“Wo De Wu Suo Wei Dou Shi Xu Wei... Li Kai You Shi Hou Shi Yin Wei Wo Tai Guo Zi Bei... Hai Pa Cheng Ren Wo Shi Na Me Ai Ni De Yi Qie...”
Wei Lian stepped back quickly as somebody almost bumped into him. For a split second, a strong feeling of familiarity overcame him. That bizarre feeling that he felt when he was struggling in the pool surfaced again. Fang Qi? It was her right? What’s she doing here?
“Eh, me la.” Fang Qi cleared the awkward silence. She was shivering in her wet clothes even though the sun was unbearably hot. She clutched the bracelet tightly in her hand, trying to find the right words to say. “Ah Ma sent this to you.” “Eh. How come you are here?” He was surprised by her sudden appearance. Fang Qi ignored his question and instead, she grabbed his hand and stuffed the bracelet she has just retrieved from the pool into it.
“Huh! What’s this?” Wei Lian asked curiously, feeling the item in his hand. “Oh, it’s a bracelet hah?” Then he tried to single-handedly put the bracelet around his wrist, but it kept slipping off. Fang Qi hesitated but finally offered to help him, “Iya, I do la.” She stood in front of him and started to hook the bracelet clasp together. She accidentally brushed her wet clothes against Wei Lian’s arm.
“How come you are all wet??” Wei Lian asked with genuine concern. “Oh, iya, I felt like swimming but didn’t bring my swimsuit, so I just jumped into the pool la. Sshhh don’t tell people ah!” Fang Qi tried to lighten the situation. She didn’t want him to know that she had jumped in to retrieve the bracelet, which she threw in frustration last night. Suddenly she didn’t want him to know she was here at all last night. Somehow she thought it didn’t matter anymore. What’s important is he is ok.
Before Wei Lian could probe any further, Fang Qi said hurriedly, “Ok la, I got to go liao. Bye.” Then she rushed out of the hotel without turning back.
Wei Lian was still puzzled by Fang Qi’s strange behaviour. Crazy girl, swim in her clothes? Here? Then suddenly he remembered why he was at the pool. Carefully, he used his white cane to tap around the floor to orientate himself. He wasn’t interested in falling into the pool again. Luckily he always brought along an extra white cane. His old one could not be fixed back after being under the wheels of the trolley last night. Half bended down and feeling around with his hands, he finally found the bench where he had put his bag while enjoying the surroundings last night. Before he was pushed into the pool.
He bent down and felt the seat of the bench, as if looking for something. He crept closer to the floor, and felt the floor with his bare hands. Where was it? He must have dropped it from his bag when he was here last night as he was unable to find it the whole morning.
Then he felt it. With a relieved smile on his face, he picked what he had found up from the floor and started to dust the dirt off it with his other hand. It was the small charity teddy bear that he had bought from Fang Qi.
Jason and Cherie sat in their regular booth in Café Mocha Love, both staring intently at their glasses, stirring their drinks with the straws, in their own thoughts. The ice had already melted fully in the afternoon heat. Jason barely slept a wink last night, as he couldn’t figure out what was happening between Wei Lian and Cherie. Wei Lian had told him that he was the one Cherie loves. But somehow, after Cherie returned to Singapore, she seemed indifferent towards him, and instead seemed closer to Wei Lian.
And now that Jason knew Wei Lian liked Cherie, he was in a dilemma whether to give up or fight for his own happiness. At one point, he did think of giving up and give his blessings to Wei Lian and Cherie, as he knew Wei Lian had always been so protective of Cherie and had kept mum about his feelings for her all these years. And seeing Cherie reciprocating Wei Lian’s care and concern, he thought that Cherie was slowly accepting Wei Lian. He couldn’t help but feel lost and upset.
However, after last night’s incident, he felt even more confused. Although Wei Lian and Cherie never admitted to anything, they behaved like a couple. Are they really one? And Fang Qi’s appearance and behavior at the hotel stumped him as well. Where does this girl fit into the picture then?
The next day, Cherie visited Wei Lian at the beach house. The past weeks spent hanging out with him had made their bond even greater. Although Cherie knew Wei Lian had feelings for her, she tried to ignore that and translated it into brotherly love. She loved Wei Lian as a friend, a brother. He was ever so caring and thoughtful towards her. Not in obvious ways of course. Wei Lian was not one who exhibits his concern openly. But she knew he cared and was grateful to him for being always there for her.
Wei Lian plucked at his guitar strings, looking bored and spaced out again. “Hey, sing me a song lay,” Cherie requested. Instinctively, Wei Lian thought of her song. Chu Mo. The one he had written for her. Immediately, he started singing the song, and the airport scenes four years back started playing in his mind. As he got more and more into the song, suddenly his mind became a complete blank for a split second. Scenes of the recent beach house days flooded his mind. Huh? What’s happening la? He was confused. His voice trailed off as he abruptly stops manipulating the guitar strings.
Seeing his distracted look, Cherie smiled to herself and thought, “Spaced out again. The seventh time since she stepped into the beach house one hour ago.” Rolling her eyes in boredom, she jumped up from her seat and said “Iyo, you sing until bored already la. Let’s go shopping lor?” Wei Lian didn’t budge, still slowly strumming his guitar. Cherie grabbed his arm and ordered, “Come on! Go shopping with me la. I’ll get you some new T-shirts!” Wei Lian got up from his trance and followed Cherie out.
“Iyo you just take a look at yourself!” Jason stared disapprovingly at the girl who was shading the lottery tickets at the café. Her clothes were not ironed, her eye bags threatened to overshadow her usually big round eyes. And she was definitely having a bad hair day.
What kind of hairstyle is that? Not even combed. He stared queerly at her messy chunk of shoulder-length hair. “Can you comb your hair or not ah? Very messy leh.” He complained. The girl looked up at him for a second and then shifted her glance back to the stack of lottery tickets. Suddenly she kicked the table leg. Damn! Too long never buy lottery cannot even remember how to shade the lottery tickets properly!
Jason lifted up his legs just as immediately as he plonked himself down at Fang Qi’s table. Just in case she kicked him accidentally as well. Wah. The hair is atrocious. No make-up. Nothing. Pale-faced. He doesn’t want to sit down in front of a sitting corpse who keeps concentrating on the stack of lottery tickets in front of her. Finally he stood up and announced in a determined manner. ”Ok, I’m bringing you to get new clothes.”
“No need la”, Fang Qi muttered lifelessly without any sign of interest. But before she could protest, Jason had already paid for her drink and was already half pulling and half dragging her towards where he parked his car.
Daysprings Shopping Centre.
“Hey, let’s eat ice-cream!” Cherie got all excited when she saw the Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream booth at the basement of the shopping centre. She grabbed Wei Lian’s hand and walked quickly towards the ice-cream booth. Wei Lian’s hand felt warm and clammy at the same time. The mixed feelings in him are baffling him. He used to feel extremely happy when Cherie held his hand. But now?
“What flavour you want?” Cherie asked as they approached the ice-cream booth.
“Rum and raisin!”
“Rum and raisin!”
Huh? This voice??
“Hey, Fang Qi!” Cherie exclaimed. Huh, so coincidental ah, Wei Lian thought. He didn’t know how to react or whether he should say hi. “Wah, you also like rum and raisin ah? Wei Lian also loves it leh!” Cherie chirped, hooking her arm into his. Fang Qi couldn’t bring herself to utter a word. So he liked this flavour of ice cream too. She just nodded and smiled weakly. Of all people why must I see them?
“Hello bro!” Jason acknowledged Wei Lian. What? Jason was here too? What’s he doing with Fang Qi? Multiple questions ran through his mind. But he could only manage a weak smile and an “Oei.”
“Iyo you ah, just now already eaten one scoop of rum and raisin, now you want to eat another one?” Jason nagged at Fang Qi. “Don’t know what’s so nice about rum and raisin. I think only the two of you know how to appreciate lor.” Jason said, shaking his head. Wei Lian and Fang Qi both kept quiet, their hearts each having a strange feeling. Fang Qi ate her ice cream with her head hung low, staring down at the ice cream while Wei Lian ate his quietly, all the while staring straight ahead into space.
“And you eat until your mouth like that!” Jason quickly took out a piece of tissue to wipe off the ice cream remnants on Fang Qi’s right lip. He cannot understand how can girls not look after their image! She is like a kid! “I ya, I always eat like that. Cannot ah?” Fang Qi cannot stand the way Jason was fussing around her. I don’t like to look after my image cannot ah? I like to be messy cannot ah? She thought grudgingly inside her as she licked the ice cream off the cone.
Cannot ah? I like to be messy cannot ah? Must look after image meh? I like it this way leh! Cannot ah? Fang Qi’s barbaric ways and her usual reactions when reprimanded flashed across his mind as Wei Lian listened to her grudging tone towards Jason. This is her lor. Always so barbaric and unreasonable. Always retorting back at him. But he hasn’t heard this from her for a long time already. He cocked his head uncomfortably as he continued eating his ice cream.
“Why stand here ah?” Fang Qi looked up at Jason who was going to open his mouth to reprimand her again. Standing in front of the ice cream store eating and talking. She doesn’t like la! Don’t ask her why. She just detests that kind of feeling when people stared at them. She caught the ice cream seller casting questioningly looks at them.
"Wah Fang Qi, I like your hairstyle leh. You just dyed it ah?” Cherie marveled at the beautifully layered dark brown shoulder-length hair.
“Neh, you see. I said you looked prettier now right? Better than just now that chunk of bird nest hair. You think you building bird nest for the birds to come and sleep is it?” Jason continued nagging at her. Thinking of that chunk of what resembles a bird nest, he couldn’t help but felt traumatized by it. He had dragged her to the hair salon and requested the stunned hairstylist and make-up stylist to restyle her. Then, he dragged her to his friend’s boutique and asked her to dress her accordingly. In a matter of hours, he was done transforming her into a sweet girl-next-door look. And he is pleased with the results.
“Eh, you don’t touch my hair can anot??” Fang Qi stared at him with her big eyes and hissed.
“Iya please lay, I spent a bomb on your new image, you don’t ruin it can or not? You got see a girl carrying a sweet girl next-door image talk until so rough or not? You don’t move your head la, I am trying to take away the leaf in your hair la!” Jason picked up a tiny leaf from Fang Qi’s hair as she continued to talk in her grudging and impatient tone.
Cherie looked on as Jason and Fang Qi squabbled. Her fingers squeezed Wei Lian’s arm tighter than ever. Huh? Wei Lian, who has not spoken a word since they bumped into one another, was still “staring” into space when he felt Cherie’s sudden squeeze. Cherie always does that when she is upset or angry, he remembered.
Cherie still couldn’t forget Jason. It was obvious. Wei Lian hung his head low as he tried to listen to the on-going conversation and make out the complicated scenario. Tried as hard as he might, his efforts to change and improve Fang Qi had been a futile one compared to Jason’s. But good lor, Jason managed to curb her barbaric ways, not bad what. All of a sudden, he did not know what to feel already. Loss. Emptiness. Thrill? Or relief? Too confusing. Get out. Now.
Wei Lian suddenly shifted away and placed his hand on Cherie’s shoulder, nudging her. He couldn’t tell if it’s him who can no longer bear listening to Jason and Fang Qi’s on-going conversation or was he worried about Cherie not being able to take it any further as she looks on at the intimacy Jason and Fang Qi displayed. “Thought you want to buy clothes?” he muttered.
“Oh ya, almost forgot that…Err…I think…we go off first…” Cherie grabbed hold of Wei Lian’s arm and interrupted Jason and Fang Qi’s conversation.
Going off? Fang Qi turned away from Jason and looked up at Wei Lian. He was still as nonchalant. Fang Qi’s lips broke into a thin line, forcing herself to smile. But it became an awkward smile instead. She forced herself to look away. He wasn’t the least bit curious why she was with Jason. Ever since Cherie came back, he no longer squabbled with her. She missed the times when he would refute back at her barbaric ways. Why isn’t he doing it anymore? He doesn’t want Cherie to misunderstand. She smiled bitterly. She knew it better than anyone else that Wei Lian wanted Cherie to accept him and be with him.
Seeing Wei Lian walk away with Cherie, joking and laughing between themselves again, her hand let loose what remained of the half-eaten ice cream cone. The ice cream cone fell onto the stone pavement. The sticky feeling from the melted ice cream awakened her. Just a few minutes…and the ice cream had already turned into sticky goo. Just like the weird relationship between Wei Lian and herself…
“Oh ya, I forgot to pay Cherie for your ice cream!” Jason suddenly remembered and pulled Fang Qi along to catch up with Cherie and Wei Lian. “Cherie, wait!” He called her back. Cherie and Wei Lian turned around as Jason and Fang Qi caught up with them. As Jason dug into his wallet for money and talked to Cherie at the same time, Wei Lian and Fang Qi stood like statues next to them. The awkward silence was suddenly disrupted by loud footsteps heading towards their direction. A group of secondary school boys were chasing one another around the mall and before the four of them could react, the boys were charging in their direction.
Wham! The impact of the running boys charging into them was so huge that all four of them almost collapsed into a heap onto the floor. The girls shrieked in pain. Upon seeing the boys charging towards them, Jason had reached out to hold on to Cherie who was in front of him. Wei Lian, whose arm was being held by Cherie before that, had instinctively reached out in front of him to grab hold of Fang Qi and tried to break her fall. Fang Qi held on tight to the pair of strong arms that had prevented her from hurting herself against the floor. Their reactions were so swift yet so natural, all four of them felt really awkward. As if guilty that they had done something wrong, all four quickly loosened their grip on each other and started to busy themselves by dusting their jeans and adjusting their clothes that were ruffled in the collision.
“Everybody ok?” Jason asked, breaking the silence. “Ya la! Those idiot boys! Their eyes grow on their backside issit?” Fang Qi started to scold. In actual fact, she was trying to conceal her thumping heart which was beating so hard she felt it was going to burst any moment. She was stunned when Wei Lian suddenly reached out to hold her. The familiar warmth had made her want to throw her arms around him. But it all happened too quickly. No! Stop! She knew she had to stop it. She said to Cherie and Wei Lian, “Ok la, you all go shopping la. We go off first.” With a half-hearted wave at Cherie, Fang Qi pulled Jason along and walked towards the exit of the mall.