Hey, it’s been nearly a month since I posted the last chapter of Uncharted Stars. I’ll talk more later in a different blog post about why it’s taken so long, and also why this chapter is so short and crappy. Let’s just say that I’ve been having difficulties writing this novel. To be honest- this chapter isn’t really finished yet. I just wanted to get a new chapter out. I may come back to write a revised version of this chapter. I also need more time to plan out.
We ran down the stairs for the subway. The train was already there and we raced in at the speed of light to get in. I hopped into the train just moments before the door slid close and I looked around in vain for a seat. There was no seat, which wasn’t all that surprisingly really considering how busy a place Tsim Sha Tsui is.
Everyone was standing, bunched up together. Jinny stood right in front of me, but I was quite a bit taller than her so I was able to see right over her head. Carl was even taller than me and he was able to look right over me. That guy was pretty muscular. Jessie did not have to stand, because she’d somehow managed to beat everyone else and win a seat for herself. Will was pressed on to the glass bar next to the doorway, standing beside a fat old man and Will looked like he was struggling for breath.
I began to wonder how the hell I found myself there on that particular day. So first I’d went to eat at McDonalds with a few friends, and somehow I’d been dragged into a take-Carl-around tour. To be honest, I wouldn’t have thought much if I were going on this with someone else that wasn’t Will, but really the fact that Will would be the one planning all this worried me. (I mean, I knew Will mostly for being an adventurous rebel who played music, and the words ‘adventurous’ and ‘rebellious’ really didn’t give me much hope in what kind of trip itinerary Will would come up with). I wanted to assure myself that Hong Kong was Hong Kong and there really wasn’t a lot of crazy places Will could take me, anyway.
I mean, maybe he could’ve taken to somewhere like the Kowloon Walled City, which used to be the most densely populated area on Earth, a walled enclave where ganging, rape, robbery murder were frequent occurrences, but the Walled City has long since been demolished. I have nothing to fear from good old Hong Kong, have I?
It’d taken me ages to talk to my uncle and aunt about what I was about to go on. “It’s just a short tour around.” I said. “We’ll be taking him around and having a lot of fun. There’s nothing much to it.”
My aunt narrowed her eyes. “Yeah, but why can’t you come back to the apartment every night? Why do you have to pack your clothes? It’s only Hong Kong.”
I didn’t know how to explain that it’s where all the fun was. At least that’s where the fun was supposed to be, as explained to me by Will as they tried to make sure I wouldn’t backpedal out of joining the trip. In the end, I had my way with my aunt. My uncle, upon hearing of the unexpected but supposedly totally wonderful news that I had finally begun to initiate the construction of a social life, immediately threw me a couple of bags that I could use to pack my stuff in. I don’t know what to think, really. What the hell- I do have friends. I mean, I don’t have a lot of friends, like some might expect Mr SC President to have- but seriously, though, I’m not a totally lonely nutcrack who shuts himself up all day in my bedroom.
At least that wasn’t the reason why I had chosen to go. Do something every day that scares you. As I stood in the highway, I flipped out my phone and looked up the part of my mother’s speech that I’d chosen to type up. ‘Your decisions right now, how you choose to live your life, will determine the stars you find when charting them. Will they be bright, glowing constellations, or they will be lone, dying dwarfs?’ I didn’t know if my decisions then were important, or if they ever will be, but I do have a personal belief that our own intuition is something that should be trusted in some cases.
The result of the decision, however, was that now i was in a cramped subway train and when I glanced over to Will I could see that he looked like he was really desperate for air, being sandwiched by the glass bar and the fat man. He glanced back at me and there’s these moments where you can just read someone’s face. In Will’s case, I could read the sentence oh-my-god-help-me-get-me-out-of-here-Jesus-Christ.
Tough luck, my friend. We were heading for Central station, from the station at Tsim Sha Tsui station, at while that was only two stations away, it was a far ride. Jinny, who was right in front of me, turned back to talk to me. “I’ve never seen the MTR so crowded.” she told me. The MTR, standing for Mass Transit Railway, is the name Hong Kong gave for its subway network. This confused me sometimes, because in Thailand the subway network is the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). MRT has always stuck with me, not MTR.
“I’ve never seen it this crowded hour. It’s rush hour though. Why’d we need to come out this early, anyway?”
Jinny shrugged. “Don’t ask me, I don’t make these plans. We all know Will wakes up freaking early.”
I felt a brief struggle inside myself for words to say. I felt like when I was with her, I’m at a loss for words- I don’t know what to say, but there’s always a faint recognition inside myself that I was enjoying my time with her. This was no exception. I searched through my own mind for something to say, something that would keep the conversation going. I came up with a ton of lame ideas- maybe I could say something like, how are you feeling? That was pretty stupid, and so I settled for something a little less lame.
“Do we even have plans for what we’re going to do yet? I mean, seriously, Jinny, Will’s planning this and I don’t trust him.”
Jinny laughed. “Not like I do. Don’t you remember that time Will planned the class art exhibition? God, that was dreadful.”
“Whatever we do, I hope it’s fun for Carl. Have you talked to him yet?” I asked, glad that I managed to keep the conversation going.
“No, not really. I mean, I’ve done the usual pleasantries- Hi? How are you? Yeah, nice to meet you. Bye! But that’s about it.”
“Hi, how are you?”
“Oh no, really, Pete. That’s lame. I’m fine, thank you. You?”
“I’m fine too. I won’t say bye quite yet though.” I was tempted to add something really cheesy, something like ‘because I’m so happy to be with you’…but I didn’t. I didn’t dare to.
“You can’t say bye.” Jinny said pointedly. “We’re stuck together for quite a few more days.”
“Oh come on, don’t use that word.” I said. “That sounds really forced, doesn’t it.”
Jinny just smiled and we stood together in silence as we passed through to Central Station.
“Jesus Christ, that was a lot of people.” Jessie complained as we walked out of Central Station.
“I’m sure Chip and Alison enjoyed it.” Will commented. “How the hell did you two even manage to grab two seats next to each other after we passed through Admiralty station?”
“That doesn’t sound exactly all too enjoyable. It’s just seats.” I said.
“No, and after that they held hands and sat whispering crap to each other. Were you having some sort of ‘crowded date’?”
Alison slapped Will gently on the shoulder. “Oh shut up, Will,” she said, smiling.
“Alright, alright, enough with that.” Chip said rather sternly. “So let’s see how to get to The Peak. I’ve never even been there, to be honest. It’s more of a tourist hotspot than anything. Why do we even need to go there?”
“Oh, come on, Chip. Of course we need to go to The Peak. It’s the best. You can see everything in Hong Kong, all at once. That’s really really cool isn’t it?” Will said excitedly. He was like a child once again, unleashed with tourist excitement.
“No, and there’s also the tram.” I added. “There’s the Victorian-era trams that you can use to go up to The Peak.” The Peak is, in fact, a mountain that offers you a view of all of Hong Kong.
“I think we’ve established that The Peak is a must-see tourist attraction.” Chip said, rolling his eyes. Sometimes I find Chip annoying because he seems to have such an ego. “How do we get there, though?”
“Maps have been invented.” Will said pompously, “but we will not need one because I can tell you how to get there. We’re going to need to get from here to the Peak tram station, meaning we’ll need to walk through Queen’s Road Central and Garden Road. It will be a lovely walk for our friend Carl!”
I noticed how Carl had barely spoke that whole day. This trip was actually supposed to be for him. Now, Carl finally spoke. I noticed how he spoke with a deep accent, and he seemed to have difficulties with pronunciation. He spoke slowly.
“I hope it’ll be fun.”
What an exciting comment. I glanced over at Jinny.
I do hope that it will be a fun trip. It was only starting.