She let the wind sting her cheeks as she ran around the garden, shrieking in joy, when she skidded on the fallen leaves only to find herself resting on the strong grasp of a hand. Opening her eyes, her heart momentarily stopped beating as she came face to face with a freckled-faced man. He grinned, revealing a row of yellowish teeth, and then opened his mouth, sending out a weave of nasty stench which smelled like a thousand rotten apples. Mary widened her eyes in horror, shocking the man as he lost grip of her and she fell on the floor.
Moaning miserably, she got up slowly from her supine position and grunted, flinging expletives at the bewildered man. But he only looked down without a word. “Are you mute! Can’t you even say sorry!” Mary cried out in frustration and stomped off. The man sighed and shook his head, picking up his broom to continue sweeping the fallen leaves.
The next day, Mary sat under a tree in the same garden, burying her face in her hands, sobbing uncontrollably. Suddenly, she felt her nose twitch as an unbearable stench gushed into her nostrils and she looked up, only to see a white handkerchief.
“You again” she folded her arms, obviously annoyed. The man lifted his right hand to the side of his forehead, an indication that he was sorry. He then pointed to the handkerchief, motioning her to wipe her tears. “A-Are you really… mute?” Mary stammered, afraid to know the answer. Instead, the man smiled, and distorted his face using his hands so he looked hilariously frightful. Mary laughed, and he whipped out a piece of paper from his back pocket and started scribbling. Like this, a few hours passed.
“If only my boyfriend was as understanding as you, John…” She mused sadly and continued, “But it doesn’t matter anymore.” And they sat in silence in the middle of the garden where brown leaves scattered, and where a beautiful friendship was already blossoming.
Day after day, Mary would look for John in the garden, where he would be sweeping the leaves. They enjoyed each other’s company immensely, even if it meant communicating through scraps of paper. Many a time, Mary did the talking and John, the listening, always ready with a handkerchief to chase away her sorrows. Whenever Mary was feeling down, John would bring her to the fields in the outskirts of the city where sunflowers bloomed its prettiest and hatred never existed. He would urge her to tell her unhappiness to a tree and then carve a tiny happy face at that portion of the trunk. Months soon passed, and this humble tree was soon filled with many happy faces. This was their paradise.
Unfortunately, their love was soon put to the test. It was past midnight. Mary was returning home from work and had taken the short cut through a deserted alley when two big burly men appeared before her. They had similar nasty stench drifting out of their mouths and snorted furiously like demented bulls.
“Leave John alone! He’s better off without women! He belongs with us to the underworld!” One of them boomed. Mary, frightened, shrieked and closed her eyes, muttering a short prayer as she anticipated her life to end at this juncture. Seconds passed, and she gingerly opened her eyes, to see an outline of a familiar figure wrestling with the two burly men. John was punched and kicked about like a rag doll. Blood trickling from his nose and forehead, he was sprawled on the ground, defenseless. “That’s what you get for betraying us,” they smirked in satisfaction and swaggered away.
“John!” Mary cried out, lifting him up and hugging him tightly. Examining his face carefully, she realised that like those burly men, he was filthy and smelly, but unlike them, he had the kindest and most beautiful eyes ever. She had come to love this man for who he was. It was a love that needed no words. Garnering the last ounce of strength in him, he took out the white handkerchief he always carried and held it out to her. She received the handkerchief with trembling hands. Inhaling sharply, she let Niagara Falls come.
“Promise me you’ll never leave me no matter what happens” She whispered. With quivering hands, he took out a scrap of paper and pen. “I’ll always be with you” He assured her. “I swear”. Smiling, she held out her last finger in which he hooked against his and they hugged. Although belonging to different worlds, one a law graduate from Harvard and the other from the underworld, they never mentioned about their difference in status. Instead, their love only grew stronger after that fateful incident.............