|photo courtesy of Google images|
"Good night", and with that, my brother Luo shut the light and returned to his room. I stare out the window in search of a star, a street lamp or a shot of moonlight, in vain. I think I see shadows, but mostly I thought about him - my friend Haoyi.
Yanyan told me this morning that Haoyi was locked into the storage room by his uncle and I opened my mouth to respond but nothing came out. I picture him in that windowless "cell", fist pounding on the door, skin giving way to the inflexible reality of wood and metal. He'd not care about that, even if he is bleeding. He'd shout and scream, even if no one is listening. He'd jump and climb, even if there is no way out. Jin Wei told me later that he was locked for running to the river to meet us last night. His uncle, it turned out, thought poorly of his report card and had wanted him to spend the summer in lock up and "reflect on it".
Well, probably not about grades, report card or anything like that.
But would he reflect on the beginning of the year when we first met? That incident at the cafeteria on the first lunch had got us both in arms. Then I heard his laugh, it was more like a howl, yet when he wore it with the confident of a young wolf, everyone accepted it; and soon, him. I didn't know his secret, but he was always the one igniting classroom pranks, often to the dismay of his teacher and the delight of his buddies.
Or would he reflect on our first trip together, when we officially formed "the group" with Yanyan and others? We, not exactly orphans of the seventh grade, but left behind as our parents went aboard to study or to work, and to secure a brighter future. We bonded over our fate, along bike trails, amongst the soaring pines and wild flowers dotting their fragrance over the mountains just beyond the city walls.
Last night Jin had kissed Yanyan for the first time under the big willow besides the river banks. I had blushed like it was me, and I blushed some more when I turned to see Haoyi's dark eyes flew over to me, somehow flashing a spark under that mop of curly black hair of his. I turned to look away, then back, then away again, mustering words that had completely escaped me, which was rare. The same seemed to be happening to him, though his dark skin betrayed no changes of color, lucky bastard.
So instead of meeting at the river like we always did for summer nights, among the company of frogs, dragonflies and fireflies, we are each lying wide awake thinking about each other, and our little group. Mostly I thought about him, wishing and hoping that the knock, quiet as a mouse, quieter than the sound of a rock hitting my window, is from him, coming for our first kiss.