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Chapter 13

“Cyndi!” Everyone’s voice echoed into the wind.
Jiro had caught her in time. The others were all gathered around her.
“Why did you do it, why?” Jiro asked, his voice loud yet it was full of pain.
“As long as you’re safe,” Cyndi replied weakly, her smile pale yet full of happiness.
“Cyndi!” It was Mr. Wang. He had arrived and had pushed the others aside–along with Jiro. “Cyndi!”
Too late. Her eyes already snapped shut.
“Ling Ling!” Jiro called out, his eyes were brimming with tears. He attempted to step forward again, to reach her.
Mr. Wang pushed him back while holding Cyndi in his arms. “You have no right to do it.”
Calvin and Chun had helped Jiro up. Jiro could not say anything more.
“Uncle,” Joanne spoke up for everyone present.
Mr. Wang turned on Joanne. “Silence!” There was so much hatred on his face that wasn’t even possible, not when they were used to him as being the calmest among the three sworn brothers. He turned his eyes on Jiro again. “You just had one job to do and you couldn’t get it right?”
By then, Mr. Hsiao had arrived at their spot.
“Ling Ling’s still breathing,” Mr. Hsiao said after a brief inspection. “Let’s not waste anymore time here.”
It was then that Mr. Wang looked down at his daughter once again. He knew Mr. Hsiao was right. He turned and headed for the path leading out of the woods.
“You kids keep quiet,” Mr. Tseng whispered before he caught up with his two sworn brothers.

*****

“What did I tell you?” Sharon scolded them all. “Now we’re in a cage.”
Cage? Yes, they were in a cell at that point–princesses, guards, and guests–no exceptions. It happened after they arrived at the current location. Though Doc said Cyndi still had hope, Mr. Wang’s fuming rage wasn’t extinguishing any sooner than they’d hoped. He ordered to put them all in lockdown. Mr. Hsiao and Mr. Wang did not dare to contradict him, knowing he was worried for his precious daughter. It did not matter if their precious daughters were locked up too. They felt guilty for not being fierce enough, letting it happen.
And Sharon was right–for once–that they would meet with consequences. She had no idea it meant Cyndi’s worst fate.
“Like we want things to happen to Cyndi,” Joanne said.
“Like not agreeing to go on this trip would help,” Sharon shot back.
“Shut up!” Jiro bellowed at both girls. He got up from his corner in the cell. “I would like to know how in the world could you girls left the basement. You’ve never been to the basement in the past.”
“Like it was my fault!” Sharon shouted right back. “Someone gave us a hint, okay?”
“Sharon!” Joanne cried out, alarmed and worried rolled into one.
Jiro advanced closer to Sharon. “Who?”
“Sharon!” Joanne called out again, shaking her head.
It did not take Sharon’s answer. Jiro’s eyes blinked in acknowledgment. He turned toward Calvin. “Chen Yi Ru!”
Joanne jumped in front of Calvin as Jiro lunged at Calvin. Calvin pushed Joanne out in time, receiving the attack in full. Joanne rushed to help Calvin up as Jiro continued with his blows.
“We shouldn’t be doing this now,” Chun spoke up, standing in between the two groups.
Jiro’s eyes were beyond reasons now. “He had to slip it.”
“It was my fault,” Sophia interfered, stepping toward them.
“You don’t want to be involved,” Chun warned her, using himself to shield her. It was his instinct being a guard.
“If I hadn’t reminded them that Calvin left us a hint, we would never have figured it out,” Sophia continued, pushing Chun out of the way, using only a little force.
Jacky stepped forward, attempting to shield Sophia from Jiro’s stare. But she pushed him back, sending him a look that said: “I can take care of myself.”
“I wanted to ignore Jacky ge’s words,” Joanne said, still standing in front of Calvin. “I wanted to be selfish. And if it was me who got shot instead…”
“He had a job!” Jiro screamed, pointing at Calvin, feeling out of control.
“Cyndi wanted to go,” Angela said. She had walked over also.
Jiro turned to her. “What?”
“She went to Qiao’s room that night and convinced Qiao to join force with her and…”
Jiro turned to Joanne and Sharon. Sharon had left her post by the front of the cell.
“She’s starting to remember,” Sharon said. “We made Qiao take your room, but she came to the room that night and Qiao just had to use the fragrance and…” She used her hands to gesture. “She seemed different the next day. Or more like she was returning to her old self.”
Jiro turned to Joanne. It was like he did not trust Sharon’s recounts too much.
Joanne nodded. “She asked me if we stayed there before. And she actually slept well that night. She even got her temper back. She slammed the rice bowl down and scared the world out of us the next morning at breakfast. She even flipped Sharon.”
“What are you guys talking about?” Angela asked, scanning their faces. She was somewhat taken aback by Jiro’s outbursts earlier. But now, she was more than confused by the others’ exchange. Even Sophia didn’t seem that confused about the idea of it.
The others did not dare to disclose the information. They all stared at Jiro, waiting for his permission.

*****

“Dong Dong,” A girl’s voice called out cheerfully, running toward a guy standing by the balcony. She laced her hand with his. “What are you thinking about?”
He finally turned to face her. “Why are you jinxing us? We’re not supposed to see each other until tomorrow’s ceremony.” Though he was scolding her but there was this gentleness in his eyes.
She hit his hand playfully. “You know I don’t believe in those silly stuffs.”
Then the room swam. The balcony disappeared. They too dissolved into the fog.
Everything was white. Blurry but white. Two girls stood by the stairs, waiting for the bride to step down. The church loomed ahead as the scene changed. Two guys were seen escorting the two girls from earlier. One guy stood alone, his face showing mixture of intensity and nervousness. His bride finally came, stunning him. It was then that he realized he was the luckiest guy in the world. The scene shifted again. This time, the other girls were gathering around the bride, congratulating her while the guys did the same for the groom.
The loud bang finally came…she couldn’t react. He didn’t see it coming. One shot…one shot only. They were both hit. But their hands were still linked. Then everything was dark.
“Dong Dong…” Cyndi murmured.
Mr. Wang came to her side, shaking her awake, his emotion too uncontrollable. Mr. Hsiao and Mr. Tseng stopped him. Mr. Wang was shaking her too hard.
“Calm down,” Mr. Tseng said, pulling Mr. Wang away from the bed.
“Give her some room,” Mr. Hsiao said.
Cyndi sprinted up at that time. Sweats on her face.
“Cyndi!” Mr. Wang called out, running toward her once again.
“Where is Dong Dong?” Cyndi exclaimed, her eyes scanning everywhere.
“Don’t move,” Her father instructed her. “You just woke up.”
“Where is Dong Dong?” Cyndi demanded, her hands shaking her father–a role reversed just within minutes.
“I locked him up with the others,” Mr. Wang replied, his anger rising. “He failed to protect you.”
“Why did you lock Dong Dong up? He was shot. We both were!” She forced her legs to cooperate, connecting with the floor beneath her.
“Stop moving! He’s not hurt! You received the bullet in full. ”
Cyndi shook her head, reluctant to stay calm. “No, he was, we both got shot.” Then her world swayed. The images in her head morphed itself into one another, confusing her. It was too much. She fell back on the bed again.
“Cyndi!” Her father cried out again.
Mr. Tseng rushed to find Doc while Mr. Hsiao stayed by, trying to calm Mr. Wang down.

*****

“Just because of that Mr. Wang restricted all your behaviors and interactions with each other?” Angela asked, wrinkling her face.
Jiro had let the others tell Angela and Sophia. There was no point in keeping it a secret anymore. Jiro had also calmed down temporarily, sitting at his corner. Joanne had coaxed one of the guards of their cell to tell them about Cyndi’s news. She had stabilized and was resting still. The others had settled around the cell to listen to the recounts also. Chun, Joanne, and Sharon had taken turns to explain while Jacky just stayed quiet–like his old self.
“Welcome to the gang,” Chun said. He was still at odds with Angela hence sitting at a distance from her.
Angela still looked exasperated. “Just because of that he put all your lives on hold?”
“It was never on hold, just restricted,” Sharon said, sounding defensive. “You don’t know what he’d been through. He almost lost his daughter. It made sense to not trigger her anymore.”
“But that’s messed up, telling you guys not to date or…”
“It’s not that we can’t date, we’re in a gang, not like you.”
“But separating you from the guards and…”
“Hey, you don’t know what we’ve been through. You have no say.”
“But isn’t it torturing to hold everything back and restrict yourselves all this time? Pretending to not care for one another…” Her eyes passed Calvin and Joanne who were sitting next to each other at that moment. “Or…”
“If you care for someone so much and treat that person like family, you would find any way to protect her–regardless of the consequences.”
Angela turned to Sharon. Not mad, not bewildered of her words and reasoning. But a new sense of regard. She felt like she just met Sharon for the first time. Sharon was still Sharon, the sarcastic, loud Sharon. Yet Sharon made a lot of sense. Sharon sounded very righteous. She did not know what to say. She directed her eyes toward Jiro. “Doesn’t it hurt to not acknowledge your wife?”
“I see her all the time,” Jiro replied. “As long as I know she’s alive and well, does it matter?”
Angela sat down at that time, her back to the cell’s door. “I can’t believe you people could stand it.”
“Thank you,” Chun mumbled, his hostility still present.
Joanne sighed out. “It has been two years now and the same thing happens. And this time…”
“It’s my fault, not yours,” Calvin whispered to her.
“I don’t need any one of you to take the blame,” Jiro said, his tone serious and cold again. “As long as she survives…but…” His eyes scanned everyone. “Don’t ever try to be smart again.”
“How long do we have to stay here then?” Angela asked, looking at the others.
“Whenever Uncle Wang cools down,” Joanne mumbled.
“Is he really going to kill us?” Angela shivered, remembering the threat Mr. Wang had delivered when he tossed them into the cell himself.
“As long as Cyndi’s alive…”
Calvin reached his hand out and placed it on Joanne’s shoulder. Joanne leaned into him, feeling so tired. He let her head rest on his shoulder, not saying anything.
“You two are really a couple then?” Angela asked–despite the situation.
“No,” Sharon answered in Joanne’s place. “We used to get along but because of Cyndi’s memory lapse, we just separated. I’m sure they just got together like several days ago. Or attempted to.”
“Since we aren’t going anywhere anyway, could you guys tell me everything from the start? I meant you only told me about the time Cyndi lost her memory but not before that.”
“You already know our fathers are sworn brothers who built their empire together,” Sharon said.
Angela nodded.
“Da Dong, Ah Ru, and I were raised by Sharon’s father,” Chun continued. “Jacky was saved by Boss Tseng, so Jacky became Qiao’s bodyguard since then. Aside from being in a gang, our lives were as normal as can be. That was before we came to this island. We were busted by the authorities fifteen years ago. Someone gave them a tip. We separated and met up at the pier.”
Sharon coughed at that time.
Chun looked at her. “What?”
Sharon shifted her eyes toward Sophia. Sophia still had on her indifference expression, yet her eyes said otherwise. Her hands had folded into knuckles also. As if the memory was too much for her–though she had claimed she had already let go.
“We cost her job,” Joanne spoke up, her head still on Calvin’s shoulder.
“Who?” Calvin asked, turning his head slightly to look at her.
Joanne was looking at Sophia. “Can we?”
Sophia nodded.
Angela wrinkled her eyebrows. “What’s going on here?”
“Sophia jie used to be a cop,” Joanne replied.
“What?”
Though the other guys did not speak up, but their heads turned toward Sophia.
“She was the person who refused to shoot when she was the closest and let us go,” Joanne continued.
Jacky was sitting next to Sophia. His eyes suddenly studying her more closely than the others. How could that be? She let them go fifteen years ago and was also the one who saved him fifteen years later?
“It makes sense that you’re not afraid of us,” Chun said, nodding.
As the others were still sinking things in, Angela turned to Chun. “You guys sure you don’t know how to get out of this cell? After all, you did lie about not knowing about the safe house.”
“The safe house is Cyndi’s house,” Sharon said. “The room we made Qiao took the other night was Jiro and Cyndi’s room. Well, it was supposed to be theirs since they already re-arrange everything leading up to the wedding. We just didn’t know about the basement. At least not us girls.”
Angela turned to Sharon again. “What about the first house we were at?”
“The one with the balconies?”
Angela nodded.
Sharon smiled. “My house. It has a nice garden view and Cyndi loves it, that’s why we held their wedding there.”
“What about this house then?”
“This is our new base after the ambush from two years ago.”
“So we can get out?”
“The point is not about getting out now, but about respecting Uncle Wang.”
“What happened to story time?” Chun asked, eyeing Angela suspiciously. “Don’t you want to know more?”
“After you guys settled on this island, you carry on with your activities, what else?” Angela prompted.
“We continued with our lives here until Da Dong and Cyndi got married and then got shot on the same day. They survived but Cyndi couldn’t remember what had happened or at least not during the time that she and Da Dong spent together or that they were already married. And you know the rest…Boss Wang decided to seal it all up and let her start over. We were no longer friends but were all separated by a wall of princesses and the guards, nothing more. Everything went into formalities. We even had to practice our words and behaviors even if we weren’t around Cyndi. Practice makes perfect, right? So we wouldn’t slip it when we’re around Cyndi. Two years were erased from Cyndi’s memory and she became twenty-four again. She became too obedient, too innocent. She wasn’t our spunky princess anymore.”
“All of you know how to defend yourselves?” Angela was looking at Joanne and Sharon.
“If we didn’t, it would be too brainless,” Sharon answered. “We learned how to defend ourselves but not use guns. Cyndi had lost her memory, so her skills went with it. She’s the best out of us three, which makes it even more pathetic to watch.”
“Pitiful,” Joanne corrected Sharon.
Sharon rolled her eyes. “Same thing.” She sighed out before continuing. “So with Cyndi around in the past two years, we had to get crafty, only using our skills when she wasn’t around. The guys had to stick around to protect us from time to time. But it wasn’t necessary. It was just in the past few days that my father announced about letting the guys go with us again. Only recently that we discovered about Qiao’s gun abilities.”
Calvin squeezed Joanne’s hand, sending her a message that he was there and that she did not have to worry about her fear. She tightened her grip on his hand, indicating that she was fine.
“All I wanted was for her to be able to defend herself again,” Jiro spoke up suddenly, his voice distance and hollow. “How could she…”
The others stayed silent, not knowing what to say. They were responsible for what happened one way or another.
“So what are you guys going to do now since your fathers already eliminated the last threat of the island?” Angela asked five minutes later.
Sharon shrugged. “Who knows?”
Chun cleared his throat slightly. “You’ve been asking a lot of questions since you’ve came. Don’t tell me you’re a cop posted on this island to catch us.”
Angela scoffed. “Like I care.”
“It doesn’t explain why you have a lot of guts to stay here.”
“Is it even time?” That was surprisingly Sharon.
The others soon fell into silence as well. They were waiting for a sentence. Traces of fatigue were shown on some of the faces present. Chun and Angela were still staring each other down in silence. Jacky wanted to ask Sophia more yet he sensed unease from her, so he held it in. Jiro stayed in his corner of the cell, not caring to look at the others. Sharon was leaning back against the steel bars as she prayed for Cyndi’s safety. They soon drifted into sleep–still waiting. Calvin and Joanne were the only ones still in one another’s arms while leaning back on the wall for support.

*****

The next morning, they were awakened by the clanking of metal. They all got up and came to the door. The main door to the prison was opened.
“Master said I could release Miss Joanne and Miss Sharon,” The guard who just came announced to the two guards on duty.
“What about us?” Angela blurted out.
“Only Miss Joanne and Miss Sharon,” The guard repeated.
Joanne exchanged a look with Sharon before turning to Calvin. “I’ll be back.”
Calvin nodded, releasing her hand finally.
Joanne then turned to Angela. “Cyndi’s all right now. That’s why Uncle Hsiao could even persuade Uncle Wang to release us. Don’t worry, we’ll try to get you guys out.” She turned to Jacky at that time. “Jacky ge.”
The guard who just entered put a hand up–but not too high, trying to show respect for Joanne. “Only Miss Joanne and Miss Sharon.”
“Go,” Jacky said to Joanne. His words were brief, but his expression had told her to take care of herself.
Sharon tugged on Joanne’s arm and the others stepped back to let the girls out. After the door shut, the others turned to Jiro.
“She’s going to be all right,” Chun told Jiro–as if Jiro needed the reminder.
Jiro nodded, not saying anything.

*****

“Ba!” Joanne exclaimed as soon as she saw her father waiting for them outside. “How’s Cyndi?”
“She’ll make it,” Mr. Tseng answered.
Joanne and Sharon exchanged a look of relief.
“But…”
The girls turned to Mr. Tseng again.
“It’s turning into a mess.”
“Her memory’s coming back?” Joanne inquired.
“You knew?”
“Of course, we know, we’ve been with her these past days.”
Mr. Tseng shook his head, his stress lines increasing. “Did you girls strike it…?”
Joanne and Sharon shook their heads.
“It was a mistake to come to that house,” Joanne clarified. “If the guys would’ve told us beforehand, we would’ve stopped them. It’s too late now. It’s her house after all, so how could it not trigger signs of familiarity and triggering her memory to come back slowly?”
“Her attitude was terrible,” Sharon added. “She creeps the world out of me because she acted just like Jiro. Only wants us to move on and not talk.” She displayed her serious look and attempted to mimic Cyndi’s expression. “‘Could you guys walk faster? We can’t waste time.’” She shivered after hearing herself.
“What stage is she at now?” Joanne asked.
“She just fainted again,” Mr. Tseng answered.
“I thought she’s fine.”
“From the wound, she would recover slowly. But her memory’s a jumble. The first time she woke up last night, she thought it was the day she and Jiro got shot and was really giving Old Wang a good scolding–if that was possible. Like why he was locking Jiro up when Jiro was hurt. And the second time…” He stopped since they arrived at the main hall already.
Joanne looked toward the section that divided into the bedrooms. “Could we go visit her or…”
“I’ll try to get you girls in if Old Wang doesn’t…”
Joanne nodded.
When they arrived, they saw Mr. Wang still sitting by Cyndi’s bedside. He was a mess, yet he did not dare to leave. He was afraid his daughter was going to dissolve into the air if he dared to step an inch out of the room. Joanne and Sharon waited at the door as Mr. Tseng stepped into the room.
“Go get some rest,” Mr. Tseng said. “I’ll look over Ling Ling.”
Mr. Wang jumped up–literally, outraged. “Don’t call her that! It’ll trigger her memory even more.”
Mr. Tseng still remained calm, surprisingly. He was not the calm type. Many people had believed Joanne inherited that from him. Yet he was unusually calm this time. “I think it’s too late to seal things from her now. Even if we delay the process any longer, it would just be in a matter of time.”
“After she recovers, it’s going to be okay again.”
Mr. Tseng shook his head. “So you’re just going to bring up a bunch of excuses to drive those fuzzy images out of her head forever? Do you want to make that decision again?” This attitude was more like Mr. Tseng.
“She’s my daughter!”
Joanne couldn’t stand it anymore. She rushed in and jumped in front of her father. “Uncle, it was my fault. You can take it out on me.”
“Qiao Qiao, outside,” Her father ordered, pushing her out yet shielding her from Mr. Wang’s glare at the same time.
“Dong Dong…” Cyndi murmured at that time.
“Cyndi!” Mr. Wang’s attention returned to his daughter.
Cyndi opened her eyes at that time, scanning the room with her eyes. “Where is Dong Dong? Qiao Qiao, where is Dong Dong?”
“He’s still locked up!” Sharon answered in Joanne’s place, having rushed in after hearing Cyndi’s murmur.
“Sharon!” Mr. Wang screamed. “Why did I even listen to your father and released you anyway? I’ll bet it was your fault she…”
Mr. Tseng pulled Sharon back and behind him, so he was able to shield her from Mr. Wang as well. “It’s not the time. We need to make sure Cyndi’s safe.”
“Why is Dong Dong locked up?” Cyndi asked, possibly already forgotten about the brief exchanges each time with the others before she drifted into unconsciousness again.
“You should eat something first,” Mr. Wang urged, having brought over a bowl of soup.
“Why is Dong Dong locked up?” Cyndi demanded again. “You have to release him.” That was meant for her father. “Or…” She eyed the bowl of soup in his hands. “Or I won’t eat at all.”
Mr. Wang’s face went pale, his hands shaking. He turned to Mr. Tseng for help.
“I’ll go get him,” Mr. Tseng offered.
“What? But…” He followed Mr. Tseng out of the room, his voice still echoing along the walls.
“Here,” Joanne said, picking up the bowl of soup Mr. Wang had abandoned. “Have some. Dad will make sure Jiro’s safe.”
“Will he release the others too?” Sharon whispered behind Joanne while Joanne was feeding Cyndi.
Joanne wrinkled her face, lowering her voice to a whisper. “Her memory’s already in a jumble. Stop asking so many questions at this time.”
Sharon tried to relax but she felt the same anxiousness Mr. Wang carried transferring to her.
Cyndi flinched at that time though she was taking in the soup automatically as Joanne was feeding her. She clutched her head with her hands, feeling the pain seethe through.
“What’s wrong?” Joanne asked, stopping her feeding task. “Have they gave you any meds yet?”
“I don’t know,” Cyndi mumbled weakly.
Sharon switched her place and sat on the edge of the bed, helping Cyndi lie down again. “Better now?”
“My head’s still throbbing.”
“Don’t think about it now then.”
“I have a feeling if I don’t think about it now, I will forget about it later.”
“Then tell us what you’re thinking about. We could help with some answers if you can’t get it. Better than you trying to figure it out yourself.”
“I saw some images like…” Cyndi began.
Fifteen minutes later, they were still waiting for signs of Jiro. Yet Joanne and Sharon had piece together some of the pictures to the puzzle for Cyndi as best as they could, clearing up the memories from the past.
“Then what about…Angela and Sophia and…” Cyndi spoke up again after some thinking. “Did I imagine them?”
“No, they’re real,” Joanne answered. “So real that Sharon wanted to kill them.” Hints of teasing were back into Joanne’s voice.
Sharon pointed at Joanne. “Hey!”
Cyndi watched in silence as the two girls attacked one another, laughing in their familiar ways. Then something snapped inside Cyndi. She sat up so fast the others did not realize it.
“Watch your wound,” Sharon scolded her, alarmed. She reached out a hand to check on Cyndi.
Cyndi slapped her hand away. “Don’t touch me!”
Sharon jumped back in alarm. Joanne got up from her seat, the bowl of soup still in her hands.
“Ling…” Joanne attempted, her voice sounding almost timid.
“Don’t call me that!”  Cyndi continued with her outburst. “You have no right!” She got out of bed.
Both Joanne and Sharon tried to stop her.
“Your wound hasn’t…” Joanne tried again.
“I don’t need you to care for me!” Cyndi pushed both girls out.
Joanne’s hands were filled with whatever was left of the soup’s contents. She did not show any traces of pain from that however. She knew the pain Cyndi went through was more horrifying.
“Qiao!” Sharon yelled out in alarm.
Joanne put a hand up. “It’s nothing.”
Sharon turned on Cyndi. “Why are you…?”
Her voice caught in her throat with Cyndi’s persistent in pushing both girls out.
“Calm down!” Joanne said. “You’re hurting yourself.”
“Who needs you two to care for me?” Cyndi yelled–louder than before. “You said you were my friends. You said…” Her voice was failing her, but she was still able to shove both girls to the door. “How could you let everything seal up like that? How could you lie to me like that?”
“Cyndi,” Sharon tried this time.
“I don’t care! I don’t want to hear your excuses anymore!”
The latest shove sent both girls out the door. Cyndi grabbed the door and slid it shut but someone was coming and had a grip on the door.
“Cyndi!” Mr. Wang cried out. “Why are you out of bed?” He turned to the other girls. “What did you say to her?”
“We…” Joanne managed, not being able to continue.
“Ling Ling,” A familiar voice called out, stepping toward the door.
Cyndi’s expression finally softened. It was Jiro. None other. Cyndi finally allowed herself to be led into the room again. Mr. Wang turned to look at Joanne and Sharon. He sent them a look that told them to stay put. Then he stepped inside to check on his daughter. It was then that the others dared to step toward the girls.
“Your hand,” Calvin said as soon as he glanced at Joanne. “The cloth is wet with…”
Yes, it was the same hand that had not recovered from the cuts several days ago.
“I’m fine,” Joanne said. Her eyes were on the brink of tears, but it wasn’t because of the hot soup spilled on her. “We betrayed her, didn’t we?”
“No,” Calvin reassured her. “We were…” His voice failed. He had no idea if they did or not.
“We listened to a father’s voice and not a friend’s words,” Sharon said.
The others turned to her, as if seeing her in a new light. But they did not say anything. Calvin tended to Joanne’s hand while they waited by the door.
Inside, Cyndi was unusually calm as Jiro directed her toward the bed. She was watching his calm movements, taking in his features. As if she did not believe it was actually him. She reacted at last, pushing him out like how she did with Joanne and Sharon.
“Ling Ling,” Jiro called out, stepping forward to help her like before.
“Don’t touch me,” Cyndi said with the same hatred she shown for her friends earlier.
Mr. Wang stepped forward at that time, pushing Jiro away as well. “My daughter doesn’t want to see you.”
Cyndi brushed Mr. Wang’s hand out also.
“Cyndi!” His voice full of pain, not understanding of his daughter’s action.
Her eyes showed traces of tears coming out, yet she did not cave in to their pitiful stares. “You hid it from me. Both of you!”
Jiro grabbed a hold of Cyndi’s hands, trying to steady her. Cyndi brushed him off again.
“Ling Ling, stop hurting yourself!” Jiro yelled out.
“You gave up on me!” She yelled back. “You let go of me when I needed you the most!”
“I…” Jiro could not say it.
“How could you…?”
Jiro was still struggling to keep a hold of Cyndi’s hands. She was so strong for a girl who just got shot.
“Those promises were all fake? Those vows were for nothing?”
“Ling Ling, you need to rest first. Stop this.”
“I have no right to be mad? You went and decided everything for me. And you said you would never lie to me…you…”
Everyone could hear the blow this time. The slap echoed off the atmosphere and carried to their ears. Jiro had received the slap in full, not dodging at all. Not because he couldn’t, but because he didn’t want to. The others did not move. They were waiting.
“I’ll never leave you again,” Jiro said finally, attempting to hug her to him.
She pushed him back. “You think I would believe you again? You think…”
Jiro increased the pressure a little, holding onto her, not letting her go. She seemed to have given in, letting him hug her, her tears flowing.
“I will never forgive you.” Her voice was soft but not gentle. It contained some eeriness within it.
Jiro nodded, accepting his sentence.
© Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Posted: Thursday, February 24th, 2011

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