If Only You Were Here
Just as Yang Tian-Xu waited for Tong Yue-Yan to finish the salad, Yang Tian-Xu was thinking about her, the girl he had a dream about and couldn’t stop thinking of. He imagined the girl sitting across from him was her instead of Tong Yue-Yan. The corner of his lips curved up, and Tong Yue-Yan thought it was a smile meant for her. It made her happy and smiled back. Preoccupied with thoughts of another, Yang Tian-Xu completely ignored Tong Yue-Yan.
Yang Tian-Xu snapped out of his thoughts, back to reality as he heard a notification chime from his smartphone. He looked down to read the message.
‘Boss, you would be in shock! This student I interviewed today, just wow! An amazing talent! A photographic memory, I tell ya! I already informed the student to start the internship in two weeks.
—Sent from Assistant Tseng at 2:50 p.m.’
Photographic memory? Yang Tian-Xu ponders, since it was his assistant that made the claim, Yang Tian-Xu was positive he had proof and backings for it. Yang Tian-Xu messaged back, ‘Okay.’ to his assistant. Showing the trust he had for him, after working together for five years—he placed high confidence in Assistant Tseng, and the guy never disappoints him.
After lunch, Yang Tian-Xu asked her if she had anywhere else she would like to see? All afternoon he had taken her to most of the attractions in City Y. Although she wanted more time with him, she can’t visit all the places at once, she had to save those as an excuse to see him again another day. She told him, “It must tire you after all this walking, how about we wait for next time?”
“I don’t think I’ll have time next time.” His reply was straightforward. He wanted this to be the last time he kept her company.
“Right, you must be busy with work.” She lied to herself with a self-made reason for him to be so cold towards her, and then he replied, “Yes.”
“Is there anywhere else you would recommend?” She asked him for his suggestion. However, Yang Tian-Xu was a busy workaholic, and he told her how busy he was, and he doesn’t know a good tourism location. Then he thought about Jin Qi-Long, and he said, “I have a close friend named Jin Qi-Long, he likes to go to many places. If you like, I can recommend him to you.”
Tong Yue-Yan didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. How can he push her to another? She initiated and suggested a theme park. “How about visiting the theme park? I haven’t been to the ones here in City Y.”
“Sure,” He nodded. Quickly paying for the meal they left the restaurant. Before moving, Tong Yue-Yan needed to use the lady’s restroom. She excused herself and went to fix her makeup. She got out after she finished her business and apologised to Yang Tian-Xu and thanked him for his patience
The time was 3:00 p.m. They got into the car, and he drove to the nearest theme park, about a half hour drive from where they were.
At the same time at 3:00 p.m. Wang Yi-An had just exited Yang Corps’ headquarter. She felt a sense of satisfaction and happiness with Assistant Tseng’s offer of employment. So she headed home and didn’t forget to drop by the supermarket to buy groceries to cook dinner for her and her mother.
Friday was a busy day at the market because it was already 3:20 p.m., even though it was a 24-hour store, the supermarket still had fresh produces every morning. In the afternoon, the prices for these fresh produces drops. Hence for Wang Yi-An who wanted to get the best prices possible, it was a godsend.
Meanwhile, Yang Tian-Xu and Tong Yue-Yan had reached the theme park at 3:25 p.m. and Yang Tian-Xu paid for the tickets, and they walked in through the gates. As they were walking throughout the theme park, Tong Yue-Yan felt like this was a date, she gets to be close to Yang Tian-Xu. To Yang Tian-Xu, he felt like this was a meaningless trip; he felt as if he was a babysitter.
Tong Yue-Yan didn’t play on the rides or use any of the attractions. They strolled around the theme park, and she would watch the kids enjoy themselves. Tong Yue-Yan wanted to hint her love for children of her own. “The children are adorable, having lots of children would be wonderful, don’t you think so?”
How could Yang Tian-Xu not understand what she meant? He ignores it. They walked around whenever she talks, and he’ll pretend to listen, but he didn’t care. He wondered if the girl he dreamt about would come back here with him one day.
Meanwhile, Wang Yi-An had a productive day. Strolling the supermarket for great deals and food that would last her and her family for three or four days. After a good 10 or 15 minutes of shopping for food. Wang Yi-An walked back home with hands filled with groceries while thinking about how happy her mother would be when she told her she had gotten the internship at Yang Corps.
Wang Yi-An had returned home after a 20-minutes walk from the supermarket. Her home was a small townhouse; he area had a lot of similar looking houses. With lots of townhouses confined together. The townhouse she lived at had two floors. The ground floor consist of the living room, kitchen, and upstairs were the three bedrooms.
For the interview, Wang Yi-An had scheduled herself off work today. Her mother, however, was still at work. She should be off early today. Wang Yi-An couldn’t wait to tell her mother the good news.
Wang Yi-An cleaned the house, did the chores and prepared dinner for her and her mother. She put away the groceries and organised the fridge.
With only her mother left, her mother worked full-time, and she goes to school and work, so it’s best if she prepared all the food at home. Wang Yi-An prepared the meal first. She’d prepared them into ready-to-eat proportion; packaged in zip-lock bags. Placed them in the freezer so when they need to grab a bag for lunch, all they needed was to reheat it. The chores required time to accomplish, but Wang Yi-An had patience. After she cooked the meals, bagged them, and placed them in the freezers, she began her next chores.
Their home was small compared to the rich, but a perfect size for Wang Yi-an and her mother. The three bedrooms upstairs each labelled with a homemade sign, the largest room in the house had a sign that said, ‘Mom’. The second biggest room’s homemade sign displayed, ‘Yi-An’ and the last room at the end of the hallway, the handcrafted sign displayed, ‘Yi-Xiu’ Wang Yi-An went to the bathroom and cleaned it up, then she went into each room to vacuum. She was a fast cleaner, and she finished in 20 minutes.
Then she vacuumed the entire home, she would often return to the kitchen to check on her stew for tonight’s dinner. Today they were to have beef stew. Her mother’s favourite dish. Wang Yi-An had spent the rest of her day, cleaning and preparing meals. The food should last Wang Yi-An and her mother for three or four days.
The time display 6:00 p.m. on Yang Tian-Xu’s watch. Tired from all the walking, Tong Yue-Yan seems content, and Yang Tian-Xu had spent the entire day with her. He hoped it would satisfy his mother to hear he spent the whole day with Tong Yue-Yan, and she would leave him alone after this.
A hopeful thought he knew was too good to be true, he asked, “Anywhere else you want to visit?” hoping that this was the last time, and he doesn’t have to be her tour guide anymore. So that the next time his mother asked, he would had no reason to do so, because he had shown her all the places she said she wanted to visit.
“No,” she shook her head as she smiled, thinking of how great it was to spend the entire day with Yang Tian-Xu, she hopes she had left him a good impression, and soon they could be something more.
He said, “We should head back.” as he saw the time, “It’s 6:00 p.m., I should take you home.”
“Do you want to have dinner first before we return?” she asked.
He firmly rejected her, “After a long day, it’s better if I take you home.” Then they exited the theme park and his mother, Mrs Yang called him.
He answered the call, and his mother said. “Tian-Xu, my good son. You should invite Yue-Yan to our home for dinner. I have already invited her aunt to dinner.”
Yang Tian-Xu sighed, but he obediently agrees, “Okay.” Then he hung up and turned to Tong Yue-Yan and told her, “My mother called, she would like to have you over for dinner and had already invited your aunt. Would you like to come as well?”
Delighted when he offered her, so immediately she said, “Yes! I would love to.”
On their way back to the parking lot, he was quiet the entire day, only spoke when she asked. He won’t show his irritation, but to make his mother happy, he would do what she said and show her around in City Y, because he knew his mother couldn’t force him into marrying someone he doesn’t love.
Love, he thought about this word as they reached his car. For sure, he only kept Tong Yue-Yan company, but he felt nothing towards her the entire time.
A gentleman’s gesture, as he let Tong Yue-Yan in the passenger’s seat first, before he went inside the driver’s seat. He buckled up, and he said, “It will be a long drive to Tian-Bo-Fu,” he said as he started the engine.
“Tian-Bo-Fu?” she said with surprised, at first she thought they were going to the Yang’s family manor in City Y.
The Yang Family called their family mansion, Tian-Bo-Fu, a siheyuan style home. Siheyuan—a traditional Chinese courtyard home. Built on 25 acres of land, located outside of the central city; it was a long drive there, but when they arrived, the enormous and beautiful traditional style home looked magnificent. It was akin to a palace in an ancient-costume drama or movie.
It was a well-styled courtyard home, modern yet traditional. This had been the Yang Family’s main manor for over a hundred years. It wasn’t the same Yang Family home as the one during the Song Dynasty where everyone knew it as Tian-Bo-Fu.
Documented in China’s history literature, the Tian-Bo-Fu was a gift from the emperor of imperial China, to Yang Ye. Yang Ye was a hero who fought in wars for the emperor, he was the man that started the Yang Family’s legend. The manor’s name—Tian-Bo-Yang-Fu—was bestowed to them by the emperor. However, over time it named shorten to Tian-Bo-Fu; given to the strongest and bravest military family during the earlier years of the Song Dynasty, 960–1279.
The modern Tian-Bo-Fu was a remodel of the original. Designed and built by Yang Ming-Wa, a direct descendant of the Yang Family, who was Yang Tian-Xu’s great-great-grandfather.
Yang Ming-Wa’s dreamt of rebuilding the family’s legacy and passing the teaching down to his descendants. Even as he accomplished the goals—teaching the ins and out of the business industry, but as the descendant of a military family; he felt something was missing.
Still a peaceful country was better compared to an outbreak of war. However, he wouldn’t hesitate to join the army (and be like his ancestors), he longed to revive the Yang’s Legacy even on his deathbed.
Over a hundred years, the Yang Family had regained their power and wealth, becoming more prestigious than they were back then. They became one of the wealthiest family households with plenty of reputation in City Y; perhaps the country.
The one who made it all possible was Yang Ming-Wa himself, when he built the home, he called it Tan-Tian-Bo Fu, meaning the new Yang Family’s manor. However, over the years that pass, precisely people know the manor as Tian-Bo-Fu.
Yang Ming-Wa had three daughters and a son. His only son was Yang Wei-Bin, his only son. Yang Wei-Bin had two sons, and one of them had passed away at an early age, and his remaining son, Yang Bo-Ting was Yang Tian-Xu’s grandfather. His grandfather had a son and a daughter. Yang Fei-Hung and Yang Fei-Fei. Yang Fei-Fei was Yang Tian-Xu’s aunt, but she married the mayor in City X, far away from City Y. Rare for her to come to visit, but she tried her best come for the major family events, like great-grandfather’s funeral.
Yang Tian-Xu was a newborn when great-grandfather, Yang Wei-Bin passed away. His grandfather, Yang Bo-Ting was still healthy and alive, for an 87-year-old man, he was a healthy man.
Yang Tian-Xu’s parents always had dinner at Tian-Bo-Fu on Friday. When his parents got married, they lived in the Tian-Bo-Fu for a while, until they had to move closer to Yang Corps’ headquarters. However, Yang Bo-Ting always wanted to see them and his grandson—Yang Tian-Xu, so they made it a tradition to come up visit on Friday and stay for the weekends.
Lately, Yang Tian-Xu had been busy and hadn’t visited him for three entire weeks. Grandfather Yang wasn’t so happy about that (he demanded to see him today.). Mrs Yang had no choice but to call her son up and tell him to bring Tong Yue-Yan with him. She didn’t forget to use this opportunity to introduce her to Grandfather Yang.
From where Yang Tian-Xu and Tong Yue-Yan located, it would take a good hour drive to get to Tian-Bo-Fu. Tong Yue-Yan had always wanted to visit Grandfather Yang, but it wasn’t like her, or her family was close to Grandfather Yang.
A long time ago, Yang Tian-Xu’s father had a successful business deal with Tong Yue-Yan’s parent that started their partnership in City A, they kept contact for future business opportunities ever since. Tonight would be a perfect time, for her to gain good points with Grandfather Yang—furthering the two families relationship.
When they arrived at Tian-Bo-Fu, Tong Yue-Yan was speechless. She never expected it to be so grand; it was like she had taken a step back into the past. Traditional, but had a modern twist to it. The front gate had electronic components that open with the push of a button, allowing them to drive inside. Cameras monitored by the 24-hour security company that always had two security guards.
An elderly lady rushes over to greet them, she was the head of the live-in maids, while they also employed ten to fifteen live-in maids, they were all full-time employees that worked at Tian-Bo-Fu, they also employed their own family chefs.
“Young master, you have come!” the lady smiled at them as she bows her head to Tong Yue-Yan, greeting her. “This way please.”
“This is our guest, Miss Tong,” he said as he introduces Tong Yue-Yan to the head-maid.
“Hello,” the maid greeted her with a slight head-bow. “I am the head of the maids here, I have served the Yang Family for a long time. Please don’t just stand there, the Madam and Master Fei-Hung are in the living room, with Grandmaster Yang.”
The courtyard scenery was beautiful as a painting, the sight amazed Tong Yue-Yan. Like she had time travelled, venturing into the Emperor’s palace.
The girl walking beside him may had been Tong Yue-Yan—but inside Yang Tian-Xu’s mind, If I had known her, perhaps I could bring you here one day? He thought about all the possibilities. Silent as he smiled thinking about her expression when he shows her this place, If only you were here.
The manor shows off the extreme wealth and power of the Yang Family; not only do they own other estates and apartment buildings throughout the country. For sure, the most dominating family within City Y was their home turf.
No families could compare to them here in City Y, not even her Tong Family. However, her Tong Family was also wealthy. Her father was the current mayor of City A, making her family the most prominent in City A. If she were to marry Yang Tian-Xu, this political marriage would benefit both families. Determined herself become Yang Tian-Xu’s bride; her purpose was to win Grandfather Yang’s heart.
The time was 6:45 p.m., while Tong Yue-Yan attempt to gain favour points with Grandfather Yang. Tong Yue-Yan.
Wang Yi-An’s mother had just got home. Happy to see her daughter had already prepared food for her. She saw the covered up dinner and saw her precious daughter, Wang Yi-An sleeping at the dinner table.
Mother Wang placed her hand on her head and patted her. “Oh, my sweet little girl. You shouldn’t sleep out here. You’ll catch a cold if you sleep like that.”
Wang Yi-An made a small groan before she lifted her head up for a yawn. “Mommy? Welcome home!” she jumped in her mother’s arm for a sweet hug.
Her mother smiled and laughed, “My baby girl, still acting like such a baby!”
“I will always be your little girl!” she smiled and babied to her mother. “Mom, I got the internship.” She said as she laid her head on her mother’s chest.
“Really? Already? Don’t they wait for a while to announce their accepted interns?” her mother wonders as she pats Wang Yi-An’s head.
“Well, the hiring managers today liked me, Mr Tseng said he wanted to hire me right away and asked if I could start work in two weeks. He said he’ll send me an email soon.” She said as she lifted her head up to see her mother’s face.
“Wang Yi-An, you are just too innocent. Sometimes they’ll say that they probably say that to everyone!”
“Really?” she questioned herself, “Oh well, I’m sure I would get hired. Who do you think I am?”
“My daughter.” She laughed and giggled at her as she pats her hair, “Of course, they’ll hire you, my daughter is so talented! Come, let’s reheat dinner and eat, Mommy is hungry.”
“Yes!” she and her mother grabbed the plates and reheated the food. They had dinner at around 7:15 p.m., after dinner Wang Yi-An would help her mother do the dishes, and told her mother to go to bed earlier. She also had an early shift in the morning, so she washed-up and went to bed, nothing exciting.