Chapter Two: Tong's Reckoning
"What am I going to say to Donut?" Tong questioned himself as he rushed to meet with Donut.
Tong remembered the first time he saw Mew.
At the time, Tong was playing catch with his sister Tang, who was throwing the ball all over the place. Tong was running every where to get the ball.
Tong had sworn that his sister threw the ball wildly on purpose. He could see the little smirks on his sister's face every now and then, but it was all fun. He loved his sister very much.
Then on one of his sister's wild throws, Tong could hear a car coming. Tong quickly grabbed the ball and stood to one side. He had noticed that his sister did the same on the same side of the alley.
The car hurried toward them and if by instinct, the driver had stopped almost right in front of them.
Tong saw the driver and his front seat passenger getting out. He then saw this last passenger, a boy about his age reluctantly, slowly, taking his first step to get out of the back.
Tong could see that the boy did not want to be here. He could see the dry tear stains on the side of boy's face. The boy looked like he was in a somber mood.
Upon seeing her visitors' arrival, grandma Jeng promptly came out of her house and welcomed her son's family.
The father told his son Mew to say hi to his grandma. Getting no response from Mew, the father ordered his son to bring in his things.
As the boy went to the back of the car and grabbed his things from the trunk, Tong locked eyes with him.
There was no sign of friendliness. Tong then waved weakly at this new boy.
Tong's sister gently tapped Tong's head.
"Stop staring. Come and help me in setting the table." Tang continued.
Few hours later, Tong saw that the car was gone and he could see from his room's window that his new neighbour was laying on a bed in what was an empty room before. His new neighbour was laying on his front. There was no movement.
Much later that night, Tong learned from his parents that Grandma Jeng had her grandson moved to stay with her. Her son was not able to have his job transferred to Bangkok. There was also a hint that the parents didn't want their son to live with them.
For the next several days, Tong had noticed that his new neighbour preferred to stay by himself. He even waved at his new neighbour from his window. Tong also attempted to introduce himself in school. Each time, his new neighbour would either give no response or just walk away.
What made it worst was the gum incident. Ever since, Tong had noticed more subtle changes. His new neighbour's window curtain was drawn tightly.
Tong no longer saw his new neighbour in the mornings or after school.
During school time, Tong noticed that his neighbour would not make contact with anyone. Even during recesses, his neighbour would spend time alone.
Tong had felt badly about the gum incident. Because of what he had seen and what he did, Tong somehow felt protective of his new neighbour.
One day when he saw a group of older boys going to the washroom after his new neighbour, Tong had somehow sensed something horrible would happen.
Perhaps it was the best thing that had ever happened, Tong reminisced.
That bathroom incident had opened up Mew. Tong was no longer the boy to avoid.
That was when Tong and Mew began to face the world together, Tong mused.
Tong remembered the first time he saw Mew smiled. They were sitting on the school's stairwell. Mew was helping to clean Tong's injuries resulted from the scuffle in the washroom.
Mew's smile was so beautiful. When he smiled, he was like an angel, so bright, so innocent, so endearing.
"Was that when I had an inkling that this new neighbour of mine would be my best friend forever?" Tong pondered.
When Tong's sister didn't return from the trip to Chiang Mai, Tong had felt as if a biggest part of him had been torn away. His parents were unbelievably occupied in consoling themselves.
"What about me?" Tong inquired to no one particular.
Mew was there for Tong.
For five nights after Tong's parents returned and then went back to Chiang Mai, Tong relied on Mew for emotional support.
Every day of those five days was a painful reminder that he was left out. Every night Tong would find solace and comfort in being with Mew.
Then on the night of his parents' return and witnessing his mom's despair outcry, Tong had finally, sadly, devastatingly realized his sister was not coming back.
Throughout that evening, he was extremely subdued. All night long he was trying to keep his emotions in check.
When Mew touched his arm in bed and eventually held his hand, he ultimately broke down. He began to weep convulsively.
Tong didn't remember how long he had been sobbing but he had recalled that when he woke up on the next morning, he was resting on Mew's arm. Mew was smiling at him.
Was it destiny that he saw Mew at Siam Square? Was it fate that he couldn't find love with Donut?
"Where were you? We are late!" Donut demanded to know.
Tong had finally arrived at the meeting place.
Then as if it was a telltale sign from fate, Tong had begun to hear the beginning of the song that was especially written for him.
Tong stopped himself and turned toward the big screen and saw his beloved singing. Tong couldn't help, but seem to be paralyzed by Mew's image.
If I say that I wrote this song for you, would you believe me?
"Mew, I miss you a lot." Tong thought.
It might not be as well-written and beautiful like other songs.
I want you to know that you can't write a love song if you're not in love.
But for you, I can write this song so easily.
Tong finally got the courage.
"Donut, we can't be together."
"Fine. We don't have to go to the party."
"No... Umm... I mean I can't see you any longer."
"Awww...You should have told me earlier. Now I don't have a date - of all nights! How embarrassing!"
As Tong watched Donut storming off, Tong had realized that if it wasn't for Mew, he wouldn't know what love was. He certainly couldn't find this precious love in Donut.
Tong started to walk toward the concert.
In the past, I spent a lot of time looking for the meaning of it, but I just knew that every time you are near.
No, with Mew, it wasn't just a friendship love. It wasn't just a love of being closely together. It wasn't even a love stemmed from spending a childhood together. It was way more than an ... eternal love.
I just knew that if life is a melody, you are the lyrics to make it meaningful and make life a beautiful music.
Tong began to pick up his pace. He started to run.
Let it be the song. On the way along with only your and my voice.
That will be together for a long time.
Tong met up with Ying and together they rushed toward the concert.
They got to the balcony of stairwell that overlooked the stage and they could clearly see Mew performing.
Tong was mesmerized by the hopeful look that Mew seemed to be emitting toward him.
At the back of Tong's mind, Tong cautioned himself. Tong didn't want to scare Mew off.
Tong certainly didn't want Mew to be frightened by his own self-discovered revelation. Tong would have to take things slowly and to ensure Mew that things will be all right.
That their future together was their destiny.
What about his own family? Tong's parents were still in turmoil. Will his father be able to recover from his alcoholism, now that June had gone away?
Did Tong have the right to be selfish while he lovingly pursued Mew's love?
Just before Mew's performance ended, Ying grabbed Tong's hand, descended the stairwell and walked toward the stage.
Tong was excited too. He couldn't wait to see Mew in person, so he hurriedly moved ahead of Ying.
There was so much to say to Mew.
Then as Tong quickly moved ahead, Ying realized that this gathering was for Tong and Mew. Ying now saw that this was a private thing. She was not privy to Tong and Mew's love.
Ying reluctantly let go of Tong's hand. She sadly resigned to the fact she again failed to acquire the unrequited love. Twice already in her young life! She was so hoping that somehow, something would be developed with Tong.
Tong had felt the loosening of Ying's grip and by the time Ying had let go, Tong had moved too far forward to find Ying in the back.
Tong had decided to go ahead and find Mew. He struggled through the crowd and after asking several stagehands, he finally saw Mew and his group.
When Tong saw Mew, Tong got the feeling that perhaps Mew would be better off without him. Tong could easily see that Mew was in his element when he was performing.
Besides, Tong was not going to profess his love in front of Mew's band mates.
Tong had ensconsed that he would give Mew the freedom. If he and Mew were meant to be together, fate will somehow, someway, someday reunite them.
Mew turned around, hearing a familiar voice, hoping that it would be Tong, "Hey, Tong!"
Mew was grateful that it was indeed Tong. He simply couldn't bare to miss Tong for another day. Auntie or not, he wanted to experience again that magical moment with Tong after June's party. He wanted to feel Tong's lips on his.
Mew inwardly laughed. As soon as he got home after that party, he had pressed his lips against a blank sheet of paper, shaded the impression, and on the next day, he went to Siam Square and had the small sheet laminated.
His first real kiss! Mew will always remember that night!
"The music was great!"
Mew was still reminiscing that night and asked the same question, hoping, praying that Tong would reply with a similar response as that night: "Do you have anything to say after listening to it?"
"Umm..." Tong stammered, still questioning whether he's doing the right thing. He didn't want Mew to avoid him like Mew had done in the past few days. What did his mom say to Mew anyhow?
It must have been something ominous for Mew not to have any contact with him. Tong had thought Mew had shared the same strong, unbreakable affection as he.
So why did Mew not answer to any of his pleas? Did Mew feel regretful over them being together? Was Mew ashamed of them being intimate?
Tong replied with such a finality that sounded like he would never see Mew again: "I can't be with you as your boyfriend."
Mew blinked. Mew felt as if his world had finally come crashing down. He knew he had avoided Tong in the past few days, but he really wasn't prepared for those words. He had always thought eventually that some day he and Tong would be allowed to be more than just friends.
As soon as Tong had said those words, Tong saw the flicker of light in Mew's eyes, that angelic smile he knew so well ever since from childhood, faltered.
Was Tong wrong about Mew not caring? Tong promptly, finally confessed his true feeling, despite of the fact that he knew Mew's friends were watching, listening: "But that doesn't mean I don't love you, Mew."
"Thank you." Mew responded awkwardly. Being confused, he now simply wanted to be alone.
"Umm...I have to go. They're waiting."
"Wait, Mew." Tong remembered. "Ah, I want to give you this."
Tong handed the wooden doll's nose to Mew.
"What is it?"
"It's your Christmas present."
"Thank you." Not too sure what else to say, Mew reminded Tong, "Umm...I better go."
Mew walked back to his band mates and his friends inquired, "Hey! What is it? Let me see."
Tong looked on as Mew was returning to his friends. Tong wondered if he will ever see Mew again. Did he give the wrong impression? Will Mew continue on to avoid his calls - still?
Tong was hoping to tell Mew that every thing was all right with his mom. That he and Mew could still continue on to see each other and explore this great thing that they had.
Now, will there be any chance of them ever see each other again?
Mew looked back, still hoping that Tong would say something else or give a hint that they would get together soon.
Tong put up a brave smile, waved and then turned. Tong didn't want Mew or any others to see how hurt he was.
The last time he was like this was after he had witnessed his mom crying, holding Tang's pillow, asking why.
Will he lose Mew like his family lost his sister?
This time though Tong had no one to share his unimaginable grief and heartache...