This morning as I looked into the mirror I found that I was just an ordinary fat woman. I stared at the reflection for a while and then I told myself to hurry up as Dave was waiting for me at the Black Brewer’s House.
I went to the toilet and I took the set of outfit, lying on the bathtub. There were two sets. I always prepared one, which was what I had planned for the day and then another one, in case the weather turned out to be colder for that day.
Singapore was a hot city with temperatures ranging from 24 to 34 degrees sometimes soaring to 37 degrees when it became very hot. The humidity was so high that I could never perspire. My clothes were mainly purchased from Max Mara so that I looked good. They were pricey, but they made me looked like I was the wife of a rich man. In my line of job, I had to dress expensively.
I knew that I was late for Dave, but I was not late for work. Dave was waiting for me at the café when I arrived. Over the telephone Dave said:
“Don't be late,” and then "I have good news for you.”
It was true that I was very disturbed by what he told me three days ago, so frankly I didn't expect good news from him today.
I needed only five minutes to powder my face after adding a touch of foundation, as I continued with my eyebrow color, eye shadow and rouge. I didn't have any standard sequence but usually this was the order in which I made up my face. There are only two ways to apply for an eye shadow: smokey vs. intensive. And this morning I used the intensive. Once I was satisfied that my face was generally presentable, I put on number 277.
Number 277 was the color code Rose Declaration for that particular lipstick. This was my favorite color. I had several lipsticks and I changed my lipstick everyday but invariably I went back to number 277.
I carried a lipstick with me to touch up every now and then and I didn’t buy two of the same color so number 277 was my default lipstick. Dior staff already knew that I was buying that color the moment I walked into the boutique. I was a regular office worker. By that I meant that my work was sedentary and using the PC most of the time. I was a secretary to an advocate and solicitor whose family law was her bread and butter. To be a secretary you needed to pass certain examinations, you had to know shorthand.
Of course, I knew how to type, but I used the keys at random according to what I saw. I didn’t have my hands positioned on the keyboard with readiness the moment I started to type. But I typed fast, I kept long fingernails and I liked the sound of my fingers hitting the keyboards. I was fast enough to type affidavits for Bernadette Tucker. And this was what I had to do every day. I had to type an affidavit on a divorce case so when I agreed to meet Dave at the restaurant this morning I made him come at 7:00 a.m.
I forgot to call Black Brewer’s House to find out what time they opened this morning and to book a table for two. Cafes don’t usually take bookings. Dave said that he had something important to tell me at first. He didn’t say that it was good news. Now that he mentioned that it was to be good news I guessed the result.
The file name of the affidavit was Dave Chong Seng Wee vs. Doreen Sim May Ling!
If this were the case, there was no need for Dave and myself to meet at all. We could postpone the meeting by another twelve hours to 8:00 p.m. since I already knew the result. It was not good for the both of us to be seen in public together, now that his divorce is on the cards.
By now you must have guessed that Dave and I were not married to each other. No, we were not. But that didn’t matter. Dave and I had been having this relationship for at least eight months by now. We caught on like a house on fire. The minute Dave and I were left alone together we started to kiss. Dave was my physiotherapist and I was one of his patients. But all that had got to be changed.
Dave had told me that he was going to divorce Doreen once he set up his new clinic in California in America. And then we were both going to move there to start our own little family.
Until this happened. Three days ago, Dave told me that his wife Doreen was now pregnant, or so she claimed.
“She told me that she was urine positive,” Dave informed me whilst we were at Black Brewer’s House on 21 August.
That made things complicated. Dave was going to leave the house without letting Doreen know about it. He was going to pack his overnight bag for a three nights’ stay at Bangkok and then meet me at the Shang Palace Resort and from there we would travel up to Japan, then our final destination at California.
I have a house in California. It was vacant at the moment and I was thinking of renting it out to some locals. But that was before Dave’s proposal came.
Yes, Dave had proposed to me, on 9 August 2001, the National Day of Singapore. He said that this was his auspicious day, as it happened to be his birthdate as well so therefore that he was able to get himself exempted from having dinner with his mother-in-law on his birthday every time. He loathed his mother-in-law the Mrs. Sim as she always asked him to give her physiotherapy treatment which required him to kneel before her.
Dave drunk coffee and I loved coffee. That was how we found ourselves together. I was drinking coffee in Dave’s clinic when he was teaching me the exercises I must do in order to alleviate the pain caused by my flat footedness. And then whilst demonstrating with his hands on my right foot, the cup of coffee I placed on top of his stool by the side fell onto the carpeted floor.
The coffee had not been touched so quite a lot of liquid was spilled. Dave was operating a one-man show so naturally it became our job to clean up the mess. And then our eyes met. I couldn’t describe to you what happened next, but I could tell you that we fell in love with each other instantly. Dave had very strong hands and I liked his large muscular arms.
Subsequently Dave told me that he started to stop dry-cleaning his clinic coat, as there was a brush of my lipstick on his collar, the number 277. Afterwards we started to see each other on alternate days. We skipped coffee and breakfast at Black Brewer’s House to be with each other for just the half hour in the mornings. That was from 9 August 2001 to today. I mentioned the dates for they were crucial in this story.
We first met on 3 June 2001, then we made love for the first time on 29 June and then on 9 August again. Dave gave me the sapphire ring on 9 August as a token of his love. As a matter of fact, I was having it on my ring finger now.
On 21 August, Doreen announced that she was pregnant so that made it probable that Dave and Doreen have also had sex with each other on or before 29 June, or between anywhere 29 June to 8 August, assuming that Dave stopped touching Doreen after he was engaged to me on the night of 9 August.
This was all very speculative. And I was talking like a jealous wife when actually I was the third party.
Never mind who I was, the important thing was that I was going to be Dave’s official wife very soon. We might not be able to get married in the States, as Dave must have been legally separated from Doreen for at least three years before he could get a divorce. We were both Singapore citizens, so the Women’s Charter applied.
We left Singapore for Bangkok on 31 August and we arrived in Japan after six hours. After that it was an overnight flight to the U.S.
Once we arrived at the States we could move about freely. We would not have to worry about being found together, we would be able to act as a couple. And most of all we would be able to live in the same house as man and wife. No one would bother us, and we need not bother anyone. I was prepared to be his common law wife and the sapphire ring could serve as our engagement as well as our wedding ring.
Dave could establish himself in California and who knows, they might want to engage him as a consultant to the California Keep Fit Centre. I could get a job in another law film at the same time.
All these were just my conjecture. Of course, it was my wishful thinking that everything would turn out well for the two of us. Whether Dave was having sex with me and Doreen Sim at the same time would no longer be an issue. I didn’t blame Dave for the false alarm from Doreen. Doreen was, after all, the wife and she had every right to conjugate with Dave.
In any case, I had no idea if Doreen were telling Dave the truth, and if Dave carried the truth to me. By now I had learnt a bit of law from Bernadette Tucker. What Dave told me from Doreen was hearsay, as I was not privy to the conversation. The fact of the matter was that Doreen might have known about my affair with Dave, which made it very inconvenient.
I was sure that if Dave loved her he would not have slept with me. Fact that we had sex was prima facie evidence that the marriage between Dave Chong Seng Wee and Doreen Sim May Ling was over and done with. I had never met Doreen Sim, but I assumed her to be loud and bossy.
As my thoughts were travelling with me on the train I missed the stop at City Hall. I was very annoyed with myself that I over shot to Marina South. Now I couldn’t change train, I had to go back to City Hall again and then disembark. From there I would go over to Novena.
Novena was where my office was. I was working with Bernadette Tucker the first-class advocate and solicitor who specialized on family law. And over the years I had learnt a thing or two from her and that was why I was so familiar on calculating the conjugal dates. It was our bread and butter.
Once I arrived at the office the work was overwhelming. Usually Dave and I didn’t communicate with each other during office-hours, as it was not necessary. We met as a matter of course on alternate days. If I were early I would get a seat first and order my own dinner and if he were early he would begin his Prawns Spaghetti with meat sauce without me.
So today I finished my work ahead to as far as I could see for the next two months. I could resign but if Bernadette Tucker knew about my relationship with Dave, word might sneak out that I was leaving. Doreen was not a stupid woman. I knew who she was.
So today when the day ended at 6:30 p.m. I packed my slippers to bring it home. I liked this pair of slippers very much as it was made of colorful beads. It was one of its kind from Thailand, my proposed destination, even if it was just for transit. Mrs. Tucker would not notice such a minor thing and packing of slippers did not necessarily mean that I was resigning.
Unless I went up to her to ask her for a resume she would not have come to the conclusion that I was leaving her employ.
I could be bringing in a new pair tomorrow. I did not have to lock the office door as Mrs. Tucker; Bernadette was still on her iMac. I took the MRT home without meeting Dave this evening again.
The moment I arrived at the seventh floor where I lived, I could hear Rover’s bark. The dog knew that I was home. I put my key to the keyhole and turned the knob at the same time. Once I was inside, automatically I used the remote control to turn on the radio. I needed to know if the Thai Princess Yingluck had resigned. If there were still unrests in Thailand Dave and I might use the other route to the U.S. from Europe. Maybe Dave and I could consider a honeymoon in Italy and Rome first before settling down.
My life was full of expectations and it was just beginning. And then as I was thinking of the music and the wine I stepped into the bathtub. There was no water yet. I turned on the tap to let the water fill the tub, the water was burning hot. I shouted, “Shits!”
And then I realized that I had forgotten to switch off the water heater when I left for work this morning.
Yes, Dave’s phone call was certainly good news. He called this morning to tell me that his wife Doreen wasn’t pregnant after the scare. It turned out to be a hoax.
And then I looked into the mirror and realized that I had put on some weight. To find out if this were true I walked slowly to the kitchen to step on the weighing machine. I saw my weight, 53.5 kg. I had always been 43.5 kg, which meant that I had put on ten kilograms. Could this be true? Was the machine spoilt? Then I stepped back and there I saw a note on the kitchen island.
“Congratulations Darling! The hospital rang and told me that you were pregnant! Love, hubby.”
It was none other than my husband Ethan Ng’s handwriting.
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