Fighting For Love

December 21, 2007
By Jennifer Tran, Elk Grove, CA

My name is Laina Cherry Le. Others call me L.C for short. I was born and raised here in California. I am 15 years old and still short. I am a Chinese American and it will remain that way. I work at the Sho Lan Supermarket. I come here right after school ended. I didn't want to go home because of my strict stepmother, Noreen Le. My birthmother died when I turned 5. I didn't know her much, but all that I had that reminded me of her was the necklace she gave me when I was born. My stepmother always abused me and hitted me for the littlest things that I did. She never appreciated the good things that I did for her. Plus, she thinks that it was my fault for all of the money that we lost because of my heart-failure. It's when I can't breathe and my lungs close. My father told me to go get surgery to make me live longer, but I told him no. I don't want to go home, but I'm going to have to go and see her sooner or later. As for my dad, Nick Le, he always took my stepmother's side. He just went to conclusions and didn't hear what I had to say. It was hard having a life where you always get treated very badly at home where you're not wanted. Anyways, I had to work part time because I never get money from my parents at home. I stay up late doing my homework and wake up early for school. Hours pasted by and I had to go home in a few minutes. I didn't want to go home. My manager knew what I was going through so she understood that I wanted to stay longer and work.

When it was time to close up, I had to buy some food to cook for my parents. I grabbed all of the things that I needed and headed home. I was walking down the dark and cold streets. No one was around, until I saw a dark shadow following me. I was frightened so I walked faster and the shadow came up to me and grabbed me by the arm. The person that grabbed me asked for money. I was really scared so I attacked him and ran for my life. While I was running, I heard a moan from the guy that got me. I felt bad and I thought he was hurt. Id din't know what else to do so I decided to go back to him. Then I gave him all of the money that I had and left. I took a very close look at him when I gave him the money. He was at least two or three years older than me and he was very good looking. I didn't tend to look back when I left. The boy looked around for the girl and asked himself why she was so nice to him. He was totally clueless and decided to go after her.

I made dinner at home and I had to do the dishes. I was cleaning and all of a sudden I heard a knock on the window. It was the guy that grabbed me when I was walking home from work. It looked like he wanted to talk to me. He said, "Hey, I need to talk to you." I just decided to open it because he seemed nice and I believed it. I opened the window and he jumped into my kitchen. He told me to not say a word and I shook my head. Without hesitation, I asked, "Why did you follow me here?" He was still a little queasy from the attack that I did to him. He said, "I came here to give your money back." I told him to keep it and he didn't refuse. There was an awkward silence and then I asked, "What's your name?" It seemed like he didn't want to tell me so I told him that he didn't have to. He hesitated and he told me to not misunderstand him. He finally said, "My name is Mark Air Chen." "What's your name?" I responded saying, "My name is Laina Cherry Le." When she told him her name, he took a good look at her and he thought she was very pretty. In Laina's mind, she thought that Mark was a homeless, so she asked him if he wanted anything to eat. He said no, but then she heard a grumbling noise and it came from Mark, She started to giggle and Mark felt embarassed. He then decided to eat. Mark finished his food in less than a minute. Laina wasn't surprised because she knew how hungry he was. After he finished, Laina asked Mark, "How old are you?" and Mark said, "16." Then Mark asked her the same question and she said, "15." later, Laina asked Mark where he was going to stay tonight and he looked around like he was confused. Then Laina asked Mark if he wanted to stay in her room for the night. Without hesitation, he said yes. He couldn't believe why Laina was being so nice and caring to Mark. For the first time, someone actually cared for him.

I lead Mark to my room. It was pretty small, but it'll manage. I decided to let Mark sleep on my bed and while I took the floor. Mark felt bad so he picked Laina up and put her on the bed. Laina wondered why he carried her to the bed. Mark asked Laina, "Do you trust me?" and she said yes. They slept on the bed together and the night went by. The next morning, Mark woke up before Laina and looked at her. Then he noticed that her sleeves were up and saw the bruises and scars all over her arms and legs. He was in shock and he wanted to know who did this to Laina. Laina woke up, half asleep and wondered why Mark was upset. Mark asked,"Who did this to you?" Laina couldn't believe that Mark saw all her scars and bruises that her stepmother left her. Before she had a chance to answer, Laina heard footsteps coming closer and closer from outside. Laina shouted,"My stepmother is coming." "You have to leave." Mark was worried, but he had no choice but to leave out the window. The door slammed open and my stepmother came into my room with a stick in her hand. I knew what was coming next. *Whack* I cried in pain. Noreen said, "Why aren't you downstairs cleaning the stuff that you made?!" I apologized in tears and my stepmother raised the stick and right before it came one inch towards my body, Mark came in and stopped the stick from touching me. Noreen asked in anger, "How dare you bring a boy into this house?!" I was going to answer, but one of my attacks came. My lungs began to collapse and I couldn't breathe. Mark didn't know what to do, so he gave mouth to mouth. My stepmother was still angry. I finally started to breathe and Mark lifted me up and took me out of the window. I knew right then that my stepmother was furious with me.

Mark took me to a place that I have never seen before. He took me to a beach where there was a good view of the sunrise. I was so glad that he took me away from the house. Mark placed me on a rock and we sat there without saying a word. Then Mark finally said, "Why do you let your stepmother treat you like this?" I couldn't bare to answer. I was still exhausted from the attack that I had. He didn't let me answer, so then he just said, "How beautiful is the ocean?" I said, "It's pretty." Then Mark looked at me with such beautiful eyes. I just had to smile back. he held my hands and then he took something out of his pocket. It was a bracelet and he asked, "Do you trust me?" I had to say yes because I trusted him with my whole heart. I began to fall in love with him when he put the bracelet around my wrist. Then he asked, "Do you love me as an older brother?" I said, "Yes." I was disappointed because I thought he was going to asked me if I loved him as a boyfriend, but it was okay, I guess. I felt so nice when he held me tight into him arms. Every minute being with him made me fall in love with him more. Mark had a huge smile on his face, but then it faded. He wanted to ask Laina if she loved him as his girlfriend. He wasn't the type to express his feelings to people.

Two years had passed and Mark and I are still together. At times, we remained a duo and other times we became the "Three Musketeers" because of Mark's close friend Rick Sin Hua. He was cool and he had this great smile and when you smile, you couldn't do anything, but smile back. We hung out all the time. Nothing was in our way to tear us apart, but my stepmother. I didn't go home right after school and I didn't work the full time at the supermarket. My manager was understanding. She still payed me for a lot of hours. What I didn't know in the beginning was that Mark belonged with the richest family in California. Money wasn't hard to have because Mark got me anything that he thought I had my eyes on. He got me things that I didn't need. Life was going pretty well. My stepmother didn't touch me because she knew who she was dealing with if she ever did leave a mark on me. She and my father works for Mark's dad. He said that if she leaves a scratch on her then she knows the consequences. She would get fired. The thing about life is that everyone expects the unexpected and I've experianced that.

Mark called Rick to see how everything was going. They had a boat to leave to Japan in an hour. Rick said that everything was settled and all they need to do was to get Laina. Mark went to Laina's house and knocked on her window. Laina was happy to see Mark. Mark told Laina, "I'm deciding to leave California and go to Japan to start a new life there." "And I want you to runaway with me" Laina was speechless. She didn't know what to say. She didn't want to leave her family and she didn't want Mark to leave. Laina asked Mark why he wanted to leave. Mark said, "I'm leaving because my dad wants me to get my grandfather's will and I don't want to do that because my dad will just waste it all for the women that he hooks up with." Laina made a decision and she told Mark, "I can't leave with you." Tears started to fall from my eyes and I just couldn't leave. Mark was upset and angry at the same time. He didn't try to make Laina change her mind so he left with out saying goodbye. Mark was devistated that the love of his life didn't leave with him.

Mark went back to the boat and Rick was wondering why Mark was upset. Then he noticed that Laina wasn't with him. Rick asked Mark, "Where's Laina?" Mark responded saying, "She decided not to go with us." Rick knew this wasn't a good time to bring her up, so he left Mark alone and he saw him cry for the first time. Laina was pouring into tears and didn't know what to think. Later, she thought that it was a big mistake for her to stay here. When she finally realized that, she knew that Mark left to start a new life in Japan. All Laina could do now was cry. Days passed by and Laina noticed that she saved a lot of money from working at the supermarket. She knew she has enough to make it to Japan. A couple of days later, she packed all of her things and left home without a trace of her. She said goodbye to all of her friends and didn't tell them why she said goodbye. Laina didn't want them to know where she was going. After that, she went to on a boat and headed to Japan.

Days had passed by and Mark was still depressed that Laina didn't want to leave her family to be with him and Rick. All Mark can do now was forget about her and start a new life, but he knew it was impossible so he didn't even try. Mark had it all; money and business. All he was missing was Laina. Laina came to Japan and she didn't know what to do, but to look for a job. She had a job at a hotel which was named after her. It was called the Cherry Le Hotel. She had a job as a waitress and worked full-time. Laina was good at her job. She even got paid more than others. One day, Laina recieved news that a boy name Mark Chen was going to visit the hotels to see how everything was going. The next day after she recieved the news, Mark came to the Cherry Le Hotel. He wasn't alone; Rick and four other guys came in too. Laina was frightened. All she can do was leave so Mark wouldn't see her. Mark noticed that the waitress was leaving, but he didn't leave to take a close glance at her. He thought, "Wow, she looks a lot like Laina."

Laina was walking into the halls and then she had this wierd feeling. That feeling was one of her attacks. She didn't know what to do. She pulled her respirator out of her pocket and she felt a cool dust of air. She had to sit down because she couldn't keep herself up. Laina walked to her room and she started to think. How was she going to be with Mark without telling him her true identity? All she wanted to do was to love Mark. It hurted her so much that she doesn't know that he loves her. She thought that Mark didn't have th same feelings for her, so she didn't want to tell Mark that it was her. She thought a lot on what to do, then it just came up to her. She decided to diguise herself as a guy and work at the Cherry Le Hotel as a waiter. She cutted all of her hair, not all of it, but short enough to make herself look like a boy. She started to wear a lot of layers of clothes to make herself look buff. She tried to do everything that made her look like a guy.

The next day, Laina went to the Cherry Le Hotel to get a job as a waiter there. They accepted and she would be working there tomorrow. Laina told them her name was Lance. She heard a loud noise coming from a table. It was Mark, his group, and four girls there. Mark noticed Laina looking over to where he was and looked away. He said, "Man, he looks a lot like Laina." Rick heard what Mark said and he asked, "What did you say man?" Mark looked confused and said, "Oh, nothing." One of the girls had her eyes on Mark. Laina began to feel jealous. All she can do was watch. She couldn't bare to watch so she left. Mark noticed Lance leaving and didn't try to look. Sometimes, Laina wished that she didn't leave California, but she had to to be with Mark. She was curious about how her dad was doing without her. She wondered if he even cared that she left. Laina knew for a fact that her stepmother didn't care at all.

The first day that Lance had to work, she woke up early and dressed to set up everything in the hotel. She had to start work at ten in the morning. Lance wasn't tired at all. She was ready to work. Lance went to the Cherry Le Hotel and started to work right away. She started to set everything up and got right to taking people's orders. She never thought that working in a hotel can be hard. Later that afternoon, Lance saw Mark and his group came through the doors and someone led them to a table. Someone told me to take their orders. I was terrifired, but I tried to not show it. I went to their table and said "What would you like from the Cherry Le Hotel." They all said "Water, please." I said, "Okay." It was hard to look at Mark without doing anything to make him think it was me. The whole time I was there, Mark looked at me and didn't take his eyes off me. After I took their orders, I left. After I left, Mark leaned over to Rick and asked him "Hey. Doesn't that waiter look like Laina?" Mark took a good look at the waiter. "Yeahh, he does." "Even though it does look like her, it's not Laina because that's a guy." Mark said, "Yeahh, that's true."

I can hear Mark and Rick talking about me. I was worried about what they were saying. I couldn't hear, but I knew what they were talking about. I came back with their orders and they all said thanks. Mark just looks at me without saying anything. I had this feeling that he knew who I was, but he just didn't say anything. When it was time for them to leave, they all left the hotel, but Mark remained in the same table that he and his group were. Then he stood up and began to approach me. My heart was beating fast. I didn't know what to do. Mark came up to me and asked me, "Do I know you?" I said, "No you don't. My name is Lance." He said, "Oh, my name is Mark." I said, "I know who you are." Then we shook hands. When we touched each others hand Mark looked down and his eyes widen. He was looking at the bracelet that was on my left wrist that he shook hands with. He looked up in confusion saying, "Laina?" I couldn't deny it so I had to say yes. "Yes, it's me", I said. He said, "Why did you tell me that you were in Japan?" I said, "I didn't have the heart to tell you, so I diguised myself so I can be with you." Mark was so happy that it was her. He was speechless.

Mark took Laina's hand and led her to a place that seemed to look familiar to them. It was like their special place at home back in California. Laina couldn't believe it. She was so happy that she finally gets to be with Mark. Mark looked into Laina's eyes and asked, "Do you still love me?" I said, "Of course I do. Why did you think that I came to Japan in the first place?" Mark couldn't do anything, but smile. They held each other for a very long time watching the sunset. Laina had something wierd flowing through her body. She knew her attack was coming. She had to asked Mark something to make it clear so she would know. "Do you love me, Mark?" "Not as a little sister, but more?" He said, "Yes, I do." Laina was happy to here that and then one of her attacks was coming and she didn't have her respirator with her. Laina began to see all of the times that she was with Mark. She saw images of them two together. Laina knew that her life was going to end. Mark didn't know what to do so he gave her CPR and it took a while. One thing that Mark noticed that Laina didn't wake up. She didn't manage to move a muscle. Mark had a feeling that her life has ended. Mark didn't want to believe it, so he tried to get her to wake up.

Rick and the other members came and saw Mark crying. Rick was in shocked. He asked Mark if that was Laina and he said yes. Rick couldn't believe it. He was speechless. Mark didn't know what else to do. All he did now was cry into tears. Then Mark stood up and made a promise. He said, "I, Mark Air Chen, take Laina Cherry Le as my wife. I give her nothing, but my heart. It belonged to you since we first met and will be forever." Everyone stood in silence, knowing that this was serious. After Mark made that promise, he stood up and took Laina's body with him. Rick asked where he was going and Mark didn't say anything. He didn't tend to look back and the mist of the wind took Mark and his wife, Laina, away where they were never seen again. Rick and his group looked as they walked away. Who said true love doesn't have an ending?

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