Of all the events that happened in the months after I met Sol, the first I remember is the day he sent me twenty-five roses. The bouquet was the first gift I received from him – in fact, the first flowers from any man. When Sol didn’t call me after the incident in the library, I worried that my angry outburst had given him second thoughts. For three days, I waited in agony for his call. I blamed myself and once again regretted how I often acted without thinking.
My mother was at home that afternoon working on a dress for a wealthy client in Westmount. Thinking back, I imagine her kneeling on the floor cutting out a pattern with her large shears, her tongue poking out to the side from between her lips. The doorbell rings. She stands and smoothes her house dress, wondering if it is Mrs. LeClerc, our next door neighbor. Opening the door, she sees a truck with a sign ‘Robichard Fleuristes de Montréal.’
“Fleurs pour Rebecca…ah,’ the delivery man examines the invoice, “Wiseman. Signer ici.”
Of course, I don’t know if the man hesitated, but in my imagination he does. My mind always enhances my memories until sometimes I can’t remember what is real and what I make up. I blame this exaggeration on my life-long habit of reading one or two books a week.
My mother tried to act as if nothing unusual had happened. I could see she was excited, but guessed she had a new commission for a dress. “Come,” she said and taking my hand, led me into the dining room. I smelled the roses before I saw them. The bouquet filled a deep blue vase in the middle of the table. The late afternoon sunlight, coming through the windows, seemed to illuminate only the roses. The red color of the delicate petals was hypnotic.
“From Dad?” Had I forgotten my parents’ anniversary?
She looked at me as if I’d asked a stupid question. “No, they’re for you. From Sol.”
My mother laughed, clasping her hands under her chin in delight. “Of course. How many Sols do you know who’d send you flowers?”
My hands trembled as I took the card from its place between two roses. I was annoyed I couldn’t be calm and sophisticated as if this gift were only to be expected.
A rose for each day of our budding friendship.
G. F. Smith
“My feet are cold; it’s cold outside!”
“No, it’s over seventy degrees outside, Dad. Your feet are cold because you put your shoes in the freezer again.”
“Freezer? What on earth are you talking about? Why in the world would I put my shoes in the freezer?”
“I don’t know, Dad. Why would you put your shoes in the freezer? You tell me,” she said, looking between the busy road and her father.
“Well, I…don’t know. I wouldn’t have a clue.” He looked at her, caught her worried glance. He suddenly felt sadness, a fleeting sense of remorse. Something sparked in his mind, but then he forgot what it was. He turned away and looked out the window. Something wasn’t right, but he just couldn’t figure it out. His brow tensed and wrinkled.
Sarah Frances Whiting drove carefully after dropping her father off at the Merit Ptah Medical Center. Her mind was inundated with thoughts of him, his apparent worsening condition, his stay at the center for tests, as well as her forthcoming job interview, which she was en route to. The clearly insane drivers in Los Angeles were not helping. As soon as she turned on to the street, she was nearly rear-ended by a pokey-haired, suit-clad man intensely multi-tasking on his smartphone.
“Watch what the…watch what you’re doing!” she grumbled, as she switched her attention between the rear-view mirror and what was in front of her. The driver behind her was getting a little too close as traffic inched and stopped, and her car’s rear proximity alarm was making Sarah edgy by blaring every twenty or so seconds.
The alarm sounded again and Sarah snapped. She slammed the gear shift into park and leaned out of the window.
“Hey, you mind keeping your eyes on the driving!” she yelled, scowling.
The man heard the remark and looked up with a defensive frown. He held both hands up, Smartphone still in hand, and presented a what’s the problem? air of innocence. He then shook his head with annoyance and within seconds changed lanes, mumbling, “Crazy bitch, you lost your mind?” out of the side of his mouth as he increased his distance.
Sarah Whiting rolled her eyes and bit the inside of her lip.
She turned onto the highway.
After two hours of driving she arrived at the campus’ tree-shrouded parking lot.
She was cutting it close on time.
Sarah exited the high-mileage, 2047 two-seater, Praxis-Sport. She grabbed her backpack, reaching into it as she stood up. She shut the door with her slender, athletic hip, hurriedly turned, and as she walked, pinched her streaked, light brown hair back on both sides with small clips.
She was barely going to make it.
First of all I would like to mention that this book is not intended to diagnose or treat illnesses/diseases and must never take the place of professional advice. This is simply my own personal life experience and how I have dealt with obesity and finally reached my goal weight.
Please Note: I am not a nutritionist, dietitian or health care professional. I am simply just sharing my experience and hope to inspire everyone I can to live a healthier, happier life. Consult with your doctor before you decide to change your life-style and diet.
I do not guarantee any results of any kind. My 35 kg weight loss took me 15 months and a lot of daily hard work, focus & dedication.
Ok, you are probably thinking ‘Not another weight-loss book again! I have read so many and so far none of them have helped’. Before you decide to close the book and throw in the towel I am letting you know that there is hope for anyone that is genuinely willing to change his/her life for good and it can be done.
It took me 18 years to figure it out and learn from mistakes and if I can do it, anyone can. I decided to write about my experience so that others can learn from my mistakes over the years.
You probably scanned the table of contents and looked at my list of ingredients for natural weight-loss and thought “Well I already know all this, why should I waste time reading this book?” Yes, you probably already know that water is important in weight-loss along with patience, perseverance etc. I try to dig deeper into each ingredient and explain the benefits and write about my own experience. I also write a bit about my childhood years and how food has always been precious to me (especially treats) as they were very rare in a communist country.
English is my second language so expect this book to be written in simple English. I was born in Europe and only came to Australia when I was almost 9 years old, I didn’t even know 1 single English word.
Grade 1 and 2 were studied back in Europe and when I came to Australia they assessed me and placed me in grade 4 along with my twin sister. I remember we were teased everyday because we didn’t know any English. We took part in special English sessions each week and slowly started to pick up the language.
We must of sounded ridiculous trying to pronounce different words and repeating them over and over in order to remember them. Kids were teasing us everyday at school but it didn’t stop us, we kept persevering. It was exciting – A new country – A new language!
July 20, 2015 – And So It Begins
As she sat and stared out the window of her immaculately kept bedroom, Sophia Donovan studied each raindrop sliding down the glass against a dark sky. The silence around her was overwhelming, but at the same time it was a sound she welcomed more now, more today, than ever in her life. Vivid memories of the last eleven years were etched wildly in every corner of her mind as if a movie projector was going through reels of the story unfolding on a screen. Every flash of desire, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, hope, doubt and realization resurfaced, and she replayed every decision she’d ever made, every motive she’d had for her choices, and she wondered: Am I doing the right thing?
“It’s really quite strange,” she thought silently to herself. “Should I be scared? Or should I feel guilty?” She thought the answers should be obvious, but, oddly, she felt neither of these emotions. What she did feel, looking around the room at the perfectly made bed, the impeccable closet filled with designer shoes, clothes and jewelry, and the beautifully hung art clinging to the walls, was calm. Relieved, even. None of it made sense, but all she could think was: there’s no turning back now. What’s done is done. Sophia wondered suddenly if something was wrong with her. Perhaps she was in shock?
The once-silence that surrounded her suddenly seemed to become loud voices echoing in the darkness, and the giant walls of the luxurious Master seemed to be all of a sudden closing in around her, making it somewhat hard to catch her breath. Sophia stood up quickly from the bench seat overlooking the garden. As she paced back and forth, still gasping for breath, Sophia wondered if she was, in fact, having a nightmare.
She ran to the bathroom and leaned over the sink and started splashing her now-sweaty face with ice-cold water, in hopes that it would somehow wake her. To no avail. She stepped back into the bedroom and frantically circled, like a dog trying to find a comfortable position to sleep. “I’m doing the right thing, I’m doing the right thing,” she repeated over and over. Her pacing brought her to her husband’s side of the bed. As quickly as the panic had come, it was gone again. Calmly, she softly kissed her fingers and placed them on the cold, blood-splattered forehead of the man who, only a half hour earlier, laid peacefully sleeping, unaware that his wife was standing over him, pointing a gun directly at his face.
“I am so sorry, my love, “she whispered softly. “I had no choice.”
The day was gonna be piss-awful. As soon as Brandon P Marshall woke up, he could tell. For an eighteen-year-old male with hormones running rampant, that wasn’t exactly new, but this time, the forewarning had seemed a whole order of magnitude different. The headache hadn’t helped either. It had centred on his left temple with the combined tenacity of a thundercloud and a nest of angry bees.
Whichever way he moved, the cloud blackened and the buzzing intensified. An attempted tug on his morning woody had made the bees fucking angry. It was also a Monday, which meant boring classes and jerk teachers who treated him like shit. Even the sunlight hurt. The sound of the Marshall family in the kitchen rattled him, too.
At times like these, he contemplated revenge for being brought into the frigging awful world. He’d devised a wide repertoire to choose from, ranging from the teasingly psychological to the daringly physical. To go downstairs naked with his woody exposed wasn’t something that could be done often, but it was worth it for the look on his mom’s face.
His dad threatened him with a beating but he’d chickened out at the last moment. Such a fucking wimp. And Brandon had a bigger dick than his dad anyway. Another favourite included emptying a box of roaches on the kitchen floor. A plague of locusts was also on his list but that was a tad too biblical.
Higher up the scale, it got seriously messy and terminal. To be brutally honest—as opposed to honestly brutal (hah!)—he still preferred shock and awe rather than shots and gore. After all, with dead people, there was no turning back. Somewhere towards the top was cyanide gas, but getting potassium cyanide out of the chem lab would take a lot of planning. And then there was the hazard of crime labs and toxicology, which would screw his chances once and for all.
But, something about that particular morning made him think a final solution was required. Perhaps it had to do with the noise that came from downstairs; Dwayne, Debra and Rebekah, all aged one, were doing their best to out-screech each other, with the occasional random, futile interjection from his mom. Why the hell had she wanted more kids after so many years? Then, to add insult to injury, out had popped three. And three times loud is FUCKING LOUD. Somehow, his dad just sat through it, as if he’d gone deaf overnight. As usual, he’d be reading the Kansas City Star over his breakfast cereal and pretending it was The New York Times. He was such a fucking jackoff.
Brandon’s cell phone rang with its irritating wake-up call. It wasn’t just your usual cell phone, but a 4G quad core with 2×2 MIMO to ensure maximum coverage. He’d bought that after months as a part-time cook at KFC, during which he’d put on thirty pounds. The phone was said to be ‘state of the art’. Great, he thought, except when he tried saying that out aloud just then, he heard it as ‘fake of the fart’, which wasn’t what he meant at all.
Shit, my brain is getting rambled … no, no, scrambled. What the fuck is going on? Brain humour… tumour… Shit! I’m dying! Nothing to lose, then.
Tehran, Iran – May 28, 2018
“Is this Kasem Ismaili?”
“Yes,” he said as he groggily rubbed his eyes. “Who is this?”
“It’s Nurah Bahar. Do you remember me?”
Kasem sat up abruptly and frowned. “Yes, of course. You’re that friend of Lila’s. Is everything all right?”
“I have a message from her.”
Kasem’s heart started to race. “What is it?”
“We can’t talk about this over the phone. Can you meet me in an hour?”
He reached over to his bedside table to grab his digital alarm clock. He blinked twice in astonishment at the bright red numerals that read 2:04. “In an hour? You mean meet you at three in the morning? Are you crazy?”
“You’re both in danger. Do you want to hear the message or not?”
“Yes, of course! But I have to get to work in a few hours.”
“I’m already breaking the rules by trying to get this message to you. It will all be irrelevant in twenty-four hours.”
“Oh, come on! You have to give me more than that to go on. How do I even know that you’ve spoken to Lila?”
“I have the locket that Lila wore. Will it be proof enough?”
“The locket?” he said and took a deep breath. Lila said that would be the signal. His thoughts began to run toward dark places. “I guess another sleepless night won’t do me any harm,” he finally conceded. “Where should I meet you?”
“The place where we first met. I’ll see you in an hour. Don’t be late.”
The line went dead. Where we first met? It’ll take almost an entire hour to drive there. Kasem groaned as he fumbled around the room to get dressed.
He was en route to his car when he remembered that his friend Jamal was huddled on the couch after locking himself out of his apartment down the hall. He just had to forget his keys tonight. He pulled out his cell phone and typed a hurried text message while stopped at a traffic light.
“Running urgent errand for L on other side of town. See you in few hours.”
Forty minutes later, Kasem pulled up in front of the empty lot where he and Lila had parked the last time they visited this flat on the other side of the city. Choosing the safety of the garage next door instead, he parked his car and walked over to the building.
It was eerily quiet at close to three in the morning. Cars passing by on the nearby highway were few and far between. Kasem shuddered. This had better be an emergency. His thoughts drifted back to Lila and he could feel his stomach tying in knots. He tried to push his mind away from the worst-case scenario to no avail and shuddered once again.
Kasem entered the lobby quietly and walked toward the elevator, which still had a large worn-out sign on it written in Farsi that read, “Elevator out of order.” He pushed open the door to the stairwell and rushed up to the third floor.
He knocked softly when he reached the apartment door. A few moments later, Nurah opened the door a crack.
“Did you come alone?”
“Are you fucking kidding me? Who would I bring with me? It’s three in the morning!”
“I had to be sure. Come in,” she said while opening the door to let him inside the dimly lit apartment.
He stepped past her into the living room and felt something sharp jab him in the neck. “What the h—?” he cried out.
Kasem’s eyes widened as he fought to maintain his vision. In his peripheral vision, he could see two burly men appear from the shadows of the dark room and grab his arms. He tried to lash out, but his muscles refused to respond. His legs started to sway and the room grew even hazier. “Nurah, what are you doing? Who are these men?” He tried to shout, but he could barely hear the whisper that escaped from his throat.
His legs buckled and he fell, first to his knees and then over onto his right side, landing hard on the side of the small couch near the entryway. Without realizing it, his phone slipped out of his pocket.
“I’m so sorry, Kasem. They already knew everything. I have to protect my family.”
In the back of his mind, he could hear the echo of Nurah’s voice.
The room faded as they thrust a dark sack over his head. “Where are you taking me? What do you want with me?” he tried once again to shout.
Then everything went black.