BY SANDRA DING
Copyright is held by the author.
“ROSES ARE red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you,” Adam sang the poem to Eve as his fingers combed her hair and tucked a rose behind her ear.
Eve nestled against his chest and listened to his wild heartbeat until it steadied. Locked in an embrace, they stood watching the sun touch the horizon while it spread a hazy light on their already heated faces, letting their love be witnessed by the golden sky and the blossoming field.
A peaceful Saturday with a restless mind.
Rosie lay on the sofa at home, watching her debut movie Modern Adam and Eve while crunching potato chips. Her eyes were fixated on her favourite scene: the embrace of the lovers, Adam and Eve, in front of the wonderful landscape of Rose Terrain. She wiped her salty fingers and pressed the remote to pause the movie — feeling again Adam’s hand on her hair and his chest against her ear.
Basil was her Adam, whose charm was visible through the depth of his hazel eyes and audible through the gentleness of his well-rounded voice. Every smile shaped from his coral lips was engraved in her mind like the rose tattoo carved on her neck. During those days, they sauntered under apple trees, basked in the sun on a cream-yellow beach and danced nights away in clubs. Sadly, good moments didn’t last. Since filming ended a year earlier, their glowing spark dwindled to a faint flicker.
A loud buzz brought her back to reality. Her phone screen brightened with a Facebook notification: Basil Wilson updated his profile. Rosie swiped in his page — a cover photo of rugged mountains coated with glittering snow, a profile picture of a black-suited guy leaning on a white BMW, and a work history at Star Maker Studio — all looked more than familiar to her, except his relationship status was updated from “in a relationship” to “single.” Holding the phone closer to her eyes, she chuckled under a beam of sunlight cast through half-drawn curtains. She finally had her chance.
Main Street on Saturday afternoon was enchanting with its view of balmy sunshine and lovers strolling hand in hand. Dressed in a beige tank top and denim shorts, Rosie meandered around the street, a wallet pinched under her armpit. Basil’s bachelordom might rekindle the prospect of their reunion, but a thousand questions occupied her fretful mind. Could she really conclude based on social media? What if something else was going on in his life? Was she thinking too much? Just then, a flickering, neon store sign saved the day. Its blue light spelled out: psychic reading; tarot and clairvoyant; $45 for 30 minutes.
Rosie walked into the psychic store through its beaded drapes. A sweet, minty aroma immediately sent a soothing vibe — it smelled like basil. Inside, a middle-aged woman, seated at a round table, gazed at tarot cards behind five red votive candles. The candle flames danced erratically in a breeze carried through the drapes, casting a slim shadow quivering on a wall. A scarf headband, painted with mystical creatures, was wrapped around the top of her red hair. Her protruding eyes, darkened beneath smudged purple eye shadow, turned up to Rosie.
“Hi, how may I help you?” The woman had a soft, comforting voice, like an auntie’s.
“I want a love reading.”
“Sure. Take a seat. I’m Madame Veronica. What would you like to know about your love life?”
“What do you see happening between me and my crush?”
“February 24th, 1993.”
“And his birthday?”
“December 8th, 1990.”
Before shuffling the cards, Veronica pulled them together, closed her eyes and murmured a string of prayers in melodic tones. “Tell me when you want me to stop.”
Rosie breathed in deeply as the cards flitted between those bony hands. Watching her future unfold, she slowly breathed out. “Stop.”
Veronica cut the deck into three portions, mingled them into one again and spread them into a line. Her fingers fumbled on the cards until three were selected and laid out on the table.
“Hmm . . .” She trained her focus on those three before her gaze turned towards the ceiling.
Rosie raised her eyebrows and held her breath as she sensed Veronica’s spirit transitioning from the present to the future.
“Here’s what I’m seeing,” Veronica spoke again. “He does like you, and you have a good chance of ending up together. Your outcome card is The Lovers, representing the unique bond between the two of you.”
“That sounds promising!” Joy poured out of Rosie’s eyes.
“But,” Veronica raised a card. “You’ve got to be careful. The Fool is selected in your past, meaning he was more spontaneous and wanted excitement. He didn’t quite appreciate your serious attitude. You bickered because of that.”
“That’s right. There have been times when I wanted to discuss important matters with him, but he only tuned me out,” said Rosie. “What would be a good strategy in this case?”
“Your present card is Seven of Cups. It’s a reminder your future is highly dependent on the choices you make today, and your options are time-restricted. Also, if you can just let him be fun and light, then he’ll like you more.”
“That makes sense.” Rosie nodded.
Veronica continued to decipher Basil’s personality and offered sound advice on Rosie’s love life. Satisfied with the reading, Rosie happily handed over 45 bucks at the end of the session.
Rosie stepped out of the store, her brain still digesting Veronica’s words. She was correct on so many things about Basil. He was indeed a live-in-the-moment kind of person, fun and light. On the contrary, Rosie tended to be less light-hearted. Don’t argue with him, she concluded with a strategy formed in her head. Learn from the past and make a move. Hand already pushed in her pocket, she plucked up her courage and took out her phone.
Rosie: Hi Basil, been a while. How’s everything?
Her thumb hit the “send” button.
Every few minutes, she glimpsed the phone in her sweaty hand to catch a sudden brightening of its screen. When she felt a vibration ten minutes later, her hand trembled with excited energy.
Basil: Hey Rosie, been a while! I’m quite well. Yourself?
He responded! A good omen. A broad smile spread across her face.
Rosie: I’m doing well. I was just thinking of you. What are you working on these days?
Basil: Oh, I haven’t done much in acting lately. How about you?
Rosie: Not much in acting, either. Since we finished filming Modern Adam and Eve, I’ve figured acting isn’t really my thing.
Basil: That’s sad. You’ve got such great potential. I was impressed by how well you did in that movie. I’d be thrilled if we ever get a chance to work together again.
Rosie: You would? I’m so happy to hear that!
Basil: Wanna hang out sometime?
Rosie: Absolutely! Any place in your mind?
Basil: Let’s have fun in Rose Terrain next week, our Adam and Eve resort!
Rosie curled her rosy lips, lifting her dimpled cheeks.
A week later — a sunny Sunday in Rose Terrain.
A breeze caressed her skin and ruffled the dress dancing above her knees. The air was fragrant under the orange sun. Cirrus clouds no longer hid behind the skyline but stretched across the azure sky. Rosie inhaled the vitality of summer permeating every corner of the city. Vehicles that seemed to catch up with one another vroomed in the roadway, leaving her waiting eagerly on the sidewalk. She twirled a strand of wavy hair around her finger and propped her waist against a pillar, adopting an elegant pose.
“Rosie!” The wind carried the cheerful voice.
Basil rolled down the window as his white BMW stopped at the curb, gleaming like a mirror.
Rosie leapt in the car. Their eyes met. In his eyes were his warmth and delight, melting into a smile as soft as the morning light.
“Long time no see,” she greeted, her voice faint against the sound of engines.
“I have a surprise for you.” He leaned towards her and touched her arm.
“What is it?” Her curly, long lashes travelled the blink of her almond eyes.
“I’ve brought a camera this time to record the time I spend with you.” He pointed at the camera on the back seat.
“Cool!” Tints of pink adorned her cheeks.
Elated, she took out a mirror and a lip gloss from her clutch and added another layer of lustre to her shiny lips.
Twenty minutes later, the car roared dashing down the highway, as though it yearned to prove its superb velocity.
Rosie was pressed backward. “Oh, slow down.”
“Are you scared?” Basil grinned, lifting his arm from the steering wheel for a second. “No fear!”
Outside the window, mountains undulated into the distance as the car entered a country road paved with green spruces along its edges. At the end came a large rose field, where red and pink lines wove evenly into the grassland, a stunning canvas painted under the crystalline sky.
Holding the camera, Basil led the way into Rose Terrain. “Look over, Rosie. Smile.”
The yellow sleeveless dress, perfectly matching her fair skin, swayed around Rosie’s legs as she strutted over, her dusky pink toenails shimmering on a pair of heeled sandals.
“And walk over.” He moved backward, his eyes squinting behind the camera lens. “Now sit on the grass.”
Rosie lay on the grass, her legs crossed. Putting down the camera, Basil joined her. He hooked his arm on the back of her neck and lifted his hand to brush her hair. They cuddled in silence as sunlight bathed their faces, their breaths soft on each other’s skin. A heat of longing spread over her chest and rose to her cheeks.
“Rosie,” he quieted his voice.
“Let’s get back. I have some work to do.”
“What?” She wrinkled her arched brows.
“Let’s get back.” He stood up and turned off the camera.
“We’ll continue next time.”
“But . . .” We just got here a few minutes ago! A voice inside her wanted to argue. Don’t slip into past mistakes, she reminded herself. “Never mind. Let’s go.”
“That’s my gal.” He patted her shoulder, flicking a rose petal off her dress.
As she followed him out of Rose Terrain, she turned to get glimpses of the spot they rested on until it fell out of her sight.
Silence loomed in the cold air, broken only when the car stopped outside her apartment building.
“Oh, Rosie, my Eve.” Basil winked. “Would you mind if I upload the video on my blog?”
“I don’t mind. Also, send me a copy.” Wasn’t the whole thing about recording our happy moments after all? Rosie thought.
Still puzzled by his flaky behaviour, she walked upstairs to her apartment nonetheless.
Two days later — a cloudy Tuesday with a shocking discovery.
Rosie rolled out of bed, rubbing sleepiness out of her drowsy eyes. As she checked her phone, eager to receive the video yet to be sent by Basil, a reminder to read the latest entertainment news popped up: Basil Wilson began his second career as a vlogger. Her eyes widened scanning the article.
Early this month, actor Basil Wilson launched his vlogging website Honey B., which produced appetizing videos featuring his hot dates with female celebrities. The website got over 50,000 clicks in 24 hours and reached one million in a week. “Vlogging is the new era of media consumption,” Wilson said. “Compared with traditional acting, it’s less stressful and more interactive.” He promised to post more videos soon to further engage his audience.
Rosie opened a browser and searched for “Honey B.” in Google, which directed her to the home page of a beautifully designed website, with a flash animated background of a bee whirling around blooming flowers. Welcome to Honey B. Here you’ll find enthralling videos of Basil Wilson and some of the most famous female celebrities. The first two minutes are free to watch. In one of the videos, she strutted on a rose field, a yellow dress hanging loosely down her slim waist and its tight bodice pushing up her breasts.
A wave of queasiness stirred in her stomach. I couldn’t be one of those women he used for his business! Her fingers quivered clutching the phone and began to type a text message.
Rosie: Hey! I saw our video on your website. Why didn’t you tell me about vlogging?
Basil: Sorry, I forgot to send it to you. We’ve earned so many fans from the video.
Rosie: I can’t believe the whole thing is just business to you.
Basil: Didn’t you enjoy seeing us as a couple again on the screen?
Rosie: Take down the video.
Basil: C’mon, you’re overreacting. Isn’t it cool to be admired again?
In a fury, Rosie quickly dressed up and rushed downstairs. Didn’t we have a good chance of ending up together? She trotted down Main Street, desperately searching for the psychic who could provide insights into Basil’s heart.
Once inside the store, she panted. “I want another reading.”
Veronica gaped at her pale face. “Remind me of your birthdays again?”
“Mine is February 24th, 1993, and his, December 8th, 1990.”
Having the cards laid out on the table, she began to shuffle, cut and spread them.
“Well.” She shook her head and sighed. “I see him back away.”
“He’s been busy lately and temporarily walked away due to stress.”
“Busy with what? Can you see closer?” Rosie’s eyes roamed like storm clouds.
“His family. Things get complicated in his family sometimes.”
“How?” Rosie’s brows drew together like lightning strikes.
Veronica flipped her eyes to the ceiling and held a long gaze before she finally delivered a response, “He has some issues with his parents. They impose lots of rules on him, such that he refrains from dating at the moment.”
“That’s quite insightful, Madame Veronica. I didn’t know the dead could bring such trouble to the living.”
Rosie took a shaky breath and stared into Veronica’s dingy eyes. She didn’t look away when the next line left her lips:
“Both of his parents passed away many years ago.”