Tea Leaves and Gold Pins

School Life, Facebook, and Nurse Bik

Match Three: School Life, Facebook, and Nurse Bik:

*Ju*

I guess the next focus on my life at school.

I am currently in the middle of my second year of high school, which means I will graduate next year. My school is called the International School of Beijing. Yes, it is a private school. This is where I met some of my American friends. To tell the truth, it's good to be back in school at this moment. No offense to my father, but I just needed to get away from the mourning in my house. The school accommodated me on my recent loss, but now I'm just ready to get back to business as usual. It's what my father would push me to do.

"You need your education," he told me since I was really little. "If you have education in the changing world, you will always figure out a way to survive it." This is one of the few things that I am grateful for him giving me.

I leaned back in my school and sighed as I looked at the ceiling. New life on my own, I thought. Time to soldier on.

"Ju!" I heard someone call out to me. I looked to see a bubbly face just standing inches over mine. I almost toppled out of my desk.

"Crap!" I yelped. The face gave off a little giggle. I blinked for a moment.

"Oh, it's you," I said. The face smiled at me.

"Ni-hao!" she said. I gave her a small wave.

"Qun!" I said. She sat down in the desk next to me.

"How are you doing?" she asked in a quiet voice. I pressed my lips together and nodded.

"Good," I said. Qun lowered her head.

"I'm sorry for your loss," she said. I nodded a bit.

"Thanks," I said.

"Are you sure, you're okay?" she asked me.

"Yeah," I said. "I just miss my verbal sparring partner." Qun nodded.

"I understand," she said. I nodded as I pressed my lips together again. Suddenly, someone came up behind me and grabbed onto my shoulders. I quickly turned around. A blonde American girl grinned at me. I backed up in my seat.

"Tina?" I asked. I could never understand how she got her teeth so white like that.

"Congrats, clan leader!" she said. I blinked at her. My memory started up again. I put up my hands at her.

"Now, now," I said. "I'm not the leader yet."

"Sure you are," she said. "Does it feel good with all of that power and stuff?" I shook my head at her.

"I don't have real power yet," I said. "I'm still sixteen."

"So when do you have power?" she asked.

"When I'm eighteen," I replied. Tina frowned.

"That sucks," she said. I shrugged at her.

"That's the law," I said. Qun nodded. Suddenly, a loud laughter broke up our conversation. The three of us looked up to see the princess of ISB walking in with her posse. Tina rolled her eyes.

"Oh, it's only stupid Li-ya," she muttered. Li-ya and her posse waltzed over to her desk.

"Oh Ju," she said. "So surprised to see you back at school!" I didn't even look up at her.

"Of course," I said. "It is a school day after all."

"But you're an… what do they call it?" she said. Her friends giggled behind her. I still didn't look up. Li-ya held back a laugh.

"Oh yes. An orphan," she said. "Little Ju is an orphan now."

"Hey!" Tina snapped. "That's no way to talk to the Liao clan leader!" Li-ya and her posse laughed.

"Only because her daddy didn't want her con man uncle to run the clan!" she called. I clutched my pencil in my hand as I sat on my anger. Li-ya laughed aloud again.

"Poor little orphan Ju!" she cooed. "She now has you choice but to run a clan that will go under in less than a year!" The princess and her posse walked to their seats laughing. Tina gritted her teeth as they walked by. She turned to me, breathing hard.

"Those bitches," she hissed. "Why don't you say something?" I lowered my pencil.

"I don't care about her," I said.

"What?" she asked. I looked up at her with no emotion on my face.

"Why stoop down to her level?" I asked. "You know how she is. She just wants attention. So, she'll just put down people to make herself feel superior. I'm not getting tangled up in petty school dramas." Tina gave me a funny look.

"I will never understand you," she said. Then, Tina walked over to her desk before the bell rang to begin homeroom. I took out my notes. I have other things to worry about. I have to meet up with Wang-qianbei on Saturday for business talks. We only went briefly last Saturday. I can't shake the feeling I met him before years ago. I just can't place where. Maybe I'll find out this Saturday. The teacher walked in and began class.

I make mostly A's and B's in my classes. If not, I worried would happen father would do to me. I rank #3 in the highest grades for girls in my class and #8 in the junior class alone. I can handle my classes with no real trouble. Despite getting along with most of my teachers and classmates (not counting Li-ya and her posse), I just feel like the odd piece in the puzzle. Even more so since father joined my mother days ago. But, I work through to get to finish the school year.

During lunch, I go down to the computer lab and log into my Facebook account. Here is something strange about that: Facebook is one of the many sites banned in China. I have no idea how I am able to access it from the ground floor computer lab near the paper factories ten miles away. I try other places to try and access Facebook.

Home: Blocked

Public Library: Blocked

Wi-Fi cafés: Blocked

Rest of the school with my laptop: Blocked

Other computer labs in my school: Blocked

My Dorm: Blocked

I don't understand how this computer lab accesses it with no trouble. Nobody even says a single word about it. The computer lab just carries on like they normally do. I think the lab techs have hacked the government network or something. I have yet to figure it out.

I have had my Facebook account for a year now. I broke down and got one when I first came down to the computer lab. I grew curious when I noticed a good number of students on Facebook. In days, I signed up for one as well. Today, it's nothing but people giving their condolences about my father's death. Most of them are people from classes. Some from other countries that transferred schools. It's just the same as the people in real life with the "are you okay?" and "I'm sorry" comments. I stared at the screen emotionless.

Thanks guys, I thought. I updated my status saying that I was fine now. I don't stay long however. Despite no one saying a single word, I don't wish to take the risk of getting caught. I logged off and hurried to my dorm.

I have lived in a dormitory since my first year of high school. I moved here to be closer to school. Naturally, father was not too keen on the idea and that led to another verbal duel that lasted for a day. Finally, he caved in and here I am. My dorm looks like a standard dorm room. My roommate's not in at the moment, so I get to have a little me time. No loud American 60's rock music. No useless chatter on the phone. No watching her make out with her boyfriend on her bed. Just nice quiet and studying for exams. I walked into the bathroom and changed out of my uniform. I changed into shorts and a tank top and hung up my clothes.

Suddenly, my phone rang. I picked it up and flipped it open.

"Hi Bik-taitai," I said.

"How did you know it was me?" she asked. I flopped down on my bed, smiling.

"You're the only person who calls me every evening."

"Is that right?"

"Uh-huh." I lied down on my phone. "So how can I help you today?"

"How was school today?"

"Good. Many people have been asking if I was okay. How are things back at home?"

"There good here. Biao and his fiancée are talking about marriage."

"That right?"

"Yes! I hope they are able to go through with it this time!"

"Why do you want him to marry so badly?"

"He's already twenty-one! He's been playing around with that woman for four years now! I did not put him through med school to fool around!"

"But she's a good woman."

"This is true. Whew! Pretty soon, we'll have to find you a husband."

I nearly sat up at that statement. "What? I'm still in high school and you're already trying to marry me off."

Bik-taitai laughed on the other end. "I'm only planning ahead."

"You don't have to plan that far!"

Bik-taitai is the family nurse of the Liao clan. She took over the role of my mother when I was ages five to present day. To me, she's a best friend, mom, nurse, and teacher all rolled into one. I can go to her when I have a problem. Her son, Biao, sees me like a little sister. Between Hen-to and Bik, Bik is the one who runs everything in their family.

I smiled to myself. "Besides, how can you be so sure that I even want to get married?"

"You will when you find the right one."

"And how will I find the right one?"

"Oh, you'll know."

"And how will I know?"

"You will, trust me."

"Okay…"

"The others are fine. Chih and Kee have already applied for college."

"Good! Wonderful!"

"Mei's good. You know about Biao already. Qian and Szu can't wait to get out for summer. You really need to call them all sometime."

"I will."

"You're not just saying that just to appease me?"

"No. I will call them. I promise."

"I'll hold you to it."

"Okay, okay."

Bik and I laughed on the phone. "Well, I'll leave you to your studies now," she said. I smiled to myself.

"Okay, thank you," I said.

"See you Saturday?" she asked.

"Yep," I said with a nod.

"Bye."

"Bye."

I hung my phone. Good old, Bik-taitai. She always manages to call and check on me. I sat up and walked over to my desk. First subject to study today? I opened my English lit book and began to read over for the material on the upcoming exam.

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