Caroline glanced out the window as the plane began its descent. The bell had sounded then announcement made a few minutes earlier and those caught late talking in the aisles were still scampering for their seats to buckle up. She had been engrossed in the unique sea and landscape as they’d flown from Singapore.
She’d signed up for a two-year contract with an English Language School in Bangkok and was looking forward to that. This was not the first time she’d taught in a foreign country. Immediately following her graduation from college she’d done a two-year contract teaching English and other subjects in the Marshall Islands and loved the experience. Now with a master’s degree certificate tucked away in her luggage and the appropriate visa arranged by the school she’d decided to try Asia.
Caroline had been pursued through her master’s course by Andy Reilley. She knew him from elementary school days, but they’d gone on to different colleges and by chance happened to pick the same school for their master’s studies. Andy had pursued her diligently, but it took her a while to warm to him as more than a friend and it was a while before she began to view him as a potential partner for life. She expected he’d propose after they finished their studies, but Andy received a job offer he couldn’t refuse because of his exceptional grades and it was on the other side of the country.
He departed quickly with the promise he’d get settled and look for a job for her there. Caroline took a temporary job in anticipation but after some time had elapsed and correspondence between them tapered off, she began to have her doubts about Andy’s sincerity. Then word came through a mutual friend Andy had found someone else to shower his attentions on. Caroline being a practical woman was thankful she’d learned about his instability in relationships before their wedding and made her own plans.
She remembered her fun time in the Pacific and wondered whether another two years overseas would help her forget the failed Andy experience. She contacted the same recruiting agency that had landed her the Pacific experience and they circulated her name and qualifications to overseas schools that used them for recruiting. There was an immediate response from Thailand expressing interest. Would she be interested? Thailand was one of those exotic countries her friends had been saving up to travel to and she’d harboured thoughts about joining them in the past. Andy had been one of those expressing an interest in visiting to enjoy usual tourist spots there. There’d even been a hint it would be a wonderful place for a honeymoon. Now she’d be paid to visit there and experience another exciting culture. She quickly said yes and gave notice to her present employment so she could spend time with her parents while visas and other formalities were arranged. Now she was about to land in this exotic country.
Caroline was surprised at the size of the city as they descended. The contrast between the sophistication of that airport and her experience in Pacific Island airports was huge. She made her way through immigration and customs effortlessly and headed for the arrivals gate. The recruiting agency assured her she’d be met and transported to her accommodation on the grounds of the school she’d be teaching at. She approached the gate with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. What if she was not met? How would she reach her destination without any knowledge of the language?
She exited the gate and was met by an enormous crowd pushing and shoving behind barriers. Touts were waving her over to their side in the hope of persuading her to use one of the vehicles for transport from the airport. Placards with names of people to be met were being waved high to capture attention of the exiting arrivals. She paused to take in the scene and search for her name and there it was standing high in bold letters, Caroline Ormsby. She headed for the end of the barriers where people were being received watching carefully as the sign moved in that direction she was travelling too. Then a familiar face appeared behind a Thai man with the sign containing her name. She gasped in surprise and a wave of anger flowed over her as she recognized the smile. It was Andy Reilley.
The Thai man handed the sign to Andy and picked up her luggage motioning them through the crowd and fighting off hopeful taxi drivers. He loaded the luggage in what was obviously the school van and reached for the sign which he deposited on top of the luggage. He bowed to Caroline and welcomed her in accented English. “Welcome to Thailand Miss.”
Andy spoke. “Welcome to Thailand Caroline. You’ll really love this place. The people are wonderful, the food superb and students eager to learn. You’ll find fulfillment in this contract and I’m happy we can be reconnected.”
Caroline glanced at him coldly. “Had I known you’d be here I’d never have accepted the contract. It’s going to be hard working with you after your treatment of me. I suppose your wife is here too, how come you didn’t bring her to rub salt in the wound? You’re despicable!”
Andy looked hurt. “I have no idea what you’re talking about Caroline. You’re the one who cut off contact with me, but I don’t hold that against you and was overjoyed when I saw your name being circulated looking for an overseas teaching assignment. I’m not married incidentally. What ever gave you that impression?”
Caroline looked at him in surprise. “A mutual friend told me you were interested in another woman where you were working and as your letters tapered off and stopped it was not hard to believe that.”
Now it was Andy’s turn to be angry. “You sent me two letters and no more than that, but I kept writing until it was apparent you had no interest in me. So, I did make some attempts to keep the interest alive but eventually gave up. There has never been any other romantic interest apart from you and I assumed you’d found someone else. Then I also assumed you had no one when you circulated your interest in an overseas appointment and was hoping to revive our relationship.”
Caroline studied him carefully. He didn’t appear to be bluffing. “I wrote consistently and faithfully. How come you didn’t receive my letters then? This seems strange to me.”
Andy sat silently thinking then turned and faced her. “I think I may have an explanation but am not sure. I was boarding with a family my parents had business dealings with when I started my job in the west. They were always pushing me to take their daughter here and there and I did that but only to be accommodating. She had a crush on me, but I didn’t encourage her. Her parents were over the top trying to get us together and even had convinced my parents it would be a good match. By that time, I was not receiving any encouragement from you and decided the only way out of an embarrassing situation was to look for an overseas appointment to let the two sets of parents calm down. I’ve been here for a year now and you know I always wanted to pay this country a visit. The culture is fascinating. Perhaps the parents were intercepting your mail and keeping it back from me? Now I see why you are so upset. I was looking forward to seeing you again, please don’t spoil that.”
The van turned into a large compound with high rise buildings. “This is where all the teachers stay and teach. Let me get you settled and then take you around to introduce you to the teachers. Some are from different parts of Asia as well as the West. You will really enjoy this experience and I’m glad we had a chance to settle misunderstandings before we start work together. I think we have both been hurt unnecessarily and look forward to getting reconnected again.”
Caroline was trying to come to terms with this revelation. She’d been angry at Andy for his supposed hurtful dismissal of a relationship cultivated during their final years at school. There was still a lingering resentment, but she could see it was quite possible both had been manipulated by the cruel parents of that girl where Andy had been boarding. She’d have to observe him for a while but latent feelings for him were beginning to surface again. She watched as he helped get her settled and later observed the regard each of the staff had for him as he introduced her to them in turn. They were very welcoming, and she felt happy and secure among them.
She slowly thawed in her relationship with Andy over the next few weeks and old feelings toward him resurfaced. After two weeks as they sat in the library working on class assignments Andy turned to Caroline and whispered. “Caroline, I want us to have our relationship repaired. You are the only woman I’ve had an interest in. I’m not the kind of person you thought I was when you arrived. Can we have our understanding back again?’
Without hesitation Caroline nodded her positive response.
Andy smiled in appreciation. “We kind of had an understanding we’d get married Caroline when I went west. Can we still have that understanding between us?”
Caroline nodded again.
“Good! Would you do me the honor of marrying me, Miss Ormsby?”
Caroline nodded again.
Then I’d like to announce that right now he whispered.
“Not now, this is the library, and we always insist people are quiet so students and staff can do their work.”
Andy Reilley stood up and in a loud voice called for attention. Students and staff looked up in surprise.
“I apologize for the intrusion in your study time, but I have an important announcement to make which needs to come to your attention. Ms Ormsby has just agreed to be my wife and I’d like all my friends here be the first to know. Caroline and I have known each other since elementary school. “
The library erupted in joyous noises as students and staff surged forward to wish the newly engaged couple well in their future. Then Andy and Caroline departed so the rest of the staff could get everyone back to study.
As they slowly walked back to the staff housing block Andy spoke. “Caroline, I’ve always been faithful to you and always will be. I’m so sorry you were given other impressions. Let’s get married in Thailand before we return to the US.”
Caroline snuggled into him as they walked. “That would be lovely Andy. When do we go shopping for my engagement and wedding rings?”
“As soon as our next day off is scheduled Caroline.”
© Copyright 2021 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved