Dear Miss Jones*

Dear Miss Jones,

I am writing you this letter to assuage whatever anxiety recent events in this house may have caused you.

Please allow me to explain:

1. I did not topple that porcelain vase in the foyer that evening. You forgot to close the window before you went up to bed and, consequently, a gust of wind knocked it down and broke it to pieces. I don’t blame you in the least. You looked exhausted when you entered the house that night. Your concert must have really worn you out;

2. I am not responsible for the creaking sounds you hear at night in the corridor. My house, or rather your house – for this dwelling is now legally yours – is, as you are well aware, made almost entirely of hardwood and is extremely old. It contracts and expands according to the weather;

3. The noises you hear at night are not “voices” or “whispers” but are rather the crackling of the leaves in the trees outside, and the sounds you described as “sinister laughter” or “perverse groaning” are in fact the cries of wild beasts that are to be found aplenty in the forest beyond the courtyard;

4. As a rule, I do not play the pianoforte whenever you are around. I always make sure that you are out of the house whenever my mood moves me to play a few sonatas. I am fond of these pieces for they remind me of my childhood and of my dear mother. Perhaps what you hear when you arrive home are the faint echoes of the notes I have generated in the morning. Let me promise you that from now on, I will only limit my time at the pianoforte to half an hour, so that the music will not linger far into the evening;

5. You might have detected the faint scent of flowers and candles in the library. Do not be alarmed by them, my dear madam. My sister, Maria, was fond of collecting roses, lilacs, and lilies when she was still a little girl. She kept them tucked between the pages of her letters and she sealed them with candle wax. You can find them on the top shelf of the bookcase behind my, or rather your, desk. I don’t object to you perusing them – my sister’s letters and collection of flowers, that is; and I don’t think she would mind it either if you will take a look at them – but I don’t think it would be very prudent for you to go up the wooden ladder. In fact, I strongly advise you against it, for the ladder is quite old and might break. I worry for your safety;

6. The sensation that woke you up that particular evening – the feeling of being touched lightly in the cheek – has, alas, a supernatural cause. I am terribly sorry to confirm your suspicions. The truth is, my sister is very fond of you, and despite my explicit warnings never to disturb you or cause you alarm or distress, she still went and sat by your bed. I was in the study when I heard your screams. She’s such a careless and headstrong girl! But let me assure you that she meant you no harm whatsoever. She only wanted to keep you company and comfort you for she said you appeared sad and lonely that night. That does not excuse her, however. She promised me never to do it again;

7. I assure you, madam, that I am fully aware of your right to privacy. I therefore conduct my daily affairs with that in mind. I never ventured, nor do I have any plans of venturing, into your bedroom, bathroom, and powder room. I never trespass into people’s private spaces. It is true that I can pass through walls, but I can’t see through them, so there is no reason to worry. I also keep my distance at all times. I make sure that I am never less than 20 feet away from you at any given moment. Whenever you are in your studio, I stay in the foyer. Whenever you are in the foyer, I stay in the living room. Whenever you are in the living room, I stay in the veranda. Whenever you are in the veranda, I stay in the library. Whenever you are in the library, I go back to the foyer, or else I take a walk in the garden under the moonlight and come back before daybreak;

8. Here, however, I am going to confess to a real sin, madam: the “clapping” sounds which you suspected you heard just the other day in the studio were indeed “clapping” sounds, and the exclamations of “bravo, bravo!” which immediately followed them were indeed exclamations of “bravo, bravo!”. You see, I am a great admirer of your music. I have been admiring you since your first album came out and I have been following your career for the past 14 years. So great was my joy therefore when I found out that my heirs managed to sell the property to Norah Jones herself! I would not have allowed them to sell this house to anyone else. Were you surprised to find your vinyl records in the library when you moved in here? I have managed to obtain copies of your albums from the nearby record stores. It’s a long story. Anyway, your rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” that night was masterful and I couldn’t help but praise you for your performance. It was simply superb! You made the song your very own. You have a way of owning every single song you decide to cover. If I loved your music and talent less, I would have been less effusive in expressing my admiration. In fact, if I had not been bound by all of these restraints, I would have been more vocal in complimenting you. I am more into classical music myself – Wagner, Bach, Mozart, and the like – but ever since you came into this house, I have come to appreciate and even love blues and jazz music. You see, I lived before Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Aretha Franklin were even born, so jazz music was unheard of in my time. I absolutely understand why you “freaked out” (your term) and stormed out of the house when you heard my voice and clapping that night. My deepest and sincerest apologies, madam. I assure you that the next time you decide to sing a song or record a tune, I will keep my mouth closed. Your singing is the one thing I look forward to every single day;

9. And I am going to admit to another thing. I am the reason why your boyfriend, the bass player, left you. I can see through a person’s character, and he clearly was a sleazy kind of individual. I saw that right away when he first set foot in this house. It was too obvious that he was only after your body, not your mind and soul. A real gentleman conducts himself with propriety. It was highly improper of him to hold you the way he did. It was highly imprudent of him to tempt you to kiss him in the drive way and elsewhere in the house. And it was absolutely inappropriate, if not downright immoral, of him to seduce you. Marriage was far from the scoundrel’s mind, and it is my belief that a man and a woman can only rightly consummate their love for each other within the context of the sacrament of matrimony. But let us not speak of love for I saw through his heart and saw that love was not there. He only had an appetite for pleasure. His motives were impure from the beginning. Hence, I drove him away. Just as he was leading you by the hand into his bed chamber, I appeared in front of him as a macabre reflection in the mirror, and I contorted my face in such a way as to give him a very good fright. My imitation of Count Dracula must have been near-perfect for he jumped up right away even before he could unzip his pants. He ran out of the house through the kitchen door and I met him in the driveway. He closed his eyes so he won’t see me. I warned him, in a very ghoulish tone of voice, not to come back here or contact you, or else I will go after him and haunt him wherever he was. My dear madam, I do not at all regret what I did. I believe I saved you from a relationship that would have given you nothing but misery.

Madam, this house won’t be the same without you. The bedrooms, the study, the library, the foyer, the living room, the veranda, the paintings, the china, the furniture, the sculptures, the books, the courtyard, the garden, and every square inch of this mansion are now yours. They now belong to you. They now exist for you. I beg you, kindly reconsider your plan of leaving. I am sure that this is simply a matter of misunderstanding. Forgive me for saying so, but I believe you are being too hasty in wishing to relocate to a new residence, considering that your stay here has not exceeded a month. The house will grieve if you will insist on going away. Maria, too, will grieve. I will grieve. And eternity shall pass us by once again. Eternity is such a long time and I cannot bear to go through it without you.

Yours, etc.
Diego Lopez del Fuego


Dearest Norah, please forgive me for being too liberal in expressing my feelings, but I have to say that if you go away, I will miss you terribly. I will miss the sound of your smoky, languid voice. I will miss your singing, above all. What will become of this house without your music? I will miss your piano, your Wurlitzer, and your guitar. I will miss your records. And although I can no longer eat food, I will still miss the smell of your cooking. The kitchen has gotten used to the aroma of your unusual recipes. I will miss seeing you brush your long hair in my mother’s dresser. My parent’s portraits that are hanging on the walls always look at you with great admiration and approval. I will miss hearing your steps in the stairs and hallways. There is always a musical quality to the sound of your heels whether you’re walking or running. I will miss your laughter. I will miss your shadow. And I will miss your very presence.

God knows there are still many things I want to say. For instance, the garden will wither away without a lady to look after them, and even if I could take care of them myself, what good will the sight of roses bring me? One eventually tires of looking at roses, whereas no one ever tires of looking at you. I never tired of gazing at you, Norah. Is it too much to ask you to have tea with me? Please let me know. I will be in the library in case you changed your mind.

*An earlier version of this story appeared in this blog several weeks ago.

Norah Jones

It was his girlfriend who first introduced him to Norah Jones. The year was 2002 and they both were working for a BPO company.

“Listen to this,” his girlfriend said to him one day, and she inserted a cassette tape into the player of his car. They had just finished their shifts and were on their way to get some breakfast. Outside, it was still a bit dark, but the sun had begun to rise in the horizon.

When the music began playing, he listened. Norah Jones’ voice captured him the moment he heard it. It was smooth, languid, and smoky, like a breath of fresh air. He smiled and rolled down the window to let in the scent of the morning. Everything looked and felt new and beautiful.

He borrowed the tape from his girlfriend and played it as often as he could: He played the tape every night in the car on his way to the office. He played the tape every morning when he and his girlfriend would look for a place to eat. And he played the tape at home when he was alone. In fact, he played nothing but Norah Jones wherever he was and whatever he was doing. He listened to her when he washed the dishes, did the laundry, read a book, clean the car, buy the groceries, pay the bills. Pretty soon, the lyrics stuck to his memory and he would hum along to every song, often adjusting his voice so that it could “blend” with Norah Jones’ voice. He wasn’t a singer, not by a long shot, but it pleased him to hear his voice merge with her voice.

He played Norah Jones so much that it began to annoy his girlfriend.

“Can we play something else, please?” she said in an agitated tone one afternoon. And she would switch the radio to an FM station without waiting for his reply.

Norah Jones also almost always came up in their conversations.

“Did you know that Norah Jones is half-Indian?” he would ask his girlfriend. Or, “Did you know that her father is the famous sitar player Ravi Shankar? Did you know that she’s only 21? Did you know that she has sold more copies of her album in a year than any other female artist in a decade? Did you know that so far she’s won 5 Grammys? Did you know that she used to wait on tables? Don’t you find her low-key, down-to-earth, self-effacing, and modest manner very intriguing?” And other such questions.

“Do you know how sick I am of Norah Jones?” his girlfriend finally told him one day. “That’s right, I’m sick of her. I’m so sick of her. I’m tired of hearing her name and you talking about her over and over again.”

Then she looked at him squarely in the face. “Norah Jones is getting in the way of our relationship. You must make a choice right now. Either you lose her or you lose me.”

And that’s how he lost his girlfriend. But he did not stop listening to Norah Jones. In fact, he listened to her even more frequently. If there’s such a thing as comfort food, she was his comfort music. He especially clung to her after the break up. Those were the darkest months of his life and Norah Jones pulled him through it. He would play her album over and over again, even in his sleep, so that Norah Jones invaded his dreams.

He would dream that he was riding her 1971 Cadillac, the very car you see in one of her music videos. He would glance at Norah Jones and he would see the locks of her hair blowing in the wind. And he would remark, “I love your great tumble of black hair.” And Norah Jones would move her lips and sing, “Come away with me in the night…” And his answer would always be, “Yes, yes, yes, Norah, I’ll come away with you.” She would continue, paying him no attention, “Come away with me and I will write you a song…” And he would exclaim, “Oh, yes, oh, yes. That would be great. Please write me songs, Norah.” And she would sing on with her smoky twang, “I wanna walk with you on a cloudy day, in fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high, so won’t you try to come?” And he would answer even more excitedly, “Oh yes, I will come. Wherever you like, fields, mountains, seas, I’ll go there with you. Just tell me.” And he would then wake up.

He followed her career over the years. She made more albums and he bought them all. He watched her Youtube videos and kept track of her interviews and public appearances.

He really only had one great desire in life, and that is to meet Norah Jones in person. He had no idea how this is supposed to happen considering that he’s at least 10,000 miles away from her. She lived halfway across the globe, and there seemed to be little to zero chance that she will ever visit his country for a concert. All he really wanted was to hear her live, then somehow see her up close and shake her hands, and then have a photo taken with her so that in the future he will have proof that none of it was a dream, that it really happened, that he really did meet her, that he even shook her hand, and she shook his, and he felt her hand, and they exchanged words; it was so fleeting but he really met her and he heard her voice and she heard his and he was brimming with joy, and here’s the proof.

But he knew that none of that is ever going to happen. However, he was free to daydream.

Fourteen years passed. He became more mature and therefore less dreamy and romantic. He never married for the trauma of losing his girlfriend never left him. It was still there inside him, gnawing at him like a black hole. He still listened to Norah Jones every now and then, but the playlist of his life now included musicians Norah Jones herself considered as her heroes: Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan.

Then one day, while browsing through one of Norah Jones’ social media page, he came across a post. She was at her house and she was inviting her fans to send her requests so that she may play some of her songs through Facebook Live. This was to thank them for supporting her just-released new album. He almost choked with excitement. He jumped at the chance and sent her a message asking if she could play an old track of hers. His message traveled electronically across the globe and reached her smartphone almost instantaneously. It was one among thousands of requests which poured in that day. And this is what happened next:

The light particles from the afternoon sun which entered Norah Jones’ window at her house in New York City bounced off every solid surface and illuminated her room. There were thousands of other messages in her smartphone screaming for her attention but somehow her eyes fell on his message in particular. She trained her eyes on his message and the light particles bounced off the letters of his name and entered her corneas. The light particles then passed through her pupils and were “caught” by the lens inside her pupils. They then went straight to her retinas and her retinas sent impulses to her optic nerves. The optic nerves then carried the impulses to her brain and there images of his name were created. She must have seen his name in her head. Oh, how he wanted to dwell there in her head for a few moments longer. How he longed to linger there and sift through the contents of her mind. It must have been filled with words, images, and musical notes. She must have tons of songs stashed away there, pieces she hasn’t sung in public, tracks she hasn’t even recorded. But a fraction of a second later, her brain shot his name to her vocal cords signaling them to enunciate his name.

Then, gloriously, his name vibrated down her larynx, tumbled luxuriously on the surface of her tongue, and joyfully, albeit unwillingly, escaped her mouth and lips, riding ecstatically upon the gust of her breath.

This is what she said, exactly: “This next song is from my third album,” and she peered into the sheet of paper on her piano, “it’s called My Dear Country and it’s requested by Darcy Gomez from the Philippines.” She then paused and looked at the camera and said, “Well, Darcy, I don’t know if you’ve experienced election fatigue in your country, but here we do. This song has been on my mind lately.”

She then placed her fingers on the keys of her piano and sang him the song he requested. The notes which flew from her lips were detected by the mic in her smartphone, and it then sent electronic signals across world, which then ended up in his smartphone. Her notes then jumped from his smartphone and shot to his ears and into his brain.

He stared at the video and couldn’t believe it. Is this really happening? he asked himself. Did she really mention my name and address me? He pressed the rewind button and played the video again. Then he did it again and got the same result. Joy welled up inside him and he laughed. It was the most surreal and magical thing that’s ever happened to him. He felt like he was in Norah Jones’ living room and she was giving a private mini-concert for a handful of people and he handed her a note with his request. Or it felt like reading a fairy tale book and the princess suddenly popped out of the book and called him by name.

Her performance lasted for only 3 minutes, but those 3 minutes were addressed to him and therefore belonged to him and him alone. Those 3 minutes took only a tiny fraction of her time but no one can ever undo it. Those 3 minutes are irreversibly, irrevocably, and eternally his.

He smiled. He may never have a photo taken with Norah Jones, but he has something way better. He may never actually shake her hand, but his name passed through her eyes, mind, and lips. You can’t get any closer to Norah Jones than that, he told himself.

Thank you, Norah Jones!

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! My wildest dream just came true! No, I did not get to see Norah Jones live in a concert and meet her in person. But I got the next best thing: Norah Jones was at her house a few days ago, and to thank her fans for supporting her latest album, Day Breaks, she gave them the chance to request songs which she could play via Facebook Live. I left a comment, and out of the hundreds of requests which poured in, she picked mine, along with 4 others, and she played it! Live! At her home! With her home piano! And she even mentioned my name and addressed me! (I really lost it: My favorite artist and singer of all time enunciated my name!) It was the most mind-blowing, surreal, and magical thing that’s ever happened to me. It was like watching a private mini-concert with Norah Jones. What a blessing. I felt like I won the lottery 3 times in a row.

Here’s the video:

So, thank you, Norah! I still wish I’d meet you in person someday.

God and Ice Cream*

Here is an ice cream cone. What does this object remind you of? Me, it reminds me of God.

Madame Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and friends, good evening.

Before I will tell you how ice cream cones remind me of God, here’s a brief background.

Blind faith

When I was in college, I had a classmate who played guitar for the Campus Ministry. One day, he asked me, “Dante, are you free this afternoon? I want to invite you to this “center” not far from here. It’s a very nice place. There are a lot of books and it’s very quiet, kind of like a library. I was free so I said, “Sure.”

So we went to this place, and it turned out to be a Catholic study center. There was a small and beautiful chapel beside it and we heard Mass there. After the Mass my friend introduced me to a friend of his. He was a very kind and professional guy, and he asked me how my experience was. He said, “So Dante, how do you like our place?”

And I said, “Well, sir, it’s really nice. I really love it. It’s very quiet and I find your books quite interesting. But I’m not sure if I believe in God.”

This floored my friend and his friend. They were speechless. Needless to say, my friend did not invite me again after that.

So in college, I was an atheist. I did not believe in God. I saw religion as just part of culture and tradition that gets passed on from generation to generation. I saw it as something that my parents just had to pass on to me, and I didn’t tell them that I was a skeptic or an unbeliever because I didn’t want to upset them. So for me then, religion was just wishful thinking; it involved blind faith.

Years later, I read this book by an author who converted to Christianity from atheism, and it opened the door for me to the world of philosophy, theology, and Christian apologetics. It was a very exciting discovery for me because I didn’t know that Christianity had an intellectual dimension or a rational foundation.

I discovered one Christian philosopher in particular. His name is William Lane Craig and he’s considered to be one of the best philosophers in the world today. He has doctorates in philosophy and theology and he has written over thirty books and published more than a hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals.

I eventually became a believer because of him and because of other factors.

Does God exist? Each of us must have asked this question many times in our lives. And it’s probably the most important question anyone can ever ask. God’s existence, or non-existence, have pretty serious and profound implications for all of us.

Tonight, my goal is to persuade you that God does exist, and I will illustrate that using this ice cream cone.

God exists

There are many good arguments for the existence of God. For example, there are the cosmological arguments, the teleological or Fine Tuning argument, the ontological argument, the moral argument, and the argument for the resurrection of Jesus.

Tonight, I will be talking about one argument in particular, the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument originated in the writings of Al Ghazali, an Islamic theologian in the medieval period. A few other Christian thinkers and theologians wrote about the argument over the centuries following Al Ghazali, but the one who really developed, refined, and popularized it was William Lane Craig. The Kalam Cosmological Argument was the subject of his doctoral dissertation.

The argument is very simple and it goes like this:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Logicians would say that there are two conditions that make an argument good:

1. If its logic is valid. Meaning, it’s impossible for the conclusion to be false if the premises are true; and

2. If its premises are plausibly true. Meaning, its premises are justified, warranted, or supported by evidence, facts, and further good arguments. Or that the premises are more plausibly true than their opposites.

I think that the Kalam Cosmological Argument meets these two conditions.

The premises are true

Recall the first premise. It is just obviously true that whatever begins to exist has a cause. It is supported by the metaphysical principle that something cannot come out of nothing; or out of nothing, nothing comes; or being cannot come out of non-being.

Recall the second premise. It is supported both by philosophical argument and scientific confirmation. Basically, the philosophical support goes like this: It is impossible for there to be an infinite number of things or events in the real world. If actual infinites did exist in the real world, it would lead to absurdities, therefore they cannot be actual. For example, what is infinity minus infinity? It will lead to contradictory answers. There’s an interesting thought experiment that illustrates the absurdity of actual infinites. It’s called Hilbert’s Hotel.

The scientific support is this: the Big Bang Theory.

Many people in Einstein’s time believed that the universe was not expanding. His theory on gravity, the General Theory of Relativity (1917) predicted that the universe was in a state of expansion. This baffled him because he believed that the universe was not expanding. Then in the 1920s, mathematician Alexander Friedman and Georges LeMaitre, a priest and astronomer, used Einstein’s theory and came up with a model that predicted that the universe was indeed expanding. This was further confirmed in 1929 by the astronomer Edwin Hubble when he saw through his telescope that the stars in the distant galaxies appeared redder than the stars in the nearby galaxies. He called this “red shifting” and this proved that galaxies are moving farther and further away from each other which meant that the universe was in fact expanding. Friedman and LeMaitre’s model eventually became known as The Big Bang Theory.

In 2003, further confirmation came. Cosmologists Alan Guth, Arvind Borde, and Alexander Vilenkin came up with a theorem that predicted that any model of the universe – whether it’s the Big Bang Model or other models – that is on a state of expansion must have an absolute beginning.

What all these means is that if you reverse the universe’s expansion, if you trace its history, you will eventually come to a situation where the distance between any two points in the universe is equal to zero – you will eventually come to what’s called an “Initial Cosmological Singularity”.

The ice cream cone

This is where the ice cream cone comes in. The singularity is smaller than the tip of this ice cream cone. It means that 13.7 billion years ago, the whole universe was so dense that it’s no bigger than the tip of this cone.

But what’s most shocking is that prior to the singularity or prior to the event of the Big Bang, there was literally nothing. Since the universe is all of space, time, matter, and energy, this means that prior to the Big bang, there was no space, no time, no matter, and no energy.

But how can this be? Surely, the universe did not come into existence out of literally nothing. We already know that that violates the metaphysical principle that something cannot come out of nothing, or that out of nothing nothing comes.

Therefore, the universe must have a cause. The only question is, what caused the universe?

Philosophers would say that there are only two candidates for what this cause might be: (1) an abstract object, like numbers or sets, or else, (2) a mind.

But abstract objects don’t have the power to cause anything. Hence, the cause of the universe must be a mind.

We can think of it this way: The universe is composed of matter, energy, space, and time. So whatever caused the universe, must be non-material and non-physical, non-spatial or spaceless, and non-temporal or timeless. Furthermore, this cause must be mind-boggingly powerful, because it brought the universe out of nothing or out of non-being. And it must be personal, because the exercise of choice was involved in creating the universe.

There are other scientific evidences that support the second premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, such as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the discovery of the Cosmic Background Radiation.

The logic is valid

The logic of the argument is valid because it is impossible for the conclusion to be false given that the premises are true. And the argument is deductive, which means that since the premises are true, the conclusion must inescapably true.


To summarize, we have seen that there is at least one good argument for the existence of God. The Kalam Cosmological Argument is good because it meets the two conditions for a good, and in particular deductive, argument. So I was wrong back then. Belief in God is not wishful thinking. It’s not blind faith. It is based on good reasons.

The next time you eat an ice cream on a cone, remember the argument. Remember the Big Bang Theory. Remember God.

Madame Toastmaster.

*Speech delivered at the Queen City Toastmasters Club, September 24, 2016.

“If You Unfollow Me”

(with apologies to Pablo Neruda)

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
every time I log
into my account
and look
at my newsfeed,
all that
I see there
is you:
what you’re doing,
who you’re with,
and where you’re going.

Well, now,
if little by little you will stop following me —
stop commenting on my posts
and liking my selfies —
I shall stop following you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget to PM me,
do not bother to talk to me,
for I shall have already forgotten
to PM you.

(If you decide
to unfriend me,
do not bother to inform me,
for I shall have already forgotten
that we were ever friends
to begin with.
I might even say that
I never knew you
but that you look
slightly familiar.)

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of current events
that passes through our lives,
and you decide
to ignore me
because of my political views,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my feet will set off
to seek other friends
to whom I can share
my beliefs with.

if one day,
one hour,
you will feel compelled to reach out to me
with the strength of past camaraderie,
if one day
out of the blue,
your name will suddenly appear
in my notifications,
informing me that you have resumed liking
my photos and my quotes,
ah my friend, ah my BFF,
in me all that fire of friendship is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
all is forgiven.
My brotherly and sisterly love feeds on your
brotherly and sisterly love, bes,
and as long as you live
it will be in your possession
without leaving mine.

The Girl in the Pool

Once upon a time, there was a boy in a swimming pool. The boy was with his mother. The pool was shallow but the boy couldn’t swim, so his mother accompanied him. It was night time.

There was a girl swimming in the other pool, the one next to the shallow pool. She was wearing an inflatable flotation ring around her waist. She appeared to be alone.

The girl saw the boy. She left her pool and hopped into the shallow pool where the boy was. The boy saw her. He strengthened his grip on his mother’s arm.

“It’s all right, dear,” his mother said. “It’s just a girl.”

The girl was active, her arms alive with energy. She swam near the boy and circled around him. Then she grabbed the boy’s hands and pulled him away from his mother’s arms. She squealed with delight as he screamed in terror.

Twenty years passed.

The boy was now a man. He was back in the same hotel where he and his mother stayed when he was little, but she was no longer with him. He sat on a lounge chair near the shallow pool. It was day time.

There was a woman sitting on a bench by the pool. Her hair had streaks of gray and her back was slightly bent forward. She reminded him so much of his mother. She appeared to be alone. Slowly she stood up, put on her summer hat, and walked towards him. She was about to pass him by when she tripped on his sandals. In a fraction of a second he was up on his feet and he got hold of her wrist to prevent her from falling into the pool.

He pulled her towards him and helped her steady her stance.

“I’m terribly sorry, ma’am,” he said. “My sandals were on the way.”

“Not your fault, dear,” the woman said. “I didn’t look where I was going. Thank you for your help.”

She fixed her hat and walked on.

A lady rushed from a nearby cottage and met the woman at the other side of the pool. Her arms and legs were alive with energy and youth. She was about his age, with long hair neatly kept in a knot behind her head. She looked visibly upset and worried.

“Mama, are you all right?” the lady said. “Who was that?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” the woman replied. “Just some boy. He was rather nice.”

She removed her dark glasses and he slipped on his eyeglasses and they each saw the boy and the girl in the pool.