Xiao You flipped the table calendar placed on her working desk.
She looked at the dates.
One more month to go.
She then casually turned to look at the email she had just received and opened on her laptop.
From Xi Men.
Sorry, I have been busy with work and thank you for the reminder to check for the flight tickets last night. I have just checked for the plane tickets, and seeing it is only one month away, I have proceeded and bought the tickets.
Below are the flight details for both of us:
Flight details for me – Taipei/Paris.
Departure on 2nd November: Taipei/1am (Taipei time)
Arrival: Paris/8am (Paris time).
Flight duration: 14 hours.
Airline Terminal: 1
Departing from Paris to Taipei on 9th November: 1pm.
Flight details for you – Toronto/Paris.
Departure on 2nd November: Toronto/8pm (Toronto time)
Arrival: Paris/9am (Paris time).
Flight duration: 8 hours.
Airline terminal: 2A
Departing from Paris to Toronto on 9th November: 12pm.
I will send you your flight itinerary when the email has been delivered to me.
And since our arrival hours are only one hour difference, I will wait for you at the airport.
Xi Men had purchased her flight ticket to go to Paris.
This is definitely going to happen.
She is about to spend a week with Xi Men in Paris.
She smiled faintly at the thought of going to Paris.
Perhaps, it is a dream for all women out there; they want to go to Paris, at least once.
They said Paris is a city of love.
So what if it is a city of love?
It doesn’t concern them.
They are only there to fulfill and complete a request that she had asked for 10 years ago.
10 years ago, after she had showed Xi Men the billboard and left, she had slowly moved on with life.
As Xi Men didn’t keep in touch with her, it had also made easier for her to move on.
Suddenly to receive a phone call from Xi Men and talked about the week that he owed her… she knew it must have bugged him a lot to make him call her with intention to fulfill it, 10 years later.
And he said he felt guilty for not fulfilling it to her so he would like to offer it to her now.
Funny, but it is the truth.
She could just tell him to forget about the silly one week she asked from him… that is, until she heard his reasons.
After hearing his reasons, it made her think as she felt she is indebted with Xi Men too.
And since he needs her to get the guilt out of his mind, this trip will solves it all.
Feels like this trip of a week has become a solution for two different things for both parties.
She is single now. She is free to do anything and go anywhere with anyone.
It has been a while since she went on a date or travel.
Even though it is only for a week, it should be nice.
And it is good to be away from work for a week.
A small smile formed on her face.
A new email then arrived at her mailbox.
She clicked on the email.
Ah. It is her flight itinerary.
She browses thru the flight itinerary and something caught her eyes.
Her eyes almost popped out from the socket.
“Business class seat?!” she asked.
Xiao You: Do you actually need to buy me a business class seat?
Xi Men tilted his head with the phone on his ear: Why not?
Xiao You: I thought you’ll go with economy class or something…
Xi Men: It is a long journey so I thought getting you a business class seat is more comfortable.
Xiao You: Oh.
Xi Men: Yeah.
Xiao You: Umm… thanks…
Xi Men: No problem. If you’ve check the flight details that I gave you this morning, you’ll notice that our planes’ arrival is 8am and 9am respectively.
Xiao You: Yes, you mentioned that the difference is only one hour. And you said you will wait for me at the airport.
Xi Men: Yes. Since it is only one hour difference, I’ll wait for you at your arrival terminal.
Xiao You: Alright.
Xi Men: So, how was your research?
Xiao You: All’s good.
Xi Men: Is that all? Not gonna share some details with me? (smirked)
Xiao You: I have listed out the places to go, read up on Paris Visite pass…
Xi Men (frowned): Paris Visite pass?
Xiao You: Yes. It is a day-based pass that you can use on subways to travel. Unlimited rides.
Xi Men: They have such passes?
Xiao You: Yes. And we are also going to get Musee Pass. (*museum pass)
Xi Men (frowned again): What is that?
Xiao You: A pass for selected museums. You can skip the ticketing queue if you have this pass.
Xi Men: Does it include Eiffel Tower?
Xiao You: No. Not Eiffel Tower.
Xi Men: Ah. Now there’s not much use of it.
Xiao You: Trust me. There’s a lot.
Xi Men (smirked): I really wonder how your travel style is.
Xiao You: Wait til next month at Paris. You will know.
Xi Men laughed.
Xiao You: Oh yeah. For Eiffel Tower… I wanna go up.
Xi Men: Okay. No problem.
Xiao You: You need to book the timeslot from its website for us to go up. Preferably 4pm slot.
Xi Men: Timeslot? What is that?
Xiao You: You can select a timeslot, book and pay it online, get the ticket, and we just show this ticket at Eiffel Tower at that particular time, and we can go up straight, skipping the ticketing queue.
Xi Men (surprised): WOW. You can actually do that?
Xiao You: Yes. If you don’t, then you have to line up for 2-3 hours just to get the tickets, and not inclusive of the time you will take to go up.
Xi Men: Gosh. No. Not few hours. Okay. I will go and book. Can you send me the link?
Xiao You: Sure. I will email the link to you later.
Xi Men: Thanks. Which day do you want to go up to Eiffel Tower?
Xiao You: I think, on the 2nd itself will be good.
Xi Men: Alright. Hmmm… (suddenly let out a small laugh)
Xiao You: What’s with the laugh?
Xi Men: I didn’t expect to hear all these passes and Eiffel Tower’s online ticketing. I am quite amazed by you to find out all of these.
Xiao You: Oh. Thank you.
Xi Men (laughed): Like I have told you, I have been to Paris a number of times and there’s nothing much to see. And since we’ll be there for 7 days, I wonder if you have that many things to see?
Xiao You: Yes.
Xi Men: Really?
Xiao You: Yes. Paris actually has a lot of things to see. It is just that tourists only go to the few famous ones and yes, you only need 3-4 days to cover these few famous ones. Trust me, Paris doesn’t only consists of Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe and Notre Dame. There’s a lot more.
Xi Men: I have been to other places in Paris as well, not just the three.
Xiao You: I know. I am saying it in terms of general. I am currently working on the list of places to go for 7 days.
Xi Men: Are you struggling to find places to put them in into the list?
Xiao You: No. I am trying to decide which one to let go.
Xi Men: Let go? Wow. You’ve just make me look forward for the trip.
Xiao You (smirked): Glad to know. Ah. Have you checked out the hotels?
Xi Men: Not yet. Do you have any preference in terms of hotel rooms?
Xiao You: No, I don’t have. But it will be good if there’s a nice view of Eiffel Tower from the window of the room (smiled). I guess it is a nice view to wake up in.
Xi Men: Hmmm. Okay. I’ll take note of it.
Xiao You: If you can’t get any, it is fine.
Xi Men: Luxurious hotels with Eiffel Tower view are widely available. Just need to check if they have availability. Don’t worry, I’ll look around.
Xiao You: Okay.
Xi Men (suddenly remembered something): Ah. I just remembered…
Xiao You: Hmmm?
Xi Men: I… I wanna ask…
Xiao You (wondered why he stammered): Okay…?
Xi Men: Since we are going to spend one week together… for the ‘one week’ thing…
Xiao You: Yeah…?
Xi Men: Is… onehotelroomokaywithyou? (asked in one breath fairly quickly) [*he said ‘one hotel room okay with you’]
Xiao You holds onto the phone. This is a matter she had never thought of.
It didn’t even take 5 seconds for her to think, she gave him an answer.
Xiao You: Yeah. I am okay.
Xi Men (slightly surprised): Okay?
Xiao You: Yes. Just book one room will do. One bed is fine with me as well.
‘One bed?’ he is totally surprised now.
Xiao You: But not one single bed for two of us please.
Hearing that makes him laugh: Of course. That will never happen.
One month later,
“You’ll be away for a week?” Mei Zhuo asked, looking at Xi Men at their F4 lunch gathering.
Lei and Ah Si looked at Xi Men too.
“Yeah. My flight is tonight,” Xi Men said, picking up a piece of chicken on the plate with his chopsticks. “So, my Internet connection will be pretty limited. If you messaged me, I’ll only get it when I get connected to some wi-fi hotspot or hotel’s Internet,”
“You can subscribe to international broadband roaming with your phone,” Ah Si said, before he takes a scoop of rice up and eats. “It is not like you can’t pay for the service,”
“I doubt I needed the full Internet connection,” Xi Men said as he munched on the chicken.
“That didn’t sound like a business trip,” Lei said, taking a piece of greens up from the plate in front of him.
Looking at Lei, “Why did you say so?” Xi Men asked.
“Because if you are going there for work, you definitely need the Internet connection,” Lei said.
Xi Men smirked, reached for another piece of chicken again.
As always, Lei is good with these.
Xi Men didn’t want the friends to know about his trip, but he couldn’t disappear just like that. If they found out he had gone ‘missing’, the friends will go all out to find him and ask around, and this will lead to even more questions when he returned from his trip. So he decided to tell them that he will be away for a week.
“That sounds like a private trip,” Mei Zhuo said.
“You can say so,” Xi Men said, about to stuff the sliced chicken into his mouth.
“Just admit it,” Mei Zhuo nudged Xi Men with his (Mei Zhuo) elbow, and that causes the chicken meat in Xi Men’s chopstick dropped onto his plate before it reached his mouth.
“Sheesh!” Xi Men got annoyed at Mei Zhuo because of the dropped food.
Mei Zhuo could only laugh at Xi Men’s annoyance.
“So, private trip for a week?” Ah Si asked.
“Sounds like a long one,” Lei said. “Are you going with your mother?”
“No,” Xi Men said, picking up the fallen piece of chicken from his plate and eats it.
“Oh? Then? Who?” Lei asked. “Your dad?”
“Alone,” Xi Men answered.
Well, he is indeed ‘going’ alone.
From the flight here to Paris, of course.
He will only meet Xiao You at the airport in Paris.
“Alone? Wow, going alone for a week? Something must have triggered you to take a long break,” Mei Zhuo said. “Too stressful at work?”
“Yes, so I am taking a break,” Xi Men said, not wanting to say anything else about his trip.
He didn’t want to reveal that his trip has something to do with Xiao You.
If he mentioned that he is going to spend a week with Xiao You… he will probably get killed.
First, very likely it just stares, from his friends. (*he means gets ‘killed’ by the sharp glares)
And next, mostly physical, by the wife of Ah Si. (*he means gets killed for real)
He swallowed the lump in his throat.
“Well, have fun then,” Lei smiled. “Come back reenergized, alright?”
Xi Men smiled. “Sure, thanks,” he silently exhaled his deep breath.
“By the way, where are you going?” Ah Si asked.
“Paris,” Xi Men said.
All three of them looked at Xi Men.
“What’s with the gaze?” Xi Men asked, looking at them.
Suddenly, he felt worried.
Did Xiao You happen to tell San Chai that she is going to Paris as well…?
You know, San Chai will tell it to Ah Si, and then…
“Paris for a week? That’s very long…” Ah Si said.
Seeing that kind of respond from Ah Si, he is relieved.
“Oh,” Xi Men said. “Umm, really? You’d think it is long?”
It is not that he felt a week in Paris is not long, for he also said the same thing to Xiao You. But he purposely posed the question like that because if he happened to reply ‘yes, it is long’, he will raised their suspicion about him going to Paris for a long week. Alone. No, ‘alone’.
And they all knew he had been to Paris a couple of times already.
“I wasn’t sure if you actually have that many things to see in Paris…?” Ah Si asked.
“I don’t know too,” Xi Men said.
“Then why are you staying in Paris for such a long week if there isn’t much to see?” Mei Zhuo asked.
He was just trying to avoid it, and now one statement of ‘I don’t know’ that he blurted out has just ruined his plan.
“I am just going there to relax. It is not my main motive to see stuffs there,” Xi Men said.
“Oh,” all three of them said.
“Well, true. Paris’ scenery and environment are definitely different compared to here. It is a good thing to go for a change of view just to relax,” Lei smiled.
Xi Men smiled.
Now, stop asking already.
So damn stressed up.
Perhaps, going out for lunch with the gang before he left for his trip is not a good idea.
Xi Men puts down the chopsticks and dives his hand into his trousers to take his smartphone out.
A whatsapp message.
Xiao You: It is fall in Paris now. Temperature may dive for the next few days. Remember to pack thicker clothes or winter clothing. Just in case.
He then replies…
Xi Men: OK.
He quickly locked his phone and then puts the phone back into this pocket.
“Work, huh?” Lei asked.
“Yeah,” Xi Men smiled at him.
“Mentioning of that, I think I should go for vacation too…” Ah Si said.
“I think I should too!” Mei Zhuo said.
No more topics of Xi Men’s trip.
Xi Men sits down at the departure hall of Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan after he had passed the immigration and custom with his hand holding onto his passport, waiting to board the plane.
Xi Men dives his hand into his jeans and takes his phone out.
Seeing the name of the caller flashing on his phone, he picks up the call and puts the phone to his ear.
Xi Men: Xiao You?
Xiao You: Hi.
Xi Men: Umm… hi.
Xiao You: Are you at the airport now?
Xi Men: Yes, I am. I am at the departure hall right now, waiting for boarding… should be in an hour.
Xiao You: Hmmm… okay.
Xi Men: So, what’s up?
Xiao You: Nah, just checking if you did pack your winter jacket or thick clothing.
Xi Men: Yes, I did. Thanks for telling me. I’ve totally forgotten that it is fall in Paris.
Xiao You (smiled): That is nice to hear. But you know the weather is unpredictable. Asking you to pack is just in case. You might not use it.
Xi Men: Yeah. Weathers are always unpredictable. I will know if the clothes will be in use when I reach there.
Xiao You smiled.
Xi Men: Oh, by the way. Your plane will land at Terminal 2A, right?
Xiao You: Yeah. Why?
Xi Men: Since I will be waiting for you at the airport, and I just wanted to make sure I get the right terminal. So, Terminal 2A it is.
Xiao You: Sure. So I will expect to see you at the Arrival Hall then?
Xi Men: Yeah.
Xiao You: Alright. Just make sure you don’t get lost in the airport when you come over to Terminal 2A from Terminal 1. The airport is huge.
Xi Men: Umm… you have been doing research for places to go in Paris… and you even do research about airport as well?
Xiao You (laughed): I didn’t like to get lost.
Xi Men (smirked): I really salute you for all the researches you’ve been doing for this one week trip.
Xiao You (knowing he is mocking but still, she said): Thanks!
Xi Men (laughed): I can’t wait to see what you will show me in Paris.
Xiao You (smiled): You’ll know.
Xi Men just laughed.
And then his laughter slowly fades.
Both of them didn’t say anything now.
She is done with the topic.
He has nothing to continue with the topic too.
Xiao You: Umm…
Xi Men: Yeah…?
Xiao You: Umm… have a safe flight.
Xi Men: Oh. Sure. Thanks. You too.
Xiao You: Thanks.
Xi Men: See you… tomorrow.
It is just tomorrow. Really… tomorrow.
In approximately 17 hours.
Xiao You: Yes, see you tomorrow.