MILAN

By: Gabriella Cynthia Kusumadewi

It was the 5th of November 1956 where the night wasn’t too cold for the lady in red to walk around the city alone. The lady had a long silky brown hair and sparkling blue eyes, she wore a red cashmere winter coat. Her name was Natasha Kulova. She was born and raised in Ukraine, she moved to the city of London when she was only 6 year-old. She was the first child of two siblings, her brother lived in Ukraine with his mother Ekaterina. She was living in London with her father’s family including her grandmother and her aunt. She studied classics in Oxford University, she was inspired to be a writer. She loved to read romance novels believing that it was the bible of finding true love.

Something caught her eye while she was crossing the red light, it was a small bookstore across the street called ‘La Foi’. It was decorated with warm colored display window and there was one book with a white blank cover that caught her attention. She asked if the book was for sale but the clerk said it was the first and only edition. The clerk refused to sold the book but she was very persuasive. She wanted the book all to herself. She gave her whole savings to buy the book, it cost her around twenty pounds. She held the book on her hand, she sat on the bench near the park as she began to reveal the pages one by one.

The book told a story about a man named Matthew Booth, a young soldier who got lost in the sea of Mediterranean trying to discovered a blue eyed diamond. On the first page, it was a hand drawing of a park in West London. It was beautifully hand drawn by Matthew himself as his signature appeared on left side of it. The next page was a two paragraph of his daily life stories and how he was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of twenty, he told a story of how he met a blind lady on the train and how his life was changed after that. He started his hunting for the diamond a week after the encounter with the blind lady.

He went to Budapest as his first stop, he drew a view of Danube River. Tasha began to run through her finger on his drawing, she was amazed of how realistic it looked even though it was only drawn by pencils. She was fascinated by his stories and travels, Matthew managed to visit fifteen countries in a year. Tasha has never travel outside of England, she spent her daily life wondering what would it be like to be out there. If only she has the money to travel to see the world across the country. She was already through with the first ten pages, she was incaptured by his stories. As she passed a crowded place, there was one middle aged women standing on the side of the crossing line. The women waved her hand and walked towards her direction. It was her aunt Anastasia Kulova.

“Tasha! Tasha!” she yelled.

“Hello aunt Anna, how are you?” Tasha asked.

“My love, what are you doing so late at night?” asked aunt Anna.

“I just read this book about a young man traveling around the world..” answered Tasha.

“Hmm.. That seems interesting! Where did you get that?” aunt Anna asked.

“From the bookstore called La Foi, it is only 3 blocks from here.” responded Tasha.

“That’s funny I have never heard of it.” aunt Anna confused.

“Were you out to find potatoes again, tonight?” asked Tasha.

Aunt Anna responded while holding one large paper bag. “No, I was out to find carrots this time and you know how much your grandmother loves them. Everything’s alright at your dormitory?”

“Yes aunt, everything is more than I could wish for. It’s a blessing for me to even go to Oxford just like my father.” stated Tasha.

“I’m sure he’s looking up for you from heaven. He loves you and your brother so much.

You know that, right?” asked aunt Anna.

“I miss him everyday.” responded Tasha.

As she hugged her aunt, “I know, my dear. I miss Aleksei too..” her aunt responded. Tasha found herself longing to finish the book and as she arrived at her dormitory, she took a shower and brushed her teeth. She sat on her study to open the page twenty five where Matthew shared a story of his first time visited eastern europe.

22nd of March 1946 in Prague, Matthew met a beautiful local girl named Nadya and they danced the night away. He was taken by her beautiful platinum blond hair, she was wearing a long flowery dress and her eyes were as shiny as the skies. Nadya was only seventeen years old, she whispered and told him to wait for her at the garden near the bridge. Matthew walked his way to the garden. He laid his back on the grass as he was looking up the sky.

“Mister, what are you doing laying here!” she greeted.

“Ohh..Nadya, you startled me.” said Matthew.

She put down her large bag and started to took out bread and some wine. “I bring these so we can enjoy it here..”

“Nadya, you know you don’t have to do this.” responded Matthew.

“But I want to, I want to know more about you, Mister”

Matthew said “Please don’t call me that, it made me sound like I’m old.”

They looked at each other and laughed, he continued “well, I’m a twenty one year old man from Durham, I grew up with my ex-soldier father. He passed away when I was 6 years old and I never knew who my mother was..”

“Hmm.. I couldn’t imagine not knowing who my mother was, that must be tough for you.” responded Nadya.

He continued while looking down at the grass, “Yes, it was. Now I’m diagnosed with lung cancer and I only have a year left to live.”

“What do you mean?” said Nadya while cupping his face so he would faced her.

“I’m not going to live long enough to see you grow to be a beautiful mother someday..” stated Matthew.

Nadya shook her head, “You can’t possibly believe that, I think you need to go to Kiev and meet Mr.Petrov!”

“Who is he?” asked Matthew.

She held his hands while staring at him with her rounded eyes. “He can help you! He has helped my mother before, my mother was diagnosed with intestines cancer and she went to him once. Now, her cancer has disappeared.” “What is he? Is he some sort of shaman?”

She held his hands tighter and whispered “Matthew, you have to trust me. He is a healer and he can help you! I’ll give you his address in Kiev!”

The dawn has swept in, Tasha fell asleep on her study. The book was already in page thirty-four, she checked the very back but the last two pages were missing from it. The page appeared as if someone ripped it on purpose for some reasons, they left an obvious trace.

Tasha woke up around eight in the morning because she heard someone disturbly knocked on her door. She opened the door and it was her good friend Charlotte, she brought a plate of cookie with her. She has that angelic smile, short blond hair, green eyes and sweet dimples. She burst out laughing while looking at her annoyed friend Tasha. She danced her way in, she put down her plate on Tasha’s study and slightly glanced at the white cover book.

“I really don’t know what you’re reading these days, but you look like a mess..” said Charlotte.

“You know.. just the general boring classics book that you always complain about..” responded Tasha, she quickly closed the book and moved it to the drawer below her study.

“I know, you’re very predictable! That’s why you’re boring!”

“Oh yes, I’m boring. Somehow my boringness has bring you here again and again, this time with a funny-looking cookie..”

“I can’t imagine a life without your sarcasm. I miss you. So, what did you do on your winter break?” asked Charlotte curiously.

“Hold on, I’ve heard you are engaged with Edward! Charlotte Dawson, tell me when are you getting married? And where?!” Tasha responded excitedly while grabbing Charlotte’s hands.

“That’s why I’m here, Tasha. I was about to tell you in person, I also want to ask you if you would like to be my maid of honor?”

“Oh my God! Yes!! Yes please, I will be your maid of honor! I’m so happy for you!” Tasha leaned in for an embrace.

They talked for about an hour until Charlotte was expected back home. They were friends since freshman year, they were in their final year now. Tasha has found out that Charlotte were the only person she could count on, the only person who understood her, the one who has never question her judgement. They had their argument and disagreement in the past but it has never affected their friendship. It was the mutual respect for each other that has gotten them closer together, even though they pursued a very different purpose in life. They found harmony in each other that made their friendship as solid as the rock.

It was a rainy day in London. There were thunderstorm and lightning that covered up the sky. Tasha was on the train, on her way to grandmother’s house. She looked up the window and wondered if her brother were looking up the same exact sky as her. The last time she saw him was five years ago, she missed him dearly. There were some part of her wish she could have her childhood back. She wanted to have the normal life, she wanted to be like everybody else’s family. Tasha’s mother Ekaterina has been banned from the council royalness of England that she was departed back to her origin Ukraine. Ekaterina decided to brought her son Andrei with her and had Natasha stayed in England with her husband’s family because there were no other choice.

Tasha has spent her adolescence wondering if her mother abandoned her, she developed these fear of abandonment and trust issues. In 1950, Ekaterina recalled it was one cold day in December, two soldiers stood outside the house, they had the official paper from the Queen. Ekaterina was evicted from England immediately. Tasha was fifteen years old then, she was still in school. Ekaterina made the decisions to brought Andrei with her because he was only ten at the time. When Tasha got back from school, everyone has left already. Ekaterina was not able to explained her decisions yet but she wanted all the best for Tasha. Somehow her good will has wrecked her daughter trust in everybody, she has left her a big scar to mend on her own.

Only time will heal the wounded soul and only time would the truth be spoken. Six years has passed, Tasha has grew to be one intelligent young women and she always stayed true to her belief as how her grandmother nurtured her growing up. She adored her grandmother Eda, she looked up to her. Eda was born and raised in Scotland, she went to Russia for a labor job where she got to meet her beloved husband Sergei Kulova. She gave birth to two children named Aleksei and Anna, they both resided in Ukraine for almost fifty years until their son Aleksei got married with Ekaterina and decided to immigrate in England. Aleksei got in an argument with his father Sergei numerous times because of his decisions to immigrate in England, but his mother supported his decisions all the way and decided that it might be the best decisions for the family to live outside of Ukraine at the time.

The spring has sprung and the flowers were bursting out their fragrance as Tasha walked passed florist in Chamberlayne Road, spring has came in full speed and the wedding date of Charlotte has finally arrived. The wedding will be held in France on April 20th and the two of them met up at Maroon Café to discussed the wedding plans together. They sat outdoor on the table near the entrance, the table has a red decorations with white roses on each vase.

“What a beautiful weather, soak it all in.. hmm..” said Charlotte.

“I can’t believe you’ll be Mrs. Smith soon!” Tasha responded with excitement.

“I know, five months has already passed and here I am. Tomorrow, we all will be in Paris! I’m so happy you agree to be my maid of honor, Tash!”

“No problem, sweetheart. I’m also excited to be abroad for the first time.”

“You’ll love it, France is one of the most beautiful country I’ve visited. It will be my 5th time there!” said Charlotte.

“Are you going to spend your honeymoon in France, too?” asked Tasha.

“Well, Edward’s grandma lives in Lyon. We had plans to stayed at her house for two days before head out to Greece for our honeymoon. He adores his grandma Loreille!” responded Charlotte.

“That’s so sweet of you two!”

“Btw, do you still read that boring book?” asked Charlotte.

“Which book are you referring to?” replied Tasha.

“That white cover book with no caption, I feel something different about you after you read that book..”

“Well, I’ve finished the book but a few pages were missing so there might be some unknown fact I haven’t discovered just yet.” said Tasha.

They arrived in Paris early in the morning, the wedding ceremony was extremely intimate where only family and close friends were there to shared the moment with the couple. Tasha was wearing pale blue dress with flared and she pulled her hair slick back in a pony tail with curly bottoms. Her blue eyes were shining as bright as the blue skies, a few of the groom’s best man were trying to introduce themselves. She was never been confident on the way she talked to men, instead she was quick to avoid any type of flirtatious gestures from those men. As the ceremony came to an end, Charlotte and Edward were ready to go on their carriage that were waiting for them outside of church.

Charlotte walked out with her groom, she smiled numerous times on Tasha’s direction as she was mouthing ‘Thank you’. She left hand in hands alongside her husband and the most beautiful pink colored carriage to take her to country side. The warmness of their love has infected people all around them. Tasha was waving her hand when one young men were walking towards her direction, he has blond hair and smoldering green eyes. He slowly greeted her with a smile.

“Hi, I’m particularly sure you have no idea of who I am.” said the mysterious man as he grinned.

“Hmm.. am I supposed to know who you are?” Tasha responded innocently.

“Let me introduce myself, I am Niall Smith. I believe you had something of mine that Charlotte handed to you.”

“Oh okay, I’m Natasha but people usually call me Tasha. So, you’re Edward’s younger brother? What stuff are you talking about?” asked Tasha as she was digging her purse.

“Older brother, and I was joking about that one. I notice it was very hard for those men to talk to you. I’ve got to made something up to get you talking” said Niall. “Ohh.. it wasn’t like that. At all..”

“Tasha, what do you say go in an adventure with me right now?” asked Niall.

“I don’t know you.. But I’ll take my chances of knowing you better.”

It was the first encounter of Niall and Tasha, there were flames that burning through the two of them. Niall was in for an adventure with women who he thought were worthy of his attention and time. Tasha on the other hand, tried to break through her timid self and hoped that Paris would brought up the adventure side of her. It could be a disaster for the two of them but when two lost soul met in a city of light, the possibilities were endless.