Chapter seven of Uncharted Stars! This one is quite a long one. I know I’ve been posting chapters three times in a row now, and to be honest I’d have preferred if I posted something else for a change today, but I’ve been a bit stumped on what to post, and I couldn’t come up with anything, so here we go.
Click here to read previous chapters in this novel.
I found myself walking with Will to the library surrounded by a mass of bodyguards. Not that these bodyguards made me very comfortable- I didn’t like having so much attention lavished upon me- I didn’t find it a preferable alternative to having damned masked people descending on me to beat me up.
Damn, when the hell did my life become such an unpredictable gangster story? I certainly didn’t expect that Student Council President came with this sort of risk.
Will and I entered the library together, and he dismiessed his Wolves. They really were his to command. I sighed silently in my mind. I guess it’d be nice to have some people like that around me, but I dismiss that as just some random fantasy. Fantasies are things anyone can have, I guess. It’s just that some fantasies are closer to being a reality than others. This one’s not. Probably not. I’m just a wallflower, anyway.
Jinny was sitting there with an open notebook and a load of stuff written down in it. She looked up at me. There was no smile on her face.
“What took you so long?”
“Something came up.” I said. Jinny narrowed her eye as if she suspected me of doing something utterly mischievous, and I launched into a rather rambling explanation of what had just happened to me. Jinny’s eyes un-narrowed as I spoke and her face grew pretty still as I described the attack. “Which”, I concluded, “is why I am late today.”
“If you hadn’t said that all in Thai I would have understood.” Will muttered. “Now I feel like an illiterate medieval peasant.”
“Illiteracy has nothing to do with listening. It’s about reading ability.” I pointed out. Will shrugged. He doesn’t care about such things like the accurate definition of illiteracy, nor does he bother to correct or defend himself.
Jinny frowned. “I’ve never seen someone so envious about this role.” she said quietly (although in Mandarin, so Will could understand). “I mean, it’s not like you’ve got any great power. It’s just a bit of prestige and a load of work, to be honest.” I did not find that job description particularly appealing.
I guessed that now Will knew what we had been talking about when he said “It must be someone who really wants your job. Someone who’s burning with jealousy”
I shrugged. “No point in guessing. If those students weren’t masked, I could at least have tried to guess who they were friends with and so who might be behind it all. But they were masked and I have not the slightest idea who they could’ve been. I’m not even sure what grades they were in.”
“I will never understand their motivation.” Jinny said. “I mean, really. Who in the world wants your job that much? It’s President of TST Student Council, damnit, not something like President of the United States of America.”
Will soon began to vow that he would find out who was behind this. “I’ll get my Wolves out. I’ll hunt them. We’ll hunt for the culprit.
No one hurts my friends without feeling at least a fraction of the pain back from me.
I put out an open palm. “No need to be that serious.” Will turned to me. He stared to me and I could see from this stare that he was pretty serious. I’d never seen him with that look on his face before.
“They could’ve beat you up, Pete. I wouldn’t doubt that they would’ve done it if I hadn’t been there in time. If they did, would you still say that we shouldn’t be serious about this?” That sorta embarrassed me; I didn’t really want to be portrayed as the weak guy who couldn’t defend himself; not in front of Jinny. We human beings do like denying facts and pretending or fooling ourselves into thinking we’re something we’re not.
I tried to at least rebrand myself as a protector. “If Jinny’s seen talking to me like this, she might get attacked too, though. How are you gonna keep both of us safe?”
Jinny shrugged. “I know taekwondo.” That made me blink as I tried to reconcile the perfect girl sitting in front of me doing martial arts. Doesn’t seem to fit the character, but she doesn’t lie. At least I don’t think she does. Not that I’ve been talking to her for more than three days.
“Well, my Wolves are everywhere.” Will said with a shrug. If anyone gets hurt, one of them are bound to see, and they’ll call me, and I’ll come to the scene right away. NOthing to be scared of.”
Jinny commented, “I must say, though, Will, that it’s very ironic you and your Wolves are now the Student Council bodyguards.”
Will’s face showed a very visible disdain for the idea. “What the hell. No way. That’s just distasteful. Ew. I refuse to be the bodyguards of some bureaucratic autocratic schoolo-organizocratic Council.” I’m not sure what that means, and I don’t think if he knows what it meant either, of he knew the definition of either bureaucratic or autocratic, or if he just wanted some ‘-atic’ words in there. For a moment his face communicated the message ‘what-the-hell-did-I-just-say’ but he went on anyway. “I’m only here to help Pete”. He grasped my shoulder. “I’m helping him, NOT Student Council.” The emphasis on ‘NOT’ was very clear.
Jinny chuckled at how disgusted Will was at the prospect. “Alright, alright. Whatever you say, Will.” She turned to me. “Are you sure you still want to be President?”
“You seem to be rather keen on making me resign, Jinny.” I replied. “I’m sure you asked that question during the meeting. Are you the one behind the attack?”
“No!” Jinny exclaimed, equally disgusted at that prospect. “I don’t want President and I don’t play low. Even if I did play low, I don’t have a gang to call on anyway. Not some masked toughies to beat you up.”
Will snorted. “Those girls who are your friends. Damn, so dramatic. Did you see when Wei broke up with her boyfriend? Damn, that slapping and shouting was worse than a gang. Even all my Wolves won’t be able to handle one of your girls.” He then did an impersonation. “ ‘RYAN, YOU ARE THE MOST STUPID MAN I HAVE EVER MET IN MY LIFE! YOU SHOULD GET OUT, RIGHT NOW!!!’ Slap slap. Boom. Ryan’s face was swollen for days. Even I can’t do that.”
We all had to laugh out loud at that, and the librarian glared at us. “Quiet, please.” she said. “This is a library.”
“It’s a library, but no one’s studying.” Will pointed to the only other group who was in a library. They had earphones on their heads and were obviously playing games by how intense their stares at their laptop screens were.
“Doesn’t matter.” the librarian said. “It’s my library, so follow my rules.”
“Lord Jesus.” Will muttered under his breath. He’s by no means Christian but he was very fond of Christian swears. “That librarian is seriously one of the most annoying people ever. All librarians are. I wonder if they go home to their husbands and scream for some quietness when he turns on their family TV.”
“Come on, let’s get back on track.” I said. “We’re here to discuss Sports Day.”
“Seriously?” Will exclaimed. “Sports Day? Who cares about Sports Day?”
“The school does.” Jinny replied.
“They do?” Will said with an exaggerated look of surprise.
“Well, that doesn’t matter.” I said. “What matters is that Sports Day is a whole school event. We’ve gotta plan this carefully and do it well. What I think is…”
“Not just yet” Jinny interjected. “We can’t just do this well. It has to be exceptionally well. We’ve got to blow away your doubters. Make sure they know you can be President. Or you can’t feel safe, Pete. They’ll just keep pressuring you to resign.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I understand. It’s a first task. What do you have planned in the fabulously fat notebook of yours?”
Jinny began flipping through her books. “Well…”
“Well, while you plan, I’ll leave.” Will said, standing up and moving his chair into table.
“Wait, don’t go yet! Please, continue gracing us with your presence.”
“No, this is Student Council-ocratic crap and I don’t want anything to do with this. Besides I want you to have your flirtatious time.”
I could see Jinny rolling her eyes at flirtatious time, though to be honest I didn’t mind it that much. I kept on anyway. “I’ll love you so much if you stay.”
“I already have a girlfriend.”
“But you haven’t got a boyfriend. So of course I can still love you.”
There was a silence.
“Damn, Pete. I never expected that sort of joke from you. Please. Don’t do it. It’s just freaky.” Will said weakly with a smile. We had to laugh pretty loudly at that.
“OUT!” came the scream from the librarian. Will was about to scream something back but I tapped his shoulder and pointed at the door. We walked out together.
“That old lady.” Will said when we were out. He swore. “Sweet Jesus.”
“Pete, I have a question for you.” Jinny said.
I could guess what was coming. “No, of course not!”
Jinny just laughed.
As we walked away from the library, Will whispered to me, “Damn, Pete, you’re a natural with her.”
I didn’t answer.
* * * * *
We soon found some benches outsitehrede the building to sit on. Looking out of it was the football field; not a big one, admittedly, because there isn’t much space in Hong Kong to build anything so large anyway, for the land’s expensive. Will just kept walking in a circle around the bench while Jinny and I sat next to each other, discussing Sports Day. I managed to force Will to stay, although he made me promise that I wouldn’t involve him in ‘stately official studentcouncilocratic work’ that will ‘corrupt my rebellious ideals’.
“Yes, of course we would keep you away from our ‘stately official studentcouncilocratic’ work.” Jinny said laughingly. I had a feeling that she was beginning to enjoy Will’s company, even though today was the first time I saw them speak more than just a few sentences to each other.
Jinny is actually a pretty fascinating person in herself. She’s just so interesting. I sat on that bench next to her, looking at her show the scribblings she had made in her notebook. Whil she explained her thoughts and ideas, it seemed like she was in a different world. She’d created her own universe where she could fully immerse herself into the depth and weight of her own ideas, rip them apart, dissect them minutely, understand fully the inner workings and put them back together in an explanation for me that kept pouring out of her mouth.
She was just so smart, and I said it, right there.
Jinny smiled back, and I felt like suddenly she’d brought herself back from the parallel universe of thoughts and she was now focusing back on me, with her beautiful, deep brown eyes locked on my own. Seeing the amount of energy that could be conveyed through those eyes made me almost want to look away, but I couldn’t. I just kept looking back.
“These are just ideas that are pretty basic.” Jinny said. “All I described were the court sports and the field sports for the morning, and the races and swimming before lunch. We still haven’t talked about the final event.”
“The final event?” I repeated.
“Boy, don’t you pay any attention during Sports Day? You don’t seem to know anything about it. We always have a final event, where it’s an activity that the whole school engages in. Last year, it was a special game of a whole school round robin of capture the flag. That was pretty cool and fun, but it was also messy. I wouldn’t recommend it for next year.”
I nodded, while glancing at my watch. I’d been enjoying my time and I hadn’t noticed that it was already five. If I didn’t want my aunt and uncle to begin to worry, I had to be back at my apartment soon.
“I agree with all you’ve said about the morning and midday sports.” I said. “I can go home and make a timetable for you. Well work out the final event together. I’ve got to go for today.” We stood up and walked together out of the school. (I hadn’t noticed that Will had already left long before Jinny and I). Once outside, we waved goodbye and went our separate ways into the bustling streets of Hong Kong.
That night I laid in bed, thinking. I didn’t yet turn off my lights, because I didn’t like the dark, and I just wanted to lay down on my bed and enjoy the lights for a few moments more. My room isn’t big, and all it has is pretty much my bed, a few closets and my wooden desk where I work.
Sometimes I think too much, and I do know that. Usually on most days, I thought about things that are pretty negative. Things like how I have no friends, except for Will, which to be honest doesn’t bother me that much, because I didn’t like to socialize. I didn’t mind not having people to talk about all that badly, except for the odd day that I did feel lonely, which case I could always pick up and a book and use that as my friend.
I thought about my mom. I barely remember her in my memories, and I all I have left of her are photos and transcripts of her inspiration speeches. I didn’t read them. I could guess what each speech would be about by how they were titled, and I thought I’d just be ashamed of myself if I read the speeches and realize I never follow anything my mother said. I think sometimes that she’d be ashamed of me, of the wallflower and loner that I’d become. I try to dismiss such thoughts, but often I couldn’t, and it makes me feel hopeless, helpless; that I was simply not daring or brave enough to do new things, to share my thoughts, to live my life. When I feel my confidence rise, I remember how she died, and that scene of when the bullet went through her. It’s one of my few memories of her, and it’s one that I wish I could press delete and have it go away, but I couldn’t. Instead, it drains me every day, taking away me energy and confidence.
And sometimes I thought about myself and my future, my dreams. What am I going to do with my life? Will I ever live my life well, or will I just waste it? Usually my answer to myself was the latter. Not that I cared. Not like my mother or father was still alive to see who I became.
It’s not these thoughts that swirled in me that night though. That day had changed me, subtly. Jinny’s energy was confounding, I guess. The words about how natural I was with Jinny continued to echo inside my mind. For the first time I felt that with her support, and with Will’s support and maybe others too, if I could make friends, I could rise. I could make a name. I could live my life.
Or maybe not. Or maybe it’d be too hard, the task I set for myself impossible. There would be no change. There would never be a change.
I decided not to dwell on such thoughts. Dreams are a much better place to be than the real world, and I walked over to turn the lights off, although it would be sometime yet before I slept. Before then, I would continue to be twisted and turned, tormented and cheered upon, by dreams and realities, by ambitions and imagined obstacles.
I could only hope to be taken to my dreams as soon possible.