Chapter 5: I Don’t Know About You, But I’m Feeling 71
The tone of the sky was set ethereal that day while I was sauntering around the city. The wind hit my face, where my dark hair cascaded, just like a tornado of aloof emotions. It was a tedious day with my tedious appearance, my tedious money, and the tedious ongoing society.
Mum promised to bring me downtown only because it’s the Mitsuki day of the year. Needless to say, it was just an excuse. I was secretly hoping that I would somehow meet Johnny Damon downtown through the power of coincidence.
I was glad that mum was not the type of person that would keep their promise. She immediately abandoned me to play Mahjong with other obnoxious elders.
After finishing up my milk tea, I scanned through my bag to find some money in order to buy another cup of milk tea. One cup of milk tea was far from enough to satisfy my drive. The moment I pulled out a hundred and fifty Baht, three tan kids immediately ran over to me. The skinny kids approached while making sorrowful eye contact with me. The kids want money, I guess? My first impression told me that these three kids were dirty, imprudent, stupid, and were living in poverty. I was annoyed. Princess-disorder, was the noun that mum used to describe my mental illness.
“You kids should get a life!” I shouted, proudly.
“What the heck are you talking about? No, you dorks don’t deserve my money. Now get away from me, Shu, Shu.”
“Kornitdiew, aowkarnam, nam,” they squeaked as I glare at them.
“Uhh. Huh? What? Sorry, but not sorry. I have business in this town, see ya never again.” I took my leave and continued my search for Johnny Damond.
“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. Hmm hmm hmm is falling down, my fair lady…” I hummed the song as my exploration continued.
However, instead of a miraculous encounter with Damond-sama, I ended up paralyzed by Amber’s shiny black hair cascading standing out in the crowds. She was the fairest of them all, I once thought. It didn’t take long for Amber to notice my potato face.
“Yo, isn’t that Micchan? Fancy meeting you here! Look at the new handmade bag that I bought. People like you could never afford it. Oops, I ended up saying what’s on my mind, oops. No offence,” she started rapping.
“Hey,” I stiffed my upper lips upwards.
“You wanna grab lunch? I’ll let you accompany me, what ya wanna dine?”
“Let’s go for Ramen sets.”
“Nah, they’re overpriced.” She grabbed my hand and dashed into the curry restaurant beside the milk tea shop.
While Amber was waiting for the waiter to serve her favourite dish, she was creating an earthquake and tsunami as she shook her left foot. My utensils were falling from the tablecloth, still, she took no notice and continued what she was doing. I had to pick up my fallen utensils a couple of times before I finally built my nerves to tell her to stop.
“Hey! Don’t put your utensils together with mine! Go wash them for me now cuz it’s my fault,” Amber finally quit her production of earthquakes.
“Why don’t you wash it by yourself huh? Don’t wanna wet your pretty hands? Why don’t I do it for you?” I grunted, knowing that patience has escaped from my neurotic cells.
After one thousand light-years, the waiter finally served our dishes. Amber devoured her food in less than a second, which was uncommon and a lovely sight to behold.
“Micchan, I’m taking your dessert cuz I always share your food in school,” Amber announced. Even though I decided to keep my dessert for my mum later, I couldn’t refuse her request. I still remember those days where my mum couldn’t stop rapping about how much she wanted to taste the coconut cookies. Still, even someone like me knows that it’s unethical to not return the favourable share, more like trade.
“Okay, I’ll share.”
“Of course you have too, it’s not even a question,” She added with that objectionable tone of hers. I was used to a community that thrived by brazen faces and thick skins. It was no matter of choice.
Alternately, rather than sharing a few pieces of my coconut cookies, I ended up sharing all of my coconut cookies, ice cream, and most of the beef steak without even hearing a “thank-you.”
After the skinny Amber finished consuming most of the food, she dragged me to the gown and tuxedo stores beside the restaurant. That was when my drained eyes made contact with the repulsive kids sitting in front of the tuxedo store. They were waiting for me.
“Amber Let’s go to the gown store…” Before finishing my sentence, I dragged Amber right into the gown store. I did not have an iota of interest in picking out gowns for prom. If only Damond-sama was picking out his prom dress in that store…
“Haha, that’s news to me. Mi-i-cha-n wants to look good in prom! But remember, you are tan. Anyways, it’s time for some shopping,” Amber chortled.
While Amber was picking out her fancy and showy prom dress, I was enjoying my Time alone on the couch. The fact that the community’s identity prohibits slacks to be worn during formal occasions deplores my self-esteem; or, to be precise, a girl wearing a slack to the prom defies the community’s regulations of perception. However, if somehow, the girl was out of her mind and decided to wear a slack to prom, she will receive most of the attention from the crowds and will be labeled as the ‘outlier’. The girl must have had a valorous self-concept.
“Michan, look! I definitely look good in th-Ouch!” Amber screeched before getting the chance to finish off her sentence. The kids were back.
“What the… You freaks just bumped into me!” She complained, even though she was the one who bumped into them.
For some reason, the kids were following me all day long as if they were trying to stalk me. I was creeped out. Instantaneously, Amber sprinted to the washroom without any warning. I was positive that her sprint broke the world record. The moment she came out of the washroom, her whole body was covered by sink water.
“I’m going back home right now. What a lousy day!” Amber called out as she began scuttling towards the bus station.
There, in the middle of downtown, inside a boutique, stood Mitsuki and three grimy kids. Without any apparent justification, the three stalkers were targeting the little hopeless Mitsuki.
“So, what do y’all want?” I repeated myself.
The kids pointed to my worn-out Dodgers backpack filled with holes.
“I don’t plan on sharing money to anyone, especially to y’all.”
The shortest kid reached out her bony arms towards me. It creeped me out. She gradually approached me, or, to be specific, my Dodgers backpack. No matter how many times my conscious mind tried to wake my senses, my unconscious mind blocked all my conscious perceptions. I was unable to move away from the bony kid’s presence. It was time to say goodbye to all the money that I risked my life saving. The limited-edition baseball mitt could never return home without the money that I saved. I shut my eyelids tight.
When I finally built up the courage to open my eyes, the kids were gazing at me with their mouths open. I couldn’t tell if they were shocked that I stood there imprudently allowing them to take my money or if they were surprised that I suddenly froze. I couldn’t tell.
After I did a mini ‘checkup’ of my bag, I noticed that my purse, pocket change, candies, and even my tissue were still lying in my backpack, untouched. The only time that went missing was the plastic water bottle that I bought a few minutes ago at the convenience store. The kids were holding on to that plastic bottle as if the out fashioned piece of plastic was a treasure that they found in Neverland. In the interim, the girl’s little hands were gently holding mine. I didn’t regret not pulling my hands away from hers.
“You can have it,” I murmured, assuming that the kids wanted my worn-out plastic bottle.
The kids nodded.
I was experiencing vertigo when a myriad of unknown sentiments was intensively swirling in the four dimensions. The dysphoric dimension was occupied by the colour of blue, not the chromatic version of bright blue, but the morose version of outlandish blue. Offbeat sensations disrupted my organized thought patterns.
I looked up at the sky. The sky was so blue today. Amazingly, the colour of the sky today was not greyish blue. Today’s version of blue was demonstrated in the colour of salty tears. In the middle of the massive cerulean blue, I can feel the celestial spirits on the yellow planet laughing at me. Their laughter was converted into an infrared form of breathless-warm energy that was directly sent to my heart.
When all of the kids suddenly grabbed my hand out of the blue, I was devastated. Even though I tried my best to wake my conscious mind and to pull my hands away from theirs, my body refused to listen to my mind. I regretted not being able to allow my poor hands to escape from theirs.
“Khorbkunkhub.” The words rumbled through one of the kid’s mouths. As if I understood their ‘murmur language’!
“I don’t understand what y’all are talking about, sorry. But if water is what y’all want, y’all can have it,” I smiled, finally, a true positive smile.
“Gonmaejasiachiwitmaeminamginlaew!” They yelled.
“Good for you,” I replied, without a clue of what they were talking about. Dang it, I should have paid attention during my language class.
The kids parted their ways from me by giving me a small, yet, cheerful wave. If I waved back, my friends would call me a fool. But, I did it anyway.
“Good luck! Nice day y’all!” I mumbled, forgetting to add the part ‘Bye Bye, I hope I never see y’all again.’
It wasn’t unexpected that Amber dialled after everything that happened. It wasn’t surprising that she was making a fuss over everything. I picked up the phone while deciding if I should wait for my mum to pick me up (if she did not forget about my existence) or walk to the bus station by myself. No one cared anyway.
“Mi-Chaaa-nn! I smell so bad, Ughhh. That ruined our perfect day. UGHHH. Because my dress was stained even after the maids washed it several times, I had to discard it. That dress was one of my favourites...That dress costs me quite a lot...Mitsuki, you should say something too.”
“Yea.” The awkward silence overtook our conversation.
“You home, Mi-Chan? I can’t believe what just happened today. Did you see that? That was so disgusting, I just can’t,” Amber started complaining.
“I can’t too,” I replied dryly.
“Oh my gosh, I forgot to ask you what happened after I left! Did you, perhaps, come in contact with those disgusting people? My mama told me that I must not come in contact with those scandalous people, or else my future will be dark. Ya know, they’re kinda disgusting.” Amber’s disreputable behaviour was considered disgusting to me as well. Still, I somehow managed to keep my mouth shut tightly.
“Ya know, my mama told me to wash right after coming in contact with those people. Did you wash yet? Maybe you should seek advice from my mama too. My mama graduated with honour, she knows best,” Amber continued chanting. I was sure that I was the only one who understood myself the best. The inaugurated boundary between society and myself was decorated with bouquets of purple hyacinth nurtured and loved only by the ravens of my soul. Even though grandma warned me to never look back, I did it anyway, knowing that I would regret it.
“Michan? Ya there? MI-CHAN? Can you hear me?” Amber’s voice was echoing nonstop, it was her warning. I held the phone as I dashed back towards where the kids were. I was curious, so curious about their so-called ‘worthless’ and ‘disgusting’ lives. If grandma was a witness to what I was planning on doing, she must have been very disappointed in me.
The world was unfair, it was never fair and never will be.
I held on to the phone as I rushed towards the gown store. It required a lot of courage to ignore Amber’s words. ‘Where could the kids be at this moment,’ I wondered.
While I stood in front of the gown store waiting for the kids’ appearance, I could picture Amber’s infuriated face depicted by the colour of anger.
“...Remember when I told ya about Adam. You wouldn’t believe what he did. I’m so sick of him…I hope he sees me in my prom dress someday, he wouldn’t believe how pretty I look in my prom dress...” I was annoyed that Amber was still pretending to be having a conversation with me. I assumed that she would have had it better if she were to have a lengthy chat with a mirror. I was so annoyed at her story-telling that my left foot couldn’t stop fidgeting.
Thud. The phone was intentionally dropped. When I bent down to pick up my phone that was covered in dirt, I could sense the silhouettes of those kids running towards me. I was glad to see that Amber had given up trying to force her perspective on me. If I were the person that hung up on her, she would go insane the other day when I see her. I gradually lifted my face, expecting them to be right in front of me. Instead of grabbing my hands and talking to me, they ran past me without stopping. It wasn’t until then that my heart was then shattered into a million pieces.
“Hey!” I reached out my arms, hoping that it would reach one of the kids.
Unfortunately, the kids failed to notice me. It seemed to me that they were blindly running in a direction.
“Mae Mae,” cried they.
A middle-aged woman with a warm smile squeezed them tight in her arms. If I were the kid, I would definitely push her again. I wouldn’t want to take a two hours bath after her filthy and dusty hands touch me.
“Gonmaejasiachiwitmaeminamginlaew!” The kids repeated.
What incapacitated me the most was the woman’s (assuming her name was Mae Ma) wrinkles. I could not stop myself from staring at her face. The folds and ridges on her face were so magnificent that it made me want to touch them. Her silver hair was illuminating as if the Milky Way cascading.
“Gonmaejasiachiwitmaeminamginlaew!” The scrawny girl repeated, once again.
Mae Mae’s smile lifted the folds on her face, lifting up the wrinkles on her face, making them more obvious. Despite her shabby old clothes and dusty long arms, her cosy smile was a type of warmth that could light up the whole world in a split second.
When I was about to give the kids a wave, Amber dialed again, claiming that she had an internet breakdown. “Mi-chan, I still have a lot to tell you about my ex from Europe and Hong Kong. Ugh, Hong Kongers. You wanna come over?”
“Gonmaejasiachiwitmaeminamginlaew,” I mumbled out of my consciousness.
“What do you mean, haha. Your mum’s not dying, haha. Nice joke. Maybe my exes will die someday. I mean I had a dream that I stabbed a knife right through their hearts. Wait, wait a second, when did you learn the language? I thought you had skipped class. Anyways, that’s cool. Not as cool as my Hong Kong ex but still cool.”
I hung up the phone. My eyes froze as my body went numb. The thought that someone will die paralyzed me. I was naive.
The kids and Mae Mae finally noticed my presence, they gave me a big warm smile that tore my heart apart. The expression that Mae Mae and the kids wore while sauntering towards me was horrific. I could notice the gap in her teeth as Mae Mae grinned. She was going to depart from her life soon, yet, her smuggish smile on her face told me that she had long accepted her fate.
Mae Mae placed her fragile hand on my face. As her cold hand pressed my cheek, I felt a chill down my spine. Her delicate hand had no temperature as if she could fade away at any moment. When she locked eyes with me, I could feel her resistance from Time and Thanatos. Mae Mae’s Fate, manufactured by the collaboration of Time and Thanatos was prejudiced and savage. Still, it was impressive that Mae Mae believed in her internal locus of control, she was striving to keep her body and soul together.
One of the kids pointed to my Dodgers backpack again. They seemed surprised.
“Nugorlenbedbonlhor?” Mae Mae questioned as if I understood the language. I tried, but the words made no sense.
“What? Can you repeat it? Y’all want something from me again?”
“Nulaomeekonghai,” Mae Mae and the kids started dragging me to the orphanage, the place where they claim as ‘home’.
“Ehh. Why are you taking me here?”
When I entered their ‘home’ the posters of Johnny Damond hanging on the walls caught my attention. My hero! The more attention I have to the posters, the stranger they become. The signature of Johnny Damond was glowing in front of my eyes.
“What the heck…I...ummm...y’all…” The muscles around my mouth were still paralyzed by both Mae Mae’s upcoming departure and the glamorous signature. What is Damond-sama’s signature doing in an orphanage? Unquestionably, the alluring poster and signature did not fit the dilapidated wall. Johnny’s figure was like the sun of the foundling home that gave hope to the somber atmosphere.
“Konneechuaipuaklaow,” announced Mae Mae to the other orphans.
They started gathering towards me as if I was the villain that was about to kidnap innocent children.
“Gonmaejasiachiwitmaeminamginlaew,” they exclaimed in joy.
“Oh, Yes,” I replied dryly.
Mae Mae pointed to my Dodgers bag and started nodding. I tried my best to convince myself that they would not rob me or kidnap me for my backpack or money. All of the orphans were glaring at me with puppy eyes.
My mum or Amber would have murdered me if they discovered that I was hanging out with a bunch of ‘dirty people’, or lower classes. Even so, I was glad that my lack of conscience guided me towards Mae Mae and the others.
Mae Mae and the three kids that I encountered in front of the gown store held my hand tightly as they pulled me into a room. It’s okay.
“Khaowjatongdeechai!” The girl sang gleefully. It’s alright.
It was the parlor that they invited me to. They asked me to sit on their worn-out couch and wait for them. I had a feeling that the couch that I was sitting on might fall apart anytime. I could peel off the artificial animal skin any moment. When I decided to turn back and see what the kids are up to, I caught a glimpse of the other orphans staring at me from behind. Their intimidating stares gave me goosebumps. Instantaneously, I turned away and avoided eye contact with them. It took me a little while to notice that the parlor was almost furnitureless. Except for a few frayed couches and a tattered bureau-like table, the parlor was empty. The thought of how empty individuals in the community are so similar to this parlor was daunting. Yet, unlike this parlor, the emptiness of the community could never be filled. The ‘emptiness’ of the parlor and community is different.
The small footsteps that approached me from behind awakened me from my daydreams. I was shocked when Mae Mae suddenly placed her hand on my shoulder. I was not afraid to share eye contact with Mae Mae and the kids, not anymore. They were still smiling. This time, they did not come empty-handed, instead, they were holding a nicely wrapped box.
“For me?” I asked skeptically.
An eternity of awkward silence filled the room with incurious skepticism. Be that as it may, the kids were standing in front of me, holding that box.
“Can I?” I questioned, once again.
It would be hard for anyone to unwrap a box that was painted by the colour of queasy. I was hesitating as I removed the vermillion ribbon that surrounded the box. It would be very funny if the box was packed with a bunch of dead cockroaches or scorpions. Because the last time I opened my ‘present box’, it was loaded with reeking obnoxious dead fish. However, this time, it was different, I could feel it.
The box, just like Damond-sama’s signature, did not suit the sunless atmosphere. The box, just like Damond-sama’s signature, was glimmering with golden light. When I ripped open the corrugated cardboard, I could feel the adrenaline rushing up my spine towards my mind and butterflies fighting in my abdomen. It was horrific.
“Are you serious? Are you sure you guys are giving this to me?”
They nodded. This time, they smiled.
I couldn’t resist touching the resplendent-golden mitt. The mitt was the sun that was necessary for the orphans. The mitt was given to the orphanage by Damond-sama.
The mitt was fairly made with multilayered leather painted emulated in prosperous gold, symbolizing the compassion and courage mandatory for an ardent baseball player. On the left side of the wrist strap, he left his fancy signature that made the mitt even more valuable. Even though I really wanted to accept their present, I could not defy my conscience. The mitt was the only aspiration the orphans had.
“Maipenrai, aowpailoey.” Mae Mae whispered while shovelling the mitt in my arms.
“No, this is yours!” I yelled as I pushed the mitt away from me.
I attempted to control my thoughts of stealing the mitt and running away. But before I could conduct any blasphemous actions, I started packing up my belongings.
“Gonmaejasiachiwitmaeminamginlaew,” the kids wailed as they grabbed my arms.
“Are you kidding me, No!” Still, They refused to let me go. They guided me back towards the ragged couch with yellowed leather.
“Diewbanpuyaijama.” Mae Mae explained to me. One of my biggest regrets was not paying attention in class. That got me really bad.
“You Mitsuki! We waiting for someone you long. It pleasure to meet,” announced a middle-aged woman who claimed herself to be the chief of the orphanage. It was unkind of her to squeeze herself on the same couch. Still, it’s not like the other couches are ‘sittable’.
“Yes, nice to meet you too. It’s nice that I can communicate with you easily, that saves me some time.” I responded.
“Let's jump right into the topic. I cannot accept the mitt. It’s way too precious and I don’t deserve it,” continued I.
“No, you first one give us care. We wait long time. You have take it. Okay it is. You. We no use mitt, you use. Take it. No take us cannot well rest. Mitt no use, only money use. No money have mitt only treasure. You okay have mitt”
“Are you sure you want me to take it?”
“Yes, leave no use. You use it precious,” the chief explained. To be honest, I really wanted that mitt. If she was the Mitzuki a few hours ago, she wouldn’t mind snitching that mitt.
“But…” I was hesitating. If I was the chief, I would not give something this precious to a complete stranger. What should I do? The butterflies in my stomach refused to give me a break.
I reached into my backpack and pulled out five thousand Baht. Immediately, I shovelled the money in the chief’s hand without a second thought. I then grabbed the golden mitt signed by Damond-sama in the box and scurried out of the orphanage.
My seventeenth birthday was one of the most painful birthdays that I had ever experienced despite receiving a ‘birthday present’.
Bitter tears filled up the corner of my eyes as they rushed down my cheekbones. I sprinted towards the bus station, so fast that I could possibly break the Olympic’s record. The reprehensible ideology remained as the unkind heart of ours remained stained.
On my seventeenth birthday, I kissed my childhood goodbye.