Old friends are back in town! We kicked off the novel in their school setting which had many adorable moments. Will seeing their friends bring back sweet memories and push them back to happiness?
On another note, school is hectic so unfortunately, I won’t be able to post daily anymore. I know, I’m just as disappointed as you are believe you me. I will try my best to churn out posts regularly (promise!) so do check back frequently!
Some things when broken can never be restored to its original form no matter how determined the mender. As for Cheng Zheng and Yun Jin, neither could bear to forsake their past together so they stuck doggedly to the frail semblance of a relationship.
Neither brought up that night ever again. Both wanted the relationship to last in the long run but they didn’t know how to return to their glory days. They treaded carefully around the other – one misinterpreted word, one wrong look could hurt. As time passed, they conversed less and less and each tended to their own wounds silently.
The small apartment, which was once their cosy haven, was now a stifling enclave to them. Cheng Zheng’s overtime shifts increased steadily and he would often return late in the night reeking of cigarettes and alcohol. Similarly, Yun Jin grew more reticent. She stuck to her old routine of playing Go on her computer after work though it ought to be noted that her standard never improved. When she had the time, she would still prepare dinner for two though she no longer asked if he was coming home to eat.
One day, Cheng Zheng was surprisingly punctual home. When he entered, she was busy in the kitchen. She was so absorbed in slicing the vegetables that she was completely unaware that he had returned. Cheng Zheng coughed lightly to get her attention. She stared at him dazed as the sharp chopping knife hung in mid-air which caused a chill to run down his spine.
“You’re back. Dinner will be ready soon.” She smiled at him before resuming the task at hand.
Cheng Zheng gingerly removed the knife from her grasp “There’s no need to prepare dinner tonight. Zhou Zi Yi is here on assignment so he’s organising a meet-up with all us old classmates. Turns out quite a number of us are here. Do you remember your table-mate Song Ming? The short bespectacled boy? He’s now a technician with XX airline. Meng Xue and Zhou Jing are in Shenzhen and would make their way over tonight.”
Having said his piece, he walked to the living room. When he didn’t get any sort of acknowledgement from her, he added “Let’s go together. I hear Mo Yu Hua will be there as well.”
In the VIP lounge of Xing Ju night club, the dim disco lights, deafening music and sound of glasses clinking intermixed with rowdy merriment contributed to the fantastic atmosphere. What was originally intended to be a small-scale gathering amongst old friends had a turn-out of over ten people which included students from neighbouring classes.
It had been six, seven years since their graduation. The awkward teenagers had long grown up. Some had not seen each other since graduating and upon noting how much they’ve changed ever since, would sigh that time had been too fleeting.
Zhou Jing was married and currently working as a businesslady. She had a dignified air; there was no longer any trace of the country girl. Meng Xue was now an air stewardess with Shen Zhen airlines and was as demure as ever. In fact, she looked every bit the successful lady. Song Ming underwent the greatest transformation. The small boy who used to wear thick glasses was now broad shouldered. Although he couldn’t be said to be handsome but he carried himself well and was gentlemanly.
Only Zhou Zi Yi remained the same carefree, impish ruffian as before. Luckily for him, he was still handsome and suave. Apparently, after he graduated from university, he followed in his father’s footsteps and went into the property marketing, He even had a fiancee who was compatible in both looks and social standing. Rumour was that he intended to get married the moment the girl returned from her overseas studies.
Mo Yu Hua had long shed her chubby figure from her younger days though she still looked as ordinary as ever. But now, she had a scholarly disposition.
That night, the two who received the most attention was undeniably Cheng Zheng and Yun Jin. Everyone wanted to toast their model couple who finally got together despite all the past misunderstandings.
Cheng Zheng was in a good mood; he did not decline a single toast and downed every cup of alcohol enthusiastically, including Yun Jin’s share. After several rounds, Cheng Zheng was tipsy despite his high alcohol threshold.
Since Yun Jin and Mo Yu Hua had not met in a long while, the two retreated to a corner to converse privately so ironically Meng Xue was the one who could not bear to see Cheng Zheng get further drunk; she beseeched Zhou Zi Yi to intervene and drink on Cheng Zheng’s behalf.
Zhou Zi Yi teased “This is strange. The official girlfriend has no reaction so why are you feeling bad?”
Meng Xue slammed her cup onto the table “Because I’ve been friends with Cheng Zheng and we even ran around butt naked as kids! So what? If you dare, drink up!”
Zhou Zi Yi smiled. He was not a foolish man and he wisely avoided engaging in direct conflict with Meng Xue.
In Yun Jin’s corner, Mo Yu Hua observed the events unfold and asked “What’s wrong? Something doesn’t seem right between you and your man.”
Yun Jin smiled bitterly “It’s not a simple issue. We’ve been like this for a long time now.”
“Why put yourself through such misery? How Cheng Zheng treats you, everyone knows. To have such a man love you so devotedly is really a blessing so why be piqued over a moment’s rashness? If you lose him, you’ll regret it.”
“How could I not know he’s wonderful? I want to be nice to him too but how is it that two people who want nothing but the best for each other could feel so weary together? Yu Hua, do you believe in affinity?”
“I do. But I also believe in working hard to keep the relationship going. Oh look!” she motioned at Yun Jin.
Cheng Zheng was very drunk and in his stupor, was resting his head on Meng Xue’s shoulder. Meng Xue looked uncomfortable as she pushed him off. He wobbled for a moment before coming to rest on her again. The second time, she didn’t try to maintain their distance and her eyes held regret as she looked at him tenderly.
“What are our two beauties doing whispering in the corner?” Zhou Zi Yi walked over with a cup of alcohol in hand.
“Yu Hua, it’s been a while. You’re much prettier.” He didn’t seem to recall the awkward incident of yesteryear.
“Have I? I think it’s you that have become more skilled at paying compliments.” Yu Hua joked in return.
Yun Jin rose “Both of you have a chat. I’ll go check on Cheng Zheng.”
She walked over and smiled politely at Meng Xue who returned the smile though it contained a trace of provocation “You’ve finally come to tend to your boyfriend.”
Yun Jin acted as if she had not heard her as she squatted befor Cheng Zheng and tapped his face lightly “Cheng Zheng, wake up, we should make a move.”
Cheng Zheng made no reaction so she tried to support him to his feet. When she staggered under his weight, Song Ming quickly rushed to her aid by supporting Cheng Zheng on his other end.
“Thank you. Could I trouble you to assist me in carrying him out?” Yun Jin’s request was directed at Song Ming before she turned to Meng Xue “Thank you for your shoulder. No wonder Cheng Zheng always mentions that you’re like a brother to him.”
Meng Xue laughed bitterly and rose to her feet as well. After Yun Jin said her farewells to the others, she and Song Ming headed for the exit with Meng Xue trailing worriedly behind them. Undoubtedly, there would be no driving that night. Yun Jin went to the kerb and was about to hail a taxi when Cheng Zheng came to somewhat as he massaged his temples and asked what he was doing there.
“You’ve had too much to drink. We’re going home.” Yun Jin said softly.
Cheng Zheng looked at the three of them blearily before taking his arm out of her grip “You go back first. I’m not drunk, I can still continue drinking.”
His withdrawal was too abrupt that he stumbled but Meng Xue was quick to step forward and catch him. He finally caught his balance by leaning on her.
Yun Jin grabbed his hand firmly “Cheng Zheng, stop this. Let’s go.” Her voice betrayed her desperation.
Cheng Zheng swung her hand off once again as he staggered and slung his arm over Meng Xue’s shoulder “I told you not to restrict me. Go if you wish.”
There was no turning back now and even Song Ming felt awkward being there.
Yun Jin stared at him quietly before turning calmly to Song Ming and Meng Xue “Since it’s like this, I’ll be heading back first. Please take good care of him and don’t let him drink too much. Don’t let him drive as well.” She took out a notebook from her handbag and scribbled hurriedly “This is our address please help get him into a cab when the gathering ends. After he’s on it, give me a call. Thank you so much.”
As soon as Yun Jin’s cab rounded the bend and was no longer in sight, Cheng Zheng straightened slowly. The dazed look in his eyes had vanished, leaving palpable disappointment. He realised that he was still in close physical contact with Meng Xue so he quickly widened a gap between them and said simply “Sorry about that.” before heading back to the party.
“Cheng Zheng!” Meng Xue called out from behind him. He turned back in bewilderment and was unprepared for the slap she was about to deliver. Luckily, his reflexes were as quick as ever as he parried her attempt and yelled “Are you drunk?”
Only then did he notice Meng Xue’s tears. He grew up with Meng Xue and in his heart, she would forever be the innocent little playmate of his. This was the first time he had seen her cry.
Meng Xue lifted her face bravely as tears streamed down “Take this slap as my returning all the feelings I had for you. You don’t have to love me but you shouldn’t hurt me like this. You’ve known that I have loved you all along. How can you treat me feelings as a tool for the games you two play? You’re so cruel.”
Cheng Zheng loosened his grip on her and was utterly helpless “Maybe you’re right. If slapping me would make you feel better than go ahead.”
Meng Xue dried her tears and smiled coldly “But now I don’t feel like it anymore because I’ve discovered that you’re more pathetic than me. You wanted to use me to spite that Su Yun Jin but it’s a pity she doesn’t even care. It’s been so many years now. You’ve loved someone whose feelings for you aren’t clear. You thought you’re victorious because she’s by your side but you’re wrong.”
He covered his ears as though doing so would block out the unsatisfactory words. After a pause, he said to Song Ming “Please take care of her.” before turning and taking his leave.
It was very late by the time he reached home but the table lamp was still on. He was comforted to find Yun Jin still awake. She had not changed out of her clothes and was watching the telly calmly. Seeing that he had returned, she turned her eyes away from the screen.
“You’re back.” She put down the remote control in her hands and said the familiar refrain.
“You … have something to tell me?” Cheng Zheng jammed his hands in his pocket.
Yun Jin raised her face and studied him carefully “I just want to say, you’re very immature Cheng Zheng.”
Cheng Zheng sat on the sofa and buried his face in his knees “Yes I’m immature. I wrongly assumed that in doing so, I would provoke you into action and know definitively that you can be jealous over me, that you can be angry at me. This would prove to me that you actually care for me.”
Yun Jin’s face was void of emotion.
Cheng Zheng exhaled slowly “It’s been so many years and you still don’t love me. That’s why you are always so calm.”
The one thing he feared the most was ironically initiated by him. It was a surreal sensation, like he was the metaphorical ash being released in the wind.
“Yun Jin, let’s break up.”