A Chinese park was designed to be made mysterious and quiet. It would always have a winding path, a wooden pavilion, and a pond, man-made mountain trees and flowers. It was designed according to the philosophy of Chinese Taoism, away from chaos. However, this was a little idealist. Under the calm in the surface, there was a lurking fear, the fear of losing the hope about tomorrow.
Clutched by Wang Xing, Lotus got to the pavilion where two friends were already sitting there, waving their hands at her.
“Lotus!” Zhang Qiang waved his hand at Lotus, “I thought you would not come.” Then he glanced at Lotus’ pretty face for a while and couldn’t help sighing “You are awfully beautiful. You are an unequalled beauty.” Zhang Qiang was glib trying to flatter Lotus.
“You must be kidding.” Lotus laughed. Zhang Qiang’s bravado made her both tired and amused. When she saw Zhang Qiang was about to stand his ground she interrupted him with a hurried smile, “Thanks. I know it.” Lotus didn’t want to talk too much about her appearance for she knew Zhang Qiang had exaggerated her beauty. Though all people said that she was free from any blemish, Lotus knew she had just an ordinary appearance, not exactly so attractive.
“Look at my high heels. Dong Juan, aren’t they pretty?” Wang Xing sat down and stretched her feet. They were shoed in a pair of lady-like black leather high heels. Dong Juan sang her praises. Lotus couldn’t help smiling. As far as she could remember, Wang Xing was fond of wearing high heels even since her childhood.
“Even if I wear high heels, I still can’t measure up to Lotus. Lotus, you have really grown so tall. In the childhood, you were always small and thin.” Wang Xing eyed Lotus up and down while she was saying this in admiration. Zhang Qiang fixed his eyes on Lotus again, this time boldly, secretly marveling at Lotus’ pure beauty.
“How was your weekend, Lotus？I couldn’t catch you on line these days”, Dong Juan asked. Dong Juan was a modest, considerate, cautious girl. People felt comfortable talking with her. Her manner of talking was calm and moderate. Even the shy people wouldn’t be nervous with her.
“She is a book worm: she lives with her books, feeds on books, and sleeps with books. She is going to become a book too.” Wang Xing crossed her legs, and started teasing Lotus.
Wang Xing was an outgoing casual girl, but she had a sensitive mind. She was both naive, and complicated at the same time. She was naive about love, and complicated for she knew the society having travelled long enough to see the world. Though Wang Xing wore make-up, she would not put any common female airs. She simply liked being confident and beautiful.
“Oh, Honey, Have you ever been to KTV?” Zhang Qiang suddenly asked standing up. Lotus felt a little embarrassed. Wang Xing gave Zhang Qiang an alarmed glance. Zhang Qiang continued, “Ok, I will invite you all to KTV this afternoon. Let us have a party!” Zhang Qiang wanted to please all the girls.
“I’d love to go, but I am really not used to that environment. I will feel sick if I go there… Next time, I promise, next time I will go with you when I am better prepared to.”
“Next time? What would I do with your next time? I will die of waiting. “Zhang Qiang tried to persuade Lotus to change her mind, “Why! We can have wonderful time in KTV. Don’t tell me you are an ascetic. Also, do not worry about money. This is my treat.”
Lotus tried to think of a quick reply to refuse Zhang Qiang more directly.
“I value a person who could be still true to herself even if tempted”, Dong Juan was as always understanding, and she continued, “But I will never be that kind of a person myself. If I try to be like this, I will be tired, and bored.”
The reason why Lotus did not like entertainment such as offered by places like KTV was partly because she was a poor girl from a village, used to a simple lifestyle, but also because would look for more spiritual satisfaction, beyond eating, drinking, and having fun. She was a little platonic. She thought that in order to attain something supreme, a human should make sacrifice pursuing noble things. Sense and sensibility, she liked to have good sense.
“So, will you come with us?” Zhang Qiang eagerly waited for Lotus’ final decision. He smiled mysteriously as if having a secret. “I know that you consider the stuff what we are talking about nonsense, but you shouldn’t alienate yourself from us because you do not know how much we love you! Lotus, do not be too hard on yourself. We should learn to relax, and have fun! Why do you always shut yourself away from the outside world? What the hell are you afraid of?”
“Why, Lotus, I really envy you. Zhang Qiang, such a handsome guy, rich, and tall, a real prince charming, has declared his love to you so many times. Why would you not answer him?” Dong Juan asked half-jokingly, half-seriously.
“Lotus.” Wang Xing patted Lotus’ shoulder, “Don’t hesitate. Do join us this afternoon.”
Even with all the friends united, Lotus was unmoved. She had her own standards, her way of living. Some temptation could never be succumbed to. They were like drugs and alcohol making people forget their living condition, blotting out the real world, and encouraging a more passive and lazy attitude in pursuit of pleasure. At this moment, Lotus’ phone rang. She began to read the message and suddenly she turned pale.
It was from Gao Sheng, with whom she had not been in touch for about two years, and who was the last of all people with whom she would like to get in touch again. His very reappearance now ruined all her feelings of safety.
“How are you these years? My conscience troubles me day and night when I think how deeply I hurt you. Hope I could make up for it, please give me a chance.
Love you forever.
Lotus stood up, intending to leave.
“What is up, honey?”
“Nothing. I want to go back to the dorm. I just feel a little sick. I want air.”
Lotus was very low. She couldn’t believe this was really happening to her: after she has finally found peace of mind, he would come back for her again. What did he think of her? Had he ever respected her or her feelings?
Lotus turned back. Wang Xing was trying to catch up with her, running madly on her high heels. Lotus felt comforted a little. Wang Xing would understand everything. They two shared the same past, and same present.
“What is wrong with you?” Wang Xing was short of breath.
Lotus said nothing.
“Give me your phone.” Wang Xing checked the message, and her mouth turned into the “o” shape.
Lotus nodded her head.
“So what are you going to do about it?”