Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Jokes and Fate

The mindless chatter from the students around him annoyed him. Their words just seemed to be the perfect recipe to incite a migraine – throbbing dully, aching his very skull. It’s no wonder why a scowl seemed to be permanently etched upon his features.

He was trudging along with his bag pack slung over his left shoulder, his fingers busy dancing across the surface of his phone when he was forced to a stop abruptly by a mass that occupied the pathway before him. Just as he was about to spit out a string of carefully selected choice words, he was drowned out by what sounded like shrieking to him.

He found it hard to raise his head, it was as though the dread he was feeling, was physically weighing him down. The mass of girls before him was just not the thing he needed this early in the morning; the person inciting the mass hysteria even more so.

“He Tian, do you wanna hang out after school?”

“Sorry, I’ve got a game after.”

“Aw! Can we come and watch you play?”

Grey met red and Mo Guan Shan wished he slept in this morning.

“Sure. Everyone is invited.”

Averting his eyes quickly, Mo Guan Shan lowered his head and navigated through the obstruction before him with renewed purpose. From his peripheries, Mo Guan Shan spied the numerous strings of red dangling off the different fingers; some were just short lengths of red, others stretching away as far as the eye can see, and the rarest of them all: the red string could be seen connecting loosely between two people.

For as long as he could remember, Mo Guan Shan could always see the little red string that tied people together. He was lucky that growing up, the red string that was looped around his mother’s delicate pinky, was also looped around the thicker rougher pinky belonging to his father. Even after his father was sentenced to jail, the times they got to visit him, Mo Guan Shan could still see the red string connected between his parents.

Other couples were not so lucky. 

When he was younger, and his father was still out and about in society, his aunt from his mother’s side used to always visit them on the weekends. One day, she came by with her husband and Mo Guan Shan had innocently voiced out that the red string hanging from his aunt’s finger did not match that from his uncle. A few weeks after that, his aunt had dropped by utterly inebriated, yelling and throwing curse words in his direction – calling him a freak, accusing him of spoiling her marriage when she was the one cheating on his uncle.

After that incident, Mo Guan Shan learnt that some things were meant to be kept a secret.

And this was one of them.

An arm throwing itself across his shoulders jarred him out from his memory. Dread pooled at the bottom of his gut as he turned his head to see He Tian bestowing his prize-winning smile at him.

“What. Do. You. Want.” Mo Guan Shan snapped as he shrugged off the arm, his eyes following the short red length that was looped around the other boy’s finger.

“Can’t I just say hello to my dear friend?” He Tian replied smoothly, replacing his arm back on, bringing his other arm up to run his fingers through his messy bed hair.

“Who the fucks your friend!” Huffing, Mo Guan Shan twisted himself out from He Tian’s grasp and was about to stalk off when his momentum was forced to a stop and the world turned on itself in his eyes.

Stunned, Mo Guan Shan watched as He Tian settled himself into a squat before him, a dangerous glint flashing across his eyes.

“You know, you should really watch your language when you’re speaking to me.”

Mo Guan Shan felt a pit open up in his stomach as fear rippled slowly across his entirety. He Tian frightened him whenever he got serious because Mo Guan Shan could never read him. He Tian was an enigma; he had fenced himself off so securely, nothing was getting through to him. Mo Guan Shan’s pride forced him to swallow his fear and was just about to fire back a retort when a hand reached down and pulled He Tian backwards.

The black-haired boy fell on to his haunches and rolled onto his back. If Mo Guan Shan wasn’t so afraid of said boy, he would have allowed the laughter that was threatening to erupt from his lips free. Instead, he felt his own body go rigid and his eyes go wide as the tension in the air soared to new levels. The shock in He Tian’s eyes transiting into fury as his sights travelled up to Jian Yi who was trying to hide himself behind his childhood friend.

Although he had only recently just started to hang out with them – albeit reluctantly –, Mo Guan Shan had watched as the faint red line that ran from Jian Yi’s finger to Zhang Zheng Xi’s solidified over the weeks.

The red string that had been looped around Zhang Zheng Xi’s finger had started out being long, stretching out, further than Mo Guan Shan was bothered to follow; indicating that Zhang Zheng Xi’s soulmate was out there in the world somewhere. He could however see a second red string around his finger, ending on Jian Yi. This second string had been very thin, very faint, and it looked as though it was going to fray and break off at any time.

But it changed overnight.

For a while now, the string had looked like it was on the verge of breaking – it was becoming thinner and fainter – and the next, only one solid red string was left looped around Zhang Zheng Xi’s finger and this time, Mo Guan Shan could see the person the other end of the string was tied to. That day, Jian Yi’s eyes were visibly swollen and the atmosphere between the two friends had been awkward. Jian Yi was actively trying to avoid Zhang Zheng Xi while the latter was actively seeking out the former.

After the entire fiasco of Jian Yi getting kidnapped, Mo Guan Shan now noticed a new sheen to the red string between the two childhood friends. When he was sure no one was noticing him, Mo Guan Shan had rolled the string between his fingers. Most strings he had touched felt just as how string was supposed to feel, soft and malleable. But the texture of the string between Jian Yi and Zhang Zheng Xi had morphed – no longer was it soft; it felt like wire, still capable of bending but it unable to be broken that easily anymore.

It was the same as the string that connected his parents together.

Mo Guan Shan watched as He Tian locked Jian Yi’s head between his body and his arm, his other hand forming a fist with his third knuckle digging painfully into Jian Yi’s scalp. He did not miss the slight twitch on Zhang Zheng Xi’s fingers before he pulled the pair apart, promptly rescuing Jian Yi from his well-deserved punishment.

“Yah! Red! Can’t you handle your man better??” Jian Yi cried out, his palm rubbing circles on the sore spot on his scalp.

“Who the fucking chicken dick is my man!” “Hey, get your facts right, he belongs to me, not the other way ‘round.”

Two voices rang out at the same time, and Mo Guan Shan could only stare incredulously at the taller boy before sticking both his middle fingers right before He Tian’s smug features.

“Fuck you!”

“I know you want to.”

Mo Guan Shan threw one last exasperated glare in the direction of his nemesis before the bell rang signaling the start of classes, and that all four of them were now considered late.


“The other party is someone who is gentle, caring and understanding? What nonsense is this…”

“Talking about me?”

Mo Guan Shan finally understood what the phrase heart in one’s mouth finally meant. It felt as though his soul had tried to leave his body when the very familiar voice sounded from his balcony.

“MA!! WHY IS THIS PERSON HERE?!” Mo Guan Shan could hear the tremble in his voice as he tried to settle the organ that was threatening to break free from his ribcage.

He had only been in the shower for less than ten minutes and somehow, the walking apocalypse still managed to stroll leisurely into his home, bedroom and win over his mother without Mo Guan Shan realizing. Worst of all, said apocalypse was going to have dinner in his home, with his mother and him.

Mo Guan Shan knew that it was futile to argue with He Tian, but he could not stop himself. His mouth seemed to love the idea of mouthing off to this mafia kid – literally – and getting death glares shot his way. Mo Guan Shan was resigned to the fate that He Tian was going to be having dinner in his home with his mother and him, but he did not need to have He Tian hanging near him until then.

Clicking his tongue, Mo Guan Shan was about to kindly show He Tian the way out of his room when the latter order him to turn around. His gut instinctively told him to do as He Tian said but his pride and ego refused to obey the other boy’s words.

“Don’t fucking tell me what to do.”

As soon as those words left his lips, Mo Guan Shan could taste the aftertaste full of regret on his tongue. He Tian, who had settled himself on the edge of Mo Guan Shan’s bed shot up without warning, his hand encircling swiftly behind Mo Guan Shan neck and soon Mo Guan Shan could taste his bedsheets in his mouth.

“I told you to turn around.”

Mo Guan Shan could hear He Tian fiddling with something he had retrieved from his pocket. Mo Guan Shan instinctively tried to struggle because he was unable to turn his body to face the dark-haired teen.

“Hey! What do you think you are doing?!”

He could feel a layer of cold sweat break across his naked upper body as a He Tian shoved something soft and cool onto his ear lobe. The pressure across his back lifted and Mo Guan Shan flipped himself around as quickly as he could to keep He Tian within his sight.

“Earring for you,” He Tian whispered, his fingers wrapping around Mo Guan Shan wrist when he removed the small stud from his ear. “You better take good care of it. If you have the balls to throw it out--”

Infuriated by the condescending tone, Mo Guan Shan shot a defiant glare at the teen above him, pulled back his arm and threw the stud out towards the balcony. The stud bounced off his balcony door with a soft ‘ping’ and disappeared into the darkness of the night.

Regret was a funny thing. Mo Guan Shan could give piss about it one moment and yet be filled with it to the brim in the next. Above him, He Tian had Mo Guan Shan’s both arms locked between them and judging from the pain emanating from his left cheek bone, Mo Guan Shan surmised that He Tian was not going to let him go until he replaced the stud in his ear.

“Wanna die?”

“I’ll go get it back! Right now!” Mo Guan Shan cried out as he struggled from beneath.

So that was how Mo Guan Shan ended up half naked, sprawled on all fours in his little front garden with his head almost levelled with the earth trying to spot the little stud from before. From his periphery, he could see He Tian standing before the door with his arms crossed over his chest watching him carefully, his features hidden in the shadow of his fringe.

“You could help ya know.” Mo Guan Shan grumbled as he pushed himself onto his heels, staring at the vicinity of the other boy’s eyes.

“You threw it, you find it.” Came the reply.

Grumbling noisily to himself, Mo Guan Shan rolled his eyes at the other teen before prostrating himself against the earth once more. Grumbling some more, Mo Guan Shan was about to right himself up and give up when he felt a presence get down next to him. He turned and watched in surprise as He Tian mirrored him and got down onto all fours with his head low trying to spot the little earring.

“I know, this body is irresistible.” He Tian chuckled after seeing Mo Guan Shan’s stare.

“Hah! That flower bush attracts me more than you do.” Mo Guan Shan countered, a blush painting his face after getting caught by He Tian for staring.

“Oh really now?”

Mo Guan Shan was about to turn and check a spot that was further away from He Tian when he felt arms sliding under him. It was as though he was weightless as the owner of those arms lifted him effortlessly.

“What in chicken dick’s name are you tryin--” Mo Guan Shan had barely managed to finish his sentence when He Tian released him into the flower bush he had pointed out before.

Mo Guan Shan felt the thin branches give way beneath his weight but did not have enough time to react as his entire focus was on He Tian. He Tian who had stretched himself out above Mo Guan Shan’s body, his arms stretched out on either side of Mo Guan Shan’s head, propping his body just slightly above Mo Guan Shan.

“Didn’t you say you were attracted to this bush? Now that it’s out of the picture, what do you think is the next most attractive thing here?”

“HUH? The hell you tryna do! Get off me!” Sputtering, Mo Guan Shan placed both his arms between their torsos and was about to push the other boy off him when He Tian shushed him.

Mo Guan Shan’s counter died on his tongue as his gaze followed that of He Tian’s, finally landing on the offending culprit: the stud from before was lying just centimeters away from Mo Guan Shan’s head.

“Heh. See what I do for you?” He Tian laughed as he picked up the stud in his fingers and gave it a blow.

It was funny how time seemed to slow down at this point. Mo Guan Shan watched in silent reverie as He Tian’s hand moved closer towards him and how acutely aware he was of the knee that was now between his thighs and the distance that was between their faces was decreasing ever so slightly. With bated breath, he remained as still as he could while He Tian guided the stud gently back into his right earlobe before the boy leaned back onto his knees to admire his work.

Because of the close proximity and weird position they had been in, and the uncharacteristically gentleness from the boy before him, Mo Guan Shan felt the blush that had abated from before return in full force. He was just glad that it was too dark out for He Tian to see the colour of his cheeks.

It felt like an eternity had passed before the moment was broken by Mo Guan Shan’s mother opening the front door, a hint of playfulness filtered across her eyes as a sweet smile broke across her lips. The remnants of a slight chuckle still painted her words as she announced that dinner was finally ready.

If Mo Guan Shan thought his cheeks were burning just now, he was sure his entire face, tips of his ears and upper torso were all crisp by now. He shoved He Tian away from him as he pushed himself up. He ignored the black-hair teen that had a playful smirk etched on his face and eyed the indent he had made in the flower bush. It was going to take weeks if not months for the bush to repair itself.

A constant reminder.

Another wave of choice words escaped his lips before he had time to stop himself as he patted the dirt off his sweatpants and dusted the palm of his hands. He kicked opened his front door softly – or he would just get it from his ma – and made his way begrudgingly towards the kitchen. He could hear He Tian close the front door behind him and follow him to the kitchen sink, situating himself right next to Mo Guan Shan as they washed their dirtied hands side by side.

He Tian was saying something about how the food smelled better than anything he had ever smelled before but Mo Guan Shan soon found that he was no longer paying any attention to what the boy next to him was saying.
Instead, his entire focus was stuck on the very faint thin red string that was looped around his pinky, connecting him to He Tian.


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