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Chapter 14 – The Truth Behind It All

CJ and I made it back to the inn before the storm became stronger. It was our luck really. I was actually touched by the innkeeper’s considerate nature since he was so worried that he sent out some people to look for us as well – without being paid by anyone. They all came back wet like us. Some of them came back before us and some a few minutes after. CJ and I apologized to them for our rash behaviors, especially me. Then we helped them close and board the place up afterward. The front and the back were connected through a different hallway that we’d never known before. It was only use in emergency situation and this one was considered just that. The innkeeper guided us through the passage to go back to our rooms safely. We thanked him before turning to open my door.
The most surprising thing was when I opened the door, I saw the other three sitting at the center table. They turned to look at us.
“Shao Han!” Ting Wei exclaimed, jumping up from his chair. He looked so worried I swore I could hand him an Oscar right now if I didn’t remember I was the fool who believed in him all this time.
I extended my hand out to stop him.
“Shao Han, I…” He started.
“Save it,” I said. “I had enough for today.”
“Angela,” Roger called me out of nowhere. Or maybe I didn’t pay attention enough to know he just stood up. “Stop being stubborn, will you?”
“I’m stubborn?” I remarked.
“What you heard was a misunderstanding and then you’re jumping to conclusions already. You made us worry to death with what could happen to you.”
“By sitting around here instead of running after me? Even the waiters went looking for me.”
“You like to be spoiled, don’t you?”
“You’re ridiculous,” I said.
I ignored him and headed to my bed. I yanked off my outer clothing and got the stickiness off me. I rolled my sleeves up so the water wouldn’t get transfer over my sack as I tried to dig out a fresh change of clothes. I continued to ignore everyone and disappeared behind the dark screen to change.
“Did you tell her?” I heard Roger whispered to CJ, but a tad too loud.
“I told you I’m out,” CJ said firmly.
“You’re a traitor!” Roger exclaimed.
“I was an idiot for actually believing that someone would change!” CJ sneered back.
“If you guys want to argue,” I said, walking out from behind the screen and tossing my wet clothes into the wooden bucket in the process. “Take it next door. I want to rest.”
“Zhang Shao Han!” Roger exclaimed.
“Roger!” Ting Wei yelled a second later. “Let Shao Han rest.”
“And I don’t want anyone involved in the matter here either,” I said, delivering an ultimatum that I felt I should be entitled to.
“That means all four of us have to cram into a room just because you…” Roger said, gesturing his hands.
“Correction, three,” I said bluntly.
“Then what’s the point of saying that in the first place?” Roger asked, wrinkling his face.
“She means that I’m staying here and Shi Jing Jing has to get out,” CJ explained.
“What?!”
“You heard me,” I said, confirming CJ’s words.
“Let’s all go to sleep and hope this storm will end,” Ting Wei said. “We’ll talk tomorrow.”
CJ made sure they were all out before shutting the door. I was actually sitting on my bed and trying to dry my hair as much as possible. I finally took out a cloth and placed it on my pillow so the water would soak through that while I sleep. CJ turned off the lights after knowing that I was safely tugged in.
“Good night, Angela,” CJ said a minute later from across the room.
“Good night,” I said.

*****

The next morning when we woke up, we discovered that the storm wasn’t that bad as the neighbors had exaggerated. However, when we came out front again, we heard the townspeople discussing it as they drank their morning teas. Yes, they’d thought it would be the worst and it was not, and how it could be their lucky year this year, et cetera.
CJ and I sat at another table to eat breakfast together. The others were bright enough to know that they shouldn’t mess with me, especially Roger who pretended and thought that I didn’t know anything yet last night when we returned. So we ate breakfast in silence for the most part with glances from the other table constantly. I ignored them as I felt I was more than entitled to that privilege right now. I needed time to sort my thoughts.
After breakfast, I headed back to my room again with CJ tagging behind me. The others weren’t far behind us although at a safe distance. It seemed like they feared me more than before. Or was it just my imagination deceiving me since everything was a blur to me at the moment?
“Is she going to ignore us forever?” I heard Roger asked behind me.
If he was trying to whisper, he failed. If he was trying to get my attention by being subtle, he failed too.
“Give her some time,” Ting Wei said, a bit softer than Roger’s voice but still audible.
“It’s all your fault for making that wish in the first place,” Roger whined. “Now that I think of it, I’m not even sure we’re going to return at all. Why didn’t you make up your mind earlier to go with Jing Jing? Instead of wishing you have both girls.”
Roger could think? Wait a minute!
“Shut up!” I heard CJ yelled out as I turned around to face the other three also.
“You want us to stay here?!” I blurted out before Roger could deliver a counter-strike at CJ, looking at Ting Wei straight in the eye.
“I…” Ting Wei stumbled out.
“Forget it,” CJ interfered. “What we need right now is to wait until they say it’s safe to set out so we can cross and head back home.”
“I need to know!” I exclaimed, feeling the frustration of the last person to know everything – which I was.
“Perhaps we should tell her,” Roger said, looking at CJ instead of Ting Wei.
CJ nodded after some hesitation from within.
Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in my room trying to let all the information sank in. Apparently, they – CJ, Ting Wei, and Roger – left out some crucial information regarding our curse. Or maybe I was the only that thought it was a curse after all.
What happened that Thursday night several months ago was the guys were gathered in Ting Wei’s room for one of their “guy talks” again. It was after Ting Wei and I had that argument. The guys – specifically CJ and Roger – were saying how girls were so troublesome. In the mist of all the talks, Ting Wei somehow blurted out that he wished that we had live in the ancient times so that he could choose both of us – Jing Jing and I, instead of being stuck between us. The result? Somehow his wish came true and we’d been stuck here for almost a year now.
“Shao Han,” Ting Wei called me from across the room.
“Don’t call me,” I said tiredly. “I can’t believe you wish that.”
“I told him not to be greedy, but he wouldn’t listen,” Roger put in.
I turned on him and gave him one of my famous glares.
“Okay, okay,” Roger said, putting his hands up in defeat. “So I didn’t tell him about that, but like I want us to be in this situation.”
“It’s only fair now to let Angela keep the medallion,” CJ said suddenly.
“What?!” Roger exclaimed, turning toward CJ, ready for a fight.
“She’s the only we can trust not to lose it,” CJ said. “You must admit the rest of us are guilty at something.”
Roger looked so guilty at that moment that I swore whatever spell that had caused him to be evil these past days somehow had been brushed away by whatever else force also.
“All right,” Roger said, looking down at the floor.
“Lu Ting Wei,” CJ pressed, turning to Ting Wei with sharp eyes at that time.
I haven’t heard CJ call Ting Wei by his full name for a long time now, even if he was joking or not. CJ must be mad.
“Wait,” Jing Jing interfered.
“What?” CJ asked, annoyed.
“Nothing,” Jing Jing said, seeing CJ’s look.
Ting Wei walked toward me and handed me the medallion at that time.
“Now we can rest assured,” CJ commented.
Roger and Jing Jing looked like they want to object, but they looked hesitant because of CJ’s fierce look. Ting Wei looked guilty.
“It doesn’t matter who keeps it anymore,” I said. “If we don’t trust each other, then…”
“We don’t trust ourselves,” CJ said.
“Forget it,” I said, handing CJ the medallion before leaving the room.
“Shao Han,” I heard Ting Wei called from behind.
“Angela!” CJ exclaimed the same time as Ting Wei.

*****

For the next couple of days, we waited in silence for further news of possible weather changes or stability. I wandered around town mostly to hide from the others and gave myself some times to think. However, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t just forget it. I felt totally confused why my reactions were so passive. Perhaps because I might have known that Ting Wei and I would broke up one day anyway? Or was it because I was just lying to myself by reassuring myself that I was the one being stubborn? And that I was the one who was wrong all along. Yet, right at this moment, I finally realized my first doubts were right after all. Or maybe I was just too numbed now to any other changes because so much happened since that night the curse came upon us all.
After two days, CJ finally approached me when I was sitting under a tree looking out to the seaside.
“Had enough break yet?” CJ asked, sitting down a few inches from me.
“Break?” I asked, unsure of what he was trying to get at.
“Come on, Angela,” He said, not afraid that others might hear him.
“What?” I asked, turning to him.
“I know that you must be curious about when Jing Jing and Ting Wei started and other things like that.”
“Does it change the truth if I know more?”
“Maybe not. But it will shed a little light on things.”
“Light? Or will it throw me into a darker shade of darkness?”
“Stop being dramatic, Zhang Shao Han.”
“All right. Tell me then.”
“They started the same summer you and Ting Wei got together.”
“What?!”
“Don’t believe me?”
“It’s not that. It’s just…”
“I know. Unbelievable but not impossible. You know why I kept teasing you and Ting Wei heavily that year?”
“Dropping me hints?”
“I admit I should have told you but I…”
“I know. You told me that night in the storm, remember?”
CJ nodded.
“What else is there to tell me then?”
“You know why Ting Wei never gave you the medallion then?”
“Didn’t I already answer this question from you? He said he wanted to keep it in the house so his parents would be happy to see it every day, especially his mom since she had encouraged him on during the preparations for the competition.”
“Wrong. You’re so naïve. No wonder you never find out about him and Jing Jing.”
“Huh?” I wrinkled my face.
“If he gave it to you, wouldn’t Jing Jing give him a hard time?”
“You mean…”
“Why do you think the medallion is the key to us going back or not?”
“So that was why you’re so sure it’s the key?”
“I wasn’t sure at first, but it makes sense now.”
I sighed out.
“And yes, I’m a jerk for selling out my friend and telling you all of this now.”
“No, you’re not. If you’re a traitor, you would have sold him out ages ago already.”
“You don’t hate me for hiding it from you?”
“If I hate you, would I have forgiven you?”
“I guess not.”
I looked out at the sea ahead again. “Perhaps I should go face reality again. Maybe we can set sail tomorrow. The most important thing is looking forward right now and not making any trouble or creating anymore hostility for the time being.”
“Perhaps.”
We walked back into town again, returning to the inn.
CJ and I found Ting Wei, Roger, and Jing Jing at a table toward the back of the front area. They all stood up upon spotting us.
“All right,” I said. “Let’s forget everything and just make sure we stay in one piece and go back home. It’s the most important thing right now.”
“Shao Han,” Ting Wei called me.
“Forget it,” I said. “I don’t want to talk about things that already happened. I just want to go home.”
“Then we should put everything behind us, right?” Roger asked, grinning.
“For now,” I said.
“Let’s hope we can set sail tomorrow,” Roger said.
I looked out toward the sky ahead. Unless it rain tomorrow again, we should be good.
© Friday, September 19th, 2008
Posted: Saturday, March 13th, 2010

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