Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (14)

The town of Guilin in the southern province of Guangxi is considered to be among the most beautiful in China. Surrounded by forests of the fragrant Sweet Osmanthus tree and with the Lijiang river forming an aquatic, north-south tangent along its eastern border, Guilin’s combined features of water and verdant mountain provide a stunning backdrop to its commercial activities, founded mostly in tourism. In fact, it is so beautiful that the literal meaning of its name in Chinese characters is The Number One Under Heaven.

But as they were conveyed by bus from Liangjiang airport, some twenty kilometres distant, the excited schoolchildren barely noticed the crystal clarity of Guilin’s elegant waters, or the loveliness of its abundant surrounding hills. Babbling animatedly as they alighted at the end of their journey, the schoolkids were corralled by their somewhat frazzled teachers into three groups labelled red, white and blue. The colours of the Union flag, now represented in the dusty courtyard of the Goldfish hotel by three groups of eight seven-year-olds. Red, white and blue. The national colours of Sophie Blake’s country of domicile.

Once the teachers had managed to achieve something approaching a hush, a register was taken, in order to ensure that none of the children had been lost along the way. “Mallory Anderson.” “Yes.” “Evan Barnard.” “Yes, Mr. Taylor.” “Sophie Blake.” “Yes, sir.” And so on. The teary farewells outside Sunny Cape International School a few hours earlier were now all but forgotten, the children’s eagerness to learn what the sleeping arrangements were and what events had been planned for the evening sufficient to blot all else from their minds. It had, in any event, been mainly the mothers that cried as their precious children embarked upon the trip, shedding tears as Kate had on holding a last, lingering glimpse of the blonde curls atop her pretty young daughter’s head. Smiling, Sophie had waved while blowing her mother a kiss, happy and confident at the outset of her adventure.

The unease Kate had felt upon parting with her daughter for what – sparing a few sleepovers, here and there – was essentially the first time had been momentarily quieted by the girl’s easy resolve, and she had subsequently returned to the apartment cheered by thoughts of Sophie’s apparently rapid progress towards adulthood. She’s growing up so fast, Kate mused, as all parents do. There were flowers waiting for her upon arrival, with a single word – Sorry – scrawled in Adam’s handwriting on the accompanying card. She had a text message from him, too, which read: Dinner, Hemingway’s on the Cape, 730? X

It was obvious that her husband was trying to patch together the rift that had developed between them of late. And this should have made her feel good. But in truth, it did not. Worse than this, it seemed to Kate that she felt nothing at all, which worried her. Sort of. “Hi.” It was all she could think of saying, she was so nervous. “Hi babe,” replied Tommy, super-confident as ever. “Ready for your lesson tonight?” “Well, I’m supposed to be having dinner with Adam – not that I’m particularly excited about that.” “Look, we can switch you to tomorrow morning, if you like,” Tommy replied. “Let me see what I can do,” Kate hurriedly interjected. “I was looking forward to it. Our lesson. You know, like before. I’ll see if I can switch the dinner, instead.” “Babe, that’s waiting for you any time you like. No need to rush it – don’t worry. Chill. Just don’t do anything that makes him suspicious.” “Well actually, I think he already is,” said Kate. “He’s started acting totally out of character – sending me flowers, and stuff.” “Sounds scary, babe. Take care. Text me later and let me know if you can make it. I’ll keep the slot free. It’s no big deal.” Kate bit her lower lip as her athletic Aussie tennis coach then rang off. She was going to have him, and that was all there was to it. Tonight, if possible.

posted by Kirk at 1:34 am  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress