‘This should be a fun evening’, Annie said as she brushed her hair. ‘At least something different for us to do in the mids of all the meditation and yoga.’

Laura and Annie were in Annie’s room getting ready for the evening. The retreat centre was holding a fundraising charity ball for a local charity that supported disabled children. There would be local sellers with stalls and a variety of different finger foods on sale. More than anything, though, it was a chance for all of them to meet in more social circumstances. All the quiet meditation and yoga were doing them a world of good, but also preventing them from getting to know one another better.

‘Let’s go and see what we can find out about the others today’, Laura said. They both giggled and started walking down the magnificent staircase in the central hall of the main building.

The hall had been transformed into a beautiful space with white tinkling lights hidden on branches of white lilies. There were fairy lights everywhere and mirrors had been places on the walls to create a feeling of space. All the tables around the hall had been covered with sparkly silver paper with pretty candles and ornaments making them look more festive.

‘Wow, this place looks beautiful’, Laura said to Chen-Wei who was one of their yoga teachers and also the brains behind this operation.

‘Thank you’, Chen-Wei smiled. “I tried my best to make it appealing and hopefully it will lure people into buying and a lot of money going into charity.’

They all smiled as they marvelled the sight of the hall in front of them.

Laura walked slowly from table to table, as Annie stayed behind to chat with Chen-Wei in their mother tongue. Although Laura liked the sound of Chinese, it seemed like such a different language to her that she felt it would take her a very long time even to understand some of it. People were starting to arrive and the hall was slowly filling up. Laura felt good about the word having got around and people making the effort to be there.

‘These cookies look delicious’, she said to a young lady sitting behind one of the desks that was filled with cookies of all kinds. ‘Did you make them yourself?’

‘Yes’, the lady said shyly. She must have still been a teenager; she looked so young. But in Laura’s opinion, it was very difficult to judge the age of orientals since they all looked younger than what they really were. She constantly had to be careful not to offend anyone with inappropriate questions about their age.

‘Can I please buy a box of these ones?’ Laura pointed to some cookies that were the shape of heart and had jam on them.

‘They look very good, don’t they?’ She heard a male voice say behind her. ‘Can I please have a box of them as well?’

Laura turned around to see a handsome dark young man standing right behind her. He had a warm smile on his face and he nodded at Laura in a friendly manner. The shy young lady packed a box for the man, and they both took the boxes as they gazed at each other. Laura blushed.


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