Tea Leaves and Opal Necklaces

Tina's Party, Flashbacks, and Failure

Match Twenty-Four: Tina’s Party, Flashbacks, and Failure:


Tina’s party was on a Saturday. Yao and I stood at the front door of her apartment.

“Dean’s a really good guy,” I told my husband. “I’ve met him personally and he’s really cool. He doesn’t talk much though.”

“How did she meet this one?” Yao asked.

“I think she met him at school,” I said. I turned and knocked on the door. Tina opened up and greeted us.

“Ju! Yao!” she said. “You’ve made it!” Tina wildly hugged me as she laughed.

“Hello, Tina,” I said. She pulled me inside with Yao following behind.

When we got inside, a sea of eyes fell on us. She must have invited most of the old gang to this party. Most of the guests were white. As far as I could see, there were only about eight women and thirteen men, including Yao and myself. I think they were from Tina’s old school before I met her. I could only recognize two of them. One of them is like named Dave or Dustin while the other one’s name escapes me at the moment. I waved at those two and they waved back. I’ve always thought that Tina has had some weird friends at times. Speaking of which, she jogged over to Dean’s side and took him by the arm. He had his eyes slightly downwards.

“Hello, Dean,” I said.

“Hi,” he mumbled. Still shy as ever. He has become a little bit social with us as of late. I gave him a little wave. Dean just nodded. I wondered who else was here. I happened to look over at the stuffy brown couch. My jaw dropped at who I saw. To my surprise, Qun sat in the living room. She looked up and waved when she saw me.

“Qun!” I said. “How have you been? I haven’t seen your face in years!” My old friend stood up and bowed.

“How have you been?” she asked.

“Great,” I said. “How has your husband been doing?” I walked over and hugged her.

“It’s so good to see you,” I said. Tina clapped her hands together.

“Great, everyone’s here!” she said. “Let’s party!” All of the foreign guys cheered.

I found myself quite surprised how toned down this party was. I’ve known Tina for years. Her idea of partying was drinking, loud music, scary movies, pigging out, and causing mischief. She’s had pot at one or two of her parties before. (I remember one of the guests at those parties tried to get me to smoke a joint. Tina had to turn that guy down for me. I remember her words were, “She doesn’t do that kind of stuff.“) I looked around the living room with my fruit punch in hand. There was plenty of food and drinking. The music was kept at a low volume. Tina was looking for a movie to put on from her collection. Everyone else looked pretty chill. My guess was Dean wasn’t exactly the partying type. In fact, he stayed over my the corner as the party began. I frowned as I walked over to him. Dean looked up from his drink when he heard me coming towards him. I stood inches away from.

“Is everything okay?” I asked in English. He pressed his lips together and nodded.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m fine.”

“Partying isn’t your thing, is it?” I asked.

“Not really,” he said.

“I see.” I swirled my cup around as I looked down at the deep red liquid inside. Dean was a nice guy once you got to know him. Tina’s trying draw him out of his shell. Sometimes I wondered if she wore him down just like she did with me.

“Tina may be pushy at times, but she is a good person,” I said. Dean looked down at me.

“Hm?” he asked. I smiled and shook my head.

“I was just remembering how we first met,” I said. “She practically followed me around until I agreed to be her friend. But you know, what? I’m glad I did.”

“Yeah,” Dean said. I looked up at him.

“I think you two will be just fine,” I said.

“You really think so?” he asked. I nodded.

“Yep,” I said. “It’s worked out for me just fine!” A pair of heavy hands landed on my shoulders. I turned to see a grinning Tina.

“Did I mess anything?” she asked.

“No,” Dean and I said.

Around seven o’clock, we were deep into the third movie of the day. Tina’s parties tend to go on until close to midnight. I already I began to plan Yao and my escape. I ran through Tina’s party plan through my head again. We’re going to watch another movie, eat, drink, another movie, and then just linger on.

I just need to find my husband-person.

I looked through the crowded living room. It didn’t help that my only source of light was from the TV. When did this room get so small? Everyone had their eyes fixed on the TV screen. I just needed to grab Yao and slip away before Tina and the other guests noticed. My eyes trailed back to the corner of the darkened room. I caught a brown ponytail disappeared out the back door. A puzzled look came onto my face. Where was he going? I got up and stepped over about five people to get to the back door.

“Excuse me,” I whispered. “Excuse me. Excuse me.” I made my way to the glass doors to see Yao holding his head outside. He looked like he was in pain. I opened the door and ran outside.

“Yao?” I asked. “Baby, what’s the matter?” Yao turned and looked up at me. I backed up when I saw how hollow his eyes looked.

“Honey?” I asked.

“Who are you?” he asked. I blinked at him.

“It’s me, Ju,” I said. “I’m your wife.” Yao stared at me blankly.

“Wife?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Are you feeling okay? Did one of boys slip something in your punch?” I reached up to touch his forehead, but he pushed me away.

“Don’t touch me!” he cried.

“Baby?” I asked. My stomach turned I watched him suffer. Suddenly, he stopped. Yao looked at me blinking.

“What happened?” he asked. I looked just as confused.

“Do you know who I am?” I asked. He stared at me as he lowered his hands.

“You’re Ju,” Yao said. “My wife.”

I rested my hand to my chest. “Thank goodness. Do you know where you are?”

“Yeah, Tina’s party.”

“Do you know what day it is?”

“Saturday.” My husband gave me a strange look. “Why are you asking me these questions?” I pressed my lips together.

“I saw you rushing out here,” I said. “I came to check on you. You looked like you had a really bad headache. Then, you acted like you didn’t know who I was.” I looked behind us before I turned back to Yao.

“What happened to you?” I asked. My husband shook his head.

“I… I don’t know,” he said. “I was just watching the movie like everyone else. Suddenly, there was fire on the screen and my mind went blank.”

“Fire?” I asked. My mind went back to the night I seduced him with those pajamas. He screamed something about fire then too.

“You said the same thing when I tried to seduce you that night too,” I said.

“What?” Yao asked.

“Yao, what’s going on?” I asked. He slowly shook his head.

“I don’t know…” he said. “I keep seeing flashbacks of fire and I’m trapped.”

“Trapped where?”

He looked down at his hands. “A kitchen.”

“A kitchen?”

Yao nodded. “I can still smell the spices.” He broke down trembling. I rubbed him on the back.

“We’ll go home,” I whispered. “It’s going to be okay.” Yao pressed his lips together and nodded. I walked him back into Tina’s apartment. I told her that my husband wasn’t feeling well and that he needed to go home.

“Call me when you get home,” she said.

“Will do,” I said. I walked Yao out of the apartment.

When we got home, I made Yao some bitter green tea. I watched him drink as we sat at the table.

“Better?” I asked. Yao finished his tea and set down his cup.

“Yes,” he said.

“Good,” I said. My eyes shifted away from him.

“Do you think we should check?” Yao asked. I looked up at him.

“Hm?” I asked.

“The pregnancy test,” he said. “Have you noticed anything different about yourself?” I took a minute to think.

“Not really,” I said. “The punch was a little bit sour. It might have been expired.”

“Do you still want to try?” my husband asked. I raised my eyebrow at him.

“Are you sure you want to do that now?” I asked. “I mean you had a meltdown earlier.”

“Please?” he asked. I dropped my shoulders. To be honest, I was kind of wondering if it finally took. I had gotten a bit sick this morning, but I didn’t think too much about it.

“Alright,” I said. “I bought a pregnancy test yesterday anyway.” I noticed the strange look on Yao’s face.

“What?” I asked. “The mothers have been asking me for the past three days.”

“Right,” he said.

I took the test in my bathroom.

“How long do we have to wait?” Yao asked.

“Three minutes,” I said.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll time you.” I leaned on the toilet and sighed. I started looking around in my bathroom. I lost track of how many times we did it. We followed a strict “pregnancy” diet. I followed an ovulation schedule as Bik set me up on. Cai even took me to the doctor to make sure I don’t miscarry. At this point, I wished that I could get pregnant just so that they could stop pressuring. Already, I could feel the anticipation building up in my stomach. Everything is going to change once the baby comes. The clan would have another heir after nine months.

I bit on my lower lip. How can three minutes feel so long?

“Time’s up!” Yao said. I stood up and walked out of the bathroom. The anticipation started drumming as I showed him the pregnancy test. But then, it died when we looked down at the results. I sighed and threw back my head.

“Negative,” I muttered.

“We’ll try again,” Yao said. “It’s going to be okay.” That didn’t change the disappointed look on my face. My husband raised his eyebrow.

“What?” he asked.

“It’s okay!” I wailed. “I’ve been off birth control from three months now.”

“What did you say?!” Yao asked. “Why? Why didn’t you tell me?!”

“Since Bik and the other mothers kept talking me,” I said.

“Before we decided to this?”

I nodded as tears started to form in my eyes. “Yes! We keep trying and trying, but nothing happens.” I buried my head in my hands as I sank down to the floor. “Oh god!”

“You’ve been lying to me all this this?!” Yao shouted.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

“What is wrong with you?!” he asked. I lifted my head.

“I don’t know!” I wailed. “What if there is something wrong with me?!” I broke down sobbing as Yao pulled me into his arms.

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