It was finally the weekend and another lazy Saturday that Chen Yi just wanted to stay inside and catch up on some sleep. However, he couldn’t. Only if he could.
“Chen Yi!” His mother called him from the kitchen.
“What, Mom?” Chen Yi asked lazily from the backyard.
“Are you done with mowing the lawn yet?”
“In a bit.”
“If you’re not done yet, take a break. I think Win wants food.”
“Aww…Mom….tell Xiao Yu to check on Win.”
“What are you talking about? Xiao Yu’s not around. You told me yourself that she’s not coming over today.”
“Yes, you just told me after breakfast.”
“Oh.” He dropped his tools and headed inside, not forgetting to mutter “Idiot” under his breath.
“Don’t ruin the floor,” His mother told him as soon as he opened the screen door.
He took his shoes off and put it to the side before stepping inside.
“Are you all right?” His mother still had that worried look on.
He grinned. “Yes, of course.”
“You look tired.”
“Of course, I’m tired, Mom. Imagine cutting the grass the old fashion way instead of with the mower.”
“You know what I mean.”
He gave the kitchen a brief scan. “What?”
“Is something going on between you and Xiao Yu?”
“Uh…why are you asking?”
“She always comes over on Saturdays.”
“It could change. Listen, Mom. I have to feed Win and go back outside and finish the grass.” He headed for the stairs before she could say anything else. “Come here, Win.”
Fifteen minutes later, he was back outside trying to finish the yard. It wasn’t until another half an hour that he finally succeeded. He sat down on the bench to rest before thinking of what to do. He knew that the others were probably thinking up of a bright idea to convince Tang Feng–who happened to be his, Qiao Qiao, Yan Yan, and Achel’s senior. What a small world, he thought. Not to mention that guy used to be a top-class prankster. No wonder he changed his name. Jacky had gone to pick Sonia up from the bus station so they won’t be back until this afternoon. The rest of the gang probably had things to do too. Qiao Qiao and some of the others had asked him to join them earlier but he had to turn it down because of this chore. More like a promise to his mother. Since he’d already promised, he might as well finish the task. He got up and headed toward the shed, taking several shots of the lawn mover before making his way into the house again–remembering to take off his shoes this time around.
“Mom, I’m going out,” He said.
“You’re done?” His mother asked, emerging from the living room.
“Yeah. I’m going to buy some stuff to repair the lawnmower now. If I’m lucky, I can finish it all today.”
“Take your time.”
Chen Yi nodded before returning to the screen door. He made sure to clean his shoes off before heading for his car.
Luck seemed to be on his side today since he managed to find the right parts for the lawnmower after showing the pictures to the owner and describing his situation. The man knew what he was talking about all right. Or at least he hoped the man knew more than his confident voice perceived.
“Just another day,” He muttered aloud as he deactivated his alarm.
Tossing the supplies into his trunk, he shut it in time to spot a familiar couple walking out of a building across the street. He almost forgot that this was the familiar part of town. Of course, he would run into these people. Just as he decided to ignore them since they couldn’t see him anyway, he could see some hostility in the air. He reactivated his alarm before heading across the street, following the direction where they were heading toward. They just turned the corner so they couldn’t be far away. He had to keep a safe distance between them or risk being exposed. He knew it was a bit silly but he couldn’t help it. It might be Qiao Qiao’s influence or it might be his paranoia at work. But he knew he couldn’t rule out any possibilities. Just when he thought he lost them, he heard familiar voices up ahead. He looked right to see them standing by a tree at the edge of a parking lot. He crouched down and sneaked past the bushes nearby, attempting to listen in on their conversation. The two were still a distance away from him but he could still hear them since it was quite peaceful around this area.
“What’s your problem anyway?” The guy asked, his voice rising.
“I’m sorry,” A timid voice said. “I’m just not used to these events.”
“You’re such a baby,” The guy’s voice raised again. “Why did I even pick you anyway? Thinking that I could impress my friends with dating a college graduate girl.”
Chen Yi wrinkled his face. He tried to separate some parts of the bush in front of him slowly as not to disturb it or draw attention. He could see her almost crying. He knew he must understand the whole situation first. After all, wasn’t Brett in acting? Maybe they were acting out some scenes now. He decided to wait a bit more before leaving. Lucky the trees around this area were tall and the bushes higher than usual or he would be exposed soon.
“What are you doing?” Someone’s voice whispered behind him.
He almost jumped. He turned around abruptly to see Ehlo smiling at him with eyes full of mischief.
“Sh…” Chen Yi whispered back, bringing his finger to his lips. He signaled to the scene ahead, gesturing for Ehlo to stay quiet.
“Why are you sneaking around?” Another voice asked.
This time he didn’t have to turn around to know it was Angela.
“I’ll explain later,” Chen Yi whispered to her quickly before turning to the scene ahead again.
“Come on now!” The guy shouted.
What just happened? It was all Ehlo’s fault that he missed it.
“Who the world is he anyway? He dares to hit her?” Angela exclaimed, her voice still a whisper–which was a miracle that Chen Yi was glad it happened.
“Where are we going?” The girl asked timidly.
“Where else?” The guy asked back, his face livid. “I’ll take you home since you’re no help. I can’t dump you as fast or the others will think that you dump me and not the other way around. You’re such a…”
Before he could finish, Chen Yi jumped out from the bush, running full speed toward them. He got there in time to grab a hold of the guy’s hand.
“If you dare to touch her again, you’re dead meat,” Chen Yi threatened, finally letting go of the other guy’s hand. “Get lost, creep!”
“Chen Yi!” The girl exclaimed.
Chen Yi pulled her toward him and put a protective hand around her shoulders. “Why didn’t you tell me he’s such a creep?”
“Why are you here anyway?” The guy asked, eyeing Chen Yi suspiciously. “I thought she said she’s not dating anyone right now.” He turned to Achel. “And I thought you’re one of those innocent girls. Guess you just want to play the field, huh?”
“Get lost, creep!” Chen Yi repeated his order. “Before I get mad, get lost!”
“Who are you to tell me…?”
“I’m her boyfriend, Brat!” Chen Yi exclaimed before Brett could finish.
“Then she is…”
“Shut up. It doesn’t matter to you. So why don’t you just get lost before I get mad.”
Brett didn’t seem to find any reason to stick around, seeing how intense Chen Yi’s expression was.
“Well?” Chen Yi asked, delivering the last warning.
“Nuts,” Brett muttered before turning to leave.
Chen Yi made sure Brett left for good before turning to Achel again.
“What?” Achel asked, seeing Chen Yi’s stare.
“Why didn’t you tell me he’s such a creep?”
“I didn’t know until just now.”
“And you were just going to take it like that?”
Achel looked down. “I thought that’s how normal couples are. They fight like jie and Ehlo ge and…”
“Normal couples only fight on the outside,” Chen Yi clarified. “He’s just some creep who wants to control you. Come on. Let’s go.”
He let go of her shoulder and reached for her arm, leading her back to his car. They were almost by the sidewalk when Ehlo and Angela jumped out from the bush–the same one that Chen Yi was hiding behind earlier.
“Don’t you have to explain to us?” Angela asked, her voice demanding.
“That’s right,” Ehlo chimed in, his grin mischievous.
“We just had some misunderstandings,” Achel jumped in quickly. “Now it’s resolved.”
“Oh?” Angela asked, not as half convinced.
“We weren’t dating before but now we are,” Chen Yi clarified, his grip tightening on Achel’s hand.
“What?!” Ehlo, Angela–and Achel exclaimed at the same time.
“What do you mean ‘what’?” Ehlo asked, turning his attention on Achel. “Don’t you know if you two are dating or not?”
“We are now,” Chen Yi jumped in.
“But why?” Achel asked–and not Ehlo or Angela, turning to Chen Yi and attempting to loosen her hand.
“I’m the idiot that didn’t see it right in front of me,” Chen Yi continued. “I should’ve known to not let you go and date that creep. I’m the idiot that didn’t know it until he loses it. Did you know what happened when I was outside mowing the lawn when Mom told me to go feed Win?”
Achel stayed silent. Surprisingly, Ehlo and Angela were also quiet, waiting for Chen Yi to continue.
“I said, ‘Tell Xiao Yu to feed Win, Mom.’ And you know what she told me? She said, ‘You told me Xiao Yu’s not coming today.’”
Achel still stayed silent.
“Don’t you know? I’m so used to having you around that when you’re gone, it’s still in my head that you’re around.”
“You don’t have to do this,” Achel said finally. “It was the same thing you said when you tried to convince Qiao Qiao, remember?”
“Of course I remember what I said. But it’s real this time. I just told you I’m the idiot that couldn’t see what’s in front of him. I thought it was just an excuse at first, but when you’re not around…I just…miss you.” He grabbed hold of both Achel’s hands into his and pulled her into a tight hug. “Convinced?”
“You’re choking me.”
He let go but still had a hold on one hand.
“Aww…come on, Xiao Yu,” Ehlo urged.
Angela put a hand on Ehlo’s shoulder.
“What?” Ehlo asked, turning to her.
“Let her decide for herself,” Angela said, her voice placid.
“You want to come home with me to feed Win or let him starve?” Chen Yi asked, smiling.
“You’re starving our Win?!” Achel exclaimed, shocked.
“Then let’s go,” He urged again, tugging on her hand.
She followed him, her shocked expression still present. “I can’t believe you’re starving Win.”
“See you guys later!” Ehlo hollered after them.
“Yeah!” Chen Yi hollered back.
“Bye Ehlo ge! Bye jie!” Achel shouted.
“When did they get back together again?” Angela asked, still amazed at Chen Yi’s attempt.
“Like around the part where he was starving ‘their’ Win,” Ehlo reminded her.
“I can’t believe they were pulling a scheme on us,” Angela said, uncrossing her hands and letting them fall to her sides again.
“Believe it,” Ehlo said. “Maybe I was the only honest one when I said I wasn’t all that into Qiao.”
“I guess we shouldn’t tell them, huh?”
“Of course not. There’s no point anyway. We shouldn’t stir anything up anymore.”
Ehlo saluted. “Yes ma’am.”
Angela ignored him and turned to leave.
“We’re going to be late if we stand around here.”
He followed her and slipped his hand around her shoulders again.
“How about not going to the movies?”
“Somewhere like the amusement park or something.”
“That’s better. I don’t like to sit around for so long anyway.”
“Then let’s go.”
Ehlo smiled, knowing she was suggesting the amusement park on purpose. She knew it was his favorite place.
© Saturday, September 19th, 2009
Re-posted: Saturday, February 12th, 2011