Stories That Breathe

I Believe You

Chapter 11

I got a call from a nurse the next morning. Dr Ong had assigned another therapist for me. I agreed to go, but I had already decided not to. I had ruined Mr Kam with my curse. They had to believe it.

Jacky became Jacky again. It was like the previous day had never occurred. He continued to wear that smile everywhere he went. I wondered if he would treat me like a girlfriend; but no, he treated me just like how he had treated me before. There was no difference.

We spent the next few days studying as normal. By the next week, we were on schedule for the full dress rehearsal of our play.

We had agreed to sing the song together near the end of the play. And I had agreed to do the play with an impromptu script. After we had changed into our costumes, I waited backstage. The song was then played loudly.

“2.00 a.m. and the rain is falling
Here we are at the crossroads once again
You’re tellin’ me you’re so confused
You can’t make up your mind
Is this meant to be
You’re asking me”

Jacky was lying on the stage, his eyes closed. I walked onto the stage slowly, looking at the “unconscious” Jacky.

“Romeo,” I whispered, “no, Romeo…” I rushed forward and knelt in front of him, holding his head up. I could hear his breaths and smell his sweat. “Romeo…” I held his hand and clutched it tight. It was warm. I gripped it tighter and then lay my head on his chest. “Why are you going away now when I’m so in love with you? Why?”

The audience, comprising our tutors and classmates, was so quiet that we might even hear the flapping of a mosquito’s wings. My breaths were unsteady. I was blinking fast again. “Please leh, stay with me. I love you.”

I should have given the cue to play the song, but I forgot to do that. Instead, I laid my head on Jacky’s chest, hearing his every heartbeat. Strangely, I had a fear: I feared that his heart might stop beating anytime.

After about a minute of silence, the song was played again.

“But only love can say
Try again or walk away
But I believe
For you and me
The sun will shine one day
So I’ll just play my part
And pray you’ll have a change of heart
But I can’t make you see it through
That’s something only love can do…”

When the song faded off, I looked at a cup of green tea beside me. “Poison,” I said to let the audience know that, that was not green tea. “Poison…” I tightened my grip on his hand and heard a soft groan from Jacky through his closed mouth. “Wait for me, Jacky. What for I live when you not around?” I gulped the green tea.

I shook and nodded my head for several seconds before dropping onto the floor, my hand still holding on to Jacky’s. After a while, I sensed movement. Jacky was waking up. He said something before lying on my back.

Everyone clapped. We thought we had done very well until one of the tutors spotted an obvious mistake.
“When you’re on the stage,” she said, “Jacky is Romeo and you’re Juliet.”

I wondered whether she was being sarcastic or she was serious about pointing out my mistake.

* * *

Our literature tutor, Mrs Goh, treated us to dinner after the full dress rehearsal.

Everyone was impressed with our performance. They said Jacky and I had acted with emotions and it was a very touching play.

“Call Landy and get her to join us,” Jacky cut in after we had placed our orders. I thought that was not a good idea, so I did not call her. But Jacky persisted. “Go on, call her.”

“No means no,” I said. I felt like we were a couple having a spat in front of our friends. Am I going to say, “You’re going to get it from me when we get home”? Jacky shook his head slightly and gave up.

The students got their parents or partner to send them home. Mrs Goh offered to send Jacky and me home, but we politely refused. And so, we took a long bus ride back home.

“Call Landy,” Jacky commanded when we were in the bus. There were less than ten people in the bus.

“For what?”

He glanced out of the window then pressed the bell. With that, he grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the bus. I pushed his hand off and looked around me. “Knock it off! What the heck are you doing?” We were at a deserted bus stop.

“Why didn’t you go for the previous appointment with Dr Ong? Listen to me, Joanna. Listen to me well. Go for the appointments with Dr Ong. You’re sick.” He pointed to my forehead. “You need help.”

I shoved his hand off and snorted, “What do you know about me? Why act as if you were me! I cursed one of them! If I had been harsher…” I stopped. I should not talk that much. “Just…” I paused again.

“I’m going to prove it to you if you still don’t believe me.”

“Prove what?”

“Take out your handphone.”

I threw my bag to the ground and gnashed my teeth. “I’m not your dog. I don’t do what you want me to do!”

“I’m going to prove that your best friend Landy is just an imaginary friend.”

I stopped breathing for exactly one second. That was it. That is too much. I slapped his right cheek hard, feeling the pain on my hand. He stared at me as if it did not hurt, but his cheek began to flush.

Landy doesn’t exist,” he said.

I gave him another tight slap. Despite the cars whizzing near us, the loud sound of the impact echoed into the night. Our eyes locked and images of Landy jogged in my mind.

“You created her. She is the perfect portrayal of a person you desire to be. That’s very normal, Joanna. Nothing to be ashamed of. Many children have imaginary friends. They get over it. You’ve just been talking to your imaginary friend for the—”

“No!” I yelled. My hand was too painful for another slap. “No, no, no! This can’t be! After all these…after all these fucking…fucking…fuck!” I turned. She is my only friend! A bus came and I raised my hand, but it continued to drive past me. It was an off-service bus.

“Joanna—”

“Get away from me.”

“Take out your handphone. Show me Landy is real.”

I did as he said.

“Now, read out Landy’s handphone number to me.”

I scrolled through my contacts in my handphone. L…Lay Hong, Lemon, Leslie, Luke and finally Luther. I scrolled again. Still the same. Landy Wen Wen Lan was her full name. I scrolled to W. Wendy and Winnie. Still no Landy.

“9…” I stopped. I did not know what to say. “9…” Her number must be there! Someone must have deleted her number from my handphone. Yes, her number was my last dialled call. I just had to get to my call history.

Last Dialled Contact: ^_^ Jacky Wu ^_^.

“No…” I looked up at Jacky. He was frowning, but I knew he must have been enjoying every moment. That bastard …

“When you talk to the phone, you’re just talking to yourself.”

“But you saw her! You fucking saw her that day!”

“I saw no one. I pretended I saw her. Because I did not know what to do. I was so confused. Did you know what you did that day?” He broke into a smile and then nodded at nothing. “Landy, this is Jacky.” He paused. “This was what you did. You were talking to the air.”

“She was there!” I screamed. “Dr Ong saw her as well—”

“He pretended as well. He thought if we were to tell you that day, you would be agitated. He said that the best solution for an imaginary friend is to let it go away naturally. Make you happy, make you feel socially involved and the imaginary friend will disappear. That’s the reason why he has increased the dosage of your antidepressants.”

“My grandmother can see her as well. Explain that to me then!”

“Your grandmother is three-quarter blind. She can’t tell the difference between Landy and the door. Who else has seen Landy before? No one.”

“You’re lying,” I said. “You’re lying!” I saw a taxi from afar. I grabbed my bag and raised my hand. “Fuck off, Jacky. You’re ruining my life.”

“Please—”

I could hear his fading voice, but he did not give chase. Before I got into the taxi, I took off the watch he had given me for my birthday and threw it far away.

That bastard. That fucking bastard.

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