I leaned against the wall, feeling numb. I was still reeling from the shock of learning that Lin was engaged. We broke up when he said that his parents were visiting from Beijing and that they wouldn’t approve of us living together. I understood that because my parents were the same way, old-fashioned. They always told me that it wasn’t proper for a man and woman to be living together, especially if one or both of them were Christians. Lin wasn’t a Christian but I was. But what got me really upset was the fact that he hadn’t told them that I was black until a week ago. They strongly opposed our relationship and threatened to stop paying for his university fees.
So, to prevent that from happening and to make peace with his parents, Lin ended our relationship and agreed to marry a girl he had known since childhood. Devastated, I moved out. I don’t know what to do. I still love him and had hoped that we would get back together but that wasn’t likely to happen now. After investing four years in our relationship, it was over just like that. I thought he loved me. He said he did but now I’m not sure about that. How could he love me and break up with me so that he could marry someone else?
A part of me wished I hadn’t met and fallen in love with him while another part wished he would walk up to me at right now and tell me that it was all a terrible mistake and that he wanted to get back together with me. Stop kidding yourself, I chided myself. It’s over. You should forget about him and move on. I closed my eyes in despair. It was no use. It would take a very, very long time for me to get over Lin.
“Are you all right?”
I opened my eyes to find Carter standing in front of me, staring down at me. He was in my Black History class. A nice guy whom I might have gone for if I had never met Lin. Lin…”I’m fine,” I lied. “Just a little tired, that’s all.”
“So, how do you think you did on the mid-term?”
“I think I did well. What about you?”
He shrugged. “I’m not so sure. Spring break is just around the corner. Do you have any vacation plans?”
“Neither do I. So, are you just hanging out here until your next class?
“Would you like to go for a walk?”
I shook my head. “No, thanks.”
“Are you all right?”
I moved away from the wall and picked up my knapsack. “Yes.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
He studied me closely. “You look like you’re upset about something.”
“I’m fine,” I insisted. I wished he would leave me alone to wallow in my misery. I really didn’t feel like talking to him or anyone for that matter. I glanced at my watch. Thankfully, I had one more class and then I could go home. “Thanks for asking. I’ve got to go now. I don’t want to be late for my class. See you tomorrow.” I walked away and headed towards to the building, my head down. I didn’t notice that Lin was coming towards me until he called my name.
Heart racing, I looked up. He was dressed in a tee shirt and jeans. Why did I have to run into him now? Why did he have to look so good? Why do I want him so much that it hurts? I was going to walk past him when he caught me by the arm, forcing me to stop. I glared up at him. “Let go of my arm, Lin.”
“Not until you tell me who that guy was.”
“The one I just saw you talking to.”
“Why do you care?” I demanded as I tried in vain to ignore the feelings that raged inside me because of his nearness. His fingers felt warm on my arm. “I’m not your girlfriend anymore.”
His mouth tightened and I could see the jealousy flashing in his eyes. “Is that why you were talking to him?”
“Leave me alone, Lin.”
“Answer my question, Melanie.”
“I have a class to go to.” I tried to pull my arm away but his grip was too strong.
“You’re driving me crazy,” he muttered tightly.
“I’m driving you crazy.”
“Yes! I can’t stand to see you with another guy.”
“Well, that’s too bad, Lin. You lost your right to object to me talking to other guys when you ended our relationship. Now, I have to go or I will be late for my class.”
He released my arm then. “I need to talk to you.”
“I don’t want to hear anything else you have to say. Go and be with your fiancée.” I marched off with my head held high although my heart was breaking. I blinked back the tears which threatened to fall.
Somehow I managed to get through the class but was out of the room like a shot as soon as it was over. I almost ran to my car because I was afraid to run into Lin again. I went straight home and into my bedroom where I lay down for a while with my eyes closed as the tears rolled down my cheeks. “Lord, please help me to get over Lin. Please.”
When I went to church on Sunday, I tried to lose myself in worship. I felt better when I left. The church wasn’t far from where I lived so I walked home. It was a pleasant afternoon, very mild. I had my head down as I walked so I didn’t notice him at first and when I looked up suddenly and saw him standing on the sidewalk outside of my building, I froze. My heart began to pound. What on earth was he doing there?
I continued walking, my steps brisk. When I reached him, I demanded, “What are you doing here?” He looked so good in the white tee shirt and jeans with the jacket I bought him for his birthday draped about his broad shoulders. I wanted to reach up and touch his face. My hand tightened its grip on the strap of my handbag.
“I need to speak to you, Melanie,” he said urgently. “It’s very important.”
“All right. Come up with me but you have ten minutes to say what you have to say.”
“Ten minutes is all I need,” he said. His gaze traveled over me, making my face feel hot and my body respond.
I preceded him inside the building and up to the flat my parents were paying for until I graduated and found a job. A few minutes later, we were standing in the living-room, facing each other. “Tell me why you’re here.”
He cleared his throat. “Melanie, I know that the last thing you want is to see me and I don’t blame you. I’ve hurt you and I’m really cut up about it–”
“You have no idea of how much you’ve hurt me, Lin. You and I talked about marriage and now you’re engaged to someone else. How do you think that makes me feel?”
“Are you marrying her because it’s what your parents want or is it because you love her?”
“No. I don’t love her. I love you.”
“If you really loved me, Lin, you would have told your parents about me and stood up to them. You wouldn’t have let them talk you into marrying someone you don’t love.”
“You’re right. I let them talk me into doing what they wanted. They threatened to stop paying my fees and the rent for my apartment if I didn’t break up with you and marry Jun.”
I was beginning to tear up again and the last thing I wanted was to cry in front of him. “Please, go. I can’t deal with this–with you.”
He moved closer to me. “I wanted to tell you that I broke off my engagement to Jun. I told my parents and they followed through with their threat. They are no longer paying my fees or my rent but I’m getting student financial support and I’m living on campus.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He was telling me that his parents had basically disowned him and had left him to fend for himself. He was no longer living in the beautiful flat we once shared but was living on the university campus. The thing that really got me was that he had found the courage to stand up to his parents. My heart melted and I was deeply moved and proud of him. “Have you eaten?” I asked.
He shook his head.
“Stay and have lunch.”
He nodded and removed his jacket which I took from him. I left him standing at the window, looking out while I went to get lunch ready. We had lunch and then we went into the living-room where we talked for hours. By the time, he left, we had agreed to start seeing each other again.
After we both graduated, we didn’t get married until we found jobs and were able to afford our own place. My parents attended the wedding but, not surprisingly, his didn’t. I should mention that after we got married, Lin started coming regularly to my church.