked up the kettle from the fire and set it on the floor.† He stood up, clutched the basket that he found near the fireplace, and ran into the back yard, forgetting that he hadn't worn a warm coat.† He stared at the purple rose bush that boasted more than a dozen plump buds and many blossoms.† They were so fresh and beautiful under the evening sun.† Their wonderful fragrance drifted into his face. He quickly cut them, flew down the hillside, and minutes later†† stood in the front door of Amberís cottage.† He knocked on the door urgently; he couldn't wait any longer without knowing.† His instinct told him that he was right.† His heart beat faster and faster, wanting to burst.†
Ba had recalled that Thuy Tien and he shared a special meaning for the purple roses from the rose bush planted in the backyard nearby the window of their room years ago.† He never forgot the rose's fragrance or Thuy Tienís sweet scent.† He remembered when they made love that the rose's fragrance always lingered in the room.† Thuy Tien, Ba, and the purple rose bush had a special relationship.†
He was not able to tend to those roses for more than 10 years when he was sent to a concentration camp in North Viet Nam.† During many chilled nights in the labor camp, he thought of his wife and their closeness in their warm bed.† Imagining the beautiful rose blossoms and their fresh fragrance consoled him during his time of extreme hardship.† After Son was finally released from the concentration camp, he returned to his parents' home in Da Lat province.† His mother and sister didn't recognize him when he showed up at the front door.† He looked like a corpse with his thin body and haunted eyes.† He couldn't stand tall like he used to; he only had enough strength to reach his home and collapse at the front door.†
He brought home so many diseases that without someone caring for him he would have soon died.†† Even though his mother and his sister were poor, they nurtured him back to life.† During those bedridden days he learned that his father had passed away and Thuy Tien was no longer there.† But the rose bush was still alive.† Many times he cut rose blossoms for his sister to sell at the market, but as he did so, he wept quietly.† A few years later, he had the opportunity to leave Viet Nam with the Humanitarian Organization Program but he wanted to care for his mother in the last few years of her life.
Knowing that she could be gone soon, one day his mother whispered to Son and advised him that he needed to marry and start a new life.† She gave him an old letter that one of her cousins from America had sent to her long ago, letting her know that Thuy Tien had remarried. The letter also explained that Sonís wife had waited for him more than eight long years.† Son held the letter in his hand and a flood of tears rolled down his cheeks like a monsoon.† He was sad for his fate. He was hurt tremendously and he was miserable.† A week later his mother passed away.† He drifted†† into a life of poverty for many years since the Viet Communists would not allow him to take any job in the community.† Finally in 1993 he was given a job as a gardener at the Valley of Roses Resort in Sa Pa from Mr. Tan, a close friend from college.† Tan knew that Son would do a good job since he had so much knowledge about roses and gardens.†† Son transported the purple rose bush to Sa Pa and re-planted it in his backyard.† He determined to forget the past and assumed the new name of "Ba" on the day he started working at the resort.
Sinking deep into the sofa with the cold cup of tea nearby, Amber felt empty and sad.† Suddenly she heard†† urgent knocks at the door and had a feeling that it was Ba.† She was instantly nervous.† Unintentionally her hand reached for the tea cup and she gulped the full cup of cold tea and swallowed it quickly.† She pinched her face to make sure that she was still alert.† She walked to the door and opened it to find Ba standing there clutching a bouquet of purple roses.† Her mouth opened wide with astonishment when she saw the roses.† He looked nervous and was trembling a bit, either from the cold wet air, or from his excitement, but his eyes sparkled with a new fire.†
"Thuy Tien, I just cut fresh roses for you!"† Amber and Baís voices rose in unison: "the rose has the fragrance that I love so much."
"Oh, the purple roses!† Oh, the fragrance!"† Amber only could say a few words and then she fell into his arm and wept like a waterfall.†
They held each other without saying a word.† No word could express the depth of their feeling†† after nearly a quarter century of separation.
"This morning I thought that you had forgotten me.† I believed you must have married someone else and didn't want to deal with me any more.† I recognized you in a split second when my eyes landed on the tiny faded scar above your left eye.† I almost fainted and you helped me to my room, but then I thought you did not recognize me,Ē Amber wept.
He lifted her face and looked into her eyes, whispering softly and emotionally: "I was confused at that moment, thinking it was you, thinking it was not you.† I will never let you get away from me again. I can recognize your voice, your laugh even when I close my eyes.† I can smell your sweet body scent. Now I am old and broken.† I have changed so much and I am no longer the person that once you fell in love with long ago.†
Time froze.† The air was completely tranquil.†† Amber's beautiful eyes sparkled.† Her gaze dwelled on his face, while one of her fingers touched his lips as if begging him to quit speaking.† She knew that they could talk to one another endlessly to make up for the lost years.† But it should be later, not now.† Son understood her perfectly.† His eyes locked onto hers for a lingering moment.† Her face was on his chest and her tears were warm, wetting his shirt, as he too cried softly, his tears like the morning dew landing on her smooth hair. Their hearts beat in harmony.† They were in their dream world when suddenly Lan opened the door.† Seeing Amber and Son holding one another, she was stunned for a moment, and then broke into tears.† She stretched out her arms and rushed toward them.† She couldn't speak a word, just cried and cried as she felt Son and Amberís hands caressing her hair and her back.††
"I got the information I was looking for about Mr. Ba so† I raced over here†† to tell you the good news, but seeing both of you in each other's arms is the best news I could possibly hope for," Lan said, her voice choked with tears and emotion.†††
"Lan! Is it really you? Is this the same girl I knew long ago?† Even though your appearance has changed, I can see that spirit, that energy.† You always were cheerful and happy." Son was astonished to see Lan.† He felt like he was back in his own world again, somewhere in Dalat province.† He shook his head in disbelief and tried to hide the strong sentiment he felt at seeing her again.† The two most important women from his past life suddenly in front of him after 22 years, all at once.† It was almost too much to take and he felt dizzy and faint.
†They all sat down and began excitedly talking at once with the tears flowing freely.†† Suddenly Lan looked at her wrist watch as if she had something she needed to do.†
"Oh, I forgot to tell you Amber, that I have a date with that Irish guy for dinner at the Mimosa restaurant in Sa Pa.† So I'd love to stay and talk to you, but we can do it later.† I need to take a shower and dress up nicely to win his heart, donít you think?" said Lan mischievously, laughing softly.† But she really wanted to be by Son, really wanted to know what had happened to him in the last 22 years.† Son had been her first love even though he didn't know it at the time.† Did he ever realize that she was in love with him when she was 15 years of age?† Did he ever know that she was devastated when he came to her asking her to introduce him to Amber, her best friend?††† Did he ever wonder why after that she remained single?† She stared at him for a long moment and surrendered herself.
"Don't go, please.† Son and I would like the three of us to have dinner in this room and have a joyful reunion.† I know that you love red wine, a good meal, good company and a chat by the fireplace.† We won't cry any more.† We will celebrate our love for one another.† Is it OK with you, Lan?† Please call and cancel your date tonight."††† Amber understood Lan's heart well.† She knew that Lan loved Son deeply and her heart had been broken by Amber who had the beauty to win Son's heart long ago.† She understood that Lan wanted Amber and Son to have time alone tonight.† Lan could not understand why Amber begged her to share the moment of reunion with her former husband.† Lan always had been a part of Amberís life for many years.†† She once was a part of Son's young life in Da Lat where their parents were neighbors.† Many years later, after they had fled to the US and Amber married Davis, Lan confessed that she had loved Son since she was 15 years old, but Son only loved Lan like a young sister.† Lan remained a special person to him, even after he married Amber.†† She had the right to be by Son just as much as Amber, but this was a special moment for them, and perhaps even after all of these years they would reunite as husband and wife.† Hearing Amber begging her to stay, Lan was confused.† She looked at the firm eyes of Amber and understood that Amber wasn't just being polite.† She rolled her eyes and stared at Son as telling him that she didn't understand.
"Yes, please cancel your date and have dinner here tonight with us," Son said to her gently like a brother talking to a sister.†† Amber added,
"We have so much to tell one another after 22 years of drifting away.† Son perhaps would like to know what's happened to us since we left Saigon.† So do we, we would like to know the hardship Son suffered in his miserable path during 22 years living under the communist regime.† We are so happy for this surprise reunion today.† We have had so much pain and suffering.† Now we deserve a better time, a happy time, don't we, my friends?"†† Amber talked with spirit and a hint of authority.† Son listened to her with awe.† Was this woman, who spoke these words so confidently in front of his face tonight his timid, fragile wife,†† his lover that he promised to care and to protect long ago?† Without him in the past 22 years she had changed from a cocoon into a beautiful butterfly.† All the hardship, all the tears in the past had transformed her into to a strong person.† His heart filled with delight.
That night, the moon, clear and bright, hung high in the starry sky.† Inside the cottage, Son, Amber and Lan sat by the fireplace after dinner and talked animatedly to one another. Their happy laughter reverberated in the warm air and their sparkling eyes danced like the red flames endlessly reaching up the fireplace chimney.† Son put more wood on the fire, and the red particles surged upwards.† They sipped their wine gradually and basked in the happiness of the moment.†
That night Amber sometimes sobbed uncontrollably for their lost years and the hardship that Son endured during his 10 years in a concentration camp.† She stared at the dancing red flames and wondered what she could do for him now to make his life easier.† Her heart went out to him as she observed his face, still handsome to her, in the glow of the flames.† She still remembered that Son, many times in their past together, had wished that he could build a beautiful mansion for her on some scenic hilltop and could†† plant the hillside with†† purple roses.† Her emotions consumed her as she thought, "I still love him so much!† Perhaps we can have a second chance to be with each other."† She pushed the gnawing thoughts about David in the back of her mind and imagined living with Son in a beautiful mansion on a hilltop somewhere.† In that sweet home, Son would sit by the fire reading a good book, and she would just sit next to him.† Son looked at Amber sitting next to him, and felt a love for her just as strong as when she was his wife 22 years ago.† He felt like the years of separation had never happened and time had just moved ahead.† He looked at her as though saying "I am here now; I won't go away from you any more".†† Amber and Son's eyes locked together at that moment and communicated their love.
As this extraordinary evening wore on, Son glanced over at Lan with a tender look as though telling her that she too always was and always would be a special person in his life. Lan understood what Son was telling her and closed her eyes. She desired to help this man who meant so much to her, improve his meager and struggling life.† Deep in her heart she felt her love for him surging fast like a tsunami.† A plan began to form in her mind, the perfect gift for this noble and deserving man.†
For these souls who had the misfortune to be born and raised during a terrible and prolonged war, their miraculous reunion that night felt like a moment frozen in time.† More than anything they felt blessed just to be able to sit next to one another, to have a chance to laugh and weep together, to be able to rekindle old feelings.† They were enveloped and submerged in their fresh love and knew at that moment it would last forever.† Eventually they said goodnight, accompanied by tender embraces and more tears.†
As Son's bent figure slowly disappeared into the mist of the night, Lan resolved to put her plan into action.† The next day she arranged to meet that week with the owner of the Valley of Roses Resort.† After brief negotiations with him, a deal was struck to the satisfaction of both parties.
One late morning on a fall day in Sa Pa three years later, Son wandered into his back yard and cut some fresh flowers.† He turned and looked back at his dream home, the most beautiful mansion in the area, perched on top of the hill and surrounded by purple roses that had the purest and most tranquil fragrance.† A column of smoke from the chimney of the mansion wound into the cool air reaching for the sun perched above a mountain top far away.† He softly kissed a fresh cut rose and smiled happily.† He felt so fortunate to live in the most beautiful place in Sa Pa, but more importantly to have such a wonderful woman who loved him so much.† He opened the back door and saw his wife sitting at the table with pen and paper in front of her.
††††††††††† "Good morning, my dear.† How are you?†† I cut some fresh roses for the dining room." Son walked toward his wife and gave her a tender kiss on her warm cheeks.†† She smiled at him and spoke in a soft voice,
"Good morning, my love.† The roses look so fresh and exquisite."††
"Are you writing something?"††
"Yes, I am about to. This morning I have an urge to write a letter to our friends in America."††† She turned away from him, picked up her pen and wroteÖ..
I woke up early this morning and just had to write to you! The dense mist has been wandering above Sa Pa for the last few days.† The sunshine now is dancing warmly on our many hills.† I am thinking of you and I really miss seeing you.† Where are you now?† Perhaps you are hiking on a new trail, or biking along the Monterey coast, or in Pacific Grove or Carmel, watching the relentless and powerful waves rushing onto the shores. Or maybe you are sitting on a warm rock in the desert reading a book under the beautiful sunshine, or perhaps you and Davis are having a sumptuous meal in a fancy restaurant watching the sunset somewhere.† I miss you.
When are you going to visit Sa Pa again and see our magnificent purple roses? My dearest, remember that† Son and I always think of you when† we watch the sun falling behind† Mt. Fan Si Pang, when we are submerged into the thick mist, when the fragrance of the purple roses lingers in the moist air, or when we sip a cup of tea under the moonlight.† I shall never forget that magical night 3 years ago when we Son returned to us.† Who could have possibly dreamed that it would work out like this, with happiness for all of us? I wish someday soon Davis and the three of us can sit by our fireplace and†† talk all night, and we can relive our fairytale, and be as we were when we were young and innocent.
†Remember Amber, we are always here for you.†
I miss you, Amber.† I miss you, sister. ĺ Lan
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