Hi there! I've written this halfway, but I thought of finishing this up before my exams. This would be the last part of Wen Zi's POV.
Michelle: Yes, that girl's crazy! Glad you like the chapter! Thanks for reviewing! :D
Mei Wen: Haha, yes, I guess all boys are quite similar. Yeah, I like keyboards too! Give me five! :D And I have watched Jackie Chan's new movie and also 'The Girl Who Leapt Through Time'! Both movies are great! :D And yes, the Japanese movie has a bittersweet ending, and the story is very meaningful. =) Thanks for the recommendation! Oh, by the way, just wondering, are you a Malaysian? Since you know many dialects, I guess you must be a Malaysian like me? xD Wow, baby language! :D Maybe schools should offer this language as a subject! Thanks, and all the best to you too! After posting up this chapter, I got to go back to my books. Hope you'll enjoy reading this chapter! =)
Happy Chinese New Year in advance! It's the year of snakes! :D Anyone who was born in the snake year?
I don't own Half Prince. Happy reading and don't forget to review! :D
Chapter 45 – Second Life (Wen Zi's POV)
I tried to sent PMs to Abyss in-game but he never replied. Frustrated, I left the game earlier than my scheduled time.
All of our hard-earned valuables, both monies and rare jewels, were already gone. Looking at the positive side of the matter, I could always treat our huge losses as a noble charity for the sneaky thief.
But no matter what I thought, I still had to take consideration for my brother's thoughts. My warrior partner wouldn't be able to take this bad news calmly. 'A jaw for a tooth' was always his favourite motto (A lizard-man broke his tooth so he ripped out that poor mob's jaw. It all ended well with a toothless grin on his face and a splat of raw blood on my face).
An awful sensation crippled the pit of my stomach at that horrible thought. That morbid texture of animal blood on my skin reminded me much of how Ma cooked her meals.
Ma always had those great family recipes to prepare her food but her ingredients were all... Words could not describe them. I could only stick my tongue out with disgust.
I grinned at that adorable sound. After taking off my game visor, I grabbed my glasses from the table and patted on the old wrinkled toad sitting on my bed.
"Good morning, Mango. Ah, can't you stay still in the tank? You don't want Ma to find you out. You look so tasty she'll eat you."
I gently held Mango in my hand and placed it back in his home, before covering the whole tank with a piece of bright green linen cloth. I could only remember that I had stolen the toad when I was still in the kindergarten, but I had never recalled the reason for doing so.
Why would I steal a pet from someone? Strange.
I unconsciously turned to the digital clock next to the fish tank. 6.03 AM.
About two hours to go before my Professional Ethics class started. I had already read the notes the day before, so that would be adequate to follow the sleep-inducing class. It wasn't the lecturer's fault. I had never registered for my course out of my own free will.
I would had affirmatively enrolled for another course, if it wasn't for Pa's strong objection...
"Hey Wen Zi!"
A familiar voice came from the laptop on the floor. Then I realised that I had unintentionally left my Apple laptop on since last night. There wasn't any wonder why Ma had complained to me about the sudden increase in the electricity bills. Opps?
"Sorry for logging out early. I'm partying with books now. My stupid exam's at 12 later," The same rough voice added with a tired note.
I sat on the carpeted floor and stared at all the thick books barricading the screen. Romance of the Three Kingdoms? I used to like these books before I was coerced by Pa to shift my class from Chinese Literature to Accounting...
I gave my secret brother an expression that I wished I could call a 'smile'.
"Isn't that subject super easy? Don't worry, Abyss. You're definitely going to ace it."
The books shown on the monitor fell. A disgruntled face with dark ringed eyes appeared to be staring daggers at me. His black hair was messy and uncombed, and I had always been admiring that cool hairstyle of his.
I would also uncomb my hair, dye my hair pale green like my virtual hair and perhaps wear silver earrings, if Ma wasn't a firm believer of superstitions...
"I'm not smart like you, smartass," Abyss grumpily flipped with his book and ripped one page off, "I don't want to repeat my semester again and see that lousy damn lecturer. I like the previous lecturer better. This new one nags like hell. Shit!"
I blinked my eyes, "Your class received a new lecturer? An elderly man?"
"Nah!" He shot back loudly, before his voice started to sound a bit soft and depressed.
"It's a pretty gay boy. Stupid professor. Only twenty-five but he's acting as if he's more senior than me-"
I froze at what I heard. I had always thought that I had a younger brother. Pa had an extramarital affair so that would mean Abyss would be born after me. It wouldn't make sense if Pa had a child before me.
Or did he?
"But Abyss..." I cleared my throat hard,"Shouldn't you be younger than... Twenty-five?"
He formed two and six with his fingers and a thumb. I doubted he meant sixty-two.
"Twenty-six. I've repeated my year a few times. I don't really mind. I don't really care. Studying sucks but it's way better than working 9 to 5. You'll graduate soon, right? Hehe, my early condolences."
I couldn't believe my ears. My brother's already twenty-six? This can't be possible. His young face doesn't justify his real age...
"Isn't it a bit too early to wake up now? What are you up to, Wen Zi?"
I instantaneously slammed my laptop down at that matron voice. I stood up and looked at her.
Without my realisation, Ma was already standing in my room. She was dressed elegantly in a red satin cheongsam, perhaps getting ready to attend one of her lavish functions. Already in her hand was a diamond-braided handbag and in another was her recycleable shopping bag that would soon be filled with a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes for herself and some vegetable biscuits for me.
I could understand her hardships. Hobbies were what she could do to forget her pain. I smiled as naturally as I could for her.
"Good morning, Ma. I'm just talking to my friend."
Her hazel eyes lighted up, "Your friend. Is it a beautiful girl?"
"No, Ma," As I was chuckling, I managed to wink at her, "You're the only beautiful girl I'm talking to right now."
"Then I advise you to have your eyes checked by an optician."
Ma frowned and began to scrutinise my untidy bed, "But why'd you wake up so early? You can always talk to your friend in the evening."
I headed for my baby blue blanket and folded it. Ma wouldn't like it if I didn't make my bed and clean my room. Cleanliness is always godliness for her.
"The earlier, the better," I kept my smile intact on my face, "Early birds always catch the juiciest worms, Ma."
She laughed, "Worms? You don't even touch the pork noodles I made for you yesterday. Everyone loves my homemade noodles, everyone except you. Do you have any idea how much you've insulted your mother?"
"I have no idea. Tell me, Ma," I turned back to give her my teasing smirk.
Ignoring me and my words, she touched my cheeks and stared at me. Her dry small fingers went through my hair, which could have been longer if Ma didn't cut it short.
I would prefer to have my hair long, maybe as long as the one I had in the game. It would hurt Ma much if I had chosen to go against her wishes.
"Can you stop being a vegetarian? Look at you, my precious son. You're too skinny nowadays."
All my relatives claimed that I had my father's eyes, lips and mole. I looked nothing like Ma. I wished I could have one of her facial traits. To prove that I was made of her flesh and blood.
"Ma," I held her hand and looked into her warm eyes, "Are you regretful?"
Her eyes wore that tiny quizzical glint, "Regretful? Of what?"
"Of me not being your blood son."
"I'm somebody else's child. That somebody else is Pa's mistress. Haven't this fact ever aggravated you, Ma?"
She widened her eyes, but she lowered her gaze afterward. Ma looked so lost that I regretted ever asking her that question.
"What can I say?" She bit her trembling lips, "I am the one who's infertile."
"But that's still not a good reason for Pa to be unfaithful-"
Ma raised her hand towards me. I could speak no more.
"There's nothing more useless than a woman who can't produce offsprings for her family. I have never blamed your father, Wen Zi. Thanks to him, I'm now blessed with a good son. Before you came around, I've never felt this..." She turned and smiled at me.
Ma was smiling, but really? Was she really happy? Often, we could be smiling away, but deep inside, we felt so saddened that this burden called 'World' weighing down our shoulders.
Before Ma married Pa, she was a very successful woman. She was the head partner of one of the prominent auditing firms in the world. Pa's betrayal to her left a black hole in her perfect life. She could leave us if she wanted to. She could still be the leading lady in the business world if she wanted to.
The reason Ma couldn't leave us because she couldn't leave Pa behind. And me.
"I'm heading to the City Parade so," I could notice the tears hidden beneath her smile, "Do you need anything, son?"
"I don't need anything." I already have you, Ma.
I smiled as I walked to reach for my motorcycle keys, "Do you need me to drive, Ma?"
"There's no need to trouble yourself. I'll take the public transport instead. Wen Zi, come over here."
I approached Ma, and she touched my shoulders and left a kiss on my cheek.
"You've grown so tall that it's getting harder to reach for your handsome face. No matter how old you are, you'll always be my little boy," She chuckled with that gentle warmth I had grown accustomed for.
"Have a very happy birthday, my dearest Wen Zi. May God bless you with the best things in life."
I was stunned. "What? It's my birthday today?"
"You silly boy," Ma punished me with a soft pinch on my cheek, "How could you forget your own birthday? Don't do the same for your girlfriend. Girls are pretty sensitive when you forget their birthdays."
I didn't really pay much attention to her words. My mind was all jumbled up with questions, confusion about Abyss's age. I wanted to ask Ma directly about her step-son but there she was, still smiling as she waved me goodbye and left the house for her favourite shopping spots.
Her everlasting smile was all I need to assure that everything would be okay.
I gazed absent-mindedly through the open window in my room, admiring the white fluffy clouds that were floating away at the far horizon.
What a beautiful weather... My only birthday wish was to have Ma by my side, and we would live happily like we were in heaven.
However, I was wrong. Something beautiful could never be static. What happened afterward woke me back to the cold harsh reality.
And my perfect world was only just a dream. Nothing but a dream.
"I'm coming, Ma!"
I rushed downstairs and headed for the door. Ma must have forgotten her other shopping bags. She had only brought one bag just now, and it wouldn't fit all her purchased items. That shopaholic had always shopped till she dropped.
With those 'green' bags in my head, I swiped the card to open the door. To my surprise, I was greeted with a tight hug that would have made me fall if I didn't grab the door.
"Wen Zi-ge, happy birthday!"
I only called her name after regaining my composure. The girl in front of me was already in a white wedding gown, looking so bright and beautiful that would immediately blind anyone who stared at her. I blinked my eyes for a gazillion times, unable to comprehend what I was seeing.
"Why are you here?" I asked, sounding too harsh, "Shouldn't you be in Australia now?"
She giggled at the blank look I gave her, "Why should I be in Australia when it's your birthday today? Besides, Father-in-law requested me to come here personally to surprise you!"
"Father-in-law?" I mouthed, almost thinking that it was the NPC that she was referring to.
"Wen Zi-ge, you're so bad!" She slapped playfully on my arm,"You're the only one whom I'm going to marry!"
Shocked at what I heard, I could not say or do anything. All I could do was to stare at the blushing pretty girl that was going to be my bride...
No, she can't be my bride. I don't want to marry her. I never told Pa that she's the one I want to marry...
"Your father's going to organize an engagement party just for us," Her cheerful voice sounded much like a grand requiem to me, "That's so sweet and thoughtful of him. Isn't he just so wonderful? Wen Zi, what's wrong? Are you okay?"
I shook my head and stared at her, "I'm not okay, Xiang Ai. I'm sorry."
It was rude of me, but I didn't know what else to speak to her anymore. I had lost control of my own life.
I wanted to get my life back. I must get it back. Pa gave my life to me, but it's still my life.
After all, what's the point of living if my purpose of life is only to exist?
I sprinted out, jumped onto my motorcycle and quickly put on my helmet. I held on its clutch and turned on the engine, which blasted to life. I couldn't believe it myself but I was going to contront Pa.
It's now or never.
"Wen Zi-ge!" Xiang Ai ran out and spread her arms open wide to obstruct my bike, "Where are you going?"
"I'll be back soon! Please move!" I spoke louder than I intended to.
"But it's going to rain soon, Wen Zi-ge! You'll get wet! What if there's a monsoon?"
I turned towards the sky. The dark clouds were already looming closer to our direction. Could the heaven really be furious, knowing that I was going to be unfilial against my own father?
I couldn't care anymore. All I knew that I was about to do the right thing.
"Thanks for your concern, Xiang Ai," I smiled behind my protective helmet, "You'll find a better man, I'm sure."
Feeling sorry for my supposed-to-be bride, I made an abrupt U-turn and drove to Pa's firm at a lightning-bolt speed. I was a confident stallion, feeling like I had won the battle that I did not have to shed any blood for.
I'm going to change my life.
I shall break away from the shell that I was encased in.
The next time I smile, it would definitely come straight from the heart.
However, life was always uncertain. We can never control it. I tried to pull the reins on my life but I failed. Badly.
I remembered that it was raining heavily on the night that I met with my worst failure.
I had a severe argument with Pa. Hurtful words were thrown like flying daggers and stabbed our hearts in the deepest core. Even I had the radical boldness to disown my own Pa and storm out from his room.
That was when I knew that there was only one way to have a life that I could own...
- One of Chinese superstitions is that males would bring bad luck if they wear earrings. I find it's weird, but it's quite interesting. xD