As if that wasn’t enough for their adventures of the day, they were presented with another gift on the drive home. That gift came in the form of a song–over the radio. It was just Qiao Qiao’s luck that she wanted to turn on the radio to distract herself–with Chen Yi’s permission since it was his car after all. The car was silent, except for the radio playing until the song came on. But that was after the radio broadcaster gave them some background information.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” The DJ drawled out dramatically. “Before I sign off for the day, I would like to present you with a gift. As you may have read or heard that Vic ‘Zai Zai’ Chou is shooting Love You 10,000 Years this upcoming year. But that isn’t the gift because as you all know, it’s not done yet.”
Qiao Qiao rolled her eyes, pondering when the DJ would wrap it up already. She wanted to hear some music, not that guy’s monologue. Yet she held her tongue, knowing the other three were trying to distract themselves as well.
“You’re probably wondering what the gift is then, right?” The DJ continued after a brief pause. “Vic is actually done recording the song that he’s going to use for the movie. And I have the honor of representing our station and introducing that song to you today. So, my dear listeners, I hope you will enjoy the song as much as I did. I will see you next week. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Here is the song that will transfer its name to the movie itself ‘Love You 10,000 Years.’”
The DJ finally signed off then. Qiao Qiao and Yan Yan sighed out heavily at the same time and sat back in their seats, their heads on the headrest, feeling the agony of the upcoming minutes while the song would be playing over the airwaves.
“You girls might want to tone it down a bit,” Chen Yi reminded them. “It’s going to distract my driving if you move around too much.”
“I thought you don’t have a problem with Zai Zai,” Achel jumped in, turning in her seat slightly and looking from Qiao Qiao to Yan Yan.
“It’s not about Zai Zai,” Yan Yan answered for Qiao Qiao.
Achel wrinkled her face in confusion. “What?”
“Like last week, I went to Jacky ge’s at night when they were supposed to have dinner, right?” Qiao Qiao took over.
“When you found out what happened.”
Qiao Qiao nodded, her head still on the backrest and her eyes still staring at the car roof–just like Yan Yan.
“Before that, I was telling them about Zai Zai’s new movie. And I suggested that Jacky ge sing that song to Sonia to cheer her up. I meant since we couldn’t really wait for Zai Zai’s version yet.”
“I wonder if they’re listening to it now?” Yan Yan asked, finally removing her head from the headrest, and stared at the others.
“Maybe,” Chen Yi answered. “But they left before us so they might be at Sonia’s house already.”
“So he might be listening to it alone?”
Chen Yi shrugged. “Maybe.”
Qiao Qiao sat straight up again, her expression worried. “I should’ve gone with him.”
“No, you shouldn’t have.”
Qiao Qiao wrinkled her face but did not speak up to argue with Chen Yi.
It was like Chen Yi understood Qiao Qiao’s frustration. “You heard him, he wanted to send her home for the last time. It wouldn’t be appropriate to be there. In fact, it would be ruining the last time for him.”
And as if the whole ‘sighing’ thing was contagious, Qiao Qiao let out a heavy sigh and sat back in her seat, feeling defeated.
The answer to their wonderment was yes, Jacky and Sonia did listen to the song–together. Jacky was trying to keep his coolness on the way home. But it was too hard, so he reached for the knob of the radio, twisting it to some unknown station, not realizing it was the familiar station of KFT and the current person on air was Ray. It seemed like Ray finally got promoted. Jacky barely paid attention, trying his best to focus on the road–and drive as safely as he could. After all, it was his last time of sending Sonia home. Yet when Ray finally revealed the song’s title, Jacky had to laugh–literally. He couldn’t believe the irony of the situation. Yes, he had overheard Qiao Qiao the other day–though he had pretended to not know that she came over until she knocked on his door.
“What’s wrong?” Sonia asked, looking over at him, knowing from his laugh that it wasn’t the least bit funny.
Jacky shook his head as he hit the brakes at the red light. “I’m a fan of Zai Zai, and I can’t believe how much I miss this guy’s singing.” But what he meant to say was: I wish I could sing this song to you, because I’m going to miss you so much. And he was so glad he didn’t say it exactly like that.
Sonia smiled, and Jacky drove on. They stayed silent the rest of the way to Sonia’s house.
Jacky finally made it home in one piece after an excruciating drive home–alone. Like he hadn’t driven home alone in the past. Yet he knew that after today, he would never pick that other person up again. And would never drive her home ever again.
“Hey, you’re back,” Ehlo said, walking into the living room. He had been in his room. It was Wallace’s turn to make dinner tonight.
Jacky nodded, looking around the room to find Qiao Qiao, Chen Yi, and Achel in the kitchen helping Wallace. Yan Yan must be with Tony at the moment.
“What is this?” Jacky asked, flashing on his mischievous smile. Though he wasn’t sure if he had failed in the comedy department. Probably. “Is this turning into a kiddie party?”
Ehlo shrugged. “They said they wanted to come. I couldn’t stop them. Probably they don’t want to go grocery shopping for the night.”
Jacky knew exactly what they were doing, and he was more appreciative of their support than annoyed. “I’ll be right back.”
Ehlo nodded and continued his step toward the kitchen.
“He okay?” Qiao Qiao asked Ehlo as soon as he settled down in front of the counter.
Ehlo shook his head. “Still faking the okay card. Leave him alone for a while.”
Qiao Qiao nodded, going back to helping Wallace.
Just when they thought the day was over, Jacky was seen walking out–still dressed in work clothes–after ten minutes. The others abandoned their tasks in the kitchen and approached him.
“Where you going, man?” Ehlo asked, somewhat alarmed.
“Can’t stall anymore,” Jacky replied. “Mom just called.”
“Want us to come with you?” Wallace asked.
Jacky shook his head. “No, I want to get it over with. It’s just too complicated.”
“The more we have to come with you,” Angela said in an as a matter of fact tone. She stepped out from Ehlo’s room then. “We’re all in this together, remember? It doesn’t matter what happened between you and Sonia. You need to explain other things to them as well and we can fill in the gaps.”
“She’s right,” Ehlo chimed in, not backing down.
Jacky looked at them all, knowing they wanted to look for a way to decrease his pain, even if they couldn’t. He knew the feeling of helplessness too well. He also knew he couldn’t and shouldn’t rob them of a chance to show some support toward him. He finally nodded.
And having the others come was the best decision Jacky ever made that day because he was bombarded with so many questions from his parents. Even Uncle Ben and Aunt June were there. They wanted to show up for support but couldn’t help much because they didn’t know some of the details. Yet all it counted was being there and tried to calm Jacky’s parents down. Ehlo, Angela, and Wallace took turns telling Jacky’s parents what happened from the beginning and even answered some of the questions. Chen Yi and Qiao Qiao also chimed in with what they knew as well. However, that wasn’t enough because after everything was clear regarding the investigation with the hoax fortune-teller, Mrs. Chu–Jacky’s mother–turned to Jacky, who was slouched at a corner of the sofa.
“If everything’s the way they said, then where’s Sonia now?” Mrs. Chu asked, looking at her son intently.
Jacky let out a heavy sigh before getting up, standing tall again. “I just broke up with Sonia today.”
“You what?” Mr. Chu exclaimed, getting up from his place at the sofa facing Jacky’s.
“Don’t tell me because she’s not your destiny,” Mrs. Chu said, her voice reeking of mockery. “And you told me not to be so superstitious about things.”
Jacky looked from his father’s grim expression and back onto his mother’s questioning glare. “It has nothing to do with that, Mom. I just realize we’re not really that compatible after all.”
Mr. Chu scoffed, sitting back down in his spot. “You kids and those things about matching or not matching. Or whatever else. And I thought it ends at the whole if you love each other or not.”
“I’m sorry I disappointed you both,” Jacky apologized, his face full of sincere. “But…”
Mrs. Chu’s expression changed to an expression full of hope. “You just said today so that means we still have time to go persuade Sonia again. I’m sure we could work something out between you two.”
Jacky shook his head, looking determined. “It’s too late, Mom. Sonia’s going to leave soon.”
Mrs. Chu’s hopeful expression faded, replacing it with the same frustration from before. “Can you just tell me what happened?”
“I just told you already. You wouldn’t want to force me to be with someone I no longer feel strongly about, would you?” And that was as far a stretch as he was going as far as the truth was involved.
Mrs. Chu sighed out heavily and sat down next to her husband again. “Do whatever you want.”
Ehlo brought out one of his escape plans then. It wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it worked because he glanced at his watch real quick before getting up from his place. “I’m sorry, Uncle and Auntie, we have to go because…”
Angela got up also, taking the hint from Ehlo. “It’s really late already, you should rest.”
“That’s right,” Uncle Ben said, getting up as well. “I need them to help me restock my supplies, so come on, kids.”
Aunt June and Wallace exchanged a look before getting up themselves. One by one, the parties who came with Jacky piled out of there, glad that Uncle Ben and Aunt June had come. When Qiao Qiao caught up with Jacky, she wrapped an arm around his waist–as if wanting to lend some strength to him. Jacky was surprised by her gesture but slipped his hand around her shoulders anyway as they made their way outside, sending her a smile of appreciation.
“Back to my stall,” Uncle Ben ordered as soon as they were by their cars.
“Aww…come on, Uncle Ben!” Ehlo whined, knowing too well Jacky needed a break.
“I’m not going to pry,” Uncle Ben clarified. “How about letting me invite you to dinner?”
“Uh…we sort of have dinner waiting at home,” Wallace jumped in.
“Microwave it then.”
Wallace turned to exchange a look with the others.
“I guess it wouldn’t harm us that much,” Ehlo said finally, knowing Uncle Ben would keep his promise.
“I’m coming with you,” Uncle Ben said, pointing at Jacky. “We sort of came with your dad earlier.”
Jacky nodded, making his way to his car.
“What in the world are they going to talk about?” Ehlo pondered aloud when the other three were already out of earshot.
“I think they just want to be there, not probe,” Angela guessed. “Come on, everyone.”
Ehlo turned toward his car, spotting Jacky’s car pulling out from the spot across the street. He waved before turning back to the others behind him. “If that song ‘Love You 10,000 Years’ play about ten more times on the way back, I’m going to call into those stations and protest.”
“You guys were listening to it too?” Qiao Qiao asked.
“Well, it’s hard not to when almost every one of the stations were playing it. I’m going to beat Zai Zai up soon if the song keeps playing.”
“If you get to meet him ever,” Chen Yi pointed out.
“And it isn’t Zai Zai’s fault,” Qiao Qiao reminded him.
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” Ehlo agreed, nodding. “It’s your fault!”
“Of course, it’s your fault. If you didn’t suggest that thing, then we wouldn’t be sitting here thinking of the irony. And he better has a good explanation for blaming himself when I get there.” Ehlo was referring to Jacky with the last phrase.
After he said that, he circled around and got in on the driver’s side. Angela turned to give them a look before getting in on the passenger side. Wallace followed suit and got in the back. Yes, they had taken two cars–as far as their residence was concerned, with Jacky going with Qiao Qiao earlier. Qiao Qiao had no choice but follow Chen Yi and Achel to Chen Yi’s car.
It took an extra twenty minutes more before Ehlo and Chen Yi made it to Uncle Ben’s house. It had to do both with them lingering behind to talk some more earlier and traffic. Apparently, Uncle Ben had decided to change the plan and wanted to meet at his house instead, knowing they were too fatigued to be out at the stall.
“Since we’re all here now, let’s get some food, right?” Uncle Ben said. Though he had already prepared the food while they were waiting for the others to come.
They all got up and combined the tables together again, but this time inside. They only needed to combine two small tables–and not several like their last few gatherings.
“All right,” Uncle Ben said when they had already settled down at the table. “Let’s dig in, everyone.”
They waited for Uncle Ben and Aunt June to begin. Then they dug in. Silence filled the room–aside from the constant moving of utensils around the table.
“Go ahead, Ehlo,” Jacky spoke up about ten minutes later.
Ehlo was still eating, but he turned to Jacky, his expression puzzled. He was sitting next to Jacky–with Qiao Qiao on Jacky’s left. “What?”
“You know you’ve been itching to ask me since we arrived.”
Before Ehlo could open his mouth, Angela sent him a look warning him not to. Yet Jacky shook his head at Angela, indicating it was all right.
“Why in the world did you blame yourself earlier?” Ehlo asked. He had stopped eating altogether and was giving Jacky his full attention.
“What should I have done then?” Jacky asked back. “It’s still the same, no one could change the result.”
“If he wants to protect her, then let him,” Qiao Qiao interrupted Jacky’s explanation. “You know how scary his mother is. She’ll tear Sonia apart if she knew what happened.”
Jacky turned to Qiao Qiao with a disappointed look on his face. “Why does everyone think what Sonia did was wrong? If I had missed my own wedding because of that reason, I would’ve wanted a chance to explain and forgive me like Sonia had. She’s not wrong, she’s following her heart. Or you guys rather she stays here and puts up that pretentious act with still loving me?”
Qiao Qiao didn’t back down. She placed her bowl of rice and chopsticks on the table again, not wanting to take it out on Uncle Ben and Aunt June’s possessions. “I didn’t say Sonia’s wrong. I’m just saying from your mom’s point of view, regardless of what happened and why, she would still support you. Because to a mother, her son is the most precious treasure in her life, not someone else’s son. And she’s not wrong either because she’s just protecting her most valued treasure.”
The others paused in their place–whether eating or talking. They all turned to look at Qiao Qiao, not realizing that she’d grown up just within a month. Or was that the courage she was forcing herself to take on so she could protect someone she called her brother?
“You’re right,” Jacky finally said. “I’m sorry, sis.”
Qiao Qiao shook her head. “I know.”
They went back to eating after that. Even if they had to speak up, they would end up switching topics, not wanting to rub more salt onto Jacky’s wound. It had been one long day. Too long.
“Look on the bright side,” Ehlo said when they were all done eating and were getting up to help clear the table. “Now that we got that out of the way, we could look forward to seeing how the gift shop’s doing. One more month, remember?”
“Oh yeah,” Wallace said, almost forgetting–though he couldn’t understand how he could forget. Or was it because too much had happened this past month?
“And guess what?”
“Xiao Ling Ling’s new movie’s coming out soon. Who’s with me?”
“I’m in, but we’re not going on opening night. I seriously don’t want to get crushed like last time.”
“Oh yeah, there’s more to look forward to.”
“What in the world happened to Ming Dao and Sam? I thought they said they would come back in a week or so. I meant that is like a week and a half? But now…”
“I wonder too. Want to call them tomorrow?”
“Are you trying to fill up the calendar for us? We get the point, Huang.”
“One more thing and it’s even better than all the other things I just listed.”
“What?” Wallace was getting restless at Ehlo’s attempt since it was getting over-killed, but he decided to let Ehlo spit it out anyway.
“Johnny and Bianca are coming back next week.”
Wallace smiled, finally agreeing with Ehlo. They continued to help clean up until there was nothing else to do, except go home.
And as annoying as it was, the radio stations did not care about Ehlo’s threat because they had to endure the song ‘Love You 10,000 Years’ about a few dozen more times on the way back home, just like how they had to endure it on the way to Uncle Ben’s place. Like Qiao Qiao pointed out, it wasn’t Zai Zai’s fault. They all loved Zai Zai very much, but the song just had to play on their emotions at that point. Or should they just resort to blaming Qiao Qiao altogether–for ruining the new Zai Zai song for them all?
© Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Posted: Saturday, November 5th, 2011