Of course he could not fall in love with me. I had this curse that could harm him. It was to save him! However, why did he still do all these things when he did not like me? I wondered if he did that to all the girls he knew, then told them that he did not like them. He must be that sort of person. A bastard who likes to see girls cry in front of him. A playboy.
I hate him!
I went home with my eyes still red. Landy was reading a magazine on the sofa. When she saw me, she frowned, knowing that something had happened. I told her everything within fifteen minutes.
“He sucks,” she said, sharing my exasperation. “He just sucks. But he’s just so…nice, isn’t he? So romantic…so…nice.”
“Idiot. I hate him. I hate him!”
“You love him, Joanna. It’s the other way around.”
Her sentence sent me into a whirlpool of thoughts. I cried so hard when he said he could not fall in love with me. Was it because I liked him? I had not cried that much since Mum’s death.
My handphone beeped. There was an incoming SMS. Landy passed me the phone and said, “It has to be Jacky.”
I opened the SMS and it was really from him.
“I’m sorrie if I say anything wrong…you will still come for the appointment, won’t you?”
I read the SMS aloud to Landy. She beamed and exclaimed, “Say yes!”
I did not follow her advice. I replied, “No.”
“I’m not keen anymore,” I told Landy. “I don’t wanna go out with an idiot.”
“My gosh, you’re going for the appointment, not going out with Jacky!”
I was still trying to control my tears. I should not cry in front of my best friend. I had always been the strong independent girl. I will not cry for a guy!
A new SMS came in.
“Let me fetch you on that day, okie?”
I replied a “no” again. I had enough of this guy. Trying to help me? Or, maybe, he is just doing all this so that he can skip school! That bastard!
“Come on, relax and let’s look at it objectively. It’s very obvious, Joanna, that you’ve fallen in love with Jacky. Why not just admit that, and we’ll have an easier time deciding on whether to go or not?” Landy said, but I was not paying attention. I was looking at my phone, wondering whether Jacky would reply or not.
When the reply did not come after two minutes, I digested Landy’s words. It was clear. It was just too clear. Maybe I just dared not admit it. Finally, after fifteen minutes, I dropped my first tear. I wiped it off instantly. Landy, somehow, had seen it.
“Cry it out, Joanna. Cry it out.”
A new SMS: “Only you can help yourself. come on, reply a yes…”
I replied a “no”.
“I know you’re going to the clinic because of him,” Landy said.
“Then,” Landy whispered so soft that I had to read from her lips, “why are you not going anymore, after he said all that?” And she made sense.
A new SMS came in. “Vent your thoughts to others please…it’s the only way out.”
I replied, “No,” and looked at Landy. I was lost for words.
Jacky replied, “Ease your illusions! let me help…”
I shrugged. I did not know what to tell Landy, and I did not reply to Jacky. I was caught at a crossroads, not knowing where to go. Landy was quiet, eyeing me, as if waiting for me to say something. Jacky sent three more SMSes in five minutes.
“You’ve gotta go for it!”
“Only you…yourself can help yourself…”
“Understanding yourself is most important…”
I stared at the SMSes. Landy was frowning, obviously curious about the SMSes that Jacky had sent me.
I crossed my legs, then my arms. Then I threw my handphone onto the sofa and closed my eyes. My mind had dealt with too many emotional battles within a day: It needed a long rest.
* * *
Avoiding Jacky was one of the toughest things to do in school.
He was everywhere. I tried not looking at him, but realized I could not. I wanted to see his expression: Was he angry, guilty or happy? Or, maybe, he was indifferent?
There was no change. His trademarked smile still lingered on his face. He still greeted tutors as if they were his best friends. He even tried to joke with me, but I did not laugh and he did not continue the conversation.
Finally, lunch break came and that was the most awkward moment as we always had our lunch together. I bought my own food and sat alone, wondering if he would still join me. One of my classmates sat beside me and I glared at her. She stared at me and walked off.
Jacky was at the drinks stall. Will he buy me my drink? I eyed my food, trying to stop myself from looking at him. Then, a familiar deep voice: “Here’s your drink. Soya bean milk.”
I looked up. There he was, Jacky Wu, sitting beside me. I just stared at him, dumbfounded. He smiled and then ate his food. I did the same thing. A few awkward minutes passed.
“I’ll pick you up next Tuesday morning. I’ve planned my application for an official break from the school.”
Okay? What was I thinking? Landy, help me. Landy, I’m mad. Landy…
“Good. It’s been so long since I’ve seen the morning sun from an angle other than from the school on a weekday. I’m so excited.”
I nodded. I must have been crazy. I felt so much like overturning the table and giving him a tight slap on his face. Yet, I just sat there, agreeing and nodding to everything he said. It was like I had lost control of myself. I must have been mad. I must be!
“Great,” he said. “You received my SMSes yesterday?”
I nodded again.
“All of them? There’s a hidden message. Can you decode it?”
I shrugged. What is he talking about?
“Have you deleted the SMSes?”
I nodded. If I said otherwise, he might get the idea that I had stored every SMS that he sent me.
“Oh, okay,” he said and then continued with his food. “Read some of Dan Brown’s books. The Da Vinci Code, Deception Point and Angels & Demons. Most importantly, read Digital Fortress. It’s a novel about breaking codes.” He smiled and then suddenly laughed for no reason. “However, reading them won’t help you break the code.”
Was that a joke? If so, it was just so not funny.
* * *
“Hidden message?” Landy was saying, looking at the SMSes. “Has he read The Da Vinci Code too many times?”
“Beats me.” I had written down all the SMSes on a sheet of paper. “Maybe he’s just trying to be funny. He’s always funny. But his jokes are not funny.”
“Yeah, maybe that’s why you like him.”
I ignored her and stared at all the SMSes again.
“I’m sorrie if I say anything wrong…you will still come for the appointment, won’t you? Let me fetch you on that day, okie? Only you can help yourself. come on, reply a yes… Vent your thoughts to others please…it’s the only way out. Ease your illusions! let me help… You’ve gotta go for it! Only you…yourself can help yourself… Understanding yourself is most important…”
Hidden message? Crap. But still, I spent an hour reading and rereading the SMSes. It did not make sense. If he had wanted to start a conversation, he should have thought of a better idea than saying that there was a hidden message in his SMSes. So silly.