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2010/12/29 / Horace

At the Midnight (My Story for the Final Term Writing Assignment)

It was 2 a.m. Daniel finished his report and shut the computer. After cleaning his table and putting all the files back in place, he felt the lingering loneliness again. With no more books to read in his shelf and nowhere else to go at such a late time, he, the only one in the office, just wanted to do one thing – to tell Julia that how much and how long he had loved her.

However, he restrained his impulse again. Yes, Daniel did love Julia, but he did not have the courage to say it.

He was missing Julia and recalled the time when she first came into the office and introduced herself.

‘Everyone here is a pearl, and I would like to be the thread stringing all these pearls together. It’s my greatest honor and happiness to make a contribution.’

Daniel, who was also experiencing his first day in the office, was busy typing at that time, but he stopped to listen when Julia made her first speech. Amid the great applause for her eloquence, she smiled to everyone, including him. He looked at her carefully. Ordinarily-looking as she was, she was very intelligent, since she could deliver a speech winning everyone’s admiration.

While recalling the past, he was staring at the place where Julia worked every day. It was the place he went to the most. It was where he found his first friend, where they finished their first plan, and where they heard their first promotions. They had been very close workmates, and now, Daniel wanted them to be more than that.

One day, Daniel went to Julia’s birthday party. After showing Daniel around the house, she grabbed him by the arm and introduced him to her friends.

‘This is Daniel, my colleague, my friend and the boy I have always talked about. Almost everyone in the office likes him, definitely including me.’ Julia joked.

‘So, you like him!’ asked one of her astonished friends.

‘No. I just treat him like my brother.’ Julia smiled

‘Don’t you want to move a little bit forward? Look, how compatible you are!’ another girl joked. Then great laughter broke out among the girls.

‘Very likely, actually.’ Julia suddenly turned very serious. The air around them froze for a second, and then she giggled and continued, ‘However, it is not possible before I have double-checked the food is ready. I have to go now. See you, Dan! Enjoy yourself!’

Julia went away and left Daniel alone to her friends.

‘We can help you if you are interested in our Julia.’ The girls moved forward and looked at him curiously, ‘She speaks quite well of you. In fact, she’s speaking highly of you all the time.’

Maybe, he should have asked these girls for help. However, he did not do so. Having seen the Ferrari outside the house, the furniture from Thailand and the decorations all around the house, he realized that the friendly low-key girl he loved was a princess of an uptown castle, someone living very, very far from where he lived.

His stomachache pulled him out of his recollection. Every time he worked late at night, he would have very serious stomachache. The doctor once suggested he should not work extra hours, but he had to save enough before he could go back to school for a master degree, before he could support his parents and before he could be as decent as Julia.

‘I am very surprised to hear that you are still single.’ Some other day, when they were having lunch together, Julia said, ‘Don’t you have someone in your mind?’

Daniel stopped eating, paused for a while and said casually, ‘Well, I do have someone in my mind, but she does not know it. Anyway, I am not going to do anything.’

‘But why?’ Julia leant forward, eager to know more.

‘I have to work for extra hours every week, stay away from all luxuries, and try to save every cent for the future. Would any girl love a boy like me? Don’t you think staying with a boy like me is a little bit… too much?’ Daniel also leant forward and looked straight into her eyes.

‘Do you think money really matters in love?’ Julia shrunk back, looked away for a second, turned back and continued asking.

‘It matters all the time, doesn’t it?’ Daniel replied coldly and briskly and went back to eating.

‘Well, I still believe that boys should be more active in developing a relationship.’ Julia said, ‘You will never know what will happen until you try.’

Daniel raised his head a little bit for a second and then fixed his eyes on his plate again. He could hear Julia’s sigh, but he did not react to it.

Thinking about this, he sighed just like Julia had sighed that day, and sat down. He believed it would be too much risk if he said the dangerous three words. If he said nothing, everything would stay the same. They would be very good workmates and friends forever. If he decided to profess his love but was turned down, everything would be nothing. Even if he succeeded, would the relationship last long? Would Julia endure being the girlfriend of a working class boy? Would she envy her peers hanging out with rich guys? Would she become someone else over time? Would he become someone else over time? Life is so unpredictable to both of them, and he had to be responsible for both of them.

‘You will never know what will happen until you try.’ Again Daniel recalled what Julia had said. Was it a sign or just part of a unhappy conversation? He really had no idea. He would never know what the sentence actually meant until he tried to find out the meaning. He would never know what his future would be like until he tried to make a difference.

The sun was rising gradually and cast golden beam into the office as well as on his face. He was standing against the wall, gazing at the phone on his desk and contemplating everything. Suddenly, he moved forward, picked up the phone and dialed the number.

He decided to try so that he could see what would happen.

‘I, um… I have something really, really important to tell you.’ Daniel took a deep breath and said.

‘Well, what is it? Be quick. It’s only 7 o’clock.’ Julia replied in a still sleepy voice.

‘I… I… I love you. I want you to be my girlfriend.’ After a long pause, Daniel decided to pour out everything he had been longing to say as fast as he could, ‘I know I am poor, but I am still young. I read a lot, I work hard, and I am promising…’

There was only silence in the phone.

Daniel closed his eyes and knew it was the most devastating day in his life. He should have known better.

‘Hmm… What a creative practical joke on the April Fool’s Day!’ Julia woke up completely and giggled, ‘I was almost fooled by you. Happy April Fool’s Day!’

‘Happy…April…Fool’s…Day…’ Daniel stammered and was ready to hang up the phone.

‘Wait… you did not know it is the April Fool’s Day today, did you?’ Julia suddenly questioned in a voice full of eagerness and expectation.

‘I did not know it until you told me.’ Daniel answered immediately.

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